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Part III: Ghost-free SPOOKY Films

Today I conclude my 2019 spooky film recs with some Ghost-free viewing options!

All film synopses are from imdb.com.


Cold Skin (2017) — Unrated
In 1914, a young man arrives at a remote island near the Antarctic Circle to take the post of weather observer only to find himself trapped in a watchtower besieged by deadly creatures which live in hiding on the island. If there’s a historical film that is spooky AND co-stars Ray Stevenson, I’m going to watch it. David Oakes is great as the newly stationed weather attendant who soon learns that he and the eccentric lighthouse keeper (Stevenson) aren’t the only sentient creatures in the neighborhood. Physical and ethical clashes ensue. The pace is a little pokey at times, but it’s a gorgeous film.
Watch the Trailer / Options for Viewing / No Metascore


Us (2019) — Rated R
A family’s serene beach vacation turns to chaos when their doppelgängers appear and begin to terrorize them.
I love Jordan Peele and am a fan of Get Out, but for some reason I resisted watching this film for a time. It is quite good, but it’s also the sort of film one wants to discuss afterwards and my usual film-watching buddies were unavailable. I love how Peele adds humor to the horror, and Lupita Nyong’o is a standout in a very strong cast.
Watch the trailer / Options for Viewing / Metascore: 81 (tied with REVENGE for highest metascore of my 2019 recs)


Revenge (2017) — Rated R
Never take your mistress on an annual guys’ getaway, especially one devoted to hunting – a violent lesson for three wealthy married men. This one consistently shows up at or near the top of “best horror films,” but I avoided it for a couple of years because of the content. I’m glad I finally watched. It’s not fun, but it’s deeply satisfying. It DOES NOT eroticize violence against women. In fact, according to one reviewer, it “gouges the male gaze out of our eyeballs.” Keep in mind there is a high level of gore in this film.
Watch the trailer / Options for Viewing / Metascore: 81


Midsommar (2019) — Rated R
A couple travels to Sweden to visit a rural hometown’s fabled mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult. This film is LONG and WEIRD. Like Hereditary it deals with the consequences of unrelenting grief and depression, but with an entirely different outcome. (So different that you almost forget about the grief–but maybe that’s the point?) I do think Ari Aster drags out the film with those long ritualistic sequences, but unlike some reviewers, I feel mostly satisfied with the ending. It made a certain sort of sense to me as a deliberate contrast to Hereditary‘s conclusion.
Watch the trailer / Options for Viewing / Metascore: 72


Upgrade (2018) — Rated R
Set in the near-future, technology controls nearly all aspects of life. But when Grey, a self-identified technophobe, has his world turned upside down, his only hope for revenge is an experimental computer chip implant called Stem. This is my favorite horror film of this year’s offerings. I would call Upgrade a “Tech Noir” in the vein of Blade Runner and other “near future” scifi horror. It stars Logan Marshall-Green (whom I loved in The Invitation) as a vengeful widower and Simon Maiden as the voice of Stem. Oh, how darkly fun this film is! I won’t say more — just watch it.
Watch the trailer / Options for Viewing / Metascore: 67

That’s all from me for 2019–Hope you find something fun to watch. Do let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations. Happy Horror Viewing!

Christmas glee, part I

I’ve been on the hunt for a miniature Nativity set for a while now. The problem is . . . the human figures in most Nativity scenes have given me a mild case of the creeps since I was a little kid. I don’t mean baby Jesus, of course. I’m just more interested in the Nativity animals than the people. Perhaps C.S. Lewis would have understood?

Last week I found my dream Nativity scene in the little gift shop at Local in Norman. This “Gentle Friends” Nativity set came in a round wood box and contained the most delightful creatures! Of course they’re not necessarily historically accurate, but they fill me with glee nonetheless.


Here you see a very bold-eyed cow along with the donkey and sheep.


We get a bit more fanciful with a goat (?), a pair of fowl (is one of them a rooster?), and, of course, a cat. NOT A DOG, FOLKS! A MAJESTIC GINGER CAT!


And here they gather in the hay to wonder at the new born king.

I called Local to see where they obtained this set, hoping to share that information with you, gentle reader. The only thing they could tell me is they bought their sets back in the spring from Portico Collections as part of some trade show in Dallas, TX. I can’t seem to find any details about who actually makes the “Gentle Friends Nativity Set” (please don’t let it be desperate third world children!). Google turned up a photo on Pinterest, but that’s about all I could find.

Do you have a treasured Nativity set?

Just for fun: The Worst and Weirdest Nativity Sets. (Zombie Nativity???)

