Tag Archives: #PointHorrorBookClub

Guest Post – 7 Reasons I Love Trick Or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick by Joshua Winning

 


Happy Halloween!!

*evil laugh*

Today I have a spooky guest post featuring a book after my own pumpkin heart!

Anybody that knows me knows my love for Point Horror and I’m always super happy to find others who share that passion and have Point Horror memories to share

Today the Spooktacular Joshua Winning does just that talking about his ultimate Point Horror fave in the fab guest post….

Check out Joshua’s YA Horror read – Vicious Rumer!  It’s awesome!

Jessica Jones meets Dragon Tattoo in a thriller that’ll keep you up all night. 

A fresh and fiercely unique thriller, Vicious Rumer features one of the most complex and unusual heroines in years. The ruthless and independent Rumer Cross is a snarky survivor whose moving story explores notions of identity, family, death and redemption. It will appeal to fans of Patrick Ness, Ruth Ware and Joe Hill.

It’s very exciting to have Joshua here on Tales…I feel very honoured…so thank you so much Joshua!

*Hands microphone to Josh*


7 reasons I love Trick Or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick

When I was a teenager, I devoured Point Horror books the way a zombie devours brains. Of the many, many I ate up, my favourites were Teacher’s Pet, The Accident and, top of the pile, The Babysitter, which I still couldn’t get enough of three sequels later.

 But Trick Or Treat has a special place in my cold, dark heart because it’s a book I could return to every Halloween for maximum seasonal chills. It had everything you wanted from a creepy story, from the spooky mansion to the secret graveyard and beyond. In fact, I’m pretty sure the graveyard stuff directly inspired the cemetery scenes in my book Vicious Rumer (Unbound, 2018).

 In the immortal words of the book’s dad, “Guess Halloween’s got me inspired!”, so here are seven reasons I still love this book, even though I haven’t been a teenager for a (very) long time…

 It’s Halloween

Before I ever watched John Carpenter’s classic slasher movie Halloween, Trick Or Treat was my benchmark for holiday horror. It just gets so much of it right, in particular the very specific Halloween atmosphere of dread mixed with candy-stuffed excitement.

 Richie Tankersley Cusick perfectly evokes the season with flourishes of detail, like the “trees nearly stripped by October winds”, and the house where “someone had propped a scarecrow against the porch, and its hideous face flickered… in the sputtering glow of a jack-o’-lantern”. I love Halloween, and this book captures the mood perfectly.

 The cover art

The front cover of this book is other-level spooky, but in a really simple way. That autumnal sky, the jack o’lantern and the bare tree are hella evocative, giving the book a subdued look that felt really grown-up when I was a kid. And then, of course, there’s the shadow of a person sneaking inside…

 Even today, the art is really cool – I love old-school illustrated covers like this and wish they were more of a thing nowadays. Reading the book, I constantly referred back to the cover, which brings me to the next thing I love about Trick Or Treat…

 The creepy house

This pile of bricks looks and sounds like something out of Psycho, only minus the motel, and, right from the start, the old Bedford place is spooky. Take our heroine Martha’s first glimpse of it. As Cusick writes, “The house looked strangely ghostlike, rising up through pale wisps of fog, its dark stone walls and chimneys interwoven with bare, twisted trees.”

Yeah, shudder, and it only gets more interesting the more you find out about it ­– there’s a reason this house immediately gives Martha the creeps. I love the idea of a closet door that keeps popping open (who hasn’t had a door like that?), and the fact that it leads somewhere dark and dangerous is even more disturbing.

 The scares

Point Horror books are well-known for their fake scares, and while Trick Or Treat has its fair share, there are also plenty of genuinely hair-raising moments that really stick in the memory.

 The backstory about Elizabeth is both tragic and scary, the scarecrow stuff is properly chilling, and the phone calls are genuinely unnerving: “You’re dead, Elizabeth. Trick or treat.” (If you want a movie equivalent, check out the movie Black Christmas (1974), which was some of the most disturbing obscene calls you’ll ever hear.)

 The family

The nuclear unit was getting pretty outdated even by 1989, when Trick Or Treat was published, and it was so refreshing to read a book about a family that didn’t sound like the Waltons. Martha’s dad has remarried, and Martha has to contend with a new step-mom (at least, until they go away) and her new step-brother Conor.

 Conor is hot (“he was tall and slender, but his shoulders were broad… those strong shoulders hunched against the chilly night air”), quick-witted and tawny-haired (who isn’t tawny-haired in Point Horror?). Naturally, that leads to some really confused feelings for Martha (hello, sorta incest). Speaking of…

 Conor

Martha is a bit of a whiny drip (all right, she’s a huge whiny drip) but her step-brother is all kinds of awesome. “There was just something about Conor,” Cusick writes, and she’s not wrong. He’s always ready with a killer quip, most of them at either Martha or his mother’s expense, and who doesn’t love a cute joker?

