Book Review: The House of Silk

Hey, lovelies. It’s been awhile! Because lots of you said on Instagram that you would like to see more book reviews, I’m making good on that. This is the first in my new book review series. Basically, whenever I read a good book, I am going to share it with you.

I will always keep spoilers to a minimum and will mark a paragraph that has any spoilers in it. 

That being said, let’s talk about…

The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz 

The House of Silk is a Sherlock Holmes novel. The problem with being a Sherlockian is that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is no longer, how should I say this? No longer able to produce content. My mom bought me this book because she is a saint.

Whenever I get my hands on a book with Sherlock as a character, I have to read it. It’s the law.

A friend of mine has always recommended Anthony Horowitz’s Moriarty to me but I have refused to read it. Why? I have this grudge about justifying wrongdoing and glorifying villains. And that is what I thought Moriarty would be about. However after reading The House of Silk I think I may have been wrong.

I went into this book mostly blind, with no certain expectations. The book more than exceeded in proving itself worthy.

The Story

As I have mentioned, the book is about Sherlock Holmes and his companion, John Watson. It takes place after John married Mary Morstan and vacated Baker Street but before the Reichenbach Falls, where we meet Prof. James Moriarty.

The case Watson chronicles is one that he did not make known to the public. He did not publish the adventure due to the delicacy of the crime and the characters involved.

While the case brought to Holmes and Watson starts out seemingly straightforward (an English aristocrat being menaced by an American criminal) it slowly takes us deeper into a monstrous web of crime.

There are actually two mysteries in this book, connected by an invisible thread. One starts out the book and slowly fades into the background. The second becomes more prominent and takes up most of the investigation. Not much is revealed until the end of the book but there is plenty in the middle to keep the reader hooked.

The story gets everywhere. It seems messy at first, with loose ends and unanswered questions, but this is a red herring. Horowitz and Holmes both know how the mystery will eventually connect. They simply do not let the reader and Watson know much about it.

My Thoughts

I liked the mystery well enough to keep reading. But it wasn’t until page 142 that I really got invested. If you end up reading the book, you’ll know why. 

At said page, the stakes get raised. No longer are we solving a mystery for the sake of it. A certain detective’s life is at stake.

Buddy, if you mess with Sherlock you mess with John Watson and I. You don’t want to mess John Watson and I. We love Holmes too much.

Horowitz writes Holmes & Co. perfectly. Sherlock is not an unfeeling machine but he isn’t a hyper goofball either (I’m looking at you, CBS’s Elementary.) He is a man of the mind, with a manic personality and a heightened sense of justice. 

Watson is of course, the loyal companion. Not an idiot. Not a bumbling fool. But not a genius either. He is a common man with a sense of adventure and a good moral compass. 

Detective Inspector Lestrade and Mycroft Holmes both make several appearances in the book as well. And Horowitz got them spot on too. Mycroft, the pompous big brother. Lestrade, the ever long suffering babysitter.

There are several twists in the book that had me yelling “WHAT?!” but they mostly came at the end of the book. It’s not a slow burn or anything but the real good stuff is at the end. Trust me though, it is well worth waiting for.

I will say, this book deals with some heavy topics. But Horowitz goes about it in the way he should: delicately. Guys, if you ever have to write in some dark stuff into your work, this is how you should do it.

Let’s face reality; the world is full of monsters and perversions. And sometimes those realities make their way into stories. I’ve read books and seen movies who incorporate these dark sides of humanity but do one of two things. Either they make light of it and make it seem okay or they are too blunt and unfeeling about it. Neither are okay. 

SpoilersSpoilersSpoilersSpoilersSpoilers

Horowitz never names the issues outright. He knows the reader is smart enough to figure out what is happening in the House of Silk. He isn’t graphic and doesn’t use any inappropriate lingo. Holmes unveils the House of Silk for what it is… “a house of ill repute.” He makes it known what certain men of power are doing to the street children of London. Holmes makes it clear he finds these crimes horrendous but he does not draw it out or speak about it more than is necessary. This type of crime is not for entertainment. It is serious and should be treated as such.

The Long and Short of It

Great book. Amazing. I couldn’t predict all of it, many reveals took me by surprise. The book is tactful, clever, and mysterious. 

Despite my past judgements on the book, Moriarty will soon be in my TBR. I trust Horowitz with Conan’s characters and I can’t wait to read more. I do not believe he is justifying Moriarty, more like…showing the man behind the monster.

Would love to see Horowitz write more Holmes novels!

Have you read this book? Or are you planning to read it now? Would love to know your thoughts!

Breaking Up With My Book Boyfriends

I was scrolling through Instagram the other day and came across a post from one of my bookstagramer buddies. She had complied several memes to describe herself. I was humored by the effort and accuracy of said memes and found the majority of them relatable. However, one of the memes she chose to describe herself made me think and question my life.

This meme was somewhere along the lines of those “single, taken, mentally dating a fictional character” graphics. For years I have joked about how I only date superheroes and have ranted about all of my “book boyfriends.” But that was when I was single.

I found myself staring at this meme. I backtracked. I questioned my life. My future. 

“I’m in a real actual legit relationship with a real actual legit boy.” My thoughts raced around my head like overactive clockworks. “Like…an actual living breathing walking talking person and we have an actual mutual interest in each other.”

What did this mean? Was I suddenly one of the only bookstagramers that wasn’t allowed a book boyfriend now? Could I no longer comment “lol, totally relatable” when others fangirls posted about their relationship with a fictional character? I was in a real crisis!

With these thoughts lurking in the back of my mind, I inevitably moved on with my life. However, these trying questions were raised to the surface again soon.

My boyfriend and I were at an arcade, ready to cash in out points for a prize. Naturally, I considered getting a Funko Pop and immediately made a beeline for them.

“Look! Poe Dameron!” I squealed with pleasure at the sight of the Star Wars pilot’s figure.

With barely any hesitation, my boyfriend rolled his eyes, walked right toward the POP in question, and punched the box. Right in Poe Dameron’s expressionless collectible face.

Scandalized, I watched in shock. My boo? Punching my fictional boo?! Wait, no…I can’t have TWO boos…?! 

I laughed off the violent act towards the Star Wars memorabilia and instead redeemed my points for a coffee mug.

But those troubling thoughts were polluting my innocent book brain.

“You love him. You’re betraying him, Scarlett!”

“It’s too bad you can’t swoon over those fictional characters anymore. It used to be so much fun.

“Tom Hiddleston is wearing a suit and sunglasses. Don’t look, don’t look, don’t look. Ugh! You traitor.”

This is obviously silliness of the highest sort. The love I have for my boyfriend can never be felt for a person who does not exist. It is legitimately impossible. My boyfriend and I have the same great Creator and are connected together by more than emotions. A character has an imperfect human creator and has no real connection to me, emotionally or otherwise. 

That being said, my crisis was soon put to rest. My boyfriend knew what he was signings up for before the new Six of Crows book came out. He had already heard me go on and on about Kaz Brekker. He knew how much I loved Sherlock Holmes. That is one of the things he loves about me. Weirdly. Strangely. Questionably. Yes, he actually said that my ranting was “cute” and finds my attachment to fiction “adorable.” I mean, who would have thought?

Out of respect for him, I can’t fantasize about these men or put unrealistic expectations on my boyfriend. The closest I’ll ever get to that is forcing him to wear a Eugene Fitzherbert T-shirt. But when my heart get the feels whenever I get to that one chapter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I no longer go into a book nerd crisis. Instead I enjoy the moment and give my boyfriend and extra long hug later.

Cultivating the Curious Mind

Before the New Year, I decided to renew my attitude, business, and life. I wanted to be productive but still rest and have peace of mind that my efforts weren’t for nothing. Who doesn’t want to feel that way?

When I started implementing this new mindset of mine, however, I never realized how slow the transition and results would come. There has definitely been a large change in how I spend, manage, and use my time but the progress has unveiled itself minutely. So minutely, in fact, I couldn’t see it while I was living it.

Skipping the details on how I got here, I’m here. Blogging again. Renewed.

Knowing me, you may be confused. Scarlett? Skipping details? I know, I know, I am Miss Long Winded Story Teller. It is most unusual of me to limit my elaboration.

I do this simple telling now because I wish to communicate to you. No metaphors, analogies, or special motifs. I am here to tell you something you need to know.

When I started this business, I had a problem with identifying my target audience. If you take a business class or follow a business planning template, you will always be advised to describe your ideal customer. When I did this in the past, I always detailed a customer that was like me…bookish, storytelling, and a little geeky. Most of my customers are like that, to be honest (you know who you are).

But since this renewal, I have finally identified who my business most affects. Who’s lives I might actually touch and change with what I do. I have a new mission statement that will now be the foundation of all of my products, blogs, Insta posts, and professional interactions.

