Spooky Books That Didn’t Give Me Nightmares!

We all know that I don’t do well with scary stuff, but because I am terribly slow at reading this month and I want to give you some bookish content, I thought it would be best to make a list of spooky books – that didn’t give me nightmares? Which, just to be clear, is what I want in books. Mildly spooky or full of ghosts or whatever, but not something that will leave a mark of terror on me. So, beware that this is a very tame list and obviously a very subjective one.

*If you click on the title, you will get redirected to my full review, which includes trigger warnings!*

The Taking of Jake Livingston

The Taking of Jake Livingston

I’ve seen opinions differ on this one, but I really enjoyed reading it. First of all, it’s a very short book. Some might say that the fast pacing hinders an emotional connection, but I teared up at some of Jake’s revelations, so I really don’t think that was a disadvantage for me. In addition to that, I liked the dual POV, even if bits of it felt disjointed. This is totally something you can read in one sitting!

Spooky elements: ghosts, relived deaths, possessions

My rating: 3.5 stars

Dark and Shallow Lies

Dark and Shallow LiesThe setting and the atmosphere for this one was great. As a supernatural thriller, it did keep me guessing in part, while I figured out a lot (gut feeling is rarely wrong) early on. It especially focuses on grief and how irrational we can become because of it. While I would have wished for some aspects to be explored further, I liked the vibes of this one.

Spooky elements: supernatural predators, swamp legends, potential mysterious serial killers?

My rating: 3.5 stars

Don’t Tell a Soul

Don't Tell a SoulI like books that teeter the line between ghosts and people just imagining things in their terror. This book was alright and definitely handled the creepy atmosphere well, however, there were a lot of characters that could have been explored deeper. Because of the main character being so closed off and us only getting secondhand information on everyone, it wasn’t easy to connect to the different players.

Spooky elements: haunted house, ghost girls

My rating: 3 stars

This Is Not a Ghost Story

This Is Not a Ghost StoryThis book surprised me, to be completely honest. I can see how the voice of the narrator/main character might not be for everyone, but I liked it. The ending is also very controversial, so I’d understand if people disagreed with me, but I had a grand time reading this one. It flowed nicely, gave me little scares, but resolved it in a way that felt very human.

Spooky elements: haunted house, spirits and danger everywhere

My rating: 4.5 stars

Watch Over Me

Watch Over MeI’m a huge Nina LaCour fan and this was not my favorite book, but it’s still fantastic in its own way. I get that she can write beautiful stories that evoke emotions in you, this was no exception, but somehow it felt less polished than the others I have read. As always, it was whimsical and filled with grief and heart. LaCour just knows what she’s doing.

Spooky elements: trauma, ghosts

My rating: 3 stars

Ninth House

Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)This book was a lot. I do prefer Leigh Bardugo’s other series, but she still has me hooked on some of the characters here (I so fell for Darlington and Dawes). I like the world she built, I’m also curious how it continues, but it’s very heavy in parts – both in terms of content and descriptions. This is a field day for Yale fans, but I could have done with a little less campus talk.

Spooky elements: ghosts, secret magical society (with loads of sinister occult activities)

My rating: 3.5 stars

Burn Our Bodies Down

Burn Our Bodies DownI went into this book with completely wrong expectations. I thought it was going to be a mere family drama, but oh no – it is creepy! I didn’t end up enjoying this one very much, but I know others loved it, so it seemed fitting on this list.

Spooky elements: buried secrets (literally) – anything more would be spoilers

My rating: 2 stars


What are some mild but still spooky reads you enjoyed? Have you read anything I mentioned? Let’s talk!

Thursday Movie Picks: Folk or Urban Legend (Halloween Edition)

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for the Thursday Movie Picks feature. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

The entirety of October is dedicated to a special Halloween Edition, meaning we’ll take a look at themes through the lens of Spooktober! Today’s topic is all about Folk and Urban Legends. Me being me, I have always had a knack for Folk Legends more than the Urban ones, I suppose. To me folk legends just means fairy tales, because that’s where fairy tales originated from. I do realize that folk tales are usually without an accredited author and passed on orally, but hey, I don’t do spooky well, so that’s the drift you’ll be getting from this post. Hope you enjoy!

