Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goosebumps #25: Attack of the Mutant

Skipper is your ordinary pre-teen boy, except that he is obsessed with a comic book series called The Masked Mutant. He reads every new issue as soon as it comes out. One day he takes the bus to the orthodontist and meets a girl named Libby. He picks on her for reading what he considers lame comics, but they get along.

He gets the next issue and sees the villain’s hideout, which looks like a huge pink fire hydrant. Later, he sees the same building in his town. Libby has no idea that the building appears in the comic and tells him that the building has been there since before she moved to town last year. When he goes back, the building is gone and she tells him that they tore it down.

The next issue shows the villain throwing an invisibility cloak over the building. He sneaks inside with Libby and sees a weird flash go over him. He loses Libby inside, but finds a bunch of back and future issues, plus drawings. He realizes that the building is home to the printing company, finds Libby and runs away.

The next time he sneaks inside, he finds issues that show him as a character. He runs home, grabs the new issue and sees him listed as the main villain of the story. He runs back to the building and sneaks inside again. He finds the Masked Avenger, the hero of the book. Skipper unties the hero and helps him escape.

They go after the Masked Mutant and the Avenger runs off in fear. The villain fights with Skipper and reveals that when he felt the weird flash, he was actually scanned into the comic book. Libby rushes in with a toy gun and says that it is a ray gun. She tells him that it’s a comic, so everything is real. She shoots the gun and he dies.

Libby turns the gun on Skipper and transforms into the Mutant. Turns out that the other guy was one of his workers and he posed as Libby the whole time. Skipper tells him that he is actually a superhero named Elastic Boy and attacks. He confesses that his weakness is sulfuric acid and the Mutant transforms because he has the power to transform into anything. The Mutant dies though because for some reason he can’t transform from a liquid state.

Skipper happily runs home and plays Frisbee with his little sister. They head inside, where he starts cutting pieces of chocolate cake. The knife slips and cuts his arm, but instead of blood, he bleeds ink. With a startled look, he decides that he better look at the new issue and see what happens next.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Unicorn Club #20: In Love with Mandy

Lila Fowler wants to buy even more clothes because she hasn’t yet bought out every store in Sweet Valley. She stops by her dad’s office and sees the super cute Mitchell Parsons. They flirt and she likes him, but then their dads come out fighting. Her dad reveals that he is in the process of buying out the other man’s company and he isn’t happy about it.

Mandy Miller is just excited because she landed a job at the Sweet Valley Country Club, working in the kitchen and as a waitress. She has to work on the night of a huge Halloween ball. Lila comes to the club wearing a purple dress and a fancy unicorn mask. She dances with a few regular guys and then spots Mitchell across the room.

Mitchell suggests they sneak off to the golf course and she agrees, but can’t leave the room completely. She asks Mandy “unicorn to unicorn” to put on her costume and act like her. She sneaks off to the golf course and spends over an hour with Mitchell. She tells him that she needs to get back before her dad realizes she went with him. Mitchell says that he was trying to get past the fact that he hates her dad for “stealing” his dad’s company. They have a huge fight and he storms off.

Mandy, wearing Lila’s dress and mask, hides from Mr. Fowler and accidentally runs into a cute guy dressed as a prince. They spend the whole night talking and laughing, until Lila comes back. She runs into the guy a second time, dressed in her work outfit and is sad when he doesn’t realize that she was the same girl he talked to all night.

Lila is shocked to learn that the guy is Brandon Jones, a cute and rich guy. She’s even more shocked that he likes her, based on their earlier conversation. The next day, he shows up at her house in a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce and asks for her help on a fundraising project to raise money for people that can’t afford medical bills. Mandy calls later, wanting to know about the guy and Lila lies to her. She says that he sought her out because he needed Lila’s help on the project.

Brandon brings a bunch of guys from Lovett Academy onto the project, including Mitchell and Lila invites the Unicorn Club. Typical Lila, she assigns all the fun jobs to her and Brandon and expect everyone else to do the hard stuff. Mandy manages to work on the project and keep her job too. Brandon keeps seeing Mandy and thinking she looks familiar, but she keeps blowing him off.

Lila and Brandon do television interviews and magazine interviews, posing as the perfect couple. When he needs her to do actual work, she has no idea how to do anything. She contacts Mandy, asking her to do the press release and create the invitations. When no one can agree on a fundraising idea, Mandy comes up with the Dreams Come True ball, but lets Lila take credit for it. Then she writes a press release about a unicorn and a prince meeting at a ball and gives her credit again.

Lila keeps telling Mandy that Brandon is really concerned with putting on airs and making a good impression, so she can’t tell him about her job. When she learns that Brandon had cancer like Mandy, she hides that from both of them. Then she makes Mandy look bad by claiming that she isn’t pulling her weight with the decorations when the rest of the club walks off and won’t lift a finger.

Mandy and Brandon run into each other and finish making all the decorations. Mitchell shows up and suggests going for ice cream, but Brandon wants to wait for Lila. Mandy makes an excuse to leave and when Brandon suggests going out the next day, she tells him she has a hair appointment and doesn’t know her future schedule. He snubs her and she runs off, but turns around and goes back, telling him about her job. He doesn’t say anything, so she runs off in tears, thinking that he is super snobby.

Jessica tells Mandy that Mitchell clearly likes her, but she doesn’t see it. They go shopping and she picks out a dress for the ball. Actually, it’s a black shift with an artist palette embroidered on the pocket. She plans on wearing it with a handmade velvet beret and black pants. Unfortunately, she learns that she has to work that night. Mitchell asks her to the ball and she turns him down.

Brandon asks Lila is she thinks he’s a snob and thinks about Mandy constantly. Mitchell realized that Mandy was doing all the work and thought she was cool, but he still likes Lila. Lila likes him too, but thinks her dad hates his dad. He stops by her house and she explodes on her dad, telling him not to say a word. After Mitchell leaves, her dad tells her that he and Mr. Parsons were college roommates and fight all the time, but it doesn’t mean anything. He is buying his company, but he has dozens more and he doesn’t care if she likes Mitchell.

Lila makes up excuses for Mandy not coming to the ball, but Mitchell tells Brandon bluntly that Mandy had to work. Lila feels so bad that she breaks down and tells Brandon all about Mandy, including how she had cancer and how she did all the work. Brandon rushes to the country club and apologizes in person. He helps her finish up all the work early so she can leave early.

They rush to the ball and Brandon makes a speech in front of everyone. He and Mandy spend the whole night dancing together and laughing about how they met. Lila apologizes to Mitchell, he forgives her and they spend the whole night together.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Goosebumps #23: Return of the Mummy (R.L. Stine)

Gabe has recovered from the events in the last book, at least enough that he heads off to Egypt with his uncle Ben and cousin Sari. He makes an ass of himself in the airport when they get there late, by hugging a man in a burka, thinking that it’s his uncle. Uncle Ben presents him with a scarab in amber as a present and Sari freaks him out, pretending that the bug is attacking his leg.

Uncle Ben is working in a pyramid that he thinks belonged to one of King Tut’s cousins. Sari claims that she is worried about him because he pinned all his hopes on the pyramid. If he doesn’t find anything inside, then she worries that he might lose it. Also on the scene is Nala, a reporter that Ben’s partner Omar let visit. She points out that she and Gabe have the same amber necklace, though hers lacks any bug. She mainly shows up to flirt with Ben for most of the book.

After a few days, the group finally breaks through to the inner room. Gabe accidentally falls down a shaft, where he is attacked by spiders. When they pull him up, he pulls out the mummy hand from his back pocket and claims that it still has some magic powers. Nala expresses some interest in the hand, but just seems glad that he didn’t hurt himself.

Uncle Ben breaks a seal on one room and finds an empty room behind the door. He finds a second door and another seal, but Omar runs out. He starts shouting about how the mummy wants to “rest in peace” because that is what the seal said. Ben pushes forward anyway and Omar runs off. They break through the second door and find a room full of jewels and gold, plus a mummy tomb with a mummy inside.

At dinner, Nala asks Ben for the six magic words that will bring the mummy back to life. He jokes about it, but finally reveals the words. Gabe teases Sari by repeating the words, but stops before repeating it the five times needed for the mummy to come to life. She taunts him and he says the words again, but nothing happens.

They go outside and talk to Ben. He reveals that Omar is acting funny and he doesn’t necessarily trust him. Omar also calls the police and makes them stand guard over the tomb, just in case any workers try stealing artifacts. Later that night they see Omar grabbing Ben and dragging him off. When he pushes Ben into the pyramid, they follow.

Gabe and Sari venture into the tomb and find the mummy wandering around the room. They open the mummy box and find Uncle Ben inside. Just as he starts waking up, Nala bursts into the room. She reveals that she is the long lost sister of the mummy and stole the mummy hand from Gabe, using it to waken her brother.

The mummy comes over as she calls him, but suddenly grabs her around the neck. Gabe fights with her and accidentally knocks her necklace off her neck. The amber shatters into pieces and she freaks out. She announces that she hid her body in the form of a scarab for all those years and hid inside the necklace. The amber kept her alive, but without it, she can’t survive in a human form. The mummy demands again that he rest in peace.

