I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER by Lois Duncan Vs. The Film (1998)


PUBLISHER: Little, Brown and Co., 1973
GENRE: Young Adult Fiction/Suspense
SETTING: Unknown state, USA
WIKI: link
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: B

FROM PUBLISHER: They didn't mean it. They didn't mean to hit the boy. There was a party, and it was an accident...that wasn't who they were. They were pre-law, a football player, bound for New York. No one could know, so Barry, Julie, Helen, and Ray swore one another to secrecy. But now, a year later, someone knows. Julie receives a haunting, anonymous threat: "I know what you did last summer." The dark lie is unearthed, and before the four friends know it they need to outsmart a killer...or they will be the next to die.





MY THOUGHTS: I'm reviewing the original 1973 version, not the revised 2010 version that's been modernized.

This is a young adult novel and the four main characters are aged 17-19 (I think) and only one is in high school, or just finished it.

Julie James- Seventeen, red hair, about to go off to college.

Ray Bronson- Julie's ex-boyfriend. Blond hair.

Helen Rivers- Eighteen, honey-colored hair, lives on her own and works at a television station doing promotional stuff. Has a jealous sister named Elsa.

Barry Cox- Is in college, nineteen years old, is dating Helen but he doesn't really like her. He was driving the car that hit the little boy.

The story starts in May, ten months after the group hit a little boy, David Gregg, on his bike while they were out driving at night. They anonymously called the police to report it right after. Julie gets an anonymous letter just nine pages in, then two others get one, then one gets a phone call.

The novel's pretty short, 198 pages, and it flows nicely. It does sound dated with some of the terms used and the mention of Julie's slightly older new male friend, Bud, having been in Vietnam the year before. Other than the Vietnam mention, I'd have thought this was published in the mid-to-late 1980s.

The person who turned out to the the villain wasn't who I suspected. The ending was extremely unsatisfying. I really like the way in which the villain infiltrated the group. I thought it was pretty damn clever on the author's part.

The film- The characters in the film are more heartless when it comes to the death of the bicyclist. Many things happen in it that weren't in the novel, more non main character deaths, and it's more action-packed, for sure, and convoluted. In fact, it's pretty different and was clearly only inspired by it. There's nothing sexual in the novel yet in the film sex is implied with both couples in the opening scene. The film is your basic slasher film while the book is a straight-up suspense, not horror, so don't read this expecting gore.



RISEN GLORY by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (Original version of Just Imagine)


PUBLISHER: Dell, 11/1984
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: South Carolina & New York, USA
BODICE RIPPER? Yes, mild
RAPE? Yes, digital penetration
PURCHASE: link
AUTHOR SITE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: Determined to reclaim the magnificent Risen Glory plantation wrongfully inherited by Baron Cain, her Yankee stepbrother, Kit Weston finds Baron in New York and their love-hate relationship is tested by a stormy marriage.

This book was rewritten as Just Imagine.











MY THOUGHTS: I went from really liking this to wanting it to end as soon as possible. It takes place from 1865-1869. Kit's very likable- she's feisty and a smartmouth with lots of fire and spirit...just the type of heroine I prefer. She's aged sixteen through twenty during the story.

Cain's had a rough life and is getting by on his earnings from gambling. He's twenty-eight. He and Kit clash for most of the story and when they're together I don't feel chemistry. They don't get together until she's back in SC when she's nineteen, after three years away at finishing school. He's pretty verbally abusive and smacks her once. He rapes her once too with his finger while trying to see if she's the virgin she claims to be.

Characters I don't like- Most of them. I don't understand the character of Flora Van Ness at all. She had the makings of a rival for Cain's attention, a villain actually, but the author dropped the ball on that.
I don't like Kit's housekeeper, Saphronia. She's only a couple years older than Kit and they've grown up in the same house together. She's described as a gold-digging light-skinned black woman who's out to snag herself a wealthy white man. I really see no purpose to having her in the story.
Miss Dolly is Kit's chaperone that she had in New York and who's with her in South Carolina. Very annoying older woman who's another character that serves no purpose other than to add filler to the story.

The two main characters are the only ones I liked at all but this story just wasn't good. The story went nowhere after Kit returned home and I got bored with it.

From the author's website: "JUST IMAGINE is a reissue of RISEN GLORY, which has been out of print for many years. It’s not your ordinary reissue, however, which is why we changed the title. I made substantial revisions—fleshing out the characters of Kit Weston (a total scamp) and Baron Cain (his name says it all), as well as adding new scenes. The book has a special “Dear Reader” letter at the beginning that explains why I decided to polish up the original."



HALLOWEEN by Curtis Richards, based on the screenplay by John Carpenter and Debra Hill- Film vs. Novel


http://www.amazon.com/Halloween-Curtis-Richards/dp/0553132261/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403307486&sr=8-1&keywords=halloween+curtis+richards
PUBLISHER: Bantam, 10/1979
GENRE: Fiction/Contemporary Horror
SETTING: Illinois, USA 1978
WIKIPEDIA: link
MOVIE TRAILER: link
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A++

FROM PUBLISHER: Based on the screenplay by John Carpenter and Debra Hill.

