10 Spooky Things to Read, Watch And Listen to Before Halloween

10 movies, books and podcasts to get you into the Halloween spirit!

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I love Halloween. Not so much the dressing up part, but the chill in the air, the crunch of the leaves, and anything slightly macabre to get me in the Halloween mood. The copious amounts of chocolate candy doesn’t hurt, either. There’s also something about Halloween that makes me want to devour all of the spooky pop culture. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite things that are the perfect mood setter as we gear up to Halloween next week!

READ

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. Ho-ly @#$% you guys. Michelle McNamara’s masterpiece detailing the hunt for The Golden State Killer (also known as EAR-ONS - East Area Rapist - Original Night Stalker). I’ve read so many true crime books and listened to so many podcasts, that just when I thought I was jaded, this book came a long and scared the crap out of me. If you want the kind of read that will make you afraid to get out of bed to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, this is it.

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The Woman in the Window. This is a great, easy thriller that kept me guessing from start to finish. An agorophobic woman spends her time drinking too much wine, watching her neighbors and yes, taking photos of them. One night, she sees a murder through her window…or did she?

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Then She Was Gone. There are only a handful of books I can recall reading in a 24 hour period. This is one of them. It’s horrifying, riveting, extremely disturbing, well-written and kept me guessing until the very end.

WATCH

All of these picks are streaming on Netflix RN!

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The Sixth Sense. A masterful thriller of the late 90’s, this film stands the test of time. From Netflix: When a 9-year-old boy inexplicably starts seeing dead people, he lands in the care of a child psychologist who's determined to uncover the truth. Gah this movie chilled me to my bone and yes, made me afraid to go into the kitchen alone at night. A classic, timeless, shocker.

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The Shining. Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Another classic that chilled me to the bone. From Netflix: Jack Torrance descends into madness -- terrorizing his wife and young son -- after living at a deserted and eerie hotel during its off season. It’s a master class in suspense, culminating in some of the most iconic scenes in film history.

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The Haunting of Hill House. Based on the classic book, this is a new Netflix series that launched just last week! It’s in my queue and it’s getting all.the.buzz! From Netflix: Flashing between past and present, a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it.

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Mindhunter. Another incredible Netflix original. If you have any interest in criminology, in getting inside the mind of a killer, then this is the show for you. It’s fictional, but based on real events, people and serial killers. Directed by David Fincher, it’s dark, smart and chilling.

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American Horror Story, Season 1. I have such fond memories of watching this when it first aired in 2011. Shaun wasn’t interested so I decided to give it a go alone. After passing through a few scenes, he eventually came around and wanted to watch it too. The notion of a horror tv show was fascinating. The cast was tops. And the idea that it would be a single season storyline was mind blowing. This season is chilling, disturbing, unsettling and yes...scary!

LISTEN

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The Wonderland Murders podcast. I really loved this series from Hollywood and Crime. 4 people are brutally murdered in their home and the episodes unfold from 2 points of view…one after the murders have taken place, and one leading up the murders, detailing a porn king’s descent into drugs and darkness.

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Dr. Death podcast. Confession: I haven’t listening to this one yet, but it’s in my queue for this week! From Wondery: Dr. Christopher Duntsch was a neurosurgeon who radiated confidence. He claimed he was the best in Dallas. If you had back pain, and had tried everything else, Dr. Duntsch could give you the spine surgery that would take your pain away. But soon his patients started to experience complications. And all they had to protect them was a system ill equipped to stop the madness. 

PS - As I finished writing this post, in the dark of the early morning hours, I heard my daughter, down the hall, asleep in her bed, say ‘Thank you’ in her sleep. Yeah, I was pretty creeped out.

9 True Crime Podcasts

A round up of the most disturbing, morbid, dynamic, and obsession-worthy true crime podcasts!

While I've always been interested in true crime stories, this has become a full-blown obsession lately. I'm not sure if it's the preponderance of true crime stories at every turn (see: The Case Of: JonBenet Ramsey, American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson, Making a Murderer, Amanda Knox, etc.), or if it's just this time of year that gets my interest piqued in the dark and dreary, but it's gotten to the point that I end up forcing myself to seek out lighter, fluffier, non-true crime stories just to keep myself in check. For me, the more morbid, the spookier, the scarier, the more disturbing and twisted, the better. I don't know what that says about me, but it is what it is. I've rounded up some of my favorite true crime podcasts of late. Some are super dark (Casefile gives me nightmares), some are disturbing in their lightness and joviality in discussing such horrible subject matter (looking at you Last Podcast) and some are just truly mesmerizing in that can't get enough style (Serial). In no particular order, here's what I'm digging lately in the true crime genre.

Accused: When Elizabeth Andes was found murdered in her Ohio apartment in 1978, police and prosecutors decided within hours it was an open-and-shut case. Two juries disagreed. The Cincinnati Enquirer investigates: Was the right guy charged, or did a killer walk free?
It's the new podcast obsession sweeping the nation. This story follows the unsolved murder of Beth Andes, a young woman who was brutally murdered in her apartment in 1978. Her then-boyfriend was charged and later acquitted, and no other suspects were ever charged. The podcast investigates who else could have been responsible for the murder and what happens when you are accused.

Casefile: Fact is scarier than fiction. Casefile, a true crime podcast. Each episode explores a new case. The shocking, the terrifying, the strange, the unsolved.
This is by far the scariest of the bunch. Each episode follows a different case as the narrator tells the tale from start to finish. Eerie music and the narrator's deep and ominous voice coupled with truly horrifying crimes makes this one that will have you sleeping with the lights on.