My new mission is exactly this: to cultivate curious minds with positivity and living literature.

Curious minds like yours and mine are eager to learn and experience. This is a good thing…generally. When your mind yearns to learn, you begin to actively seek knowledge. When your body longs to go places and try new things, you step outside of your normal activities to do so.

This can be great for you mental, physical, and spiritual health…if you are learning and experiencing positivity.

Curious minds are attracted to any new information, good or bad. When a curious mind discovers new information that is healthy and created with good intentions, it feeds more than just your mind. It can inspire you and even change your life for the better. But when a curious mind discovers new information that is harmful or ill, it can affect you negatively.

Even if a curious mind identifies harmful information as negative, the curiosity inside asks why it is bad. Negativity is just as interesting as positivity, if not more so. A curious mind wants to understand why something is evil, how it originated, and initiates thought that dwells upon the harmful subject.

Having fallen victim to the exact process I have described, I propose a way to divert or curious attentions from negativity and on to positivity. That solution is this: living literature.

Lately, whenever I find my mind wandering aimlessly, a time when my mind is at high risk of discovering negative information, I do one thing. I read. And I don’t just read any book (because books can promote negativity too), I read a living book. Usually Tolkien, Lewis, Austen, or Rowling.

Living literature feeds curiosity while affirming positivity. However, it is not my goal to say “Here is a living novel. Go read it, you’ll feel better.” Forcing others into reading literature, no matter how wonderful, can have a backfiring affect. It creates a begrudging spirit that is more likely to dwell on, guess what? Negativity.

The key is to excite the curiosity before you put a living book into a curious mine’s hand. Make the mind want for the positivity. Do not force submission from a mind. Instead appeal to it with what it already enjoys.

It is my goal to do this through my business. I want my products to fall into the hands of curious minds and spark their curiosity to seek living literature.

Want to start the process of cultivating positive thought? Here is a tip: identify what you already enjoy and apply it to your reading. Love art? Check out some book illustrations. Into fashion? Look up some book inspired outfits. There is always a way to connect your interests to living literature. The rewards might not be immediate, especially it you have little interest in reading of it you have previously enjoyed…er…non-living books. Give it some time. Dedicate yourself. Give yourself a chance to love and explore living literature.

Cultivate Your Mind With Positivity

Get your curiosity set on the right track by signing up for Scarlett Mc’s email list.

No spam, no irritating messages, just updates on new blogs that promote positivity and living literature and first looks at bookish product.

5 Uncommon Books Harry Potter Fans Will Love

Once you’ve finished the Harry Potter series, you feel the desperate need to read it again. And again. And again. And then you read The Cursed Child. And then the Hogwarts Library. And then the Fantastic Beasts screenplays. Eventually you will run out of good Harry Potter related reading material.


But that does not mean you have to stop there. I know the desperate need to find a new world to join and love just as much as the Wizarding World.


Of course, you can read Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia just like everyone else. But there are some lesser known books that anyone who enjoys Harry Potter will find solace in just as much.

Nevermoor

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend is easily my third favorite book of all time. Just like the separation of the Wizard and Muggle worlds, the world of Nevermoor is split.

Morrigan Crow, like Harry Potter, is an normal child save for one thing. She is doomed to die on her eleventh birthday. And, like Harry, a mysterious stranger comes to her aid, Jupiter North. Jupiter takes Morrigan away from the dull and corrupt Wintersea Rublic to the wonderfully crazy Free State city of Nevermoor.

However, she has her own Voldemort pursuing her, the Wundersmith. Nevermoor has two books that succeed it and Townsend is still working on the series, so there is lots to look forward to.

The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is more of a mature read than Harry Potter but I still believe Wizarding World lovers will enjoy it.

Just like Rowling’s unique take on magic, Morgenstern has taken it to the next level. Magic exists, yes, but magicians hide amongst ordinary people. The magicians parade their gifts as mere conjuring tricks but do not need smoke and mirrors to create illusion. Two young people, Celia and Marco, youths with the gift of sorcery, have been bound together from a young age by their guardians. This bond has them playing their lives like a chess match, seeing who can outshine the other in a contest of magical prowess.

The Night Circus is the board and they are the players…or are they the pawns?

The Grishaverse

Just as Rowling crafted her own world, large as life, Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse is as real as Hogwarts.

Magic and normalcy are collided in the same steampunk/fantasy land. Grisha are men and women who can harness the power of elements. While they live amongst normal people they are often either praised or punished for their magic. Many Grisha hide their abilities and some do not even know the power is theirs. Three series and have been written in the Grishaverse so far, Shadow and BoneSix of Crows, and King of Scars.

I read Six of Crows before Shadow and Bone by accident, but I would advise reading the series in order, even if the former is so much better.

The Inquisitior’s Tale

The Inquisitor’s Tale or Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz is by far the most hilarious book on this list.

Set in the Middle Ages, Jeanne, Jacob, and William are the Medieval equivalent of the Golden Trio…plus a dog. Tales and folklore of magic are told and celebrated but when these three children are revealed to have miraculous abilities they are persecuted and rejected. Even threatened with burning at the stake! The story is told by a group of travelers at an inn; a Brewster, a nun, a librarian, the innkeeper, a jongleur, a chronicler, a king’s companion, a troubadour, and, of course, the Inquisitor.

The tale is original and the format unique, Potterheads of any age will love it.

The Night Gardener

Magic is not always good, as Voldemort and his Death Eaters have demonstrated. This rings true in Jonathan Axiur’s The Night Gardener.

Molly and her lame brother, Kip, are orphans and have gone to work for the Windsor’s. The Windsor’s live in a crumbling and bleak mansion in an island of woods and the family all have the same gaunt pale skin and dead black hair and eyes. But the most peculiar and ominous omen is the twisting tree that is apart of the house. Molly and Kip soon begin hearing noises in the night…loud footfalls and rustling leaves. What will the children do when the dark magic begins to overtake them as their hair and eyes darken, just like the grim Windsor’s?

What secrets are hidden in the mansion and, more importantly, the great tree that grows darker every day?


Reading these books will put you in the same magical trance that Harry Potter did, and most likely still does. Yes, they don’t have Harry, Ron, and Hermione in them but this is the opportunity to fall for new characters. I promise these books will not disappoint if you give them a chance!

Unlocking Sherlock

I used to attend a homeschool co-op. My teacher gave us these little surveys to fill out on each subject. I was going through my old school papers and found this;

If you can’t read my tenth grade handwriting it says;

The most important event in all of world history is when to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sat all alone in his small optometry office and first thought of Sherlock Holmes (or, at the time, Sherrinford Holmes.)

To which my teacher replied;

You might be a little obsessed 🙂

The same teacher gave me a very fancy copy of the Complete Sherlock Holmes as a graduation present.

It is safe to assume from what you have read, that I am completely in love with Sherlock Holmes.

However, the problem with loving classic literature means that it is probable that your favorite author has long been retired. Meaning that the 56 short stories and the four novels that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about Sherlock are all I am ever going to get from him. 

And that is why I picked up Lock and Key by Ridley Pearson. 

The book had been sitting on the living room bookshelf for about two years…my mistake. I finally picked it up. To be perfectly honest, the back cover synopsis of the book did not truly reflect what the book actually was.

My first impression of its description led me to believe it was set in Victorian London, told from the perspective of Moriarty’s brother. If you have read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Final Problem, you would know that Dr. John Watson tells us a little about Moriarty’s brother. 

But this is not the case. From reading Lock and Key, I deduce that Ridley Pearson is not a true Sherlockian. I can tell he has not studied the as books intimately as I have nor has an all consuming love for all things Doyle as I do.

However, that does not mean the book itself is bad.

The Lock and Key series is based on the modernization of Sherlock Holmes in his youth. The main idea Pearson has however is not about Sherlock. It is based on Sherlock’s arch enemy, James Moriarty and told from the perspective of his sister.

Before I get too far into the characters or plot, I first want to address the use of “modernization.” 

I know most classic lit lovers shy away from the word as if it were a rattlesnake. And I totally understand that. It is a risky move to take. Personally though, I usually enjoy modernization tropes. BBC Sherlock is my favorite TV show and it literally seems to pluck Sherlock & Co. from the Victorian era into modern day society. 

While Ridley Pearson does not execute this idea as well as BBC Sherlock does, I am of the opinion that he does it well enough.

The main characters are of course Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty, and they are accompanied by James’s little sister, Moria. 

Original characters (OCs) can be another risk to put in a retelling. I often times enjoy OCs but I am also their harshest critic. Moria Moriarty is…an okay OC. But I feel that the story Ridley Pearson created could have been told without her. 

And there is the issue of her name…Moria. 

