Tag: halloween

Oct 08

Halloween Read-A-Thon 2017

Books/Writing 9

It’s that time of year again, everyone!!! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays!  Wonderless Reviews is hosting the Halloween Read-A-Thon over on her blog again this year. If you haven’t seen it already go over, check it out, and sign up! This year she’s offering a giveaway and I’ve decided to contribute as well (if you’re in a hurry, scroll to the bottom of this post for details). My TBR this year is mostly encapsulated in this picture.

  • Girl of Nightmares, by Kendare Blake – I read Anna Dressed in Blood last year for the read-a-thon
  • The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, by Theodora Goss – I meant to read this a couple of months ago, but it didn’t happen.
  • Hunting Price Dracula, by Kerri Maniscalco – Another sequel, look at me go! I read the first book in this series for the Halloween Read-A-Thon last year as well…I sense a trend.
  • The Diabolic, by S.J. Kincaid – This has been out for ages and now the sequel to IT is about to be released, so it’s about time!

I’m not sure what else if anything I will get to this month, so I’m going to leave it there for now. And now for…*drumroll please*

I’m giving away a Halloween book sleeve (yes, made by yours truly)! I took pre-orders for these but they are no longer available in the store, so you’ll be getting the only one I have left!

I’m totally stealing rules from Lauren here:

  • The giveaway opens NOW and closes on the 30th October. You can enter anytime between those dates. The winner will be announced on the 31st October (or as soon as I can get to it).
  • The giveaway is international – I really hate leaving folks out, so even though shipping is outrageous I’m spreading the love!
  • You don’t have to complete the challenges to be eligible for the giveaway. You DO have to have signed up on Lauren’s Halloween Read-A-Thon announcement post (yes, I *will* check).
  • 18+ or a parent/guardian’s permission. Sorry, folks.
  • I accept no responsibility for lost or damaged packages.
  • Enter the Rafflecopter below! Or click the picture above. 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy reading, everyone!! And a happy, spooky October to you. 😉 😀

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GoodReads

 

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Nov 02

Book Review: Anna Dressed in Blood

Book Reviews, Books/Writing 7 ★★★★★

Book Review: Anna Dressed in BloodAnna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1) by Kendare Blake
Published by Tor Teen on October 17th 2011
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult, Modern
Pages: 320
Goodreads five-stars

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
Yet she spares Cas's life.

YES. THIS. This is the book I’ve been waiting for the entire month of October. Don’t get me wrong, I read a couple of other winners, like Stalking Jack the Ripper and The Architect of Song, but this is THE PERFECT Halloween book. I knew there was something behind it being on at least half of the TBR lists for the Halloween Read-A-Thon. It actually wasn’t on my TBR, but after the DNF on my “horror or thriller” category, I decided to give it a whirl.

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There will always be more dead, and the dead will always kill.

I actually wasn’t expecting much out of a YA horror book. My skeptical brain said, “How bad can it be?”  Two nights afterwards, I was still jumping an embarrassing foot back from anything unexpected when the house is dark. The cat. A sock in the floor. The door. A fart.

Cas, our ghost-slayer, is a cynical piece of work who seems to rather enjoy his job. He was definitely HUGELY influenced by the death of his father in the line of this duty. The origins of said duty are never fully explained…but I guess that would have taken a lot longer than the span of this format. Still, I would have enjoyed finding out! Anyway. He’s not your typical 17 year old, but he doesn’t rub it in the face of his classmates…at least not most of them. He’s rather cold and uncaring in the beginning, but throughout the story he really grows and develops into a much more feeling person by the end. No thanks to coming up against more powerful ghosts, which he is grudgingly forced to admit, he can’t take down alone. I wasn’t particularly thrilled with any of the side characters, but I really liked that he had to reach out of his comfort zone and take the risk of trusting other people.

Anna – yes, the one dressed in blood – I love her. I feel horribly sorry for her. I practically shook in my chair when reading the flashback scenes. Like holy shit. No one deserves what she went through. I liked that she took personal responsibility for everything she did after she became a ghost, even if it wasn’t truly all her fault. She was influenced…but it was still her hands that did it. I could see the attraction between Cas and Anna, but I wasn’t entirely convinced. I mean…she’s a GHOST. Even if she really appears corporeal at times. Come on, Cas. And I didn’t want her suddenly returned to life to make a happy ending because…yeah no.

