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Wait…what happened to October? One moment, I’m saying “Ah, I have the entire month to put out Halloween decorations.” And now, here it is the day before Halloween, and we have not a single witch or pumpkin in our house. Shameful. My spouse and I have also agreed to bail on the neighborhood trick-or-treating ritual this year and go dark and quiet (well, as quiet as we can with a 70-pound dog that barks at every passerby.) It’s not that we don’t LOVE the holiday—it’s one of my favorites! Rather, it’s been a busy month, with a full third of it spent traveling, and another third spent working and preparing for that travel. We simply haven’t had time to bask in the fun and thrills of the haunting season.

That doesn’t mean it’s been all work and no play. I managed to fit in more than enough mental munchies to keep my imagination stoked and the fires of inspiration burning. Here are the books, movies, and audio that captivated me throughout October.

Books & Stories: I started the month with Double-Crossing the Bridge by Sarah J. Sover. I’ve followed Sover on Twitter for years, and once her debut hit the shelves, I nabbed a copy. ice cream sandwichDouble-Crossing the Bridge is a riotous reimagining of the Billy Goats Gruff tale. Sover builds a wonderfully detailed and grungy world for her main characters: baby-feasting, cave-dwelling trolls. You can tell Sover had a ton of fun writing it, and that made it all the more enjoyable for me. I was also lucky enough to interview her last month for Luna Station Quarterly. I took My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi with me to Greece and finished it before we landed back stateside. Zoboi nails the 1980s, and more specifically (I assume) 1980s Harlem. Her description of the world is so vivid that even if you’ve never lived in Harlem or through the 80s, you can fully envision the world of little Ebony Grace. Ebony navigates life by interpreting her world through the lens of her beloved sci-fi shows. Plus, she is an avid Star Trek fan…a girl after my own heart!

Movies & Shows: I finally made time this month to finish Good Omens on Amazon Prime, which I’d started earlier this summer. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it after watching episode one, but the chemistry between the two leads—David Tennent and Michael Sheen—made it thoroughly enjoyable. good omensWe caught a couple of standup specials on Netflix from Sebastian Maniscalco and Nikki Glazer and rented Dark Phoenix from Redbox. I have mixed feelings about this latest X-Men installment. I’m 100% a Marvel/X-Men girl, so I enjoy nearly every X-Men movie released…to a degree. I appreciated seeing the Dark Phoenix saga interpreted on screen (X-Men 3 did a poor job with it), and I love Sophie Turner’s turn as Jean Grey, but I found the plot underwhelming. BONUS MOVIES: On the flight back from Greece, I wiled away the long hours with two movies: Toy Story 4 and Aladdin. Toy Story 4 was entertaining, but I don’t feel a fourth outing was necessary…not when Toy Story 3 ended in the most beautiful and poignant way. And I absolutely LOVED Aladdin! While part of me longed to see a replication of Robin Williams’ beloved Genie, I’m glad Will Smith gave us his own entertaining interpretation. I loved the agency and strength given to Jasmine, and Mena Massoud’s Aladdin was utterly charming.

Music & Audio: Early in the month, I listened to the music of Dawn Xiana Moon. I’m working on an interview with her for my Luna Station column, and I wanted to be thoroughly versed in her music to draft the best questions. Her music is enchanting and magical and worth checking out. I filled more flight time mid-month with an episode or two of the Hidden Brain podcast with Shankar Vedantam on the flight to Athens. The themes are similar to my beloved Radio Lab podcast, and I adore Shankar’s voice. On our connecting flight from Athens to Amsterdam, I was in the mood for something with more beat and synth, so I pulled out my trusty iPod and grooved to the Tron: Legacy soundtrack.

This is one of my favorite albums to listen to when I’m working on sci-fi themes in my writing, which admittedly isn’t as often as I’d like. I tend to gear toward fantasy and supernatural in most of my work, but I’d love to add a sci-fi-focused story to my repertoire. I have a few ideas, so maybe one day…!

So, that sums up my Monthly Mental Munchies for October. I’m not sure I’ll have much to share for November, as I’ll possibly be joining in the NaNoWriMo fun. I guess you’ll have to come back on the last Monday of the month to find out!