Friday, February 24, 2017

The Nancy Drew Files #54: Cold as Ice (1990)

Nancy, Bess, and George are off to Emerson College for the weekend to see Ned and experience the annual Winter Carnival. He got a friend, Susan, to let them stay in her dorm room, and he even arranged dates for George and Bess with his friends Jerry and Rob. Susan seems find with them until she finds out they know Rob and suddenly seems less friendly. She later apologizes and says it's fine if they hang out with him.

They do a bunch of fun and random things like start making ice sculptures for an upcoming contest, take a walk across the campus, and have a snowball fight. Nancy notices the oars on Rob's jacket and comments on them, which makes him go from friendly to ice cold. Ned later explains that Rob was the star of the crew team until his grades dropped and the college suspended him.

One of the big events on campus is an exhibit in its art museum of historic jewels. Bess goes crazy, and Rob jokingly says he would steal from her. Nancy keeps noticing how the security guard follows them around. They also listen to a speech from William Whorf, who is some big deal historic jewel collector.

The next day, they all go to a dedication ceremony for some new practice space for the award winning crew team. The coach gives a special shout out to Rob, who unexpectedly disappeared. In the middle of the ceremony, a fire breaks out. Rob shows up later with claims that the ceremony upset him so he went for a run, and he claims he left his jacket inside.

Our big mystery in this book is that someone steals some of the jewels from the collection. Later, the cops show up and take Rob down to the station for questioning in the theft. Nancy previously solved a few mysteries on campus and asks the dean for some time to clear Rob's name to which he agrees. She then finds that someone destroyed a bunch of the sculptures and also finds Rob's jacket close to where the fire broke out.

Turns out the cops showed up and when they catch Nancy with the coat, they take her in for questioning. It doesn't help that the coat is covered in gasoline, which was the accelerate used in the fire. The cops release her after taking to the dean but make it clear that she's just a kid and should stay out of the official investigation. Nancy vows that she'll help Rob though and tells him that when she sees him at the station.

In the hopes of finding the original gas, she breaks away from the group, breaks into a maintenance building, and finds gasoline as well as a label from the missing jewelry. The sergeant not only ignores her but doesn't even really want to send someone to check it out. She also manages to overhear Whorf acting all suspicious like and begins wondering if he was behind the theft and set up Rob so no one would find out.

While hanging out, they all have a run in with Susan and her new boyfriend Greg. Greg picks a fight with Rob for no real reason and attempts to punch him before she drags him off. Rob explains to them that he and Susan dated for a full year and even talked about getting engaged before he broke it off. He also mentions that she was pretty upset he dumped her before she could dump him.

Since all work and no play makes Nancy a dull girl, she takes time out of her busy schedule to go ice skating with the gang. That might be fun if not for the fact that the ice breaks underneath her. Ned gets to her just in time, and they find out that someone removed all the signs and blockades from the thin ice section of the lake. To make matters worse, Rob sends a message to Nancy that the cops have a search warrant for his room. Nancy gets there just as the cops find one of the missing earrings.

Nancy asks to see the earring and points out that it has a Made in China label on the back and isn't an antique. The sergeant seems peeved that he can't arrest Rob and tries to storm off. When she gives him the label she found, he just puts it in his pocket and leaves. That's some nice police work there, guys. Rob tries to get them to just leave him alone, but Nancy convinces him to go skiing to take his mind off things.

They see Susan and Greg again, and when Greg gives him murder eyes, Rob wonders if he's the one behind everything. He even points out that Grey probably started the fight as a way to get close to him and stick the fake earring on him. They head up on the ski lift together, but when Nancy hops off, she finds that someone tampered with her ski. She just narrowly stops in time to avoid serious injury.

While us mere mortal would probably give up at this point, the group goes to the big Winter Carnival dance together. Nancy sees Whorf give something to Greg, which turns out to be a party invitation, but she then realizes that she saw Whorf with someone who looked suspiciously like Susan's dad before. The girls go back to their room and find that Susan hid the photo of her dad that she had out before, but they find another picture in her dresser of her dad with Whorf. They also find a bracelet that matches the fake earring the police found.

Ned and Nancy set up a trap at the sculpture contest. As a judge, Ned announces that they need to check each sculpture for illegal framing, which he uses as an excuse to poke around in Susan's sculpture. Though he doesn't find anything, she does sneak over to Bess' sculpture and knock it over. Nancy holds her down while the police rush over to stop the crazy girl with her knee on another girl's back, only to find Susan holding all the missing jewels.

In the end, we learn that she took the fall for everything and denied that she had any help. Nancy still believes Whorf was in on it and that he probably planned to pay her off. Ned gets her alone and presents her with a necklace that matches the bracelet and earrings, which leads to her kissing him and thanking him for the best Winter Carnival ever. Hey! Nancy got through a whole 147 pages without cheating on her boyfriend, that's some serious progress!

*Ned gets really quiet when describing Rob, and Susan then freaks out. I'm pretty sure I'd think twice about dating him, but Bess is cool with it because he's cute.

*Need another reason to love Ned? He grabs Nancy and plants one on her before telling her that kissing her is his favorite way to warm up.

*Jerry does a good job of both flirting with George and flirting with Bess without really making it clear if he likes one more than the other.

*The official colors for Emerson College are purple and orange, which sound weird and a little gross to me.

*When the whole gang goes out for a fancy dinner, they all make fun of Bess for wanting dessert except for Jerry. He tries to convince them all to try at least one, but Nancy and George claim it's too many calories. That really annoys me.

*It turns out that Ned is a terrible matchmaker. Bess and Jeff go crazy for each other in the end, while Rob invites George to come back and visit him in the spring for some rowing lessons.

*The main suspects listed in the front were stupid. Greg is in like two scenes before the end, Whorf is in maybe three, and we know from the very beginning that Rob had nothing to do with the theft.

*Setting a building on fire is one weird way to draw attention away from a jewelry heist...

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Baby-Sitters Club #94: Stacey McGill, Super Sitter

I don't know if you know this or not, but Stacey is from NYC. She tells us this yet again at the beginning of the book and mentions it to Robert too. I'm pretty sure he hears this like once a day. After her dad calls to say he wants to take her to a Broadway show, she's shocked to find out that Robert never went to a show before. When Maureen tells her that tickets are pretty expensive, she decides to work overtime and take him to the city for his birthday.

It just so happens that a call comes in at the next BSC meeting from a new client. Mrs. Cheplin needs someone to watch her kids, Dana and Adam every day after school. She isn't too happy to learn that Stacey is so young and makes it clear that she needs someone with more experience. Begrudgingly, she gives Stacey the job on a one week trial basis.

The job seems pretty easy at first and pays really well. Cheplin has her pick up the kids from the bus stop – they go to some fancy private school not in Stoneybrook – at 3:15 every day. She does some light housework, makes sure they do their schoolwork, and generally just keeps an eye on them. Dana was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and while Stacey thinks this will help them bond, it really doesn't.

It doesn't help that Dana uses her diabetes to get out of things. When her friend wants to play a different game, she suddenly gets weak and tired. When the other kids want to have a snowball fight instead of doing what she wants to do, she suddenly gets weak and tired. Stacey contemplates telling Mrs. Cheplin about things, but the woman just keeps shoving money in her face.

Mrs. Cheplin is also kind of a bitch. She keeps lengthening the list of things Stacey has to do. It winds up being dinner prep, sending out the mail, calling the plumber, doing research on dance studios, doing laundry, cleaning the house, and a bunch of other things to the point where the list is two pages long. She flips out at one point because Stacey didn't make rice for her dinner and the plumber left a mess on the floor. Another time, she freaks out because Stacey left the house a mess. Stacey explains that Dana's blood sugar dropped dangerously low and she rushed her to Dr. Johansson when she couldn't get a hold of their regular doctor.

Stacey quickly becomes exhausted. She has to skip doing stuff with her mom, break a date with Robert, and cancel plans with Claudia to spend a weekend just catching up on her schoolwork. She keeps justifying it because of the money involved. Stacey even starts thinking about how much she can make in the coming months and how she can put back money for her first car. Her mom refers to her as a workaholic and complains that she's just like her dad. Mrs. Cheplin keeps extending her trial period without actually giving her the job.

Robert shows up for Valentine's Day with a gift for her, and she feels so bad for not getting him enough that she tells him her plans. That makes him feel bad enough that he tells her she can quit. After talking it over with the BSC, Stacey decides that it takes up just too much of her time. When she tells Mrs. Cheplin, the woman tells her that she knew choosing a younger kid was a bad idea and pretty much hangs up on her. Stacey doesn't really care though because now she can actually have fun again.

In other news, Logan wants to buy Mary Anne a ring for Valentine's Day. Since Stacey is too busy to help him, he goes with Kristy. Some of their charges see them and thinks they're having a scandalous affair. They leave them both nasty notes and prank call them. It all comes to a head when they invite Mary Anne over so they can confront Logan.

The truth comes out, including the fact that Kerry totally canceled his dinner reservation. The kids all come together and make them a special dinner. They invite Mary Anne and Logan over, serve them dinner, and go overboard. Mary Anne cries, naturally.

*According to Maureen, two tickets to a Broadway show are like 100 bucks. Ah, the 90s. I don't even want to guess what Hamilton tickets go for right now...

*Stacey is shocked when Maureen tells her that a lot of people other than Robert haven't been to Broadway. Um, yeah, I live in Ohio and have definitely never been.

*Kristy, who constantly flips out at the idea of turning down sitting jobs, actually tells Stacey not to take this one because it might interfere with their regular clients.

*Logan somehow has enough money for a ring and dinner at Chez Maurice, despite the fact that he never seems to sit anymore. Would you not feel awkward at a place like that at 13?

*Claudia made some sweat outfit with lace and ribbon hearts all over it to wear to some craft fair. She also made business cards in case anyone saw it and wanted one of their own. That does not sound like something I would wear.

*Stacey and Robert double with Mary Anne and Logan. They all go bowling, and Stacey tells her mom that they actually beat the other couple this time. Is it weird that I cannot picture the four of them double dating?

*Stacey thinks that telling Mrs. Cheplin that she wants her to do too much and still watch her kids will somehow make her have an epiphany and realize that Stacey was right all along. It's kind of nice that an adult actually doesn't bow down to her. At the same time though, she needs both a housekeeper and a sitter.

*Ann's notes in the back talk about how she gets letters all the time from sitters worried about parents asking them to do housework without paying them for it. I sat a lot in my younger years and somehow never had that problem.

*Maureen has a rule that Robert can come over while she's at work as long as they stay in the kitchen. Stacey's dad – and I – are both dubious of that rule.

*Stacey sits until 5:30 and can't make it to meetings until 5:45 or so. It always cracks me up that parents in Stoneybrook mysteriously never need sitters during meeting times...

*Stacey keeps thinking that she should talk to Mrs. Cheplin about Dana and how she uses her diabetes as an excuse. It's a pretty serious story line that doesn't get a resolution because she never says anything.

*As a diabetic, I hate the speech Stacey gives about how she can't have sugar while cutting up carrots for a snack. Carrots have a lot of natural sugar.

*For their double date, Stacey wears black ankle boots with blue leggings and a long, bright pink sweater. That sounds totally 90s.

*Kristy somehow does NOT freak out when Abby shows up three minutes late to a BSC meeting. Maybe she calmed down in her later years?

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Nancy Drew Files #50: Deep Secrets (1990)

Let's set this up. In previous books in this trilogy, Nancy, Bess, and George went to stay with Eloise Drew in the Hamptons. Nancy met a guy, Gary, and helped prove his innocence and keep his job as a test pilot before falling in love with George. Nancy met a Soviet dancer named Sasha that instantly decided he was in love with her. Despite having Ned, who is conveniently on his way for a visit, Nancy thinks she might be in love with the dancer because she keeps thinking about him. It's called a crush, dodo.

Deep Secrets opens with a fancy party thrown by Nancy's friend Emily. Conversation turns to Roland Lyons, a businessman who bought up a ton of land and now wants to trade it back to the city for beachfront land where he can build condos. Emily and her new “friend” Jeff think Lyons is horrible because he puts money above all else. Keith, Emily's ex-boyfriend, interrupts, they share words, and things go badly.

Later, Keith and Jeff get into it again, which ends with Keith punching Jeff. Emily explains that he's a horrible guy who treated her life a fancy toy and that he's a big supporter of Lyon. Sasha shows up, sides with Lyon, and Emily gets annoyed enough that she leaves. He then convinces Nancy to take a walk on the beach with him where they kiss for the first time.

The next morning they get the bad news that Emily went missing. She took out her boat the night before and never came home. The marina manager explains to Nancy that she saw Emily come back around 9:30 but when she got there at seven the next morning, the boat was gone. Emily's dad says he thought he heard her come home the night before but never saw her.

After heading back to Eloise's home and finding her with some new friend named Seth, they start calling around to see if they can find anything. Nancy shocks her friends when she announces that it's possible someone kidnapped Emily the night before. Emily's dad finds the theory as disturbing as her friends do. Basically, no one believes it.

That all changes when Nancy and Sasha find Emily passed out on her boat while out on a sail. When she comes to, Emily tells them someone kidnapped her, took her boat somewhere, and left her locked down below with enough food for a week. The guy came back, partially unlocked her, and left again. She got out and was sailing back when the boom hit her and knocked her out. Since she wasn't there for the city council vote, Lyons got everything he wanted.

Though Emily assumes Keith was behind it all, they get a call that he was in a serious car accident and is now in serious condition in intensive care. They decide to focus on other suspects. Complicating matters is the fact that Ned just showed up. Though I have a soft spot for good old Ned, he really is the best boyfriend ever. He lets Nancy run off to investigate and never complains, while Sasha calls and bitches about her spending too much time with Ned. Sasha also lets her know that he has a chance to stay in America for a year but will only stay if that's what she wants. Not any pressure at all.

Ned makes reservations for dinner but agrees to go with her to see Lyons in person. Lyons finds the idea of being a suspect ridiculous, just as ridiculous as a teen detective. I kind of love him because he makes comments about how he got rid of all his blood stained shoes before she got there. He has a rock solid alibi and a fear of boats, so he clearly didn't kidnap Emily. Before they leave though, he tosses in a comment about her Russian boyfriend.

Since they missed their reservation, they decide to meet up with their friends for pizza. Ned brings up Sasha, and Nancy being Nancy can't tell him the truth. She just tells him that nothing ever happened, but it's clear by his strong jawline that he knows the truth. It doesn't help that her friends and their boyfriends keep bringing up Sasha and telling stories about him.

Just when things couldn't get anymore awkward, Nancy sees her aunt making out with Seth on the beach. After a short chat, she trips him up when he tells her he went to the movies on the night of the kidnapping and names a movie that wasn't playing that night. They also find where the boat was that night and find a shoe print left behind.

In other news Sasha gets Nancy alone and embraces her. Right as he leans in for a kiss, Ned shows up, sees them, and runs off. Nancy chases him and finds him on the beach by himself. She finally tells him about their flirtation and how she has feelings for another guy. Instead of just dumping her, Ned tells her that he loves her more than anything, that they have something special, and that he'll do whatever it takes to prove that to her.

They wind up water skiing, to which Ned invites Sasha along. Sasha falls off his skis, but Ned actually goes back, finds him, and drags him to safety. After that, Ned gets cold with Nancy but still agrees to help her search Seth's boat. She finds a photo of him with his wife, poor Eloise, and shoes that match the print she found. Seth catches them and comes clean. He was out of town to finalize his divorce and Eloise actually knew. He just didn't tell Nancy the truth because he didn't want his divorce spread around town.

In the hopes of finding the kidnapper, Nancy goes back to Keith. She finds out that he went missing on the night of the kidnapping and quit his job the next day. After breaking into his car, they find shoes that match the print. Before she can do much else though, she finds both Sasha and Ned flirting with two hot Russian chicks. Ned then asks to borrow her car to take them home, which I find hilarious.

Nancy somehow puts it together that Lyons was behind the whole thing. He thought Emily had dirt on him and got Keith to help. Lyons then emptied Keith's brake lines to cause the accident. Nancy finds out from a reporter friend that Lyons previously had a construction company that went out of business after he cut corners and buildings collapsed.

Sasha comes to see Nancy and tell her that he's leaving because he can't get the training that he needs in the States. He also realized that her heart belongs to Ned and tells her that he wishes she would look at him the way she looks at Ned. They agree to be friends, and she tells him all about the case. While on the way home, she detects the scent of chloroform and the world goes black. I should keep a running total of how often she gets knocked out.

Lyons reveals that she was right all along about him setting up Keith. He then kidnapped both Nancy and Emily, stole his neighbor's boat, and set the boat up to explode. After getting to the right spot, he hops on the dinghy, makes sure they know the radio doesn't work, and takes off. Nancy gets to the broken radio and manages to send an SOS, unties Emily and herself, they jump off the boat and find the Coast Guard waiting. The Coast Guard gets them to safety just as the other boat explodes.

At the station, the cops bring in Lyons. They checked Keith's car and find Lyons' fingerprints to prove he tampered with it. After a short recovery, they go to the big regatta and see Bess' new boyfriend's team win while racing a boat owned by Seth. Nancy learns that Ned left, heads back to her aunt's house, and finds a note asking her to meet him on the beach. Ned freaking apologizes for being upset that she cheated on him, and Nancy apologizes for being a bad person. They kiss as she thinks about how life is now absolutely perfect.

*This part of a trilogy, officially A Summer of Love trilogy. Sadly, I'm not sure if I have any of the other books. I kind of hate when series do this because I never know if I can follow along or if I should put books back until I complete the set.

*So, Nancy thinks she's in love with Sasha before they ever even kiss. Yup, sounds like a crush to me.

*Nancy wears a white silk skirt to the party, which seems so impractical to me! I love how all the late 80s/early 90s books had teenagers decked out in silk.

