Friday, August 26, 2016

Sweet Valley High Super Edition: Falling for Lucas

The twins and most of their friends are heading off to Colorado for a school sponsored ski trip. Lila and Jessica spend time shopping and bitching about how they need to find the perfect guy. Enid is less than happy at the idea of competing with them for guys. Liz doesn't seem to care one way or the other, but she is excited about getting away from home for awhile.

While on the bus, Todd wakes up and can't go back to sleep. He thinks that things will be better if he could just fall asleep in Elizabeth's arms. That leads to him sneaking over to her seat, trying to cuddle with her, and kissing her. Liz wakes up and flips out at him, which causes Mr. Collins to wake up and scream at him. It becomes the talk of the bus as people keep gossiping about it.

Liz is completely mortified when they stop for breakfast at a rest stop. Olivia and Enid keep telling her that he meant well, but Liz starts thinking that maybe Todd is a pig who only cares about one thing. After they lecture her for a bit, she decides that maybe it's okay that he tried to ruin her reputation. They even kiss before making up.

Jessica and Lila spend their rest stop time checking out guys and snapping at each other. They spend so much time checking out one guy that they almost miss the bus. It turns out that the guy in question is actually married to their waitress though. Enid stops by the gift shop and picks up a book about how to be sassy on the slopes and meet your dream guy.

This is when we spiral into a few different stores. First is Liz and Todd. Todd makes arrangements with Winston to have the room to himself on their first night. Poor Winston winds up sleeping on the couch in the lobby. Todd gets Liz alone and asks her to check out his room. She thinks he's just trying to protect her reputation and wants to kiss her in the privacy of his room. When he lets it slip that Winston is gone for the night, she goes to the bathroom. Though he thinks that she's just freshening up, she comes back and drops ice cold water in his lap.

Though he's super in love with her, he can't help noticing this gorgeous woman in her 30s who keeps staring at him. The woman even stops to talk to him while he's waiting for Liz. When he tells her that he's with someone else, she tells him not to stand outside in the cold for too long or he'll get frostbite. Todd spends most of his time trying to get Liz alone, while Liz keeps trying to avoid him.

After a particularly bad argument on the slopes, she skis off away from him. Just as he goes after her, an avalanche happens. Liz runs straight for ski patrol and meets Dirk, the leader of the patrol. He tells her that there is nothing they can do until the morning because the storm that caused the avalanche is still so bad. Todd is still on the mountain and runs into the gorgeous woman from before. They find a little cabin and break down the door to get inside.

Cassandra, the woman, uses all her feminine wiles on Todd to no avail. They wind up reaching an agreement that he's too young for her and that she shouldn't hit on him. That works up until he wakes to Liz rubbing his body in the middle of the night and realizes that it's actually Cassandra. She laughs at him, makes it clear that there's room in the bed for him, and tells him not to wait too long or she might change her mind.

Liz spends hours with Dirk. They manage to get Todd on the radio and hear that he's with someone before his radio dies. When ski patrol finally does get a helicopter up in the air, Liz demands to go. Dirk says no but then changes his mind because it's oh so important to her. They find the cabin and manage to get inside just in time to see Cassandra throwing herself at Todd once again.

Naturally, Liz assumes that Todd realized she wouldn't sleep with him and went after someone else. She refuses to speak to him and mopes around all the time like she never cheated on him before. Dirk finds her and tells her that she's way more beautiful than Cassandra and that the woman has nothing on her before kissing her. Todd catches them and shouts at Liz about how she's been cheating on him this whole time. To make a long story shorter, Enid points out that Todd saw the same thing that she did. They make up and find out that Cassandra and Dirk are now dating.

Enid uses her book to find a fling but fails at every turn. One tip says to wear fluorescent sunblock. She wears bright green sunblock and meets a guy with a nose ring and his hair dyed both purple and green. One tip says to offer help to a bad skier, but the guy she picks is there with his girlfriend. Another recommends yelling single in the lift line, which leads to her sitting next to a family man who wants to sing opera.

When using another tip, she comes thisclose to hitting on Winston. He told everyone he's this great skier but can barely stand upright. Her book falls out of her pocket, but he agrees to keep her secret. When she goes to the nightclub to ask a man to dance, she winds up sitting alone while all the other girls laugh about her scoping guys. The only thing interesting that happens is that she and Winston actually admit that they were kind of interested in each other on the slopes. Liz finally tells her to just do what she wants, which leads her to roast marshmallows in the fireplace.

Then we have Lila and Jessica. On the very first day, they meet Lucas. He's a gorgeous ski instructor, so Jessica pretends like she needs way more help than anyone else. She uses her parents' credit card to book an all day private lesson with him. This pisses off Lila. The two come up with a bet about who can kiss him first. The loser has to ski a double black diamond trail.

Lila forces Jessica to share the lesson with her. While she's in the bathroom, Jessica cancels the wake up call Lila set and begs Liz to wake her up in the morning. Though she does get Lucas alone for a few hours, nothing happens and Lila eventually shows up. They fight over him constantly, but it seems to me like he doesn't really have an interest in either one.

During another private lesson, he shows up with a girl who really can't ski. The girl kind of takes over the lesson, which pisses them both off. Lila gets him alone just as one of his friends stops by to tell him about a party. She overhears the location of the party and comes up with a plan. While Jessica is upset over Liz still being in the ski patrol office and Todd being missing, she pretends to go to the bathroom and actually sneaks out to the party. Jessica later sees Lucas and Lila coming back to the resort and has the perfect view of them kissing.

