The Indian Lake Trilogy #2: Don’t Fear the Reaper – Stephen Graham Jones

“You don’t get to pick your genre”

I love Jade Daniels! Not to bits and pieces, as would be Dark Mill South’s preference, but enough. As far as I’m concerned, she was final girl material long before the events of My Heart is a Chainsaw. You don’t survive what she has without being able to think on your feet, trust what your gut is telling you and learning how to outmanoeuvre whoever’s playing the role of Big Bad today.

Jade’s love and extensive knowledge of horror movies helped her make it to the sequel with a heartbeat. While Jade spent her life prior to Jaws Night praying for a slasher to bloody up Proofrock, she’s not actively trying to conjure up a sequel. Having now lived through a reddening, Jade is only too aware of how it feels when fiction becomes reality.

The girl she used to be would have been thrilled about all this, would have had her black pompoms out, to cheer it on.

She’s different now, though. This isn’t exciting to her anymore. It’s exactly as terrifying as it should be.

Despite the absolute kickassness she displayed in her first Proofrock massacre, Jade still doesn’t see herself as a final girl. She probably never will. But I see you, Jade, even when you’re calling yourself Jennifer.

“But you’re still you. Different name, same girl.”

While I really liked Letha in the first book, she ramped up her badassness in this one. I would distract Dark Mill South to give this woman a better chance of surviving the slaughter.

Initially, I only wanted to hear from Jade. And maybe Letha. It wasn’t long, though, before the multiple perspectives won me over.

I missed Jade’s history essays so much! They were entertaining, insightful and obviously well researched. I need every horror movie to come with a Stephen Graham Jones commentary.

I attended some of the most difficult appointments of my life last year and, in preparation, someone suggested I choose a book character I could channel to get me through them. I chose Jade Daniels. Before every appointment I’d reread all of the sentences I highlighted in My Heart is a Chainsaw. I’d think about Jade’s strength as I walked into every appointment and would borrow what I needed.

When I love a book the way I loved My Heart is a Chainsaw, the prospect of a sequel both thrills and terrifies me. I can’t wait to spend more time with the strangers turned kindred spirits I met in the first book. At the same time, I worry that a sequel won’t be able to replicate the magic I found there. Don’t Fear the Reaper exceeded my expectations.

Now I’m worried about the third book, but only because it’s the final book in the series. I never want to say goodbye to Jade Daniels. She’ll always be my final girl.

Quote that hit me the hardest:

“I was a scared little girl, I thought – I thought if I knew all the rules, if I knew all the rules, then that would mean – that would mean nothing would happen to me!”

Come to Proofrock, the town that’s gonna need a bigger morgue. The snow is red this year, the movie references are prolific and your insides can become your outsides, even though it’s slasher off season.

“They’re-they’re all dead, I think. Including … me.”

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Titan Books for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Four years after her tumultuous senior year, Jade Daniels is released from prison right before Christmas when her conviction is overturned. But life beyond bars takes a dangerous turn as soon as she returns to Proofrock. Convicted Serial Killer, Dark Mill South, seeking revenge for thirty-eight Dakota men hanged in 1862, escapes from his prison transfer due to a blizzard, just outside of Proofrock, Idaho.

Dark Mill South’s Reunion Tour began on December 12th, 2019, a Thursday.

Thirty-six hours and twenty bodies later, on Friday the 13th, it would be over.

The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #8: Logan Likes Mary Anne! – Gale Galligan

Text – Ann M. Martin

Colour – Braden Lamb

Cam Geary’s lookalike has started attending Stoneybrook Middle School and Mary Anne is all about the swoon.

I love this adaptation, especially seeing Mary Anne’s face when Claudia calls her out for having a crush on Logan.

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For some reason, my reviews of the BSC graphic novels started with me playing spot the difference between them and the book, and now I can’t stop. So, here’s some of the differences I noticed and random things I feel compelled to comment on.

The cover image is gorgeous. Mary Anne’s outfit has a bunch of differences.

Book: White skirt with sketchy pink and blue pictures.
Graphic novel: Orange skirt with white pictures.
Book: Pink shirt and baggy pink sweater.
Graphic novel: White shirt.
Book: White slippers with pink and blue edging.
Graphic novel: Pink shoes.
Book: Smushed orange flower pinned to her outfit. I loved the smushed flower!
Graphic novel: Flower tied to her wrist.

Graphic novel: We learn that it’s possible what Kristy learned about decorum in the first book hasn’t stuck.

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Book: Because everything is right in the universe, Mallory is not a BSC member yet.
Graphic novel: Mallory is still a BSC member before her time. Yes, I’ll probably mention this every single time until she’s supposed to be.

Book: Mary Anne gets all melty about Cam Geary being on the cover of Sixteen magazine and talks about how the previous issue had an article about him.
Graphic novel: Mary Anne gets all melty about Cam Geary being on the cover of Sixteen magazine and says she’s not usually into it but … 😍, Cam Geary.

Graphic novel: One of the reasons Mary Anne is in love with Cam Geary is because he knits. Very appropriate. I don’t remember this being mentioned in the book.

