Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #109: Graveyard School #21: The Skeleton’s Revenge, a.k.a. “Flipper’s Badass Grandma”

Title: Graveyard School #21 – The Skeleton’s Revenge

Author: Tom B. Stone/Nola Thacker/D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Tagline: N/A

Summary: He’s Baaaack!!!

Skate McGraw and his family are spending Thanksgiving at his uncle Edgar’s house on an island. It sounds cool, but when they arrive, Skate immediately gets the creeps. The first thing that makes him uneasy is the scary skeleton in his uncle’s study. Then Skate begins to hear sounds at night-sounds like bony feet walking the floor and bony fingers turning the doorknob to his room. But when Skate sees the horrifying figure in action, he’s convinced. The skeleton on the skateboard is back for the ultimate revenge!

Initial Thoughts

Our first scheduled break in the chronological reading order, because this is the only book in the series to take place during Thanksgiving. It’s also the only sequel in the franchise. To its credit, this one isn’t quite as obvious as the previous “Skeleton” book and you are in no way prepared for how this book ends.

Now, despite taking place during Thanksgiving, the story is set on a tropical island, and it replaces skateboarding as the focus with surfing. And unfortunately, Vickie Wheilson is only in the story for the first couple of chapters.

[Wing: Skate! Surfing! Tropical island! YAY! NOT ENOUGH VICKIE! BOO! I’m excited about a sequel, though.]

(more…)

Posted in Fear Street Recaps

Recap #107: Fear Street Sagas #17: The Raven Woman, A.K.A. “The Sum of Our Incomplete Fears”

Title: Fear Street Sagas #17 – The Raven Woman

Author: ???

Cover Artist: Karen Chandler

Tagline: Who Will Be Her Prey?

Summary: Will The Past Protect Her Or Defeat Her?

Terror is sweeping the land and beautiful Meg Fier is swept up in the frenzy. Some blame the approaching American Revolution. Others say it is caused by the curse of the mysterious Raven Woman.

Meg finds shelter with Dr. Malcolm Howell, renowned physician. She also finds herself falling in love with the kind, trustworthy doctor…

…Until she catches him reciting spells from the Book of Fier!

Initial Thoughts

This is about the best any of us is getting towards learning more about what was going to be the penultimate Sagas, “The Raven Woman.” The last Sagas, “The Hand of Power,” included a short preview in the back along with a summary for “The Raven Woman.” All I can say is it’s a good thing I didn’t know about this when it was first published or I would’ve been beyond pissed at the time I would’ve wasted wondering when the next book was coming out. I’m still trying to figure out which of the authors who wrote the Sagas books was supposed to write this in the hopes of learning about what was planned. I know it wasn’t Cameron Dokey though, or R.L. Stine.

This is the first time any “Book of Fier” was mentioned, which I guess makes sense because the continuity of the Sagas entries flip flops depending on the book.

[Wing: I’m very curious about this Book of Fier spellbook. I’ve not read a ton of the Sagas (pretty much only Heart of the Hunter, so I’m not sure how many spells tend to show up, but I’d love to see more of the Fier women being powerful witches, and especially this Raven Woman legend/curse.]

The online stores offer a bit more to the summary, explicitly mentioning the doctor character is performing mind control experiments, [Wing: Well that escalated quickly!] and Meg would turn to the Raven Woman for help. I’ll offer my thoughts as to what was gonna happen after the recap.

(more…)

Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #105: Shivers #34: Weirdo Waldo’s Wax Museum, A.K.A. “Where’s Weirdo Waldo?”

Title: Shivers #34 – Weirdo Waldo’s Wax Museum

Author: M.D. Spenser

Cover Artist: ?????

Tagline: N/A

Summary: WAX NEVER FORGETS

And neither does Billy or his sister Crissy. Both of the kids will always remember that freaky family vacation. The one that almost scared them all to death. What should have been a terrific tour of Washington, D.C. turned into a terror-filled, run for your life race against wicked wax. All because Billy’s dad is, how do you say it – cheap! He never met a bargain he didn’t like until this one. Why go all the way to the capital, when you can save money and wander through a wacky world of wax. One low price gets the whole family in – only luck gets them out!!!

MY BRAIN IS MELTING!!!