Parents don’t just go from naming their first kid James and then their second Moria. James is a common name and Moria obviously is not. In BBC Sherlock there is an OC named Eros who is Sherlock’s sister. But her name is perfectly fine. We got Mycroft and Sherlock, some weirdo names, and Eros fits in perfectly. Moria, however, sticks out from James like a sore thumb.

However I do commend Pearson for making Moria a good narrator but also a distinct side character. She isn’t as logical as Sherlock nor as intelligent as James. But she does own her own skill sets, such as her curiosity.

When I first read Pearson’s description of Sherlock, I laughed out loud because he totally watches the BBC show…I mean, shocking blue eyes, high cheek bones, pale skin…? Sorry, that isn’t Sherlock, that is Benedict Cumberbatch.

I enjoy Pearson’s young Sherlock over the young Sherlock in the movie Young Sherlock Holmes. One fact that many people don’t know is that Sherlock isn’t Spock. He’s not a Vulcan nor a computer. While Sherlock may call love “human error” or show contempt at sentiment, he does not remain immune to human feeling. Pearson recognizes this and allows Sherlock the freedom to laugh, joke, and tease as he pleases. Except when he gets “in the zone.” When Sherlock is in the heat of deduction, solving a problem, or thinking around a situation, he does not revert to his human whims. 

I understand that it is hard to nail James Moriarty’s character on the head. We get little dialogue from him in The Final Problem and soon after, bye, bye, Jimmie. There are many different takes on Moriarty, and Pearson’s own works.

It isn’t spectacular, but it works. 

James is changeable. He has a moral compass and he knows what is right but he puts more stock into power and what he wants. Throughout the series he switches between being on the enemy’s side and being on Sherlock’s side. 

From the very beginning, he does not want to be Sherlock’s friend. They are roommates together at Baskerville Academy and while Sherlock attempts a companionship with James, the latter blatantly refuses the offer. Later, James does admit that he and Sherlock are friends. And still later, they become sworn enemies.

I wasn’t especially into the plot…secret societies have never really been my thing. And I don’t think it went entirely well with Sherlock and James as a whole. However, the scenes and situations in themselves where perfect. Pearson only needed a different overall concept. 

What kept me reading was the one liners, the quips that Sherlock made passive aggressively to tell James how stupid he was. Or James calling Sherlock “Sherlost.” And all the banter…priceless.

My biggest disappointment was the exclusion of any other canon characters. The only attachment to Doyle’s original books where Sherlock and James. No John Watson, no Irene Adler, no Henry Knight, no Dr. Mortimer, no Sebastian Moran…none of them were included! 

I kept turning pages hoping John would come in as a new exchange student in Baskerville Academy, or something…but no!

Mycroft was mentioned ONCE. Sherlock names him as his older brother who has been his legal guardian since their parents died.

I did hope that Mycroft might come in when Sherlock got expelled from Baskerville. I mean, Mycroft would be MAD. He’d be furious with his little brother for getting kicked out of an expensive prep school. But he doesn’t even cameo.

And when Sherlock is supposed to be in London but actually stays in Boston? Sherlock never says how he did that. Because if I know Mycroft Holmes, he would be after his brother like the Hound of the Baskervilles. I mean, that is Mycroft, an overly protective, condescending big brother. But no, Sherlock doesn’t even say he tricked Mycroft into letting him stay in Boston.

All in all, the series is worth a read if you just need more Sherlock. I certainly did. And if you aren’t a huge Sherlockian, you might enjoy the series. But it could have been better if Pearson had done a bit more research or loved the original stories a bit more. 

Being YOU In 2021

It’s the new year and time to put down some goals. Work out more, loose weight, sharpen brain, blah, blah, blah. Why are all these “New Years Resolutions” all so stereotypical? Because our so-called “culture” has told us that every year we need to strive to be better than who we are and become what society wants us to be.

When in fact, starting a new year should be about WHO WE ARE and WHO WE ARE BECOMING. Society says I should be a skinny waisted feminist with 5,000 Instagram followers who conforms to the “new normal.” And a lot of girls out there’s New Year Resolutions will be based on becoming that. But that has nothing to do with who I am now.

Right now, I am a amateur writer, a growing artist, a new blogger, a dedicated Christian, and a girl with a new interest in politics. Society says I should change everything about who I am to become what they want me to be. When in reality I should take who I am and become even more ME.

Get ready, 2021, you’re getting more ME.

I’m going to share my New Year’s goals and how you can make your own based on who you are NOW and how you want to become even more YOU.

MY 2021 GOALS ~

     PERSONAL GOALS

  • Keep desk and room organized
  • Get driver’s license 
  • Save more
  • Support more local businesses 
  • Go to bed on time

     WRITING GOALS

  • Write a short story (new, Woodland Whisperer, fanfic) every week
  • Develop book idea (😉)
  • Start writing book when Camp NaNoWriMo starts
  • Study more classic literature 
  • Memorize more poetry 

     ART GOALS

  • Work on landscape and scene art
  • Create planner sticker sets
  • Create new bookmarks as often as possible
  • Take more art classes on Skillshare

    BLOG GOALS

  • Stick to blog schedule (Post every Monday and every other Thursday)
  • Make website more user friendly
  • Make Instagram more consist
  • Share more poetry 
  • Add Woodland Whisperer page

     SPIRITUAL GOALS

  • Start a prayer journal
  • Take more notes during sermons
  • Daily devotion, prayer, quiet time and poetry
  • Start doing more evening studies

     POLITICAL GOALS

  • Start a website (separate from business…no politics in business!) for political purposes
  • Listen to more podcasts from Prager U, Will Witt, etc.
  • Study the Constitution in depth

Your goals will obviously be different from mine. Why? Because you are a different person! You are totally unique! You may be in a different stage of life than I am, you have different experiences than I do, and you are so perfectly YOU. 

Here is how to do more you, boo.

  1. Know Who You Are

Before you can know who you are becoming, you must first be sure of who you are. Take some time to meditate on this, search scripture, take some reflection time. Who are you? What do you love to do? 

This not only makes a great start for New Years goals but is also great for mental and spiritual health. When you define who you are, remind yourself everyday. Put it on a post it note and stick it in your mirror. Let it be the first thing you tell yourself. 

Every morning, I wake up and tell myself; I am a talented and creative Christian girl who loves her family and friends. I am blessed of God, I am called to bless others, I am who God says I am and I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. And then I make my morning cuppa and do my devotion and poetry reading. 

Doing something like this every morning will honestly give you a great start. I promise.

2. Think of 2022 You

Or 2023 or 2024…I don’t know how far you are planning ahead. Where do you want to be? Not WHO you want to be, because you should never be anything but yourself, but WHERE you want to be.

Write out your perfect day. What does it look like? Chances are, your perfect day isn’t getting 100 likes in your post or having the paparazzi follow you. It will probably end up much more simple than that. That’s good, much more healthy.

My perfect day is that I wake up in the morning with my clothes already set out, no clutter on my floor or desk, and slip into my cozy house slippers. Boom, I already have goals. Set out clothes before bedtime, keep room and desk organized, and buy a good pair of house slippers. 

Easy.

In my “perfect day” afternoons, I would like to drive myself to the park or to Tree of Life (shout out to Tree of Life (@treeoflife), my favorite coffee shop) and work on my latest book. Now we have more goals. Get driver’s license, save up for a Chromebook, and support more local businesses. And of course, keep writing.

So envision your personal perfect day. Don’t think of what others want you to do but what you think your healthy, relaxing day looks like.

Write out the goals that will help you to make that day possible.

3. Think Of What You Aren’t Doing

What could you be working on? What things in your busy life are you forgetting? I find that for me, that thing is usually setting aside time to relax and study the Word or read poetry. To relax without agenda but with purpose. 

What are you missing that you could work on. Sometimes this can be hard to pinpoint because it takes a little bit if self realization. If you don’t know what you are missing, keep an eye out. If you just go throughout your day just paying attention to what you AREN’T doing, you are sure to find it.

However, while doing this, it is important to stay positive. Don’t beat yourself up just because you aren’t doing something. Stay positive. You are going to work on it, you will improve it, and it will be fine! After all, that’s why you are discovering that missing piece in the first place.

4. Be Consistent

Everyone who makes New Years Resolutions forgets them eventually. We are human. We fall short of our own expectations all the time. The thing is that if you forget your goals, don’t throw the list in the bin. 

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Keep on going, no matter the failing. That’s what life is all about.

30 Day Bookstagram Positivity Challenge

I practically grew up on #bookstagram. Believe me, I know what it is and I could define it if asked. However I am not here to make it a dictionary term. What bookstagram is and what it is meant to be are two different things at the present time.