The plot moves along quickly. I was a little shocked when I realized that Anna was NOT the ghost that killed Cas’ father (not a spoiler, as if you read the blurb carefully, it DOES say that…I just somehow did the old 2+2=5). Kendare Blake does an AMAZING job of dropping ALL the hints that you just KNOW are leading up to something HUGE…and then smacking you in the face with the truth you didn’t see coming. I sat with my jaw hanging open even as I mentally ran back through all the foreshadowing. Yep. There it was. I just…didn’t realize…yep. Total awesomesauce.

“Don’t be afraid of the dark, Cas. But don’t let them tell you that everything that’s there in the dark is also there in the light. It isn’t.”

The descriptions were amazing. Gory at times, but um, if you weren’t expecting that by the title…well, maybe you should look at the cover again. Just saying. I had chillbumps. I curled into a little ball and pulled my hoodie as far over my head as possible while still being able to see the book.

I swear I could hear the blood dripping from Anna’s dress. I felt the wind, the chill in the air…oh, right. I was also reading this as the weather was getting decidedly colder. BUT THIS IS WHY IT WAS SO AWESOME!! I was looking for a book that could make me feel like I did as a little kid, like Halloween wasn’t just costumes, but maybe something darker…maybe the veil really does grow thin on October 31st. Well. Mission completely fucking accomplished. My almost-30-year-old self no longer wants to go to bed alone.

5/5 stars. I immediately ordered the second one and HIGHLY recommend this one if you like creepy and young adult books.

 

five-stars

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Oct 31

Something Else Sunday #14 – Happy Halloween!

Life 2

Happy Halloween!! I know the actual day is Monday, but for obvious reasons all the fun stuffs are happening over the weekend. I’m still recovering from the (awesome) party we went to last night. My social quota is DEFINITELY full, haha. 😛

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Weekend dose of cute, courtesy my lapwarmer a.k.a. hangover buddy a.k.a. Sir Tristan.

I really don’t have a whole lot to say other than I have a couple more Halloween Read-a-Thon posts to do, and a monthly recap/looking ahead post! Also, NaNoWriMo. But more on that later. For now, here’s a little food for thought, and pictures from the party. I wish I had celebrated Samhain a little more traditionally as well, but since I didn’t…I at least thought about it.

“Halloween is thought to date back more than 2,000 years to a time when Celtic people celebrated New Year’s Day, or Samhain, on the equivalent of November 1. Legend has it that the day before, or Samhain eve (now known as Halloween), fairy and demon spirits would appear in the ether as they traveled to the afterlife. Celts dressed in costumes to stave off the evil spirits and tap into the souls of their ancestry.” Emily Spivack, Smithsonian Magazine

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SO MUCH delicious food!!

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And drinks. In blood bags. Muwhahahah…surprisingly, no one showed up as a vampire!

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Our hostess has an AMAZING eye for decorating.

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Yours truly made these. I was so very proud of them. 😀

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And of my makeup. The struggle, let me tell you. The struggle. I loved the effect but GODDAMN. It took me over 2 hours, and that was WITH my husband helping!

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This is my “Really guys?!?” face.

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Oct 25

Mini Review: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Book Reviews, Books/Writing 0 ★★

urban-legends

This was one of my picks for the Halloween Read-A-Thon, and…well, I’m really disappointed in it. Sadly, I DNFed it at page 136 of 293. I spent an inordinate amount of time on those pages…I think overall it’s just not my style of book or writing.

I couldn’t do it. I was almost halfway and was just draaaaagging myself into it every evening last week. I felt like I was back in college reading a book I had absolutely no interest in finishing. I can’t even really say anything bad about the writing – hence the 2 star rating even for a DNF. He has a great sense of description and he set the atmosphere…but he jumped around a lot. I was confused, not scared. I kept flipping back pages, trying to see what I missed. I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters. I didn’t give a damn about a single one of them. There were crazy, bad things happening, but there was no rhyme or reason behind WHY they were happening…just these two boys, and one was born right before Halloween and one right after and now this weird – really weird – carnival…why? I can think of 50 different ways to write a better Halloween story. I really wish I didn’t feel this way, because the beginning of the book made me feel like there was going to be SO MUCH AWESOMENESS.

Bummed, because I really wanted to like this story, but I don’t have enough hours in my days to force myself to finish books that haven’t kept my interest halfway through.

two-stars

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Oct 21

Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper

Book Reviews, Books/Writing 12 ★★★★

Book Review: Stalking Jack the RipperStalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #1) by Kerri Maniscalco
Published by Jimmy Patterson on September 20th 2016
Genres: Historical, Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Goodreads four-stars

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.
Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

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This was my Creepy Cover pick for the Halloween Read-a-thon (hosted by the lovely Lauren at Wonderless Reviews)! So far, out of three Halloween reads, it’s been my favorite. 🙂

First of all, look at that gorgeous cover! I could practically reach out and touch the silk of that dress. Also I swear I see blood on the knife, every time I see it out of the corner of my eye. But when I look at it closely, of course there’s nothing there. And that, my friends, is why this was my Creepy Cover. Because no matter how many times I look at it…I see that blood (it’s probably the combination of the lip color with the knife when I just glance at it…but still). Oh, and inside at many of the chapter beginnings, there are these AWESOME old creepy pictures.

