The Babysitter III – R.L. Stine

My burning questions at the end of Jenny’s second babysitting gig were:

☎️ Does Jenny really need to go through this a third time?

☎️ Is anyone going to buy the poor girl an answering machine so she can screen her phone calls?

☎️ Is Jenny going to finally get a job other than babysitting since it’s not going so well for her?

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The answers are maybe, no and yes. I’m pleased to report that Jenny’s latest job is not a babysitting gig! Instead she’s got a summer job at The Doughnut Hole. Great work, Jenny! I would like one of everything please.

Two years after her first brush with death, Jenny is still attending therapy sessions with Dr Schindler. Given the events of the second book I imagine that would have been quite awkward for a while. I’m not entirely sure how well therapy is working for her as Jenny’s still pretty likely to scream at any given moment and her nightmares haven’t let up, but she’s trying and you’ve got to give her credit for that.

Her mother and psychiatrist both agree it would be good for Jenny to have a change of scenery so instead of serving me donuts (like we planned) she’s going to visit her cousin, Debra, over the summer. Jenny’s moody boyfriend, Cal, isn’t so impressed (he must have wanted donuts too). Jenny is pretty good at picking boys that go from easygoing to pouty or angry in an instant.

Debra, whose main interest seems to be tossing her long blonde hair, also needs some assistance in the dating department. Her ex, Don, seems to think it’s entirely acceptable to show up unannounced in her bedroom. Who let him inside the house in the first place? Who knows?!

Of course, Debra has a regular babysitting job and thinks nothing of bringing Jenny along with her.

“Jenny, come on,” Debra urged. “It’ll be fun.”

Does she really not know about her cousin’s babysitting curse?

It turns out that when you have a curse attached to you it follows you, even when you visit your cousin. Only this time it’s Debra who’s getting the creepy phone calls. Maybe the curse is genetic? Or transferrable?

“I just don’t understand why he called you

It almost sounds like Jenny is jealous of the attention her cousin is getting.

Big spoilers are included in this book for Jenny’s two previous starring roles as Girl Most Likely to Scream so beware of those if you haven’t already experienced those screams.

One thing I have to say about this series: there’s not much of a resolution for anyone. While I’m curious about a couple of characters, there’s one in particular who needs more page time. I would have liked Maggie’s story to have had some kind of ending rather than me wondering if she was ever going to get what was hers, whatever that was.

My main question mark relating to this book is pretty insignificant but it’s bugging me nonetheless: How did Cal know where Debra was babysitting?

The reveal simply didn’t work for me this time. I understand where Stine was going with it and, let’s face it, child me would have had to pick their jaw off the floor. However, adult me needed more depth to the characters and storyline to buy it. It should make for an interesting opener for the fourth book though, where hopefully someone will finally buy this girl an answering machine!

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Jenny just wants to forget the man who murdered all the baby-sitters. The man who almost murdered her.

He’s dead now.

And Jenny’s gone to visit her cousin Debra.

But Debra has a baby-sitting job. And now she’s getting those phone calls, too. Just like the ones Jenny used to get:

Hi, Babes. I’m back.

Company’s coming …

How To Be Ace: A Memoir of Growing Up Asexual – Rebecca Burgess

When Rebecca was growing up they weren’t interested in talking about relationships and sex like the rest of their classmates. They didn’t understand why sex was such a big deal but assumed they’d “grow into” it when they got older.

They tried to have relationships but it just didn’t feel right. They thought that something must be wrong with them.

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It wasn’t until they were at university that they began to accept that being different was okay and that they didn’t have to pretend to be like everyone else.

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Rebecca’s story takes the reader from the bullying they experienced in childhood through to managing their mental health. Information about asexuality is scattered through the graphic novel, with insights into what relationships can look like for people who identify as asexual.

There was a greater focus on mental health than I had expected. I didn’t personally learn anything new about asexuality from the panels that provide information but they do give readers a good introduction. I anticipate that being able to follow Rebecca’s journey from struggling with their sexuality to their eventual acceptance of who they are will be helpful for readers who can relate to her experiences and provide new understanding for those who don’t understand asexuality.