My mother, @heathermaccreates, started her Instagram account back in 2012. Since then she has gained a following in the thousands and has loyal customers. She has shared her bookstagram journey with me and included me in all her favorite books, posts, quotes, art, and so on.

I have only joined the bookstagtam community recently but I have grown up around it. My mom used to wear a “#bookstagram made my buy it” shirt almost every other day, believe me I grew up with it.

However, the bookstagram I thought I knew then is nothing like the bookstagram I have come to know now.

When I was younger I used to be able to scroll down my mother’s Instagram feed and read all the great book synopsis’s and reviews. The comments were enjoyable and full of cool discussion and respectful debate.

Now however if you look up #bookstagram, there are descriptions of negativity, condemning any opinion in a book that diverges from the readers own. Comments are practically screaming arguments. People tag other bookstagramers only to criticize them.

What happened?

Here is what happened. Micro-aggressions happened.

A micro-aggression is when someone says something they think and someone else disagrees and attacks them for it. 

An example? A bookstagramer says they enjoyed the main character’s point of view. Someone comments “The main character describes the female lead as incompetent! The book had a pro-male agenda and was sexist”. The rest of the comment thread goes back in forth on what the bookstagramers believed and what was wrong with them if they enjoyed or hated the book, whether the book was sexist, racist, or homophobic, and what the author had done that made the book not worthy of reading.

As readers, we choose what we read. We choose what we enjoy in a story and we choose what we hate as well. We choose what we take out of the book, and we choose what we leave behind.

That is what reading is all about!

If a reader chooses to share their experience with a book on bookstagram, it is not to promote their own personal supremacy. It is so that they can share their thoughts with people like them. Other readers.

No matter what colour, gender, race, creed, or religion, we all have one thing in common. We are readers! We love a good story. We all cry when our favorite character dies, we all have to put the book down at the big plot twists, we all have the same emotional trauma after we finish a book, and we all have the same ecstasy when we start a new one.

Can’t we talk about how great it is that we are all readers? That we love the written word? That we couldn’t survive without it?

Let’s make bookstagram a positive place again. 

I’ve created a 30 Day Bookstagram Positivity Challenge and I encourage you to try it out. It is simple to do and I hope you will take the first steps to making #bookstagram a better place.

Boxing Day At Baker Street

I take real pride in calling myself a true Sherlockian. And when writing this Christmas Sherlock fanfic, I studied how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote John Watson’s writing about his and Holmes’ adventures. I have done my best to replicate this and stay TRUE to the characters as Doyle wrote them. I hope you enjoy this light hearted story! 💛


In all my days of knowing Sherlock Holmes, I have perceived many things. His need for order in all things is both his strength and his weakness (though he would never willingly acknowledge the fault.) His calculating and organized mind is at all times active. 

Like a high speed mechanical device, the many cogs and gears are always turning, keeping the machine alive and working. I, who have been his companion for many a year, often have the opportunity to observe this thinking rotary. Holmes himself calls his brain “an attic” in which he keeps “the tools which may help him in doing his work” and “all in the most perfect order.” However, in my small observations, his brain, which he takes such pride in, has never been so.

As I have said to Holmes many times before, a mortal man cannot rightly decide what he is and is not to know. “It’s not our place,” I say. Yet Holmes chooses to forgo my words and might comment that he is no “mortal man.” 

And on another and more prevalent note, Holme’s mind is anything other than “perfect order.” He values order, yes, and does his best to keep it. But, as is our modern society, order cannot always be kept. And when the inevitability of disorder comes knocking on the door of 221B Baker Street, the place where Holmes and I reside, the former is nothing short of unnerved (I here add “in the best sense of the word” in respect for my friend’s pride.)

Christmas time at Baker Street was a jolly one for those of us who participated. Mrs. Hudson, the landlady of Baker Street, made a roast beef to put Her Majesty’s cooks to shame. The honorable lady (Mrs. Hudson that is, not The Queen) also accompanied me to place a tasteful bouquet on the grave of my late wife, Mary.

All the while, however, Holmes remained in the rooms we shared.

“It is unadulterated foolishness, Watson,” Holmes told me, “To celebrate nothing.”

“Nothing?” I exclaimed. “By Jove, Holmes, Christmas is far from celebrating nothing! Christmas is for the human ability of joy and co-existence. The birth of Christ for His sake!

He raised a sharp eyebrow as a bemused smile began to play on his lips. “As I sad, nothing.”

I was aware of Holmes’ frankly blasphemous thoughts on religion, particularly the one I and the whole of modern England shared. I opened my mouth to defend either the holiday, Christianity, or myself (I had not then decided which) but Holmes spoke before I could. He was rather good at that.

“You are a Christian, Watson, are you not? Then as a Christian attempting to acknowledge this manufactured holiday known as Christmas, you are indeed celebrating nothing. In those days when pagans were the majority, did they not too deck their houses with the evergreen botanicals, such as holly and ivy? I believe these were to keep away the imagined ‘evil spirits.’ And you tell me you do as they did in the name of God? Show me the logic behind this, for I am quite certain that there is none. I do not say I will join in these festivities of religion in which no physical evidence has been produced, for I am no man of faith, but if you feel the need to justify your standing of a Christian who celebrates a pagan Christmas, by all means attempt to prove me wrong.”

I did not retaliate in anger, as many other God fearing Englishmen would have if spoken to by the offensive and disagreeable man before me. I did not roll my eyes, I did not steal a breath, I did not steady my nerves. 

Rather than showing these signs of irritation, I chose to laugh.

Holmes was thoroughly taken aback by my reaction. His head turned sideways slightly and his eyes seemed to take in every feature of my face, pondering the meaning behind my jovial attitude. I recognized the signs of confusion that I often saw when I assisted him in his works of detection and deduction. 

“Why, Holmes,” I said merrily, “You forget that you have told me the exact same speech every year since I first came to Baker Street! My good man, show me the logic in that.” 

“If I have made such an error, which I doubt, it is only because I do not find the memories priority.”

“Or it is because you dislike what I have to say next.”

“And pray tell me what that should be?”

“The same speech in which I have responded, and perfected, I might take the liberty of adding, to your pessimistic diatribe every year in this season.”

I paused and then continued, “It is true that the traditions of Christmas are rooted in less than holy places. I know the history that you have taken the time to explain to me so thoroughly. But allow me to give you a lesson now. Tradition and religion…these are man made and often times artifice. However, even you acknowledge the beauty that God has bestowed upon mankind. I recall you once said to me that “our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to rest in the flowers” and that “it is only goodness which gives extras, and that we have much to hope.” You know there is some higher power, Holmes, do not deny it. And you know that in this world of chaos and ill will there are still those who sew and reap good and praiseworthy values. Mankind is a folly kind, indeed. But on this day, we might folly in a better sort. We might extend a hand to those less fortunate than ourselves and gift that which our very flawed and human hearts lead us to give. There are aspects of beauty in that, no? Why there is even logic enough for you in these things! Now, I’ll allow you to display if you have changed at all in the past year, since the last time I gave you this same lecture. A single remark will do, Holmes. Not one? I thought not. Happy Christmas, good friend.”

And turning away to spare Holmes the slight humiliation of me seeing him at a loss at how to counter, I walked from the room. 

I shall leave him a Boxing Day present by his door tomorrow, I thought with an amused smile in my head.


That night, Mrs. Hudson, myself, and the Misses Hawkins and Hooper, two respectable ladies who shared the flat opposite 221 B, sat in the parlor playing a round of Whist. Miss Hawkins headed the conversation the majority of the time, commenting every so often on the number of Penny Posts she had received from young and eligible men. This was endurable, but only just.

Mrs. Hudson and Miss Hooper were much more versed in polite conversation and the evening had been modestly enjoyable. Though it occurred to me how much more lively the evening might have been had my friend Holmes been there with his uncivil tongue and unpopular ideals. I managed to turn my snigger at the thought into a small cough. 

My mind must have somehow summoned him, because just after the idea had crossed my mind, the devil came through the sitting-room door. 

“My cap, Watson!” He cried, dashing about this way and that. 

“Holmes!” I declared. “Come, sit and join us!”

The three other ladies nodded in agreement with me and invited him to the table in their soft, feminine voices.

Holmes did not seem to hear us. “My cap, it is here somewhere. Watson, find my cap!” 

“Why do you need your deerstalker, fellow? Are you going out?”

“Yes.”

“Man, it is freezing outside!”

“That statement would conclude as to why I need my cap! Aha!” He exclaimed with a laugh as he ducked under the table where we had been playing our card game (making the ladies present cry out in surprise.) He came out as soon as he had gone under, however, and brandished his deerstalker cap with a flourish. “Success!” 

He looked at me and at the company I kept, seeing them for the first time. “Ah, people.” 

