Month: October 2021

Happy Halloween! Book Review: Haunted Nights Edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton

Happy Halloween!  This is our favorite holiday here at Jessica’s Reading Room. And if you could not tell before this month, I think you can now! We had almost a full month of reviews of horror/thrillers!  (With a couple of non-thrillers kicked in).

Enjoy today for what it is, don’t eat too much sugar, and watch some scary movies! That’s what I’ve been doing this weekend! 

For your review enjoyment Kim brings you a review of Haunted Nights, which is a short story anthology!

Haunted Nights
Editors:  Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton

Published: October 3, 2017
352 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Sixteen never-before-published chilling tales that explore every aspect of our darkest holiday, Halloween, co-edited by Ellen Datlow, one of the most successful and respected genre editors, and Lisa Morton, a leading authority on Halloween.

In addition to stories about scheming jack-o’-lanterns, vengeful ghosts, otherworldly changelings, disturbingly realistic haunted attractions, masks that cover terrifying faces, murderous urban legends, parties gone bad, cult Halloween movies, and trick or treating in the future, Haunted Nights also offers terrifying and mind-bending explorations of related holidays like All Souls’ Day, Dia de los Muertos, and Devil’s Night.

-With Graveyard Weeds and Wolfbane Seeds- by Seanan McGuire
-Dirtmouth- by Stephen Graham Jones-
-A Small Taste of the Old Countr- by Jonathan Maberry
-Wick’s End- by Joanna Parypinski
-The Seventeen Year Itch- by Garth Nix
-A Flicker of Light on Devil’s Night- by Kate Jonez
-Witch-Hazel- by Jeffrey Ford
-Nos Galen Gaeaf- by Kelley Armstrong
-We’re Never Inviting Amber Again- by S. P. Miskowski
-Sisters- by Brian Evenson
-All Through the Night- by Elise Forier Edie
-A Kingdom of Sugar Skulls and Marigolds- by Eric J. Guignard
-The Turn- by Paul Kane
-Jack- by Pat Cadigan
-Lost in the Dark- by John Langan
-The First Lunar Halloween- by John R. Little

Kim’s Review:

What a great anthology! Blumhouse is doing pretty well with their publishing … now if we can just get them that consistent with their movies! I loved all but one of these short stories. I was also distracted while reading that one story so I can’t really say it wasn’t my own fault. But the piece de resistance is the story of Bad Agatha; I loved it so much that I’m being Agatha for Halloween this year!! If they made that story into a movie, I’d watch it without question! Any of these stories would make an amazing horror movie. I highly recommend this anthology to any horror fan without a single reservation. Perfect for Halloween!

Well done, Blumhouse, well done!!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Kim as Bad Agatha!

#Diverseathon2021: November’s Host and Prompt

This post is a couple of days early, but it’s time to talk about November’s host and prompt for Diversathon: The host is ME!!!  It’s finally my turn! At the beginning of the year when Diverseathon was announced November seemed so far away, and now it is almost here…

For November the prompt is: A book set in Iran.
November’s host: Me: I will host here and also on my Facebook page and Instagram.

**I will be having a giveaway: A $20 e-gift card to the bookstore of your choice. All you have to do is read a book set in Iran and share what you thought about it on social media. **Be sure to tag me in some way so I see it!**  Previous Diverseathon hosts are welcome to join in on this giveaway.  This giveaway will last for the entire month of November with the winner being announced on my Instagram.

What am I reading for November for #Diverseathon2021? It will be two very different type of books:

-The Stoning of Soraya M: A True Story by Freidoune Sahebjam
-Lost Boys by Darcey Rosenblatt

Book Description:

Soraya M.’s husband, Ghorban-Ali, couldn’t afford to marry another woman. Rather than returning Soraya’s dowry, as custom required before taking a second wife, he plotted with four friends and a counterfeit mullah to dispose of her. Together, they accused Soraya of adultery. Her only crime was cooking for a friend’s widowed husband. Exhausted by a lifetime of abuse and hardship, Soraya said nothing, and the makeshift tribunal took her silence as a confession of guilt. They sentenced her to death by stoning: a punishment prohibited by Islam but widely practiced. Day by day sometimes minute by minute Sahebjam deftly recounts these horrendous events, tracing Soraya’s life with searing immediacy, from her arranged marriage and the births of her nine children to her husband’s increasing cruelty and her horrifying execution, where, by tradition, her father, husband, and sons hurled the first stones.

This is one woman’s story, but it stands for the stories of thousands of women who suffered and continue to suffer the same fate. It is a story that must be told.

**This is one I read years ago.  The book itself is banned in Iran and there is also a film based off this true story.**

Book Description:

It’s 1982, and twelve-year-old Reza has no interest in joining Iran’s war effort. But in the wake of a tragedy and at his mother’s urging, he decides to enlist, assured by the authorities that he will achieve paradise should he die in service to his country.

War does not bring the glory the boys of Iran have been promised, and Reza soon finds himself held in a prisoner-of-war camp in Iraq, where the guards not only threaten violence—they act upon it.

Will Reza make it out alive? And if he does, will he even have a home to return to?


What are YOU reading for #Diverseathon2021 in November?


Book Review: Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Survive the Night
Author: Riley Sager

Published: June 29, 2021

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: July 16-20, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing–survive the night.

Jessica’s Review:

Survive the Night is Riley Sager’s fifth novel and a first for me, and I cannot wait to read the rest of his! 

At first when I realized that Charlie was going to be an unreliable narrator, I rolled my eyes because most of the time those novels do not work for me, but then something occurred and I was 1000% pulled in and absolutely had to know what was going to happen! 

Survive the Night is a very fast paced novel that takes place just overnight on a long and tedious drive.  Nothing is as it seems… Or is it?  Who or what should the reader believe??? 

Again, Charlie is our very unreliable narrator and a bit obtuse.  If you are thinking your life is in danger, and you had several opportunities to get away, why not do it?!?!?  The way Charlie is unreliable is a different type of narrator, so I did welcome this versus the typical unreliable narrator who is an alcoholic.

For many reasons, this story would not be able to take place today, so Sager set it in 1991, which was perfect: There are references to this time period including Nirvana’s Come As You Are (which is referenced multiple times for a reason) and also phone booths!! 

I had convinced myself that I figured out the ending, and I can say I am very glad I that I was wrong!!  It was an ending I would not have been happy with and I really enjoyed the many twists that just kept coming. 

I am ready to read more of Sager’s novels (which I have three of his four others) and see what else he can write!

Survive the Night is definitely recommended for thriller lovers!!! 

Review Update:
I wrote these reviews as I listened to the novels by Riley Sager which were out of order over several months. Now that I have listened to them all, my order of preference of the books are:

-Lock Every Door

-Survive the Night
-Home Before Dark
-The Last Time I Lied
-Final Girls

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK