Posted in Comics

The Abandoned by Sophie Campbell

The Abandoned by Sophie CampbellTitle: The Abandoned aka “Howard, They’re Zombies”

Creator: Sophie Campbell

Summary: Big-hearted volunteer worker by day, unruly rocker by night, Rylie is one of the most-liked residents of the small island-town of Buffalora. When she sets her sights on Naomi, the new girl in town, love is definitely in the air. Unfortunately for Rylie, so is a storm. The kind in which nothing good ever happens… suddenly all the adults die and quickly rise from the dead! These flesh-craving zombies seek out the last remnants of youth and hope for society. With death in the air and love on their minds, Rylie and Naomi must make their way through the vast swamplands to salvation.

Initial Thoughts

For Valentine’s Day I’ve given you all two things – lesbians and zombies, the gifts that keep on giving.

Seriously though, “The Abandoned” was one of many OEL manga comics published by Tokyopop in the 2000s. This was written and illustrated by Sophie Campbell back when she was still going by the name “Ross” and it’s been out of print for a while. It’s a very gory but not too explicit zombie horror tale, one full of genuine despair and apathy. Sophie colors the pages in very drab tones of grey, white, black, and what might be puce or mauve, with the use of red a shocking apparition throughout the landscape.

It features some of the stuff Sophie does very well, gore and plus-sized women. You guys really need to check out her work on IDW’s “Jem and the Holograms” series with Kelly Thompson, it saved comics. She’s exceptional when it comes to variety in body types and sizes. Although since this IS one of her earliest works her some of the characters appear a bit off-model in some panels.  There’s also this one sequence in the beginning that has not aged well at all.

Also, I want to ask everyone NOT to tag or send a link for this to Sophie. I think she’d prefer not to look back on this because it’s so old and was made when she was still using her old name. And from what I’ve read, she does NOT have fond things to say about Tokyopop, which is something of a shared sentiment with a lot of people.

Content Note: References to abuse and sexual assault.

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Making Out

Making Out #2: Jake Finds Out by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Making Out 2: Jake Finds Out by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Title: Jake Finds Out

Front Blurb: Zoey fooled around behind Jake’s back with Lucas, who used to go out with Claire. Claire’s falling in love with Jake, but she’s got a secret only Lucas knows, and she’s dreading what will happen when… Jake finds out.

Back Blurb: They’ve all grown up together on a tiny island. They think they know everything about one another… but they’re only just beginning to find out the truth.

Jake finds out, and life on the island will never be the same. First Zoey, his old girlfriend, betrayed him. Now Claire, his new love, has hurt him too. Somebody’s going to pay…

Initial Thoughts

Things are moving awfully quickly for Claire to be Jake’s new love. Also, that “somebody’s going to pay” line makes it sound like Jake is about to go on a spree killing, which would be a very different kind of story.

[Wing: ETA February 2: I have no idea why a version went out in January without any comments. It has been deleted and this is the real version. Sorry for any confusion.]

[Dove: Sorry I’m late, I was due to comment on this last night, but instead I was really ill.] [Rosey: I am even later than Dove. For no reason!]

Content Note: Brief reference to child sexual abuse and the trauma from that toward the end.

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Posted in The Baby-Sitters Club

Baby-Sitters Club #2: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls by Ann M. Martin

The Baby-Sitters Club 2: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls by Ann M. Martin

Title: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls

Summary: Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne and Stacey have had some strange adventures since they started the Baby-sitters Club. [Wing: Considering this is book #2, I think that’s a bit of a stretch, blurb writer.] But nothing’s been as spooky as what’s going on right now. The baby-sitters have been getting mysterious phone calls when they’re out on their jobs. When a phone rings and they pick up, there’s no one on the other end of the line.

Claudia’s sure it’s the Phantom Caller, a jewel thief who’s been operating in the area. Claudia has always liked reading mysteries, but she doesn’t like it when they happen to her. So she and the baby-sitters decide to take action – with some very mixed results!

Tagline: Claudia’s not sure she wants to find out who’s on the other end of the line.

Initial Thoughts

What the everloving hell is Claudia wearing on the cover of my copy of this? That’s the one pictured up top there. That vest looks like it was made by a commune of llama-breeding hippies in the 1970s.

Also, we might as well get this out of the way: Kirsten Dunst modelled for the cover of this. I don’t even know why I know that, but I do. [Wing: Wait, what? Did she really? I had no idea.] Not the cover I have; this one:

I love these books too much to be properly snarky about them, particularly the early ones. I thought maybe rereading them I’d be more cynical, but no; if anything they’re even more adorable. So apologies in advance for that. [Wing: It’s so difficult to be snarky over something you love! I still adore these books so, so much, and I feel your pain.]