Initial Thoughts

Shivers is another YA horror series I stumbled upon in my quest to complete my collection of Graveyard School, Goosebumps, and Fear Street books. I don’t remember how exactly I learned of it, most likely while I was perusing through a secondhand bookstore.

I only own a few copies of the series, most of them from the latter half. This one was a Christmas gift I received in 2008, and this book completely took me by surprise. It ventured into areas I would never expect a Goosebumps knock off to go into, but enough to qualify the Shivers series as a whole the right to exist as a “YA horror series” and not a “Goosebumps knock off.”

There’s a reason I wanted this post to go up on Veterans Day. I’d guess Memorial Day would’ve been more appropriate, but considering it’s been one year since that rapist homophobic piece of shit was put into power, coupled with the increase in the “Alt Right,” you’ll see why I wanted to recap this book.

You think this is a stereotypical “Wax museum full of dead people” story, like the myriad of “House of Wax” remakes and rip-offs and, it kind of is. But we don’t have scenes like Joan of Arc or one of Henry VIII’s wives getting executed. No, this book ventures into some very dark territory. I’m talking racism, sex jokes, a recreation of a fucking NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMP. They should make kids read this book in school.

The really strange thing though, is that the wax museum is NOT run by Weirdo Waldo, but instead is run by Mad Mac. Go fig.

[Wing: Well this is going to be an interesting ride. Also, that cover is creepy as shit.]

(more…)

Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #104: Mermaid Saga Parts 5-6: Mermaid’s Forest by Rumiko Takahashi

Title: Mermaid Saga Chapter 5 & 6 – Mermaid’s Forest

Author/Artist: Rumiko Takahashi

Summary: N/A

Initial Thoughts: I decided to skip chapters 3 and 4 for now because that story isn’t really a horror tale, but more of an action/adventure one that takes place in Yuta’s past. I prefer the modern day stories because the past tales remind me too much of “Inuyasha” so they don’t really feel like “Mermaid Saga” to me.

I mentioned in the first post “Mermaid’s Forest” is one of the two most well known stories from the series. It was the first to receive an animated adaption as an OVA in the 1980s, and was later included in the anime series from the 2000s. In fact this story’s so well known Mermaid Saga is sometimes referred to as “Mermaid’s Forest.”

Image result for mermaid's forest ova

This takes place immediately after Yuta and Mana leave Cape Nosuri, and features the most visually striking character in the franchise, Towa Kannagi.

I’m gonna include scans and screencaps from the manga, the OVA, and the anime throughout this.

[Wing: I am in love with this story already, and looking forward to this recap.]

(more…)

Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #101: Goosebumps: Haunted Library by R. L. Stine, A.K.A. “The Lost Goosebumps”

Cover of Goosebumps Haunted Library, door and Hershey's welcome mat with title informationGoosebumps Haunted Library back cover

Title: Goosebumps Haunted Library

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: N/A

Summary: Curly is not only the coolest of ghouls, he’s actually frightfully well read. He “freak”-quents the library often and gives “Goosebumps to all the browsers and loungers who dare to enter. The latest hair-raising additions to his private collection are three titles, “THE HALLOWEEN GAME,” “BAD DOG,” and “DON’T MAKE ME LAUGH” which have been written by R.L. Stine especially for Hershey, Pepsi, and Frito-Lay. Every Boo Dude will want to “check out” this exclusive “Thrillogy” Mini-book collection. Come back again real soon for more of the “Good, Clean, Scary Fun” that is Goosebumps!

Initial Thoughts

In the mid 1990s, Scholastic did a special giveaway partnered with the Pepsi, Hershey, and Frito-Lays corporations. They allowed people to send away for limited edition Goosebumps stories printed in tiny pamphlets, and were also given the opportunity to receive a special cardboard carrying case to store all three stories. The set was called “Goosebumps: Haunted Library,” and I shit you not I had not heard of them until a few years ago when someone updated the Wikipedia page. At first I thought this was some other scrapped project like “Goosebumps Gold,” and was pleased to learn it was not. As a major stroke of good luck, I was able to find and purchase the complete set off eBay. I even went out of my way to contact Troy Steele, the genius behind “Blogger Beware,” and offered to share with him the three stories so he could do his patented style of reviews for them. He never replied back, so like always, it’s now down to me to educate you poor schmucks.

