Life & Family

See You in December!

I realized that my blogging situation needs help, so I’m going on a bit of a hiatus until December 1st. November is an intense month, y’all.

After I realized I could either post just to be posting or work on December posts and have quality posts that month, I decided to do the latter. It’s best to regroup and come back strong than trundling along in mediocrity, in my opinion.

So I’ll see you in December!

-Sarah-

Life & Family · Monthly Recaps

October Wrap-up

What I Read

  1. I Remember You: A Ghost Story
  2. The Right Hand of Evil
  3. House of Ashes
  4. Christmas With You (will be up on the blog in December)
  5. The Twelve Slays of Christmas (will also be up in December along with the sequel)

What I Watched

  1. I am The Pretty Thing That Lives in The House (pass if you can)
  2. Malevolent
  3. The Conjuring
  4. Some Doctor Blake Murder Mysteries
  5. A full 3 Collections of Forensic Files

What I Cooked/Ate

  1. Chicken Bog – I used a rotisserie chicken instead of boiling mine, but it turned out amazing.
  2. Cheese Fondue
    • I bought a fondue pot for Shane’s birthday even though it’s not until mid-Nov.
  3. Broth Fondue
  4. Roughly 7 dishes to use up the leftover dippers from the fondue. Including a pizza topped with all the leftover cheese and veggies. It was delicious.
  5. Sushi from King Kong Sushi….repeatedly
  6. Sushi from the grocery store by my house because it’s actually incredibly good.
  7. Eggs Bennies from our favorite little diner. We go about once a week since they serve b-fast for me and lunch/dinner for Shane when he gets off in the morning.
  8. An insanely messy meal from Steak ‘n Shake (autocorrect made that Steak ‘n Shame and it’s not wrong).

What I Did

I’m about to be too honest with y’all, but here goes. This month we had a flea invasion (from an untreated puppy). I have spent weeks this month washing clothes then having to wash them again, having a hard time breathing from all the diatomaceous earth we had to put on the carpet, watching Tau to make sure the flea medicine didn’t kill him, washing more clothes/sheets/comforters, and so on and so forth. All while my hands were torn up from flea bites – I have a really bad reaction to them. I literally bandaged my hands and wrists like I had been in a fire so I wouldn’t scratch them. It was a nightmare. It’s been 3 weeks from the first bite and they’re finally fading. BUT there are no fleas in this apartment anymore. If there were, they’d be biting me. I’m a magnet. Tomorrow we get to vacuum up the diatomaceous earth and dust the entire apartment cuz that stuff gets everywhere. Last month was hurricanes, this month was bugs. Next month will be family (I kid, I kid). 10/10 will probably pet the puppy again. After I check that it’s been treated. I helped a twitter friend’s friend fix a WordPress issue at 11 at night while mostly asleep. Posted my favorite post of all time that literally no one looked at, but I’m still super proud of. Picked Laurie up and carried him a good ways from the bedroom to the couch without getting scratched. He’s a hefty boy and he usually struggles to get away from me so hard that I end up bleeding. He’s mellowing. I’m glad October is gone and I’m glad I’m starting November by cleaning up the wreckage and getting a fresh start to the month. ~S~
Reviews

House of Ashes {Review}

3 out of 5 stars (remember: 3 stars is a positive review)

Goodreads has this to say (I edited it heavily, though):

Painter Cassandra Mitchell is the fourth-generation to live in the majestic Battersea Bluffs, originally built by her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, and still standing despite tragedies. Local lore has it that there was a curse placed on the family and the house is haunted, though opinions are divided on whether it’s by malicious or benevolent spirits. Cassie believes the latter―but now she stands to lose her beloved home.


Salvation seems to arrive when a nomadic young couple wanders onto the property ―until they vanish without a trace, leaving behind no clue to their identities. Cassie is devastated, but determined to discover what’s happened to the young couple…even as digging into their disappearance starts to uncover family secrets of her own. Despite warnings from her childhood friend, now the local Chief of Police―as well as an FBI agent ―Cassie can’t help following the trail of clues (and eerie signals from the old house itself) to unravel the mystery. But can she do so before her family’s dark curse destroys everything in its path?

I thought this was going to be…spookier. There’s just not a ton of haunting for a story with ghosts in it. The romance aspect was weird and somehow there was an out-of-left-field love triangle for like…20 pages, then disappeared. There was the weirdness of her sister refusing to visit because….smells? She can’t just stay somewhere else in town?  I couldn’t completely buy into one plot line because there were so many. Not all of them got resolved satisfactorily – at least for me. 

