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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Banned Book Week Recap – Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan (Recap #30)

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Title: Killing Mr. Griffin

Author: Lois Duncan

Published: 1978 (My copy is the 1990 printing, meaning it’s still the original version of the text rather than the “updated” editions LoDunc herself “modernized.” Thank God.)

Description: The plan was only to scare their English teacher . . . . They never actually intended to kill Mr. Griffin. But sometimes plans go wrong.

Nostalgia Time!


So, for Banned Book Week (Sept. 23-29), I decided to recap a book that’s been challenged and banned from some schools and libraries. Believe it or not, Killing Mr. Griffin was #25 on the most challenged book list from 2000-2009. It was banned from a few California schools in the 1980s, and challenged in plenty more. Seems ridiculous, but most of the books on that list are. Supposedly, Killing Mr. Griffin contains “violence, murder, drinking, drugs, lying to authority, peer pressure, and smoking.” They forgot “foul language,” but Sinnott Elementary School in Milpitas, California didn’t in 1988 when they challenged it – they also added that it has “no redeeming qualities.” Hey, come on, guys. Determinations like that should be left to recappers on the internet, not school districts! Geez!

I remember reading a virtual shit ton of Lois Duncan when I was a kid – I checked a bunch of them out of the school library, oddly enough! Never this one, though, and maybe the whole “challenged/banned book” thing is why. I didn’t read this one until I was an older teenager, when I got it from the city library. A movie version was made for television in 1997, but I’m pretty sure I was unaware of it until a few years later. I honestly don’t remember the movie very well, although I’m about 90% sure I’ve seen it. I know I watched Teaching Mrs. Tingle at some point after reading this book because it looked like it was a rip-off of this story and I wondered if it was like an official gender-swapped version or something. Listen, the movies have not been kind to Ms. Duncan’s work. I Know What You Did Last Summer barely resembles the book it’s supposedly based on, and a TV movie of Gallows Hill that was retitled I’ve Been Waiting For You was frankly disappointing and forgettable. I mean, do you remember it at all? I was so excited for it because the book had come out only the year before, and I really liked it, and then . . . meh.

Anyway, I don’t remember Killing Mr. Griffin all that well, but I know I liked it. I’m sure there are tons of dated references, and a sociopath manipulating everyone into doing what he wants, and a sad-sack main girl who will go along with a lot of bullshit because of a boy she likes . . . hey, so I listened to the Teen Creeps podcast episode and it jogged my memory on some stuff, okay? At any rate, I’m looking forward to rereading and recapping this one for y’all, and also trying to parse why it’s a banned book.

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Recap #27 – Whisper of Death by Christopher Pike

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Title: Whisper of Death

Author: Christopher Pike

Published: Dec. 1991

Tagline: They returned home to a dead world . . . .

Description: All the people had vanished.

Roxanne and Pepper are a teenage couple with problems. They leave their small town for a weekend to try and solve them. They don’t really succeed, and when they return home they find their town empty.

They call other towns.

They find the whole world empty.

But eventually they discover three other kids their age who are still alive in the town. They cannot imagine why the five of them seem to be the only ones left of the entire human race. They have only one thing in common. They were each directly or indirectly involved in the death of Betty Sue – the plain, shy girl who committed suicide only a short time ago. Betty Sue – the quiet, brilliant girl who wrote short stories about each of them. Stories of hate, of revenge, of death in a dead world.

It makes them wonder who Betty Sue really was.

Or what Betty Sue was.

Nostalgia Time!


Pepper. Jesus Christ, Pike, what’s with the names? I can’t wait til I get to Road to Nowhere (and end up with the Ozzy song stuck in my head the entire time I recap it, I just know it) with its characters, Freedom Jack and Poppy Corn. Fuck me, these names.

So, I was ten years old when this book came out, and I know I didn’t read it that early. I’m not sure exactly when I did read it, though. I was probably 13 or 14, I’d guess. I’ve never known quite what to make of this story. It’s one of those books that makes me feel dumb because I can’t quite figure out its full meaning. Interestingly, the first time I read this, I was still firmly entrenched in my mother’s anti-abortion beliefs (hell, the woman dragged me to an anti-abortion protest when I was ten – getting flipped off by motorists going by on the highway was, um, an experience) and this book read as pro-choice to me then. Now that my whole ideology has pretty much flipped, this book reads more anti-abortion to me now. I’m not sure Pike himself knew where he stood, since the message of this book seems a bit . . . muddled?

