Posted in Graveyard School

Graveyard School #26: Little School of Horrors by Tom B. Stone

Title: Graveyard School #26 – Little School of Horrors

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

Cover Artist: Mark Nagata

Tagline: N/A

Summary: It’s The Most Horrifying Time Of Year In Grove Hill – Back-To-School Time!

Back to school.

Ghouls rule. Teachers drool.

Dead things walking are nothing shocking.

Blue is new at Graveyard School. But he knows right away that he’s going to class at Creep Central. Just look at the teachers. The principal. Even the janitor. But worst of all, look at the kid who wants to be Blue’s best friend. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Welcome to Dead Kid 101.

[Wing: This summary made me laugh. I’m delighted.]

Initial Thoughts

Looking at the cover Wing you can guess why I picked this for your b-day month, and lucky for you this is also one of my favorite books in the series.

What’s weird about it is this book has got some world building shit going on, and the way it reads you’d THINK it would’ve been the first in the series. It gives a much better sense of how big the sixth grade class is, even for a small town, which puts it at odds with the Fear Street Seniors series for how it only focused on a handful of the 12th grade class and then made sporadic, frustrating references to all the OTHER kids in the graduating class.

But this is frustrating for me because this was the third to last in the line, and none of the other kids introduced in this book appeared in “Here Comes Santa Claws” or “The Spider Beside Her.” I can’t help but wonder what Thacker might’ve had planned for this series if #28 wasn’t the last. God knows I still have some notes from way back in high school on ideas I had for stories with these guys.

And we also get a look at racism through the eyes of a kids horror book!

[Wing: I do love the surprise on that cover, thank you! It’s strange that this isn’t the first book in the series, or that the world building here wasn’t included in the first book, at least. Though, I did like the pacing on the first book, and this information might have slowed it down.

No matter what, I’m super excited about this!]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Strange Matter

Strange Matter #2: The Midnight Game by Johnny Ray Barnes Jr.

Title: Strange Matter #2 – The Midnight Game

Author: Johnny Ray Barnes Jr.

Cover Artist: ???

Summary: Tyler Webb has been invited to attend a very special football game – a final showdown between two teams from Fairfield’s past. The only problem is, the game is scheduled for midnight and there’s no way Tyler’s parents will let him go. Curiosity gets the better of him and Tyler sneaks out to see the game. Now he’s sitting in the moonlight, waiting for the teams to run out.

But they don’t. They crawl out… from the ground.

Initial Thoughts

I sent Wing the first book in the Strange Matter series as a Christmas gift. I’ve known of the series for years but I only own two books, this one and “Frozen Dinners,” which is book 5. From what I’ve seen online and what I gleamed from the fifth book, it looks like this series had an ongoing storyline spread throughout the different volumes concerning the strange things happening in Fairfield. I’m trying to avoid buying books in the latter half until I’ve read the first ten. Unfortunately, a few books were cancelled, which has me really intrigued and frustrated because I’d really like to know what “Stamped” was gonna be about.

When I told Wing about these two she sounded super excited so I offered to recap this entry for her birthday.

[Wing: Football! Zombie players! How could I resist? I love how Jude always brings new series to Devil’s Elbow, and I’m particularly excited about this one. Can’t wait to read this recap.]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Goosebumps

Goosebumps Series 2000 #17: The Werewolf In The Living Room by R.L. Stine

cover of Werewolf in the Living Room by R L Stine

Title: Goosebumps Series 2000 #17 – The Werewolf in the Living Room, a.k.a. “Are You There God? It’s Me, Aaron”

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus [Wing: That is one of the creepier werewolves I’ve seen in cover art, and that includes on adult horror novels.]

Tagline: Home sweet horror.

Summary:

The creature had the face of a wolf. And the back and chest of a man.

He stared at me with those black, gleaming eyes. He curled back his thick lips. I stared in horror at long, curved fangs.

Then – before I could run – the werewolf leaned back on his haunches.

Raised his head in a fierce howl.

And sank his fangs deep into my skin.

Initial Thoughts

Surprise, Wing! It’s your favorite thing! WEREWOLVES. I know you mentioned reading “The Werewolf of Fever Swamp,” but I decided to go with one of the books you were less likely to have read before. At least, I hope so. [Wing: Good call! I’ve never read this one before, and I am so, so excited about it.]

The Goosebumps 2000 books were Scholastic’s attempt to revitalize the series for the new century, even though they were published three years before the actual millennium. [Wing: … strange.] The books definitely have a tone and feel independent of the original series, but overall were a bit disappointing compared to the first 62 books. They were more heavy on stuff like blood and vomit, and many of them were broken into separate parts. They got two Slappy books, an official sequel to “One Day at Horrorland,” and a spiritual sequel to “Ghost Camp.” Two books, “Bride of the Living Dummy” and “Cry of the Cat” were adapted into TV episodes, and “Invasion of the Body Squeezers” got a follow up under the “Give Yourself Goosebumps” line. The last book in the series, “The Incredible Shrinking Fifth Grader,” was cancelled before it got released, and R.L. Stine re-purposed the script for a separate book. Thankfully, Tim Jacobus sent the Goosebumps wiki the unused but completed cover art.

The 2000 books as a whole have largely been ignored following the revitalization of the franchise, with one or two exceptions. The Body Squeezers, the Haunted Car, and the Graveyard Ghouls were featured in the movie, so the books including the latter two got reprinted in the “Classic Goosebumps” line. Meanwhile, “Creature Teacher” got a sequel in “Goosebumps Most Wanted.”

