Tag Archives: Caroline B. Cooney

“Doritos, No Doz, bennies, crystal meth.”

25. Thirteen – T. Pines, ed.

While we wait for climate change enhanced hurricanes or nukes to kill us all, I’m keeping in theme with short stories – for the summer! It’s YA Megamix Summer V: The Revenge, now featuring short story collections and a lot more art promos because I’m taking to the other states this summer and bringing my guinea pig art and generally melancholic demeanor to SUPERCON in Fort Lauderdale, July 12-15th and the Geekcraft Expo St. Louis July 28-29. If you want to come tell me how little you enjoy my longer posts in person, be sure to buy a postcard or threeve while you’re at it. Yay!

So, Point Horror, best imprint ever, did three short story collections of thirteen stories each and the first one is called Thirteen…yep. It features such Point luminaries as Lael Littke, D.E. Athkins (to me, it will always be Deathkins), A. Bates, and, um, some dude who wrote about a painting called Jay Bennett. Yes, Jay, paintings can be terrifying but the process of painting is the true source of horror.

We begin with the first in a set of bookend stories by Christopher Pike which may be the best work of his I’ve read. It weirds me out when short stories are better than novels; even though it shouldn’t *cough* Stephen King. In this case, it might have to do with the phone being involved so much. I’m very nostalgic for a time when we didn’t have the ability to constantly get a hold of each other and I like handset and answering machine-based intrigue. Yes, I’ve seen Bells, apparently known in the U.S. as Murder by Phone, a way too obvious title. I think there could’ve been a happy medium between “Bells” which says nothing and “Murder by Phone” which says too much.

Pike did a great job of making the annoying girls competing over some greaser-dressing new dude with his own mixtape both fun and really bitchy, so I was all for “Collect Call.”

Most of Christopher Pike’s novels don’t make “the sense,” at least, they’re just as sound in my Danger parodies as they are in book form. Danger might even be a bit more serious. Here he is with Horace at a rollicking party for two on my couch. They’re both pretty serious about partying and my couch.

The second story in the collection is by author of Prom Dress, The Watcher, and like nothing else, Lael Littke. “Lucinda” involves a sunken town, some graduation day regrets, and a love triangle. It was decent and a little murky.

“The Guiccioli Miniature” by the aforementioned Jay Bennett reminded me a lot of the movie version of Don’t Look Now. It’s set in Venice and involves some weird dude accosting the main character on the street, so that might be why. It is an extremely short entry, and was just, well, not very much in the usual vein of Point Horror, also like Don’t Look Now. I didn’t manage to get mad about the mention of painting theft, which tells you a lot about how engaging this was. As a painter, if someone stole any of my paintings, I’d consult some psychic sisters staying nearby, put on a red hooded coat, and stalk through all those canals until I got it back…

Horace and Danger Crumples are in quite a few of my paintings, so they fully support me going Don’t Look Now on hypothetical painting thieves.

“Blood Kiss” – Deathkins! – Well, sometimes people give vampires bad names. This one’s name is Ken. This story was fun and I know Deathkins could’ve done better than to name a vampire Ken. The immortal Ken. Yeesh.

“A Little Taste of Death” – Patricia Windsor – Bizarre little tale about a bad girl staying with her grandmother. When I stayed with my grandmother during many summers, I did not take candy that would seal my fate from strangers. Granted, on a farm the strangers are mostly cows, so it was easy to accomplish this. We also played the Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines game. And Smess.

“The Doll” – Carol Ellis – Little hands killing people in your dreams…that’s exactly what I’d expect if a doll just randomly showed up in my house. Especially one of those porcelain numbers with the blank facial expressions. Give me Ginny with her gorgeous pout or give me her pony! Or death, I think that’s how that was supposed to go, but I love my Ginny pony and now my secret is out. It’s really cute.

“House of Horrors” – J.B. Stamper – Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to not have friends at work. Especially if your “friends” are really just locking you in a horror house overnight to be dicks. If your making friends story seems like it might have any chance of ending with “and they were never seen again after hanging out with wax figures,” avoid that. Friends who just want to scare you are not real friends, they’re insecure jackasses.

Horace and Danger, real friends to the end.

“Where the Deer Are” – Caroline B. Cooney – A trippy kind of subdivision horror.