Friday Five: Nice things

I haven’t been a very good blogger lately, mostly because I’m desperately trying to finish up a revision. But I did want to check in with five nice things on a Friday:

1. The Dark Between is a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award. It’s such an honor to be included in this list along with stellar books like Nugget & Fang by SCBWI Crystal Kite winner Tammi Sauer and Mojo by National Book Award finalist Tim Tharp.

2. The Veronica Mars movie is finally here. (And I’m so proud to be a Kickstarter backer.) It’s playing at two locations in OKC. Yippee! Check out the trailer:

3. Feeling grumpy? In desperate need of something to smile about? Well, I recommend you visit Fluffington Post on a regular basis.

4. Speaking of smiles, have you seen these 19 Very Important Photographs of Benedict Cumberbatch with Kittens? Oh go on, check it out AGAIN.

5. I bought a gorgeous red ForLife teapot. I found mine at the Teaoli shop down the street, but they also are available from Amazon.


Mmmmm . . . Notting Hill tea with Dr. Lucy’s gluten free sugar cookies!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

The GRIM Blog Tour — with Giveaways!

The GRIM Anthology releases in 8 days! To celebrate, Harlequin Teen is offering a blog tour with fabulous giveaways!

Prizes:

— At every stop on the tour, the blog will be hosting a contest for a giveaway of 1 copy of GRIM

— Grand prize: At every stop on the tour, a grand prize package will be promoted, which will include 2 copies of GRIM and a selection of other Harlequin TEEN titles

Tour Schedule:

Monday, February 17th – Harlequin Paranormal Blog (featuring GRIM editor Christine Johnson!)

Tuesday, February 18th – Stories 1, 2 and 3 – Two Chicks on Books

Wednesday, February 19th – Stories 4, 5 and 6 – Book and A Latte

Friday, February 21st – Stories 7, 8 and 9 – Fiction Freak

Monday, February 24th – Stories 10, 11 and 12 – Mundie Moms

Wednesday, February 26th – Stories 13, 14 and 15 – Bumbles and Fairytales

Friday, February 28th – Stories 16 and 17 – Fiktshun

Learn more at the tour main page.

It’s 2014 — shall we chat about goals?

We made it through another year!


Let’s celebrate with tea and a good book. 🙂

I’m not going to do an extended recap/evaluation of 2013, even though I enjoy reading those posts from other folks. Instead I will list some goals for 2014:

1. Journal/blog more. This post from Neil Gaiman really got me thinking, and like him, I plan to blog more and tweet/tumbl/facebook less in the new year. I totally understand the allure of interacting with the world in 140 characters or less (or with photos, etc.), but I’m not that good at it, and it’s making me feel strangely fragmented. Anxious, even. I miss the old days of Livejournal. I miss the details, the ruminating, both from my friends and from myself. In the new year, I hope to curb the number of quick blurtings and take more time to express thoughts and share deeper joys. It may be that no one has the time or inclination to read that sort of thing these days. But I’m not blogging to promote myself or create meangingful/practical content for users (or whatever the platform mavens say). My stories are my product. My blog is me. And maybe you’ll come by and visit from time to time? I’ll certainly make a point of visiting you!

2. Read more. I only read 50 books last year. I recall long stretches of time when I was stuck in a particular book, not making any progress, or just between books, and I felt myself getting out of the habit of reading. In those times, my imgination seemed to slow down, too. I must be more intentional about reading! And lo and behold, studies show that reading novels is good for brain function! (Thanks, C, for linking that article.)

3. Spend more time researching and planning my next story. I’m already a planner rather than a panster, but I still get in too much of a hurry somtimes. Since I don’t have a hideous deadline hanging over me, I’m going to immerse myself in the historical context for my next story, and do some deep thinking about character and motivation, before I launch into the first chapter.

4. Be more like Elfrida. One of my favorite novels read in 2013 was Rosamund Pilcher’s Winter Solstice. The main character is a warm soul who offers physical and emotional refuge to friends in crisis. Now, I’m too much of a cranky hermit to be 100% Elfrida, but I do want to be a better friend. A better listener. I need to be quicker and more adept at offering the same sort of refuge to my friends. And darn it, I could actually invite people to my house from time to time. Maybe I should start small, like with a bookish tea party? Something casual and joyful, with lots of yummies? Let me know if you’re interested. 🙂

5. Be more conscious of living in the moment (and detach self from phone). This one is pretty self-explanatory.

What about you? I’d love to hear about your goals.

Useful stuff:

–Dr. Lisa has some great suggestions in The 3 R’s of Successful Resolutions.

–Family lawyer Shel offers 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Couples (without using the word ‘weight’).

–And here is a procedure for dealing with negative thoughts/emotions (from Elephant Journal).

Let’s have a HAPPIER NEW YEAR, friends!