Month: October 2019

It’s Time For Some Scary Stories!

Today Kim and I bring you a double review of the Scary Stories trilogy by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Stephen Gammell. Kim also gives her thoughts in a movie comparison of the new movie by Guillermo del Toro!

Books in the Trilogy:
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones

Trilogy Description:

The iconic anthology series of horror tales that’s now a feature film!

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a timeless collection of chillingly scary tales and legends, in which folklorist Alvin Schwartz offers up some of the most alarming tales of horror, dark revenge, and supernatural events of all time.

Jessica’s Rating:
Book 1: 4 stars

Book 2: 3 stars
Book 3: 4 stars 

Jessica’s Review:

I LOVED the Scary Stories books as a kid and I remember being freaked out by those drawings!  When I found out Guillermo del Toro was going to be doing a film version I became excited, I had to get those books again (with the original drawings!)  In 2011 the books were re-released with new drawings that were more ‘kid friendly”….. NO WAY…. You MUST read these books the way it was intended and that is with the original drawings by Stephen Gammell! The books were changed back in 2017 with the original illustrations. I was lucky enough to find books one and two at my local used bookstore and then lucky me found MY original book three from when I was a kid!!! Score: I had all three books again!

These books are based off old folklore and are written for kids. Some of the stories tell you how to scare your friends while reading the story to a group.  As I was reading them now I remembered some of the stories and illustrations.  Those drawings just stay with you…  My favorite of the three books was the third and final book, and it was probably my favorite as a kid since I still had it! I don’t have many of the books left from when I was a kid, so this one must have been important to me. I even circled some of the story titles in the table of contents.

If you enjoyed these books as a kid, you will surely enjoy them as an adult and get a sense of nostalgia.

Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Kim’s Review:

Ivan and I went to see Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark in the theater when it came out. We saw the preview and were intrigued so we watched it. I enjoyed it enough that I decided to get the books and read them. I think they’re such good books to introduce horror to kids! Obviously, it varies from kid to kid, but these books definitely work on the creepy side without being ridiculously scary. I read thru all 3 books in about an hour and found them engaging and chilling. I won’t go so far as to say that they scratched the horror itch, they were too mild for that. But, for the audience they were written for, they’re perfect. The illustrations also added to the reading and made it even more fun. I absolutely recommend these books to read to your kids when they want to be scared. Excellent story collection!

Here is a sample of the illustrations by Stephen Gammell:

Movie Trailer:

Here is Kim’s Movie Comparison Thoughts:

**Please note that the Hill House comparison she references will be coming soon, even though she filmed it first**

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Pre-order the Film:
Amazon US Out November 5th
Amazon UK There is no date of release for the UK, but you can pre-order it!

A Simple Favor: Book Review and Movie Comparison

Author: Darcey Bell
Published: March 21, 2017

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: September 16-24, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description:

She’s your best friend.
She knows all your secrets.
That’s why she’s so dangerous.

A single mother’s life is turned upside down when her best friend vanishes in this chilling debut thriller in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time.

But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.

Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.

Jessica’s Review:

Unlikeable and flawed characters are in A Simple Favor, some you don’t like while some you just love to hate!  This was a good one and I listened to the audiobook. Though some parts of it were easy to figure out, I did not know how this one was ultimately going to end. There are three narrators and one is just like Amy Dunne from Gone Girl, you just want to hate her so much!  The three narrators bring us everything we need to know.

My main issue with the novel was a particular relationship that was constantly mentioned. It seemed like it was written to show the flaws of the character and also shock value from Bell. To me it was not needed and actually lessened my enjoyment of the novel. I even debated on DNF’ing (did not finish)  it due to the constant mentions of the relationship.  Another issue I had was that it comes off as a Gone Girl ‘lite’. I read Gone Girl when it first came out for a book club and absolutely loved it.  This was before the hype came out with it and now every other thriller has some form of ‘Girl’ in the title.

I know it is a movie which I watched and the movie comparison will follow. I actually pictured Anna Kendrick as Stephanie and Blake Lively as Emily as I listened to the novel. They seemed perfectly cast based off the audiobook. 

Movie Comparison:

Movie Trailer:

Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

This is a very rare case of the movie is better than the book! OMG, the movie was MUCH better!!  As with all movies, there are minor changes: Stephanie is a vlogger and not a blogger, Emily’s tattoo is different, and the police investigations are different…. But the huge difference is this: They changed the last reel of the film and really improved it from the last quarter of the book!! 

Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick were just perfect as Emily and Stephanie.  Blake captured the character of Emily to a ‘T’ and Anna Kendrick seamlessly played Stephanie’s character in all the ways she was supposed to, especially the annoyance factor of “Hi Moms” on her vlog. 

Yes, the particular relationship I mentioned in my book review is brought to life in the movie, but not the constant occurrences that the book had. We also meet other ‘moms’ in the movie that were not in the book. They brought about comic relief to the movie. 

This is a case where I say read the book first and then see the movie. They are the same story but with the diverging endings, you will have no idea what will happen in the movie.  I highly enjoyed the film.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon UK


First Line Friday #128

We are back for another First Line Friday Stephen King edition:

Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son.

Salem’s Lot is a small New England town with white clapboard houses, tree-lined streets, and solid church steeples. That summer in ‘Salem’s Lot was a summer of home-coming and return; spring burned out and the land lying dry, crackling underfoot. Late that summer, Ben Mears returned to ‘Salem’s Lot hoping to cast out his own devils… and found instead a new unspeakable horror.

A stranger had also come to the Lot, a stranger with a secret as old as evil, a secret that would wreak irreparable harm on those he touched and in turn on those they loved.

All would be changed forever—Susan, whose love for Ben could not protect her; Father Callahan, the bad priest who put his eroded faith to one last test; and Mark, a young boy who sees his fantasy world become reality and ironically proves the best equipped to handle the relentless nightmare of ‘Salem’s Lot.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK