Recap #53 – Dance of Death by Jo Gibson

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Title: Dance of Death

Author: Jo Gibson (AKA Joanne Fluke)

Published: 1996

Tagline: Shoes to die for

Description: They were the most gorgeous shoes Donna Burke had ever seen. An exquisite pair of scarlet high heels. And allegedly cursed. According to the old shopkeeper, the shoes endowed their wearers with incredible talent – and horrible misfortune. But that doesn’t stop Donna’s friends from buying them. One by one, the girls are drawn to the shoes. One by one, the girls suffer grisly fates. And learn a sinister, final truth: One size kills all.

Nostalgia Time!


So, we meet again, Jo Gibson. And here I thought your only teen thrillers were the three holiday-themed ones that I already recapped. How silly of me. For since that time, I have thus discovered four more, resulting in my immediate purchase of your collection entitled Afraid, wherein are contained both this novel, and one called The Dead Girl. Did you think you could hide these tomes from me, my dastardly arch-nemesis? Muah-ha, the hubris!

Ahem.

Apologies, folks. Something about Jo always makes me a little overly dramatic. In all seriousness, I’m not quite sure if I’ve read this book before. It seems vaguely familiar, but that might just be because it’s inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen story, The Red Shoes. The Wikipedia page for that story actually has this book listed as an adaptation, which surprised me to no end. I just figured this book wasn’t the sort of thing people remembered and put on Wikipedia.

Anyway, I always tend to have fun snarking on Jo (except for the Surprise!Rape in The Seance; that killed my fun right quick), so I’m looking forward to cringing my way through this one. And since I’ve never read it before (maybe?), I thought I’d go ahead and recap as I read, so you get my more immediate reactions. I have zero predictions; since this isn’t holiday-themed (that I know of), I don’t think we’re using the same story template as Slay Bells.

Deep breath. Here we go.

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Recap #52 – 99 Fear Street: The Third Horror by R.L. Stine

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Title: 99 Fear Street: The Third Horror

Author: R.L. Stine

Published: October 1994

Description: Lights . . . Camera . . . Murder . . .

Kody Frasier always swore she’d come back to 99 Fear Street. She knows the spirit of her dead sister, Cally, is trapped there, waiting to be set free. Now Kody is starring in a movie about the evil that murdered Cally, set in the very house that destroyed their family. If she can just find Cally, she can help her . . .

But Cally doesn’t want to be saved. She’s been waiting all this time for revenge. And once the movie camera is rolling, Cally is going to give Kody the surprise ending of a lifetime!

Nostalgia Time!


Well, here we are, closing out the 99 Fear Street trilogy. (Recaps of the first and second books can be found at these links.) This is an odd one. I’m tempted to say it’s the weakest of the trilogy, but then I remember how monotonous the second one is in between the random ridiculous shit. This one doesn’t have anything as off-the-rails bonkers as that one (no zombies; no one fights a raccoon), but it does have long stretches of monotony. I dunno, guys. Let’s get into it and see if my opinion crystalizes as I examine this book more closely.

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Recap #51 – Sister Dearest by D.E. Athkins

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Title: Sister Dearest

Author: D.E. Athkins (aka Nola Thacker)

Published: November 1991

Tagline: Blood is thicker than water . . .

Description: The only good sister is a dead sister.

Her older sister is gorgeous. Her older brother is cool. But their baby sister Vicki is a real wild child.

The school year has just begun and Vicki already has a new guy – and some brand new enemies, including the new principal. But she doesn’t care. She just wants to have fun, fun, fun. She won’t listen to her brother. She won’t listen to her sister. She won’t even listen to her best friend.

Too bad.

Because if she keeps on pushing the limits, she’s going to go too far.

And it’s going to cost her.

Dearly.

Nostalgia Time!