I think this is also the book where I got the wild idea that Christopher Pike was really Stephen King writing under another pen name. I know better now, of course, but there really did seem to be similarities in the styles and substance.

Also, if you couldn’t tell from the above paragraphs, content warning for abortion, of both the doctor-approved kind and the more DIY kind. (One of the things I thought I vividly remembered about this book was a coat-hanger abortion. Turns out that’s not actually in here, it’s just alluded to, and that might not even technically be what’s being alluded to. Memory is weird.) Heads up for suicide and rape discussion, as well.

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Birthday Recap – Leo: Stage Fright (Zodiac #1) by Jahnna N. Malcolm (Recap #26)

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Title: Leo: Stage Fright (Zodiac #1)

Author: Jahnna N. Malcolm (Actually wife/husband team Jahnna Beecham and Malcolm Hillgartner – Jahnna ‘n Malcolm, get it?)

Published: July 1995

Tagline: The stage is set for danger

Description: Break a leg, Lydia.

First she falls into the open trapdoor on the night of her high school play’s cast party. Then she finds a creepy, voodoo-like doll in her locker. And then a car tries to run her down in the park. It looks as if someone wants seventeen-year-old Lydia out of the picture, but who? Sure, Lydia loves the spotlight, but that’s what Leos live for.

When auditions for the production of Evita get under way, Lydia’s usual confidence is gone – her best friend isn’t speaking to her, another friend accuses her of being jealous of the new girl in town, and her audition is sabotaged. Lydia knows that someone is out to get her, but by the time she discovers who it is, it may be too late.

Nostalgia Time!


I’ve actually got nothing for this. I know I read this book as a teenager, but other than one tiny little nothing scene, I didn’t remember a single thing about it. It didn’t even come back to me as I reread it, which is kind of unusual. This book is pretty unremarkable, though, so it’s not too hard to see why I didn’t remember it. Also, I’m a little confused as to why this series starts with Leo. I can’t find a single instance of Leo being listed first in any zodiac chart. I mean, I’m cool with it, it’s just confusing.

I wanted to do this recap for my birthday, since I am also a Leo. (August 13th, yo!) I am nothing like our protagonist, Lydia, however. I considered taking a shot every time she mentioned being a Leo, but a couple chapters in I realized I would have died of alcohol poisoning long before the end of the book, so I (reluctantly) scrapped that idea.

One last thing – the female half of this writing duo was born right here in my hometown of Wichita, Kansas, so that’s kind of cool. You know, even though I’m not really a fan, I’ve still gotta shout out my famous (???) Wichita peeps.

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Recap #22 – Hit and Run by R.L. Stine

hitandrun

Title: Hit and Run

Author: R.L. Stine

Published: June 1992

Tagline: Look before you cross . . . .

Description: License to drive. License to kill.

Eddie, Scott, Winks, and Cassie. They went out for a drive one night. Just to practice, so Eddie would be sure and get his license.

Then Eddie had a little accident. Now four friends share a terrible secret.

Because Eddie hit someone and killed him.

Didn’t he?

Nostalgia Time!


This came out a couple months before my 11th birthday, and I’m pretty sure I remember reading it around that time, but I had only the vaguest recollection of the book itself. It started coming back to me as I read it, but I think I would have figured this one out pretty quick even if it hadn’t. It wasn’t hard, especially taking into account the fact that R.L. Stine was almost vehemently opposed to anything supernatural going on in his Point Horror novels. Rule of thumb? If it appears to be zombies, it’s really just an elaborate prank set up by your shitty friends. (Spoilers.) Which is why I thought this recap would be perfect for April Fool’s Day. I considered doing Richie Tankersley Cusick’s April Fools, but I couldn’t handle another RTC so soon after recapping The Lifeguard. I’m still scarred by that one, guys.

So, apparently the copy of this book I bought at a used book sale a few months ago belonged to Thelma. I hope Thelma enjoyed it more than I did.

