Monday, December 30, 2013

Rest Not in Peace

I received a copy of REST NOT IN PEACE by Mel Starr, from Lion Hudson via Kregel.  I was thrilled with this – literally tickled pink – because I love this series, the Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon.  I have a thing for mysteries and history, and this has both.  The main character is Master Hugh, who works as a surgeon and bailiff in a medieval village.  You’ve probably guessed this from my “mystery” hint, but he solves mysteries. 

Each mystery is packed with danger, a dash of romance, and a heaping pile of history.  The books really transport you through time.  You can practically smell the manure in the streets.  Okay, the book isn’t disgusting, but Mel Starr goes into great detail to place you with the characters.  In this, the sixth book about Master Hugh, his friend, Sir Henry Burley, is found dead and Master Hugh must determine the killer.  Unlike your run-of-the-mill mystery book, in this one, Sir Henry’s wife, now a widow, thinks Master Hugh did it.  I stayed on the edge of my seat throughout the entire novel.

I highly recommend this to mystery and historical fiction fans.  You’ll fall in love with Master Hugh like I did.  

Saturday, December 28, 2013

An Interview...with a Reporter.

I would like to introduce you to Mary Rose.  In the past, I've interviewed authors of novels and short stories.  Now, I'd like to help you get to know a different type of writer...a reporter!

Kissed by Literature: Tell us about your writing. 

Mary Rose: I am more of a reporter. I enjoy telling others' stories, describing the scenes and finding the emotions in all situations. I am not a nosey, in your face reporter though. Being as nice as I was, I got the stories and made friends along the way. 

 KBL: How long have you considered yourself a writer? 

MR:  I have been a writer for over a decade, closer to 15 years now, I think. I started at a small paper in Herkimer County, went to Rome and covered Woodstock '99 (best week ever!) and was asked to interview Hilary Cinton in a private setting (being respectful of my sources got me that gig) and then headed to western NY, covered 9/11 from the Rochester area and became a freelancer when I moved back to CNY. I am currently the Mary in the Middle columnist for In Good Health, a local publication distributed locally in doctor's offices, hospitals, etc. I also write other stories for In Good Health as well as a few other print and online publications. 

KBL:  What’s your earliest writing memory?

MR:  In school, creative papers were the worst actually. I was always told to expand more, describe the scene, feel the mood. I was annoyed then but now that is something I would tell others.

KBL:  What’s your favorite part of writing?

MR: Sitting in front of the computer and letting the words flow. The hardest part is when the words come to be but nothing to write them on or no place to put it all together. Like when I am in the shower.

KBL:  Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

MR: The world is filled with people who think they are writers, who want to be, and who have this image of sitting around in their bathrobes all day and getting paid for it. If you are serious, educate yourself. Take courses at the local college. Go to trainings or workshops to see what other writers are doing. Learn all that you can to make yourself stand out as a serious writer and not someone who has a keyboard and an internet connection.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightley

I received a copy of DEAR MR. KNIGHTLEY by Katherine Reay, from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze.  This book absolutely fascinated me.  It is told in letterform from Samantha to her benefactor, who she calls Mr. Knightley.  You don’t normally find letterform in novels, but I always eat them up when I do.  I can relate to them well, since I’ve had pen pals around the world since I was eleven-years-old, and I’ve kept a diary since I was much younger than that.  Many of the comments in the letters, such as “I forgot to mail this so I’ll write more” (not a direct quote, but it was very similar to that.  I can’t find the correct page now) reminded me so much of those run-on letters to my friends.

Samantha is a fascinating young woman who I’m sure many readers will be able to connect with.  She loves literature – think Austen – and she’s driven toward college and her career.  I found it cool that she would at times quote her favorite authors.  While I don’t currently do that, it would be a fun pastime to strive for. 

