Riley Heruska
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Who says Halloween is just for kids? If you're throwing a party for adults after the little ones have finished all their trick-or-treating, then you'll definitely want to check out some of these spooktacular beverages. Most of them are pretty simple to make, so there's really no excuse for not kicking your fright night up a notch with some alcoholic boos.  

Candy Corn Infused Vodka 

Is this a drink you'd really describe as "adult"? No, probably not, but it sure is fun. The neon-orange infusion makes for the perfect Halloween shot. It does take a few hours to let the candy corn dissolve, so make sure to plan ahead. Just mix the candy and vodka together in a container, let sit for at least three hours, strain, and then serve cold. 

Caramel Apple Sangria 

What doesn't sound great about a drink that's both delicious and the color of freshly fallen leaves? Plus, it's so easy to make. All you'll need is a bottle of white wine, some caramel flavored vodka, apple cider, and a couple of chopped apples. Mix all together and serve over ice for a drink that's both festive and autumnal. Visit The Wholesome Dish for the recipe.

Witch's Brew Cocktail 

Just wait until you see how vibrantly green this concoction is. Made with lime gelatin, pineapple juice, ginger ale, and vodka, the cocktail is equally delicious and bizarre looking. If you really want to up your Halloween game, serve it chilled in creepy goblets like Jenna does over at Recipe Diaries

Halloween Margarita 

Margaritas might not exactly sound like the perfect drink on a cool autumn night, but these margaritas aren't your typical Tex-Mex beverages. Made with bright orange liquid and a salty black rim, they practically scream Halloween. All you'll need is some Tequila, syrup, orange food coloring, triple sec, and limes. Holidappy has the recipe, plus several others you can check out. 

Black Magic Shimmering Cocktail 

It's. So. Pretty. You won't even want to down this drink until you've snapped at least half a dozen photos of it. Elle at Elle Talk can show you how to whip up the glittery cocktail in no time. A mix between a lime daiquiri and a lime martini, the drink looks like a mini galaxy swirling inside your glass. Added bonus? You only need five ingredients: black vodka, lime juice, simple syrup, ice, and edible pearl dush (which you can find in a craft store's baking aisle). 

Spiked Pumpkin Spice Latte 

Can't get enough of Starbucks' PSL? Well, you're in luck because Dorothy at Crazy for Crust can teach you how to make one at home, and she adds a special kick. The secret ingredients? Vanilla vodka and Fireball! Trust me, there's nothing basic about this addition to any Halloween party. It's especially perfect for nights when your bones need a little extra warmth. 

Do you have a pumpkin punch or vampire's cocktail that you always love to make? Comment with the recipe so others can join in the frightening fun! 

Riley Heruska
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Do you find yourself flipping through the same Netflix choices over and over again? Well, then you're in luck because the company will be adding a large selection of new shows, movies, and documentaries over the course of the following month. Which November additions are you most excited to binge-watch?

Netflix Original Films and Shows

Ten Percent (aka Call My Agent!): Season 2 (11/2)
Alias Grace (11/3)
The Big Family Cooking Showdown: Season 1 (11/3) 
Fate/Apocrypha: Part 1 (11/7) 
Project Mc²: Part 6 (11/7) 
Blazing Transfer Students: Season 1 (11/10) 
Dinotrux Supercharged: Season 1 (11/10)  
Glitter Force Doki Doki: Season 2 (11/10)  
Lady Dynamite: Season 2 (11/10) 
Mea Culpa (11/10) 
The Killer
DeRay Davis: How to Act Black (11/14) 
A Christmas Prince (11/17) 
Longmire: Final Season (11/17)
Luna Petunia: Season 3 (11/17)
Marvel's The Punisher 
Mudbound (11/17)
Shot in the Dark: Season 1 (11/17)
Spirit: Riding Free: Season 3 (11/17)
Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters: Season 1 (11/17)
Beat Bugs: All Together Now (11/21)
Brian Regan: Nunchucks and Flamethrowers
Saving Capitalism (11/21)
Godless  (11/22)
She's Gotta Have It: Season 1 (11/23)
Cuba and Cameraman (11/23) 
Frontier: Season 2 (11/23)
The Many Faces of Ito: Season 1 (11/23) 
Trailer Park Boys: Out of the Park: USA: Season 1 (11/23)
Glitch: Season 2 (11/28)
Good Morning Call: Season 2 (11/28)

Television Shows 

Stranger: Season 1 (11/1)
Under Arrest: Season 7 (11/1) 
P. King Duckling: Season 1 (11/7) 
Broadchurch: Season 3 (11/23) 
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Season 7 Part 2 (11/23) 
Guerra De Idolos: Season 1 (11/28) 