There are resources at the end of Rebecca’s story. Because asexuality is so misunderstood I’m including them here so you can check them out for yourself.

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Content warnings include anxiety, bullying, emetophobia, OCD and mention of sexual assault.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Jessica Kingsley Publishers for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

“When I was in school, everyone got to a certain age where they became interested in talking about only one thing: boys, girls and sex. Me though? I was only interested in comics.”

Growing up, Rebecca assumes sex is just a scary new thing they will ‘grow into’ as they gets older, but when they leaves school, starts working, and does grow up, they starts to wonder why they doesn’t want to have sex with other people.

In this brave, hilarious and empowering graphic memoir, we follow Rebecca as they navigate a culture obsessed with sex – from being bullied at school and trying to fit in with friends, to forcing themself into relationships and experiencing anxiety and OCD – before coming to understand and embrace their asexual identity.

Giving unparalleled insight into asexuality and asexual relationships, How To Be Ace shows the importance of learning to be happy and proud of who you are.

Secrets of Camp Whatever Volume 1 – Chris Grine

Spoilers Ahead! (marked in purple)

This is such a fun read!

Willow’s family have just moved to Nowhere and while her parents are getting the ghosts out the cellar (maybe literally), she’s been sent to Camp … Whatever for a week. Willow isn’t thrilled about the move or camp, but at least she’ll be getting a week’s respite from Gryphin, her younger brother.

There’s more to Camp … Whatever than meets the eye, and it’s not just because of the thick fog that covers the island. There are the mysteries of the missing candy and missing children to solve, the cook is suspected of being a vampire and there are weird gnomes everywhere. The Camp Director has plenty of his own stories to tell

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and the island even has its very own spooky legend.

“When the blood of my blood is spilled from a star, and the shadows of elves return from afar, I will once again walk this plane bringing death in tow.”

Willow and her new friends, Violet, Emma and Molly, won’t have much times for arts and crafts at this camp. They’ve got too many secrets to uncover.

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Eleven year old Willow is adventurous and smart, and she’s never short of ideas or plans, even if they defy the rules. She’s someone you’d have a lot of fun being friends with, if you didn’t mind getting into some trouble along the way. Willow has hearing aids and her ability to sign becomes an important part of the story.

I loved the illustrations and had no trouble following the story or getting to know the characters. The only thing that’s niggling at me is why, given the circumstances, Toast couldn’t have told Elric the names of the other gnomes and saved him nearly thirty years of trying to guess them.

The target audience mentioned on the Simon & Schuster website is 9 to 12 years but this adult loved it and is hooked! I can’t wait for the next volume!

While I definitely want to explore more of Camp … Whatever (I have to see some fog leeches!), I’m just as keen to find out what secrets are hiding in the town of Nowhere and I need to find out if there really are ghosts in the cellar of Willow’s new home.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Oni Press for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Eleven year-old Willow doesn’t want to go to her dad’s weird old summer camp any more than she wants her family to move to the weird old town where that camp is located. But her family – and fate itself – seem to have plans of their own. Soon Willow finds herself neck-deep in a confounding mystery involving stolen snacks, suspected vampires, and missing campers, all shrouded in the sinister fog that hides a generation of secrets at Camp … Whatever it’s called.

Dark Screams Volume Seven – Brian James Freeman & Richard Chizmar (editors)

I was disillusioned by some horror anthologies last year but October is calling to me, so here I am again. I’m not sure what it is about horror short stories but I don’t find them scary and would rarely even classify their content as horror. While all of these stories are okay, I didn’t find any scares amongst them.

My favourite was James Renner’s A Monster Comes to Ashdown Forest (In Which Christopher Robin Says Goodbye).

Lizardman by Robert McCammon – 🎃🎃🎃

The lizardman has been searching for Old Pope for a long time. Tonight he will find him.

Oh, yeah, the swamp had teeth. Eat you up, bury you under. That was how it was.