So why did I choose this for you, Wing? First off, admittedly, it’s a seasonal thing. One winter a couple of years ago I began acquiring more entries in the 2000 line, this one, “Full Moon Fever,” “The Haunted Car,” “Horrors of the Black Ring,” and it sort of, I dunno, I get comfortable reading them during the last week of December and the earlier weeks of January. Beyond that, well, before you walk into this unwarned, there’s plenty of talk about how one of the characters is crazy. I know you won’t like that, but I really think you’re gonna love the implications of the ending.

[Wing: We will see. I am damn excited about the werewolves, though. I’ve never read any of the Series 2000 books.]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

 

Posted in American Girls

Molly Book #1: Meet Molly, An American Girl by Valerie Tripp

Title: Meet Molly a.k.a. “You Know Who Else Played Pranks? HITLER!”

Author: Valerie Tripp

Illustrator: Nick Backes

Summary: FOR MOLLY MCINTIRE, life seems full of changes. It’s 1944 and the world is at war. Her father is far away caring for wounded soldiers. Her mother is busy working for the Red Cross. Mrs. Gilford, the strict housekeeper, makes her eat terrible things like turnips from the Victory garden. And everyone in America is so serious and practical that glamorous Halloween costumes are hard to get. Molly’s special hula skirt is a huge success – until Ricky, her pesty big brother, plays a mean trick. Molly and her friends are determined to get back at him. One mean trick leads to another until the fighting goes too far.

Initial Thoughts

I am really thankful I didn’t give these books away like I had planned.

When I was a kid I was a big fan of historical fiction books, mainly the “Dear America” series and the “American Girl” books. My interest in the genre started thanks to the cartoon “Histeria” which sparked an interest in Henry VIII and his many wives. I still have a box full of my old “Dear America” and “Royal Diaries” editions in the attic closet.

With the “American Girl” series, my focus gravitated towards the Molly books because they took place during WWII. I’m not as much of a buff as I’d like to admit, but I do enjoy 40s era movies. One year for Christmas I got the (at the time) complete “Molly” set of books. I’ve offered to do bimonthly reviews of all six in the set this year, with a bonus Molly story for October and a different “American Girl” book I still own for December.

Y’know, there’s always been one thing about this sub-series that stuck with me for so many years. I only remember a few bits from the Molly movie they made. Mainly, the housekeeper, Mrs. Gilford, was made younger and given a son named Johnny who was fighting overseas. Mrs. Gilford started watching Molly and her siblings when Mrs. McIntire began working, but she wasn’t their official housekeeper before the war began. It took some time for Molly to get used to Mrs. Gilford’s presence, and she even expressed annoyance about how much Mrs. Gilford gushed about her son on her first day. Time passed and Molly became accustomed to the housekeeper’s presence, and then one day she came home and found her mom back from work early. Mrs. McIntire said she was baking a casserole. Earlier in the film, Molly’s sister Jill mentioned bringing a casserole to a neighbor who had a relative that died in the war. Molly immediately realized why Mrs. Gilford wasn’t there…

As cheesy as this will sound, I still tear up thinking about when Molly brought the food to Mrs. Gilford’s home, and the older woman broke down in tears and hugged the girl. The way Molly spoke “Not Johnny” when she realized what happened was sad on two levels: she was sad for Mrs. Gilford, and sad for Johnny separately instead of only feeling bad because he was Mrs. Gilford’s child.

[Wing: Ah, American Girls. I have such a nostalgia for them even though I never owned the books, much less the dolls. (In case you’re not familiar with them, the American Girl dolls are detailed and fancy and really fucking expensive; there’s no way we could have afforded them). I did pour over the catalog looking at all the fun little accessories that came with the dolls, and I skimmed some books at the library, though never any of the Molly books. I have concerns already over that hula skirt costume in the summary.]

(more…)

Posted in Mermaid Saga

Mermaid Saga #10 – 11: Mermaid’s Scar by Rumiko Takahashi

Cover of Mermaid's Scar by Rumiko TakahashiTitle: Mermaid Saga Chapters 10 & 11 – Mermaid’s Scar

Author/Artist: Rumiko Takahashi

Cover Summary: N/A

Initial Thoughts

For Wing’s birthday I’m recapping the best part of Mermaid Saga by far. I know it’s my favorite, certainly. It gets to showcase how freaking awesome Mana is. [Wing: This month is full of fun recap surprises for me. I’m thrilled!]

This is the second story besides Mermaid’s Forest to be adapted more than once, receiving an OVA in the 90s and included in the TV series from the 2000s. Personally, I feel the OVA is the better of the two adaptions, sporting rather beautiful early 90s anime art.

I only defer to this version when I need commission reference for Mana and Yuta.

I’ve watched the English dub, which used to be on Youtube, but you can still find the original version online somewhere. They still haven’t released it on an official DVD, but luckily I’ve got the complete soundtrack on CD. What shocked me about the dub was learning Yuta’s voice actor was Jason Gray-Stanford, who also voiced Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century,” and was RANDY DISHER, the dorky police detective, on “Monk.”

This is also one of the bloodiest stories in the series. And, keep in mind, this is one of those stories where we, the readers, know more about what the villain is really up to before the main characters do. Also, a bit of clarification. One character never got a name in the actual story, but the OVA dubbed her “Misa,” so I’ll be referring to her by that name.

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW