Tis the Season for Creepy Christmas Recommendations

If, like me, you find that this cosy season lends itself well to curling up on the couch with a frightfully fascinating read, or hosting a Netflix Noel binge that will haunt your holiday memories for years to come, I have some recommendations for you to consider!

The following are some spooky and recent(ish) seasonal titles that I’ve enjoyed:

 

I am Half Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

Boasting two lovely cover variants, this book is part of my favorite mystery series, featuring young sleuth/chemist Flavia de Luce. While it’s the fourth in the series, this title holds its own as a standalone story as well (but I bet if you read it you will be swiftly enticed to tag along on Flavia’s other adventures!)

This is a quintessential cosy Christmas mystery set in England in the 50’s- the de Luce estate is being used as the setting for a film, and the entire town becomes trapped inside because of a terrible storm. Flavia is determined to catch Father Christmas, but she ends up stumbling upon the body of a famous young actress… DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN

 

Krampus, directed by Michael Dougherty

Krampus is worth a watch; it’s creepy, campy, and fun for the whole family! Well, depends on the family I guess… at least, my husband (who is a bit of a wimp when it comes to horror movies) had no problem with this freaky and fantastical black comedy. We watched it with a friend a couple of Christmases ago and found it to be a pretty solid, well paced, and satisfying story if you don’t mind a few cheesy over-the-top monsters sprinkled here and there.

Some of the baddies in this movie are impressive feats of puppetry- check out the bonus materials for the film if you can to see some of the behind-the-scenes creativity that went into Krampus.

 

Hark! The Herald Angels Scream: An Anthology edited by Christopher Golden

This was a seriously fun read. Each story is short and unique- like most anthologies there were some that I enjoyed more than others, but overall it’s a great mix that moves along at a swift pace. A lot of the stories start out with everyday family drama and escalate into true horror, while several go in a more sci-fi or fantasy direction. Some of these tales will give me chills for a while to come!

 

A Christmas Horror Story, directed by Steve Hoban, Grant Harvey, and Brett Sullivan

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This movie reminds me of Krampus in some ways (aside from the obvious connection visible on the cover)- it’s got some camp for sure, and some moments that prompted my husband and I to make “SKKNKKTCHH” noises of disbelief.  At the same time, the intertwining stories balance action sequences, horrific and humorous themes, and moments both bleak and bright, plus lots of twists and turns.

 

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter’s Tale (TV series Holiday Special)

 

Hail Satan, it’s here! Dusty and I watched the CAOS holiday special episode last night.

If you haven’t watched season 1 of CAOS yet, here’s your excuse!

While it wasn’t everything i’d hoped for (my fave character didn’t make an appearance *COfatherblackwoodUGH*) and Dustin was concerned about the implications to the plot from what we thought would be a one-off isolated episode, we still enjoyed the para-normally festive atmosphere, the introduction of a cool new character, and the softer side of Zelda that is explored.

 

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UnSTUFF Your Life: 12 Tips from a Geek Who Read all the Books!

Books on organizing, tidying, and decluttering your home are quite popular right now. I’ve read a few such books in these last couple of years, and I’ve dedicated some pages in one of my journals where I keep track of tips and reflections on these books.

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I’m not chasing a minimalist or magazine sort of aesthetic- I have eclectic tastes and enjoy collecting books, figurines, and other stuff (often of clashing cute/creepy/many fandomed varieties!) However, I don’t enjoy clutter that is mindless, and I’ve learned a lot from the tidying and decluttering experts that I think can be incorporated into the lives of everyday people who are finding their stuff overwhelming. No matter the size of your space or your personal style, I think everyone can benefit from reconsidering their relationship with their things, casting out clutter, and celebrating the items that they truly love.

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These funny little faces give me joy every time I see them XD

Here I will share the tips that were most useful for me personally. At the end i’m including a booklist for anyone else who might be interested in reading up more in-depth on these concepts! Happy tidying 🙂 

Tips

  1. As Marie Kondo states in her bestselling books, If it doesn’t bring you joy, you might be better off without it. (Note: joy can come in many different forms, such as aesthetics, function, comfort, etc.) Another variation of this is: “If it’s not a ‘Hell Yes‘, it’s a NO!”
  2. Reflect that every time you observe or consider an item in your home that doesn’t bring you joy, you are wasting mental space and time on that item, which adds to mental clutter that can really annoy you over time!
  3. Acknowledge the privilege you have to be considering how to manage all the stuff you have- this is an opportunity to be thankful for the things you have even as you are working to lessen their hold on you.
  4. If you’re even considering whether you should let something go, that’s a sign that you probably should.
  5. Consider stores to be your own personal warehouses-if you have a hard time letting go of an item because it might become useful someday, remember if it’s that useful it will always be available later (and if it’s expensive you can likely borrow or rent it!)
  6. Think: if I lost this item or it broke, would I buy it again? If not, then you probably don’t need it or love it as much as you thought.
  7. If sentimental items are holding you back, consider taking a picture of the item. Remember, it’s the memories and intention that matter, not the item itself. 
  8. Storage solutions are not the answer- declutter everything and rely on built-in storage options in your house first. Storage solutions can often exacerbate the problem (hiding the clutter away but not truly tackling it)
  9. Don’t hold onto something just because of guilt– If it was expensive, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not what you need and you are wasting mental energy on it.
  10. If you have a hard time parting with items that were gifted to you, think: the person probably isn’t truly that emotionally invested, and likely wouldn’t want you to keep it if they knew it was not useful or wanted. 
  11. Consider if the item(s) can be donated, sold, gifted, passed down, or recycled. (One person’s trash is another person’s treasure!)
  12. Remember that someday you will be gone. Perhaps this sounds morbid, but it’s a practical consideration that can inspire you to consider what you really want in your home vs. what is there just because. Consider that every single item represents a potential judgement call that someone (a friend, family) will have to make in addressing the things you leave behind when you die. 

