Monday, March 19, 2018

The Baby-Sitters Club #6: Kristy's Big Day

We're going way back in time for this one, to a time when Elizabeth, Kristy's mom, and Watson finally set their wedding day. They ask all the kids to be involved in the ceremony. Kristy is the bridesmaid, Charlie will give her away, Sam will be the best man, Karen will be the flower girl, and I can't remember what the heck David Michael does. Andrew says he doesn't want to be part of it at all.

Things quickly go to hell in a hand basket. Elizabeth finds out that work needs to send her on a trip during the original wedding date. She pushed the wedding date back and then got a call that someone wants to buy the house and wants them out in a month. The end result is that they need to get married in two weeks. She flips out and immediately starts going through the house before deciding to focus on the wedding plans.

Multiple people, including family and friends, offer to help. Both of Kristy's aunts announce that they're coming to town early, and so is Watson's best friend and his family. The problem is that they all have kids. All together there are 14 kids who will be getting in the way. Kristy suggests that the BSC watch them that week while the adults work on the wedding.

I refuse to go into the details about all the kids and their ages. The oldest is 10 and the youngest is just a baby. The girls divide them into groups of three plus one with the two babies. Stacey volunteers to watch the oldest kids, and I am right there with her, while MA wants the babies because she's a freak of nature. They plan a bunch of activities and figure out what to do with the kids.

Stacey takes the oldest kids to see Mary Poppins. One girl loses her money, causes a big hassle, and then finds it in her shoe. The kids then whine because they want candy and cause a commotion in the movie that leads to them leaving early. Dawn takes David Michael, his cousin, and Karen to the park. Karen says that a big kid told her martians were invading. She winds up scaring the kids in the park so bad that the counselor in charge of arts and crafts just tells them to leave.

Kristy and MA take ALL the boys to get hair cuts because their parents are lazy pieces of shit. David Michael throws a major fit, which sets off all the other kids. She winds up threatening to call Nannie multiple times and turn the job over to her. They keep ignoring her and acting up. When she finally threatens them for the fourth time, David Michael suddenly decides that she's serious and tells everyone to lay off.

The last day is when everyone goes stir crazy. They get the idea to put on a play and stage a fake wedding with all the kids in different roles. When they get the kids ready for the rehearsal dinner, they find out that one of the kids messed up all the clothes. The girls just barely manage to get them all dressed in time, though some kids do wind up in the wrong clothes.

Kristy invites all the girls to the rehearsal dinner, and after watching the kids, they get to check out her new room. She then invites MA over to her her get dressed for the wedding. The wedding goes off without a hitch until Morbida Destiny shows up with a wedding present just as they kiss. Karen freaks out about her black magic, runs in the house, and won't come out until she's gone.

Though Kristy spent much of the book worrying about what to get them as a wedding gift, she figures it out when she sees them feed each other cake. She goes to Claudia and asks for help creating a new family tree. The other girls show up, and Stacey brings wedding pictures. They then talk about how things are changing, but Kristy seems pretty optimistic about the future.

*No one ever mentioned anyone coming to look at the house, only that it went on the market a few days ago. Who the hell buys a house without even looking at the inside?

*They originally suggest that Andrew escort Karen down the aisle. Sam asks if that would make him the flower boy, and they all laugh like hyenas for multiple minutes. Um no, you dumbasses, the ring bearer traditionally walks the flower girl down the aisle. Wait, maybe David Michael is the ring bearer?

*They get $600 total or $120 each for the week of work. Elizabeth says it's slightly more than what they usually make per hour, which is around three bucks. Sam deliveries groceries and makes the same per hour plus tips. Oh, and they all get a $10 bonus for a job well done at the end.

*Some friends of the family picks up Karen and Andrew in the end because Elizabeth and Watson are spending a week in Vermont. Charlie gets left in charge of all the kids for a whole week, which is a little ridiculous.

*Kristy is so girly in this book that I love her. She says she'll only to to the Final Fling, which is the big dance of the year, if Alan Gray asks her, which she does and they do. She gets super excited about wearing a girly bridesmaid dress, can't wait to wear her first pair of heels, and asks if she can wear flowers in her hair. Why couldn't later Kristy be the same?

*Ann says that this is the favorite book she wrote in the series and that she loved writing about Karen so much that it inspired her to create the Little Sister series. I thought she only wrote the first four or five books? I always heard that she wrote one book per girl and then turned the series over to ghostwriters.

*One aunt shows up with her youngest and literally just leaves the baby strapped into a car seat in the car. Kristy hangs out with her for a few minutes until the baby feels comfortable and then picks her up. Her aunt is all shocked because the baby hates all strangers and never goes to someone so easily. Of course. Didn't she know that the BSC are miracle workers?

*Claudia wears skintight pants (in seventh grade by the way) with a black leotard and a big white shirt that looked like a lab coat that she painted with black and red designs.

*Kristy wears a white sweater dress with silver snowflakes all over it that Claudia helped her pick out. She says it makes her feel glamorous and completely unlike herself.

*Dawn tries telling Karen that the martian thing was just a joke and gets really frustrated when she won't drop it. She considers telling them no more martian talk but then decides that's too mean. Isn't this the same girl who refuses to let kids play with toy guns?

*When Kristy asks why they can't just sell their house to someone else, Elizabeth explains that her and Watson, her ex-husband, and his ex-wife all have different ideas on how to spend money and that half the money from the house goes to Kristy's dad. Say what now? Since when does the guy who never sends child support and seemingly never helped around the house get money for no reason? If seems like the court should use his half to pack back child support.

