J. R. Black: Guess Who’s Dating a Werewolf? (Shadow Zone #2)

Guess Who’s Dating a Werewolf? is kind of The Baby-Sitters Club meets Goosebumps. The main character, Annie Dubinski, is like an even-more-sporty, less business-oriented Kristy Thomas. Best friend Lily has Claudia’s hair but a lot of Mary Anne’s personality, only with two over-protective parents instead of one.

guess who's dating a werewolf

The answer to the title question, before I forget, is “Annie’s older sister Sara.” Sara’s painted as a little bit boy-crazy, but not in a way that makes that seem wrong, just…she’s a little older than Annie, a little less sport and outdoorsy, and therefore a teensy bit annoying to Annie. Continue reading “J. R. Black: Guess Who’s Dating a Werewolf? (Shadow Zone #2)”

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J. R. Black: Scream Around the Campfire (Shadow Zone #10)

This is one of two middle-grade series books called Scream Around the Campfire (the other one is a Graveyard School book).

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Gina and Frank Giardelli, eleven-year-old twins, have been sent to Camp Slumbering Pines for the summer. Gina hates it. She feels invisible because all the other campers know each other, she thinks of the place as Camp Dork, she gets scared by a raccoon, and the girls in her cabin prank her by hiding a garter snake in her bag and shaking a baby rattle so she’ll think it’s a rattlesnake.

Gina is a city girl, unappreciative of all this nature. She also doesn’t appreciate Stacey, the Continue reading “J. R. Black: Scream Around the Campfire (Shadow Zone #10)”

Tom B. Stone: Slime Lake (Graveyard School #7)

That is an amazing pseudonym.

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There is no recipe for a “slime sandwich” inside. There is a recipe for “slime lake guacamole.”

Slime Lake belongs to one of those series I think of as “Goosebumps clones”—you know, middle school “horror,” possibly created to capitalize on the success of Goosebumps (although for all I know, some other series predated Goosebumps).

The plot is very much “Scooby Doo with young kids and an actual monster”: Marc and his Continue reading “Tom B. Stone: Slime Lake (Graveyard School #7)”

reading: Beware the Shopping Mall

Beware the Shopping Mall has to be the most 80s book title I’ve ever heard. Ever.

beware the shopping mall
This is the cover of the paperback version. You don’t even want to know how much it costs to get the paperback version.

Specifically it sounds kind of early to mid-80s. It’s hard to image anyone being this excited about a shopping mall after that point in history:

Wonderland Mall Opens Today!” I shouted happily. I read the giant billboard aloud as Mom drove past it and followed the long stream of traffic into the main parking area for the new shopping mall. (loc 30)

But Robin’s mom immediately adds a chilling note, pointing out that the mall is built on the former Mournful Swamp:

“I’ll never forget when three teenagers disappeared in the swamp. It was back when I was in high school. Everybody assumed they walked into quicksand and were sucked under, but nobody really knows what happened to them. Remember that story?” (loc. 32)

Geez, Robin’s mom, it would be pretty hard to FORGET that story.

Anyway, those two quotes from right at the opening of the book tell you basically all you need to know. If I add that there are three creepy teenagers working at the mall, and they’re sacrificing Robin’s schoolmates by turning them into mannequins, you can work out pretty well the whole plot. It’s still incredible fun to read, though.

It’s hard to believe this delicious creepiness was created and written by Betsy Haynes, but I guess she had a dark side of which I was previously unaware.

kindlebeware the shopping mall
This is the much less interesting cover of the kindle edition. But you can read it for FREE if you have KindleUnlimited.

reading: Bride of Slug Man

Kate Walden Directs: Bride of Slug Man. After her huge success with her first feature-length movie, seventh-grader Kate Walden is eager to start on her next film, a sci-fi romance called Bride of Slug Man. When a new kid comes to town from New York City, Kate thinks she might have a new found film buddy-someone to share her interest with. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s pretty cute. But it turns out that Tristan is making his own movie, and now the classmates Kate thought were eager to join her cast and crew are divided.

bride of slug man

This is what I’m reading right now. Not out loud to the children, just for my own personal entertainment, which is something I really need to make more time for…

I just recently finished reading Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens. I can’t say enough good things about that book (although I tried over in my Goodreads review of it). I’ll admit buying that book was a title-and-cover based decision, but it really paid off. It was fundamentally satisfying to watch the heroine respond to perceived bullying by trying to get her own back, and even more deeply satisfying to see her gain the perspective to understand how wrong her revenge plot was, and how the hurtful behaviour of her best friend had been less malicious than she’d thought.

night of the zombie chickens

The world really, truly doesn’t divide up neatly into bullies vs. bullied. Many of us have unintentionally been mean, and almost everyone has been on the receiving end. It’s rare to see a book handle the issue so deftly that you walk away re-examining how your behaviour affects other people, instead of just smugly concluding “bullies are bad” without wondering if you’ve ever accidentally been one…

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reading: Creepover: The Ride of Your Life

Blurb: Gabby gets her fair share of frights at a country carnival in this spooky Creepover tale.
Adventurous Gabby Carter is excited to visit her best friend Sydney in Sydney’s new town in Iowa. Gabby is wondering what they’re going to do, surrounded by cornfields, when they discover an amazing carnival full of kids their age…and two very cute boys. But then strange things start happening at the fair: the Tilt-a-Whirl spins a little too quickly, and the eyes of the painted face on the funhouse follow Gabby. Gabby can’t believe she’s the one begging cautious Sydney to leave the carnival—but Sydney won’t leave! Can Gabby convince Sydney they don’t want to find out how haunted this carnival truly is?
This roller coaster of a story is rated a Level 4 on the Creep-o-Meter.

ride of your lifeThere’s not a lot I can tell you that you haven’t guessed from the blurb, although there’s a bittersweet “time passes but they never age” thread running through this. It was entertaining, but almost more melancholy than scary.

Also, although the back cover refers to “two cute boys,” its important to the plot that only Sydney is instantly smitten (and therefore doomed). Gabby doesn’t fall in insta-love with the second boy, so she manages to escape Sydney’s fate. I’d love to know how she explained things to her friend’s parents when she showed up alone, though.