And with that last statement, he left the room quicker than one could utter “Elementary.”

I apologized for his conduct as I often found myself doing. Mrs. Hudson, who knew Holmes almost as well as I, excused my apology with a smile. Miss Hawkins however asked, “You don’t suppose he’s going caroling?”

I quickly excuse myself from the room as to hide my laughter at the mental image of Sherlock Holmes singing “Oh Come All Ye Faithful.”


I had no plans for Boxing Day. After whatever exertions I had taken on Christmas Day, I often found myself staying inside on the holiday, reading the Strand and enjoying multiple cups of tea. Holmes, whom I had seen the previous night leave the flat with such flurry, had not made an appearance to me since then. And that was most strange seeing as he did so like to torment me on the pointlessness of Boxing Day.

Last year  I had participated in the work of the church in making poor boxes. Mrs. Hudson volunteered her time annually and I thought I might do the same. Holmes immensely enjoyed quoting one of Dickens’ rude misers whenever entering my presence.

Reflecting on this, it was strange that he was not in my view. Had he rushed off on a case? This was uncharacteristic seeing as he wanted for my assistance whether or not I was inconvenienced or not. More often the former than the latter.

I tried to pay the matter little heed. Holmes was as unpredictable as the criminal classes he worked against. 

I spent the hours reading a title which turned out to be easily forgotten and in a few episodes of polite conversation. I was just about to think about luncheon when I heard the front door’s knocker alert me to the presence of a visitor. 

Curious to see if Holmes had spent the whole night away from Baker Street, I opened the door expecting to see the detective. Alas I was mistaken…though not so very much. 

A different genius child stood at the doorstep. I recognized the boy as Wiggins,  a street urchin who was occasionally employed by Holmes. 

He must be here for work, I thought when contemplating the boy’s motives. 

“Is Mister Holmes here, sir?” Wiggins asked, pulling off his wool flat cap and smiling in a way I had not been accustomed to associate with him. 

“No…leastwise, I don’t believe he is.”

“I just wanted to thank him again, sir.” The boy said, excited.

“Thank him?” I inquired. “Whatever for, lad?” 

“For the oranges and half crowns, sir! My family will feast today! Give him my thanks, please, sir?” And in his energetic state, he ran onto the street, kicking up snow as he went and whistling a Christmas tune. 

I stood for a moment, looking down at the place Wiggins had been only moment ago. Then amused realization began to slowly creep up my person. 

Sherlock Holmes…giving gifts to homeless children on Boxing Day? Had my yearly tirade finally made an impression? 

I deduced that Holmes must have been out all night finding the members of his so-called “Baker Street Irregulars” and gifting them with oranges and half crowns. And the reason I had not seen him this morning was consequence of his late evening endeavors. Might he be asleep in his rooms? Or was he still out tracking down those lesser fortunate than himself?

I recalled him saying to me in the case of the Mazarin Stone, “I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix.” 

Maybe so, Holmes, old friend, I thought, shutting the door against the chilly holiday air, But a heart is in there somewhere as well.


NOTE: This story is NOT a licensed work. The author does not own any copywrite, trademarks and/or license. Absolutely all trademarks, licenses and copyrights are the sole property of the authors and/or publishers. All of this writers works and stories are “fan made”, and are NOT to be assumed as being licensed and/or official work. The production of this story is not intended to mislead or to confuse consumers. No infringement on the publisher/author’s name and trademark are intended. This product is purposed for Fan Fiction only.

Happy Christmas From Hogwarts

I’ve haven’t officially celebrated Christmas for as long as I can remember but I love the holiday season. For the majority of the Advent, people are focused on love and giving. That is something I can truly appreciate. And what represents unconditional and selfless love more than James and Lily Potter? Here is what the Marauders and Co’s last Christmas at Hogwarts looked like, right before they graduated, began their fight against evil, and gave their lives for what they believed and loved…


Snow was falling outside, drifting lazily onto the almost silent Hogwarts grounds. It was the weekend and most of the students were inside the castle, busy getting ready to go to Hogsmead before they went home for the Christmas holidays. The silence outside was almost perfect…

Almost.

Making his way hastily to the giant oak doors of Hogwarts and swinging his head wildly back and forth to dislodge the amounts of snow that rested on it, James Potter ran into the school. Rushing through the halls, still chill from the freezing temperatures, he made his way to Gryffindor tower, and shouted the password (Humbug) in a voice that was higher than per usual. 

Climbing through the portrait hole and dashing into the room filled with student in black robes and crimson and gold ties, he called out for all to hear,

“I NEED HELP!”

Most of his fellow Hogwarts students ignored him. Odd behavior had become something to expect from the seventeen year old Potter boy. James’ friends, however, spared him a half glance.

“Nice to hear you finally admit it,” Remus Lupin commented with a bemused smile, returning his full attention to the large castle he was making from Muggle cards.

James walked over to where his friends were sitting, “I’m not kidding! Moony, Marlene, I really need your help!”

Marlene McKinnon raised an eyebrow. Having been previously transfixed on Remus’ card castle progress, James needing her help was something she hadn’t been expecting.

“Woah there, Prongs!” Sirius Black called in an mock offended tone. He too was building a (much sloppier) card castle, but out of Exploding Snap cards to rival Remus’. “Just Moony and Marlene? How come I’m excluded in your hour of need?”

“Yeah, and me!” Peter Pettigrew piped in.

“You couldn’t help a flobberworm cross a street, Wormy,” Sirius chuckled.

“Sirius…” Remus chastised in a cautionary voice.

“Just kidding, sorry!” Though he didn’t sound sorry at all.

James acknowledged his best friend. “Mate, you’re dead useful for a lot of things…but this isn’t gonna be one of them.”

“What’s your problem, James?” Marlene asked, getting up from where she sat next to Remus and plopping onto a plush bean chair nearby.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Asked Remus. “It’s Lily.”

Sirius rolled his eyes. “Of course.”

James’ face soured. “Hey, hey, now, you can’t just…stereotype me like that. My life does not revolve around that gorgeous red-headed angel of beauty and grace!”

A moment of silence passed. Remus, Marlene, Sirius, and Peter all nodded in agreement. “It’s Lily.”

“Okay, so what? It is Lily!”

“What did you do this time?” Sirius asked.

“Nothing!”

“That is highly unlikely.”

“No, really, I did nothing!” James whined. “Don’t you see? That’s the problem!”

“No, we don’t see,” Remus said with long suffering, “But if you explain, then we will.”

James opened his mouth to tell them all of the Terrible Horrible No Good Absolutely Troll thing he had done, but before he could say a word, Sirius’ tower of cards exploded in both his, Remus, and Peter’s faces. 

Once the had smoke cleared, once James and Marleen had stifled their laughter, and once the three soot covered boys had coughed up the ash that had made its way inside their mouths and noses, Remus cast a disgruntled look at his own card tower, knocked over from the explosion.

“I still win,” he said, glaring at Sirius.


“You…did what?” 

Remus, Sirius, Peter, Marlene, joined by Mary Macdonald and Frank Longbottom, had their mouths hanging open, starring with wide eyes at James. The boy himself, was looking away from their gazes.

“Oh, come on, you know me! Does it really surprise you?”

“Yeah, actually it does!” Sirius said, his left eye twitching. “How in Merlin’s name could you do something like that?! After all these years?”

Mary nodded, “Even wouldn’t dream you’d be that thoughtless…and I’m not exactly your biggest fan.”

“Don’t beat him up,” Remus said, looking around at his classmates, “I’m sure he feels the pains of what he’s done…I mean what he hasn’t done.”

“I do! But you guys-“ He was interrupted by a loud and forced cough from Marlene, “-and girls, have gotta help me fix it!”

“Can it be fixed though?” Peter asked. “It’s a little late for it now…and if it’s for Lily…”

“Of course it can be fixed!” Frank said, but the fake optimism was obvious. “We still have…twenty four hours before the train leaves?”

“Nineteen, actually,” Remus corrected.

James buried his face in a maroon pillow. “Lily is going to kill me!”

“And why is that?” 

All seven teenagers froze; Sirius in a sort of half grimace-half smirk, Frank in a too-wide smile, Marlene in a strange startled stance, Peter looked like he was about to run from the scene of the crime, Remus had his mouth half open and his eyes wide, and James…James’ face was still half buried in the pillow but what could be seen of his eyes were filled with pure terror.

Frank was the first one to brave moving. “Heeeeeeeeyyyyyyyy, Lily………”

Lily Evans, her lips pursed together in a thin line and a hand on her hip, looked down at the guilty party. “Okay, fess up, what are you all doing?”

“NOTHING!” They all said in unison, save for James who was still in his statuesque state. 