Book: Mary Anne and Dawn make it to Claudia’s room after only calling out hello to Janine.
Graphic novel: Janine tries to tell Dawn about California’s almond exports on her way to the first BSC meeting of the story.

Book: During the first meeting, Claudia and Stacey are sitting on the bed, while Dawn and Mary Anne sit on the floor.
Graphic novel: Claudia is on the bed and Stacey is on the floor. Dawn joins Claudia on the bed. Also, Mallory is there (see above grumble).

Book: Cam Geary is dating Corrie Lalique. An awkward, not entirely okay discussion ensues about the size of her breasts.
Graphic novel: Cam Geary is dating Corrie Lalique. Corrie is not defined by her breasts. Yay!

Book: Mary Anne’s gym class play field hockey.
Graphic novel: Mary Anne attempts to run in gym class.

Book: Mary Anne always gets home from BSC meetings before her father finishes work. It’s her responsibility to start dinner.
Graphic novel: Mr Spier is home, casually reading a book, when Mary Anne returns from a BSC meeting. Mary Anne and he talk about his love life. That does not happen in the book.

Graphic novel: Mallory is there during the emergency meeting and suggests that Jessi Ramsey could be another junior officer. A trial for Jessi while Stacey is babysitting Charlotte is organised. Jessi shouldn’t be in Stoneybrook yet.

Book: Logan sits next to Mary Anne during the emergency BSC meeting.
Graphic novel: Logan sits next to Dawn during the emergency BSC meeting.

I loved watching Mary Anne spruce herself up for the BSC meeting that Logan attends, even though the outfit she eventually chooses is different than the one she wears in the book.
Book: Bright vest over a white short sleeved blouse.
Graphic novel: Green shirt with cats on it and a light green cardigan.
Jessi is there and that’s when we’re introduced to her. Jessi says her family haven’t found a house yet but in the book, I’m almost positive her family has already moved in before we meet her.

Book: Stacey had to introduce Mary Anne because she can’t speak in front of Logan yet.
Graphic novel: Mary Anne actually finds the words to introduce herself and her role in the BSC.

Book: Awkward bra snapping story.
Graphic novel: There’s no awkward bra snapping story.

Book: Jackie Rodowsky is known for his red hair.
Graphic novel: Jackie Rodowsky has brown hair.

Book: Mary Anne thinks of her own picture she drew of a house but doesn’t say anything.
Graphic novel: Mary Anne makes a quip when Logan says he has a picture just like that one that he drew. Mary Anne should be too overcome to say anything, let alone anything smart, at this point.

Book: Logan’s scar is on his lip.
Graphic novel: Logan’s scar is near his lip.

Book: Logan and Mary Anne remember what they said about how much trouble can one kid be in front of Jackie.
Graphic novel: Logan and Mary Anne remember what they said about how much trouble can one kid be after they finish the babysitting job.

Book: Stacey reads Happy Birthday to You by Dr Seuss to Charlotte. Paddington Takes to the Air and Tik-Tok of Oz are also mentioned.
Graphic novel: Jessi reads Harriet’s Happy Birthday by P.G. Bunsworth to Charlotte. No other books are mentioned.

Graphic novel: There’s no mention of the underwear or sportwear departments when the girls go shopping for Mary Anne’s dance outfit.

Graphic novel: The dance begins at 7:30pm and ends at 9:30pm. Mary Anne worries that she won’t be able to find enough things to talk about with Logan for three hours. Maybe swooning affects your ability to do math?

Graphic novel: Claudia does Mary Anne’s makeup for the dance. What would Mr Spier have to say about that?

Book: Mary Anne sits in the bleachers after the shoe incident.
Graphic novel: Mary Anne hides in the toilets after the shoe incident before moving to the bleachers.

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Graphic novel: We meet Becca Ramsey in chapter 12 and learn the Ramseys are currently staying in a hotel. Not awesome, but they do have a buffet with pizza bites. Maybe it’s not so bad after all.

Book: Jessi’s books are in storage.
Graphic novel: Jessi and Mallory bond over the Off Your High Horse book series.

Book: Stacey says she’ll call Logan to let him know about the change of time for the party.
Graphic novel: Stacey says she’s already called Logan to let him know about the change of time for the party.

Book: Mary Anne arrives late to the party.
Graphic novel: Mary Anne arrives at the party on time, thanks to advice from her father.

Book: Stacey does the whole mood lighting thing before the rec room goes dark.
Graphic novel: There’s no mood lighting.

Graphic novel: Logan asks Mary Anne if it’s okay for him to call her his girlfriend.
Book: This did not happen in the book. Why did this not happen in the book?! This is awesome!

Book: Logan doesn’t want to join the BSC because of the whole embarassing being a boy at a girl club thing.
Graphic novel: Logan’s reason for not wanting to join the BSC is because he forgot he is supposed to babysit his siblings during club times on Monday and Wednesday. I’m glad the original reason was changed but this seems like a pretty lame excuse.

