Spooky book & film recommendations

Where has this year gone?! I feel like I’ve been in a weird time warp since Covid hit. Who am I? Where am I? When am I? Who knows? 😂 To mark the beginning of October, I decided to make a very unpredictable and unique post (/sarcasm) to share some spooky book and film recommendations for the autumn and Halloween season 🎃👻 Since I am an avid horror fan and almost exclusively watch horror films, I couldn’t resist adding some films into the mix. So here are 8 recommendations for horror/thriller books and films, 4 for each.

BOOKS

I Am Legend

This novella makes for a fast read and is ideal for a dark, spooky evening. It’s a unique vampire story with an intelligent, quick-witted and resillient protagonist. The post-apocalyptic setting is haunting and emotionally impactful and gave me The Walking Dead vibes when I read it.

Pet Sematary

Stephen King is generally not an author for me, and of all the King novels I’ve read, Pet Sematary is the only one I would recommend. It’s haunting, disturbing and provides a gruelling insight into the meaning of death and grief. There are scenes in this book that are genuinely spine tingling. The honesty and emotion that is depicted combined with the horror elements makes this an unforgettable and terrifying read.

If We Were Villains

This dark academia is the ideal autumnual read. It’s set at a performance university that specialises in Shakespeare and, like all dark academia’s follows a group of students in the aftermath of the mysterious deaths of one of their friends. It’s fast paced mystery that’s both dramatic and hard-hitting with Shakespearian influences running throughout.

Dracula

It’s a classic for a reason. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the epitome of vampire gothic fiction. With it’s slow building plot and atmospheric setting, it continues to pile on the suspense and mystery throughout. Admittedly, it loses some of its impact since the nature of Count Dracula is common knowledge and cemented in pop culture, but it’s a thrilling and enjoyable read if you’re looking for a slow paced and intense gothic horror.

FILMS

Hell House LLC

Hell House LLC is a stellar example of the found-footage genre and why it works so well. It follows a group of friends that visit a haunted house to investigate a tragic accident that happened there years previously. The tension is slowly built and the atmosphere is effectively creepy. There’s an authenticity to the story that makes you feel invested and it doesn’t rely on cheap scares and tricks. It’s a must-watch for any fans of found-footage and haunted houses.

Triangle

One of the most unique, mind-bending and thrilling horrors I’ve ever seen. The film begins with the main character Jess, heading off on a sailing trip with a guy she knows from work and a few of his friends, but things don’t quite go to plan. You might think you know what’s going to happen but I guarantee you won’t. Triangle continually takes twists and turns, keeping you guessing and forcing you to question what you think you know.

Identity

This one is for those of you that don’t like the more hardcore horrors and are looking for more of a thriller-mystery. Identity is the older film out of the four I’ve chosen, but a true gem. Ten strangers find themselves stranded at a motel in the middle of a storm and are killed by an unknown killer one by one. It’s an unpredictable and genuinely intruiging plot that will keep you guessing throughout.

Haunt

Haunt has gained some recognition in horror circles recently and it’s well deserved. Although it may first appear to be another teen-scream horror maze film, it exceeds that. It’s entertaining and steeped in tension with strong performances. Of all the films on this list, it’s the perfect Halloween watch.

Happy October, my lovelies and keep reading.

Female-centric book recommendations for International Women’s Day

In celebration of International Women’s Day ♀️ (8th March), I wanted to share some of my favourite female-centric books. As someone that identifies as a woman, reading books that capture the diverse voices and experiences of women across the globe is very important to me. In these recommendations there will be a mix of books from different genres so hopefully there will be something for everyone to enjoy.

Emma (Jane Austen)

Genre: Classic/Romance

Most of you are probably familiar with Emma even if you’ve never read it. But for the benefit of those that aren’t familiar with it, this novel follows the title character, Emma, a wealthy young girl living with her father who enjoys match-making couples. Like all Austen novels, there’s lots of romance but the focus is on Emma’s character and her development throughout. There’s also a lovely female friendship between Emma and Harriet and fantastic social commentary on issues surrounding gender, feminism and marriage.

Eloquent Rage (Brittney Cooper)

Genre: Nonfiction

Eloquent Rage is a memoir which interweaves discussion, academic research, reflection and personal experience to explore intersectional feminism from the perspective of a black woman. Cooper’s voice is fresh and distinctive and she discusses topics which are often neglected in other feminist literature such as the toxicity in the black community (particularly the abuse of women at the hands of black men), the place of men in feminism and the judgement that comes with being a straight feminist in a relationship with a man . She also examines racism and sexism from a structural perspective which I appreciated, since a lot of literature on the topic of race and gender tends to place blame for the existence of prejudice and discrimination on the individual and fails to recognise how the sytems in our society perpetuate certain ideologies and favour particular groups.