Notice how the “books” in the library are either endorsements for products by the three corporations or are simplistic horror titles like “The Dark Basement” by Jen or “Goblins” by Kari.

Also, I got the set autographed by R.L. Stine at the signing last December. I think he barely remembered Haunted Library.

[Wing: I had never heard of this before. I am now delighted by it.]

Goosebumps Haunted Library signed editionGoosebumps Haunted Library signature close upGoosebumps Haunted Library plate

(more…)

Posted in Fear Street Recaps

Recap #99: Fear Street: Halloween Party by R. L. Stine, A.K.A. “Niki Meyer Is Stunning And Brave”

Title: Fear Street – Halloween Party

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt

Tagline: There is going to be an uninvited guest at this Halloween party on Fear Street…

Summary: WELCOME TO FEAR STREET

Don’t listen to the stories they tell you about Fear Street. Wouldn’t you rather explore it yourself… and see if its dark terror and unexplained mysteries are true? You’re not afraid, are you?

Invitation To Terror

The invitation arrived in a black-boarded envelope. Inside, the card showed a coffin with the inscription “Reserved For You.” It was perfectly fiittng for an all-night Halloween party on Fear Street. But Terry and his girlfriend Niki wondered why they had been invited. They barely knew Justine Cameron, the mysterious transfer student who was throwing the party.

The party was well under way when the lights went out. That’s to be expected at a spooky Halloween party. But when the lights came back on, there was that boy on the floor with the knife in his back. Just a Halloween prank? Maybe. Maybe not.

For Terry and Niki the trick-or-treating has turned to terror. To their horror, they realize that someone at the costume party is dressed to kill!

[Wing: That is a very dramatic blurb.]

Initial Thoughts

This is by far one of the best Fear Street books, if not THE best. The cover artwork alone is stunning (despite floating pumpkin skulls aren’t actually involved in the book itself), and even with my love of holiday-themed horror, I’ve read enough reviews to indicate this is an Ensemble Darkhorse in the original series. The atmosphere and locations are vivid, and its heroine, Niki, is genuinely one of the best main characters Stine’s created in a sea of unlikable whiny, shallow, self-centered, hypocritical assholes. And not just because she’s “Special.” I even got my copy, which thankfully had the original artwork and not the dull reprint version, autographed by R.L. Stine. Seriously, this book is so good I never want it adapted into a movie or TV episode because I don’t think any other format could do it appropriate justice.

[Wing: I’m thrilled for this recap. All the Halloween recaps this year. All of them. Such a great time.]

(more…)

Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #97: Graveyard School #5: Revenge of the Dinosaurs, a.k.a. “Cretaceous Park”

Tom B Stone Revenge of the Dinosaurs cover, t-rex coming through the wall of a schoolTitle: Graveyard School #5 – Revenge of the Dinosaurs

Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Barry Jackson

Tagline: N/A/

Summary: They’re Back!

“Dino-head.” That’s what David Pike calls his little brother, Richie. This kid eats, sleeps, and breathes dinosaurs. Richie even keeps a terrarium filled with plastic dinosaur figures, and he treats them like they’re real. He feeds them, talks to them, and claims they’re growing!

When Richie says that his Tyrannosaurus rex has escaped, David decides his little brother has finally gone over the edge. It can’t be true that dinosaurs are back and on the loose… Can it?

Initial Thoughts

Guys I am really sorry this was delayed. I was really busy the past few weeks with work at the stadium and the store, and then New York Comic Con. Staying home today because of my flu was the best decision I could’ve made for focusing on finishing my writing.

This is the first and practically only book in the series to be a science fiction story instead of a supernatural horror tale. It’s admittedly one of the books I rarely re-read until I began reviewing for this website.

We’ve got another sibling tag team in the form of David and Richie, and by the end of this post I’m sure you’ll agree with me Richie is by far the greatest threat in the entire series and more dangerous than all of the other monsters and villains combined.

[Wing: Dinosaurs. Not documented here quite as often as my werewolf love, but I have a deep and a biding love of dinosaurs, and I’m thrilled to have this book come up immediately after last month’s werewolf book.]