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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.]

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Posted in Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons & Dragons #1: The Night of No Tomorrow

Dungeons & Dragons Series 1 Episode 1Title: The Night of No Tomorrow

Summary: Tricked by Venger, Presto conjures up a horde of fire-breathing dragons to threaten the town of Helix. The kids must rescue Presto and save Helix before it is too late.

Initial Thoughts:

Looks like it’s all kicking off big tie for our plucky heroes. Will they all survive?

I bloody hope so. It’s episode one of twenty-seven. It’d be rather shit if the remaining twenty-six episodes were nothing but twenty-minute montages of Venger dancing on six adolescent graves.

[Dove: That would be epic.] [Wing: I’d watch it. Also, that cover is AMAZING.]

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Posted in Enid Blyton

Secret #1 – The Secret Island

The Secret Island by Enid Blyton
The Secret Island by Enid Blyton

Title: The Secret Island (Secret #1)

Summary: Four runaways, Mike, Peggy, Nora and Jack, find a secret hiding place – a deserted island on a lovely lake. They build a willow-tree house, make their beds of heather and bracken, and grow their own vegetables. And Jack even manages to bring his cow, Daisy, and some hens to the island for fresh milk and eggs every day! But one day invaders come to the secret island…

Initial Thoughts:

This is my favourite Blyton of all time. I’m not sure what’s so special about it, since it’s Blyton’s standard fare of “some kids and some animals live parent-free for a bit, and really enjoy lettuce”. Maybe it’s the lack of smugglers that makes this so special. Kind of like when fandom quite enjoyed Lost, because it was a bunch of people on a desert island, just trying to get along, before the writers jumped on the wacky bus and stuck two fingers up a plotting, pacing and structure.

Also, I’ve never managed to get past the first few paragraphs of any of the sequels.

[Wing: This is my first Blyton experience, and it is adorable. I grew up reading things like Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson and My Side of the Mountain and Black Stallion and the Little House books and Baby Island, which were all about people surviving on their own in the wilderness, at least for awhile. I love stories like that, and this was an utter delight along that vein.]

[Raven: I’ve read a lot of Blyton. Never read this before. Huh.]

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Posted in Making Out

Making Out #1: Zoey Fools Around by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Making Out 1 - Zoey Fools Around by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)
Making Out 1 – Zoey Fools Around by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Front Cover Blurb: Ben heard it first, and he told Nina, who told Claire not to tell… but now EVERYBODY (except Jake) knows, and Claire’s wondering if she ought to say something because Jake ought to know that… Zoey Fools Around.

[Dove: Yeah, um, that’s not really what happens, that’s sort of the path of Ben’s theory of the crash, but no, doesn’t relate to Zoey fooling around.]

[Wing: I think it’s like that game where you write something, cover it up, and the next person writes the next scene without seeing what you wrote. No one writing the cover blurb got to see what was written for the back blurb or for the book itself.]

Back Cover Blurb: Zoey fools around and it turns their world upside-down. New couples are formed, friends become enemies and secrets are unearthed…

Initial Thoughts

One thing I love about this series is the wacky formats they throw in there, journal entries, quizzes, one week squashed into a daily countdown. I’m not being sarcastic, I genuinely love this about them.

[Wing: I used to work in publishing, and while this sort of thing can be difficult to work with when designing the book itself, as a reader, I love when publishers include it, including pieces in the character’s handwriting, as long as it’s legible (unlike in the original Baby-Sitters Club books). The daily countdown is probably my favourite formatting trick the authors use.]

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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

Posted in The Baby-Sitters Club

Baby-Sitters Club #1: Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin

The Baby-Sitters Club 1: Kristy's Great Idea by Ann M Martin
The Baby-Sitters Club 1: Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M Martin

Title: Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin

Summary: When Kristy Thomas has the great idea to form a baby-sitters club–a chance to earn money and spend time with her friends, all while doing something they each love to do–she has no idea how much the club will change everything.

Crank calls, uncontrollable toddlers, wild pets, untruthful clients . . . running a business is hard work! Kristy and her co-founders, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey, are sure they can handle anything. But only if they stick together . . .

Tagline: Four friends and baby-sitting–what could be more fun?