Nala turns back into a scarab and scurries from the room. Uncle Ben pops up, revealing that he heard everything. He also tells them that he and Omar suspected Nala. He never revealed the number of words in the phrase needed to bring the mummy back to life, but she knew anyway. He called the newspaper she claimed to work for and they didn’t know her. Omar shows up with the police and they tell him that she disappeared. Gabe goes to bed, feeling better than ever, but just as he climbs into bed, he feels something bite him…

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sweet Valley High #10: Wrong Kind of Girl

Annie Whitman desperately wants to be a member of the cheerleading squad because apparently she isn’t slutty enough on her own. Jessica is flabbergasted that Easy Annie thinks she has what it takes to be a cheerleader. Liz decides to help Annie study for her math class, so she can get her grades up, but doesn’t bother telling her sister.

Liz goes over to her house one night and Annie confesses all about her past life. Her mom was only 16 when she had her, married her dad and then later divorced him before becoming  a fairly famous model. They live in a little apartment with Mona’s boyfriend Johnny. Johnny naturally hits on Liz the first time he meets her, showing himself as the creepy guy. Mona also talks to Liz, worrying that her little girl doesn’t have any friends, but she actually seems more concerned with her boyfriend and her next drink.

Jess decides that Cara is the perfect girl for the squad. Apparently she and Lila were kicked off the squad after pulling a prank on an opposing squad. She also wants Sandra on the squad and since her best friend is also on the squad, she thinks it’s a lock. Then Annie auditions.

Annie does such a great job that everyone votes for her, except Jessica. The manager Ricky points out that she didn’t put down her name and she coldly tells him she never will. They cut down over 75 girls to 25 and Annie makes it down to the last ten or so girls. During the last audition, Annie does a great job, but Sandy falls on her butt.

Jessica already convinced Helen Bradley to vote for Sandy and Cara, but after that, she changes her vote. Jess is also pissed because Annie beat her in a dance contest with Bruce and went on a date with Helen’s brother Tim, who she wanted. She tells the other girls that she will never be on a squad with Easy Annie and if they pick her, she quits.

The next day, Ricky passes out the letters to each girl. Annie breaks down when she hears the news. She does a bunch of flips and other crap on the field, claiming that she was the best. She keeps pushing him until he finally tells her that everyone voted for her, but Jessica told them off. He reveals her nickname, which she never knew and she runs home in tears.

Ricky talks to Liz, who tells him that Annie never knew the way people talked about her. He goes over to her apartment and keeps calling her, but she won’t answer the phone. Liz answers the phone that night and he tells her that Annie tried to kill herself. She forces Jess to go to the hospital with her, but the doctors have no word.

Mona shows up, makes a big scene and breaks down. The doctor announces that Annie has no reason to live. She should wake up, but she just won’t move. Jessica freaks out because it’s all her fault and Liz has to calm her down. Jessica goes back to the doctor, tells him what happened and asks to talk to Annie. They go back in and she tells her there was a mix up with the letters. Ricky joins in, telling her that she was picked for the squad.

Of course Annie wakes up and suddenly feels fine. She tells them that she no longer needs the cheerleading squad, but Jessica tells her that she really meant it and is now a member of the squad. Mona comes in and reveals that she kicked Johnny out, so everyone can now live happily ever after.

*What the fuck is up with the Lila and Cara thing? They were suspended from the squad, so the squad just waited until the suspension was up and then held full tryouts? Why wouldn’t they replace them right away or if they had their spots back, why not just have one available spot?

*Oh and in the later books when Jess starts her own squad, Lila claims that she was never a cheerleader and never had any interest in cheerleading, forgetting high school and the Boosters.

*I find it hard to believe that a teenage girl would NOT know what people were saying behind her back. Plus Annie goes out with a different guy every night and has two dates in one night, but doesn’t realize what guys are saying about her. She even skips studying for dates and talks about how having an “active social life” is more important than school. Does anyone buy that she isn’t sleeping with these guys?

*On the other hand…most of the guys she dates are guys that Jessica dated too. And, why is Jessica not labeled a slut or easy?

*Annie overdoses on pills, lapses into a coma and is ready for cheerleading practice two days later. Even during the 1980s, the doctor would make her go to therapy or stay under observation.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Baby-Sitters Club #73: Mary Anne and Miss Priss

Mrs. Prezzioso calls the BSC because she needs a regular sitter every afternoon. Mary Anne is the only one free enough for the job, but even she can only take three nights a week. Every time she goes to the house, the mom disappears with baby Andrea for a few hours.

Mary Anne notices right off the bat that Jenny is even more prissy than usual. She wears matching dresses, socks, tights, shoes and hair ribbons. She freaks out when she spills apple juice on her clothes and flips when Mary Anne takes her outside and she gets mud on her feet.

The triplets are ticked off because they don’t think they need a sitter anymore. They decide to start their own kickball team because they get to be in charge. Jenny wants to join the team, but all the other kids shoot her down because she never wants to get dirty and is too prissy.

Mrs. Prezzioso tells Mary Anne that she’s been taking Andrea on auditions for photo shoots and commercials. Jenny changed because she wants some attention from her mom. Jenny decides that she wants to audition too and Mary Anne goes with them when she has her headshots taken and when she auditions for a few commercials. Jenny doesn’t book anything, but Andrea does, which makes things even worse.

Jenny does a complete 180 and changes into a pig. She spills stuff all over her clothes, plays in a muddy sandbox and makes a bunch of mud pies. She spills food on the counters, plays with clay in the middle of the living room and knocks over a vase. She also revels in playing outside in the dirt and mud.

Jenny finally books a job and actually does a really good job. On the way home, she spots the kids playing kickball and makes her mom stop the car. The triplets let her play, provided she doesn’t whine about dirt or mud. Jenny runs home, changes and runs back to the game.

Mrs. Prezzioso asks Mary Anne for help because Jenny didn’t land a big commercial and Andrea did. They make a big deal of it, sitting her down for the news. Jenny gets all excited and announces that she would rather play kickball. She changes into jeans and a baseball cap before running off for the game.

The other storyline is about Mallory because she is still just an honorary member. She isn’t sick anymore, but the Pikes only let her sit for her own family and won’t let her rejoin the club. She complains to everyone and they tell her to talk to her parents. She sits them down and shows them a chart detailing how much time she spends sitting, which is more than she did before getting sick. They formally let her rejoin the club at the end of the book.

*There is a mention of Claudia not having an afternoon free because of the newspaper. Of course that was only a few books ago and I don’t think it really gets mentioned again.

*Dawn calls Mary Anne and MA limits the call to 15 minutes because her dad has a 15 minute limit for long distance calls. That only makes sense if she called Dawn. Shouldn’t Dawn’s dad have some kind of limit, seeing as how he pays the phone bill?

*I love how the triplets think Mallory has more freedom and yet when she was ten, she still had a babysitter. I think early on after she turned 11, she still had a sitter too.

*The Pike thing is kind of funny because they explain that they never knew Mallory was sitting so much. And yet every time there is a mention of the Pikes, Mallory is sitting.

*The Prezziosos must have a shit load of money! They hire someone to watch Jenny at least two hours every day and have enough money to drive all over Connecticut booking jobs.

*Speaking of booking…Mary Anne gets all confused because she doesn’t know what “booking a job” means. Really Mary Anne? I’m pretty sure my 10 year old niece knows what it means.

*Are there really that many jobs for babies and kids in Connecticut? At one point Andrea is up for a nationwide commercial, but there’s no mention of them ever leaving the state.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sweet Valley Twins #2: Teacher’s Pet

Elizabeth is the star pupil in Madame Andre’s ballet class. Jessica is a far better dancer, but their teacher hates her because she thinks she doesn’t take it seriously. Both girls want the lead role in the production of Coppelia, but Jess is sure Liz will get it and so is everyone else in class. Jess even resorts to dancing next to Amy, who is the worst dancer in class.

Liz decides that if Amy was a better dancer, than Jess would get more attention. Since she dances next to her, the teacher puts all of her focus on Amy. They make plans to tutor her on dancing, but Jess blows it off to hang out with the Unicorns. The club keeps saying she’s sure to win the lead role. At the next class, Madame Andre notices that Amy is better and praises Liz for working with her.

Jess finally snaps and goes off on Liz, calling her a teacher’s pet. The two girls stop talking and act like total brats around each other. The day of the auditions dawn and Liz goes shopping with their mom. The time of the auditions is pushed up and Jess heads off. She has a change of heart, goes back and leaves Liz a note, telling her about the new time.

Everyone dances and does a good job, but no one is as good as Jess. She tells the teacher that Liz purposefully didn’t show up for the audition. Liz miraculously shows up, thanks Jess for her note and dances perfectly. Amy later tells her what Jess said and they stop talking again. Liz gets the lead role and Jess is put in the corps.

Jessica acts like a real spoiled brat and keeps calling Liz a teacher’s pet. Alice hears and gives her a stern talking to, telling her that at least they kept it in the family. She tells the Unicorns what happened and they spread a story around school about Liz only getting the role because she is the teacher’s pet. Liz decides that Jessica is just jealous.

Then Jessica gives Liz some pointers and she realizes that her twin might be a better dancer. The dance revolves around a life-size doll and when it goes missing, she thinks Jess might have done it. Amy offers to stand in for the doll and not dance in the show. Liz watches Jess dance in the corps and realizes that she’s a much better dancer and deserved the lead role.

