Saturday, December 1, 2018
Description from Goodreads:
The Valiant was supposed to save us. Instead, it triggered the end of the world.
Earth is in shambles. Everyone, even the poorest among us, invested in the Valiant’s space mining mission in the hopes we’d be saved from ourselves. But the second the ship leaves Earth’s atmosphere, our fate is sealed. The alien invasion begins. They pour into cities around the world through time portals, possessing humans, forcing us to kill one another.
And for whatever reason, my brother is their number one target.
Now the fate of the world lies in the hands of me, a seventeen-year-old girl, but with the help of my best friend, Justin―who’s suddenly starting to feel like more―maybe if we save my brother, we can save us all…
I am freaking out over this book! Aliens are normally not my thing, but OMG. And then that ending. I didn't know if I wanted to cheer or throw the book. I resorted to stomping around my house because the copy I read was a personalized autographed copy that I won in a giveaway.
Sara wasn't your typical protagonist. I was relieved to see that the author didn't resort to using a cookie cutter type character for her (or any of her characters). All of the characters were relatable, believable and real. The storyline is one that I haven't seen done a thousand times. I can't even think of examples to give you an idea of what it was like.
I haven't read Sci-fi in a long time because the books are just there. I don't connect with any of the characters, and I don't feel anything when I read them. With Valiant, I laughed, cried, had a panic attack, and cheered for each small victory. It has been a while since a book has got me this excited.
Monday, November 26, 2018
Description from Amazon:
When magic has gone from the world, and a vicious king rules from his throne of glass, an assassin comes to the castle. She does not come to kill, but to win her freedom. If she can defeat twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition to find the greatest assassin in the land, she will become the king's champion and earn her freedom. Her name is Celaena Sardothien – beautiful, deadly, and destined for greatness.
But as dark forces gather on the horizon-forces which threaten to destroy her entire world-Celaena must fight to protect everything she holds dear, thrusting her into the epic, heart-stopping fantasy series that has turned #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas into a worldwide phenomenon
I am going to do something a little bit different with this one. I binge read the entire series in a week so I am going to review it as a whole.
I give the overall series 4 stars. There were a lot of repetitive phrases (she purred, a vulgar gesture made, toes curling) at times it was distracting but the overall storyline was amazing. There was also a lot of switching of partners, and there is a lot of characters with crazy names. It was hard to keep them all straight at times.
Each book in the series, I gave five stars. Each book in itself was amazing (despite the repetitive phrases). The characters had rich back stories that were worked into the story in a way that didn't bog down the story. The books were well written and edge-of-your-seat action-packed.
I read this series starting with Assassin's blade and I am glad I did. It helped me get a little bit of a grasp on some of the characters that are introduced later in the series. At first, I really didn't like the main character. I thought she was arrogant and selfish. As I continued to read, I realized that it was more of a front that she put on. Almost like emotional armor. Once I realized this, I liked her a lot more. Don't give up after the first story of Assassin's Blade! There is a lot of speculation saying that you can read it later, but I found Throne of Glass makes references to Assassin's Blade and it was nice to know what happened. Tower of Dawn kind of depressed me just because of the ending of Empire of Storms. I was anxious to find out what happened next, and Tower of Dawn runs parallel to Empire of Storms, so the story doesn't really move forward.
Kingdom of Ash was epically amazing! It was the perfect ending to this series. I cried at the end because this beautiful world was over. Luckily I found out that Sarah J Maas is going to release a book in 2019 that takes place 10 years after Kingdom of Ash. I wasn't ready for a clean break lol.
Friday, October 26, 2018
Thirteen-year-old Lily Harman always dreamed of adventure. A strong-willed girl, Lily felt trapped in a life of Victorian stuffiness at her prim boarding school. But after her father-a famous inventor-disappears on a routine zeppelin flight, Lily's life gets turned upside down.
Now cared for by her guardian, the heartless Madame Verdigris, Lily is quite certain that she's being watched. Mysterious, silver-eyed men are lurking in the shadows, just waiting for their chance to strike. But what could they possibly want from her?
There are rumors, Lily learns, that her father had invented the most valuable invention ever made-a perpetual motion machine. But if he made such a miraculous discovery, he certainly never told Lily. And all he left behind is a small box-with no key, no hinges.
With the help of a clockmaker's son, Robert, and her mechanimal fox, Malkin, Lily escapes London in search of the one person who might know something about her father's disappearance-and what he left behind.
I love steampunk! Follow Lilly and Robert on a journey to locate Lilly's missing father. The additional cast of characters are creepy hybrid humans, a questionable housekeeper, a band of mechanical house servants and a mechanical fox was hilarious. This book was a fun, suspenseful adventure that kept me on the edge of my seat, made me laugh, and made me cry. Perfect for steampunk fans of all ages.
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Ron Olson is a reluctant newcomer to Deer Falls. Adjusting to this small Colorado town is tough for Ron, who has been torn away from his father, his friends, and his soccer team.
His situation takes a frightening turn when a mysterious woman in black is released from a chest that imprisoned her. This ancient and powerful evil descends upon Deer Falls and a series of unexplained deaths follow. No one is safe. Anyone in the town could be next.
Ron is soon targeted by the centuries-old malevolent witch as she reigns terror and death upon the town. Can Ron and his new friends find out the truth about the deaths that have plagued the town and stop the witch before more people die?
This book was AMAZING! It hooked me in from the start and kept my attention throughout. I read it in one sitting! The cast of characters was perfect for this book. I feel like Dean should have gotten a bigger part though. I am going to put this on my Halloween reads shelf!
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
A delightful English cozy series begins in August 1924. Lady Adelaide Compton has recently (and satisfactorily) interred her husband, Major Rupert Charles Cressleigh Compton, hero of the Somme, in the family vault in the village churchyard.
Rupert died by smashing his Hispano-Suiza on a Cotswold country road while carrying a French mademoiselle in the passenger seat. With the house now Addie's, needed improvements in hand, and a weekend house party underway, how inconvenient of Rupert to turn up! Not in the flesh, but in - actually, as a - spirit. Rupert has to perform a few good deeds before becoming welcomed to heaven - or, more likely, thinks Addie, to hell.
Before Addie can convince herself she's not completely lost her mind, a murder disrupts her careful seating arrangement. Which of her twelve houseguests is a killer? Her mother, the formidable Dowager Marchioness of Broughton? Her sister Cecilia, the born-again vegetarian? Her childhood friend and potential lover, Lord Lucas Waring? Rupert has a solid alibi as a ghost and an urge to detect.
Enter Inspector Devenand Hunter from the Yard, an Anglo-Indian who is not going to let some barmy society beauty witnessed talking to herself derail his investigation. Something very peculiar is afoot at Compton Court and he's going to get to the bottom of it - or go as mad as its mistress trying.
I am a huge fan of characters like Phryne Fisher, Agatha Raisin, and anything by Agatha Christy. This book is right up there with these fabulous authors and characters. I loved Addy's character. She was well developed and her look on society norms (women fainting) often made me laugh. Her husband's ghost also provided some laugh out loud moments. This book is going to join all of my other cozy mysteries and get read on a regular basis.
Tuesday, October 9, 2018
The transition from elementary school to middle school skirts the borders of traumatic for many girls. Their bodies are changing, their moods are shifting, their friendships are tested, and boys can become a big distraction. Girls may begin to struggle with grades, behavior, and relationships with family and friends. How do they know what to do and what not to do in this new environment with new expectations?
Erica and Jonathan Catherman offer girls ages ten to twelve the practical help they need to make the move to middle school as painless as possible. The "do this, not that" format covers a hundred relevant topics and situations middle school girls will face, including the first day, bullies, test taking, cell phone use, homework, gossip, leadership, respect, sports, PDA, and many more.
Middle school is tough. Not only is a girl's body going through changes, but there is social scenarios, appropriate responses, and behaviors that can either create friends or make enemies. How is a girl fresh out of elementary supposed to cope with this new environment with unspoke rules? The Girls' Guide to Conquering Middle School has the answers. The book has alphabetical listings for everything from the 1st day to Zombies. The topics are covered in ways that are relatable to middle school girls. Each topic also includes a fun fact, a brief true story, quotes or jokes. Each topic includes examples of what to do and what not to do. I would highly recommend this book to every young girl making the monumental transition from elementary to middle school; from the world of a little girl to young lady.
Friday, October 5, 2018
A timely retelling of A Christmas Carol for the whole family about a smartphone-obsessed dad.
This Christmas, join Michael Rosen and Tony Ross with their unforgettable retelling of Charles Dickens's beloved holiday classic. Harry Gruber plays the role of Scrooge in his school's production of "A Christmas Carol," and he is extra nervous about tonight's performance because his father is in the audience — not away for business, as usual. Will the story's message of Christmas cheer and the redemptive power of love reach his father's distracted Scrooge heart?
Harry gets to play Scrooge for his school play. His dad, however, grumbled and complained about having to go see it. During the play, Dad gets a phone call and leaves for business matters. As Harry does an outstanding performance, Dad slowly starts to realize what is most important. This was a super cute retelling of A Christmas Carol. I loved the characters, the humor, and the writing. This book is going to get added to my Christmas reading rotation. My 10-year-old stole my kindle and finished it before I could and she said to make sure everyone knew how good it was and it deserved 50 stars. I have to agree. The illustrations were cute, and I loved the style.
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Under the cover of “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” Charlotte Holmes puts her extraordinary powers of deduction to good use. Aided by the capable Mrs. Watson, Charlotte draws those in need to her and makes it her business to know what other people don’t.
Moriarty’s shadow looms large. First, Charlotte’s half brother disappears. Then, Lady Ingram, the estranged wife of Charlotte’s close friend Lord Ingram, turns up dead on his estate. And all signs point to Lord Ingram as the murderer.
With Scotland Yard closing in, Charlotte goes under disguise to seek out the truth. But uncovering the truth could mean getting too close to Lord Ingram—and a number of malevolent forces…
I received this book free from Edelweiss books in exchange for a review.
I love this series. Charlotte, Livia and Mrs. Watson try to prove the innocense of Lord Ingrahm's innocense when his wife is found dead in the ice house.
Follow these characters on a well thought out plot full of twists and turns. The cast of characters are well developed and interact in a believable way. I love this author's writing style and how she makes it almost impossible to guess who did it or what will happen next.
Monday, September 24, 2018
A grand estate, terrible secrets, and a young woman who bears witness to it all. If V. C. Andrews and Kate Morton had a literary love child, Emma Rous’ The Au Pair would be it.
Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.
Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.
Who is the child and what really happened that day?
One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.
There is no way to adequately describe this book without giving it all away. But I am going to do my best. Seraphine always felt that there was something different about her family, but she could never quite figure out what it was. After he father's death, she finds a photo of her mother holding a newborn baby. The catch is that Seraphine is a twin. This starts her on a journey to discover the truth. Through the twist and turns, she could never have imagined what that truth actually was.
This book was AMAZING. The first chapter is really choppy and you are just kind of thrown into the story. The characters are pretty much introduced as the story goes along. There are a couple of things that happened that were never mentioned again (a mirror scene). The book was beautifully written and the plot was well thought out.
Sunday, September 23, 2018
Victor Frankenstein leads a charmed life. He and his twin brother, Konrad, and their beautiful cousin Elizabeth take lessons at home and spend their spare time fencing and horseback riding. Along with their friend Henry, they have explored all the hidden passageways and secret rooms of the palatial Frankenstein chateau. Except one.