*Kristy really shouldn't get the same amount as the other girls. She leaves multiple times for dress fittings and to look at flowers or pick out shoes.

*Kristy points out that Karen calls Nannie Nannie even though they aren't related. Well duh. My brother's step-daughter grew up calling my parents grammy and grandpa. Yet she says that one reason she doesn't like Watson is because he points out stuff people know.

*There's a nice moment where Charlie and Sam talk about the move. They both reassure her that things will be fine and that they'll all get through it together.

*David Michael gets his mom and Watson goldfish as a wedding gift.

*Watson's ex-wife, knowing about the wedding, randomly decides that the week before is the perfect time for her and her new husband to go to London. She literally just calls and tells him that she needs him to watch the kids for the week.

*Kristy checks the encyclopedia to get ideas for a family tree and keeps talking about how to do it. Her end result though is kind of childish. It's just her mom's name with lines pointing to her and her brothers, Watson's name with lines pointing to his kids, and a ribbon in the center. It seems like one of those things moms keep but look terrible.

*On the first day, both Claudia and Kristy have full books of criers and take them to sit down and read. Kristy reads Andrew and his group Green Eggs and Ham, which makes them laugh. That's fine and all, but Claudia reads Where the Sidewalk Ends to her group, and they all start laughing. Her group is three year olds. What three year old would even get the poems in that book?

*The adults in this book are incredibly shitty. I get that they all want to help, but did no one really think this through? Each one has two adults and between three and four kids. How much help did they think they would be with the kids around? Kristy says they need to make all the appetizers and canapes for the wedding, decorate the house and yard, and do a ton of other little small things.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Sweet Valley High #17: Love Letters

Caroline Pearce is a huge gossip and the kind of girl that no one wants to ever be around. Since she was feeling lonely one night and wished she had a boyfriend, she decided to just make one up. Her fake guy is named Adam and is from Cold Springs, a town a few hours away. Adam plays baseball and absolutely loves her. To make the letters more convincing, Caroline used lines from Robert Barrett Browning poems to his wife Elizabeth.

When the book opens, she tells her sister, Anita, all about the party that Bruce threw the night before. Since Anita was super popular in school though, it's not all that exciting to her. All she really cares about is that her sister is hanging out with the Wakefield twins and going to the beach with them. Caroline made that part up though, and when she stops by their house, Liz says she can't go and that Jessica is still asleep, so she goes by herself. She does stop long enough to see a letter in the trash can that blew over from Alice talking about a job offer in San Francisco.

Just as she's about to leave for the day, she sees Jess hanging out with Lila and Cara and invites herself over. She talks about how Annie almost broke up with Ricky because of some stuff that happened at the party and how John is in danger of getting kicked off the paper. Though she leaves for a minute, she comes back to hear Jessica doing a really rude impression of her and tries to laugh it off. Caroline then brings up the letter, and Jessica tries to act like it's nothing and that she already knew about it.

Jessica immediately tells Liz and they then talk to their parents. Some firm loves Alice's work so much that they offered her a much higher salary to work for them. Ned thinks it's a good idea and even started talking to law firms up there. Jessica throws an absolute bitch fit and rushes off to cry herself to sleep because her parents are so totes mean to her.

Liz comes to her and tells her that they need to come up with a trademark scheme. This leads to them making dinner that uses ingredients and dishes from all their parents' favorite restaurants. They then sign them up for a ton of mailing lists about Sweet Valley and start talking about all the crime in San Francisco. Jessica also pretends that her car broke down in this valley that her dad loves and has him come to get her so they can talk about old times. In the end though, their parents naturally decide to stay and revisit the idea after the twins leave for college.

Caroline finally tells Anita about her new beau, and Anita is so happy for her that she helps her pick out some new clothes and takes her to get her hair done. Jessica gets really pissed at her over the whole letter thing and starts thinking that Adam is fake. She tells her suspicions to Lila, and they start scheming to make her admit it. They get her to say that Adam will come to a party that Lila plans. Since he has no money, Lila even buys him a bus ticket.

There's some big play competition that Liz wants to enter, and she conveniently decides to use a bunch of Browning's poems in it. While reading her play to her family, Jessica realizes that a lot of the poems were in Adam's letters, which is more proof that he doesn't exist. She gets Caroline to read one of his letters in front of Liz and then gloats about how Caroline made up the whole thing. Liz thinks he just used the poems until Caroline admits the truth. She asks Liz not to read the play that weekend, which is part of the competition, and Liz says she'll think about it.

Caroline finally tells Anita the truth, and her sister feels kind of bad for her. She then lectures her on being a gossip and how she needs to change if she really wants friends. Liz gives her the same speech too. She also gets in trouble because she saw Bill Chase getting books from a teacher and spread a rumor about how he got help on his play. After getting lectured, she apologizes to him and learns that he just got a big screen test. Bill tells her that she can tell anyone she wants.

Hoping that she can pretend to spend the weekend with Adam and get out of the party, Caroline lays low for the weekend, but Jessica sees her coming out of a grocery store 20 minutes outside of town. She comes to school on Monday with a Cold Springs tee-shirt and says Adam gave it to her. While this satisfies most of the girls, it doesn't work on Jess. She and Lila pretty much demand that Caroline bring Adam to the party.

