Monday, August 20, 2018

Nancy Drew Files Case #16: Never Say Die (October 1987)

George is somehow suddenly so good at cycling that she makes it into the junior championships. Steven, the local owner of a successful software company, volunteers to be her sponsor. He not only pays for her new wind suit and for private lessons, but he also pays to have a new velodrome built just for the competition. Her trainer BTW is her boyfriend Jon who hooked up with her in a book I never read before. George is too scared to ask Steven for anything else, even though she needs a new disk bike.

That makes it super awesome when he shows up and presents her with one he just bought. His assistant, Peter, seems way too excited to take it from her and adjust the seat and isn't too happy when Jon does it instead. It takes about an hour for weird things to start happening. First of all, someone knocks the concession stand tent down when George is the only one there and sets it on fire. The list of things done to her includes:

-Someone tries to run her down in the middle of a parking lot and then tries to break into her car and steal her bike
-The person tosses a radio in the swimming pool before George jumps inside. Nancy manages to save her before she can touch the aluminum ladder and electrocute herself
-Someone cuts a massive flagpole down, which almost crushes George and a reporter doing a story on her
-George gets trapped by two guard dogs who attempt to rip her throat out
-The same person sneaks into her house one night, but Nancy hears them and gives chase. They then find a photo of George outside with a butcher knife stuck through it.

Both of George's parents naturally beg Nancy to get her to drop out. Nancy does talk to her, but George refuses to just stop and laughs it off like someone trying to murder her is funny. Nancy quickly comes up with a list of suspects:

Monique: Monique was the grand champion in this event before George came along and isn't happy when George breaks her world record. Though she's always around when things happen, she gets cleared when she freaks out after a friendly poodle tries to kiss her face. It turns out that she's been petrified of all dogs since she was a kid.

Tatyanna: Tatyanna is from Russia and quickly makes friends with George. She does tell her that her coaches are actually KGB agents. The two keeps shouting at George for distracting the other girl and act like she's a horrible person.

Debbi: Debbi is Jon's ex-girlfriend who randomly shows up. She keeps threatening George for stealing her man and saying that she'll ruin her. All it does is break Jon and George up because he sneaks out to see Debbi without telling George.

Steven calls Carson because they're good friends and asks him for help. The night after George got her bike, someone broke into his office and stole his new program. They then called and demanded a $1 million ransom and asked Nancy to deliver it. She agrees and winds up going a long goose chase around the city that ends with the thief literally pushing her into a shark tank at the aquarium and running off with the cash. It turns out Steven only put half the money in the bag though, so the thief calls back.

George and the girls catch Jon kissing Debbi, but he claims she came out of nowhere and kissed him. She explains that they were both on Olympic teams, had tons of articles written about them, and even planned on marrying. Jon got hit on the head and developed amnesia. Though most of his memories came back, he never remembered what he had with Debbi. George winds up ending things with him but letting him stay on as her coach. Both Bess and I think this is bull shirt.

To keep the thief away from her bike, George comes up with a “brilliant” plan to just leave it tied up out in the open. Somehow, no one ever notices it. During a longer race, she gets lost in the crowd. Nancy and Ned find her passed out off the course after someone hit her over the head. The person took off when they saw she was on her old bike. George goes to the hospital and recovers.

Nancy somehow puts all the pieces together and realizes the one trying to hurt George and the person who stole the program are one in the same: Peter, Steven's assistant. She heads back to the track and finds Peter trying to steal the bike. They fight over it, he pulls out a gun, and she knocks him down. Since she somehow can't grab the gun two feet away, she hops on the bike and takes off as he shoots blindly at her.

Just as she gets to the exit, he pops up and tries to shoot her in the face, but she literally runs over him with the bike. Ned then shows up with the cops who drag him off. They recover almost all the money Steven originally paid too.

Nancy then goes to George. George confesses that she didn't want to drop out because of Nancy and Bess. They are supposedly so good at everything that it made George feel like crap. This was the one thing she was good at, which is why she didn't want to quit. She then admits that she still loves Jon and misses him, so Nancy convinces her to get back together with him. Bess and Nancy both tell George that they love her just the way she is.

*George tells Nancy that she can't compete with the other girls because her bike is so old, and Nancy thinks it's so unfair until Steven shows up with a new bike for her. It's a little unfair but also totally unrealistic. How could George make it into the championships with a shitty bike? It's not like they just let anyone compete who walks in off the street.

*Steven says he knows the thief is an outside threat because the person asked for a ransom. He says an insider or freelancer would just take the program to another company, show the work, and get a job. Say what now? I don't know about you, but I would much rather have a million bucks now than a job where I had to work my ass off to make a fraction of that.

*Why am I not surprised that Nancy would convince George to stay with a guy who not only never told her he was practically engaged to another woman but also sneaked out and lied to her about being with the other woman all night?

*Ned has such long “basketball player legs” that he can literally get to George from 10+ feet away before the flagpole can collapse on her.

*Nancy is all relieved when she comes back to the velodrome and sees them putting a chain link fence up around the concession stand. Yup, if there's one thing that will stop a murder, it's a chain link fence.

*I really don't like how this story comes out of nowhere. We know George is super athletic, but there's a big difference between being athletic and being one of the best junior cyclists in the world.

*I'm also not sure why this is the junior level competition either. George and several other girls are 18, so it doesn't seem fair that they would compete with girls who haven't yet gone through puberty.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Sweet Valley High #93: Stepsisters

You might remember Annie Whitman from such books as that time she tried to kill herself because life isn't worth living if you're not a cheerleader and that book where her boyfriend treated her like crap because he started taking steroids. She's now back to remind us that she's a character best suited for the background and B-plots in books.