Tricked by his cunning ... Treated to his savagery ... Annie, Linda and Laurie ... fresh, pretty, ready to be taken ... stalked by a sadistic power who has returned to claim new victims, on this ... the most frightening night of the year.






THINGS NOT IN THE FLIM: This book was actually released a year after the film. Not sure why. I love the film but the book's so much better! It's only 166 pages but boy is it packed with extras. It's more graphic sexually and the murders are more gory, especially the murder of his sister. The best part is that we get to learn a little about Michael Audrey Myers' life before and during the fifteen years he was away at Smith's Grove Sanitarium for the murder of his seventeen-year old sister, Judith, when he was six years old. We learn his thoughts before and during her murder and what he did immediately afterward, before his parents came home to find him standing outside.

We meet Michael's mother's mother at the beginning of chapter one. It's Halloween and he shows her his Halloween clown costume that he got from Woolworth. I love his granny. She's sassy. She was offended by his cheap store-bought non scary costume and even referred to Michael once as 'Mister Woolworth Clown Costume'. She began to reminisce to him and his mother Edith about what Halloween was like when she was a child. She said if it was a tame Halloween only your chickens would get beheaded, or as Michael said, unheaded.

We learn that Michael had started wetting the bed after not doing so for three years. He'd been getting into fights at school and with his sister. He'd been having violent dreams and scariest of all, he'd been hearing voices that were telling him to say he hates people. Later in the book Loomis and Sheriff Brackett were discussing how Michael's great-grandfather Nordstrom (his mother's father's father) had heard voices too and had even murdered two people at a harvest dance in the 1890's and was hanged for it.

Shortly before murdering his sister, he goes trick or treating at his own house on Peecher Street with other kids from the neighborhood. His sister jokingly asked the kids what they'd do if she didn't give them candy and Michael said he'd kill her. She said, 'Was that you Michael Myers?!' and he said, 'I'm not Michael Myers. I'm a clown'. Every time I've read that line its caused me to laugh out loud, for some reason.

Soon after that Judith's boyfriend Danny comes over. Michael is spying on them through the window. They're kissing downstairs then later upstairs in her bedroom. Michael can hear the sounds they're making through the open windows and 'the sounds filled him with a murderous hatred.' He doesn't understand why they're making those sounds. While he's standing outside listening to them we learn of a recurring dream he's been having. In the dream two people who look like Judy and Danny are dancing around a fire outside with other people. He's jealous as he watches them dance and voices are telling him to kill the lovers.

After Danny leaves he goes into Judy's room and stabs her over thirty times while she's sitting at her vanity, brushing her hair, naked except for bikini underwear that have red hearts on them. He stabs her in her wrist, hand, breasts, arms, legs, groin and throat. He goes into the kitchen, eats a cookie, drinks milk out of the bottle, then goes outside and that's when his parents show up and find him holding the knife.

Earlier that day he told his grandmother, in response to her suggesting he disguise is face with white clown makeup, that he wasn't going to play any pranks, and was just going to ask for candy and in response she told him to have an 'innocent, Woolworth kind of Halloween.' Oooh, it was anything but!

Loomis is remembering all the times at the sanitarium over the past fifteen years where Michael got revenge on other kids for some slight but was never seen doing it. One kid got food poisoning after playing a joke on Michael by loosening the salt shaker top so the salt would pour out when you went to use it, one boy was scalded in the shower after repeatedly turning the TV volume down when Michael kept turning it up, a nurse fell down the stairs and fractured her pelvis days after an argument with Michael, a boy who forgot to return a game to Michael got a mysterious rash and had to be hospitalized, and worst of all, Michael suggested one year that they be allowed to have a Halloween party, of all things. A girl was bobbing for apples when the lights went out. Soon after when the lights came back on the girl was laying there, almost dead, from someone, Michael, trying to drown her. Loomis looked over at Michael, who smiled at him, but his costume was dry and Loomis had no proof Michael did anything to the girl.

When Laurie's walking home from school with Annie and Lynda (it's spelled Linda in the book) and goes inside, her red-haired mother is there, making candied apples and they have a short conversation about evilness. This is right before Laurie goes into her room and sees Michael staring at her from the clothes line. In the film, she walks though the front door and is shown walking straight into her bedroom.

Laurie's father is Chester Strode. Film credits say his name is Morgan though it's never spoken in the film.

In the book, several people who see Michael are close enough to tell he may be wearing a mask, but they aren't sure. In the film, most aren't close enough to him to wonder if it's a mask until they're being murdered by him.

When Loomis and Sheriff Brackett (Annie's father) go into Michael's old house and find the dead dog, they say his intestines are hanging out.

Shortly before Annie's killed, she's at Lindsey's, brushing her own hair. Michael's watching through the window and is staring at her 'large' breasts and becomes sexually aroused. 'The sex between his legs throbbed in an unpleasant way.'

Annie asks Lindsey why their laundry room is in a separate building outside. Lindsey tells her that her mother wanted it outside because of the noise they both make. That's not mentioned at all in the movie.

Toward the end when Laurie goes to Lindsey's looking for Bob and Lynda and find Annie's dead body in bed with Judith's tombstone, her stomach had been cut open up to her throat and her intestines were out.


I usually repost this review every year.