Book: Tigger’s siblings are two red tabbies and “one splotchy, patchy calico”.
Graphic novel: Tigger’s siblings look just like him so there’s no specific reason why he’s the right one.

Graphic novel: Logan goes back to Mary Anne’s house with her and Tigger, and hangs out with her in her bedroom! Not something Mr Spier would have approved of.

Book: Mary Anne and Stacey sort things out over the phone.
Graphic novel: Mary Anne and Stacey sort things out in person.

Book: The BSC members bring Mary Anne the leftovers of the cake and there’s enough for four small slices.
Graphic novel: The BSC members bring over an entire cake. Much better! Also, Logan, Mallory and Jessi are there.

Book: Mary Anne gets a Smash tape from Kristy, socks from Stacey, a shirt from Dawn and jewellery from Claudia.
Graphic novel: the Smash tape becomes yarn and Mallory and Jessi give her books.

Book: Logan becomes an associate member over the phone.
Graphic novel: Logan and Jessi become members at Mary Anne’s house.

Graphic novel: The Chewy Perkins incident doesn’t happen.

Book: Kristy mentions that Louie is getting old, foreshadowing the trauma that is to come.
Graphic novel: Louie isn’t mentioned.

I’m not emotionally ready for the next book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

It’s the first day of a new school year, and while Mary Anne doesn’t know what to expect from the eighth grade, she’s looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. One thing she definitely doesn’t expect is to meet Logan Bruno, who just moved to Stoneybrook!

Logan has a dreamy southern accent, he’s awfully cute… and he might be interested in joining the BSC. But the baby-sitters aren’t sure if Logan would make a good club member, so they send him on a job with Mary Anne as a test. Logan and Mary Anne hit it off, but Mary Anne isn’t sure of where their friendship could go. Life in the Baby-sitters Club has never been this complicated – or this fun!

The Baby-Sitters Club #10: Logan Likes Mary Anne! – Ann M. Martin

Before you get all swoony over Logan Bruno from Louisville, Kentucky (complete with southern accent), make sure you’ve read Kristy’s Big Day, Claudia and Mean Janine, Boy-Crazy Stacey and The Ghost at Dawn’s House as there are spoilers for all of these in the intro.

Mary Anne, the romantic of the BSC, was already pretty swoony about Cam Geary so you can imagine the effect encountering his lookalike at school has on her. It’s essentially love at first drool.

Mary Anne isn’t the only one swooning over Logan, though. All of the BSC members do and if you look at the original cover illustration, it looks like Jackie Rodowsky is a bit swoony as well.

This isn’t the first time Mary Anne’s hormones have kicked in. Remember Sea City? But Logan isn’t a summer fling, even though it would have been all sorts of lovely if he’d been her first kiss.

We babysit Jenny Prezzioso, David Michael Thomas, Karen and Andrew Brewer, Charlotte Johanssen, Buddy, Suzi and Marni Barrett, the Pikes, the Marshalls, Myriah and Gabbie (plus Chewy the dog) Perkins, Jamie (“hi-hi!”) and Lucy Newton, the two Ohdner girls (no, we haven’t met them before), Jackie Rodowsky (the Rodowsky’s are also newbie BSC clients) and four Morgan boys.

Dawn wears a “pretty snappy outfit – hot-pink shorts with a big, breezy island-print shirt over a white tank top.”

Mary Anne comes up with her very own great idea but Kristy comes up with the name “associate member” for Logan. I’d forgotten that he’d said he had some guy friends who might want to babysit for the BSC as well. I don’t remember that ever eventuating.

Claudia serves refreshments junk food. She also almost commits the apparently unpardonable sin of saying “bra strap in front of a boy.”

Stacey does a Porky Pig impressions. That’s all folks.

Mary Anne gets her first bra on the first day of eighth grade. Now Kristy is the only braless BSC member.

Kristy has to take a bus to school instead of walking with ex-next door neighbour, Mary Anne, like every other first day of school. Incidentally, the first day of school is a Thursday.

When I first read this book, I didn’t realise that Chewbacca Perkins was named after someone…

The BSC members hold an emergency meeting (naturally) but this one is called by Claudia. They even cancel a meeting; getting Mary Anne ready for the dance is more important, even for Kristy, who is the one to suggest cancelling the meeting.

“I say we cancel today’s club meeting and go over to Mary Anne’s instead.”

Then Stacey calls a special BSC meeting at Mary Anne’s house on a Sunday. Has Kristy lost all control?

The school cafeteria food includes “a dirty sock that’s been left out in the rain and then hidden in a dark closet for three weeks” and “steamed rubber in Turtle Wax”.

Mary Anne’s classes are English, math, gym, social studies, science, French and she has homeroom, lunch and study hall.

I looked forward to using a folder with looseleaf paper, just like Mary Anne, when I first read this book. At the time it felt like a more mature way of doing school than the exercise books I was used to.

If I was Mary Anne, my favourite birthday present (besides Tigger) would have been the wind-up dinosaur that shoots sparks out of its mouth. Good one, Alan Gray, you pest.

By the numbers: Mary Anne’s locker combination is 132, her homeroom number is 216, the club members each pay $1 per week in club dues, Logan’s phone number (in case you want to call him and swoon) is KL51018, Mary Anne has a 10 minute phone call limit and Stacey has a 5 minute phone call limit when she’s calling Laine in New York (she’s found a loophole, though).

Stoneybrook Central Time: At the beginning of this book, it’s been over two months since the end of seventh grade and it’s the final day of summer vacation. Stacey and her family have lived in Stoneybrook for a year now. Mary Anne, the youngest current BSC member, won’t turn 13 for a few weeks.

Up next: Kristy gets to know some snobs and Ann M. Martin traumatises me for life.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

It used to be that Mary Anne had to wear her hair in braids and ask her dad before did anything. But not anymore. Mary Anne has been growing up … and the Baby-sitters Club members aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed.

Logan Bruno likes Mary Anne! He has a dreamy southern accent, he’s awfully cute – and he wants to join the Baby-sitters Club.

The Baby-sitters aren’t sure Logan will make a good club member. And Mary Anne thinks she’s too shy for Logan. Life in the Baby-sitters Club has never been this complicated – or this fun!


I’m the Girl – Courtney Summers

Spoilers Ahead! (marked in purple)

“It’s always you, me, and that road, isn’t it?”

Sixteen year old Georgia knows she’s destined to be an Aspera girl. She’s known it ever since Michael Hayes found her three years ago on the road leading to Aspera, a 12,000 acre members only resort in the mountains he and his wife, Cleo, own. Georgia is determined to do everything in her power to make her dream a reality.

Georgia is on that same road when she discovers the body of thirteen year old Ashley James, the deputy sheriff’s daughter. Nora, Ashley’s sister, and Georgia begin their own investigation into Ashley’s rape and murder.

Based on the blurb, I expected there to be more of a focus on Georgia and Nora investigating Ashley’s murder. There’s some of this scattered through the book but really it’s the abuse of power and privilege, so much privilege, that abound here.

This book was … a lot. It’s motherless daughters and grief and kidnapping and murder and on page sexual assault and trafficking and grooming and incest and it’s all a case of wondering who’s going to do the next horrific thing. I feel like I need a shower to wash it all away.

Some part of me will always be finding her here. Some part of her will always be here, waiting to be found.

Content warnings include child pornography, grooming, incest, self harm, sexual assault and trafficking.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

All sixteen-year-old Georgia Avis wants is everything, but the poverty and hardship that defines her life has kept her from the beautiful and special things she knows she deserves. When she stumbles upon the dead body of thirteen-year-old Ashley James, Georgia teams up with Ashley’s older sister Nora, to find the killer before he strikes again, and their investigation throws Georgia into a glittering world of unimaginable privilege and wealth – and all she’s ever dreamed. But behind every dream lurks a nightmare, and Georgia must reconcile her heart’s desires with what it really takes to survive. As Ashley’s killer closes in and their feelings for one another grow, Georgia and Nora will discover when money, power, and beauty rule, it’s not always a matter of who is guilty but who is guiltiest – and the only thing that might save them is each other.

I’m the Girl is a brutal and illuminating account of how one young woman feels in her body as she struggles to navigate a deadly and predatory power structure while asking readers one question: if this is the way the world is, do you accept it?

The Baby-Sitters Club #9: The Ghost at Dawn’s House – Ann M. Martin

The babysitters have been apart for two whole weeks! During that time, Mary Anne and Stacey found boys at Sea City, Claudia and her family took my Mimi to a resort and Dawn visited her father in California. Kristy? Well, she stayed home, but home is now a mansion so she can’t really complain.

In this book, Dawn plays Nancy Drew, investigating a hunch that her new old house, which was built in 1795, has a previously undisclosed special feature: a secret passage. You know, like The Hidden Staircase, the Nancy Drew book that gave her the idea in the first place.

It’s like a large, creepy dollhouse.

Dawn invites the whole BSC over to help her search. They don’t find anything but they do scream a lot. Incidentally, at one point Dawn lets out a scream I don’t think I’ve heard in real life.

“Eeee-iii!”

After going to a great deal of effort failing to find the secret passage, Dawn does. By sitting down. I love it when laziness is rewarded.

Claudia, whose life basically consists of art, sugar and forbidden Nancy Drew books, was one of the last BSC members to learn about the secret passage at Dawn’s house. I should not be this disappointed for her but here we are. If I’d written this book, Claudia would have led the investigation, Nancy Drewing her way to success.

Dawn babysits Buddy, Suzi and Marnie Barrett. Mary Anne babysits Myriah and Gabbie “Toshe me up” Perkins. Dawn babysits the Pike kids (all of them, with some help from Mallory) and then they babysit the triplets and Nicky. Kristy babysits Karen, Andrew and David Michael. Claudia babysits Jamie “hi-hi!” and Lucy (who was an “angle” – love Claudia typos) Newton. Stacey babysits Nicky, Vanessa, Claire and Margo Pike – and does housework! She can do my housework as well if she’d like.