In case you forgot, Mona, Annie's mother, is a huge model. She's recently been spending a lot of time in New York on assignment. When she comes back, she starts telling Annie about how she met this really nice guy Walter and how they've been spending a lot of time together and talking a lot. Annie asks if it's serious, to which Mona reveals that Walter actually proposed. He and his daughter Cheryl are moving to Sweet Valley...and they're black.

Annie gives it some thought and decides that she's okay with having a black stepdad and stepsister. That doesn't mean she wants to tell everyone about them though. Mona conveniently buys the house right next door to the Wakefields, and Jessica drags Elizabeth over to check out the new neighbors when she sees them. In turns out that Jessica read an article about Walter and saw Cheryl, which she pointed out to Liz, so the two of them already know that the Thomas – that's their last name – are black.

To introduce Cheryl to Sweet Valley, Annie decides to throw a huge party. Instead of inviting just her friends though, she invites a bunch of random people because they're black or Hispanic or whatever. Not because she's racist, oh no no no, but because she thinks it will make Cheryl feel more at home. Things get off to a rough start when they first get to town though. Annie makes a huge beef curry dish without knowing that Cheryl is a vegetarian, and Mona then forgets to set up an air mattress for her. The moving trucks also have some problems that leads to her things never getting there.

Cheryl is beautiful and super musical, playing the piano like a pro. She has no interest in football or cheerleading and doesn't know how to drive. Annie tells her all about PBA and urges her to pledge and takes her surfing and on different trips around town to show her off. Their party ends with Annie crying in the kitchen to Robin because she keeps trying to focus on Cheryl being from New York and knowing famous people instead of letting people actually get to know her. It doesn't help that everyone is all surprised that Cheryl is black because Annie never told her.

Another big story here is that Annie and Tony broke up because he cheated on her. He literally started dating someone else when they were together and didn't confess until she confronted him. Robin thinks she should give him another chance, and all her other friends start pushing her to talk to him. He keeps calling and trying to get her alone, but she keeps pointing out that she doesn't want to see him.

At the next PBA meeting, someone nominates this chick Staci Cabot and then Annie puts up Cheryl. Some people, namely Lila and Suzanne Hanlon, are not on board. Suzanne gets Annie alone and starts dropping hints about how she'll go along with Cheryl as a member if someone could help her cater the big PBA swimming party at her house. Annie grudgingly agrees to make all the food and even pay for all the ingredients. Cheryl initially refuses to go to the party but agrees to go if Annie calls Tony and invites him. Argh.

Tony approaches her at the party and tries to act all sad about being a lying cheating jerk face. Cheryl told Annie about her last boyfriend and how he was seeing someone behind her back, but when she confronted him, he pointed out that they never said they were exclusive. Annie tells him that she wants an exclusive relationship but that she also wants to know that he doesn't want to see other people. He swears that she is the only girl for him, until he starts using drugs again or sees someone cuter in a tighter sweater.

When they make an announcement about the new nominees, Staci gets up and gushes about how PBA is the best thing ever. Cheryl gets up and makes a Rosa worthy speech about how the girls are awesome but she has way too much going on in her life so she's taking her name out of contention. Annie explodes on her for ruining everything, so Cheryl points out that she wants to make her own friends and that she never even agreed to rush. The two basically stop speaking.

In the midst of all this, Cheryl bonds with Steven while he's yet again home from school. They sit next to each other at a football game and bond when he explains the rules to her. He then offers to give her driving lessons and take her to get her permit. It seems as though he's super upset over Cara moving to England and could use a friend.

The two are outside chatting as he helps her start the lawnmower when Annie rushes out with some horrible news. Her mom passed out at the caterers and was rushed to the hospital. If you think she might be pregnant like I did, no such luck. She actually has appendicitis. Annie keeps freaking out about how her mom is going to die, but Cheryl is there to hold her hand and keep her calm. They make up and decide that being stepsisters isn't that awful.

*Annie mentions worrying about her mom because she hadn't had anyone special in her life since Johnnie. Oh, you mean the guy who kept giving you the side eye and was one step away from dragging you into a dark ally? Yeah, I can totally see why you'd be upset they broke up.

*Walter and Cheryl actually move into the new house with Annie and Mona a month before the wedding. The book makes a big deal about them being an interracial couple but makes no mention of the fact that they're living in sin! As someone who lives in sin, I have no problem with this, but it seems like it should be a big deal in Sweet Valley.

*One thing that really irritates me with this book is that Cheryl already knows about Mona before the engagement and actually met her and hung out with her multiple times. Mona doesn't even tell her own daughter that she met someone until after he's proposed and she's said yes. What kind of mother does that?

*These books made cheating in a relationship seem completely normal. None of my teenage girl friends would have ever told me to go back to a cheater, but all of Annie's friends keep telling her that he just made a mistake or that he learned from his mistakes and deserved a second chance. Why is everyone on his side?

*Jessica tells her to just give him a second chance and let him know that if cheats again, it's over for good. Oh yeah, like Jessica Wakefield would date a cheater.

*Robin points out that even the best relationships have problems and points out how Liz and Todd broke up and got back together in the past. Todd and Elizabeth are NOT a good example of a positive relationship. Robin being on Tony's side actually makes sense though since she was George's side chick for so long.

