Step Inside My Parlour
All my viewing, reading, exploring, eating, and
drinking finds that are fit to share.
Come sit down, stay awhile.
T. Kingfisher’s novella What Moves the Dead hooked me from the first page. It’s a sharp reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher that manages to be both cozy and foreboding, includes delightful mycology horror, and even throws in a Beatrix Potter nod for good measure. I bought two more of Kingfisher’s books before I even finished this one—she has such a confident, approachable voice and engaging writing style.
I blazed through Small Game—it’s an utterly engrossing, hugely impressive, beautifully written debut about a group of contestants on a wilderness survival reality TV show gone very, very wrong. It’s deeply moving, occasionally disturbing, and highly enlightening regarding foraging and off-grid living. I’ve followed author Blair Braverman on Twitter for years—she’s a badass dogsledder and survivalist and, no surprise, an incredibly talented writer.
Boy, did I adore Anatomy: A Love Story—a YA novel set in 1817 Scotland about a monied teenage girl who dreams of eschewing the society she was raised in and becoming a surgeon. Major Frankenstein vibes, a really sweet love story with a "resurrection man" (aka: someone who digs up and sells fresh dead bodies to medical researchers), and loads of excellent surgery body horror. The second book in the duology, Immortality: A Love Story, is just as thrilling. Author Dana Schwartz is enormously talented at weaving fact with fiction in a way that both informs and compels. These feminism-forward novels are hugely entertaining and propulsive, with just the right amounts of morbidity and romance.
I absolutely loved Cackle, a coming-of-witch story that's funny and dark and digestible. I couldn’t put it down! Honorable mention to author Rachel Harrison’s latest, Such Sharp Teeth, which is like a big bowl of gourmet popcorn—page-turning and full of deliciously visceral body horror while also being beautifully written and conceived.
With Tár, Todd Field has more than made up for the sixteen-year wait after his last feature, Little Children. Everyone is praising Cate Blanchett’s (admittedly incredible) performance, but Field should be mentioned in the same breath. The film moves from a portrait of a lauded conductor to a ghost story to a thriller with understated, razor-sharp slickness. Tonally and thematically, it’s a bit like Personal Shopper mixed with Parasite and a more muted Black Swan.
I finally got around to watching Jordan Peele's latest, Nope, and—controversial opinion alert—I think it's his best film yet. It brilliantly blends sci-fi, western, and horror elements and crescendos to a deeply satisfying brother and sister character arc (Keke Palmer is a national treasure!). I especially appreciate Peele's light touch with gore in this—it's dread-filled, to be sure, which only underscores the impressive craftsmanship behind the lens.
And as anticipated, Glass Onion is a riot. Trust Rian Johnson to follow up his smash hit Knives Out with another perceptive, relevant, twisty, uproarious story featuring a glitzy cast and a wholly satisfying finale.
I've been mainlining two albums on my recent drives. I’m an unabashed Taylor Swift fan, and after her two more acoustic pandemic albums, Midnights is a rousing return to pop. Bops across the board. And Jensen McRae's Are You Happy Now? cuts right through me. My Ego Dies at the End feels like an official theme song.
As far as TV goes, I'm still reeling from Interview With a Vampire. It's a refreshingly thoughtful modern adaptation with a whole lotta money on screen for an AMC series. It’s sexy and gory and perfectly cast, and the writing is beautifully lyrical. Anne Rice executive produced the project before her death and it feels like it has her blessing.
I have an insatiable sweet tooth, which I'm desperately trying to get a handle on. I've found the recipes in model and wellness influencer Abigail O'Neill's book Model Chocolate to be the most satisfying, mood-boosting option for curbing my cravings. The breakfasts, baked goods, and confections are sweetened with maple syrup, honey, agave, or coconut sugar, and they all feature one perfect uniting ingredient: chocolate.
My current favorite is this Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding, which I top with whatever I have on hand (pictured here: fresh raspberries, shredded coconut, and pistachio kernels—I always need crunch on anything with a custard-like consistency). I usually whip up a double or triple batch so I have enough for weekday mornings. Stocking my freezer with these goodies is meditative—I love to put on music, melt cocoa butter over a double boiler, and measure and stir in varying ingredients. Some of my favorites are Abigail's dark chocolate bar (featuring any add-in's that strike my fancy), Tangerine Almond Pralines, Pecan Brownies, and Lemon Sour Cherry Thins.
The activity of slowing down to make myself something lovely is just one of the many things I dub a Romanticize—an exercise that brings out your inner romantic. I launched a Substack series that offers a new Romancitize every week—you can read all about it here and find an overview of my free and paid subscription offerings here.