“James? Explanation, please,” she moved her head down and to the side so as to see her boyfriend better. “Why did you say I’m going to kill you? What have you done?” 

James looked at Sirius in fear for a brief second and then turned to face Lily. “Haha, the usual, you know?”

She smiled sternly (how can you smile sternly? Only Lily Evans and Minerva McGonagall shall ever know.) “Hmm…” she eyed him suspiciously. “I would be worried but Mary and Frank are here so…” she looked at the two in question. 

Mary waved a dismissive hand, “Oh, James was just telling us a prank he was planning to do on Lockhart. Sirius here,” she thrust her thumb in Sirius’ direction, “thought that we should get you involved without your knowledge. But James shot it down…like the good boyfriend he is.” 

Everyone looked at Mary with surprise. The lie had flowed so easily from her mouth…it sounded like it might actually be true. 

Lily cast her eyes on Sirius, “You know how I feel about your mindless pranks.” 

Sirius grinned sheepishly. “It was worth a shot-hey! Our pranks are anything but mindless! Do you know the effort we put in those things! It takes a lot of brain work to still be original after seven years of mischief making! And with all the-“

The words were cut off by Remus slapping his hand across Sirius’ mouth. “He means he’s sorry.”

“Nawideeont!” Sirius’ muffled voice said from behind Remus’ hand.

That made Lily laugh. “Thanks, James,” she said as she pressed a kiss on the top of his forehead. “Hey, you want to get on Slughorn’s homework now? I know you aren’t going to do it if I’m not watching you like a hawk.”

James, jumping at the change of subject, smiled back at her. “Yeah…yeah! Totally! To the library then, milady?” He stood up and bowed to Lily, who rolled her eyes.

“After you, sir,” she giggled and waved back at the others. “See you guys!”

The Gryffindors watched Lily and James leave. Before they were out of sight, James mouthed HELP ME. Once they had left the common room, Remus removed his hand from Sirius’ mouth and asked, “To Hogsmead then?”

“To Hogsmead,” they all agreed.

“I can’t believe James didn’t get her a Christmas present,” Peter said a little too loudly.

“SHHHH!” 

“…sorry…”


“It’s freezing out here!” Mary said, rubbing her arms for warmth. “I say we let James face the consequences of his actions and go back to the castle and warm up.” 

The Marauders & Co. had arrived in Hogsmead which was a fair bit colder than Hogwarts. The snow was thinner however, having been trod on by countless of holiday shoppers. There were hundreds of Hogwarts students that could be seen through the shop windows, buying last minute Christmas presents before the trip home the next day. 

Frank was at the head of the group, leading them down the cobblestone path. “We can’t just ditch James…he’d be really disappointed if he wasn’t able to give Lily a present this year. I mean, now that she’s agreed to finally go out with him.” He took off his outer coat and offered it to Mary. “If your cold, you can take this. I don’t really need it.”

Mary placed a hand on her heart and said in a girlie pitch, “Aww, Frank, that is so sweet!” She cast a glance at Marlene.

Marlene shivered and look expectedly at Sirius. When he took no notice of her she bumped into him and said, “Hey, I’m cold too!”

He glanced at her in confusion, “Marlene, I can’t control the weather.”

Remus rolled his eyes, took off his own coat and gave it to Marlene. “Let’s start at Honeyduke’s. I don’t think we’ll find the ‘perfect’ gift that James specified but maybe a few filler gifts would go well?”

They all agreed enthusiastically…what kid wouldn’t take any excuse to go into candy heaven? 

Honeydukes was full of students, as always. 

“We should have waited till tonight,” Peter shouted over the loud chatter of students and constant ringing the entry bell. “The we could have gotten Lily something without all the crowds!”

“Honeydukes isn’t open at night, Wormy!” Sirius pointed out. 

“Oh…right.” 

They became inevitably separated in the large store. 

Marlene found herself in the dangerous sweets isle, and she bought several acid pops to give to her younger brother…just for fun. Frank and Mary had rather wisely gone back outside to sit and wait for the rest of the group. Sirius was trying his best to find any kind of prank-like sweet…but he decided he’d have to wait until Zonko’s. Peter got lost. And Remus…You know the expression “like a kid in a candy store”? Well try this one, “like Remus Lupin in Honeydukes.”

Remus made his way to the front counter with a great amount of difficulty. The shop boy took one look at him and called over his shoulder, “Hey! It’s Crazy Chocolate Guy!”

“I do have a name,” Remus mumbled. 

A large woman walked over to the counter and the shop boy left to help other customers. “Well, what can I do for you…again?”

“Do you have any new shipments?” Remus asked with a polite smile.

“You cleared us out of the Caramel Dark Chocolate Brownie Fudge Toffee Bars. I can put you on the waiting list though.” 

“Oh, no thank you, ma’am, I’m stocked up for the holidays. But I would like to know if there are any candies that haven’t been released into the main shop yet.” 

The woman smiled. “And why would I let you purchase what I haven’t made public to my own shop?”

“Because…I’m your best customer?” He said hopefully. 

She considered him in amusement for a second and then she told him to wait a moment. Remus decided that if she was getting what he thought she was getting, he would buy himself a victory slab of Pumpkin Spice Caramel Marbled Creme Chocolate…or maybe a victory crate…


“So, what’ve we got?” Mary asked, rubbing her gloved hands together at the sight of their shopping bags.

“Acid pops!” Shouted Marlene, waving her bag high in the air.

Mary exchanged glances with Frank. “Er…” Frank winced, “you bought acid pops…for Lily Evans?”

“Pfft, no, stupid! For my annoying little brother. Why would I get them for Lily?”

“Well, seeing as you were supposed to buy Lily some stocking stuffers…” Frank trailed off.

Marlene slapped her forehead. “Oh, Merlin, I forgot!”

Sirius looked down at his bags. “Me too.”

“I got her a candy cane…” Peter said.

“So you guys didn’t get her anything?” Mary said, shaking her head.

“No.”

Everyone turned to Remus who had spoken. He carried two large crates in his hands. “You think this is all for me?” 

“Yes,” Sirius said looking at the bulging boxes.

“Very funny. Not even I could eat this much chocolate by myself.” 

Peter scratched his head, “I’m pretty sure you could.”

Remus did a mental face palm (seeing as his physical palms were full of chocolate). “Anyways, we are covered on sweets. I got her the new Strawberry Bourbon Mousse White Chocolate bars…they aren’t supposed to be released until February. And James now owes me five galleons.” 

“Impressive!” Mary gave him a small round of applause.

“Where to now?” Peter asked.

“Zonko’s!” Sirius said. 

“The bookstore!” Remus said.

“What?” They both asked each other.

“Bookstores are so BORING!” 

“Lily hates Zonko’s, Padfoot.”

“She doesn’t hate it, she said so herself!”

“Right, I think the word she used was ‘deplore.’”

“Which isn’t the same as hate!”

“Your grasp on vocabulary is obviously lacking.”

“Girls, girls, you’re both pretty!” Marlene interceded. “We aren’t going to Zonko’s or the bookstore. I think Lily definitely doesn’t want dungbombs or books from her boyfriend.”

“But Lily loves to read,” Frank commented.

“Yeah, because she’s weird like that, but if we got her books it’d be obvious that James didn’t buy them. He would rather be caught in a Slytherin uniform than in a bookstore.”

Remus nodded, “True enough.”

Sirius kicked a pile of snow. “But I wanna go to Zonko’s.”

“You can go later, okay?” Mary offered. “What’s in those bags anyway?” She leaned over to try and peak inside Sirius’ Honeydukes bags.

Sirius snatched them away from her. “Hey! I need to shop for Christmas presents too!”


Several hours later, the Gryffindors were dropping off. After they had bought Lily a year long self-refillable Butterbeer glass from the Three Broomsticks (James now owed them eight galleons and three sickles), Mary gave Frank his coat back and said she needed to finish some homework back at the castle. A fourth of the way down an especially long detour they had taken so Remus didn’t have to pass the Shrieking Shack, Peter complained that his legs were getting tired and he headed back. Finally, after they had bought Lily an advanced potions kit (complete with unicorn hair and a golden cauldron…James now owed them sixteen galleons, seven sickles, and three knuts) Marlene said that she had to meet up with Dorcas Meadows.

“You think we got enough?” Frank asked, sitting down in the snow and resting his present laden arms.

“Duh! The only thing we didn’t buy her was the Beatles!” Sirius said.

“I don’t know…” Remus cast his eyes over the presents they had gotten for James to give to Lily. “Why do I feel we’re missing something?”

“Same,” Frank frowned.

“Missing something? You’re joshing me! We bought her more than Prince Charles gets on Christmas!” 

“I think you’re overestimating how many presents Prince Charles gets. Shush now, I need to think,” Remus put down his crates of chocolate and rested his head in his hands.