*One thing I always remember about this book is that Annie won't pick a bedroom until Cheryl gets there. Annie wants the smaller room that gets more sunlight and has flowered wallpaper, but she takes the larger room with a window seat because she thinks Cheryl wants the other room. In the end, they both hate the rooms they had and switch.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Baby-Sitters Club #74: Kristy and the Copycat

After coaching the Krushers, Kristy starts feeling like something is missing. It finally hits her that she misses playing. The other girls seem pretty confused, but it makes sense to Logan because he plays too. Claudia tells her that the SMS softball team is having tryouts and that she should tryout. Kristy worries that she won't have time because of her failure at running for president, but the other girls tell her to just tryout and then see what happens.

During tryouts, she only recognize one other girl. Bea is a math genius like Stacey but unlike Stacey has long black that she wears in a braid. Many of the other girls immediately pair up for drills together because they played on the team before. One girl, Marcia, catches a ball without putting on her glove and acts like it wasn't a big deal, even though it turned her hand bright red. The coach calls out Kristy for making a good play, which leaves her all excited.

The day the list for the new team goes up, Kristy finds Mary Anne waiting for her and checks the list to find out she made it. Mary Anne tells her that she already looked and knew but would have known anyway by the look on her face. Kristy then meets the only other girls who made the team: Bea, Tonya a seventh grader, and Dilys a sixth grader. Marcia and Tallie, two of the stronger players, come over and tell the girls that they aren't really members of the team until they complete their initiation.

As they explain it, every player went through an initiation in the past. If they don't do it, the other players will make them look bad. They'll do things like put spins on their balls or knock them down when they run. Kristy obviously doesn't want to do anything, but the other girls seem pretty fine with it. They have to spray paint an old equipment shed behind the field.

Charlie drives Kristy to Bea's house for a “team party” to welcome the new girls. She pretends to go to her door but actually meets her down the street. They spray paint the shed, and then Tonya pulls out a cigarette. Her and Bea offer smokes to the other girls who refuse and then promptly cough like crazy because they don't actually smoke.

The next morning, Kristy wakes up feeling bad about what they did. She feels even worse when the radio breaks in with a story about how the equipment shed caught fire the night before. Someone saw the fire, called for help, and then tried to put it out but was injured. Kristy instantly thinks about how spray paint is flammable and freaks out when she realizes her can is missing.

Even though the softball team is not the BSC, Kristy calls an emergency meeting at her house anyway with the other three. Tonya and Bea really could care less and don't think they should tell anyone. Dilys is less certain but agrees to go with the crowd. Tannie then calls and tells them that if they squeal, the team will stick together. They will claim there was no initiation, no hazing, nothing. The girls reluctantly agree to stick together.

Kristy feels even worse when she starts getting threatening notes in her locker. The first one says that the writer knows what she did, but the next note asks for $50 to keep quiet. When she meets with the other girls, they all got notes too. The team makes Kristy look bad because she won't stop worrying, and the coach starts wondering what's wrong with her team. Then, news comes down that the school found the boys' team responsible and is shutting it down. She immediately calls an emergency BSC meeting.

Since she doesn't know what to do, she tells her friends about the initiation and the hazing. Stacey is the only one who doesn't seem surprised and points out that she did crappy things with the cheerleaders. They all agree to stand by her no matter what. Since she can't handle Logan losing his spot on the team for something she did, she decides to go to the principal on Monday morning and confess.

When Kristy wakes up Monday morning, there's a story on the radio. A group of high school kids confessed to starting the fire and came forward because they felt bad about the boys' team getting disbanded. They planned on coming back and putting it out to make themselves look like heroes, but the fire spread too fast and then that guy got hurt. That guy – by the way – will be totally fine.

Kristy then finds the missing can of paint under her bed where it fell when she threw down her bag. She talks to the other new players and tells them that she was about to confess. Dilys says she's proud of her and wishes she had her strength. The other girls wonder about who sent the notes, and then Dilys sheepishly admits that she did it in the hopes of making them confess. They all agree to work together and to stop initiations from happening in the future. When the BSC ask her if she'll stick with the team, she says it depends on what happens in the future, but I'm guessing no.

There are two other stories happening in this book. The first is about Stacey and Claudia who volunteer to take over coaching duties, even though their only experience comes from playing in gym class. They keep forgetting the name of drills Kristy told them to do, and the only things they do know are too sophisticated for the players. They actually do a fairly good job though.

The other story is about how Karen wants to be older, which is where the copycat part comes into play. When Mary Anne sits for her, she asks her tons of questions about whether she has a boyfriend and what classes she takes in school. She talks about how her own school is really babyish and won't play with Andrew in the mud because that's something kids do.

She comes to Krushers practice dressed almost exactly like Stacey, which is pretty disturbing. During practice, she refuses to play with the other kids and makes her pretend husband, Ricky, sit in the stands with her. He eventually gives up and goes to play, but she just wants to sit and talk with the big kids.

This leads up to her following Kristy around for an entire weekend. She wants them to do their nails together and try on clothes. Kristy is super stressed and just wants to be alone, but Karen won't even let her watch a movie on television alone. When Karen starts bugging her about going to the mall and spending more time with her, Kristy finally snaps. She then feels bad and tells Karen that being older isn't always fun and that she should focus on being a kid. Since she still feels bad, she agrees to do something fun with her later, which is punishment enough.

*I love that Kristy couldn't handle running a campaign for president, not even being president just running the campaign, but now she thinks she has time for regular practices and games.

*Sam literally tells Kristy that the teams at SMS have initiation rituals and jokes about how she'll have to do one if she makes the team. The next chapter, when she finds out it's true, she's all in shock.

*Charlie picks Kristy up like an hour or less after the spray painting incident but somehow does not detect the smell of paint or cigarettes on her.

*Mary Anne says that the coach of the boys' team called a meeting for the following week, which is when they'll learn what evidence they found. Uh, what? Shouldn't the guys getting kicked off their team at least know why it happened?

*Stacey says something about what constitutes a strike, and Kristy tells her that's too sophisticated for the Krushers. Seriously, they don't know what a strike means? How do they know when to get off home plate?

*They're are multiple mentions of Stacey wearing a Brooklyn Dodgers cap, which is a team that has not existed since 1957. I can't figure out if the ghostwriter made a mistake of it it's Stacey trying to be super cool. She'd totally be one of those Williamsburg hipsters today...

*When Kristy explains softball drills during a BSC meeting, Mallory is the only one who understands her. She explains that when you have a family as big as the Pikes, you sometimes want to do more than just play games.

*For her first day of coaching, Stacey wears a white v-neck tee shirt that is really big with a black sports bra underneath, black Nike shoes with a yellow swoosh on each side, black bicycle shorts with yellow stripes, and a Brooklyn Dodgers cap. She also gets to wear Kristy's whistle.

*Karen shows up later with a white v-neck tee shirt worn over a black bathing suit top, black shorts with yellow stripes, running shoes, and a cap.

*For her first day of coaching, Claudia wears a tie dye crop top, purple sweatpants that she cut off at the knee, red and white striped socks, and a red satin baseball cap. She also brings a whistle shaped like a bird that she made in art class, which really doesn't work.

*Claudia also wears – for a BSC meeting no less – an oversized yellow shirt with a big red buttons shaped like an x, super big white pants, red Doc Martens with yellow and black laces, and earrings that say stop on one ear and go on the other.

*This book really doesn't fit the whole middle school mentality. It's like the ghostwriter heard about hazing being a problem and decided to make a book about it. It doesn't seem like something that really happens at this age level.

*So everyone has to show up for tryouts and try for a spot on the team, but all the old players make it. There's only room for four new girls, which means only four girls graduated last year or all the other newbies sucked. Also, do the returning players really need to try out, or do they just automatically make it?

*I actually tried out for the softball team my freshman year of high school after not playing on a team for awhile – cough, years, cough – and it was pretty much a given that those who played for the coach before would make it onto the team. In case you're wondering, no, no I did not make the team.

*Why is this book Kristy and the Copycat? Karen doesn't start following her around until one of the last chapters and seems way more into the other girls. It should have been Kristy and Team or something equally stupid.

*I strongly dislike that Kristy gets off without any punishment. Even though they didn't burn down the shed, those girls did do something wrong. You know if another BSC member was in a similar position that she would push them to go forward and tell the truth.

*Is there ever another mention of Kristy playing softball in the series? I'm trying to remember the books that come later, but I can't think of a single instance of her still being on the team. There's that one book with Watson where – I think – she tries out and doesn't make it?

*Mary Anne sits for Karen and Andrew because their mom and step-dad are going to a garden party. She says she doesn't know what a garden party is but that their outfits seem appropriate. Karen's mom wears a big hat with an upturned brim that has a flower pinned to it. That totally makes me think of Blossom!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Sweet Valley High #137: Fight Fire With Fire

This is the book that made me scream, “god, you two are such little bitches!” more times than I would like to admit.

Despite the fact that she's a minor and oh the daughter of the richest man in town, the cops take Lila immediately to the police station. They book her, take her fingerprints, and then throw her in a cell with a woman with way too many tattoos. Lila cries a lot and worries about what's going to happen to her. She also spends a lot of time staring at the ceiling and silently begging Steven for help.

Steven somehow comes up with the cash to bail her out of jail. He wants to spend some alone time with her and talk about the case, but all Lila can think about is going to the spa. They have a huge fight that ends with her telling him to take her home so she can change. She makes it clear that while she loves spending time with him and really does want to talk, only a spa trip will make her feel better.

When he heads to work the next day, the DA calls him right into his office. The man kind of explodes on him and basically calls him an idiot. All the evidence points to Lila and he doesn't care about the evidence that doesn't. Since Steven can't be objective and is now involved with the guilty party, he's fired. The DA will fill out his school form with the truth but who knows what will happen.

Since he still has access to the evidence locker, Steven gets inside and goes over the evidence collected. He finds a piece of a sports drink can, which is exactly the same kind that John Pfiefer drinks. Conveniently, the twins came to see him and hear everything that happens with the DA. They decide that – despite the fact that Lila just got out of jail – that breaking them up is the most important thing in the world.

Steven takes Lila to a gas station and makes her pick a soda. When she doesn't pick the sport drink, he grabs one for her and takes her to the woods. He asks her to throw it as far and as high as she can. When she fails and seems really confused, he throws it for her. Steven then tells her that the person who threw the bomb at the restaurant threw it high enough that it crashed through the top of the window. Since Lila doesn't have the same amount of strength, she's clearly not guilty.

Going back to school makes Lila feel more alone than ever. Most of the other girls, namely Heather who is still a mega bitch but girls like Amy too, are either super uncomfortable around her or just leaves when she comes around. She finds the twins waiting for her at her locker. Liz tells her to keep her head up, and Jessica tells her that she knows she's innocent. Lila then finds a note in her locker from Steven. It's all about how they'll get married one day, go camping on their honeymoon, live in a small house with a white picket fence, and have lots of dogs and kids that they can barely afford because his DA salary is so low. Lila gets really turned off and wonders what's wrong with him.

Steven then gets a similar letter from Lila, which is weird because she seems unhappy with him since the whole spa thing. It's all about how she'll use her connections to make him a celebrity among lawyers and how they can travel the world together and enjoy four star everything. The twins just gloat because they wrote both letters. When the twins see them together again though, they decide to push things even more.

Jessica takes Lila the photo album she made her. They have a nice moment that she then ruins by talking about how Steven should realize how much Lila could help him in the real world. Lila gets a little upset and starts thinking about their relationship. She decides to break up with him at the big football game at the same time that Steven decides to break up with her too.

They meet in front of the gym and start talking. It quickly becomes clear that Lila is breaking up with him, but when she mentions the letter, Steven gets really confused. They then show each other the letters they got and realize the twins were behind the whole thing. To get them back, they'll pretend like they're happier than ever. Before that can happen though, in walks John with a bomb in his hand.

John immediately starts talking about how Lila ruined his life and how she's a lying bitch. Steven tries to save Lila and tells her to run. It turns into a big thing that ends with John throwing the bomb in the gym as he screams that he's “still alive” right as the bomb explodes. As everyone rushes to see what happened, the twins find Steven and Lila. Lila bursts into tears about what happened to John, and Steven is the one who holds her and tells her the dude's dead as they wheel his body away.

Steven wakes up the next morning and thinks about how his parents made him and Lila stay up for 90 minutes the night before to go over everything that happened. The twins come downstairs to find him making pancakes, and Lila comes down later. She and Steven play some kissy face and then announce that they're officially engaged. Jessica is in shock as the idea of three Wakefield girls in the same high school.

The doorbell rings, and it's the DA to talk with Steven. It seems as though now that all the evidence is out, Steven was right all along. The cops found proof that John was stalking Lila. He even stole her old gloves to set her up. The DA offers Steven his internship back.

Devon, the guy I strongly dislike, gets a bunch of letters at his hotel room, and there's one letter from his former nanny. Nan, real imaginative, wrote to express her feelings for the death of his parents and to invite him to stay with her in Sweet Valley. He decides to go and finds that she saved stuff from when he was a kid. Though he agrees to stay with her, he tells her that he's broke. He also explodes on her one night for leaving him and never staying in touch.

That makes him look like an ass when he finds a conveniently placed box of letters in her garage. Nan wrote to him all the time and even sent him birthday and Christmas gifts. His parents sent all the letters back unopened. She then explains that she loved him like a kid and that it killed her to leave. Devon decides to stay with her and for her to be his legal guardian. He also heads over to SVH to check out the football game and sees the most beautiful woman in the world. I'll spare you the details, it's Liz.

Lila heads home and finds her parents waiting for her. They apparently stopped on the way home, still without calling by the way, and found out what happened. George almost pops a blood vessel at the way the cops treated his little girl, and Grace just worries. Her parents start offering to buy her all kinds of stuff, but she points out that she just wants them. Lila says that no matter what she tells them, she's still just a kid and that a kid needs her parents. They agree to spend more time together, which is something George says like every dozen books. She then agrees to accept a luxury ski vacation for her and a friend, so I guess Lila will be fine.

*Lila has bail set the same day that they booked her. I'm not sure if the ghostwriter knows how the system works, but it usually doesn't happen that fast.

*The timeline is these books absolutely kills me! The cops found proof that John was stalking Lila for almost a year. That means he almost raped her, they had the holidays with Margo, went to London, had internships at the magazine, and did about 900 other things but it's still not even been a year.

*Liz encourages Steven to call Billie and at least catch up with her. I know that she really likes Billie, but she needs to back way off.

*Steven does call Billie though, and they start talking again, which I guess explains why they're together in SVU. Hey! This might also explain why their apartment in those books is different from the one they had when the twins stayed with them!

*The main reason I hate the Devon story is because of Nan. She was your freaking nanny, your parents paid her to spend time with you. Nannies move on all the time, get over it! Also, she makes it out like it killed her to leave him. It was a job! Nannies seriously move from job to job on a regular basis.

*Devon sees Liz in a yellow sundress and can't stop thinking about her until he sees Jessica in her cheerleader uniform. He then thinks about how he likes her so much better in the sundress. Gag me.

*Todd and Liz have a fight in this one, surprise surprise, because she tells him about the letters. He actually ends a date early and leaves because it's not right to mess around in the love lives of other people.

*The twins are so freaking awful in this book! Lila literally got out of jail the day before and all they can think about is breaking her and Steven up. Did they seriously not think that losing her one support might send her over the edge?

*There's no resolution about the fake engagement. I like to think that Lila went all out and made the twins try on a bunch of ugly bridesmaid dresses and sample all this disgusting food before having a fake fight and calling off the engagement.

*I read Don't Go Home With John for the first time fairly recently and then read books where he was kind of back to being a normal guy or at least having friends. I never read any of these later books back in the day, so I was actually pretty shocked with what happened in the end. Who would ever guess reading that book with him and Jennifer that he would one day blow himself up?!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sweet Valley High #136: Too Hot to Handle

Even though the last book ended with Jessica feeling all disgusted at her best friend for making out with her brother, she's now furious. She's so furious that Elizabeth drags her upstairs before she can explode. Jessica promptly goes off on Lila for being a terrible friend after everything she did for her. Liz points out that (a) all the clothes they bought are currently in Jessica's room and (b) Lila doesn't even know about the photo album yet. Jess agrees to calm down and wait before saying anything.

Once they finish kissing, Lila goes back to being afraid of what might happen to her. She asks Steven if he really believes that she's innocent. He says he does and believes that up until going to work the next day. The DA, who I'm guessing George picked on when they were kids, refuses to believe that anyone else could have started the fire except for Lila. He basically tells Steven that she's guilty and accuses him of being turned by a pretty face.

Jessica simmers for a whole day before finally exploding on Lila after class. Lila, to her credit, tries to just walk away and escape the situation, but Jess won't let her go. She starts bringing up all these stuff about Steven to turn Lila off like how he wears jeans, doesn't go to fancy restaurants, and once had a burping contest with his friends. Lila actually thinks it would be nice to date someone normal for once. They have a huge fight, and Jessica tells her that they cannot be friends until she's done with Steven.

Meanwhile, new guy Devon leaves Ohio for Las Vegas to track down his uncle. He has an altercation with a woman who owns a hotel for not letting him check in early but calms down and feels bad when she treats him nicely. He starts thinking about Nan, his appropriately named nanny, from when he was a kid. She was the only one who ever really loved him but left him all alone with his parents. I'm crying for you.

Once in Vegas, he starts looking around for his uncle and can't find him. He goes to all these bars where people warn him that his uncle is bad news, and his uncle doesn't have a listed phone number. Devon winds up hitting all the casinos and just randomly asking for the man. Security grabs him, takes him to an office to get the whole story, and then take him to a secret high stakes poker game, where he finally meets his wayward uncle.

Since Devon is my least favorite person, I want to get his story out of the way. Pete, his uncle, bonds with him and takes him out for a steak dinner but sees a gorgeous woman on the way out. He says that it's his ex, Linda, and that he's still in love with her but she won't talk to him anymore. Devon decides to help them find their way back together to show his uncle that he needs him. He also tries to clean up around the place, but Pete tells him he has hired help to do that.

When Devon tells his uncle that he's broke, Pete says it's no problem and that he'll teach him how to earn his keep, which seems to mean sneaking an under aged kid into the casinos until you get him a fake ID. Pete shows up with an expensive piece of jewelry and has him deliver it to Linda. Linda doesn't seem that thrilled but does like Devon. Devon keeps bringing her expensive jewelry and starts bringing other stuff like candy, music, and flowers, all of which Linda likes more than the jewelry.

One night, Devon and Pete play with an older woman named Mrs. R and her daughter. The older woman keeps flirting with him. Her daughter later thanks him for being so nice to her mom and explains that they just wanted to have some fun together after her dad passed away. When he sees them later, Mrs. R is crying because she lost a very expensive lighter that her dead husband gave her. In fact, she lost it at the table they played at together.

Devon tries to convince his uncle to write Linda a love poem and then just writes it himself. He checks the box his uncle gave him and finds the missing lighter inside, so he just gives Linda the letter. She keeps pressing him about whether he brought anything else and then kind of breaks down. It turns out that his uncle stole jewelry from the hotel and used Linda as a fence. Linda fell in love with him and quit being his fence because he didn't feel the same way, but he used Devon to help him get back in her good graces. He heads back, tells his uncle he knows the truth, and then just takes off again as his uncle worries about Linda.

As for Steven, every time he asks if there is someone who might want to get Lila, the twins and Lila herself start to mention John and then drop it. He finally presses Lila for a list of names. She tells him about former employees she fired and Joan, that woman her dad almost married. He keeps pushing her until she finally breaks down and explains what happened with John. Steven is shocked that anyone would want to hurt her.

When he gives his list of names to the DA, the DA could care less. He basically tells him that they know who is behind the fire and that Steven's job is to prove that Lila is guilty. Why would the DA ever care about that pesky old innocent until proven guilty thing? The DA has no interest in going after John or considering his as a suspect either.

Lila decides that since Steven is still rough around the edges that she'll show him the finer things in life. She buys all new linens for the table and new plates and glasses before picking up dinner from the gourmet store. Steven just shovels in his food before going back to talk about the case.

He finally goes to Liz to talk about John. Liz tells him what she knows, which is mainly that John is still the sports editor but is now a loner with no friends. He spends all of his time at one specific computer in the Oracle office. Steven goes with her to the office on a day when John is covering a story. He finds out that the website print out he got at his desk came from the same printer that John usually uses. John then shows up, they get into a huge fight over Lila, and John tells Steven that Lila always ruins everything.

Since Liz is a real C U Next Tuesday, she starts wondering if maybe Lila made up the whole thing. You suck, you are officially my least favorite Wakefield twin, which is really saying something. She reminds Jessica of how Lila once had that shoplifting problem and how she lied about her counselor attacking her. Lila could lie about something like this too, and if she did, it would really explain why John is so mad. I guess she totally forgot about his ex-girlfriend being afraid of him and the other girl he almost raped?

Jessica briefly wonders if maybe Lila going after Steven is another way of her acting out and trying to get attention before quickly changing her mind. She has a hard time believing that Lila would ever burn down her house, if only because she loved her things so much. The twins finally decide to just come together and help each out. They'll show Steven and Lila why they don't work. Liz will beg Steven for help with an article and make him miss big date night with Lila, which Jess knows will just piss her off.

That it does. Lila gets all dressed up and sits home alone while watching the minutes tick by until they miss their reservation. Steven calls and asks her to come and pick him up because he called and changed their reservation. Someone (Jessica) stole his keys and hid them from him, and someone else (Elizabeth) took his spare set from his dresser. Steven acts really distracted during dinner and finally tells her that the DA thinks seeing her is interfering with him being objective.

It hits Lila that he wants to break up, but he points out that they just can't see each other in public after tonight. She kind of has a break down that any woman who was ever dumped will understand with her saying that everyone abandons her. Steven tries to calm her down, but she just wants to go to the restroom and be alone for a bit.

While sitting at the table, something crashes through the large glass window and lands on the restaurant floor. It's a homemade bomb that promptly explodes and sets the restaurant on fire. Steven rushes around to find Lila but gets swept outside with the crowd. Lila finds him outside, where they have a small moment before the cops show up. They announce that they found bomb making supplies in her car and that they have to arrest her. She freaks out and begs Steven for help as they lead her off. He thinks about how he needs to call Ned and vows to find out who is trying to frame Lila...

*So, Lila gets to meet with the insurance company and give the approval to start work on the house, though she doesn't want to replace anything without her parents being there. What kind of insurance company just starts paying out without talking to the actual policy holders?

*Lila says that her parents called their trip a second honeymoon but that it's actually like the fourth trip they took together without her. What the fuck is wrong with those two? George brought Grace back to help Lila and now hogs up all of her time. Does he want his daughter to wind up back in therapy?

*Devon and his whole nanny thing irritates me. He whines and complains about how the woman who worked for his parents left him after his parents let her go. What did he expect her to do, just stick around and take care of him without their permission and without any money?

*Two problems with the whole bomb supplies found in her car. First is that she has a convertible, so anyone could throw that stuff in there. Second is that Steven rode to the restaurant in that car with her. Would he seriously not see a massive bag of fertilizer in the backseat?

*Also, I find it hard to believe that they would find a single person who saw Lila walk to the bathroom, then head in the opposite direction to throw a bomb through the window. Would she even have enough time? It seems like the bomb happened seconds after she left the table.

*Now it's time to call Ned, now? Where the hell has Mr. I'm a Lawyer With No Specialty Who Can Help Anyone When They Need it been all this time?

*Her parents are seriously still out of town and still unreachable. I get that they trust Lila to be alone, but it's now been days with absolutely no contact.

*Lila does bring up the fact that Steven dated Cara. Even though Jessica tried to force them together multiple times before they actually started dating with absolutely no help from her, she claims that it's different.

*Liz really ticks me off in this book. If she's so sure that Lila made up the story about John, why doesn't she go back to being his best friend ever and see how the world treats her?

*Lila names Enid and Bruce as two people who hate her. I only point this out because she actually named them before even considering John.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Sweet Valley High #135: Lila's New Flame

I have no idea what is in the Sweet Valley water supply, but it's something not good!

See, Lila just got a phone call from Bo. They went from talking on the phone all the time, having disgustingly cute phone dates where they watched the same movie while on the phone together, and sending each other love poems to hardly talking. That did not make Bo dumping her any easier though. He thinks they grew apart and that they should date people on their own coasts. Because yeah, it's so hard for two rich kids to find time for each other.

Lila starts acting down all the time, not John date rape down, but still pretty down. She doesn't even want to go shopping with Jess or see a new movie. All she wants to do is mope around the house. In the hopes of getting over Bo, she decides to burn all the love letters he sent her before falling asleep in front of the fireplace. When she wakes up, the house is on fire!

Steven is coming back to town because the ghostwriter has no clue how internships actually work. He has an internship with some local law firm and gets to take the entire semester off college just to do it as a freshman! I'm so irritated right now. Jessica wants to throw him a huge party since their parents are out of town, but good old wet blanket Elizabeth puts the kibosh on that.

When he does get back, he doesn't seem quite himself. That's when he hits the twins with some big news: Billie dumped him. It seems as though Steven decided to apply for the internship and accept it without talking to her. She made him choose between the work and her, so he chose the work. Billie moved out, didn't talk to him for a few days, and never even said goodbye. She told him that his choice was their goodbye. Ouch.

While chilling around the house, they get a call that Fowler Crest caught fire and that Lila is in the hospital. They have to go because George and Grace are on an island somewhere with no connection back to the outside world. The whole Wakefield team rush over and find Lila is okay but needs to stay there for a few days. No one really wants to tell her that she can't go home again. Jessica finally does tell her that she can't live in the house and that she can come stay with them. Lila just wonders why Steven is hanging around because she never really paid any attention to him before.

Steven heads to the law firm and gets his first assignment: tracking Lila. It turns out that they found evidence of arson at the house. Someone left gasoline on the floor. Since Lila had matches in her pocket, they somehow suspect her of starting the fire. He gets to follow her around and figure out if she actually did it.

When Lila gets out of the hospital, she refuses to stay with the Wakefields and just wants to go home. She even tells Jessica to leave and let her deal with things. One wing is completely gone and every other room has serious smoke damage. When she gets to her bedroom, she finds all her clothing destroyed and her things ruined. Everything from her clothes to her pictures are gone. Her jewelry is even melted into a big pile. She breaks down crying when she finds the metal box she stored her letters in got soaked.

Steven decides to go see Lila and talk to her. He finds her moving some of her things into the pool house. She seems happy to see him and glad to have someone willing to talk things through with her. The more time they spend together, the more he realizes that she's not just another bratty friend of his little sister. Oh, you mean like your old girlfriend Cara?

Jessica takes Lila shopping but notices that she just doesn't care. Lila Fowler no longer has any interest in shopping for ball gowns or fancy shoes. All she cares about are the basics. Once she gets some jeans and tee shirts, she's done. Jessica keeps convincing her to do some more shopping and winds up with bags of stuff that Lila doesn't want. Even Liz points out that everything “they” bought is really stuff that Jessica liked.

Steven finds himself trapped between two worlds. On the one hand, Lila is a sweet girl and seems innocent, but on the other hand, evidence keeps piling up against her. The police find a can of gasoline in her car, but she says the chauffeur sometimes drives her car and probably put it there. His boss seems convinced that she's a poor little rich girl who just wanted attention. Steven puts together a diagram that shows someone deliberately set three different fires around the house and around her exact location, but it's still not proof that she's innocent.

Even though neither twin knows, the two start spending a lot of time together, like a lot. Elizabeth worries that he's too sad over Billie dumping him and pushes him into having a movie night with her and Todd. When Lila invites him to dinner to thank him for all his help, he blows Liz off. Liz calls the DA, despite Todd begging her to drop it, and keeps worrying about where he is and what he's doing.

Steven feels super uncomfortable when Lila shows up in a fancy dress and takes him to a fancy French restaurant. Over dinner, she tells him about all her travels, which makes him think that she's seen more than he ever will. She surprises him by telling him that she actually preferred digging for oysters on a beach than hobnobbing with royalty in the big city. The date leaves him even more confused than ever, especially when Lila grabs a box of matches on the way out the door. She explains that she wants to start a new memory box.

Jessica suddenly realizes that Lila is so upset because she lost so many things that were important than her clothes. She goes through all her family photo albums to find photos of Lila and her friends. Liz thinks the photo album she made was really sweet and wonders if she should make one for Steven of him and Billie. Jessica points out that this is a terrible idea, Liz agrees and then wonders if she should invite Billie down for the weekend. Give it up already!

Todd and Liz go roller skating, which I'm pretty sure is something they haven't done in a long time. Steven agreed to come with them but never shows up. She keeps worrying about where he is or what he's doing. Todd finally kind of snaps and tells her to pay attention to him and not her brother.

While on his way to see Lila again, Steven finds something in her bushes. That came out dirtier than I intended. He shows her a pair of gloves with her monogram on the cuffs that were soaked in gasoline. She says she has no idea where they came from, but he makes it clear that he doesn't believe her. Lila then breaks down because someone is trying to frame her and no one cares. That makes Steven finally hug her and tell her that he believes her.

Meanwhile, we have some random new character named Devon Whitelaw on his way from Connecticut to California. His parents passed away and left him a trust fund, but he can only access it if he finds suitable guardians first. Since his Aunt Peggy and Uncle Mark live in Ohio, he figures that's a good place to start. They introduce him to their two songs and welcome him with open arms.

Aunt Peggy then tells him that he would be much more comfortable with his own room and suggests they use some of his money for it. The kids hit him up for a new dirt bike and a new motorcycle too. Devon is fine with things because he assumes all families are like that. Instead of adding a single bedroom onto the house though, they plan a whole wing with multiple rooms and a bathroom.

He later overhears his aunt and uncle talking about the three loans they took out for the renovation and how they plan on spending at least $1 million of his money. They also want to add a second wing. Peggy points out that he can go to Ohio State, which doesn't cost a lot, and that he'll still have some money after they finish.

While watching the construction, one of the workers comes up to him and makes some comments about how his family are thieves. Devon hears them talking about using even more of his money and comes up with a plan. He tells them the next day that he talked to his attorney and learned his dad owed a lot of debts. They had to use the estate to pay what they could before filing for bankruptcy and now he's broke. They freak out about how they'll be able to afford everything they did without his money. Devon pretty much just packs up and takes off to Las Vegas where another uncle lives.

Steven heads into work one day and finds a print out for a website on his desk. It goes over all the signs that someone is secretly an arsonist, which he realizes describes Lila pretty well. Though he asks everyone in the office if they left it for him, they all deny it. The DA tells him to bring it to an upcoming meeting and seems pretty smug that it's proof Lila started the fire.

Lila stops by the Wakefield house to see Steven. They have a moment, which leads to him kissing her and releasing all the feelings that built up over the last week. Jessica and Elizabeth head downstairs to watch a movie together, Jessica sees the new couple in the kitchen, and backs out in shock. She can't even explain it to Liz, so she just points to the kitchen. Liz peeks in, backs out, and the two share mutual looks of revulsion and disgust.

*Steven's internship seriously annoys me. College freshmen do not get paid internships at major law firms, and they do not get to take an entire semester off work for one!

*I totally side with Billie on this situation. Steven applied for the internship, knowing what it meant, without telling her. He then accepted it and thought she should just be happy for him. Since he apparently moved out within days, it's even more ridiculous. What was she supposed to do about their apartment? It's not like he left her time to find a roommate or a new place!

*Seriously, Steven's job is insane. He gathers all the evidence, draws a diagram of the fire, and even gets his own desk. He is an INTERN!!! There is no way that the DA would let an intern investigate this type of case or even handle the paperwork, given the Fowler name.

*Steven says that to be a good lawyer, he cannot get emotionally involved in his cases. Either he's never met Ned before or he's saying his dad is a bad lawyer.

*I thought Lila taking the matches was actually pretty sweet. Everything she saved from before was ruined in the fire, but the first memory she wanted to save was her date with Steven.

*Devon's family did a shitty thing, but he did a shitty thing too. He agreed to pay for the renovation, knew they took out three loans to cover all the costs, and still left them holding the bill.

*The end was a little too cheesy for me. How many times has Jessica gone after a relative of one of her friends? Yet somehow, the twins are both disgusted by the idea of their brother kissing Lila.

*The description of Fowler Crest was pretty impressive. I had a bad fire in an old apartment that destroyed the living room, dining room, and bathroom. My bedroom kind of survived because I had the door shut, and the door was shut to my kitchen too. The descriptions in this book were right on point.