Nostalgic Bookshelf

Snarky recaps of nostalgic media, including Making Out, Baywatch, Blyton and Baby-Sitter's Club
20
Sep 2018
Famous Five #7: Five Go Off to Camp by Enid Blyton

Famous Five #7: Five Go Off to Camp by Enid Blyton

Title: Famous Five #7: Five Go Off to Camp by Enid Blyton

Summary: Spook trains in the dead of night! And they seem to vanish into thin air – but where do they go? The Famous Five are on to it! But discovery of an unusual underground tunnel system, and a secret train-service, has them puzzled. If they follow the tracks, will they solve the mystery?

Initial Thoughts

Spook trains, secret, underground tunnels, and a mystery? Sounds like a typical Blyton holiday. And also like an A++ story for me to recap. Halloween season starts 1 September and so we are well into it. SPOOK TRAINS AND GO.

[Dove: I always wished that we could have a supernatural Famous Five – like the way Sweet Valley would leap off into the supernatural and then do an Etch-A-Sketch reset.]

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7
Sep 2018

That Alisa's so hot right now

Title: Alisa of the Silver Hair

Japanese Title: Gin’iro no Kami no Arisa

Author/Artist: Shinji Wada

Translaions: The Distaff Side & 4chan

Summary: As a child, the eponymous heroine is betrayed by three jealous friends who throw her into a pit and leave her to die. But Alisa perseveres: She trains herself to be smarter, faster, and more beautiful than any of them and returns for revenge. Years of living underground have left her with the silver hair of the title, so her victims can’t be sure whether the resemblance is real or only the product their guilty consciences…

Initial Thoughts

For July I wanted to do some more comic related posts for Point Horror and Nostalgic Bookshelf since it’s Comic Con International time. For Nostalgic Bookshelf, alongside the Molly recap I wanted to do a manga recap and a comic recap.

So “Alisa” is an obscure gem I learned of because of its creator, Shinji Wada. He’s the genius who created “Sukeban Deka,” a.k.a. “Delinquent Girl Detective.” It’s the story of Saki Asamiya, a juvenile delinquent recruited by the Japanese police force as an undercover detective within the country’s school system. Armed with a special yo-yo, Saki goes up against drug dealers, rapists, and international terrorists while the threat of her condemned mother’s execution is hung ovee her head.

But that is not this story.

“Alisa of the Silver Hair” is a very short story, only two chapters long, and came out years before “Sukeban Deka.” While I would’t say I’m the total authority on “Sukeban Deka” I’m familiar enough with it to realize “Alisa” appears to be some sort of prototype for “Sukeban.”

Alisa by Retrosofa

(Alisa by Retrosofa: Sal’s a big fan of Sukeban Deka so I thought he’d be a natural for a commission of Alisa)

Wada’s style evokes the shoujo tales of the 1970s, but his use of the tropes masks some truly sinister and depraved villains, many of whom are teenage girls. In fact, as pointed out over on Empty Movement, one of the later stories is eerily predictive of “Revolutionary Girl Utena,” a 90s anime masterpiece that deconstructs misogyny and incest in fiction through picking apart the Prince/Princess/Witch dynamic.

(Analysis on the story seen here: https://forums.ohtori.nu/viewtopic.php?id=2740)

Because no one talks about this story, and “Sukeban Deka” is pretty niche itself (the manga still hasn’t been officially distributed through English markets), I decided to do a recap to shed some light on this beautiful little story of vengeance. But no, I have no idea if her name is supposed to “Alisa” or if it’s “Arisa” and the name was romanized by the translation.

You can read the entire story here: https://mangadex.org/manga/6931/alisa-with-silver-hair

(TW for suicide)

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3
Aug 2018
Famous Five 6: Five on Kirrin Island Again by Enid Blyton

Famous Five 6: Five on Kirrin Island Again by Enid Blyton

Title: Famous Five #6: Five on Kirrin Island Again by Enid Blyton

Summary: What is Uncle Quentin up to on Kirrin Island? He won’t let anyone visit—not even the Famous Five! But he’s not alone on George’s island—somebody is watching his every move! Can Julian, Anne, Dick, George and Timmy the dog find out who and warn Uncle Quentin?

Initial Thoughts

*sigh* I’m really sorry, but I hate this one. This is the book I’ve been dreading, and hoping it wasn’t allocated to me. I don’t know why – it’s not particularly different to any other book in the series. Maybe it’s the fact there’s a silver tower constructed on the island, maybe it’s a lot about the adults, or maybe there’s just not enough godamned lettuce. Who knows?