Books in a book: Dawn reads Ghosts and Spooks, Chills and Thrills: Stories NOT to Be Read After Dark, which she reads after dark (obviously), freaking herself out. She also reads about a Stoneybrook legend in A History of Stoneybrooke. Apparently the e at the end dropped off over the years. Of course, this legend freaks her out even more.

Dawn and Jeff freak out about having to block off a wall so the ghost can’t get in the room. So much freaking out in this book. Also, don’t they know that walls aren’t a problem for ghosts?

Dawn’s mother dates a man named Trip. I have yet to meet a man named Trip.

Claudia magics chocolate from a hollow book. Which is the exact moment I decided I needed to buy a hollow book. Why haven’t I done that yet?

Gabby has a Cabbage Patch Doll. At the time I was reading these books I’d never heard of most of the junk food Claudia found in her room so it was a relief to come across something familiar.

Mary Anne’s crush on Cam Geary is mentioned a couple of times. Hello, foreshadowing.

There’s no emergency BSC meeting in this book but there is a slumber party at Dawn’s house. Kristy wants to watch Ghostbusters, Claudia wants to watch Star Wars, Stacey wants to watch Mary Poppins, Mary Anne wants to watch Sixteen Candles and Dawn wants to watch The Parent Trap. I want to watch Jaws.

Consistent with the responses of the BSC members, this book freaked me out as a kid. The idea of living in a haunted house terrified me, made worse by the fact that my neighbour decided to tell me that their home had a resident ghost around this time.

This book inspired me to borrow a bunch of books featuring ghost stories from the library that remained unread because my imagination was big and my courage was small.

I loved the idea of a secret passage. I looked for one at my home, despite it being less than fifteen years old at the time. I decided right then and there that one day I would live in a home with multiple secret passages. It would also have a secret reading room behind a bookcase, but I digress.

Because my childhood BSC books didn’t come with me into adulthood, I’ve repurchased them. The previous owner of this new old book completed the Notebook Pages. My favourite response was when the 8 year old reader said the BSC member they’re most like is Stacey because they’re “fashion sensitive”.

I want to give Nicky Pike a hug.

About the cover: The secret passage can be accessed through either a trapdoor in the barn or a wall in Dawn’s bedroom. Are Dawn and Jeff heading up to the attic together in this image, something they don’t do in the book? Or did someone in marketing forget to tell the artist how to find the secret passage?

Stoneybrook Central Time: At the beginning of the book, it’s the third week of August, two weeks until eighth grade begins. The babysitters are back after their various adventures of the past two weeks. You’ve already read about Mary Anne and Stacey’s time in Sea City. At the end of the book, school will be starting again in a few days.

Up next: Mary Anne meets Cam Geary in the flesh. Sort of.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Dawn has always thought there was a secret passage hidden in her house. But she never thought there was a ghost… until now. All kinds of creepy things go on whenever Dawn’s at home. There are even spooky noises behind her bedroom wall!

Dawn is sure there’s a ghost in her house. And so are the other Baby-sitters. But they’re so busy with their baby-sitting jobs that they hardly have time for a ghost hunt. Will Dawn and her friends ever solve the mystery, or will Dawn have to share her house… with a ghost?


The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novels #7: Boy-Crazy Stacey – Gale Galligan

Text – Ann M. Martin

Colour – Braden Lamb

Welcome to one of my childhood favourite BSC books, which is adorable as a graphic novel.

There are a lot of minor changes in this graphic novel. Most don’t make any difference and there are some improvements on the original, but since I’ve already said pretty much everything I need to about the story in my review of the book, here are some of the changes I noticed.

Stacey’s hair is quite short. It doesn’t line up with the descriptions in the books, but it looks cute and I think I prefer it this way.

Book: Mallory hasn’t been initiated into the BSC yet. She is not at the party at Kristy’s new mansion.
Graphic novel: Mallory is a BSC Junior Officer. She is at the party at Kristy’s new mansion. I’m never going to be okay with Mallory joining the BSC before her time.

Book: Stacey’s mother offers her apple slices to take with her to Kristy’s new mansion.
Graphic novel: Stacey’s father offers her pretzel sticks to take with her to Kristy’s new mansion.

Book: Stacey’s father is in the garden when she’s leaving for the mansion.
Graphic novel: Stacey’s father is inside sitting on an office chair when she’s leaving for the mansion.

Book: Mimi is in the car when Mr Kishi drives Claudia, Mary Anne and Stacey to Kristy’s house. Given Mimi’s recent stroke, this makes sense to me.
Graphic novel: Mimi is not in the car when Mr Kishi drives Claudia, Mary Anne and Stacey to Kristy’s house. Is anyone at the Kishi’s house making sure my Mimi is okay?

Book: It’s Kristy’s idea for the BSC members to write to each other while they’re separated for two whole weeks.
Graphic novel: It’s Mary Anne’s idea for the BSC members to write to each other while they’re separated for two whole weeks. While Mary Anne is the sentimental type, I kinda like the idea of this being homework from Kristy.

