Book Review: Goosebumps: Night of the Living Dummy by R. L. Stine

The Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine is the 7th book in the original Goosebumps Series. I read this years ago and forgot a good deal, there are still a lot of surprises and twist. This book messer with your brain a little bit, by asking what is real because of some clever pranks it make the reader second guess if this is really happening or a nightmare. I will say personally wooden dummies freak me out, so my fear factor might be higher than others. I have pointed out before that Stine concentrates on real world issues to enhance the fear and keep the story a little grounded. In this book the theme is sharing the leads are two twin girls who are already forced to share a face, have to share a room, friends, and a lot of items in the room. When one of the Girls finds the dummy Slappy she is relieved to have something that is here’s that she doesn’t have to share. There’s a couple references to the household not having that much money, so sharing is the only option. This novel has the least 90’s references out of all the other 6 Goosebumps I have read so far. I’m reading Goosebumps to rehash my old memories of the series growing up, and also to give the books to my nephews to read.

The Plot: The Powell Sister’s Kris and Lindy are 12 year old identical twins, who share everything a face, friends, a room, and a lot of the same items in the house. This all changes when the girls get bored and explore the new house being built next door and Lindy finds a trunk. In the trunk is a wooden dummy in a black suit named Slappy. Kris wants Lindy to put it back where it was found, but Lindy wants to keep it and work on it. Kris at first really doesn’t care, then she see’s all the attention she’s getting, and wants some, so a week or a couple later and her dad buys her Mr. Wood from a pawn shop. Lindy gets good and performs for money at birthday parties. Kris is amazed at how good she is, and that she actually is funny. Kris struggles and swears there’s something wrong with Mr. Wood who is often not in the same place where she put him when she goes to sleep. One day she finds him in clothes she put out, and another when she finds Mr. Wood looking like he was strangling him. Kris Swears her doll is winking at her as well. Is he Alive, or is it all a cruel joke?

What I Liked: The story teases a bit here and there but when it comes to the big reveal the dummy does not hold back and you truly believe it wants to kill. I loved the sibling rivalry, you get to witness the jealousy grow overtime. The pranks in this one are really good, my favorite so far; It’s Goosebumps so you know there’s going to be some teases and jump scares a lot of these are false and easily revealed to be a sister or brother messing around, but in the Night of the Living Dummy we don’t get a fast reveal guessing what is real. There’s one part where and old neighbor couple comes over to watch the sweet innocent puppet show, but is roasted by one of the girls, the jokes are mean but still pretty funny. The final twist is a good one that leads to the sequels. The flow and pace of this story is very well paced, the story is one of the better focused ones. This one rams up the scary. I enjoyed how extreme it got, The dummy is out for blood, he will bite, slap, and claw his way towards that goal.

What I Disliked: The worst dog name ever, Barky. I did not like the spell aspect, I thought it was cheap and never really explained well.

Recommendations: Read this if you are scared of Puppets, I’m sure this will also work on stuffed animals. This is a good book for sisters. I do recommend this story out the 7 Goosebumps books I have read, I put this one at number 2, here’s my list so far from best to worst Stay out of the Basement, Night of the Living Dummy, The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Say Cheese and Die, Let’s Get Invisible, Welcome to Dead House and Monster Blood. I rated Night of the Living Dummy 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix is a fun horror read that dips into eighties nostalgia and at it’s core is about real friendship. This novel knows what it is and has fun with the tropes it sets. Think of this novel as a an adult version of Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine’s Fear Street both of the novelist got their start in the 80’s and had a formula for just how far the novels will go. This novel borrows off of it but where those books won’t cross a line, this novel does it with glee. This is my first Grady Hendrix novel I did get this one and We Sold Our Souls on kindle at the same time, the cover is a work of art it reminds me of Steven Rhodes art work that shows innocent kids from the eighties doing occult things ( I stop and looks Spencer’s Gifts whenever I have time and check out the t-shirts). Some of the other reviews have mentioned gay slurs in the text, in fitting the eighties time period is used not in a harmful way but in a very not politically correct time. Watch Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure if you pay attention to the gay slurs prepare to be shocked.