Movies and Documentaries 

42 (11/1)
Casper (11/1)
Chappie (11/1)
Charlotte's Web (2006) 
Field of Dreams (11/1)
Men in Black (11/1)
Michael Clayton (11/1)
Oculus (11/1)
Scary Movie (11/1)
Silent Hill (11/1)
The Bittersweet (11/1)
The Pursuit of Happyness (11/1)
The Reader (11/1)
The Whole Nine Yards (11/1)
To Rome with Love (11/1)
Undercover Grandpa (11/1)
Where the Day Takes You (11/1)
All About the Money (11/2)
It's Not Yet Dark (11/2)
Eventual Salvation (11/2) 
Williams (11/4) 
The Homesman (11/5) 
The Veil (11/5) 
The Dinner (11/6) 
Dizzy & Bop's Big Adventure: The Great Music Caper (11/7)
Killing Ground (11/7) 
The Journey Is the Destination (11/7)
Long Time Running (11/12) 
Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary (11/13)
Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
Hickock (11/14)
Lockup: State Prisons: Collection 1 (11/15)
Red, White, Black, Blue Odyssey (11/17)
Santa Claws 
Piranha (11/20)
The Case for Christ (11/21)
Cherry Pop (11/22)
The Boss Baby (11/22)
Tracers (11/22)
Deep (11/23)
Bushwick (11/23)
Darkness Rising (11/27)
The Queen of Spain (11/28)
The Details (11/30)
Winning (11/30)

So what additions are you the most excited about? Let us know in the comments below!

Riley Heruska
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Even though your kids will probably drag home enough sugar to tide your family over until Christmas, you can't just pass up a holiday baking opportunity, right? The days leading up to Halloween are perfect for whipping up some scrumptious but spooky desserts. Here are a few ideas that your little monsters will gobble up. 

Monster S'mores 

Even the pickiest children can't resist a gooey s'more, especially when it has adorable little marshmallow eyes and fangs. Liz at Say Yes shared a recipe from Candy Aisle Crafts for these incredibly simple October treats, and they're just as cute as they are yummy. All you'll need is some graham crackers or cookies, chocolate bars, mini marshmallows, and chocolate chips. Mix them all together and voila, you've got yourself a motley assortment of tasty chocolate monsters. 

Bewitched M&M Cookies 

These cookies look like they'd be right at home in a classic Halloween film. Maybe Halloweentown or Bewitched. All you have to do is chuck a bag full of Halloween-colored M&Ms into a batch of chocolate cookie dough. Two Sisters Crafting has a delicious cookie recipe you can follow, as well as some helpful baking tips. 

Easy Mummy Brownies 

Everyone can make ordinary brownies, but these have a little something extra: they're drizzled in ropes of white and adorned with little eyes. Sarah and Jessica at Pretty Providence can show you how to transform a bland brownie into a creepy little mummy treat with some brownie mix, white chocolate, and candy eyeballs. 

Frankenstein Marshmallow Pops 

These little green guys are the best Halloween creepers to serve. It may take a bit of practice to get Frankie's features just right, but the payoff is totally worth it. Kelly at Just a Taste as more than a few tips when it comes to creating your monstrous masterpieces, so make sure to check her website out. Her easy-to-follow guide will have you handing out these marshmallow treats in no time. 

Jack-o-Lantern Chocolate Cookies 

Part of you will feel guilty for devouring these adorable cookies - they're almost too cute to eat! Brittany at Say Yes can show you how to whip up some dark chocolate cookie dough, pop it in the oven, and decorate them with grinning pumpkin faces. Even if you're not a master of artistic baking, you'll have a fun time designing various orange smiles and munching on the ugly ones. 

Witch Hat Cupcakes 

Lauren at Tastes Better From Scratch can show you how to make these witchy desserts with just a handful of ingredients: chocolate cupcake mix, Oreo cookies, Hershey's kisses, green/orange food coloring, cream cheese frosting, and sprinkles. The recipe is even simple enough for children to follow. Be prepared: You'll definitely want to snap a few photos of your final results to buff up your Halloween social media game. 

Halloween Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

Picture this: rich, dark chocolate brownie with whorls of orange cheesecake decadently melted throughout. Is your mouth watering yet? Melissa at Persnickety Plates will show you how to bake a batch of these tempting treats with some food coloring and other simple ingredients. To add an extra sinister touch to the recipe, make sure to use dark chocolate cocoa powder and black food coloring. 

