Category Archives: Reviews


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When I first went vegan I did it mostly for health related reasons. In the middle of it all I started to get sucked into the raw lifestyle. I slowly branched away from it, but I am still always interested in eating more raw food. I decided to try and eat more raw lunches and decided to use some of the recipes from Ani’s Raw Food Asia cookbook. I love Ani’s simple and easy recipes, making it quick and easy to prep a lunch.


The pictures are pretty true to what the food looks like, which I really like. Nothing drives me more bonkers than seeing a photo that will never match my recipe. Ani’s food does look inspiring to make, but there aren’t that many photos of the food themselves. The photos in the book are actually more about the sights and people that are in Asia. There are photos of Ani preparing recipes, and posing at markets. I would say this is annoying in a cookbook, but honestly, I like it. I find it relaxing and I like flipping through the book to just look at the photos. And let’s be real, do I need a photo for all these salads? Answer- no.


Unlike most modern cookbooks, Ani’s organization is a little all over the place. This might be a smart move. It isn’t often do that people sit down and read all of a cookbook. So Ani takes advantage of how people read a cookbook, by flipping through recipes, and gives information and facts throughout the recipes. Most of her tips are mostly about keeping up health, mentally, physically, and living an eco-friendly life. Before doing this review, I’ve read most of the note she has written, which I normally don’t do.

What does drive me nuts about this style is that certain recipes are scattered all over. I would of liked to have the sauces and pastes all grouped together rather than all over the place. If I just want to make that sauce, it is easier to find in a chapter devoted to sauces, rather than tucked away under the “rice” section. It isn’t a huge problem though. Otherwise, like any other cookbook there is an introduction, recipes divided up by types, suggested menus, then some more closing remarks about living a healthy life. 


Ani’s writing is always easy, but sometimes a little too dumbed down. It is a little frustrating to read some poorly worded information, that ends up being false. I might know what Ani is trying to say, but it the wording makes the information easily misinterpreted. For example she talks about buckwheat and writes “buckwheat is a seed, not a wheat, so it’s gluten-free.” Yes buckwheat is gluten-free, and yes, it isn’t related to wheat. But “not a wheat”? That is just horrible english, and makes the definition of grains even more confusing for most people.

On the flip side there is also some great information that is very much true. I have to agree with many of suggestions she makes for living a generally healthier life. So I wouldn’t say that everything is false, but when it comes for nutritional and food specifics know that she is simplifying the information a lot.


In general I like Ani’s super easy raw style of food. This book is probably better than her other books for starting out with a raw diet since most of the food doesn’t use a dehydrator. The dishes are pretty veggie heavy which is what I am looking for in a raw recipe. I do wish she offered up more recommendations for substitutes for recipes that use a dehydrator. She does recommend using the oven but it would of been nice is she suggested other substitutes like using a rice paper wrap instead of her dehydrated coconut wraps.

What I do like about the cookbook is that it isn’t very judgmental, particularly at the end chapter. Ani shares her experience with raw food over the years, and admits that she doesn’t eat raw all the time. Nor is she totally a vegan anymore, but is more so a pescatarian (or maybe a flexi-pesca-tarian? Basically fish is only a small fraction of her diet.) It takes a lot guts for a person to admit when their health isn’t 100% when their whole profession is built on it.

The authenticity of the recipes are a little up in the air. Ani doesn’t claim that these recipes are authentic, clearly since some of the originals involve cooking. Some of the Korean namul and kimchis are probably rather close to being authentic since she has Korean roots, and says in her book she visits family in South Korea. I think it bothers me when Ani tries to call a recipe after an specific dish, and it just isn’t even close. For example the samosas were delicious, but didn’t use potatoes, nor did it have a wrap around it. The only recipe that really made me annoyed was the “black rice pudding” which was a recipe for chia pudding. Neither are anything alike, and it really should of just been left out of the cookbook in my opinion.

Overall, I think I would recommend this book to anyone who is trying to eat more raw foods. There are some light dishes that are quick to make. I don’t think there was a recipe I wouldn’t make again (except the ‘rice,’ but that isn’t exclusively something Ani has made up, just give me normal rice please.) Sure there are some modifications people might have to make if they don’t have a dehydrator, but if you have a blender and food processor, you will be able to make most of these recipes.

If you are interested in individual reviews of recipes just click to expand the review.

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Boy I am horrible at keeping up with my book reviews! I don’t read much, but I always seem to take awhile to actually write my book reviews. And then when I finish the review, I’ve read yet another book to add to the site. Well, I finally completed my reviews of the rest of 2015. I am usually good about writing reviews for winter reading, so if you want to see what I read last year around this time, check out my Winter 2015 post.

As for reading, it was my goal to try and read less comics in comparison to novels and non-fiction. I kind-of failed but that is mostly because I tackled on a really long novel- 480 pages, which is a long book for me. I have always been a slow reader, and always enjoyed shorter novels and short stories instead of long epic novels. That is probably why I like modern literature over some of the classics. The overall theme this time arounds? Booze and animals.

What I am Currently Reading

Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu – I love Junji Ito’s horror comics, in fact he is the first manga I picked up to read. So I was excited to see that he wrote a comic about cats, and it is oddly suppose to be funny not scary.

We Always Lived in the Castle – I saw some blogger drop this book’s name (I can’t even remember who) so I thought yeah why not? Spooky house? Weird families? Yeah I’ll check it out of the library!

What I’ve Read


Eating Animals

Eating Animals starts as a memoir of Jonathan Safran Foer relationship with veganism and vegetarianism. Bouncing in and out in his youth, which I can relate to. I was vegetarian in middle school, then vegan in college, but truthfully I would “treat” myself to certain non-vegan foods whenever it meant my only option would be a salad. But the book quickly turns and talks about factory farming. It is a pretty hard read for me personally since I became vegan without the horrible videos and gruesome nitty gritty details about how the meat industry worked. I honestly just had the “feels” that there wasn’t any ethical way to mass produce meat. Add in health and environmental reasons, it sealed my fate as a vegan.

The book works on many levels, memoir, poetry, and investigative journalism. Majority of the book revolves around the author visiting many different styles of farms. Factory farms, slaughter houses, and those small ethical farms. There is a thorough investigation about the smaller farms, the places that people grasp so heavily to for ethical treatment of animals. The book talks about why those farms are in jeopardy of going out business, despite having eager consumers.

What I like about this book is that it goes into the grey areas that many vegans avoid. Will people ever STOP eating animals? Probably not, at least not for awhile. So should we conserve energy to get people to stop eating meat or getting more ethical treatment for animals? Can you do both?

This book isn’t a piece of journalism. Yes there are facts, there is research, and much more. But Jonathan Safran Foer places a lot of weight and emotion into the book, which to some might be impossible not to. The books conclusions are very much his thoughts. Sure you as the reader will come to your own conclusion, I’ve know a person who read the book and has made no changes to their diet or practices with animals. Was that because the book came off too preachy? Or was he so un-judgmental that people found it easy to ignore his message? I think the ideal audience for this book is either the already vegan, or the person who is already somewhat invested in where their food comes from.

Paper Towns

I like picking up young adult fiction from time to time as an easy read. I enjoyed reading The Fault in Our Stars, and saw the trailer for the movie for Paper Towns. The trailer looked very fun and made the Paper Towns story more fun and uplifting than The Fault in Our Stars (or at least a different type of uplifting). The story follows Quentin, a teenage boy living in the burbs of Florida. He has been holding onto a crush for the girl next door, Margo. She’s popular, adventurous, and beautiful. One night she comes knocking at his window, and the two sneak out for an late night adventure. The next morning Margo goes missing, and Quentin makes it his job to find out where she went.

There are some things I loved and somethings I found annoying in the book. The slang used by Quentin and his friends sounded a little forced, and perhaps that is just to emphasis how painfully uncool the guys are. But knowing when I was a teenager, I would of found this language embarrassingly bad, and would have a hard time getting past. But there are somethings Green hit right on the head, like the social boundries falling down at the end of senior year, that new found freedom of owning a car, and friends being kind-of jerks.

As an adult there really isn’t any new profound meaning to take home, but as a teenager, I think I would of taken a lot of good advice. There is more to people that what you can see on the outside. And this largely why many people “break up” or relationships don’t work out. You might feel like your know this person you have a crush on, but there is only a certain side to our personality that we share with people. I wasn’t too fond of the ending, but I won’t go into the spoiler details. I do know that John Green addressed they did change some parts ending in the movie, which I think are for the better (I haven’t seen it yet, but I have my hunches about what it is). But it is a quick read and was still really good.

Watership Down

I saw a trailer of this movie from Criterion Collection and thought it looked cool. Added the book to my To Read list on Goodreads, and kind-of forgot about it. But I was scanning my bookshelf to pick the next book to read and saw the title! My husband took a lot of the books from his Grandmother who use to be an English teacher. The book still has the envelope in the back for students to check it in and out of the school library, which was kind-of cool.

It took a long time to read since it is much longer than what I am use to, 480 pages, when I normally read things that are 300 pages or less. I knew the book was about more than just rabbits, in the same way Babe is more than just a funny pig. I figured the book is a classic for a reason. I thought it might have a hidden “save the environment” or “respect the animals” message, and it kind-of does. The story paints a picture showing that animals can be more complex than we think. The author has done a lot of research on rabbits and their habits, so in some way we do get a great view of how an animal thinks. The book does show how humans shape animal’s lives. The rabbit’s home are destroyed by humans, they are constantly in fear of being killed by humans. But they still have some sort of understanding of our habits and will steal our produce from farms.

But this book isn’t about rabbits- it is very much about humans and the nature of war. Why do people go to war? How do we react to our homes being destroyed? What do we look for in our leaders? The story even touches about dictatorships and folklore. Many very “human” characteristics are given to rabbits but we never forget that the book is about rabbits not humans. What makes the book so brilliant is that by making the story centered around rabbits instead of humans, we as a reader can step back and think about war without any cultural constraints.


Bee and Puppycat, Vol. 1

For my niece’s birthday I was trying to find some comics for her. I wanted to try and find some that weren’t based on super heroes. I am big fan of alternative comics, so I searched around. I randomly found Bee and Puppycat, and I loved the cartoons, so why not? I read the book before giving it to her and dubbed the books not very kid friendly. Some bits were a little confusing and the story had QR codes part of the plot. A cool thing, but I knew they would need the help of their mother. So I kept it for myself ^__~

The collection of comics are by various artists and writers so they quality changes a lot. But in some ways I like seeing the varying art styles and story lengths. What does stink is that because there are different artists working on the books there isn’t an overall theme or story arc. If I remember correctly there was even a story ending with “to be continued” but doesn’t get finished in this volume.

But I do think the stories capture the feel of the cartoon. The stories really utilize the comic medium well, which can be hard when making adaptations to an animation. It didn’t feel like they took the character from a cartoon and plopped them down on paper. I could imagine the voices of the characters and the movements that would be represented from the cartoon. I think this is a great comic for anyone who like the show, and it is fun for people who haven’t seen it as well.

Creepy Comics Volume 2: At Death’s Door

I picked up this book from my bachelorette party. Alexa wanted to check out her old comic book stomping grounds. The staffer suggested this collection since I said I liked Japanese horror manga. The book is throwback to the old Creepy anthology. The comic started in 1964 and ended in 1983. The series were black and white comics and came in magazine binding, with Uncle Creepy introducing all the stories.

The relaunch in 2007 keeps to the basics. Comics are still in black and white and the stories are still introduced by Uncle Creepy. What makes this comic collection so interesting is that there is a huge variety of artists working on the same book. Some are drawn in a very mainstream style that could be found with superhero comics while other stories have a much more indie vibe. For example Red Knife by Emily Carroll is an excellent comic with a loose narrative. Her panels weren’t always defined and the ending was open ended (but still creepy!)

The stories do truly change up a lot in artist style and subject matter. Some were very modern, some tried to give campy throwbacks, some had existential themes, some where creepy facts, and one took place in an ancient tribe. Because of this some stories were hit or miss. I think overall, the stories were pretty good, about 50% I really thought were solid stories that stood out. The stories were good enough that it makes me want to pick up another issue.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal

I originally picked up this book as a birthday gift for my niece. Both of my nieces have been reading more superheroes books and watching more shows. I am a little disappointed (and so are they) about the lack of female super heroes. So I picked up Ms Marvel. What I enjoyed about it is the representation. Ms. Marvel is Kamala Khan, a muslim girl living in Jersey City. Then she graced by the “superhero gods” who give her special super powers. She is now the new Ms. Marvel.

The book is really a coming of age tale, focusing on two struggles with Kamala. She is a muslim growing up in American, trying to find a balance between her culture and fitting in the United States. Her parents are strict, and want her to stay faithful for her heritage and religion. But Kamala is currently rebelling, wanting to go to parties and wear “normal” clothing. The second half of her struggle is trying to balance her new powers. Controlling her rubber hand can be difficult, and she isn’t always successful with her plans.

I found the story decent, but it is much more of a story for a teenage kid. I got it for my nieces that are much younger, kindergarten and 2nd grade, but I think having an adult read the story to them is fine. There were only a few refrences that might need to be censored for kids. What is nice about the book is that it can be saved for when they get a little older. When they can read it themselves, they can appreciate the message about growing up and peer pressure.

If you want more, I suggest checking out Idea Channel’s review/overview of Ms Marvel and how her representation is important for media.


Let’s Bring Back: The Cocktail Edition

Let’s Bring Back is pretty straight forward, the author Lesley M. M. Blume shares many vintage cocktails and how to make them. The book is less about technique and types of glasses and more about looking into the old cocktail culture. She usually gives a recipe with a cute little blurb of history, or a quirky reason to have the cocktail (celebrating something? need liquid courage?) This isn’t a book you just read cover to cover, but is more about flipping the book open to a random page to read.

What makes the book weird is that it walks a fine line of expecting you to make drinks from the book, and doesn’t. Many ingredients are left with their old name swedish punsch, vichy water, and cake of ice, things that aren’t so easily googled. There also isn’t an index which can be a bummer. If I have some absinthe and are looking specifically for cocktails that use it, I would have to search through the whole book, rather than to look it up in the index.

What is nice about the book is the variety of cocktails. So many! You can try and mix and match all the various liquors you have in your house. The drinks also don’t use that much alcohol so you can drink more often. I do know I have a heavy hand with the bottle, but I do think cocktail culture today is a little too much booze. You don’t need to be hammered each time you drink, and the smaller size lets the drinker actually enjoy a cocktail. My only complaint would be that there need to be less vermouth. Goodness did people love to drink vermouth! It is pretty much the only liquor that is hard to store since it is suppose to stay in the refrigerator.