This book was published when I was ten, and if I read it, it had to have been sometime around that time. I read this back in December 2018 (and live-tweeted it, because it was so ridiculous that I had to share certain bits immediately instead of waiting around to do the full recap), and I didn’t remember anything about it, although it felt vaguely familiar in that same way that most Point Horrors do. Hey, we’re back around to a Point Horror, guys! This might be the shortest Point Horror ever published, clocking in at 106 pages, but don’t worry. There’s a lot of ridiculousness packed into those 106 pages.

Before we get started, I’d just like to point out that author Nola Thacker seems to be a sucker for punny pen names. D.E. Athkins spells “Deathkins” when you run it together, and she also wrote the Graveyard School series under the name “Tom B. Stone.” I’ll let y’all put that one together yourselves.

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Recap #49 – The Lost Mind by Christopher Pike

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Outside view
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Inside flap view

Title: The Lost Mind

Author: Christopher Pike

Published: August 1995

Tagline: Someone had stolen her memory . . .

Description: She didn’t know what she had done.

She awoke in the woods beside a dead body. There was a knife in her hand, blood on her clothes. Had she killed the young woman who lay beside her? She couldn’t remember.

She couldn’t remember anything.

Not even her own name.

It was as if someone had stolen her mind.

Stolen her soul.

Nostalgia Time!


Guys! I’m really excited to recap this book! This used to be one of my absolute favorite Pike books. I’m a sucker for this type of story, with amnesia and . . . something that’s a spoiler. This story had concepts in it that I became obsessed with for years after reading it.

I don’t remember when I read this; I would have turned 14 the month it was released, but I could have sworn I was a few years older than that when I read it. Maybe it took me a while to get around to it, I don’t know. Anyway, I went ahead and reread this one before I started recapping this time around, and it turns out I still love this book! It’s not without its issues, as most of these books from the 90s aren’t, but it’s still pretty great, y’all.

Note from Future Me: I really struggled and procrastinated with this recap. Apparently I’m only excited and good at recapping things I hate. *tries to figure out how to give myself the side-eye*

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Recap #47 – The Listeners by Bebe Faas Rice

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Title: The Listeners

Author: Bebe Faas Rice

Published: March 1996

Tagline: Kathy’s new house hides old secrets that could frighten her to death

Description: Too good to be true.

When the Colby family moved to a suburb of Washington, DC, they found a huge old mansion in a great part of town. But when sixteen-year-old Kathy was alone in the house, she had the strangest feeling that someone was there, listening. Soon she learned that the perfect house had a disturbing past. Ten years before, a family had been murdered there. Although they never caught the killer, the police knew who it was. That killer was supposed to be dead, but Kathy didn’t like the creepy character who hung around the neighborhood doing odd jobs. Kathy didn’t like him at all, but nobody was listening to her.

Nostalgia Time!


First off, whew, that description pretty much gives the whole story away, doesn’t it? Or does it? It’s been so long since I’ve read this, I don’t remember a lot about the story. Still, that description seems like it tells you pretty much everything that happens, huh?

So, I remember lying on the couch in my living room to read this book when I was fourteen. I was enchanted and somewhat obsessed with the snippet of poem that starts us off on the title page – it’s The Listeners by Walter de la Mare, and the snippet goes like this: . . . But only a host of phantom listeners/That dwelt in the lone house then/Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight/To that voice from the world of men

I loved that bit. (The full poem can be found here. I don’t love it in its entirety as much as I loved that one excerpt, though.) I remember finding this book spooky and beautiful; eerie like that bit of poem. I think there were real ghosts, and I fucking love this cover art. But, then again, I said the same exact things about Rice’s Music From the Dead, and that turned out to be a total shitshow on my revisit. With that in mind, I can’t quite work up the enthusiasm my memory is insisting this book deserves. But the only way to find out is to get to it, right?

Here we go!

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Recap #46 – 99 Fear Street: The Second Horror by R.L. Stine

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Title: 99 Fear Street: The Second Horror

Author: R.L. Stine

Published: Sept. 1994

Description: There’s no place like this home . . .

At first, Brandt McCloy thinks moving to Shadyside is great. He has attracted the attention of three beautiful girls – Meg, Jinny, and Abbie. [The book doesn’t actually put the Oxford comma between the last two girls’ names, but fuck that mess. Also, I hate how Jinny is spelled.] But Brandt hasn’t heard the terrifying stories about his new home – 99 Fear Street. He doesn’t know about the headless bodies, the bleeding walls. [Wait, what? When did the walls bleed? The ceiling bled . . .] He doesn’t know that Cally Frasier still haunts the house and plans gruesome deaths for him and everyone close to him. Poor Brandt – what he doesn’t know will hurt him. [That . . . that’s not the expression at all.]

Note: You can find the recap for The First Horror right here. While it’s probably not absolutely necessary to read it before diving into this one, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Anyway, it’s there if you want to check it out. I will probably refer to jokes I made in that recap, so it’s best to be prepared. Um, something something, shameless self-promotion.

Nostalgia Time!


Well, here we are, guys. Back to R.L. Stine. It had to happen sometime, huh? Fortunately, I really enjoy (or at least, remember enjoying) this trilogy, so it shouldn’t be too bad. I don’t remember this one as clearly as I did the first one, except for the twist ending. Well, one of the twists. I think there are a couple. Other than that, I remembered nothing about the story. I think this one is the weakest of the trilogy, but I wouldn’t swear to it.

Let’s find out!

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Recap #44 – The Yearbook by Peter Lerangis

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Title: The Yearbook

Author: Peter Lerangis

Published: 1994

Tagline: Most likely . . . to DIE!

Description: According to his IQ test, David Kallas is a genius, even if his teachers think he’s a slacker. His sole extracurricular activity is the yearbook, and he only became editor as an excuse to get close to Ariana Maas. On his way to the printer’s to check on the book, he takes a shortcut to spy on Ariana and her boyfriend—the impossibly perfect Stephen Taylor—and ends up finding something even nastier than two students making out: a butchered corpse floating in the creek. The body leads David to a disturbing secret about his school’s past. When members of the senior class start dying, David is determined to solve the mystery and save the school—even if he has to destroy himself to do it.

Nostalgia Time!


Well, it had to happen. After a short run recapping things I actually enjoyed, we had to get back to a book that makes me rage. I might be biased from reading the book, but that description absolutely makes David sound like an incel Nice Guy™ asshole, right? Because he is. Which I unfortunately didn’t remember before buying the Kindle version of this. This character is the fucking worst.

Anyway, I remember owning this book; I didn’t remember the overall story, though. I remembered exactly two oddly specific things – the first was the lead female character tying a cherry stem in a knot with her tongue. The second was the same character talking about Pepsi dissolving a tooth left in it overnight. I remember this leading me to test this out with one of my baby teeth (this book came out when I was 13, so I shouldn’t have still been losing baby teeth, so I’m a little confused where the tooth came from), and finding out it’s bullshit. I’m sure Pepsi will dissolve teeth eventually, but it takes longer than overnight.

Anyway, after reading and refreshing my memory, I have no idea why this book is called The Yearbook, or why that cover up there exists. The yearbook is only a peripheral part of the story, really. I guess it would have been too on the nose to title it “Lovecraftian Monsters in the School Basement.” However, there is a second cover (I suspect it’s the UK cover) that gets to the point much quicker than the US cover.

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Spoilers!

Much more honest. Also much more WTF. They really don’t bury the lede on the UK covers, do they?

Anyway, this book is weird. We have time jumps, secret cults, eldritch horrors, and a protagonist that I want to set on fire. I think the scariest part of this book is the fact that we’re supposed to be on David’s side. Like, he’s the hero. We’re supposed to root for him. We’re, I think, supposed to be rooting for him to get together with the girl he’s stalking and girlfriend-zoning (basically friendzoning, but from the uninterested girl’s perspective). It’s gross and I hate it. Prepare to read 10,000 words of me raging. [Note from Future Me: 10,000 words was way too conservative an estimate.]