The day of the performance, Liz fakes a sprained ankle and asks Jess to take over the lead role. Amy gives Liz the doll costume and faces her own fears to dance. Jess does a fantastic job and Madame Andre is all over “Liz” for doing such a great job. Alice and Ned point out that it’s Jess and she feels stupid. She apologizes for not realizing that Jessica really was serious about dancing.

*I actually feel for Jessica at the beginning, but then she turns into a total brat again and I can’t stand her.

*Steven dresses up like a robot in preparation for Halloween, but it kind of just sounds like he wraps himself in aluminum foil.

*Alice tells Jessica that teachers never play favorites and that it’s basically all in her head. That sounds like someone who was always a teacher’s pet to me.

*The book ends with someone disappearing into the Mercandy house. I totally have this book and I completely remember it from when I was a kid!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Goosebumps #51: Beware, the Snowman

Jaclyn and her aunt Greta are moving to a remote snow village, for reasons her aunt can’t explain. As soon as they arrive, she notices that everyone has snowmen with red scarves on their front lawn. She’s also fascinated with a huge icy mountain just outside town that everyone warns her about seeing up close. She makes the mistake of trying to get up the mountain and is kind of attacked by a wolf. His owner Conrad warns her not to try it again.

Later she meets Rolonda and her little brother Eli. They explain that the snowmen are part of tradition, warn her about the top of the mountain and generally act a little weird. Rolonda then gets her alone in a church and tells her the true story of what happened in the town. Originally two sorcerers lived there and practiced magic. They accidentally created a snowman monster and trapped in at the top of the mountain. Eli pops out of nowhere and tells her that he saw it himself and wanted her to know because he knew she wouldn’t believe the story.

Jaclyn can’t keep her mind off the top of the mountain. It’s also driving her crazy because she keeps hearing this poem in her head that her mom read her about a snowman. She can only remember the first verse and scours the house for the poetry book, to find the rest of the poem. She finally decides to visit the mountain herself and gets her friends to help.

They distract Conrad, while she climbs the mountain. She comes face to face with the evil snowman, who has a surprising secret: he’s her real dad. He explains that he and her mom were sorcerers and one day, she accidentally turned him into a snowman. When she couldn’t fix him, she took Jaclyn and disappeared. He asks her to recite the poem, which will free him.

Aunt Greta suddenly appears and begs her not to say the poem. She’s carrying a spell book and says it was her mom’s book. The snowman was a creature her parents accidentally created, but not her father. They fight over the book, but Jaclyn tears it from her hands. Greta then reveals the snowman poem, crumbles it in a ball and tosses it over the mountain. It floats back into her hands, so Greta rips it up.

Luckily Jaclyn remembers the poem in the nick of time and recites it. The snowman turns into a huge monster and attacks. Conrad appears from out of nowhere and recites a spell that brings life into all of the smaller snowmen. It turns out that Conrad is actually her dad. He stayed in town to keep an eye on the snowman and keep it from attacking. Her parents created it on accident and he always thought about her, but didn’t recognize her when she came back.

The small snowmen attack and the big snowman gets trapped in an ice cave. Conrad and Jaclyn hug, before he explains that he created the snowmen as a defense for the town. As they hug, a little snowman tugs his arm and she freaks out, thinking he might attack. Nope, the poor little guy just wants to go back to town because it’s way too cold up on the mountain!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Goosebumps #1: Welcome to Dead House

Amanda and her little brother Josh are moving into a new house in the town of Dark Falls. Mr. Dawes, the real estate agent explains that their dad had a long lost uncle that died and left them the house. Both think it looks like a haunted house and Amanda is sure that she sees a boy looking down at her from upstairs.

Things are pretty weird from the moment they move into the house. Their dog Petey hates Mr. Dawes and keeps growling at him. Amanda thinks she sees people in the house, usually kids. Someone keeps rearranging the clothes in her room or leaving clothes sitting out and her dad thinks she’s just imaging things until she gets used to the move.

The two meet a neighborhood guy named Ray, who says he used to live in their house, but moved. He introduces them to some other kids, including Karen and George. The kids pretty much play baseball and chill for most of the book. Then Petey disappears one night and they can’t find him anywhere. Josh sneaks outside and Amanda follows after him.

They run into Ray, who starts acting weird. He leads them into the local cemetery and shows them a huge amphitheater where the town holds meetings. They find Petey, who won’t come near them and smells awful. Then they find a headstone, with Ray’s name on it. Ray reveals that he’s dead and all the other kids step out of the woods.

They explain that they all lived in their house, until they died. They keep inviting a new family every year, to get new blood and it just so happens to be their year. Josh accidentally shines his flashlight on Ray and he dissolves into pieces. Of course he also explains that they take the dog first and Petey is dead.

The kids chase them out of the cemetery and Mr. Dawes comes out to rescue them. He explains that since he recently moved to town, they came after him too. He saved their parents and now he wants to take them to find them. He takes them through the cemetery and they find his tombstone. Josh tries to shine his flashlight, but it stops working. He hits him with it and he crumbles. They track down their parents, but the whole town is surrounding them and sun is starting to come up. Amanda figures out that the dead people die when they get hit with light.

One tree is blocking the area from sun, so they work together to knock it over. The sunlight comes through and everyone dissolves, but not before Karen thanks Amanda for saving her. They save their parents and luckily they never sold their old house, so they can move home. Just as they get ready to leave, they see a car pull up and kids climb out. They’re talking about moving into the house. Amanda turns back and thinks she sees Mr. Dawes on the porch, but believes that it can’t be and walks away.

*Nice of her to not even try to help the other family get out of Dark Falls. She pretty much just walks away and doesn’t say a word.

*Dark Falls was, according to the book, a regular town that had a factory. Something happened at the factory and yellow gas poured out. Somehow that turned everyone into weird ghost things.

*Josh went into the cemetery multiple times throughout the book and never once saw anything weird, yet suddenly they walk in and find dozens of tombstones with names they recognize.

*I love that their parents never once questioned inheriting the house. Her mom says she doesn’t remember him mentioning his uncle and he admits that he didn’t know he had one, but they don’t find it even slightly weird.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sweet Valley High #4: Power Play

Robin Wilson is fat-fat. I know this because the ghostwriter told me approximately 1700 times over the course of 150 pages. She also believes that she is Jessica’s best friend, which just goes to show how little she knows about that bitch. Their friendship mainly consists of her doing random things for Jessica and being her servant.

Jessica is now the president of PBA, which is amazing given that she just became a member three books ago. Mrs. Wilson asks Liz if Jessica plans on nominating Robin because her daughter is contemplating dropping out of school. Consider what that school is actually like, I suggest Robin run for the hills. Robin worries about the nomination too and Liz finally decides that she will put her name up for nomination.

Jess is shocked because Robin is fat and can’t possibly make the sorority look good. She breezes through their next meeting, trying to finish before Liz arrives from a newspaper meeting, but she gets there in time. She nominates Robin, pointing out that she is Jessica’s best friend, so of course no one wants to say anything bad.

Jess, Lila and Cara create the three challenges that Robin must do before becoming a member. Liz finds her crying because she has to wear a bikini at the beach. Liz, Enid, Todd and George take her to the beach and help her feel better. I wonder if George remembers this later when he starts fooling around with her.

The next task involves running five times around the track every day for a week. A bunch of people show up, including Bruce Patman, calling her fat (I told you) and generally picking on her. The last task devised by Jess herself, requires Robin to take Bruce as her date to the next big dance. Robin cries constantly because she just can’t do it.

Liz goes to Bruce and makes a bunch of comments about his skills as a tennis player. At first her thinks she’s Jess coming back for round two (tee-hee) and then thinks Liz is hitting on him (tee-hee again). She promises to write him up and get a picture in the paper if he takes Robin to the dance and he agrees. Robin is shocked that he agrees, but goes all out on the night.

Bruce is a complete and total dick, of course. He walks Robin is, calls her Shamu, tells someone else to take her off his hands, and points out that he promised to take her, not stay or dance with her. I hope you remember this moment when he goes down on you Liz! Robin runs off and Liz grabs Allen Walters, the paper photographer to follow her, while she yells at Jess. Allen runs outside, Robin snaps at him and then feels bad because he’s an outcast too. He convinces her to go back inside and dance with him.

Everyone votes on Robin and all the PBA girls are petrified because Robin is Jessica’s best friend. When Jess opens the ballots, she finds a ton of white marbles and one black, meaning someone blackballed her. Liz accuses Jessica of using Robin and Jess claims Liz made her think she had a chance, when she never really did.

Robin is heart-broken at first, but then something changes. She puts up a wall and keeps to herself, not even talking to Liz. She runs around the track every morning, starts watching what she eats and in roughly two weeks goes from fat-fat to the object of everyone’s eye. The cheerleaders host open auditions and not only does she nail a spot on the squad, but she also gets voted co-captain.

I have to ask, how the fuck does this cheerleading squad work? Did Jessica always have a co-captain and she just randomly left? Or was she doing such a bad job that they decided she needed one? Plus, when the series started, Jessica was already a cheerleader and they had a squad, so why did they suddenly need new girls? Don’t forget that they hold auditions in book ten too.

Anyway, it’s around homecoming time and everyone has to vote on Miss Sweet Valley High. Jessica assumes she has it all wrapped up, but then Robin throws her hat in the ring. She puts up a notice saying that the PBA said no one outside the sorority could win and suddenly everyone hates PBA. Jessica has half the football team on her side, but the other half go for Robin.

Bruce is crazy about Robin because he isn’t fat-fat anymore and he follows her around all the time. At the big football game, they announce that Robin won. She skips the traditional limo ride around the field and asks Bruce for his Porsche. He runs to get it, but when he comes back, she announces that Allen is her escort. Bruce has to drive them around the field, which I really love.

The B-plot is all about Jessica showing up with expensive jewelry and clothes. She keeps saying that Lila got it all from her aunt, but Lila doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Liz learns at the mall that someone keeps stealing from stores and stealing the same stuff Jess has. Before she confronts her sister, she sees Lila stealing something.

Jessica gets busted instead of Lila and Liz rushes to the mall. They let Jess go, but make Lila wait for her dad. Mr. Fowler asks Liz for advice and she suggests he spend more time with his daughter. She goes to court as a character witness for Lila and Jess pitches a fit because they won’t tell her anything about what happened. Lila acts super nice to Liz, but reveals that her dad is going back to his old ways, which explains why she stays a lovable bitch throughout the books.

Oh and Jess gets over her heartbreak at losing the Miss Sweet Valley High title pretty fast because she meets a cute college guy. The book ends with Liz wondering if her sister is getting in over her head. Nope Liz, not at all.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #4: The Unicorns go Hawaiian

Jessica gets reprimanded for making a terrible potato salad in school. That night, she’s hanging out with Mandy, who sees an ad for a pineapple recipe contest. They joke around and make a potato salad with raw potatoes, pineapple, anchovies and green food coloring. She submits the recipe and forgets all about it.

Suddenly it’s months later and the twins are getting ready to spend Christmas break with their grandparents skiing. Lila bursts into school, excited because she accidentally read a magazine belonging to her maid and Jessica won the pineapple contest. She wins a trip to Hawaii for her and two friends. She decides to invite Mandy and Mary, which pisses Lila off.

That night she goes home and tells her parents the news. Unfortunately they grew a pair overnight and decide that she can’t go to Hawaii without chaperones. She’s skiing and that’s it. Then Lila calls and reveals that her dad offered to take her and the rest of the Unicorns to Hawaii over break. Somehow he agrees to take all the girls and act as their chaperone.

Once they get to Hawaii, everyone goes their separate ways. Mr. Fowler spends all of his time with his new girlfriend Bambi. She bought Lila a cheap bracelet for Christmas, which he makes her wear and she wants to be an actress. Mandy and Mary overhear the two talking about her being scared to be a mom and suspect that he’s about to propose.

Janet meets two guys on the beach that tell her she looks like a Hawaiian princess. They warn her that if she leaves the island, she’ll upset the volcano goddess Pele and she’ll cover the island in lava. Janet spends the whole book attacking random people and demanding that they think she looks like the princess.

Jessica thinks it’s weird that she won the contest. It gets even weirder when she takes a factory tour and they call her Miss Wakely. She finally realizes that someone else won the contest and accidentally awarded it to her. She meets the same guys Janet did and they warn her that if she lies on the island, the island will get revenge. She falls off a boat and does some other stupid shit that seems to prove them right.

Lila finds a ring buried in the sand and starts wearing it, telling everyone that she bought it in an antique store. The same guys pop up and tell her that it’s a cursed ring. She blames everything that happens on the trip on the ring, including her dad and his girlfriend. She does try taking it off, but the ring seems to be stuck to her finger. The guys give her and Jess advice on ending their bad luck.

Mary catches them both trying to do the spell reversal thing and starts laughing. She makes Jessica call the company and gets the ring off Lila with butter. It turns out that the company only got bad recipes, so they picked the worst recipe and named it the winner. There was a slip up in the memo, but she really did win.

The girls tell Lila that Bambi and Mr. Fowler are engaged. Lila snaps at her and they learn that he was just helping her audition for a role as a step-mom on their favorite soap opera. Bambi also steps in and helps them get back at the guys. She dresses up as Pele, they invite the guys out and she basically scares the crap out of them. The guys apologize and invite them to a beach party, where they meet a bunch of cute guys. And, Bambi gets the role.

*I love Lila. Her dad makes them go on a glass bottom boat tour and Jess tells her that she’ll learn all about fish. Lila tells her that all she cares about is that they come fried, baked and stuffed. Love her!

*Jess falls off the glass bottom boat and freaks out, thinking she’s drowning. Then she thinks they’re warning her about piranhas, but it turns out that she’s just stuck in three feet of water.

*Mr. Fowler’s only advice for the girls or rule is to avoid buying shoddy merchandise. He really doesn’t get the whole parenting thing, does he?

*He buys Bambi a pearl ring, takes her shopping constantly and thinks it’s acceptable to buy Lila a coral necklace and take her out to dinner once.

*He and Bambi are sleeping in separate rooms. I thought the point of having a hot actress girlfriend involved things you do in the same room.

*I love that Alice and Ned won’t let her go without a chaperone, but then after one talk with Mr. Fowler, they decide that he’s the perfect chaperone for them.

*Why would Jessica even assume that she could go on a trip like this by herself or just with her friends? She still has a flipping curfew!

*Were there no rules or anything for this contest? Supposedly it was in some homemaking magazine and I can’t see a lot of kids reading that. Wouldn’t it be only open to those 18 or older?

*I’ve read some of the Sweet Valley Twins books lately and this is the first one that really creeped me out. These girls are 12 years old and checking out lifeguards, plus wearing bikinis to the beach and wearing makeup. It’s way, way too mature.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Goosebumps #13: Piano Lessons can be Murder

Jerry and his parents are moving into a new house because that’s how most Goosebumps books start. He’s a pretty big practical joker and within the first few pages, he manages to convince his parents that clumps of gray dust are actually mice. After deciding to investigate the attic, he comes across a gorgeous old piano. Within a few hours, he and his parents decide that he should take lessons.

They hire a guy named Dr. Shreek since he’s the only one listed in the newspaper. He looks like Santa Clause, complete with a red face, white mustache, and big belly. At their first lesson, he gushes about how Jerry has perfect hands and that after a few lessons, he can start coming to the music school. Jerry starts hearing the piano playing at night, but no one believes him.

He meets this girl Kim from his school and once she hears where he’s taking lessons, she runs off in a panic. Jerry keeps hearing the music playing and one night sees a girl ghost sitting on the bench. Each time he hears the music, he finds the piano bench warm, but his parents think that it’s an elaborate prank.

Dr. Shreek finally invites him to the school and he’s stunned by the number of students practicing and pianos playing every day. He sees a “monster” chasing him through the halls, which turns out to be a floor cleaner. Mr. Toggle, the janitor, admits to making the cleaner and putting a face on it because he’s really good at electrical stuff. Before his next lesson, Toggle shows him some of his other inventions.

Jerry eventually runs into Kim again and invites her to his house. She admits to hearing weird stories about monsters in the basement of the school. After he explains about the cleaners, she tells him that kids have a habit of going to the school and never coming out. Then he sees the ghost, who shows him that she no longer has hands and warns him about taking lessons.

After breaking down one too many times, his parents send him to a psychiatrist. Then he breaks down again after seeing the ghost and they decide he can stop taking lessons, but he has to take one more class to be sure. When Jerry tells Dr. Shreek that he’s quitting, the teacher flips out and chases him. Screaming for Toggle, he runs into the ballroom and finds a shocking sight.

Dozens of pianos are in the room, with an instructor beside each one. But, the only thing playing the pianos are hands, no people. Shreek attacks and Jerry screams for help. Toggle rushes in, hits a switch and he stops moving. Toggle explains that Shreek was just another of his inventions. When Jerry tries to leave, Toggle explains that he can’t because he has perfect hands.

Toggle perfected human looking robots, but he can’t figure out the hands. He keeps kidnapping students to get their hands and shows Jerry his future piano. The ghost suddenly appears and shouts at the hands, which quickly attack him. She explains that he once lived in his house, until they took her too.

Jerry manages to get out and get help. He explains that he made new friends, his parents sold the piano, and he started playing baseball. Everyone thinks he’s perfect for the game because after all, he does have perfect hands.

*Okay, so his parents are so worried about him that they send him to a shrink, but keep forcing him to play the piano? If my kid only freaked out when he came within 10 feet of a piano, I’d probably worry.

*The shrink thing shouldn’t even exist in this book. His mom suggests it, he goes to one session and it’s never mentioned again. The story feels like filler to me.

*Their house has three extra bedrooms on the second floor and no plans for those rooms. Yet they move the piano down to the living room. Why not turn a room into a music room?

*Jerry wants to use one of the rooms as a Nintendo room. That kind of cracked me up.

*How is the police not involved in all this? If dozens of people went missing and each one was last seen entering the same building, don’t you think they would investigate?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sweet Valley High #25: Nowhere to Run

Emily Mayer is feeling down in the dumps. Her mom left town and she told everyone that she died. Her dad remarried a rich, bitchy woman named Karen and they now have a baby Karrie. She’s crushing on her bandmate Dan, but even he doesn’t seem to realize she exists. She volunteers to write an article for the paper, at the behest of Karen, which leads to a friendship with Liz.

No matter what Emily does, Karen doesn’t approve. Even though her dad supported her drum playing, Karen thinks it’s a waste of time. She refuses to let her practice anytime Karrie is in the house, which is always, and her dad sides with his wife. She invites Dan over to practice because Karrie has a doctor’s appointment. Karen comes home early and explodes. She calls Emily’s mom a tramp and she runs off in tears.

She goes to the Wakefield house and they try to help, despite never suffering a bad day. They convince Emily to call her dad, but he sides with Karen again and demands she come home. The next day, Emily pretends that nothing happened. She puts her drums for sale in the paper and Dan buys them, saying it’s for a friend of his. Her dad kind of blows it off, saying she overreacted even though Karen refuses to let her practice. Karen also imposed a new curfew and she can’t rehearse with the Droids anymore.

Then Karen gives Karrie a doll that is way too old for her. Emily tries to take it away, but Karen snatches it from her and gives it back to the baby. While she chatters on the phone, Karrie pulls off one of the doll’s eyes, puts it in her mouth and starts choking. Emily saves her life, Karen freaks out and her dad walks into the room. He explodes and hearing her babble about the baby, he freaks out and accuses Emily of hurting the baby, while Karen just cried. Emily runs to the Wakefield house.

Ned’s parents have been visiting and Alice apparently remembers she has children. She keeps worrying because they don’t have time for her and don’t want to spend time together. Their grandparents take them shopping, for a hot air balloon ride and out for Chinese, where we hear for the first time that Ned is allergic. The twins finally pick up on her feelings and get her involved in helping them plan a going away party for their grandparents.

Emily shows up, planning to run away to Chicago where her mom lives. She calls her mom, only to learn that she remarried and moved to Mexico. Liz talks things through with her family and decides to call Emily’s dad, which leads to Jess calling her a rat. I love it! Grandma Wakefield goes upstairs to fuck with the Wakefield family tree.

She explains that her husband had an 11 year old son named Bob when they got married. His first wife died in a train crash and Bob didn’t like her. It took them a long time to start getting along, but eventually she learned to love him and now regards him as a son. So much so, that he wasn’t mentioned in the family history.

Emily goes downstairs and finds her whole family walking inside. Karen apologizes to her in front of everyone. She explains that she was jealous of her because she was so put together and perfect. Her dad apologizes for never siding with her and despite threatening her with boarding school throughout the whole book, promises to not send her away. To make things even better, Dan shows up and gives her back her drums, while also asking her to do a duet with him. Aw.

Oh and there’s a short plot about Regina coming back from Switzerland. Liz sees a classmate that delivers groceries and swears he saw her. She talks to Bruce and he refuses to believe it because she never called. Duh-duh-duh.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Point Horror: Nightmare Hall #12: The Whisperer (Diane Hoh)

Shea did a really, really bad thing. She stole a copy of her upcoming test from her professor’s office. When the book opens, she’s sitting with her roommate Tandy, friend Diane and Diane’s boyfriend Sid. They introduce her to a new guy Coop and they hit it off right away. Professor Stark is nearby and they all talk about how much they hate her. Shea gets a mysterious phone call at the restaurant from someone warning her that they know her secret.

At the end of their next class, Professor Stark announces that someone stole a copy of her test. She has proof because she had a camera recording the room. She decides to show the tape at their next class. Shea decides to just admit that she stole the copy and goes to her office. She finds the teacher face down on the floor and runs off in fear.

Apparently someone hit her over the back of the head and took off. The teacher is paralyzed and can’t move her legs. Shea freaks out, wondering if she left behind fingerprints or other evidence that links her to the room. Then she gets several phone calls from the whisperer, warning her that they know her secret. The whisperer asks her to meet him in the woods behind Nightmare Hall.

Shea goes and gets weirded out because the voice stays in the shadows and doesn’t give her any information. She starts suspecting everyone around her, especially Sid. He sucks major ass and treats Diane like crap, but she keeps going back for more. The voice tells her that it wants her to pull a prank. She has to sneak into the animal lab, steal a snake and drop it in a dorm room.

Shea refuses to do it, but the voice tells her it will turn over the video of her in the teacher’s office to the cops. She finally does it, but one of the girls in the room has a heart problem and almost dies. Shea feels terrible, but the voice leaves her the tape. When she plays it, it’s nothing. The voice wants her to do more and wants her to cut off her vain roommate’s hair. Shea refuses to do it because Tandy loves her hair.

The next morning, Tandy wakes up, looks in the mirror and screams. Someone snuck into the room and chopped off all of her hair. She and Diane both think she’s behind it because her scissors were in the bed. They aren’t sure about her, but still agree to go to a party with her at Nightmare Hall. The voice tells her that it left the real tape in the off campus dorm.

Shea manages to find the tape, which was hidden in the VCR. She asks Diane about finding a VCR to watch it and she tells her to go the library. As soon as she puts it in, Diane shows up. It turns out that the tape shows Diane stealing the test. Apparently Sid taught Diane how to steal and cheat, instead of studying. Now he keeps threatening to turn her in if she tries to breakup with him. I guess she thinks he can prove that she cheated in school for years and at two different campuses.

Diane thinks Sid is behind the calls, but someone comes in and hits her over the head. Shea runs off and the voice follows. The voice finally steps out of the shadows and it’s Professor Stark! Frankly it’s kind of boring and makes no sense, but she’s crazy. Her mom bred into her that it wasn’t right to cheat and so she trapped her students. She hit her own head and then stalked Shea. She had her help her “punish” the bad students. Diane calls the cops and they arrive before Shea can get hurt.

The book ends with the whole group going out to dinner. Diane finally broke up with Sid and is now dating a new guy. Shea and Coop are a happy couple and Tandy has adjusted to her new short haircut. They have a new professor and Stark is getting the help she needs.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

13 Tales of Terror: “The Doll” by Carol Ellis (Point Horror)

A fisherman stumbles on a black box stuck in the side of a cliff. A few months earlier, Abby and her sister Lindsay moved to a new house after their parents’ divorce. After moving into the creepy old house, she decides to clean out the attic. Upstairs she finds an antique porcelain doll in an old leather case. Her mom thinks the doll might be valuable, but she thinks it is pretty enough to display in her room.

Her friend Erin spends the night and thinks the doll is just creepy. Abby has a dream that she’s a little girl hiding in the hallway. Then she hears a scream, wakes up and finds that Erin almost fell down the stairs. Erin swears the someone or something tripped her.

Mark, the hot guy in school, asks Abby out on a date. He comes by the house and Lindsay shows him the doll. She tells Abby that the doll was sitting in the middle of the hallway. Mark thinks it’s cute that she has a doll and that while pretty, the doll is not as pretty as her.

Abby has another dream. This time she pictures the little girl running out in the middle of the road. She gets a call that Mark was in an accident. He hit a curve and crashed into a tree. They rushed him to the hospital, where he swears that he swerved to avoid hitting a little girl.

She runs upstairs, looks at the doll and swears the doll has a glint in her eye. She shoves her in the old case and drives off. When she gets to the edge of the cliff, she hears the doll beating her hands against the case. She tosses it over the cliff and leaves in a hurry.

The fisherman opens the case and sees the expensive looking doll inside. After a few seconds, he closes the case and smiles. Christmas is coming up and he has a little girl that just loves dolls.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sweet Valley High #23: Say Goodbye

Todd Wilkins is leaving Sweet Valley! Oh noes! Actually, when you consider that he is supposedly one of the most popular guys at SVH, no one really seems to give a shit except for Liz. She cries quite a bit and mopes over his leaving. She tells both Steven and Enid that they decided to stay a couple and not see other people. Both try to convince her that it doesn’t make sense.

Enid throws Todd a going away party and they sneak off for a few minutes together. Todd tells her that his dad sat him down for a talk over their relationship and it isn’t fair of him to keep a hold on her. She tells him that she can’t picture dating anyone else and cries again. He gives her a gold locket, she promises to never take it off and they decide to stay together. Given that she can’t even stay faithful when he’s 10 minutes away, I don’t see this ending well.

Jessica takes it upon herself to find another guy for her twin and Nicholas Morrow is just perfect. She goes to Mr. Collins and asks him to assign Liz a story to take her mind off Todd. He has her cover the boat race, so Jess calls Nicholas and convinces him to invite Liz to the race as his guest. Liz isn’t too sure, but he claims that he just wants to be her friend.

Liz runs into Bruce at the race and they exchange a few comments over how love letters can make you feel better when the person you love is so far away. Nicholas acts uncomfortable, changes the subject and drags her off. When he wins the race, he invites the twins to a celebration party on his dad’s yacht. Later he asks Liz to go out with him later in the week.

Jessica decides that Nicholas is the perfect replacement for Todd. They start spending a lot of time together, but Liz keeps writing long letters to Todd every day. When he calls, Jessica fake cries to him. She tells him that all Liz does is sit around the house, moping and writing letters. He feels so bad that he backs off and stops writing and calling.

After a few dates with Nicholas, Liz starts feeling bad about leading him on. At the same time, she keeps calling Todd and he never calls her back. She gives up, starts flirting with Nicholas and asks him on a real date. They go on multiple dates and even kiss a few times, but she claims that her heart still belongs to Todd and never takes off his necklace.

Jessica ran up a huge bill on a new outfit and the Wakefields insist she get a job and pay them back. She starts working at a dating agency and decides that since she did such a good job with her twin, she should fix up her brother too. She picks out three women and give them Steven’s number, but tells them not to mention the agency.

The first woman is 43, divorced and super rich. She keeps calling Steven, which freaks him out. The second woman never calls, but the third woman shows up at their house. She wears all leather, smokes and has weird piercings. She tells him about the agency, he flips out and screams at Jessica for messing in his dating life.

The next day, he sees a car on the side of the road with a flat tire and Cara Walker behind the wheel. He helps her change her flat tire and suggests they grab a cup of coffee. She tells him all about her dad and brother moving to Chicago and her parents’ divorce. Steven realizes that she’s changed and grown up a lot. He asks her to come to Lila’s party that night because he would really like to see her.

Todd randomly shows up in town to help his parents pack up the house. Winston convinces him to go to Lila’s party and when Jess sees him, she tries to hustle him out before he sees Liz. He sees Liz dancing and looking “in luv” with Nicholas, so he runs off. Liz sees him and chases after him.

Nicholas drives Liz home and she breaks it off with him, telling him that she isn’t ready for a relationship with anyone else. She drives all over town and finally finds Todd sitting in his old backyard. They have a long talk and decide to break up as long as they live so far apart. She’ll keep the necklace because it represents their love, but they won’t be tied to each other anymore.

Steven comes home, acts perfectly nice and goes to bed. Lila calls with big news. Betsy Martin saw Cara and Steven getting way too close and confronted them on the dance floor. She told Steven that it was too soon after Tricia and he ran off crying. Liz gets over Todd really fast by devoting herself to making her brother feel better. Oh and Jessica picked a date from the agency for herself, but he turned out to be a future undertaker and just plain creepy.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Babysitters Club #27: Jessi and the Superbrat

Becca Ramsey is obsessed with the television show P.S. 162 and one of the guys on the show, Lamont. During one episode, she casually mentions that the guy playing Waldo lives in Stoneybrook. Jessi talks to Mallory, who reveals that Derek Masters lives in town when not filming his show and was in Nicky’s class.

At the next BSC meeting, Jessi wants to talk about him, but Mrs. Masters calls first. The show is on hiatus and she needs a sitter for Derek and his little brother Todd. Jessi is the only one free, so she gets the job. On her first sitting job, she is shocked that he (a) doesn’t wear glasses like Waldo and (b) is really bad at science, while Waldo is a genius. She is also surprised that he likes playing with his little brother.

At her next ballet class, Jessi learns that the Stoneybrook Civic Center is doing a production of Swan Lake and her teacher thinks she is talented enough to audition. Jessi moans about the audition constantly and how she’s not that great, but of course flies through the first two auditions. Derek even comes to one and gives her a list of tips he picked up from other girls there.

Derek starts telling Jessi about a boy that picks on him in school. Everyone picks on him, but John is the worst. The kid threw his lunch out a window, tied his shoelaces together and threw food at him. Jessi hates the kid so much that she calls him superbrat. She also tells all the other girls about the kid and they vow to watch out for him.

Claudia sits at the house and takes the boys to the playground. Derek brings up John again and winces when he sees a group of guys from his class. Claudia takes the initiative and asks the boys over to the house. Once they see that Derek has a normal house and is a normal guy, they all get along. She is a little upset when she learns that John wasn’t there.

A few weeks later, Derek announces that they are moving back to California because he got a role in a TV movie. He makes Jessi promise that she’ll come for a visit and then convinces her that she should become an actress or model. She talks to her parents and they agree to let her meet with agents in Stamford.

Jessi convinces herself that acting and modeling is a better choice because she will never get a role in the ballet. She writes down a bunch of numbers, but then has her last audition. When she finds out that she got a role, she drops the idea of modeling.

Jessi decides that they should throw Derek a goodbye party. They decide on a breakfast party at Kristy’s because it’s the only time they can all make it. They serve cereal, doughnuts and juice and everyone has a great time. Karen and Becca both freak him out because they still act like he’s a huge star.

Jessi tells him about her new role and how it means she won’t be moving to California. Then she realizes that John wasn’t at the party and asks Derek about it. It turns out that he was the one being the horrible kid and he wanted to tell someone about it, but he didn’t want to admit what he did, so he just lied. Instead of being pissed, she thinks it’s funny and they laugh about it in the end.

*Obviously Derek auditioned for the movie before leaving California. So why didn’t they just stay in town until they knew for sure? He can’t possibly make enough money to justify multiple moving trips back and forth the country. Then again, maybe he does since they apparently just lock the door to their house and leave everything there…

*I really hate how Stoneybrook is such a small town in some books and a huge deal in others. In this one, the Civic Center ballets are so important that dancers come from New York and other big cities just to audition.

*And yes, with all that talent coming from around the world, I’m sure they would feel the need to give an 11 year old girl a role.

*Kristy makes the members wear bathrobes to the party, just so the other kids can identify the leaders. And she wants them to wear curlers, but Claudia talks her out of it.

*Kristy having the party is weird because she never even meets Derek until then. Plus there are constantly references to her living “so far” away from everyone else, so they made parents shlep their kids out to her house in the middle of nowhere.

*Actually it’s odd that all of the girls volunteer to help with the party, since only Claudia, Jessi and Mal ever meet him.

*Kristy tells Karen about Derek, knowing how she is and is then stunned that Karen goes overboard with wanting to meet him and become a huge star.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Point Horror: The Phantom (Barbara Steiner)

Forgive me if this one is lacking some details. It started out kind of interesting, but then got super boring and I started speed reading and skimming.

Amelia “Mel” is a cheerleader and worried about her co-cheerleader and best friend Jillian. Jillian was dating the football quarterback, but he was seriously injured in a game. He went into a coma and died almost a year ago. Her boyfriend Garth was supposed to guard him during the game and he kind of blames himself for what happened.

At the first pep rally, Jillian begs off, saying she can’t handle seeing everyone get so worked up. After the cheerleaders finish cheering, the lights go out and smoke blows across the room. Suddenly Reggie, the dead quarterback walks into the room, wearing his famous uniform. He waves to the crowd and then quickly disappears.

Everyone thinks Coach Pal was behind it, but he thinks it was just a disgusting prank. He uses it to get the crowd fired up for the next game. Amelia sneaks backstage and sees a smoke machine and the box the “phantom” stood on, proof it was a living person. She also sees the coach and drama teacher talking about who could possibly do something like that.

Cut to a few hours before the game and Jillian is hanging out with this guy Shelby. He’s a goofy, short drama club kid that she wouldn’t even look at the year before. Amelia watches how they keep holding hands and he keeps touching her, making her realize that they’ve been together for awhile. The team wins the game and she organizes a group outing to a nearby island.

Jillian and Shelby arrive together, as do a bunch of other kids. Reggie’s brother Tucker also shows up and acts kind of weird. Suddenly, Reggie rises from the water wearing his jersey again. He quickly disappears and then Buddy, the new quarterback is pushed into the fire. He burns his hands badly and is told that he’ll never play football again.

Garth is made the new quarterback for the team and the phantom turns on him. He takes his grill to a party at the coach’s house and it explodes. Someone doused it with gasoline, but luckily everyone walks away from the incident. Then another player puts on his pads and is stuck with benzene soaked needles and winds up in the hospital. Plus Amelia gets weird phone calls from someone claiming to be Reggie and then Shelby calls and warns her to stay away from Jillian and let her lead her own life.

After Garth’s next game, he and Amelia drive home together. Reggie steps in front of the car, they swerve and crash, but survive. They agree not to tell anyone what happened and blame it on a deer. Jillian shows up with a bunch of people, shocked over what happened. A few days later, Garth gets a note signed with Tucker’s initials asking him to meet him on his boat. Garth refuses to go, so Amelia does and it almost killed when the boat explodes. Luckily Tucker saves her at the last minute.

It all boils down to Amelia and Garth getting stuck in the high school. She sees Reggie step out of the shadows, carrying a gun. Realizing that it’s Shelby’s gun, she asks him to drop it. He does, but then runs off and climbs the girders. Garth goes around the back and climbs onto the catwalk. The face mask falls off and Amelia realizes that it’s Jillian. She tries talking her down, but her hand slips and she hits the floor.

Shelby runs in and confesses that he knew all along what she was doing. He thought it was a healthy prank (?) at first that would help her get over Reggie’s death. WTF? Anyway, he begged her to stop and she promised she would, but obviously kept it going. Jillian starts talking about Reggie and how she can see him. He came to her and asked her to help him get even with everyone who helped in his death because they didn’t deserve to be happy.

Jillian also tells Shelby that she knew he loved her, but she never had any feelings for him because her heart always belonged to Reggie. Ouch. Garth runs to call the cops and Amelia sits by her friend’s side, promising she’ll be okay. The ambulance arrives, they head off and then Amelia decides to go with her. Oops too late! Apparently in the five seconds where she was having a conversation to the time they put her in, she died.

BTW, this makes no sense at all! Supposedly Jillian was dressed like Reggie the night they had the accident, BUT she wasn’t even there! They had the accident and she rode up with another group and was there with that group. Not even a psycho can be in two places at once…

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nightmare Hall #7: Pretty Please

Joanna is one of the Beautiful People on the Salem University campus. She and some friends were picked by a local photographer to star in an ad campaign for a clothing store and everyone now calls the group by that nickname. Joanna, Nan, Kelly, Reed and Carl go to a party thrown by a rich girl and Jo meets a cute guy named Evan. He likes that she doesn’t have to be the center of attention and is fine just hanging out away from the crowd.

The crowd gathers together for a group photo and Joanna is somehow pushed through a plate glass window. When she wakes up, she’s in the campus infirmary with bandages covering every inch of her head. The doctor promises that she will just have a few minor scars around her eye and chin, but she still feels self-conscious.

Nan and Kelly pick her up from the hospital and take her home. The guys, including Evan stop by the dorm and when they walk in her room, she discovers that someone covered all of the mirrors with thick, black cloth. Evan discovers that the cloth is glued in place and he has to literally scrape it off the mirrors. They all can’t figure out why someone would be so mean to her.

A big costume party is coming up and the girls convince Jo to go shopping for a costume. She finds the perfect Catwoman costume that will cover her bandages. When she gets home, she discovered that someone dropped a tube of high-coverage concealor in her bag. Conveniently, she spotted Even wandering mysteriously into a makeup store that same day.

Then someone sends her a big black hat, with a veil attached to the front and a note, warning her not to go out with her ugly face. Jo is pretty upset, but it doesn’t stop her from going on a skiing trip with a bunch of kids. One girl Tina forgets sunscreen and ends up hideously burnt with blisters all over her face.

Cut to the big costume party. Cat Donovan, who appears in multiple books as a resident of Nightmare Hall, asks Jo to get some extra soda from the basement. While downstairs, she sees Tina at the top of the stairs. Tina falls down the stairs and smacks into Jo. Later Tina admits that someone pushed her down the stairs, thinking she was Jo.

Jo decides to take a walk on campus and someone grabs her from behind. The person warns her about going outside without covering up her scarred face. He shoves a garbage bag over her head, ties it in place and runs off. Jo manages to get the bag off her head and wanders home in a daze. This is all intercut with stories from another perspective, about how ugly Joanna really is and how she should sit at home by herself.

Joanna winds up in the hospital to get her face taking care of and she’s attacked again. This time the person almost kills her, before a nurse shows up. There’s also a lot of talk going around about another student that had horrible scars from a car accident. She mysteriously disappeared a few weeks ago. Plus Joanna is doubting Evan because he seems too good to be true.

This all leads up to the person attacking her and dragging her outside to Evan’s car. Joanna tries fighting back, but the person covers her face and forces her in the car. He drives her to a construction site and demands that she write her name in wet cement before he tosses her in a hole that appears out of nowhere. The voice confesses to killing the other woman because she was too hideous for words.

The voice tells Joanna about his own background. Born to perfect parents, the kid had a hideous scar on one side of his face. His parents kept him inside the house for 12 years, until they found a surgeon that could remove the birthmark. He finally got the chance to get away for college and went crazy. He tried making things as perfect as possible and killing people that didn’t look perfect.

Joanna grabs a huge stick and hits the person. Their hat falls off and it’s Nan! Yeah, I’d be a lot more excited if I even remembered she was in this book. She reveals that her parents had her “fixed”, but she still carries emotional scars. Joanna hits her again, knocks her down and runs for the car. Nan throws herself behind the car and Jo accidentally runs her over. The police arrive and Evan shows up. He apologizes for not protecting her and understands why she doubted him. She just hopes that Nan gets the help she needs.

Like I said, I barely remembered that Nan existed in this book. I don’t think she appeared in the last 100 pages of the book. It was all kind of eh for me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Goosebumps #7: Night of the Living Dummy

Lindy and Kris are sisters that don’t get along and are super competitive with each other. One day they’re investigating a construction site and see clothing. Kris freaks out, thinking that it’s a kid, but when Lindy gets close, she sees that it’s a dummy. She immediately names it Slappy, makes it hit her sister and thinks it’s hysterical.

Lindy gets pretty good at using the dummy and others start noticing. When she gets a gig at a birthday party and Kris realizes she’ll make money, she decides that she wants one too. Their parents tell them to share the dummy first and they’ll see if they both are still interested in a few weeks. They finally break down (after like a week) and buy Kris one from a pawn shop.

While Lindy’s wears a little suit and shiny shoes, hers wears a flannel shirt, jeans and sneakers. She decides that hers is much cooler. Weird things start happening though, like they find Mr. Wood (Kris’s dummy) sitting on top of Slappy. Mr. Wood keeps moving around the room, saying weird things and acting odd. Kris tells her parents, but they don’t believe her. Then she finds him sitting in the kitchen floor, surrounding by the contents of the fridge and wearing all of her jewelry. Their parents decide that they both have to give up the dummies, but Lindy promises to clean it up, replace the food and promises that nothing like that will ever happen again.

Lindy finally confesses that she did it all, just to freak her sister out. Kris is pissed, but they move past it. Then she finds a note in his pocket, with strange writing on it. She reads the words out loud and swears that she saw his eye blink. Their parents have guests over and Kris tries to entertain them with her dummy, but he keeps talking and insulting them, which gets her in trouble.

Kris is pegged to use her dummy as an opening act for the big school show. Mr. Wood goes off on his own, insulting the principal and spewing green slime all over the stage. She’s suspended from school and her parents promise to take the dummy back to the pawn shop after the weekend is over. Kris sees him wandering out of the room one night and gives chase.

Mr. Wood calls her a slave and fights with her. She screams for her parents and tackles him. Of course when they get there, he’s not moving. They get upset and yell at her again. Lindy saw him move and decides that they need to get rid of him. They stick him in a suitcase and bury him in the yard, but the next day he’s sitting in the kitchen covered in dirt.

When Mr. Wood attacks and nearly kills their dog, they decide to just outright kill him. They drag him to the construction site and he fights back. He runs in front of a bulldozer and it runs him down. The driver freaks out because he saw the dummy running and thinks he hit a kid. He picks up the dummy, which disintegrates and they walk off smiling. Only when they get home, Mr. Slappy is waiting. He’s glad they got rid of the other guy, so he could make them his slaves.

*What kind of parents are these??? They tell the kids to stop being so competitive, but then foster it, by getting Kris her own dummy. They make her wait a whole week before getting her one.

*Lindy had the dummy less than a weekend before she was getting paying gigs. I’m sure some people in the entertainment industry would like to call bullshit.

*By the way, she goes from birthday party act to appearing on a television show in like two weeks. That’s damn good considering that when she started, she couldn’t stop moving her lips.

*I can’t see any young girl getting into dummies. I still find them super creepy today.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sweet Valley High #69: Friend Against Friend

Andy is getting picked on constantly by Charlie Cashman and his buddies, all because he’s black. If you’ve never heard of the character before, don’t worry because I barely remember him too. He wins a contest and gets the chance to study marine biology at the big center in town, which pisses the group off even more. They claim that he only got it because he’s black.

His best friend Neil notices the problem, including the guys throwing trash in his locker and writing “go back to Africa” on it, but he does nothing. He says it’d because Andy doesn’t want him too, but it kind of seems like he doesn’t want to. It doesn’t help that his dad is kind of racist too. He has to sit and listen to his dad and Mr. Cashman complain about a black supervisor at work.

The guys quickly escalate from slashing his tires to worse things. Neil and his girlfriend Penny walk outside and see the gang dragging Andy out of his car. He runs to help, while she calls the cops. Unfortunately Neil is feeling kind of crappy because Andy’s been blowing him off lately and generally being a shitty friend. He lets Charlie goad him into hitting Andy while he’s on the ground. Neil feels terrible and the other guys run off laughing.

Everyone at school acts like Neil is a big hero, which makes him feel horrible. He tries telling Andy the truth several times, but chickens out. Then his dad announces that he knows what he did because Charlie told his dad, who told him. Neil runs off and feels even worse. Andy gets an award in front of the whole school and Neil finally fesses up. At first Andy hates him, but they get back to being friends. It takes a little longer for him to win over Penny, but she finally agrees to forgive him.

*The B-plot involves Liz doing an article/survey about what kids would change about the school. She thinks all the answers will be about the food in the cafeteria, but she’s “shocked” at the real answers. Kids don’t like the elitist nature of the sororities, the way kids are treated and the lack of support, even from the newspaper, for girls’ sports.

*Mr. Collins does a class project to teach the kids the importance of discrimination. He divides the class based on eye color and people with light colored eyes are treated like crap. After 30 minutes of this, Jessica suddenly realizes how horrible it is and vows never to treat people badly for arbitrary reasons. Uh-huh.

*Charlie is such a “badass” that he takes Neil for a drive around town. He mainly stops in front of houses, honks the horn and then drives off before they come outside. What a tough guy.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Point Horror: Nightmare Hall #1: The Silent Scream

This is the book that started it all. Jess has just moved into the off campus dorm Nightmare Hall. She meets her new roommates Linda, Milo, Jon, Cathy and Ian, as well as the handyman Tucker. On the first night, their house mother falls down the stairs and breaks her hip, leaving the kids all alone. Ian makes the mistake of telling them the story of Gabrielle, who lived in the dorm before. She was a well liked girl, but one day came home and hung herself in her room, the same room Jess now lives in.

Of course weird things start happening. When Ian says it was a suicide, a window slams shut. When Linda calls it a suicide, the mirror in her room explodes. Jess keeps noticing cold spots in her room that no one can explain. Then she comes home and finds muddy footprints leading into her room and then disappearing.

Weird things happen to other people too. Cathy spends weeks working on a paper, only to have it disappear. She blames Milo and rips apart his room, but finds nothing. Someone sneaks into Linda’s room and rips her official swim team suit into pieces. Jess feels bad, but is distracted by her newfound crush on Ian.

