Posted in Sweet Valley

Sweet Valley Twins #42: Jessica’s Secret

Sweet Valley Twins 42: Jessica’s Secret by Jamie Suzanne (Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant)
Sweet Valley Twins 42: Jessica’s Secret by Jamie Suzanne (Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant)

Title: Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret Jessica’s Secret

Tagline: Something has come between the twins!

Summary: Jessica Wakefield has always prided herself on being the more sophisticated twin, but suddenly it’s her sister, Elizabeth, who is blossoming. Overnight, something wonderful has happened to turn Elizabeth into a young woman. And now Jessica’s sure that if anyone—especially her sister—finds out that it hasn’t happened to her, she’ll die of humiliation.

Then the twins get permission to travel to San Diego by themselves to visit their cousin Robin. It’s the perfect opportunity for Jessica to prove just how grown-up she really is. But will acting older than her age get Jessica into more trouble than she can handle?

Initial Thoughts:

This, for me, is where the series kicks into gear. The fact that Team Grapplegate are at the helm and have probably just shrugged off the editors’ rulings? Not a coincidence. There are so many fun books coming our way, and I’m so glad we’re finally getting to that point.

And yes, I am aware that Wing is going to kick me so hard if she doesn’t enjoy this slew of books as much as I do. [Wing: You promised me Sweet Valley werewolf fic if I don’t like this book. I won’t kick you, I’ll hold you to that.]

READ AT SWEETVALLEY.ONLINE

Posted in Sweet Valley

Sweet Valley Twins Podcast Episode 21: The Twins Get Caught

Wing, Raven and Dove talk about Sweet Valley Twins 41: The Twins Get Caught. They also discuss Bleak Valley and how the book ties into this theory.

Music is provided by Stuart Taylor, who can be contacted on taylorstuart602@gmail.com if you wish to commission music.

You can read our recaps at Sweet Valley Online, tumblr or visit us at Facebook or Twitter (follow @SweetValley_)

[Raven: This podcast marks the day where we are finally in sync with the recaps! So, going forward, it’s Recap on Monday, followed by podcast about the same book on Friday. This pattern rotates for three weeks, then we have a week away from Sweet Valley to explore other Nostalgic Bookshelf content. Next week we have Jessica’s Secret, the week after we have Elizabeth’s First Kiss, and the week after that… stay tuned to find out!]

Posted in Goosebumps

Goosebumps Bonus: The Surprise On The 13th Floor by R. L. Stine and Cheryl Hotchkiss

Disney Adventures Goosebumps contest
Disney Adventures Goosebumps contest

Title: Goosebumps – The Surprise On The 13th Floor, a.k.a. “Walt Disney’s Goosebumps” (Plus Bonus Story)

Author: R.L. Stine and Cheryl Hotchkiss

Artist: Michael Graeney

Summary: N/A

Initial Thoughts

And now it’s time for something very special, possibly even rarer than “Goosebumps Haunted Library.”

Disney Adventures magazine held a contest in the 1990s. In their November 1996 issue, they included the opening segment to a Goosebumps short story called “Surprise On The 13th Floor,” written by R.L. Stine. Contestants were to compose a 1200 word middle and ending for the story. The winner, Cheryl Hotchkiss, got a bunch of cool Goosebumps swag and their entry published in the March 1997 issue.

I purchased the March ’97 issue for the sake of reading and recapping the completed story for Point Horror. The magazine included three illustrations by Michael Graeney, but unfortunately due to the size and the spine of the magazine I wasn’t able to include all of them in the post out of fear of ruining my copy. As a consultation prize, I will include a recap of  a short story published in the November ’96 issue, “Made In Transylvania.”

[Wing: I had no idea this contest existed, despite liking both Goosebumps and Disney Adventures well into the 90s.]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Sweet Valley

Sweet Valley Twins #41: The Twins Get Caught by Francine Pascal

Sweet Valley Twins 41 The Twins Get Caught by Francine Pascal
Sweet Valley Twins 41 The Twins Get Caught by Francine Pascal

Title: The Twins Get Caught

Summary: Against their better judgment…

Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield can’t wait until Saturday night. Their friend Aaron Dallas is throwing “the party of the year” at a new teen club called the Hangout. Everyone from their class will be there—including Jessica’s latest crush, dreamy Todd Wilkins. But when Steven, the twins’ older brother, gets into trouble at the Hangout, Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield decide that the club is off-limits. That’s the last straw for Jessica. First, her parents wouldn’t let her get her ears pierced, and now they’re going to make her miss a great [Wing: Looking?] party! Even Elizabeth thinks they’re being unfair. Then Jessica comes up with the perfect plan to get them to the Hangout. But can she convince Elizabeth to go along with it? [Wing: Of course she can. There’s very little that she can’t talk Elizabeth into doing, including giving Jessica the shoes off her damn feet.]