A Monster Comes to Ashdown Forest (In Which Christopher Robin Says Goodbye) by James Renner – 🎃🎃🎃🎃

You’ll never see Winnie-the-Pooh the same again.

“Sometimes the bad things take up the most room in your heart. Don’t they?”

Furtherest by Kaaron Warren – 🎃🎃🎃

Those boys died in the dunes but there’s more to the story.

“So don’t go into the dunes, kids. You never know who’s lurking in there.”

West of Matamoros, North of Hell by Brian Hodge – 🎃🎃🎃

This is the photoshoot from hell.

“Everybody’s got a plan until the knives come out.”

The Expedition by Bill Schweigart – 🎃🎃🎃

Nazis vs. the wolf.

Had they known then of the chest and the doom that awaited them all, Bruner would have chosen prison.

Snow Shadows by Mick Garris – 🎃🎃🎃

A man and boy are haunted by the death of a woman.

“Did you love her?”

Content warnings include death by suicide.

Thank you to NetGalley and Hydra, an imprint of Random House Publishing Group, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Robert McCammon, James Renner, Kaaron Warren, Brian Hodge, Bill Schweigart, and Mick Garris reveal sinister secrets and unsavoury pasts in a haunting anthology of short stories collected by acclaimed horror editors Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar.

LIZARDMAN by Robert McCammon
The lizardman thinks he knows about all the mysterious dangers of the Florida swamps, but there are things lurking in the bayou that are older and deadlier than his wildest dreams.

A MONSTER COMES TO ASHDOWN FOREST (IN WHICH CHRISTOPHER ROBIN SAYS GOODBYE) by James Renner
Although every child dreams of visiting Hundred Acre Wood, only one has ever actually frolicked in that fabled forest – and survived.

FURTHEREST by Kaaron Warren
She’s been going to the beach since she was a child, daring the other kids to go out past the dunes where those boys died all those years ago. Now she realises that the farther out you go, the harder it is to come back.

WEST OF MATAMOROS, NORTH OF HELL by Brian Hodge
After the success of their latest album, Sebastián, Sofia, and Enrique head to Mexico for a shoot under the statue of Santa Muerte. But they have fans south of the border who’d kill to know where they get their inspiration.

THE EXPEDITION by Bill Schweigart
On a quest to bring glory to the Führer, Lieutenant Dietrich Drexler leads his team into the ruins of the Carpathian Mountains. But the wolf that’s stalking them is no ordinary predator.

SNOW SHADOWS by Mick Garris
A schoolteacher’s impulsive tryst with a colleague becomes a haunting lesson in tragedy and terror when he’s targeted for revenge by an unlikely, unhinged rival.

Book Haul – 1 to 8 October 2020

I started writing a short story this afternoon! I’ve only written about 1,000 words so far and I doubt this particular story will ever see the light of day, but it’s woken something up in me.

I haven’t really attempted any creative writing (although there are plenty of worlds that live in my imagination) for many years decades. It was a time of putting pen to paper and I felt like a real writer because I’d bought myself a typewriter.

It may not be much in the scheme of things but it feels like possibilities exist tonight that didn’t this morning. And in 2020, that’s exciting!

I don’t know if you ever fell in geeky love with Reid from Criminal Minds like I may have but even if you didn’t I want to tell you about a TV series I binged this week. It’s called Prodigal Son and Malcolm, the main character, is pretty much how I imagine Reid would have turned out if his father was a serial killer. Malcolm’s father is a serial killer, he’s a profiler and he’s haunted by the flashbacks he has of the girl in the box, the girl who everyone tells him never existed. This could be my favourite new series of the year!

Word of the Week: antimony (from dictionary.com)

  1. opposition between one law, principle, rule, etc., and another.
  2. Philosophy. a contradiction between two statements, both apparently obtained by correct reasoning.

Highlight of the Week: Okay, so I’m still getting my head around this but earlier this week my blog reached a milestone that I wasn’t expecting to happen so soon. Over 1,000 visitors have dropped by. Whether you’ve found yourself here by accident or you’ve visited more than once, please know that I appreciate you.

Recent Reads:


Book Mail

FIVE friends go to a cabin.

