Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero
It’s been years since the Blyton Summer Detective Club has gotten together. Each went their separate ways, including suicide and life in a mental institution, but it’s time to get back in the game. There are some strange things going on. Peter is dead, but Nate, Andi, and Kerri are alive, not necessarily well. There is also Tim, the weimaraner, the great-grandson of the original Sean who went on adventures with the kids, when they were kids. Things have certainly changed. The things they encountered in their younger years have left scars on each of them.
There’s a mystery they didn’t quite solve. It has to do with a creepy old mansion and an old woman. Things turn out to be even stranger than they ever imagined. This time, it’s not just someone in a mask. There is some real and terrible stuff going on. There are monsters and volcanoes and all manner of things four people and a dog would never expect to run into. Can they solve the mystery? Can they fix what is about to happen?
What I liked
I really liked Scooby Doo. This is very much the gang from Scooby Doo all grown up. I never really thought to stop and think about what effects such a strange life might have had on the teenagers involved. In the television series, most things were fake, except for the whacky races and the Boo Brothers. Most of the time it was just someone in a mask. I liked how this book was real.
Sometimes it is refreshing to have the thing, the question, the thought, the hypothesis actually turn out to be that strange thing. It doesn’t always have to be just one guy or a guy in a mask, maybe, just maybe, it really is some supernatural creature or happening. It can get old to read stories, over and over again, that always try to explain away the “woo” by blaming everything on one guy with an elaborate plot. While there certainly is an elaborate plot involved, there is certainly woo and it’s just not explained away.
I miss watching Scooby Doo. Why can’t someone put the cartoon on Netflix? I don’t care about the live-action movies at all.
This book also pokes at the possible relationships between the members of the group. Come on, we all know something has to be going on between at least two of them. I always figured Daphne and Fred would get together, but you know, maybe not.
What I didn’t like
I wish I would have had more time to read this book. I feel like there would have been more of it that I would have appreciated. The book also has a Lovecraft sort of feel, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re expecting run-of-the-mill woo, you’ll be disappointed. It’s definitely woo like the woo from the woo-master himself, H.P. Lovecraft.
I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids…if I had a nickel for every time I’ve used this phrase in real life–I’d have no nickels; I’d be broke and I’d have to live under a bridge.
If you could solve mysteries with your friends, which friends would you pick and why?
Did you enjoy Scooby Doo?
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Paul has told his daughter some strange stories involving Dracula and a book. One day, Paul goes out, again, in search of something. As the story unfolds, we learn that Paul found a strange book. It was old and had no business being in the library. Paul goes to see his professor, a man named Rossi, to seek an explanation for the book. It’s about vampires alright, the Dracula, or Vlad Tepes, is the central figure in this story. Is he really dead? Are vampires real?
This is the last intellectual session Paul has with his professor because he just up and disappears one night, the professor not Paul. Paul plans to go off to Europe in search of his professor, but meets a woman named Helen. She says she is Rossi’s daughter. Yet more of the story comes out. Rossi had been in Europe and had met a beautiful young woman with a green dragon imprinted on her skin. It’s said the family is descended from Vlad. Rossi has to go on to other adventures in his historian life, leaving his lover alone in Europe.
As Helen and Paul find out more, stranger and stranger things keep happening. A scary librarian starts to tail the couple. They dig through documents. They visit other countries. They get chased down. Something develops between Helen and Paul. The mystery of Dracula is not solved with their trip though and the idea of him still lingers over the family, years later.
What I liked
This was my second attempt to read this book. I started, years ago, before I was ever married, when I was still in college, when I still worked at the nursing home. I tried. I tried valiantly to get into this book, but I never finished it. I carried around my copy, from move to move, until I donated several hundred books to a couple selling books to raise money for an adoption back in 2015. The book just didn’t grab my attention then, which is strange seeing as I’ve been all over some Dan Brown, which is quite similar to this book. I was able to finish the book this time, though; listening to it helped.
I do really like the history in this book. Elizabeth did her research, a lot of it. She got all that weird crap about Dracula correct. He was a warlord. He was considered a hero to an extent. He did impale people. His grave really was empty. He really did build churches. Apparently, he thought God would be cool with him impaling people as long as he made churches in return. While he was a savvy man in the political and war arenas, he was not a nice man.
This book did have that Dan Brown feel to it, which makes it intellectually stimulating.
