I Choose Darkness: A Holiday Essay
Author: Jenny Lawson
Narrator: Jenny Lawson
Published: September 29, 2022
Audiobook: 38 minutes
Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Listened To: October 22, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
From cheap costumes to creepy dolls to questionable candy, number one New York Times bestselling author Jenny Lawson weaves a hauntingly hilarious account of her ongoing—sometimes outrageous—Halloween life.
The holly-jolly holidays aren’t for everyone, least of all when you look back on that one Christmas when there were two definitely haunted dolls waiting for you and your sister under the tree. You have to assume that’s where it all started.
And so it was for Jenny Lawson. Now, she lives in the land of eternal Halloween, as evidenced by her interior decor and general state of darkness. (Although, if you ask her, her taxidermy zoo is less dark, more delightful. But not everyone has taste, so what are you going to do?)
This essay takes Jenny back to where it all started, from her humble beginnings as a trick-or-treater in the 1980s, on high alert for (logistically improbable) candy laced with razor blades and the (allegedly) ever-present threat of satanists on the loose. From there, she has risen from the candy-wrapper ashes of her childhood to claim her rightful lifestyle as the queen of Halloween.
This very short self-described essay popped up for free on my Audible, so I got it. I had no idea who Jenny Lawson is, so I didn’t know what I was in for but was very pleasantly surprised! Halloween is Jenny’s favorite holiday of the year and she reminisces and her childhood Halloween’s. And we must be close to the same age, babies of the 1980’s, because I have so many similar memories as her! From the hideous costumes offered to the fear of razor blades being put in candy: and yes, I remember my parents taking my sister and I to the hospital and our candy being x-rayed! I had a plastic orange pumpkin container that my candy was in. It was most likely done at the hospital that my mom worked at.
I really enjoyed this essay of Jenny’s Halloween memories and she even narrated! She tells it like it is, foul language and all! I am going to have to look up some of her other books she has written and even listen to the audio if she narrates those! She definitely seems to have a new fan to look at her blog!
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!
Happy Halloween!! It’s a work day, so it won’t be too fun or exciting. BUT… It’s still Halloween!!! Today Kim brings the perfect series for a Halloween review: The Asylum Series by Madeleine Roux!! She has the best “Bookstagram” picture:
The Asylum Series
Author: Madeleine Roux
Books in the Series:
The Asylum Novellas
Escape from Asylum (Prequel)
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s rating of the series: 5 Stars
Description from Amazon:
Asylum: For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, the New Hampshire College Prep program is the chance of a lifetime. Except that when Dan arrives, he finds that the usual summer housing has been closed, forcing students to stay in the crumbling Brookline Dorm—formerly a psychiatric hospital. As Dan and his new friends Abby and Jordan start exploring Brookline’s twisty halls and hidden basement, they uncover disturbing secrets about what really went on here . . . secrets that link Dan and his friends to the asylum’s dark past. Because Brookline was no ordinary mental hospital, and there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.
Sanctum: Dan, Abby, and Jordan remain traumatized by the summer they shared in the Brookline asylum. Much as they’d love to move on, many questions remain, and someone is determined to keep the terror alive, sending the teens photos of an old-timey carnival, with no note and no name. Forsaking their plan never to go back, the teens return to New Hampshire College under the guise of a weekend for prospective students, and there they realize that the carnival from the photos is not only real, it’s here on campus, apparently for the first time in many years. Sneaking away from sample classes and college parties, Dan and his friends lead a tour of their own—one through the abandoned houses and hidden places of a surrounding town. Camford is hiding a terrible past, and the truth behind Dan’s connection to the asylum’s evil warden is more terrifying than Dan ever imagined.
Catacomb: Sometimes the past is better off buried. Senior year is finally over. After all they’ve been through, Dan, Abby, and Jordan are excited to take one last road trip together, and they’re just not going to think about what will happen when the summer ends. But on their way to visit Jordan’s uncle in New Orleans, the three friends notice that they’re being followed . . . and photographed. Then Dan starts receiving messages from someone he didn’t expect to hear from again—someone who died last Halloween. When the trio arrives in New Orleans and the strange occurrences only escalate, Dan is forced to accept that everything that has happened to him in the past year may not be a coincidence but fate—a fate that ties Dan to a group called the Bone Artists, who have a sinister fascination with notorious killers of the past. Now Dan’s only hope is that he will make it out of his senior trip alive.