Boo-Nilla Ghost Milkshakes  

Not in the mood to turn on the oven? Kristyn at Liluna concocted a ghostly vanilla milkshake that's as delicious as it is simple. Grab a blender and mix vanilla bean ice cream, milk, and vanilla. Then, serve the drink in cute little mason jars and add your own spooky decorations. Kristyn's are absolutely boo-tiful with their black eyes and powdered sugar rims. 

Cookie Dough Mummies 

Two of the best things in the world, Halloween and cookie dough, come together splendidly in this yummy recipe. To replicate Jillian's from Catch My Party, you'll just need to make your own dough, chill it in small balls, then slather the little chunks with melted white candy. Pop on some tiny eyeballs and voila! You've got yourself a scary good mummy dessert. 

Rice Krispie Treat Pumpkins 

What's more fitting for a Halloween celebration than a patch of edible pumpkin goodies? Jen at Cincy Shopper creatively transformed boring plain Rice Krispie treats into a special October snack. You'll need the regular ingredients for Rice Krispie treats, plus some food coloring, Tootsie Rolls, and Fruit Roll-Ups. 

Do you have some recipes for great Halloween dishes? Leave a comment with them below!

Riley Heruska
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It's no secret that reading to young children on a regular basis can help increase their vocabulary and aid in their cognitive development. In fact, children who read with their parents are more likely to achieve in all school subjects, not just English. However, did you know that literature can also help children understand emotions and develop socially? 

According to the American Psychological Association, a child's mental health plays an immense role in his or her ability to interact with others, perform physically, and succeed in various areas of achievement. Teasing, a lack of self-confidence, childhood depression, and many different psychological issues can take a toll on young minds.

As parents, the best way to help your children understand what emotions they're coping with is to discuss mental health in a kid-friendly context. That's often easier said than done. So, to help you work with your child on understanding the human mind, many authors have written children's books that tackle mental health struggles in lighthearted but effective manners. Here are a few great options you can check out.

Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear, Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Little Vanessa's sister, Virginia, has been in such a strange mood. She's howling fiercely, and nothing Vanessa does seems to cheer her up. Still, Vanessa keeps trying, and before long she's transformed their bedroom walls into something fantastical. The book is supposedly based on the relationship between Virginia Woolf and her sister, the painter Vanessa Bell. Maclear presents an uplifting story that helps children understand empathy and anger, as well as how people use art as an emotional outlet. 

Hey Warrior: A Book for Kids About Anxiety by Karen Young

Young believes that children can do amazing things if they're only given the right information. That's why her illustrated book tackles the powerful symptoms of anxiety and how kids can feel empowered. She explains the subject without talking down to children, but the book is still easy for children to understand at a young age. 

The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith 

Fox lives in a frightfully dark forest, but a beautiful Star lights the sky and his adventures in the rain. When the Star suddenly disappears, Fox feels incredibly cold and alone. He embarks on a wondrous journey in search of his missing Star, and he meets a few new friends along the way. The story is told through gorgeous animations, and children can learn about being brave even when you feel entirely alone in the world. 

Catch a Falling Star by Gayle Grass 

This book is a beautiful introduction to the world of mental health through the story of a boy named Fish and a fantastical dragon. Grass tactfully addresses a variety of symptoms that could be considered red flags in a child's emotional development. Her story also helps children understand the importance of communication with others and social sharing. 

The Princess and the Fog 
by Lloyd Jones 

Jones has created a child-friendly novel that tackles an extremely difficult and abstract concept: depression. The Princess had everything she could ever want and was happy... until the cloud rolled in and took her happiness away. The vibrant artwork and carefully-chosen words can help children struggling with depression relate to the young princess. Additionally, the book comes with an essential guide for parents and caregivers that was developed by clinical psychologists. 

Mile High Apple Pie by Laura Langston, Illustrated by Lindsey Gardiner 

Moving and poignant, this kid's book tells the story of a little girl who loves her grandmother very much. Unfortunately, Grandma is having more and more trouble remembering things as she ages, and the little girl doesn't understand why. Langston describes Alzheimer's disease in a way that young readers can understand while also capturing the magic of a granddaughter and grandmother's relationship. 

Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer 

Sometimes, you don't know why you're grumpy. It's just a grumpy day, and Penguin is having one. No matter what he does, he can't shake the nasty feelings. Messer's simple text and fun pictures can help children learn about dealing with grumpy moods, even when nothing is really wrong. The best thing to do? Just wash the grumpy day away! 

Up and Down the Worry Hill by Aureen Pinto Wagner, Ph.D. 

More than one million children and adolescents in the United States suffer from OCD. The disease can be extremely debilitating, especially for a young child who doesn't understand the mental struggle they are facing. Dr. Wagner attempts to help children deal with their anxiety and OCD through a heart-warming tale about Worry Hill. She addresses treatments and emotion in a child-friendly manner, and she also created a companion book for parents. 