 As Wynn notes, “Heads have been turning since he got here. Like the domino effect every time he walks down the hall. They haven’t been able to keep their eyes off him.” I mean, who wouldn’t want to hang out with this guy? He’s brilliant and clearly the hero of the book.

 The twist ending

Warning: SPOILERS! This book has such a great twist ending that I genuinely didn’t see coming. Of course, re-reading it, Cusick cleverly weaves in subtle clues from the start, particularly with the idea of a family who all look alike.

 Cusick keeps us guessing right up until the final couple of chapters, when Martha and Conor finally discover the secret passageway that leads from the cellar. “It was scarcely more than a crawlspace,” writes Cusick. “They had the most horrible feeling that they were crawling deeper and deeper into the earth.”

 What they find is a gorgeous, ghoulish nod back to Hammer Horror films (“An altar wreathed with candles… And the stale, faded sweetness of dead flowers…”), and a final confrontation that really pulls the rug out from under you.

 Happy Halloween!

Josh

You can buy a copy of Vicious Rumer here


Joshua Winning is an author and film journalist who writes for TOTAL FILM, SFX, GAY TIMES and RADIO TIMES. He has been on set with Kermit the Frog, devoured breakfast with zombies on The Walking Dead, and sat on the Iron Throne while visiting the Game Of Thrones set in Dublin. Jeff Goldblum once told him he looks a bit like Paul Bettany. In 2018, Joshua’s YA thriller VICIOUS RUMER was published by Unbound. His dark fantasy series THE SENTINEL TRILOGY was published by Peridot Press, and he also co-wrote ’80s teen horror CAMP CARNAGE. In 2015, Joshua’s short story DEAD AIR appeared in SPEAK MY LANGUAGE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF GAY FICTION.

You can find out more about Joshua on his website- www.joshuawinning.com

You can follow Joshua on twitter  – @JoshWinning


Do you remember the Point Horror Book Series from the 90’s?  The Point Horror Series was a series of young adult point horror books and was launched in 1991 by Scholastic always with the Point Horror banner on the spine and on the top of every point horror book.  There were a number of authors that wrote these books for Scholastic: R L Stine, Diane Hoh, Caroline B Cooney, Sinclair Smith to name but a few.

Why not join in Point Horror Book Club and the discussion on the 13th of every month?

You can find links to all #PointHorrorBookClub posts here

Don’t forget to use the #pointhorrorbookclub on twitter so I can see your thoughts or tweet me using @chelleytoy

Are the Point Horror books we loved as a teenager still our favourites on the re-read?  Are you new to Point Horror?  Has our opinion changed?  Are they still as good?  Do they stand up to modern day YA Horror?  Or are the a whole load of cray cray?

A huge huge thank you to Joshua for featuring on Tales and a huge round of applause for such a fab guest post!

*claps hands excitedly*

Do you remember Point Horror?  Which was your favourite?  Would you like to join in on #pointhorrorbookclub ?

Happy Point Horror-ing!


PHBC – Beach Party by R L Stine


Do you remember the Point Horror Book Series from the 90’s? The Point Horror Series was a series of young adult point horror books and was launched in 1991 by Scholastic always with the Point Horror banner on the spine and on the top of every point horror book. There were a number of authors that wrote these books for Scholastic: R L Stine, Diane Hoh, Caroline B Cooney, Sinclair Smith to name but a few.

Are the Point Horror books we loved as a teenager still our favourites on the re-read? Are you new to Point Horror? Has our opinion changed? Are they still as good? Do they stand up to modern day YA Horror? Or are they a whole load of cray cray?

Lets find out…

#pointhorrorbookclub

Join in the discussion with this months pick….

Beach Party by R L Stine

Don’t forget to use the #pointhorrorbookclub on twitter so I can see your thoughts or tweet me using @chelleytoy

For links to #pointhorrorbookclub posts old and new, Point Horror guest posts and interviews with Point Horror authors please click here

Vote for the next #PointHorrorBookClub read at the bottom of this post!


** Please note that as this is a discussion there will be spoilers**


The Tagline

Some come to party.  Some come to die.

Okay ….so…What’s It All About?

Karen lives in sunny LA and her best friend since they were 9, Ann-Marie, is coming all the way from New York to stay.  Karen ditches all parents and takes Ann-Marie to stay in an apartment by the beach for the month!

Oh wow!  Sun, sea and relaxation right?

Well…..no not quite, but there’s lots of dangerous snorkelling, polluted sea water which is as green as pea soup (*heaves*), creepy phone calls and messages, jellyfish and contaminated sun cream!

Sounds kosha to me to be honest…..

Let’s move on shall we!