MY THOUGHTS: I've always been a fan of the film and got a copy of the book in May 2009 from a friend. The book is so great. Unfortunately it's so expensive that most fans of the film will probably never get to read it. I don't know if the added stuff that I've mentioned was in the original screenplay or not or if Curtis came up with it on his own. Either way, I'm glad it was in the book and not the film. It makes reading the book so much more exciting.




THE CHILDREN ARE WATCHING by Laird Koenig and Peter L. Dixon


PUBLISHER: Ballantine, 10/1970
GENRE: Fiction/Suspense
SETTING: California, USA
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: B-

FROM PUBLISHER: It’s the last week of summer. California’s golden sun shines hot on Malibu Beach. Film stars, the rich, the beautiful tan a sleeker brown. Cold Chardonnay frosts crystal goblets. The blue Pacific rolls up white sand.

In a to-die-for beach house curtains are drawn. Doors are locked. The five Moss children – age five to nine – stare at a huge television from morning until they fall asleep in front of the glowing screen. Where are their mother and father? Marty and Paula Moss are finishing his new film in Italy. And the babysitter? Isn’t she taking care of them? She was until three days ago when her body washed ashore. Drowned? Only the kids know. For reasons of their own, they’re not telling.

Day after day, sprawled in front of the television, shut in with their secret horror, the Moss kids fight off every adult invasion from the outside; be it cops, the FedEx man, postal people, curious neighbors, Marty Moss’ prying secretary, and a mysterious man who peers at them nightly through a rip in a beachside window curtain. Somehow they survive.


MY THOUGHTS: The title isn't quite right. It leads you to believe the children are up to no good and plotting bad things against people when in actuality the only thing they're "watching" is the t.v. This started out a little boring, with the siblings bickering all the time over what to watch on television. It got slightly interesting when they did the first bad thing. I'm not sure they realized what the end result would be at the time but when it came to light, they didn't seem to care one way or the other. A few times a child said something too mature, something that would be out of character for someone so young which made me think the authors hadn't been around children much. The ending is very unsatisfying; too tidy and perfect.

The only think I really didn't like in here is a certain male character. Aside from stealing items from inside the house, I don't think his actions were something that someone would really do. And he never tried to find out what happened to the maid.

Once in here, I think it was the youngest character, Marti, age four, she touched her crotch for no known reason and much later Cary, the boy on the cover with glasses and who's age is unknown, attempted to masturbate but stopped when he "went limp."

I don't like the newer e-book synopsis for this either as it's inaccurate and gives too much away; FedEx was never mentioned in the book, just a delivery person was, and in fact they weren't in existence when this was written, and the youngest child is four, not five. The original synopsis for this is too short, though, so I reluctantly used the newer one.




CAKE!: 103 Decadent Recipes for Poke Cakes, Dump Cakes, Everyday Cakes, and Special Occasion Cakes Everyone Will Love by Addie Gundry

PUBLISHER: St. Martin's Griffin, 10/2/2018
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: ?

FROM PUBLISHER: The ever-popular queen of desserts takes center stage in Food Network star Addie Gundry's cake cookbook, from trendy poke cakes to old-fashioned icebox cakes to swoon-worthy layered cakes.

From birthdays to holidays to Tuesdays, there’s always room for cake. Family and friends marvel at impressive tiered cakes while adorable individual mug cakes satisfy late-night cravings.

This cookbook features recipes for coffee cakes like Cinnamon Apple Crumb Cake to timeless classics reinvented like Carrot Cake Poke Cake to quick and easy favorites like Slow Cooker Chocolate Lava Cake. Each recipe is paired with a four-color, full-bleed photo.

Catagories: Coffee Cakes, Bundt Cakes and Pound Cakes, Old-Fashioned Cakes, Everyday Cakes, Dump Cakes, Poke Cakes, and Mug Cakes, Special-Occasion Cakes.



THINGS I'VE BAKED

CHOCOLATE OREO CAKE


This cake is supposed to have crushed Oreo cookies stirred into canned vanilla frosting. I made half the cake in a 9" x 1.5" round pan and made my own frosting and omitted the Oreos. The cake is made with vegetable oil and you add boiling water to the batter at the very end. It's incredibly moist and a little sticky. I omitted one tablespoon of cocoa powder because I was scared it was too much.

I cooked it at a higher temperature than stated, 350 degrees F, instead of 300, for 23 minutes. It's a good cake but not the best homemade one I've ever had. It's very similar in taste to a boxed Devil's Food one but something's a little off with the flavor. 


APPLE CRUMB CAKE


This 8" cake has a layer of cinnamon crumb mixture layered between the batter and uses a total of 1.5 sticks (3/4 c./6 oz.) of butter! I added the chopped apple to the batter instead of layering it with the crumbs in the middle. I only used a tiny bit of the crumb mixture on top of the batter since I don't really like or understand hard crumbs on top of a moist cake. The cake has sour cream in it and just 4 tablespoons of butter.

The cake is dense, which I don't like, and I don't care for the crumb mixture either. Too much brown sugar's in it and not enough cinnamon.

I made my own glaze for this since the one in the book didn't suit me. 



MY THOUGHTS: There's a good variety of recipes in here. There are six chocolate cake recipes, three of which are almost identical, multiple lemon cake recipes, a couple with apple and apple sauce, and plenty more. I'm disappointed there's not a basic white cake recipe that I could have added maraschino or dried cherries to.