Do you know of other children's books that address mental health? Leave suggestions for other parents in the comments below! 

Riley Heruska
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We always hear about the best horror movies to stream when October 31 draws near, but what about the perfect television shows to check out? Here are a few series that will get you in the Halloween mode in no time. Which one will you binge-watch first? 

The Twilight Zone (1959 - 1964)

A true classic, this black and white series embodies all things superstitious and weird. The show is the brainchild of Emmy Award-winner Rod Sterling, and it practically screams Halloween. Each episode tackles some new horror as various actors (Burt Reynolds, Robert Redford, and more) make creepy appearances. 

American Horror Story  (2011 - present) 

This creeptasticshow is definitely not for the faint of heart. Gory, disturbing, and at times truly appalling,American Horror Story has solidly established its place in the world of horror media. Each season takes on a new theme, from a haunted house to a gruesome circus. The characters are extremely well-developed and the intense plotlines will have you on the edge of your seat (or hiding under your covers). Warning: if you have young children nearby or are just not a fan of blood, torture, and an assortment of other hair-raising topics, then you might want to steer clear of this popular series. 

Stranger Things (2016 - present) 

As a fairly recent addition to Netflix's assortment of original content, this thrilling drama was all the rage when it was first released last fall. Winona Ryder stars as Joyce Byers, the mother of a young boy, Will, who has mysteriously disappeared. Will's friends and family begin a frantic search for him, but it becomes clear that all is not as it should be in their small 80s town. Prepare for secret government experiments, scenes that will send chills down your spine, and a little girl that you won't soon forget. Season 2 hits Netflix on October 27, so now is the ideal time to join the Stranger Things fan club! 

Supernatural (2005 - present) 

In the mood for some haunted homes and terrifying creatures? Then this is the show for you. Sam and Dean Winchester's encounters with supernatural occurrences have earned a cult following, and it's easy to see why: the show is completely addictive. You won't be able to stop watching these two brothers track demons and unearth secrets about their mysterious past. With 264 released episodes, you won't run out of Supernatural entertainment for a while. 

Scream Queens (2015 - 2016) 

A hilarious combination of gory murders and sorority sister traditions, this show will have you laughing and peeking out from behind your fingers. The campus of Wallace isn't safe for anyone, and things only get weirder as more students are killed and trust begins to unravel amongst close friends. If you decide to give Scream Queens a shot, prepare for a binge-worthy show that's both entertaining and horrifying. 

The Walking Dead (2010 - present) 

What screams Halloween more than killer zombies? The Walking Dead has been around for eight seasons now and it doesn't look like it's getting any deader. Based on a popular comic book series, the violent drama follows Rick Grimes and a group of survivors as they battle the undead, struggle to survive, and face the evil aspects of humanity. With strong characters and lots of action, this one will have you hooked after episode one. 

The X-Files (1993 - present) 

This one is another classic. Join two FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, as they investigate strange and unexplained cases in our world in one of the longest-running science fiction series in television history. The two agents are lovable, and you'll get a real hoot out of watching Mulder combat Scully's skepticism with crazy theories about aliens and supernatural creatures. Be warned: some episodes will definitely have you sleeping with the lights on. 

Riley Heruska
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As Halloween creeps closer and closer, it's time to spookify your house! The most important decoration? A traditional jack-o'-lantern with a lit candle warming its features. 

Although carving a pumpkin is a wonderful Halloween tradition, it's not always the easiest, especially when you're working with little kids. There are sharp tools, messy pumpkin insides, and of course high expectations for the final creation. So, how can you make jack-o'-lantern carving a fun, smooth experience with even the smallest children? Well, here are a few tips. 

Let Your Kid Pick Out the Pumpkin 

Young children just want to be involved in the process, so why not give them a chance to get the event rolling? Take them to a local selection of pumpkins and challenge them to find the biggest, roundest pumpkin of all. If you have the time, traipsing through a pumpkin patch is the best way to achieve this (and the most memorable). For a list of local pumpkin patches in the DFW area, click here. If you can't make it to a pumpkin patch, your local supermarkets and shops probably have some quality pumpkins for sale. Remember, you want a pumpkin that's perfect for carving, so weed out heavy ones with bumpy skin, soft spots, or other noticeable flaws. 

Use a Disposable Halloween Tablecloth 

This step will truly save your life once it's time to clean up. Before you unload the pumpkins or even set out the tools, pick your carving location and cover it with a cheap tablecloth. Target and Walmart both have some covered in pumpkins and other cute Halloween themes. Then, once you've crafted your masterpiece of a pumpkin, you can simply roll the tablecloth up with all the gooey pumpkin guts and other messes inside before tossing it all in the trash. No wiping down tables covered in orange smears! 