Books

These are the books that I’ve read so far on this topic. There are certainly more out there, so explore your options!

  • The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
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  • The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo 
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  • The Life Changing Manga of Tidying Up: a Magical Story by Marie Kondo, illustrated by Yuko Uramoto
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  • Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
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  • The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson
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  • Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary
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  • Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki
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  • The Art of Discarding: How to Get Rid of Clutter and Find Joy by Nagisa Tatsumi
  • Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living by Elizabeth Willard Thames
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Link Loves: The Games that Define Us

This was a really fun collab that I’m glad I was able to take part in!

A Geeky Gal

Welcome to the twentieth installment of Link Loves. These posts are all about my favorite links of the week! It can include bloggers, articles, news, clothing, accessories, and other cool links I’m enjoying. If you have a favorite blogger or article, share them with me in the comments!

This week is a very special edition of Link Loves. I present to you… The Games that Define Us collaboration in it’s complete glory! This huge collab just concluded, and I wanted to be sure all of my readers have a chance to give these posts the attention they deserve. Without further ado, here’s the master list courtesy of Normal Happenings!

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My Hogwarts House Identity Crisis and Embracing Hufflepuff House

Do you remember the early days of fanmade Harry Potter quizzes and the sorting games on the old promo websites for the movies? As a tween and teen I frequented sites like these and I always seemed to be sorted into the same house- Gryffindor. Yet, it never felt like a correct fit for me to be in the noble house of the lion.

I often wondered if, because the main trio from the books and movies were brave Gryffindor students, those early quizzes and/or my own personal bias towards Gryffindor would skew the results towards that house.

I never did accept being a Gryffindor, as it just felt off for me. Sorting is a complex business after all- Hermione would seem a clear fit for Ravenclaw, and yet she’s a Gryffindor. Was it at her own insistence that the sorting hat made its decision? Neville has certainly proved himself to be courageous by the end of the series, but wouldn’t most of his core traits be more in line with Hufflepuff? Fans have pondered these sorts of questions for years, and the only consensus might be that sorting is more of an art than a science. Add that to the multifaceted personalities and traits of witches and wizards, and the sorting hat has a difficult job indeed.

Some people will surely scoff at the seriousness we Potterheads have with regards to Hogwarts houses, but let me tell you it’s SIRIUS BUSINESS!

Anyway, when the first rendition of Pottermore was unleashed, I did the sorting quiz and – as usual- was placed in Gryffindor. Yet again, it didn’t feel right to me. Something in the back of my head was saying “you’re a Hufflepuff and YOU KNOW IT.”

When Pottermore was revamped and re-released, I did the new sorting quiz, and the result? Hufflepuff.

I think that most people might have a bit of all the houses in them- I certainly identify with Ravenclaw in a lot of ways, and I feel that Gryffindor does represent a part of me too. Slytherin has always felt the farthest from my personality, but my proclivity to adore the types of characters that Slytherin House attracts might speak to a darker side of my nature.

However, in the end each student is sorted into one house, and Hufflepuff is mine. It feels right.

Even though at first I felt torn (what? I’ve been trying to accept that I’m a Gryffindor all this time, and now here you are confirming my Hufflepuffdom!?) my friends convinced me- one comment: “Dude. You’re so totally a Hufflepuff.” Ok, so she has a point. The Wizardmore Extended Sorting Hat Quiz, which gives you the option of answering every possible quiz question from Pottermore, further confirms my place in Hufflepuff.

Source 

When I look at the main traits of Hufflepuff House, I feel proud to be a part of it. We don’t like personal drama, we work hard, we are inclusive and fair. We are perhaps the least glamorous or remarkable of the houses, but that’s in line with what I want in my life- to simply do good and enjoy a good life with the time i’ve got.

The Hufflepuff common room is the sort of sanctuary that I could imagine myself relaxing in at Hogwarts- it’s closest to the kitchens. It’s a cosy, hobbity sort of dwelling that is warm and full of plants. The trick to entering it involves a bit of a rhythm game, which is totally up my alley.