Cassie comes off (to me) as really naive, sheltered, and a bit spacey. I just didn’t really connect with her, but she grew on me over the course of the novel. The plot was full of strange disconnected threads that didn’t really have much to do with each other and it almost seemed like I should be reading two different books – one about the missing couple and one about her family shenanigans. 

However, it was an easy read and nothing made me angry. You know how sometimes you just get mad at a book for whatever deficiencies it has? That didn’t happen here. I was interested in the novel for the entire time and bought the resolution to a couple of the plot threads. I liked the Police Chief, and sympathized with the FBI agent. Everyone gets mad at the people who are trained to find out what’s happening, and poor guy is just doing his best. 

I definitely don’t regret reading this over a weekend, but I don’t think I’ll be reading any more books in this series. She hasn’t written any more yet, but I have the feeling it’s a series. 

Big thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the eARC in exchange for a review. 

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Horror Novels I Can’t Wait to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature currently run by That Artsy Reader Girl.

I don’t really go for very horrific horror novels, if you haven’t been able to tell from my review choices this October. I love creepy books, though. When the suspense and eerie feelings ratchet up to a crescendo, that’s when I’m most intrigued. There’s a list on Goodreads called Space Horror that I keep meaning to go though and add to my TBR mountain, because I love two kinds of horror more than any others – gothic creepiness in Victorian mansions and terror in space where there can be no escape. That said, I don’t read as much horror as I’d like, so for my Halloween Top Ten Tuesday topic, here are some horror(ish) books I’d like to check out.

On to the list!

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon ~ It’s got so much I adore in a novel! Complicated family relationships, generational curses (even if not actually cursed), abandoned motels, missing people, etc. I picked this up a library book sale and I’m pretty sure it’s a quarter well spent. 

The Desolation of Solitude by Sean-Paul Thomas (also called Alone, apparently) ~ Here’s that space horror I enjoy, but in a novella (150 pages is a novella, right?). It’s got similarities with the movie Passengers from what I can tell, but has the creepiness raised a ton. No memories, waking up alone in space, lady companion also awakes, dark thoughts, ghostly visions. You can download it for free, so why wouldn’t I?

This House is Haunted by John Boyne ~ This has a governess in the mid 1800s who rolls up to her new employment but there are only children and no adults. Oh, and ghosts. It also has awesome cover art, and I won’t deny that helps.

Snowblind by Christopher Golden ~ Ghostly happenings in a blizzard? Yes please! This is definitely a book I’m looking forward to – snow is something I see *maybe* once a year or so and the thought of a full-on blizzard is kind of terrifying. Add ghosts/demons/the supernatural and it’s a definite fear inducer. 

No Doors. No Windows. by Joe Schreiber ~ I enjoy novels that play tricks on with your mind – is he insane or haunted? This seems to meet that criteria, and seems generally spooky, so I’m looking forward to it!

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay ~ This is a home invasion story that’s not really my style but the description on Goodreads hooked me. I have to know more about what the men are up to. 

Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey ~ I love Carey’s previous novels and I’m so excited to read another one! The reviews look excellent & I’m not surprised.

The Hunting Ground by Cliff McNish ~ I honestly don’t know anything about this book beyond the Goodreads blurb, but that was enough to add it to the list. I’m intrigued!

The Waiting Room by F. G. Cottam ~ An abandoned war-time train station waiting room with ghosts sounds like an amazing rainy day read. I also love the ‘ghost hunter isn’t really a ghost hunter, but is now a believer’ trope, so I’m in.

The Ghost Hunters by Neil Spring ~ I love the time period between the world wars, especially in the UK, so that in addition to the aforementioned trope in a creepy old rectory makes this book a must-read.

~S~

Blogoween

The Gray Man *Needs* A Book

The Blogoween prompt for October 10th was ‘Local Supernaturals Who Demand A Book’. Camilla over at The Reader In The Attic came up with the prompt and I think it’s an excellent one! While I’m a bit late, I really believe that South Carolina’s favorite ghost deserves a book.

The Gray Man is a phantom that shows up before devastating hurricanes/storms to warn residents to leave town. If you see him, your home will be spared from the storm even if all the other houses nearby are destroyed. I’m not sure if you have to leave town in order to have your home saved, though.

The Story {as I remember it}

In the early 1700s a young gentleman rode his horse up the South Carolina coast from Charleston in order to pay a visit to his fiancee. Somehow his horse became stuck in the pluff mud (it’s almost like quicksand) on Pawley’s Island and then so did he. Both died, so he never made it to see his ladylove. Since then, when a major storm approaches from the Atlantic some very special people will see a man (with or without legs) wearing a long gray coat, possibly dressed as a pirate. Yes, he was seen before Hurricane Florence.

Who Is He?

