June TBR: Five-Star Predictions

G’morning, lovely humans!

Even though June’s finally come around, the weather in London is anything but bright and sunny. There are storm clouds and flashes of lightning, and I’m absolutely IN LOVE with the sound of pounding rain in the evenings. So, looking at all the books I’m inevitably going to read on my sofa, I thought I might bring you this month’s best predictions.

And in case you wanted to see the full list, you can check out my YouTube video here. Let’s get started!

  1. “Authority” by Jeff Vandermeer

Screen Shot 2018-06-01 at 14.27.38Back in April, we read “Annihilation” and I thought it was one of the most peacefully disturbing books I’d ever read. So, without any further hesitation, I went into the world and got the sequel – “Authority”. Knowing how enchanting and relaxing Vandermeer’s style of writing it, I have no doubt in my mind this is going to be just as perplexing and wonderful as the first one.

2. “Vicious” by V.E. Schwab

Screen Shot 2018-06-01 at 14.29.00I’ve been waiting for the re-release of this book since the beginning of last year, and I finally have the precious gem in my hands. Now, I’ve only cheated a little bit here, because I’ve already read the first two chapters. Mark my words, guys, this one’s a winner! Villainous characters, digging graves, university thesis gone wrong. Sign me up.

3. “Lifelik3” by Jay Kristoff

Screen Shot 2018-06-01 at 14.28.32For anyone who knows anything about my reading tastes – this hits three of my favourite science-fiction targets. Number one, it has a strong female protagonist. Number two, it takes place in a dystopian future where our world is brought to its knees. Number three, it handles robots heavily. My hands can barely hold it without shaking. I need this novel in my life and I bet it’s a trip to five-star heaven!

4. “Rail Head” by Philip Reeve

Screen Shot 2018-06-01 at 14.28.16Okay, I totally get it – why would predict I’m gonna be in love with this book if I hated “Mortal Engines” with a burning passion? Honestly, I have no idea either. There’s something about the concept that sounds truly gripping (and suspiciously a lot like the graphic novel “Le Transperceneige”. Trains are the humanity’s next big step? Check. One protagonist must fight in order to crash the hierarchy? Check. Maybe this book is my key back into Reeve’s science-fiction worlds.

Righto, wonderful peeps. There are my top predictions for enjoyable novels in June. To find out who won and how my reading month went, check out my channel and subscribe for regular updates.

Have an awesome day and thanks for stopping by!

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Top 5: YA Contemporaries To Take On The Beach

There’s only one version of a summer I wanna see this year – an empty beach, silky sand, clear water and a wonderful book as I’m lying under the sunshine. The list that I’m writing for you now, sitting on my desk, daydreaming of a distant villa – is comprised of both new releases and staple teen novels. So, without further adieu let’s kick this party in the nut sack, shall we?

Leah on the offbeat – Wild Blue Wonder – In Her Skin – Wink Poppy Midnight – Starry Eyes

  1. “Leah On The Offbeat” by Becky Albertalli

The second book in the Creekwood series, which loyal blog followers might also know as the Simonverse, has arrived and it is already topping charts, honey. In this instalment, we follow Leah – Simon’s best friend, who is mustering the bravery to speak about her own sexuality. Being a drummer in a teen band and juggling high school is not an easy feat on its own, but adding the pressure gossip and family doesn’t help a bit. So, travel this road of self-discovery and grow alongside Leah before you go for a dip in the war.

2. “Wild Blue Wonder” by Carlie Sorosiak

If you’re looking to reminisce about those beautiful days at summer camp, look no further than “Wild Blue Wonder”. This contemporary novel has a sprinkle of tragedy, a little bit of romance and a touch of humour, to bring you that full wood camp realness. After an accident, Quinn’s life has been turned upside-down and the wonderful camp is deserted. Maybe with a little bit of help, she can learn to trust new boy Alex and accept his help in correcting the wrongs.

3. “In Her Skin” by Kim Savage

Here’s a bone for all my thriller-lovers out there, because I would never dream of neglecting a good contemporary thriller. Teenager Jo Chastain is con-artist royalty, but she may have stuck her neck on the line one last time to impersonate a missing girl. Safety and secrets come hand in hand, and the wealthy family she becomes a part of has plenty of walls to break before the truth is uncovered. Can one missing girl find another?  Find out while drinking an icy latte under the sun.

4. “Starry Eyes” by Jenn Bennett

In all honesty, you can definitely repurpose this book for a camping trip and read in the forest just as much as the beach. I picked it because the topic of survival is not very widely explored in teen contemporaries, but since you’ll be out in the wild anyway, you might as well get the 4D experience. In this piece, we follows to former best friends who become stranded on a trip and explore their connection while attempting to find a way home.

5. “Wink Poppy Midnight” by April Genevieve Tucholke

This is a book that I will never stop recommending to people. You’ve seen in plenty of times on my YouTube channel, because I swear by everything inside of it – from story, to character, from farm to ghost house. There’s only about two-hundred pages to this novel, making it incredibly light to carry in luggage. The cover is ideal for some snatched Instagram photos in the sand. Everything about it screams comfort and relaxation, so what better way to read it than stretching in the heat?

Righto, thank you so much for reading my post today, I hope everybody gets to have a fantastic beach vacation this year, and bring a masterpiece with you. If you pick any of my recommendations, let me know in the comment section of my latest video!

Keep reading, fam!

My Summer Guide to Teen Books

One of my favourite things about summer is release season. You get an eyeful of new movies, new shows, and most importantly – new books to read in the fresh breeze outside. Bookstores are flooded with diverse and exciting reads, so sometimes it might be a little hard to keep track of the publishing tidal wave. In order to battle that, I’m sat in my living room with a glass of ice tea, compiling a YA guide for the summer of 2018.

Let’s kick it!