(more…)

Posted in General

Halloween Extravaganza: Jude’s NYCC 2017 Goosebumps and YA Horror Sketches

New York Comic Con is my second favorite time of the year, next to Christmas/my birthday. I spend all four days walking around adding more pieces to my already large collection of art commissions and sketches. This year I was only able to do three days, as I was called into work at the stadium on Sunday. That being said, I realized since I would be working and thus earning more money, I decided to splurge the next two days. And thankfully I was smart enough to set up a few pieces in advance of the show.

For the last couple of years I’ve been devoting NYCC towards a sort of horror theme and have been trying to add additions to my Goosebumps-related artwork, as well as other YA horror related art, and added these fine pieces to my collection.

(more…)

Posted in General

Halloween Extravaganza: Jude’s Favorite Horror Flick Heroines and Villainesses

It’s time to put the WEEEEEEE back in HalloWEEEEEEEEN, so I’ve constructed a special article where I get to gush about my favorite heroines, villains, and secondary characters from horror films (including animated ones).

Why? Because I felt like it. I wanted to do something special for the holiday and I relish any chance I get to gush about why I love these characters the way I do. Plus it gives me a chance to show off some of my other commissions I wouldn’t normally get the chance to include in this website.

Some of the characters I get really in-depth on while others I only briefly discuss.

For the month, I will include 31 entries in this list. Some are shared by two or three characters, though, so I’m gonna cheat a little.

These are all characters who left an impact on me in some form or another, and on my writing and views of fiction in general. Admittedly, a lot of them are mothers and motherly figures. I guess I have a type.

(more…)

Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #92: More Tales To Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

Title: More Tales To Give You Goosebumps

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Summary: “Reader Beware – You’re In For Ten Summertime Scares!”

Is Matt’s summer camp being taken over by an evil patch of poison ivy? Will Eric escape from his tank, now that he’s been turned into a fish? Can Tara help the terrified voice she hears inside a beautiful seashell? Find out in these ten creepy Goosebumps short stories perfect for reading around the campfire or under the covers!

Initial Thoughts

This was the first of the short story books I read, and I… I think I actually stole this when I was a kid. No I remember back in elementary school, I found this book in a bag of books inside a closet in one of the classrooms. I think they were going to get rid of these books so I just kept the copy for myself. A few years later when the hardcover collection was released I gave my copy away.

As you could probably tell from the summary and cover art, the stories in this book all take place during the summer and yet surprisingly only two of them involve summer camps. Only one book was adapted for the French Goosebumps illustrated novellas, but none of them were made into TV episodes. One story, “The Cat’s Tale,” genuinely feels like some sort of pilot version for “Cry of the Cat,” the first in the Series 2000 line. I can safely say I found the stories in this one more interesting than the previous one. The original edition also came with a bonus booklight.

For this recap, I’m gonna be doing “3rd Rock from the Sun” jokes for the subtitles. Which means prepare thy selves for a bunch of dick jokes.

I’m also gonna include some of my ideas for potential sequel stories.

[Wing: I don’t know why, but I am so charmed by a creepy summer themed book coming with a booklight. Damn you, Stine!]

(more…)

Posted in Other Recaps

Recap #89: Mermaid Saga Parts 1-2: A Mermaid Never Smiles by Rumiko Takahashi

Title: Mermaid Saga Chapter 1 & 2 – A Mermaid Never Smiles

Author/Artist: Rumiko Takahashi

Summary: N/A

Initial Thoughts: Some of you might know who Rumiko Takahashi is, or if you don’t, you might at least know of her works. She’s a longtime mangaka and creator of “Inuyasha,” “Ranma 1/2,” and “Urusei Yatsura.” She’s been writing and illustrating comics since at least the 1970s, and she’s still going. Nearly every one of her series have gotten at least one animated adaption, and most of them run for DECADES.

But today I’m here to talk about one of her more obscure titles and possibly the one oddball in her resume of titles. “Mermaid Saga” is Takahashi’s only foray into a straightforward horror series, and is relatively light on humor and love triangles unlike her other books. Which is good because it means her male protagonist isn’t an insufferable lech or an idiot.