What I didn’t like
I don’t believe in vampires. I don’t believe Dracula is alive somewhere or that he’s amassing a personal library and stealing scholars to tend to it. While the history surrounding Dracula is absorbing, I feel that a book suggesting Dracula is real, presented in a real-world manner, is a bit much. It’s not my cup of tea. Really, Dracula is out there, as a vampire, sucking blood, and stuff?
If you find a strange book at the library, you kind of have to read it.
Could someone ever convince you that Dracula is alive and well?
What do you think about historical thrillers? Yeah or nay?
Zom B by Darren Shan
Becky goes to school, but she’s not a model student nor a model human being. Her father is a violent racist who often hits her mother. There have been news reports of zombies in Ireland and no one knows where the zombies came from. Everyone is scared the zombies might end up in their town. Becky was supposed to stay inside one evening, but she went out with her trouble-making friends, all with various “thug” names. Unfortunately, the zombies were out as well.
The kids try to get away from the zombies by going into the school, but the zombies are there too. There’s even some mutant zombies, that seem to actually use their brains. No one knows what the deal is. Becky’s racist dad shows up with a gun, but someone is preventing the living from getting away by measures that zombies are usually too stupid for.
What I liked
“Zom B” is kind of a cute name, I guess.
What I didn’t like
I am not a fan of zombies in the first place. They’re a stupid monster and I’m tired of the zombie craze that we’re having right now. Get another monster.
Becky is awful. Her dad is awful. Becky is old enough and smart enough to know the things her dad says are wrong. Becky knows the things her dad says are hurtful and not at all politically correct. One might thing Becky would take a hint from this and act completely different. Nope. Becky is racist. In this generation, it’s just silly to be racist. We know people who are different colors aren’t really any different from us. The only differences are created artificially by how society treats people who aren’t white. It’s so annoying that Becky knows this is wrong, but she goes along with it anyway.
She’s also a brat, who is irresponsible and headed for a bad end.
Maybe some people deserve to get eaten by zombies, but if a stupid person turns into a zombie, don’t you just get a really stupid zombie?
If your parents had undesirable and wrong opinions about things, did you adopt those opinions, or use them as a lesson not to act that way?
Do wild teenagers like Becky ever make the status quo in life?
The Cold Girl by Rachel Caine
Kiley always wanted to date her boyfriend, but no one else really saw why. People flat-out didn’t like him, but she did. One night,they were going out, there was a carnival in town. There was a mix up with their phones. Kiley’s ended up smashed and she ended up with her boyfriend’s phone. She knew she shouldn’t peek, but she decided to anyway. He had been really concerned about photos and videos on the phone. She saw the photos; they were of her boyfriend and another girl. She saw that there were videos, she decided to watch one. The video wasn’t what she was expecting. The video showed her boyfriend strangling this girl and then raping her.
Kiley knew she had to get away from her boyfriend. He knew she had seen the phone. He tried to take her on a ride, but the carnie people seemed to know she was in trouble. They told her to go and see the fortune-teller. Kiley’s fortune was not good. She would die tonight. It would take her two days to die. The cold girl would come for her. Her boyfriend did catch up to her and he did kill her. She lay there, for two days, no one found her, but one boy did find her ghost. The cold girl finally came. She had been with the carnival for some time. Her touch froze skin. She told Kiley she could save her. She was a vampire, of course. She liked revenge and maybe Kiley could enact some revenge on her murdering boyfriend.
What I liked
I thought this story was interesting. I’m not all into vampire stories, but this one was kind of neat. I love how this mythology seemed to follow the cold girl, who was cold not only in temperature, but in her lack of human feeling. It seems the murdering boyfriend got what he deserved, much like Rosalie’s one-time fiance in the Twilight series. The story is a bit similar between the two characters.
I, like many people, tend to like retribution stories. If the bad guy gets what’s coming to him, we feel better about the story. We have this deep-rooted sense of right and wrong. We always feel that punishment must accompany a bad deed and we can get upset when it doesn’t. Think something like the Casey Anthony case, most of us feel punishment was not meted out. In this story though, the bad guy does get what’s coming to him.
What I didn’t like
I think I would have liked a full-length book rather than just this little bit. Who knows–I may read more from the series,
Just one more reason to think carnivals are creepy, as if the Freakshow version of American Horror Story wasn’t enough.
Do you find the mythology of vampires interesting?
Should evil-doers always be punished or are you the bigger person for not punishing them?