After talking to Liz once again, Caroline admits that Adam stole the poems in the letters but says that he's real. Liz is disappointed that she didn't tell the whole truth but relieved when Caroline tells her to read her play. She does read it in front of the whole crowd and wins first place. I like to think it's because Bill dropped out to focus on his screen test.

Cut to the night of the party. Caroline shows up in a sleek green satin dress and looks so good that most people don't recognize her. She gets up in front of everyone to tell them that Adam isn't real, but then a good looking guy who looks just like the guy she described steps up, kisses her, and introduces himself as Adam. His real name is Jerry, and he's a friend of Todd's from another school. They have such a good time together that she feels bad about lying and makes another announcement about who he actually is and how there is no Adam.

Caroline then runs off to cry, but Jerry tracks her down. He tells her that what she did was really brave and gives her another kiss. They spend some more time together, and he asks if he can really write to her. Oh, and Regina is now dating Bruce, which freaks everyone out.

*Ned points out that with both twins going off to college soon that they could really use the extra money. Given that Jessica basically loses a semester because she goes mental and Liz quits to run off to London, they really will need that money. Not to mention the fact that they'll have THREE kids in college and you know Jess ain't getting no scholarships!

*Given the number of times Jessica tried to run away from home or thought about running away, you'd think she might be a little excited at the prospect of moving, if only for the new guys.

*Liz's play is about the relationship between the two poets, but she checks out every single book of poetry either wrote to do it. She then puts in huge chunks of their work in her play. What the hell did she actually write?

*Jessica is such a mega bitch in this book! I get her being upset over Caroline telling people about the letter, but she acts like the chick ruined her life. Even Liz wonders what her deal is.

*Lila thinks Jerry is so cute that she cuts in on him dancing with Caroline, but he shoes her off and tells her that he's a one woman man. Love him!

*Liz lecturing Caroline on being a gossip is kind of ridiculous, especially given that Liz is actually a gossip columnist.

*Actually, everyone lecturing her is stupid. These girls constantly talk about each other and behind their backs all the time. If Caroline didn't say stuff to them, they'd just find out from someone else.

*Annie was supposedly mad at Ricky because he promised to drive her to the dance in his dad's Cadillac but showed up in his old car, then she broke her dress strap or something, he stomped on her foot, and then she caught him talking to Maria.

*Caroline feels bad when the other girls talk about how lame Winston is because she had a crush on him once upon a time. That's one of the few couples in these books that would actually make sense!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Fear Street Sagas #6: Daughters of Silence (R.L. Stine)

Hallie and Jenna were besties until Hallie and her parents moved away to Shadyside. Since it's summer and she has nothing to do, Jenna hops on the train to visit her. Hallie's parents welcome her with open arms and make her a peach pie, which is her favorite. After dinner, Hallie tells her all about the Fears and some of the rumors about them floating around town. She also insinuates that she hasn't really made any friends yet.

Jenna reminds Hallie of when they used to tell each other ghost stories, which leads to Hallie suggesting that they go somewhere special. It turns out to be the cemetery on Fear Street. She also tells Jenna about how the Fears had two daughters who died and how everyone thinks they're crazy. They wind up finding the girls' headstones and scare each other because they think the girls aren't dead when they hear something. That something is actually Angelica Fear who invites them to stick around and listen to her talk about her girls before inviting them to stop by Fear Mansion.

Since Jenna is smart, she does not want to do that, ever, but Hallie convinces her that the Fears are probably just lonely. They go to the Fear Mansion, and Simon freaks out until Angelica smooths things over by pointing out that the two girls are just like sisters. Yup, not creepy at all. After dinner, they show the two their daughters' rooms and then give them gifts. Hallie gets a gold heart necklace that belonged to Hannah, and Jenna gets a gem bracelet that belonged to Julia. Jenna almost instantly rips it off because it makes her feel like she's on fire, but they convince her to put it back on. She also notices some creepy dolls in Hannah's former room that have silver pins sticking through them.

While walking home, Hallie brags about how all the girls in town will think she's super cool now because she went inside the Fear Mansion and how they should go back as soon as possible. Jenna takes the bracelet off again because it freaks her out and starts talking about how she never wants to go back. The two have a major fight that ends with Hallie storming off. Jenna just kind of shrugs because this is apparently something her friend does a lot.

Though she takes her time heading back, she sees something in the woods that looks like a flying shadow, which causes her to run like a sane person. She then stumbles and falls down, and when she gets up, she discovers her dress drenched in blood. The blood completely covers a tree, and when she looks closer, she sees a silver pin stuck in the center, just like the one in Hannah's room.

There's another noise in the woods, but this time, it's a handsome guy. He introduces himself as Rob Smith and explains that he works for the Fears. Rob helps her find her way home and gets to meet Hallie. Once he leaves, Hallie just wants to talk about Rob being so handsome. Jenna gets more freaked out that night after seeing the same shadow flying outside their room.

Hallie's parents wake them the next day because it's time for a barn raising, yippee. She drops Jenna like a hot potato after seeing some popular girls in town and rushes over to tell them all about seeing the Fears. One girl makes an excuse that she needs to talk to this guy Fred and runs off, which makes all the other girls follow. Hallie then screams at Jenna about how she ruins everything. In her eyes, she was thisclose to becoming besties with those girls before they saw Jenna and ran away.

After running into Rob, Hallie interrupts their conversation to flirt with him and make him super duper uncomfortable to the point where he leaves. Later, Jenna sees him working on the barn just as it collapses. She helps some of the men folk tear up the old barn and dig through the debris for survivors and is the one who finds Fred at the bottom with a piece of wood through his chest. They manage to find Rob and save him, but Hallie then goes crazy and starts laughing about how she wanted it to happen and made it happen.