Since she doesn't want to welsh on their bet, she heads to the trail the next day. Lucas finds out where she is and thinking that she is still a novice, he rushes after her. It turns out that she isn't as good of a skier as she thought. Lucas tries to help her, he winds up crashing into her, and they both tumble down the mountain. Jessica then decides that it doesn't matter who kissed him first but who gets him in the end.

After lying to Lila about being in pain, she waits for her friend to go skiing and sneaks into his room. Lucas actually starts kissing her just as Lila comes back to see him. Jessica locks the door so she can't get inside and goes back to kissing him. Lila then bribes room service to sneak her in on a food cart. While Jessica is in the bathroom, Lila locks her in and throws herself at Lucas. The two girls start fighting, Lila lets her out, and they keep screaming at each other until they look around and realize he's gone.

When they head downstairs later, they find Lucas and Enid feeding marshmallows to each other and seemingly being in heaven. Both are so disgusted at losing out to someone like Enid that they pack a pact to never fight over a guy again. Yup, that should totally last.

*Jessica thinks that this trip is a fresh start and that a new guy is just what she needs to get over the whole breakup with Ken and Christian's death. Maybe you should just take a break from guys for awhile?

*They had to pay for this trip themselves, and Jessica says that she'll owe her parents money forever because of it. But then they say that Amy signed up and can't go because she's failing French and her mom won't let her go. It's not like Mrs. Sutton could get her money back.

*At the rest stop, Liz is envious of how put together Olivia looks in her painted leggings and tee shirt. She should be jealous of Lila, who wears leather pants and a silk blouse. I have no idea how she kept those looking good on a bus.

*Lila briefly remembers fighting with Jess over that guy Mick in the Caribbean and how maybe they should just avoid guys, but then changes her mind and decides to fight tooth and nail for some guy neither one knows.

*Liz is clearly thinking about sex as much as Todd does. While making out in his car near the beginning of the book, she has to stop herself because it just feels too good and she's worried about where it might lead.

*As someone in her 30s, I think the Cassandra story is icky. There is no way I would throw myself at a teenage boy. Hell, I have a hard time finding any teenager even remotely attractive!

*Jessica spots a 25 year old guy and says that he's too old for a relationship but just right for a fling. Why would a 25 year old guy even go after a 16 year old girl? That's just gross.

*I'm pretty sure Lucas would get fired for all this. I can't imagine the resort would be happy with him going after multiple teenage girls in a single week.

*Also, guys in their twenties aren't going to stay with a teenage girl who has no intention of putting out, and these books like reminding us that all the characters are virgins.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Babysitters Club Mysteries #10: Stacey and the Mystery Money

Stacey can't stop thinking about Terry Hoyt, the new guy in school. He has gorgeous eyes, seems really nice, and is cute, so of course she thinks he's perfect for her. Claudia asks about how things are going with Sam – remember him? - and Stacey says that they recently decided to date other people while still seeing each other. Mrs. Hoyt calls in at their next meeting to hire a sitter, but Kristy has to take the job since Stacey already has one. She does learn that he has a twin sister though.

The girls also talk about a counterfeiting ring making its way around Stoneybrook. That becomes important when Stacey takes Charlotte on a trip downtown while sitting for her that weekend. After getting lunch, stopping by to see her mom at the department store, and picking out some random stuff, Stacey buys a headband, hands over a 20, and gets a 10 back in change. When she goes to buy earrings later though, it turns out that the 10 is counterfeit.

When the cops come to investigate, Charlotte freaks out and starts crying about how she doesn't want Stacey to go to prison. The cops let Stacey call her mom, who comes over to watch Charlotte. They bring Stacey, the lady from the earring store, and the women from the department store into the station. Each one tells their story, but nothing happens except that Stacey learns she won't get her money back.

Kristy then goes to sit for Georgie Hoyt. Georgie doesn't seem too keen on the idea of living in Stoneybrook and keeps talking about his dad in a way that makes him seem super strict. He won't let his kids play sports or join teams because they should focus more on their studies, and he won't even let the family rent movies. Georgie makes a comment about how they move around a lot, realizes what he said, and backpedals to say they don't really move much at all. When he accidentally spills milk, she tries to open a closet to get a mop, and he freaks out because she isn't allowed in there. She also thinks it's weird that they haven't unpacked many of their boxes and then finds a student idea for Tasha in a completely different name from a school in Oregon.

Since the BSC assumes that cops in Stoneybrook can never do work without their help, they plan a meeting to talk about the investigation. It's really just an excuse for them to go to the library, read some articles on counterfeiting, and find out that there aren't any books on the subject. Terry, despite never having once had a real conversation with Stacey and only saying hi to her a few times, calls and asks her on a date.

Before the date happens though, Jessi sits for Becca and Charlotte. They want to get in on the investigation too and decide to stake out some of the copy machines around town. Nothing really happens. Becca manages to piss off some guy who's making copies for work. Charlotte keeps records of everyone they see and acts suspicious of a bunch of people too.

Date night arrives, which means Stacey spends way too much time trying to pick out an outfit. Terry introduces himself to her mom as Terry James Hoyt, which is odd in and of itself. They go to the movies and then run into Mary Anne and Logan. They all head to the Rosebud to eat and chat, and Stacey thinks it's weird when he tells them that his middle name is John and not James. She also can't help noticing all the places he says he lived in the past, including Oregon, Iowa, and some random small town. When she finds out he lived in NYC though, they instantly bond. The date ends when they run into Sam on a date with another girl.

During their next meeting, Stacey reveals that he kissed her at the end of their date, and Kristy confesses that Sam is totally jealous of the new kid. As they start going all of their “evidence,” most of the girls think that the Hoyts might be the counterfeiters. They move around a lot, never unpacked, act suspicious, and there's the matter of the fake ID. Since Stacey has known Terry for two whole minutes though, she refuses to believe them. Not only does she act cool to all of them, but she seems relieved when someone suggests it might be Mr. Fiske, her English teacher.

Since he was at the scene of the first crime, they decide to follow him around. Claudia and Charlotte spots him at an office supply store where he orders a bunch of toner and says cost doesn't matter. Claudia does see a guy with a blue moon tattoo on his ear, which she thinks is a little suspicious. They then follow him around school too. All they see is him grading papers and then driving off in an old car. Jessi is the first one to point out that it's not the fancy kind of car you would expect a counterfeiter to drive.

Charlotte and Stacey then go out investigating again. They almost get run over by a younger guy running down the street who drops a bag and keeps running. Stacey checks it out and finds it full of fake money. Because apparently you would just leave that behind with all your fingerprints on it? She then calls Terry and Claudia for help, Claudia calls the rest of the club, they all wait around to see what will happen next, and Jessi takes Charlotte back to her house. They manage to take a picture of some guys picking up the bag, and Stacey realizes that the notebook is full of comments about a guy with a blue moon tattoo on his ear.

Terry agrees to wait with her to get the film developed. He then takes her aside to confess that his dad is Secret Service and that his family moves constantly because of his work. He even tells her that his real name is David Hawthorne. After picking up the pictures, he calls his dad. They all meet, his dad gets excited because those pictures were just the break that they needed. They can now take down the whole ring.

The next day, the paper tells the story of some brave civilians who helped stop the counterfeiting ring. Terry comes to see her to tell her that his family is getting ready to move yet again and gives her a goodbye kiss. Stacey pretends like she knows nothing about his move and that his dad was just a cop. Sam calls at the very end to tell her that he misses her and wants to date her again. They once again decide to date each other and date other people, even though Stacey is so heartbroken that she wonders if she'll ever find someone she cares about as much as Terry. Ugh.

*Claudia has a bunch of old magazines and tells Stacey that her mom gave them to her when the library weeded out their collection because they only have space for two to three years of back issues. How freaking big is this library? That's 24 to 36 copies of each magazine!

*Charlie takes Kristy to the Hoyt's house just to make sure that they aren't serial killers and gets so distracted by Terry's sister Tasha that he can hardly speak. Given that he's 17 and she's in eighth grade, that's gross.

*Stacey can't wear jeans on a date with Terry because jeans are “too casual.” You're 13, you shouldn't have fancy date clothes in your closet. The final outfit is a white sweater and white leggings with blue polka dots and a white bow in her hair. How is that not casual?

*Stacey flips out on Jessi for wanting to photocopy a bill to see what it looks like because it's dangerous. Yeah, like no kid has ever done that before. Then again, Stacey tells them that passing a fake bill is a felony and that she's lucky she didn't go to prison. Yup, there are a ton of junior high kids in prison.

*Despite saying her and Sam mutually decided to date other people, she worries that going out with Terry is like cheating on him. She then refers to him as her ex-boyfriend. Make up your mind girl!

*It takes two hours to get the film developed. Terry and Stacey grab a slice of pizza and a soda, sit down at the park, he tells her about his past, and suddenly it's time to get the film.

*Would the Secret Service really let Mr. Hoyt keep doing this job? It seems really unfair to make his family move so often. Terry says that they have never lived in one place for more than a few years and sometimes only spend a few weeks in the same place. It's also an incredible expense for the government! Making new identities for five people is definitely not cheap.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ghosts of Fear Street #13: How to Be a Vampire (R.L. Stine)

Andrew is that annoying little brother that you either had or never wanted. When he and his sister Emily hang out one day, he keeps telling her that he wants to wait around until he sees a real vampire. A dark shadow comes out of nowhere, grabs Emily by the neck, and starts taunting her until she screams. It's really just Andrew's best friend TJ who plays pranks with him all the time.

The next morning, Andrew finds a leather bound book under his bed. Though it originally looks blank, writing suddenly appears on it and lets him know that it's a book called How to Be a Vampire. Writing magically appears on the pages too and informs him that he is officially a vampire in training because he got bit. He finds bite marks on his neck but convinces himself that TJ made up the whole thing. Since the book is super cold, Andrew thinks TJ put it in the freezer.

TJ naturally has no idea where the book came from but seems pretty happy and willing to believe that his best friend is about to become a vampire. Andrew starts feeling pulled to red foods like strawberry jelly and spaghetti sauce. The only problem is that when he eats a piece of garlic bread, he freaks out and feels like his mouth is on fire. TJ eats the bread to show him that the bread is fine and that the problem is with him.

Cut to them heading home on the school bus. The bus stops working when it reaches a bridge and won't move until TJ grabs him and drags him off. TJ reminds him that vampires can't move across running water before the bus starts up and races off. He also finds himself stalked by a scary looking dog that follows him almost all the way home and keeps growling.

