Friday, March 1, 2019

Sweet Valley Senior Year #4: I've Got a Secret

Hey, I've got a secret too! It's called I hate Conner, I totally hate Conner! Liz is still completely obsessed with him, even though he kind of broke Maria's heart. She decides to tell Tia that she has a crush on someone without saying who he is, but Tia secretly knows. She tells Liz that she should just kiss him because you can tell everything you need to know from a single kiss and then gleefully writes in her journal about how the two are absolutely perfect for each other. That sends Liz into a tailspin about how she can kiss him and when she can kiss him.

Melissa is still acting like Jessica is a huge whore, while Will starts pulling away from her. Tia finally confronts her over lying to Jessica about the pep rally, which almost got her in trouble with the coach. Since Tia told the coach Jess was sick, she gets off the hook. Tia does warn Melissa that if she doesn't act right, she'll tell the coach what really happened. Melissa agrees but keeps thinking how Tia will get in shape once the coach makes her captain.

Will, who is a complete and total weenie, spends the whole book trying to avoid her. She's constantly either bitching about Jessica, crying over Tia, or whining about something else. Will even stands her up to play basketball with the guys. The coach finally does name the captain but picks Tia. Will planned on breaking up with her but instead finds her crying. She and her friends decided that Tia and Jessica went to the coach together and told on her. He doesn't believe that either would do that and kind of rolls his eyes when she starts in on Jessica again, but then decides to stick with her when she starts in on how Jessica ruined her life.

Conner announces that his music teacher's band just got a gig opening for a major rock band that weekend and he's getting tickets and backstage passes. Elizabeth and Maria just so happen to be there and get invited too. Liz decides that she can kiss him before the concert, while Maria starts suddenly talking about how she's completely over him. Since Liz was supposed to work, she gets Jessica to do a twin switch and take over her shift. Liz agrees to work for Jessica the next morning.

Her plans don't work too well because the whole group goes together. Even though she suggests the two of them drive separately, she winds up stuck on a bench seat in the van between him and Maria with Tia and Angel making out behind them. Evan spends most of the night trying to chat up Liz and ignore Maria who won't stop flirting with him. It makes Andy laugh because it's clear Maria wants to use Evan to make Conner jealous, that Conner is jealous of Evan for paying attention to Liz, and that Evan has a thing for Liz.

Jessica fills in for her at the House of Java and has one of the best nights of her life. No one makes fun of her or calls her a whore because they assume she's Liz. Liz told Jeremy, her coworker, about the switch but forget to tell Jess, and because she can't remember his name, she keeps calling him Justin. They accidentally smash some milk, get yelled at by the boss, and sent home early. Jeremy comes thisclose to kissing her outside before changing his mind.

See, Jeremy has no money. His dad lost his job, and all the money he makes goes to helping keep them from losing their house. That doesn't stop his dad from lecturing him about how he should date and have more fun. Jeremy also has to lie to all his friends about why he doesn't have money to go out to dinner or hang out with them. He also gets ticked off at the way they treat girls, going so far as to say that they only have an interest in a girl if she can do something for him.

Liz calls Jessica in the middle of the night and asks her if she'll work her early shift at HOJ so she can get more sleep. Jessica gets to see Jeremy again. They do some more flirting and are actually pretty cute together. She thinks he might kiss her again before he makes up an excuse to take off. After heading back to the Fowler house, she gets a ride to the game with her mom and runs into Jeremy again since he plays for the opposing team. He gets flirty again, but she sees some SVH kids coming, knows that they'll call her a whore, and runs away from him. Though he tries to look for her later, he can't find her and hopes he sees her again soon.

Elizabeth wakes up the next morning and can't stop thinking about Conner, who she once again runs into in the bathroom. Andy calls and says that he's having people over for a swim. He told Conner to tell her but points out that Conner never writes anything down. She thinks she's supposed to do something but forgets when she sees that he did leave her a note, which is a clear sign that he's totally in love with her. Poor Jessica stops by work and learns that Liz never showed up. Her boss sees her in her cheerleader uniform and fires her on the spot.

The party is – not surprisingly – lame. Elizabeth keeps staring at Conner while he flirts with some other girls. Evan keeps drooling over Liz. Maria keeps trying to flirt with him while spending the whole time staring at Conner. And Andy laughs at the whole thing. Andy and Evan start teasing Liz and toss her in the swimming pool. Her mascara runs all over her face, everyone laughs at her, and she runs away almost in tears.

Andy brings Liz a shirt to wear, and she decides to just head home. As soon as she hops in the Jeep, Conner stops on his way out of the party. Liz drops her keys, he reaches for them, and they share a supremely way lame moment. Conner kisses her, then makes up an excuse, and takes off. Liz decides that since he kissed her and not the other way around, he must be totally in love with her. Conner wonders why in the hell he did it. The end.

*I love that Melissa acts like Jessica just swooped in and stole her man and everyone goes along with it. I can't believe that not a single one of her friends would point out that Will is pretty much a dog.

*Jessica comes back from work and sees Lila in her cheerleader uniform. Lila makes up an excuse to take off, Mr. Fowler tells her to wait for Jessica to get ready, and Jessica pretty much wants to die at the idea of being stuck in a car with Lila and the other girls. It made me feel bad for her.

*Liz feels uncomfortable at the concert because she wears black pants and a blue tank top that shows off her skin. She even thinks about wearing a cardigan over it and thinks about how it's so not like her. Then why the hell did she buy it? It's described as showing off “several” inches of skin, so it's not like she bought it and thought it was a regular tank top.

*Jeremy's dad super duper pissed me off. He wakes up from a nap on the couch, gives him a lecture about how he needs to act like a teenager and not work so much, and then goes back to lay down on the couch. Um, who the hell do you think is taking care of all the bills while you lay around the house and do nothing? Jeremy literally has to pay for someone to fix their water heater and then contemplates buying his dad a copy of the paper because it's been so long since he applied for a job.

*Jeremy is surprised that Jessica is a cheerleader because she's not bubbly or giggly funny but more sarcastic funny. I never really thought to her as either...

*One of Melissa's friends makes a crack about how she saw Jessica with a guy and how that's not surprising. Given how all the cheerleaders act on that squad, I can't believe Jess is the only one labeled a slut!

*I feel bad for Jessica at the end. She writes in her journal about how she has no friends, no job, everyone hates her, and how she can't even trust her sister anymore.

*Liz wears a bikini to the party under a tee shirt. Maria draws attention to it because Liz never, ever wears bikinis, which is something Liz says too. Um, I'm pretty sure she wears a bikini multiple times in the SVH series.

*There's also a lot of talk about how she wore a ton of makeup to the party and how her mascara made her look like a drowned rat. Yeah, once again, she frequently wore mascara before. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Nancy Drew Notebooks #28: Thrill on the Hill (1999)

River Heights got 10 inches of snow, which means that school is closed for the day. Nancy meets up with George and Bess to go sledding and run into their friend Molly who has a way cooler sled than any of them. They do a few runs and then run into another friend named Rebecca. She's mad because her brother ruined his sled, their mom made them share hers, and he took off with it. They agree to let her share with them.

Todd, the brother, shows up when it's time to leave. He gives her back her sled and tells her it's her turn before leaving. She's mad because he made her drag it all the way there and now she has to take it home. Rebecca wants to stay but can't because she has to help her mom shovel their sidewalk. Some high school kids come out too, and one nearly knocks Bess down.

The girls decide to get some hot chocolate from Hilda's Hot Chocolate and take a short break. It tastes like crap, and when George goes to see if she has any marshmallows, the woman is gone. When they go back, they find that someone took Molly's sled. They follow the tracks it made to a small clearing that is right next to where the hot chocolate van was, which makes them suspect Hilda.

Someone hits Nancy in the back of the head with a snowball, but it's just a bunch of guys from their school. She adds them to her mental suspect list before deciding to check out the hot chocolate van. Since Hilda's not there, she and Molly sneak inside. They don't find the sled, but the woman does come back. It takes them way too long to get out without her seeing.

She then goes to see Rebecca and tell her what happened. Rebecca suspects that Todd stole it because she saw him hiding out in the garage. Though Nancy wants to check it out, she refuses because her garage is haunted. Nancy points out that Todd probably chose the garage because she thought it was haunted and would never go inside. All they find is a bunch of the parts from his old sled, which he tried to fix, and some glowing red eyes. The eyes belong to a raccoon who made all the noises that made Rebecca think there was a ghost.

Nancy and Molly walk around town to put up signs about her missing sled and see this girl Laura shoveling snow. She built a snowman and put earmuffs on it that look just like the ones Molly left with her sled. Laura is also the little sister of Sam, one of the high school kids who was sledding. She gives Molly back her earmuffs and lets them talk to her brother. They find him with Angela, another high school kid.

To make a long story short, Angela borrowed her sled to beat him in a race down the hill. When she went to give it back, the girls were gone. She gets it out of her trunk and gives it back. Molly then gives Nancy her top secret snow cream recipe as a reward for solving the case of the missing sled. Nancy and the girls make up a batch and have it for dessert that night. She then writes down the recipe in her mystery notebook for posterity.

*Nancy and Bess have classic wood sleds with metal runners, but George uses a blue plastic saucer sled.

*Nancy doesn't like that Hilda takes her money and doesn't say thank you. Excuse me? You should say thank you for her making your hot chocolate, not the other way around!

*She gets so hungry after sledding all day that she has two bowls of homemade tomato soup and a turkey sandwich. I swear that they must keep Hannah chained up in their kitchen to cook all the time.

*The snow cream recipe says to mix heavy cream until whipped, add in vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth, fold in fresh snow, and then freeze. It doesn't really sound that yummy to me, but it does make we wonder if this is what Claudia made in that BSC blizzard book.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Sweet Valley Senior Year #3: So Cool

It literally pains Liz to be in the same room as Conner now because they totally almost kissed, which makes it extremely uncomfortable when she constantly sees him making out with Maria. While the twins are out to dinner at First and Ten with their parents, Alice and Ned ask a bunch of questions about Conner. Liz just says that she doesn't really know him but doesn't like him. When he shows up to pick up Maria for a date, Alice almost swoons over him. After they leave, Jess even asks why Liz didn't snag him for herself.

Jess isn't having such a great time since she still lives with Lila. She finally asks why her friend turned on her, and Lila tells her that for once, all her tricks backfired on her. Jessica went after the wrong guy and hurt a really nice girl in the process. Calling Melissa a nice girl is like calling a barracuda a friendly fish. She winds up playing hooky a lot and lying to Alice about how she has the flu.

When she finally does go back to school, the coach asks her to do a trick with Lila and Amy as her bases. She panics a little, they drop her, and she comes down hard on her butt. Tia thinks they did it on purpose and rails at the whole squad. Though they defend themselves, she doesn't know what to think. It doesn't help that they still keep calling her a slut and going on and on about how Melissa is so great and deserves better than Will.

At the same time though, Melissa acts like Will is the best thing since sliced bread, and all the guys still want to be him. Every time they start in on the Jessica act, he just walks away. Melissa picks up on it and vows to do something about it. That something turns out to be setting Jessica up so that she'll miss the big pep rally and get thrown off the squad. Cherie calls Tia to tell her that their meeting plans changed and says that Lila will pass on the word to Jess.

Will makes an attempt to talk to Jess, but she bursts into tears and runs away from him. The only time she catches a break is during French class because no one will mess with her when Liz is around. That all changes when she walks in and finds a picture from a “men's magazine” with the model's head cut off and her head pasted on. Just as she's about to completely give up hope, Liz convinces her to go to the pep rally and make all those girls remember why Jessica was once captain.

After hearing Melissa and her cronies make plans to set up Jessica, Will decides to do something. All he really does is leave a note in Jessica's locker and hope that she finds it in time. I guess it takes too long to make a phone call? He then goes out to eat with Melissa, Cherie, and some friends. He pretty much just pats himself on the back for not at all standing up to his girlfriend.

Conner gets a gig at House of Java and tries to hide it a secret from everyone. Tia finds out about it and goes overboard to tell people. She makes a bunch of flyers that she asks the cheerleaders to hand out. Melissa rebuffs her until the coach says it's a good idea and suddenly acts like it was something she always planned to do. The printer made a mistake, so all the flyers came out with his face in bright green.

While creating his set list, Conner comes up with a new song called Stone Heart that is totally about Liz. He keeps thinking he should change the lyrics but convinces himself that no one could possibly know it was about her. Liz just keeps moping over him and takes a quiz that proves she's obsessed with him. One of the remedies involves reminding yourself of his faults, so she takes a tour of his room. That doesn't help because he has leather bound books on the shelves. In a truly disgusting move, she smells his shirt and drifts off into happy land because it smells soooo amazing.

Maria really believes that she and Conner are meant to be. When they go out with Andy and Tia, he wants to skip everything and make out for awhile. She denies him, which pisses him off, and then when she wants to go upstairs to the make out palace, he refuses. He also gets distracted at talk of Todd Wilkins because it means Liz loved someone else before him. Once he gets a glimpse of Todd, he basically jams his tongue down Maria's throat.

They also spend some time on the beach together. This leads to them making out and clothes coming off, but Maria stops him and tells him that things are moving too fast and that she wants a commitment. Conner then blows her off and ignores her for a few days before showing up late by 45 minutes to a date. Maria tells him that she wants a commitment before things get too physical. Conner tells her that he just wanted to have some fun and that he's no longer having fun with her. She bursts into tears, calls him a pig, and runs away. Honestly, I hate this guy.

Liz is such a bitch that she even admits it when she gets excited as her best friend cries her eyes out. Once she hears what he said though, all bets are off. She goes home, flips out at him, and basically tells him to stay out of her life and leave her friends alone. Conner thinks she looks gorgeous as she yells at him. He then starts thinking about her all the time.

Though she plans on skipping the show, she changes her mind after Tia and Andy apply some pressure. It goes just the way she thought until Conner plays the song about her. They both keep staring at each other and think about how perfect the other one is. When the show ends, Conner offers to drive her home and meet his friends later to celebrate. She thinks he's totally about to kiss her and even gets ready to kiss him until he opens the door and basically tosses her from the car.

The day of the pep rally arrives. Tia shows up on time and realizes Jess isn't there. Cherie just smirks and walks away, so she approaches Lila and learns that Lila never told her because Cherie said Tia would tell Jess. Lila shoots daggers at Cherie and clearly isn't happy but falls right back into that group. Tia lies to the coach about Jess being so sick that she was in the ER all day.

Jessica goes to Melissa's house, where the meeting originally was, and learns that the squad met at the gym. She gets lost driving back to Sweet Valley, gets to the gym, and finds the entrance locked. By the time she gets inside, she hears the coach announce Tia as the last member of the squad. Todd points her out to Will, Will runs to see her, and one of his buddies warns him that if he goes, Melissa will kill him. He catches up with her outside, tries to apologize, and comes across like a jackass. She pushes him off and tells him to go back to his girlfriend. Will just stands there and thinks about how he just can't hurt Melissa again as Jessica runs away in tears.

Elizabeth convinces her twin that she should come to Riot, hang out with her friends, and forget about all the BS for awhile. When Jess gets there, she sees Tia at the table and flips out. Tia tries to deny that she was involved but hesitates enough when Jessica asks if she knew the plans changed that it becomes clear she could have done more. Jessica then snaps at her sister for introducing her to the good people, slaps away her hand, and storms off. Conner briefly hears Liz freaking out when she gets home that night and finds it odd that he cares about her feelings. Me too since he clearly doesn't actually care about anyone!

*Liz does an impression of the trademark Jessica Wakefield saunter, which is described as her prancing around like an oversexed cartoon character. While Jessica denies that she walks like that and laughs about it, it seems pretty spot on to me.

*Tia “casually” asks Annie and Jade if they think the stories about Jess are true. Neither believe it but neither are willing to speak up either because they fear Melissa. When Tia makes a comment about how she acts, they get even more scared of her.

*Lila ditches Jessica because she's tired of playing second fiddle to her. Um, so she'd rather be fourth fiddle to the new girl? Melissa constantly puts her two EC friends first. I have no clue why Amy agreed to be in this little group either.

*Liz says Conner's shirt smells like clean male sweat. Am I the only one who finds that gross? I love my guy, but I don't love the way he smells after a long workout!

*To get over Conner, Liz goes through all her old Todd notes and journal entries. She winds up whining because there was no passion and it was all stuff about her kissing some other guy or finding some other guy attractive. I love that she sees no irony in the fact that Conner is just another rando that she'll obsess over for a few weeks and then forget about.

*Liz smirks when she sees a flyer and imagines him doing covers of Doors songs as girls swoon over him and he thinks he's the shit. Is it bad that I kinda see it happening that way too?

*Liz going after Conner at all is gross. Maria pretty much admits that they were heading towards sex, and Liz is Miss Virginal but still thinks he's the right guy for her.

*Everything these bitches do to Jessica is crossing the line. There is no way a teacher wouldn't hear the rumors or know what's going on. I feel like writing a fan fiction where she sues the school and becomes a millionaire. 

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #133: The Mystery at the Crystal Palace (1996)

Nancy and the gals are off to help Alison MacDonald find a missing fortune. Alice was a good friend of hers when she was kids but left town after her parents died. She inherited the Crystal Palace, a big ass arena, from her uncle. Her uncle's will left her money that went missing. Though she called Carson for help, he was way too busy and sent Nancy in his place.

Alison meets them and explains that she used a lot of money to make repairs to the building and desperately needs the missing cash. The big Midwestern skating championship is taking place that week too. She introduces them to some other people. There's Ted, the handyman, Meg, a former Olympian turned coach, Sarah, one of the skaters, Scott, a skater, and Amanda, another skater paired with Scott. Scott and Sarah are also a couple. Meg comes over and gets really snappy because her students didn't get their own private practice place and basically warns Alison that the competition will be a disaster.

We learn that Amanda ditched her old coach to work with Scott and that Sarah doesn't really like anyone. Alison also reveals that Ted is close to proposing to Meg. She takes the group to her office and shows them a sculpture her uncle had made based off an ice sculpture she once bought him, which shows a skater on the ice. Sarah shows up and makes a big deal out of getting the tape she made of her practice out of the office and an even bigger deal when the tape goes missing.

The girls go to the outdoor sculpture garden and see one that Alison's uncle always loved. They find out that he often hid things and forgot where he hid them. Ted shows up and keeps poking around that specific sculpture but then claims he was just meeting Meg there and runs off. Nancy overhears him talking about investing in art with the museum curator.

Whey they get back to the hotel, the door to their room is slightly open. Bess heads to the bathroom and promptly screams because someone wrote a threatening message to Nancy on the mirror. As it turns out, the person did it with her own lipstick. She also finds that someone stole some of the files she had on Alison's uncle. The hotel manager doesn't seem too concerned but agrees to talk with his staff about it.

While at the rink the next day, the Zamboni goes out of control and heads right towards Amanda. Nancy gets on the ice and drags her to safety. Ted finds the Zamboni still works and answers some questions that Nancy has. She realizes that whoever did it probably had some help and also finds a barrette on the ice. Amanda says it isn't hers but looks really scared.

Bess introduces Nancy to Kerri, the former it girl of ice skating. She had to take a year off because of an injury and isn't in top form. Kerri turns out to be the nicest chick on the ice. She's friendly to everyone and actually compliments Amanda on how much she improved since the last time they faced off. Nancy hears Meg snapping at Sarah about her hair and sees that girl wearing a barrette exactly like the one she found earlier.

Kerri joins the girls for lunch at a big burger place and still seems super nice. When they head back to the rink, she tells them that she's the new spokesperson for some juice company and orders one from the snack bar, which shares with Bess. As she starts skating though, she gets a little dizzy and passes out. The doctor thinks she has food poisoning and sends her home, and then Bess gets sick too.

Nancy and George go to the drugstore to pick something up for her and run into Ted. The pharmacist is Scott's mom, and she makes a comment about how Meg shouldn't need a refill on her eye drops so soon, which no one finds suspicious. They also see Ted buying Meg a new lipstick, which is the same shade Nancy wears, and they find out that Kerri took a turn for the worse and may not be able to compete.

When they realize that both girls drank the same juice, Nancy calls Alison to see if she can come in early to check on the drink. They head into the rink to find the ice melting. Alison finds that someone shut off the compressors and gets them running again. If Nancy hadn't called though, the ice would have completely melted, which would take days to fix and ended the competition. Nancy tries going through the trash but only finds a video tape, which is the tape someone stole out of the office of Sarah's routine. They also find that someone used a small screwdriver to break into the office, which is the same type used by skaters to tighten their blades. Alison remembers hearing Meg yelling at Amanda for having a loose blade and wonders if she couldn't tighten it because she lost her screwdriver.

Nancy heads to the hospital to visit Kerri and finds a guard posted outside her door. He makes everyone sign in for a visit, and she sees Meg's name on the list. Kerri isn't there, so she checks her file and finds that she really was poisoned. The girls then do some research and learn that Meg was a gold medal favorite at one point but only won the silver. She then revealed that she suffered from a degenerative eye condition that would one day leave her blind. The eye drops she uses cause symptoms like Bess and Kerri had.

The first day of the competition finally arrives. Amanda and Scott do a great job until he does the death spiral. When she stands up, her skirt falls off. They manage to finish their routine but come in fourth. Amanda asks Nancy to find proof that Sarah sabotaged her. Apparently, Sarah and Scott were once partners, Meg made her go solo, and now Sarah wants to skate with her guy again. Bess finds that someone moved a button on the skirt, which made it tight enough that it popped open when Amanda made a certain move.

Alison agrees to let the girls stay late and skate on their own. It takes about five seconds for Nancy to fall and hit her head on the ice. Someone left some broken glass behind that blended in with the ice. Alison thinks someone did it on purpose. The original plan called for the skaters to have one last practice session, which makes her think someone wanted to knock a few people out of the competition.

Nancy finds out from Alison that Pete, Ted's helper, accidentally turned the compressors off, which is like the 40th mistake he's made lately. She told him to fire the guy but finds it strange because he spent 10 years working at another rink. When Nancy calls that rink though, the dude who answers tells her he can't help and hangs up on her. They then run into Amanda buying a new screwdriver and complaining because Scott took hers. She's also ticked off at him because he blew off their practice with claims that he cut his hand, which makes it really bad when they see him practicing with Sarah.

They explain that they plan on getting back together again but haven't yet told Meg. It's just way too hard for Sarah to see Scott with another woman. She figures that if she does well in this competition, Meg will let them become partners again rather than risk losing Sarah. Sarah also tells them that Meg hard core recruited Amanda into leaving her old coach and that Amanda keeps threatening to tell people, which would result in Meg losing her professional coaching rating, which is important I assume. Oh and that barrette that Nancy found actually belongs to Meg.

Nancy learns that Alison's uncle made a large payment to a company called Waterworks but that she could never find out what they did or where the money went. The owner of the company retired to Florida, and his son took a long break. She goes through personnel files and starts wondering if Ted is involved. Meg gets her barrette back and seems really happy because it was a special gift from Ted. The fire alarm then goes off, and when Nancy tries to leave, she runs right into the man.

Ted pretty much admits to everything. He spiked Kerri's drink with Meg's eye drops, used Meg's lipstick in their room, and did all the other stuff. Ted says that he wanted to save the Crystal Palace before Alison ruined it. He makes her sit down and watch a video that the uncle left behind. The uncle says that he invested his money in diamonds and hid them under the seventh crystal. Nancy realizes he meant the sculpture he had made. As she and Ted fight, he throws the sculpture her, which breaks on the ground to reveal hundreds of diamonds inside.

While he tries to scoop up the diamonds, the firefighters show up with Bess, George, and Alison. They keep him contained until the cops arrive. Alison feels bad because she thought of him as family but is happy to have the money she needs.

The book ends at the competition. Sarah winds gold in individuals, and Kerri brings home bronze. Amanda and Scott win gold medals too. Meg tells Sarah that she would be an even better skater if she focused on her own work and not pairs work, which makes Sarah admit that she was just jealous and that she wants to focus on her own skating, so Amanda and Scott remain a pair. They then have cake as Alison toasts to her uncle.

*Bess goes back on a diet after seeing how skinny the skaters are, especially Meg. I probably wouldn't compare my weight to that of a professional ice skater though.

*One of the sculptures they see is the really famous one of the cherry on the spoon. I know I saw that one in person when I was younger because my dad took a few business trips to Minneapolis, but I'm almost certain we never went to the sculpture garden.

*Nancy finds it odd that the hotel room door is slightly open because she remembers locking it when she left. I find it odd that any hotel room door wouldn't automatically shut and lock.

*George actually suspects the Kerri poisoned herself because she was too afraid to compete and possibly lose. Nancy points out that faking a leg injury is an easier way to skip the competition.

*Scott is a dumb ass. If your gal is so jealous that she can't even handle seeing you skate with someone else, which is your actual job, how will she handle serious problems you have?

*Kerri only gets mentioned at the end as being super pouty over only getting a bronze. It's funny that she was the nice girl for the whole book and then gets replaced by Sarah at the end.

*I also hate that Sarah decides to focus on her own skating after all. Yeah, you only made your boyfriend practice with you and blow off practices with his own partner dozens of times before realizing that.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Sweet Valley Senior Year #2: Say It to My Face

Elizabeth just found Conner in her bathroom and quickly learns that her new friend Megan is his little half-sister. After staring at his chest for way too long, she keeps fighting with him and sneaking looks back at his chest. I already don't like this, and I especially don't like the relationship between the two of them. They spend a good portion of the book snapping at each, so it doesn't help when Maria develops a crush on him.

Tia, her boyfriend Angel, and Andy come over to pick Conner up and instead invite Liz along to hit up the House of Java. They quickly become the best of friends, which gives her an excuse not to hang out with Maria. She even skips an Oracle meeting to go shopping with them because they want to get some new clothes to hit up Riot, an underage club in town. She asks Maria to go with them a few times and hides her delight when she can't go.

Unfortunately, Maria can go with them to Riot on Friday. They instantly start sharing in jokes and talking about a bunch of stuff that happened when she wasn't around, and Liz doesn't seem to pick up on her discomfort. Maria makes her way to the bar and runs into Conner, who buys her a drink because she's so not like all the other girls there. He takes her up to the roof, and I assume they make out a ton.

Liz nearly has a heart attack when she learned what happens and gets super possessive of Conner, but she does try to hide it by just not talking. When she hears from Tia that he never stays with one girl for too long and that most of his relationships have a shelf life, she gleefully tells Maria everything in a note. Maria races from the room, and when she catches up, Maria tells Liz that she can't always ruin everything for her and that maybe Conner really does like her and will change for her. Aww, poor girl.

Conner and Maria kind of date or something. They're making out on the couch in his house when Liz accidentally catches them. Conner looks right into her eyes and then goes back to making out, which is way too creepy for my tastes. Liz convinces her that he just didn't see her. Yeah, I'm sure that's it. Every time he and Maria kiss though, he keeps seeing Liz, so he makes an excuse to get her to leave. He does the whole "I'll be in touch" thing and gets annoyed that she already wants him to call.

Liz takes the drastic step of calling Enid, who wants to talk about her new friend Illena and how they watched a bunch of episodes of Xena on tape. Liz then asks if she can move in with her. Enid kind of hesitates and says that she'll have to check with her parents but she isn't sure because things have been tight since the earthquake. Since they're meeting up at House of Java the next morning, Liz can just come along and find out what they said.

That night, Conner randomly wanders into her room. After checking her out, which is gross, he gets ready to kiss her. The closer he gets, the more she realizes that he's drunk. She throws him out, and he says that she can make even flannel look sexy. The next day, she tells Enid to forget about it and that she'll work things out on her own.

Since this book wants me to feel bad for Jessica Wakefield, I have to hear about how everyone thinks that she's a slut. Melissa wants her to pay for having the nerve to go out with her boyfriend, yet she has no problems taking back the boyfriend who barely apologized. Her friends, Cherie and Gina, make fun of a skirt, which she borrowed from Lila by the way, because it looks more like something you would wear in a nightclub than at school. She later goes to class and sees that someone wrote "Jessica Wakefield is a slut" on the board and runs off in tears.

Lila and Amy both go out with Melissa and her snotty friends. She casually asks about who wrote the message on the board, and Cherie lies and says its was the guys. Melissa briefly wonders how much Lila will tell Jessica before deciding that she'll find out. During tryouts for the squad, Melissa switches the tape Jessica practiced to with something different. She screws up, but the coach lets her on the squad because she knows that she's better than that. Melissa announces that all the cheerleaders should head to Riot for a celebration.

Tia has this boyfriend Angel who got into Stamford but delayed a semester. She keeps worrying that he'll cheat on her in school and even writes a break up later but decides not to send it. Angel shows up at school with flowers and two letters. She opens one and it talks about how proud he is of her for making the squad. The other note was in case she didn't make it and says that now she'll have more time for him, which she thinks is adorable.

Jessica heads to the club and finds the whole squad there. Cherie calls her a slut in one of those "oh, I coughed under my breath so you couldn't here me" kind of things. Melissa tells her that she isn't welcome because she's a whore. Jess stands up to her and tells Amy and Lila to come with her, but neither of them move. Shocked, she runs outside and sees Todd. He acts really cool and seems uncomfortable until she asks him why everyone turned on her. Todd tells her that she can't hit on one guy and sleep with another guy in the same night and expect people not to talk.

*Conner rolls his eyes at freshmen girls in the club and thinks how lame it is whenever new freshmen discover the place. Oh, you mean the way you did when you were a freshman?

*Maria feels out of place in jeans and a vintage camisole because Liz is in a green tank top and a black skirt with a slit up to the knee. Yeah, I prefer Maria's look.

*Since when does Enid have two parents living together? Her dad was some big alcoholic, and her mom never really seemed to date except for that guy at the news station.

*Liz wears some super short nightgown to get milk in the middle of the night and then gets uncomfortable and tries to pull it down over her hips/thighs when she sees Conner. Damn girl, how short was that nightgown?

*Liz thinks that Tia doesn't look like a cheerleader because she has more of a compact and athletic body. Wait, did she just call her fat? Plus, you would think that Liz would know more about cheerleaders after competing at the national level.

*I just finished reading the book where Regina died (again), so this whole Jessica thing makes me laugh. Why doesn't she say something like, "hey Amy! Remember that time you totally stole that girl's boyfriend and she was so upset that she did coke and had a heart attack?" It seems like everyone in SVH has something worse that what Jessica did on their resumes!

*How is it that three new kids come into a school and just totally take things over? Melissa, Cherie, and Gina just absolutely rule the school in like three days.

*We do get a little from Lila's perspective. She basically says that she can't remember the last time someone looked at her and Jessica and chose her. Does she really think things will be better with Melissa?

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #77: The Bluebeard Room (1985)

Nancy, Bess, and George are in NYC to spend some time with her aunt Eloise. While at a garden party, Bess finds out that this huge rock star named Lance is there, and George comments on all the chicks waiting to dance with him. Nancy gets a note from Ms. Hardwood, her former neighbor from River Heights. She needs to talk to her about something vitally important.

Ms. Hardwood has a daughter, Lisa, who married a wealthy nobleman named Hugh. They moved back to his hometown in England. Ms. Hardwood shows Nancy a picture of Lisa and asks if it's possible that her husband might be poisoning her. She keeps showing all the classic symptoms and doesn't seem like herself anymore. The older lady then asks if Nancy might possibly go to London and check on things herself.

Before she can make a decision, she notices an arrowhead. Hardwood explains that it fell out of the envelope, and Nancy thinks it looks ancient. The woman then asks if she wants to meet Lance and offers to introduce them. All the other girls at the party are totally jealous when he comes over to see her. Nancy abruptly changes her mind, says she has no interest in meeting him, and storms off.

As it turns out, she just thought he was a little too big for his britches and that he wasn't very nice to the women at the party. He later finds her and chats with her for a bit, which she tells the girls the next morning. They do some shopping, and Nancy meets with Nigel, an archaeologist from England who now runs a bookstore in NYC, to show him the arrowhead. He tells her it's actually a black magic tool that dates back from the Mary Queen of Scots days.

When they get back, they find three front row tickets to Lance's concert that night. At the show, Nancy meets Jane, the band's handler. Jane acts like she's a groupie before seeing that Lance left a special note for them to invite them to the after party. Lance himself acts like a dick and reveals that he didn't send the tickets. Nancy then realizes that Lance is treating her like a groupie and gets all embarrassed. She finds something in her purse and tells the girls that they need to leave.

The next morning, she shows them that someone slipped a baggie of white powder in her purse and calls the cops. A sergeant comes to Eloise's apartment and tells Nancy that it's cocaine and a high grade cocaine at that. He also says that the police got a hot tip the night before about drugs at the party. They raided the place and found nothing. If they caught Nancy there with the drugs on her, she would have been in big trouble. She then makes plans to head to London.

When she gets off the plane, she discovers Lance is there too. He and Jane offer her a ride to her hotel, and he makes plans to see her later. They wind up going out to lunch and then make dinner plans. Jane comes to see her and tells her not to get too comfy because she and Lance plan to marry. While Nancy is upset, that doesn't stop her from going out to dinner with him and then out dancing. He says that he sought comfort in Jane before but that it was never serious.

They also meet up again the following day for lunch but get interrupted with news that his band mate Ian went off the rails. Nancy goes with him to check on his friend, and they learn that the man went crazy, which most suspect was due to drugs. She finds a car from someone named Eustace who came to see him and takes Lance to see the guy. He claims that Ian came to him with news that he saw a sculpture similar to a famous one based on a witch. There were rumors that the artist made a second but no proof that it ever existed.

Nancy leaves to go see Lisa, remember her?, but Lance promises to come see her soon. Lisa meets her at the train station and seems pretty down. Even though things are fine with Hugh, she hates living in the old town. No one will ever talk to her. When they get to the castle where she lives, they hear someone scream. Ethel, the only woman from town who actually talks to her, fell off her bike while trying to deliver a letter to Nancy, and no one can find the letter.

Lisa gives her a tour of the castle and shows her a room with a heavy wooden door. She claims that Hugh always keeps it locked, which makes Nancy think about the story of Bluebeard. Since Lisa avoids going into town, she lets Nancy go on her own. Nancy has a run in with the constable and comes back to find the missing letter, which was from Lance. An arrowhead falls out on the ground, and while she thinks it's weird, she decides to take a tour of the castle and do some thinking. Hugh catches her outside the locked room and practically screams at her to stay away and never even attempt to open it.

Things get a little strange when the papers begin reporting about Nancy and Lance, especially articles written by this guy named Alan. The papers play things up like they're not and heavy and not like they just met. Ethel comes over with an herbal drink and asks Nancy to give it to Lisa. She does but also sends a sample to Dr. Carradine, Lisa's doctor. The doctor finds that it's just herbs and vegetables.