Penguin Teen + Random House

  • “The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik” by David Arnold – May 22nd

One of my favourite reads of 2016 was “Mosquitoland” by David Arnold and I can’t wait for this mystical story of hypnotism. The realism in Arnold’s contemporaries is overwhelming, funny, tragic and purposeful. Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 13.13.19.png

  • “Smoke in The Sun” by Reneé Ahdieh – June 5th

The sequel to “A Flame in The Mist” is finally upon us, ladies and gentlemen! An enchanting combination of ancient magic, battle for an empire and Oriental-inspired setting. Trust me, I’ll be the first to sit on a bench outside with this beautiful monster.

  • “Undead Girl Gand” by Lily Anderson – May 8th

How far would you go to uncover the truth about your best friend’s death? You’d pack some lip gloss and raise them from the dead. Nothing remains hidden in the small town of Cross Creek, no secret is kept for long. Except the girls only have seven days to solve the mystery of their murder.

  • “Seafire” by Natalie C. Parker – August 28th Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 13.22.54

You better believe this dangerous pirate epic is on the top of my birthday list. A crew of strong, scavenging women who are not afraid to fight and do get dirty in order to survive. I’ve had an obsession with ocean adventures ever since Sarah Driver’s “The Huntress” series came around and I need this new YA to fill my nautical needs.

  • “Catwoman: Soulstealer” by Sarah J. Maas – August 7th

The third book in the DC Icons series is set for a release this summer. I am very determined to own the entire collection in hardback despite the fact that I have not read Wonder Woman and Batman yet. If you’re into superheroes this is must-have!

  • “Furyborn” by Claire Legrand – May 22nd

The start to a new high fantasy series filled with legends, magic and queens many years apart, “Furyborn” promises a lot of grand battles in a war to determine the fate of an entire kingdom. Legrand is not a first-timer when it comes to fantasy, so this read is sure to have all the best elements of her writing so far.

  • “Lifelik3” by Jay Kristoff – May 29th

There are no words that can describe just how excited I am about the release of “Lifelik3”. Having just finished the Illuminae Files trilogy, in which Jay Kristoff is a co-author, this new effort sounds like a dream some true. A sci-fi robot adventure in a dystopian Earth… What more can I say? Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 14.03.48

  • “Neverworld Wake” by Marisha Pessl – June 5th

Pessl’s name is popular in the book blogging universe due to one of her previous novels – “Night Film”, which proved its author knew a thing or two about thrilling its audience. “Neverworld Wake” is a classic combination of murder, seclusion, and an unknown visitor who shifts reality upside down.

Harper Teen

  • “Contagion” by Erin Bowman – July 24th

Once again with the amazing-sounding sci-fi novels – “Contagion” follows the respond team who travel to a near-by planet on an SOS call. When they arrive on site there is nothing but carnage. The settlement is deserted, the food is rotten, the weapons are left Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 14.07.40behind and empty. I’m pre-ordering this gem immediately.

  • “Neverwake” by Amy Plum – August 7th

This is the sequel to horror YA novel “Dreamfall”, which is on my TBR for the month of May. Ever since I mentioned it on my YouTube channel, people have been raving about how captivating it is, so there should be no surprise I’m already excited about the second instalment.

  • “The Truth Lies Here” by Lindsey Klingele – August 21st

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 14.09.43“Twin Peaks” meets “Stranger Things” meets “The Midnight Special”, so I’m not even going to try and justify the hype. A crew of kids begin an investigation into the mysterious happenings in their small town – from disappearing memories, to men in black, to kidnappers and back.

  • “The Looking Glass” by Janet McNally – August 14th

Two sisters, one disappearance, a book of fairytales and one list later – you have yourself a thriller. When ballet dancer Sylvie realises she might be the only person who can find and save her sister, we embark on a journey under the trust soundtrack of Fleetwood Mac. I imagine this to be a tame hunt for clues, while our characters discover their true nature.

 

Disney Hyperion 

  • “The Darkest Legacy” by Alexandra Bracken – July 31st

If you know me, you know that “The Darkest Minds” trilogy is one of my favourite dystopian sci-fi adventures. When a mysterious virus targets the immune systems of children, it leaves them either dead or in possession of altered genetic material – giving them special abilities. This standalone extenuation is from the point of view of Zu, a powerful runaway who seeks safety and a new family.

  • “#MURDERTRENDING” by Gretchen McNeil – August 7th

Our technology has evolved to a place where everything we do is streamed out to the world s

 

hamelessly, as if it were a performance on a stage. So what’s stopping us from witnessing executions live? Torturing prisoners or heinous crimes to death right on live television. When Dee finds herself next in line, she has to prove her innocence or face the gallows.

What release are you most excited to buy this summer? Let me know on my YouTube channel and click subscribe to keep posted on the books I buy and review.

Enjoy the summer and read your heart out, please!

 

Unpacking “This Is America” by Childish Gambino

Good day, loyal reader family, I have something rather unexpected for you today, and as you might have guessed from the title – it’s not a book.

Even though I mostly write on the topic of literature and motion picture, something as dense and impactful as the video for “This is America” simply cannot be ignored. The song only came out five days ago, but has already accumulated more than seventy million views and the count is continuously rising. The significance of its visual imagery has been discussed by large titles such as TIME and The Washington Post, and there is much to peel back from the symbolism, so without further delay – here is my attempted interpretation of the “This is America” video.

THE SETTING

The first important detail we need to observe here is the setting. Gambino and his large cast of extras are working in an all-white warehouse, where everything has been stripped bare. It’s only the foundation that remains. This could be as simple a symbol as the entrapment of the black community in a world of unashamed white privilege. It could also be a way of saying that the building blocks, the structure that is the United States is made for the likes of the white majority, and anyone who seems different could only face a life behind these walls.Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 16.16.04.png

THE MUSICIAN

Significance can also be placed on the man who walks into frame in the very beginning of the video. People were quick to point out his resemblance to Tracy Martin – a man whose teenage son, Trayvon Martin, was murdered by gunshot while walking in his neighbourhood. The shooting gathered a large publicity coverage due to some of the circumstances surrounding the case. It was widely believed to be the result of unnecessary violence, based entirely on racial bias in the eyes of George Zimmerman – the killer and member of local night watch team. In reality, the man we see in this video is performer Calvin the Second, whose indisputable resemblance to Tracy Martin could have likely been a strategic move.