Tagline: Jessica’s scheming gets both the twins in trouble! [Raven: That’s literally the tagline for whole series.]

Initial Thoughts

When doesn’t Jessica’s scheming get them into trouble? It also sometimes gets them out of trouble. I’m more concerned about what’s going on with those expressions. Also: that great looking purple sweater.

[Dove: I never really remember this book because the plot seems like it could only cover a day or so – much like Jessica and the Money Mix Up.]

READ AT SWEET VALLEY.ONLINE

Posted in Sweet Valley

Sweet Valley Twins Podcast Episode 20: The Ghost in the Graveyard

Wing, Raven and Dove talk about Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller 2: The Ghost in the Graveyard. They also discuss Bleak Valley and how the book ties into this theory.

Music is provided by Stuart Taylor, who can be contacted on taylorstuart602@gmail.com if you wish to commission music.

You can read our recaps at Sweet Valley Online, tumblr or visit us at Facebook or Twitter (follow @SweetValley_)

Posted in Bone Chillers

Bone Chillers #23: Romeo and Ghouliette by Betsy Haynes

Title: Bone Chillers #23 – Romeo and Ghouliette a.k.a. “Hail, Hail Sirbania, A Land I Didn’t Make Up”

Author: Betsy Haynes (Ryan Chipman (Based on the script by Regge Bulman and Clay Eide))

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus

Tagline: What fright through yonder window breaks? [Wing: Okay, that’s kind of delightful.]

Summary: Cooking up trouble…

Lexi knows there’s something weird about Julie, the new girl at Edgar Allen Poe High School. [Wing: I want to go to school there.] Julie was practically drooling over a worm in biology lab. Then Lexi swears she saw Julie snatch a fly out of the air in homeroom – and eat it!

Now Julie is after Lexi’s best friend, Fitz. And Fitz is totally falling for her. He loves everything about Julie – especially the cookies and candies she brings him. Lexi suspects Julie is fattening Fitz up for a feast – and that he’s going to be the main course!

Initial Thoughts

February is the month of LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUV, and even though I’d already done “The Abandoned” for Valentine’s Day I felt for the extra recap this would be an appropriate addition.

Bone Chillers was another Goosebumps knock-off series from the 90s, one of the few that stuck to the formula of a brand new cast and universe in each book. But what set the series apart is it was the only series besides Goosebumps to get a TV show during its time of publication. With a single season of 13 episodes, the show took place at Edgar Allen Poe High School and focused on the horrifying misadventures of four friends.

The artistic Fitz Crump, gothic Sarah Moss, brainy wannabee casanova Brian Hoseapple, and sunny Lexi Orwell, got into all sorts of terrifying shenanigans at school, alongside the downright evil Principal Pussman, ditzy Ms. Dewberry, and their ally Arnie, the creepy school janitor who knew about all sorts of weird shit. Only three of the episodes (Back to School, Creature Teacher, and Frankenturkey) were based on the books written by Betsy Haynes, while all of them featured educational segments at the end that were narrated by Miss Haynes. Whereas the cheesiness of the Goosebumps TV show was mostly unintentional, Bone Chillers deliberately played up the comedy angle alongside the horror. You’d be amazed at how much the kids scream.

“Romeo and Ghouliette” is special, because in its case, the BOOK was based on the EPISODE. Two years after the show ended, the screenplay was adapted and expanded into an addition of the book series, and was the last entry published. The cover sort of reflects that, featuring a broken TV, and the male character is obviously modeled after Fitz. What also makes this special is that book is fucking expensive (I was lucky to find a cheap copy) and much sought after by fans because there exists no DVD set of the entire show and absolutely NO videos anywhere for sale or online of the episode.

Well, at least until a brave American hero uploaded videos of every episode that hadn’t been put on VHS to Youtube.

Being able to watch the episode made me realize a lot of changes were put in the book adaption. Such as:

  • Part of the plot involves the school’s production of “Romeo and Juliet,” so the name isn’t just a joke. That wasn’t in the TV show.
  • Lexi was the one worried about Fitz in the TV show. Despite what the summary said, in the book it’s Sarah who’s the main character.
  • Ms. Dewberry isn’t ditzy or lovey dovey in the book, instead she looks like someone’s grandmother.
  • While the school appears creepy in the TV show, it retains the Edgar Allen Poe name but feels like a regular school in the book.
  • The antagonists aren’t from “Sirbania” in the TV show.

