Marcus is eleven when his mother died. He lived in foster care a short time before going to live with his great-aunt in South Carolina. Aunt Charlotte is an accomplished painter, and a reclusive woman. She is the one who tells Marcus about Grief Cottage….on the far end of the island.
A boy and his parents disappeared in the cottage during a hurricane, fifty years ago. Their bodies were never found and the cottage has been empty ever since.
There has been no talk of it being haunted, but being left pretty much on his own by his aunt, Marcus is the first person the ghost of the cottage has revealed himself to.
After Aunt Charlotte injures herself and may never be able to paint again, Marcus finds himself in sort of a courtship with the ghost boy. He is both intrigued by and terrifyed by him, and wants to find out what happened to him, and his parents, who nobody seems to even remember the names of.
What I thought of Grief Cottage
Grief Cottage is Book 5/60 in my attempt to read 60 books this year.
It is not a typical haunting story. No things going bump in the night. While Marcus has no doubt the ghost boy is real, as a reader I’m not sure I’m convinced.
Marcus is himself a haunted child. Haunted by his past, more afraid of his present than he wants to admit, thinking a little of the future yet to come. As he unpacks his belongings from his previous life, and relives the memories they stir in him the ghost becomes more solid. I think it might be a solidification of his own uncertainties, since he really has no physical person that he feels he can reach out to.
Meanwhile, its a rough coming of age story, a finding of a surrogate mother, a desperate need of a father figure, and a fear of disappearing entirely manifested in acts of trying to find the identities of the nameless family.
This was a rough and emotional book, which can be taken at face value as a ghost story, or something deeper.
If you read Grief Cottage I would love to know what you think. Is the ghost real, or not?
If you enjoyed this review you might also like:
We are one month into the new year. Many people around me have said they felt as if January would never end. I am one of those people. I’ve never been quite so happy to see February come as I am this year.
Some pretty bad things have gone on in January (which “a series of pretty bad things” seems to be the theme of my life anymore), so I’m surprised on how I’ve done with My 2018 Resolutions so far.
To reach my goal of dropping 70 pounds this year, I have to lose roughly 6 pounds a month.
Well, for January I lost somewhere between 4 and 5 pounds. Not a complete fail because I did lose, but I didn’t make goal.
For February I have challenged myself to a Sit-Up Challenge and a Push-Up Challenge. By the end of the month I should be able to do 100 sit ups and 50 push ups.
I made two key chains/purse charms in January.
I did not list them online for sale yet.
I only made 9 blog entries in January. And most of those were book reviews. Only blogging 9 out of 30 days….another fail.
I’ve written in my journal even less than I’ve posted in my blog. Last night I did get a LOT of therapeudic scribbling out of the way. Much profanity was scrawled across
A friend of mine gave me some cash recently to get something for myself, and I ordered a new journal and fountain pen.
The journal got here today:
I don’t expect to get the fountain pen for a while though.
I did go outside twice today. I played fetch with the dog for a while, and then I went for a 2 mile walk. But overall for January, this was another fail.
So, how are you all doing on your own 2018 Resolutions?
The letters went out in Mid-February. There were twenty-five letters, to twenty-five girls. Each letter invited its recipient to spend a week at Camp So-and-So on a merit scholarship. All twenty-five girls sent their completed applications to an obscure Appalachian town.
Except the town doesn’t exist, and nobody has ever heard of Camp So-and-So.
Now Cabin 1 wants to beat the rival camp across the lake, home of the perfect beach.
Cabin 2 is being stalked by a murderer.
Cabin 3 is sent off on a magical quest t break a curse.
Cabin 4 has met their soul mates.
And what exactly happened to Cabin 5 anyway?
Camp So-and-So is book 3/60 of the 60 books I’m attempting to read this year.
It took me a little time to get into it.
The novel is set up weird. It is set into “Acts” and each “Act” introduces its own cast of characters on a character page. Its almost like a playbill.
As we “meet” each cabin we get to know its inhabitants to different degrees. (The poor girls of Cabin 5 don’t even get names!)
Now its one of those books where you are hopping from POV to POV. This cabin, that cabin, the other cabin and back and forth. Those can sometimes he hard to follow and keep track, but it was a little easier with this book since each cabin is doing something different.
Now, clearly, this is not your typical Summer Camp book. There is something wrong, and apparently magical about Camp So-and-So. Once I got past the weirdness of the set up, and each Cabin began its own trials and tribulations I was absorbed into the novel.
My favorite cabin was Cabin 3 and their quest. I could have read an entire novel about them alone.
If you like YA fantasy fiction and don’t mind a little violence I would recommend this novel to you.
When you are the well loved dog of a little boy, some indignities are expected. Even regal ninja dogs like myself sometimes have to pretend to be pack animals. Or superheros. Don’t you love my monster cape?
Sometimes I am his dog. Always he is my boy.
On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman is a little different than many books I would pick on my own, but is the 2nd book I chose to read in my quest to reach 60 this year.
Faith Frankel has returned to her hometown and bought a quirky little house on Turpentine Lane. Her life is peaceful except that her fiance is on a crowdfunded cross-country walk. He won’t return her calls but has no problem using her credit card. Then there are the problems at work, her parents problems, oh, and the creepy photos she found in her attic.
As things start to fall apart around her Faith hangs in there as best she can.
Its a CUTE book. Really.
Stories where a female MC randoly buys a house and tries to change the tides of her own life appeal to me. (I reccomend Anybody Any Minute by Julie Mars in that vein)
On Turpentine Lane is not exactly that kind of book.
While she does buy a house on a whim, at first it seems like everything in her life starts going wrong. Her traveling fiance wont return her calls, her job is in serious trouble, and her parents marriage is on the rocks and there are photos of dead babies in her attic! Her whole life turns topsy turvy on Turpentine lane.
There is an element of mystery, a good bit of humor, and just a tinge of romance in this novel.
Recommended for a quick and fun read.
February is right around the corner. Friends and lovers are scrambling to find the perfect way to say “You Complete Me” to the special person in their lives. This Valentine Wreath DIY is a simple and inexpensive way to show the world your home is ready for a little love too!
Chances are good that you have everything you need to make this wreath in your home right now. If not, everything is simple to get your hands on
Looking for a good project to keep little hands busy? This craft is great for the whole family to participate in, with adult supervision of course.
You can hang this Valentine Wreath on your front door, or use it for Valentine’s Decor inside your home too. Make more than one to spread the love to every room in your home.
Just how easy is it? Keep reading to find out!
Like I said, so many of these supplies, if not all of them, are already laying around your house!
The first thing you should do is dye your coffee filters. I recommend doing this FIRST because your filters will need time to dry before you can apply them to your wreath form.
Take a large bowl and put a SMALL amount of the paint color you want in the bottom of the bowl. Pink or Red are good Valentine’s Day colors, but you can make it any color you please.
Remember, a little paint goes a long way.
Add about half a cup of water to your paint in the bowl. Using a paintbrush stir until all the paint has dissolved in the water.
Once your paint and water are well mixed, take some of the filters and dip them, open side down, into the bowl.
The filters will very rapidly suck up the tinted water. The longer your leave it in the stronger the color will be. The color will travel UP the filter, even after you have taken it out of the water. If you dip and remove the filters very quickly from the water, then you’ll have a neat ombre effect to your filter.
After you have dipped all of your filters, set them aside on a towel to dry. This process can take a while, so you might want to dip your filters the day before you assemble your wreath.
After the filters have dried, take a paintbrush and paint the top edges with undiluted paint. This gives it an extra POP of color.
You can speed drying time with a heat gun or hair dryer. But be careful. Coffee filters are thin, and can burn!
You will want to use something thick and sturdy though. Shipping boxes or Corrugated cardboard will work best. Cereal boxes won’t hold up so well.
Draw your heart on whatever material you use, and cut it out with a strong pair of scissors or a craft knife. Then draw a second heart inside the first and cut it out. That will be the center of your wreath. The dyed filters will be attached to the remaining cardboard.
I did this craft using foam core board. You could also use some sturdy cardboard if you have some around your house.
If you’re not crafty enough to get a good heart shape out of foam core or cardboard, there are heart shaped wreath forms you can purchase.
Now that you have your wreath form ready, and your coffee filters dyed and dried, its time to put your wreath together.
Plug in your hot glue gun, you’ll be using it a lot. (Unless you’re letting the kids do it, then get the tacky glue ready.)
Take one filter, and fold it in half to make a semi-circle. Fold that in half to make a triangle shape. Then twist the pointy tip into a flat base while crumpling the top part into a crunch ball. Glue it to the outer edge of your wreath form.
Repeat with the next filter, and the next, until the outer edge is filled in. The closer together you put them, the fuller your wreath will look in the end. (and the more coffee filters you will need. My wreath took 160 filters)
Continue gluing filters to the form, working from the outside inward, until the whole thing is full of the filters. You will cover from the outer edge to the inner edge, but will not be gluing any filters to the back.