Then Gabrielle’s brother shows up at the house, to pick up her old stuff. He notices Milo and reveals that he knew her in school and was a good friend. Tucker leaves Milo downstairs with her stuff for awhile. Jess wonders why he didn’t mention knowing her and Milo claims it was because they stopped being friends.

Gabrielle keeps reaching out to Jess. She appears in photos taken of her and Ian at the pizza place. Then Jess finds an old photo of her in her room and ends up buying her old books from the bookstore. She also finds a threatening letter to her, sent from someone claiming that he loved her. She wants to talk to everyone about it, but they keep blowing her off.

It all comes to a head when Jess finds herself stuck there by herself. She ends up locked in the basement by herself and someone turns on the gas. Luckily her housemates come home early and save her life. She manages to stab the person in the arm and sees a small piece of fabric hanging in the basement. Milo comes home with a tear in his jacket, matching the fabric. He gets pissed off when they blame him, saying he just found his jacket and storms off. They tear apart his room and find a typewriter matching the letter, more letters to Gabrielle and Cathy’s paper.

The whole group decides to move on with their lives and pretend it never happened. They go to a big dance and Jess and Ian spend some time together alone. He goes inside to grab her jacket and a girl stops by with Milo’s jacket. She tells her that he was with her in the library, when someone dropped off his ripped jacket. He gave her his other jacket. Jess freaks out because it means he was telling the truth.

She hears a voice in the woods behind the house and follows it to find Tucker standing there. He tells her that Milo was there and left a photo of Gabrielle behind. She believes him, until she sees a gash on his arm. Tucker grabs her, but she fights him off. He reveals that he dated her for awhile after her mom died, but then she left him to go to college. She was supposed to marry him after a year, but she started avoiding his calls and ignoring him.

Tucker fights her and suddenly the photo flies out of the stream and onto his face. It molds to his face, cutting off his nose and mouth. The others rush out to save her and the photo slowly peels off and floats away. They walk back to the house and it seems to sigh. Jess smiles, thinking that Gabrielle finally got the peace she wanted because now everyone will know she didn’t kill herself.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sweet Valley Twins #1: Best Friends

Ah, the book that started the Sweet Valley Twins franchise. Jessica and Elizabeth are starting sixth grade and realizing that they are two really different people. Elizabeth wants to start a school newspaper and is shocked that Jess wants nothing to do with it. Jessica wants to join the Unicorn Club and doesn’t give a damn if Liz wants in the club or not.

Janet Howell decides that Jess must complete three tasks before joining. Apparently the club is really selective about bringing in sixth graders, but they are interested in her and one other girl. She is a little surprised that they don’t want Liz, but gets over it pretty fast. Her first task involves hiding Mrs. Arnett’s lesson plan book and putting it in her bag. Then she has to stand outside the girl’s room and convince three girls to use the boy’s room.

The last task is to come to school looking completely different from Liz. She waits until Liz gets dressed, wears a different outfit, curls her hair and puts on makeup. Liz can’t believe how different she looks and runs to change her looks too, but they’re late for school. Janet is stunned and invites Jess into the club.

Liz kind of loses it because she thinks that she is losing her twin. She cries constantly, but then decides to change her hair in a way that Jess doesn’t like and everyone fawns all over her. She invites Amy and Julie Bowen to help her with the paper and suddenly has a new group. Liz tells Jess all about how bad she feels and Jessica decides that she will get Liz an invite into the club.

At the next meeting Jessica brings up her sister and Janet freaks out. She claims that they can kick people out, but no one can leave the club. Jessica threatens to quit if Elizabeth can’t join. Janet decides to give her one task and if she passes, she’s in the club. Her task is to take Lois Waller out to the Dairi Burger and switch her whipped cream with shaving cream on her sundae.

Elizabeth thinks it’s a mean joke and refuses to do it. Jessica decides to call Lois herself and pretend that she’s Liz. Lois meets her, she pulls the joke and Lois runs home in tears. Jess tells her sister that the club decided the joke was wrong and wants her in anyway. Liz goes to one meeting and is completely bored because all they do is talk about movies and boys.

Elizabeth eventually learns what Jessica did and quits the club. She calls Lois and they come up with their own scheme. Lois switches Lila’s whipped cream with shaving cream and they all have a big laugh. They keep fighting so much that Alice decides that it’s finally time that each girl have her own room, so everyone is happy.

Oh and Jessica is suddenly fascinated with ballet dancing because of a lesson in gym class. Ned signs the girls up for dance lessons through Madame Andre’s dance school. Jessica comes to the first class in a purple leotard, purple legwarmers and bright tights, with streamers in her hair and a bunch of makeup. Madame Andre calls her out and barely looks at her again, while highlighting everything Liz does.

Ah and we cannot forget poor Steven. The girls hear rumors about a girl named Roberta Manning getting kicked out of the Unicorn Club for dating a high school boy. Jessica learns that it was Steven and he flips out, demanding that they never mention her name again. When Jess makes a comment about the club, Steven cracks up. Roberta wasn’t kicked out, she quit after she went out with Steven and Janet asked him out behind her back. Then Roberta went after a college guy, so Steven doesn’t want to even think about her again. Poor guy.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Baby-Sitters Club #3: The Truth About Stacey

Stacey’s parents want her to see a specialist in New York. She hates the idea, but doesn’t get a choice given that she is basically a kid. They promise that it will only take a few days, but later announce that they actually have to spend five days in New York City. In what is our first Thanksgiving in the series, they skip a trip to NYC because of going back in a few weeks.

Kristy wants the club to keep afternoons free because Mrs. Newton is pregnant and she will need help when the baby comes. Of course everyone in town needs help from the BSC! The big storyline really revolves around a new club that pops up: The Baby-Sitters Agency. Janine rushes in during a meeting and gives them a flyer.

The club promises sitters at least 13 and can sit later at night. They all worry about it a little and Kristy decides to call the club, just to see how things work. The girl on the phone takes the information, calls around and finds a sitter. She gets a cut of everyone’s pay.

Things get worse when the Agency advertises at school and gets new members. Everyone is feeling pretty down and wondering what they should do. Stacey goes over to Kristy’s house and sees Jamie Newton there. His mom went into labor and Mrs. Thomas offered to watch him. He seems down about the baby, so they throw him a big brother party. Jamie breaks down and tells Stacey that his mom won’t use the club anymore.

The four girls go over with gifts for Jamie and his new little sister Lucy. Kristy asks Mrs. Newton point blank about babysitting and she admits that they are too young to sit for a newborn. She wants older kids until Lucy gets older. Kristy comes up with a slew of ideas, including free housework, cutting prices and creating Kid-Kits.

Kristy also decides that they need new recruits/members and makes the girls wear sandwich boards advertising the club. She finds two girls named Janet and Leslie that were former members of the BSA, but dropped out. They come to one meeting, get jobs and then never show up again. Their clients call, pissed off because they never showed up.

They confront the girls at school and find them with Liz Lewis, president of the BSA. It turns out that they tricked the BSC to make Liz look better. Kristy breaks down twice and cries, which freaks Stacey out a little. She sits for Jamie and learns that he doesn’t like his new sitters. One burned a hole in the couch with a cigarette, another talked on the phone all the time and they all ignored him. She sits for Charlotte and discovers that she feels the same way. Her sitter invited over a boyfriend.

The girls walk home from school and see Jamie playing outside by himself close to the road. They talk to him and learn he has a sitter. They send him back inside and warn him to play in his backyard. They go to the Newton house that night, explain what happened and she is shocked. She agrees to call other parents and warn them about using the BSA.

Stacey goes to NYC and gets stuck staying with Laine and her family. She talks to Dr. Johansson, who warns her that the doctor her parents talked to is a quack. They secretly schedule an appointment with another doctor. After one day of tests, Stacey talks to her parents and tells them about the other doctor. They rush for that appointment and he basically tells them that she’s fine, warns them about the other doctor and suggests they give Stacey more freedom.

Both families go out to dinner and Stacey gets pissed because Laine doesn’t bring her a snack, but buys herself one. She storms out, Laine follows and they have a long talk. They go back to being friends and at the end of the book, Laine calls her to hear about everything that happened. The BSA went out of businesses, but Liz now does makeovers. Stacey is excited about her life and wants Laine to visit soon.

*Claudia points out that high school kids could sit until 2 am or possibly overnight and Stacey says they could sit for an entire weekend. Really?? When I was in high school, I still had a freaking curfew!

*Poor Charlotte! She always thought her sitters were her friends, until the little sister of one set her straight. She told her mom, who asked Stacey to sit, not realizing that Charlotte wanted her friend to come over, not a sitter.

*Apparently a small diet soda and popcorn cost 95 cents in Stoneybrook, but $1.75 in New York. I know this book came out in the 80s, but no place around me ever had stuff that cheap! And I live in freaking Ohio!

*Stacey “likes” two guys, Sam Thomas and Pete Black. She never sees Sam anymore, but still mentions that she likes him. Then Pete asks her to a dance and she kind of forgets about Sam.

*I have the older copy and the reissue. In the reissue, Ann says that she wanted a character with diabetes because two of her friends are diabetic. Then she explains that she wanted readers to have a responsible young woman that takes her disease seriously. Um, did she forget about Stacey’s Emergency? Plus this is generally a horrible depiction of the disease…says me, a diabetic. LOL.