We see Calvin dressed in all-white. This could be interpreted as the willingness of black communities in past centuries to conform to the white majority. The willingness to have balance and live in peace after years or oppression. He is holding a guitar, strumming to the beat of a very upbeat song. If we skip thirty seconds ahead, we see Calvin, wearing the same outfit and bound in a white mask over his head. His hands are tied, too, creating an air of fear and helplessness. Gambino proceeds to walk behind the man and shoot him through the head in an execution-style manner.

We see Calvin once again, at the end of the video, where he is both bound and holding a guitar. This could be said to show the imminence of his faith. His peaceful manner and desire to bring simple joy through music have always been doomed. He will always be the victim, no matter what his actions might be.

Childish Gambino

Let’s move on to Donald Glover himself and more specifically – the outfit he is wearing. There seems to be a subtle nod towards history here, made by his lack of a shirt. Often times when black males were transported and shown for sale in slavery, they would remain naked from the waist up. This was done so that a future owner could properly gage the strength and physical ability of the men in front of him. They were human beings displayed and traded like inanimate objects like flour or meat. Perhaps this tells us that we still treat the black community in such a way, looking at people at face value, attaching the colour of their skin as a primary link to outdated and unfair stereotypes.

Gambino also wears two gold chains around his neck. One could say these tie back to the running themes of consumerism, in that they are a signifier of opulence. But they could also relate to the lyric “Get your money, black man”, which is repeated multiple times throughout the song, and according to the storyline it is said by his grandmother. This could refer to the only advice older generations of the black community can put forward, after decades of riots and opposition. The United States is a country built on material possession, so getting your money is the only way to survive. Quite literally, wealth is the way people see each other, numbers in bank accounts, where a game of zeroes is the only one with promised success. It is the only way to be valued as a member of society, because nobody will be willing to see past the archetype and skin colour.

This line could also be interpreted as advice to not let injustice prevail. If somebody takes something rightfully belonging to you, such as reputation, freedom and human rights – you shouldn’t rest until the order is restored – you get it back yourself. Historically speaking, the white community has been guilty of exploiting members of different races in a very systematic fashion. So, this could be an instruction to not be cheated out of simple human liberties in the hands of an oppressor.

Moreover, Gambinos’ exaggerated facial expressions and dance moves have been told to mimic old Jim Crow illustrations, which came forth from the Jim Crow laws. Segregation was fiercely implemented in the nineteenth century and caricature of African-American people were openly distributed. These drawings displayed members of the minority with highly amplified features, bringing attention to Gambino’s performance in the video.Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 16.16.18.png

THE CHOIR

Another potential link to racially propelled violence against a black community could be seen in the singing choir. Two lines of singers in what appears to be Catholic uniform are singing church hymns with a jolly and excited attitude. This is before Gambino grabs a machine gun an slaughters them in the blink of an eye. Many have been connecting this to the Charleston church shooting, a case in which nine African-American people were killed by a white supremacist youth who entered their Bible study group and began a his target act of violence. The actors in the “This is America” video are ten, which makes one think about the very close number to the actual victims. Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 16.16.45.png

THE GUNS

When one analyses this video, the participation of firearms can hardly be ignored. There are two murder scenes within the first two minutes of footage, both of which we have interpreted separately. But what ties them together is the use of an automatic deadly weapon. There is a clear point being made about the power of guns in the United States, especially when the first shooting takes place, which is synchronised with the lyric “This is America”. The connection is forced upon the audience. Many solutions to gun violence have been thrown around the political terrain for decades, but little action has been done to make a change. In fact, the number of gun shootings is increasing on an exponential rate, and with the recent school massacre in Florida, people all over the world are opening a conversation about control.

It is notoriously easy for people who reside in the United States to acquire a deadly firearm. This has been the downfall of many poverty-stricken communities and many racial minorities, as they feel the need to protect themselves from the even larger number of weapons in other majorities who use them based on religious or supremacist beliefs. In fact , Gambino himself raps “Guns in my area, I got the strap, I gotta carry ’em”, to showcase the injustice in prosecuting black communities for trying to protect their own lives in the turmoil of lacklustre firearm law.

Moreover, the guns are treated with more respect and care than the bodies that they leave behind. Every gun has a human carrier, who comes up after the crime is committed and wraps it in a red cloth, while the corpses are either dragged away or left on the ground. This transcends into the accusation of political figures’ disregards to human life in the face of large payoffs from the National Rifle Association and other weapon-based organisations. The government has been under hellfire this year due to their negligence when it comes to the protection of citizens. It was also revealed that the NRA was a large sponsor of the Trump administration, arguably fighting to keep guns a lucrative business at the cost of human lives.Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 16.19.59.png

THE DANCING STUDENTS

Throughout the video, there are five young adults, who appear to be dressed in school uniforms, and act as back-up dancers to Gambino. This can be interpreted as creating a literal wall of acting and entertainment while unspeakable things are happening behind. The children are forced to smile throughout the clip and make exaggeratedly excited faces at the camera. The clothes they wear while performing are in dulled-out colours, and seem to be almost drained of any personality. This can be a reference to the Conservative government that dictates their lives. The black community is still forced to conform, to be stripped of their individuality and originality, just to fit the mould of the white privileged culture in its most archetypal state.

The new generations are raised on the backs of movements, riots and prejudice wars, lasting many years and taking even more victims. It could be said that the smiles on the students’ faces are demonstrative of the way young African-Americans are told to be appreciative and accepting of their way of life, while violence and brutality are just around the corner.