I should add that the entire book does not consist of letters.  You also get a glimpse of Sam’s happy ending as she arrives in New York.  The book ended with a happy ending.  I recommend this for anyone who loves the classics, and a feel-good novel for the holidays.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

December Book Signing

Good evening, one and all.  I have exciting news!  Well, at least it’s exciting for me.  Another book signing is fast approaching – this Saturday, December 21st, to be precise.  The anthology, 13 HAUNTING TALES, is a collection of ghost stories.  I invited fellow contributor, Jeremy Mortis, to help me spread the word. 
Kissed by Literature: What are your latest writing endeavors?
Jeremy Mortis: Well, my latest writing endeavor is a short story I wrote called The Queen of Cobwebs, which I hope will be published soon in the Steampunk collection Jordan is putting together. Also, I am currently working on a ghost story called The Regal. It’s about a haunted theater in Rome, NY. Hopefully, this story will be published soon as well.
KBL: How do you think the first book signing for 13 HAUNTING TALES went?
JM: The first book signing went fantastic; the staff at the Dunham Library were so friendly and helpful. Hopefully I will get the chance to work with them again.
KBL: What are your feelings concerning the upcoming book signing?
JM: The next book signing is at the Utica Public Library on Saturday December 21st from ten to two. I’m very excited about this one because several people have told me that they are coming to this one. I can’t wait to meet all of them.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Advent of Murder

I received a copy of THE ADVENT OF MURDER by Martha Ockley, from Lion Fiction via Kregel.  It is a Faith Morgan Mystery, my first Faith Morgan mystery to be exact, and not my last.  I’ll be looking for the first book in the series, THE RELUCTANT DETECTIVE.

In this second book, Faith Morgan becomes involved in the appearance of a body in the Tiver Itchen.  I read many mysteries, and this one struck me as something different.  For one thing, there is a church connection, which you don’t usually find in mysteries – at least not the mysteries I usually read.  On that same note, Faith is the vicar of Little Worthy.  Normally in mystery novels, there is a detective and a load of unsavory characters, with tons of swearing and sexual content.  Yes, Faith Morgan does have a love interest (the police investigator, no less), but the book felt refreshing to read, and I would feel comfortable allowing a young adult to have a go at it. 

My only fault with the book was not having read the first one, so I was confused about backstory and characters, but it didn’t hold me back from enjoying it.  Also, her little village and church are steeped in history – I can’t get enough of history!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

An Amish Miracle

I received a copy of AN AMISH MIRACLE, which is a collection of three novellas, from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze.  I was thrilled at the chance to review it, and ordered it to do with as I’ve done with past Amish books: read, enjoy, and pass on to my mother.  Every summer, we spend a week in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, visiting Amish shops and enjoying the peaceful, country life.  Books like this one bring back those happy memories. 

My mother and I have also read AN AMISH LOVE, part of the same novella series, and enjoyed that one as well, so we were doubly pleased with this one.

The first novella, Always in my Heart by Mary Ellis, involves Hope Bowman and her troubled past.  As a teenager, she was raped, and her father forced her to give up the baby to an adoption agency.  She is now unable to have a son, and feels it is because she surrendered her first one to the state.  Hope is tormented by that deed, but is given a chance for redemption when her long lost son runs away from his foster family to meet her.  Yes, the story was sweet, and I had tears in my eyes by the end, but overall, it felt very farfetched. 

Ruth Reid wrote the second novella, ALWAYS HIS PROVIDENCE.  It also felt far-fetched, but left me with a contented smile.  Rosa, a widower from the first novella, reappears as her back taxes catch up with her and she faces losing her farm.  She makes a living off selling eggs, but the new neighbor’s dogs start attacking her chickens.  An old friend of hers who rents her barn comes to her rescue, and they sweetly fall in love.

The final story is ALWAYS BEAUTIFUL by Beth Wiseman.  Another reoccurring character, Becky, struggles with her weight.  Since she is overweight, she struggles with her self-worth and starts dieting.  Her lifelong best friend loves her as she is, as does a handsome young Amish man, but she strives to lose pounds.  I found this novella inspiring, and will recommend it to my friends who also struggle with their weights.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


I received a copy of PERIL by Jordyn Redwood from Kregel Publications.  I have read her other books, PROOF and POISON, in the Bloodline Trilogy, and I didn’t expect anything less than emotion and danger – I received all that and more.  I had received POISON from Kregel Publications in the past, but I found PROOF on my own. 

The writing is what I love most about Jordyn Redwood’s literature.  The suck you into that place; all of the trials of the world fade and you know only the main character, Morgan.  You feel what she feels, you say what she says, and you wince with her when things don’t quite go as planned.  Then again, you also cheer with Morgan when everything goes perfectly.  One of my favorite lines in the book came on page 94: “…a haunted darkness in her voice.”  Lines like that send a chill over your skin.

I am going to pass this book onto my aunt, who is a nurse like Morgan, and I know she will appreciate the medical references.  I’m hoping to get her hooked on this series with me so we can share opinions, and watch for more novels by Jordyn Redwood.  Even though this is a trilogy, I’m hoping for a fourth book.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stones for Bread

I received a copy of STONES FOR BREAD by Christa Parrish from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze.  The opinions I have expressed are strictly my own, and receving this book did not mean I had to make a favorable review.  With that said…

This was a heartwarming book, both inside and out, and by that I mean that I smiled through every page and then made myself some bread in the bread maker.  I haven’t felt inclined to do that in many a moon. 

The main character, Liesl, comes from a family of bread makers.  Her entire life seems to revolve around bread – boy, did that make me hungry!  It is a quiet existence of peace and security.  In a way, it is the life everyone needs but not everyone hopes for. 

Then – and of course you knew something had to get in the way of that – life gets more complicated for Liesl.  My favorite of those things happens to be a mysterious woman who says she’s Liesl’s half-sister. 

I enjoyed how well this book explored faith in God; sometimes, religious fiction only touches upon that topic, but this one dove right in and left me feeling complete.  I will keep my eyes open for other books by Christa Parrish.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

An Elegant Solution

I received a copy of AN ELEGANT SOLUTON by Paul Robertson from Bethany House.  Once again, Bethany House published a winner.  From the first page to the last, you encounter danger and excitement.  Throw in some murder.  Mix in some history.  Add a pinch of scholarly advice (it is a university town, after all).  I should also add a note about the intriguing dedication: “I believe that, if there was no other proof, that because of Mathematics, I would still believe in God.  I’ll let Leonhard tell you why.”

The main character, Leonhard Euler, is a “math prodigy.”  That actually put me off a little at first.  I have always disliked math, so I was afraid some parts might go over my head or cause me to lose interest.  While his being a math wizard does come into play, it only adds a new dimension to make the story more well rounded. 

Basically, the story is about how Leonhard Euler gets to solve a mystery regarding the death of his master’s brother.  I don’t want to say nothing goes right for him, but the story doesn’t dance in a straight line.  Instead, you get to experience the ups and downs, the fear, right along with Leonhard.

As a writer, I enjoyed seeing how Paul Robertson wove realistic dialogue around action and natural characters.  I highly recommend this to murder novel fans.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I received a copy of A WALK THROUGH THE DARK: HOW MY HUSBAND’S 90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN DEEPENED MY FAITH FOR A LIFETIME by Eva Piper with Cecil Murphy from Thomas Nelson, via BookSneeze.  This book really blew me away.

Eva Piper’s husband, Don Piper, died, but returned to life through prayer.  The story explains what she went through and tells us about what it was like for him.  He also provides a forward, introducing us to the story.  No, I shouldn’t call it a story.  It is more like a thought-provoking glimpse into a family trauma and miracle that will leave you breathless.  They don’t just tell you the facts.  It is written in such a beautiful, spiritual way that you are sucked into it.  You feel as if you are standing beside them as everything enfolds.  I cried with the family, and I cheered with them, too.  They take you step by step, never rushing over anything. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone who doubts the power of prayers.  Although it is a true story, it reads like a novel.  I will be passing it along to family members and friends.  This is definitely a book worth sharing.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Which Spellbound Character Would YOU Most Likely Be?

Today bestselling author, Sherry Soule has some exciting news to share with us! All the previously published books in the Spellbound series have been rewritten and republished with more epic romance and suspenseful thrills. The new versions also include exclusive bonus material and brand new scenes. Even additional scenes from charming, bad-boy, Trent Donovan’s point-of-view! To help promote the new editions, she is doing this awesome book tour to share the update with fellow booklovers.

