Hello (From Here)
Published: September 7, 2021
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: October 1-7, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
A witty and thought-provoking YA love story set during the COVID-19 quarantine, written by two NYT bestselling authors, with shades of Five Feet Apart and Anna and the French Kiss .
Maxine and Jonah bump into each other in the canned goods aisle of the grocery store just as the state of California is going into lockdown, when everything changes completely. Could there be a worse time to meet? Max’s part-time job at a supermarket is about to transform into a hellish gauntlet. Jonah’s preexisting anxiety is about to become an epic daily struggle. As Max, Jonah, and their friends live together but apart through hijinks, humanity, and heartbreak, Hello (From Here) cuts across urgent matters much bigger than a teenage crush. Differences of class, privilege, mental health, and sacrifice are thrown into stark relief by the profound and personal stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. As thoughtful, probing, and informed as it is buoyant, romantic, and funny, Hello (From Here) looks at the first two months of the quarantine and adds falling hopelessly in love to the mess.
A lot of reviews have focused on the fact that this novel came ‘too soon’ and was ‘too much’ for us still being in the COVID-19 pandemic. For those that say it was ‘too real’, this is the point of the story! The description clearly states that this takes place in the pandemic, so of course it will be the heavy focus! It’s a bit of a YA romance taking place during the pandemic. If a pandemic story will feel ‘too real’ for you, then stay away from it and any other book that may be about COVID-19!
For me I enjoyed listening to the audiobook, and what Jonah and Max face was and is still happening. We just get the plus of a possible romance that may or may not bloom. This novel is about so much more than Max and Jonah: it deals with class and privilege, mental health and even the previous AIDS pandemic in the 1980s-90s.
I was not too attached to Jonah or Max, in fact I was more attached to Arlo and his story and the mystery associated with him. I was 1000% invested in Arlo. The novel handles Jonah and his anxiety and panic attacks with perfection! Max also seems real with her life situation in being of the lower middle class and having to work to help out her mother.
This is definitely a YA novel, where the characters just a bit immature for me, but I still enjoyed the novel. The grim realities of COVID-19 are also faced with hospitalization and death of characters. For some readers this could be a trigger warning as it might be a bit too much reality to happen in a fiction novel, but it is part of the pandemic we still face.
I did enjoy Hello (From Here) and listened to the audiobook version, and surprise to me when I started it: Michael Crouch is one of the narrators!!!! And I have to say I love the cover of this novel too! It’s perfect!
Hello (From Here) is recommended, though you might want to proceed with caution of the potential triggers.
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!
Editors: Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton
Published: October 3, 2017
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
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
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!!
Kim as Bad Agatha!
Today Kim and I bring you a double review of Home Before Dark. I gave it 5 stars and she gave it 4 stars. This is the perfect book to get you in the mood for Halloween if you haven’t been yet!
Home Before Dark
Author: Riley Sager
Published: June 30, 2020
Audiobook/ 340 Pages
What was it like? Living in that house?
Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.
Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.
Jessica’s Rating: 5 Stars
Dates Read: August 18-24, 2021
Format Read: Audiobook
This is the perfect novel to be read around Halloween! We are dealing with the multiple tragedies of the past and is this house haunted or not? Only time and reading Home Before Dark will tell!
Maggie Holt was just 5 years old when her family fled Baneberry Hall, the house they stayed in for just three weeks. After the family’s ordeal, her father Ewan wrote a book based on their experiences and the book became a spectacle that Maggie has dealt with her whole life. Being she was just five years old, and has no memories of the house and what may or may not have happened, she never believed her father. It has now been 25 years and Ewan has died and left Baneberry Hall to Maggie. Not even knowing that he still owned the home and not believing her father’s ‘non-fiction’ book, she decides she can fix up Baneberry Hall and then sell it. But what Maggie gets is more than she bargains for when she returns to town.
We get two narrators with Home Before Dark: We get Ewan’s narration through the book he wrote and we also have Maggie’s narration in present day. And let me just say that Baneberry Hall is definitely its own character in this novel: In fact it is really the star!
There is definitely the horror element throughout this novel! Is it ghosts of the past still haunting or something else? Let me just say, if you don’t like snakes, then there is a part of this book that you must avoid! We do get full conclusions to everything that has happened at Baneberry Hall and we end up with a satisfying yet scary novel from Sager!
Home Before Dark is recommended!
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
This was a pretty interesting one. I’ll admit that I knocked a star off the rating because it felt a little like a rehash of The Haunting of Hill House show on Netflix, but there were enough differences that I’m still happy with it! I also feel like this is one of those books that you need to read more than once to actually get everything. Maggie annoyed me a little, in that “rich kid always complaining even though they’re rich” kinda way, but she was a hard worker and she actually tried to fix things she was unhappy with. The mystery definitely kept me going till the very end and I will say that I didn’t see the ending coming! And it was definitely creepy! There were some places where I was legit freaked out!
Baneberry Hall is a place that I’d like to buy … and live in. It added so much to the story and Sager made it feel like a living character! Overall, this was a great horror book, without being full on horror. Sager walked the line of scary and fascinating well! I definitely recommend this a something to scratch the horror itch!