Thursday, January 18, 2018

Sweet Valley Kids #72: The Macaroni Mess

At some point in time and in one of the books I never read, the twins got a new teacher named Mr. Crane. He takes the whole class to a massive art exhibit and then announces that he wants them to put on their own show. Mr. Crane also loves animals and brings in a different animal each week. This week is a parrot named Petey.

The kids all have complete freedom to make anything they want. Winston goes totally creative and makes a bunch of abstract paintings. Jessica decides to make her own glittery crown that she can play with and wear later. Todd keeps sketching, and Charlie steals his pad to see what he's doing. It turns out that Todd is secretly an amazing caricature artist and did cartoons of everyone. He does Lois as a bunch of grapes because she wears purple all the time and draws Elizabeth with big feet playing soccer. All the kids start making fun of her, and Charlie gets them to call her Bigfoot.

Elizabeth eventually comes up with the best idea ever. She decides to paint a picture of a pony and then cover it in dried macaroni. All the other kids things this is the most creative and unique thing that anyone ever did in the history of the world. Caroline is less than pleased because she wanted to make a potato head doll. It doesn't go right and she can't get any help because people keep fawning over Elizabeth.

Lila shows up with a brand new art set that her mom sent from France. It literally has every type of art supply you can imagine in it. The kids all love it, and the teacher even says it looks like a professional artist's kit. Though she likes being the center of attention, she refuses to share with anyone but Jessica. When she can't get her project done in time because it turns out that she doesn't actually know how to use most of the supplies, Jessica helps her make a fairy wand out of a cardboard tube and some glitter.

Liz comes back to the classroom one day and sees her picture ruined. Someone ripped pieces of the macaroni off and threw them around the room. She blames Caroline and claims that the other girl was jealous. This causes a split right down the middle of the classroom with half of each side blaming the other. Elizabeth sneaks in and hides one day, which lets her catch Caroline touching her painting. Caroline denies ruining it and says she just wanted to see it.

Since Liz refuses to believe her, they have a big fight and start throwing paint at each other. Winston tries to break it up and gets covered in paint. He looks so ridiculous that they all start laughing. Liz then offers to help Caroline finish her doll in time for the show. They then see Petey come off his perch and start snacking on the macaroni, so they discover what actually happened.

Todd comes to Elizabeth to apologize about his caricature. He tells her that he drew her with big feet because she's so fast and so much better than him at soccer. They make up and he offers to not show her caricature. She takes the time to show Lois the nice things about the drawing he did, which leads to the kids all liking Todd again. In the end, all the parents come to the show and ooh and awe over their work.

*Lila doesn't find any of the art they see very impressive except for a single Picasso painting and only then it's because it looks like one her dad owns. Of course they have an original Picasso at home.

*Sweet Valley Kids books mention Lila's mom way more than any of the other ones do, which I think is because some of these books came out after she came back to SV and married George again.

*Elizabeth literally does macaroni art, and everyone acts like they've never heard of such a thing before. Even Alice and the teacher talk about how she's super creative. Um, have they literally never seen a preschool or kindergarten class before?

*Jerry finds bird feathers in the park and makes them into brushes he uses for painting, which is way more creative. Even more creative is Charlie. He coats marbles in different paint colors, puts a frame around a piece of paper, drops the marbles on top, and shakes the frame to get the paint onto the paper, which totally sounds like something I want to try.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Fear Street Sagas #3: Forbidden Secrets (R.L. Stine)

We start out at some date after this book takes place with an old woman in a mansion called Blackrose Manor. She talks about two sisters, Victoria and Savannah, and the troubles they faced.

It's then the 1860s in Georgia. Savannah is a beautiful woman in love with Tyler Fier, a handsome young man her brother, Zachariah, brought home. They sneak off together to look at the flowers and share some kisses. Tyler proposes to her and after she says yes, suggests telling everyone at the picnic. Savannah asks him to keep things quiet a bit because of her sister. It turns out that Victoria actually met him first, thought they had a connection, and was less than pleased when he went after her sister.

As it also turns out, Victoria was in the woods and watching them. Savannah catches her sister doing a black magic ritual and warning her that Tyler comes from an evil family and is evil himself. Big news comes in that the war is on. Tyler and Zachariah both run off to fight. Savannah begs Tyler to look after her brother, but he tells her that since he's from Massachusetts, he'll be on the north side. They have a fight, which ends with her calling off their engagement because being a southern girl is more important than following her heart. Tyler warns her that no one ever breaks a promise to him before leaving.

The war wages on and bad things happen. All the slaves leave, which means the sisters have absolutely no idea how to care for themselves. They nearly starve to death before resorting to eating worms and rotten vegetables. Victoria keeps doing black magic and warning Savannah about Tyler. Savannah then has a dream that Zachariah came to her bleeding. When she wakes, there is blood on the ground.

To make things worse, she gets a letter from Tyler that same day. He tells her how he saw her brother fall on the Gettysburg battlefield and that it made him realize love is more important than anything else. Tyler begs her to wait for him and eventually comes back for her. Despite Victoria's warnings, which include telling her that one of them will be dead within a year, Savannah packs them both up to move to Blackrose Manor in Massachusetts.

The house is...unique. Black roses grow everywhere, and the whole interior is black too. Tyler explains that his dad did it all after his wife passed away. He introduces them to Lucy, a young woman and friend of the family. After her parents passed away, his parents took her in and became her guardians. Lucy has an instant connection with Savannah. She wants to sit by her all the time, shows her the doll collection that Tyler gave her, and begs for them to become sisters.

Mrs. Moorehead, the housekeeper, makes it clear that she doesn't like these new guests and wants them gone. She even warns Savannah to leave as soon as possible. Victoria pretty much spends all of her time in her room and either doing black magic or warning her sister about evil. Savannah finds a cat and starts sleeping with it and makes friends with a servant Tyler hired for her.

One morning, Savannah feeds some of her sausage to the cat, and it passes out and nearly dies because someone poisoned it. She then wakes up in the middle of the night to her room on fire, but Tyler helps put it out. Lucy seems fascinated by the fire and wants to hear all about it. She also tries to put her hand through a candle flame and tells Savannah that her parents died in a fire.

Tyler thinks that they should move up the wedding as soon as possible, so Savannah sends her servant to town to get her a veil. The woman takes Savannah's horse, which freaks out for some unknown reason and bucks the poor girl. Savannah gets downstairs just in time to see the poor chick convulse a few times before dying as blood gushes out of her.

This all leads up to her overhearing a fight between Tyler and Victoria. When her sister attempts to kill him, Savannah rushes in and fights back. The two fight over a knife, which leads to Victoria following down and landing on the knife. She dies in her sister's arms. Savannah begins to suspect Lucy and tells her fears to Tyler. He says that Lucy actually killed her own parents and that they should get married right away.

By right away, he actually means the same flipping day that they bury her sister. After coming home, Lucy demands that she stay up and hang out with them. Tyler tells her to go to bed, which leads to her pitching a bitch fit because she loved him first and if he had married her, they would never fight. He calms her down and then gives her a fancy ruby ring that belonged to his mother, which I'm sure makes his new wife feel awesome. Lucy gives her one of those “he's mine bitch stay away looks” before flouncing off.

Savannah wakes to hear and see Lucy, which freaks her out. Instead of calling anyone, she heads downstairs, trips on the top step, and falls all the way to the bottom, which is where she finds poor dead Lucy. Savannah then has the unfortunate experience of finding the housekeeper dead and stuffed in the oven, though honestly this may have happened before Lucy.

While trying to find her husband, she actually finds him doing dark magic. As it turns out, Victoria was right all along. Tyler is totes evil. He killed everyone and planned on killing his wife last. He also has Lucy's hand out to do some ritual. Tyler also reveals that he actually died on the battlefield at Gettysburg too. Zachariah came at him with a bayonet and stabbed him, but Tyler managed to get a few hits in too. Zachariah died first, and Tyler died a little while later.

The two fight until Savannah somehow gets the upper hand. She manages to knock his table over, which interrupts his spell. This makes him start melting or something. His eyeball falls out and then his skin starts peeling back. In the end, we learn that Savannah was the old lady telling the story in the future. Oh, and the person she's telling her story to? That would be the skeleton of her dead husband!

*Moral of the story? Do not go after someone after someone else calls dibs. I'm sorry but Savannah says multiple times that her sister was in love with Tyler or had feelings for him and then winds up with him anyway. So many issues wouldn't happen if people just wouldn't screw around behind their loved ones' backs.

*Lucy's doll collection consists of dolls dressed all in black with black hair and black eyes. She shows Savannah one with its eye missing and says that “Lucy died” before pointing out that all her dolls are named Lucy. She also took one, cut its hair off, and dressed it in Tyler's old clothes. Creepy.

*Victoria is the only one who picks up on Lucy having feelings for Tyler. Savannah denies it's possible because the girl is so young, but her sister then points out that Lucy is the exact same age that Savannah was when she met Tyler. How did she never put that together?

*I kind of want to know what actually happened to Lucy's parents! She says they died in a fire, and Tyler says she killed them. It's also worth noting that she tells Savannah once they marry that Savannah will now carry the Fier curse like her family once did, which makes me wonder if they were cousins or something...

*This is a fiction book, but it's super unrealistic that no one uttered a peep about Savannah moving into Tyler's mansion before they were officially engaged.

*Savannah realizes at some point that Zachariah came to her to warn her about Tyler. She kind of makes it out like it was her brother's ghost or possibly a dream, but neither theory explains why he literally dripped blood on her floor.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Sweet Valley High #125: Camp Killer

Liz and Joey are now officially a couple and can't keep their hands off each other. This displeases Nicole to a great degree. She encourages Joey to tell a story about Crazy Freddy, which has some connection to the original camp legend. This one occurred more recently and involves the police finding boots in the woods with severed legs inside. The cops eventually found more body parts before the killings just stopped.

Nicole decides to make Elizabeth's life a living hell and sneaks a letter into her bunk supposedly from Joey that asks her to meet him in the woods. She then sneaks outside and chops some wood, which causes Liz to flip out. Liz starts to run away but hangs out just in case Joey shows up. Though she thinks Nicole played a trick on her, by the time she gets back to the cabin, she wonders if she just made up the whole thing because she was tired. Sure.

While the two are out making out on the water, Nicole takes a picture of them. She writes a letter to Todd to tell him all about his whore of a girlfriend and while sending it, discovers that Liz finally wrote him a letter. Liz only did so because Todd sent her a care package with some of her favorite stuff. Nicole steals the letter, but Maria catches her. The two have a nice and long talk about their friendship and how upset Nicole is at her best friend moving away. She lets Maria tear up the letter she wrote to Todd and puts Liz's back.

Jessica and Paul don't really seem to mind being stuck at his house in the middle of the night. He “borrows” a neighbor's horse and uses it to get her back to camp. His parents find out though and refuse to let him sneak away to see Jessica in the middle of the night. You know this book must take place in Montana because Sweet Valley parents don't discipline their teenagers. She decides to just sneak around to see him anyway.

I never mentioned this before because I didn't really care, but the camp is hosting Color Wars, which is just an excuse to pit Nicole and Liz against each other. Lacey names them captains of the opposing teams. Nicole sneaks into Lacey's office and changes the names around, so that she can have Joey on her team. When it comes time to announce the assignments though, Joey is on Liz's team. Liz gives her a nasty look and pretty much shoves her tongue down Joey's throat in front of her.

Since Jessica and Elizabeth look exactly alike in their camp clothes, Jess convinces her twin to pull the twin switch so that she can spend the day with Paul. Liz gets stuck working overtime because her twin never comes back. Paul suggests that they pull a prank on the camp and make them think there's a psycho in the woods. Unfortunately, an actual psycho comes out of nowhere and grabs Jess. Tanya, Paul's little sister who is obsessed with her, stumbles across them. The guy punches her in the face and takes her with them.

Lila and Bo spend most of the book ignoring their responsibilities to spend time together. Bo has flowers flown in and caters a special meal to make Lila feel like she's in Paris. She does the same thing for him because he loves Hawaii. They can't stop talking about how rich they are and how perfect they are for each other.

Because of her twin sense, Liz realizes that there is something wrong. People start freaking out about where Jessica is and what happened to her. Joey suddenly remembers an abandoned cabin in the woods and runs off to find her. Paul comes stumbling out of the woods with no idea what happened to him or what happened to Jessica. Nicole and Liz team up to go out and track down the missing twin, though Nicole really only cares about Joey.

Lacey goes to call the cops but comes back to force everyone to the camp. The cops reveal that there is an escaped convict on the loose from North Dakota, which totally made me look up where ND is on the map in relation to Montana, despite me having visited both states on a family vacation. Bo and Lila hear the news and wander off into the woods to look for her best friend.

Cobra, the dude who kidnapped Jessica and Tanya, see Joey coming to the cabin and nail him over the head. He then catches Liz outside and grabs her too. Nicole distracts the guy as she tells him to just kill the twit because she's so annoying. Paul then shows up and bases Cobra over the head, which knocks him out. They tie him up just as the cops get there.

After all this, Nicole decides that she no longer wants Joey and tells Maria that she has her eye on Derek, the counselor who conveniently looks just like Ken Matthews. Maria promises to be her pen pale once she moves back and suggests that Nicole calm down a little and make some new friends. Nicole and Liz bond, with Nicole giving her blessing to Liz and Joey.

Early in the book, Joey gave Liz his Yale sweatshirt because Liz couldn't possibly fall in love with someone going to a state school. She starts thinking about Todd and how much she misses him, which makes her realize that she wants to be with him. In the end, she gives Joey the sweatshirt back and tells him that this is the end of their relationship. He tells her to keep it as something to remember him by, but she cries because she'll never forget him. Ugh. Jess and Paul break up too, but she explains that she'll never forget him because he showed her that she could love again after Christian. And again and again and again and again.

Lila and Bo make it back before camp ends, in case you were wondering. While lost in the woods, they find some crop duster with a plane. He agrees to drop them off before asking his boss, who says no. Conveniently, he and his brother want to start their own crop dusting business and just need $1,000 more. They agree to give him the cash, and he refuses until he calls his brother. His brother was the one flying in all their special crap all summer and knows they have the cash. Lila winds up hanging out of the side of the plane though because the cockpit is so small. Jessica sees her coming because she recognizes her shoes.

*There is no explanation for what happened with the team lists. Nicole changed the names like the night before. Joey thought he was on her team and even dressed in her color, but he was somehow back on Liz's team before the Color Wars started.

*I actually felt really bad for Nicole in this book. Her scenes with Maria show that she's afraid of being on her own and doesn't know what to do when her best friend leaves her. It's kind of bitchy how Maria treats her.

*Nicole also reveals that she met Joey three years ago when she was a camper and he was a counselor. This was the first year that they were both counselors, so she was ready to finally make her move. It sucks that Liz came in with a boyfriend and ruined things for her. It's even worse when you find out that Joey and Nicole both live in New York and Liz lives on the opposite side of the freaking country.

*Why did no one ever consider what would happen at the end of summer? Liz acts like she suddenly just realized that Joey was going to college on the East Coast and she was going back to California.

*I hate Liz for one particular moment in this book. She outright says that she wants to have fun with Joey but wants to know that Todd will be waiting for her at home. Bitch!

*When the crop duster tells Lila and Bo that they don't understand how much money $1,000 really is, she tells him that she has dresses at home that cost twice that lol.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Sweet Valley High #124: Meet Me at Midnight

In case you missed it, the twins went to Camp Echo Mountain for their 700th summer jobs between junior and senior year. Liz naturally fell in love with a dude – Joey – and cheated on Todd, and Jessica fell for Paul, a local guy who treated her like shit. Nicole, Maria's former best friend, arranged for Todd to show up, which brings us to now.

Elizabeth is totally devastated at seeing Todd and drops Joey's hand like a hot potato. Despite just seeing her holding hands with another guy, Todd has no clue anything is different. He gushes about how Nicole is such a cool chick and how much he missed Liz. Todd already made arrangements to spend a few days with Winston in his cabin because he couldn't wait to see Liz again. She acts like she's totally fine with things and then whines about her life is so unfair.

Nicole fakes spraining her ankle in front of Todd. He helps her sit down and stretch before wrapping her ankle for her and then once again talks about how she's such a great gal. Nicole arranges for the two of them to have a romantic candlelit dinner in front of everyone in the cafeteria, which like totally breaks Joey's heart. He gets Liz alone and tells her that she needs to make a decision. Since she can't imagine feeling the way she does about Joey with anyone else, she tells him that she'll end things with Todd.

That lasts for five seconds or until Todd reminds her of all the times they had back home. She decides to not break up with him but make Joey think she did, which Maria tells her is a terrible and stupid idea. That's when Nicole says that either she dump Joey and put in a good word for her or she'll send Todd a letter and tell him all about her summer fling. Liz reluctantly dumps Joey and tells him that he would make a much better match with Nicole.

Jessica cannot stop thinking about Paul and assumes that he feels the same way. She then gets a letter from him that calls her a silly blond and says he has no time for her. Instead of crying or calling him a jackass like normal people would, she declares that no man can ever walk away from her. Man, she would do so well in a Lifetime movie of the week.

She goes to an older counselor named Suzanne and finds out that Paul had something special with another junior camper the previous year. She was only using him to make her boyfriend jealous though and when she dumped him, he declared that he would never date a counselor again. Damn, dude. That's like me having one bad Oreo and saying I'll never eat cookies again.

Working with his little sister, she tricks him into rowing out onto the lake with her. She tells him all about how she heard about his old relationship and how he's only turning her down because he's scared. Jessica then tells him all about Christian and how hurt she was at his death, which leads Paul to reconsider. He decides that he will date her just to prove that he isn't chicken.

The camp is putting on some huge production and invites everyone to try out. Jessica naturally gets the lead role, which pairs her with Derek, the guy who conveniently looks just like Ken. He keeps suggesting that they practice kissing, and she keeps freaking out over how seeing him makes her think of how badly she hurt Ken. Then she goes right back to moping over Paul.

After enlisting some help from Lila, she sneaks out and into town to see Paul at work, once again stealing Lacey's, the owner's, car. She shows him how she's just a normal chick by working the grill with him. After some more kissing, she heads back to camp and almost gets caught by Lacey. Lacey calls her in for a meeting and makes it clear that she knows Jessica keeps fooling around. One more mistake and she's gone.

Since that means never seeing Paul again, she tries to be on her best behavior. A minor issue with her kids leads to Lacey reminding her that she has one more chance. She made plans to sneak out to see Paul but can't make it. When she tries to call him, Lacey is waiting by the phone. Since she can't say what she wants to say with the woman there, Jessica sends him a letter and asks him to come to the show. The mailman points out that he won't get the letter for two or three days, so she somehow manages to convince him to break the law for her and drop the letter off in person.

When she doesn't hear from Paul on Wednesday, the day of the show, she borrows a bike and rides into town. It's actually his day off though, so she gets someone to give her a ride to his house. Paul never got her letter and assumed she didn't want to see him again. He calls her a bunch of names again until she throws herself at him and apologizes. They make up, but she left her bike back at the diner and has no way to get back to camp. She basically says screw it and spends the night watching the stars with him.

Meanwhile, poor Winston thinks his Maria is a cheater. She keeps writing him letters about this cowboy named Hank. Aaron and Todd, while he's still there, try to turn him into a cowboy. They make him wear boots and a hat and even sign him up for horseback riding lessons. The only thing that happens is a 15-year-old camper named Lara starts throwing herself at him.

She starts out counseling him about Maria and listening to him whine before dropping hints about how he's such a hottie and how she would never cheat on him. Lara wears revealing clothing all the time and flirts way too well for someone her age. She even has him rub oil on her back while sunbathing. Winston gets another letter from Maria that includes a photo of her with Hank, some super old guy. He tells Lara that he loves his girlfriend and doesn't want to be with her. That's totes fine with her because she decided older guys are too much work and runs off to see some other guy.

Elizabeth spends the whole book in pain because Joey keeps ignoring her. He starts seeing Nicole and seeing a lot of her apparently. I only say that because she sees them in the barn together and walks away to the sounds of kissing and clothing rustling. Oh, and Nicole later wakes up in one of his shirts, which he gave her the night before. Liz just loves him so much yo.

Since Jessica never shows up for the performance, Liz takes her place. In case you forgot, she wrote the dang thing. Everyone goes crazy at the end because she did such an amazing job. Joey comes up and tries to kiss her, but she pushes him off because she can't believe that he now has a thing for her twin. Joey says he knows she's Liz because he spent all summer mooning over her and watching her every move. He tells her that he wants to be with her, damn Todd, and that seeing the two together made him realize that she doesn't actually love her boyfriend.

In the end, Jessica wakes up at two am in Paul's arms where they fell asleep. She has no idea how she will get back without Lacey knowing...

*Liz is such a bitch to this girl in her cabin! She thinks to herself multiple times about how the girl shouldn't eat so much and how she spills almost as much food on herself as she puts in her mouth. Gee, I though she was like best buds with Lois?

*Jessica's girls love her so much that they now dress and walk like her. Liz describes seeing them in cut off jean shorts and doing the hip swivel. That disturbs me on so many levels.

*Okay, so Jessica telling Paul about Christian really should have sent him running in the opposite direction. She literally tells him about cheating on her boyfriend and falling in love with a guy like five minutes ago and now she's all about him. Has he never heard that you don't stick your dick in crazy?

*Liz and Joey annoy me SOOOOO much! She's totally willing to take him back even after seeing him and Nicole together all the time, which means he's a user. He's also willing to be with her even though she has a boyfriend back home. You all suck.

*If Lacey knew Jessica stole her car, why does she not just fire her and send her home? It doesn't make any sense that she would just keep giving her second chances.

*Most of the first two chapters are pointless. Liz recaps everything that happened with Joey, and Jessica goes over the whole thing with Paul. Nothing really happens for like 20 pages.

*Lila and Bo keep sneaking off together and having gourmet food flew in from some store in Sweet Valley for picnics. Lacey finds the whole thing ridiculous but just makes snarky comments without telling them to stop.

*Liz finds Lila on her knees and working on a costume before the show. Lila gets snarky with her about how she took a sewing class at the community college while dating Robby. Liz points out that she always thought Lila would hire people to do that kind of work, which actually makes sense.

*I'm still really confused by the ages and how this camp works. Lara is 15 and a camper. She turns 16 before the end of the summer, but Lacey wouldn't hire her as a junior counselor. All the other counselors are around 16-17, but then there are some random older counselors too. Oh, and Suzanne has some huge ass cabin by herself.

*Lacey has a whole rule about campers and counselors not dating too. Why would she not put some age differences between them then?

*I hate Paul as much as I hate Joey, maybe even more. He treats Jessica like such shit! If a guy keeps saying he doesn't want to be with you and calling you names, you do not chase after him and act like he's the love of your life!!

*I also hate the whole play thing. All the counselors and campers can try out, but Jessica gets the lead role. The campers all get small parts, usually with no words. Jessica says that a bunch of famous stars got their start at the camp, which makes no sense. Performing arts camps are for the campers to perform and get some experience, not the counselors.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Fear Street Sagas #2: House of Whispers (R.L. Stine)

Even though the last book took place in the early 1900s, this one takes us all the way back to the Civil War. Amy Pierce is on her way to New Orleans to live with her mother's cousin, Angelica Fear, as well as Angelica's husband Simon Fear. Amy's own father was injured in the War, her mother went to be with him, and it's way too improper for a young woman to live on her own. She arrives and meet her cousins Hannah and Julia. Angelica also introduces her to Nellie, one of the servants.

Hannah is pretty much your spoiled little rich girl, while Julia isn't as pretty but much nicer. Angelica goes out of her way to give Hannah anything she wants and makes a big deal out of her at the same time ignoring her other daughter. Nellie talks an awful lot but seems pretty nice. Julia stops by that night and warns Amy to never open her door at night, no matter what she might hear. She explains that she once saw a servant disappear into a fog. Her parents told her it was just a dream, but the next day she found part of a bone in the hallway.

Angelica also offers to read Amy's fortune with her tarot cards. She explains that it's impossible for them to contact her parents but that she can use the cards to see what the future holds. When Amy attempts to hold the cards, each one flies up into the air and around her, which causes her to freak out and run away.

While hanging around outside, she hears a women crying out and finds their neighbor clinging to a terrace as a water moccasin tries to attack. Amy grabs a hoe and absolutely goes to town on the sucker, turning it to a pile of mush. The woman introduces herself as Mrs. Hathaway, and Amy briefly meets the woman's son David. He was injured in the war and wears both an eye patch and a sling.

Mrs. Hathaway invites Amy over for tea, and she winds up meeting David and blurting out that she thinks he shouldn't hide from his eye patch. They bond and get along really well, which makes it awkward when Angelica tells her to stay away. According to her, David escaped a Union prison by killing a guard and now has a taste for killing.

Cut to some big random dance. Hannah goes on and on about how handsome David is and how she should be the one going to the dance. Angelica even tells her daughter directly in front of Amy that she might actually be prettier than her older cousin. Amy previously gave Julia her old charm bracelet for luck, and Julia gives it back to her in the hopes of it bringing her luck that night.

Angelica spends some time with this rich and snotty girl named Chantal. Chantal has the hots for David and keeps whining about him dancing with this girl named Bernice. Angelica deliberately pushes Amy out of the conversation and goes on and on about how David and Chantal would be absolutely perfect together. David then comes over and asks Amy to dance, leaving them both speechless.

When David goes to get her a drink, a fire breaks out. Amy discovers the cause of the fire is poor Bernice as the woman rushes at her while literally on fire. Her hair and face actually begin melting away before Amy can get a blanket to smother the flames. David later comes to her and tells her that he was so worried when he couldn't find her, and they both admit that they are in love. Right as she gets home, something falls in front of her.

That “something” was poor Nellie. Her face gets obliterated by the pavement and to make things even worse, she actually lives for a few minutes before finally dying. And to make things even more worse, Amy discovers that Nellie fell out of her own bedroom window when she heads upstairs and finds the window shattered. Julia pretty bluntly tells everyone that she saw Nellie fall by her own window.

Amy and David begin sneaking off to see each other, but Angelica finds out about them. He unexpectedly needs to leave town for awhile and tells her to meet him in a certain spot on a certain day when he gets back. When she gets there, he never shows up. She does, however, have a vision of someone drowning Chantal and David being the one pushing her under the water.

When they all head to the beach the next day, Amy literally stumbles over the poor girl's dead body. Angelica tells her to take the kids and go, but when she turns around, she sees the woman dabbing a handkerchief in her blood and putting in her pocket. She then has a vision of Mrs. Hathaway dying and rushes to her house. Just as the woman is about to fall down the stairs, David comes out of nowhere and saves her. Amy tells them everything she saw and tells David that she loves him.

She also learns from Julia that Angelica keeps burning the letters that her mom sent and lying, saying that she never got any mail. Amy sees Angelica talking to David one night after he leaves and things get weird. Angelica gets all dark and shouts at him. She and David decided that they need to get away.

Before they can really do anything though, it's All Hallows Eve. Angelica claims that she had the servants take the kids for the day, so they could spend some time alone together. That really means that she wants to feed Amy to her undead minions or something like that. This random column of smoke suddenly appears that is filled with faces of dead people, and she pushes Amy at it while claiming that if only the poor teenage girl was evil like her then she wouldn't have to do this.

Amy starts to give in but then fights back. White flames appear out of nowhere and spread across her body. The flames keep moving and eventually cause Angelica to fall down the stairs and the smoke column to completely disappear. Amy runs to tell David what happened, but he simply grabs her and carries her back. It turns out that Angelica has the power to make him do anything she wants.

As he carries her, Amy keeps telling him who she is and how much she loves him, but he can only hear Angelica. That changes when Amy pulls out his family's ring, which he gave her as a promise of what they would have in the future. Instead of shooting Amy with the gun Angelica gives him, he turns it around and shoots Angelica. As she lies on the ground and wails, Amy and David leave.

The book then cuts to the two of them leaving town with Mrs. Hathaway. She asks if they really need to leave or if there is another solution, but they both tell her this is the only option. Amy wonders aloud about Julia and feels sorry for her, but David tells her that she needs to move on because the Fears have her now. Nice. Amy then pauses to look back and watches as the Fear Mansion grows smaller and smaller in the distance...

*So Julia is actually a nice kid born into the wrong family and clearly nothing like her mother or older sister. It totally makes sense for them to just leave her behind.

*Angelica tried to keep David and Amy apart because she had him “reserved” for Hannah. Yes, her daughter who isn't even old enough to go to dances but is somehow old enough to be with a guy old enough to fight in the war. Creepy. Also, Angelica made it clear that he was only a passing fad and that she would get rid of him as soon as Hannah grew tired of him.

*These books are so gruesome so far! Nellie literally has one eyeball pushed back into her skull, the other one is flapping in the breeze, and the skin on her face is either in flaps or scraped off.

*The Pierce women have magic in them, which is why the tarot cards worked for Amy. Angelica kind of makes it seem like they all use dark magic though...

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Nancy Drew Case Files #47: Flirting with Danger (1990)

Ned's good college friend Josh got an internship out in Hollywood and invited Ned to come stay with him and his family in Beverly Hills for a few weeks and is nice enough to invite Nancy along too. Though they look forward to spending some time alone, she almost immediately gets caught up in a mystery. Rachel, Josh's little sister, is just about to graduate from high school. Nancy overhears her fighting with someone named Dennis on the phone before she goes missing. Rachel drives to her graduation but never shows up.

Our list of suspects include:

Beth: Rachel's best friend keeps trying to tell Nancy something and then hesitating. She also wears this necklace with a cat charm that has white eyes, which she constantly twists when she's nervous, so all the time.

Jessica: Jessica is a super bitch. She keeps saying that it's a good thing Rachel is gone and that no one will miss her, and she stops Beth from talking to Nancy several times.

Mike: Mike was Rachel's boyfriend for years until she dumped him for Dennis. He's not too happy about the break up but assumes that they'll eventually get back together.

Dennis: Dennis is our main suspect. The only problem is that no one can find him. Nancy sees him in a club one time, but he runs away in a panic. They later stake out his apartment, find the door unlocked, and discover that someone ransacked the place. Mike sees Rachel's jacket left behind and finds a note in the pocket that asks someone to please find them.

Nancy checks the appliance store where Dennis worked. Ralph, his boss, says that he fired him because he stole some speakers from him and that he was bad news. She also learns about a rash of thefts in Beverly Hills. Someone leaves a note that says the Kats have Rachel and for her to drop the case. Another someone breaks into the house and ransacks Rachel's room.

Rachel then calls home to tell her parents that she's fine, to stop looking for her, and that she'll be home soon. The cops keep searching for her though. I'll be honest here: I really didn't like this book and started skimming big chunks. It's mainly Nancy and Ned talking with people who know nothing or people who refuse to talk to them. Rachel eventually comes home and tells them the whole story.

She and all her friends were the Beverly Hills robbery ring. Dennis got them involved after getting the job at the appliance store. Ralph, his boss, hired Dennis to steal used appliances for him to sell in his store, and Dennis then brought in Rachel and her rich friends because they knew which houses had what. She tells them that she had proof on videotape, which is why they broke into her house. They also used the Kats name as their club.

Nancy gets Rachel to tell her where they have Dennis. She gets Ralph to confess to everything with the police standing by. It turns out that he would get rid of the serial numbers and make fake warranty information to sell used appliances. He even has a bunch of stolen goods in the basement and was stupid enough to put his name on the building's lease. Dennis confesses to everything and begs the cops to leave Rachel out of it. They tell Nancy that Dennis will likely get charged but that Rachel will be fine. Ned then asks if they can have a normal vacation and kisses her.

*Dennis is supposedly a bad guy. The club he goes to though is for kids under 18 that doesn't serve alcohol. He also looks like a punk according to multiple people, but is clean cut enough that he works in an appliance store.

*Was there really a big market for used appliances in 1990? It seems like an awful lot of work to sell crap like radios and whatever.

*Um no, Rachel would face some charges in the end. Dennis says he bullied her into helping him and that she wasn't guilty, except that she totally helped them steal stuff. There are tons of women in jail/prison right now because they did stuff for their boyfriends.

*My copy is in a collector's edition copy with two other books. The back lists the name of each one and calls this one Flirting with Disaster, even though it's actually called Flirting with Danger.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Unicorn Club #22: Jessica's Dream Date

The Unicorn Club and all the rest of Sweet Valley is all atwitter because Johnny Buck is coming back to town. This time he's coming to do a fundraising concert for the pediatric hospital, which is apparently the leader in children's cancer treatments, which is something you'd think we would have heard before. A local talk show held a contest and let everyone send in postcards. One winner will get the chance to meet Buck and show him around town.

Lila absolutely cannot stop bragging because her dad got the whole club VIP passes for the club. She literally will not shut up about it and acts like it's the most important thing in the history of the world. That's why she's less than happy when Johnny appears on the show, draws a name, and announces that Jessica is the winner. Everyone goes apeshit about how she's the luckiest girl in the world.

The next day, the club confronts her and tells her that it wasn't just Jessica that won, it was the whole club. They expect her to let them all tag along on the date. Lila comes up with an idea “on the spot,” which Mandy realizes is bull honky, and suggests that she bring along her new camera and film the whole date. The girl guilt trip Jessica about how future Unicorns will want to know something so cool happened to the club. She agrees to let one girl document the date and picks Mandy.

Sadly, no news is not good news. No one ever contacts Jessica to tell her that she won or win Johnny will come to her house. Lila says it's because the Wakefields are nothings. She even says that the studio probably called around, realized Jessica was a loser, and decided to cancel the concert. Jess finally tells them that no one came come along or have anything to do with her date from now on.

That all changes when Mandy films her sitting at home and waiting for someone to stop by and talk to her about the concert. A limo comes down the street, which causes the Unicorns to race out of the bushes with a banner. It's actually just Lila's limo though, which makes her feel stupid. As a few more days go by with no word, people doubt that Johnny will show through.

This causes Jessica and Steven to fight like all the time. He tells her that she already knows she won and to relax, which causes her to tell him that the studio might not know that she knows. They wind up arguing to the point where Ned and Alice step in and tell Jessica to shut up. She gets a postcard that says she won, calls and gets someone in Minneapolis, and then gets transferred to someone in Nevada. They tell her that according to contest rules in the state, all prizes must be in accordance with the advertised terms and that Johnny will be there Saturday morning.

Since she wanted Johnny to do something big, she makes a fake note from him and asks Steven to help her find someone to deliver it. They head down to the musicians' hall and find a hot guy who kind of looks like Johnny and drives a motorcycle. He agrees to bring it to her in school the next day. Everyone is in shock when he shows up because they think he's actually Johnny, but then they turn on Jessica about how it's lame he sent a lookalike in his place. She makes up a story about how he called and gets Mandy to go along with her before banning the club from meeting him.

Needless to say, the whole club shows up despite her telling them not to and beg to meet him. Lila just does her nails and says he'll never show up. Suddenly, a bunch of fancy cars and limos comes down the street. Stan Keno, his manager, comes out first, keeps talking on his cell phone, and confuses Mandy for Jess. He also takes away the camera because all footage shot of Johnny is their property.

Johnny finally steps out of the car, shakes Jessica hand, smiles at her, and then hops back inside. Stan gives Mandy back her camera and starts to leave. When Jessica points out that Johnny never even said a word, Stan makes him say something and then tells her they'll send her a copy of the picture. As they try to leave, Mandy tells him about the state contest rules, he calls a lawyer, finds out it's true, and makes Johnny stay behind.

Since she's just a kid, Jessica suggests taking Steven's new moped, which he somehow completely restored with some help from Joe Howell. Since Johnny rides motorcycles in all his videos, she thinks he can handle it no problem. He actually loses control and crashes into the wall. When Steven comes running out and demands to know what happened, Johnny sneers at him about it being a child's toy and practically throws money at him.

The Unicorns then sneak outside and try to see him, so she closes the garage door in their faces. Mandy gets rid of them, they start towards the bus stop, and Johnny keeps stopping to talk on his cell phone, so she “accidentally” runs into him and breaks his phone. Things do not go as planned at all. Johnny falls asleep on the bus, people keep making fun of him, and then he trips over his own feet. He winds up exploding on some poor kid about how he's a star and deserves better.

They head to the stable because he rides horses in his videos, but he acts like a big baby. When he tries to get on the horse, he catapults himself over the side and lands on his butt. The Unicorns once again show up, to which Mandy sends them away and tells them that Johnny feel while saving Jessica from a runaway horse. Johnny calls for a limo and says he'll drop them off on the way. Mandy threatens him with the video that shows all his mistakes, the girls play keep away with him, and he can hardly keep up because he's so out of shape. He gives in and agrees to let them go to the press conference with them, which is good because Lila's dad got the Unicorns invites and they'll all be there.

Johnny makes lovey dovey eyes at Jessica in front of the cameras and gives a big speech about how he made such a special friend in Sweet Valley. He then stops to talk to the Unicorns about how their friend is so amazing and compliments Lila about how she must be a special girl if her dad is on the hospital board. Jessica demands that they go swimming like he did in his latest video. He refuses but quickly changes his mind if they can stop by the hotel first. Johnny uses this as an excuse to try and escape but they catch him and make him go.

It turns out that he can't swim at all. He literally falls in the water and acts like he's drowning before Jessica “rescues” him and shows him that the water is only four-feet deep. Some kids don't believe he's Johnny Buck because he's so lame and point out some other guy they think is the real Johnny. The guy turns out to be Chad, the dude Jessica had deliver the message.

Chad is also Johnny's cousin and, as it turns out, his body double. He's the one who rides motorcycles, swims, and does all the other adventure stuff. Mandy wonders if Johnny can even sing, which horrifies Jessica. Johnny agrees to take them to the concert and sing with them. He sounds really awful until Chad adjusts his microphone. Stan shows up, which causes Johnny to explode on him and tell him all about the video. He sends Chad and the girls to lunch, meets them, and asks what he can do to get the tape, which is something you never ask Jessica Wakefield.

It turns out that she wants backstage passes for her family and friends and wants to record a video like the ones Johnny usually makes. She and Chad do all the stuff she wanted to do with Johnny as he turns away from the camera. They then cut it together in the editing studio, and Chad agrees to play it before the concert. Though they get stuck in traffic on the way to the stadium, a helpful motorcycle cop stops them and literally gives them a police escort. I fucking hate this town.

Though everyone is super excited, Stan shows up with some bad news. It seems as if Johnny is too sick to go on stage. All the Unicorns feel so bad for him, but Jessica bursts into tears because he probably got sick when he fell in the water, which makes it completely her fault. Chad gets her alone to tell her that Johnny is just throwing a fit like he always does and isn't really sick. Shocked, she rushes off to go back to the hotel. How she gets there with no car and all the traffic is anyone's guess.

When Johnny pretends like he really is sick, Jessica tells him all about how she's selfish just like he is. She then reveals that Stan's son had cancer a few years ago and that he's paying for the whole concert out of his own pocket. Johnny is shocked because he was once really closed to Stan's family before becoming a jackass.

Stan goes out to tell the crowd that Johnny won't make it, but Johnny then shows up and interrupts him to apologize for being late. Johnny puts on an amazing show and drags Jessica and Mandy out to sing with him as their video plays. He then gives a little speech about how Jessica completely changed his life and he's so glad he met her before running backstage and bringing out all the Unicorns and Elizabeth and Steven.

In the end, the Unicorns want to know what happened to the outtakes from the day because they want to see them. Jessica and Mandy keep trying not to laugh as they tell them that all that footage mysteriously went missing. Kimberly then begins bragging about how she's the most mature member of the club, which sets up the very last book in The Unicorn Club series.

*When Lila first suggests filming the date, the other Unicorns come up with ideas about how they can help, as in setting up the tripod and even mounting the camera on a Range Rover for steady shots. Mandy is the first one to realize that they're once again just trying to horn in on the date.

*Jessica and Steven keep fighting because of the whole contest thing. Ned and Alice eventually yell at her but say nothing to him, even though he started it. Did they forget what happened with that other concert?

*Jess keeps talking about how gorgeous Johnny is and how she's sure he'll fall for her, which leads Ned to tell her that she's too young to get serious with anyone. She later says that she'll share anything she gets except for Johnny because he's all hers. Alice then busts in and tells her that if she doesn't stop being ridiculous that she won't get to meet him at all. Knowing how Jessica acts in high school, I almost feel bad for Alice.

*When dressing up, Jessica puts on some makeup and says that the Unicorns rarely wear makeup to school. Say what now?

*Her outfit to meet him is a pair of slim cut black pants, a white tee, cropped denim vest, and black leather boots. Nice but not really appropriate for a kid in junior high.

*Stan keeps talking on his phone about how their team gets like 95% of souvenir sales, 90% of concession sales, and 75% of parking. That's not how that works. Why would a venue even book him if they couldn't make money off their stuff? It's not like his team is paying for ingredients for the concession stand!

*If Lila is such a freaking hot shot, why can't she just have her dad hire Johnny to perform for her next party?

*You know there is no way that if Lila won she would put up with their crap. They treat Jessica like shit when they think Johnny will flake out and then stalk them all over town just to meet him.

*The Johnny and Jessica thing really creeped me out! He has to be like 18 or so since he has his own house, car, etc., but he keeps holding her hand on the red carpet and making eyes at her on camera. How does no one find that gross?