“Fine,” Sirius growled, crossing his arms the best that he could, seeing as they were covered in shopping bags.

A few seconds passed and Remus turned on Sirius, “Really? Can you stop whining? We are trying to help our best friend!”

“I didn’t say anything!”

“You kept making that noise-“

“Both of you, shh!” Frank raised his hands. “I don’t think that was Sirius you heard, Remus.”

All three boys became quiet. 

“I don’t hear anything,” Sirius whispered.

“I do,” Remus muttered leaning his head to the left, straining to hear…whatever he heard. 

Another moment passed and then Frank and Sirius heard it too, a soft mewing from a distance. 

Remus, forgetting the chocolate on the ground, jogged down the path. Frank too left behind his bags and closely followed him.

Sirius stood alone and yelled after them, “Oh, come on, your gonna make me…oh, fine!” After that he promptly dropped his bags and ran. 

Once he caught up with them, he saw Frank crouching on the ground near a tree, Remus standing over him and leaning over to see…

…a kitten.

“Merlin,” Sirius muttered. “It’s a cat!”

“Yeah, we can see that, Padfoot,” Remus chuckled, still looking at the small animal. “So stay over there and don’t scare it away.”

“I’m not going to scare it.”

“Yeah, you would, Padfoot.” He put emphasis on the last word.

Oh, right, I’m a dog. Sirius remembered. He almost reminded Remus that he was a werewolf and could scare the kitten too, but he thought it best to let it slide.

“It doesn’t have a collar,” Frank said. “And it’s really skinny,” he looked up at them, “Guys, I think it’s abandoned.” 

“Aww,” Remus and Sirius fawned in unison.

Frank picked up the kitten and brushed some snow off of it. He smirked knowingly at Remus who nodded back in agreement.

“Well, great we got a free kitten.” Sirius said. “But we still got to find Lily another present, according to you two overachievers!” 

Frank and Remus blinked at Sirius. 

“What?”


“Merry Christmas, idiots!” 

“Sirius Orion Black, if you drop that dungbomb-“

And that is how they ended up spending Christmas in the Transfiguration classroom.


The majority of the seventh year students had stayed at Hogwarts for the holidays. For the most part, sentiment had gotten the better of them…it would be their last Christmas at Hogwarts.

Lily had planned to invite James over to her family’s house for Christmas, which is why he had panicked last minute, but received a letter from her mother saying that Lily’s sister, Petunia, was having her boyfriend over as well.

Needless to say, Lily changed her mind. 

Since James was staying, Sirius was staying too. Remus had to stay (the full moon was the day after Christmas) but would have chosen to celebrate with his friends anyway. And Peter was staying because everyone else was.

Minerva McGonagall had decorated her classroom spectacularly for the occasion. Taking into consideration that this particular body of students could get into all kinds of trouble, she thought it best to supervise them. And since Sirius had dropped a nasty dungbomb in the common room, she had moved the festivities to her classroom. 

Under the magnificent Christmas tree, cut and hauled by Rubeus Hagrid and decorated by McGonagall and Phineas Flitwick, was a multitude of brightly colored Christmas presents. Usually the Christmas presents were delivered to the student’s dorm room but this year McGonagall had made special arrangements. Even she had to (very silently) admit that she would miss this band of misfits after they graduated.

“She’d never admit she’d miss us,” Dorcas told Lily and Mary, “But she will.”

“Ah, good ol’ Minnie!” Sirius said, startling the girls by hanging upside down in midair, “I got her something real special for Christmas.”

“You got Professor McGonagall a present?” Lily asked. “Really? You?”

“That’s really nice of you, Sirius.” Mary encouraged. “What’d you get her?”

“A basket full of dungbombs-ow!” He rubbed his head. Lily had smacked it with the new pair of shoes Mary had bought her. 

“Mr. Black, get down!” McGonagall called from across the room.

“Can’t, Minnie! It’s James that’s charmed me!” 

“Here you go!” James flicked his wand and Sirius fell head first in the ground which made the Mary and Dorcas burst into laughter. Lily bit back a smile and yelled “James!” in disapproval. “Come on, over here, Padfoot!”

Sirius got up quickly, shook his mane of hair, put on his best “charming smile”, winked, and headed to where James stood.

“Hey, where’s the cat?” He asked his friends.

“Under there of course,” James pointed to the floor under the tree.

Peter panicked. “You didn’t put it in a box, did you! It needs air!”

“Don’t worry, Wormy,” Remus reassured him. “I cast a Bubble Head Charm on it and put holes in the box just in case.”

“You didn’t think we’d torture the poor thing, did you? Really, who do think we are?” James laughed. “By the way, if you just got the cat, what took you all so long when you were shopping?”

“Oh…that…well…” Sirius looked at Remus. 

“We did buy Lily a few things before we got the cat but…” Remus trailed off.

“But,” Sirius finished, “But you owe us eleven galleons and seven sickles for the stuff that got stolen.”

“Stolen?!”

“We dropped our stuff to find the cat and when we came back it was gone, okay?”

“Eleven gallons…” James shook his head. He looked at each of the Marauders in turn. “You guys had better gotten me something good for Christmas!”

“We all know Wormy got us socks,” Sirius said.

“That was supposed to be a secret!” Peter said. “How’d you find out?”

“Wormtail, you’ve give us socks every year. But that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate them.” Remus smiled.

“What about you two, then?” James inquired. “It better be something good.”

“I think Sirius beat me this year, actually. Mine’s over there.”

James followed where Remus directed him and picked up a gift with snitches flying around the wrapping paper. “A book? Really? Haven’t you given up trying to get me to read yet?”

“Just open it, okay?”

James ripped open the paper. “Okay, this is actually cool.” It was a a collector’s copy of Quidditch Through the Ages.

Remus shrugged. “You’ve practically destroyed the copy in the library, you’ve checked it out so many times. I thought you should have your own.” 

“Thanks, man!” 

Sirius glanced over at Lily. “Looks like your girlfriend’s opening her friend’s present first. We got time. Open mine, James!” 

James obeyed, readily. “The heck is this, mate?” He held up a box containing a quill set and ink bottle. 

“Now wait a sec, that isn’t just a quill set.” Sirius said, smirking. “I nicked those from Dumbledore’s office.”

James’ mouth dropped open. “THESE ARE DUMBLEDORE’S QUILLS?!?!” He hugged the box to his chest. “I feel closer to greatness already!” 

The gift giving continued. Remus had given Sirius a collection of David Bowie albums and a book on motorcycles. Sirius had been right, Peter gave them all socks but had also thrown in a few chocolate frogs. 

“Remus, open ours now!” James said with excitement. 

“Ours?” Remus asked looking between James and Sirius. 

“We both chipped in,” Sirius said.

“Let me guess, is is chocolate?”

“Just open it.”

Remus reached under the tree to where his friends had pointed and literally had to heave the package out. “If this is chocolate, it’s a world breaking record.” He carefully opened the wrappings and was speechless.

“We bought it ages ago,” James grinned. “Got it at Dervish and Banges.” 

It was a briefcase with PROFESSOR R.J. LUPIN embossed on the side.

Sirius and James watched their friend’s reaction. “You know,” James said, “because you want to be a teacher here, right?”

“You know I’ll never be able to.” Remus said quietly.

“Never say never, Remus.” The boys turned to see Lily standing behind them. “I’m assuming the briefcase is filled with chocolate?” 

“But of course,” James leaned over Remus and opened it to reveal extensive Honeydukes sweets. When he sat up he said “Lily, it’s your turn.”

“You got me something?” She sounded surprised. “Dorcas said you would forget…in fact, everyone said you would forget.”

“Me? Forget getting you a gift for Christmas? Never!” James looked sheepishly at her and shifted his glance from his friends to Lily and back again. 

She raised an eyebrow at him. “…you did forget didn’t you?”

James’ smile faltered. “Why would you think that?”

“Mary is rubbish at keeping secrets.” 

“Busted…” Sirius muttered.

“But I remembered that I forgot!” James looked around, waiting to be complimented on his thoughtfulness. “Doesn’t that count for something? Here!”

He reached under the tree and pulled out a large box wrapped in Gryffindor colors. She eyed the box. “It isn’t from Zonko’s, is it?” 

“No!” James affirmed.

She inspected the box closer. “Are those…air holes?” She gasped and then opened the wrapping and box. “Oh, James!” 

She pulled out the kitten that Remus, Frank, and Sirius had found in Hogsmead. It mewed softly at Lily, licking at her fingers. All the girls nearby huddled around Lily and squealed with pleasure at the small creature. 

“Ooh! Lily! What are you going to name it!” Mary asked, scratching the kitten’s ears. 