Real Crime Profile: Jim Clemente, Laura Richards and Lisa Zambetti profile behavior from real criminal cases.
My friend Allie turned me into this months ago and it quickly became appointment listening each week. An all-star team of FBI profiler Jim Clemente and New Scotland Yard behavioral analyst Laura Richards makes this an insightful, engaging and often unsettling listen. They really go deep on each case they tackle (like just when you thought you knew everything there is to know about the OJ Simpson case, they manage to unearth even more details). Also I kind of have a crush on them. They've covered OJ, Steven Avery, Oscar Pistorious and most recently JonBenet Ramsey. They truly make a compelling case for each investigation.

My Favorite Murder: Ready yourself for a murder adventure hosted by two lifelong fans of true crime stories. Each episode the girls tell each other their favorite tales of murder, and hear hometown crime stories from friends and fans. Check your anxiety at the door, 'cause Karen & Georgia are dying to discuss death.
I recently learned about My Favorite Murder after reading about it on Cupcakes & Cashmere. First of all, is this not the most perfect title of a podcast, ever?! I love this lighter take on true crime wrap-ups. Georgia and Karen are hilarious and fun, and remind me of sitting around with friends, dishing dirty disgusting details, but somehow laughing through it.

Crime Writers On: The show is called Crime Writers On... and it all came together when we got some fellow writers together discuss the blockbuster podcast Serial. It's since morphed into a broader conversation about true crime, journalism, and pop culture.
This is a new one in my playlist. It's light and smart, and a nice change of perspective on well-known criminal cases. Yesterday I listened to the JonBenet wrap up, and found myself shaking my head in agreement throughout the episode.

Serial, season 1: A high-school senior named Hae Min Lee disappeared one day after school in 1999, in Baltimore County, Maryland. A month later, her body was found in a city park. She'd been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was sentenced to life in prison. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae’s death.
The holy grail of true crime podcasts and a must in any podcast starter pack. Like so many other people, this is the first podcast I ever listened to and I was not only hooked from the first few minutes, but it launched a full-blown podcast obsession. At the urging of a colleague, Podcast maven Sarah Koenig takes the listener on a dynamic investigation of Adnan Syed, a man convicted of murdering his high school girlfriend 18 years ago. But did he really do it?

Sword & ScaleSword and Scale coverd the dark underworld of crime and the criminal justice system’s response to it. Everything from 911 calls to court testimony, interviews with victims and sometimes with perpetrators give listeners a 360 degree look at the entire story.  
This is a new one in my podcast collection. Sword & Scale investigates real crimes in more of a documentary style, featuring interviews with those involved in the case, from victims to law enforcement. 

In the DarkChild abductions are rare crimes. And they're typically solved. For 27 years, the investigation into the abduction of Jacob Wetterling in rural Minnesota yielded no answers. APM Reports and reporter Madeleine Baran reveal how law enforcement mishandled one of the most notorious child abductions in the country and how those failures fueled national anxiety about stranger danger, changed how adults parent their kids and led to the nation's sex-offender registries.
Like Accused, this one is also on the hot list right now. It's incredibly well-produced and has that same Serial-esque quality that I love. It's a terrible, disturbing story and every parent's worst nightmare, but it's an interesting look into investigation protocols.

Last Podcast on the Left: Every week Ben Kissel, Henry Zebrowski, and Marcus Parks explore the horrors of the world both imagined and real.
I found Last Podcast on the Left from My Favorite Murder as the hosts are big fans of the show and mention it often. I decided to give it a whirl...it's a totally different sort of podcast than all the others, though not so far off from MFM. It's a comedy first, true crime podcast second. If you are offended by comedians making fun of those departed and the crimes that put them there, then this is not for you. I'm still on the fence.

So there you have it. My not so short-winded attempt to bring you all of the true crime podcasts I'm digging lately. Do you like true crime? Any other podcasts to add to this list?

starting a ladies night out group

A few weeks ago, I posted about my obsession with the Happier podcast by Gretchen Rubin. I love listening to this first thing in the morning to get me pumped and enthused for the day or week ahead. Each episode is a discussion about real tactics to incorporate into your life today, called try this at home.

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When Gretchen and Elizabeth spoke about joining a group as their try this at home of the week, my mind lit up like a light bulb. You see, one of the things I love about apartment living, and specifically living in a building where most residents are owners, is the community aspect. We have a building Google group and a parents group who organizes movie nights and events for kids and parents. However, I thought that perhaps we could do more. And so I had an idea to start a women's group. Specifically, a Ladies Night Out group.

So I did it.

I started by drafting an email to our building wide Google group list and parents group list, inviting the ladies of the building to meet up in our building's movie room on a specified date.

The response was amazing. So many positive comments and excitement over the chance to connect with more ladies in the building.

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The plan is that each month, we choose a weekday evening to get together. Our first gathering was earlier this month and to keep things easy and friendly, we decided to have a ladies night in. As in, I booked our buildings movie room for a wine and cheese night. So everyone brought some wine and snacks. We had a great turn out - about 25 women! And everyone was happy and excited to be there. Following that first meeting, I started a private Facebook group to keep everyone in the loop on planning, and to have a forum to just chat!

In addition to connecting with these women, my plan is also to use this as a way to check out some new spots in Jersey City. It's becoming quite the food scene and new and cool places are popping up seemingly every day. And so while part of the plan is to make it easy for everyone to attend, the other part is to explore this awesome city that we all love. I'm really psyched to make the effort to keep this going each month. I'll keep you posted on how its going, we are currently planning November's night out!

Do you belong to any groups? Would you ever join or start a group? If so, what kind?