Recap #38 – Girl Talk #1: Welcome to Junior High!

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Title: Girl Talk #1: Welcome to Junior High!

Author: L.E. Blair (one of many pen names of Katherine Applegate)

Published: 1990

Tagline: Can these girls survive seventh grade?

Description: It’s the beginning of an unforgettable year . . .

Seventh grade has just started and already Sabrina Wells has got troubles! She’s made an enemy of the principal’s daughter, Stacy the Great, met the boy of her dreams, and been put in charge of the Homecoming Dance decorating committee.

Will Sabrina manage to keep Stacy off her back, fall in love, and get shy Allison, preppie Katie, and Randy, the hip new girl from New York, to agree on a theme for the dance?

Nostalgia Time!


Um, as far as the last thing on that description’s list goes, I don’t think you’ll get Randy to agree to much of anything by standing around her, staring in shock and horror like y’all appear to be doing on the cover!

When I was in fifth grade, I had a friend I used to trade books with all the time. It introduced me to some book series I’d never read before, including the Girl Talk series. I borrowed number 3, The New You, from said friend, and ended up keeping it when I moved away. I still have it, and until now, I think it’s the only Girl Talk book I had ever read, but I wanted to revisit the series from the very beginning! I got the first two from Thriftbooks, and will fill my collection in as we go with these recaps. I’m thinking maybe one Girl Talk a month along with the regular spooky-scary books. We’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, I remember these books being a lot of fun, with good friendships and believable characters. So, let’s get into it!

Note for my non-American readers: I’m told our school system is confusing when it’s something you haven’t grown up with, so a quick explanation. Junior High is comprised of grades 7-9, generally ages 12-14. Then Senior High would be grades 10-12, generally ages 15-17. However, Junior and Senior High is a thing that was pretty much phased out by the eighties. I feel like most YA authors didn’t get the memo until well into the 1990s. These days we have middle school – grades 6-8, ages 11-13, and high school – grades 9-12 (aka Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior class), ages 14-17. And if you’re not confused yet, the school I went to when I read this book was grades 5-8. This is a weird outlier and I’ve never seen another school group their grades that way. Oh, Humbo (that would be Humboldt County in Northern California), never change your weirdo ways.

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Recap #35 – Trick or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick

 

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Title: Trick or Treat

Author: Richie Tankersley Cusick

Published: Oct. 1989

Tagline: Trick or treat, trick or treat, candy is dandy, but murder is sweet

Description: Dressed to kill. Martha knew there was something evil about the house she was moving into. It was so cold . . . and creepy. And it wasn’t just the house that was giving her a weird feeling. Martha was sure someone was following her . . . watching her every move.

Then the practical jokes began – the scarecrow with a carving knife in its head, the fire. And the phone calls: “Trick or treat, Martha . . . you’re dead.”

It was October, but these were no Halloween tricks. Someone would be coming home this year with more than just a bag of treats. And Martha was the prize.

Trick or treat.

Nostalgia Time!


Wow, October 1989? I was eight years old when this book was published. I don’t remember the first time I read it, but it had to have been when I was around 11 or 12. My copy is old and stained all to hell with soda that leaked out of take-out cups. I used to take shit care of my stuff when I was around that age.

So, let’s start with that description real quick. Are they really saying that a fire is a practical joke? A fire?! Yeah, that’s not a joke, wtf. Also, the abuse of dashes and ellipses you can clearly see in the description carries on throughout the book. Or at least throughout the first three chapters, which is as far as I’ve read as I type these words. Based on Dove and Wing’s recap at The Devil’s Elbow, I’m aware that this trend does in fact carry on the entirety of the book. Yay.

So, this is one of those books that I know I enjoyed as a teen. I remember it really well, even though it’s somehow inextricably linked in my head to Bebe Faas Rice’s The Listeners and Music from the Dead. I think there’s a similarity in stories, but it’s mostly the covers. Those three covers look very similar.

Anyway, since this is RTC, I’m already second-guessing my memory of liking this book. Remember the hell we went through with The Lifeguard? I’m gun shy on all Richie Tankersley Cusick novels now. But I swear I liked this one, guys. I swear I did . . . .

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Recap #29 – The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

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Title: The Dollhouse Murders

Author: Betty Ren Wright

Published: 1983

Tagline: The dolls didn’t forget . . .

Description: It was just an old dollhouse. Hidden away in the attic – collecting dust. Amy didn’t know that the dollhouse held a secret. A deadly secret that hadn’t been talked about in years. And now, the dolls have decided that Amy should be the one to know the truth. The truth about the night of the murder . . .

Nostalgia Time!


While I’m sure I’ve read other Betty Ren Wright books (the cover of Christina’s Ghost in particular looks far too familiar for me not to have checked it out of the school library around 3rd grade or so!), I had never read this one before. I got it a while back at the used book store down the street when they were having a warehouse sale – they opened up their back room and sold people however many books you could cram into a plastic bag for $5. This was one of the books I picked up, based on the cover and the fact that, well, it’s a creepy dollhouse, right? That’s gotta be good!

Spoiler alert: It was good!

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Recap #19 – The Lifeguard by Richie Tankersley Cusick

lifeguard

Title: The Lifeguard

Author: Richie Tankersley Cusick

Published: 1988

Tagline: Don’t call for help. He may just kill you.

Description: A summer of sun, sand – and murder. Kelsey’s summer should have been paradise: An invitation to rich and famous Beverly Island, complete with sun-drenched beaches and three gorgeous lifeguards on duty.

But Kelsey’s summer is the opposite of paradise. It starts with the note under her pillow from a girl who’s missing. Then there’s the crazy man in the lighthouse who won’t leave Kelsey alone. And there have been a number of suspicious drownings . . .

At least she has the lifeguards around to protect her . . .

Poor Kelsey. Someone forgot to tell her that lifeguards don’t always like to save lives.

Nostalgia Time!


Well here we finally have it, folks – a book I have actual nostalgia about on my nostalgia recap site! This is the one that kicked it all off for me, but before we get to that, can we talk about this cover for a hot minute? The lifeguard on the cover looks about thirty-five; is he supposed to be one of the boys in the book? He looks like Harry Hamlin. What the fuck.

Okay, so I’m pretty well convinced that this is the first Point Horror I ever read, at the tender age of 8 or 9 years old. I had a friend at the time who lived across the street and was three years older than me, so she had all the creepy books. I borrowed this from her and read a good portion of it before she knocked on my door and told me her mom was making her get it back from me because she thought I was too young to be reading it. Baby Me was frantic – I had to find out who the killer was! This was not fair! So I did something I haven’t done since – I flipped to the back of the book and read the end so I would know who the bad guy was. The shame still burns bright. Also, it didn’t make a lot of sense without reading all the chapters that came before the end. So, some number of years later (I’ll be damned if I can remember how many), I got hold of The Lifeguard again and read the whole thing, without any nosy friends’ moms telling me I couldn’t! Ha! I have great affection for this book, so I was thrilled to read a recap of it at The Devil’s Elbow recap site, and then listen to a Teen Creeps podcast episode on it. None of these ladies seem to have the same affection for it that I do, however, which was quite an affront to my inner 8-year-old self. (Don’t worry, I’ve gotten over it. We’re all friends here.) Clearly nostalgia is a key factor in enjoying this one. As of this very second of me typing these words you’re reading with your very own eyes, I’m exactly halfway through rereading the book, and . . . yeah, not gonna lie, it’s kinda rough. I’m sure 8-year-old me would be punching 36-year-old me in the face right now, but . . . this book is not the fine piece of literature it was in my memory. Ah, well. Onward and upward, right? (Note from Future Me: Nope. There’s nowhere to go but down, straight into the deepest reaches of Hell. Pray for me.)

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