*Sasha calls and complains that her line was busy every time he called and how he almost gave up on asking her out to lunch. Instead of calling him a dick, Nancy just laughs, calls him outrageous, and invites him over.

*George, trying to be the voice of reason, points out that Sasha is going back to Russia in a few weeks, but Bess points out that Ned will go back to college, which isn't too different. Yup, college an hour away is just the same as dating someone in another country.

*When Sasha ends things, Nancy thinks about how she kept worrying about breaking his heart and now he's breaking her heart. Um, okay?

*As much as I agree that Ned and Nancy are perfect together, I really wish she would meet a guy and just flat out tell him to stop hitting on her because she has a boyfriend who she loves!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Baby-Sitters Club: The Summer Before

Even though my blog was up and running when this book came out, I never actually picked up a copy until I saw one for sale for a buck at a flea market.

So, it's the summer before seventh grade. Kristy, Mary Anne, and Claudia are all starting to drift apart, and Stacey is just about to move to Stoneybrook.

Kristy is less than happy that her mom is dating Watson. While she likes that her mom keeps paying her to sit for David Michael, she doesn't want some stranger always around. It doesn't help that her mom invites him over for family dinners too. When he asks if she'll watch his kids one weekend, she turns him down and lets him know pretty bluntly that it's because she doesn't want to, not because she's too busy.

The worst part is that she really misses her dad. She remembers how he came through at the last minute the last year and sent her a birthday card, but she isn't sure if he'll remember this year. Though she does send him a card, it comes back as addressee unknown. Kristy eventually confides in Mary Anne about how she hopes he will show up and surprise her.

Mary Anne finds a box of her mom's stuff that includes a few dolls. She starts imagining her mom playing with them and thinking about her a lot. It also makes her want to make clothing for them. Kristy refuses because she doesn't know how to sew, and Claudia refuses because playing with dolls is so immature.

When Mrs. Pike calls and needs two sitters, Kristy asks Mary Anne. She then asks her dad for permission, which he refuses because she's way way way way too young. After some discussion, he agrees to let her sit, if she calls and checks in every 30 minutes. Mary Anne keeps freaking out about everything that could possibly go wrong, including a fire breaking out and Claire falling down the stairs. Since this is a BSC book though, the job goes amazing. She has so much fun that she even forgets that the Pikes are paying her and almost asks why they gave her money at the end of the night.

Claudia decides to celebrate her birthday at the Goldman's house next door. They have a swimming pool that they let all the neighbors use for free, and she plans on a boy girl party. Janine invites a few friends from her summer statistics class, including the super cute Frankie who will be a freshman in the fall. Frankie almost instantly goes after Claudia. He makes her a hot dog, gets her drinks, and promises to buy her a new single. Janine is extremely pissed, especially after falling fully dressed in the pool. It takes Claudia way too long to realize her sister likes Frankie.

They quickly become the IT couple of the summer. They go to the pool, out with his parents, shopping, and all this other stuff. Her parents aren't happy in the slightest. Frankie shows up one day and asks to see her art. Her mom follows them upstairs but gives them some privacy, and Claudia winds up giving him a drawing she made.

Richard agrees to let Mary Anne sit, but she can only sit if there is something with her. When Mrs. Newton calls with a job offer, the poor lady is a little doubtful at having two kids watch her young child. Kristy can't do it, and while Claudia thinks it's a stupid rule, she does go with her.

Since Claudia is way too cool for everyone now, they barely talk at all. She does think it's impressive that Mary Anne takes charge and lets Jamie do things on his own. When Mary Anne puts him down for a nap, Claudia calls Frankie. They wind up talking for 20 minutes. Though she feels guilty, she doesn't feel so guilty that she bothers hanging up when Mary Anne comes downstairs, which puts more distance between them.

Kristy's whole family wakes her up on her birthday to a special breakfast. She finds a stack of presents waiting for her, but none are from her dad. They have a family dinner with no Watson but Mary Anne. She gets even more gifts and watches the sky, but she kind of breaks down when she realizes that her dad really did forget her birthday.

Knowing this would happen, Mary Anne set up Kristy Day. She gets the Pikes and other kids to make gifts for her and plans a parade down the street. Though she did ask Claudia to come, she already had plans with Frankie. Kristy is pretty touched by the whole thing and realizes that she still has a lot of people who care about her.

Frankie keeps showing up late as they get near the end of summer. He and Claudia head to the pool one day, but he doesn't want to sit where they usually do because his friends are all back in town. The girls fawn all over him and talk about how he should try out for football and how he's so cute. They act like major bitches to Claudia, especially after finding out her age. Between them treating her like a baby and Frankie practically ignoring her, she has less than an ideal time.

Frankie is super cold to her when he leaves her at home. The next time they talk, which is days later, he ends things with her because of some lame excuse. Claudia realizes that it's the age difference and that he doesn't want a kid holding him back. Since she can't call her friends, she sobs to Mimi. Mimi then encourages her to talk to Janine, and they actually make up. To her awesome credit, Janine just poo poos the popular girls as not really being competition.

Kristy calls Claudia and asks her to meet her and Mary Anne with their sitting charges the next day. Richard decided to let Mary Anne actually sit on her own because she's so mature and responsible all of the sudden. Things are a little awkward, and when Kristy mentions how she's glad summer is over, Claudia gets all ticked off that she won't tell her why, which she eventually does. They decide that their memories and shared experiences will hold them together and that they can still be friends, even as their lives change.

Meanwhile in NYC, there's a girl named Stacey who also sits. She can't wait to move away and get a fresh start, but she especially wants to get away from Laine. After way too many stories about when she was first diagnosed and how the other kids treated her, we get to hear about some of the kids she sits for and them preparing for their move. They run into Laine a few times, but the girls barely speak.

Maureen planned a big surprise going away party for Stacey. Laine gets her alone and tells her that the only reason kids from their class came was because she made them. She also makes it clear that Stacey needs to leave now. Stacey asks if Laine is scared of her, and Laine laughs in her face. The other girls make fun of her for her charges being there, and when she's too upset to eat, Laine makes all these rude comments about how she's only doing it for attention and how she always makes it all about her. She then “trips” and spills soda all over Stacey's new shirt. When she complains to her mom, Maureen tells her that she's too sensitive and it was just an accident.

They finally make their big move to Stoneybrook. Stacey thinks it's super pretty but whines about how there's only one bus, one taxi, and just one diner. She and her parents are pretty shocked that not only can they order food, but they can have it delivered! Come on, I literally lived in a township and not a town and had delivery. She winds up meeting Emily who introduces her to Claudia and pops up a few times like seeing the Kristy Day parade. Stacey is also on hand when the other three girls meet up and chat together at the very end. It then dives into the first chapter of Kristy's Great Idea.

*Kristy thinks it's snobby that Watson has a honor roll student bumper sticker on his car. Given that Karen is in kindergarten in this book, I think it's pretty bad too.

*It's a little weird that Watson comes to family dinners what seems pretty often but that his kids have never meet Elizabeth or her kids.

*Richard makes Mary Anne call him at work when she wakes up, when she leaves the house, and when she comes back. He also leaves notes about what she can eat for breakfast, what chores she needs to do, and other stuff. In real life, she'd wind up pregnant at fifteen!

*What's up with this box filled with stuff belonging to her mom? I thought she didn't find any of that stuff until her mystery book.

*The Goldmans actually leave their house so Claudia can have her party there. They have full run of the pool, their grill, and apparently their house too. Who the hell does that? As we had a pool growing up, I know that is a major liability.

*Kristy has a stack of gifts from people who sent presents through the mail before her birthday like aunts, uncles, and cousins. Is it weird that my family never did that?

*According to Stacey, everything changed when Laine went away to summer camp. When she came back, she started acting too cool for her, found new friends, and just stopped calling. Laine also stopped waiting for her, walking to school with her, or saving her a seat. First of all, Laine does not seem like the type of girl to go to camp. Second, this completely interferes with all the other stories Stacey told about NYC. When she wet the bed at that party, they were still good friends.

*Maureen kind of has her head in the sand here. While I get that teen girls fight and make up all the time, Laine has been riding Stacey for months now. You'd think she would pick up on that.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Babysitters Club Super Mysteries #1: Baby-Sitters' Haunted House

So, the super mystery books came out way after I stopped reading these books. This is the first time I ever read one, and it ticked me off a lot!

It's summer for the 700th time, and it conveniently falls in between Dawn moving back to California and Abby joining. Stacey is also out because of her whole thing with the bad girls, so Shannon fills in sometimes. When the book starts, Kristy has just demanded that everyone skip out vacations so they can work as much as possible. Claudia also learned that she failed English class, but her teacher was nice enough to let her do one last paper over the summer to make up for it.

They get a call from Lisa, Karen and Andrew's mom. Seth's, her husband's, assistant got hurt and they need someone to watch the kids. Their schedules are so full that only Claudia can take the job. Lisa calls a few days later with an even bigger job. Her friends, Mr. and Mrs. Menders, recently inherited a house in Maine. They and their four kids are heading to check it out and decide whether to live there. Since they want to open a health food store and need some help, Lisa and Seth go too. They need someone to watch Karen, Andrew, and the Menders' kids.

Kristy automatically assumes that she should get the job since they're her siblings. Everyone else doesn't agree because she's the one who demanded they work. Tons of people want to go, so they decide to ask their parents for permission and decide the next day. Dawn, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Kristy all get permission. Dawn wants to help them open the store, Mary Anne wants to see all the historic sites, and Kristy thinks she should still go anyway. Lisa hears the story and invites them all to come without pay. Nice, right?

After a long drive in which Mary Anne puts everyone to sleep reading from travel guides, they get to this big ass mansion and meet the family. Lionel is 14 and obsessed with everything California and wanting to be an actor. Jason is quite and standoffish. Jill is around 11 and wants to be just like Dawn. There's also Martha who is basically Mary Anne at nine. They also meet the Coopers, who are the caretakers. Mrs. Cooper has chronic laryngitis and can't talk, but they seem fine.

Naturally, a bunch of random and weird things happen. The uncle who passed away and left them the mansion also left behind a black cat that bursts out of nowhere. Dawn hears a screeching noise in the hallway late one night. They also see candles flickering in the windows. The girls then meet Georgio, the grandson of the old caretakers. He wears all black and is pretty much a goth kid, but they can't decide whether to trust him or not.

Dawn and Claudia find orange candle wax splattered across the hallway and catch Lionel watching them. While coming back one night, they see someone walking across the fourth floor. Mr. Cooper says that it's impossible because no one can get up there. They also catch Lionel and find out that he was the one with the candle. He swears that he wasn't upstairs though. To make matters worse, Georgio warns them to stay away from that floor.

That makes it odd when he shows up the next day and asks Claudia for help. Since she's “so artistic,” he suggests that she help him decide on the layout for some rose bushes. They bond a little when she tells him that the kids want to participate in a parade for the town's anniversary, and he seems disappointed when he learns she's leaving soon. Complicating matters is the fact that Georgio is much older. Not only does he have his license, but he's in college, eek.

Mary Anne checks out the historical society and finds plans for the house. The woman in charge tells her that another woman was there recently and had an accent. She finds that there is a dumbwaiter in the house that they never noticed before. The girls go to a fair in town and spend the whole time following around women who speak with an accent but find nothing. They do uncover the dumbwaiter and find something inside. Dawn climbs in and discovers that the pulleys make the noise she heard and finds a tape recorder inside of a woman screaming, which explains another odd noise they heard.

The Coopers show up unexpectedly, leaving Dawn trapped inside. She conveniently overhears Mrs. Cooper talking with a Scottish accent. Claudia gets the chance to meet the old caretakers, but Georgio keeps changing the subject every time she brings up the fourth floor, which makes her suspect him. The kids finally get inside but only find a missing dress and a bunch of antiques. They also learn that before the uncle died, he kept talking about a treasure in the attic.

One night, Mr. Menders casually mentions that if they turn down the house, his cousin gets it. They only get if they live there full time, which he never thought to mention before. Also, his cousin moved to Scotland. Mary Anne winds up seeing Mrs. Cooper running away from the historical society.

