This year has been a torment. I don’t need to list all the reasons why, but my number one reason this month is missing out on all the Halloween festivities. The 31st falls on a Saturday AND lasts for 25 hours thanks to Daylight Savings. Like, we get it. No fun allowed in 2020, please stop driving the point home. Since we can’t cavort with our fellow ghouls and ghosts like nature intended, I’m going to stay home and read like the big, boring, health-conscious person this year has forced me to become. Now, please do not take that statement the wrong way. Reading is my favorite respite from reality and I don’t know where my mental health would be without the comfort of checking out five thousand library books to keep me company. Since parties are off the table for me (and everyone else I surely do hope), I’m going to keep things spooky and within the spirit of America’s Best Holiday (patent pending) by reading my favorite horror novels. Below I listed four of my recent favorites.
It’s finally October! Start carving your pumpkins. Pick up a bag of your favorite candy. And put something scary on the TV because there’s not much else to do with the pandemic still going on. Like last year, I’ve written up a list of a few of my favorite horror movies.
Crowley is not a good movie. It’s one of those movies that’s so bad it’s good. The premise itself is fairly outrageous, a guy using virtual reality gets possessed by the ghost of Aleister Crowley via the internet. The actors chew up the scenery. Crowley’s antics lean more towards raunchy than evil. The music is the one genuinely good part since it’s handled by Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden.
October is my favorite month of the year. I love the chill in the air and the spooky vibes that come along with Halloween. It’s the perfect time of year to curl up under a cozy blanket with a scary story! There are many horror stories written for middle grade readers ranging from the mildly creepy to downright terrifying! I have some recommendations below that can be found in our children’s collection. Click on the titles that interest you to request your copy straight from our catalog.
Ease young readers into horror stories with this ghostly murder mystery! 12 year-old Amy has an extended visit with her aunt who is cleaning out her deceased great-grandparents’ home. Their deaths happened many years before Amy was born and have always been a mystery to her. The mystery begins to unravel when she uncovers a beautiful dollhouse modeled after their house, stashed away in the attic. The dolls in the dollhouse seem to move on their own. Are they trying to tell her something? Any mention of the dollhouse or the great-grandparents upsets her aunt, so Amy has to do her own research to uncover what really happened to her family years ago. This story has a low level of supernatural creepiness that pairs well with its fascinating family mystery.
Dungeons and Dragons is a fun game, whether as a player or a dungeon master. Being the dungeon master can be difficult, though. It’s part memorizing rules, acting, writing, and people wrangling. Writing an adventure or an entire campaign setting can sometimes be the most difficult part of being a dungeon master. That’s why this week’s blog post is all pre-written adventures, it won’t help with rule memorization or the voice acting, but I can’t do everything for you.
Ravenloft has been a part of Dungeons and Dragons since the very first edition. Curse of Strahd is the fifth edition’s return to the lands that the vampire Count Strahd von Zarovich rules over with an iron fist. This adventure has more of a gothic horror taste than the usual D&D adventure. The part that got this one on my radar was that it has rules for using a Tarokka deck, a pseudo-tarot deck, to influence where monsters and artifacts will show up in the adventure. I can’t promise that your party will survive Strahd once they enter Castle Ravenloft, though.
My social life has taken a pretty sharp decline since I’ve gone into quarantine. Being home more has given me a bit of a push to reevaluate my reading pile. I’ve sifted through the books that have piled up around my home to find some that I thought others might be interested in as well.
Carl Zimmer was one of the authors that I read for a few classes at university. He’s a writer that can take relatively dry science topics, like evolution, and make them engaging for every degree of reader. Near the end of my undergraduate education, I found an interest in virus-host coevolution and tried to find books on viruses. I stupidly didn’t take a microbiology class due to initially thinking microbes were boring. I need to note that this particular book has been in my pile for a few years, but it has taken on new relevance.
Known for expressing her wit and social commentary through her characters, Jane Austen is a staple of classrooms and beloved by many. But for readers new to Austen, the language can feel challenging and lots of sneaky jokes get lost along the way. (Consider: a character preaching about the importance of frugality while renting the carriage equivalent of an Audi.) Modern retellings can reframe those jokes in a way that doesn’t require extensive knowledge of 1800s British customs, or offer a fresh take for those who know Austen’s works well. For longtime Austen fans and newcomers alike, here are 6 adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels.
The Austen Project: Emma by Alexander McCall Smith & Eligble by Curtis Sittenfeld
The Austen Project brings Jane Austen into the present day. Eligible imagines Elizabeth as a writer for a magazine and Jane as a yoga instructor in New York. After their father has a health scare, the daughters return to their childhood city of Cincinnati to find the home in disrepair and a mother determined to marry off Jane before her 40th birthday.
In Emma, the titular character returns home from university to start her career in interior design. While she plans to get her business off the ground, she uses her free time to offer guidance to those she deems less wise in the ways of the world than she is – and she includes nearly everyone in Highbury in that tally.
The last few weeks have been good for gaming, but even I can get burned out after a few days. Sometimes, you get caught up in the story or world you were playing in, though. This week I found a few books that are set in some favorite videogame worlds.
This novel is set after the Oblivion Crisis. Though I feel like to fully enjoy it, you need to have played The Elder Scrolls III, or at least The Elder Scrolls Online. The novel visits places in Morrowind like Vivec City and mentions the fall of the Ministry of Truth. That may not be as much of an issue for other people as it would be for me, though.
I spend toomuchtime talking about movies and games, so this month I am doing something different. I go through bouts where I get absorbed into comic series. This month I thought I would share some of my favorites. The items in this blog post will take you to the first volume of the series in Mead’s collection.
The Black Monday Murders is a blend of noir mystery and occult horror. The gist of the series’ story is that bankers are being murdered in horrific, cult-like ways. As Detective Dumas follows the clues, he discovers that there is a world of magic schools hidden behind international banking. The premise tickles my fancy, but what has stuck with me is the use of color and shadow. The art is surreal at times, but somehow the color and shadow ground it. I feel like this one, in particular, is the hidden-ish gem of this blog post, but I have to do my due diligence to mention this series is on hiatus. The artist and co-creator, Tomm Coker, had to step away due to some health concerns, so this series currently stops after volume two.
As a freshman in college, I had been reading about this new game that people were amazed by. You could build anything you could imagine they said! There was just one catch. Everything was made of cubes. I decided I would look into this Minecraft. It was the first game I ever bought that was in an incomplete state. When I bought it, there was only the one mode that would later be called Creative Mode. I didn’t play it too much in that state. Eventually, I would play the new Hardcore Mode, usually dying from falling into lava, and then for a bit on private servers.
I love Christmas, but usually, by this time of the year, I’m done with all the cute and cuddly stuff. Or at least that’s my excuse for why most of my favorite Christmas movies are spooky. If you’re looking for a festive movie that’s lower in sugary sweetness, give these a shot.
From the opening montage alone, Krampus won my heart. Seeing people deck each over a toy during Black Friday sets the tone of Krampus. This is a movie that borrows the moralistic slasher rules of older horror movies, like Friday the 13th, and applies that framework to Christmas. Being greedy and only wanting presents? Watch out for Krampus. Bullying your cousin? Watch out for Krampus. It’s refreshing to have a Christmas movie that brings up that the holiday isn’t very jolly anymore and gives us a better reason than coal to be good.