No One’s Home by D.M. Pulley

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 10/13/19-10/17/19

This is the Spooky Mini Halloween box for 2019. I don’t know anything about this book, other than that it is supposed to be “spooky”. I am slightly concerned because I am not a “scary” book type of person, and I often get bad nightmares from horror novels. But YOLO, so I am going to be reading this and trying it out. Pray for me.

Page 184

There was no good way for me to get a picture, but the gift this time around is a silk robe with the lace embroidery on the sleeves and the bottom. My big concern is that I am not a small gal, and often “one size fits all” scenarios do not include my size, but I will try it out and let you know!

As for the story. I don’t find it particularly scary, but it is creepy. The concept revolves around this house and the families that live there. As far I can tell, I think that we only really follow 4 of the 5 families that lived in the house (according to the family listing in the front of the book), but it may just be that we haven’t gotten to their storyline yet.

Margot and Myron Spielman, along with their son Hunter, move into this “fixer-upper” in the outskirts of Cleveland, Ohio. With every family comes secrets, and this family is no exception. Margot runs a yoga class online, which then becomes a sexual webcam situation. Myron has a drug problem. And Hunter feels the presence of something in the house.

Then you have the Rawlings, who were the original owners of the house. Set before the big crash of ’29, Walter Rawlings comes home and tries to put a gun to his head. He couldn’t get himself to do it, so he took a bunch of pills instead. He left his wife, who has gone through multiple miscarriages after the birth of her only child, and his son, Walter Jr. The maid, Ella, has been trying to fix the money situation, so she began to run a bootlegging brewery out of the attic.

The next family is the Bell family. As far as I can tell, we don’t know anything about them, though I wouldn’t be surprised if we learn a lot of messed up things about them soon.

The next family is the Klussmans. The son, Benny, is in his 20s, but do to some mental or physical defect, is unable to communicate (especially through vocation). He hits his head when he gets upset with himself, he convulses, and he hears a voice in his head. His mother is trying to take care of him in the house instead of sending him to a hospital.

The final family of the house is the Martin family. The father is the head of the town construction company, and he may also be sexually abusing his daughter, Ava. Both Ava and her brother, Tony, sense bad energy in the house, and they try to explore the parts of the house that were considered “off-limits” for them.

The main focus is the Spielman family, and especially Hunter who is trying to unearth the history of the house. The robe is supposed to signify the white nightgown that the ghost of a little girl is seen wearing. (Update: it does fit, and it is super cute, though very short)

Page 228

One night while Benny gets out of the house, a young girl gets murdered. So far, police have no evidence against him. Tony is forced to leave the house after his father dies and his mother can no longer pay the bills. Ava could not come with him, and is possibly the little girl ghost of the house. The Spielman’s find the secret room in the attic and the papers within. Information from those papers say that Walter Jr. was killed by his mother. Myron learns of Margot’s webcam situation, and Hunter learns of Myron’s drug addiction. This leads to huge rifts in the family, and Hunter has taken to sleeping in the basement to stay away from his parents.

When I read the sentence for the gift, I got really excited. I was going to be really impressed if they sent me wine through the mail. But alas, I got bubble bath (nothing wrong with that!). While my current living situation prevents me from taking a bath, it did bring up memories of my youth when I went on vacation in a cabin by the lake. Good times, good times.

Conclusion

Meh. As a work of fiction, I found myself engrossed in the story. As a horror novel, it didn’t do it for me. If you are looking for something more spooky, check out Laurie Faria Stolarz. I personally feel like a horror book should not be able to be tied up in a perfect bow, but that might just be me.

Once I got into the meat of the story, I was able to read over 100 pages a day. But it took me a solid 3 days to get 100 pages in. For someone who wants to get into the spooky season without getting TOO spooked, I would recommend this book! I would ultimately give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

House Witch by Katie Schickel

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 10/9/19-10/12/19

This is the 2019 Sweet Halloween mini box from Once Upon a Book Club! I know absolutely nothing about this book, other than that it shouldn’t be scary and it is supposed to be fun with an added magical element. Unlike the larger boxes, this box only contains two gifts, which I will share with you guys as I get to them!

Page 132

I didn’t completely open this up, but I am pretty sure this is a blanket and not a cape, which I am grateful for. I do not know what to do with a cape if I had one, although I probably could try and make a Halloween costume out of it, but I digress.