Rest assured, the mermaids here are NOT the kind of mermaids you’re familiar with. We’re not talking about Ariel, or Darryl Hannah in “Splash,” or even the Hans Christian Andersen Little Mermaid. Mermaids in this story are monsters. Sometimes they walk on two legs, sometimes they don’t. But they are not cute, and they’re not friendly. The only way you can kill them is by chopping off their head.

Legend says the mermaid’s flesh can grant a person immortality if eaten. And it can… if you’re lucky. Eating the mermaid’s flesh is like Russian roulette, and if you don’t get immortality, you’ll be lucky if it kills you. The majority of people who eat the flesh, well… it’s not pretty.

Mermaid Saga didn’t get an animated series straight away. There were two OVAs (Original Video Animation, the equivalent of direct to video movies), one in the 80s and the 90s, and then an animated series in the 2000s. The one animated adaption I’ve watched in its entirety was the “Mermaid’s Scar” OVA from the 1990s, which is my favorite by far due to the artwork and the beautiful music. By admittedly, the opening theme to the anime series, “Like An Angel,” is breathtaking.

It’s one of Takahashi’s shorter series, with all the chapters collected in 4 volumes. For the sake of these recaps I’m going by each separate arc, but will include the cover art of the Viz manga collections that included the arcs.

[Wing: Okay, this sounds amazing, and I’m so excited. #killermermaidsforever]

And I’m including an MP3 of the opening theme, “Like An Angel” by Chiaki Ishikawa.

(more…)

Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #86: Little Pet Werewolf, a.k.a. “My Little Werewolf: Friendship is Magic”

Title: Graveyard School #4 – Little Pet Werewolf

Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Barry Jackson

Tagline: N/A

Summary: It’s pet day at Graveyard School and everyone is excited. Everyone except Skip Wolfson, that is. Every year it’s the same thing — Skip brings in his dog just to be ridiculed. While everyone else’s pets are exotic and brilliant, Skip’s dog is just a lazy mutt that can’t do any tricks. Skip wishes he could bring in some kind of really cool pet — like a werewolf. He’s in for the shock of his life when he doesn’t have to search too far for one! You’ll be dying to go to class at Graveyard School.

Initial Thoughts

We finally get to the werewolf edition, so I bet Wing is tripping BALLS. [Wing: Legit shrieks of joy when I saw it.]

What’s truly interesting about “Little Pet Werewolf” is how this is the first to really establish a type of socially conscious trend in the series. I covered in the introduction post how there was a somewhat consistent theme of discussing environmentalism and conservation of resources without going totally overblown and flying over the heads of the target demographic. In this one Stone/Thacker/Athkins briefly discusses animal abuse through the main character’s parents, who run a pet supply store and arrange for abandoned pets to be adopted into loving homes. [Wing: Seriously? That AND werewolves? This is going to be so great!]

This is also the first book where the main character can be genuinely grating on the reader, but admittedly he has enough redeeming qualities to avoid Scrappy territory. Also, the supporting character, Tyson Walker, is said to look like soccer player Cobi Jones with his short dreadlocks, so, way to say he’s Black without saying he’s Black. [Wing: In case you, dear reader, like me, do not follow soccer, here is Cobi Jones. He’s a hottie.]

[Wing: Do you know how much money I would spend on a series called My Little Werewolf: Friendship is Magic? With all sorts of little werewolves to collect? SO MUCH MONEY. ALL MY MONEY.]

(more…)

Posted in Fear Street Recaps

Recap #85: Ghosts of Fear Street #26: Go To Your Tomb – Right Now, A.K.A. “Absolutely No Giants In This Book”

Title: Go To Your Tomb – Right Now!

Author: Carolyn Crimi [Wing: What even is this weirdness, someone not Stine writing Fear Street. The horror. THE HORROR.]

Cover Artist: Mark Garro

Tagline: “Talk About Being Grounded!”

Summary: You Meet Some Weird People In The Fear Street Cemetery…

Like Luana. She just appeared there when Jack was taking a shortcut through the cemetery. She said she had powers. And she told Jack she could make him invisible.

Being invisible would be cool, Jack thinks. But he’s not sure he wants to go through with it. After all, how far can you trust a ghost?

[Wing: If you’ve read a single book or heard a single story about Fear Street, you would know that you can’t trust a ghost at all, JACK. Also, why do people keep hanging out in the Fear Street cemetery? You should all know better by now!]

