Sunday, June 20, 2010

R.L. STINE BOOK OF THE WEEK: Fear Street: One Evil Summer

Chrissy is perfect - perfectly evil.

From the back cover:

Help! Wanted

Summer at the beach and Amanda Conklin's stuck in summer school. Well, at least she doesn't have to take care of her little brother and sister. That's Chrissy's job.

Chrissy seems like the perfect babysitter - so kind and trustworthy. But Amanda soon discovers Chrissy's terrible secret. Babysitting is Chrissy's job - but killing is what she does best!

My thoughts:

I got my internet back just in time for my favourite post of the week! Since tomorrow is officially the first day of summer and it's very hot up here in Canada (my igloo is melting!), I'm going to kick off my Summer of Stine. For the rest of the summer my R.L. Stine Book of the Week will have a summer theme and will feature such classics as Beach Party, Beach House and Party Summer. First up: One Evil Summer.

You can tell just from the cover who the first victim will be. Chrissy is depicted holding poor Mr. Jinx in the air while he hisses at her. But he's just the first animal to die. The Conklin's also have two birds and Amanda adopts a stray kitten. And there are three human deaths - at least I think so, Stine just mentions one of them was taken to the hospital, so I'm just assuming that they died.

This book reminded me of the movie Summer of Fear (based on Lois Duncan's book of the same name) because Chrissy uses her powers to make Amanda's life horrible, but no one will believe Amanda, like the characters in that film. But the explanation for Chrissy's powers is unique - she uses more of her brain than the average person, which gives her the ability to do extraordinary things, just like Criss Angel. In fact, she can even levitate like him.

Amanda was a fairly intelligent character for an R.L. Stine novel, she knew there was something evil about Chrissy from their first meeting, and never gave up on her attempts to expose her.

One Evil Summer was one of my favourite Fear Street books when I was younger. Reading it for the second time I wasn't as impressed with it, but it's not a bad Fear Street book.

Rating: 3/5

Body count: 3

PG-13 gore: Without warning something strange happened to the knife. A bead of red slowly formed on its tip.

Amanda studied it curiously.

What's happening? she wondered.

She brought the knife up close, trying to see what was causing the stain.

Then, as she gaped in startled horror, a bright red spray shot out of the knife blade.

Blood! Amanda realized.

It's spraying blood! All over me!

Next week: Fear Street: Goodnight Kiss

Sunday, June 13, 2010

R.L. STINE BOOK OF THE WEEK: Stay Out of the Basement

Somethings waiting in the dark...

From the back cover:


Dr. Brewer is doing a little plant-testing in his basement. Nothing to worry about. Harmless, really.

But Margaret and Casey Brewer are worried about their father. Especially when of the plants he is growing down there.

Then they notice that their father is developing plantlike tendencies. In fact, he is becoming distinctly weedy - and seedy.

Is it just part of their father's "harmless" experiment? Or has the basement turned into another little shop of horrors?

My thoughts:

This is Goosebumps book #2 and just like Welcome to Dead House, this one has more gore than the later ones in the series which I've read - so far. The imagery of the plants in the basement is creepy (imagine plants with faces or arms). And Stine's trademark chapter-ending cliffhangers are actually suspenseful and involve one of the kids witnessing something horrific, rather than a dumb fake-out. Stay Out of the Basement is one of the better Goosebumps books I've read.

Rating: 4/5

PG gore: The hand was still bleeding, Margaret saw.

Or was it?

What was that dripping from her father's hand?

Still holding her breath, she watched him wash it off carefully under the hot water. Then he examined it, he eyes narrowed in concentration.

After washing, the cut continued to bleed.

Margaret stared hard, trying to better focus her eyes.

It couldn't be blood - could it?

It couldn't be blood dripping into the sink.

It was bright green!

Next week: Fear Street: One Evil Summer

Note: I'm writing this from the library, since I don't have internet at the moment, and might not have it for awhile, so I probably won't be posting as much. I'll try to get to the library a few times a week to post, but the internet here is slow and it's a 15 minute walk from my apartment and these wooden chairs are really uncomfortable.

Friday, June 11, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Dweller by Jeff Strand

After reading Dweller by Jeff Strand (author of Pressure) I have decided that I want a monster BFF/pet. I have a cat, but she doesn’t hug me, or say my name, or even communicate with me through our own made-up sign language. She doesn’t like to eat people though, so I suppose that’s a good thing.