The Dark Library contains ancient tomes written in strange languages and filled with forbidden knowledge. Their father makes them promise never to visit the library, but when Konrad becomes deathly ill, Victor knows he must find the book that contains the recipe for the legendary Elixir of Life.
The elixir needs only three ingredients. But impossible odds, dangerous alchemy and a bitter love triangle threaten their quest at every turn.
Victor knows he must not fail. Yet his success depends on how far he is willing to push the boundaries of nature, science and love—and how much he is willing to sacrifice.
The author gave a fresh voice to the Frankenstein story. I loved the adventures and the mysteriousness of the dark library. I feel that the author did an amazing job capturing what a young Victor would have been like. Henry and Elizabeth were awesome supporting characters. I can't wait to read the next one!
Thursday, September 20, 2018
In the aftermath of a hurricane, a series of strange events plague the coastal waters off Florida. People go into the water and never return. Corpses of killer whales drift ashore, ravaged from enormous bite marks. A fishing trawler is found adrift, with a mysterious gash in its hull. Transferred to the coastal town of Merit, police officer Leonard Riker uncovers the horrible reality of an enormous Thresher shark lurking off the coast. Forty feet in length, it has taken a territorial claim to the waters near the town harbor. Armed with three-inch teeth, a scythe-like caudal fin, and unmatched aggression, the beast seeks to kill anything sharing the waters.
When I first saw this book, I expected something close to Jaws. I loved Jaws and have always loved sharks. While this book is similar to Jaws, it is equally unique.
I love the fact that the author chose a shark that was naturally aggressive. He didn't create a new "rogue shark" theory or come up with a storyline that was so far-fetched that you couldn't imagine it. The way that he worked in the twists and reasoning behind his plot was amazing. I couldn't find any holes and didn't have any questions left unanswered. This situation could possibly happen.
The characters were well created and well rounded. Each had their own backstory that made them seem real. The ending was perfect. I think that if it ended any differently, I would have been upset.
Please, someone in the movie industry, get this book and make a movie. Just make sure to stick to the book because it is perfect!
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
When Lewis Barnavelt, an orphan. comes to stay with his uncle Jonathan, he expects to meet an ordinary person. But he is wrong. Uncle Jonathan and his next-door neighbor, Mrs. Zimmermann, are both magicians! Lewis is thrilled. At first, watchng magic is enough. Then Lewis experiments with magic himself and unknowingly resurrects the former owner of the house: a woman named Serenna Izard. It seems that Serenna and her husband built a timepiece into the walls--a clock that could obliterate humankind. And only the Barnavelts can stop it!
I really enjoyed this magical adventure. I got the Walmart exclusive copy that had movie photos in it. I am afraid that they may not follow the book too closely :(. This book was funny and adventurous. I loved it and will probably get the rest of the series.
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.
This is one of those books that you get so wrapped up in the world the author created that you are actually sad when it is over. I loved the imagination and the magic of the circus. The dynamics of the challenge and what the players create within the circus is amazing. I normally don't read books more than once or if I do it is years apart. This is one of the select few that may have to be read at least once a year.
Monday, September 17, 2018
Welcome to Glendoch! Hidden to most, this glacial world once crackled with alchemy. Now it waits for war—divided and bound by strict rules. So when twelve-year-old Meylyne falls from a tree onto Glendoch’s sickly prince, she must flee or face imprisonment in the Shadow-Cellars. The only way she may return home is with a cure for the prince’s peculiar disease.
Convinced she will perish, Meylyne and her companions embark on their journey—and before they know it, they are knee-deep in a plot to sink Glendoch into shadow, like other worlds before it. Poisoned guardians, cursed wizards, and cunning witch-spirits bound into wands are just some of the dangers that dot the way of their travels.
And behind it all is the Thorn Queen. Mysteriously magnetic (or murderously vengeful, depending on whose side you’re on), she is always one step ahead of them . . .
For starters: what an amazing cover! It is so beautiful
I didn't want this book to end! I love the world that Elise Holland created. She created species of magical beings, landscapes, rules, and customs seamlessly worked into an amazing tale. Meylyne was the perfect protagonist finding things out about herself and learning to deal with them while trying to complete a quest and save the day. For as much that goes on in this book, it could have easily become a very cumbersome read. However, it was beautiful, fun, and had surprises around every corner. It sounds almost as if there might be a second one, but the ending leaves you satisfied. There is a slight cliffhanger, but nothing torturous lol.
Friday, September 14, 2018
Naughty on Ice is the latest in Maia Chance’s dazzlingly fun Prohibition-era caper series featuring society matron Lola Woodby and her stalwart Swedish cook, Berta.
The Discreet Retrieval Agency is doing a brisk holiday business of retrieving lost parcels, grandmas, and stolen wreaths. But with their main squeezes Ralph and Jimmy once more on the back burner, both Lola and Berta pine for a holiday out of New York City. So when they receive a mysterious Christmas card requesting that they retrieve an antique ring at a family gathering in Maple Hill, Vermont, they jump at the chance. Sure, the card is signed Anonymous and it’s vaguely threatening, but it’s Vermont.
In Maple Hill, several estranged members of the wealthy Goddard family gather. And no sooner do Lola and Berta recover the ring—from Great-Aunt Cressida Goddard’s arthritic finger—than Mrs. Goddard goes toes-up, poisoned by her Negroni cocktail on ice. When the police arrive, Lola and Berta are caught-red-handed with the ring, and it becomes clear that they were in fact hired not for their cracker-jack retrieving abilities, but to be scapegoats for murder.
With no choice but to unmask the killer or be thrown in the slammer, Lola and Berta’s investigations lead them deep into the secrets of Maple Hill. In a breathless pursuit along a snowy ridge, with a lovelorn Norwegian ski instructor and country bumpkin hooch smugglers hot on their heels, Lola and Berta must find out once and for all who’s nice...and who’s naughty.
This was an amazing cozy mystery. Follow Mrs. Woodby and Berta as they solve a mystery they didn't intend to. Thinking they were there to find out who took a ring, mysterious murders begin to happen. Their lives are in danger, they discover a bootlegging operation, and almost get arrested. The plot kept me guessing until the very end.
Thursday, September 13, 2018
The church of St. Ethelred in the village of Thirk Magna is renowned for its team of bell-ringers, the troupe led by identical twins Mavis and Millicent Dupin. Mavis and Millicent are lifelong residents of the remote village—or were, until their home is broken into one night, and Millicent is murdered. But who’s the killer? Is it one of their co-workers, sick of being bullied to practice for a big performance? Or perhaps Joseph Kennell, a retired lawyer who was heard yelling at the sisters that he felt like strangling them? Kennell swears his innocence, and hires the ever-trusty (if often tipsy) Agatha Raisin to clear his name. Only she can find the killer—and hopefully a handsome man to buy her dinner while she’s at it.
So, before we get into the review let me just say M.C. Beaton is my all time favorite author. I have every one of the Agatha Raisin series and Hamish Macbeth. They are my favorite books to read after I read a heavy book. I call them my palate cleansers. She always has great storylines, plot twists and her books keep me guessing. Her characters come to life and make me laugh and one book even made me cry (Highland Christmas). She is the first author I recommend.
Okay enough gushing about her. Here is the review :)
I love the Agatha Raisin series and this one didn't disappoint. Follow along as Agatha tries to solve murders and fall in love. The investigation kept me guessing until the very end (I didn't guess right either). I can't wait for the next one!
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Compared to Outlander and The Mists of Avalon, this thrilling first novel of a debut trilogy reveals the untold story of Languoreth—a forgotten queen of sixth-century Scotland—twin sister of the man who inspired the legend of Merlin.
I write because I have seen the darkness that will come. Already there are those who seek to tell a new history...
In a land of mountains and mist, tradition and superstition, Languoreth and her brother Lailoken are raised in the Old Way of their ancestors. But in Scotland, a new religion is rising, one that brings disruption, bloodshed, and riot. And even as her family faces the burgeoning forces of Christianity, the Anglo-Saxons, bent on colonization, are encroaching from the east. When conflict brings the hero Emrys Pendragon to her father’s door, Languoreth finds love with one of his warriors. Her deep connection to Maelgwn is forged by enchantment, but she is promised in marriage to Rhydderch, son of a Christian king. As Languoreth is catapulted into a world of violence and political intrigue, she must learn to adapt. Together with her brother—a warrior and druid known to history as Myrddin—Languoreth must assume her duty to fight for the preservation of the Old Way and the survival of her kingdom, or risk the loss of them both forever.
Based on new scholarship, this tale of bravery and conflicted love brings a lost queen back to life—rescuing her from obscurity, and reaffirming her place at the center of one of the most enduring legends of all time.
Wow! and Holy cow I didn't like where it left lol. I didn't want to leave this world or the characters in this book. This book made me laugh and cry. It was beautiful and magical. Definitely on my top 10 of 2018
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
I really liked this book but it seemed that almost all of the action happened at the end. The beginning of the book seemed to plod along. It was a great read just not fast paced.
Amazing twisting creepy novel. I loved the storyline and the characters. The ending was trippy. I loved it. It has been a while since I have read a book like this. It was really refreshing.
Friday, August 31, 2018
In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.
Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace - someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir's eye, it's Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.
Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.
Let me just start by saying was a horrible place to leave a reader lol. Total cliffhanger and now I can't wait for number 2.
I love the camaraderie of the sisters even though they are separated. As each sister travels her journey, there is a lot of self-discovery and self-growth. Both sisters learn that desperate times call for desperate measures. There are a few little tweaks here and there that I thought could have been improved on. One example is an amazing opportunity to make me cry and the author didn't grasp onto it. But under the situation the characters were in, I kinda get why she didn't go there. Overall LOVE LOVE LOVED this book!
Friday, August 24, 2018
One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.
Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.
Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.
There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.
With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.
This book was amazing! I loved the theme, the creatures, the characters and how they interacted. Okame and Yumeko were my favorite two characters. Then I got to the Epilogue. Now I can't wait until book 2!!! If you love Japanese folklore, assassins, Samauri, Ronins, adventures, magic..... this is the book for you!
Wednesday, August 1, 2018
The saying goes "Someone has skeletons in their closet." But what about the basement? When Luke and Heidi inherit an old Victorian home in quite Philomath, Oregon, they think it will be a dream come true. The house needed work, but it was quiet and peaceful. As they start renovating, they find a treasure trove of expensive antiques. It begs the question "Why would anyone leave this stuff behind?" Heidi starts to notice something is wrong. The house feels weird and something is attacking her. Through research, they discover two different families lived in the house before, one met a tragic end and the other a mysterious one.
If you like what you read below, click here to get your copy today!
We turned into the gravel driveway. Huge oak trees lined both sides. Underbrush twisted and tangled itself in between and twisted up the massive trunks. The woods behind were dense and dark. No sunlight could reach the forest floor. Poison ivy twisted is poisonous tendrils around the moss-covered trunks. Ferns grew taller than any I had ever seen. I didn’t notice any chipmunks or squirrels. I didn’t see or hear any birds. At the slow speed we drove up the long, winding driveway I thought for sure there would be some sign of life.
The trees and underbrush gave way to overgrown bushes and waist high grass. The house stood in the center of the shaded clearing. The ancient Victorian building looked like it was being reclaimed by nature. Large vines grew up the front of the house, over the railing of the covered wrap-around porch and nearly reached the second story. The moss-covered roof sagged in spots and the siding was gray and weather beaten.
All the windows were boarded up. At each corner of the front, there was a turret that ended in a point above the second story roof. The roof was slightly angled except in the very center. There was a tower with a window facing north, south, east and west. These were also boarded up. The roof of the tower came to a point that reminded me of a carousel top. I had never been inside the house, but I knew that the tower would be my favorite part. When Luke and I looked at the pictures online, I knew I wanted this to be a library and office.
We drove around the circle driveway, and I noticed a marble fountain in the center yard. The four-tiered structure was bigger than any fountain I had ever seen. Around the bottom, four Pegasus horses were carved to look as if they were flying out of waves. The next bowl looked as if four mermaids held it over their heads. The third bowl was held up by oyster shells. Each of the four shells were open just enough to support a statue of Poseidon and his trident. The bottom bowl looked as big in diameter as one of the collapsible family pools. Thick vines grew up, over and all around the fountain trying to hide the treasure.
Luke put the car in park and shut off the engine. In the few seconds of silence, we gave each other a reassuring smile. We both knew this house would take a lot of work, but like everything else we would do it side by side. It would have been nice if the lawyer had told us exactly how much work. The pictures he showed us had to be old ones.
One by one the kids started waking up. Sleepy, grunting stretches broke the silence. Our children were 15, 12 and 7. Oliver was the oldest, next Maddy, and last Layla. As they woke up, they started getting out of the car and inspected their surroundings. Various looks of shock, horror, disgust and confusion crossed their faces. Luke and I stood with our arms around each other, our backs to the house, and watched their faces.
Oliver was the first to break the silence. “When you said it needed work, I wasn’t expecting this.” He motioned to the house. “We should just drop a bomb and build something else. With this child everything was either doom or gloom. There was no middle ground with him. He hardly ever saw the bright side of anything. Everyone told me it was just his age, but it still drove me crazy.
Before Luke or I had a chance to respond, Maddy let a horrified shriek. “My phone doesn’t work! Mom, you guys are ruining my life! How far are we from the mall?”
“The mall is about an hour away.” I responded calmly.
“Does this place even have electricity? Or are we going to be living like the pioneers?”
“Don’t be dumb, Maddy. Of course, Mom and Dad wouldn’t make us live like that. Can I start exploring? Can my room be the princess tower at the top? When was the last time someone lived here?” Layla asked her questions in quick succession, not leaving any room for us to answer them.
Luke laughed and caught her as she rushed towards the house “Wait a minute, Little Miss. We need to wait for the inspector. Once we make sure no one will fall through the floor or get hurt, then we can look around.”
I caught the eye rolling and huffs from the older two. “Listen guys, I know this place looks like a heap, but it is going to be amazing when we are done. There is electricity and running water. We are only a half an hour away from town. I am pretty sure we can even get cable and internet. It will just take a little bit of work.”
Oliver looked at me with a skeptical smirk. “More like a 20-man crew working around the clock for a year.”
“If that is what it takes then that’s what will happen.” Luke replied. “When my grandpa left us this house, he left more than enough money to make it perfect.”
“Then why didn’t he do it?” Maddy mumbled under her breath.
Before I could reply, I heard the sound of vehicles coming up the driveway. The first car I didn’t recognize. I assumed it must have been the inspector. The next was my parents in their SUV. The last was Luke’s parents in their pick-up. I noticed the back of the truck was filled with weed eaters, a riding lawn mower and various other yard tools. Luke greeted the inspector while Layla and I went to welcome our other guests. Oliver and Maddy continued to display their contempt over the situation by shutting themselves in our Suburban.
“Grammy! Isn’t this place amazing!” Layla shouted as she ran to my mom. “Grammy, Dad said I couldn’t explore the house. Can you make him?”
My mom laughed and looked down at the child clinging to her leg like a monkey. “Why did Daddy say you couldn’t explore the house?” She asked. Already knowing that Layla didn’t provide all the details.
“Cause the inspector has to say that I won’t get hurt first.” Layla knew she lost her cause.
“Well then I think we should wait for the inspector. Because no one wants anyone to get hurt.” My mom laughed at the pouting face staring back at her.
When Luke’s parents joined us, Layla tried them. “Grandma Laurel, he is your son, can’t you make him?”
Laurel laughed and hugged her. “We should listen to Dad, Darling. Grammy Diane was right, no one wants to be hurt.”
“Ah, getting hurt is part of growing up.” Jerry, my father-in-law tweaked her nose. He gave me a big hug. “Hey, Joe, do you mind giving me a hand with the stuff in the truck?” he asked my father.
Finally relenting that she wasn’t going to get anywhere with her grandparents, Layla ran off and started exploring the center yard.
My mom turned and looked at the house. “Seems like all it needs is some elbow grease and a good coat of paint. We should get the windows opened up first; get some fresh air going through.”
Luke came out and another round of hugs went around. Jerry and Laurel asked questions about our drive. My mom looked around the yard. Layla was studying the vine covered fountain.
“Where are the other two?” Mom asked.
“They are in the Suburban convinced that we are ruining their lives and dooming them to a life of pioneers.” I answered rolling my eyes.
The men cleared a large enough square that we had a place to put (and find later) the tools. Once that was finished, my mom dragged my stubborn children from the car and armed them with rakes.
“Where do we want to start?” Laurel asked.
The men and Oliver decided to inspect the well, the pump and the exterior of the house. Oliver didn’t look pleased to be volunteered for this task. As they marched through the overgrowth and waist high grass, I heard Oliver complaining about his new shoes.
“I guess we could start in the area around the middle. It seems less daunting than trying to take on the side yards.” I suggested.
Laurel picked up a pair of hedge trimmers, my mom had a machete, and I had a shovel. For a few minutes we just stood staring at the jungle. My mom and Laurel went first with the machete and hedge trimmers. The vines grew under the grass and tangled around my feet, almost tripping me on more than one occasion. We realized after a half an hour of trimming and cutting that the center circle of yard was much bigger than it looked. I tried to trace the morning glory vines back to some point of origin and dig them up. Layla and Maddy kept an eye out for anything that the lawn mower couldn’t run over. As we made our way to the fountain in the center, we found perfect sphere shaped polished rocks, toy cars that looked like they were from the 1960’s and Layla found a tricycle from around the same time.