Print Out Simple Patterns to Trace

It's easy to get a little overly ambitious when it comes to carving, especially when a young child's mind is at work. Sure, a detailed carving of Darth Maul would be awesome, but it's also not the easiest thing to create so it might not turn out as spectacularly as your child hopes. Try googling "easy pumpkin stencils" online to see what comes up for free. This website has tons of great ones to choose from, including traditional Jacks and fun Halloween phrases like "boo!" 

Encourage Them to Hollow Out the Pumpkin 

Before you begin carving, you'll have to cut a hole around the pumpkin's stem and clean out the slimy insides. As gross as it may sound, this is the perfect step for children to do by themselves (after an adult handles the cutting part, of course). Encourage them to reach deep inside and scoop out the orange mush. Not only will they giggle wickedly at the gruesome task, but they'll also feel involved as they participate in the safest part of carving. 

Pin/Tape the Pattern to the Pumpkin Before You Begin

Whether you plan to carve the pumpkin while your children watch or to let them give it a try, this step will make your life infinitely easier. The last thing you want is a stencil that slips and slides all over your pumpkin, leaving you with a lopsided Jack. You'll be working on the piece for a while, so make sure your stencil will stay put while you use small, controlled motions to follow the lines. If your children are old enough, let them carve a few straight lines, but remind them that the tools are sharp and can cut when they're not careful. 

Keep the Kids Occupied, Even When They Can't Help 

Bored children often reach for tools they shouldn't have or get cranky when they feel uninvolved, so try to set up some other activities outside of the carving station. Put on some fun Halloween tunes and challenge them to a freeze dance contest or give them mini pumpkins to decorate with glitter or markers. That way, when you're struggling to carve the difficult parts of the pumpkin without their help, the kids are still having a fun time. 

Opt for an LED Tea Light Instead of  Real Candle 

If your children are quite young, consider nixing the whole real candle element of jack-o'-lantern lighting. Burning candles sing a siren song to little kids, so avoiding the possibility of tiny burnt fingers is always smart. If you really want to spice things up, you can find special effects battery operated lights to set inside the pumpkin. 

Do you have other tips or tricks when it comes to creating the perfect jack-o'-lantern? Leave ideas in the comments below! 

Riley Heruska
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Not only are these recipes incredibly simple, but they're also the best way to make your home smell like a cozy, autumn haven. Try your hand at one of these breads and keep a loaf on hand as a yummy snack. The loaves also make great gifts for co-workers and friends, so don't be afraid to sample more than one of these tasty treats. 

Soft and Moist Pumpkin Bread 

We kind of have to start with a pumpkin-based recipe, right? Nothing makes it feel more like fall then the smell of cinnamon and pumpkin wafting through your kitchen. Little Sweet Baker has an easy-to-follow recipe for a pumpkin bread that's perfectly sweet and moist. Plus, it doesn't call for very many ingredients; you probably already have most of them in your kitchen! So why not give this one a try and taste the epitome of fall in every bite? 

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Crunch Banana Bread 

This bread is great on several levels: it's a great breakfast idea, it's relatively healthy, and it's absolutely delicious. Savory Nothings posted a recipe that is easy to follow, and there are even a few variations you can quickly make to match your cravings. The entire recipe only takes fifteen minutes to follow, so you can whip one of these bad boys up in no time.  

Chocolate Banana Bread 

If you're an avid chocolate lover, then you will undoubtedly devour this cake and maybe even embarrassingly lick up the last few crumbs. Maria and Josh crafted a wonderful recipe for the dish over at their blog, Two Peas and Their Pod. Bursting with intense chocolately flavor and a hint of banana, this loaf is perfect for people who like their breads a little sweeter. Simply mix the ingredients together, top the batter with some chocolate chips, then pop it all in the oven. Kids and adults alike will beg for more, so it's a good thing the loaf only takes a little while to make. 

Oatmeal Blueberry Bread Recipe 

We've all heard about the health benefits of blueberries, so why not mix some into your breakfast bread? The berries are full of helpful antioxidants, and they make any breakfast a little sweeter. Super Healthy Kids can teach you to bake a bread that's yummy and relatively nutritional! Just mix the dry ingredients together, fold in some blueberries, bake, and voila! The perfect addition to any morning spread. 

Chai Spiced Quick Bread 

The idea of mixing this spicy tea into a soft, frosted bread is simply too tempting to pass up. Natalie at Feasting on Fruit has created a recipe that's incredibly easy to follow and vegan/gluten-free. Plus, she includes a helpful video to walk you through the entire baking process. Within an hour, you could be biting into a slice that's more spicy than sweet and that pairs perfectly with a cozy evening. 