I missed out a mention to the secret beach party’s, sunbathing, hot men, lots of snogging and some murder!

Murder?!  But you are destroying the dream!

Yes!  Murder my dear friends….murder.  This is Point Horror after all!  And when Karen gets involved with Jerry someone is not happy about it…..not happy at all!

The Girl

Karen Mandell with her straight black hair, oval face, dark skin that always looked like she had a tan, black eyebrows and shocking blue eyes which were so wide and so blue completely won me over at the start with her quick witted since of humour and sarcasm making me feel like she was going to be pretty kick ass.  And she was great….all with the exception of her attraction to danger which she always seemed oblivious too…. lets going snorkelling Karen even though I hate your guts, jump on my motorbike Karen even though you don’t know me and I might be a murderer …. you get the idea.

Mentionable nod to the fact that I was cheering Karen on for throwing THE BEST insults at Vince and his gang of friends who were circling her and Ann-Marie at the start of the book…..she was so close to kicking his botty before Jerry came swooping in to save the day *rolls eyes*

Karen liked driving fast in her navy blue mustang convertible that her Daddy bought her following his divorce from her Mummy and with her crystal from her ex boyfriend Mike (more on him later) around her neck she had a strange tendency to compare everyone to not only famous people of the 90’s (when this book was written), but also animals.

And Karen gets bonus points for not one but two holiday romances!  She snogged two boys!  Although after the snog she had with Jerry I wouldn’t be going back for more!  What a kiss from hell!  Ugh!

She was actually an okay Point Horror girl to be fair.

The Love Interest

Ugh goody two shoes Jerry….or should I say Todd? #PlotTwist Too soon?  *puts plot twist back into the book*  With his preppy looks, straight dark hair, light eyes, perfect straight nose, broad chest, powerful looking arms and a passion for the smell of coconut….he apparently looked like Tom Cruise!

Jerry got on my nerves just a little.  I mean he cheats on his girlfriend Renee and effectively kills her as Todd, but he was just too ugh for me and omg that kiss with Karen sounded excruciatingly painful that I was cringing!  Tom Cruise lookalike or not….I think I will pass.

And I can’t move on without mentioning the quickest ending of all Point Horror’s when we find out that Jerry’s brother Todd died a year before and Jerry, who felt so guilty as he couldn’t help Todd, took on a split personality of his brother Todd who just happened to be evil and a murderer.  How convenient!  The ending of this book was a complete blur following this revelation that we seemed to only have what felt like one paragraph to explain and digest everything.  It actually made me feel a little mad if I’m honest.

The Gang

Best friend Ann-Marie who had been friends with Karen since she was 9 and visiting Karen in LA from New York was not your typical Point Horror best friend.  She was the total opposite to Karen in everyway….thin, looked like a fashion model, straight blonde hair, fashionably short with high cheek bones, pale creamy skin and emerald eyes she had all the makings of a Point Horror best friend but too be honest she didn’t do much at all except get with Karen’s ex Mike and make tea.  Every time Karen was in danger or an “accident” had happened to Karen she was no where to be seen and yes she was our classic Point Horror red herring, but there still would have been a story without her.

Renee, Jerry’s girlfriend, who with her high pitched voice like a little mouse, oval face, big dark brown eyes, frizzy brown hair,  parents in Bel-Air (yes I did sing Fresh Prince), strange sense of humour and passion for Carrie Fisher’s gold bikini was a little possessive over her boyfriend Jerry, but to be fair he basically cheated on her with Karen in front of her face….or at least whilst she was standing in the shadows.  She loved him that much….that he killed her!  Yes!  She didn’t see that plot twist coming when she signed up for this Point Horror!  Poor Renee.  I was actually starting to like her a little too.

Bad boy Vince got Karen all hot under the collar with his bad boy looks and yes I knew exactly where she was coming from with this!  Tall and lanky, dimples in his cheeks, eight ball tattoo on his wrist, short blond spiked hair, a leather and denim combi and diamond stud earrings and to top all of this off …. a motorcycle!  Bad ass or what?!  And then Karen goes and compares him to Sting *bursts balloon with a slow screech*

*looks at picture of young Sting*

*blows balloon back up quickly*

Anyway enough of that….he kept the mystery going all the way through apart from being a complete and utter ugh at the beginning with his gang!  And he gets the girl!  What more can we ask for?!  Oh a proper ending….just putting it out there!

Then we had Mike, Karen’s ex, who just so happens to be in the same place at the same time as Karen.  With his straight brown hair, big broad shoulders, muscular arms, wide neck, round brown eyes and square forehead he seemed okay and I loved the fact him and Ann-Marie have a secret thing which of course Karen finds hilarious (she was the only one).  He looked like Jim Belushi according to Karen…..

Wow Karen has very different tastes in men!