A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini)

Genre: Historical Fiction

This is the only book on this list which is written by a male author, but it is 100% deserving of making a feature. Set in Afghanistan, it follows two women – Mariam and Lilah – who are in a plural marriage with the same husband. It is a heartbreaking and emotional tale about female solidarity, facing adversity, motherly love and the importance of hope even in the darkest of times.

The Yellow Wallpaper (Charlotte Perkins Stetson)

Genre: Classic

This novella is short enough that you can fly through it in an hour or less. Despite how short it is, it packs one hell of a punch. It’s a fascinating tale which draws on metaphors and imagery to deconstruct ideas surrounding female mental health in the 19th century. Women’s mental health is a topic which of personal interest to me historically speaking, and so this spoke to me directly. There’s so much to deconstruct and analyse with this book and it has so much hidden depth and meaning.

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies (ed. Scarlett Curtis)

Genre: Nonfiction

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies is a collection of (informal) essays from a variety of public figures who identify as female. Each contributor was given freedom to write on a topic related to feminism that meant something to them so there’s a wide variety of topics and styles. The quality of the essays differs quite a lot with some being fantastic and others underwhelming, but I appreciated this for the range of voices it captures. It’s also accessible for general audiences and a great introduction to feminism for those that are perhaps intimidated/dislike academic feminist texts.

Girl, Woman, Other (Bernardine Evaristo)

Genre: Contemporary

I shared this book in my previous recommendation post for LGBT History Month, but I had to share it again, because in terms of feminist fiction this is a shining example. It has a wide cast of female characters from a variety of backgrounds, each with their own unique story, voice and characterisation. There’s so many well-written relationships between women and every character is fleshed out.

There we have it, my recommendations of female-centric books. What female-centric books would you include on your list? Please share in the comments, I’m always on the hunt for new feminist/female-centric books!

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.


5 LGBTQIA+ book recommendations for LGBT History Month

In celebration of LGBT History Month (UK) 🏳️‍🌈, I wanted to share 5 LGBTQIA+ book recommendations. LBGT History Month is celebrated every February as a dedication to the abolishment of Section 28 in 2003. Section 28 prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” and legalised discrimination against LGBTQIA+ individuals and groups. The fight for LGBT rights is ongoing and being both LGBT and an educational professional myself, LGBT-inclusive education in particular, is a cause that’s close to my heart. I’d urge everybody to read more about the cause and do anything you can to support it.

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

Set in 1960s Nigeria amidst the civil war, Under the Udala Trees follows Ijeoma in this coming of age tale. Ijeoma struggles to navigate life as a gay woman in a country where same sex relationships are illegal and extreme violence is brought against anyone found to be engaging in homosexuality. This is a hard-hitting and emotional story which explores the conflict between being LGBT and true to yourself whilst also battling against discrimination and misunderstanding based on religious and societal beliefs and values.

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Carmilla follows Laura and her father who welcome Carmilla into their lives after she has a carriage accident outside their home. Isolated and alone, Laura quickly strikes up an intimate relationship with Carmilla, until strange occurrences begin to take place leading Laura to question who and what Carmilla is. This novella is a fantastic exploration of lesbian eroticism and groundbreaking for the time in which it was written (1872). It’s the lesbian gothic story I never knew I needed.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

Felix Ever After is a YA book which tells the story of a young trans man (FTM) as he fights against online transphobic attacks, navigates love and relationships and tries to get a place at an art college of his dreams. Although there’s some upsetting content, it’s primarily a story of identity, love and acceptance; of being true to who you are and accepting the love you deserve. This book is special to me because it helped me to be proud of who I am.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

At this point I think this book has been spoken about in almost every bookish corner of the internet and for good reason. Girl, Woman, Other seamlessly weaves together the lives of twelve black female characters many of whom are queer. Each character feels authentic and fleshed out and so many hard-hitting topics are covered. It’s a truly breathtaking example of feminist fiction and few other books I’ve read have ever depicted female characters in such a vivid way.

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

This book rescued me from a slump over Christmas-time and I’m very grateful for that. It’s a WLM romance set in Regency England and one of the few romances that I’ve read that I truly enjoyed. Not only was the relationship between Lucy and Catherine very authentic and well-developed, but the social commentary was interesting. I loved that Olivia Waite created Lucy as a stereotypically un-feminine woman and Catherine a stereotypically feminine woman but completely shattered all of those stereotypes. It’s a tad steamy in places, which isn’t usually to my tastes, but the romance, tenderness and trust between the characters completely sold me on their relationship.

There we have my 5 LGBTQIA+ book recommendations in celebration of LGBT History Month 🏳️‍🌈. Have you ready any of these books or do you plan to read them? Let me know in the comments!

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.