The Best Cranberry Orange Bread 

During the autumn months, cranberries reach their peak season and everyone loves to bake with them. Cranberry sauce, cranberry bread, cranberry drinks, you name it, it's been made. Britni at Play Party Plan whipped up a bread that's full of cranberry flavor and that has a dash of citrus. Before you know it, you'll be excited to bake this treat every cranberry season. What are you waiting for? Get thee to a nearby grocery store and stock up on some cranberries, then give this recipe a shot! 

What kinds of bread do you like to make at this time of year? Leave suggestions in the comments below or email recipes to! 

Riley Heruska
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In the mood to feel chills run down your spine? You're not alone! October is the perfect month for embracing all things creepy, especially when it comes to films and books.

Sure, you can always turn to a classic Stephen King novel for some quality spooks, but there are other authors out there waiting to give you a few thrills. We've rounded up a handful of the most beloved horror novels out there that you might not have stumbled across. A word of advice: Consider reading them with the lights on... 

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski 

This chaotic novel can really only be described as an unholy rollercoaster. A book within a book, House of Leaves details the strange story of a family who is struggling to repair their relationships by moving into a new home. However, this home is nothing like it seems from the outside. Something dark is stalking the halls, and it becomes clear that things are not as they should be. Monstrous noises, mysteriously changing doorways, and utter confusion begin to consume the family, as well as their defenseless minds. Told through a mashup of footnotes, appendices, and downright chilling typographical styles, this postmodern novel is one you won't soon forget. 

“Any hope or fear that the experimental novel was an aberration of the twentieth century is dashed by the appearance of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, the first major experimental novel of the new millennium. And it’s a monster. Dazzling.” - The Washington Post Book World

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchinson 

Far from civilization lies a beautiful mansion surrounded by an overflowing garden. There are blooming flowers, shady trees, and of course, a collection of precious "butterflies." However, these butterflies aren't what you'd imagine: they're young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble the delicate creatures. They're held prisoner by the Gardner, a man who is as twisted as he sounds. When the garden is discovered and a survivor is interrogated by the FBI, the story of the Butterfly Garden shifts and changes. Clearly, the butterflies have something to hide, but what is it? 

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

The setting? Chicago, 1954. The story? Atticus Turner, a young African American army veteran, cannot find his father, so he embarks on a road trip to New England to search for him. His Uncle George and childhood friend accompany him. When the group reaches the manor of Mr. Braithwhite, they discover the hidden terrors of a white America. Ruff blends magic and horror together to form a disturbing portrait of racism and the fear it still embodies today. 

"At every turn, Ruff has great fun pitting mid-20th-century horror and sci-fi clichés against the banal and ever-present bigotry of the era. And at every turn, it is the bigotry that hums with the greater evil." - The New York Times Book Review - Manuel Gonzales 

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist 

When the body of a teenage boy is found in a Sweden suburb in 1981, rumors begin to spread that the poor boy was a victim of a ritual killing. However, twelve-year-old Oskar hopes that something else is at work. He's been bullied constantly at school, but maybe this time, revenge is coming for his tormentors. Despite his strong hopes, Oskar is soon distracted by the girl next door. A girl who can solve a Rubik's cube on her first try, who is exceedingly odd, and who only comes out in the dark of night... You might have seen the 2008 film adaptation of this novel, but we all know that books can surpass the creep factor in any movie. 

“Sweden's Stephen King...a classic tale of horror.” -Tucson Citizen

The Passage by Justin Cronin 

Within thirty-two minutes, the world as we know it ceases to exist. An unfathomable security breach takes place at a secret U.S. government facility, and the monstrous creation of a military experiment gets loose. The accident results in killings across the nation, and by the time the sun rises, the survivors are left to face a changed reality. Civilization crumbles, people turn on one another, and the horrors don't stop. No one is safe, and human endurance is put to the test like never before. Relentlessly suspenseful and deep, this inventive story will have you turning pages deep into the night.

"Addictive, terrifying, and deeply satisfying. Not only is this one of the year's best thrillers; it's one of the best of the past decade - maybe one of the best ever." - Men's Journal 

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson 

This unsettling novel takes place on a family estate with a dark history. Merricat Blackwood lives there with her sister and uncle, but there used to be more Blackwoods. The rest of their family was tragically poisoned by a sugar bowl full of arsenic years ago, and no one knows who was behind the terrible deed. When cousin Charles appears, Merricat realizes the danger is still real and that she must protect her family at all costs. We Have Always Lived in the Castle isn't your traditional horror novel, but it's deeply unnerving and perfect for those looking for a quick read.

"A marvelous elucidation of life… a story full of craft and full of mystery." - The New York Times Book Review 

The Ballad of Black Tom 
by Victor LaValle 

A clever play on H.P. Lovecraft's "The Horror at Red Hook," this novella tells the story of Charles Thomas Tester. Charles works hard to house and feed his father in New York City, and he knows that working as a con artist has its pros and cons. He's good at masquerading as a musician on the street, but when he is approached by an eccentric character and asked to perform at a party, he has his suspicions. Charles begins a dangerous journey into a world of sorcery and danger, and he witnesses horrors he wishes he didn't have to recall. Full of social commentary, as well as controversial subjects and strong characters, this compelling novella has won the praise of many readers.

"Wonderfully creepy and impossible to put down, The Ballad of Black Tom is a genre-bending must-read." - BuzzFeed 

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill 

Victoria McQueen has always possessed the uncanny ability to find lost things. She's discovered everything from a misplaced bracelet to questions that probably shouldn't be answered. Charles Talent Manx, on the other hand, has always had a talent for dealing with children. He likes to pick them up in his Rolls-Rocdye Wraith with the NO24A2 license plate and take them to a playground he refers to as "Christmasland." When Victoria stumbles across Manx as a young child, she manages to escape. Years later, as an adult, she only wants to forget the horrific experience, but she'll always remember Charlie. Unfortunately for her, Charlie has never stopped thinking about Victoria, either.

"Like any good novel, no matter the genre, NOS4A2 zips down the streets of its mesmerizing storyline not just in the Wraith but also, and more importantly, on the backs of high-octane characters... Hill imbues the pitter-patter of little feet with a terror you won’t soon forget." - USA Today 

The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker 

Clive Barker is well-known for his terrifying novels, and many readers agree that The Hellhound Heart is one of his best (as well as the most horrifying). The book was adapted as a film, but don't let that stop you from picking this one up. There are three main characters: Julia is getting married to Rory, but she's not all that happy about the path she's started down. Frank, Rory's brother, lives his life in search of endless pleasure and has a swell time doing it. Kristy, Rory's friend, has been in love with Rory for some time and must watch as he heads towards marriage with another woman. When Julia starts hearing voices upstairs, things start to get... weird. Twisted and dark, this horror novel will leave you sleeping with the lights on.

"Barker's the best thing to happen to horror fiction for many moons...[he] never fails to deliver the compelling prose and relentless horror his readers expect." - Chicago Tribune 

The Graveyard by Neil Gaiman 

Poor little Owens was the sole survivor of the grisly murder of his entire family. After the gruesome slaughter, he wanders into a graveyard where an assortment of ghosts and other supernatural creatures adopt him. Now, he's older and goes by the name "Bod." His life in the graveyard could even be considered normal by some if you paid no attention to the unnatural occupants. However, the graveyard isn't as safe as it seems, and Bod knows that if he ever leaves his creepy home, he'll be hunted by the man who brutally killed his family. Both magical and terrifying, this Gaiman novel will undoubtedly impress you.

"Like a bite of dark Halloween chocolate, this novel proves rich, bittersweet and very satisfying." - Washington Post 

What's your favorite scary story? Leave other recommendations in the comments below! 

Riley Heruska
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Everywhere you turn, there's some kind of pumpkin spice creation flagging down your attention. Some are completely outlandish (can I say pumpkin spice grilled cheese?) while others are downright addictive. As overwhelming as all of the PS options are, it's clear that we Texans can't get enough of the stuff.

Ready to try your hand at some pumpkin spice baking? Here are a handful of recipes you can try at home while you're embracing the slightly cooler weather we call "fall." 

Easy Pumpkin Spice Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Popular recipe creator Averie has concocted a soft, springy cake that's bursting with pumpkin flavor. Add a dollop of cream cheese frosting and you've got yourself a dessert even pumpkin haters can't resist. Her simple recipe only requires one bowl and bakes in under an hour, so it's an easy dish to whip up even on busy days. 

Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Spice Cookies 

These scrumptious cookies are about as autumnal as baked goods can get. Filled with pumpkin and vanilla flavor, then covered in a dusting of cinnamon sugar, they're a wonderful mashup of snickerdoodles and all things pumpkin. Fiona's recipe on Just So Tasty is relatively easy to follow and takes roughly 20 minutes to prepare, so there's really no excuse for not giving these tasty treats a try. 