I'm only partially happy with one of the two cakes I made. I don't mind cake mix recipes being in here but I don't like them being mixed in with the homemade cakes. They should be in their own chapter.

Since I've only baked two cakes from this book of many I'm not comfortable with giving it a grade/rating.


I received this from publisher in exchange for an honest review.



WES CRAVEN'S LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT: THE MAKING OF A CULT CLASSIC by David A. Szulkin


PUBLISHER: FAB Press, 1997 & 2000
GENRE: Nonfiction/Entertainment/Cinema
PURCHASE: 1st ed., 2nd ed.
MY GRADE: A

FROM PUBLISHER: Wes Craven is world renowned as the creator of classic horror film events such as The Hills Have Eyes, the Nightmare on Elm Street series and the Scream franchise. Craven began his meteoric career in fear with a notorious, controversial low-budget shocker called Last House on the Left.

Produced by Friday the 13th creator Sean S. Cunningham, Last House on the Left was a movie that broke the rules... and the bank.

A disturbing, gritty tale of sadistic violence and devastating revenge, Last House on the Left became one of the most influential cult classics of all time. It was the movie that assaulted audiences with the terrifying roar of a chainsaw two years before The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

David A. Szulkin's book tells the inside story of the making of Last House on the Left through in-depth interviews, rare photographs and extensive research. Featuring stills from unreleased out takes and commentary from Wes Craven, this book is the definitive record of one of the most legendary, iconoclastic horror movies in history.

Last House on the Left remains one of Wes Craven's most powerful and unique films. Rough, raw and irreverent, it is still censored in Britain for its unflinching portrait of rape murder. Attacked by censors and often reviled by critics, Last House on the Left is all the more noteworthy in retrospect for its pioneering, prescient contribution to the 'splatter' film tradition. Those who wish to know where and how it all began need look no further than this book.


MY THOUGHTS: What a great and informative read that's filled with tidbits that I didn't know before. The author interviewed some of the people involved with this during 1991/92 and in 1996/97. Below are bits of information from the book:

  • Hallmark Releasing liked the script so well that they gave Wes and Sean an extra $40,000 to make it. 
  • The first draft had Krug and Weasel engaging in necrophilia with Phyllis after they killed her.
  • Mari's rape was supposed to be much longer and more brutal. In the script her character was blonde.
  • An early draft had Mari's father being karate-chopped to death and a different draft had him dying in a scalpel fight.
  • Phyllis' death was to be more brutal. Sadie was supposed to gouge her eyes out, cut off her breasts, and cut her tongue out.
  • Sean said the film was supposed to have a lot more sex in it but decided against it stating that it's more important to tell a story.
  • Martin Kove, who played the deputy, turned down the roll of Krug because his character was too "dark." Martin was dating and living with David's sister at the time.
  • Ada Washington, the black woman who drove the chicken truck, was currently Sean's mother's housekeeper and she didn't know how to drive. Fats Domino's Blueberry Hill was supposed to be playing on the truck's radio during that scene. I understood Sean to mean Ada was also the housekeeper while he was growing up. Her part was supposed to be played by a black man they'd given the character name Jerome Pickins to.
  • Sean's wife Susan made the clothes.
  • Junior was supposed to survive.
  • Earlier in the year Wes and Sean worked together on a soft-core porn called Together.
  • Jeramie Rain/Sadie was paid $600 for her role and she bought a Doberman puppy with the money. She also couldn't stand her hair style in the film. She got poison ivy while filming and in one scene in Mari bedroom where she's wearing black men's socks, it's because they had to hide the poison ivy.
  • Jeramie said that once between takes she was leaning on the hood of the car, arms down at her sides (and I guess her head resting on the hood), and the police showed up. Someone thought she'd been in a car accident and called the police so they came to investigate.
  • Fred Lincoln said that Sandra/Mari was scared of the film, left, and had to be talked into coming back to work. She also said she did a terrible job in the film and that she was scared of the script.
  • The chain saw scene was inspired by Wes seeing a movie poster in Times Square (New York) of guys fighting with chain saws.

There are about fifty pages where the author summarizes the film in chronological order and inserts comments by the actors regarding those scenes. I really like that it goes in order since it's easier for me to follow along.

Perhaps my favorite part is near the end, chapter 8 titled Rip-offs and Rehashes, where the author goes into several David Hess films that are in the same vein as this one, and discusses others of this genre from the 70s and 80s, some of which I've never heard of. Love learning about similar films and can't wait to check some of them out. Here is the list from the book. 

Fred Lincoln (Weasel) said something funny: "They never actually showed that my character was dead...so I want to do 'Last House II: Weasel's Back!' A guy with no dick, out for revenge!"

Jeramie said something sort of funny too: "I believe that Last House on the Left is truly the worst movie ever made...and I'm proud to have been a part of it! (Laughs) Seriously, it's the biggest embarrassment, and I apologize to my children for being in it. It has no redeeming qualities. It does have a cult following, but I'm not proud of it at all...I would hate to think of anyone being harmed or hurt because of something I did. That's not what I want to contribute to the world...I'd rather do positive things with my life."

