Friday, April 20, 2018

Sweet Valley High #82: Kidnapped By the Cult!

OMG, Jessica is totes going to run away...again.

Jessica Wakefield has a horrible life that sucks to the 100th degree. After nearly failing math, her parents grounded her for several weeks, and she's upset the world did not stop turning. I'm not exaggerating here either. She's pissed that the sorority went ahead with its big dance, that her friends kept shopping, and that her friends even had a slumber party when she couldn't be there. It's all just proof that no one gives a damn about her.

The one shining light is Sam, who, frankly is a shining light for all of us. He gets to pick her up from school and stay for dinner, but he changes plans on her at the last minute because he really needs to do some work on his bike. She pitches a fit about how he doesn't love her and all that jazz before running away.

Saturday morning marks her first day of freedom, and she has some big plans in mind. Her and Sam will have breakfast together, then do some shopping, eat lunch and maybe see a movie, and then have a romantic candlelit dinner together. It seems that Sam never quite agreed to that plan though. He actually spent the last week telling her about a big race on Saturday, which she forgot out. This is clearly more proof that he doesn't care about her though, so she shouts at him and heads to the mall by herself.

Shopping by yourself isn't that much fun though. She gets really depressed when she sees a couple who looks like them having a good time together and breaks down. While crying in front of the fountain, a random guy comes up and gives her a tissue. He introduces himself as Ted and talks to her for a bit. Ted is a member of the Good Friends, a new community group in the area, and he asks her to stop by the next day.

Jessica takes the Fiat to the “bad side” of town, which is not at all ironically where Tricia lived. The Good Friends house is so run down that she plans on sneaking out when Ted comes out and sees her. All the guys in the group wear, gasp, old jeans and worn out shirts, and the girls wear, double gasp, clothes that went out of fashion at least a year ago. They all talk about Adam Marvel, the cult founder I mean their leader. Jessica assumes that he's super old, but he's actually young and hot, so she sticks around a little longer.

In a classic case of Jessica going full ass into every single thing she does, she instantly becomes drawn to them. They don't think it's weird that she's a spoiled brat cheerleader from a well off family, nor do they laugh at her problems, which are frankly laughable. The Good Friends think she is a good person and that she can help them out. Susan is the only dissenter. She seems pretty unhappy about this new girl hanging around, but Jessica plays it off as her having a crush on Adam and not liking the competition.

Jessica completely changes the way she dresses to fit in with the group. She starts wearing tweed skirts, plain blouses, long skirts, and no jewelry. Since she doesn't want to share, she lies to her family and friends about how she needs to do work in the library all the time. Sam catches her in a lie when he tried to see her at the library, but she just lies again and says she went to one out of town. She then goes off on him about following her around all the time.

Adam explains that they go out and solicit donations, then divide up the cash, and give the money to different charities. After a long day though, the kids stop the bus and go through the money to buy groceries. Adam explains to her that it's no different than organizations using donations for administration costs. If they had to work to provide for themselves, they wouldn't have as much time to raise money. That totally makes sense to Jessica.

While sitting around the table for dinner, Ned reveals that he heard some big news about a cult working in Sweet Valley. The Good Friends (duh) set up shop in a city, use different charities to get donations, and then take the money and run to set up in a new town before they get caught. Liz talks to Jessica about it in the hopes of sharing some gossip, but Jessica just freaks out about how Liz shouldn't spread hurtful lies about people without evidence.

Liz thinks this is odd, but it all makes sense when Sam shows up later. He followed Jessica and saw her at their house. Liz tells him what she learned from her father and then decides to impersonate her twin. Sam takes Jessica out for the night, which lets Liz sneak into the house for one of their meetings. She doesn't really learn anything new though. Susan, however, does get Liz alone and tells her to get out. Adam comes in the room, but it's not clear if he heard her.

During another meeting, some kids run in with some important news. Brian, one of their members, disappeared while fundraising at the mall. Adam is less then pleased and demands that they go back to the mall and find him, showing off his dark side. Jessica runs back to Adam after dinner at Casa Wakefield, where she hears that Brian's own parents kidnapped him to save him. Adam convinces her to get Brian's parents' contact information from her dad's files.

When she does, Adam tells her that they are planning on leaving town and that they want her to go with them. Though she isn't sure at first, she quickly decides that they care about her more than her own family and friends do. She shows up to leave with them, and Adam tells her to ditch the Fiat before they leave. Before they can take off though, Todd shows up with the cops just behind Liz and Sam.

Sam called Liz because Jess told him she had the flu and he wanted to stop by and see her anyway. They realize this was a lie she told to escape with the group and headed over to the house after calling Todd. Adam keeps growling at Jessica to get in the van, while Liz breaks down and begs her to stay because she really needs her. Sam then comes out of the house with Susan. Adam heard her warning Liz, tied her up in an empty room, and told everyone else she left to care for her sick mother. Susan then reveals that she's an undercover reporter. The cops arrest Adam and probably do something about all those runaways.

Our B-plot is all about Liz and Todd. Since they never ever do things together, they decide to join the new SVH bowling team. Justin, the coach, makes it clear that he likes Liz by saying stuff like, “oh I wish I met you before Todd did” and “hey, you're pretty hot for a stuck up bitch.” He is always there to walk her through new techniques and keeps finding excuses to touch her. Just as she's about to tell Todd, Justin pops up and reminds them of an upcoming practice, so she just changes the subject.

Justin brings her flowers when she's out with Enid and tells her that he'd love to take her out just once because she's oh so beautiful. Liz finally breaks down and agrees to meet him just once for a not a date. Justin keeps talking about her looks and nothing else, which makes her realize that he knows nothing about her. She does eventually tell Todd what happened, but only when they're done saving Jessica, so the ghostwriter just glosses over it.

*Liz hates the one meeting she goes to because they all just sit around and agree with Adam instead of voicing their own opinions. Yeah, I'm sure Queen Liz really lets her friends have their own opinions in the cafeteria.

*Liz tells Enid about Adam and how she thinks he knew she wasn't Jess at that one meeting. Enid keeps seeing a car following them all around town and describes a guy who looks like Adam. The guy then walks into the Dairi Burger with something in his hand. Enid thinks he has a gun and makes Liz get under the table, but it's actually just Justin with flowers.

*Did Liz learn nothing from her one not a date with Nicholas? If a guy keeps asking you out and makes it clear that he wants to date you, you can't just randomly meet him for a meal and say it's not a date.

*I also hate that the only reason she didn't like him is because he kept talking about her looks, which made her realize that he didn't actually know her the way Todd did. Duh.

*Some people said that they felt bad for Jessica in this book, but I never really did. The only reason she gets ticked off is because people literally did stuff without her because she was grounded. Do you think Lila or Amy being grounded would for one second stop her from going to a party?

*There are a few great scenes where Liz hesitates about talking to her parents because Jessica seemingly changed for the good. She does nice things, dresses appropriately, treats people with respect, and actually does her homework. Is it wrong if I said Liz should have just let her go?

*Annie, one of the cult girls, tells Jessica that she never met a cheerleader before and that Jessica isn't what she expected. Don't worry about it kid, 90% of the cheerleaders I knew in real life were exactly like the old Jess.

*On her date with Sam, Jess gets ticked off because he orders popcorn. Despite her always eating popcorn before and after, she hates it in this book and hates that he always gets in when they go to the movies because he offers her some, remembers she doesn't like it, and then eats it all himself.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Sweet Valley High #74: The Perfect Girl

You might remember Robin Wilson from that time she was blackballed and lost hundreds of pounds in a week or that time she started dating Enid's boyfriend behind her back or that time she was suddenly an amazing diver and fought with her aunt. Anyway, she's now back and still the co-captain of the cheerleader squad, a great diver, and the perfect girlfriend to George.

While out on a date, George tells her that he wants to take flying lessons again. She thinks it's a great idea because now he won't feel so guilty about that time he paralyzed Enid. The only problem is that he'll be so busy between those lessons and college that he won't get back as much as he would like. Robin is totally fine with that and even okay with him bonding with Vicky, his partner in class.

Things become not so fine when George plans a double date for them with Vicky and some other guy. The other guy cancels at the last minute, but they decide to go out anyway. Even though Robin assumed Vicky was some math loving dork, she's actually a super hot and super thin girl. Vicky tries to be her friend, but Robin keeps ignoring her or talking down to her. After watching her and George dance a few too many times, she says she doesn't feel good and asks him to take her home.

This starts her down the road of developing yet another eating disorder. Robin finds out that she gained three pounds because she stopped watching what she ate and assumes that George will think she's a cow now. She follows a diet that has her eating nothing for breakfast, a salad with no dressing for lunch, a light dinner, lots of water, and no snacks. At the same time, she sticks to her same insane schedule and burns way too many calories, so she loses weight fast.

When George finally comes back to town, she plans to wow him with how great she looks. Instead, he keeps bringing up stories that involve Vicky, and Robin keeps changing the subject. Though she planned to splurge at dinner and eat some real food, she gets so upset that she sends her salad back and then refuses to eat her entree. George takes way too long to realize she's mad about Vicky and tells her that he loves her and no one else. She still demands that he take her home.

Since SVH never seems to have any money, they need to hold a fundraiser and raise enough money to repair the gym floor. Robin suggests making the state's biggest ice cream sundae. They can get local stores to donate the supplies and sell dishes after building it. Liz comes up with the name Super Sundae, writes an article for the school paper, and gets in touch with all her local newspaper contacts for more advertising.

While at an ice cream shop to ask about donations, the manager offers them free ice cream. Robin drools a little until she sees an overweight woman come in with two chubby kids. She then makes up an excuse about a dairy allergy and runs outside. The other cheerleaders keep offering her snacks and other foods, but she gets really snappy with them and acts like a huge bitch.

Robin also starts walking to school to burn more calories, even after hitting her goal weight. Her diving coach notices her weight loss and suggests she see a doctor. The coach also makes her leave practice early because she can't concentrate. Robin starts getting so cold that she almost can't get out of the pool and can't stop shaking.

Liz actually notices her weight loss and tries to bring it up a few times. Robin just tells her to drop it and leave her alone. Her mom also asks her to eat more and seems to believe that she eats at school. Robin explodes on her for making things like pancakes and bacon, that bitch. She tells her mom that she wouldn't have been so fat before if her mom showed some restraint in the kitchen. Screw you, Wilson.

Super Sundae finally arrives, but Robin is so tired that she oversleeps. When she finally gets there, Jessica snaps at her for being late and puts her in charge of opening all the cans of chocolate sauce. Robin has such a hard time focusing that she can hardly put her feet in front of her. While struggling with a can, she passes out and almost hits the ground. Luckily, Liz is there and shouts at Todd to grab her.

