My Spoopy Halloween TBR

I’ve never been daft on Halloween. It seems to have rocketed in popularity since I was little – I don’t remember there ever being the swathes of decorations and costumes and events when I was little. You went ducking for apples in a leotard and some whiskers drawn on with eyeliner.

Nevertheless, it seems to be a Big Thing now, especially in book circles, so I thought I’d get involved. I’ve read a disappointing amount of horror for someone whose uncle is a literal horror author, so I’ve decided for the month of October to try and vibe with it and read only creepy horror things.

Sight Unseen – Sandra Ireland

My current read!

Sandra’s really good at creating atmosphere and weaving history into a story until the setting and figures from the past become just as important as the main characters. It’s a thriller rather than a straight up horror, but it’s got enough witchcraft and eerie atmosphere to chill you as we head into Halloween season.

Sefira and Other Betrayals – John Langan

I didn’t appreciate how cool it was having an uncle who wrote books until I was coming into my early teens, probably because he doesn’t write the kind of stories you’d take out of the library for your kids.

We got a copy of Sefira as a wedding present (my uncle signs and dates and doodles in the books he gives us, which is cool) but it was around that time I fell out of reading because I was pregnant and ill. Definitely going to break into it one night when my daughter has me awake at 4am…

Heart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill

I’ve read Heart Shaped Box before, but OH BOY is it a cracker. One of two books that has actually properly chilled me before. I picked it up because it’s got the same title as a Nirvana song (yes, it really is that easy to get me to buy your book) and then basically inhaled it. There’s one scene in particular that actually scared me so much I felt sick, which doesn’t happen often when I’m reading.

It was a bit of a revelation when I discovered that Joe Hill is actually Stephen King’s son, which makes sense when you consider that the only other book to seriously freak me out is…

The Shining – Stephen King

If you’ve seen Stanley Kubrick’s classic adaptation of The Shining but not read the book, I would thoroughly recommend you do so. It’s a completely different beast. Stephen King can be very hit and miss for me, but The Shining is brilliant, atmospheric and even though you know what’s coming (because it’s such a famous story) it still grips you.

Seize the Night: New Tales of Vampiric Terror – ed. by Christopher Golden

Another gift from my uncle that I’ve only really dipped in and out of (he’s got a cracking story in it as well! but it’s wall to wall bangers – a short story anthology with the common theme of vampires. I can read one a day as the sun go down!

Also it’s got a cool as fuck title. “Vampiric Terror”? OKAY.

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

Another one that isn’t technically a horror, but it’s a bloody good book anyway. It might not have literal ghosts in it but the atmosphere is so thick and ominous you could carve it like a pumpkin, and there’s a no small amount of haunting in a sense.

Also Mrs. Danvers gives me the fear. So it’s a scary book.


Those more versed in horror than I am – what else should I be reading? What’s likely to leave me a quivering mess? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

What’s the big deal about autumn?

I’m slowly rediscovering a love for sunsets at dinner time and central heating all day every day after years of being ravaged by winter depression. But from a brief peruse of social media is looks like everyone else is WAY ahead of me. When did everyone begin to loathe summer and love autumn? Is this part of growing up, or is it a new phenomenon?

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There’s plenty to be excited about in autumn, but there’s also plenty of hype that leaves me scratching my head and wondering if everyone else has moved to some higher plane and left me behind. Inspired by a conversation I had on Twitter, here’s all the things about Autumn that are SO OVERRATED.

Halloween

Seriously, when did Halloween become A Big Deal? Halloween when I was little was a homemade cat costume, leotard, black tights and faux fur tails sewn on the back. I looked like I was starring in an amateur production of Cats and I loved it. Now it seems to be just as big as Christmas. There are entire supermarket aisles full of decorations. If you had Halloween decorations when I was wee you were That Rich House in the street. I don’t get the hype. Why is Halloween good?

The benefits of living right at the top of a hill with no kids in the immediate area is that I don’t have to draw the curtains, turn all the lights off and sit in the dark to pretend I’m not in, which is what we did every year before I moved out. The downside is that I no longer live with my mum, who would buy bags of sweets “just in case” and then we’d actively avoid luring anyone to the front door. Good times.

Pumpkin Spiced Lattes

Let’s get real: these things are not good. I get that they’re the unofficial Harbinger of Autumn, but why? They’re disgusting. It’s like drinking a Yankee Candle. I’ve tried one exactly once to see what all the fuss was about and gave it away after one mouthful. This was a much bigger paragraph when I first drafted this post, until I realised it was eight different ways of saying “they are vile”.

Seriously though, all the cool things about this season and we as a people have made this horrendous drink the biggest phenomenon?

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Christmas things in the shops from September onwards

I swear this is happening earlier each year. August is barely over before you start catching strains of Cliff Richard while you’re standing in the cheese aisle in Tesco. I fastidiously try to avoid anything festive before at least November, but it’s the middle of August and the Christmas chocolate boxes are out. The adverts will be on TV soon. HELP.

I like Christmas as much as the next person but how fatigued do you end up feeling by December when it’s rammed down your throat every time you do literally anything?

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You might get to this stage and think “What a miserable cow”. In order to correct this assumption, and since I mentioned at the start that I liked autumn, I figure I should probably name some things I actually do enjoy about this time of year.

Toffee Nut Lattes

I’m sorry, this is the real deal as far as seasonal drinks go. This blows Pumpkin Spiced Burn Time 30hrs away. I genuinely can’t go past a Starbucks when they’re in without having one of these. The moment the first taste passes my lips I sprout a woolly hat, scarves, gloves and the world’s thickest jumper spontaneously like some sort of stop motion animation. Even thinking about it is making me want one. When do they come out again?

My birthday

I’ve already spoken in my Florida hype post about how I’m spending my 26th birthday. Generally though, as much as I’m generally ambivalent about birthdays (hello late 20s, it’s a bummer), 23rd September is the point at which it Becomes Autumn and isn’t just Late Summer. All bets are off now. Jumpers are worn regularly. You’re allowed to say the C word out loud instead of just thinking it like a dirty little secret. I learn how to work the thermostat in my house again. Everything is right with the world.

Weather

I like weather. Doesn’t matter if it’s blazing sunshine and blue skies, massive snowstorm, wind that could blow you over (actually happened to me outside work earlier this year) or torrential sheet rain, as long as I’m indoors (or outdoors if it’s nice).The only kind of weather I really can’t be doing with is your bog standard grey skies and nothing else is going on, which unfortunately is the prevalent weather condition in Scotland.

Generally autumn means it’s time for ridiculous poor weather, and there is NOTHING better than whacking on a dressing gown, lighting enough candles to do Molly Ringwald for the rest of her life and writing something while the rain goes sideways against the window.

Top tip: Heartland by Runrig is the best album to listen to on cold dark winter nights. Trust me.

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We had a pretty reasonable summer in Scotland this year (take note, people, because those words don’t appear next to each other in a sentence very often) so it’s a little sad to be winding down into September, but I won’t deny that I am ITCHING to put a jumper on. It’s too muggy right now for that to be a viable clothing choice, but give it time…

Autumb sunset
Afternoon sunset from the office window.