“Mom?” I asked addressing Laurel, “Did Grandpa say when the last time someone lived here was?”
“No, he never said. I know he bought this place from a family member as a project before he got sick. He hired a company to fix the wiring, update the heating, and the plumbing. I think that is as far as he got before he got sick.”
“Well, if we’re finding stuff that is this old, then it has to be at least a hundred years since someone lived here.” Layla looked at us in a matter of fact tone.
“Layla, this stuff is from when Grandma Laurel and I were kids.” My mom laughed.
You could see Layla trying to process this. I knew it was hard for any child to imagine their grandparents as children. After a minute or two, she shrugged and moved the tricycle to the toy pile. The last patch of grass hid a child sized tractor. It looked like one that my grandparents had on their farm. You could sit on it and either peddle or push your way around. The yellow and green was the tell-tale John Deere colors. Layla rode it over to the toy pile. Then took off running towards our Suburban. She came back with bottles of water for everyone and a confused look on her face.
“What’s the matter, Honey?” I asked accepting the water.
“I think there is still someone that lives here.”
“Why do you say that?” Laurel asked.
“When I got the water, I saw a boy in the doorway. He had on a red shirt and blue shorts and looked younger than me.” She thought for a minute. “But these couldn’t be his because of how old these toys are.”
I didn’t know what to say, I have always believed in spirits and demons. I believed that spirits wouldn’t hurt you, they are just beings that are simply there. They don’t scare people, hurt people, or do anything menacing. Anything that caused fear, hate or anger, I believed to be demonic. My mom knew my views on this, but Laurel and I have never talked about anything like that. We stood there looking at each other awkwardly.
“It was probably just the shadows, Layla.” Maddy rolled her eyes. “Don’t be dumb. There is no one here but us and the inspector and there is no such thing as ghosts.
“Don’t call your sister dumb.” I scolded trying to think of something to change the subject. “Now let’s finish this up and see what other treasures we can find.”
“The bottom of the fountain is big enough that I could swim in it.” Layla bounced excitedly clapping her hands, her mind already off the boy.
The fountain was mainly made of white marble. It looked like the pearls in the oyster shells were real. I also noticed that the mermaids and Poseidon had gems for eyes. The crown and trident were also adorned with jewels. We dug around the bottom and tested the pump. I wasn’t sure where the power for it came from, but the pump started up and water began to flow. It started from a point in the trident. Once the bowl that Poseidon was full, it started running over and filling the subsequent bowls. I sat back and watched the bottom pool fill. I could already imagine having picnics out here in the summer.
“Now, why don’t we walk through and double check the rest of the area, so Papa and Grandpa can mow.”
As we walked the huge circle, we picked up branches, animal bones, and more of the polished spheres. There were enough I thought they might be some sort of decorative border around the circle yard to protect the grass from traffic. There were more toys and other tin cans and glass bottles.
We finished the area at the same time the men and we all met by the cars. Maddy rolled her eyes as Jerry produced a wheel barrow to move our piles. Layla showed them each toy as she put it into the wheelbarrow.
“We will have to have a dumpster pile. Some of these are rusted through.” Luke said as he looked at each one.
“No, Daddy, we can’t. They belong to the boy.”
Luke looked at me confused. I mouthed “later” and he nodded his understanding. He showed Layla where she could put the toys for now, then went to help mow. After we raked the clippings, I notice perfectly round indentations in the ground. The obsidian spheres fit perfectly in the spaces. After I put them all in place, I stepped back. Apart from the huge grass pile, the space was beautiful.
“This space would be really beautiful with some small decorative trees and some flowers around the fountain.” Laurel assessed the area thoughtfully.
Jerry laughed. “Baby, I think they have enough trees.” He laughed again spreading his arms wide as if embracing the wild woods beyond the clearing.
Laurel slapped him playfully on the arm. “I mean some weeping cherry trees or Japanese maples or something like that.”
“That would be beautiful.” My mom agreed. The two ladies started mentioning types of plants and flowers that would go good against the white marble fountain.
Luke wrapped his arms around me. “Those two might be completely different, but they both have an eye for landscaping.” He kissed the back of my head.
“As long as they both realize that whatever they plant, they will be taking care of.” I laughed only half joking. Our mothers could get anything to grow anywhere. They even had annuals that grew back every year. I, on the other hand, am a serial plant murderer. Out of my five house plants, only two remained living.
“Has the inspector come out yet?” My dad asked.
“Not yet.” My stomach let out a loud growl.
Layla looked at me as if it may jump out of my body and attack her. “Lunch time.”
We spread a blanket in the grass by the fountain facing toward the house. Just as I got everyone settled, the inspector came out. Layla offered him her sandwich. He accepted with thanks and told us the results between bites. After he washed the last bite down with a bottle of water, my dad and Jerry started asking him questions that I didn’t begin to understand.
“Oh, Kids, anywhere you see a chalk circle is dangerous. Don’t step there?” the inspector warned.
“Why?” Layla asked.
“Because you could fall through the floor and get hurt.” He explained as he pulled the skeleton key out of his pocket. “The only two spaces that I couldn’t inspect were the basement and one of the rooms upstairs. The doors are stuck. Since they looked original, I didn’t want to do any damage.”
“Which room.” Luke asked.
“On the left hand set of rooms it is the third door on the left.”
The main structure of the house was still in surprisingly good shape, the floor on the first level had a lot of dry rot. The second floor was fine save a couple of loose boards that needed replaced. The tower was also in great condition.
“The first floor will need a lot of work. There is some dry rot in the floor and mold in the walls.”