During their second verse together, Childish Gambino raps “I’m so pretty, I’m gon’ get it, watch me move”, which hints that entertainment is used as a distraction to more important issues. The media has been compromised with the modern consumer’s hunger for entertainment on demand, and racial tensions are not happy or funny, they are serious and dangerous. So most remain blissfully unaware and unwilling to learn the details. They are using entertainment as an umbrella from the problematic treatment of innocent people throughout the country.Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 16.16.58.png

THE “CELLY”

Going back to the second verse once more, we see the line “This a celly, that’s a tool”, which can be interpreted in two different ways. The first is that a “celly” is a cellular device, or a phone, which is used to capture mistreatment and distribute it internationally within seconds. The importance of cell phones in today’s lifestyles has been critiqued continuously, and more so after the recent case of a Californian girl who live-streamed her accident and resulting death of her sister online. They can be used as tools for staying ‘woke’ and showing the world what hides behind the media wall.

The second interpretation is that “celly” is used as a term for cell mate. It has been theorised that the prison system in the United States has been structured for use with minorities, keeping certain communities under lock-up, thereby creating a stereotype and inciting fear. It is a never-ending circle of incarceration, reputation, release under impossible rules, and back to the beginning. So in this case, the cell mate would be a tool for the government to keep connecting terror and fright with minorities.

THE SEVENTEEN-SECOND SILENCE

Towards the end of the video, Gambino stops the track and points a pretend gun shaped by his hands, towards the side of the screen. Many have connected this silence, which lasts approximately seventeen seconds, to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting, where seventeen students were killed. Just before the quiet becomes final, a girl’s scream is heard in the background and the shutting of a door rings in the distance. During this, Gambino lights a joint and remains idle, almost emotionless in the frame. He could be mirroring the armed guard, who failed to enter the building while the shooting took place, but waited outside instead until the police had arrived.

The case had a very heavy social media presence and even gathered marches across the country, where a conversation could be started on the subject of gun control and violence. The voice of the #WeCallBS campaign was a student from Stoneman Douglas called Emma Gonzalez, which could explain why the final scream made by a female.Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 16.17.17

THE CARS

Multiple vehicles are scattered in the background of the video throughout its duration, from civilian cars that are set aflame and left open, to police vehicles that are vacant. They are mostly tied to the underlining theme of riots and the modern battlefield.

However, towards the end of the video, Gambino climbs on top of an aged car, in what is the same white warehouse now full of old automobiles. Most, if not all the cars, are from the twentieth century, which could be a sign that society has not moved forward. The treatment of the black community has not progressed since those times and nobody seems to be rushing to disrupt that fact, which is why he joyfully dances on top of them.

In my personal interpretation, the piles of cars with open doors could be referencing back to the Rodney King riots in 1992 and the Detroit city riots of 1967. Both were violent and deadly uprisings against the unfair treatment of the black community, which resulted in tens of deaths and thousands of injured civilians. The riots were taking place on residential streets, where cars could be found abandoned and used as protection from the bullets of the police. Screen Shot 2018-05-11 at 16.15.53

THE PLUG ON OAXACA

Towards the end of the second verse, Gambino mentions that he’s got “the plug on Oaxaca”. Oaxaca is a state in the southern part of Mexico, which is famous for its population of indigenous people. During the seventeenth century Spanish colonialists brought havoc in the territory through disease and forceful work in manual labour. So having the plug on Oaxaca might mean that there was an instance of history repeating itself through the enslaving and exploiting of the African-American minority by the white majority. However, some analysts of the video have connected it to relations with a drug supplier, despite the fact that Oaxaca is not known for drug trade.

These are just some of the interpretations I have made about the video. Most seem to be shared by different analysts, but I would encourage everyone to watch the video and make conclusions for themselves. One way or the other, it is a very interesting showcase of our history and culture, a crash course into some of the world’s injustice.

 

 

 

How To: Read More In Summer

The season of sunshine, tanning, parks and beaches has officially arrived, upper hemisphere, so grab your floaters and let’s roll!

In an effort to spread the reading cheer, I thought it’d be helpful to compile a tiny stack of advice that might assist you to increase casual reading and join the book squad. Ever since I was a small kid, running around the family farm, sunshine meant adventure. Sitting outside, breathing the fresh air, playing games under trees and reading stories for everyone to hear – those were my early days and some of my most treasured memories. As I grew older I continued clutching to the association between novels and childlike joy, and if I can help create that in somebody else, then count me in, buster.

So, what can you do to increase the reading count this summer?

  1. Make a brunch club.

Yeah, you heard me right! Sometimes books can be a team sport and discussing a great plot hole or a handsome main character between your friend group is the most rewarding thing. It feels like gossip without harming anyone’s actual life, and connecting over the same thoughts can be a fun and bonding experience. Especially when there are drinks involved. Hot city, cold drinks, light snacking and a laugh over the ending of a romance novel, or the twist of the latest crime flick – those are just some of the rewards to reap this summer.

brunch

2. Try audiobooks.

According to science, it’s about fifty-thousand times more tempting to walk places during summer than it is any other part of the year. So why not incorporate some reading while nipping to the store, or strolling home from work? Or grab a coffee at the local shop and scroll through social media while listening to “Leah on The Offbeat” by Becky Albertalli! It’s easier to read more when the activity does not feel like picking up a physical book, and the brain does not associate that with the chore of reading a certain amount of pages or chapters. Plus, Audible is majorly affordable and well-stocked on new releases. And should you prefer something for free, grab an app for your local library and check audio files out.

audio

3. Read about vacation spots.

Let’s say you’re working through the summer and haven’t planned a nice vacation yet. There’s an easy way to transport yourself to pretty much any holiday spot, whether it being adventurous or relaxing, through the pages of a book. You were hoping to chill on an Australian beach? Pick an Australian romance flick. More of a hiking fan? Grab a climber biography. The imagination is an amazing thing. It can give you the sensation of a certain place without physically witnessing it, and there are so many choices for pretty much any popular location. So travel all over the world from the comfort of your own local park or the sofa in your living room.