They wind up stuck in the house with the Coopers during a massive storm. Claudia thinks Mrs. Cooper poisoned the kids hot chocolate and flips out. Nothing happens at all. The next day, they finally tell the adults what happened. They search their rooms and find a list they left behind of all the things they planned to do to screw with them. The Menders then go to the police.

Since the mystery is over, the girls all head to the parade and then the fair following. Georgio invites Claudia to spend Homecoming weekend with him and tells her how much he likes her. Mary Anne thinks that she sees the Coopers, which is impossible because they apparently hopped on a plane and took off. They pretty much just get over the whole thing that same day.

Back in Stoneybrook, Jessi and Mallory are left with the club. Shannon and Logan can barely make any meetings. They wind up so overloaded that they consider asking Stacey for help and actually give Janine a job. Things get so bad that they wind up turning jobs down. Mrs. Pike is particularly upset over this. They also forget to turn on the answering machine and miss out on some other jobs.

Becca is ticked because Jessi promised to give her roller blading lessons but has no time. Their clients are ticked because no one can sit for them. Eventually, people just stop calling. They flip out and think they ruined everything. After making some calls though, they find out that their regulars just have plans. They get a bunch of kids together to walk in the Celebrate America parade and have a great time. Mallory even convinces Sam to ride in front on his unicycle and films him so Kristy can see later. Huh, Sam just gets better and better.

In the end, we get a bunch of letters. Claudia confesses to Georgio that she's only 13. Andrew and Kristy write to let the Menders know that a boat he found on the fourth floor has treasure on the side and was the treasure all along.

*Mary Anne says that Karen is precocious, which means that she's smart for her age. I want to strangle Karen though. She's so annoying in this book, and every time she does something irritating, they just laugh and say she's precocious. No, she's an annoying pain in the ass.

*Multiple times they mention that Lionel is pompous or whatever, but I have a hard time believing that none of them would find him attractive or develop a crush on him. He winds up volunteering to coach Jason's new baseball team and gets a job working in the theater.

*Despite her reason for going, Kristy spends most of her time with Jason. She takes him to the clubhouse to meet kids and gets pissed because they don't bend over backwards to make him feel welcome. The kids admit that they don't play with summer kids anymore because it lost them the championship before and how they always leave. Kristy thinks the best way to fix this is to talk smack about how they don't have a sponsor and how they suck on the field. Yeah, that will make things all better.

*Jill becomes obsessed with Dawn as soon as she meets her. She dresses like her all the time and won't leave her side. Dawn tries to get her to join the swim team with Martha, but she refuses unless Dawn joins too. It would make me scream. They finally convince her to start sitting, which leads to them both joining the swim team.

*Karen goes overboard trying to find Martha new friends. She then gets irritated when Martha says her best friend is back in Boston. Even though she can have other best friends, Martha should only like her. Martha eventually makes friends all on her own.

*Georgio is 19, which makes the whole Claudia thing super creepy. He thinks she's 16, which still seems a little weird to me. She also spends most of the book trying to decide if he's evil or a good guy, but then winds up with a crush on him anyway. I'd love to get a response back from him regarding the letter she sent!

*Seriously though, even if she was 16, what parent lets their teenager go to college Homecoming weekend and spend the whole weekend with a guy she spent a total of 19 minutes with one summer?

*In Stoneybrook, Jason, Lionel, and probably Jill would be too older for sitters. Yet, Lionel is the only one who doesn't need one. They have four girls sitting for five kids, and Jill then becomes a sitter all on her own.

*This whole not getting paid thing is ridiculous! They basically spend all their time watching over the kids, the parents are never home, the adults literally never do anything with their kids, but they pay the girls with food and a place to stay.

*Also, on the Georgio story, he and Claudia wind up on the ferris wheel. Despite him clearly being into her and asking her to spend a weekend with him, he's happy just giving her a kiss on the cheek. Sure.

*Even though Shannon promised to help as much as possible, she skips most meetings and can only sit a few times. I guess it's good that all parents in Stoneybrook suddenly decided to stay home at night?

*There is no way I would forgive Kristy as easily as they do. She literally tells them that no one can go on vacation because it will make the club look bad if there aren't any sitters available. She then decides that all four of them should just take off for an extended trip. Did she not even look at the schedule first??

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Babysitters Club #111: Stacey's Secret Friend

Stacey is suddenly a member of the Pep Squad, which is some random club filled with kids who have school spirit or something. She and Barbara (remember her as the best friend of the girl who passed away?) recently made a large jaguar from paper mache for some upcoming school event. Claudia gave them the “brilliant” idea to use two big ass glass marbles for its eyes. Just as they finish, the new girl walks right into and completely destroys the jaguar. Her name is Tess Swinhart, she feels awful about what happened and offers to help, but she winds up dumping glue all over Alan Gray.

Alan thinks the new girl is totally awful and makes it his mission to destroy her. He starts calling her Swine-hart because she's a bigger girl who wears pink all the time. Alan even creates a comic book to make fun of her. Kids pass it all around school and make fun of her behind her back and to her face. She doesn't get it when someone writes Petunia on her locker, and she doesn't get why King constantly calls her Babe. Stacey decides that she'll make over Tess and turn her into one of the cool kids.

Since they're partners in their English class, Stacey invites her over to work on their project, which is a replica of a real castle. Instead of working though, she encourages Tess to flip through her fashion and makeup magazines. Tess really isn't into it, so Stacey drops a bunch of not too subtle hints about how she can change her style. Stacey then makes up an excuse that she needs to leave for a BSC meeting before they get any work done. She also drops hints about how Tess should switch from her thick black glasses to new contact lenses.

Though Tess does join the Pep Club at Stacey's urging, it's clear that she doesn't want to be there. Someone randomly decides they should change the school mascot, the administration agrees, and they decide to vote on it at the next pep rally. Stacey suggests a panther because they really wouldn't have to change the mascot much. When everyone else submits their ideas, there are multiple cards with Tess's name. Barbara and Stacey just throw those away and decide to make large cards with the animals on the front that they'll hold up for kids to vote on at the rally.

Tess eventually comes to school with a little bit of makeup on and a blue sweatshirt instead of one of her pink outfits. Stacey keeps going on and on about how good she looks to the point of making the poor girl uncomfortable. The rest of the BSC are too sure how to feel about Tess. She's definitely a little odd, dresses weird (always in pink), is something of a klutz, and seems pretty cold. Kristy thinks it's weird that Stacey won't invite Tess to sit with them, and Claudia points out that the two girls aren't really friends. Stacey does attempt to warn Tess about King, but Tess thinks she's only doing it because she likes him too. Stacey really doesn't know what to do when she hears that Tess has a date with King at some new restaurant called Hog Heaven.

During the pep rally, Stacey holds up the cards as the crowd yells for which mascot they like the best. When she holds up the pig card, people laugh like crazy. It turns out that someone blew up a big picture of Tess and pasted it on the card. Someone in the crowd hits the poor girl with a hot dog. As she tries to get up and run away, she falls over the side of the bleachers. Stacey runs over to help, but Tess realizes that Stacey knew about the kids making fun of her all along and tells her that they are not friends.

Still not one to give up, Stacey stops by her house. Poor Tess sprained her wrist and broke her ankle. She finds that Tess has this amazing room with a replica of a famous mobile hanging from the ceiling and all this unique stuff. Tess then reveals that she transferred from a school in Paris. Stacey realizes that's why she didn't get all the pop culture references and why she acted so odd. She also finds a bunch of photos of Tess and her friends and even a fashion magazine from Paris that show kids wearing bright pink clothes and thick black glasses. Tess once again tells her that they aren't friends and asks her to leave.

Emily comes to Stacey with some bad news. King, Alan, and some other random guy are planning on playing a bad joke on Tess. When she goes on her “date” with King, he'll keep putting her in front of all this pig stuff. They'll take pictures, make horrible comments, and put the whole thing in the paper. Stacey tells the BSC, Kristy comes up with an idea, and surprisingly, Tess agrees to go along with it.

Claudia gets a huge plate of fries and smothers them in ketchup. When they see King and Tess, Stacey pretends to trip, which causes Claudia to drop the whole platter on him. Stacey then pulls out a rag covered in blue paint and smears it all over him. Abby stands nearby and takes photos of everything. They then tell him to knock it off or they'll share the embarrassing pictures with everyone they know. King kind of slinks off with his tail between his legs. Tess is suddenly okay with everything and happy, but in the end, she seems to like Barbara way better than Stacey or anyone else.

While all this is going on, Jackie starts acting weird. He keeps stealing his mom's new cell phone and inviting Nicky over. When Nicky can't come over, Jackie flips out and mumbles to himself a lot. Abby finds Nicky giving Jackie a “lesson” that involves walking on the roof of the house. While sitting for him, three other kids show up to talk to him. She sees them acting really threatening to him and being bullies but decides to see what happens. It turns out that one of the kids thought he stole his jacket, so Jackie hired Nicky as his bodyguard. When he explains that it was really his jacket, the other kid calms down and they even play soccer together.

*Abby does a really bad job of watching over Jackie. There is no way she should have let those kids into the yard, and there is no way she should have left Jackie alone. That could have ended way worse.

*The comic Alan makes is really mean and kind of makes me rethink the way I felt about him in the FF series.

*Tess outfit #1: black boots, brown cords, shirt with a Peter Pan collar, and pink cardigan. That's what she wore when she walked through the mascot.

*Speaking of the mascot, who just suddenly decides to change their school's mascot? The administration should have just said no!

*Stacey picks panther because she says that she can just paint the one they made a new color next year. Damn, even she knows that she's never leaving eighth grade!

* Tess outfit #2: hot pink sweatshirt and matching pants with white lace collar and cuffs. I don't think even Claudia could pull that one off...

* Tess outfit #3: the one from the cover: hot pink overalls with a pink, green, and yellow flowered shirt underneath. Mary Anne thinks it looks cute, but everyone else finds it disgusting.

*Tess also wears a pink, yellow, and maybe green pantsuit type outfit that Stacey thinks looks like it's from the 70s. Tess says it was her mom's and she loves it. If Claudia wore it, people would be all up in her business about how it was so innovative.

*Stacey basically says that Tess growing up in Paris is even more impressive and sophisticated than how she grew up in NYC. Ooh, I think someone is jealous.

*When Tess shows up with makeup on, she's incredibly uncomfortable and even says that she doesn't like the way the mascara feels. Stacey poo poos her because you “can't feel” makeup. Fuck yeah you can, it's why I pretty much wear makeup once a year. Well, that and the fact that I work from home, so some days I don't even wear pants!

*It's funny that her glasses are so lame when hipsters today made those glasses stylish. I may not be a hipster, but the glasses I wear most days look a lot like the pair on the cover but in brown.

*I'm sure I did a bad job of recapping this book, but Stacey is really and truly awful. She gets it in her head that Tess needs saving and does all this crap to change her looks without really being her friend or spending any time with her.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Baby-Sitters Club #75: Jessi's Horrible Prank

Ugh, this is the book that makes me so glad I never wanted to be a teacher.

Even though SMS is constantly running out of money for school things, they keep doing Short Takes. This time, Jessi signed up for a class on computer programming because she thought it sounded interesting. SMS once again brings in a brand new teacher. Mr. Trout is kind of dorky. He's super tall and skinny, always wears pocket protectors, and worst of all, he seems afraid of his students.

This causes the kids in his class to go a little crazy. They stop listening to him and do whatever the hell they want. They throw spitballs at each other, make fun of his name, joke around about how he has a lisp, and generally act like little assholes. Jessi feels bad for him but not so bad that she doesn't go along with them. They do stupid shit like arrange to throw their books on the floor at the same time. It makes Mr. Trout jump and gets him a little distracted, but they all act like it was the funniest thing in the world.

Jessi feels bad enough that she talks it over with the BSC. Kristy pretty much rolls her eyes and says that he needs to grow a back bone. Everyone else feels a little bad for him but wonder why he became a teacher. Mary Anne being Mary Anne almost cries about the whole thing. Everyone in his class fails their first test because they were too busy goofing off to learn anything, but he just goes over the materials again, which does absolutely nothing.

It's also time for the Sixth Grade Follies. It's some lame show that the sixth grade puts on to make fun of their teachers. Jessi volunteers as both a performer and a member of the finance crew. The teachers decided to charge admission and give the money to a local charity. The two Dollies, two teachers who look and act just like Dolly Parton, are in charge of the whole thing. They kind of encourage Jessi and her Latino friend to participate by saying they want to represent all students, which is a little weird.

Despite the fact that Jessi is black, which she thinks means people hate her, she hosts the first meeting. Everyone shows up except for one girl, but her parents wouldn't let her hang out with Jessi anyway because they are totes racist. Becca finds the whole thing so exciting that she keeps following them around all the time. They come up with some funny sketches, including one where Jessi dresses up as one of the two Dollies to start the show.

Jessi starts feeling even worse for Mr. Trout. She notices that he's super quiet and keeps to himself most of the time. He doesn't even talk with the other teachers. One of the girls in her class realizes that he wears a toupee and tells everyone. They set it up so that one kid gets his toupee off with a fishhook. He's clearly embarrassed, especially since the hook gets caught in his coat, but he lets everyone off.

Someone else then comes up with a “super funny” skit. Jessi will come in with a bald cap on her head and dressed like a Klingon. A kid dressed up like their teacher as Elvis will say he was kidnapped by a Klingon, Jessi will step out and repeat it with his lisp, and everyone will laugh. She doesn't want to do it and even plans on backing out, but before she can, the kids tell one of the Dollies. She thinks it's absolutely hysterical and pushes Jessi to do it.

Cut to the night of the show. Jessi as Dolly opens up the show on a huge note, but her doing Mr. Trout brings down the house. People just can't stop talking about. The BSC pig out on ice cream and keep telling her how she's a superstar. Becca keeps staring at her like she's Taylor Swift or something. Jessi gets so many compliments that she decides Mr. Trout will be fine with it.

He's definitely not okay though, so not okay that he doesn't come to school the next day. She finds out from one of the Dollies that he just didn't show up to work one day. The principal went to his house, found the place empty, the phone shut off, and his car gone. Mr. Trout apparently called in later to say he wasn't coming back because he was going back to grad school.

They get a brand new teacher who doesn't give them lip. He sends one kid to the principal's office right off the bat and makes it clear that any other disruptions aren't tolerated. The Dollies tell Jessi not to worry about Mr. Trout because he didn't really fit in and that her skit shouldn't have bothered him. The principal refuses to give him a second chance and tells her that he wasn't cut out for teaching. Even her friends and parents say the same thing.

Jessi eventually makes up a petition to bring him back and hangs it up in school. Only the BSC members sign it. Jessi starts thinking that maybe everyone else was right and that he wasn't cut out for teaching. They learned more from their new teacher in a few days than they did the whole time with him. She finally decides to write him a letter to apologize for being a brat. At the end of the book, she gets a letter back. Mr. Trout sucks up to her by saying he always thought she was an intelligent and polite young lady, that he holds nothing against her, and that while he appreciates the gesture, he won't come back because he's going back to college.

In other news, Becca starts acting a little weird. She goes with Jessi to a sitting job at the Pike house and gets all the kids interested in her. Other kids in town keep showing up at sitting jobs and working together on some mysterious project. Charlotte finally gives Stacey something and tells her not to open it until the BSC meeting. It's an invitation to the BSC Follies, a show the kids decided to put on together.

Vanessa dresses up like Claudia, which is hysterical. She carries around a backpack filled with food, keeps snacking in the middle of the show, and at one point, contemplates turning a clock into a hat. It's just so amazingly adorable that Mary Anne almost cries and everyone else laughs their asses off. Vanessa is the only good part.

*This book pisses me off really bad. There is no way those kids shouldn't get punished. I don't care how lame Mr. Trout is, the toupee incident alone would result in some serious detention time. Even if he doesn't tell on him, the story spreads around the school in no time.

*These are the kids who will get their parents to come to their high schools and bitch to their teachers about how they have too much homework, count on it.

*I can't stand the teachers either. They think he was a terrible teacher because he didn't hang out with them in the teachers lounge. I guess some people really never get over the whole high school mentality.

*Claudia outfit: a tie dyed tee shirt, bell bottom pants, an alligator barrette, and cats eye glasses from the 50s. I bet older Claudia is one of those chicks walking around in clear lens glasses to look smart.

*Jessi merely “suggests” that the Dollies let her help come up with a dance routine, and they put her in charge of it.

*The girl who doesn't come to her house? She squeezes her hand after the show and tells her she did a good job, so I guess she cured racism!

*For the meeting at her house, they put out potato chips, pretzels, M&Ms, Goldfish and Triscuit crackers, tortilla chips, and a massive bowl of fruit. Jessi starts worrying that they won't have enough food, even after her mom reminds her that her dad is grilling hamburgers and hot dogs too. How much food does she think eight people will eat??

*One guy shows up early, his dad walks him in, and stops to talk to her parents. Jessi kind of makes it out like a racist thing, but I think it's more the dude wanting to find out where his kid will be all day.

*How many books have we had where the school does some fundraising thing because they need money? Maybe they should stop hiring teachers to teach one month classes all the time!

*Jessi keeps talking about Peter Pan and making it out like she was the star. I think she even comments that she was the comedic highlight. Hm, I think I read a different book...

*Despite being the one who planned the whole damn thing, Becca is so embarrassed to perform at the follies that she runs backstage at first. She wears a tutu and keeps stretching all the time to play Jessi.

*Claudia and Kristy have a minor fight over nose piercings. Kristy thinks it's crazy, but Claudia thinks it looks cool until she puts a clip on ring in her nose and says it hurts. Kristy also complains that a piercing is FOR LIFE, which is insane. I've now had one eyebrow pierced twice and one pierced once. Don't wear one anymore and have just a tiny scar in one eyebrow.