TJ then convinces him that he needs to sleep in a coffin or something like a coffin with dirt from his native land, which is really just his own backyard. Since he can't afford a coffin, he settles on a cardboard refrigerator box in the basement and actually gets the best night's sleep he had in days. The only odd thing is that his mom finds him hanging upside down from the rod in his closet the next morning. She thinks he's weird, and Emily thinks he's crazy for even thinking he might be a vampire.

The book magically shows more information but just keeps telling him things after he goes through them. While on the way to school, he suddenly feels really drained and shaky. It turns out that he's becoming more of a vampire. By the time he runs into TJ, his skin is bright red from being out in the sun. TJ helps him cover up with some clothes and sunglasses from the lost and found to better protect his skin. That gives him enough energy that he starts taunting his sister and acting like an asshat. Later that night, he hears someone calling his name from outside his room and opens the door to see a real vampire standing there.

Count Humphrey Ved is the vampire who changed him and shows up to give him some lessons. Ved is less than happy that Andrew is on the small side and doesn't yet have his fangs. He does take him out, changes him into a bat, and encourages him to hunt. Since he doesn't have fangs, Ved says they can hunt bunnies. When Andrew can't do it, Ved assumes that it's because he has such intense cravings for human blood and takes him home before making plans to see him the next day.

Andrew wakes up in the morning to discover that his fans finally came in and runs to tell Emily. Though she first thinks he's wearing fake fangs or that he glued fake teeth on, she later believes him and agrees to help him find a remedy. Emily, Andrew, and TJ spend all day in the library before finally finding out how to kill a vampire. Everything I learned from Buffy was apparently wrong because you can only kill a vampire by cutting off its head, shoving a stake in its heart, and then filling its mouth full of garlic.

When Humphrey shows up the next day, Andrew tries to waste time until they can pull off their plan at the old abandoned Cameron Mansion. Since vampires can apparently control the weather, he convinces the vampire to make it snow and then create a major thunderstorm. Humphrey then causes a mist to come out of nowhere and brags about how they can transform into wolves, mists, and other things to travel. When enough time passes, they head off to the mansion.

Andrew lies and says that he wants his first victim to be a bully from school and arranges for TJ to be waiting at the mansion. They play fight before Andrew drags him inside, but when he asks TJ for the stake, it turns out that the vampire hypnotized him. Once Andrew sees his veins pulsating, he nearly feeds on his friend but forces himself to remember all the fun they had together. When Emily rushes out to help, the vampire hypnotizes her and TJ and decides to kill all of them.

This leads to Andrew making some rude comments and a chase through the house. Just as it looks like the vampire might catch up to him, Andrew tricks him into going outside and into the sun, which causes him to burst into flames and die. He then goes back, checks on his friends, and gets everyone out of the house.

On the way home, he hesitates before crossing the bridge, turns to them, and reveals long fangs. Emily basically runs away screaming before he starts laughing, takes out the fangs, and tells TJ that it's all that is left of Humphrey. TJ then points out that sunlight will kill a vampire but not break the curse, which leads to Andrew showing him his own fangs and turning on his friend. As TJ gets excited and starts asking questions about what it's like to be a vampire, Andrew laughs and says to himself that TJ will soon have answers to all his questions and that he can't wait to hunt with his best friend.

*Andrew assumes that TJ used some type of new ink or a computer chip to make the words show up in the book. I wish I could find a computer chip like that, I'd be rich!

*Emily is so prissy that she wears pleated skirts with pearls every a junior high student. I think she needs to stop blaming her brother for her not being popular and start looking in her closet.

*Andrew settles on the refrigerator box because they call a funeral home and find out that a real coffin would cost $1,200. I guess Shadyside doesn't have pine boxes?

*Humphrey points out that since he eats hamburgers, he eats meat and can't eat humans. I'm not sure that's how that works...

Friday, August 19, 2016

Sweet Valley High #79: The Long Lost Brother

You probably don't remember Sara Eastborne because I think she only appeared in the book where Jessica entered the beauty contest because Sara took dance classes from the same teacher. She now gets her very own book and her very own chance to bitch about her twin brother Tim. Though she tells everyone that he's a straight A student and star of the track team who lives with their dad on the East Coast, he's actually in reform school after becoming an alcoholic and stealing a car. I think you get why she kept his real self a secret.

Sara also has a boyfriend named Bob. Bob is rich and snotty, which means that his parents are even worse. He takes her to dinner at the country club to meet them and then snaps at her for not paying attention. When she drifts off and thinks about her brother, his mom asks what she thinks about tanning beds and acts super disapproving when she can't respond. Bob lectures her on making a bad impression on his parents, despite the fact that his dad spent most of the night running away from the table to talk to other rich guys. Though he invites her to Lila's pool party the next day, he strongly recommends that she wear a specific suit so all the guys will stare at him and wish they were him.

It doesn't take long before she gets the big news that Tim is moving to Sweet Valley. He's on probation and got permission to live with his mom. As soon as he arrives, she tells him exactly what she told everyone about him and demands that he go along with her stories. Tim doesn't necessarily agree because he knows what can happen when you lie but begrudgingly agrees to do whatever she wants. Yeah, this will go well.

Saint Elizabeth is up to her old tricks again. Her article on Project Youth went so well that she decided to do a whole series on other services in town. She goes to an Alateen meeting and even gets to take a tour of the shelter for battered women. While attending an AA meeting, she has the chance to meet a new guy. Tim tries to convince her to dump her boyfriend for him before laughing it off.

It isn't until the next day in school that she learns he's Sara's twin brother. Liz briefly wonders why the other girl would keep him a secret and why she won't even look at him before introducing him to her own twin. Tim starts making friends right off the bat. Unfortunately, one of those friends is Sara's best friend Amanda. Though she tries to keep them apart, they have a spark and keep seeing each other.

You may remember Jerry “Crunch” McAllister as either the annoying kid from SVT or the drop out from Dangerous Love. He's suddenly hanging around all the time because he has it bad for Amanda. Though he keeps asking her out all the time and offering her rides, she keeps turning him down and ignoring him. Tim stops outside the Dairi Burger one night to admire his van. When the van turns up missing, Crunch blames it on Tim.

Since he has a record, the cops come to their house and take Tim in for questioning. Their mom hires a lawyer, and their dad flies into town to help. Sara realizes that this is big news and that soon everyone will know the truth. People start looking at her funny, and Amanda snaps at her for not being honest about her twin. When Sara tells her how she lost all her friends when Tim screwed up before, Amanda just walks away. Bob decides this will reflect badly on his parents so he breaks up with her and asks for his jacket back.

Though they have no proof, the cops tell Tim not to leave town. He begs Sara to believe in him but she can't after everything that happened in the past. When they go to school, Crunch actually shows up, picks a fight with Tim, and punches him in the face. Mr. Collins and some other teachers break it up, tell Crunch to leave, and send Tim to the principal's office where he gets suspended. I see Sweet Valley instituted its own zero tolerance before the rest of the world.

Having her dad around is pretty nice. They share some family dinners together, talk a lot, and he seems to have changed from the workaholic he was in the past. Sara eventually asks her mom if they might get back together, and she explains that they're finally friends and have no desire to be with each other. Liz, since it's always Liz, encourages her to go to a meeting. It goes so well that Sara finally starts making up with people. Though Amanda forgives her, she isn't quite ready to see Tim again.

Sara also has a long talk with her dad, which ends when he tells her that he's dating someone and wants to marry her. He also asks her to come visit him for a few weeks in the summer. To make up with her brother, Sara makes his favorite dinner: chili and cornbread. Since the police found the real thief, he's now free. When he doesn't come home, she checks her room and finds a note from him about how he decided to go back home with their dad.

That leaves her to rush to the airport to stop him. Their dad winks at her before hopping on the plane, and Tim agrees to come home with her. They laugh and have a good time together before calling their mom to tell her everything is fine now. Tim even jokes about how she should let him drive the car from now on. Crunch shows up at school, and Sara gets so mad that she pokes him with her finger, calls him some names, and tells him to leave. He and Tim both laugh before he apologizes to the other guy. Amanda then makes up with Tim too.

In other news, Jessica really hates being Miss Teen Sweet Valley. She keeps missing out on dates and fun stuff because of her commitments. Though she begs Liz to help, her twin tells her to just call her runner up for help. After much whining and complaining, Liz agrees to take her twin's spot just one time and hands out samples at some store opening at the mall. Sara sees her and realizes that it's Liz, but when Amanda asks her, she says she can't reveal a twin secret.

*So the organization that offers protection for battered women lets some random teen visit their shelter. That would make me feel super confident as a resident.

*Liz says Jessica loves Tim's charming personality. He literally says something like, “there's two of you” and then laughs with them. Whoa, totally charming!

*Bob shows up at the end and asks Sara to be his date that weekend. When she turns him down, he races off and leaves skid marks behind. Bob is a tool.

*While Bob is a tool, so too is Sara. She contemplates breaking up with him early in the book but changes her mind because he's rich and popular.

*Bob gets so distracted when Jessica shows up to the pool party in a very tiny bikini that he gets hit in the head with a volleyball. He totally deserved it.

*Does anyone at SVH really want to read a series of articles about groups that help abused women or the homeless? I think Liz thinks The Oracle is way better than it actually is.

*Jessica thinks it's depressing that someone women let themselves get beat, which is ironic given that she marries an abusive asshole in SVU and then a second abusive asshole in the Sweet Life series.

*People really seem to hate Sara, but I kind of get her. She was a popular kid at her old school until her brother started hanging out with a rough crowd, drank all the time, and then started stealing cars. Literally every single one of her friends dropped her after that. I can get why she didn't want people to know the truth about him. Hating on her is kind of like hating on Sophia in SVT.

*I'm not a big fan of the Tim and Amanda thing. He knows how his sister feels and knows why she's worried, but it takes like 30 seconds for him to agree to go out on a date with her.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Baby-Sitters Club #125: Mary Anne in the Middle

For some reason, Mary Anne is now Mallory's best friend. Mrs. Pike apparently went back to work, and the two keep getting jobs picking up the other kids from school and sitting for them at home. Mallory confesses that she really liked Riverbend and really wants to go but isn't sure how to tell anyone, especially Jessi. Though she told her siblings, Vanessa is the only one who really gets it.

When the letter finally comes, she learns that she not only got in but that she got a full scholarship. That's when the kids finally put things together and realize that she's leaving and won't live there anymore. Mary Anne convinces her to tell Jessi about her acceptance letter. Jessi naturally isn't happy and gets really cold about the whole thing, telling her that she hopes she finds what she's looking for.

That pretty much sets the tone for the book. While sitting at the Pike house, Jessi encourages the kids to tell Mallory that they don't want her to go and kind of make her feel bad about leaving them, which will make her realize that it's a mistake. In her eyes, Mallory needs to stay and stick up for herself. That will make people realize that their words can't hurt her.

Mary Anne winds up right in the middle between the two of them. They both keep calling her to talk about the other one and complain. Mallory admits to MA that she plans to go to Riverbend. It all comes to a head when Jessi pushes her to make a decision in the middle of a BSC meeting. When Mallory tells them that she's leaving, they all get sad. Jessi flips out because she realizes that MA already knew and runs away. To get the two talking again, MA schedules them to sit together for the Barrett and DeWitt kids.

The BSC decided to make new decorations and ornaments for the retirement home. Kristy gets the brilliant idea to throw a party for the residents too and to invite people in town to come and bring food to share. Everyone goes overboard making decorations with their charges. Abby even gets the Hobart boys to help her make Hanukkah decorations.

While on their sitting job, Jessi kind of acts like a dictator. She tells the kids all about Mallory leaving before she gets there, which makes the kids go crazy and beg her to stay. Jessi also keeps telling Mallory what to do and acting like she's the only one in charge. When one kid doesn't want to make Kwanzaa decorations, Jessi snaps at Mallory for telling her she could make a snowman. They both call MA to complain about the other.

Long before they went crazy, Jessi made plans for a sleepover with her BSC friends and Dance NY friends. Mallory refuses to go until MA convinces her to come. Jessi naturally isn't happy to see Mallory there but agrees to let her stay. It turns out though that her NY friends think Mallory leaving is a great idea. Jessi overhears one girl talking about her, shouts at Mallory for trying to turn her only remaining friends against her, they fight, and Mallory goes home alone.

The party at the retirement home goes almost perfectly. Jessi does try to force Mallory to take one group of kids to one specific area. Everyone pretty much ignores their fighting though. A bunch of people brought food, Watson donates a new Christmas tree, and they even have the kids sing Christmas songs. It goes so well that everyone forgets about the big fight for a few hours.

When both Mallory and Jessi call her the next day to complain, MA finally flips her lid. She tells them both to come right to her house and makes them sit down to talk. Mallory confesses that she couldn't talk to Jessi about leaving because leaving her best friend was so hard and that she couldn't handle it. They end up crying and making up.

During a BSC meeting, the gang kept trying to come up with a replacement for Mallory. They finally decided not to bring in anyone new, which upset her because it made it seem like she was so expendable that they didn't even need to replace her. While they all stayed late to talk about the party, she skipped out early. MA brought up the idea of doing something special just for Mal.

That's why the whole club minus Jessi show up at her house in the morning with balloons for their very own We Love Mallory Day. Her siblings make her breakfast in bed, they then take her to Henrietta Hayes' house, who presents her with a writing award, and then they go to the mall. The owner of the bookstore where she worked during that project thing gives her a journal and says that she looks forward to holding Mallory's first book signing there.

The BSC then take her to meet Ben, who is waiting to take her to the movies. The last stop is Claudia's room. She finds a big teddy bear holding a heart they all signed and a ton of junk food set out for her. Jessi rushes in at the very last minute with two tickets to see Cats in Stamford before she leaves for school. They all have a good cry before both Mallory and Jessi thank MA for being their friend.

*Stacey agrees to help MA convince Mallory to go to the party. She stops by the Pike house for about five seconds, and as soon as Mallory says she isn't going, Stacey literally rolls her eyes, throws on her jacket, and says there's no point arguing before taking off.

*Jessi is such a brat. You know that if she got the chance to take off and go to some exclusive dance school that she'd bitch at Mallory for not supporting her.

*Ann recommends that we try not to take sides when friends fight because we risk alienating one person. She's clearly never been friends with a group of teen girls. It's almost impossible not to take sides.

*Claudia wears a tie dyed tee shirt that she made herself then cut fringe around the edges and added beads to with matching earrings made from the same beads.

*Everyone keeps bringing up the time that Dawn left and how MA got emotional but managed to handle things. Um, what? Mary Anne was a huge bitch who ignored Dawn and treated her like crap until the very end.

*Jessi points out that Mallory celebrated Kwanzaa with her family the previous year. Except that Jessi and Mallory were in sixth grade back then and now still in sixth grade. I can't even count how many holiday celebrations these kids had.

*I can kind of see things from both sides. I get that Jessi doesn't want her best friend to leave, but she has to get how hard life is for Mallory. On the other hand, Mallory really should have talked to her about all this stuff.

*Some people online have commented that the school wouldn't let kids get away with what they did to Mallory, but I was bullied pretty bad in school by a popular guy and his friends. When I went to the principal, he literally told me that boys would be boys. Apparently “boys” enjoy inappropriately rubbing up on girls, throwing food at them in the cafeteria, and slamming them into lockers. It got so bad that I ended up being tutored at home for a whole semester, so I totally get Mallory in this book.

*I will say that I'm not sure why they picked Mary Anne to be the confidante in this book. She never really seemed to have much of a connection to either girl in the past.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sweet Valley Kids #50: Jessica and the Secret Star

While Lila is super excited to show off some new bracelets her dad brought her back from NYC, Caroline comes in with some big news about a new girl in school. Jessica originally ignores her because she already heard about the new girl from Elizabeth. When Maria Slater actually walks into the classroom though, Jessica can't get over how familiar she looks or how she looks so much older and more sophisticated than anyone else. They become tentative friends, though Maria wants to check out the school newspaper too.

Steven has the cold, which he passes onto Jess. She winds up staying home sick from school, and the two fight over the television before deciding to watch a sci-fi movie about aliens. One of the kids in the movie is Maria. Jessica flips out and decides that they absolutely must become friends. She even invites Maria over to hang out at her house. After she leaves, Jessica discovers her backpack. While looking it through it to find her phone number, she finds a red notebook that she thinks is her journal. It's all about how Maria is in hiding to learn more about normal kids before her next movie role.

That's all Jessica needs to hear to learn that her new friend is an undercover movie star. She winds up letting it slip that she read her diary. Maria acts a little odd before asking her to keep it under wraps and not tell anyone. She'll never get ready for her next movie if people treat her like a celebrity. Maria even brags about some of the stars she knows like Johnny Buck.

Since this is Jessica, she only keeps her mouth shut for a few days before telling the whole Unicorn Club. Mandy is a little hurt because she and Maria bonded while getting ready for tryouts for the drama club. They decide to invite Maria to a slumber party and get her to confess the whole thing. If she tells them herself, she won't hate Jessica for spilling the beans.

Janet hosts the whole club and Maria at her house that weekend. While playing Truth or Dare, Jessica asks Maria if she's secretly an undercover movie start, and she confesses that she came to Sweet Valley to prepare for an upcoming movie. She also tells them about all the famous people in the movie and how they're actually filing in Sweet Valley. They can all come and watch the filming in person, and she'll even introduce them to the celebs.

Maria joins the newspaper staff and accepts a job writing about the drama club tryouts, which is how she meets Mandy. She winds up getting along better with Amy and Liz than anyone else and even lets them read a short story she started writing. It's oddly enough about a movie star moving to a small town to prepare for an upcoming movie and is written inside a red notebook. When Liz hears the story about Maria's secret past and all the rumors, she puts two and two together.

Lila comes up with some big news. Her dad recently redecorated her yacht and agreed to let her have a part for all the movie stars on it. Since they're coming to town the next week to start shooting, she tells Maria that they can come a few days early for the party. Maria agrees before running home to cry on the shoulders of her big sister Nina. See, Maria isn't actually a star and there is no movie. She hasn't worked in years and came to take a break from acting until she's older. Nina tells Liz the truth in the hopes that she can help, but all she really does is talk to Maria about telling everyone the truth.

Mandy and Maria agree to work together for the tryouts and even agree on doing Romeo and Juliet. They just can't agree on what scene to do or who will play who. On the day of tryouts, a mystery man plays Romeo to Mandy's Juliet. Halfway through, he rips off his hat and mustache to show that he's Mandy. They then switch parts and finish the scene. Both make it into the club.

The day of the party arrives. Everyone is having fun when Maria shows up with her sister and parents. She makes a big announcement about how she really is just a normal girl and how no celebs are coming to the party. People start applauding her for no real reason. Jessica apologizes for going a little crazy, and Lila laughs it off because at least she got to throw a killer party. Oh, and some random girl named Pamela keeps following Elizabeth around and dressing just like her.

*Alice is a little suspicious that Jessica is faking being sick to get out of a quiz at school. If she still can't tell when one of the twins is faking it, she never will.

*Maria shows up for the first day of school in a suede skirt. I thought she wanted to fit in with typical sixth graders?

*Lila initially refuses to let Jessica make a purple banner for the party because her dad's yacht uses shades of puce and apricot. They then have a fight about the color puce. I looked it up, and man, is that an ugly color!

*Um, why doesn't Jessica try out for the drama club, and is the drama club mentioned again? I know she acts in school plays later, but I'm not sure the books ever mention the plays being drama club productions.

*I get that these kids are only in sixth grade but come on! Jessica can't understand why Maria has time to hang out by the pool or write an article because she should be out signing contracts all the time. They have to know what actors actually do.

*Maria wears a long black velvet dress with a white satin bow around the waste to the party, which sounds much more age appropriate than a suede skirt.

*One of her biggest acting roles was as a giant roll of toilet paper in a television commercial, and yet they still think she's a huge star.

*Maria complains to Nina that she's at least a head taller than all the boys in school. On the cover though, she's barely taller than Jessica who is relatively short when compared to the guys.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Baby-Sitters Club #124: Stacey McGill...Matchmaker?

Before a BSC meeting starts, Claudia gets a call from a brand new client. Mr. Brooke just moved to town with his kids and heard from Mrs. Pike about their club. Since she's the only one free, Stacey takes the job. It turns out that he's a best selling author of mystery novels and needs someone to watch the kids while he can work before his next deadline. Both his kids, Joni and Ewan, are adorable and sweet.

Joni explains that their mom was a former model who got a job hosting a news program in Atlanta. Stacey asks if they plan on moving with her later, and Joni gets a little sad because their parents divorced. Though she feels bad, that doesn't stop her from gossiping with the club. Mallory reveals through her mom that Mrs. Brooke stopped working as a model to raise her kids and then left her husband so she could focus on her own career. And this is why some people should never have kids.