Asylum Novellas: In The Scarlets, Cal is drawn into New Hampshire College’s twisted secret society—one with a deadly initiation. In The Bone Artists, Oliver tries to make a little extra money for college by working for a seedy organization that traffics in human bones. In The Warden, a young nurse starts a new job at the Brookline asylum but soon becomes suspicious of its unorthodox procedures. . . .
Escape from Asylum: The nightmare is just beginning. Ricky Desmond has been through this all before. If he could just get through to his mother, he could convince her that he doesn’t belong at Brookline. From the man who thinks he can fly to the woman who killed her husband, the other patients are nothing like him; all he did was lose his temper just a little bit, just the once. But when Ricky is selected by the sinister Warden Crawford for a very special program—a program that the warden claims will not cure him but perfect him—Ricky realizes that he may not be able to wait for his mom a second longer. With the help of a sympathetic nurse and a fellow patient, Ricky needs to escape now. Set long before Dan, Abby, and Jordan ever walked the hallways of the Brookline asylum—back when it was still a functioning psych ward and not a dorm—Escape from Asylum is a mind-bending and scary installment in the Asylum series that can stand on its own for new readers or provide missing puzzle pieces for series fans.
I absolutely love this series! I first discovered it 2 years ago while on one of my many trips to Barnes and Noble. I had just finished Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and I was looking for something new and still in with the dark and eerie atmosphere. If you’ve read any of my other reviews, then you know that I love asylums and mental hospitals. So, when I saw Asylum, with its creepy cover, I snatched it up and I’ve been hooked ever since. Asylum is exactly what you want in a scary read. It has everything: ghosts, an asylum, mystery, human experimentation, history, etc. I usually read it all in one sitting, it’s an easy read but without being boring and oversimplified. I fell in love with Dan, Abby, and Jordan. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Dan. As someone whose family tree has been researched and listed out for the last 15 generations, I can understand how important knowing where you came from can be. Dan doesn’t have that benefit. Abby, the passionate artist, is one of the most courageous characters I’ve read. She’s scared, and has no problem admitting, but it doesn’t stop her from doing what she believes is right. And Jordan . . . you love him, you hate him, you never forget him! He provides some much-needed comic relief. The story drew me in and I ended up finishing Asylum in one evening and went back to B&N the next day and picked up the next book.
Sanctum scared the living crap out of me! As with most sequels, this story isn’t quite as strong as the first book, but the scary element wins out! I started reading it while Ivan was working a night shift, and I had to stop, get up, get dressed, and drive back to sit at the B&N Café just so I could keep reading. Yeah, it’s that scary! And I’ll admit that the first time I read it, I didn’t get it. There were some details that were a bit murky to me. But reading it again this year, I finally got it. The story resolved itself in a way that makes sense. After reading the series several times, I’d say that this is the place to read the novellas.
I’m not a big novella person, but I really liked these. They did what novellas are supposed to do. They gave added info that made the stories clearer. The Scarlet and The Warden give much needed background info that clears up a lot of that murk that I described in Sanctum. And Escape from Asylum would have been confusing without reading The Warden first. The Bone Artists is actually a very good sedge way into Catacomb.
Catacomb, I feel, is the weakest book in the series. I understand that Roux felt that Dan and Abby and Jordan’s story wasn’t finished, but this book is where it stopped being about the asylum and started being about Dan. Part of me says that Catacomb should have been a stand-alone book, completely separate from the series. But the more I ponder it, the more I’m ok with it being in the series, just not the highlight of it. There’s a very thin tie to Brookline Asylum and Warden Crawford, and that’s what I didn’t like. If she had connected this book to the other stories a little better, I think I would have liked this book better.
Though Escape from Asylum is considered a prequel, I would not suggest reading it as the first book in the series. There is a lot of info that will fly over your head if you don’t have the foundation of Asylum, Sanctum, and the novellas. This one isn’t quite as scary as the other books are. This one is the perfect asylum story. Crazy doctor who experiments on the patients, electroshock, hypnosis, rebellious nurses, patient conspiracy, some paranormal activity, etc. This one could also function as a stand-alone, even with those couple of details that are explained earlier in the series.
Overall, I love this series. It’s the first one I bring up when someone asks me for a book suggestion. I absolutely recommend this to anyone wanting a scary, Halloween read, or for anyone looking for an interesting series.