Red Riding Hood

This is what you get when you try to make a fairy tale for teens during the heydays of Twilight. It’s full of angst and love triangles, but teen me ate it up. I know it’s a silly movie, but the werewolf premise did intrigue me and I would have been lying if I had said, I didn’t want a sequel to it. I might have also been slightly in love with Max Irons … maybe … possibly.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

I watched this movie in 3D in cinemas and I had a blast. I know it’s silly and all, but sometimes that’s just what you need? Also, this is one of the few roles I like seeing Jeremy Renner in. Gemma Arterton is just always amazing, so there’s no debating here.

Snow White & the Huntsman

I thought this movie was beautifully shot. It’s not actually all that spooky, but oh well, I still picked it. I listened to that soundtrack up and down and even bought the book, cause the movie never even mentioned the Huntsman’s name. Rude.

Pan’s Labyrinth

This is probably the only movie that actually fits the prompt, but what can you do? I told you all that I would be struggling to come up with picks for this month, but I still tried. This is not the first time I’ve used Pan’s Labyrinth for my TMP posts, so I won’t go into detail. I just like it a lot.


What are some of your favorite movies about folk and urban legends? I’m assuming we will see a lot of Candyman suggestions this week, but I’m way too much of a wuzz to watch that.

Ranking all the “What If…?” Episodes!

I said Wednesdays are Marvel days, but I doubt I can keep this up until the release of Eternals/Hawkeye in November. Still, I did say I was going to do a ranking of all the “What If…?” episodes, so, here we are! You can get my full review/recap of each episode, by clicking on the titles. This ranking is completely subjective, but I hope you still enjoy it!

9 – … Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?

I always liked Killmonger as a character. He has purpose, an interesting history, is just generally charismatic, but … this episode didn’t add anything new for me? His path was still very similar to the one in “our” reality, just a tinge more ruthless. Also, it probably didn’t help a lot that I was quite tired of seeing Tony Stark perish at that point in the series …

8 – … The World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?

I’m going to raise a similar point as the one above, but I just really don’t need to see the Avengers die in various ways over and over. I don’t find it particularly interesting nor creative and I even guessed the big reveal. I can’t say I found much that stayed with me after this one.

7 – … Thor Were An Only Child?

The purpose of this episode was to be fun and it did that. We got Darcy marrying Howard the Duck, Jane and Thor getting matching magic/science tattoos, the Ice Bros … all entertaining for sure. The story felt silly and had some logical faults (especially when it came to traveling via the Bifrost), but it wasn’t terrible.

6 – … Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?

When I watched the episode, I wasn’t very impressed. In a lot of ways, it was a shot for shot recreation of Captain America: The First Avenger, but with Peggy getting the serum. While that was a nice callback visually, there were few surprises, since we all know the story. However, the longer I watched the series, the more I liked it. It was a really good introduction to what the show would be like and included unexpected moments, like Steve wearing the first Iron Man suit or Bucky and Howard being besties.

5 – … Ultron Won?

What If ... Ultron Won?
credit: Marvel Studios

I was always a huge Age of Ultron fan, so this was an interesting take. I liked the recreation of Nat sacrificing herself for the Soul Stone, but with the role reversal of Clint being the one to let go. Most of all, though, I liked that the Watcher was really involved in the episode and started an epic fight through the multiverse with an unhinged Ultron. It was a really good action sequence.

4 – … The Watcher Broke His Oath?

As far as season finales go, this wasn’t bad. It felt cohesive, put most of the puzzle pieces together and made the season a whole instead of an anthology. There could have been more interaction with the Watcher, but the team constellation was fun. If I had to criticize something, it’s the wasted chance of bringing Black Widow back into the live-action MCU, which would have been an easy choice. And, secondly, I think it’s a shame that they robbed Shuri and Pepper of the chance to dethrone Killmonger in their world.

3 – … Zombies!?