Book: Stacey’s bikini is yellow and skimpy.
Graphic novel: Stacey’s bikini has flowers on it and no yellow.

Book: Stacey’s mother gives her stamps for postcards.
Graphic novel: Stacey already has stamps for postcards when her mother asks about them.

Book: On the way to Sea City, the Pikes stop for ice cream at Howard Johnson’s.
Graphic novel: On the way to Sea City, the Pikes stop for ice cream at Happy’s Ice Cream.

Book: Nicky makes a VOMIT COMET sign in response to the triplet’s BARFMOBILE sign.
Graphic novel: Nicky doesn’t make his sign. This sign delighted me as a kid. I wish it had stayed.

Book: Scott has blonde hair.
Graphic novel: Scott has brown hair.

Book: Hunky lifeguard Scott is 18 years old.
Graphic novel: Hunky lifeguard Scott is 15 years old. That’s much better!

Book: The Enchanted Tree at Burger Garden has chocolate bars. If you find one with a golden wrapper you win a prize.
Graphic novel: The Enchanted Tree at Burger Garden has mystery eggs. If you’re lucky you’ll find a coupon inside one.

Book: Claire brings Mary Anne butter for her sunburn.
Graphic novel: Claire brings Mary Anne peanut butter when she’s sunburnt because it’s yummy. Good thinking, Claire.

Book: The Pikes go to Fred’s Putt-Putt Course.
Graphic novel: The Pikes go to Marty’s Mini Golf.

Book: Stacey and Mary Anne arrive at Hercules’ Hot Dogs before Alex and Toby.
Graphic novel: Alex and Toby are waiting outside Hercules Hot Dogs when Stacey and Mary Anne arrive.

Book: Stacey has a hamburger at Hercules’ Hot Dogs.
Graphic novel: Stacey has a vegie dog at Hercules Hot Dogs.

Burger Garden was awesome! I need to go there.

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Claire is just as skilled at miniature golf as she is in the book.

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Scott doesn’t act all creepy with Stacey, which is a huge relief.

I will always love Sea City. I went there so many times with Mary Anne and Stacey when I was a kid that it began to feel like my very own holiday destination.

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Stacey and Mary Anne are baby-sitting for the Pike family for two weeks at the New Jersey shore. Things are great in Sea City: There’s a gorgeous house right on the beach, a boardwalk, plenty of sun and sand… and the cutest boy Stacey has ever seen!

Mary Anne thinks that Stacey should leave Scott alone and focus on the Pike kids, but Stacey’s in love. Looking for reasons to hang around his lifeguard stand takes up all of her time, which means Mary Anne has to do the job of two baby-sitters. Mary Anne doesn’t like it one bit! How can she tell Stacey that Scott just isn’t interested without ruining their friendship and breaking Stacey’s heart?

The Baby-Sitters Club #8: Boy-Crazy Stacey – Ann M. Martin

Stacey and Mary Anne are spending two weeks together as mother’s helpers, babysitting for the Pike kids. But that’s not all. They’re all going to be on vacation in Sea City, New Jersey. 

“We’re back, we’re here, we’ve come once more, to our gingerbread house by the white seashore!”

The Pike kids are:

  • Mallory – 11, future BSC member
  • Jordan – 10
  • Byron – 10, loves to eat, has some fears
  • Adam – 10
  • Vanessa – 9, poet who speaks in rhyme all the time
  • Nicky – 8
  • Margo – 7
  • Claire – 5, calls her mother ‘Moozie’ and her father ‘Daggles’, adds ‘silly-billy-goo-goo’ to the end of everyone’s names.

Back in Stoneybrook, Kristy babysits David Michael, Karen and Andrew. Dawn has been babysitting in California and Claudia has babysat some kids at the mountain resort in New Hampshire, including Skip.

The house the Pikes rent at Sea City has three levels and is right on the beach. The lifeguard stand is in front of it. That’s where Stacey is going to spend the majority of her time. 

Mr Pike makes sure he knows what Stacey can and can’t eat when he’s cooking breakfast the first day in Sea City, which is great. What wasn’t so great was that he did it on the sly, lowering his voice so his kids didn’t hear him. This just reinforced to me as a kid how unimaginably scary diabetes was. Adult me can’t understand why the Pike kids couldn’t know about Stacey’s diabetes.

Mary Anne, who until a few books ago had to wear her hair in braids and wasn’t allowed to wear pants to school, has her first bikini! She also ends up looking like a “tomato with hair”.

Mary Anne meets a boy mother’s helper, Alex. Stacey meets Toby, Alex’s cousin.

Stacey, 13, is in luv with Scott, 18, the lifeguard with the wavy blonde hair. He lets girls do favours for him, like buying him sodas, getting him lunch and picking up things that fall off the lifeguard stand. Wow, what a prize that guy is.

Random bits:

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It was Stacey’s pink shirt with the big, bright green and yellow birds that I was thinking of when I bought a pair of bird earrings when I was on holidays with my parents as a kid. Yes, I still have them.

The hunky, chauvinistic lifeguard’s full name is Scott Foley. That’s the name of the actor who played Noel Crane on Felicity.

Millionaire Watson has three cars: an old black Ford, a red sports car and a fancy new car. Kristy’s mother has a green station wagon.

Claudia threw a pot. I originally took that literally.

Kristy learned you should never let kids wash a car without supervision.

Mary Anne learned that boys aren’t scary.

Stacey learned that boys aren’t supposed to use you. Well, I hope she learned it anyway.

Books in a book:

  • Mallory reads The Secret Garden, one of my all time favourite books.
  • Mary Anne reads A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Further proof that Stacey’s parents have more than enough money: We already know that they lived in an apartment overlooking Central Park in New York and that the building had a doorman. Now we learn that their apartment had four bedrooms. That’s gotta be worth a fortune!

This was one of my favourite BSC books as a kid. Naturally, one of my many reads took place at the beach. I kept not so subtly glancing up from my book to see if there was a cute lifeguard in the vicinity. This would have been pretty impressive if it happened, especially considering the fact that we were on an unpatrolled beach…

When I wasn’t attempting to find non-existent lifeguards, I was daydreaming about summer romances. I decided that I, too, was going to have one. Spoiler: it was not as advertised.

I was absolutely obsessed with Sea City. I wanted to go everywhere Mary Anne and Stacey did: Trampoline Land, Fred’s Putt-Putt Course, Ice-Cream Palace, Candy Heaven, touristy shops, Burger Garden, Candy Kitchen (they have fudge), If the Suit Fits (they sell bikinis), Hercules’ Hot Dogs and the boardwalk with the arcade.

As a kid, having an 18 year old boyfriend when you’re 13 felt like peak dating. Adult me can’t get over how creepy that is.

Kid me mostly sided with Stacey in this book, even though Mary Anne was my favourite babysitter. Adult me stands 100% with Mary Anne. How dare Stacey leave her to take care of so many kids alone?! Sure, the Pike kids are unnaturally well behaved most of the time but there’s an entire team of them.

Word of the book: kerflooey, which is how Stacey’s blood sugar levels can go if she’s not careful.

Stoneybrook Central Time: It’s the beginning of August when we start this book and the summer holidays between seventh and eighth grade. On the first Tuesday back at school it will have been a year since Kristy had her great idea.

Up next: Dawn goes ghostbusting.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Stacey and Mary Anne are baby-sitting for the Pike
family for two weeks at the New Jersey shore.

Things are great in Sea City. There’s a gorgeous old house, a boardwalk, plenty of sun and sand… and
the cutest boy Stacey has ever seen!

Mary Anne knows that Scott the lifeguard is way too old for Stacey, but Stacey’s in love. She fixes Scott’s lunch, fetches his sodas, and spends all her
time with him… instead of with the Pike kids.

Suddenly Mary Anne’s doing the work of two baby-sitters, and she doesn’t like it one bit. But how can she tell Stacey that Scott just isn’t interested – without breaking Stacey’s heart?


Arch-Conspirator – Veronica Roth

Antigone lives in the last city of an irradiated landscape. It’s perpetually dusty, the population is dwindling and if you have a viable uterus you’re going to reproduce, whether you like it or not. Your chances of surviving childbirth are 50-50.

When you die in this world, your ichor is extracted from you and stored in the Archives. Would-be parents wander the Archives and make their choices, the Archivist implants the combined cells (complete with edited genes) and, hey presto, designer babies.

Antigone and her siblings, Polyneikes, Eteocles and Ismene, aren’t like everyone else, having been made the old fashioned way.

We were unique among our people, pieced together from whatever random combination of genes our parents provided. Table-scrap children.

This novella is a dystopian retelling of Sophocles’ play. Because I wasn’t already familiar with the story, I found a summary to read before I started this book. While it helped in comparing the two, it also spoiled the ending for me. I could have easily followed this story, even if I hadn’t done any homework before tackling it.

If you do know anything about Antigone, you’ll know this isn’t a happy book. It’s tragedy, grief and the abuse of power.

Doomed from the start, I found myself thinking. All of us.

I sometimes find multiple perspectives distracting and that was the case here for the first few chapters. However, once I figured out who everyone was, I began to enjoy hearing from the different characters: Antigone, Polyneikes, Eurydice, Ismene, Kreon and Haemon.

I would have liked to have explored this world more. I wanted to meet the Archivist. I wanted to understand why this pocket of land was currently habitable when the rest of the planet wasn’t. I would have liked to have gotten to know the characters better. Realistically, though, achieving the level of detail I craved would have pushed this way outside of novella territory.

The themes explored here lined up well with what I’ve read about the original story. I loved Antigone’s fierce loyalty to her family and her resistance against the status quo. I’m not sure what Sophocles would have made of this book (there’s a spaceship!) but I enjoyed this read.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Titan Books for the opportunity to read this novella.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Outside the last city on Earth, the planet is a wasteland. Without the Archive, where the genes of the dead are stored, humanity will end.