Photo Source

I officiated my Hufflepuff identity when I visited the Wizarding World area of Japan’s Universal Studios park in Osaka last year. 

When I picked out my house robes, pet puffskein Pinku, and accompanying willow wand (I always get willow for wand quizzes and such) the young woman who assisted me exclaimed excitedly “You’re Hufflepuff? Me too!”

Blog 2: The Sequel= ShaunaSeeks

While I will continue to post on HideNGoShauna about personal stuff and geeky randomness, I’ve just started up an additional blog, ShaunaSeeks!

On this new blog I will focus on sharing my library-related posts, book-lists, projects, and experiences as I work on completing my Master of Library and Information Science and learn new things in my library career  🙂


Mini Review: I’m Sakamoto, You Know?

For the last couple weeks I’ve been watching this anime in bits and pieces on my lunch breaks at the library:

 

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Haven’t you heard? I’m Sakamoto, or alternately I’m Sakamoto, You Know?

While I picked the Sakamoto anime up on a whim and haven’t yet read the manga, I thoroughly enjoyed this series and recommend it for anyone who wants a lighthearted and humorous romp.

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That said, a lot of the humor may be lost on people who aren’t already familiar with anime tropes- much of the hilarity comes from the ridiculous setups, recognizable character models, and punny wordplay, all of which generally poke fun at often overused or exaggerated scenarios.

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Sakamoto himself is the star of the show, of course, and he is a character that is impossible not to like- some students love him, some want to be him (or beat him), but he is completely on another level- aloof and magically skilled at never being uncool. At the same time, he’s also kind and chivalrous.You can’t rustle his feathers, no matter how hard you try. The best part, though, is the variety of inventive and ridiculous ways he manages to circumvent every attempt to thwart him or take him off guard.

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The show takes itself just serious enough to get you invested in the characters a bit, but it’s extremely fun to simply go along for the ride and see how many times suspension of disbelief can be crushed, or how many times the fourth wall can be broken by a side-character’s casual observance.

I recommend Sakamoto for you, your Mom, your dog, your boss, and every childhood friend you no longer communicate with.

Try Sakamoto today!

Bill Maher Needs to Read Comics

Brace yourselves, this is something I’m realllllllly passionate about, so here comes another one of my blog posts that is pounded out in an uncontrollable flurry.

Bill Maher knows how to kick up a firestorm online- his recent blog post disses the recently deceased legendary Smilin’ Stan Lee and challenges the legitimacy of comics as a format. It closes by laughably implying that the people who view comic books as important are the ones who voted for Trump. Sure, Bill… yeah no.

Firstly, on dissing Stan Lee- even if you don’t appreciate comics, Bill, there’s no need for that low blow (other than shoehorning it into an intro for a controversial blog post that will get you lots of views, I guess?). It’s undeniable that Mr. Lee’s creative genius has touched the lives of many people, and suggesting that art, literature, and entertainment are not vital to life paints a false picture. Bill writes:

“Someone on Reddit posted, “I’m so incredibly grateful I lived in a world that included Stan Lee.” Personally, I’m grateful I lived in a world that included oxygen and trees, but to each his own”

What exactly is your point here? I don’t know about you Mr. Maher, but I don’t want to live my life fulfilling only the lower rungs of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. 

Ok, on to comics. Here’s what he has to say on that topic:

“Twenty years or so ago, something happened – adults decided they didn’t have to give up kid stuff. And so they pretended comic books were actually sophisticated literature.”

As an educator and an MLIS student, you really awaken the fire in me with this one, Bill. Who is to say what constitutes “sophisticated literature”? Is it a word count? Is it a certain vocabulary? Is it one of those “i’ll know it when I see it” things? I call bullshit.

Comics are a format, not a genre. I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know comics in my 10+ years working in bookstores and at my public library. At my library they call me the Comic Queen because i’m so passionate about spreading the word about the versatility of comics (and graphic novels, and webcomics, and manga, which are all forms of sequential art)

So, again, what makes something “sophisticated literature”, exactly? Does the use of sequential art immediately reduce something to junk reading for kids?

Hell no!

Comics are just a format, Bill. They can be used to address any kind of information, and can be tailored to suit the needs of readers of any age. They are increasingly diverse and inclusive as more artists, authors and publishers jump on board. Comics are especially wonderful because they are approachable and lots of readers, even reluctant readers, may be enticed to read a comic because of the pictures.

Yet, unfortunately, Bill, you have joined the masses of people who mistakenly believe that the comics format = kid stuff, as if the format somehow dictates what kinds of content can be delivered in a comic.

There are comics that:

These are just some examples, but comics can be about ANYTHING. More and more comics are coming out every day on all kinds of different topics.

And yes, comics also include superheroes sometimes- what’s wrong with that, Mr. Maher? The world of superhero and fantasy comics is gigantic and diverse in its own right, and has been and continues to be entertaining, inspirational, and motivational for many people all across the world.

At the risk of triggering Bill Maher, i’d like to finish here with one last sentiment:

Rest in Peace, Mr. Smilin’ Stan Lee.

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