Let’s do this thing.

(Also, I started this recap a month early because I knew it would drag hard.)

(For reference, the kids’ ages should be roughly: Anne: 13; George and Dick 14; Julian 15.)

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25
Jul 2018

Famous Five 5: Five Go Off in a Caravan by Enid Blyton

[Famous Five 5: Five Go Off in a Caravan by Enid Blyton

Title: Five Go Off in a Caravan

Summary: The Famous Five are having a wonderful caravanning holiday. And when they discover a circus is camping nearby, they hope there’ll be plenty of entertainment.

But two of the circus performers are strangely sinister. The children soon realise that they’re not clowning around — but can they get help in time?

Initial Thoughts

That title is a lie. They go off in two caravans. [Wing: I appreciate your attention to this detail, a la my annoyance over that whole Smuggler’s thing last time.]

Which brings me to perhaps the most disturbing news of the entire series to date: I THINK JULIAN KNOWS WHAT SEX IS. I mean, at least vaguely. He knows it exists. I think. (He may also be having it with a series of farmers’ wives and daughters.) [Wing: Wait, is this not what we’re supposed to assume with him popping off to talk to the wives and daughters as they travel?]

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Initially, when I asked to recap this book, I only remembered the caravan part (not the significance of there being two caravans, just that they went off without adults in a caravan, which I was enormously envious of). The amount of freedom these kids have is mind-boggling to me. I mean, I am old enough to remember when it was normal for children to leave home in the morning in summer and only go back home for meals and when it got to be dusk, so we were basically away from adults for hours and hours at a time in the summer, but that was with the understanding that we were somewhere nearby. Like, in town, and preferably in the neighbourhood. Not off up the highway to some other town, or parked out in the country somewhere in a horse-drawn vehicle.

I really do love this series. It achieves a strange mix of cozy, meal-driven comfort and outrageous, I-would-never-have-been-allowed-to-do-that adventure.

[Dove: This is one of my favourite stories in this series. This is exactly the kind of thing I’d have loved to do as a kid. I didn’t go camping until I was in my late twenties, and when I did, I loved it. Tiny and I were incredibly resourceful in how to make tea without a kettle.]

[Wing: I was taking a drink when I saw the “Anne should just poison them all” tag and nearly choked to death.]

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16
May 2018
Famous Five - Five Go to Smuggler's Top by Enid Blyton

Famous Five – Five Go to Smuggler’s Top by Enid Blyton

Title: Five Go to Smuggler’s Top by Enid Blyton [Wing: The top belonging to only one smuggler? That cover would argue otherwise.]

Summary: Are there still smugglers at Smuggler’s Top? [Wing: NO. There is maybe one smuggler, per that name.] The Famous Five go to stay at the large old house and discover secret hiding places and underground tunnels! Then they catch people signalling out to sea – who can these smugglers be? Can Julian, Anne, Dick, George and Timmy the dog discover the answer?

Initial Thoughts

God, I love this series. See above for my issues with the title. (Also, I’ve called this place Smuggler’s Top probably 50 times. I think I caught every time, but if not, sorry about that.) And here we go.

[Dove: I worry that when you visit England, you’re going to be very disappointed by the lack of secret passages. But at least I now live in a house with a crawlspace that was described by a friend as “Yeah… you could definitely hide a body or two in there.”]

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18
Apr 2018
Famous Five 3: Five Run Away Together by Enid Blyton

Famous Five 3: Five Run Away Together by Enid Blyton

Title: Famous Five #3: Five Run Away Together by Enid Blyton

Summary: Who’s been on George’s island? And what is locked in the mysterious trunk hidden on Kirrin Island? The Famous Five think they’re on the trail of smugglers – until they hear a child scream…

Initial Thoughts

This is the book I’ve been waiting for, and I was really happy it landed with me. It made sense for Wing to try the first book, and it was a happy accident that Necromommycon was happy to take the second. I love this book. The entire series, really, but for some reason, this got re-read by baby!Dove more than most. Possibly because I’ve got issues and it again – just like The Secret Island – tapped into them.

[Wing: I know I keep saying this, but I did not expect to love this book so damn much. Blyton books in general, and this series in particular, just get more and more charming and entertaining. I am delighted by this book and can’t wait to reread.]

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14
Feb 2018

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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17
Jan 2018
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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