If you have a friend who is into vintage clothing, antiques, and historical novels, I would highly recommend buying them this book. The cocktails vary greatly from time periods, and gives people authentic drinks. I might consider buying this book for myself to refer to for making drinks on the fly at parties.

The Drunken Botanist

I bought this book thinking it would be great inspiration of centralized around making cocktails from fresh plants. It did inspire me with cocktails but in a different way. The book centers around the various ways that plants are used in drinks. She starts but covering the various plants that are used in the fermentation process, and all the different ways a certain plant will get used. For example she talks in detail about agave plants and the differences between mezcal and tequila. She also covers more unusual plants like sorghum, cassava, parsnip, and bananas! What I found most helpful are the fancy differences between various brandies, vermouths, and the like.

The second part of the book is about the plants used in flavoring in a liquor. Amy Stewart breaks down the chapter further by centering around specific plant types, herbs, trees, fruits, etc. This helped breakdown and decipher all the different liquors and gives the reader a better idea of what are some good replacements. As some people are aware, unlike food, booze rarely needs to list ingredients. This can be problematic for vegans and people with allergies. The last part of the book is about the plants in actual cocktails (think the mint and lime in the mojito.) This part was rushed through and I wish Stewart made it longer. She leaves the last chapter a quick “inspiration” on how to incorporate plants into a cocktail, rather than give examples of cocktails that use specific plants (though specific cocktails occasionally sprinkled throughout the book.)

I personally loved The Drunken Botonist, it really gave me some inspiration to try new liquors. I learned the history and the importance of some of the drinks that might not be so popular today. But mostly the book makes you revel in the awesomeness that are plants. So many flavors, so many ways we found to highlight their flavors. Vermouth, brandy, wine, all made from grapes but they all taste remarkably different.

I checked this book out from my library and it is definitely on my list of books to add to my library. I can easily see myself taking this book out over and over again reading inserts from it. I am sure there are more definitive books about the topic, but this one is an easy read.


The other day I was at Whole Foods looking for some Eggnog, they were all out. I was a little crabby because that was pretty much why I went there. So I handle it the way I always do, grab a fancy as fuck drink. I love liquids, something about slurping up a liquid really makes my tummy happy. I also am a sucker for trying out new flavors and companies. I happen to notice a matcha latte, grabbed it and went to the register.


It has been awhile since I’ve had a matcha latte since it is something I kind-of have to make at home. There aren’t many vegan matcha latte, which then prompted me to flip to read the ingredients- NOT VEGAN. I do that often when I am hungry, as it happened with Califia’s Protein Drinks (which are now vegan). Luckily it was only honey in the matcha latte, which isn’t the worst considering I still have some mixed feeling about honey consumption (I try to avoid it, but my husband doesn’t so it kind-of sneaks into my diet from time to time.) I am pretty bummed since tea drinks love using honey, and it has been proven that it doesn’t have any special effect on your blood sugar levels short term.

BUT the drink itself was amazing. If you are a “plant based” vegan and will still eat honey, I would recommend this drink. There are tons of flavors going on, and the coconut wasn’t overpowering. I loved how much you could taste of the plants in it, and reminded me of the matcha spirulina shakes I have for breakfast. Well, that wasn’t too far off since there is spirulina in the drink as well.


Since it was so good I went to the Rebbl website to see if all their drinks had honey. Turns out that they only put honey in their matcha latte and turmeric golden-milk. I noticed they had some maca drinks which I haven’t had any maca in a while, and boy do I love it. I am haven’t had it in a while since of the insane prices that happened last year. So I was irresponsible and ran back to the store after work and grabbed whatever they had- maca mocha.


Let me say this is super amazing. I think I will be poor because I want to drink this all day. There is no coffee or cocoa (or not much cocoa) in the drink, which I think gives it such a great flavor. They use chicory root, which is known in the USA in the south to be mixed with coffee during rations. Carob has a reputation of being crappy fake chocolate, but I like its richer flavor, especially with savory flavors.

I am really liking these drinks and the company seems pretty awesome as well. They seem to trying and make sure all food is fair trade, and they donate 2% of the sales to Not For Sale. I hope I will be able to try their maca cold brew, reishi chocolate, and ashwagandha chai. I am bummed about the use of honey in their matcha latte and turmeric golden-milk since I liked the matcha, and the turmeric drink looks pretty tasty. I really hope they change the recipe at some point, but for now I’ll stick with that maca mocha.

*NOTE* After writing the rough draft I went to Whole Foods AGAIN and found the reishi chocolate. It was awesome as well, and pretty much satisfied any chocolate milk cravings. The drink was super decadent and would probably taste great if it was gently heated to make a hot chocolate. Although it was super awesome, it was a dynamic in flavor as the matcha or maca mocha drinks.

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With the Christmas season here, there is a good chance you are making cookies. And I thought it would be a good time to try out a bunch of recipes from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. It is a classic vegan cookbook that covers the topic of… well… cookies. It goes a little further covering bar cookies, brownies, and biscotti. Some of the cookies I made for christmas, and some I’ve made in the past for daily eating.


There are lots of photos in this book, I would say about half of the cookies have a photo. All are well lit and beautifully photographed. All the cookie photos are places on brightly colored backgrounds, making the photos very kid friendly (which let’s face it, we all remember the joys of cookies as kids.) There are enough photos to spark the reader in making new cookies, but I do have a problem. There are a few cookies that are nicely clipped to have white backgrounds and randomly show up in recipes. For example the Mexican Snickerdoodles show up in the recipe for Chocolate Marmalade Sandwich Cookies. At first I found this confusing, until I noticed the same cookies photo appearing over and over again.


The book starts with some cookie basics which truthfully I skipped. I started to read it, but it can be painfully boring to the seasoned vegan baker. BUT it is filled with important information to a new baker. For example, I think my husband could read it and feel more confident about the different flours out there. There is even a section that have various troubleshooting situations. So if your cookie doesn’t turn out right, you can fix it.

They divide the cookies up by drop cookies, wholesome cookies, bar cookies, fancy cookies, and roll and cut cookies. When flipping through, it is easy to go from one section to another without ever noticing. I think this is true for all of their baking books. I am not really sure if I care too much about having “sections” or not. 


The book has the usual fun writing styles of Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. They really make you feel comfortable with baking, and make veganism seem less exclusive. They also make you smile for the “fancier” cookies, they aren’t that hard, you got this. The directions are easy and to the point, making it easy to tell if I need a stand up/hand mixer or just a big wooden spoon.


I love this cookbook. All these cookies have been winners, though I wish or rather could see this book being much bigger. Compared to the vegan pie in the sky and the cupcake take over the world, I feel like there are SO many types of cookies that I wish this book could be just a little bit bigger. There seem to be a large amount of drop cookies that used oatmeal. There also aren’t many of the classic Christmas cookies that you might find with Christmas tree decorations, or other classic cookies I grew up with. I know they can’t cover ALL cookies ever made, but I feel like there are so many that aren’t easily interchangeable like how a cupcake can be paired with different frosting to make a new flavor.

But everyone loves the cookies I’ve been making, and there are so many new inventive flavors. Carrot cake cookies? Grapefruit? Tahini lime? And out of all the cookbooks there are the least amount of “weird” vegan ingredients. Meaning I would feel pretty comfortable giving these recipes to an omni baker, who wouldn’t have to go out and buy new ingredients.

Below are all the cookies I made from the book- which is a lot. They are so good, and I recommend buying this book for any vegan who needs to make cookies from time to time.