“The Spell” – R.L. Stine – “I hypnotized all three of you that day at the Pizza Palace.” NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

“Dedicated to the One I Love” – Diane Hoh – Another thing that used to cause so much heart fluttering – having a song dedicated to you on the radio. While your friends were totally listening. So they knew. And then like, the whole school would know. Because everyone who was anyone listened to certain shows on the radio. But like with anything that can cause heart fluttering or public humiliation, watch out for when the dead start doing it.

“Hacker” – Sinclair Smith – Sometimes I feel like Sinclair Smith is a bit of a hack, so, I wasn’t surprised by anything in this story other than the ingenious use of plants. My problem is that once the villain is found out, they tend to get really loud and crazy, like they’ were holding back until this teenager found them and they have no clue about being arrested or not admitting how obvious your evil plan was even though you were all covert and smart throughout the rest of the story… The typing in all caps is really the kicker here, though. Quit yelling at everyone. Quit.

Danger and Horace make ingenious use of the back of my couch. They never type in all caps. There is no preferred typing scheme for whistles, wheeks, rumbly purring, and little chuckles.

“Deathflash” – A. Bates – I like A. Bates. I feel like when I’m reading an A. Bates story, some level of control is being exercised over the concept. Even in this weirdo entry about an amorphous thing. I’m glad the main character was concerned for the cats, and it is unfortunately realistic to name them “Sunshine” and “Sparkle.” My guinea pigs are lucky my disposition is not so light. Danger Crumples totally would’ve ended up being “Star Beast.”

“They Boy Next Door” – Ellen Emerson White – This was a pretty kickass story and I liked it a lot. I’ve been around the kind of guy who thinks taking out their insecurities on you is a good idea and as I told one of them, “Don’t powertrip at me, I’m not going to do anything you tell me to and you chose the wrong lady to be insecure at.” It did not go over well, but then again it didn’t go over well to me when he tried to tell me I’m supposed to tell him when I’m going to desensitize a book. Not even, son. I will do what I have to when I need to. Don’t take your shit out on other people. Especially women.

And the other bookend, “Collect Call II: The Black Walker” (slash missed opportunity for a way better subtitle). Quit trying to get girls to tell you you’re such a great musician! Let them come to you and tell you. If you’re good, they will. I never directly lie about what I think about someone’s music. If I don’t like it, I’ll say it’s interesting and not explain why. I had to do that once when a song without words or anything resembling musical form was played for me by my drunk boyfriend and he told me it was “for me.” I wish that hadn’t been for me. But I said it was “interesting” because it was interesting to me that he would make something “for me” that involved nothing about music I actually enjoyed. I should’ve taken it as a bigger omen.

Mixtape:

1. “The Otherworld” – All of Them Witches
2. “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” – Queens of the Stone Age
3. “Tales of Mystery & Isolation” – Wolfmen of Mars
4. “Electric” – Boris
5. “Diabolos ’88” – Samhain
6. “Ghosts of Victims Past” – Terrortron
7. “You Don’t Own Me” – Lesley Gore
8. “Wind up Toys” – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
9. “Destruction Makes the World Burn Brighter” – Chelsea Wolfe
10. “Holy Christos” – King Dude
11. “Hamlet Pow Pow Pow” – The Birthday Party
12. “Age of Oil & Wax” – Live Skull
13. “Kiva” – Burning Tapes
14. “Dance with Dark Forces” – Electric Six
15. “Killer in the Streets” – The Raveonettes
16. “The Trouble with Being Born” – The Great Tyrant
17. “All Murder, All Guts, All Fun” – Samhain

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Have a good summer.

9. Freeze Tag – Caroline B. Cooney

Unhappy children may contain special powers. It’s a good thing Lannie can’t just zap people into the corn field…although freezing them is pretty close. Lannie uses her special power, the origin of which remains unexplained – I assume it’s something along the lines of the invisibility that comes over Clea Duvall’s character in the first season of Buffy- to wedge her way into a loving family, much to the chagrin of narrator Meghan. Lannie is just a little bit too sad for an evil character and unfortunately for her, freezing people isn’t as convenient as becoming invisible, so it’s very unlikely that she’ll be recruited as a spy. Downer.

A very unfrozen Ozymandias. He managed to find a loving herd after being rejected by his first family- and sort of got recruited as a spy by Danger Crumples.

A very unfrozen Ozymandias. He managed to find a loving herd after being rejected by his first family- and sort of got recruited as a spy by Danger Crumples.