  1. Blackbeard. Seriously, he hung out in Charleston and died in the early 1700s. Of course, he died in a battle not galloping along the coast.
  2. One of his pirate crew. See: Blackbeard hung out in Charleston.
  3. Some other pirate from some other crew.
  4. Percival Pawley. Eeeehhhh, he was in his 50s when he died and the story clearly states a young gentleman. Here’s his ancestry.com record.
  5. Some rando.

A Book, Though?

How cool would a novel about a young pirate racing to see his forbidden love (has to be forbidden) before a horrific hurricane hits be? There could be the story of his lady who sits at her window pining for her pirate who will never come home. But since it’s a forbidden love, no one knows about their engagement and she’s never told. Tragedy, y’all.

I think I might write that book.

~Sarah~

Blogoween · Reading · Reviews

The Right Hand of Evil {Review}

Book Cover for The Right Hand of Evil by John Saul

7 out of 10? I really liked it but didn’t love it.

This is probably the first (only?) actual horror novel I’ve read for Blogoween. I used to love John Saul books, and this one has just sitting on my shelf, begging to be read. I finally gave in because I needed a not-just-Gothic-or-semi-creepy-but-actually-horror book in my October lineup. I’m really glad I did! I definitely remember why I love John Saul books and I’m not sure why it’s been so long.

The basic plot (without giving too much away) is that an alcoholic’s aunt dies, he inherits a house, moves his family in, and then everything goes insane. There’s a lot of Catholicism which I don’t really connect with generally but was a nice counterpoint to the evil going on. I absolutely have to mention that there’s violence against animals. Like, fairly graphic violence against animals. Almost quit reading, to be honest. I held out though, and while it wasn’t my favorite part of the book, I got past it.

John Saul has a talent for making me continue reading a book even if I’d normally roll my eyes at whatever’s happening. Hell? Demon faces beneath normal faces? Usually I’m out, but I stayed interested here. There’s a ton of hallucinating in this book and the images he paints are bananas. There’s a lot of atmospheric creepiness, which I always adore.

This is a legit horror novel that lingered in my mind and somehow pushed past the normal suspension of belief I have for the supernatural. I definitely recommend it.

A final note:
Last weekend at my mother in law’s farm I was there alone and had to go outside. I spooked myself because I realized that anyone could be lurking in the pines and the Farm Dog would probably not even notice. Also, I had a nightmare Tuesday night that wasn’t actually related to the novel at all, but as I walked to and from the bathroom for water all I could think of was that there could be people just standing in the apartment and I wouldn’t be able to see them. That fear is directly related to the novel, so thanks for that John Saul.

Blogoween · The Unexplained

My Top 5 Favorite Cryptids

When I was a kid, my dad and I always talked about Nessie or Bigfoot or whatever else. We read about them, watched TV shows about them, and on and on. It wasn’t just cryptids, though, it was anything weird, unexplained, unsolved, or just generally mysterious. Over the years it led me into an interest in true crime via unsolved killings/disappearances/etc. as well as a weirdly broad knowledge of famous hauntings. However, I’ve always had a soft spot for a few mythical-ish animals beyond Nessie and Co.
Dobhar-chu encounter

Dobhar-chú

In Ireland there is a story of a half dog/half otter (or half dog/half fish). Look at those teeth, guys. That otterdog will mess you up then float down the Loch holding hands with its little dobhar-chú friends.  Did I mention they travel in pairs so one will get you if the first doesn’t? They do. As I have never been to Ireland, I have no idea if this is true, but according the very legit-seeming Cryptid Wiki (and the actual Wiki page) there are dobhar-chú referenced on at least one gravestone from the 17th century. The image to the left was drawn by an eye witness named Sean Corcoran fairly recently. I like the idea of a vicious otterdog.

Orang PendekOrang Pendek

According to my Google Translate research, Orang Pendek is Indonesian for ‘shorty people’ which seems fair. The tallest of the Bigfoot-ish cryptids are said to get to 5 feet, so I’ve beaten them by 1.5 inches. They are found on the island of Sumatra in a crazy remote rainforest. The first white dude who recorded a sighting of the Orang Pendek was an Italian traveler in the 1300s, but his writings were apparently a mess. It’s been reported that the people who live on the island of Sumatra have legends dating way back about the people who live in the forest alongside them. The majority of this paragraph comes from the Wikipedia article and is pretty loose on where the claims come from. The entire idea intrigues me, though. A lost hominid roaming an island rainforest is a pretty cool thought. People have launched searches for them at least as recently as 2011, by the way. In case you want to add something really weird to your resume
OgoPogo crop