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Naturally Sweet Desserts

Philadelphia/Cherry Hill Area
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I love it when I randomly find new local businesses, which is why I kind-of like the new “Hatchery” in Whole Foods. They bring smaller businesses out into the front for people to see. Truthfully, I love the idea of farmer markets, but I never go to them. Why? Well, I don’t like getting out and about after work hours and I am usually tied up on Saturdays with my CSA. So I think the Hatchery is able to hit a wider range of people, or catch the attention of people who are waiting in line (which was myself today).

I was looking for Follow Your Heart Ranch Dressing, I didn’t find it. A little bummed I went to pay for the few items I had and saw the word “vegan” at the hatchery stand. Oh yeah? What’s going on here? A small bakery was set up with some cupcakes, brownies, and little pies. Naturally Sweet Desserts is a small bakery that is starting up. You can find them at various events, farmer markets, and they have a delivery service.


So what is special about HER business? Well, it reminds me a little of Sweet Freedom, lots of natural ingredients and not too sweet, but Naturally Sweet isn’t as “free” of allergens as Sweet Freedom. For example, I ended up getting the PB brownie which has peanuts and wheat. But the ingredients list is fairly short- whole wheat flour, cocoa, peanut butter, avocado, hemp milk, turbinado sugar, coconut yogurt, applesauce, spices, and flax seed.

How was it? Super fudgy and yummy. I personally love a fudgey brownie. It is also super filling. I could only eat half of a brownie at first. My only complaint is that it had a little bit of a bite. I am thinking maybe she had a little too much ginger in the mix? But if I walked by her stand in a market I would totally grab something again. I paid $4 for this brownie, and seeing the ingredients list, I have no problem with that. If you want an even better deal you can buy a dozen from her website for $29.50, saving you $18.50.


The downside is that this is a small business that is starting up. So you can’t just walk into a store and buy one brownie. As mentioned she has been going to farmer markets, and looks like delivering to a few other sources (like a CSA). You can go to their website to see which events they will be at, and their facebook page as well. But when talking to the owner today, I saw that she was mostly planning on doing a delivery service for at least the winter season (I don’t know if she will be going to farmer markets again in the summer). You can go to their website and send an email (on the contacts page) and ask about their delivery service, and she will add you to her mailing list. She will send out emails each week for people to reply with orders.

It sounded like she was making deliveries in the Philadelphia and Cherry Hill area, so email her to get specifics. I personally don’t eat sweets that much and will make baked goods for myself when need be. I hope the best to Naturally Sweet Desserts, and like a said, if they ever open a permeant location or start doing farmer markets again, I will be there.


Beyond Sushi

229 E. 14th St (Between 2nd & 3rd Ave), New York, NY 10003
75 9th Ave (Between 15th & 16th St) New York, NY 10011
62 W 56th St (Between 5th & 6th Ave) New York, NY 10019
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You may of read in one of my posts that I had a surprise concert in September. I got a call from my Father in Law asking if I was free, he bought tickets to see a concert but his wife was sick. He said he would invite my husband, but he knew that he had a particularly bad work week (apparently he didn’t get home that night until 9!) So we rushed plans, caught a train into New York City, and I looked for some vegan grub for us to get. I found out the venue was really close to Beyond Sushi. I’ve heard of Beyond Sushi from an instagram post by Terry Hope Romero– and yeah I dug deep in the instagram archive to share that image with you.


First sorry for the photos, we were kind of rushing. I am not sure why. I knew it would be awhile for the band to start, but there is still that hardwired feeling to get to the venue when the doors open. Plus I didn’t want to carry an expensive camera to a show or look like weirdo with my Father in Law… though I doubt he would of cared. So you get poorly lit iPhone photos! Oh well. We decided to kind-of share our sushi and get two different combos (combo number 2, two rolls, and two a la cart/individual pieces for $14.25) We got the following rolls:

  • Might Mushroom: Six-grain rice – Enoki – Tofu – Shiitake – Micro arugula; Sauce: Shiitake Teriyaki
  • Green Machine: Six-grain rice – English cucumber – Asparagus – Basil marinated veggies; Sauce: Jalapenõ Wasabi 
  • Spicy Mang: Black rice – Avocado – Mango – English cucumber – Spicy veggies; Sauce: Toasted Cayenne
  • Pickle Me: Six-grain rice – Gobo – Carrot Pickled daikon – Avocado; Sauce: Carrot Ginger 
  • Individual Pieces: Baked Tofu, Carrot, Enoki, and Seaweed

The store also provides some other non-sushi options. They will make some rice paper wraps, ranging from about $6 to $10. There are also hand rolls, side salads, side soups, and meal salads. There were also desserts and juices that looked like they might of been made at a different site. I didn’t get a good look at the company that makes them, but I assume it is another vegan shop located in New York City.


Combo number 2 was pretty filling, and I would probably get again. My FIL (father in law) didn’t quite eat all of his plate, like maybe two pieces too many. I found the seaweed and baked tofu individual pieces pretty awesome, the tofu being really firm and the seaweed perfectly spiced. My FIL seemed happy with his enoki mushroom and carrot choices. His favorite overall was the Green Machine, which had nice crunchy veggies inside, and a mildly spicy topping. My favorite was the Mighty Mushroom which had lots of umami flavors and made me think of eel rolls that I use to love to eat. The spicy mang packed a nice punch, making it most comparable to spicy tuna rolls. And the pickle me was yummy, but truthfully the most unoriginal for vegans, since pickled daikon rolls are common place vegan option in sushi bars. It was still good, but if you aren’t from the area, you might want to try the other rolls first.

I definitely would like to take my husband here next time we go into New York City. The place is awesome but truthfully not the most relaxing spot. We went to the Union Square location (229 E. 14th St) and it was a hole in the wall, as many of the stores are on that block. There aren’t many seats, and some seasoned New Yorkers might be a little rude and take up extra space to prevent you from sharing a table (though I am sure they would just move their shit if you ask if you could sit down). I would suggest coming during off hours to grab a seat, or ordering take out, which sushi holds up well for that. 

Big bummer, my server deleted this post and so I have do it all over again. I mean that should be too hard to write up two reviews again. I totally forgot to write a review for Day of the Dead which I saw earlier in October. And then I watched The Brood on Halloween day. Overall we watched 14 horror films in the month of October which I thought was pretty good! And we have been watching plenty of Goosebumps, and Halloween cartoon episodes. I also was sick in October and didn’t want to watch anything that might make me feel queazy. Anyways, I hope you enjoy these last two reviews.


The Brood

Year: 1978
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Rank: 10/10
Spooky Type: Mutants
Watch: Hulu

Plot: A man tries to uncover an unconventional psychologist’s therapy techniques on his institutionalized wife, while a series of brutal attacks committed by a brood of mutant children coincides with the husband’s investigation. –IMDB

Review: This is easily the best film I watched all month. I am not saying it is the best film of all time, just be best film that balances shock and gore with a great script/production. Apparently when the film first came out a lot of people thought it was complete trash, a cheap shot at the alternative mental health professionals. But the film is much more than that. It is about divorce and the difficulties children go through. 

At the time of the filming the director himself was getting out of a divorce with his then wife. During the divorce process it can be incredibly difficult for the child, and depending on how the adults act, can be a heavy weight into adulthood. I’ve heard petty stories of parents refusing to go to weddings if their ex is there as well. What the heck? To show the trauma, the lead characters Nola and Frank are separated, and Nola is getting mental help to try and save their marriage. During her sessions, we find out that her parents divorced as well, with both parents drunks, implying the damage seeped into Nola’s adult life.

Even with this heavy message, the movie has plenty of shocks. There is a kill fairly early in the movie, getting the momentum in the film going. And in Cronenberg’s style there is a great mutated body shock scene, so good that I am probably going to steal the idea for my next halloween costume. Since the movie is so trashy, but uses it to convey a message (and done in an excellent way) the movie makes it a perfect halloween film.

Overall: Perfect horror film, in my opinion.


Day of the Dead

Year: 1985
Directed by: George A. Romero
Rank: 7/10
Spooky Type: Zombies
Watch: Hulu

Plot: Zombies rule the world, except for a small group of scientists and military personnel who reside in an underground bunker in Florida. The scientists are using the undead in gruesome experiments; much to the chagrin of the military. Finally the military finds that their men have been used in the scientists’ experiments, and banish the scientists to the caves that house the Living Dead. Unfortunately, the zombies from above ground have made their way into the bunker. –IMDB

Review: This was the first film by George A. Romero that I watched, and that was probably a mistake. Romero is known for his zombie themes, and this is the third film in the dead series. It has also been (loosely) remade in 2008. This film is known for being gory and the best special effects, but the tone is quite different. Yes there are zombies, but they aren’t really the scary part. The scary part is the tension between the military personnel and the scientists. This makes an interesting twist to the zombie genre so I have to give props to Romero for that.

But the film is really of the times. The clothing, hair, stereotypes, music, filming styles, everything is very 80s. It is not my favorite time period so I had to focus to ignore the stylistic choices. The idea is really interesting, but the execution didn’t match up. The characters were pretty flat, which is probably why the acting was lacking. Overall I found the film decent, and worth checking out if you like watching a lot of different films.

Overall: Not the best Romero film to start with

Halloween is almost here! And I’ve been busy watching some spooky things! Some are TV shows, some a YouTube videos, but for now I am sharing the movies I’ve seen. If you haven’t already seen my first list of films I’ve seen this October, you can check out my first post. I might have another coming up next week if I watch anymore films on Halloween Day. Last time it was movies starting with “the” (okay that wasn’t my intention, it just happened that way) and this time I have mostly foreign films! One from South Korea, Mexico, Italy, and Spain! And two from the US, but you know whatever. 

Just wondering, do you guys like reading these reviews? I love films, and I feel like I’ve fallen out of the habit of watching them. I would like to watch more, and I love sharing what I think of them. But it is time consuming, so I am never sure if I want to share my love them. Anyways, enough talk about things, and lets talk about the films.



Year: 2006
Directed by: Byeong-ki Ahn
Rank: 7/10
Spooky Type: Vengeful Ghost
Watch: Hulu

Plot: Se-jin Oh is a typical Korean “spinster,” living alone, single, and career focused. Her days are a little lonely, and it doesn’t help that it is the Christmas season. After a rough day at work, she witnesses a suicide on the subway. Shaken up by the accident, Se-jin starts to notice some odd occurrences in her apartment complex. The lights flicker on and off people are committing suicide throughout the building. She starts spying on everyone to try and figure out what is going on.

Review: The beginning of the film might seem confusing, it starts with a TV broadcast of various recluses in Korea. Then it cuts to a girl mutilating herself in front of the broadcast, which has nothing to do with the film’s plot. This is pretty common with Asian horror films to have an opening that is vague but sets the mood for the spooky story. It is also worth saying that I made a distinction between “ghost” and “vengeful ghost.” Why? Well, Asian ghosts are very different from Western ghosts. Our ghosts tend to be very untangle. Things move, we get followed, some are evil, some are sad, there are strict rules. While in Asian cultures, specifically Chinese, Japanese, and Korean folklore, most ghosts are ambiguous, touchable apparitions, and almost always vengeful females. That being said, there are lots of illogical spooks throughout the film.

The story is kind-of a refreshing twist to the haunted house trope, using an apartment complex as the central focus. What I tend to like about Asian horrors over Western/American horrors is that there is usually a message that the writer or director is trying to convey. Loneliness is definitely what is being talked about here. There are high suicide rates in Korea, and socialization is a big role in Korean culture.

Overall I think the pace is good, everything is evenly spaced. The story is intriguing, and I wasn’t fully expecting what was going to happen. But, the ending gets a little weird. We go from ghosts to recluses. Then back to ghosts. The police investigator, moves into the house, to basically give the viewer a quick scare before the end of the film, which was pretty off putting. The story was based on a comic written by Kang Full, which I am unsure how much differs between the two.

Overall: Okay. Different type of story for western viewers and still spooky



Year: 1993
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Rank: 9/10
Spooky Type: Vampires
Watch: Hulu

Plot: In 1536, in Veracruz, Mexico, during the Inquisition, an alchemist builds a mysterious and sophisticated device named Cronos to provide eternal life to the owner. In the present days, the antiques dealer Jesus Gris finds Cronos hidden inside an ancient statue while cleaning it with his granddaughter Aurora. He accidentally triggers the device and soon his wife Mercedes and he note that he has a younger appearance. Out of the blue, the stranger Angel de la Guardia visits Gris’s shop and buys the old statue. On the next day, Gris finds his shop trashed and Angel’s card on the floor. He pays a visit to Angel that introduces him to the eccentric millionaire De la Guardia that explains the healing power and the eternal life given by Cronos. Angel is sent by De la Guardia to hunt down Gris to get Cronos no matter the costs –IMDB

Review: This is Guillermo del Toro’s debut film. It was independently made, which meant Guillermo had individuals invest money in the film, rather than going to a major film company. This is really rare to happen, especially at the time the film cost an estimated 2 million dollars, which was a lot for Mexican film. Because of this Guillermo had a lot of free reign as the director, probably saving the film from being a major gore-fest. Majority of the film is in Spanish with exception of the opening monologue and Ron Perlman’s character Angel.

It was really hard to categorize this film, because vampires is a little misleading. Gris only becomes a vampire from the cronos device which houses a bug inside of it. There is only one vampire, so there isn’t the threat of “spreading” the disease. The horror in the film I think also lies in the little girl seeing her grandfather become a monster, not the vampire himself. All of these factors makes the story refreshing to the vampire genre, heck the horror genre. 

Although I loved this film, take a grain of salt, this is a slow moving and understated film. One might debate if it is even a horror film (but it totes is, it follows the rules of Art Horror) so sit back and don’t expect buckets of blood. The film has beautiful set design and great acting. Basically you should be in the same frame of mind as you would be for a regular old film.

Overall: Beautiful film, totally new twist to vampire genre.



Year: 1987
Directed by: Dario Argento
Rank: 9/10
Spooky Type: Slasher
Watch: Youtube Trailer

Plot: Betty is a young opperata, getting her first role as Lady MacBeth, a role in a cursed opera. Betty is nervous taking the role, thinking her talent isn’t strong enough, and perhaps because the opera is off to a rough start since the original Lady MacBeth has hurt her leg. During the debut performance, there is a homicide, shaking up Betty. But the killing keeps following her, with the murderer forcing Betty to watch by placing pins near her eyes.