When Maureen comes by to pick up Stacey, sparks fly between her and Mr. Brooke. He even asks her out on a date, which makes Stacey almost wet herself because her mom hasn't had a single date since the divorce. As happy as she is though, Joni is far from happy. She starts snapping about how her dad has a deadline and how he'll never get his work done if he keeps slacking off. Joni sounds just like an adult, which makes Stacey realize that Joni is just repeating stuff her mom said to him.

Maureen and John, as everyone now calls him, go to a show. He wrote a play that a local theater group produced. Kristy sits for the kids and has to listen to Joni bitch and moan about her dad going out with Maureen and how her own mom is so much prettier. Stacey gets home late from spending some time with her dad and notices that her mom isn't home. Maureen comes home after midnight but doesn't seem as happy as she should.

After finally telling him how his kids and especially Joni ask, John finally decides to sit down and talk with them. It turns out that his wife basically waved and took off. She has no interest in raising her kids or even being around them because she's pretty much a weather girl now. He didn't think they could really understand it before but now thinks he should talk to them. Though they learn the truth, nothing changes.

John thinks the key to their happiness is a family dinner out together. Joni acts like a huge brat. She complains about the food, takes potshots at Maureen, and just makes ti clear that she doesn't want to be there. When he reprimands her, she runs away from the table and pouts in the lobby. Stacey is the one who goes after her and convinces her to come back to the table.

Maureen decides to talk with Stacey about how she isn't really happy. She points out that he's sometimes rude to his kids and how he didn't handle what happened at dinner very well. Even though Stacey thought he should have went after his kid, she thinks he's still perfect for her mom because he once called her luminous. Maureen also doesn't like the themes that she sees in his book. He seems to think that people only look out for themselves, but she believes most people are inherently good. Eh, I think I probably side a little more with him.

Since none of them have plans for Thanksgiving, John suggests they all eat together. Maureen hesitates before agreeing. He shows up with a bunch of fruit, cold shrimp, crackers, and cheese as well as dessert. Joni refuses to eat any of the food they made and will only eat the crap her dad bought. She even claims she's now a vegetarian and can't eat the turkey. When she whines and complains about the classic music playing, John gets so angry that it even upsets Stacey. Joni rushes off, but Stacey finds her and calms her down enough that the little girl agrees to come down for dinner.

This is kind of the breaking point for Maureen. She can't handle the way he treats his kids, she thinks that he's selfish, and she isn't happy that he didn't other to help clean up or do the dishes, which makes him a chauvinist. Stacey tries to point out his good sides, they have a fight, and she winds up storming off and slamming her door shut before spending the weekend with her dad. Ethan tries to tell her that maybe her mom just isn't ready to date yet and points out that not all people get over a divorce really fast.

Claudia shows up to sit for the kids because of a date Maureen and John had. John makes up an excuse for why they didn't go out but asks her to stay so he can write. The kids get all excited because they think if a sitter is there, it means that he went out on a date. It turns out that they now like Maureen and that Joni was actually looking forward to seeing more of them. Stacey comes back, makes up with her mom, and then takes the kids some gifts. She tells them they can be honorary siblings even if their parents aren't together anymore.

In other news, Mallory wants to leave SMS. Remember when she did that school project thing and all the kids made fun of her for being their English teacher? They keep calling her Spaz Girl and being super mean to her. Alan even knocks all her books out of her arms in the middle of the hallway. She admits to Stacey that she wants to leave and even looked into going to Stoneybrook Day Academy. When she learns the school doesn't offer scholarships, her parents take her to look at Riverbend, a boarding school in Massachusetts.

*Kristy tells Claudia not to answer the phone when Mr. Brooke originally calls because it's outside of their hours, and Claudia has to point out that it's her phone and might be call for her. Kristy does realize the world doesn't revolve around the BSC, right?

*I get that Joni is young but she should really get what's going on. She says that she wrote her mom a letter, and when Claudia asks why she didn't just call her mom, Joni says her mom is way too busy with her career to talk to her on the phone. Yet she somehow thinks her mom will still rush to Stoneybrook and get back together with their dad.

*Mary Anne asks if they have money in the budget to start a movie club. Dawn and her friends go to the movies once a week and then talk about the movie. Um, don't most groups of friends do that, and do they really need to take money out of the treasury for that?

*They decide to do a book club instead. Stacey and her mom have their own book club and are in the middle of reading Pride and Prejudice. I would have hated that book in eighth and am pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten it back then either.

*At one point, Abby sits for the kids. Joni decides that if her dad can't get his work done during the day, he won't be able to do work at night and won't be able to go out on dates. She blares loud music, deletes an entire book chapter he wrote, and then throws his computer mouse in a tree. Maureen isn't happy that John laughed that stuff off but then isn't happy when he grounds her. What the heck does she want?

*It's nice to see Stacey dressed like a normal kid on the cover. The outfit Maureen wears looks like something Stacey might wear in another book!

*Mary Anne comments that her dad dated a lot in the past and that she never knew if his girlfriends were nice because they liked her or because she was his daughter. I always figured Richard never dated anyone until Sharon came back.

*Mallory hates school so much and is so unhappy that she has stomach cramps every morning. The Pikes are more willing to send her away to school then talk with SMS administrators, which is just sad.

*Ann's letter at the end is kind of ridiculous. She talks about how you should always keep a cool head when sitting and points out how Stacey avoided an emergency by immediately going to find Joni when she ran off. It's not like the kid ran out in the middle of the street!