Chrome Dome comes over all concerned like, but when Liz tells him that Robin hasn't been eating, he basically says it was good for her to call 911 and then wanders back to the fundraiser. Jessica comes over to see if she can help, but Liz tells her to take over and keep everyone on track.

Robin wakes up in the hospital to find out that she has pneumonia and that her weight loss exacerbated the condition. The doctor tells her point blank that she has anorexia and that she needs to make some serious changes. When she asks why he didn't tell her to eat her breakfast, he deadpan tells her to eat her breakfast before leaving. Since he made it seem like she couldn't handle the situation on her own, she decides to prove him wrong and eats most of her meal.

George comes to see her and because he's a complete idiot, he brings Vicky with him. Robin refuses to talk to him when he's in the room, but she does talk to Vicky. Vicky tells her that she knows Robin was upset because of her and George but that he's totally in love with Robin and she's all he ever talks about. She then tells her that her parents wanted to divorce when she was 10 but decided to wait until she was 14, which made every birthday feel like a ticking time bomb. Vicky went crazy in the hopes of gaining some control and became a total drug addict. She got over it though and Robin can too.

After giving it some thought, Robin agrees to see George. He tells her all about how much he loves her and how he would never look twice at another girl. That's when she tells him that she needs some time to work on things. George agrees and volunteers to help, but she tells him that she needs to do things on her own. Though he's upset, he hopes they still have a future together.

All the cheerleaders are in the cafeteria when they see Robin. She tells them that she just came by to pick up some assignments and that she has some work to do on her health before she comes back to school. Amy asks if she wants an ice cream cone, everyone flips out, and Robin just laughs before telling her that while she doesn't want one now, she'll get one next time. And that's how you recover from an eating disorder in under a month...

*George is a complete ass. Gee, let's see. You met your current girlfriend while taking flying lessons with her and dating someone completely different seriously. Why would your girlfriend ever find it uncomfortable for you to to talk about your new flying partner all the freaking time​.?

*Robin sees Lois multiple times and can barely keep the disgust off her face. She keeps thinking about how she doesn't understand why being so fat doesn't bother her.

*Jessica also makes some rude comments about Lois being fat and how she's so glad that she never had to worry about her weight.

*In a total smug bitch moment, Liz mentally pats herself on the back for thinking that it's great that Lois can have friends and a boyfriend even if she isn't skinny.

*Liz describes Lois as being chubby and a little overweight, not fat. Robin can't be around her though because Lois is the same size she was before losing all that weight. Wasn't Robin like way overweight? It kind of seems like Lois should be smaller than she was back then.

*In a little throwback moment, Robin remembers going on the double date with Winston, Todd, and Liz back in the day. She cringes when she looks back on it though, which is weird because she should be cringing about that time she stole another gal's boyfriend.

*Her mom makes roast chicken, potatoes, and carrots for dinner one night, and Robin divides the plate into good and bad food, with most of the plate on the bad side. She refuses to eat the veggies because her mom had the audacity to put margarine on them and pulls the skin and other parts off the chicken.

*Liz invites Robin to come to the beach with her and Todd. She shows up later, turns down his offer to get an ice cream for her, and when Liz tells her she looks like a swimsuit model, she gets so uncomfortable that she puts her sweatshirt back on. All this happens BEFORE she starts dieting. Oh yeah, she'd be totes fine and on the way to recovery within a week.

*The Super Sundae fiasco raises less than $700, so yay?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Sweet Valley Kids Super Snooper Edition #5: The Case of the Hidden Treasure

It's summer in Sweet Valley or something because all the kids are on the beach. The twins are hanging out with Amy, Eva, Lila, Ellen, Todd, and Winston when Jessica decides to bury her legs in the sand. While trying to get out, she finds two silver dollars in the sand and rushes to tell her parents. They make a joke about her finding buried treasure, but Ned tells them that they need real equipment to find real gold and points to a woman on the beach with a metal detector.

The kids instantly run over and start badgering her. Todd wants to know how it works, Elizabeth wants to ask her a bunch of questions, and Jessica wants to brag about her treasure. The woman tells them to sod off and shouts at them when the detector goes off because they literally just jump down and start digging in the sand. Everyone else thinks she's mean and calls her Mrs. Crabby, but Elizabeth thinks that she's hiding something. Eva tells them that if you find buried treasure that you have to give it to the museum. Elizabeth hears the woman talking about gold on the phone and decides that she must be trying to steal from the museum. The kids all decide to investigate the case.

The only other thing that happens is they find Mrs. Crabby picking up some silver coins from the ground. Jessica storms over, calls her a thief, and demands that she give the treasures to the museum. She then shows them that all she found were two nickels from the 80s. When she asks if Jessica plans to give her coins to the museum, Jessica just blushes and runs away.

Alice tells the girls about all the treasure that sank off the coast and shows them a magazine about archaeologists. They see Mrs. Crabby in one of the pictures, which is somehow proof that she's a thief. Despite her telling them to buzz off, the kids later start playing near her stuff while she's in the water. They find a map with a bunch of red marks on it, which is more proof that she's a thief.

Since Lila knows everything, she asks her dad to arrange for them to take a tour of the local archaeology museum. He's apparently on the board of directors, but in a realistic touch, Lila just blushes when asked what a board of directors does because she just knows he goes to some meetings. Eva's mom volunteers to drive them, and they meet Dr. Reed. He's the head of the museum and was in the same magazine article.

