Spooky Reads for Halloween Weekend

The meme I keep seeing on Facebook says, “Why do we need Halloween this year when we’ve been wearing masks and eating candy since March?”

I can’t say I totally disagree. The thought of large costume parties, hayrides and haunted houses — many of the customs we usually associate with the Halloween season — just hasn’t excited me this year. We aren’t totally ditching Halloween traditions though. Our neighborhood seems to still be on board with trick-or-treating, albeit at a safe distance with some extra precautions in place. I don’t want to rob my kids of this experience if it can be done safely. How are you approaching Halloween this year?

Because Halloween is on Saturday, there is also college football to contend with. Don’t ring our doorbell when Alabama has the ball, you little goblins! Yes, I’ll be tuning into see Alabama take on Mississippi State. Trick-or-treat and Roll Tide!

Whether you are football-inclined or not, there are many good spooky entertainment options if you are staying in. My recommendations are of the literary variety…except for Haunted Mansion, now available on Disney+.

Haunted Mansion (2003)

If you love the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney World — my personal favorite — you might like this fun comedy adaptation starring Eddie Murphy. I watched it with one of my daughters this week and I have to give it a quick plug. It will entertain the whole family.

Now back to the boos…I mean the books.

Books have been my favorite escape this year, and rightly so since we have been home more than ever before with ample time to read. A silver lining of the pandemic, I guess. Two of my recent reads are perfect for the Halloween weekend.

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

All roadside motels are a little creepy, right? At least anyone who has ever seen Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1960 movie Psycho might think so. There is no Norman Bates in The Sun Down Motel but there are plenty of haunting spirits encountered by the two main characters, Carly Kirk and her aunt, Viv Delaney, who — 35 years apart — each moved to a small town in New York and took a job at the same motel. Will their curiosity about the motel guests get the best of them? Read my full review on Goodreads.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

I generally shy away from horror stories, so this was an unusual pick for me. But anything having to do with book clubs interests me, and the setting of 1990s Charleston, South Carolina, helped to draw me in, too. I managed to read through the handful of gory scenes without slamming the book shut and never looking back. It is a wildly entertaining vampire story that ultimately celebrates strong women. I actually look forward to reading this one again some day. Here is my full review on Goodreads.

Whether you are going out or staying in, I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween!

Vacation Reads for the Whole Family

InterContinental Hotels Group invited my family to the Holiday Inn Resort at Pensacola Beach for a complimentary breakfast with Clifford the Big Red Dog and pool passes. I was not asked to write this article and opinions are my own.

One of the most important decisions I make when going to the beach is what book to toss in my beach bag. I love a good, juicy beach read.

In fact, we’re all avid readers at my house. My youngest daughter learned to read this year, and the rest of us frequently have our nose in a book. As a working mom, it can be challenging to find time to read, but I do enjoy it when I can (often that’s on vacation), and I love that my children like reading. My husband and I read aloud to them throughout their preschool years, which can be so beneficial for a child’s learning and development.


When I heard about Holiday Inn and Scholastic teaming up to encourage kids to read while they’re on vacation, I was immediately interested because it’s the intersection of two things we enjoy: books and family travel. Through the Summer of Smiles program, Scholastic book characters like Clifford the Big Red Dog and Geronimo Stilton (He’s an adventurous mouse journalist, I learned) are greeting guests at select Holiday Inn hotels during breakfast events.


In addition to photo opportunities, there are book character-themed coloring and craft activities for the kids. At the event we attended, children were offered a free book. Afterwards a small lending library was set up in the hotel lobby so that young guests can borrow books to read, or parents traveling on business can borrow a book to read a virtual bedtime story to their children back home. It’s a neat concept and my daughters enjoyed the experience.


I’m all for anything that encourages reading and gets kids and parents to unplug from their electronic devices, especially on vacation. At the Holiday Inn Resort at Pensacola Beach, the breakfast with Clifford and friends was one of many perks offered for kids.


We were able to explore the pool area, which includes a lazy river. I hadn’t floated along a lazy river in years and this was a first for my girls. We had so much fun doing this together, and I lost count of how many times we went around.


I enjoyed lounging by the pool, too, while the girls met and swam with a mermaid, who makes daily appearances at the pool. Pirates also visited the pool on the day we were there, and a “dive-in” movie was scheduled for the evening. And what kid doesn’t like a snow cone bar?


We left the hotel with snapshots from the meet and greet with Clifford, and I took several photos around the pool. I only regret not being in any of the photos myself. (We have to make a point to get out from behind the camera, moms!) Regardless, it was a memorable day spending time with my daughters. Happy travels and happy reading to all this summer!


What are you and your family reading this summer? Leave us a comment.