Recap #60 – April Fools by Richie Tankersley Cusick

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Title: April Fools

Author: Richie Tankersley Cusick

Published: April 1990

Tagline: It’s no joke . . . it’s murder

Description: You can fool some of the people some of the time . . .

On the night of April 1st, Belinda, Frank, and Hildy are driving home from a party when they get involved in a gruesome car accident. The people in the other car never could have survived the wreck, so Frank insists they take off. After all, what happened wasn’t really their fault.

Two weeks later, Belinda is the only one who still feels guilty about the accident. Then the “pranks” begin. Someone sends her a bloody doll’s head. A car nearly runs her off the road.

Obviously someone witnessed . . . or survived that car accident. And they’re going to make her pay . . . slowly . . . for what happened.

April Fools’ Day is over. But these jokes are for real.

Nostalgia Time!


I’ve been a little hesitant to tackle RTC again, since her previous two books didn’t live up to my memory when I recapped them. I remember this one pretty well, helped along by several other recappers writing/podcasting about it. I remember Frank and Hildy being absolute assholes, but Belinda being a pretty good protagonist.

For some reason, I think I always found this book a little boring when I was younger, but I clearly read it multiple times – the spine on my old copy is pretty well-worn. And clearly my memory of Cusick’s books isn’t reliable, considering how much eight-or-nine-year-old me loved The Lifeguard. (I’m still cringing over that.)

Anyway, maybe third time’s the charm?

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Recap #59 – Identity Theft by Anna Davies

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Title: Identity Theft

Author: Anna Davies

Published: May 2013

Tagline: ☠ HAYLEY has a friend request she can’t ignore

Description: Privacy settings can’t hide the skeletons in your closet.

Hayley doesn’t have a Facebook account. As a finalist for a prestigious college scholarship, she can’t afford to flood the Internet with photos of her making duck faces, or write probing, existential updates like “OMG, why is oatmeal so delicious?!” So when someone claiming to be Hayley posts incriminating shots of her online, she assumes it’s the product of clever (but seriously mean-spirited) photo editing.

But then even more scandalous pics appear, including one revealing a birthmark on Hayley’s back – something she’s never shown in public. There’s no plausible explanation, until a shocking discovery reveals dark secrets in her family’s past – skeletons that refuse to stay in the closet.

Suddenly, Hayley realizes it’s not just the scholarship that’s at stake, because her tormentor doesn’t just want to ruin Hayley’s life . . . she wants it for her own.

Nostalgia Time!


Okay, look. This is the second book in the Point Horror 2013 relaunch. I was in my 30s when this was published. There is no nostalgia at work here. So let’s talk about that description. The tagline has nothing to do with the story – Hayley doesn’t receive any friend requests, because she isn’t on social media. There’s no birthmark ever mentioned anywhere in the book. Also, if anyone has ever posted the status “OMG why is oatmeal so delicious?!” please direct me to them so I can dump the bowl of said oatmeal over their head, because that status is obnoxious as fuck. Also also, privacy settings absolutely can hide the skeletons in your closet – that’s what privacy settings are for.

At least this back-of-book description doesn’t give the whole story, twist and all, away like the description for the Kindle edition does.

So, you may be able to tell from my tone that I did not enjoy this book. Not to give all my thoughts away up front, but this is bad. Really, really bad. I mean, at first I was going along all right, rolling my eyes and groaning about how willfully unlikable the protagonist is, but nothing Earth-shatteringly terrible. Then we hit the third act, and my brain melts into a fiery hellscape. So, you’ve got that to look forward to, dear reader.

Because that’s what you really come here for, isn’t it. 🙂

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Recap #54 – Whispers from the Dead by Joan Lowery Nixon

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Title: Whispers from the Dead

Author: Joan Lowery Nixon

Published: 1989

Tagline: Who is trying to reach Sarah? And why?

Description: Only Sarah senses the horror.

The minute she steps through the doorway of her family’s new home, Sarah feels a smothering cold mist, and hears the echo of a scream and a heartbreaking whisper in Spanish, “Help me!”

Sarah feels compelled to find out who is trying to reach her. But can she uncover the mysteries of the past before terror strikes again?

Nostalgia Time!


I remember reading this when I was ten years old. I was reading a ton of Joan Lowery Nixon around that time, I think because the school library had a ton of her books. This was one of my favorites, and whatever Spanish I knew as a ten-year-old was because of this book. I think I figured out the mystery pretty quick as a kid, but reading this as an adult, it was infuriatingly obvious, and I spent a good portion of time screaming at the main character about how stupid she was being. I still enjoyed it (hell, I gave it four stars on Goodreads when I was done facepalming), but make no mistake – Sarah should have died from stupidity a hundred different times. Also, JLN clearly knew she was writing for babies, and it shows. She doesn’t miss any opportunity to over-explain simple concepts.

Having said that, I actually have nostalgia about her books, so I’m probably going to be biased about how good I think this is.

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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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