Hallie's parents and Jenna manage to get her home and into bed. Jenna looks closer and notices that she never took the gold necklace off. Convinced the Fears are responsible for things, Jenna heads over to their house. Angelica invites her in, and both she and Simon make a big deal out of her not wearing the bracelet. Jenna makes an excuse to leave and accidentally stumbles on a weird cabin in the woods while trying to find Rob. The cabin has bones everywhere and a skull on the wall. She eventually does find Rob who convinces her that there was no cabin. He asks her to go home and stay there.

Though she agrees, this only lasts until she gets back and sees Hallie walking off by herself. Jenna follows her and sees her enter the Fear Mansion. When she goes to save her best friend, she learns that the Fears chose them as the new host bodies for their daughters' spirits and that the jewelry they wore gave them control over them. They make Hallie put the bracelet back on Jenna who then has a hard time doing what she wants.

Rob rushes in to save her, but we quickly learn that Rob is actually dead. The Fears reincarnated him first just to make sure things worked. They then make him die again, right in front of Jenna. The Fears do a huge ritual to bring the spirits of their daughters into the room and to let them take control over the girls. Julia is about to take over Jenna when she realizes the girl is wearing her favorite bracelet, which causes her to flip off and yank it off her. This puts Jenna back in control of her own body.

She runs to save her friend and discovers that Hallie still cannot do anything on her own because of the necklace. That necklace has now embedded itself in her throat though, below the skin. Jenna uses her fingernails to rip open her friend's chest and pull out the necklace. They then run home, though the dark flying spirit chases them briefly. Though Hallie's parents do not believe their story, they change their mind after seeing a black heart scar on Hallie's chest.

Jenna explains that Hallie's parents moved that same day. They packed their bags and took off without telling anyone why. She feels sorry for whoever the Fears pick next...

*I actually liked this one the best out of all the Fear Street Sagas books I read recently! It was pretty easy to get through with Animal Airport playing in the background.

*I was all set to go off on a tangent about the whole barn raising thing and how it was so lame before realizing that the book was set in the 1860s when that was actually something that happened regularly...

*Stine toned down the disgusting parts in this book. The only really gross thing was when they “killed” Rob for the second time. His skin literally started peeling back/retracting from his body as he shriveled up and decomposed.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Nancy Drew Files #40: Shadow of a Doubt (1989)

Carson takes the whole crew out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate the end of a big case. While getting ready, Nancy answers a call from someone who hangs up after hearing her voice. She tells them that she received multiple calls like that in the past. Carson blows it off but then some random dude shows up with a package. It has a picture of a dude inside with a threatening note on the bottom.

It turns out that several years ago, Carson worked on an embezzlement case. He defended this guy Allard who was accused of stealing from the bank he worked for with the help of a partner named Gleason. Carson got Allard off, but Gleason was found guilty and sentenced to hail time. Gleason recently got out, which was right around when someone started threatening Carson. He begs Nancy to stay out of it, which lasts for one whole page.

Nancy decides it wouldn't hurt to look into things and calls the chief to get Gleason's new address. She heads over and finds a bunch of cops outside the apartment. One especially hot young cop falls over himself and tells her how someone named Gleason jumped out of his apartment window and killed himself. She then goes up the fire escape to check out his place, runs into a bunch of cops, and just grabs a random notebook before fleeing.

When she gets outside, she runs right into Kate and Chris, Gleason's kids. Kate seems particularly pissed at Nancy after learning that she's Caron's daughter and points out that her dad wouldn't have gone to jail if it weren't for him. They calm down long enough to tell her that they believe their dad was innocent, that the court found him guilty of creating a computer program to steal the money, and that no one ever recovered the lost money.

Nancy then goes to see Allard who still works for a bank and agrees to help her because he believes Gleason was innocent. She then meets with the head of the bank, Nicodemus. He not only lets her search through the bank's records, but he tells this secretary named Cheryl to help her. Cheryl seems lost and confused, pointing out that she just started a few weeks ago. She then shows up at the Drew house to tell Nancy that Gleason asked her for information and that she gave him some computer files.

Not completely trusting some random chick who seems to have way too much information, Nancy hops in her car and follows Cheryl who goes right to Gleason's old apartment. She sneaks inside and hears the woman fighting with Chris, and when she bursts in, he has his hands around her throat. It turns out that they're actually a couple and have been for a long time. Chris storms off, while Cheryl confesses that she gave computer files to Gleason and then deleted the files permanently because he asked her for a favor.

Word comes down that the DA plans to prosecute Carson for obstruction of justice and that the DA wants to reopen the case. Nancy meets with the DA who reveals that he doesn't actually want to charge Carson and that they aren't sure yet if they want to open the case back up. She also tracks down Kate and tells her that her dad had some evidence and that he supposedly gave it to her brother.

While working together, Nancy and Kate somehow realize that Gleason had a secret safety deposit box with the evidence hidden inside. They go to check it out and find the box empty, so they head back to her house. That's where they find both Allard and Nicodemus with Chris and Carson.

It turns out that the two of them were actually behind the embezzlement and that they created a fake computer program to frame Gleason. Cheryl accidentally found the program and gave it to Gleason, but because she deleted the files, he was the only one with proof of his innocence, so they killed him. Also, Chris has apparently been helping them because they convinced him that they could clear his dad's name.