One night, when she can't sleep, Nancy heads outside and catches Lisa sleepwalking. She manages to save her, and Hugh thanks her about a billion times. Since she thought she saw a light off in the distance, she investigates and finds an old mine shaft filled with joint butts and dirty syringes. When she tries to walk back to the castle, she gets caught in quicksand, but Alan, the reporter, comes to her rescue. He claims he was just investigating a story about drug use.

This all leads up to a big town party. Nancy meets this woman named Diane who warns her that she's stirring up trouble all over town. Other people want to talk about the matching sculpture, but most people seem uncomfortable even talking about it. She then spots Lance and kind of guys off on him. Nancy makes it clear that she doesn't like being in the limelight and that she isn't just another one of his groupies.

Alan takes her to a pub to get something to eat and to help her calm down, which is pretty sweet. When she gets back, she decides to break into the locked room but finds that someone already tried to break inside. The butler tells her that Lance is on the phone for the third time, and she tells him to just tell him to stop calling. Lisa then makes her do a séance with Ethel, who swears she saw a black figure with horns. To make things worse, Lisa sleepwalks again.

Nancy and Hugh catch Lisa before she walks off a conveniently placed cliff. Lisa seemingly has no memories of what happened, which makes Nancy wonder if she faked sleepwalking to get her husband's attention. The next morning, she meets Alan for breakfast. He tells her that Hugh's uncle was a troublemaker and that there were rumors he was mixed up in witchcraft. One of his older ancestors had a connection to witchcraft too.

Since Nancy vaguely saw something on the water the night before, she asks Alan if he knows how she can check it out. It just so happens that his family loves boating, so he takes her out on the water. They find a cave hidden near the water and a piece of a boat called the Undine. He explains that pirates were pretty common in the area back in the day. She asks one of Carson's friends to check on the shipwreck for her and makes plans to see Alan that night. Nancy also learns that Ian was once arrested for drugs.

When he picks her up for their not a date, he announces that he's taking her to Lance's concert. Lance throws a fit when he sees them, and Nancy barely remembers a thing about the show. Alan tells her he took her there to find out if she still had feelings for the other man. He then says he really likes her and kisses her, which kind of comes out of nowhere.

Nancy finds out that the Undine was an old ship carrying something of important archaeological significance. The ship wrecked with only one survivor ever found, a woman named Phoebe Hardwood. She starts putting things together and decides to do a little scuba diving to see if she's right. When she goes to rent equipment though, she runs into Lance. He says seeing her with another guy made him realize how much she means to him and begs her to take him back. He then pretty much invites himself along on her trip.

They head out to the water near where the shipwreck occurred and find a weird looking contraption in the water. The contraption winds up hiding a door, which they open and follow down a hallway and eventually to the Bluebeard room with the matching sculpture on display. There's also a portrait of Hugh's old ancestor who people thought was a witch. Nancy tells Lance that townspeople once worshiped her as a witch and later became drug smugglers. Seriously? Oh, and they recruited Ian, but then he got super addicted to drugs.

Dr. Carradine and another guy from town show up to stop them. It turns out that he drugged and hypnotized Lisa into sleepwalking, which served as a distraction for Nancy. Ethel was in on it too and used her herbal drink to drug Lisa. They knew her reputation as a detective and didn't want her to stumble on them. Hugh then wanders into the room and seems shocked at all of them being there. Ethel shows up too, which causes all hell to break loose.

Actually, there's a fight that ends when Alan pops up in scuba diving gear that he rented to follow Nancy. He and Lance hold the guys down while Hugh calls the police. Nancy gives him a kiss and then gives Lance one too when he complains. Hugh reveals that his uncle told him everything about his little cult and that Hugh promised not to tell anyone if they agreed to stop, which they obviously didn't do.

In the end, Lance and Alan come to see her. They tell her that she never told them which one she picked. Nancy just smiles, kisses them both, and says she needs more time to decide. Ugh.

*Lance wears a white silk suit with a lavender silk shirt, which is so totally 80s that I had to laugh.

*You can tell this is one of the older books because George willingly goes shopping with Bess at Bloomingdale's and even comments on how much fun she had.

*I love that NYC cops in the 80s had nothing better to do than investigate an anonymous tip about a rock band partying with cocaine!

*According to Nancy, she and Ned started feeling like they took their relationship for granted and decided to see other people, which is why she can flirt with Lance in this book. However, she still calls him her boyfriend though, which is a little confusing.

*Lance is a huge dick and basically a rock star who uses women and has a line of women who want him. Nancy wavers between hating him and liking him. She keeps saying he's a jerk but then cries when she hears he's engaged to someone else. It's all kind of bull.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Sweet Valley Senior Year #1: Can't Stay Away

The twins and all their friends have finally made it to their senior year! Because of the whole earthquake ruining the west coast though, they now have to share their school with kids from El Carro. Both twins write in their journals about their goals for the coming year. Liz promises to stop giving Jessica advice, continue being one pound lighter than her twin, no longer get perfect grades, get past the earthquake, and always remember Olivia. Jessica promises to also weigh one pound less than her twin, focus more on school, and clean her room more often. That should be easy since they now live in Fowler Crest surrounded by servants.

We also hear from newcomer Melissa Fox. She can't wait to move to SVH and take over the school to rule things like she once did at EC. Conner McDermott, the resident heartthrob, thinks SVH will look like something out of the movies and that he'll hate everyone. He vows to shake things up by wearing a ratty tee shirt with old boots and pants that are falling apart. Yeah, that will teach them.

Liz and Conner almost instantly get off on the wrong foot. He scowls at her for wearing a yellow sundress and starts calling her and Jess Barbie number 2 and 1. When she speaks up in creative writing class, he rips apart everything she says and makes her feel like a loser. Their teacher gives them an assignment to write about loss. Liz writes about Olivia, Conner gets picked to read it in class, and he actually says it was moving.

She's also having some problems living at Fowler Crest because her and Lila shockingly do not get along. After Lila shows up and requests that they start a fashion column and name her editor, Liz mopes around for way too long about what she should do. She finally decides to make it a contest and award the editor position to whoever writes the best column. Lila loses and takes it out on her at home, even bringing it up in the middle of dinner.