I've uploaded some images of the filming schedule from inside the book here.

Here are images of the script's original ending. Click on all Imgur images to enlarge.




THE LIGHTEN UP COOKBOOK: 103 Easy, Slimmed-Down Favorites for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Everyone Will Love by Addie Gundry

PUBLISHER: St. Martin's Griffin, 5/2018
PURCHASE: link

FROM PUBLISHER: Eating lighter doesn't have to include charts or calorie counting. By incorporating easy healthy recipes into your diet, like substituting cauliflower for starchy breads or baking chicken instead of frying it, you can revitalize your eating habits without giving up the foods you love. From light breakfast recipes like the Kale Smoothie to potluck favorites like Mayo-Free Chicken Salad to family dinners like Zucchini Lasagna and even sweet treats like Pineapple Fluff, eating healthier can be simple and tasty!


THINGS I'VE MADE

CHICKEN NOODLE CASSEROLE


This recipes uses precooked pasta, precooked chicken, zucchini and corn. I used peas in place of those two vegetables. The cheese sauce is made with mostly chicken broth and little milk and cheese. I used Monterey Jack cheese in place of mozzarella. You combine it all together in a plan, pour into a baking dish, top with cheese and bake until bubbly. The chicken broth gave this good flavor but if I hadn't added raw onion to the melted butter before I made the sauce, and a pinch of garlic powder, this wouldn't have much flavor.

Problem: I think there was a misprint in the recipe. The full recipe (I made half, baked in a 1.5 qt dish) says to use just 1 tablespoon of butter, melted, and add 2/3 c. flour to that to begin the sauce and cook it together for a minute. That's impossible to do because there would have been a pan full of loose flour. To make a sauce you use equal parts butter and flour, cook for a minute, then add your liquid to that, so that's what I did here, using margarine in place of butter. There was a little too much sauce for this amount of pasta. Overall, a good flavored sauce (with added onion.)




SPICED GRILLED CHICKEN


This recipe is for a dry rub for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You grill the chicken or use a grill pan. I pan fried it for two minutes on each side then baked it in the oven the rest of the way, about 9 minutes. The rub has chili powder and cumin in it, among other things, and I omitted the coriander. It's very good and is basically like one I already use. It could have used a little onion powder but other than that, it's very good and you can adjust the measurements to suit your taste.


CHICKEN CANNELLINI SOUP


I made half of his in a 2 qt. pot. I omitted the zucchini and red and green bell peppers. I used pureed fire roasted tomatoes instead of leaving them diced. I was to use two types of white beans but I only used one. The flavor of this is pretty bland since it's mostly flavored with onion and garlic, so I added some pureed chipotle in adobo sauce and that made it so much better. I added almost 1/4 t. salt too. I only need two chicken tenderloin strips for this, which I baked then shredded with two forks. With the addition of chipotle , I'll definitely make this again since it's so easy to make.


ONE-SKILLET SEAFOOD ALFREDO


I made half this recipe and I used chicken in place of shrimp and imitation crab meat and I added peas, which I cooked with the penne pasta. This has a Parmesan cheese sauce that's made from chicken broth and milk...but I used all milk. Very simple to make and I'll make it again.


MY THOUGHTS: Not much in this book appeals to me. Recipes show typical ways to lighten up a recipe, such as using chicken broth in place of milk and using whole wheat pasta in place of regular, or low fat yogurt, ect., but that's about it. A lot of the recipes are in no way healthy so I don't want you to think they are.

The things I made turned out good and I'd make all of them again. Every recipe is easy to follow and someone who's never cooked before should have no trouble.


I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.



THE REAL LOLITA: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman


PUBLISHER: Ecco, 9/11/2018
GENRE: Nonfiction/True Crime
AUTHOR SITE: link
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A

FROM PUBLISHER: A gripping true-crime investigation of the 1948 abduction of Sally Horner and how it inspired Vladimir Nabokov’s classic novel, Lolita.

Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita is one of the most beloved and notorious novels of all time. And yet very few of its readers know that the subject of the novel was inspired by a real-life case: the 1948 abduction of eleven-year-old Sally Horner.

Weaving together suspenseful crime narrative, cultural and social history, and literary investigation, The Real Lolita tells Sally Horner’s full story for the very first time. Drawing upon extensive investigations, legal documents, public records, and interviews with remaining relatives, Sarah Weinman uncovers how much Nabokov knew of the Sally Horner case and the efforts he took to disguise that knowledge during the process of writing and publishing Lolita.

Sally Horner’s story echoes the stories of countless girls and women who never had the chance to speak for themselves. By diving deeper in the publication history of Lolita and restoring Sally to her rightful place in the lore of the novel’s creation, The Real Lolita casts a new light on the dark inspiration for a modern classic.


MY THOUGHTS: This is a well researched account of a lesser-known child kidnapping case from New Jersey in 1948. The author shows the similarities between the novel Lolita and this case. Vladimir had been working on his novel for many years (10?), well before Sally's abduction by fifty-year-old Frank La Salle, and only finished it after Sally's case came to light. He denied her case having anything to do with his novel despite the abundance of similarities. After the novel came out, a writer for a men's magazine called Nugget, Peter Welding, wrote an article about the similarities though some of his information was incorrect.