Allard tells Chris to tie them up and then set the house on fire, and he conveniently brought gasoline and matches with him. Nancy begs him to do the right thing, and he hesitates just long enough for her to run over and kick the gun that Nicodemus was holding on them out of his hands. Allard and Carson start fighting, but Chris finally grows a pair and helps out. They subdue the two men and call the cops. In the end, Carson tells Nancy that she really could have gotten hurt and that he worries about her but that it's okay because she's persistent. And then they all laugh...

*Hannah goes all out for dinner at the beginning and wears a new red silk dress and gets her hair done. I really want to know why she and Carson never hooked up! They made her much younger in these books than she originally was, and he even comments on how the waiter was making eyes at her...

*Nancy is all disappointed when the phone rings and no one is there because she thought it might be Ned. Bess just rolls her eyes and tells her not to worry because he can't stay away from her for very long.

*Neither of the two men who were guilty in the end were mentioned as suspects in the very beginning...

*This may be the most modern we've seen Nancy looking on a cover from this series! She's usually in either really dated pastel or really dated neon colors.

*I'd like to point out that no one knocked her out in this book and that she didn't even look twice at a guy who was not Ned.

*Someone dies try to kill her though and chases her car. The person drives her off the road and towards a cluster of trees, so Nancy totally jumps out the door and rolls to safety while her Mustang goes boom.

*Can we all agree that Chris is a really terrible boyfriend? Cheryl says that he's just stressed a lot and worried about his dad. Stress does not make a man scream at you repeatedly and try to strangle you. He literally had both hands wrapped around her neck when Nancy found them and had her pinned against the wall!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Sweet Valley High #83: Steven's Bride

Steven is home from SVU once again, and everyone acts like it's a huge deal even though he comes home all the time. This time, it's because Cara is about to head off for a trip to London with her mom. They all have suggestions for what she should do, but she says she'll probably be in the hotel by herself most of the time while her mom does business stuff. Steven gets her alone for a little moment and tells her how much he'll miss her. Though they have a sweet moment, he can't help noticing that she's not that excited.

When she comes back, he's way too busy with school because he wants to get into some special law school program that will help him graduate faster. Cara asks to come up and see him, and he finally gives in as long as she lets him get his work done. She actually keeps coming onto him and kissing him. When he finally takes a break, she breaks down and tells him that her mom got a promotion and that they're moving to three weeks. Steven instantly flips out because Cara is leaving him just like Tricia did and begs her not to go.

Once Jessica finds out, it's only a matter of time before everyone else in town does too. Cara makes it clear that she doesn't want to leave but doesn't have a choice. While watching Love Story, Jessica comes up with an idea. She tells Steven that he should propose. He thinks it's crazy at first because it is but then decides it's a brilliant idea. He rushes over and pops the question, which leaves Cara speechless, but she eventually thinks it's the best way for them to stay together and says yes.

Though Steven tells Jessica about the proposal and Cara's answer, he tells her not to tell anyone else, especially not Elizabeth or their parents because any of them would just talk them out of it. Jessica instead keeps dropping hints all the time about Cara not really leaving. She winds up blurting out their plans. Instead of being shocked, the girls decide to throw her a bridal shower.

The bridal shower actually makes Cara more uncomfortable than she ever expected. Lila and Amy both buy her lingerie, with Lila saying the see through nightgown she bought will be perfect for the wedding night. Cara thinks about how Steven never pressured her for sex but that it's something married couples do. Other girls get her towels, glasses, and practical stuff, which makes her realize that she'll need to do things like cook and clean.

Steven gets stuck looking at apartments in the hopes of finding one for them. He can't find anything affordable near campus, which makes me think he didn't expand his search to include the shitty buildings Todd, Bruce, and Lila lived in later. The only suitable option is a tiny garden apartment that looks out on a parking lot. He isn't even sure it has enough room for his desk.

Cara gets a call from her dad, who is living in Chicago with her little brother. He wants to come to town to see her before she moves to London and has some big news. When she finds out that she mom has an idea of what the news is because they already talked, she gets it in her mind that her parents are getting back together. That means that she doesn't need to worry about marrying Steven. Her dad will move back, her parents will get married, and they can all move into a new house in Sweet Valley.

What actually happens is that her dad shows up with his new girlfriend. Just as they go to sit down to eat, he tells them all that he proposed and that he and Julia are getting married. Cara's mom is a little surprised but tells her that she had an idea what his news was when he wanted to bring Julia with him. Julia lived in London and keeps talking about how great the city is. It pisses Cara off so much that she runs to her room and decides that she'll marry Steven no matter what.

Elizabeth is chilling at home when the jewelry store calls to tell Steven that he can pick up his wedding rings. She forces the truth out of Jessica and then goes to see Steven at school. He tells her point blank that her attitude is the exact reason he didn't want to tell her. Steven also says that he doesn't need her advice. She points out that he can't go the law program and take care of a teenage wife, but he just sends her home.

In case you didn't notice, both Cara and Steven has some doubts. Steven calls to tell her that he got a job. It's not at the law firm where he applied but at a Mexican restaurant, and he thinks that he can earn some big tips. The next time he comes home, he tells his family that he didn't get into the law program. He does, however, tell them all about how he and Cara are taking a ski trip with some friends from college, which is the cover story for how they're running away to Nevada to elope.

Jessica stops in Steven's room and finds a letter from the law program that accepted him and realizes that he gave it up for Cara. She decides to put some pressure on Cara in the hopes of changing her mind. While shopping at the mall, Jessica keeps showing her crap like bath mats and shower curtains. She then tries to make her buy a bunch of cookbooks because Steven has “food allergies” and Cara will have to cook. When Cara says that they will split chores, Jessica points out that he will be way too busy between work and school.

Despite all this, they still head to Nevada. Jessica and Elizabeth talk things through and realize that it's time to involve the parental units. Ned and Alice are shocked, but call Mrs. Walker, tell her what happened, and pick her up on their way to Nevada. Luckily, Cara can't read a map, they get lost, and wind up getting there late. Though Steven says, “I do,” she tells him that she can't marry him. All the parents then rush in, and he thinks that she just wanted to make a fool of him and runs off.

Days later and things are still a cluster fuck. Steven never talked to Cara no matter how many times she tried to call him. Since no one can do anything without Elizabeth being involved, Cara calls and asks her to meet her at the Dairi Burger. She talks about how getting married wasn't the right thing for either of them and how she'll always love him.

Elizabeth finally drives up to SVU to tell him that Cara had no idea they were coming, that Cara still loves him, and that he only has one chance to say goodbye. He rushes to the airport and gets there just before she gets on the plane. They share one last moment, tell each other I love you, and Cara then gives him back the wedding rings. He then watches the plane take off and thinks about how they both have great lives ahead of them, even if they're not together. Or you know, if they get back together in the future and then he cheats on her multiple times with a man and then dumps her.

There really isn't much of a B-plot in this one, but Todd is being kind of a dick. The idea of teenagers getting married has apparently sent him over the edge. He can't stop talking about how they're too young to settle down and making a big mistake. When Liz skips Cara's goodbye party, he spends the whole night flirting with and dancing with some random girl. Liz later sees them together and acts like it's not a big deal but is a little uncomfortable.

*Elizabeth checks the time before going to SVU in the end and decides to go because she'll still make it back in time for school. So, if she woke up 10 minutes later she would have just let Cara leave without talking to Steven? Also, it's an hour to campus and an hour back, so I have no clue what time she got up.

*I'm not sure how Nevada marriage laws work, but would it really be that easy for a 16-year old to get married? They just need to get blood tests and a marriage license.

*Jessica gives Cara a copy of Barefoot in the Park at her bridal shower, and Cara thinks it would be great if they also had a VCR and television. Lila then tells her that even she isn't that rich. Really, Lila, really?

*I get that SV people have nubs where their genitals should be, but could we not have a realistic portrayal of teens having sex in high school? Cara and Steven have been together for months and still haven't slept together.

*The ghostwriters obviously forgot about this book during the whole Sue and Jeremy storyline later. In that series, Jessica gets shocked at the bridal shower when people give Sue lingerie because it means they'll sleep together after marriage (after marriage, hah!), but she literally attends a bridal shower in this book where people give Cara lingerie.

*Steven assuming that he could get a paid job in a law firm as a college freshman is laughable. He says they only hired people with a college degree and that they couldn't use him anyway because he can only work at night.

*He also signs a lease on the garden apartment, and since Cara is there, I assume she also signed the lease. I guess Ned had to step up and use his legal mind to break it.

*Jessica also arranges for Cara to sit for a family with three kids under the age of five to show her how hard being a mom/wife is. Cara goes nuts but winds up just laughing about it later.

*Cara's mom is way too cool and understanding about her ex-husband. I get that they divorced, but she still makes all his favorite foods for him. After she congratulates him on his engagement, she just goes and bastes the cornish game hens she made him for dinner.

*Jessica has a sweet moment where she shows up and presents Cara with her necklace as something old and borrowed and a blue hair ribbon as something new and blue.

*Amy tells Cara that moving won't be so tough and that she wasn't happy when they moved back to Sweet Valley originally. Cara points out that Amy was coming back to a place she knew and not a completely new country.

*Elizabeth explains to Steven how hard Todd moving to Vermont was on her. Oh, you mean when you started hanging out with some other guy before his plane took off? Or how you met and “fell in love” with yet another new guy like a month later?

*I briefly wondered if the apartment in this one was the one he wound up living in with Billie a few books from now. Except that apartment was on a higher floor. It's still random that he would move out of the dorm room he shared with some dude named Bob though, unless Bob was his first taste of man love and it went wrong...

*Don't worry about Steven and the law program though! It turns out that he still has time to accept the offer.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Fear Street Sagas #5: The Hidden Evil (R.L. Stine)

It's 1858 and Timothy Fier, 18-years old, gathers his friends together to tell them a horrible ghost story. He swears it's all true but that he changed the names because the real individuals now live in their same city.

It's now the 1850s and Maggie and Henrietta are best friends and sisters. They buried their father that morning and are pretty sad about his passing since they lost their mother years ago. That's when the constable shows up with his men and some urgent news. It seems as though someone poisoned their father. When Henrietta makes a big deal out of how Maggie was home alone with her father the night he died after having a huge fight with him when he forbid her to see her beau, they decide to check her room. They find a vial of poison and immediately take her away to lady prison.

There, she gets a rough haircut and new clothing that is unlike anything she ever wore before because she was always super rich. Her cell mate is a woman named Elizabeth who instantly starts shouting at her for stealing her ring. The woman then swears she'll come at her with a knife and kill her before laughing about how she hid the knife in their cell in a place where no one will ever find it.