Review: This movie was a big surprise. I love Susperia, Dario Argento’s classic film. Some of his other films I liked aspects of it, but not the whole film. Deep Red was alright, but I think it was so different from Susperia that I didn’t know how to react. Then I watched Inferno, and visually it was amazing, but the plot and characters were… uh awful. So awful I can’t go into them right now. But there is an easy way to sum up all of Argento’s films, lacking in story and character depth but strong auteur vision. Visual cues and filming techniques help fill in the gaps of the characters and helps progress the story.

This is considered the last “great” Dario Argento film, as there has been a downward spiral in quality with his films. This is probably the biggest budget for all of his films, which becomes obvious. The effects are more impressive than any of his other films, beautiful costume design, and over the top sets. This not a film you want to turn away from, and trying to touch all the different themes of the film is difficult.

The idea of keeping Betty from turning away with pins near her eyes was a joke with Dario Argento. He was tired of seeing viewers cower away from the gore of the film, and joked he would force the viewer to keep their eyes open. In fact the idea of seeing and not seeing is played up through out the film. We see the killers point of view, we don’t see the star opera singer in the beginning of the film, we see things from a birds eye view, we rarely see the anything of the killer outside of his hands. And what we see onscreen is visually overwhelming.

Two big notes to the viewers. This is a vegan based blog, and this is probably the only movie that I would give a big “vegan warning” as it seems obvious that the crows are not treated properly in the film. It seems that Italian horrors have a reputation for not being animal friendly, as many people know Cannibal Holocaust for being the worst (coatimundi killed with a knife, large turtle decapitated and its limbs, shell, and entrails removed, tarantula killed with a machete, snake, killed with a machete, squirrel monkey decapitated with a machete, and a pig shot in the head with a shotgun at close range) Supposedly the movie was so awful the actors were near to tears during the filming of the turtle scene. But Opera isn’t that bad, just a few birds punches and batted at. Not ideal, so use your judgement.

The next note is that this is an Italian film, which almost always involve dubbing. Higher budget films have pretty good syncing, but this film is particularly bad at dubbing. It is in English, so there won’t be any subs. But most of the actors are Italian, so English is not their first language, which might explain why the lips are so far off. Take a deep breath, and try not to get too annoyed by it.

I am not one who loves a slasher film, but this was well crafted. Dario isn’t know for slasher films, but at the time there was a rise in popularity and it worked his way around it. I think he handled it well, adding his own flair to the genre. Truthfully, not that many deaths happen, but they are indeed memorable.

Overall: Great gory film, visually amazing!


The Orphanage

Year: 2007
Directed by: J.A. Bayona
Rank: 8/10
Spooky Type: Ghost/Haunted House
Watch: YouTube Trailer

Plot: Laura, a former orphan, raises her adopted son Simón together with her husband Carlos in an old house and former orphanage where she was raised. While at the orphanage Simón tells Laura that he has five invisible friends which she believes are a product of his active imagination. Laura decides to reopen the orphanage to cater for disabled children and throws a party. During the party Simón tries to persuade Laura to go and take a look at his friends cabin but she’s too busy. Later on she sees a mysterious masked boy and realizes that Simón has also disappeared. Laura feels the presence of other people in the house and months later Laura invites a team of parapsychologists to try to unravel the mystery. –IMDB

Review: We sure have a lot of subtitled films for this batch? This film was produced in Spain and was produced by Guillermo del Toro. I remembered the film getting good reviews when it came out, but never got around to seeing it in theaters. So now was the time. This movie is heavily based on plot and the horror is from the point of view of parents that loose their child. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t enough atmosphere in the film. The ghosts play heavy role in the film, Laura comes to the edge of insanity, there is blood, and there are creepy kids.

Although I loved the film and I think it is an excellent horror film, there are plot holes or things that don’t really make sense. Like how does Simón not know he has a disease? I mean, he is taking pills often, and I can’t imagine the doctor just “pretending” everything is honky-dory. And there are others that would give away the ending, so I will just stop there. That said, it is a good film to watch once, I think watching it over and over would make this holes seem much more obvious. Besides, I’ve seen much more weakly put together scripts for horrors.

Overall: Good for a good spook and mystery



Year: 1982
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Rank: 8/10
Spooky Type: Ghosts
Watch: YouTube Trailer

Plot: A young family are visited by ghosts in their home. At first the ghosts appear friendly, moving objects around the house to the amusement of everyone, then they turn nasty and start to terrorise the family before they “kidnap” the youngest daughter. –IMDB

Review: This is a horror film classic, and it does have some spooky value to it. There is tons of action and horrific elements. I guess my beef is that it is definetly a blockbuster film, and therefore has only so much depth to it. Well, it does present itself with the horrors of being a new parent. Yes, the family featured has three children, but the first born was an accident. The parents, Steve and Diane rush to get married and settle down together. Overall the story is about the fears of becoming a parent, Can you provide? Can you protect your children? How much can you shelter your children from the outside world? How to do you cope with all the responsibility? Because of this message, I think the movie is saved from being a spectacle of special effects and shocks.

The special effects are a little dated, but some really hold up the test of time. I guess my only word of caution is that if you are big ghost freak like me, you will probably find it way over the top. But I can see why so many people love this film.

Overall: Pretty good and mainstream.


Tales from the Darkside: The Movie

Year: 1990
Directed by: John Harrison
Rank: 7/10
Spooky Type: Short Stories
Watch: Netlfix

Plot: This is really three shorter movies, bound together by a fourth tale in which the other three stories are read. The first segment features an animated mummy stalking selected student victims; the second tale tells the story of a “cat from Hell” who cannot be killed and leaves a trail of victims behind it; the third story is about a man who witnesses a bizarre killing and promises never to tell what he saw, and the “in-between” bit is the story of a woman preparing to cook her newspaper boy for supper. –IMDB

Review: This was a pick from my husband. He is a fan of Tale from the Crypt tv series, and had this one on queue. There were two films made before this one Creepshow and Creepshow 2, which was based on the original comic books. But some of the shorts from Tales from the Darkside are actually based on shorts stories. One based off of Stephen King’s The Cat from Hell, and the other Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lot No. 249. But both stories have some classic feels to them that I could picture in an old horror comic book.

I wasn’t blown away by these shorts, but then again, I think I might of been sick when watching it. I found them entertaining, and the stories are short so if you aren’t feeling the story, it will end soon. There are some notable stars in it including Debbie Harry, Christian Slater, Steve Buscemi, and Julianne Moore, and Matthew Lawrence (though he might not of been famous at the time). What I liked about this film is that the stories are very different from most modern horror film plots. So this is a perfect film if you want something really different from your average slasher film.

Overall: Bored with most horrors? Check this one out.

Sadly when I got back from my trip to Frederick, I caught a stomach bug. I am not sure where I got it from. I think MAYBE eating leftover food that might of been sitting in my car too long, or maybe I just drank way too much during the wedding. Who knows. Needless to say my Aunt Flo is visiting too so you know, that makes everything so much more disgusting. Oh but wait! I am done talking about gross stuff! I swear!

Okay scratch that whole first paragraph, and lets just say I need more calories and probiotics (I lost 6lbs of water weight at the height of the sickness) so I bought a whole bunch of live culture yogurts at my supermarket. I know there are more out there, but these are what were available. I think it is worth noting I am not a huge yogurt fan. I think part of the bias is that cups (everything is number 5 plastics, which is hard to recycle) and the prices. None of these yogurts were less than $1 a piece, making it is a pricey snack food. But this review is also to give you a chance to compare some prices, nutritional info, and descriptions on one page.

I also want to note that since I did this review when I wasn’t feeling good, I am just using stock images from the manufacturer websites. So sorry for the lack of creativity. Whomp whomp.


So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk Yogurt

Calories per cup: 130-150
Sugar: Plain 8g, Flavors 16-24g
Size: 5.3/16 oz
Protein: 0-2g
Price: $2.09 (Wegman’s)

This yogurt was on par with Kite Hill with it’s creamy and smooth textures. It is also awesome because it does come in larger 16oz containers for baking and cooking. They also have a huge range of a yogurt flavors to choose from. Downsides? LOTS OF SUGAR! Sure there is an unsweetened version that has only 1 gram of sugar in it, but how many of you will be eating plain unsweetened yogurt? Not many. I happened to eat the one with the most sugar, raspberry. It was pretty good, but a little too sweet for my preference.


Silk Soy Yogurt

Calories per cup: 140
Sugar: 14-17g
Size: 5.3 oz
Protein: 6g
Price: $1.69 (Wegman’s)

I find it a little funny that Silk is introducing their “new” yogurt, since I remember it being around for awhile. Clearly it is a new recipe which I think is better than what I remembered. The old being slightly chalky (maybe, it has been a few years). I tried to strawberry which somehow has the lowest sugar content (who knew) and it was tasty. It has small chunks of strawberries. My biggest issue is the unique packaging, which is a pain to find space for in a full fridge. It also has a little more preservatives in it than the other brands. Flavors are a little limited and they don’t come in any bigger sizes at the moment making it hard to buy in bulk.


Kite Hill Almond Yogurt

Calories per cup: 160-200
Sugar: Plain 5g, Flavors 15g
Size: 5.3 oz
Protein: 6g
Price: $2 (I think)
Availability: Whole Foods

I think I can say this is my favorite yogurt from the bunch. This yogurt is insanely rich and smooth, and thought it could sit by itself as a dessert, rather than a breakfast food. I think the company upped their almond to water ratio to give a large amount of protein (most almond milk yogurts have about 1-2g protein) and such smooth rich texture. I would have to say comparing prices, I would say this is the winner. At first I thought $2 was a lot but not when compared to what I paid for the other yogurts, it isn’t much more. A big plus is that there is a PLAIN yogurt! This is sometimes hard to find, and is good for cooking/baking. This probably has the smallest selection of flavors to choose from and only comes in the small cups right now. That stinks but I don’t think I would eat them in any other context out of a small snack, so I am not worried about buying this yogurt in bulk.

Nancy's soy image

Nancy’s Cultured Soy Yogurt

Calories per cup: 120-170
Sugar: 10-23g
Size: 6, 24, 32oz
Protein: 5g
Price: $1.69 (Wegman’s)

The sugar might come off as crazy high, but most stay in the low teen ranges. The sugar count spikes up in the mango yogurt, so I am guessing a good portion is from natural sugars. I also like how many of their flavors come in the larger containers. Like plain comes in three sizes, and more than half of the flavors can come in 24oz. Which saves money and plastic. Oh and the containers have lids! Even the small ones! I am actually washing the one I bought and probably will reuse it for crafts, like saving mixed paint. But let’s talk flavor- it is weird. I actually kind-of like it better than the other yogurts, but I am accutely aware it ain’t yogurt flavor. What Nancy’s does to the yogurt is blend of probiotics, ones that you find in normal yogurts and amazake, a fermented rice drink. The result is a gritty yogurt, that has a deeper flavor. The best way I can describe it is like comparing a fruit wine made in the West, and drinking it next to a fruit wine from East Asia. Personally I like the addition of grains, but I can see why a lot of people would hate it.

The Result?

I personally liked the Nancy’s Yogurt the best, but like I said before, I am not a yogurt fan. I liked the complex flavor, cutting down on the sugar and fruity flavoring. But I did enjoy Kite Hill a lot. When I did eat yogurt I tended to like baby yogurt the best, which seems weird, but it was because baby yogurt had full fat milk, making it richer. I think Kite Hill is more on par with that. So if you like yogurt I would suggest picking up Kite Hill over everything else.

I love Halloween. I try to watch as many spooky movies that I can during October. Oh, and I also try and watch as many halloween themed TV episodes. I know my husband personally loves to watch the old Goosebumps series, but truthfully they are too painfully 90s kid for me. But the problem is that sometimes it is hard to filter through the horror reviews. As I flip through Netflix, I see such a large range of reviews, some giving 2 stars for movies that are pretty good! So I’ll be posting my reviews for the week of what I thought of the films I saw, and to give viewers a heads up about what they are jumping into. I think most “bad” reviews are because the viewer expects one thing, and gets another.


The Awakening

Year: 2011
Directed by: Nick Murphy
Rank: 7/10
Spooky Type: Ghost/Haunted House
Watch: Netflix

Plot: A surge of followers of the spiritualists movement has motivated Florence Cathcart to expose frauds. She becomes the expert in her field, even though she is a woman in the 1920s. She is contacted to help out with a ghost sighting in an all boys boarding school. It seems that Florence had wrapped up all the loose ends of the so called “ghost sightings” but something bothers her that keeps her at the school a little longer, giving the school enough time to expose it’s true colors.

Review: The Awakening‘s strong points are the visuals. The cinematography is beautiful, the tone is great, and everything is visually spectacular. Pretty much all the aesthetics are perfected, from sound, to editing. It is easy to fall in love with the movie because of this. Sadly the plot was a little lacking. Truthfully, ghost movies are hard to do, since they are one of the oldest horror genre. But there were enough red herrings in the film to distract the viewer and have a surprise ending, or rather an ending that you didn’t guess ALL OF the facts. There were lots of themes that seem to of been tossed into the story but had no real deep meaning, influenza and the World War. 

My other beef with the film was the historical aspect. Setting films into the past is a great way to remove ourselves from our connected world. It is so easy to get data, make a phone call in emergencies, research history, that sometimes it makes the plot too easy to solve by the protagonist. So having a movie take places in a huge mansion with little light and stone cold walls can make a creepy setting. Unfortunately if you know some things about history, you find errors. Florence’s character was a little too modern for the time period, which seems intentional, but a little too overdone. The historical inaccuracies aren’t glaring, but if you are a history buff, you might not want to watch the film.

Overall: It’s a good watch, and would recommend watching for a good ghost story.


The Omen

Year: 1976
Directed by: Richard Donner
Rank: 5/10
Spooky Type: Demon Child
Watch: Netflix

Plot: Robert Thorn is an American ambassador in Great Britain. His wife Katherine has a stillborn baby during childbirth. The hospital happens to have a healthy baby that had it’s mother die. So a priest suggests to Robert they switched the babies around. Katharine is unaware of the switch and raises her child as their own. Strange things start to happen that make the couple question where their child came from.

Review: I had pretty high hopes for this movie. It is considered a classic, almost every horror movie buff have seen it. I remember having a hard time finding someone to watch it with me. I figured it would be something I love. The Exorcist is awesome, 70s witchcraft based horror films are excellent, and Gregory Peck is a dreamboat. So it seems to make sense that this film would have it all.

But everything that I loved about those films were pretty much missing from The Omen. There wasn’t a mystery of trying to find out that the son was the devil. Spoiler alert, he is a demon child. Actually it isn’t a spoiler, all synopsizes say he is, so do trailers, and posters. You find out pretty much right away. Trouble follows as Robert Thorn tries to solve the problem, but it doesn’t have the stalking qualities that so many witch movies have. There are no hints of occult activities, or witchcraft. Just a boring kid, who doesn’t act evil or creepy.