Initial Thoughts

My first foray into reviewing the “Ghosts of Fear Street” series, which is, as you could tell from the cover, “Goosebumps Meets Fear Street.” However, pretty much every book in the series was ghostwritten, and the publishing info before the title page informs you of the actual writer. I’m not familiar with Carolyn Crimi’s writing, other than she possibly ghostwrote “Fun With Spelling,” a Goosebumps short story.

I decided to pick a later entry in the series because no one ever reviews or talks about them. All the recaps I’ve found have only focused on the first ten or fifteen books in the series, so I thought it’d be more productive to shed light on the more obscure titles.

This is the first one to feature the redesigned logo and cover layout, with the title banner of haunted houses and ghosts similar to the revamped look the “Fear Street” books received. However, the new designed only lasted until the next entry, and then they were redesigned again with the CGI art up until the series ended. I have to say, the “Ghosts” series did a better job with the redesign than the Fear Street books did.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with this book the way I did because it’s so off the walls. I should mention for some reason the summaries given by the online book stores mention something about Luana really being a giant and I don’t know where that came from because nothing like that happens here.

Oh, Wing, you’re really not gonna enjoy the penultimate battle sequence. For about eight reasons.

[Wing: EWWWW WHY WHY WHY WHY IS IT ALWAYS THAT. (I really do appreciate your warnings!) I’d never even heard of this series until recently, and up until this moment, was tentatively excited, because I like Fear Street and Goosebumps (generally). NOT SO DAMN EXCITED NOW THOUGH, AM I.]

(more…)

Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #83: Even More Tales To Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

Title: Even More Tales To Give You Goosebumps

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: N/A

Summary:  Reader Beware– You’re In For Ten More Scares!

Can Jeff convince his parents there’s a live mummy in the basement? Will Adam escape from a monstrous flying gargoyle? Is Brian’s boarding school turning kids into robots? Find out in these ten creepy Goosebumps short stories guaranteed to make you shiver!

[Wing: Stine is making a lot of guarantees with these books!]

Initial Thoughts

I’m not really sure what to say the theme for this collection is. The cover would have you think it’s summer related, but not really. It feels like some sort of middle ground between the first collection and the fifth, which was also the strangest. I think I can safely say you don’t really know what to expect from some of these titles, and they certainly are a bit more imaginative.

One story was adapted for the French novella line, and three of them got turned into TV episodes (one was a two-parter!). I think my favorite would have to be the last because it’s got a twist ending that’s definitely a lot of fun and won’t have you screaming in frustration.

Oh, and apparently this book came with a pair of actual boxers! [Wing: … what.]

For these subtitles I’ll be doing riffs on stereotypical anime and manga episode titles, like from Sailor Moon.

Oh and, Wing, hon, you’re really not gonna like the second story. [Wing: Greaaaaaaaaaaaaaat.]

(more…)

Posted in Fear Street Recaps

Recap #81 Fear Hall: The Conclusion by R. L. Stine A.K.A. “And You Thought Student Loans Were Scary!”

Title: Fear Hall: The Conclusion (obviously follows Fear Hall: The Beginning)

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Franco Accornero

Tagline: “Welcome back to the most terrifying dorm on campus!”

Summary: “A Special Message From R.L. Stine”

Dear Readers:

I hope you’ll join me for the conclusion of Fear Hall. I think it’s one of my scariest finishes ever!

Where will Hope go now that her secret has been revealed? Does she realize that her friends aren’t real friends? Does she know who the vicious killer really is? Are there more shocking surprises in store for her?

Find out the answers in FEAR HALL: The Conclusion. I had so much evil fun writing it, I scared myself!

[Wing: I am still both charmed and confused by Stine’s special message on these books. Why? How? … Why?]

Initial Thoughts

Back to Fear Hall for the last time. Were you guys scared by R.L. Stine’s take on mental illness? I know I was!

[Wing: “Scared” might not be the right word for my response last time… I do hope this goes better. I doubt it will. Also, student loans are terrifying.]

The ending of this tragedy follows directly after the last book’s climax, and believe me, everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. If you haven’t read the recap for the first book, I insist you do so because otherwise it’s gonna be difficult to understand what’s going on and why, even with the short recap.