Though Maggie assumes she'll be out in a day, she's stuck there for four months. She gets news that her sister came to see her and assumes that she's there to tell her she finally found some help and that Maggie really won't hang the following day. I guess the court system moved a little faster back in the day. Henrietta actually just wants to brag about how she set her sister up for killing their father when she actually did it and only because he played favorites with his kids. Now that he's gone, Henrietta will inherit everything and have her choice of suitors.

When hanging day comes, Maggie can't stop shaking. The executioner shows up early to take her to the gallows and pulls off his mask to reveal that he's one of the constable's men. He always believed she was innocent and wants to help her. The man helps her sneak out in a new outfit and arranges for a carriage to pick her up. It takes her to a home where a woman meets her, gives her some new clothes, and hands over some money. The woman asks if she knows why they're helping her before changing the subject and making her leave. Wh-at?

A few months later and Maggie heads to the Melbourne house to become the new caretaker for Andrew and Garrett Melbourne. Cook and Mary are two others who work there, and yes, Cook is her actual name. Andrew seems super sweet and can't wait to meet Maggie, but Garrett wants her gone like now. He tosses a vase from over the banister that narrowly misses hitting her in the head.

Garrett also has some...problems. Maggie finds a sketchpad in his room full of sketches of dead women in coffins with animals eating them. He tells her, with a laugh no less, that they're all their former nannies. Maggie finds this slightly concerning and worries about why their father is never around. She doesn't see him for weeks but does see a painting of both him and his dead wife.

When she starts hearing a wailing sound coming from the tower room, Andrew tells her that it's his mom spirit. He says his mom got really sick and spent her last days in that room until she finally passed. He also introduces her to Charcoal, the cat of a former nanny. Maggie thinks it's a little strange that a woman would quit her job with no warning and leave behind her beloved pet. The longer she stays there, the more she bonds with Andrew. Garrett just keeps threatening her and telling her to leave.

After one altercation with Garrett, Andrew takes her to the topiary maze that they have and shows her how to get in the center. She notices a ring he wears with his monogram on it. While walking back to the house, Maggie sees an old well and starts over to it. Andrew instantly flips out and begs her to walk away because something really bad happened there once.

Maggie finds the dead body of Charcoal in her bed with a note written by a child to warn her away. Instead of telling anyone what happened, she decides to just bury the cat in the middle of the night. While outside, she hears someone calling her name. When she looks up, she sees the ghost of the former Mrs. Melbourne looking down at her from the window of the woman's former bedroom.

Hoping to get the hell out, she runs away and runs smack into someone who turns out to be the elusive Mr. Melbourne. He's home from...wherever he's been that was more important than taking care of his kids. He listens to her reason for being outside and agrees that the boys shouldn't have to see the cat's poor body. After giving her a few too many looks, he sends her to bed.

When they talk the following day, Maggie can't stop thinking about how handsome he is but does tell him that he needs to spend time with his kids. She finally admits that both boys talk about their mom like she's still alive and that both visit her former bedroom. When she mentions hearing a wailing noise coming from the room, Mr. Melbourne cuts her off and tells her that it's just air coming through the drafty windows.

Instead of spending time with his kids, Mr. Melbourne makes it pretty clear that he's interested in Maggie. He suggests that she go for a ride with him and his boys and ignores them when they don't want her to ride their mother's house. Maggie goes ahead of them to take the horse some sugar cubes. Something startles the animals, she suddenly picks up on the smell of smoke, and the horses nearly trample her before Mr. Melbourne rushes in and saves her.

Maggie decides to tell him that she thinks Garrett killed the cat. He gets really quiet and then tells her that he needs to leave yet again. When he comes back though, he'll explain everything to her. She begs him to stay, but he says he must go. Right before he leaves though, he keeps staring at her lips, which makes her think he might kiss her.

While walking around the property, Maggie sees the well and tries to get close. She sees something in the water and leans forward to get a better look. Two little hands hit her from behind, she falls in the well, her dress catches on the side, and she winds up upside down in the water. Since she's part Nancy Drew though, she manages to escape and finds a ring just like the one Andrew wears with GM on it, Garrett's initials.

This gives Andrew the confidence to admit what actually happened to their mother. He was always her favorite, and Garrett resented him for it. He pushed their mother in the well one day and wanted her to drown. Help arrived in time to save her, but she was near death and eventually passed away in the home.

Andrew has a bad dream one night that leads Maggie to helping him go back to sleep. When she comes back to her room, she finds Mary's dead body in her bed and Garrett standing over her with a knife. Since Mary and Maggie had the same color hair, she assumes that he tried to kill her and got the wrong girl. She takes off running through the house and actually comes face to face with the ghost of Mrs. Melbourne.

The ghostly woman attacks her while screaming about how she'll never get her hands on her husband. Maggie tries to fight back and eventually gets away, so she runs to the topiary maze. Andrew then confronts her and reveals that he brought a knife to kill her. He and his mom worked together to kill all the other women to keep them away from his dad. He manages to her in one lick, which hits the neck of her nightgown. Suddenly, there's a shot from behind that kills him. Maggie turns to see Garrett standing there.

Mrs. Melbourne then pops up, but instead of going after Maggie, she wails about her dead baby and grabs Andrew's body. The ghost lifts him off the ground and screams and cries until they both disappear. Garrett then reveals that he was mean to her because he didn't want to get close to her and have her disappear like all the other women did. He also tells her that he went to see her earlier, found Mary's body, and picked up the knife by instinct, which was when she found him. Garrett asks what they'll do now, and she tells him that they have to tell his dad the truth, even if he doesn't believe them.

