Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Sweet Valley University: Secret Love Diaries: Elizabeth

According to the official book list, this is number 60 in the SVU series. I found it super confusing though because it mentions stuff that happened in the earlier books but not what happened later, as in Liz and Jess fighting over Sam and then her taking off to England.

So, the book picks up with Liz moping over this guy Ben. He's supposedly a journalism major who was super into her until they actually went out on a date. She keeps waiting by the phone for him to call and feeling super pathetic about herself. That makes it all the worse when the twins' cousin Diane calls to talk to them about her upcoming wedding. Not only are they bridesmaids, but they're all staying at the same hotel together for the weekend. Jessica considers bringing some rando with her for the weekend, which makes Liz feel even worse.

Cut to Liz whining over whether she should invite Ben or wait for him to call her. Guess which one she chooses? When he still doesn't call, she resigns herself to spending the weekend all by her lonesome. Once we finally get to the weekend, Diana introduces her fiance David and the guys they'll walk down the aisle with on the big day. Jessica gets this hot guy Tucker, while Liz gets...Todd.

Yes, Todd as in Todd Wilkins. Alice thinks it's absolutely adorable and instantly pictures them dating again. Even Ned thinks they're super cute together. Liz turns into a mega bitch and talks down to Todd. She mentions him moving off campus with Dana and how he dropped out of college to work in a townie bar. Todd puts her in her place though by saying that it's just a bar and a good one and that he's actually back in school now.

When Todd reveals that Dana cheated on him, they get even closer. This leads to the almighty Liz agreeing to go skinny dipping with the wedding party. When Todd bows out early, she leaves with him, though they change separately. They then talk some more, which leads to them kissing out. Todd asks if she wants to rent a boat the next day and spend more time together. Liz rushes back to her room to gush about Todd and whether it's possible that she might have feelings for him again.

That changes when Todd randomly shows up at her door. She keeps pushing him and acting like she's teasing him when she's really being a bitch. Like, she blames him for them breaking up at the beginning of their freshmen year and gets pissed when he sees things differently. She also pushes him about how she's in college and doing so well while he's stuck in a crappy job. When Todd storms off, she can't figure out why he's so mad.

Unfortunately, they make up again the next day. He leaves a message for her about the boat, which causes her to freak out again. If he really wanted to see her, why wouldn't he come by her room first? Why didn't he walk her down to the freaking boat like she's a fairy tale princess? She does meet him though, which leads to a few romantic moments and them kissing again. Sadly, when they were angry at each other, Todd called and asked someone else to the wedding. He asks Liz what he should do, and she literally tells him to sneak around behind his date's back with her. Grr.

The wedding finally happens, and Liz keeps moping over Todd. There he is dancing with Lisa and posing for pictures with Lisa. It's really annoying. When they dance together, she asks him to just tell Lisa the truth: he reconnected with his ex-girlfriend and now wants to get back together with her. Todd asks if they're going to go through with it this time and asks if she's ready to go the distance. Liz pretends that she's stupid and rushes to Jessica. They then try to figure out if Todd actually means sex sex. No, he wants to go scuba diving.

After whining even more, Liz finally makes her decision: she's ready to go all the way with Todd. She gets him alone, tells him, and asks him to get rid of Lisa. Before anything happens though, she has yet another talk with Jessica. Jessica now thinks that Liz is just lonely and willing to do anything if it means not being alone. Anything, I guess meaning Todd.

Todd shows up at her door with champagne and two glasses. They start kissing, get in bed, clothes start coming off, and then good old Liz comes back full force. She suddenly realizes that she's just not ready for sex yet and that while she loves what they once shared, they're two different people now. No worries though because it turns out Todd feels the same way! He's not sure if he wants to get back together or even sleep with her. With her permission, he takes the champagne to Lisa's room.

Jessica then comes in to mope some too. She'd been macking on Tucker all weekend but found out that he was about to join the Peace Corps. They spent Friday night making out, and she planned on going the distance after the wedding. Instead, Tucker left with his parents to spend time with them before heading overseas. The twins bond, Liz borrows Jessica's six-inch heels, and they go dancing the night away.