Now you get to hang your wreath and enjoy it!
Take a matching ribbon and hot glue, staple, or pin it to the back of your form. The Length here is up to you. I kept mine hidden behind the wreath itself, but you could make a longer ribbon with a nice bow at the top to hang it from as well.
The possibilitys are endless.
Once you’ve attached your hanger, take a moment to fluff out those filters that you crunched up while gluing them down. They should look like lovely flowers now!
An adorable heart shaped Valentine Wreath that looks like its covered in carnations, made from cardboard and coffee filters.
Have fun! Let me know if you make one. I would LOVE to see it.
(I first posted this article on Squidoo an automatically moved to Hubpages. I’ve removed it from the site to post it at its new home here.)
All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris is book 9 in a series of books featuring Aurora Teagarden.
Newly married Aurora (Roe) has her pregnancy confirmed. Not long after that her fifteen-year-old brother goes missing. Worse than that he’s not missing alone. Two of his friends are also gone, as well as an eleven-year-old girl.
During this time she takes a leave from her job at the library, and tries on her own to figure out what happened to her brother and his friends.
To her it seems to keep circling around to a group of bullies at the local middle school. But how could they be connected?
I picked this up knowing full well that it was a part of a series. Anything tagged with “A So-n-So Mystery” usually means it is part of a long series, but that it can also be read as a stand alone novel.
This is the case here too, to an extent. It gives some backstory on how Roe’s brother came to be living with her. It doesn’t tell you exactly why the mild mannered librarian is also a super sleuth (sort of).
I am a fan of Charlaine Harris, if only a newbie fan. I read and loved all 3 of the Midnight, Texas novels, and the 1st book of the Sookie Stackhouse series, along with one of her short stories in an anthology. I had a good feeling I’d like this book, and I did.
I was a little taken aback, however, by the random characters that seem to drop in or call for no real reason whatsoever with information that just so happens to be exactly what she needs to figure out the next piece of the puzzle.
Her husband is also too good to be true. A real, “I’ll agree with whatever you decide to do even if it makes no sense” kind of guy.
Since All the Little Liars is new novel it has not been adapted into a movie, but 6 other of the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries have. They star the lovely Candace Cameron Bure, who often acts for Hallmark, and you can get them in one convenient box set.
Charlaine Harris s a New York Times bestselling author who has been writing for over 30 years. Aside from the Aurora Teagarden books she also has 3 other Mysteries seires as well as the popular Sookie Stackhouse novels.
The Author is no newcomer to having her books turned into visual works either. Her Sookie Stackhouse novels were made into an HBO series called True Blood.
More recently her Midnight, Texas novels were made into a series as well (which has not yet been renewed for a 2nd season).
I keep trying to write a blog post, and keep not posting anything except for book reviews, because my life is falling apart around me. Let me take a moment and let you know what is going on. Let me be candid with you.
I am failing in every aspect of my life.
This morning I got up, and for breakfast I thawed out an ate a pack of meat that should have served me for 4 different meals.
I hated myself even as I did it because I knew exactly why I was doing it. I wanted to feel good. I wanted to feel enjoyment. I wanted to be….damn it….HAPPY for a little while.
Food makes me happy, at the same time it makes me hate myself even more.
I’m depressed right now. This is nothing new. I’ve been fighting depression as long as I can remember.
Right now I wish I was well off, so I could just give up and give in to the depression.
I struggle to get out of bed in the mornings even as my children are calling for me, asking for breakfast. I want to hunker down, back into the black nothingness of sleep.
When I am awake I float from one form of escapism to another. Facebook games, youtube videos, books, food. I grasp like a drowning woman for anything to get me out of my own head.
Not long ago I was demoted from a full time position to a part time spot at my job. I went from getting 40 hours a week to getting 16 hours a week. I’ve not been able to find a second job, and as I get fewer and fewer hours every week our future is looking bleak. We’re talking about cutting off both our phones, our internet, our cable. Having nothing left for enjoyment. Will soon be applying for food stamps, and when my facebook friends post lovely memes about food stamps and welfare receipients being a “burden on society” they’ll be talking about me. About my family.
After that? Get rid of my dog? Lose our house? Move our family of 4 into my mother in laws house?
Meanwhile I’m still where I was working, watching my “replacement” be held to a different standard than I was. All the things I was expected to maintain are allowed to go by the wayside under her. My 12 years of experience are nothing compared to her 2 years of being a special snowflake.