Timothy finishes his story as all the other kids get freaked out. They make jokes about going home in groups so no one will be alone. Timothy's step-mother comes in, and he thinks about how she changed so much since the night that all happened and how he still can't believe it himself, revealing that they're Maggie and Garrett from the story. Cook is still alive too and working for the family.

After Maggie leaves, Timothy notices one last child in the room, the child he kept watching all night. The little boy gets closer and thanks him for telling the story. He then steps into the light and reveals himself as Andrew's ghost. Since Timothy finally told the story, it allowed him to come back, and he flies across the room with a furious look as he tells Timothy that he made him and their mother very angry...

*Seriously! Why did all the people in the very beginning help Maggie escape? Even if they thought she was innocent, it's still a little weird.

*In the end, Maggie finds an article about her sister in the paper. Henrietta was engaged and found out her fiance was cheating on her, so she poisoned him with arsenic. The cops arrested her and were on the look out for Maggie to tell her that she was innocent and could now come home. I'm assuming she gets all the money too because the article said the court sentenced Henrietta to hang.

*I feel like I've read way too many of these books because the twists seemed pretty obvious. As soon as Henrietta started playing up Maggie to the cops, I figured she was the real killer. It was also pretty obvious that Timothy was one of the boys in his story, and knowing Stine, probably the one we only thought was bad.

*Melbourne tells Maggie that he needs to leave for one night and that he'll explain everything and know what to do when he gets back. They never bothered telling us where he went or what he was planning though! He never even comes back after Garrett kills Andrew! Did he know Andrew was bad all along? More importantly, did he know that his wife's ghost was still hanging around?

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Nancy Drew Files #43: False Impressions (1990)

I'll be upfront and let you know that this review isn't as long or as good as most. This is what happens when you try to read and watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend at the same time. Seriously though, how good was the first season of that show? I've seen every season, but the first one is my favorite.

Anyway, Nancy is at her house with Bess and George when Ned shows up with two movies to watch. He's home from college on break, and Nancy promised that she would focus on him instead of solving a crime for once. Chief McGinnis shows up on her doorstep though with a lieutenant from the next town over. He's there to arrest Nancy.

As it turns out, someone swindled a few people out of their money and gave him the name Nancy Drew. The lieutenant has her to do a line up with some other chicks with reddish blonde hair. Neither victim recognizes her as the Nancy Drew they know, so he lets her go. Mrs. Hackney, the first victim, sees her in the station and claims she's the same woman she talked to before. The little old lady can't see without her glasses and has to guess what color eyes Nancy has, so the cops let her go anyway.

Brenda, this chick who went to school with them and then went to work at her dad's newspaper, starts snooping around. She shows up at six am with a photographer to take pictures of Nancy for a story in the paper. Nancy has to literally explain to her what libel is and the difference between an arrest and a conviction. This does give Nancy the idea to go undercover at Brenda though.

Bess and George help her dye her hair black, and she suddenly looks so different that even Ned isn't sure who she is at first. Nancy learns that Hackney had a firecracker placed on her engine that exploded went it went off. Someone then left a note that claimed the person could get a bomb in her car just as easily and asked for $10,000. The fake Nancy then showed up with claims that she worked for the police, helped her get the money together, and then took off. Fake Nancy did similar things with a bunch of other people.

Hackney belongs to a country club and has a new boyfriend. Carson thinks Aiken, the boyfriend, might be Joe Crain, a former thief who swindled older ladies out of money in a similar fashion. Nancy learns that Aiken is older than the other guy though, and then Crain turns up dead. She also meets Andrea, Aiken's niece and the one who put him up for membership in the club.

Since everyone thinks that Nancy is Brenda, they have no problem telling her everything they know. Ned helps her out on the case by fake confronting her in the club and warning her to stay away from his girl. She winds up almost getting hit by a station wagon that then takes off. Ned and George also go undercover as police detectives but don't find anything new.

This all leads up to Nancy randomly stumbling across Aiken and Andrea. It turns out that they're actually husband and wife and that they swindle people in one town and then move on to the next. Andrea was the fake Nancy too. When they learn that she overheard them, they take her hostage and lock her up in a suitcase in their trunk.

Nancy get out – of course – and throws a wig at the fake woman to distract her. Since the woman is behind the wheel, this is a bad move. The car starts going off the road, but Nancy karate kicks the gun out of the hand of the fake Aiken. This disorients him, and Nancy then has to use her feet, since her hands are still tied, to put the car in park and save them all. Ned rushes up to her as the cops arrive and makes her promise to focus on him for the rest of his vacation.

*The lieutenant who comes to her house has an actual arrest warrant for her, but when no one can pick her out of the line up, he lets her go. Um, that's not how that works? An arrest warrant is literally a warrant for someone's arrest, not a note that they need to come in and can then go home.

*Yes, Nancy literally used her feet to put the car in park. Not really sure how this stops the car since she can't reach the brakes though...

*Nancy uses temporary wash out dye to dye her hair black. Just like with Jessica Wakefield, I'm sure it washes out after just one shower.

*In case you wanted to know, Bess is 5'4” and George is 5'7”. I'm about a half an inch taller than George but nowhere near as athletic as her.

*The cover to this one makes it look like it takes place on a skip trip or something, but nope, it's just River Heights during spring break.

*I don't know what's up with these older books, but this is like the fourth one I had where both the back and front cover literally separated from the book while I was reading. I've never had that problem with SVH books.