*This book comes after the twins meet Sam. He and Liz already kissed, and he's living in the house with them. But, it's before they got together or kind of got together in that really annoying storyline.

*Liz keeps having “visions” of her perfect man who is some random guy with sandy brown hair. When she and Todd are in bed together, she sees him again. After Todd leaves, Liz begs herself not to even look at Sam in that way and wonders if he's her dream guy. Gag me, just gag me.

*Near the beginning of the book, Liz says that it's been four years and makes other comments that makes it seem like this should be a much later book. I actually thought this would kind of set up SVC in that she and Todd would get back together but nope, this is like 17 stories behind her leaving town.

*However, Todd says that he's back in school. I remember him and Dana breaking up, though not her cheating on him. I swore that he didn't return to SVU until one of the last books. I remember him running into Lila and telling her first for some reason.

*According to Jessica, the sorority sisters are all talk. Most of them are even virgins. The only sorority girls I remember are her, Lila, Alex, that chick that got amnesia, and they were all definitely not virgins!

*She also says that some frat had a contest about who could sleep with the most sorority sisters. Her sorority got together with a few others and staged a big protest. They wouldn't even date the guys. While that sound realistic now, it doesn't really fit with the times back then.

*Liz is oh so lonely in the beginning and hasn't really dated anyone since Todd and then Tom. That means this book comes before she hooks up with the doctor! This book is even further behind than I thought!

*Todd makes it out like he and Dana were never really that serious, which is why he got over her so fast. Um, say what? He and Dana were an it couple for awhile! They lived together, and he dropped out of college to support her!

*Jessica apparently noticed Todd looking all hot when they went skinny dipping. Liz tells her that now is her chance to make a move, and Jess gets grossed out at going after her sisters rejects.

*Does anyone else wish Todd was Liz's first? I feel like her running off to England and losing it to some random prince or whatever doesn't make sense. I have not read that serious though, so maybe she doesn't sleep with him?

*I fell really bad for Lisa! Todd asks her to a wedding at the last minute and spends most of the night with her. He then ditches her for his ex to the point where Ned even comments on how much time they're spent together. Todd then goes back to her for awhile, only to tell her he's getting back together with his ex. When that falls through, he shows up at her door with champagne.

*Jessica actually wore six-inch heels down the aisle as a bridesmaid. Liz then borrowed the same shoes for a night of dancing. It makes my feet hurt.

*Diana's family most have a whole lot of money! They're getting married at a huge resort with hundreds of guests. Her parents even rented multiple rooms for their family and friend, and they're totally cool with Todd inviting a guest at the last minute.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Sweet Valley Kids #75: Little Drummer Girls

Mr. Crane, who is I guess their new teacher, brings in a bunch of musical instruments for the kids to play. After they try them all out, he announces that he's holding auditions to see who will play what in the St. Patrick's Day parade. Jessica becomes obsessed with the drum and think she's the best, but so does everyone else. Even Liz wants to play the drum.

During auditions, Liz goes on the drum first and does great. Jess goes next and does horribly. She was so focused on the first song they played that she couldn't focus on the one in the audition. Their teacher asks her to try the flutophone, which she does a good job playing. Jess gets it, and Liz gets to be the little drummer girl. Since this is Jess though, she convinces Liz to switch parts with her. She really wants to lead the whole parade, which the drummer does.

The twins dress as each other and even switch their name bracelets for class. Jessica does a really bad job with the drum, to the point where the teacher decides she should take it home for more practice. Liz does such a good job with the flute that he asks her to do a solo in the parade.

Things go even worse at home. Ned actually sneaks out of the room while she's playing, Steven stuffs his ears with socks, and Alice claims she suddenly needs to run errands away from home. At school, Jessica is constantly off the tempo. When she leads the class, they run into walls and stuff. While practicing at home the night before the parade, she discovers Liz wearing earplugs to avoid listening to her. Liz then gets so sick that she has to miss the parade and asks Jess to take her place with the flute solo.

Jessica steps up and tells Mr. Crane about the twin switch. She then asks if he'll play the drum and let her have the flute solo. He tells her no because she was the one who wanted to make the switch and she needs to live with her decisions. While he does tell her that, Liz then shows up. She faked being sick to make Jess realize that she was good with the flute. Liz takes over the drumming, and Jess gets her solo after all.

*Why would you have a solo in the middle of a parade? Mr. Crane says that everyone will stop to listen to her play. What kind of messed up parade is this?

*Jessica literally says she wants the drum because she wants to lead the class through the streets and then gets rewarded with a solo on a completely different instrument.

*Flutophone is the word used every time it's mentioned in the book. I have no clue if it's the same as a flute but I'm guessing so.

*I'm not sure when the books started the first person point of view, but this one is all from Jessica's perspective and I'm not a fan.

*The illustrations changed too! Now we get these random little drawings that are only a couple of inches long and wide instead of a full page.

*In the back is an idea for making “magic” pudding where you put food coloring in the bottom of a bowl and then fill it with pudding. According to the author, it will wow your friends when they mix it and the color changes. If I was eating pudding and it suddenly developed these weird streaks, I'm pretty sure I would freak out!

Friday, October 25, 2019

The Nancy Drew Notebooks #48: The Crazy Carnival Case (2002)

It's time for the annual River Heights Carnival. The big event this year is that Isabelle is performing. She's a big deal start from the town who is only 15 but already has a song on the radio. Nancy and her friends decide to enter all the contests because first prize gets a giant stuffed panda. Isabelle loves pandas, and if any of them win, they'll give the toy to her.

They enter a pie eating contest and lose, but there's a sack race the next day. Everyone who enters gets in a sack and finds the bottom filled with raw eggs. Annoying little Brenda wants to do a story on the awful things happening, but Nancy begs her not to because it might keep people from coming to the carnival. Brenda gives her until Wednesday, which is the next day, to find out who did it.

Their only suspects are Cruncher, this girl who eats all the time, and Orson, a kid who entered a frog in a jumping competition and got disqualified because the judge thought he pushed the animal. They see Henrietta, this chicken who does a bunch of stuff like play the piano, and wonder if he owner is the troublemaker because of the eggs. The chicken lays brown eggs and not white ones though.

Brenda calls them over to show them that a cardboard cut out of Isabelle shows her with black eyes and a mustache. They see Orson walking around and whining and candy bar wrappers around the cut out, which leads them back to the same suspects. Jason, David, and Mike are friends who are suspects in other cases. They never come to the carnival but show up at Nancy's later. The boys claim they hate the carnival because they wanted to be the singer's opening act and were turned down. Even though they say they never went to the carnival, all three have fake tattoos that you can only get there.

Other weird things happen too. Someone steals a gold star from the chicken's tent, which her owner claims is her gold star and that she won't play without it. Someone also covers the game controls with molasses. Brenda claims that she wants to write her story but learns that Nancy suspects Cruncher and wants to go through her bag. She begs to be the one to do it, but the other girl catches her and shoves a pie in her face. Cruncher claims that she no longer hates the carnival because she won the chocolate pudding eating contest. Nancy shows her the candy bar wrappers they found, but Cruncher laughs because they're for coconut candy bars.

The girls also go to Orson's house and confront him, but it turns out that he wasn't even at the carnival on some of the days when weird stuff happens. People keep seeing three kids dressed up as the Three Little Pigs around the carnival. Simon the Pieman provided the pies for the contests and has his kids dress up in the costumes to promote his booth. Nancy stops by for a snack and notices a postcard on his booth. He says his kids sent it from camp and that they're not there this year.

Nancy confronts the pigs, tears off their masks, and finds Jason, David, and Mike. They confess that Simon hired them because he felt bad they couldn't be in the show. She makes them confess to the carnival organizer, and they get banned from coming back. Since Brenda already went to deliver her paper, the girls chase after her. Bess brings along a giant panda she just won.

They manage to get to Brenda right when she shows up at Isabelle's house. The singer opens the door, sees the panda, and falls in love. She asks them to come to her concert the next day and be part of her act. Brenda tears up the newspaper and agrees to write a nice story. Nancy says in the end that when people seek revenge, no one ends, which is quite profound for a little kid.

*Nancy suggests that Brenda write about the ferris wheel, but she scoffs because it's just another ride and people will want to hear about the bad things happening. I think she has a future in journalism.

*Cruncher is the nickname given to a girl from another school who always wins the pie eating competition. She drops out because they switched from banana cream pies to coconut cream pies, and she hates everything coconut.

*Brenda already has her own newspaper and customers. She literally delivers the paper to people on multiple streets.

*I think this is the same Brenda who pops up occasionally in The Nancy Drew Files books who is a reporter. I like the continuity, but I'm not sure why they didn't bring in some of the other characters from the other series.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Sweet Valley Kids Super Special #1: Trapped in Toyland

Ned and Alice somehow think that the perfect Christmas Even activity is taking the kids to Evelyn's, some new department store. Once they get there, the parents decide to let the kids have some time alone as long as they stick together. They immediately head to the toy department and go crazy over these little cars. When they try to sit in them though, a man comes over and screams at them. He's Mr. Fegato, the manager of the whole store.

Fegato tells them that unless they have money, they need to sod off but in nicer words. The twins want to explore and look for the perfect gift for Alice. They find a jewelry box they love but is too expensive and head to the sleepwear department. Steven gets so bored that he decides to go off on his own, though he does remind them that they have just a little bit before they need to meet up with their parents.

While wandering through the store, some random guy rushes by. He grabs Jessica's purse and takes off with all their spending money. Though they give chase, he disappears in the crowd. Feeling like crap, the twins climb into a bed display and wind up falling asleep. When they wake up, the store is closed and everyone is gone. Instead of completely freaking out like I would, they think it's cool and explore some more.

The twins go to the snack area and make huge ice cream sundaes. They then fight some more over what to give Alice. Jess wants these ugly slippers, while Liz prefers an ugly scarf. After returning to the toy department, they ride the cars all around the store and play a bunch of video games. The fun ends when the power goes out and they come across the guy who stole Jessica's purse.

Random dude is actually wearing the purse like a necklace and chases them all around the store. He catches Liz while Jessica is hiding in a play house, puts them both inside, and then stacks boxes in front of the door. Liz helps Jessica climb out the chimney that literally has a working hole in the top who then moves the boxes to let her out. He chases them some more until they get the upper hand when Liz squirts chocolate sauce in his eyes and they tie him up with licorice whips.

Though Jessica calls 911, the operator thinks that she's playing a prank and hangs up on her, so Liz sets off the fire alarm. Fegato rushes in with the police in tow and flips out until they lead him to the thief. The cops then find that he has a whole van out back filled with merchandise. While they were exploring, the twins found a gift to Fegator from his daughter with a letter about how she misses him and it doesn't feel like Christmas without him. They show him the letter, and he melts because that was all he wanted or some other schmaltzy crap.

Not only does he let the twins have the jewelry box for free, but he wraps it for them and tells them they don't need to pay for the ice cream. Right before they arrived, the bad guy almost got away but they heard a bell jingling that caused him to freeze. The twins find a Santa decoration that jingles when you press his stomach. They try to come up with rational ideas for why it would come on but finally decide that maybe it was just a Christmas miracle.

*The twins made a book for Steven with original drawings and a picture frame for Ned. Alice is the only one lucky enough to get a gift from the store.

*They managed to save up a little more than $15 for her gift, which I thought was super cute.

*Seriously though, who lets their third grade kid watch over two second grade kids in a busy department store? And who the fuck thinks it's a good idea to take kids to a department store on Christmas Eve??

*When the twins first woke up in the bed, I thought this would be one of those dream books where they were both asleep. Nah, just a totally unbelievable story.

*According to Ned and Alice, they couldn't find the twins and then the store closed so they just had to leave. The manager wouldn't let them look around so they went to the cops. It somehow took enough time for the cops to come back that the entire store emptied out, everyone went home for the night, and the twins had time to roam free. Having worked retail before, that would never happen.

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #163: The Clues Challenge (2001)

Ned invited both Nancy and George to the Emerson College campus to take part in something called the Big Chill Clues Challenge. It takes place every winter over five days and requires that teams compete to find hidden clues. After Nancy makes out with Ned for a bit, they get into a massive snowball fight and then meet some of the people on their team. There's CJ, who is some big deal athlete, and his girlfriend Dede. Dennis dated Dede until she dumped him for the other guy. They also meet Joy, the president of a sorority that won the challenge last year.

When the group heads over to Sport Mania, the store sponsoring the event, they get to meet Mr. Lorenzo, the owner. He freaks out at some dude following CJ around with a camera until CJ reveals that the guy works for Sports World and is doing a story on him. That's another reason why Dennis doesn't like him. He was the big man on campus the year before but then hurt his shoulder and lost his status. Mr. Lorenzo also gets a message on his computer demanding the clues.

Everyone meets at a local restaurant for a big party before the challenge starts. Nancy notices that their tiramisu has weird white flakes on it and doesn't see the same thing on other desserts. She finds a bunch of crushed up pills near the phone booth and asks the waiters if they saw anything, but everyone just looks confused. Dennis says they weren't his, even though he takes painkillers, and says he doesn't need help to beat CJ.

Nancy and George take the pills to a 24-hour pharmacy to get some help but get distracted by Joy along the way. They follow her across campus and see her doing some suspicious things. Joy then disappears and pops up behind them. She basically warns them to leave her alone and stop following her or else, which doesn't seem that threatening coming from a sorority girl. Ned finds out that the pills were a prescription muscle relaxant, which makes them all suspect Dennis again.

We finally get to the first day of the competition. Nancy tells Mr. Lorenzo what happened, but he doesn't seem too concerned and just says he'll keep an eye out. The first event has people running up a set of stairs. CJ immediately falls down and hurts his ankle because someone put oil on the stairs. Joy comes down with the first clue and gives everyone the eye, so Nancy runs up and gets the clue too. It leads them to a barn out in the woods, but because of his injury, CJ has to sit out.

To get to the barns, they need to navigate around a frozen stream. George is the lightest and fastest, so she gets the job, but her boot comes out of her ski and sends her tumbling towards the water. She manages to grab a bush and stop herself. When they get to her, Nancy finds that someone sawed through her ski. Dede instantly tells them not to blame her, which I find a little odd. They get the clue and go back to headquarters. Mr. Lorenzo doesn't seem to think the accident was that bad and doesn't believe someone sawed her ski either. Okay, he's at the top of my suspect list now.

While hunting for the next clue, they wind up at the bell tower. Someone knocks an icicle off the roof that almost crashes into Grant's head, another teammate. Nancy tosses her bag at his back to make him move, which confuses him and probably makes him wet his pants. She and Ned head to the roof and find a green glove and a file like the one used to wreck George's ski. Conveniently, Mr. Lorenzo had one that went missing. Nancy then hears Joy talking to someone on the phone about their next meeting. Joy asks where she found her glove, denies being on the roof, and storms off.

Nancy has a run in with Dennis because she sees him with a computer. The graphics look exactly like those on Lorenzo's computer when he got the threatening message. One of his friends says he's a computer wiz, but Dennis tells her to back off. Lorenzo listens to what happened but refuses to do anything. He says that since Joy denied it was her, he has to take her at his word. All this despite telling the teams that anyone caught cheating would be disqualified.

The trio head over to Sports Mania to investigate, and George pretends to try on some clothes to keep the sales rep busy. Nancy finds a blackmail note that asks for $1,500 and proof that Lorenzo paid someone that same amount. The whole group then heads to a big party, but Lorenzo shows up and announces that he has to disqualify them. He says he saw one of their members in the woods looking for clues after the deadline. They get other people to say they were there the whole time, and he seems disappointed that they're still in the competition. The whole crew wears the same hats, but Nancy discovers that someone stole her hat.

Nancy and Ned decide to check out Dennis's room to see if he had anything to do with it. Though he comes back early and almost catches them, George plays the ditzy girl and distracts him long enough for them to get away. The next clue leads them to this big ass oak tree that has another clue hidden on the top. Nancy goes after it but almost falls to her death when the top branch breaks. Someone sawed almost all the way through it.

Joy's group shows up, but when Nancy warns her about the branch, she just laughs it off and asks it they want to blame that one her too. While she's in the tree, Nancy goes through her bag and finds the same muscle relaxants used on their desserts. Joy denies it was her and admits that she was meeting someone in secret but that it was a friend who needed help with her chemistry midterm. The chick is a braniac and didn't want anyone to know. Joy also admits to stealing Nancy's hat but just to be a bitch.

George and Nancy see Randy, the reporter, acting really weird and decide to follow him. They see him sneaking into Lorenzo's office in the store. He tells them that he's looking for a guy he wrote about in the past. The guy was at the center of a college sports points fixing scandal and skipped town before police could catch him. Randy believes that the guy is Lorenzo. Nancy then remembers seeing a photo of two of the athletes from the article in Dennis's room.

The final clue leads them to the drama club building. They think it's the new theater, but it's actually the old one, and when they get there, they find Dennis. Nancy asks when he found out who Lorenzo really was, but Ned flat out tells him that he's going to jail. He says they'll have to catch him first and jumps off the roof. It turns out that he went for the old fire escape, but the metal is really weak and starts breaking. Nancy has to climb down and after him to bring him back to the safety of the top of the fire escape and to wait for the cops.

Dennis tells her that his half-brother was one of the athletes caught up in the scandal. He threatened to turn Lorenzo into the police, but Lorenzo paid him off instead. Dennis got all the clues from him in advance and set everything up for the other teams to fail. He even made it look like Joy did everything. Unfortunately, Lorenzo then shows up and says that he has to end them all. He can't afford to keep paying off Dennis and can't have the girls tell on him, so he plans to break the fire escape off and let them all fall to their deaths.

Joy shows up and seems really confused about what's going on, but she's enough of a distraction that it lets Ned jump off the fire escape and tackle Lorenzo. Nancy then grabs the last clue and wins the challenge for Ned's fraternity. In the end, Joy tells them that her team will be back and win next year. Everyone fights over who really won until Nancy points out that because they put away a criminal, they're all winners.

*The last contest had teams cross-country skiing for five miles to find a clue hidden at the bottom of a well. That does not sound like fun at all. One team actually got stuck and needed rescuing, which makes it sound even worse.

*Ned brings the gals tea and muffins the first day of the challenge to get them in the right mood.

*The challenge only takes place during certain hours of the day, and all teams need to check in at headquarters at the end of the day. Lorenzo says this will keep teams from cheating, but I don't know how. They could check in and then go right back out.

*Ned's fraternity throws a luau and asks everyone to wear Hawaiian clothing. Nancy and George wear shorts and tank the middle of winter.

*I love Dennis's fraternity brothers in the end. They point out that they knew he didn't have the money to buy the new fancy computer he had but never guessed he was blackmailing someone. Well duh.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Sweet Valley Twins #106: Breakfast of Enemies

Jessica and Lila love this magazine called California Girl, which does an article called “Real Girl” each month about a normal reader. They both entered for the next month's issue and used Lila's address so they could find out together. Though letters come, Jessica gets a generic form rejection letter and Lila gets picked. They'll come to her house for a photo shoot and to learn all about her.

This naturally makes Lila the center of attention. Jessica tries to make it seem like she was the runner up, but Lila busts her and tells them she got a form letter. They all want to hear everything about the shoot. Janet even brags about how they're cousins. When Jessica finds out that Corny O wants to shoot a new commercial with twins, she decides that she and Liz should go for it. Liz agrees after realizing that she could use they money to buy software for the newspaper.

After practicing for a few days, they finally tell Ned and Alice about the commercial. They think it's a terrible idea because the way the twins fought during the whole Romeo and Juliet think. The only way they agree to let them try out is if they can be nice and get along until the audition. This leads to them going overboard with the compliments and even getting Steven involved so they can look better when compared to him.

At the audition, they get lines and a new jingle. They have to sing and say the lines together. Jessica gets called in first, and Stan, the director, just wants to hear her. He then calls in Liz. After hours of waiting, they get the news that he picked them. Stan gives them a contract and asks them to take it home and have their parents sign it. He also tells them that they're using twins to get around child labor laws. They'll basically share the commercial and each shoot half.

The problem arises when Jessica gets sick of hearing Lila brag constantly about her photo shoot. Jess tells them all about the commercial, but people just make fun or her and say that she's lying. To prove them wrong, she sings the new jingle. It's so ridiculous that they laugh at her even more. Janet says it would be embarrassing to go on national television and sing that. People start teasing Liz too, which makes her furious and sends her home after her twin.

After they fight again, Ned reminds them that they have a contract and that they have to work together. If he hears one more argument before the commercial is done, they're both grounded for a month. Jessica then watches her favorite actress on television talk about how actors are more important than directors and sometimes need to change things on their own, which gives her a new idea.

She first suggests to Stan that they change the jingle. When he rejects that idea, she shows up in way too much makeup. She then tries to change her outfit. Stan finally says that if she can't get it together, he'll fire them both. Knowing that she has plans for the money, Liz comes up with an idea of her own. She locks Jess in the makeup room and does her part. Liz then leaves and comes back to do Jessica's part.

It works well until Jessica rushes the set. Stan ignores her complaints and gives them one more scene. They both need to run around on an obstacle course and do different tasks that they'll them impose on a different background. The twins end up swings that crash into each other and fight, knocking over a giant box of the cereal and throwing it at each other. Stan then fires them both.

In the middle of all this, Steven decides that he wants to act too and gets Jess to call Stan and suggest him for a different commercial. Stan says he needs male twins for another cereal commercial and has auditions the following week. Steven tries to get Joe to pretend to be his twin and approaches a random guy in the mall named Manny who already has a twin, Danny. He finally finds a guy who kind of looks like him and goes to the audition. Stan throws them out because of his last name and also because he looks too much like the twins.

Liz and Jess feel bad about messing things up, especially Jess. Lila's magazine comes out, everyone makes a big deal out of it, and then they notice an ad for the twins' new commercial. They don't want to tell anyone that they were fired and turn down anyone who wants to watch it together with them. It turns out that Stan used their fighting with words about how twins share everything and love each other until it comes to the last serving of Corny O. Everyone loves the commercial, so the twins agree to stop fighting and enjoy a temporary truce.

*Lila has a lock on her mailbox and seems shocked that the Wakefields don't lock up their mail. As she says, you never know what's in there.

*Since when would Janet be upset about any Unicorn appearing in a national television commercial? She says that Jess singing the jingle will make them all look bad.

*This reminds me of the SVH book with the television show that I just recapped. In no way would Lila represent a typical California girl! Seriously, who thinks that a spoiled rich girl with numerous credit cards and a car phone (in the 80s) is typical?

*In case you were wondering, Manny and Danny get the other commercial LOL.

*The twins beat out more than 200 other twins for the parts despite the fact that other girls could sing and move completely in unison.

*Why would the director make such a big deal out of them doing everything together if he didn't plan on shooting them together? He says it's because he needed their shots to work together but it doesn't really make sense.

*It's nice to see Ned and Alice occasionally acting like real concerned parents of two kids.

*Bruce actually suggests buying enough copies of California Girl that every kid in school would get a copy, just to see Lila.

*When Steven hears who won the commercial he wanted, he runs upstairs and screams.

*Ned and Alice let the twins have a small amount of money for now and put the rest in their college accounts. He says that they'll pick up a lot from interest. I can totally see Jess spending it all in her first semester!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Nancy Drew (All New) Girl Detective #14: Bad Times, Big Crimes (2005)

Nancy just finished up a case and spent the last 30 hours on her feet, but she promised Ned that she'd go to a lecture with him at his college. Bess and George meet them there. Tracey Gaines, the granddaughter of two famous gangsters, just finished up a big project and wants to share what she learned. Nancy keeps falling asleep, and at one point, Ned wakes her up. She notices him wearing a suit exactly like every other man in the crowd, and all the women are in dresses. A newspaper she finds lists the date as 1930, the same year the woman researched.

Bess and George find a very confused Nancy outside and start talking about taking bread to Hooverville. It seems as though Nancy really did go back in time and landed smack dab in the middle of the Great Depression. After seeing Hooverville, they stumble across the Smith family. Clay Gaines and his partner, Edward Parker, are in the midst of evicting the family from their home. Bob lost the house while gambling. Nancy offers to let them stay with her.

After dropping Bess and George off at home, she gets lost because nothing looks familiar. Charlie, the same guy who saves her all the time in the modern era, finds her and helps her get home before telling her that his family is moving on to greener pastures. She gets home in time to see the chief with her dad. The chief tells her to leave them alone, but she does overhear them talking about some big bank robberies. That's when the Smith family shows up.