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You go, Thelma

 

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Recap #18 – My Bloody Valentine by Jo Gibson

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Title: My Bloody Valentine

Author: Jo Gibson (Joanne Fluke)

Published: Feb. 1995

Description: Be mine . . . and die. It’s Valentine’s Day at Hamilton High. [Pretty sure it’s Valentine’s Day everywhere, but okay.] Everyone’s excited about this year’s big dance, especially the six girls competing to be Queen of Hearts.

One student at Hamilton High is paying extra close attention to the contest. Because it takes a very special girl to be queen . . . and if her heart isn’t pure and good, she doesn’t deserve to win.

In fact, she doesn’t deserve to live.

Poor Amy Hunter. Five girls down . . . one to go.

Nostalgia Time!


Well, guys, once again we have a book that I didn’t remember at all. Like, nothing sparked a memory, except when a certain character showed up I was like – it’s him! He’s the killer! And he was. (Saying “he” isn’t a spoiler – we get killer POV scenes that flat-out state the killer is male.) So, I would have been about 13 and a half when this book was released, chances are I bought it around that time. Probably only read it once since it’s pretty unremarkable and I obviously remembered nothing except who the killer was. This is the same author who wrote Slay Bells, which was one of the most fun recaps I’ve ever written, so I was hoping for something similarly over-the-top bonkers, and . . . I was pretty disappointed. This book was released a couple months after Slay Bells, and it’s like Gibson kept the template from that one to write this one (the similarities are ridiculous), but forgot how to make it fun. Which is sad for me, but hopefully not for y’all. My recap will probably make the book sound more fun than it is. Don’t be fooled though. This book is solidly “meh.”

Also, it has nothing to do with the slasher film of the same name. Just throwing that out there so there’s no confusion.

Continue reading “Recap #18 – My Bloody Valentine by Jo Gibson”

Recap #17 – Broken Hearts by R.L. Stine

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Title: Broken Hearts

Author: R.L. Stine

Published: Feb. 1993

Tagline: Valentine’s Day can be a killer

Description: Roses are red, corpses are blue. On Valentine’s Day, you’ll die too!

There’s someone out there, someone who kills on Valentine’s Day. Josie and Melissa are scared—especially when they receive threatening valentines. Then the murders begin. Who is sending these horrible valentines to the girls of Shadyside High? And who will be the next to die?

Nostalgia Time!


I wanted to recap Valentine’s books for February, and I caught this one for sale cheap on Kindle, so I thought to myself, perfect! The cover and description were familiar, so I knew I’d read it back in the day (I was eleven when it was published, so probably sometime around then), but I couldn’t for the life of me remember anything about this book . . . until I read the first couple of pages. Then it all came flooding back and I remembered who the killer was and why, although there was one surprise that I didn’t remember at all. Having said that, it’s never a good sign when I’m three pages into a book and suddenly remember, Oh, yeah, this book sucks. I’m pretty sure I thought it sucked the first time I read it, although I have no memory of the first time I read it. Hey, one of these days, this section might actually contain fond memories of actually reading the damn book I’m recapping on my nostalgia recap site, right?

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Recap #1 – The Murder Game – Janice Harrell

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Title: The Murder Game by Janice Harrell

Published June 1993

Description 

It was no game.

The ad read “You’re invited to a murder . . .” It was to be a party, complete with a pretend corpse and plenty of clues. Only Meg Redding knew the host’s real motive: Dusty Ellis was determined to catch his twin sister’s killer – even though the police had ruled her death an accident.

The guests are gathered at an isolated cottage out by the reservoir where the stage is set for murder. But when the corpse is found – it’s real. Now Dusty’s a prime suspect and Meg’s out to clear his name . . . unaware that the killer is following her, step by step . . .

Tagline

Come to party and catch a killer – if you dare!

Nostalgia Time!


This was published in June of 1993, so I was probably around 12 or 13 the first time I read it. I didn’t remember too many details, but I remembered who the killer was and why. And the worst motive ever. Seriously, this motive is the weakest weaksauce to ever sauce. Even at 12 I was well aware of that. This was maybe the first time Rocky Horror Picture Show came onto my radar, and the first time I’d heard of Kewpie dolls. I also remembered the 16 or 17 year old girl and her 30-year-old “boyfriend.” Oh, boy, we’re gonna have a time with this one, folks. Not necessarily a good time, but some kind of time.

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