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!