Mixtape:

1. Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Tears for Fears
2. Shattered Me – Bass Drum of Death
3. Some Kinda Hate – Misfits
4. Asking for It – Hole
5. #1 Crush – Garbage
6. Frisk – The Big Pink
7. If I Had a Heart – Fever Ray
8. We Wear Mittens – The Gay Blades
9. Spirit Walker – Ween
10. Power – Fields of the Nephilim
11. Nekrodamus – Kvelertak
12. Withered Hand of Evil – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
13. She Owns the Streets – The Raveonettes
14. When You Sleep – My Bloody Valentine
15. Everything Will Be All Right – The Killers

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The wrong kid died.

37. Twins – Caroline B. Cooney

The saga of Mary Lee, Madrigal, and Jon Pear. Yes, Jon Pear, like a mumbled pronunciation of “John Pierre.” I narrowed my eyes quite a bit while reading this one, mostly at Jon Pear and that total bitch, Madrigal. I’m surprised she didn’t consume Mary Lee in the womb, thus negating the rest of the story. That must be why Jon Pear considers her “mixed” to his “pure” evil and why she messed up her carefully constructed attempt to off her twin – the one her parents tried to save. Oh please. If you’re going to carefully construct a murder scenario for your twin involving a ski weekend, always have a contingency plan, or you’ll never live up to Jon Pear’s standards.

Danger Crumples has never found any other guinea pig that looks like him so now guinea pigs will be impersonating him in a ski suit. Horace, on the other hand, is like opposite Mortemer.

Danger Crumples has never found any other guinea pig that looks like him so no guinea pigs will be impersonating him in a ski suit. Horace, on the other hand, is like opposite Mortemer.

Horace

Horace

Mortemer

Mortemer

Danger Crumples

Danger Crumples

 

Mixtape –
1.    “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)” – The Arcade Fire
2.    “Black Soul Choir” – 16 Horsepower
3.    “Dominos” – The Big Pink
4.    “Charles William” – All Them Witches
5.    “Dead Girl” – Agents of Oblivion
6.    “Underdogs of Nipomo” – Archers of Loaf
7.    “Sheena’s in a Goth Gang” – The Cramps
8.    “Am I Demon” – Danzig
9.    “Nietzsche” – The Dandy Warhols
10.    “About You” – Catalogue
11.    “Sympathetic Noose” – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
12.    “You Were Born to Be My Gallows” – Dax Riggs
13.    “I Want to Eat a Complete Stranger” – Dick Valentine

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My favorite movie about abandoning a baby is Willow.

17. Hush Little Baby – Caroline B. Cooney

I’ve never been a person who has wanted to have children, so this was quite the horror story for me to read. When you stop by your father’s house and your ex-stepmother shows up, about the last thing you’d expect her to do is run away and leave you with her child. Before embarking on a wacky game of twists and turns taking care of the ditched baby, narrator Kit makes it very clear that her ex-stepmother is not the smartest. None of the characters in this book seemed to be particularly smart though, they made very strange decisions. It did remind me a bit of the end of Drive Angry. I enjoyed that movie quite a bit, but felt very annoyed about the “here, have a baby!” ending. The girl’s stuck in the middle of an abandoned prison, she just left her job and her living space with her stupid fiancee, and Nicolas Cage destroyed her car to help rescue said baby, and now she’s got a baby to take care of forever. Not Nicolas Cage, who, granted, is not really in a position to take care of a baby at the end of that movie – but who is? Wacky.

Mixtape 7:

1. Livin Thing – ELO

2. Bedlam – Gallon Drunk

3. Hold Tight! – Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick, & Tich

4. Everybody’s Going Wild – The Detroit Cobras

5. 96 Tears – The Stranglers

6. Infected Girls – Electric Six

7. Heads Will Roll – The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

8. Halfway Home – T.V. on the Radio

9. Willow’s Theme – James Horner

10. I’m Your Villain – Franz Ferdinand

11. Don’t Play With Guns – The Black Angels

12. Plowed – Sponge

13. The Seeker – The Who

14. Burnin’ In – Spirit Caravan

15. Heavy Soul – The Black Keys

16. Mister Mental – The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster

17. Sucker – Peaches

Thaddeus’ little face looks so cute and so hopeful in this picture. He could have been in Willow.

Thaddeus is about to climb the ridge of this pillow and see if there’s a baby on the other side. Pammy turns her back on any potential babies. She was spayed. She took care of her little one already.

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At the least, you can get cochinita pibil in O’Hare.

19. Prisoner of Time – Caroline B. Cooney

When I started this book nearly a year ago, I was sitting in the depressingly low lit semi-basement of O’Hare, waiting to get on the tiny plane that would take me back to Moline, Illinois. There was a woman behind me who was speaking very loudly on her phone about how she wasn’t sure if she should be flying into Moline or Cedar Rapids, Iowa in order to allow her son to conveniently pick her up. Her son lives in Davenport. Davenport happens to be across the Mississippi River and a little to the left from Moline, but she clearly did not know the area well (Cedar Rapids is about an hour and a half from Moline) and made sure that everyone around her knew she didn’t know how close she was to the border between Iowa and Illinois. What I don’t get is why her son didn’t make her aware of how close Moline is to Davenport before she even left to visit…perhaps she wasn’t listening or didn’t care at the time. I felt very much like the title of this book was appropriate to how I was feeling listening and waiting to get on the plane. This whole conundrum, and the other helpful people who tried to point out to her that she was very, very close to Davenport in Moline, distracted me from realizing that I was reading a book that’s the fourth in a series. To be fair, it’s perfectly acceptable to stop explaining who everyone is and what’s going on when you get to the fourth book. If you tend to acquire books in a random fashion like I do, well after their publication dates, this can escape you and hinder your ability to get into the story. For the trip I was taking, I chose books based on their size (and all of them were by Caroline B. Cooney, 90s YA is an excellent size for travel).

Prisoner of Time is pretty melodramatic and there are a few logic jumps that just don’t ring true – I’d like to think there’s a process for hosting foreign exchange students that doesn’t involve bringing them home like stray cats and saying, “Hey, Mom, this girl from England’s going to live with us!” as that doesn’t seem organized- but time travel is time travel and sometimes it’s the only thing that will guarantee a progressive girl from the 1890s her independence. Or not, I think she went back, I can’t quite remember – I hope that lady’s son managed to get her across the river into Iowa without incident.

Rest in Peas Murderface, may this Oregon Trail funny tombstone tradition not disrespect your legacy.

Murderface managed to get from Mississippi to Iowa on several occasions, which also involves crossing the Mississippi River a few times. Thankfully, we didn’t have to caulk the wagon and float across.

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What’s rotting?

16. Emergency Room – Caroline B. Cooney

I have often wondered when exactly ghost writers took over for popular young adult writers in the 1990s. Like Carolyn Keene, R. L. Stine seems to be a possible conglomerate, and sometimes it seems like Caroline B. Cooney might not be a real person either because her subject matter choices and writing quality are so strangely varied. She has some very good, very suspenseful books (like The Fog, and I imagine the rest of that series), some books that made a large impression on me in middle school (like Driver’s Ed and the Janie series),  and then some that are just so trite I can’t quite imagine the same person being responsible for all of them. Perhaps I have not written enough books yet to fall into the feeling-trite-but-getting-published-anyway trap and maybe she was asked to write about hot topics by her publisher. Perhaps Caroline B. Cooney is to Emergency Room as David Cross is to Alvin and the Chipmunks. It’s a mystery. If she didn’t have many of her characters describe bad things as things that “rot,” I would be entirely convinced that Caroline B. Cooney is not an individual human.

Emergency Room is basically a slice of life story from The City. Yes, the City has no name because it is a city. It has a mall and a college where rich people go and in between the mall and the rich people college there are many gun battles over drug related topics and people who have no air conditioning. It also has a hospital where this intern guy is a total asshole and this intern girl worries about whether or not the asshole wants to date her and then she runs into her errant father and I’m not really giving anything away there because nothing ever comes of that or anything else that happens in the whole book. It just ends. In the City.

I have eaten too many leftover jellybeans and I feel like they're rotting me from the inside.

Pickles will be in this box until the plot of Emergency Room is resolved. Luckily, she’s immortal.

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Now the kids are all standing with their arms folded tight

1. The Mummy – Caroline B. Cooney

Welcome to the year of potential unluckiness! 13! So my year has started off weird, at least, when I returned to the Great White North (per se) from Mississippi it got weird and it’s only been six days so I haven’t sorted through how confused I am about the weirdness. That’s vague. Moving on, this book was also somewhat confusing in that I kept wanting to know when the story was actually going to start. Emlyn wants to do bad things, in fact, she seems like the kind of girl who would pop in a tape of Chris Isaak’s “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing” while driving in order to seem more edgy. She steals a mummy from the local museum as part of an attempt to be edgy and bad and also to get some group of malcontents to be her friends…but then…they disagree about whether or not they should unwrap the mummy and steal her gold! Sounds thrilling, doesn’t it? Well, I was expecting slightly more thrilling actions. The whole description of tensely stealing the mummy and tensely trying to get out of the museum during a fundraising event was not tense enough to justify me using that word to modify in the early parts of this sentence. In fact, the furrowing of a brow while trying to figure out what the hell I just said would be more tense. And I was a little surprised. I expect more from Ms. Cooney as I know she’s done some great work, but I’m on the outside on this one.

In other, non-relevant to this review but relevant to teen literature (sort of), news, that book I mentioned that I wrote at the end of last year ( Night of the Squirrels: Dawn of the Interns ) that begins my squirrelpocalypse trilogy and will have a sequel out by the end of May…is free for five days starting today. Of course, it’s only on the Kindle thus far and when I looked to see if anyone was interested in it right now it was number 13 in the Teen Literature & Fiction category of the Kindle store. Very specific category, I know, and it surely has dropped in popularity by now, but I’ve never advertised it anywhere but on here nonsensically or if you saw me in person and it came up. That’s a relatively rare occurrence. I didn’t even talk about how bleakly humorous it was while playing Cards Against Humanity after Christmas with other real humans, so, you know I’m very slow about trying to sell out hard. Hey, this is almost as long as my review! How rude to the more successful author.

Pickles knows that the people who are reading my book are in that closet, in the portal to an alternate dimension where I know how to market properly.

Murderface! And Pickles. End the year with Murderface being confrontational, start the next one with Murderface’s noncommittal expression and all will be magnificent.

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I knew from the first moment I saw you that you were dangerous to her.

32. The Fog – Caroline B. Cooney

As I may have previously mentioned, I am worried about the upcoming election, which is tomorrow and if anyone (regardless of opinion) who is reading this happens to be a U.S. citizen (I’ve noticed I have several UK & Indian readers – Hi! Tasty curries for everyone!) – fucking vote, it’s your one real job as a person who lives here if you’re eighteen or over. The amount of political commercials I have had to endure as a result of living in a swing state may have put me one step closer to madness. And since I am a lady who likes her civil rights and wishes to see civil rights be expanded for others, the heroine of The Fog’s name put me right off: Christina Romney. Now, there’s one particular Christina I am not remotely fond of and there’s a Romney that’s topical that I do not like either…it was hard for me to put that aside. And when the antagonists of the novel kept accusing Miss Romney of lying, well, if they weren’t so damn obviously evil I would have been on their side, damn it.

The thing is, this novel contains many incidents of false paranoia and hysteria accusations that feel very topical. I too would likely jump off a roof in a bad Nor’easter if I was tired of being told I was nutballs and anti-social enough times and then cut off from my family on the island. The “islanders,” as someone might say, go to school on the mainland from seventh grade on and stay with evil people pretending to be nice, they have hair that’s not as nice as they think it is and brightly colored clothes. The mainland kids typically react to the island kids like they’re crazy hillbillies, unless they’re super cute like senior Anya (the description of her reminded me of the Anya that was on Project Runway and could barely sew, but still won, thanks to some semi-conspicuous decisions…thanks, Lifetime) who slowly starts going crazy and losing her mind but does not learn to sew.

There were a lot of incidents of hysterical lady-accusations for the protagonist and confusing motivations. And the protagonist girl with the unfortunate name is only in seventh grade! Being accused of being nutballs is totally unnecessary for seventh graders, they don’t even know who they are and could react with total impetuousness just like the protagonist does on several occasions. She could have just shouted that she felt like she was taking crazy pills and the evil people she’s living with would have been all like, “But we’ve provided non-crazy pills for you, you should take those, they’ve been on your desk all along. We told your parents that you’re going insane and only we can help you. Oh, and we threw away those beans your mother made you. You’ll never see them again. Why aren’t you happy?”

The Fog is part of a trilogy. I have to find The Snow and The Fire in order to find out what will happen to the poor, gaslighted unfortunately named protagonist.

Pickles is shocked about T-Dog. Murderface silently accepts the impending doom and The Walking Dead’s vicious brutality. Sometimes horrible things happen, it’s best to be prepared and listen to the predictions of Joss Whedon.

 

Joss Whedon on Mittens

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