Carson is nice enough to let them stay for awhile, and Hannah makes a big dinner for the whole group. It's the parents, Bob and Sylvia, their four kids, a pet mouse, cat, rat, and two dogs. Nancy keeps pumping Bob for information on the casino where he lost his house. He keeps pointing out that she's a girl and can't do all the things she wants to do. She just knows that she can figure out what happened and get them their house back.

When Nancy learns that the only school in town shut down because the town couldn't afford to may the teacher anymore, she heads to Hooverville to speak to the teacher. The woman refuses to be a charity case, but Nancy comes up with a barter idea. All the parents will trade different things to get the teacher back. The idea comes to her after running into Ned. He works for the grocer in exchange for food for his family and didn't tell her because he didn't want her to look down at him. Nancy assures him that he's still her guy and gives him a kiss on the cheek.

She goes back to Hooverville the next morning though and finds the police tearing through. Deirdre shows up in a fancy party dress to help the cops find the person who stole an apple pie she made. They arrest a 10 year old boy and take in his whole family on suspicion of being bank robbers. Apparently stealing a pie because you're hungry is the same as robbing a bank.

Carson agrees to go over to the jail and see what he can do, but Nancy gets there first. Chief McGinnis already let the kid and his family go but warned them about stealing. Since Nancy knows Clay Gaines is a bad guy from the future, she brings him up to the chief. The chief thinks Clay is a good guy and actually has plans to meet him later. She drops a bunch of hints about setting up a roadblock to stop the real thief from leaving town. When he finally picks up on her hints, she gushes about how he's so smart and handsome before leaving as she rolls her eyes.

With some help from Ned in the form of suits that belong to him and his dad, Nancy and the gals dress up like gangsters. Since Bess still looks way too feminine, she literally takes them to a farm down the street, cuts some hair off a horse, and makes a fake mustache that she glues on Bess. Edward lets them into the casino after she claims that they know Clay but then slams the door on the them and locks it. He comes back with two other guys and sits everyone down to play some poker. George keeps winning, and Nancy makes an excuse to use the bathroom and take a look around. She finds Clay's ledger with all the proof that he's a thief.

Though the girls want to leave and stop playing, Clay won't let them leave because George is up by so much. Bess sneezes, which causes her fake mustache to fly across the table, and the guys realize all three are gals. After a short fight, they manage to get away. Nancy sends the other two to the police and leads the guys away from them. Chief McGinnis then shows up and stops Clay and his wife. Nancy shows him the ledger, but before he can do anything, they take off.

They don't even get a mile up the road before they run into a slew of cops. It turns out that George called the police departments in every nearby city for help. Chief McGinnis then takes all the credit, but Nancy gets the Smith's house deed from the ledger and takes it to them. Bob is so grateful that he gives Nancy a brand new dress he just made. She then heads to town hall for a special speech, feels tired, rubs her eyes, and wakes to find herself back in the present.

Tracey Gaines finishes up the speech with information on how the official word said that cops from other towns came in to help. Word on the street was that a female dogooder that no one ever named came forward and actually brought them down. Ned thinks that's funny and points out that it sounds like someone he knows. Nancy just smiles.

At the very end, Bess and George take Nancy to meet their Aunt Eliza who lived through the Great Depression. She has a frog that Nancy correctly guesses the name of based on the frog Eliza Smith had in the past but says it was just a guess. Eliza then gives her that look and tells her to stick to that story and that she'll never say a word.

*This book literally takes place less than a week after the last one, which I only know because Ned and Nancy talk about it at the beginning.

*My favorite part of this book is that Nancy has a blue convertible coupe just like she had in the original books when she went back in time.

*Deirdre's family is somehow still super wealthy and has no problems. She even says that anyone who wants to work can find a job, which made me roll my eyes.

*Carson worries about Nancy going out in the middle of the night when it's actually 8:30, but that's still way too late for a girl to be out alone.

*George has two hours to teach Bess and Nancy how to play poker and everything they know to beat the bad guys. That sounds a little impossible to me.