It’s Zombies – need I say more? I’m not even that huge of a zombie fan, but I think they worked that particular sub-genre well into the world of Marvel. It was one of the more gruesome episodes, but I enjoyed myself, except for the last scene. It kind of ruined the vibe.

2 – … Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?

Even though I never watch all episodes of Black Mirror, I like the concept and quite a handful of stories from it. This episode felt like it was made with Black Mirror in mind and I loved that. It was twisted, had a dark ending, but also taught you a lesson of sorts. It was *so* close to being my favorite, and I’m not just saying that because I have a soft spot for Doctor Strange, the egomaniac.

1 – … T’Challa Became a Star-Lord?

This episode just made me happy! It works well on its own, without leaving you bumbed or too questioning about what comes next. It gave me an entirely unexpected pairing, which has now become one of my favorite ships – Nebula and Cha Cha – like, I’m seriously so grateful they were introduced to us. But most of all, it was a beautiful tribute to Chadwick Boseman, who I’m sure, many of us consider to have been just as much of a bright light and force of good as T’Challa was in this universe.


What would your ranking of the “What If…?” episodes look like? What did you think of mine? Let’s talk!

Thursday Movie Picks: School (Halloween Edition)

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for the Thursday Movie Picks feature. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

The entirety of October is dedicated to a special Halloween Edition, meaning we’ll take a look at themes through the lens of Spooktober! Today, though, is all about School! I’m not the best at scary movie stuff, which is intrinsically linked to Halloween for me, but I’ll try my very best! I’m not even sure if slightly scary movies will be enough, or if it should actually be set during Halloween. We shall see what I can come up with …

The Covenant

People say this movie is really bad. I know a couple of actors, who don’t exactly love to talk about it, but I was obsessed with it back in the day. Maybe, I just liked looking at those boys, but it was mildly scary and the most I could do without being terrified. I hope you’ll grant me this pick.

Carrie

I know people didn’t love this version of Carrie, but I didn’t hate it? I loved the marketing for it though, that was AMAZING. If you haven’t seen it, I’ll post the video below as well.

Halloweentown High

Halloweentown movies were my jam as a kid. There’s technically also one set in college, but we don’t talk about that one, because they replaced the main actress? I’ll never truly understand.

Freaky

I haven’t seen this one YET. I really, really want to though, because it seems like such a fun take on the Freaky Friday concept and the cast is super fun as well.


I would have picked Jennifer’s Body, but I just used the movie last week. I have a feeling that this month won’t be easy for me … what did you think of my picks? Let’s chat!

Thursday Movie Picks: Femme Fatales

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

As you know, each week has a different theme and this time around we are talking Femme Fatales. I have to admit that I really struggled to come up with movies at first, but I’m very determined to make that theme my own. By definition, a femme fatale is often a mysterious, beautiful and seductive woman, who’s charms ensnare people, leading them into compromising or deadly situations. Let’s get started!

Promising Young Woman

This is still one of my most favorite movies of the year and I won’t pass up an opportunity to mention it. Cassandra dressed herself in various ways to appeal to men, giving them the chance to act decently or horribly instead. What she did to them after they showed their true face is entirely their fault.

Jennifer’s Body

Jennifer, too, used her body to get guys’ attention and then … well, should I spoil the movie? I feel like it’s a classic and you all should know what happens next.

Atomic Blonde

I loved Charlize Theron in this role and falling for her will 100% put you in danger, something she sometimes does on purpose. Also, such a good soundtrack! Suppose I’ve just always liked the 80s and German music.

Practical Magic

This is probably not a movie you’d think about right away with the theme “femme fatale”, but both sisters have quite a fatal touch. I mean … think about it! Still one of my favorite witch/magic movies though. I’ve seen it so many times and still adore it.

Nightmare Alley

This movie isn’t released yet, but because I enjoyed sharing movies in the Outlaws post that I’m looking forward to, I wanted to include this one as well. It does look fantastic.


What are some movies featuring a femme fatale that you enjoyed? Let’s talk!