I like that the author mentions other crimes (and criminals) that took place in the U.S. around the same time, like Howard Unrah, Dr. Melvin Nimer, ect, as I like learning of other crimes from this era.

Not a whole lot is known about Frank La Salle other than he spent fourteen months in prison for the statutory rape of five girls a few years before he kidnapped Sally. You can feel the book is lacking information the whole time you're reading it but the author did the best she could with so little information to go on. The subject matter is interesting to me and I never got bored with the story.

You can read a little about Sally's abduction here.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.




THE FUNHOUSE by Owen West (Dean Koontz), Novel vs. Film


PUBLISHER: Jove, 1980
GENRE: Fiction/Contemporary horror
SETTING: Ohio, USA mostly
WIKI: link
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: B

FROM PUBLISHER: Young Amy Harper is the most beautiful girl at her school, but to her life seems wretched. Terrorized by her mother, Amy's little brother Joey is her only real friend. Their mother's days are regulated by religious obsession, and nights by the bottle and drunken confessions.

When the carnival comes to town, Joey plans to escape his troubled home and join the revellers. But Amy and Joey fall under the carnival spell, unaware that their mother's secrets are buried here and that vengeance for past deeds lies in wait for them in the make-believe world of . . . the Funhouse.





MY THOUGHTS & SPOILERS: Let me start with the obvious; this is a horror novel, therefore not much in it's believable. Having said that and considering the author, according to him, didn't have a whole lot to work with since the screenplay "offered enough material for no more than 10% or 20% of a novel", he did a damn good job creating a whole lot of horrifying backstory, and backstory is what makes up the first 2/3 of this novel. As soon as I started reading the prologue and first few chapters I noticed how different the story was from the film. It wasn't until the novel was over and I read the afterword and what Dean had to say about the screenplay being what it was that I understood why it was so different. He said he didn't even use the screenplay until he was 4/5 into writing the story. The last third of the novel is when Amy and her three friends arrive at the carnival when in the film that takes place just a few minutes in.

Amy is the main character. She's a seventeen-year-old high school senior and she's in a dilemma. On top of that she broke up with her boyfriend. He's truly an awful character and he wasn't in the story for too long.

Ellen is her forty-five-year old mother. Her being an alcoholic religious fanatic wasn't in the film but we see lots of it in the novel. Ellen grew up with a mother who was like that. Ellen did a bad thing when she was a young adult in 1955, and her ex-husband Conrad's out to get revenge on any children she may have had after they divorced, though their marriage was never legal in the first place.

Joey is Amy's ten-year-old brother. He wants to run away because he's sick of his drunken mother, who goes into his bedroom some nights and talks to him about something bad she's done in her past and she thinks he's asleep and can't hear her. I don't really see much point to having him in the film or novel since he doesn't really do much for either.

Liz is a horrible character. She's the same age as Amy and is a big slut with aspirations of going to Nevada to become a legal prostitute. She's got one vulgar mouth and I was glad to see her go. She's nothing like this in the film. Her death in the book is a little more graphic.

Conrad is fifty-two and owns the funhouse part of the traveling carnival and two concession stands. The carnival stays in Florida early November-April, then they travel the U.S. during the rest of the months. He's a mean, violent, disturbed person and a Satanist. Something awful happened in his childhood that I'm sure really screwed him up mentally.

Gunther is the son of Conrad and Zena and he works with them in the funhouse, dressed like Frankenstein. He's retarded(?), violent, and deformed though a physical description of his face isn't really given, and he's around twenty-four years old.

Zena is the forty-three-year old phony fortune teller that travels with them, and she's Conrad's ex-wife. They married in 1955 just a couple months after his divorce from Ellen, and she was only eighteen. Zena and Gunther aren't related in the film which is great because she gives him a handjob that he pays for.

Conrad appears to be Gunther's father in the film though it's never once said because he say to him, "I wish I had wrung your ugly neck the day you were born", as if he'd seen him right after birth, like a parent. The bad deed that Ellen did twenty-five years ago is referenced briefly towards the end when Gunther and Conrad are alone in the basement and Conrad's loading his gun. If you haven't read the book you won't have a clue what his comment means, "It's real hard, ever since your mamma.....Your little brother Tad/Todd over there on display like..." I had to crank the volume way up to even hear that.

Once Amy and her friends get to the funhouse there aren't many similarities to the film aside from the murders and most of those are a little if not a lot different. They didn't even plan to spend the night in the funhouse either like they did in the film.

Two evil people are on the loose at the carnival. One hides the horrors of the other to protect him, even goes so far as to hide bodies for him. The book also has more murders than the film. The timespan is only about a month or less, May-June. The film takes place in one night.

I've always liked the film but since having read the book and seeing how much more the author added to the story, it's pretty boring. The only thing I can say I truly like in the film, and this isn't in the book, is how the four kids are spying through the slats in the wooden floor at some people who are in the the room beneath it. I like the death of Gunther in the novel more than in the film. It's more gruesome than getting electrocuted.

Amy's brother Joey is in the book a little more during the killings at the funhouse. The deaths are out of order and methods are different.