Dr. Reed tells them that archaeology isn't really about finding buried treasure and shows them what they actually do find and prize, which is super disappointing for the kids. He also lets them know that gold wasn't found in California until well after the pirate era. The kids see Mrs. Crabby with a tray of ancient coins and start shouting. Dr. Reed calms everyone down and seems pretty amused at their claims, but Eva's mom is super embarrassed and makes them all go home.

The kids must have nothing else to do because they all go back to the beach. Jessica sneaks a bunch of their mom's gardening tools in the trunk to help them dig. They spread out and keep digging, but the only thing anyone finds is a bike chain that Amy discovers. Lila finds out from her dad that Mrs. Crabby is actually Abigail Jefferson. She's worked for the museum for years and lost her husband recently.

When they go back to digging, Jessica finds a gold bracelet. Though they think it's ancient treasure at first, they quickly realize that all the charms on the bracelet are modern. It also has an inscription to AJ on it. Mrs. Crabby then shows up, gasps, and asks where they found it. She tells them that it was a gift from her husband for their 30th anniversary, which is why it has 30 charms on it. She lost it and after he passed became obsessed with finding it. The person she was talking to on the phone was her daughter who was worried her mom was too crabby.

Since she's actually not a bad person, they give her the bracelet back. She also tells them that she studies ancient coins and the coins they saw her with at the museum were ones she was taking home to study. Since this is a Sweet Valley book though, she does apologize to them for being so mean, even though they totally deserve it. Jessica gets down about how they never found any real treasure, and smug little brat Elizabeth looks at the woman and points out that they found something priceless. Barf.

*Lila is completely blasé when Jessica finds the silver dollars on the beach. Even as everyone else goes wild, she points out that she has real gold coins at home and can't be bothered with silver.

*It's not surprising that she has no concept of money though. She tells them that they'll probably each get $1,000 for finding the treasure, which she'll use to buy a horse, new canopy bed, and new clothes. Jessica thinks it's enough money to buy out the whole mall. Remember being that young? :)

*The older I get, the more I emphasize with Mrs. Crabby. Those kids are terrors! They all act like she's so mean to them, but she just wants to be left alone and doesn't want kids messing with her expensive metal detector.

*Also, when they start playing around her stuff, Winston literally runs across her beach towel and knocks her bag over, which is how they see the map. Why do their parents not do anything? I would be so pissed if I came back from a swim and found all my stuff scattered around because parents were too busy gossiping to watch their kids!

*Alice is still in decorating school in this book. She tells the girls that she can take them to the beach but that they can't stay long because she needs to come home and study.

*Ellen is at the very beginning of the book and finds a shell on the beach that everyone loves. Even though she's clearly in the drawings later on, she's literally never mentioned again.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Baby-Sitters Club #11: Kristy and the Snobs

Kristy is now officially living at Watson's house and still not sure how she fits in or if she fits in around his fancy neighborhood. David Michael comes to her all concerned because Louie is limping. By the time she tells her mom though, the limp is already gone. While waiting for her bus, she sees a girl in a private school outfit waiting for her own bus. They exchange some words, but Kristy makes things way worse when she tells the girl that she looks like a snob and sticks her tongue out at her.

Louie keeps getting worse, which leads to Charlie taking her and David Michael with Louie to the vet. The vet says he's old, that his eyesight is bad, and that he has arthritis. She gives him some medicine but makes it clear that he won't get better. David Michael thinks that the medicine will make Louie all better though, and no one really wants to explain the truth to him.

The BSC gets a phone call from Mrs. Delaney who needs a sitter for her kids, Max and Amanda. Kristy takes the job after her friends point out that she needs to meet her neighbors. Amanda constantly talks about how everything in her house is so expensive, as in the fountain in the entryway cost thousands of dollars and how their super fluffy white cat cost $400. They also boss Kristy around, never say thank you, and treat her live a servant. Kristy is too afraid to say anything or talk to the parents because she doesn't want them to not call back.

Stacey volunteers to sit for them the next time they call. She uses reverse psychology on them to make them listen. When they refuse to clean their room, she says it isn't messy enough and throws stuff all over. When Max demands that she pour him a drink, she gets out all the containers she can find because he never said how much he wanted. She eventually realizes that Max doesn't like other people thinking he's a baby, which works to her advantage. Stacey then teaches them how to play this game Snail and teaches Kristy how to play and handle the kids herself.

Things between Kristy and Shannon heat up. Shannon calls while Kristy is sitting at the Papadakis house and tells her she spotted a fire. Kristy gets the kids outside and realizes it was all a prank. When she tells Mrs. Papadakis, the woman says that she'll have to talk to Shannon about it before she can sit again. Shannon calls her another time and tells her that Sari won't stop crying and that she needs her help. When Kristy gets there, Shannon and her friend make fun of her.

Shannon and her friends make fun of Louie when they see him around town. She kind of encourages Amanda to make fun of him too. I guess the fact that Amanda has a $400 cat and Shannon has a purebred mountain dog makes them so much better. One day, Kristy is sitting for Max and Amanda when a pizza guy shows up and says he got an order for a Kristy Thomas. She points him to Shannon's house and said they called. Shannon storms over with the pizza and threatens to throw it at Kristy, Kristy tells her that she'll throw it at her dog and make it a pizza mountain dog, and they all finally laugh. Shannon then says that she's actually jealous of the BSC and how Kristy stole some of her clients.

Louie gets to the point where he needs shots two times every day. Elizabeth, Watson, and Charlie all rearrange their schedules to take him to the vet, but nothing works. Karen and Andrew come over one day with Karen being her usual spaz self and running through the house screaming and shouting. One of her screams sounds a little different though, and they all arrive to find Louie dragging himself around on the ground by two legs.

Elizabeth sits the family down and tells them that the vet recommended that they put Louie to sleep. David Michael spends the night sleeping on the ground with him. Watson drives them to the vet but lets them go inside on their own. Kristy and David Michael get to say goodbye to Louie in the waiting room, while Elizabeth goes back with him.

When they get back, Karen wants to have a funeral. Charlie and Sam make a cross, they pick out Louie's favorite song to play, and they all gather outside. Karen refuses to let them start because she invited other people, who turns out to be all the fucking people who made fun of Louie and treated Kristy like crap. Shannon gets a little teary eyed though and tells Kristy she's sorry.

A few days later, Kristy sits for Max and Amanda again when Shannon comes over. Astrid, her dog, had puppies and her family wants to offer them one. She calls David Michael over. He refuses the dog at first but then softens and decides to both accept it and name the new puppy Shannon. Elizabeth agrees to let them have the dog because she and Watson had conveniently already talked it over and agreed to get another dog when David Michael was ready.

Kristy talks it over with the rest of the BSC and decides to offer Shannon a spot in the club. She comes over when they're all hanging out and talks about how her schedule is so full that she could never commit to the club. They ask her anyway, and when she turns them down, Mary Anne suggests she become an alternate member like Logan, which leads to her officially kind of joining the club.

In other news, all the Pike kids except Mallory, Nicky, and Vanessa have the chicken pox. Claudia and Mallory sit for everyone, which is rough because Margo won't stop scratching and the triplets hate being sick. At the end of the night, she finds Vanessa and Nicky comparing spots and discovers they have the chicken pox too. I would hate to live in that house.

Dawn also gets her own chapter because her mom has a date with the Trip Man and needs someone to watch Jeff. Jeff keeps acting out in school and getting in trouble, and he flips out on Dawn because she and their mom “always” treat him like a baby. He just knows that his dad would treat him like an older kid. After spilling dinner all over himself and the floor and knocking his drink on the couch, he screams at Dawn about how he wants to go home to California and locks himself in his room. Though her mom calls their dad, he doesn't seem too happy about the idea of taking his son back. Dawn flips out about how he might not want her either, but they all calm her down because it's probably just a shock to him.

*If you ever wondered if Mr. Papadakis has a first name, he does and it's George.

*Karen is such a little bitch about the funeral. She wants them to make a cross for Louie and put RIP on it. Kristy says it looks tacky and they should just write it out, which causes Karen to throw a bitch fit about it because every movie she ever saw had RIP on the cross. So even though Louie was not her dog and she only knew him for like a day, she gets her way.

*Her inviting those kids to the funeral is what would make me snap. They would have to pull me off her in the backyard. Those kids were so mean to Kristy and had absolutely no connection to her family or Louie. There is no reason for them to be there.

*Kristy points out that Mallory “often” acts as a second sitter at the Pike house. Why are they such brats about her joining the club later then?

*The Jeff story really pisses me off. So, he acts out all the time, screams at his family, and throws fits in school. Their mom deciding to let him go back to California is like rewarding him for being a brat. Plus, there's a reason she got sole full custody of those kids. It's not like something major changed in the last few months! Also, the fact that he's constantly dating and hires a cook/cleaner to watch over Jeff is proof that he should not have custody of one kid let alone two.

*Kristy mentions that Louie has a favorite song and talked about a line in it. I always thought it was that “Louie, Louie” song that no one knows the words. This time, I realized it's actually a completely different song, which I now only know because I binge watched the Louis CK sitcom back before everyone started hating him.

*In yet another slight against Karen and Andrew's mom, she somehow gets her wires crossed about who has the kids one weekend. She shows up with the kids when it's not her weekend, sees that Kristy is there with her brothers, and decides to just leave them anyway, even though Watson and Elizabeth aren't home.

*Amanda needs to STFU about her stupid cat. I love cats and have way too many, but guess what? They're all totally awesome and did not cost a dime to buy!

*The moment that got to me was when David Michael slept with Louie. Kristy says something like how he spent the night with Louie when he needed someone, “just like Louie was there for use when we needed him.”

*Kristy rolls her eyes because Watson tells her to let him know if she wants any new school clothes. He's actually a pretty good guy though. I like that he waited in the car to let them all have their goodbyes with Louie. Not a big fan of Charlie and Sam deciding to skip out though.

*We actually only had one pet that we had to put down. The rest passed away at home. My dad had this dog, Chester, who everyone absolutely loved. He was getting on in years, so we all knew it was coming. My dad woke up one day to find him all curled up next to him in bed and realized he passed on in his favorite spot, right next to his daddy.

*My actual worst pet death was my cat Milo when I was in high school. He was an indoor/outdoor cat, and one of our neighbors loved living in the semi country but hated animals on his property. He deliberately left antifreeze out, which Milo drank. My dad got him to the vet and brought him home with some medicine. He was curled up next to the heater with me petting him when my dad asked me to help him get a dose ready. By the time I came back, Milo was already gone. Damn, this book brings up some sad memories!

*In a completely unrelated note, Tiffany is old enough that she's also a sitter in this book. Later on, she needs a sitter because she's too young to be on her own. Also, Sharon occasionally lets Jeff stay home alone by himself after school, which is something that the Pikes never let the triplets do.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Nancy Drew Girl Detective #31: Perfect Cover (Book Two of the Perfect Mystery Trilogy)

Nancy is off to New York City after winning a River Heights beauty pageant and becoming the local face of Pretty Face, a big deal cosmetics company. She dislikes the lotion they told her to wear so much that she hands over all her free samples to Bess. Bess loves how it tingles, but Nancy finds the sensation uncomfortable and weird. As soon as they land, they meet Kyle, the owner of the company, and his daughter Kelly. Kelly won the competition the year before.

Almost as soon as they check into their hotel rooms, with Nancy and Kelly sharing one room and George and Bess in another, Nancy gets a list of all the events and activities she must attend. The first of which is an opening night party that brings together all the winners and the runner ups. Piper, the runner up to Nancy, makes it clear that she deserved to win more than Nancy did.

The lights suddenly go out and then come back to reveal a bunch of costumed actors on stage. They all wear this grotesque makeup that makes it look like their faces are inflamed or bleeding. The actors say to avoid the cosmetic line because it tests on animals and because it will kill you. Nancy spots Kelly coming back looking out of breath and finds a vial of stage makeup in their bathroom trash. Kelly says that some of the other previous winners were in the room that same night.

Nancy also meets Anna, one of the chemists who work behind the scenes. They get along really well, which is why Anna feels comfortable calling Nancy and asking her to meet up the next morning because she needs to talk about something important. Anna doesn't show up to the meeting and makes Nancy late for a pageant thing. That pisses off Harrison, the pageant coordinator. He actually tells Nancy multiple times that she either needs to take things seriously or drop out completely.

She instead heads to the lab for the company and manages to talk her way into the back. Anna's partner tells her that Anna sent him an email that said she had a family emergency back in her native Argentina and will be gone for awhile, which is weird because she told Nancy she no longer had any family back there. He does let her see the email though including when it was sent. Nancy gets in touch with Anna's brother who tells her to do whatever it takes to find his sister.

That leads her back to the laboratory and to her talking her way into Anna's office. Adam, Kyle's head of security, catches her and makes her leave. Before he catches her though, she discovers that Anna hid a copy of an article in Spanish under her desk. She and George break into Kyle's room, which leads to him almost catching them until they hide under the bed. Once he leaves, they figure out his password and go through his computer. George finds that he sent the email that supposedly came from Anna.

Though they assume that it's probably Kyle, they think it might involve Kelly too. Bess keeps following her around and contacts Nancy when she sees the other girl having a secret rendezvous. They rush over and catch her with some dude who has a goatee and long hair. Kelly confesses that her dad keeps her on an extremely short leash and never lets her do anything fun. The guy was her old boyfriend from back home, and she invited him to come visit her. She's hardly ever around because they keep sneaking off together.

Nancy sends the article to Ned back at college via fax because he has friends who speak Spanish. She doesn't get a response back but does notice Adam watching her. She comes back the next day and finds that she never did get a response. The front desk worker looks it up and finds that she got a return fax less than an hour later. That makes her realize that Adam took it.

The article was all about some random type of frog and how some companies were doing experiments with it because this type of frog has something in its skin that creates a numbing effect. Some companies believe that this can help rejuvenate skin and make it look younger. It's basically like Botox but cheaper. Ahem, remember the way the lotion made their skin feel?

So, Nancy learns that Pretty Face has a new office that isn't yet open and thinks Kyle might have Anna hidden there. She heads over and makes up an excuse that she's his new assistant and that he left his phone there, which the security guard believes because he got a message that someone might stop by. Nancy finds Anna tied up on the ground just as both Adam and Kyle get there.

Kyle basically kidnapped Anna because she figured out that he was testing on animals and using animals in his products like the frog, despite his company having a reputation as an animal friendly company. Before she could tell anyone about the frogs, he hid her away. Adam is his muscle and there to make sure Nancy doesn't screw things up. The two men grab them, drag them upstairs, and put them on a helicopter as Nancy tries to figure a way out...

*I love that Nancy sends the article to Ned and then waits for a response because it's apparently so hard to find someone who speaks Spanish in New York City.

*The article that Nancy finds is almost two years old. That means either Anna had it for way too long and didn't do anything or that it took her way too long to find it.

*Kyle is so obsessed with his daughter that he literally doesn't let her go out with her friends and checks on her room to make sure she's there by eight. He also uses her name and the word princess as his password. I'm surprised he didn't make her stay in the same room as him.

*Harrison does have a good point. Nancy is there and competing against girls who actually give a crap, but she's constantly late and always rushing off to do something else. I also have no clue how she won anyway.

*Nancy gets lost multiple times and have NYC people look down on her, which I thought was pretty realistic.

*At one point, she's so busy investigating that she only has 30 minutes to get across town to a fancy dress party. Bess gets them a taxi, does her makeup in the car, and helps her change clothes with Kelly. Somehow, jeans, high heeled sandals, a tank top, and a velvet blazer is appropriate for a fancy party.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Sweet Valley High #133: To Catch a Thief

Since I read the first book in this miniseries many, many, many moons ago, I'll let you catch up here before I continue. Ready?