The Plot: The title kind of gives thus one away. It is about Abby and Gretchen, how they became friends and formed a bond as best friends. Their friendship is tested when Gretchen gets possessed by the devil and she plots about destroying her friends lives and making Abby’s life hell. Can an exorcism even save this friendship?

What I Liked: All the chapters were named after eighties songs that fit what was going on in the narrative. I love, loved this cover when it came up on Netgalley it had a different one, and this one is absolutely perfect. How far tis novel goes was kind of fun, a couple of times I thought there not going to do this and they did. I’m from Tennessee and have visited Charleston, SC many of times, and feel Hendrix captured the South without making people look stupid while still having a southern charm. The 80’s nostalgia is all through out this novel and it is great. The wrap up of this story and the way it analyzed what a friendship is, was beautiful.

What I Disliked: Somethings were said but not seen, one person gets notes from someone, but the notes are not from the person they thought, we as the reader only see the aftermath of this plot point but don’t see it as it is happening, so it lost it’s impact on me. The tone of the exorcist didn’t work for me, at times it felt like he was from a different story, I do love the scene where he had to consult his daddy during the exorcism, but everything else his story felt off to me, he’s only in the story for a small bit.

Recommendations: This story is from Quirk books which really fits if you like quirky horror then this story is for you. I was never scared but made uneasy more than a couple of times. If you’re looking to reminisce about the 80’s then there is more to enjoy. There are a couple trigger warning that could hinder your enjoyment, animal cruelty, rape accusations, suicide attempts, devil worship, and drug use.  This story is kind of YA but would recommend on the older side because of content. I rated My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Goosebumps: Let’s Get Invisible by R. L. Stine

Let’s Get Invisible by R. L. Stine is the six in the original Goosebumps series, I’m rereading them in order, and giving them to my nephews, but the’ve been so much fun, so I’ve reviewed six so far. This on is all about invisibility, the ultimate way to play hide and seek. Stine always adds something real and relevant to his horrors and this time it is addiction and peer pressure. The group of friends keeps challenging each other to go invisible longer, you’ll hear a lot of really this is the last time, only to do it more and longer. The twist was really good and clever, one of the better twist so far. This one is mild on the scares but you will get the feeling to shout maybe you guys should not do this again. This novel is more focus then others we are shown the device that makes you invisible pretty early for a goose bumps book. I did feel that the gimmick of invisibility started to run out. This story was made into an episode for the Fox TV show, in the 2nd season episode 6 and is currently on Netflix.

The Plot: It’s Max’s birthday party, he had all these outdoor activity’s but it’s raining. 15 kids show up all together but start leaving at 5 (lame). Max is left with his annoying little brother Lefty, Erin the girl he likes and her best friend April the kind of shy timid one. The group are looking for something to do, they watch Terminator but then get bored, Erin who has a thing for attics realizes Max has one and they set up an adventure to the attic. The dog Whitey joins them, they rifle through old magazines when the dog starts pawing at something in the back and find out it’s a small door to a secret room. The rood contains a large old timey mirror that is wood paneled with a light attached above it. Max looks into the mirror marveled at the lack of dust and how clear it is pulls the cord on the light above as all his friend and brother freak out, because he has vanished, Max thinking this is a joke pulled the cord again as he reappears. with his friends asking how he did that. Before he can explore more his friends mom comes. Two days later Max can’t stop thinking about the mirror and little does he know his little brother is thinking the same thing. Max explores late at night and his brother follows wanting to play the ultimate game of hide and seek, they each stand in front to the mirror and pull the cord and play, for a bit when Max starts to fill weird and light all a sudden, he’s had enough and pulls the cord, but he and his brother don’t reappear right away something has gone wrong. They do appear but the more they do it the longer it takes and Max starts noticing something is not right about the return.