Antigone’s parents – Oedipus and Jocasta – are dead. Passing into the Archive should be cause for celebration, but with her militant uncle Kreon rising to claim her father’s vacant throne, all Antigone feels is rage.

When he welcomes her and her siblings into his mansion, Antigone sees it for what it really is: a gilded cage, where she is a captive as well as a guest.

But her uncle will soon learn that no cage is unbreakable. And neither is he.

Vox – Christina Dalcher

Imagine a world where, if you’re female, you are only allowed to speak one hundred words a day. When you utter word one hundred and one, your wristband will shock you. The more you exceed your quota, the greater the shock.

Not only that, you are no longer allowed to work. You’re no longer allowed to read. You’re not allowed to own a phone, computer or anything that connects to the internet.

Your child’s education is no longer educational; they will learn how to become a submissive housewife but that’s about it.

Welcome to Jean’s world. Run as fast as –

And that’s already one hundred words. Now you’re silenced for the rest of the day. Your wristband’s counter will reset to zero at midnight.

I’ve become a woman of few words.

In Jean’s world, the word count may be small but the indoctrination is big. People saw this coming. Some protested. Others sheltered behind denial, sure that something like this couldn’t actually happen. It did.

They didn’t think it could get any worse. It could.

“This would never happen. Ever. Women wouldn’t put up with it.”

“Easy to say now,” Jackie said.

I was hooked for the first half of the book but the second half seemed to unravel. Some things were a bit too convenient. The ending was a bit too rushed and seemed to go against the message of the book up until that point. I didn’t connect with the characters.

Still, this book made me think about the things I consider to be rights and how easily they can be removed. It made me angry every time I thought about how easily this fiction, or something similar to it, could become fact.

Reading just a few reviews has made it obvious how divisive a read this book has been. It’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer but it made me think so it did its job.

Think about what you need to do to stay free.

Content warnings include mention of abortion, animal experimentation, death by suicide, homophobia, physical abuse and sexual assault.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and HQ, an imprint of HarperCollins, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, Vox is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed to speak more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial – this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning.

Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.

But this is not the end.

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.

Savage Woods – Mary SanGiovanni

Every time I read a Mary SanGiovanni book I remember how much I love them. I’m also reminded of how fun it is when she introduces something I’ve either never heard of or know very little about, generating enough interest in me that I decide I need to become an expert in whatever the something is.

In Inside the Asylum, this was tulpas. I’d never heard of them but by the end of the book I’d read everything I could find about them. Years later, they came up in some random TV episode. The person sitting next to me asked if I knew what that word was. Naturally, I proceeded to tell them all about tulpas, including some handy hints for how to make one if they were so inclined.

While I was trying to find my way out of the Savage Woods, I began reading about tree spirits. When I wasn’t busy trying to pronounce Kèkpëchehëlat.

This is my first Mary SanGiovanni read that isn’t a Kathy Ryan book (note to self: read the rest of Mary’s books!). I kept thinking that the subject matter was right up Kathy’s alley and loved that her research had a cameo, even though she didn’t.

Brothers Todd and Kenny decide Nilhollow is the perfect place for their camping trip. They don’t believe the “clichéd stuff about cursed grounds, unexplained hiker deaths and disappearances, lights in the sky, that sort of thing.”

They’re also dismissive about the reports of the missing people “turning up inside-out and hanging from trees”. What brothers Todd and Kenny don’t realise is that they’re first chapter characters and, as such, they’re almost certainly destined to stop breathing before the main characters show up.

Something about Nilhollow was just … all wrong.

Which brings me to Julia Russo, who’s trying to escape her abusive ex-boyfriend, Darren. Darren, who clearly doesn’t understand the purpose of a restraining order, decides to run Julia off the road. In the wrong part of the woods.

Officer Pete Grainger, a New Jersey state trooper, knows Julia’s situation well and has developed some not especially professional feelings for her. Of course, when he learns she’s in trouble, Grainge responds. So do a whole gaggle of law enforcement corpses in the making.

This book is an absolute splatterfest and I loved every squishy, crunchy, rending moment. I flew through it, cheering on the trees as they painted the woods red. I’m more convinced than ever that I need to read everything Mary SanGiovanni ever writes.

“You need to warn the others that whatever slept in these woods is awake now, and it wants blood.”

Content warnings include mention of death by suicide, domestic abuse, stalking and suicidal ideation.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Lyrical Underground, an imprint of Kensington Books, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Nilhollow – six-hundred-plus acres of haunted woods in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens – is the stuff of urban legend. Amid tales of tree spirits and all-powerful forest gods are frightening accounts of hikers who went insane right before taking their own lives. It is here that Julia Russo flees when her violent ex-boyfriend runs her off the road … here that she vanishes without a trace.

State Trooper Peter Grainger has witnessed unspeakable things that have broken other men. But he has to find Julia and can’t turn back now. Every step takes him closer to an ugliness that won’t be appeased – a centuries-old, devouring hatred rising up to eviscerate humankind. Waiting, feeding, surviving. It’s unstoppable. And its time has come.