HOMEMADE SOUP RECIPES: 103 Easy Recipes for Soups, Stews, Chilis, and Chowders Everyone Will Love by Addie Gundry

PUBLISHER: St. Martin's Griffin, 3/2018
GENRE: Cookbooks/Main Dish
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: B

FROM PUBLISHER: Cooking gets cozy with stovetop and slow cooker soups, stews, chilis, and chowders for the whole family to enjoy, in Cutthroat Kitchen star Addie Gundry's collection of homemade soup recipes.

In Addie's home, the delightful sound of a simmering pot on the stovetop signals that a hearty soup or stew is on its way. When it comes to creating a cozy atmosphere and showing off your cooking chops, there's nothing like an easy homemade soup recipe to bring family together. This cookbook has classics like Old-Fashioned Potato Soup and Beef Stew, as well as new culinary hits like Chicken Parmesan Soup and Pulled Pork Chili. Each recipe is paired with a gorgeous full-color, full-bleed finished dish photo.


THINGS I'VE MADE

ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP



This was supposed to be made in a slow cooker but I just made it on the stove and made half the recipe. Half yielded three servings. I used a homemade beef meatball recipe from this book in place of store-bought meatballs. I used orzo pasta, 1/3 c. but it was a little too much. Will use 1/4 c. next time. I used 1/4 t. salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes. I used thawed and drained frozen spinach in place of fresh. This was simple to make and tastes good.


SWEDISH MEATBALLS


These meatballs goes with the Swedish Meatball Soup recipe. I don't like the flavoring of Swedish meatballs so I made them, omitting nutmeg and allspice. So I used fresh bread for breadcrumbs, garlic powder, egg, salt, pepper, cream (I used half and half) and ground beef. You just stir all the ingredients together with a fork in a large mixing bowl, roll into balls and fry them a little until they've browned, then transfer them to a baking sheet and bake them for an additional 10 minutes or so until they've cooked through. I made half the recipe and got 18, which I cut in half after they'd cooled and placed in a zip-top bag and froze them until I needed them.

Edit: I made another batch of these, minus the allspice and nutmeg, and used them for spaghetti.



CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP



This is really good and is basically the same as one I make all the time. This is made with chicken broth, onion, garlic, chili powder, chipotle, and fire roasted tomatoes, which I puréed in the food processor first and used half. I left out the chicken, red bell pepper and carrot. I don't like peppers and I don't like carrot in Mexican dishes. I added 1/2 c. uncooked white long grain rice. I used far less salt than called for, just 1/4 t. and the recipe called for 1 t. and a full can of tomatoes, which is salted. I didn't decorate the top of my bowl of soup with colored tortilla strips or cilantro.

What I do with canned chiptole in adobe sauce, which is smoked jalapeños in a spicy tomato sauce with cooked green and red pepper and onion, is I put the contents in a food processor and purée it. I put the mixture in a quart freezer zip-top bag. When I want to use it I get out a measuring spoon and scrape off what I need of it. For this recipe I used 1 t. of the frozen mixture for 4 c. of broth for a mild spice.


SAUSAGE AND LENTIL SOUP


This was supposed to be made in a slow cooker but I made half in a pot on the stove. I used precooked green lentils (3/4 c. that turned into 1 3/4 c. and took 20 minutes to cook) in place of brown because I couldn't find brown, and left out the Worcestershire sauce. This has onion, garlic, thyme, bay, carrot, and beef broth in it. I used 1/3 of a 14 oz. fully cooked Kielbasa sausage in it that I quartered. It's very easy to make but I'd have liked it better without the sausage.


COUNTRY CHICKEN STEW


This recipe was a cool concept. You combine a can of condensed chicken soup with milk, seasonings, peeled and cubed raw potato, vegetables, cover and cook until done, then add in cooked chicken. This took a lot longer to cook than stated. The flavor of the stew got watered down, probably from the steam that dripped back down into it from the lid. I'd make this again but just half of it and I'd add in some chicken base that I use that comes in a jar for added flavor.




MY THOUGHTS: I really like this book. Most things in it are so simple to make. My favorite from the things I made were the meatballs because I've made them twice and used them for several different dishes. Second favorite was the chicken tortilla soup because you can't go wrong with Mexican flavors.

The book is full-color with a nice big photo of the finished recipe. There are still quite a few recipes I'd like to make, including Old World Peasant Soup, Pasta e Fagioli Soup, White Bean Chicken Stew, and Made-from-Scratch Minestrone Soup.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.



FAMILY FAVORITE CASSEROLE RECIPES: 103 Comforting Breakfast Casseroles, Dinner Ideas, and Desserts Everyone Will Love by Addie Gundry


PUBLISHER: St. Martin's Griffin, 4/2017
GENRE: Cookbooks/Main Dish
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A

FROM PUBLISHER: From Cinnamon Roll Casserole to John Wayne Cowboy Casserole, the 103 casserole dishes in this cookbook are simple and stress-free, but each is packed with flavor, making them your go-to family favorites to whip up any day of the week.

In 103 Family Favorite Casserole Recipes, Addie Gundry shows that a dish doesn't have to be complicated to be creative. You don't need multiple pots and pans to find flavor. And with the proper tools, tips and techniques, anyone can cook memorable meals. She teaches you how to whip up everything from Potato Chip and Chicken Casserole to Strawberry Icebox Casserole to Skinny Cheeseburger Casserole.