While my lack of work is one thing, my home life is another. Because of my depression, every little thing my children do bothers me. I have turned into the angry, snippy mommy. “Stop. Be quiet. Stop. Stop. I SAID STOP!!!” Over and over and over again while I am home. Every time I leave the room, the madness followed me. Squealing, screaming, poop jokes, until I feel like I’m going to lose my mind.
Then my youngest child refuses to potty train. He’s 4 now, and siting on the toilet sends him into screaming hysterics. Nothing I’ve tired is working and none of my other family members are helping. He also keeps asking to drink from sippy cups and chewing on his “rag-rags” which are cloth diapers he’s always had in his mouth instead of a pacifier.
So, not only am I failing in my work life, I’m also doing a really crappy job of being a mom.
I saw a quote today that said something like, “If it is raining, look for the rainbows. If it is dark look for the stars.”
I posted on facebook, “What if it is raining in the dark. WTF are we supposed to look for then?”
Usually I can get through a bad depression because I know sooner or later its going to end.
This time I don’t feel like there is an end in sight.
This year I have set myself a goal for reading 60 books in 2018. I’m using Goodreads to keep track of this goal. After finishing Long Black Veil I’ve read 4 books this year, and it tells me that I am 2 books ahead of schedule. Yay me!
Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan is the 1st review I’m doing for 2018, but it is the 4th book I’ve read this year. (reviews of the previous 3 novels to come)
The back cover of this novel promised me this:
On a summer night in 1980, tragedy strikes six friends. Thirty-five years later, the consequences o that night threaten to pull them back in. New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Finney Boylan delivers a powerful thriller that asks: In any life that contains a “before” and an “after,” how is it possible to live one life, not two?
The first it looks like it is going to pay out on the promise of a thriller!
Our characters are: newlyweds Casey and Wailer, with Maisie and her brother Benny, Rachel and Quentin. They had gone to see a painting called The Large Bathers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. An old German professor is with them as well, seemingly a good friend of Quentin’s.
Since it was close by, Tripper convinced the group of 6 to walk to Eastern State Penitentiary which had been closed and empty since 1972.
Of course the gate was unlocked and of course they friends all went in despite most of them thinking it was a bad idea.
Once inside Benny, who is on the Spectrum, runs off in pursuit of a cat. While the friends separated in search of the child, someone locks them in.
I settled in thinking I’m about to have a good “lets explore the abandoned creepy place while some killer inside stalks us” read.
Well, that didn’t happen!
Poof, suddenly its 7 years in the future and I was going, “Ohhhhh. It’s gonna be one of THOSE books.”
When I read a story I prefer a linear tale. When the time starts hopping back and forth and sideways and between different characters it gets to be a bit much for me.
Anyway, I resigned myself to reading one of “those” books.
The trapped stay in the empty prison only lasted a few hours, but during that time one of the members of the party disappeared. While that is thriller-esque the group moves on with their lives. They don’t even go all Scooby Gang and try to find out what happened to the missing party. No amateur sleuthing for this group.
Then we get to the REAL story in the book.
One of our cast of characters is transgender. They feel trapped in their life and can only think of ONE way to change that. They fake their death, move to the other end of the continent and transition into their mental sex. The real story of Long Black Veil is that of Judith living her second life. She finds herself in the position of telling her husband and adopted son the truth that she had been hiding from them all this time.
Okay, I liked the story enough to read it in just a couple of days and rate it 4 our to 5 stars.
This is not a thriller or a whodunit. That part of the story is almost inconsequential to the rest. You could get rid of the whole, “Lost in the Prison” part of the story while still having a whole tale.
I would have preferred this to be two different novels. The Eastern State Penitentiary tale could have been creepier and better. The friends should have worked hard to figure out the mystery and it could have all played out the same way.
The story of Judith could have been a sequel which intertwined itself with the first story. I actually feel a bit cheated that I didn’t get to see more of Judith’s transition. Her struggles with how she came into her new life, her early life with her husband and son would have been a good read.
In the end I sort of felt cheated. The author wanted to tell Judith’s story, so she baited a literary trap with the promise of haunted prison shenanigans.
Some people may be outraged at the though of an author portraying a trans person BUT, Jennifer Finney Boylan was previously James Boylan. She made her own male to female transition in 2000. You can read more in her autobiography She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Long Black Veil from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions in this review belong to me. This review contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one I get a small commission, at no extra cost to you.