vacation

4. Learn to associate sunshine with reading.

It takes approximately two weeks to begin forming a regular habit. Try and get your brain used to the idea of warmth and reading as companions instead of mutually exclusive particles. Waiting for a friend at a coffee shop? Whip out the book real quick. Walking to work in the beautiful weather? Grab your headphones and press play on an audiobook. Any format counts, any effort is better than none. Any given stretch of time that you’d be spending alone with your thoughts (without needing to) can also be used to digest an amazing story. Give it about fifteen days and filling random gaps with novels will be second nature.

sunshine

5. Visit bookstores.

I know, can it get more obvious than this? As a person who has spent a large amount to time in bookstores, and worked in one too, I can tell you that most weekdays – they remain empty. Trust me when I say that the more time you spend in a bookstore, the more excited you’ll get about books. Those are two things that grow together exponentially. Plus, summer is release season, because the human population is headed for a break, so many new and different stories are coming out on the market. There is almost no better time to peruse books than a nice summer day. The more you’re around books, the more comfortable you get with them.

bookstore

Give these tips a try and visit my YouTube channel to tell me if any of them worked for you. I adore the summer and all the amazing ways it can connect you with books, so don’ be shy – grab a novel. Live a story. Read yourself a vacation.

 

May TBR: Five Star Predictions

Okay, so I don’t know what happened to half of the year, but we’ve somehow ended up in May, which is weird. The weather still sucks, the wind is still cold, London is in a state of constant winter and I’m sat here patiently, waiting for any signs of sunshine.

Following up on my YouTube video from yesterday, I thought it might be a fun idea to share which books I think I’ll love the most this month. Will this be accurate? Optimistically speaking – yeah! Will it be worth it for the gifs? Toooooootally.

So, here goes:

  1. “Dead to the World” by Charlaine Harris

The mission of completing Harris’s entire supernatural series is still very much in action. After reading “Club Dead” (aka book #3) during the Trashathon in April, I’ve decided my love for Sookie and Eric shall never be put second again. Thus, we continue through the many dangerous, gloomy and sexual adventures of the cast with full throttle. Judge me all you want, it’s gonna be amazing.

vsmpire

2. “Across the Universe” by Beth Revis

This is not only a romance story, lads, but also a sci-fi novel, and a thriller set in space. So, by the laws of book attraction, I was going to pick it up eventually. The story seems cheesy enough to fill my days with unashamed instalove and dangerous enough to excite me with a good amount of mystery. I have a lot of hype from a lot of different Goodreads lists, so fingers crossed – this might be an actual winner.

chicken

3. “Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi

Right, let’s try and summarise all the separate elements that make this book amazing: African magic, high fantasy, war for a kingdom, children with abilities. If that’s not enough to tickle your Spidey senses, then I don’t know if anything ever will. My friends have read this, my colleagues have read this (multiple times), people on Booktube have read this, and guess what – not a single negative review in sight. You can call me excited.

magic

4. “The Ruby in the Smoke” by Philip Pullman

Imagine you could combine two of your favourite mystery lovers in storytelling. Got it? Cool. Now imagine the book was written by one of the greatest low fantasy authors of our time. It seems too good to be true, right? I’m here to tell you that the Sally Lockhart series is a brilliant combination of Sherlock Holmes and Indiana Jones, written most expertly and with heaps of humour by the reputable Pullman. Being halfway through it now, I can already say – it’s gonna be a five-star experience.

sherlock

Okay, beautiful people, those are my predictions for the May TBR. Hopefully I get to give even more five-star ratings throughout the month, so keep your hopes up for a very victorious video at the end of the month. If you’d like to keep updated with my reading, check out my YouTube channel and click subscribe.

Keep reading!

 

December Wrap-Up & Mini Reviews

Why hello, wonderful inhabitants of the internet space and welcome back to this aged and dusty blog. Surprisingly, I have survived through the turbulent months that have passed and am attempting a swift revival. So in the spirit of that, I am sat alone in the middle of the night with a mug of coffee and work in the morning – writing a post.

Super worth it.

These books are in no order whatsoever, much like the rest of my life, which means we can kick this into gear.

  1. A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOWAR) by Sarah J Maas – 4.5/5

I finally grew a pair, dove into another Sarah J Maas series and immediately had conflicting feelings about it. One part of me loved the experience of the story, which is a Beauty and the Best retelling; and another just tore at the pages where females were treated as objects, which was almost every single one. I guess that balanced it out. Faeries, kingdoms, love squares and a pretty okay female villain? Classic YA fantasy.

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2. Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling – 5/5

I mean, how much do I realistically need to say here – it’s Harry Potter. The legend, the wizard, the child from under the stairs makes a fantastic return in my life. I’ve been meaning to re-read the series for what seems like years and in actual fact really was years, so we’ve finally made that a thing. Thank God. I mean, thank Rowling.

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3. The Shock of The Fall by Nathan Filer – 3.7/5

What a rollercoaster of emotions this piece of work was, I mean Jesus on an ice cream stick! The book is a set of self-addressed confessions and letters from the mind of a nineteen-year-old who is battling schizophrenia and a dark incident in his past. You’ll feel his own pain, his own wandering thoughts and his own guilt. You’ll feel the need for other to bring help and also stay away. You’ll just feel a lot, okay?

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4. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu – 4/5

I know what you’re thinking – are you on about the refreshing carbonated drink, Meggie? No, fellow nerds, I am not (although I’m sure it’s unrivalled). This is a feminist book for young adults, which is set in the best times known to man (and woman) – high school. If you were ever angry with the inequality of gender treatment in the education system, get ready to be really fucking pissed. This will get your pigtails in a twist. I’m still untangling mine.