Once he left, we all sat back down to decide on a plan. From everything that I did understand, the roof was dangerous on the house and the porch. The inspector made it very clear that the roof should be a priority and had given Luke the names and numbers of a couple of companies. The insulation in the downstairs all needed replaced as well as the walls. I knew mold could make people sick, and I worried about the kids.
“I could call Saul and Sam.” I suggested. They were the pastor’s kids that Luke and I grew up with. Saul became a professional roofer and Sam a general contractor. I knew I could trust them to do a thorough job and not cut any corners.
“When Jerry and I had the roof redone, Saul did a really good job at a good price.” Laurel stated.
“I don’t have service out here. Can one of you call him for me?”
The kids cautiously went into the house looking at the floor for the chalk circles. “you guys be careful.” Luke warned. “Stay on the first floor.”
Luke, my dad and Jerry left us standing on the porch and grabbed ladders and pry bars. I hoped that by getting some light into the house, it wouldn’t be so bad.
“I didn’t realize this place would be this bad. It is going to probably take a week or two to get all the materials we need here. There is no way the hardware store has everything in stock.” I pondered half to myself.
I had no idea how I was going to keep the kids safe. Between the roof and the floor, a thousand different scenarios played through my mind. All of them ended with a hospital trip or death. I crossed my arms and nervously chewed on my thumb trying to think. My mom slapped my hand making me punch myself in the lip. When I looked at her, she had that look she used to give me when I was a child.
“Laurel, can you help me get the cleaning stuff out of my car?” She asked. She gave me another look that told me I better not start chewing on myself again. I stuck my tongue out at her as she and Laurel walked down the steps.
I stayed on the porch watching weathered boards fall from the heavens above me. The two women stood behind my mom’s car talking and nodding conspiratorially. Lord only knew what those two were up to. I heard the kids talking in the house. They were currently arguing over who got first bedroom pick. I went back to planning what I was going to do.
When Laurel and Mom came back arms overloaded with the entire Costco cleaning supplies isle, I rushed down to help. I took what I could, and we dodged boards, plywood and nails on our way to the porch. Together we walked in and got our first look at the house.
The sunlight fought desperately to shine through the grim on the windows. To the left of the door I saw a completely furnished sitting room. Mice and other rodents had eaten away the fabric and stuffing leaving behind the wooden frames and some springs. All the tables and lamps looked antique and in need of cleaning and polishing.
The longer I stood there staring into the room, the more I could see how I wanted it. I imagined wooden walls. Not paneling but tongue and groove hardwood walls. Warm, welcoming light would fill the room from the lamps. New hardwood floors with a deep red area rug, maybe an oriental one with neutral contrasting colors. The furniture would be deep and overstuffed. I would have throw blankets over the backs of the couches and chairs. The fireplace would be the focal point of the room. I could already imagine drinking hot cocoa and playing board games in here during the winter.
Then the true state of the space tore through my day dream. The moldy, peeling wall paper hung haphazardly off the walls as if the glue simply gave up. Layers of dust covered everything. As we moved through the room, our footprints were left behind.
We went back into the entry way and went to the right. This was the dining room. A huge Victorian dining table dominated the large room. Sixteen high-backed matching chairs sat around the table. Along the walls were various counter tops and side tables. Along one wall stood a huge china hutch complete with the china. A huge crystal chandelier hung over the table. Laurel took one of the plates from the hutch. She wiped the dust off the back to look for a maker’s mark.
“These are blue Spode Italian dishes. They were made in the mid 1800’s.”
My mother joined in the treasure hunt and started opening drawers. “It looks like there is a complete silver set for 16. There are also serving utensils. It is tarnished pretty bad, but a good soak in some boiling water, then some baking soda paste should do the trick.”
Laurel finished counting the dishes in the hutch. “There is a complete dinner service set for 16 as well.” She still looked awestruck.
She gently placed the dishes back in the hutch. The way she handled them reminded me of a new mother putting her baby to bed. In the cupboards below. We found antique lace table clothes that looked as old as the dishes. The rodents hadn’t found their way into the cupboards, so they were still perfect. Behind the next door, we found dark blue linen napkins with a hand embroidered design in the corner. The thread used was only one or two shades lighter than the cloth. Beside the napkins sat a dark, wooden box. Dark blue velvet lined the inside of the box. 16 ivory napkin rings rested inside. Etched into each was another design that looked like it could have been an embroidery design.
“It looks like these are Italian embroidery patterns. I remember seeing something like this in a book of designs from around the world that my mom gave me.” My mom commented.
“They are beautiful.” I was shocked.
“The ivory is in really good condition. It isn’t yellowing or anything.” Laurel inspected one.
“Why would anyone leave this all behind? Isn’t this the kind of thing that belonged to someone’s grandmother or something?” I asked.
“Yes, these things would have been a dowry or a wedding present.” My mom answered.
We put everything back and continued searching the room. There were other cupboards that we didn’t check. Along the wall with the hutch, we saw a door with double hinges. I opened it cringing against the protesting groans of hinges in need of oil. The hinges were stiff, and Laurel warned me to be careful, so I don’t break the pins. The hinges looked original. I tried my hardest to gently push the door open and not break the pins or roll my eyes.
Finally, we got through the door and walked into the biggest kitchen I had ever seen. Everything seemed frozen in time. A large, wooden dough bowl and rolling pin sat on top of a long wooden island prep table. The dual sinks were porcelain and looked big enough to wash a Malamute in. The other counter tops were stone slabs. They weren’t the typical marble or granite countertops. They matched the natural wood tones of the prep table only in wavy variegated stripes. The various cabinets and shelves in the room all had a similar shape and carvings as the table and chairs in the dining room and wooden frames in the sitting room.
“Have you noticed that all of the wooden furniture and cabinets and shelving all look like antique black forest Swiss carvings? Even the Grandfather clock in the sitting room looks similar.” Laurel asked.
My mom and I turned to look at her. I had no idea how she knew what Swiss Black Forest wood carvings looked like, but I had never heard of it.
“I noticed that it looked similar but had no idea that it had a specific name.” I laughed.
“It looks like all this stuff needs is a good scrubbing.” My mom noticed. “Maybe some updated appliances.”
“Yeah, I think so too. That and the walls.” I agreed.
“Hello! Anybody home?” All three of us jumped at Jerry’s voice echoing through the foyer. When we joined them, Jerry wiped his forehead dramatically. “There you girls are! I was afraid you were lost.”
Luke walked over to me wiggling his filthy fingers in my face as if he was going to smear me with the grime. I laughed and gave him a hug. Our parents walked out onto the front porch.
“All of the boards are off the windows on the first two floors and the circle things on the corners. We are going to wait until the roof is fixed to take the tower boards down.” He paused and looked around at the dim light.
“The windows are really dirty.” I answered his confused look. He was about to say something else when our parents walked in.
“We have all agreed that, if you would like, we can take turns with the kids this summer. Until the roof and the floor downstairs can get fixed. That way you don’t have to worry about them getting hurt or outside while Saul is doing the roof.” Laurel offered.
Suddenly, Layla screamed from somewhere in the back of the house. We all looked at each other and took off running. “Layla! Maddy! Oliver!” I yelled.
“We are over here, Mom.” Maddy yelled back sounding annoyed.
“Can you be more specific?” My dad yelled back.
At this, Oliver stepped out of a room and into a hallway on the left. “Over here!” we rushed in his direction. He looked completely uninterested by the commotion.
Luke reached Layla first. She crouched down on her hands and knees beside a huge wardrobe. “What happened? Are you alright?” he asked checking her for any signs of injuries.
Her bright eyed, grinning face left me feeling relieved and confused at the same time. “Layla, why did you scream?”
“There is a kitten!” she squealed. She crouched back down and tried to coax the animal towards her.
“It was probably a rat, Layla. Be careful or it will bite your fingers off.” Oliver taunted.
“I know what a cat looks like, Stupid.” Layla defended.
Oliver opened his mouth to say something else, but I gave him a warning look. I crouched down beside Layla and helped her coax the kitten out of hiding. Finally, the little thing came out. All his liquid silver colored hair stood on end. I held him out of Layla’s reach until I could see how it would react to people. For not having human contact, the kitten acted very docile. After a few strokes along his back, his hair laid back down. Convinced that it would be safe, I handed the tiny kitten to my eager daughter.
“Layla, he isn’t used to people. You need to be calm and gentle with him or you will scare him.” I instructed.
She nodded and started to pet and coo at him. Pretty soon the kitten’s purr filled the room. I felt amazed that a noise so loud could come out of something so small.
“That thing has a motor on him.” My dad observed.
“Can we keep him, Mom? I promise that I will take care of him and he can sleep in my room?” she pleaded.
To say that Luke wasn’t a cat person would be an understatement. I looked at him and shrugged. He let out a heavy sigh “Yeah you can keep it, but….”
Before he could list any rules or conditions to her keeping the kitten, Layla let out a squeal that sent the kitten’s hair back on end. I realized then, that this kitten had long hair. When he puffed up, he looked triple his actual size.
“Ssssshhhhh, it’s okay,” she paused momentarily, “Sterling.”
I knew there would be no going back now, the silver kitten had a name. “Softy.” I smiled at Luke. The kitten purred contentedly in Layla’s arms. She grinned from ear to ear at everyone.
“Now that we are all together.” My dad got everyone’s attention. “Kids, your Grammy and I along with Grandpa Jerry and Grandma Laurel talked it over. We were wondering if you wanted to stay with us over summer or until your parents get everything safe for you.”
The older two let out sighs of relief and a “thank God”. Layla wasn’t sure. She looked at each of her grandparents then back at Luke and me.
“What about Sterling?” she asked holding the sleeping kitten.
“He can come too. Papa and I are going to take you first. We can stop by the store on the way and pick up everything you need for him. Even a little carrier.”
“For now, I saw a wooden crate in the kitchen, we can make him a bed in there, so he isn’t scared or running around the car.” Laurel offered.
“And he can use my blanket.” Layla’s excitement returned.
“I can’t believe you are letting her keep that think. It probably has fleas or rabies.” Maddy chimed in.
I gave her my best “young lady” warning look. Before I could reply, my mom had a solution.
“Good thing there is a vet close to the house. If you are afraid of that tiny kitten, stay away from it.”
Sterling stretched and started purring again. “Yeah, he looks like a vicious, rabid killer.” Jerry laughed.
Maddy rolled her eyes and out of habit, went to check her phone. Realizing again that she didn’t have service, she shoved it back into her back pocket and stormed out. We left the room and went in search for the crate. Layla shoved Sterling at Luke and ran out of the house to get her blanket. Sterling half opened his eyes and continued to purr contentedly. Luke looked disgusted. I laughed as I took the kitten and snuggling him close.
“He may need canned cat food, mom. He doesn’t look older than six weeks.” I noticed this kitten was extremely skinny. “I wonder where his mom or brothers and sisters are.”
Layla appeared in the kitchen with her blanket and a little stuffed toy. “So, he doesn’t get lonely.” She explained. The kitten snuggled down into Layla’s fuzzy blanket. She looked satisfied and allowed Jerry to carry the crate outside.
Luke and I loaded the kids’ suitcases in the back of my mom’s car and gave them hugs. “I will call as soon as I can.” I promised trying not to cry.
We all agreed that everyone would come back out Saturday for the weekend. After my parents left, we finished unloading the yard tools from Jerry’s truck.
“I will call Saul about the roof as soon as we get home.” Laurel hugged us.
We stood and waved until everyone was gone. Luke and I turned around and faced the house. “I don’t know if this is a dream come true or our worst nightmare.” I joked.
Luke kissed the top of my head. “It is still too soon to tell.”
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