The first time Toby Floren sees the monster in the woods, he is only 8-years-old and he flees in terror. Seven years later, at age 15, Toby is an outcast. When he encounters the monster this time, his loneliness leads him to befriend it. Toby names him Owen and ventures into the woods frequently to vent his problems to him and to feed him treats (his favourite is ice cream). To Toby, being best friends with a real-life monster is great, except for Owen’s occasional cravings for more substantial, bloodier, treats….

The plot is like a gory version of Harry and the Hendersons, because this is also a tale of a friendship with a Bigfoot-type creature – albeit a Bigfoot with huge fangs and claws. But there are only a few gory scenes; the focus is on the bond between Toby and Owen. And Strand interchanges the dark, intense scenes with humorous ones. He had me laughing several times while reading.

Instead of the novel taking place over the course of a day, week or month, like most novels, Dweller spans Toby’s entire lifetime. But since it isn’t an epic length (only 292 pages), Strand uses a unique method of writing, where he provides “glimpses” of what happens over the years. Usually just a few paragraphs of a funny or important event and sometimes only a line or snippet of dialogue, making Toby’s life seem like it’s flying by and the pace move quickly.

Any horror fan can relate to the main character, Toby, for his desire to have a monster as a best friend. And although Owen is a monster, and the cause of most of the bloodshed in the novel, he is portrayed as a loveable pet. Strand makes the existence of this creature - and even his friendship with a human - plausible. I became attached to both of these characters throughout the course of the novel and was touched by the bond they share.

Dweller is one of the best novels I’ve read. It manages to be funny, scary, gory, sad, happy and touching at the same time. All horror fans, animal lovers or Harry and the Hendersons fans must read this book – actually I think everyone should read this, regardless of literary preference. But beware: it’s a tearjerker.

Rating: 5/5

Monday, June 7, 2010


Jeremiah Kipp's short film, Contact, shows the horrors of a bad drug trip and is like a twisted version of a PSA. The freaky hallucination the young woman experiences will definitely make you think twice about doing drugs - at least it did for me.

When a couple buys drugs and takes them together, it leads to a terrifying trip. Meanwhile, the young woman's parents set the table and anxiously wait for their daughter to come home for dinner.

Contact uses the drug trip gone wrong story and takes it to the extreme. I don't want to ruin it for anyone, but the hallucination is definitely twisted.

The short is filmed in black & white, with almost no dialogue, giving it a surreal quality, almost like a nightmare.

The acting is superb, especially from the female lead, played by Zoe Daelman Chalanda. There is very little dialogue, so the viewer must rely on facial expressions to understand what the characters are feeling (namely terror), and she clearly conveys her dread.

If you have 11 minutes to spare, check out Contact here:

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, June 6, 2010

R.L. STINE BOOK OF THE WEEK: Goosebumps: Welcome to Dead House

It will just kill you.

From the back cover:


Amanda and Josh think the old house they have just moved into is weird. Spooky. Possibly haunted. And the town of Dark Falls is pretty strange, too.

But their parents don't believe them. You'll get used to it, they say. Go out and make some new friends.

So Amanda and Josh do. But these new friends are not exactly what their parents had in mind.

Because they want to be friends...


My thoughts:

Here's the book that started it all - the first Goosebumps book. I vaguely remember not liking this book when I first read it years ago, but I enjoyed it this time - after I got through the boring beginning.

Compared to the other Goosebumps books I've read, Welcome to Dead House has more gore and disturbing scenes, including a midnight trip to a cemetery, the mention of drinking blood and even a dead animal.

Welcome to Dead House has a slow build-up, and I was pretty bored until about halfway through the book (which is probably why I didn't like it when I was younger). I even fell asleep twice while attempting to get through it. Nothing other than a few ghost sightings and Amanda thinking she's crazy happens until the halfway point . But after the creepy venture to the cemetery, the book becomes suspenseful.

Although it's a bit slow in the beginning, the gore at the end makes up for it, and is probably the reason so many kids (or at least kids like me) got hooked on the series.

Rating: 4/5

PG gore: Ray's skin seemed to be melting. His whole face sagged, then fell, dropping off his skull.

I stared into the circle of white light, unable to look away, as Ray's skin folded and drooped and melted away. As the bone underneath was revealed, his eyeballs rolled out of their sockets and fell silently to the ground.

Josh, frozen in horror, somehow held the bright light steady, and we both stared at the grinning skull, its dark craters staring back at us.

Next week: Goosebumps: Stay out of the Basement