So why is this a classic? I don’t get it. Maybe it was a product of the times, but wasn’t too gory or tacky to be dismissed by mainstream culture. The film is overall polished, great acting, direction, writing etc, but it doesn’t take the viewer to horrifying world. Some people present the argument that the viewer shouldn’t know if the characters are just paranoid, or if child is truly the devil. But I think the story presents too much evidence that would support the story that the child is the demon, especially since some of the evidence isn’t ever revealed to the Robert Thorn character. Lacking spooks, and lacking a deeper meaning.

Overall: Pass


The Orphan

Year: 2009
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
Rank: 7/10
Spooky Type: Demon Child
Watch: Hulu Trailer

Plot: Kate and John are a married couple with two children. Their second child was born with a hearing complication, leaving her almost deaf. Their third child resulted in a still born, leaving the couple with the decision to adopt a child. At the orphanage, they meet Esther, a quiet girl who is exceptionally great at painting, has an old fashioned taste in clothing, and has excellent English despite being born in Russia. But Kate starts to notice trouble follows Esther around, leaving her to try and find out what Esther’s history is.

Review: If you are looking for a scary movie with lots of gore and scares, I would recommend this movie. Within the genre of scary movies, I think this is really good. The ending is unexpected, I was on the edge of my seat to see what would happen, and there were was an eerie atmosphere. But… the movie has it’s flaws, but not in ways that would take away from it’s fun horror gimmicks. Everyone did a great job acting, many small details are well paid attention to, and nothing seems super tacky. But if you picked up the script you would probably say it was a okay suspense film, most of the “horror” is built up by filming techniques.

The director gets too caught up in the style of editing, and sound production, making things “scary” when it makes no logical sense to. Spoiler Alert here- Esther makes enemies with a girl at school. So while the girl is playing on a jungle gym, there are editing styles that make the whole experience seem like the girl is on edge.. but why? Because Esther stared this girl down on the playground? If this were to happen in real life, the girl would have no reason to be scared, and I think the filming techniques should of reflected this.

Looking back at the story, most of the actions from the character are irrational, or over the top. And I get it, but it leaves me with the conclusion that this film is just a horror film. And that is okay. I think it is well produced for a late night scare. Though it is disappointing to not have a story with a deeper message about society. To put it this way, I liked this film, but I don’t think I would watch it again.

Overall: Good scary movie, but not a solid message.


The Others

Year: 2001
Directed by: Alejandro Amenábar
Rank: 8/10
Spooky Type: Ghost/Haunted House
Watch: Netflix

Plot: Grace lives all alone in a mansion in Jersey with her two children. She hires three new house keepers as the previous staff got up and left mysteriously. The house is a strange one, there are strict rules about closing doors and locking them since her children are diagnosed with xeroderma pigmentosum, an extreme sensitivity to sunlight. The children start talking about people they see around the house. Grace first assumes they are just making up stories, but strange things start to happen making her believe them.

Review: This movie is very aware of it the tropes of a Haunted House film. Rules are put into place, all doors must be closed before entering the next room. Doors must be locked, curtains must always be closed. All for the sake of the children. Which made me think right away of House on Haunted Hill, or other haunted house films, there are always specific rules for the house. But unlike those films, messing up those rules doesn’t bring upon the ghosts. The story has been described as almost a remake of The Innocents.

Although I enjoyed the film, I think I “solved” the mystery halfway through, but then doubted myself, then knew I was right all along. Is it painfully predictable? Maybe if you are a huge ghost film fan, but anyone who is a general horror or movie fan might get stumped. That aside, I think the story is fairly solid, well researched for accuracies, and believable characters. I think the only thing that bothered me was the “backstory” of the maid who couldn’t speak. It really made no sense.

Oddly I remember this movie being a bust when it came out. I guess I just remembered the high profile divorce with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, which happened during the release of the movie. I think the movie got compared too often with The Sixth Sense, which was released two years earlier. So watching the movie today, out of context of pop culture really lets the viewer enjoy the movie.

Overall: Highly underrated ghost story. Great throw back to the old movies.


The Uninvited

Year: 1944
Directed by: Lewis Allen
Rank: 9/10
Spooky Type: Ghost/Haunted House
Watch: Youtube Trailer

Plot: Ray and his sister Ruth discover a beautiful abandoned house while vacationing in Maine. They are able to buy the house for a steal, but find the original owner odd. The owner’s granddaughter Stella befriends Ray and is excited to explore the home. But Stella seems to experience a panic attack in the house, and while they try and nurse her back to health, strange things happen around the house.

Review: As a horror film, this is much slower paced that what most modern viewers are use to. The movie tries to focus on the story and relationships between characters as the history of the house is revealed. And it is tempting to try and “guess the surprise ending” like with so many ghost/haunted house stories, but you really do need to focus on the dialogue, especially towards the end.

I loved this film and would recommend that viewers take a few notes of what to expect when watching. The film doesn’t pull a lot of hokey stuff, so I think it makes it very classic to watch. It isn’t like watching old Frankenstein films, where subtleties are ignored. But the film does take awhile to get the “spooky” ball rolling. There are some transitional things, crying in the house, spooked pets, etc, but no filming stylistic choices to get viewers at the edge of their seat. But what holds together the movie is the story, as you will find yourself wanting to solve the mystery of the house.

The special effects are actually quite good for the time. The ghost was pretty haunting, and pretty convincing. Pretty much this is the horror film for film fans, and fans of classic horror films. Yes it is a little melodramatic, but heck I love that. The merits of this film is well known, as it is part of the Criterion Collection.

Overall: Watch, but be aware it is older and dialogue driven.


The Wicker Man

Year: 1973
Directed by: Robin Hardy
Rank: 8/10
Spooky Type: Witches
Watch: Youtube Trailer

Plot: Sergeant Howie arrives on a small island in Scotland called Summerisle to investigate the death of a young girl, Rowan Morrison. Once at the island, no one seems to know who this girl is, which is perplexing since everyone seems to know each other in the town. When night falls, it seems all the locals are crazy, naked women crying at graves, orgies, singing (my god so much singing), and a women trying to seduce him. But as Howie finds out more about Rowan, the more lies are uncovered, leaving Howie racing to be the clock to discovering Rowan before it is too late.

Review: This is kind-of funny contrast to The Orphan. This is probably a movie that doesn’t fall very well into the “horror” genre, as there aren’t that many editing, visual, or sound choices that enhance the spooky environment. But there is a lot of theme going for the film. Xenophobia, classes, power struggles, lawlessness, and religion is scattered throughout the film, giving the viewer a lot of think about.

The story is well researched and thought out. Every scene has importance, and all stories are fairly true to wiccan practices. Sure somethings are played up, like all the sex, which is to manipulate Sergeant Howie. Some things are just done to make things more cinematic, like creating music to the wiccan chants. Unlike many witch stories during this time, there isn’t the feeling of supernatural stalking, though there is a big brother sort of watch by the community as a whole. In fact this much more realistic true to life feel gives a different creepy feel. There nothing unrealistic about anything that happens.

This is defiantly a horror film for a lover of story and conversations. It isn’t full of campy spooks, although here is plenty of nudity which is kind-of a given for any 70s horror. But if you are looking for a late night scare fest, this might not be the best film.

Overall: Great film, but a little predictable because of it’s prevalence in pop culture. Low on a the “spooky” factor, but the realism does add to the unnerving tone.