Pumpkin Spice Waffles 

Who doesn't want to start off their morning with some warm pumpkin spice waffles? Julie at Lovely Little Kitchen can show you how to do just that. Follow her step-by-step guide to a breakfast that's perfectly pumpkin. Serve with butter, syrup, whipped cream, and cinnamon to really spice things up. 

Easy Pumpkin Spice Pecan Fudge 

This sweet treat is the perfect addition to any Halloween dessert display. Brilliantly orange and extremely delicious, this recipe from Renee's Kitchen Adventures only takes 15 minutes to tackle. All you'll need is some pumpkin spice morsels, sweetened condensed milk, salt, vanilla, and pecans. Mix it all together and serve when firm! It's a dish that will have people coming back for more, so be prepared. 

Classic Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake 

Chrisy posted a recipe on Homemade Hooplah that practically screams "pumpkin spice season is here!" Her twist on a classic cheesecake is infused with pumpkin and spice in both the cake and crust. She even teaches you how to make the crust and filling from scratch in under 20 minutes. Serve with her homemade caramel drizzle and a bit of whipped cream to really wow your guests. 

The Best Pumpkin Spice Butter Cream Frosting 

Whether you're partial to chocolate or crazy for vanilla, this homemade frosting is the perfect fall touch for any cake. Two Sisters Crafting will lead you through the process of whipping up the buttercream topping in a matter of minutes. You'll need butter, pureed pumpkin, powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and milk. Mix it all together and plop it on the cake (or cupcakes) of your choice. Enjoy!  

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Spice Popcorn 

Don't have much of a sweet tooth? Cakies by Rachel can help you make something that will satisfy your pumpkin spice and salty snack cravings. Add a bit of vanilla, salt, pumpkin spice, and sugar to this popcorn for a perfect Thanksgiving or Halloween treat. Not only is it easy to make, but it's also a really unique idea. 

What's your favorite pumpkin spice recipe? Leave a link in the comments below! 

Riley Heruska
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When Halloween rolls around, everyone talks about the best horror movies to binge on, but what about films for people who are too young (or just too scared) to suffer through The Exorcist? Here are a few movies that will get your little ones in the festive spirit without giving them nightmares.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown 

This 60s animated film is a true classic. Charlie Brown is invited to a Halloween party while his dog, Snoopy, engages in a dangerous mission. Meanwhile, little Linus waits patiently in a dark pumpkin patch for "The Great Pumpkin." The soundtrack will immediately bring back memories of Halloweens long ago and even the smallest of kids will enjoy the story. 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 

Nothing says Halloween like floating jack-o-lanterns in Hogwarts. With just the right amount of creepiness and plenty of witches and wizards, this family-friendly film is perfect for an October movie night. Plus, there are eight movies, so you can even host a marathon if you're feeling ambitious. 

Hocus Pocus 

For many families, it's just not Halloween season without a showing of this 90s film. The story follows three witch sisters who are resurrected in Salem, Massachusetts, on October 31. Two teenagers must stop the witches from wreaking havoc before it's too late. Grab your apple cider and settle in for a night of witchcraft and fun. 

The Nightmare Before Christmas 

This Disney film is somewhat of a cult favorite. From the Halloween-themed songs to the creative animation, everything about The Nightmare Before Christmas is an enchanting ride. Join Jack, the Pumpkin King, as he discovers what Christmas is all about while he mixes in a little spooky magic. 

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow 

Although this film might be a little behind the times (it came out in 1949), it's still bunches of fun for young children. An animated Ichabod faces a terrifying ride in the night while in the midst of a romantic rivalry. 


When a young girl learns that she's a witch, she embarks on a magical journey in a town full of supernatural creatures. The Disney Channel Original Movie has won the hearts of several generations and practically screams Halloween. 

The Corpse Bride


Tim Burton strikes again in this haunting tale of lost love and mayhem. A shy groom is practicing his wedding vows when he accidentally raises a deceased bride from her lonely grave. She bride assumes they are married, and a tale of confusion and romance ensues. Complete with creepy songs and interesting animation, this film is one you just have to watch during October. 

When a "ghost therapist" and his daughter move into a drafty old manor, they have a job to do: exorcise the house's apparitions, which include a friendly young ghost named Casper and his ridiculous uncles. The story includes a hunt for hidden treasure, an unexpected friendship, and of course, some spooky ghosts. 

The Goonies 

When their home faces foreclosure, a motley group of young misfits sets out to unearth a pirate's treasure. Released in 1985, the film has established itself as a true classic. Every kid will want to see this movie at least once. 


The third Tim Burton creation on this list, Frankeweenie tells the story of Victor and his dog. When the dog, Sparky, dies, the young boy uses science to bring him back to life. A parody and homage to the original Frankenstein story, this animated film is equal parts adorable and creepy.