This giveaway is open internationally! So let’s tell the blogging world!
Take this quiz to see which character in the Spellbound universe you’d most likely be similar to, and score an eBook version of the first book in this unforgettable YA series, BEAUTIFULLY BROKEN!
Answer this quiz, then post your results in the comments. Be sure to check the bottom of the post for the details regarding this random giveaway.

1.    What’s your favorite season?

a)    Winter - Cloudy, Chilly, Rainy, Stormy
b)    Fall - Windy, Misty, Foggy, Mild
c)    Summer - Hot, Dry, No Wind, Sunny
d)    Spring – Warm, Breezy, Greenery, Brisk

2.    I detest using labels, but what would others call you at school?

a)    Normal or Jock/ Cheerleader
b)    Preppy/ Student Counsel
c)    Amateur Fashionista
d)    Girlish tomboy

3.    Which of the following best describes your personality?

a)    Snobbish, Eccentric, Perky
b)    Haughty, Moody, Smart
c)    Tough, Snarky, Weird
d)    Playful, Vivacious, Straightforward

4.    Which genre do you read most often?

a)    Urban Fantasy
b)    Horror / Dark YA
c)    Paranormal Romance
d)    Dystopia

5.    You are at school and witness a student bullying someone. What do you do?

a)    Run in the opposite direction before they pick on you
b)    Laugh and join in on the fun
c)    Stop and tell the bully to knock it off or else!
d)    Go tell a teacher what’s going on

6.    What’s your hairstyle?

a)    Short and sassy
b)    Long and straight
c)    Medium with highlights
d)    Curly or wavy

7.    What’s your typical breakfast?
a)    Eggs and bacon
b)    Oatmeal and orange juice
c)    Coffee and a Pop tart
d)    Heaping bowl of my fav cereal

8.    What type of pet would you like to have or do you own?
a)    Hamster
b)    Small Dog
c)    Shade
d)    Cat

9.    How often do you shop or hit the mall?
a) Only on sale days
b) Once or twice a month
c) Every week—duh
d) Hardly ever

If you answered...

Mostly a's: You and Kayla are a lot alike! You both love a good sale on shoes, and you’re energetic and sassy.
Mostly b's: Ashley and you could be sisters. You each enjoy autumn days, hanging at the mall, and you’re more of a leader than a follower.
Mostly c's: Shiloh and you could be besties! You both love to shop for the newest trends, enjoy reading paranormal romance novels, and you even have a snarky-side.
Mostly d's: Sounds like you and Ariana have a lot in common. You each love to read YA books, adore cats, and can often be straightforward and super fun.

Random winner will be picked on December 21st . Please check back on that day to find out if you’re the lucky winner. Your eBook will be delivered via email to download to your e-Reader. (If you're unsure how to, let Sherry know, she'll help you.)

Those who enter must have an eReader to redeem this prize. All prizes will be electronically delivered. Please review all terms & conditions before entering.  

Mandatory giveaway details:
1.) You must comment with your quiz results
2.) Be a follower of the Spellbound Series Universe Blog
3.) Be a follower of this blog
4.) Follow us both on Twitter - @WriterSherry & INSERT TWITTER ID
5.) Tweet about this giveaway and include link
That's it! Good luck!

Places you can cyberstalk Sherry Soule:
Official Spellbound Series blog:
Twitter @WriterSherry:

Deadly Witchcraft. Ghostly Threats. Doomed Romance.
They say every town has its secrets, but that doesn’t even begin to describe Fallen Oaks. The townsfolk are a superstitious lot and the mystical disappearance of a local teen has everyone murmuring about a centuries old witch’s curse.
When sixteen-year-old Shiloh Trudell takes a summer job at Craven Manor, she discovers a ghost with an agenda. That’s where she meets the new town hottie, Trent Donovan, and immediately becomes enchanted by his charms.
Finally, Shiloh’s met someone who is supercute and totally into her, but Trent is immersed in the cunning deception that surrounds the mysterious Craven Manor. So much so that he may lose sight of what is truly important to him. And she can’t decide whether she wants to shake him or kiss him. Yet neither one of them can deny the immediate, passionate connection growing between them.
But underlying everything is the fear that Trent may be the next victim on a supernatural hit list, and Shiloh is the only person with the power to save him…
With cryptic messages from a pesky wraith, Shiloh will finally begin to understand the mysterious significance of the strange mark branded on her wrist and decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice to protect the other teenagers in town.
Unfortunately, for Shiloh, not all ghosts want help crossing over. Some want vengeance.
ISBN: 978-0976180425
Amazon Paperback:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Reichenbach Problem