The Ogopogo

That’s a ridiculous image of the Ogopogo, a lake monster that lives in Okanagan Lake in British Columbia. Apparently it’s been hanging out since at least the 1700s, but the first ‘recorded’ sighting (ie – a white lady saw it) was in 1873. A man named Bill Steciuk saw Ogopogo in 1978 and runs a website dedicated to the creature and documents sightings, etc. He also sells t-shirts, if you’re interested. I love this site because people have sent in their experiences and you can read actual reports instead of ‘these people toootally saw X’ articles. I sort of hope that Ogopogo is chilling in Canada just being super reclusive because humans are the worst.

harry and harry tooLizardman of Lee County

While I definitely prefer my cryptids to be of the ‘ehhhhh…..could be possible I guess’, this is a home state legend that I can’t not mention. Also, Shane’s family lives in rural Lee County, so I travel through the Lizard Man’s hunting grounds regularly. Basically, this gigantic lizard-like fella roams Lee County in central South Carolina being a creep, attacking people/cars, and generally being obnoxious. He’s 7ish feet tall, with red glowing eyes, and is a bipedal reptilian. Lee County loves the Lizard Man; besides the sign for Harry & Harry Too, a restaurant in Bishopville, 2018 was the first year of the Lizard Man Festival and Comic Con. There are other random bits of local flair that have to do with the Lizard Man, and everyone has an opinion on what he was/is. Alien or mutated lizard are the two most popular theories. Mysterious Universe has a really good, really comprehensive article about the Lizard Man with some really great images.

ThylacinusThe Thylacine

On the opposite end of the spectrum of cryptids, there’s the thylacine, aka the Tasmanian Tiger. Everyone can agree that there was a large marsupial roaming Australia/Tasmania/New Guinea that looked like a dog but wasn’t a canine. The last scientifically accepted thylacine died in 1936. The zoo thought it would be able to find a new thylacine rather quickly and they were super wrong. There have been literal thousands of sightings of thylacines since the 1936 extinction even though indisputable proof has yet to be produced. The Wikipedia article’s references section is incredibly extensive if you’re interested in learning more. The protections for thylacines put into place 2 months before the last captive died are still in place, just in case. I always root for the underdog and I honestly hope there are pockets of thylacines out there.

This is by far the longest post I’ve written, so I’ll sign off now. I hope you enjoyed a little bit of the weirdness that is cryptozoology, even if I didn’t go too in depth.

~S~

Life & Family

Fall…kind of

It’s Fall! It’s also exactly as hot as it was before it was Fall. Okay, you can get away with jeans in the morning now, but you’ll still be suffering in the afternoon. I called it Slightly Less Summer on twitter the other day and I stand by that description. It feels like seasons are just slightly off from what they should be, but maybe by December it’ll be too cold to wear shorts.

The heat means nothing though. I still want to curl up under blankets and drink hot chocolate or tea while I watch Hallmark movies or read. Luckily, I’m generally cold when I’m inside. I think it has something to do with the movement of the air and not necessarily the temperature. Either way, I am able to curl up under a blanket, but no hot chocolate yet, it’s not quite cold enough for that. I’ve had some tea the past couple of days and I couldn’t be under the blanket at the same time.

Sometimes you can even smell Fall in the air when you walk outside. It’ll be 90+ degrees and I’m sniffing like I have a sinus infection because Fall is the best smell and I want to take in as much as possible.

When I went to campus a couple weeks ago I turned the AC waaaay down so I could pretend like it was really fall. I plan on doing the same the next several times I’m staying up there. I’m certainly not going to do it at home and add it to my electricity bill.

-Sarah-

PS – I wrote this on Wednesday & today (Friday) actually felt like fall. But I think that’s because Hurricane Michael brought the cooler weather & it won’t stay that way.

Blogoween · Reviews

I Remember You: A Ghost Story {Review}

 

Book cover for I Remember You: A Ghost Story

My favorite thing about reading a novel in translation is that not all words are translatable and you have to stumble through them the best you can. I don’t speak Icelandic so it was fun to look up pronunciations for names of towns and people. Don’t ask me to say them out loud, though, because I will fail.

I really liked this book. It’s not really a thriller but it’s a steadily unfolding story that has twists and turns and is pretty engaging. Even if you guess one (or some) of the twists, it’s still an interesting story. The only issue I had was that one of the twists was telegraphed pretty early on, but the reveal was solid, so it was fine. It’s fun to read a novel where being religious isn’t the norm, but isn’t completely weird either.

I would say this is a solid October read if you’re looking for something to make you uneasy but not terrified. The location is awesome – part of the novel takes place in an abandoned community in northern Iceland. The language is vivid, even though it’s a translation.

A warning, though: there’s violence against children mentioned. Nothing graphic at all, and most of the novel isn’t graphic, but it’s mentioned.

-Sarah-