Thursday Movie Picks: Outlaws

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

Today we are here to talk about Outlaws! My mind immediately goes to the Wild West, but that’s not all there is to outlaws of course. We shall see what I can actually come up with for today. From the top of my head, not too many movies come to mind, so I’m changing things up and will use movies I haven’t watched yet, but am looking forward to!

Concrete Cowboy

A modern view on cowboys and I’m here for it. Are there really any outlaws in the movie? Debatable, for sure. But 15-year-old Cole is definitely in trouble at school and on the verge of doing some stupid stuff, so I’ll let that slide.

The Harder They Fall

I swear this is one of my most anticipated Netflix releases of the year. This cast has me fawning all over them and it just looks really good. I cannot wait to watch it.

High Ground

Former lawmen becoming outlaws in a way, I like the idea of that. Also, this seems extremely layered and complex, so I’m intrigued.


So, this turned into more of a theme within a theme than intended, but what can you do? What would have been some of your picks? Let’s talk!

Thursday Movie Picks: Actors or Actresses Playing Themselves

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

Today’s theme is all about actors and actresses that played themselves. I think there’s room for interpretation with that theme. Is it people who mostly or only ever play characters that are super close to their own personality? Or are we talking about actors and actresses that literally played themselves (be it as a cameo or more) in a movie? Well, I decided for myself that I’m going to go with the latter, however, I didn’t just pick actors but also just celebs in general for this feature.

Keanu Reeves: Always Be My Maybe

I adore Keanu Reeves! He is an odd dude, but he never takes himself too seriously, which is why his role in Always Be My Maybe was simply brilliant. He briefly played the love interest for the main character and I laughed every time he was on screen. I miss him in more light-hearted stuff sometimes.

Julia Roberts: Ocean’s 12

This appearance was super meta and I was here for it! Basically, Julia Roberts’ character pretends to be Julia Roberts, so there’s always that!

LeBron James: Trainwreck

LeBron James having a friendship with Bill Hader’s character was so funny. I loved it and would have watched many more scenes with just the two of them.

Ed Sheeran: Yesterday

Confession time: I’m not the biggest Ed Sheeran fan. I get that many people love his music, but I’m just not that head over heels into it. However, it was fun to see him in Yesterday and become a mentor of the lead character in a way, while he was also baffled someone was a better songwriter than him.

Dustin Hoffman: The Holiday

It was so brief, blink and you might have missed it. But I love The Holiday and I felt compelled to mention it. What can you do?

Dustin Hoffman in The Holiday
credit: Universal Pictures

What are some cameos or full on roles of actors, actresses and celebs of any kind you liked in movies? Let’s talk about that!

TMP – Oscar Winner Edition: Best Original Score and Best Original Song

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

This week is once again part of the Oscar Winner Edition, which will continue to be a reoccurring theme during each month. As was evident from the post title, we are dealing with Best Original Song and Best Original Score this time around – another two for one post! Music is such an important component to filmmaking, as is sound design in general. I’m looking forward to diving into some good music today!

Best Original Score

Soul

(Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross & Jon Batiste)

Soul was a beautiful movie that lived off of music, so it only makes sense to mention it here. Jazz in general might not be for everyone, but I’m sure it can enchant you here. (Also, it’s not like it’s all “just” jazz.)

Black Panther

(Ludwig Göransson)

I’ve mentioned Black Panther a lot for these posts, but 1) I’m happy when superhero movies get recognition from the Academy and 2) the movie was fantastic/iconic/a whole movement. If I hear a certain rhythm of tribal drums, I immediately think of Wakanda and/or the Dora Milaje. The score did THAT!

Finding Neverland

(Jan A. P. Kaczmarek)

I was obsessed with this movie when I was like 11 years old. I’m sure I watched it 20+ times and I cried every single one of them. To me, that movie was pure magic and my Peter Pan loving heart was all in.

Best Original Song

Man or Muppet (The Muppets)

(music and lyrics by Bret McKenzie)

Is this song ridiculous? Absolutely! Did it still get stuck in my head? Yes, it sure did!