A casserole is something to be shared--something warm, rich, and worthy of a gathering on its own. Every recipe is paired with a beautiful finished dish photograph that will make readers jump at the idea of casserole night.

Categories: Breakfast, Appetizers and Side Dishes, Chicken, Beef and Pork, Vegetarian, Healthy, Internationally Inspired, Dessert.


THINGS I'VE MADE


NACHO CHEESE CHIP CASSEROLE



I made half of this, omitting the crushed Doritos® that were to be sprinkled on top and layered in-between. I also used crushed tomatoes in place of the salsa that was to be stirred into the beef mixture. I did that because this recipe is almost identical to another one I made that used taco mix and salsa combined and I didn't like that combo, so I used something in place of salsa. I accidentally left out the corn too.




LOADED OMELET CASSEROLE


This is the same as quiche but it has no crust. I made half. It consists of eggs, milk, onion, and I used frozen spinach that was thawed in place of fresh kale and I used ground sausage in place of ground turkey. I left out red bell pepper because I don't like it. My only complaint is that it's too salty and I should have used just half the salt. Other than that it's a good, basic recipe.




CHEESY CHICKEN ALFREDO CASSEROLE


I made half of this. I didn't marinate the raw chicken in Italian salad dressing because I knew I wouldn't like it. I did use the Italian seasonings that was called for but I didn't like it. I added 1/2 c. frozen peas too. I omitted the small amount of cream cheese and used shredded Monterey Jack cheese. I also added some onion that was cooked in butter though none was called for.

This is basically the same recipe I used to make up until a few years ago and this would have been better, more flavorful, had I added a small amount of jarred chicken base (Better Than Bouillon brand.) Overall, this was easy to make though it was a three-step process.



CLASSIC SHEPHERD'S PIE CASSEROLE


This turned out great. I made half in an 8"x8" 2 qt. square baking dish. I used 1/2 c. more mix vegetables, so I used 1.5 c. total that were precooked. I used a 4.1 oz. package of instant potato flakes and added shredded sharp cheddar cheese to them after they were mixed up. If you make the full recipe, you'll need to packs of potatoes. I added a little garlic powder to the meat mixture and it needed twice the flour to thicken it, so 2 T. instead of 1. The salt specified in the recipe was the perfect amount.


BACON AND EGG HASH BROWN SCRAMBLE


I made half of this in a deep 8", 1.5 qt. baking dish and I substituted 1/2 c. cooked ground sausage for the three pieces of cooked, crumbled bacon. This uses frozen hash browns that have been thawed, condensed cheddar cheese soup, egg, milk, and some seasonings. I added onion and garlic powder too. When it was almost finished after 50 minutes I sprinkled shredded Monterey Jack cheese on it and baked it another ten minutes.

The cheese soup is pretty mild and I think it needs some shredded cheddar cheese mixed in with it. Other than that, it's perfect and very creamy. I had a piece of this the next day and it tasted terrible, like most potato dishes do, and it wasn't creamy at all. This is like a frittata and quiche where you can add any precooked meat/poultry and precooked vegetables. This would be good with broccoli and chicken. A+ for this one.





SOUTHWEST BREAKFAST BAKE


This is really good and tastes like chili. I made half in a 10" round baking dish. It uses a lot of stuff- shredded hash browns, egg, milk, cheese, onion, ground cooked sausage (I used ground beef), canned chili with beans, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, ground canned tomatillos (I used fire roasted tomatoes), and mild green chiles. I used milk in place of the small amount of sour cream and didn't use bell pepper since I don't like it.

The hash brown/liquid ratio is off and it took almost double the salt. The mixture is a little too wet and clearly needed more hash browns or less liquid. I don't think it needed ground canned tomatillos at all because the added moisture wasn't needed for this amount of hash browns. When I make this again I'll omit it. I like the beans that are in the canned chili. Flavorwise this gets an A+. Mine doesn't look anything like the one in the photo.

EDIT: I made this again on 10/30/18 just as before, omitting the pureed fire roasted tomatoes and it turned out perfectly!




MY THOUGHTS: Everything I've made has turned out really good, or close to it. I'm truly impressed with this book. It's in full color with a large full page photo of each prepared recipe. The recipes are simple and not fancy which suits me well. Some recipes need more flavoring, including the Chicken Divan, which is only flavored with onion and a small amount of mustard, which is why I'm not going to review it but I will try it, adding whatever I think it needs to enhance the flavor.

My two favorite things out of the book are the Bacon and Hash Brown Scramble and the Southwest Breakfast Bake. This is my first time using hash browns in a frittata mixture and I look forward to trying those two recipes again, and fiddling with them to maybe suit me more. There's another one in here called Sausage Fajita Frittata that uses shredded hash browns, breakfast sausage links, strips of red and green bell pepper, and poblano peppers. I didn't make and review it because I don't like any of those peppers and would have to leave them out but I will make this recipe omitting them and substituting chopped kielbasa for sausage links.

Most of the pasta dishes are completely made on the stove then transferred to a baking dish and put into the oven to melt cheese that's on top. That's just not necessary because you can melt cheese by putting the lid back on the pan for a few minutes to. But it does look better if the food is photographed in a baking dish.


I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.