Like this.

Like this. Courtesy Wikipedia.

I’m fascinated by unsolved true crime. Yes, I am one of those people. At the same time, I like keeping a semi-safe distance between me and the crime. Hence, Jack the Ripper fits the bill because he’s obviously dead by now. Phew. All the same, this book raised the hairs on the back of my neck. While simultaneously causing me to tear up in the final chapter. Like what IS this mix of emotions, even?!?

Audrey is a scientifically minded young woman with a backbone of steel. She is fascinated with the human body and despite the VERY suspicious appearances, studies under her uncle, a professor with an unsettling obsession with the dead (now we call it forensic science). I love the way she flaunts society while at the same time enjoying what fashions suit her own fancy. Of course, this also involves disobeying her extremely protective father, who honestly comes across as rather unhinged after the passing of her mother. She still cares deeply for him, despite her constant frustrations with the limitations forced on her. Audrey’s brother, Nathaniel, is another sympathetic character. He deals with the loss of their mother much differently, seeming to have picked up and moved on as a sadder, melancholy person concerned only with his family and holding them together. Her motivation for studying science above and beyond what’s considered proper really resonated with me:

It was then that I knew I’d rely on something more tangible than holy spirits. Science never abandoned me the way religion had that night…God no longer held dominion over my soul.

Yessssss. I’ll join you in hell, dear sister.

Ahem. Moving on. *insert “Fight Song” playing in the background*

Then there is Thomas, the quirky, socially awkward student with the face of an angel and tongue of a viper. He’s annoying in an endearing sort of way. Every time I was about to be all, “Awwwww,” he would make some other caustic remark that made me want to slap him. Like for real slap, not pretend slap. He gets better and we get inside his crusty exterior more and more as the story goes on, though, and by the end I was feeling very charitable towards him, indeed. In the way one feel charitable to a naughty but adorable puppy.

Yep. Like that.

The hunt for the serial killer (a term not yet coined) Jack the Ripper – first called Leather Apron by the press (look at me, learning things!) keeps the plot moving along briskly. The attention to historical detail in this book is AWESOME, even if there were a few liberties taken that made me roll my eyes. Like at one point Audrey’s cousin says women should be able to wear a certain type of clothing to “go to work.” Um…wealthy women in the 1880s most definitely did not “go to work.” Just saying. I understand Audrey is something of a revolutionary, but to maintain believability I think a couple things like that should have been edited out. I do love the way she comes into her own through the story, and THAT part is handled exceptionally well.

“This who deserve respect are given it freely. If one must demand such a thing, he’ll never truly command it. I am your daughter, not your horse, sir.”

The creep factor is amazing. At first I thought it was going to be relatively tame (flaying bodies open and lots of blood really don’t bother me, ummm…sorry?), but the psychological aspect of it really starting affecting me about a third of the way in and I couldn’t put it down at all! I started it in bed one night…and quickly decided to finish the rest in broad daylight. 😛 I was by turns fascinated, horrified, and at the last just so very sad. The foreshadowing was incredible – which means it was so skillfully done that I was completing flailing in chapter before the reveal and while I felt completely broadsided, immediately saw the clues I’d missed.

My biggest issue with the book is actually the romance. Thankfully, it’s more of a sub-plot, but I think the whole thing would have been better by just hinting at possibilities to come instead of anything actually happening. In the first several chapters it’s WAY too distracting and it really seems out of place for Aubrey’s character. Contrary to popular opinion, it seems, I think you can have a very successfully told YA story without having any romance at all. Sometimes “just-friends” friendships are the strongest ones we have.

Overall, 4 out of 5 stars.

Monsters were supposed to be scary and ugly. They weren’t supposed to hide behind friendly smiles and well-trimmed hair. Goodness, twisted as it might be, was not meant to be locked away in an icy heart and anxious exterior. Grief was not supposed to hide guilt of wrongdoing.