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in The Famous Five

Famous Five #1: Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

Famous Five 1: Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

Title: Famous Five #1: Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

Summary: The very first Famous Five adventure, featuring Julian, Dick, Anne, not forgetting tomboy George and her beloved dog, Timmy! There’s a shipwreck off Kirrin Island! But where is the treasure? The Famous Five are on the trail – looking for clues – but they’re not alone! Someone else has got the same idea. Time is running out for the Famous Five, who will follow the clues and get to the treasure first?

Initial Thoughts

This will be my second Blyton ever, and I only read the first last month. I know she’s an author deeply embedded in British childhood (if not other places, too), but here in the USA, I didn’t hear about her except sometimes in other books that referenced Blyton’s work as a part of the characters’ childhoods.

I really enjoyed the last book I read (Secret Island), and I hope to like this one just as much. I love stories about characters on islands, I love stories about characters searching for treasure, I loved Treasure Island when I was a kid — surely nothing can go wrong now.

Onwards to adventure!

[Dove: I really loved this series back in the day. And sure, I obviously reached a point in life where I found it a bit too earnest, but most Brits will fondly recall reading Blyton. And I honestly can’t wait to see what Wing thinks of it. Because on the one hand, it’s so joyful (and the endless food – lettuce for everyone!) and on the other… it was written by a comfortably wealthy white woman on the back end of two world wars, so there’s a bit of distrust for anyone who is not a white Brit. Also, I fear Wing’s reaction to the gender roles – George and Anne in particular, so… here goes.]

(more…)

Posted in Fear Street

Fear Street #45: Cat by R. L. Stine

Fear Street 45 Cat by R. L. StineTitle: Fear Street: Cat, a.k.a. “I Really, Really, REALLY Hate Barry Allen

Author: R.L. Stine

Cover Artist: Bill Schmidt

Tagline: C-A-T- spells murder.

Summary: The cat came back… [Wing: Damn it, I have been earwormed.]

Marty never liked the cat – it always got in the way at basketball practice. But he never meant to kill it.

Now Marty thinks he’s going crazy. He sees cats wherever he goes. He has nightmares about them. He knows they want revenge.

Too bad Marty doesn’t have nine lives. Because his first one is almost over.

Initial Thoughts

So, sorry there wasn’t a Fear Street recap in January. I realized too late I was a bit burned out from everything I worked on in December, and asked to put the Fear Street recap off til February.

Cat is another of those entries that sort of lurked in the background for me for a long time. I’ve only read it a couple of times but thought this one would peak Wing’s interest after reading some of her comments on my Goosebumps recaps. Although I was originally planning on doing a different book for her birthday with a similar concept, this one grabbed my attention for a reason I will get into during the recap.

This one was sort of weird for me, because I think the main character might seem the most human of the protagonists I’ve read in these books. He’s not entirely likable, but he’s not someone you hate with every fiber of your being.

And as always, watch out for some ableism.

[Wing: I’ve never read this one before, but based on that cover, I’m going to assume it involves cat shapeshifters, which is something I love. Shocking, I’m sure.]

Content: Obviously, some animal harm.

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Sweet Valley

Sweet Valley Twins Podcast Episode 19: Danny Means Trouble

Wing, Raven and Dove talk about Sweet Valley Twins 40: Danny Means Trouble. They also discuss Bleak Valley and how the book ties into this theory.

Music is provided by Stuart Taylor, who can be contacted on taylorstuart602@gmail.com if you wish to commission music.

You can read our recaps at Sweet Valley Online, tumblr or visit us at Facebook or Twitter (follow @SweetValley_)

Posted in The Last Vampire

Last Vampire #2: Black Blood by Christopher Pike

Last Vampire 2 Black Blood by Chrisotpher Pike
Last Vampire 2 Black Blood by Chrisotpher Pike

Title: Last Vampire #2: Black Blood by Christopher Pike

Summary: Believing that she and her partner, Ray, are the last remaining vampires, five-thousand-year-old Alisa is stunned when she learns about a series of brutal murders in the United States that can only be the work of their own kind.

Tagline: The wave of death spread like a plague…

Initial Thoughts

I know I’ve read this one before, but I have no memory of what happens. Apparently, my memory, like the last book, ends in that cliffhanger of whether Alisa will live or die. I mean, I’m assuming she lives, considering there’s still a number of books to go, but I suppose Ray could be the new last vampire. But I doubt it.

Reminder: Last book ended with Sita: breaking her vow to Krishna and making another vampire; blowing up Yaksha, her creator; accidentally getting impaled by a piece of wood; and potentially dying in true peace because she realises she didn’t actually break her vow to Krishna.

ALISA I’M BETTER THAN ALL Y’ALL PERNE ROUND TWO.

Let’s do this.

 

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW