Tag Archives: The Point Horror Book Club

Panic! aka Pre-empted Posts, Persephone’s, Point Horrors, Pressure and Procrastinating…

I do love a little bit of alliteration don’t you? Anyway today’s post is a bit of a ‘random updates’ sort of thing because over the weekend I got myself into a little bit of a tizzy (nice, different, unusual – my Australian readers will know what I mean then, or my gay ones, ha!) over some bookish deadlines and the amount of books I owned, and was I ever going to read them, and more. Basically I had a proper book based wobble all in all.

Last Monday, on this here blog, I declared that I was going to ‘start something new’ on the blog today, well in the end after one of the most manic weeks at work ever (and the next two will equal it, who knew setting up an inaugural music festival would take so much work) I simply hadn’t got around to sorting it out. So that was my big new lesson and new resolution last week – stop pre-empting posts just let them happen organically.

So that was one issue over, which was soon followed by the sudden dawning realisation that I had about four book deadlines to get read. Two were actually proper ones, one for work as I am interviewing Niccolo Ammaniti (name drop alert) tomorrow, if you have any questions let me know, and one for a new book group I have joined. The other two were blog based. One was the latest Point Horror Book Group read which I realised I was already a month behind, the second was for the latest Persephone Project read. I had a proper panic. Then I suddenly thought ‘hang about a minute, reading is meant to be fun remember?’ and whilst I love the Point Horror Book Club and the Persephone Project – could two reading projects be more different? – they shouldn’t rule my reading. Lesson two, I rule the books they don’t rule me.

Now because the Persephone Project is a personal one (no offense James, I will catch up with the Point Horror Book Club in due course) and one that I am really keen to keep on with I am setting myself, and therefore any of you if you are still keen on taking part, a new regime with it. The second Sunday of the month is too near the Readers Book Club show, and the book groups I have now joined, so I am now shifting it to the last Sunday of every month. Much better! I am actually only three books behind, I thought it was far more, so I will reviewing ‘The Home-Maker’ by Dorothy Canfield Fisher and chatting all about it with some of you hopefully on August the 25th! There that feels better.

Finally comes the procrastinating, which I freely admit I am the king of and should really do something about. I mentioned above I have started a new book group (or two) and Wednesday is the first and it is ‘The Princess Bride’ by William Goldman which I was really confident I owned, wrong! I have sought high and low but the copy that I know I had, in one of my many book boxes, has gone. I have been putting off having a good old book sort but routing through the madness of my TBR I do feel that the time has come to simply just get on with it. Well, after I have finished the Ammaniti, I promise!!!

So that is all the latest bookish shenanigans from me. How do you manage read-a-long, ‘challenge’ or book group reading? Read well ahead or leave till last minute? Any tips on how to be really ruthless (not just a bit ruthless, REALLY ruthless) with a good book sort? And don’t forget if you have any questions for Niccolo Ammaniti let me know? I thank you!

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The Baby-Sitter – R.L. Stine

I am a little late for the Point Horror Book Club, alas yesterday I was taken over by a migraine and so spent the morning trying to stave it off, then having to simply let it have its wicked way all afternoon and evening – missing two bloody parties too I will have you know. However some of you are running late to this too, shame on you, by not getting your mitts on some of these Point Horror gems. I know some people have been surprised to see Savidge Reads take on this monthly challenge, especially when my other monthly challenge The Persephone Project (which we will be catching up with on Sunday) is rather at the other end of the spectrum of books and literature. Yet one thing I have been thinking about is how reading needs to be fun, and my reading sometimes needs to be more fun, and revisiting these dark yet kind of camp classics of my childhood is the perfect thing. Anyway the latest Point Horror Book Club choice has been R.L. Stine’s ‘The Baby-Sitter’ which I actually think all wannabe crime and horror writers should read, seriously.

**** Scholastic Books, paperback, 1989, fiction, 203 pages, from my own personal TBR

**** Scholastic Books, paperback, 1989, fiction, 203 pages, from my own personal TBR

For Jenny Jeffers money is tight and Christmas will soon be here. Needing the extra cash to help her mother she takes a job babysitting for the Hagen’s on the other side of town every Thursday and Saturday. The Hagen’s house is (surprise, surprise) rather like something out of a horror movie. Surrounded by woods and rather a way off the main road, their decrepit house and Mr Hagen’s odd nervous disposition would make any teenager feel slightly uneasy. Throw in the fact that Jenny has a highly over active imagination, some maniac has been beating up/killing local babysitters and the fact Jenny is in the 80’s and doesn’t have a smart phone and you are headed for horrors ahoy aren’t you?

“Maybe the kids a monster,” Jenny said, somehow feeling she had to justify her nervousness. “Maybe the parents are weird. Maybe they belong to some sort of secret cult and when I find out about it, they keep me locked up in the basement for the rest of my life so I can’t tell anyone. Maybe the house is haunted. There’s the ghost of a young girl trapped in the attic, and I accidentally let her out, and she inhabits my body and I’m not the same person anymore.”

I am slightly saddened that I had read last month’s Point Horror Book Club choice, ‘Trick or Treat’ by Richie Tankersley Cusick (a review that shows me at my most natural), before we read ‘The Baby-Sitter’ because the two both use the same object of fear – the creepy phone call. Now I know, rather like cosy crimes, most Point Horror’s do stick to the same-ish scenario but these two are very similar from that perspective. What we have to remember is that Stine did it first and so really, apart from the original urban legend of the babysitter who is called by a scary voice from the house she is in, that is what we should remember. Also Stine shows he is a master of building suspense and ending chapters on a cliff hanger that means you have to read on, hence why any budding horror or crime writer should be reading this.

For a horror novel, regardless of the market it is aimed at, ‘The Baby-Sitter’ actually lacks a lot of full on terror or jumpy moments. There are a few of the latter yet what Stine does impeccably with this book is build a sense of unease, tension and menace. Each time Jenny goes to the Hagen’s something creepy happens (a sinister phone call, banging outside, neighbours creeping around, cars parked sinisterly on the end of the drive) so as she goes back each time to babysit for the (very precocious and also sinister) little boy Donny, after convincing herself it is all in her very over active imagination, we are waiting for the next slightly more awful thing to happen until it comes to a head. I thought this was done really deftly and honestly lots of writers, budding or not actually, could learn from this.

Our host, James Dawson, your dream babysitter

Our host, James Dawson, your dream babysitter

So good was it that I forgave him for bringing in one of the most annoying characters I have ever come across in the form of Jenny’s possible boyfriend Chuck. Irritating doesn’t even cover it. Unhinged too, which adds to it all, could it be that Jenny’s own possible love interest could be the one calling and threatening her? I also forgave Stine for lines like “Let’s go into Sock City,” Jenny said. “I like to look at socks.” I don’t know any teenagers who like socks, or even give a monkey’s about their socks, not so in the case of Jenny and her friends.

I’m really pleased I read ‘The Baby-Sitter’ and actually think it was the first time I had read it, which is quite shocking as it is one of the most famous with several sequels and I was such a fan of this series as a youth. You can see why Stine became one of the kings of teen horror, he puts a real effort into unnerving the reader and building the fear rather than going over the top like ‘Trick or Treat’ did – enjoyable as it was. Alas I don’t see any writing courses taking me seriously and popping this on any courses about suspense, unease and atmosphere but they bloody well should.

So who joined in to read this and what did you make of it? Which were your favourite Point Horror’s that we should be looking out for? Did Point Horrors completely pass you by? Have you read any of Stine’s other non PH work and should I be off to read that? Don’t forget to pop to host James’ website for more and do join us next month for ‘Funhouse’ by Diane Hoh.

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Filed under R.L. Stine, Review, Scholastic Books, The Point Horror Book Club

The Point Horror Book Club

I’ve been meaning to tell you all about this project, which the lovely James Dawson has started, for the last two weeks! Alas as I have seemed almost incapable of blogging I’ve not done so which is truly rubbish of me as it is a project that I think is going to be bloody good fun.

As a youth, now back in those distant mists of time, I absolutely freaking loved Point Horror novels. For those of you who missed them, or were children in the 90’s these were novels of (frankly rather unbelievable and probably rather lite) peril in which a perky popular heroine, if my memory serves, somehow ended up being haunted, hunted, or both, by a freak/ghost/murderer which most likely ended up being her boyfriend who didn’t really seem to have any other way of ridding himself of her. Utterly trashy, utterly brilliant and made me read like a fiend.

(This was just before I had my ‘books are crap’ phase, due to GCSE English back then, when I promptly gave them all away… Simple Simon!)

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So anyway, James Dawson (he who wrote ‘Hollow Pike‘ which both me and my 14 year old sister became united on the teen thrills of) has had the genius idea of reading them again as adults. To quote his lordship…

“Here’s how the POINT HORROR BOOK CLUB will work. Each month there will be a new title. I’ll read it and write my thoughts here. If you, dear reader, can be arsed, raid your attic, charity shop or eBay and join in. We can discuss each title on a special area of this very website (which my lovely web chum is in the process of creating). On twitter, use the hashtag #pointhorrorbookclub so I don’t miss your thoughts.

The first title will be the first Point Horror released in the UK, 1991′s TRICK OR TREAT by Richie Tankersley Cusick. I’ve already lined up a few titles I’m going to revist. After that, if we can still be bothered, we’ll vote for the next title. Being a me thing, it’s very laid back. You can join in as much or as little as you want.”

Now I had thought they would be a nightmare (see what I did there) to get hold of but not so, as James mentioned eBay and other sites hag them plus charity, and in the case of all the above I got on binge, second hand book shops do a good line.

We will be discussing them on the 13th of every month, I think I am allowed to say I had that slight genius stroke, starting Monday with ‘Trick or Treat’ and then ‘The Babysitter’ on the 13th of June. How fun is this going to be? I’m so excited. Please tell me your going to be joining in?!? Remember you can leave comments here and/or on James’ site – link above. I’m looking forward to much nostalgia… I hope I can find the one where the girl got tied to a perilous pier as the tide came in, oh the tension!

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Filed under Random Savidgeness, The Point Horror Book Club