I received a copy of THE REICHENBACK PROBLEM, book one of the Reichenback Trilogy, by Martin Allison Booth from Lion Fiction via Kregel.  The book is, in one word, a treat.  Think murder mystery meets history.   The story follows the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as he tries, in a way, to escape from Mr. Sherlock Holmes, his own fame.  He goes to Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland, where he encounters the murder of a tourist, rather than the soul redeeming peace he’d craved.  I love stories that mix history with fiction, and I’ve never read a book about Conan Doyle before. 

Conan Doyle wrote the famous Sherlock Holmes, but can he solve a mystery himself?  The stakes raise when the people think he did the murder.  Whenever I read a mystery, I can never figure out who did it until the answer is revealed at the end.  The same thing happened with this book, but it made it a fast page-turner.  The writing contained Old World elegance that reminded me of the real Sherlock Holmes novels, which I read with my mother years ago back in high school.  I passed this book onto her now that I’m done with it.

I highly recommend this to fans of mysteries, histories, and, of course, Sherlock Holmes fanatics!  No true love of Sherlock Holmes can be complete without delving into the creator’s mind.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

13 Haunting Tales

I would like to introduce a newcomer to the blog – Jeremy Mortis.  Insert enthusiastic clapping here.  Jeremy and I are both members of the Utica Writers Club, and we both have short stories published in 13 Haunting Tales, a ghost story anthology edited by Terri Karsten.  It is available through Wagonbridge Publishing and on Amazon,  You can also ask us for a copy.   Jeremy’s short story is entitled SIMON AND THE GHOST, and mine are AMITY, CANDLESTICK GUILT, and YANKEE INN. 

To celebrate the anxiously anticipated release of the anthology, one of my critique partners came up with questions for Jeremy and me.  If you think of any other questions you’d like to pose, feel free to leave them as a comment for Jeremy, me, or for both of us. 

Favorite part of writing:
               Jeremy – There are two things. The first brainstorming session and reading it out loud. 
Jordan - My favorite part of writing is bringing people into a new world.  I get to lose myself in the setting and allow the characters to possess the story.  I also get to visit places I want to go to in real life through my writing.  For example, I would love to eat at a restaurant where they employees dressed in Civil War-era clothing (see YANKEE INN).  I also find it peaceful and enlightening to visit cemeteries, so I would love to be able to talk with one of the deceased (see AMITY). 

Favorite place to write:
               Jeremy – My bedroom. I'm surrounded by think that inspire me.
Jordan - I have to write alone!  If I’m around other people, I feel self-conscious.  See, I don’t write “normally.”  I cross my legs or sit on them; I pick at my face or push back my cuticles.  I swing around in my chair.  Sometimes I guzzle a drink.  I don’t want anyone to disrupt that and lose my train of thought.  Choo choo – I want to let the words flow. 

What do you want people to take away from your writing?: 
               Jeremy – That anyone can be a hero. Anytime, anywhere. You just have to be willing to do 
Jordan - Enjoyment.  I write so that after you read it, you get to experience an emotion: happiness, horror, sadness, excitement.  I don’t want you to feel as if you wasted your time.  Experience something new.  Those are the types of stories that I present with five stars, so I want my writing to have the same effect.

What are your plans for your copies?:
               Jeremy – I wiant to take copy and hide it. Make sure nothing happens to it. Treat it 
like a collector's item. The other I am going to show to everyone.
Jordan - One copy will go to my agent.  I’ll keep the others for now; at least until the thrill wears off a bit.  It will never entirely leave, but at first I’ll want to hug them to me.  Eventually I’ll give some copies away to family and friends.  Eventually – if you want one sooner, you can order it yourself and I’ll gladly sign it for you.  Wink wink.