What I Liked: A way more focused story than other goosebumps series stories. The fear of not returning is done well. The twist is good, even though the final twist doesn’t make too much sense. The addiction angle was really great, it made me think about how friends in the past have peer pressured me into doing something that maybe weren’t that safe, just like in the story. the invisible prank on the neighbor was a classic make them see something then get someone else and nothing, but it works here.

What I Disliked: There was no history of the mirror, the novel goes out of it’s way to say it used to be the grandparents home before and even has them come over, Lefty tries to mess with them and is foiled by Max, but nothing ever happens. Also the grandparents come over for a meal and it ‘s just chicken noodle soup, really set up your serving game. the invisible angle gets tired with i’m going to quit then does it again. The final twist did not make sense, I liked that is was telegraphed fro the beginning, but with what happens in the climax it didn’t make much sense.

Recommendations: This one is a good one for the younger kids, it teaches them about peer pressure and is not scary, it has a couple prank scares but nothing really scary. I would compare this to Monster Blood where it is not scary and more humorous, I liked this one a lot better than that one. I rated Let’s Get Invisible 4 out of 5 stars. The ranking of the six I’ve read so far, from best to worse is Stay out of the Basement,The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Say Cheese and Die, Let’s Get Invisible, Welcome to Dead House and Monster Blood. I will continue to ready the series in order and give it to my nephews when finished, next up is Night of the Living Dummy.

Book Review: Goosebumps: The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb by R. L. Stine

The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb by R. L. Stine is book 5 in the original Goosebumps series. This book played on one of my main fears being trapped in a dark confined spaces. This novel starts a little slow, but the second half is really good and focused. This book has amped up the danger than previous Goosebumps books, with possible dangers being kidnapped, boiled alive, stung by a deadly scorpion’s sting, and of course being mummified. This book is backed up by the real life scenario of traveling abroad in a different country not understanding all the language and customs, and staying with a relative and your cousin you don’t know that well. This is the first time in the Goosebumps series where the setting takes in a another country other than America, this time in Egypt. This book describes in detail the mummification process, I was a little shocked how far it went especially explaining what they did with the brain and how they got it out. This story is one of those rare stories that was not adapted in to the Goosebumps TV show, they went with the Return of the Mummy instead.

Plot: Gabe goes a family business trip/vacation to Egypt. His Uncle Ben is a Egyptologist that is working on excavating mummified remains from Khala’s pyramid. Gabe’s parents have business Alexandria, but Gabe wanting to see the inside of the pyramid begs his parents to stay with his Uncle Ben and his annoying daughter Sari who is the same age as Gabe. They agree and soon Gabe finds himself climbing down inside of the dark pyramid. Uncle Ben explains that there are 1000 different tunnels some not yet explored, so please stick with him. Uncle Ben gets busy with work as Sari wants to explore, she teases Gabe until he relents and joins her. Sari has a prank in mind that involves her hiding in a mummy’s tomb, The prank seems innocent enough but someone or something does not appreciate the disturbance.

What I Liked: The real knowledge and information about mummification is sprinkled through out. The twist endings to Goosebumps are kind of hit and miss but I really loved this one. The jump scares are used really well. The descriptions of the closed in space work really well, and reminded me of my childhood fears. The pranks are funny and add little scares. I like the character of Uncle Ben, my favorite adult character of the series so far. The second half of this novel is great on flow and suspense.

What I Disliked: Slow start to this novel really killed the momentum. The mummy’s hand should have been sold to Gabe in Egypt at the beginning, really kills the believability, yes I do know this is a Goosebumps book but that is too big a leap on plausibility for the outcome to happen at the end of the book. Sari was pretty annoying and really never grew on me.

Recommendations: This is a pretty solid Goosebumps book, so far it’s now my second favorite behind Stay out of the Basement. If your kids are fascinated by mummies then this is the book for them, it blends little touches of horror with real facts. Small warning on a scene where Gabe tries to gross out Sari he does explain the whole mummification process which might be too gross for smaller kids. I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars. The order from best to worst Goosebumps books so far is Stay out of the Basement, The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Say Cheese and Die, Welcome to Dead House and Monster Blood. I will continue to ready the series in order and give it to my nephews when finished.