This book is about a Allison Darling, born Allesone Ellylydan. She originally was raised by her mother, Wilhemena, but at the age of 9 was removed and placed in foster care, while her mother was forced into a psychiatric hospital. Now in adulthood, Allison is focused on fitting in with the other mothers in her small town of Monrovia, MA. The head mom, Astrid, soon takes a shining to Allison, though that might be because she catches Allison performing transfiguration.

When Wilhemena dies suddenly, Allison is pushed toward her aunt, Aurora. Aurora warns of the Black Witch, who is also Allison’s aunt, and that Allison is vulnerable to attack. After Aurora has a suspicion that the Black Witch is recruiting people in Monrovia, Allison begins pinpointing who she thinks is a witch. We finish this section by finding out that Astrid’s group of friends are all witches that use their magic (in the form of potions) to make the small town paradise. They offer a spot in their coven to Allison, which she has been given 2 days to decide if she will join or not.

As for my opinion, I haven’t been able to keep this book down! I was surprised how easily I fell into it, and I am excited to keep reading! I am not a huge fan of the actual storyline of the book, but I am extremely attracted to the writing style, which has continued to pull me along.

(Side note: when I opened it up all the way, it appears to be a scarf? It’s a strange material for a scarf, and also ridiculously long, so I’m not sure I will wear it, but hey, it is still a cool concept!)

Page 165

OOOOOoooooOOOOOO!!! I knew it had to be something chemically because the actual present was shrink wrapped, but I was not expecting this! Now I am slightly concerned because I did read ahead and the mask from the book turned her face permanently green, but they wouldn’t do that to me, right?

As for the storyline, Allison goes to Aurora in the hopes of letting her know that there is a coven, but that Allison is going to stick with her family. Aurora essentially says, we don’t want you, so Allison gives the middle finger by accepting a place in Astrid’s coven. After accepting a place, she is pampered with a spa day, a makeover, and a new designer wardrobe. This section ends with a basket being delivered to her door with all the ingredients and the instructions to make a face mask, which Allison then applies to her face. It didn’t seem to go well.

Conclusion

So Astrid makes Allison do some bad things, including destroying the mental health home in Monrovia for the “sake of beauty”. When Allison realizes that the good things are not worth doing the terrible things, she throws out any product from the soap factory Astrid owns and finds herself exiled from all the members of Astrid’s coven. Soon, Astrid begins using tactics to mess with Allison’s kids as well. Allison convinces Astrid to leave her family alone as long as she gets the ashes of Wilhemena for the use of an immortality like potion. Allison teaches her kids that they are witches and Astrid (who is the black witch BTW) sees them at work and within their meeting, Allison’s youngest daughter gets mortally injured. Allison then has to try to defeat the Black Witch in order to save her daughter’s life.

This book is a lot of back and forth between we like this person and now we hate them. It seems really strange and almost juvenile for the intended audience. I was extremely invested (especially in the last 2 days) in the storyline, but I also was easily distracted as I was reading it. I think that for a debut, it is really good, but I also thought she contradicted herself at times. I ultimately would give this book 3.25 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Let’s Talk… The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Okay, so this is awkward. Normally, Once Upon a Book Club books are not the same books as Book of the Month, but of course, this time it is. Since I already read the book, I felt like I should at least share the gifts with you guys! So let’s talk… the gifts from my August 2019 OUABC box!

Page 56

Okay, so the drawing was awkwardly faded, but it is the drawing that Rowan finds in the nightstand drawer in her room at Heatherbrae House. The cord is a USB cord with 3 different types of cords so you can charge your phone (whether it is iPhone or Android) or your laptop (at least, it fits my thunder outlet for my Mac?). I’m also sure you can charge multiple items at the same time with the one cord, so it is efficient for traveling.

Page 213

I love this. If I drank coffee often, I would use this all the time, but thankfully my sister-in-law will be putting this to use! It is incredibly beautiful and of higher quality that the other mugs I have gotten from OUABC before!

Page 304

Honestly, I would love this if it were my initial. It is a very beautiful necklace (though a little big), but I probably will never pull it out of the box. So if you want a necklace with a ‘R’ initial, I got you fam.

Page 335

Okay, so I can’t really show you the gift because it essentially tells you the whole plot of the book, BUT it is literally the letter from the last 2 or so pages. This is the present that is literally just a printout for the box, and while it completely fits the book, I still wished that it was something else. But, here we are.

Sorry guys, if I would have known, I would have waited, but I am completely oblivious to everything right now, so I’m just going to leave you guys with a promise to do better! Until then, if you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

The Cold is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 9/2/19-9/4/19

An incredibly beautiful cover! Like most of these, I have no idea what this is about. I am guessing based on the wrapping of the gifts that this book is about mermaids. But otherwise, I am going in as blind as usual, so I will see you all at the first gift!

Page 84

My guess was completely wrong! Instead of mermaids, it is snakes! This book starts out with a super creepy story about a girl, named Hulla, who befriended snakes and they then took over her mind and when one of them killed, she felt the aftershocks of it. From there, we meet Milla, a young girl who is separated from other people for fear of catching demons. Her brother, Niklas is at an age where he wants to get married, so he asks his father to bring Iris, who is also the granddaughter of their neighbors, to come live out in the middle of nowhere with them. When Iris begins to hear voices, she tells Milla. But when she runs away, Milla is the only who is able to find her since she could hear Iris in her mind. Iris gets sent away, leaving Milla reeling.

The comb feels wooden and really strong. I hesitate from combs purely because I got the devil’s hair, so I break anything that tries to tame it. With that being said, I will be sure to try this out in the near future!

Page 97

Serves her right! So Milla’s mom, Gitta, is the sister of the woman in that creepy story I was telling you about! Milla’s mom was so mean to her sister, so I’m glad that her daughter is becoming a “demon”. Also, BTW Milla is now growing snakes in her hair. Totally normal things. And Niklas wouldn’t leave Iris at The Place where they take demented girls, so now he’s gone.

The gift is an apron, which I don’t normally use, but I feel like I need to start getting in the habit.

Page 198

Is it sad that I was super excited for this sewing kit? Ah man, I am really an adult!

Milla goes to The Place to find Niklas and Iris. When she gets there, the girls convince her to lock Niklas in a cell in order for them to escape. As Milla gets out of The Place, she gets on a horse which leads her to a house in the middle of nowhere. She gets taken in by the family of Katrina and Otto with their children Kai and Liss.

Page 275

This is super cool, although I am unsure how to burn it? Do I need to put a little dish underneath it? It doesn’t smell like anything, but will it when it is burning? Or is it more of a candle that you leave sitting around and don’t touch, because I am not about that life. So many questions!

This comes at the end of the story so I am going to talk about the whole book as a whole. Milla begins to bring a blight on the family, so she goes to confront Hulla to see why she is punishing her so. Hulla says that since Gitta did not treat her well as a kid, that is why Milla is being punished. Milla then returns home in the idea that apologizing to Hulla will get Hulla to reverse the curse. And that is where I will leave you!

The overall book was okay, but hard to follow at points. I also wasn’t really invested in this story, so it was hard for me to keep with the book. It is a little creepy, but fine for a young audience. I would give this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 8/29/19- 9/2/19

I am literally going in without a clue about what this book is about. Using context clues from the cover, I am assuming that it is about a Muslim woman/girl, and that’s all I got. Also, all the gifts look beautiful, so I don’t know what that means, but I like it.

Page 1

Okay, so I still know nothing, but this is extremely cute. It seems like so many of these OUABC boxes have either a coffee mug or a tea cup, so I’m glad we are staying on brand here. But hopefully by the next gift, I actually can tell you something about the story!

Page 197

Is now the time to tell you all that I have never read Pride and Prejudice? This book is supposed to be essentially the Muslim version of P&P, so I don’t know much going in about what is going to happen. As for the gift, the notebook is incredibly beautiful, and when I need a lined notebook, I will be sure to grab this one!

As for the story: Ayesha is a substitute teacher. Her family has taught her to fall in love rather than depend on the arranged marriage system. Her cousin, Hafsa, had reached the age where she is accepting proposals from eligible men, but she doesn’t really seem to know where her life is headed. Khalid is a very strict Muslim. He wears the robes, has the beard, doesn’t touch women, and performs all his daily prayers. His mother, Farzana, is trying to get him a suitable wife. Khalid is a ecommerce programmer (I think), and his female boss does not like his attire and overall religious actions, so she forces him to work for a lingerie site in an effort to get him flustered and quit, which so far hasn’t worked. In fact, it has seemed to backfire.

When the mosque begins to go under, they begin to organize a Muslims in Action conference to encourage younger members to join their congregation. Ayesha is asked to go, and since Hafsa missed, everyone thought she was Hafsa. Khalid also participates in the planning committee, and he finds himself around “Hafsa” quite a bit. They seem to hit it off in their time together, but when Farzana finds out what is going on, she begins to scheme to get Khalid and the real Hafsa engaged.

Page 272

Ladies and gentlemen, the print-off gift of the box! It is nice to feel like part of the story, but these gifts are my least favorite to get.

The story: Ayesha is heartbroken when the news breaks that Khalid and Hafsa are engaged. Tarek, one of the planners for MIA, has a history with Khalid’s sister, Zareena. Zareena was shipped to India after finding herself in trouble in Canada, so she is a sensitive subject. Khalid is frustrated because he fell in love with Ayesha in their times together, but his responsibility is to marry Hafsa.

Page 306

Ugh this is too cute! It is a little difficult to get the USB stick out, but it is so cute and fun! I love this! I’m not going to share anymore of the story, but I did want to show you all the gift!

Conclusion

This was an incredibly cute story. While she uses Urdu words, all words are quickly translated or has clear context clues as to what they mean. The writing style was easy to read, though there were times, especially at the end of chapters, where I felt like she ended a scene before it was ready. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars, and I would love to read Pride and Prejudice to see the comparisons!

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

The Long Flight Home by Alan Hlad

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 8/25/19-8/28/19

Guys, we have made it to the 3rd full week of September! This week, I am going to be posting 3 OUABC reviews for you all! This first one was the Adult July 2019 selection, and according to their Instagram, this box required an extra long box to fit all of the gifts, so this one should be exciting! As usual, I don’t know much about what this is about, but I know that it is set in WWII, and I am assuming that it is also about fighter pilots. Otherwise, I am going into this completely blind, so I will see you all in the first gift! (Side note: there was a random feather in my book? So… maybe it is about birds too?)

Page 14

Let’s talk about the book first. So far, we have met Susan and Ollie. Susan is a pigeon caretaker for the war. Her favorite pigeon, named Duchess, has a colorful plume of violet. She is located outside of London during the London Blitz, while Ollie is a farmer in Maine. Ollie is incredibly gifted in the cockpit of a plane, and this gift is a note given to the little girl that watches him do tricks. The pen is a super cool addition, with the feeling of real wood!

Page 156

Firstly, this is dope, and I fully support this gift. Since it is a little difficult to see what it is, the “wrapping” is a water bottle, though it is a little squat, and the gift is a cooling towel. As for what is going on in the story: Ollie finds passage to London so that he could meet the head honcho of the Royal Air Force (RAF). Susan is forced to go to London so that all carrier pigeon caretakers can prepare their pigeons for the mission. When the really creepy Lieutenant tries to hit on her, Ollie runs into them and punches the guy in the face, landing him in military jail. Susan’s grandfather was able to convince the military to release Ollie so that he can work for them for 30 days.

When Ollie begins working, he learns of the history of carrier pigeons and the full mission that has befallen Susan’s pigeons. As Susan and Ollie begin to learn more about each other, they start to care more and more. But when the mission gets moved up, Ollie has to deliver the pigeons to the bomb carrier. One of the airmen is dumb and grabbed Duchess, and when Ollie found out, he tried to grab her out of the bomber. Once he begins, the air raid siren begins to blare, and Ollie gets stuck in the bomber as they make their way to France. His presence ends up killing the gunner, so he has to play a role, and he also has to release all the pigeons, saving Duchess for Susan. As the doors close, he saves the co-pilot of the bomber from leg amputation by pulling him back in. Susan and her grandfather realize that something happened, and they come to the conclusion that all they can do is wait for news of Duchess and/or Ollie.

Page 260

Well, well, well. What have we got here? So for those of you that may be confused, I am pretty sure that you put medicine in this and then carry it around on your keys. I know that they are primarily used for people who need to carry around aspirin for heart problems, but I’m sure they can be used for people who need to carry around anti-panic attack medications, medications to block catastrophic events, carrying around your birth control when you are out (okay, I totally just made that one up), or any other small items that you need on your person. I’m not sure I am at a point in my life where I will use it, but still handy to keep around.

At the point in the last gift, we were right before (? I think…) the bomber crashed in the French countryside. Only Ollie and Lieutenant Boar survive. Ollie dislocated his shoulder, messed up his ankle (although supposedly it’s not fractured), alone with minor injuries. Lieutenant Boar had a huge cut that went through his eye that he had to get surgery for. They hide out at a farm with a woman named Madeline and her pig, Louis. She has promised to keep them until they are well enough for travel out of France. Ollie, worried about Susan, sends Duchess with a letter written in code letting her know that they are in the French countryside and that they are hurt.

After 500 pigeons were released, only a little more than 100 pigeons returned. They must have brought back good intel, because the RAF want to send another 500 pigeons to France. When Duchess returns to Susan, she grabs the note attached to her leg. Duchess then flies back to France and back to Ollie. Ollie, thinking that she just lost the note, sends her off with another note and some of the information he spotted along the way. When Susan realizes that Duchess is literally going back and forth between her and Ollie, they start to take advantage of that information. Her first note to Ollie is what the note in the pill canister is. (Also, her grandfather falls and we learn that his heart is enlarged. Expect that he will die by the end of the story)

Page 345

I would totally rate this gift if the date was different. If they took the time to change the date to 1996, then I would be all for it!

As for the story, we have reached the point where I can’t tell you too much more. I will go ahead and tell you that Ollie goes on a crazy journey, taking refuge in monasteries, to get to the Spanish border since Spain was neutral in the war. Susan is forced to release another 500 pigeons after the success of the first run, causing her flock to be completely diminished. After his fall, her grandfather becomes incredibly sick, but since there are so many bodies coming out of London due to the bombings, they are told not to go to the hospital, and to instead treat it at home.

Page 365

I knew it! I was calling from the beginning that they were going to send me either a tea cup or tea of some kind, purely because they talk about it SO MUCH! And it is super adorable. Now I feel like I need to try drinking tea, which I have literally never done in my entire life. Anywho, can’t tell you anything about what happened, but ya know, you should read the book!

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this book! It was a little jarring when we went from the war to the 90’s, but otherwise, the flow was really good! I would give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

How I Read It: Print

Dates Read: 7/12/19-7/14/19

About a year ago, through Uppercase box (See Let’s Talk… Subscription Boxes for more information about their box. Side note: This subscription box no longer sends out book boxes. At the time of this switch, I was no longer a subscriber, but a quick Internet dig shows that their item store is open, but the subscription system is closed.), I got sent Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett. The general premise sounded similar to something I read when I was a young’n (Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass), and I absolutely ended up loving the story. When I saw that Bennett had another book coming out soon, I immediately got the pre-order for Serious Moonlight. And then…. I got sent it. Whoops!

Since I am trying to declutter my mess of a room, I felt like it was finally time to pull out this box and read the book, so here goes nothing. I literally looked at nothing before jumping in, all I know is that reading a Bennett book is like the Hotel California, once you are in, you can’t leave.

Page 221

I am so happy with this book! She has a writing style that makes it hard for me to immediately get into a book. I felt the same way when I read Starry Eyes, and it took me a really long time to read the first 50 pages until my interest was grabbed. With that being said, the next 200 were so easy.

This book is about Birdie, an amateur detective, as she begins her new job at the Cascadia Hotel in downtown Seattle. When she starts, she learns she is working with Daniel, her ex-hookup. Daniel, in an effort to get closer to Birdie, tells her of the mystery of Raymond Darke, a thriller author who has never been pictured, but for whatever reason stays at the hotel every Tuesday night for about an hour. As they begin to investigate, their feelings begin to grow stronger, and the mystery continues to get more and more complex.

As for the gifts: the necklace is really cool. It definitely will be something that I hold on to. As for the nail decals (yes, that is what they are), they are cool, but I doubt I will ever use them. But hey, never say never.

Page 258

So technically, the gift is the “tarot card”, but I think the real gift is the luggage tag. You best believe the next time I have to check luggage, I am going to be whipping this bad boy out! While I understand the aspect of creating a gift that follows the words of the book, these types of gifts are my least favorite. They often feel like a cop out to me.

As for the story. We see Daniel open up more in this section. We also see how more vulnerable Birdie becomes as her feelings for Daniel grow. However, for the sake of keeping some mystery, I won’t be giving away much more plot details unless I know there will be more in the story.

Page 403

I have never read a Miss Marple mystery from Agatha Christie, so I am excited to take the plunge and read one! They did a good job of dressing the gift to fit the storyline of book!

As for the ending, I was surprised! Maybe I’m not a good detective, but I didn’t put all the clues together to discover the final gut-wrenching secret. I enjoyed the ending, but I felt like it was a little cliff-hanging, maybe that’s just me.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!