Who is the first person you told about being published in the anthology?:
            Jeremy – My friend Jordan. She told me about the anthology to begin with, so she should 
get a large portion of the credit for this story getting published.
Jordan - My boyfriend.  After that, my parents.  Then, my critique partners.  Lastly, the Utica Writers Club.  No, I shouldn’t say lastly, since I’m still telling people about it.

Best writing resource:
               Jeremy – I would to say the world around me. Everyday something happens and I say "This 
is going into the book.

Jordan - I love writing websites.  My favorite is  I’ve found some of the greatest critique partners there and gained some of the most valuable advice.  You earn credits when you critique someone else’s work and once you have enough credits, you get to post something of yours.  I like that method, since it almost guarantees someone will comment on your work.  The website also specifies word guidelines, so you have to comment with at least 300 words in order to get a credit.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

31 Days to Happiness

I received a copy of 31 DAYS TO HAPPINESS: HOW TO FIND WHAT REALLY MATTERS IN LIFE by David Jeremiah from Thomas Nelson via BookSneeze.  I love these kinds of books that bring history into our everyday lives.  The book delves into the life and times of King Solomon, and transforms him into a real character the normal person can relate to. 

Some people I know dislike “self-help books,” but I don’t see them as a “fix-all.”  Usually, I take away one or two thoughts that I get to mull over, and hopefully, they improve how I look at the world.  I read this book while considering the things that happen that keep me from “happiness.”  Work, being busy, the long drive home, the challenges that cause people to look down on me, the projects I don’t have time for, the projects that keep me away from my boyfriend…  With those written down, I set to work on 31 DAYS TO HAPPINESS.  Chapter 15, Employment without Enjoyment, stood out to me the most.  Which one stands out to you?

I recommend this not only for people looking to improve their lives, but for those seeking a new perspective.  I’m passing this book on to my friends and family.  

The First Presbyterian Church House

I am obsessed with ghosts.  Two of my favorite television shows include A Haunting and Haunted Collector.  I may not actively seek out ghosts, but I’ll eat up any true ghost story and read any novel on the subject that crosses my path. 

Enter: the ghosts that haunt the Church House of the First Presbyterian Church on Genesee Street in Utica. 
My friend, Stephanie, volunteers at the Oneida County Historical Society, also in Utica.  She mentioned to me that a fellow volunteer was a member of the First Presbyterian Church and had mentioned that the house – rightly, a mansion – attached to the church was haunted.  She loves the world of the paranormal too, and he offered to give us a tour.  Of course we brought our families along. 

Any good old-fashioned ghost story deserves to start with the facts.  Robert MacKinnon owned the house first, back in 1898, then known as 435 Genesee Street.  You may dream about living in a mansion, and the MacKinnon life was one of extravagance and glamour, but it isn’t a fairytale with a happy ending like Annie.  Robert MacKinnon lost his fortune in 1910, going from millionaire to very poor in a short amount of time.  I can’t imagine what that must have been like for him. 

Before Robert MacKinnon lost the mansion, he helped raise three daughters and two sons.  You might drift back into the fairytale mindset, where all that glitters is gold, but again, there lies a shadowy undertone. 
One daughter, Mollie, disappeared.  She had been engaged to a man who was said to be of upper class background, but who was really a lawyer from California who left that state in a cloud of uncertainty.  Once she was married, she discovered something about her husband that was so shocking she could never again face her family.  She vanished and was never seen again. It was only recent years that her burial place in a Long Island cemetery was discovered.  She had died of tuberculosis in the charity ward of a New York City hospital.

Another daughter married a Jamaican plantation owner and died within a year of her marriage.  Her death certificate indicates she died of a complication from pregnancy, which was at the time untreatable.
Charles Borst took over the mansion in 1911.  Owner of the Clinton Hermatite Mines, he died in his office in Clinton in 1918.  His wife, Grace Borst, tried to keep the mines going, but eventually sold the house to investors who intended to turn it into apartments. One of the Borst daughters, Carlina, passed on in an untimely manner.  She became an actress and died of tuberculosis in New York City when she was just 33.  When her husband died a few years later, her sister, Beatrice, became guardian of her children.  In 1942, she wrote a novel based on her life in the Utica mansion.  Although names and places were changed, the descriptions of the rooms are clear to those who know the house.