FOUR of them are hiding secrets.

THREE years of history bind them.

TWO are doomed from the start.

ONE person wants to end this.

NO ONE IS SAFE.

Are you ready to play?


Amber knew she’d been given an incredible power, but was it a freak accident, or was there something she was supposed to do with it?

Controlling her new ability might be the hardest thing Amber has ever done. Especially when she is running for her life.

Who is her mysterious enemy? What connection does he have to Amber’s past? And, most importantly, does Amber have what it takes to truly become … Skydragon?


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes – not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now – “Scythe Lucifer” – a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realising she cannot do this alone – or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead – the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?


It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.

In this pulse-pounding finale to Neal Shusterman’s internationally bestselling trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.


A powerful source of healing for teen girls and young women who have experienced sexual abuse, Invisible Girls offers survivors agency and hope in an era when too many girls have suffered alone The statistics are staggering.

One in four girls will experience sexual abuse by the time she is sixteen, and 48 percent of all rapes involve a young woman under the age of eighteen. It’s not surprising then, that in a society where sexual abuse of young women is rampant, many women never share their stories. They remain hidden and invisible.

In her pioneering work with young survivors through the last thirty years, Dr. Patti Feuereisen has helped teen girls and young women to find their voices, begin healing, and become visible.

In this revised second edition, Dr. Patti’s gentle guidance and the girls’ powerful stories continue to create an encouraging message: Remarkable healing is possible if girls learn to share their stories in their teens and early twenties. With a new introduction, new chapters, and updated resources, this new edition of Invisible Girls has even more to offer girls, young women, and those who care about them.


According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon – both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle – are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist …


If you trust her you’ll never make it home …

Avery is an exceptional child. Everything he does is precise, from the way he washes his face in the morning, to the way he completes his homework – without complaint, without fuss, without prompt.

Zib is also an exceptional child, because all children are, in their own way. But where everything Avery does and is can be measured, nothing Zib does can possibly be predicted, except for the fact that she can always be relied upon to be unpredictable.

They live on the same street.

They live in different worlds.

On an unplanned detour from home to school one morning, Avery and Zib find themselves climbing over a stone wall into the Up and Under – an impossible land filled with mystery, adventure and the strangest creatures.

And they must find themselves and each other if they are to also find their way out and back to their own lives.


A new anthology bringing together five great new and established writers to explore the world of Mary Shelley’s all-time classic, Frankenstein.

“My spirit will sleep in peace; or if it thinks, it will not surely think thus. Farewell.” 

Victor Frankenstein was the first to unlock the key to life, but he would not be the last. Through two centuries of scientific enquiry and relentless advancement, five more minds found the secret, and five more creatures were made. Five more stories ended in tragedy.

From the 1840’s to the modern day, from the race to publish the first anatomy to the desperate search for weapons to win the Second World War, telling the stories of the creatures that never were.


NetGalley

“When I was in school, everyone got to a certain age where they became interested in talking about only one thing: boys, girls and sex. Me though? I was only interested in comics.”

Growing up, Rebecca assumes sex is just a scary new thing they will ‘grow into’ as they gets older, but when they leaves school, starts working, and does grow up, they starts to wonder why they doesn’t want to have sex with other people.

In this brave, hilarious and empowering graphic memoir, we follow Rebecca as they navigate a culture obsessed with sex – from being bullied at school and trying to fit in with friends, to forcing themself into relationships and experiencing anxiety and OCD – before coming to understand and embrace their asexual identity.

Giving unparalleled insight into asexuality and asexual relationships, How To Be Ace shows the importance of learning to be happy and proud of who you are.


The Babysitter II – R.L. Stine

“Hi, Babes. I’m back.”

Jenny survived her last adventure in babysitting (barely) and she’s now in therapy (thank goodness!). She’s done with Chuck, who she was dating during the first book, but he’s not done with her. Chuck swings between joking around and angry and when she rejects him he responds by shouting at her, “threatening and cursing”. Jenny’s internal dialogue?

Poor Chuck.

So, it turns out that Jenny needs therapy for more than the whole almost dying thing. Some more therapy would probably give her some clarity about her decision to babysit again. Seriously, why, Jenny? Get a job at McDonald’s or something!

But Jenny isn’t listening to me so off to her next babysitting job she goes.

Jenny isn’t the only one in need of therapy. The ten year old kid she babysits is nowhere near the only male in this book that is well versed in temper tantrums. The males her age have some serious toxic masculinity happening and Jenny is quick to forgive or ignore all, even the behaviour that’s criminal.

Back to the kid Jenny babysits for a moment; it wouldn’t surprise me if I found him in a future Stine book as the serial killer. There’s almost certainly a jail cell in his future.

If you haven’t read the first book in the series, make sure you do before you start this one. Huge spoilers come at you right out of the gate, including who the big bad was and how the showdown happened.

There are some fun descriptions in this edition of Adventures in Babysitting, like

The head seemed to rise up, like a pulpy, bloodstained moon.

There’s no resolution for a lot of the characters in this book. As far as I can tell, Chuck is still a jerk, the kid Jenny babysits is on his way to some much more serious ‘pranks’, Jenny still needs therapy and Jenny’s mother is not as involved in the drama that is her daughter’s life as she probably needs to be.

“Believe me, child – nothing like that will ever happen to you again.”

I’d hate to tell you this, Jenny’s mother, but Jenny still needs to play a starring role in two more sequels.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Jenny’s last baby-sitting job nearly killed her. But she’s a survivor and she’s over it. She’s even got a new baby-sitting job. Then the phone rings. When she answers, she hears a familiar voice – a voice from the grave.

The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida – Clarissa Goenawan

Spoilers Ahead! (in the content warnings)

She’d said she wanted to tell me something. Maybe I could find out what, if I traced her path somehow.

Miwako Sumida was only 20 when she died. Her story is told by three people who each knew part of it. Ryusei was the man who loved Miwako. Chie, who began her life as a “transparent girl”, was Miwako’s best friend. Fumi, Ryusei’s sister, was Miwako’s employer. I want to tell you all about them but can’t, because spoilers.

I really liked Miwako. She was blunt. She could be stand-offish. If you wanted to know her at all, you had to work for it. But she was worth the effort.

“You know, she just made everything better. More intense. More colorful. When I looked at her, I used to think, ‘Hey, maybe the world isn’t such a bad place.’”

Her kindred spirit potential was evident to me early on, right about the time she bailed on karaoke with her friends to go to a bookstore. However, even though I saw her through the eyes of three people who knew her best, I still didn’t truly feel like I knew Miwako and I loved that about her.

Miwako was quite deliberately unknowable and although this would usually frustrate me, it somehow endeared her to me even more. It wasn’t until after her death that the secrets she was carrying were revealed and even then, it wasn’t an easy reveal. There was work involved.

I was sad that Miwako’s secrets weighed so heavily on her and that she never sought the support she deserved. Even though I knew from the blurb that she died by suicide I kept wanting her to reach out to one of the people who loved her, to trust them enough with the parts of herself that filled her with shame.

Miwako was not the only one keeping secrets. Ryusei, Chie and Fumi’s stories each highlighted, through their own stories or their memories of Miwako, the pain we feel when we keep parts of ourselves hidden and how secrets can change the course of our lives.

Given the difficult content that’s explored in this book I was surprised that I felt almost meditative while I was reading it. There’s something that I haven’t identified yet about the way it was written that made it feel like the words were washing over me.

It was really easy for me to get into. I found myself dreading the introduction of a new voice each time a new part began because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the one I’d been spending time with. Each time, though, the new voice would suck me in and I’d be wanting to learn more of their story.

I was keen to spend more time with Ryusei in the months between his part of the story ending and the next time I saw him. I need to know how he spent his days and how he managed his grief over time, and his story is unfinished in my mind because I don’t have those details.

I really liked Chie and enjoyed getting to know different aspects of Miwako through their shared experience. Overall, though, it seemed to me that Chie’s main role in this story was to provide information to Ryusei and I don’t think she will stay with me. In contrast, I expect Ryusei and Fumi’s stories to linger with me.

Although I’m still having trouble deciding between Miwako and Fumi, I’m almost positive Fumi is my favourite character. And I can’t tell you why, because spoilers. Again!

The final revelation about Miwako’s life read a bit like an info dump to me and I wasn’t entirely sold on all of the details, but in the end it didn’t matter. I loved this book, so much so that I bought my copy of the author’s debut, Rainbirds, before I’d even read a quarter of this one.

But when it came to Miwako Sumida, nothing was as I expected.

Content warnings include abortion, bullying, death by suicide and sexual assault.

Thank you so much to Scribe Publications for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A bewitching novel set in contemporary Japan about the mysterious suicide of a young woman.

Miwako Sumida is dead.

Now those closest to her try to piece together the fragments of her life. Ryusei, who has always loved her, follows Miwako’s trail to a remote Japanese village. Chie, Miwako’s best friend, was the only person to know her true identity – but is now the time to reveal it? Meanwhile, Fumi, Ryusei’s sister, is harbouring her own haunting secret.

Together, they realise that the young woman they thought they knew had more going on behind her seemingly perfect façade than they could ever have dreamed. 

Book Haul – 18 to 30 September 2020

The weirdest thing happened last week. No new books found their way into my life. I can’t remember the last time that happened. Sure, I have more than enough books to last me for decades already but I always find excuses to adopt more. So there was no need for a book haul post last week. Happily I’ve made some new bookish friends this week.

Word of the Week: nascent, “(especially of a process or organization) just coming into existence and beginning to display signs of future potential.” (from lexico.com)

Bookish Highlight: Book mail! The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida arrived yesterday and I’m loving it! I found a Maya Angelou quote today that seems appropriate given what I have read so far.

Recent Reads:


Book Mail

Miwako Sumida is dead.

Now those closest to her try to piece together the fragments of her life. Ryusei, who has always loved her, follows Miwako’s trail to a remote Japanese village. Chie, Miwako’s best friend, was the only person to know her true identity – but is now the time to reveal it? Meanwhile, Fumi, Ryusei’s sister, is harbouring her own haunting secret.

Together, they realise that the young woman they thought they knew had more going on behind her seemingly perfect façade than they could ever have dreamed.


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

Ren Ishida is nearly finished with graduate school when he receives news of his sister Keiko’s sudden death. She was viciously stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister’s affairs, still failing to understand why she chose to abandon the family and Tokyo for this desolate town years ago.

But Ren soon finds himself picking up where Keiko left off, accepting both her teaching position at a local cram school and the bizarre arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politician’s mansion in exchange for reading to the man’s catatonic wife.

As he comes to know the figures in Akakawa, from the enigmatic politician to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, alluring student named Rio, Ren delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed, trying to piece together what happened the night of her death. Haunted in his dreams by a young girl who is desperately trying to tell him something, Ren struggles to find solace in the void his sister has left behind. 


NetGalley

Illumen Hall is an elite boarding school. Tragedy strikes when the body of a student is discovered at their exclusive summer party – on her back is an elaborate tattoo of a magpie.

When new girl Audrey arrives the following term, running from her own secrets back home in America, she is thrown into solving the case. Despite her best efforts to avoid any drama, her new roommate Ivy was close to the murdered girl, and the two of them can’t help but get pulled in.

The two can’t stand each other, but as they are drawn deeper into the mystery of this strange and terrible murder, they will discover that something dangerous is at the heart of their superficially perfect school.

Welcome to The Magpie Society.


Like any student about to start university, Laurie Katz was excited to see what the year would bring. Little did she know that just three weeks into her first term, her life would come crashing down around her. What had started as a fun night out with friends ended with Laurie, alone with a terrible secret: she had been raped.

Traumatized and confused, she set out to get justice against her attacker. But when the authorities at her university dismissed her case, and warned her that she could be expelled, she was left unsure where to turn. It seemed as though things couldn’t get worse, then her attacker filed his own case.

Laurie’s story is a brave and honest reminder of the injustice still felt in society around sexual abuse. Laurie offers readers her advice, and provides them with the hope that they too can overcome a similar trauma.


WeirDo #15: Planet Weird! – Anh Do

Illustrations – Jules Faber

Today’s a big day for Weir. It’s his birthday and after school he’s going to celebrate with everyone from his class. This year Weir is having a monster party!

It was going to be the best night of the year! Even better than the time a truck full of lollies spilled its load in the main street!

But that’s not all that’s happening today. It’s also Planet Day and Miss Franklin’s class are doing their part to make their school more environmentally friendly.

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With a cake-tastrophe, a tough looking bird called Tyrannosaurus Pecks, an overabundance of toilet paper (this book must have been written pre-COVID …) and lots of green, this was a great addition to the series.

The costumes are a lot of fun (be on the look out for the bum monster!) and there are plenty of smiles.

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I love the can-do attitude of Weir and his family and friends. When things don’t go to plan, everyone looks for creative solutions and, because they’re all working together to make the best of an unexpected situation, it all works out in the end. I love this series!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MEEEEE! Not only is it PLANET DAY, it’s also Weir Do’s BIRTHDAY! 

And his party’s going to be so HUGE you’ll see it from space! It won’t be easy … but it will be FUNNY! 

The Babysitter – R.L. Stine

Welcome to my horror gateway book. It turns out I was an even bigger scaredy-cat as a kid than I thought I was. This book absolutely terrified me, so much so that when the phone rang at night for months afterwards I’d hear in my head,

“Company’s coming.”

If you’re unfamiliar with this book, here are the basics. Jenny has a new babysitting gig for a family she’s only just met. Their house should be featured on a renovation show. The kid Jenny is babysitting, who looks angelic, has interests that range from watching Ghostbusters (awesome choice, kid!) to scaring the babysitter.

There’s a weird neighbour hanging around, threatening phone calls and a babysitter with a big imagination who is fearing the worst. Oh, and let’s not forget the newspaper headline …

THIRD BABYSITTER ATTACK HAS POLICE ON ALERT.

This read was a fun trip down memory lane but the things that scared me as a child seem silly now. I could have sworn that Jenny answered at least another dozen creepy phone calls and I don’t remember it being so obvious who the big bad was.

Note to my kid self: When you’re only introduced to a few male characters, it kinda narrows the field of potential male baddies.

I think as a kid I assumed the bad guy was going to be a stranger, because it was the 80’s and we were Stranger Danger all the way. It never occurred to me that you could actually know a villain so R.L. Stine probably didn’t even need to include any red herrings to fool me.

Jenny, who I can only assume failed Horror 101, does what all good potential victims do when they hear a strange noise in the house.

“Who’s there?”

For most of the book Jenny lets her imagination run wild, gets scared and second guesses pretty much everything. She waits for the final act, when she probably should be paying attention, to let her guard down.

80’s Nostalgia Bonus Points

🎧 Jenny has a Walkman. Cassettes … Those were the days. I loved my Walkman so much, even after I learned that other people could hear me sing while I was using it.
⏰ Laura, Jenny’s friend, wears a Swatch, one of the coolest accessories of my childhood.
📸 Flashcubes are mentioned in a description. I haven’t thought of those in years. It could be my memory deceiving me but I’m almost positive I got a minor burn from one of those.

I probably should apologise to you in advance. There are three more books in this series, I own them all and I just realised that Jenny is in every single one of them. I wonder if she invests in an answering machine. Please don’t tell me she thinks it’s a good idea to babysit again!

“Hello? Anyone there?”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

From the minute Jenny accepted the Hagen babysitting job, she knew she had made a mistake.

First there was the dark and disheveled Hagen house, moaning and groaning with her every step. Then the crank phone calls started. “Hi, Babes. Are you all alone? Company’s coming.” When Jenny discovered a creepy neighbour prowling in the backyard and a threatening note in her backpack, she realised this wasn’t a harmless game.

But who would want to hurt her? What kind of maniac wanted to scare Jenny … to death?