Elizabeth just spent the night with Laurent in his little cottage, but despite the fact that he's a rich and handsome prince who she kind of loves, she still didn't give it up. He takes her back to the castle and shows her how to sneak in through the underground tunnels. The prince also tells her a story about a royal person who fell in love with a servant girl. When he was forced to marry royalty, the girl became a bird who sang sad songs for the rest of her life. Huh, kind of sounds like the next Disney movie.

Since Jessica has to keep picking up the slack for her sister, she hears through the grapevine that the prince needs to marry soon. There's a big ball coming up. The plan is for him to announce his engagement to Antonia, the daughter of the countess, on the big night. She thinks about telling her twin to save her from heartbreak but keeps getting distracted by Jacques.

That's mainly because he keeps popping up all the time. Jacques tells her that his family and the royal family, remember that he's supposedly royal too, have a long standing feud. If they catch him in the house, they'll throw him out and make Jessica go back to America. It's far better to just sneak around. This totally reminds me of the American Dad episode where Haley falls in love with the “terrorist.”

They start making out one morning, he pushes her back on the bed, and her head starts to spin until she realizes he's putting his hand under her pillow and not under her bra. That's where she keeps the necklace he gave her in the last book. Jacques claims that it's a piece of garbage and not fitting of someone like her. Jess tells him she loves it and won't let him have it back, which leads to his dad screaming at him to get it back.

Jacques pretty much sneaks in all the time to steal the necklace. Jessica keeps catching him and assuming that he just missed her. They fight over the necklace all the time, but he brings her a pearl bracelet made from real pearls as a replacement. As much as she loves it, she still won't give him back the old necklace.

Elizabeth keeps sleepwalking through the palace as she thinks about Laurent and compares him to Todd. Though she thinks she loves the prince, she can't stop thinking about Todd and how much she misses him and oh yeah, why hasn't he tried to get in touch with her? She hears some of the servants talking about the prince's upcoming engagement and freaks out because she doesn't understand how he could propose without talking to her first! Jessica knows about Antonia but doesn't tell Liz because she wants to fantasize about having a BIL prince.

As part of the big party, everyone has to do a tableau. Small groups do a scene from history or something, and they have to hold the pose for five minutes while everyone else guesses who they are. For some reason, the twins get assigned to do one with the kids. If kids under the age of 10 are known for anything, it's sitting still for long periods of time.

Liz finally puts on her big girl pants and goes to see Laurent. She figures they should at least talk to each other before he proposes. Instead of talking, she finds him outside in the garden and holding Antonia's hand. The countess then makes a talk about how it's the perfect arrangement. Laurent is very uncomfortable because he loves Liz but his parents forced this engagement. Liz bursts in and basically calls him a dog, while the countess looks down at her and reminds her that she's not suitable for a royal marriage.

After crying to her twin for more than an hour, Liz finally puts it together for the party. They do a scene from Cinderella. Jessica is the fairy godmother, and Liz is the wicked stepmother. She puts the pearl bracelet on her ankle to carry a part of Jacques with her and then wears the necklace as a headband. The countess makes a big deal out of how uncouth the twins are during the tableau and almost makes him see red before she gets really loud about something.

That something turns out to be Jessica's necklace, which is actually the gem someone stole from the countess on the train. The palace guards rush to her room and drag her downstairs before going to grab Liz. Laurent gets a visit from his dad who tells him what happened, but he swears Liz would never do something like that. The guards then literally put them in the dungeon in leg and arm cuffs chained to the wall and leave them there crying. Jessica then realizes that she lost her pearl bracelet but also realizes that Jacques was a thief after all.

*It is kind of unrealistic for Liz to assume that the prince would propose marriage to her after a few days or that he could even propose marriage to someone like her. But given that this almost happened before with Prince Arthur, I can understand her confusion.

*I haven't read the last book in this miniseries yet, but does Laurent make a big speech and give up the throne if he can't marry the woman he loves? I feel really bad for Todd because I think Devon will pop up soon so that Liz can cheat on him again.

*At one point, Jessica feels swept away by Jacques while lying on her bed with him on top of her. She then stops him, not because she's afraid of going too far, but because she doesn't want him to think he has the upper hand. Yeah, she totally finished high school as a virgin.

*The countess and her daughter wear gold dresses, and no one can guess who they are. She finally tells them that she's Zeus or something with his daughter, and one poor guy is just like, “oh, that was going to be my next guess.”

*When the countess throws a fit, it throws off the kids and makes them ruin their tableau.

*There are literally dozens of servants running around all the time, but they somehow needed to go all the way to America just to find two teens to watch their kids.

*Dungeons are not cool man! Can you imagine the storm that would erupt if royals put two pretty teen girls in a dungeon today? It would be an international incident!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Nancy Drew Case Files #8: Two Points to Murder (1987)

Nancy got a call from Ned's basketball coach that caused her to pack up and rush to Emerson College to investigate a new case. Since she can't do anything alone, Bess and George come along for the ride. George can't wait to hit the college's gym and take in some basketball games, while Bess just wants to check out the hot college guys. Nancy is a little nervous because things aren't great between her and Ned, so she isn't sure what will happen.

See, Ned is co-captain of the basketball team, and they're just about to make it to the big playoffs. Someone keeps pulling all these pranks on the team that make it hard for them to concentrate and play. The coach brought in Nancy in the hopes of getting to the bottom of things.