Stepping into the mansion, you can feel the history in the air.  The downstairs has been refurnished into elegant meetings rooms and offices, with a professional, dignified atmosphere.  When you get upstairs, you experience the decay of the years.  Without being fixed up to proper standards, the remains of the past decade whisper into your ears.  You can imagine what Mollie’s coming out party in 1905 had been like in the ballroom, and you can picture the servants hanging their sparse clothing in the attic closets.  The dormers, flooded with light from outdoors while carpeted with interior darkness, leaves a chill down your spine.  From the exquisite tile in the bathroom to the sparkling fireplaces, you can experience what a grand life the occupants must have lived.  It is the perfect type of home you long to live in, and when you close your eyes, you imagine what it might have been like back then, in the early 1900s. 

George Abel, one of the church members, gave us the tour of the rooms, complete with commentary.  He explained the history and pointed out locations where people have witnessed paranormal activity.  Mollie MacKinnon is the most popular ghost for the mansion.  If you believe it is her spirit haunting the grounds, you can imagine she returned to her home, a place where she felt safe, after her unfortunate demise.  Stephanie and I snapped photos with our digital cameras as we followed him.  When we got home and reviewed our footage, she didn’t see anything in hers.

In three of mine, however, I spotted what might be ghost orbs.  Of course, I would have much preferred a full body apparition or a face in a mirror.  One orb appeared over a fireplace.  The white ball was very transparent and small, and in the brightness of the room, it could easily be called dust.  Another orb appeared when I snapped the inside of a closet.  That one, too, could be called dust, since the air felt heavy and the closet was cluttered. 

The third orb sends chills down my spine, and I can’t call it dust.  It appeared in the upstairs sitting area near the stairs where people have claimed to see Mollie’s ghost.  The orb is in the upper right-hand corner of the photograph and seems to be moving.  It is much brighter and whiter than the other orbs captured on film.  It also seems to be moving, with a bit of a streak or tail following it.  You decide: ghost orb, dust, or a speck on the lens?  Nowhere else did a light like that appear on the photos, and I’ve never seen it on another photograph I’ve taken anywhere else. 

The house has been the site of multiple ghost hunting experiences, as well as part of the 2013 summer tour for the Landmarks Society of Utica.  Keep your eyes open for an opportunity of your own to tour the expansive grounds and maybe catch a glimpse of the ghost, or ghosts, yourself.  The church can be reached at

If you know of a haunted area you’d like me to tour and write about, or something else you’d like me to write about, you can contact me at  Happy adventures!

Sunday, September 15, 2013


With joy, I received another book of Amish Fiction from Bethany House.  This one is THE SECRET KEEPER by Beverly Lewis, the third book in her
Return to Hickory Hollow series.   I always enjoy Beverly Lewis’s
books, so this one was a treat, and I look forward to discussing it
with my mother once she reads it.

Of course, as with any book, there were good and bad points.  For one
thing, Beverly Lewis never describes things well.  I love how she
captures the Amish lifestyle, but I can’t picture the people or places
– I’ve even vacationed at Bird-in-Hand, one of the main locations.
Beverly Lewis also uses a lot of telling sentences, rather than
showing what’s occurring.

THE SECRET KEEPER involves Jenny Burns wanting to become Amish.  My
favorite part of the book was that topic.  Most of the Amish novels
involve a young Amish woman falling in love with a young Amish man.
Sure, that was involved, but the main focus was how Jenny adapted to a
new lifestyle.

Another great aspect was that Katie Lapp returned, first introduced in
THE SHUNNING.  Jenny stays with Katie’s parents while she strives to
prove her worth to the Bishop and be welcomed into the faith.  I
recommend this to anyone who enjoyed the trilogy about Katie Lapp, and
for anyone interested in the Amish ways.