“I don’t know. Is it a boy or girl, James?” She looked up at him.

“Er…no idea,” he looked at Remus. “Moony?”

He smiled, “It’s a girl, Lily.”

“Hm…what do you guys think? What should her name be?”

Names began pouring in from all directions. 

“Fluffy!”

“Minnie…after McGonagall!”

“David Bowie!”

“That’s a boy’s name, Sirius.”

“It’s an epic name.”

“Gryffindor.”

“Holly!”

“How about Agape?” Lily asked James.

He shrugged. “It’s your cat, name her whatever you want.” 

“What is agape?” Sirius asked, his brow knitting together.

“It’s Greek, if I’m not mistaken.” Remus informed them. “It means love. More specifically unconditional, selfless love. Usually used in terms of God’s love or the love between a parent and child.”

“That’s deep,” Marlene said.

Lily cuddled with the kitten. James watched and nodded with approval.“Agape. I think it’s a good name. I mean, isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Unconditional love?”

Lily looked up at him and smiled lovingly. “Unconditional love isn’t just a Christmas thing. It should be a life long thing.”

And she was right. Agape would be life long for all of them.


NOTE: This story is NOT a licensed work. The author does not own any copywrite, trademarks and/or license. Absolutely all trademarks, licenses and copyrights are the sole property of the authors and/or publishers. All of this writers works and stories are “fan made”, and are NOT to be assumed as being licensed and/or official work. The production of this story is not intended to mislead or to confuse consumers. No infringement on the publisher/author’s name and trademark are intended. This product is purposed for Fan Fiction only.

The Gift of Family In Harry Potter

“I-don’t-want-“ said Percy thickly, as the twins forced the jumper over his head, knocking his glasses askew.

“And you’re not sitting with the prefects today, either,” said George, “Christmas is a time for family.”

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

I love the holiday season. Not only are the aesthetics and tastes of the season wonderful, but the spirit I feel during this time of the year is so uplifting. 

Family and gathering are a big icon of the holiday. And seeing as it’s the most wonderful time of the year, I might share a bit of how important family is through one of my favorite mediums…Harry Potter.

From the Weasley’s to the Dursley’s to the Potter’s, families of all shapes and sizes appear in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Family is an important aspect of the Wizarding World and I would like to take the time to delve into why. 

Harry Potter’s own family are gone. His mother and father died protecting him from Lord Voldemort. Just from this one example, so much context becomes available.

I feel like every reader will look at the Potter’s example of family and see the obvious – parents giving their life so that their son may live. But let me take the liberty of pointing out the maybe not-so-obvious; Voldemort’s lack of understanding of that love.

Think for a moment. Dumbledore knew exactly what Lily Potter’s sacrifice meant. He explains it all to Harry in the Philosopher’s Stone

“Your mother died to save you. If there’s one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mothers for you leaves it’s own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign… to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who left us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin.”

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Dumbledore knows this because he understands the magic of love and family.

Common wizards don’t know of this kind of magic. And that makes sense. But Dumbledore isn’t ordinary. He’s a great wizard. But Voldemort is a great wizard too. Dumbledore and Voldemort are two sides of the same coin, I often think. They are alike yet so very different.

Voldemort, who does not respect nor care for these values, dared to kill Lily and James. If he had any brains at all, he would have known that if he wanted to kill Harry, he couldn’t kill his parents. It’s that simple. If he had any knowledge of the magic of love, he would not risk such strong protection being transferred to his target.

But Voldemort is unable to recognize this. He does not know or understand what a family is and the love it can hold. He killed his own father and grandparents and tore apart countless families.

He corrupted himself into blindness. 

Is this a metaphor for what so many people are doing every day? So many of us humans disregard family, friends, love, and ethics, slowly at first and then steadily on, until we know longer recognize what these aspects of life truly mean. 

A large portion of this holiday spirit and season is meant to be shared with family. It’s one of the joys of Thanksgiving, Chanukah, and Christmas. However, I know a lot of people don’t feel this way. Many begrudgingly go to family Christmases and sit far away from their annoying relations as possible and stare at their phone in a shadowy corner. 

A simple act like, say, not wanting to wear your Mum’s Christmas sweater could mean so much more. 

Percy Weasley knew all the comforts of home. He had many brother’s and sisters, and a Mum and Dad who cared for him. But he became accustomed to these things. He lost sight of why they were important. 

Before I get into this, there are two examples from the Goblet of Fire I’d like to quote. Remember, at this time, Bill and Charlie are home for the Quidditch World Cup and don’t come home often. Percy no longer sees Fred, George, Ron, and Ginny every day at Hogwarts either. It is a rare thing for the whole family to be home together at once.

Just then a door on the second landing opened, and a face poked out wearing hourn-rimmed glasses and a very annoyed expression.

“Hi, Percy,” said Harry. 

“Oh hello, Harry,” said Percy. “ I was wondering who wad making all that noise. I’m trying to work in here, you know-I’ve got a report to finish for the office-and it’s rather difficult to concentrate when people keep thundering up and down the stairs.”

“We’re not thundering, said Ron irritably. “We’re walking. Sorry if we disturbed the top-secret workings of the Ministry of Magic.”

“What are you working on?” said Harry.

“A report for the Department of International Magical Cooperation,” said Percy smugly. “We’re trying to standardize cauldron thickness. Some of these foreign imports are just a shade too thin-leakages have been increasing at a rate of almost three percent a year-“

The second example comes a few pages later;

Bill and Charlie both had their wands out, and were making two battered old tables fly high above the lawn, smashing into each other, each attempting to knock the others out of air. Fred and George cheering, Ginny was laughing, and Hermione was hovering near the hedge apparently torn between amusement and anxiety.

Bills table caught Charlie’s with a huge bang and knocked one of its legs off. There was a clatter from overhead, and they all looked up to see Percy‘s head poking out of window on the second floor.

“Will you keep it down?!” he bellowed.

“Sorry, Percy,” said Bill, grinning. “How’re the cauldron bottoms coming on?”

“Very badly,” said Percy peevishly, and he slammed the window shut.

Percy had a disregard for family right from the start. It wasn’t so obvious in the Philosopher’s Stone and the Chamber of Secrets but it is there. And it gets steadily worse as time advances. 

The biggest red flag that a lot of people don’t recognize is in the Goblet of Fire. When Percy comes of age, he gets a job at the Ministry of Magic. Then he slowly starts disobeying his father and mother, spends time locked in his room, and comes home late. Ron puts it this way;

“I don’t think he’d come home if Dad didn’t make him.”

I’ve seen first hand how estrangement works and J.K. Rowling’s representation of it is uncanny. It makes me wonder if she hasn’t experienced it too. 

Percy has turned of age and things appear to be alright to his parents. To Molly and Arthur, he is just ambitious and has big plans for his future. That may even be what Percy thinks too. But in reality he is just a child wanting to do what he wants, when he wants to, and doesn’t want any parental guidance, control, or authority. He uses the Ministry of Magic, Mr. Crouch, and his job as an excuse to exercise his new of-age privileges. 

And then, in the next book, he is estranged. He breaks his parents trust, wanting to go his own way, and wastes years. Years that he will regret.

Percy eventually reconciled with his family, hours before his brother is murdered. Percy threw away time pursuing things that were unimportant and self indulgent, when he could have spent a little more time with his brother, Fred.

I wonder how many times after the Battle of Hogwarts that Percy cried over the time he lost with his brother? I can imagine his thoughts;

If only I came home from work a little earlier to eat dinner with him and the family.

If only I hadn’t shamed him and his practical jokes.

If only I had played Exploding Snap with him when he asked me that one time.

If only I hadn’t left him behind and come back too late.

Percy made a choice and he payed the price.

I know it seems like a bit of a jump from murderous Lord Voldemort to nerdy Percy Weasley but then again…it wasn’t that big a jump after all. If a thing like disrespecting family and misunderstanding love can take one person from being a Percy to being a Voldemort…why risk it?

Thus, we ask again, why is family so important? Because family in Harry Potter is often used synonymously with love. Love is the main theme in Harry Potter and Rowling repetitively uses family as a motif to demonstrate this theme.

And I understand it can be hard to love your family sometimes. We’re only human. Or maybe you’re not a Percy. Maybe you’re a Fred. Maybe you’re on the receiving end of of hate and disappointment. I cannot give any comfort or answer to such dilemmas than this;

Life is a story. Love is an adventure. Family is a home. To have all three at once is a gift. The greatest gift. A truly precious and fragile gift. Don’t waste what you have, what you’ve been given. See the value in the simple things. They may seem small but they’re not. Nothing simple is ever small. Life isn’t small, love isn’t small, and family isn’t small.

Care for these gifts and they will care for you in return.