As soon as she arrives, she meets Pat, the coach, and Dr. Riggs, the team doctor. She also gets to meet some of the other players who tease her about how much Ned talks about her. The only problem is that Ned seems kind of uncomfortable with her being around. They don't talk that much, she notices that he isn't as affectionate as he once was, and they don't really spend very much time together.

On her first day, someone rushes in and shouts that a player hanged himself from the hoop. When Nancy checks it out, she finds that someone made a dummy and hung it from the hoop. At a party with the players, she finds the same material used in the dummy in Mike's room. Mike is the other captain of the team and Ned's best friend. When she shows him what she found, Ned pretty much explodes on her for not trusting his friend and how she's clearly wrong to blame the guy.

Though Mike winds up on her suspect list, she also picks up a few others. Ray played for the team before the coach cut him for his grades. He made a big scene about how the team sucked and he would never play for them again. Tom is the president of the student council and obsessed with the team getting money. He claims that the college actually pays players to play, which is against the rules.

Tom comes off the list when she learns that he was with the debate team when one of the pranks happened. She then removes Ray after talking to him. It turns out that his grades dropped and that he appreciates the coach cutting him because it motivated him to study more and get his grades up. Her main suspect is still Mike, which pisses Ned off to no end. He literally shouts at her multiple times about how Mike is his best friend and would never do anything to hurt the team.

A bunch of terrible things happen, including:

-Someone shoots a gun at the bus while the team is one its way to their next game
-Someone trashes the girls' room and leaves a threatening note that Nancy needs to GTFO
-Someone locks Nancy in a sauna in the gym. She almost dies before using a pen Carson gave her to short out the system.
-Someone shoots a gun at Nancy
-Someone in a black Camaro tries to run her down in the middle of campus

Though she still suspects Mike, she thinks it's weird when she hears a guy on a pay phone talking about the push, spread, and stuff like that. She later sees the same black Camaro chasing that guy. The driver gets out, beats the crap out of the guy, and runs away. Nancy tells the cops what she saw, but the guy swears he never saw anything and doesn't know anything. She also finds that all the scholarship players, including Mike, suddenly have a bunch of money. He's supposedly broke but has a brand new gold watch and hundreds of dollars in his locker.

Right before the big game, word comes down that Mike “fell” off the roof. He asks to talk to Nancy, but Dr. Riggs pops up and says he needs to get to the hospital right away. They learn that with some hard work that he'll walk again but that he'll never play basketball again. Ned once again explodes on Nancy about minding her own business. Is this a steroids story?

During the final game before the tournament starts, the team is winning. One of the guys says something about a push, and another player knocks Ned down hard enough that the coach takes him out of the game. George makes a comment about how the other team would bet on Ned being down, which causes Nancy to put everything together.

This leads to a big altercation between her and Dr. Riggs. It turns out that he set up a whole gambling ring that spread across the campus. He used scholarship players to ensure that the team always made the push, which is the point spread or something like that. Just as she threatens to go to the cops, he pulls a gun on her and brings in some big dude to hold her back while he runs off.

The big dude reveals that the guy on the phone kept losing and couldn't pay his debts. Mike was in on the whole thing, but when he decided he couldn't do it anymore, big dude threw him off the roof. Nancy basically karate kicks him in the face to incapacitate him and then takes off. George and Bess called the cops when she disappeared, they get there, the cops find Riggs, and he confesses the whole thing.

In the end, Nancy asks Ned about a silver bracelet he bought her. Tom told her that Ned was getting cash from the college to play, which was how he bought the bracelet. Ned then explodes again and points out that he can't give Nancy anything without her constantly questioning him and pushing things. He then confesses that he's tired of taking a backseat to all her cases and says that no matter what he does, he can't ever be enough for her.

It's actually pretty sad. Ned explains that Nancy is perfect and pretty much has it all. Whenever they're together, she's so busy with her cases, friends, and a million other things that she doesn't have time for him. He also tells her flat out that he can't give her anything that she couldn't get from a dozen other guys and that he can't understand why she even wants to be with him. That's when he drops the bombshell that it's time for them to break up. Nancy cries and begs him to change his mind, even telling him that she loves him, but Ned just tells her that it's over and leaves. The book then ends with Nancy sobbing and watching him walk away, just hoping he'll come back to her.

*The college conveniently has a huge suite with its own kitchenette and private bathroom ready for the girls. Ned explains that it's for special guests. Yeah, suites at my college were in high demand. There would be a riot if the school reserved one just in case.

*They literally find a box with all the stuff needed to make the dummy in Mike's room, and Ned still goes off about how she doesn't have enough evidence and Mike would never do that. He doesn't apologize in the end for her being right either.

*Bess is the one who points out all the fancy clothes the scholarship players have, but it only happens because they're among the hottest guys she's drooling over.

*Ned thinks it's great that Bess went to the gym with George, but Nancy just laughs it off because it won't change her exercise habits. Once again, who's the girl that the guys go crazy over all the time?

*Riggs isn't on the suspect list at the very beginning and only pops up in two scenes before Nancy solves the case. I feel like the bad guy should be in a few more scenes.

*I actually sobbed like a baby when I read the last few pages of this book! Even though Nancy and Ned had problems in this book, I figured they'd work things out in the end. Him telling her that he isn't enough for her and that she could find dozens of guys like him kind of made me feel like my heart was breaking!