Today Kim and I bring you a double review of Shirley Jackson’s classic short story The Lottery, and I also give a film comparison of the 1996 TV movie.
Author: Shirley Jackson
Published: June 26, 1948
Short Story Description:
Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” is a memorable and terrifying masterpiece, fueled by a tension that creeps up on you slowly without any clear indication of why. This is just a townful of people, after all, choosing their numbers for the annual lottery. What’s there to be scared of?
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
I love Shirley Jackson so much; she keeps getting better and better the more I read. The Lottery is one that sits quietly in anthologies and literature textbooks. We’ve all read it, back in high school where we complained about the required reading. It wasn’t until I read it again as an adult that I really understood its value and potency. Everything about this story is unassuming, until you reach the end, when all hell breaks loose, but calmly and simply. And that’s how Jackson gets her readers. A little bit of discomfort here, a little bit of creepy there, but then when you see the bigger picture …mind blown. The Lottery is an extra layer of brilliance since the terror is hidden until Jackson is ready. You don’t see the problem until the end. And then, the goosebumps raise on your skin and the story sticks with you for days. Genius in every way!
Jessica’s Rating: 4 Stars
I read this one back in high school and really enjoyed the story. As an adult I still enjoy it. What does that say about me???? LOL. The Lottery is a classic short story and Shirley Jackson has influenced so many authors today. Not popular at the time it was written, The Lottery shows the mob mentality and how ‘tradition’ keeps going despite not knowing where it started and why it continues. This short story moves at a quick pace and there are signs showing what is to come, but until you reach the end you don’t see it for what it is.
This is one lottery you don’t want to win! I also realize that I need to read more by Shirley Jackson….
1996 TV Movie Comparison
Jessica’s Rating: 4 Stars
**I was unable to find a trailer of the movie, which is understandable as it was a tv movie. I was able to find the movie poster**
I watched the tv movie version from 1996. I watched this as a teen and remember enjoying it and also enjoyed it as an adult. This version stars Dan Cortese (I have no idea who he is), Keri Russell (Felicity) , and William Daniels( Mr. Feeny!!!) Again, what does it say that I enjoyed this film?!?!? I can’t help it that I enjoy dark situations that could actually happen!
You can’t really compare this film to the short story: It takes Shirley Jackson’s story and brings it to present day (in 1996) and builds upon the story. Jason Smith’s dad just passed away and there is a mystery to his mom’s death when he was a child. Jason’s father wanted his ashes poured over his wife’s grave, thus begins Jason’s journey to Small Town America (New Hope) and a journey he never expected, including a romance with a small town girl torn between family and tradition and an altogether possible different life.
Despite the cheesiness of the Lifetime-esque movie, it still has aged relatively well and does the Shirley Jackson short story proud.
Today Kim and I bring you a double review of Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews (MKA)! We just love her at Jessica’s Reading Room and both of us awarded Sunset Beach 4 stars. Kim was also lucky enough to attend a signing and meet Mrs. MKA again!
Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Published: May 7, 2019
Pull up a lounge chair and have a cocktail at Sunset Beach – it comes with a twist.
Drue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence. Worse, he’s remarried – to Drue’s eighth grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they’re offering her a job.
It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance – her grandparents’ beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.
With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father’s firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator, and is drawn into a case that may – or may not – involve her father. With an office romance building, a decades-old missing persons case re-opened, and a cottage in rehab, one thing is for sure at Sunset Beach: there’s a storm on the horizon.
Sunset Beach is a compelling ride, full of Mary Kay Andrews’ signature wit, heart, and charm.
Jessica’s Rating: 4 Stars
Dates Read: August 26- September 13, 2019
Here I am reviewing another MKA book! She is a ‘go- to’ author for me! MKA’s books are always enjoyable. This one has a double dose of mystery to it: present day and back in 1976, and the two stories are connected.
I really liked Drue and I identified with her as she is close to my age. She has had a hard run of life and then finds herself working for her father in a dead-end type job. He has also remarried, and what makes that situation worse is that she is an old classroom frenemy of Drue’s.
Drue finds herself looking more into a recently closed case that she personally connected with and also finds some old newspapers/file in her grandparents attic that also catches her attention. It says something about the professionals of this town that Drue, who in essence becomes an amateur sleuth figures things out that they couldn’t! I guess a pair of fresh eyes helps? Though I did like detective Rae Hernandez.
This is definitely a beach read with the mysteries involved and to find out how they are connected! And just look at the cover! It is meant to be read while relaxing. I look forward to seeing what MKA brings us next year!
Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for sending me an arc copy via Goodreads.
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Mary Kay Andrews is one of our absolute favorite authors here at Jessica’s Reading Room. She consistently writes wonderful novels and creates memorable and likable characters. I really enjoyed Sunset Beach, but I’ll also admit that it’s not my favorite of all her novels. It kept my attention, I was emotionally invested, and the ending surprised me. However, it just felt slightly shallower as compared to her other books. I love the romance component to each of her stories and this one seemed to be lacking that. There was some romance and I really liked Jonah a lot, I just needed more.
My other issue was all the racial stuff she decided to throw in. Thankfully, she was very balanced, showing the problems on both sides of the “color spectrum”; I guess I just don’t understand why it had to be included at all. I really don’t think anything would have suffered had she not included such a focus on race. Other than that, the story was interesting, the mystery was solid, the characters were relatable and likable. And the cover of Sunset Beach is definitely one of my favorites of all the MKA books. It’s beautiful and totally appeals to a summer lover and beach bum like me! Definitely a good book that I would recommend for a great summer read!
Today Kim and I bring you a double review of The Perfect Son by Lauren North. One of us enjoyed it, the other not so much. This is what is great about reviews, we all have different experiences and opinions and even though we read the same book, we can have varying opinions of it.
The Perfect Son
Author: Lauren North
To Be Published: August 13, 2019
A disturbing and shocking debut novel of psychological suspense about a recently widowed mother, her young son, and the lengths she’ll go to in order to keep him safe.
When Tess Clarke wakes up in the hospital the day after her son Jamie’s eighth birthday, she’s sure of these things: She’s been stabbed, her son is missing, her brother-in-law and her grief counselor are involved. But no one is listening to her.
After her husband, Mark, died suddenly in a terrible accident a few months earlier, the only thing keeping Tess together is Jamie. As they struggle to make sense of their new life without Mark, they find joy in brief moments of normalcy like walking to school and watching television together. Life is hard without Mark, but Tess has Jamie, and that’s what matters.
But there in the hospital, confused and surrounded by people who won’t listen, Tess’s world falls apart. To save her son, she must piece together what happened between Mark’s death and Jamie’s birthday, but the truth might just be too much for her to bear.
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway and the cover really intrigued me, so I read it. What surprised me most was how easy to read it was. I finished it in less than 48 hours and I read huge chunks at once. Before I knew it, I was almost finished and I felt like I couldn’t put it down. The emotions were also very overwhelming. I know that many people will react to Tess they way they did with Rachel in The Girl on the Train; that she’s too weak and she’s a set back to women’s independence, and so on. For the record, I also really enjoyed The Girl on the Train.
Tess’s reaction to losing her husband sounds pretty reasonable to me. In fact, I experienced some pretty crazy anxiety while reading the first half of this book. All I could think about was how horrible my life would be if I lost Ivan. I will admit that I didn’t guess the ending of this book. I should have and I feel a little dumb that I didn’t, but in my defense, I had a million theories scrolling in my head through the whole book. I’d get one little detail and then I’d run with it and expand it into the most unlikely scenarios that weren’t even close to reality. Overall, I was happy with the ending.
Obviously, I can’t get into any details, but considering how predictable it actually was, I did enjoy it and was satisfied. I would recommend it to those who enjoy psychological thrillers, just be prepared for that predictability. Thankfully, there were other good things I got from the story other than just solving the mystery. A very good book!
Jessica’s Rating: 2 stars
With an intriguing premise and a “pull you in from the first few lines” introduction, The Perfect Son had promise, but sadly it fell victim to “I read too many thrillers” as I had the big twist figured out from the first few chapters. It was also very slow moving and I was not attached to Tess. I felt for her with the grief she is experiencing, but is she just grieving, is she crazy, or is someone ‘after’ her and her son Jamie?
Tess is yet another unreliable narrator, and by now you know those are mainly a miss for me. Occasionally, the unreliable narrator works for me (see my review for The Woman in Cabin 10 here), but for the most part they miss the mark.
Even the ending had no conclusion; It was as if nothing was learned from the situation. This is North’s debut novel and even though it was not for me, I would give her writing another try.
Kim won two arc copies via Goodreads and she sent me one so we could do a double review.