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Recap #39 – Crash Course by Nicole Davidson

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Title: Crash Course

Author: Nicole Davidson (aka Kathryn Jensen)

Published: July 1990

Tagline: A secluded cabin on the lake was a perfect place to study . . . or to die

Description: As the water closed over his head, he imagined he felt a hand grasping his jacket – pushing him deeper . . . . He thrashed his arms and legs in the irrational hope he might break the surface, his chest tightening, burning . . . . Too soon, a paralyzing lightness overtook him and he gave up to the icy current as the spring below pulled him deeper . . . deeper . . . .

And then there were seven  . . .

The weekend had begun as a crash SAT prep course given by a strict teacher in a secluded cabin at Deep Creek Lake – four boys, four girls, cramming for college entrance. It ended with a bone-chilling scream breaking the silence of the night. For one of them, it was all over . . . forever. For the rest . . .

The terror had just begun . . .

Now, while their teacher goes for help, seven terrified teens wait, not knowing if a lunatic killer lurks in the darkness . . . or sits among them, ready to strike again.

Nostalgia Time!


Jesus Christ, look at all those ellipses. Who wrote this description, Richie Tankersley Cusick?!

Anyway, this was one of those books I remembered vividly, but couldn’t for the life of me remember the title or author. For some reason all that would come to my brain was the title “Class Trip,” which I knew it wasn’t, because that’s a book by Bebe Faas Rice that I also remember vividly, still have in the box in my basement, and definitely also plan on recapping eventually. It took me a while to figure out the title of this one, and I think I finally tracked it down by simply Googling the names of all the authors whose books I still had in my basement box to see what else they’d written. (I still owned Davidson’s book, The Stalker.) As soon as I saw the title I knew that was it, and I finally got around to ordering it on Thriftbooks a while back. I remember liking the story and reading it several times back in the day. Upon reading it as an adult . . . wow, it does not hold up at all.

Note: I was originally planning to have this ready to post around Thanksgiving since it takes place over Thanksgiving weekend, but life happened and I obviously didn’t get it done in time. Story of my life, guys.

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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 #34 – Gallows Hill by Lois Duncan

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This isn’t the cover I have, but it’s the one I remember.

Title: Gallows Hill

Author: Lois Duncan

Published: 1997

Tagline: They don’t burn witches anymore. Do they?

Description: Sarah can see people’s secrets in an ordinary crystal paperweight. Too bad they still believe in witches in Pine Crest. And they don’t like them at all. Sarah’s about to relive a horrible ordeal that happened hundreds of years ago – unless someone can undo a terrible wrong.

Nostalgia Time!

I remember checking this out of the library when it was brand new. I mentioned this briefly in my Killing Mr. Griffin recap, but I read this book shortly before the TV movie aired. The movie was kind of a huge disappointment, but I remember liking the book a lot. I don’t remember the book very well, because the movie overrode my memory of the book a bit, and they changed, uh, pretty much everything from book to movie. Anyway, I tend to prefer LoDunc when she does supernatural, and Gallows Hill has reincarnation, witchcraft, fortune-telling . . . the LoDunc I enjoy the most!

Although, I do recall something about our main girl, Sarah, dressing as a “gypsy” to do her fortune-telling, which is . . . not great. Both that LoDunc uses that word, which we now recognize as a slur, and that we’re using Romani culture as a costume. Maybe this isn’t as egregious as I remember, but then again, maybe it’s worse. 1990s books were full of stuff that makes us cringe these days, so this is pretty much par for the course.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to revisiting this one. Even if I don’t like it as much as I remember, it can’t be as bad as the last one – Jo Gibson’s The Seance, which had me rage-caps-locking and cursing like it was going out of style.

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