 

four-stars

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Oct 10

Mini Review: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Book Reviews, Books/Writing, Reviews 2

This is the first of my Halloween/October reads! Stay tuned for more. 😀

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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is such an iconic piece of literature, I was really surprised to recall that I hadn’t read the actual story (Cliffnotes…ahem)! It’s talked about so much, and everyone knows about the Headless Horseman. Since it’s almost Halloween, it seemed like the perfect time to go through some classics that have escaped me.

Obviously, this is an older work, and as such the style is very different from what modern readers now expect. I was prepared for that (and for the derogatory terms used). However, I was still expecting a creepy, hair-raising tale…and honestly, was a bit disappointed. The lead up was great! Ichabod is SO ripe to be scared out of his wits, whether by normal or supernatural means…but nothing really happens.

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It seems that nothing too horrible went on, that maybe it was after all just a joke. The best part of course is the slight feeling of “what if…” we are left with, and the locale that Irving has built up. His descriptions of the place, the stories of hauntings, and the general feelings of creepiness for the place that he gives us are worth far more than the actual main incident (which is astonishingly short, even given the short story form). Yawn.

3/5 stars. It was okay, but I was expecting better. Was this really THAT creepy when it was first published? I wonder.

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Oct 10

Halloween Read-A-Thon

Books/Writing, Life, Reviews 19

halloween-readathon

I’m so excited to have found a group of people to do this with! As I wrote in my beginning of the month post, I was already planning to spend most of the month with Halloween-type books. This just makes it so much more fun! Many thanks to Lauren at Wonderless Reviews for putting it all together and making the gorgeous graphics available. Pretty much the rest of my month is going to be filled with spookiness and indulging my sense of the paranormal. 😀 😀 😀 I can’t wait to see what everyone else is reading.

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My pick: Stalking Jack the Ripper. This cover gives me a slight chill every time I look at it (there’s not actually blood pictured…but I keep thinking I see blood on the knife…), though from what I hear it’s not all THAT creepy of a book! I intend to find out.

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My pick: Dracula. I’m listening to this version from Audible, with different narrators for each person. So, sort of dramatized, but not exactly. I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far, but I keep getting annoyed at the way the women just accept being second-class citizens.

urban-legends 248596

My pick: Something Wicked This Way Comes. I don’t know a whole lot about this book, to be honest, but it sounds creepy AF. Lory at Emerald City Book Review posted about it a little while back and I put it on my list!

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My pick: The Werewolf of Paris. I’m trying to read some of the original supernatural stories this year, stories that started or shaped our modern day ideas of vampires, werewolves, etc. Obviously the legends of these types of creatures have been around much longer than even these books, but I thought this and Dracula were both good starts.

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My pick: Treat – Throne of Glass. I still have so many other books to read I have to mix it up a little or I will NEVER get through my pile of library books!

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My pick: The Architect of Song. While not specifically relating to Halloween, it does have a good deal to do with ghosts and again, sounds creepy AF. I am SO EXCITED to read this one!!

Fingers crossed I will get to all of these! Are you reading anything special for Halloween or autumn in general?

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Oct 02

Looking Forwards and Back #3 – September/October

Books/Writing, Reviews 7

Um, no? September flew by WAY too fast. It is not possible for it to be October yet. Not that I really mind…I love October, I love the change of the seasons and the year. But…yeah. I feel like I lost a good bit of the month. Which, I sort of did. Some personal issues/stresses/sadness kept cropping up and basically my only coping strategy is to sleep, if books or knitting doesn’t fix it. Possibly not the BEST strategy, but…eh. I’m still here. So far. 😛

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I’m skipping my Something Else Sunday post in favor of this one, since I would like to NOT be an entire week behind on my recap post this month. As you can see, I only read six books this month. Last weekend I literally didn’t even touch a book. It was very sad indeed. But I got past it. 😉 And here are the reviews for this month! I did horribly, averaged one a week…but one is better than none!

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The Reader – by Traci Chee. Wonderful book. Amazing. I ordered a signed copy, and am agreeing awaiting the sequel. 😀
Equal Rites – by Terry Pratchett. Awesome as expected.
Royal Blood – by Rhys Bowen. Middle of the road for this series, but not horrible.
The Cruelty – by Scott Bergstrom. Pretty solidly meh on this one.

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Anywho, I love Halloween and all the legends and stuffs that surround it. I’m using it as an excuse to go crazy on the paranormal/atmospheric/creepy type reads this month. As a result, a couple of books were shoved off of my immediate t0-read list. Which kind of makes me feel sad or like a failure, but, you know what…read what you love and what makes you happy at that time. I’ll have a full post on the titles I collected for October reads later this week…I’ll be lucky to get to more than 3 of them! But I love having choices. Haha. I’m focusing purely on my (very long overdue) library books, and my October/Halloween reads this month. I’ve added a few ARCs at the end of my list but don’t really expect to get to any of them. They’re just there to remind me, haha.

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These are the books currently keeping me from checking out any others at the library. Because, erm, they might have been renewed the maximum number of times and are now 2 weeks past the last due date. Oops.

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Somehow I still haven’t made it to Throne of Glass! Gah.

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Aaaaand all the creepy books! Haha. Or the ones I expect to be creepy. I’ve already started the audiobook of Dracula – which, by the way, is freaking amazing…the numerous narrators just MAKES the book, to me. I sort of doubt that I will get to Frankenstein, since it’s the least interesting of this particular lot, to me…but I would love to! So many creepy classics I’ve missed through the years.

What’s your favorite Halloween or creepy book for this time of year?

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Sep 20

Haunted Hearts: Lit-Cube September Box

Reviews 7

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I’m so excited to share this box with you guys! I’ve never had a Lit-Cube before but when I saw that A.G. Howard’s new book, The Architect of Song, was going to be the feature for September I jumped on it. So many good reviews and it sounds so creepily gothic. Perfect for the month before Hallowtober. 😉 I haven’t actually read ANY of her books before so I’m even more excited! Also, she helped curate this box – how cool is that?!?

However, I must say I am absolutely DEVASTATED that I couldn’t order the Lit-Cube Halloween box (it wouldn’t have been here in time – *sob*). Because after seeing this one…I have no doubt at all it would have been fan-freaking-tastic.

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Look at all these goodies!!! So much gorgeousness. The little round soap you see right in the middle had the most amazing cinnamon-y smell, as soon as I opened the box I was looking for WHAT was giving off that delicious autumnal smell. Good things do indeed come in small packages, because it looks so unassuming! Anyway, the Lit-Cube (a one month subscription is $34.95 shipped to the U.S.) contained:

a Readable: A.G. Howard’s The Architect of Song (*squee*)

a Wearable: a gorgeous glass necklace with pressed flowers! :hearteyes:

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This necklace is so lovely. It’s surprisingly heavy and the flowers are beautifully delicate. I’m a little concerned that my clumsy self will snap the delicate chain, but it wouldn’t be hard to replace.

an Edible: hot chocolate!

Goodies: an amazingly gorgeous leather journal with a quote picked by A.G. Howard herself on the front, a dip pen and ink, and yummy soap (yes…I just used “yummy” to describe soap, I know)! Check out this journal…I am absolutely stunned that this was in the box along with a book!

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“Keep a green tree in your heart, and perhaps a singing bird will come.” I adore trees. This is so perfect.

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Looks like lovely paper inside, too!

The ink isn’t marked, so I have no idea what brand it is (it might have been on the card included with the box, but I accidentally threw it away with the packaging after I took the picture). The pen looks very fun, but as a fountain pen aficionado, I think it’s more for decoration than use! Yes, it’s meant for dipping only, but it feels very flimsy overall so I think I will just display it rather than try to use it.

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Tristan trying to get in on the book box action as I was trying to take pretty pictures – LOL

Overall I am THRILLED with this box! October’s theme is “Tale as Old As Time,” and while I had intended to just try one month…um…yeah. That’s happening. Hehe.

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This box was bought with my own funds and this review was not solicited in any way. 🙂

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Oct 30

The Wheel Turns

Crafting, Gardening/Herbalism/Nature, Life 2

I love this time of year. This time and spring makes me feel the most connected with history, both my own personal history and the history of the world. I like the old traditions of Halloween, or Samhain as my Irish and Scottish ancestors probably would have called it. All the modern day gore and zombies aren’t what I love about the season. It’s the idea of the thinning of the veil, of our loved ones perhaps being able to see us or maaaaaybe even communicate with us that pulls me. My dear grandfather passed near this time, on October 6, 12 years ago, so perhaps that has something to do with it. Every October, I miss him and wish I could talk to him, even once more.

Samhain also seems to be my time to finish things. Around this time I feel a huge push to get things done, largely because I want to start new ones. But I really think there’s a desire for closure that pushes me too. Anyway, here is my large finish for this year’s Halloween season.

Halloween Sampler 2015

I’ll get some better pictures once it’s framed, but I’m so damn proud of it. It won’t hang on the wall this year, but definitely next. My husband even likes it and kept asking me if it was going to be done on time. I’d pick up another project and he would ask if it was finished. All kinds of motivation there!

Hope you all have a very happy, blessed Samhain.

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