(more…)

Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #79: Graveyard School #3: The Headless Bicycle Rider, A.K.A. “The Adventures of Algernon and Mr. Toad”

Title: Graveyard School #3 – The Headless Bicycle Rider

Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Barry Jackson

Tagline: N/A

Summary:  Will The New Kid At Graveyard School Keep His Cool Or Lose His Head? [Wing: AMAZING.]

Even though the class bully makes fun of his name, Algie (short for Algernon) is enjoying Graveyard School and his new town. But things start to change for Algie when he gets a new customer on his paper route. The ride to old Mr. Bates’s house is dark and creepy, and rumor has it someone was beheaded there long ago.

Algie doesn’t believe the rumors, and he’s willing to brave his paper route. Until the headless bicycle rider appears…

Initial Thoughts

Round three of Graveyard School and this time we get a first hand look of how a child acclimates themselves to old G.S.. Algie is the first new addition to the ongoing cast who wasn’t mentioned in the very beginning of the series or was always simply there and never referred to, and he quickly becomes a mainstay among the sixth grade cast. We further get a glimpse of the best and worst the kids can offer, the best in Kirstin Bjork and the worst in Jason Dunnbar.

Now, you’d expect a bunch of references to Sleepy Hollow given the title and subject matter, but what you’re really in for is a bunch of “Psycho” references. Enjoy!

[Wing: I’m actually sad! I love Sleepy Hollow references. And headless riders. And new kids. Clearly I am primed to love this book.]

(more…)

Posted in Goosebumps Recaps

Recap #76: Tales To Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine

cover of Tales to Give You Goosebumps by R. L. Stine with a ghost in front of a background image

Title: Tales to Give You Goosebumps

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: N/A

Summary: “Reader Beware — You’re in for ten scares!”

From an evil baby sister, to a remote control that can control more than just the television set, to a teacher who’s obsessed with snakes, to a cute, cuddly teddy bear gone bad, here are ten creepy, spooky stories guaranteed to give you Goosebumps all night long!

Initial Thoughts

So this is the first of the six short story collections and, honestly, it’s kind of boring. It’s clear that most of these are ideas Stine had that he just wasn’t able to convert into full length novels. While most of the other collections had themes, this one’s kind of all over the place in terms of genre, with one that’s not supernatural or science fiction-based at all. Four of the stories managed to get turned into TV episodes, which is more than the other collections could say (and a bit of a waste since the one really good story wasn’t), while two were adapted into illustrated novellas for the French Goosebumps line. [Wing: Now that’s interesting! I wonder what the illustrations are like.]

I never read this book on its own, just after it was reprinted alongside the following two collections in hardcover format. I will say it’s interesting that this entry seems to be the birth place of Curly the Skeleton, the original Goosebumps mascot. You might remember him from the merchandise that appeared in the mid to late 90s when the series got popular. He was the skeleton with the buzz cut, bandana, and sunglasses who often had a big pit bull by his side. On the cover he was depicted with long hair and tattered white robes, more like a ghost, and Scholastic supposedly asked Tim Jacobus to redesign him. He’s sadly forgotten by the current young Goosebumps readers, discontinued like so many of the monsters like Amaz-O, Cuddles, and the Masked Mutant to make way for the disappointing likes of Madame Doom, Murder the Clown, and *ugh* Dr. Maniac. But he will forever live on in the goosebumps of our hearts.

To add a bit of fun, for subtitles this time I’m taking a page from one of my favorite animes, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and adding “Duel” with each recap entry. The French words translate to a trait shared in the stories. I’m on a small Utena kick lately.

[Wing: Again, I’ve never read this, I’m excited for the recap, and I’m grateful that someone else is recapping a Stine book.]

(more…)

Posted in Fear Street Recaps

Recap #74: Fear Hall Part 1 – A.K.A. “Fear Street: The College Years”

cover of Fear Hall The Beginning by R. L. Stine shows a white girl behind a window looking out and appearing scaredTitle: Fear Hall: The Beginning

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Franco Accornero

Tagline: The first part of a shocking two-part special!

Summary: “A Special Message From R.L. Stine”

Dear Readers:

Come with me to FEAR HALL. That’s the creepy college dorm built many years ago by the cursed Fear family.