Book Review: Goosebumps: Monster Blood by R. L. Stine

Monster Blood by R. L. Stine is the 3rd book from the classic Goosebumps series. So far in reviewing them I’ve stuck with the order of the classic series from the 90’s, so if you enjoy this review check out my reviews for Stay Out of the Basement and Welcome to the Dead House. Monster Blood was my least favorite of the Goosebumps so far, which I find a little funny since there is three more sequels to monster blood in the series. Monster blood is a story of possessed “flubber” not the cool “flubber from The Absent Minded Professor but the “flubber” from the movie Flubber starring Robin Williams, where the “flubber” becomes sentient beings and starts dancing. Monster Blood does not have any dancing Monster Blood but it does have some of the same traits (this book came out before the Flubber movie as well) it is bouncy, it is sticky, it does stuff to beings that eat it and it becomes sentient sort of. The real life scenario is staying with a relative you’ve had little to no contact until a family emergency is all to real. The real horror of this book is an aunt Katheryn who is deaf and can’t read lips or sign, and has a basically no filter and seems a little psychopathic. . I started reading Goosebumps for my nephews, who I’m giving all the books to and reading to, but the response from my followers has been overwhelming, so think you guys for that, it has been a delight sharing the reviews and the response with you.

The Plot: Evan ad the dog Trigger is being sent to his great aunt Katheryn for an undetermined amount of time as his parents look for a place to live in Florida after a recent sudden job transfer of his father. Evan has never met great aunt Katheryn but knows she is deaf and never learned to read lips or sign language. He’s met by a surprised Katheryn holding a bloody knife, that was only cutting meat for dinner. Katheryn talks with out filter and makes a rule that the house pet Trigger the dog must live outside while because of Katheryn’s pet cat Sarabeth who Katheryn talks to like a person than a cat. Evan ends up meeting a local girl Andrea who goes by Andy, they have an instant connection with all things stupid. Andy shows him the town and a vintage toy store that has old toys some covered in thick amount of dust, but Evan ends up finding Monster Blood, with a cool name like that it has to be cool, right? The Monster blood is neon green and glows in the dark as well as being sticky wit also bouncy, they play with it the whole day but the fun stops when trigger ends up eating a good portion and starts growing unexpectedly and the monster blood that remains starts expanding and seeming to never stop growing it’s self despite Evan and Andy’s attempts to stop it. Can they stop the monster blood from growing before it consume them?

What I Liked: Aunt Katheryn is a great character and really fun, I like the reason she has for never learning sign language or reading lips. I like what Andy and Evan’s friendship becomes. I will say I could not stand the character of Andy at first, she’s super annoying but grew on me at the end. The bullies two twin boy’s were written well and I could relate to having bullies like that growing up that just want to mess with people for no reason.

What I Disliked: The final twist comes out of no where, there was plausibility but barely, I needed more hints to what the ending amounted to. The story seems to have no direction until the rushed ending. I have a real problem on how long it took Evan to take his dog to the vet, the monster blood grows in the dark have your dog see a vet immediately.

Recommendations: This least favorite so far of the books I’ve read, so I would recommend Stay out of the Basement and Welcome to Dead House over this one. I if you thought the Flubber with Robin William is better than the original Absent Minded Professor then you might like this story. I rated this book 3 out of 5 stars. I will continue to read more more Goosebumps books by Scholastic Inc.

Book Review: Goosebumps: Stay Out of the Basement by R. L. Stine

Stay Out of the Basement by R. L. Stine is the second novel in the original Goosebumps line, and a far better story than the Welcome to the Dead House, the first original Goosebumps. As kids we’ve all been told to stay out of something, mostly for our own safety. I this story it’s for safety and secrets. This novel goes into the real world problems of dad losing his job and then setting out to prove his employers wrong. He becomes distant and stressed and in an R. L. Stine twist otherworldly. As an adult reading this for my nephews I can really appreciate the real life scenarios he subtly put into his stories.

The Plot: Margret and Casey two siblings, are dealing with a new life situation, their dad losing his job at a science laboratory. Their dad has became distant, stressed, and made a makeshift lab in the homes basement.There not supposed to disturb their dad when he’s working and all but banned from the basement. When Margret’s friend Diane who’s a little bit rebellious, dares them to go to the basement while their dad has to bring their mother to the airport to deal with a sick aunt. They reluctantly go and the basement is like nothing they’ve seen before, it’s hot, humid, and muggy with plants covering every inch but the stairs. The plants are like nothing you’ve ever seen before, they seem to reach out for the kids and moan, before they can investigate further their dad come home. Margret and Diane scramble up the stairs but Casey is stuck with a plant wrapping around him not in a threatening but still traps him. Diane leaves out the back as Margret quickly rescues her brother, but get busted on the stairs my their dad who’s very upset, his hat flies off and reveals instead of hair he’s growing leaves. He says it’s a side effect to something they won’t understand and puts an additional lock on the basement door telling them to stay out, but like typical kids they do not. What will happen when they do not stay out of the basement?

What I Liked: The twist are really good, there’s some really clever misdirects, that make sense when all is revealed but really clever writing. I had even seen the episode about three years ago as I introduced the show to cousins and could not remember all the twist and turns. This story is supper creepy plants moaning and forming mouths. The real life scenario of a father losing a job and going a little nuts to prove ex-employers wrong is too real. The story brought me back to the childhood fears of going own into a dark staircase to the basement. Every scene and chapter has a purpose. I have a fear of food and the scene in this story really got to me.

What I Disliked: Money was never discussed with losing a job, I thought it could have been a little more relatable to real life scenario. I did think it’s funny as the story escalates and gets crazier the dad is still neighborly and helps the neighbors with things, so I thought he could’ve got out of the house for something other than that, like buying mulch of other plant food.

Recommendations: I love Goosebumps and this is one of the better stories in the series as far as twist go. This story is made ever so scary adding the real life scenario. I rated this 5 out of 5 stars, I was on the fence debating between 4 and 5 but the twist is really good and well thought out, this one could almost fit in the Twilight Zone with not too many changes. I plan to keep reading Goosebumps and reviewing them their so fun and a good break for the headier stuff I read sometimes.

Book Review: Welcome to Dead House by R. L. Stine

Welcome to Dead House by R. L. Stine is the very first Goosebumps book. It’s a lot scarier and more graphic than I remember, but still appropriate for it’s younger audience. I used to read these books as kids and also read them to my younger sister for bed, now that my sister has two of my nephews and I got these books for them but thought it would be fun to reminisce and read/review it for my website. This novel did not disappoint and still puts me in the mind of my childhood self and what fears me.

The Plot: Amanda and Josh have just moved into a new house in the town of Dark Falls, as a great Uncle has bequeathed it upon his death (the dad can not remember uncle). Amanda and Josh get bad vibes from the place that seems always shaded in shadows. Petey their dog starts acting strange and hostilely bark at the realtor and every kid they meet. Amanda swears she sees kids in the house and whispering, but believes it’s her own imagination. She meets all the kids in the neighborhood and is treated like the outsider she is, the only thing that most kids say is, “I lived in your house once.”

What I Liked: This story is dark and has a pretty good little twist. The tone is set up from the beginning and it’s creepy and spooky. The descriptions are just enough to create a mind picture of your imagination. The gore was a little bit unexpected, two character’s eyes pop out of their head. I thought the dialogue worked really well, and it furthered the mystery. I loved the character of Ray, and the twist that character has.

What I Disliked: This novel is told in a first person view of Amanda and it could have easily have been written in third, we get no insight being in her head. Her character felt really vague on female characteristics, it felt very genderless, I guess it was to appeal to both guys and girls at that age.

Recommendations: I whole heartedly recommend this book and series, it’s horror lite and a good introduction in to real horror genre in the future. This novel is the kid friendly version of the Twilight Zone. I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars. I ended up seeing nine of these books super cheap and bought them for the nephews to read, will review them as I go.