Welcome to Dead House by R.L. Stine
Amanda and Josh have heard some bad news from their patents–they’re moving. Some uncle or the other has died and left their father an old brick house four hours away. They don’t want to move, but the house is much bigger than their current one and their father can finally work on his writing.
Amanda sees a boy in the house, which is odd. She assumed the house is haunted, but no one else in the family will give credence to her fears. The day comes; the family moves in. Amanda starts getting used to curtains fluttering with no wind and whispers in the night.
Josh and Amanda finally meet other children from the town. They start playing games at the nearby school yard. Several children say something strange–they used to live in Josh and Amanda’s house.
The dog has acted strange since moving in, but now he’s acting even stranger. The two siblings chase the dog into the graveyard. It’s there that they find a headstone of one of their friends, and then another, and another. They were dead.
The secret came out then yes, everyone in the town was dead. There was a terrible accident with some poisonous gas. Now everyone was the living dead. The town needed fresh blood to keep on going. Every year, someone else’s long-lost uncle died and left them a house. They moved in and then they were killed. The dogs went first.
Josh and Amanda had to get out with their parents, but was it too late for their parents?
What I liked
Nostalgia is probably my main reason to read this book. I’ve read it before, a long time ago, and there’s nothing wrong with revisiting it.
It’s a bit campy, but why not have a house where people are invited, to die? At least it’s fairly responsible. The people moving there will have most likely sold their old house and be less likely to leave behind debt to their extended families, you know, once they’re successfully dead.
What I didn’t like
This town sounds creepy. I’m sure nothing like this actually exists. It’s not a completely plausible story line, at least within the realm of reality. How’d they get out of their graves, if they’re the living dead? What kind of gas was this? What do they do with the blood, exactly?
If you inherit a house from an unknown relative, maybe be careful.
Would you take the house?
What do you think about the concept of the undead?
The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
Li Lan’s mother is dead and her father isn’t quite paying attention to things as he should. It’s about time Li Lan was married. There is talk here and there and a ghost marriage is mentioned. A ghost marriage is when a living person marries a dead person, so that the dead person may have the rewards of marriage. The person to whom the ghost marriage would be is not someone Li Lan is fond of, she doesn’t even know him very well, but he starts to appear in her dreams.
The dreams are not unpleasant, at first, but soon it is evident that the ghost has some unnatural sway on the land of the dead. The dreams become nightmares and Li Lan is willing to do anything to get rid of the dreams, even take a potion from a shady medium. During all of this, Li Lan develops feelings for the dead man’s cousin, who is actually the heir of the house of Lim. This all unravels when Li Lan takes a potion that makes her comatose for some time.
When she comes to, she’s not in her body. Her body is still alive, but Li Lan is not in it. She’s a spirit. Try as she might, she cannot get back inside of it. She meets other ghosts and starts asking around about what to do. Li Lan is able to see firsthand that her dead fiance has a huge sway in the ghost world. It’s because he has lots of money.
Li Lan meets a man named Er Long who tells her to go to the plains of the dead and find out what is happening. If there is evidence, the dead fiance may have to go before the courts of Hell and be punished for his misdeeds. Li Lan agrees to go. There she finds out all manner of things, including what her dead mother is like. She eventually does get back to the world of the living, despite some very narrow scrapes, but things there are not well either. Another ghost has her eye on Li Lan’s body and it’s not a good thing.
Ultimately, Li Lan must choose what type of life she wants. Does she want to parade as a regular human, who has never seen the world of the dead, or does she want to live on the fringe of the living and the dead, in a world she has now become somewhat familiar with?
What I liked
When I first started reading this book, I thought it was going to be a run-of-the-mill book about a Chinese girl who marries into some house or the other and things happen. Maybe her marriage is bad. Maybe it’s not. Whatever. This book exceeded my expectations. It was fascinating. Li Lan goes on some amazing adventures, but all the folklore is wonderful. I love how Yangsze brought the world of the dead to life. If you could see the spirit world, what would be there? Yangsze answered this question in relation to the beliefs of the area and it’s so incredibly interesting.
Li Lan is a likeable person. She’s not your typical froo-froo girl. Some of the other characters also turn out to be extremely interesting, such as Er Long, very interesting guy. Then there is the ill-fated Fan–also another highly interesting character with an evil twist. I love it.
I love folklore. This book brought folklore I have heard about to life.
What I didn’t like
Nothing. This was a great book.
I aint afraid of no ghost husband.
Would you marry a ghost if it gave you material gain in the current life?
Do you think you could imagine your belief of the afterlife as a real place?