Remember Me (Coco)

(music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez)

My favorite song from Coco is actually “Un Poco Loco”, but this one made me tear up in the end. So, it deserves to be on this list.

Falling Slowly (Once)

(music and lyrics by Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová)

I just love the song! All the more for getting covered on a show I love (Good Trouble), but that’s another story.

You’ll Be In My Heart (Tarzan)

(music and lyrics by Phil Collins)

I love the whole soundtrack. Phil Collins doing all the songs in dozens of languages, despite not speaking them, was just the cherry on top. I will admit to having grown up with mostly the German versions of the Tarzan songs, but it is (next to the Anastasia soundtrack) one of the most played CDs of my childhood.

Honorable Mentions

I couldn’t go without a little shout out to some more songs that I loved and that were nominated, however, didn’t win.

  • Mystery of Love by Sufjan Stevens (Call Me by Your Name)
  • Lost Stars from the movie Begin Again (performed by Keira Knightley and Adam Levine in different versions)
  • Coming Home from the movie Country Strong (which has a fantastic soundtrack in general)
  • A LOT of Disney songs …
  • Tron: Legacy was snubbed for Best Score, because it was never even nominated. You can fight me on that, but I’ll stick to that opinion.

Which songs and scores would have made it onto your list? What did you think of my selection? Let’s talk about that!

Thursday Movie Picks: Treasure Hunt

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

Today’s theme is Treasure Hunt! I like a good treasure hunt, so I’m really excited about this post. There’s just something about that bit of adventure in the air, the excitement of maybe finding something that has been missing for a long time – I love it! Let’s jump right in!

The Goonies

The Goonies is a classic and was the first movie I thought of when I heard the theme! I loved it as a kid, I still kind of love it now. Despite its flaws, it will forever be entertaining to me.

Finding Ohana

Speaking of the Goonies, this is the Hawaiian new version of it. Kind of. I really enjoyed watching it and still have the song from the cave stuck in my head. Fingers crossed that one day, they’ll release it performed by the actors. The movie as a whole definitely had a lot of heart!

National Treasure

There’s just something so funny about Nicholas Cage stealing the Declaration of Independence and sprinkling some good old lemon juice on it to reveal a secret message.

Treasure Planet

One of my favorite Disney movies growing up! I think there’s many great ones out there, but I feel like quite a few slept on this one.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

I was honestly obsessed with Lara Croft as a kid/teenager. She was the epitome of everything I wanted to be – whip smart, super athletic (never bound to achieve that, I’m afraid) and always on some sort of adventure. When they announced the reboot with Alicia Vikander, I wasn’t against it, but it just didn’t hit the same for me.


What are some of your favorite treasure hunt movies? Let’s talk!

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies That Confused Me

It’s Thursday and I’m back with a new Thursday Movie Picks feature post. This series is hosted by Wandering through the Shelves and offers you a weekly prompt to post some movie recommendations/talking points according to the theme. Usually, you are supposed to post about 3-5 examples, which I find a very manageable amount.

Today’s theme was suggested by Brittani and is movies that confused you! Weirdly, I can’t think of a bunch of films right from the top of my mind, but I’m quite certain there had to be several. Some movies are just baffling and we will take a look at some of them now!

Doors

Doors is a horror anthology movie, about doors from outer space. What do they do? Make people crazy or disappear. What else? I don’t really know, because I never understood the purpose of the doors. Maybe possess people? It’s an option.

Arrival

I love this movie with my whole freaking heart! I think it is beautiful and touching and memorable like few alien movies I watched. However, the timey wimey bit was a tad confusing. Maybe time is happening all at once? I don’t know, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Annihilation

Confession time: I still haven’t watched Annihilation … BUT I have read the book. I actually held off from watching the movie, because I wanted to continue with the book series, but then something always got in the way. It was a baffling read for sure though, so I imagine the movie to leave you with quite the questions as well though.

O Beautiful Night

In the end, I just had to rep some German language cinema as well. I remember really enjoying this movie, but I never fully got it. It’s a really strange film about death and how to properly live. Maybe.


What are some movies that confused you? What did you think of my picks? Let’s talk about that!