Hope and her roommates live in Fear Hall. Hope’s boyfriend lives there, too. They’re all good students and best friends. Everything is going great… until one of them becomes a murderer!

Now Hope is about to find out that life at Fear Hall can be a real scream!

I hope you’ll join me for FEAR HALL. This story has so many scares, it took me two books to tell it all!

P.S. You’ll never believe what I came up with for the next book…

Initial Thoughts

I only read this story once when I was in middle school, and I barely remembered what happened after I was finished. I did that sometimes, skimming through a book so that I read it but I didn’t retain anything. This didn’t leave much impact on me at first, but I still found and purchased the two volumes as part of my unfinished effort to collect all the Fear Street books. Then, in the summer of 2011 I decided to re-read the Fear Hall books. I remember that summer. I discovered “Jem and the Holograms” and DC Comics was in the middle of their “Flashpoint” event which ended up ruining the DC Universe for six years and counting. Imagine my surprise when I re-read these books and ended up falling in love with them.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not a perfect story. It’s basically “Fear Street At College” which Stine already did with “College Weekend,” and Stine’s take on mental instability is… well, it is what it is. But I enjoyed it because I really liked the main characters, Hope and her roommates, and the setting. I’ve re-read these books so many times over the last few years they’re all scruffed up and worn. I practically refuse to put them back on my book shelves. I even got Stine to autograph them at that signing last year.

The story is split up in several parts and is one of those books where the narration shifts between different characters.

[Wing: I’ve never read these before, and am, of course, always leery of how Stine (and the other Point Horror and similar authors) handle mental illness, but I love a good horror at college story. Stine is setting the bar for the next book pretty high with his little introduction note, though.]

(more…)

Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #72: The Skeleton on the Skateboard, A.K.A. “Wes Craven Presents Rocket Power”

cover of Skeleton on the Skateboard by Tom B. Stone, has a skeleton on a skateboard and a creepy black and gray backgroundTitle: The Skeleton On The Skateboard

Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Barry Jackson

Summary: “Dead Man’s Curve Is Scary Enough…”

Who’s the new hot dog on Skateboard Hill? He’s the only thrasher who can take Dead Man’s Curve alive. Skate and Vickie are determined to meet him – he may be their only chance to beat obnoxious Eddie Hoover in the upcoming skateboarding contest. But if the phantom boarder gives the secret of his awesome moves, will Skate and Vickie have to take the ultimate wipeout in return?

Initial Thoughts

This book is just soooo 90s, but not in an obnoxious completely dated period piece kind of way. The Skeleton is by far the most prolific and noticeable monster of the Graveyard School series, by far the easiest to get a commission of, but the reveal is pretty much obvious during the climax when you remember what the goddamn title is. That said, you come for the Skeleton, you stay for Vickie Wheilson in all her tie-dye, headstrong, neon glory.

[Wing: This sounds like the under 16 version of drag racing, right down to the Dead Man’s Curve, and therefore I am predisposed to love it. That description of Vickie only cements the deal. As long as I don’t think too hard about the real author, I’m excited. Let’s do this!]

(more…)

Posted in Graveyard School recaps

Recap #70: Don’t Eat The Mystery Meat! by Tom B. Stone, A.K.A. “Nightmare Cafeteria II – Electric Boogaloo”

cover image for book has plate of spaghetti with eyeballs in it set against a dark background and the words Graveyard School Don't Eat the Mystery Meat!

Title: Don’t Eat The Mystery Meat!

Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Barry Jackson

Summary: School lunch has always been gross, but lately it’s worse than ever. The salad is soggy; the spaghetti is rubbery. No one knows what the meatballs are made of! When pets start mysteriously disappearing around town, sixth-graders Stacey and Park think they’ve stumbled onto something. The new lunchroom attendant is awfully weird… What exactly has she been cooking up?

Initial Thoughts

This was the last book I needed to complete the set for Graveyard School. It felt weird, finally owning this book, which is why I probably took so long to finally read it. It blew away my expectations, though, not thinking it would go down the route it did.

As a head’s up, I recently discovered Todd Strasser was NOT the writer of this series. Instead, the creative genius belongs to Nola Thacker, who some of you might know as Point Horror authoress D.E. Athkins.

[Wing: I’m really intrigued by these author shenanigans, I must say.]

(more…)