Initial Thoughts

Well, here we are, kicking off 2018 and Nostalgic Bookshelf with my favorite cheesy contemporary preteen series, The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin. Unlike the Sweet Valley books, I read these obsessively, and still sometimes reread them as an adult. I was a baby-sitter from a young age, and I loved the focus on friends and having adventures together. I’m excited to revisit them now, with a recapper’s eye.

My favourite baby-sitters before recapping: Dawn, Stacey, Claudia, Abby, Jessi, and Shannon.

Least favourite: Kristy, Mary Anne, and Logan.

Say hello to your friends, everyone. We’re in this for the long haul.

[Dove: And I have never read any of these before, so this is Wing’s payback for Sweet Valley. And I’m cool with that.]

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Posted in General/Admin

Welcome to Nostalgic Bookshelf

NostalgicBookshelf.com
NostalgicBookshelf.com

Welcome to NostalgicBookshelf.com, where we recap all sorts of nostalgic media from our childhoods. After much debate, Wing set the hard rule that “nostalgic” means it must be at least ten years old. [Wing: Oh, yeah, throw me under the bus. This is starting off well.]

We currently recap: The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin, Making Out by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant), Enid Blyton books (including Famous Five and Malory Towers), the Dungeons & Dragons television show, and anything else that strikes our fancy. In the future, we’ll add Baywatch, Dawson’s Creek, My Little Pony (generations 1-3), Fighting Fantasy by Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, Jem, and more.

This site is owned by Dove, Raven, and Wing, who you may know from their recaps on The Devil’s Elbow or Sweet Valley Online, which are both now a part of the Nostalgic Bookshelf network. (Devil’s Elbow: Where evil twins and friends come together to lovingly snark Point Horror and other teen genre fiction. Sweet Valley Online: Evil triplets take on Sweet Valley one book at a time.)

We have a number of guest recappers across all three sites, including: Bat, Dade, Donna, Jude, Necromommycon, Rosey, TheeCountOlaf, Tuesday, and Virgin.

Our format: One person writes each recap, but any of the other recappers may comment throughout, which adds to the discussion, snark, and Wing Goes Boom moments that make up this fun nostalgic community. We’ve had a great experience with readers.

Our schedule: At least one recap a week posted here and at Sweet Valley Online and The Devil’s Elbow. At the beginning of each month, we’ll update the recap list for that month in case you want to read along with us.

If you have ever wanted to be a part of this nostalgic recapping, podcasting, and discussions, or if you have any questions or comments, email us at management@nostalgicbookshelf.com.

 

March Recap Schedule

9 March – Podcast episode: Sweet Valley Twins #42: Jessica’s Secret by Francine Pascal (Dove, Raven, Wing) (at Sweet Valley Online)
12 March – Sweet Valley Twins #43: Elizabeth’s First Kiss by Francine Pascal (Raven) (at Sweet Valley Online)
13 March – Friday the 13th: Final Nightmare (Virgin) (at Devil’s Elbow)
14 March – Making Out #3: Nina Won’t Tell by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant) (Dove)
15 March – Last Vampire #3: Red Dice by Christopher Pike (Wing) (at Devil’s Elbow)
16 March – Graveyard School #7: Slime Lake by Tom B. Stone (Jude) (at Devil’s Elbow)
16 March – Podcast episode: Sweet Valley Twins #43: Elizabeth’s First Kiss by Francine Pascal (Dove, Raven, Wing) (at Sweet Valley Online)
19 March – Nightmare Hall #10: Sorority Sister by Diane Hoh (Dade) (at Devil’s Elbow)
20 March – American Girls: Molly by Valerie Tripp (Jude)
21 March – Famous Five #2: Five Go Adventuring by Enid Blyton (Necromommycon)
21 March – Dungeons & Dragons #2: The Eye of the Beholder (Raven)
22 March – The Mermaid Saga #3-4: The Village of Fighting Fish by Rumiko Takahashi (Jude) (at Devil’s Elbow)
23 March – Podcast episode: Famous Five #1: Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton, Making Out #3: Nina Won’t Tell by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant), Dungeons & Dragons #1: The Night of No Tomorrow, and review of available recaps (Dove, Raven, Wing) (at Sweet Valley Online)
26 March – Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #3: The Carnival Ghost by Francine Pascal (Wing) (at Sweet Valley Online)
28 March – A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket (Zachary)
30 March – Podcast episode: Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #3: The Carnival Ghost by Francine Pascal (Dove, Raven, Wing) (at Sweet Valley Online)
31 March – Goosebumps: Screams in the Night by R. L. Stine (Jude) (at Devil’s Elbow)