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5. York (The Shadow Cypher) by Laura Ruby – 3/5

I didn’t enjoy this novel. Plain and simple. I gave it three stars purely because I thought the plot was great and had a lot of potential to be fantastic. Except it wasn’t, it was just fine, like a semi-deflated yellow balloon at a bar mitzvah . After “Bone Gap” by the same author, I had high expectations for the quality of this read and something about it just didn’t click with me, maybe it was the seemingly slow plot, maybe it was that I didn’t like any of the main characters. We’ll never know.

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6. Lumberjanes Vol. 1 – 4.7/5

If you’ve been on my YouTube channel before, you know I had a tiny rant about wanting to be a cool kid again and touch base with my graphic novel roots. And honestly, as far as starts go – this was a damn great one! Imagine Gravity Falls, except set in a camp for kids who are wandering the magical forests freely. This is what Lumberjanes is like, no word of a lie. It’s awesome. Pick it up for the kids, pick it up for you, pick it up for your pets and neighbours, pick it up for Ramona from work.

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7. The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi – 5/5

I knew I was a fan of Tony before I endeavoured into the world of WondLa, because one of my many childhood obsessions was The Spiderwick Chronicles. In this epic sci-fi adventure we find ourselves in the company of a child, a robot mother and a roadie alien who are searching for human life. The illustrations truly make this journey worth your while as they showcase all of DiTerlizzi’s extraterrestrials and brain babies as they were meant to be seen, which is extraordinarily imaginative.

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8. Wildwood by Collin Melloy – 2.5/5

Remember how I said I wasn’t a fan of “York”? Well hold on to your chair, because this was way worse. I keep saying this in every review that I make for this book, but by God, it’s so very hard to make a fantasy novel for children so mundane and boring, but congratulations to Melloy for fucking nailing it. The protagonists were average, the talking animals were average, the battles were average. Everything was average.

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9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – 6.5/5

Best book of the decade. That is all.

No, I’m joking. But seriously – this piece of literature is one of the most heartfelt, well-written, cinematic and magical stories that our generation has the pleasure of reading. The plot, the characters (no matter how small or big they were), the settings and the unravelling of every mystery, felt intoxicating. Brilliant book, a must-read for any human life form. Heck, read it to your pets if you have to!

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What an emotional month, eh?

Stick around for some more articles on books, films, television and general life things. One article a week, folks. We can do this!

Meggie x

 

Movember: The Story of Growing Your Moustache Through Film

The business of growing a moustache is an international affair during the month November. Why? Because people around the world are raising awareness to battle prostate and testicular cancer in men. That’s right, we’re campaigning the Tom Selleck way and loving every hairy second of it! The Movember Foundation (which you can visit here) is also putting up a stand against the high numbers of suicide among our XY-partners, stating a  frightening rate one man per minute worldwide.

As a lady, I can only grow so much of a moustache, but that does not mean participation is a no-go! Instead, I choose to honour this great month in the only other way I know how to – through tireless film talk. So, let’s trace the adventures of one moustache in a land of many other moustaches, from incubation to graduation, kick-starting the party with a classic motion picture, one that has stood the test of time – “Spaceballs”.

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Mel Brooks is showcasing the initial stages of a stash through this newbie-friendly arrangement. It’s the barely there look, which is perfect for anyone starting a fresh batch of face fuzz. There may not be much of it at all, but whatever’s managed to manifest is proudly there. It may seem daunting to glance for progress every two hours, but remember – no Gimli has started with a Selleck.

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I know it may seem like quite the leap here, but transitioning from President Skroob to “Napoleon Dynamite”‘s Kip is more about building coverage and filling up the empty spaces, rather than generating actual thickness. This takes patience, we’re still constructing a Taylor Swift, so we shouldn’t be rushing into a Nicki Minaj. Be happy, you’re making a serious commitment to the mission now and we’re all rooting for success.

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Give it another week or two and your bristle companion will be looking meaner, stronger, fuller, more Jack Black-ier than ever before! We’re ready for expansion, we’re no longer trying to break through the moustache game, we’re slowly gaining speed, zooming past its levels like a wrestler body slamming his opponents on a rink of hairy fire. The empty patches that Kip sported are nothing but history.

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See how those ends are flicking down, trying to make a daring escape into the chin area? This is the point where you can freely purchase a gun in the state of Texas, no questions asked. Also, I think I’m joking, but I’m not entirely sure, so please don’t quote me to US authorities. Josh Brolin is nailing the classic lip jewellery in “No Country for Old Men”, keeping perfect foundation, curve and body.

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Notice how the violence in film posters increases in direct proportion to the facial hair volume? Danny Trejo’s mouth handle in “Machete” has surpassed Llewelyn Moss’s notable number, creeping further into the uncharted territory of southern regions. According to scientific research, this particular design is classified as “Vigilante Mop” under the “Crime Avenger” category.

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There’s no return when you’ve committed to Colin Farrell’s distance, which spans vertically and more than halfway into sworn beard realms. Now, beards are forbidden according to The Movember Foundation’s web page, so this is borderline rebellious behaviour. Did that stop Luke? Did it stop Obi-Wan? No, of course not. Be proud of your progress, you’ve got all the elements for a proud cocaine lord stew and they’re brewing together.

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This is the end result of your downward venture, beautifully demonstrated in detail by assassin Jules Winnfield in cult classic “Pulp Fiction”. Warning: not all face shapes can handle the handle, so handle yourself right when handling this issue. One may think they’ve reached a moustache’s full potential at this point, but don’t let a lack of imagination stunt the progression.

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Emperor Ming lives on a rogue planet called Mongo, where advanced face caterpillars are only reserved for tyrannical overlords with Nike logos for eyebrows. Ad well as body, we have now conquered the length variable of our moustache equation, elevating the entire creation to space villain heights. Where could we possible go from here? Surely the sides don’t just continue into a long spaghetti-style braid, right?

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CORRECT! According to laws of nature that I made up half an hour ago, the moustache takes a defying move and springs up into a fine curl once it reaches certain breaking points. As Dustin Hoffman proves in “Hook”, this design can be both classy, comedic, merciless and for best effect – pulled into a tandem with a matching seventeen century wig.

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Moving forward – literally – we’re now concerned with structuring a good 3D impact to your lip crown. The bristle length is clearly increased and a professional twist is required to reach Daniel Day Lewis’s memorable appearance in “Gangs of New York”. You look in the mirror and remember the days when Nacho Libre was your proudest achievement, as you comb down those luscious waterfalls.

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It’s practically impossible to create a suggested evolution of the human moustache without including Tom Selleck with an honourable spot. After all, the man is famous for his enviable mouth locks,  situated neatly between two gorgeous dimples and on top of a voice box ready to narrate action movie trailers. Remember when I said Nicki Minaj was a long way to do? We’ve just reached her.

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The only person who can beat Tom Selleck without resorting to any trickery of the curl, squiggle, vertical drop or parting variety, is Ned Flanders himself. A firmly religious man, who loves a good, trimmed stash as much as he does Jesus Christ. This majestic wall of hair doubles up as a face coat in winter and soup storage for fall.

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We’re almost at the final stages of the growing your lip jewellery. We’ve slowly built the foundation in “Napoleon Dynamite” and “No Country for Old Men”, we’ve poured in the concrete in “Gangs of New York”, and now, crowning one cult classic’s nod-wrothy accomplishment – we have “The Big Lebowski”. Sam Elliott has a specimen of worthy proportion, which will leave any observer in jealous awe.

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Your finished product (obviously we’re expecting this result by the end of Movember) should look something like a Dr. Seuss character, especially a woodland spirit, who wishes to preserve a magical wilderness. The Lorax combines length, body, hang and even stylish layers, while being appropriately voiced by Danny DeVito – a man of admirable moustache skills.

But of course everybody’s genetic pool has slightly different fishes swimming around the hair growth centre, so keep that in mind while comparing your progress with other stash buddies. Movember might equate to Kip at best for some lucky fellows, while others could reach a full Llewelyn Moss without a breaking a sweat doing it. You’re all beautiful, and you’re all raising awareness for a great cause, which is the most important part of all.

So, go out there, gentlemen and show the world just how beautiful your face bling can be, and to all my lovely ladies – take up another challenge from the Movember Foundation web page and fundraise for the future of our other gender.

Much love and a happy November to all!

 

 

15 Actors Who Happen To Be Vegan

The vegan community is having a worldwide celebration today in honour of the cruelty-free lifestyle, which protects both our planet’s animals and environment. A noble cause, which has been a part of my life since early April this year, when I first began making steps into joining the vegan team. Although having a diet with no animal products is not something new to our history, or a revolutionary idea of the twentieth centuries, it is only now gaining friction with larger audiences through social media and documentary campaigns. So, to join the awareness day, I have compiled a small list of film actors and actresses, who may surprise you by being vegan!

Here we go:

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Whether you are a vegan or not, today is a great opportunity to throw some love into the universe and give animals a surprise cuddle! Unless those animals are venomous or super dangerous, in which case, like, send them kisses from afar.

Happy Vegan Day!

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Halloween Fever: 17 Classic Films

October is the month of falling leaves and warm, pumpkin pies. A season of windy mornings, when you can almost catch a whiff of that chilly winter air, and one of rainy afternoons to sooth the stressful, busy day. As Halloween is on our doorstep, I wanted to lay out a list of my all-time favourite classic fright flicks and hand it over to you under the cloak of witching hour.

So, here we go – embarking on a journey through the land of nightmare fuel.

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Film: “Beetlejuice”

Year: 1988

Let’s start with the king of Hallows’ Day characters – “Beetlejuice”, just be careful not to call his name three times! Otherwise, Michael Keaton will appear in your mirror and probably get super annoyed you’ve summoned him away from home. A highly imaginative, snappy and funny flick, which is not afraid to make you sit through a naughty joke or two. Tim Burton puts life into very memorable characters, creating a film that has lasted the ages.

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Film: “Edward Scissorhands”

Year: 1990

I wasn’t even around when this fan-favourite came around cinemas, but I sure do love it and so does everyone with a semi-good DVD collection. Brace yourselves, children, for this list features Tim Burton creations multiple a-time, and although his latest films haven’t exactly hit the sweet spot in box office terms, once upon two decades ago he was a true master of the craft. Sweet, heartfelt and well-rounded movie, which will make you weep and giggle!

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Film: “Ghostbusters”

Year: 1984

A film praised for its dry, snappy humour and nifty effects, we all know Venkman’s legacy one way or another. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver are the leads of a ghost-fuelled adventure around New York City, which takes them to ancient spirits and fat, green blobs alike. Watch out for the impending invasion of otherworldly creatures that only our band of geeks can prevent. An additional bonus is are the animated effects, which truly send your head into the eighties.

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Film: “From Dusk Till Dawn”

Year: 1996

For the lovers of swear-ridden dialogue and George Clooney’s face, I present to you the Tarantino Delight! Crime, bar fights, weapons, gore, exotic dancers and vampires – everything a spicy Halloween party needs is mushed together in “From Dusk Till Dawn”. Plus, it will give you an immediate excuse to watch the spin-off series on Netflix, which has been gathering friction. You get the movie and the episode binges, too! Win-win. Also, everyone gets street cred for making outdated Tarantino references, right?

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Film: “Hocus Pocus”

Year: 1993

In case your Halloween party has been infested with little goblins, otherwise specified as human children, which… Let’s face it – highly plausible scenario… Then “Hocus Pocus” is here to save the day! I mean night! Three Salem witches are resurrected on the night of many terrors and and only a funky group of local teens can restore peace. It’s witty and exciting in a very charming way, so for the sake of the young ‘uns – give this film a chance!

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Film: “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”

Year: 1992

Now, we’ve already patted Burton’s back (and shall do so again), we’ve shaken Tarantino’s hand, but one mustn’t forget legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, who directed this  film back in the early nineties. It stars Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins and Winona Ryder, which should tell you how compelling the story must be, and how the looming torment is perfected. We’ve seen vampire renditions everywhere, so why not catch a glimpse of their origin – ancient Dracula himself.

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Film: “Sleepy Hollow”

Year:  1999

Nine years after Depp and Burton collaborated on “Edward Scissorhands”, this dark fantasy was born into existence. The familiar tale of a mysterious horseman who chases straying locals in search for his long-lost head, the evil demon who swings a heavy axe and reeks of death itself – brought to life on screen. Turn the lights off and grab an apple cider for the ultimate villager experience.

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Film: “Corpse Bride”

Year: 2005

Let’s play a little game called guess the director and then another one called guess the lead actor, too! No, I’m not sorry this is on the list, because it’s yet another Burton/Depp bromance brain-child, which has rightfully earned a place on the Halloween list. Honestly! I’m not being sponsored by Tim here, although I’d take a sponsorship should he like to give a film nerd some gentle endorsement. Watch the story of Victor, who accidentally finds himself married to… You guessed it! A corpse bride. Will he choose the world of the living or the side of the dead instead?

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Film: “Carrie”

Year: 1976

Stephen King should be a part of any good fright fest and here we have a prime example with the original cinematic experience of “Carrie” – the girl with telekinetic powers whose Christian mother and mean-hearted school mates push the bar on her sanity. The reason I am recommending this above the 2013 re-make is that 1976 wasn’t trying to over-glorify the story! They made a realistic and psychologically torturing film, as opposed to a pile of over-chewed shock factor production design. Also – boobs.

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Film: “Interview with The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles”

Year: 1994

Tom Cruise’s young seduction years and Brad Pitt’s adorable baby face really pulled through on the visual perfection side of this film. The horror and beauty of eternal life are explored deeply in “Interview with the Vampire”, alongside diverse questions of morality and the nature of humanity, which leave the spectator repelled and fascinated with the lives of these modern monsters. A classic for a reason, people! Also, I didn’t know there was more to the title, too, don’t worry.

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Film: “ParaNorman”

Year: 2012

Whoa, this list actually features something from the past five years, what an absolute turn of events here! I remember seeing “ParaNorman” in the cinema when I was in college and loving every second of it. A stop-motion animation which genuinely makes you feel like a kid again, from zombies and old curses to supernatural adventures and a group of young misfits, who come together in an unlikely battle against evil. It’s colourful, fast-paced, childish, charming and funny.

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Film: “Ginger Snaps”

Year: 2000

This is a classic audience splitter. I’ve heard both ends of the magnet, some say they hate it and other say they love it, so beware “Ginger Snaps” might be a bit of a gamble if you have a larger group in your party. I, for one, quite like the werewolf flick, which tackles high school life, love, family, suicide, depression and… Periods? Yeah, you heard me right. I guess blood makes us all a little crazy sometimes – she said, howling against the Halloween moon.

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Film: “Young Frankenstein”

Year: 1974

Why would you watch a seventies film that is  not just black and white, but also made to look like a nineteen-thirties mishap? Because it’s positively hilarious! An original parody of the overused drama in motion pictures of the past, filled to the brim with one-liners and convention twists. Mel Brooks’s baby will bring you cinematic joy in ways that you have not experienced in perhaps a very long time. Plus, one must never have  Halloween without science’s king monster – the unnatural(ly funny)Frankenstein creation itself.

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Film: “Scream”

Year: 1996

Here goes to one of the slasher world’s favourite franchise starters – the original “Scream”, hailing once more from the rather successfully creepy nineties. Bloody knives, the raspy voice of a violent stranger stalking you over the phone and Ghostface’s manipulative obsession make this thriller a Halloween winner. Wes Craven has been a legendary name in the film community, so including him in your celebration can only be the right decision. Also, knowing this film can open your eyes to so many references in surrounding culture, you’ll be stunned to the attic and back.

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Film: “Halloween”

Year: 1978

Speaking of slashers, I couldn’t possibly compile a Halloween list without the actual “Halloween” movie, could I? Another horror and another legendary director – John Carpenter, whose efforts in this flick have made it a timeless piece and a part of many collections around the globe. Here is the origin of the scream queen culture, led long and proud by Jamie Lee Curtis. I would recommend hot cocoa for this particular choice, so as to lower the fear factor.

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Film: “A Nightmare on Elm Street”

Year: 1984

Yet another franchise starter by the talented mind of Wes Craven, here comes Freddie to haunt your Halloween night and following dreams altogether. We step into a realm of non-reality where a serial killer preys on young flesh for harvest. The eighties meet horror, meet high school, meet murder. Great opportunity for drinking games galore, take it from the master!

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Film: “Shaun of the Dead”

Year: 2005

Let’s end our list on a bright note, shall we? All this slasher talk is making my neck cold, so Simon Pegg and Nick Frost burst into the scene, waving a set of random weapons around, hoping to rectify the situation! Mundane everyday life is suddenly made complicated for two best friends, when they stumble upon a zombie in their shed. From then on, we are dragged into a run for our lives and the love of Liz, ending up in an old Victorian pub called the “Winchester Tavern”. A hilarious trip into an endearing story of friendship!

And thus concludes the classic Halloween film list! But of course, all titles mentioned above are a personal choice, so if you think I’ve missed a crucial movie, please let me know. Some honourable mentions to this article include “The Exorcist”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “King Kong” and “Bride of Frankenstein”, which hold a place in my heart, but simply didn’t make the cut. I have tried my very best to not make a horror-exlclusive list, because that would just be… Well, a horror list, and to me Halloween is more than just jump scares and blood – it’s fun, costumes, family, friends and candy.

Have a very scary Halloween and always stay safe!

(and never, ever say that you would be back into a room)

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Fiction. Food. Film.