Little mention goes to Marty who I would have liked to have seen more of as he seemed funny. With his curly brown hair, round puffs of cheeks, black eyes, round face, horse scratchy voice and skateboard ….. me and Marty could have been friends but he was whipped away from me!

And let’s not forget Stephanie….you know who I mean right?!

*looks at notes*

*Reads Marty’s girlfriend and long blonde hair*

*moves on swiftly*

Fashion Faux Pas

Ohhh lots of good old 90’s fashion in this one!  I spotted blue sleeveless t-shirts, lots of spandex bicycle shorts, tie dyed jean cut-offs and lots of Day-Glo!

Go 90’s!

Dialogue Disasters

Not so much dialogue disasters as in lines that made me chuckle a little….

“It was bright yellow, burning hot on the outside and frozen solid on the inside”

“Must have been lasagne”

“How did it taste?”

“Fabulous!”

Karen and Ann-Marie are auditioning for the next GBBO hosts!  Someone give them a job!

“Like gag me with a spoon”

Say what Ann-Marie?!  She’s from New York don’t you know!

“She was like a zombie for months.  She’d sit around playing her old Beatles records and cry”

Sounds like a standard Saturday night for me to be honest!

“And your Dad?”

“He’s driving a red corvette and he’s blow drying his hair”

“Weird”

Is it?  Is it really?

“But Karen do you really think this is a good idea?”

“Of course it is – what could happen?”

That old classic Point Horror line!  Your in a Point Horror girls….what do you expect?!

“He looks like a squirrel.  A fat squirrel storing up nuts for the winter”

Harsh Karen!  Harsh!

“That’s Kenny, Alisha, Normy and Seth”  Karen said hi to them forgetting their names immediately

Ah!  The names of the one page Point Horror characters….bless their little cotton socks!

“One kiss and your brain has turned to oatmeal”

To be fair after that kiss with Jerry Karen I don’t blame you!

“She looks like a really scary Jack O Lantern”

It’s the lighting okay?!  We can’t all be blessed with Point Horror standards you know!

Body Count

Oh this one had an actual murder!  And yes I do worry about how excited I got about this ….plus she kind of deserved it!

There was also one off page death from the past, but we all know it’s what happens in the Point Horror story that counts!

Is it scary?

Hmmmm not really scary to be honest however that nightmare/dream that Karen had lit my little horror heart a light with those two pages of gore!  Yes Stiney!  You legend!

Did the best friend do it?

No!  We could only have hoped that Ann-Marie had the umph in her to actually do something really couldn’t we?!

Some Mild Peril?

I would say the beach where they were staying was packed full of mild peril!  Polluted sea, gangs, lots of boys in heavy metal t-shirts (my kind of boys may I just point out) you know that kind of thing.

But yes other than that there was the usual drowning whilst snorkelling, drowning whilst snorkelling again, and jellyfish!  Yes imagine finding all those Jelly fish in your bed! Ugh!  That’s almost as bad as kissing Jerry!

Is it any good?

I actually quite enjoyed this one and flew through this quite quickly.  The ending was a little rushed and sudden and whilst I didn’t see the twist coming (and obviously nowadays I’m not sure if it should have been better handled), but I quite liked the premise and the actual feeling of a who dunnit in this one.

Also a nod to getting rid of the parents straight away at the start of the book with Karen’s parents being divorced and Karen and Ann-Marie staying an apartment owned by her Daddy for the summer who conveniently stayed away longer than planned.  In fact it wasn’t unit page 114 that we saw glimpse of a parent, because strange and scary things are happening to you, but pffftttt who needs their parents when you have sun, sea and jellyfish to contend with.

Final Thought

Stay away from Jerry……except if it’s Ben and Jerry’s because nom!

Cover Wars!

I found this really awesome foreign cover!  Which do you prefer?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over to you!

As well as your thoughts on the book I’ve added some fun questions to ponder!

  • Which Point Horror Boy….Jerry, Vince or Mike?  You decide!
  • Wouldn’t the jelly fish have stung Karen?
  • What was Ann-Marie ACTUALLY doing for the whole book?
  • What happened to Marty and Stephanie?
  • Ending?  Yay or Nay?

You can leave a reply by using the reply button at the top of the page!

Vote for the next #PointHorrorBookClub read here!

As the next #PointHorrorBookClub with be on the 13th February I have tried to pick a few romance-y Point Horror titles….if that’s even possible!

What will you pick?

Voting ends and the next Point Horror Book Club read will be announce on the 17th January 2018!

And the winner was…..a tie!

Therefore I have flipped a coin and picked The Invitation for next months #PointHorrorBookClub!

 

For links to #pointhorrorbookclub posts old and new, Point Horror guest posts and interviews with Point Horror authors please click here

Thanksor joining in….

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