It's lucky that she makes friends with a new girl named Megan who looks and acts just like she did as a sophomore. Megan shyly asks if she might want to move into the guest room at her house. Liz initially turns her down, but Mrs. Sandborn then calls and talks to Alice. Alice doesn't like the idea of her kids spread out across town and thinks the Fowlers would take it badly if Liz up and left. After Lila flips out at dinner, Alice agrees to let Liz move anyway. It turns out that Megan is the little sister of Conner, which Liz learns when she wanders into the bathroom one morning and catches him coming out of the shower.

Jessica absolutely cannot wait for school to start because she knows that she will rule once again. The coach, who they never had before, lets her lead practice and coach the other cheerleaders while still claiming that all girls will need to try out and that she'll name a captain later. On the first day of school, she seems a particularly drool worthy guy in class who will barely look at her. She then learns that his name is Will Simmons and that he's up for quarterback against Ken. Jessica uses her wiles to give him her number.
Will keeps acting pretty cool around her but does seem interested. He asks for notes from their class and makes plans to stop by the house and pick them up. Jessica goes all out for the night, including making a display of her books and wearing a fancy black dress and heels. He acts like he might take off again but then tells her that she's beautiful, starts kissing her, and pulls her onto the couch. They start to get carried away, but when he starts to unzip her dress, she stops him. He tells her that she's gorgeous and that he had fun before quickly making a getaway.

See, it turns out that Will might be gorgeous and a great football player but he also has a long time girlfriend. He and Melissa Fox have been together since eighth grade. His mom and friends keep telling him that he's too young to settle down, and he keeps thinking about something cryptic that happened back in junior high that means he can never leave her. Every time he goes to bed though, he can't keep his mind off Jess. That's why he calls and asks her out on a date.

Melissa finds Jessica's phone number in his car, calls, and thinks that since Lila answered the phone, she's the one he's going after. She then makes an effort to talk to Lila and suck up to her about how she's clearly not the type of person to go after another chick's guy. Lila later says that she won't tell Melissa Jess is the one who went out with Will but she also won't warn Jess about Melissa. Nice friend.

Their first real date goes great, except that Jessica does wonder why Will took her out 45 minutes away from town. She's so happy that she tells her friends during drama class. Tia, Conner's best friend and one of the new kids, hears her and gets weird. She sends Jess a note that Will has a girlfriend named Melissa who was a major power player at EC and will probably be the same at SVH and warns her to back off.

Jessica refuses to believe her until she asks around and learns that not only does he have a girlfriend but that he never cheated on her before and never had any problems with her either. She confronts him before practice in front of all his friends about how he's a loser and she can't stand him. To make things even better, she tells him that she would rather kiss the toilet in the locker room than ever kiss him again. A bunch of the guys laugh, which makes her feel a lot better. She then tells a group of cheer hopefuls about what happened and notices one girl get pissed and storm off.

That one girl is naturally Melissa. She goes to Will, tells him she heard about Jessica, and demands to know the truth. The lying assface tells her that Jessica already worked her way through the football team and came after him next. He swears that nothing happened except for Jessica constantly throwing herself at him and that they never even kissed. Melissa seems willing to believe him, probably because he just got named the quarterback. It seems as though Ken still can't get over Olivia's death and decided to quit the team.

Melissa decides that she will do whatever it takes to bring down Jessica, which really just means alienating all her friends. She convinces Annie, Amy, and Lila to join her friends for some EC exclusive bonfire on the beach with the promise of cute guys who supposedly asked about them. Melissa and her friends go out of their way to talk with them. They then all head to the big school dance together.

Elizabeth, of all people, spends way too much time getting ready before picking out a black miniskirt, black lace camisole, wine colored over shirt, and open toe black shoes. She keeps worrying that she might see Conner there and how she wants to look special for him. Jess picks out a short red tank dress from Lila's closet that has a near top to bottom zipper on it. Other girls barely look at her or just shoot her dirty looks, and some guy makes a rude comment about how it gives guys easy access.

It turns out that Melissa and her little gang already started spreading rumors about Jessica. Given that it seems like most guys think Will had sex with her, I'm not sure how it doesn't hurt Melissa's reputation though. After more rude comments and no sign of her friends, she winds up heading home and basically crying. She wakes up the next morning and wishes that it was all just a dream. In the end, Will feels a little bad about lying and still can't stop thinking about Jess but is too much of a wimp to do anything.

*Did you know that Brooke Dennis still goes to school in Sweet Valley? Even though she's never been mentioned since SVT, she's hanging out with Maria and Enid and the gang. Liz calls her one of her closest friends.

*Enid is in Liz's creative writing class, but since I've read a handful of the later books, I can almost certainly say that she isn't in that class later.

*Liz's essay is all about how she found a shell on the beach once, thought it was magical, and kept it in a box until it fell apart. She then compares the shell to her good friend Olivia, even though she seems like she's already over it.

*Todd and Liz apparently broke up after the earthquake, and he spent the summer at basketball camp in North Carolina. He comes back looking even hotter than before and clearly wants them to get back together. Liz thinks about how easy it would be to just go for it and how they could go back to being happy within a week. She then changes her mind because she wants her senior year to be different. It's kind of sad because the ghostwriter says the light in his eyes literally went out when she turned him down. Given what happens later with this Conner asshat, I wish she chose Todd!

*There were approximately 500 EC students sent to SVH, which is weird since I figured it out in an earlier book that the school had less than 400 students total. Even odder is that they take three offices, turn those spaces into classrooms, and suddenly have room for all the new students.

*How the hell can Melissa and her crew just take over? Supposedly SVH kids are all in awe of her for throwing parties and only inviting a few people, but why wouldn't they just have their own parties? It doesn't seem like a few new kids could just completely take over in a few days.

*Conner skips the dance because he really wanted to go to the dance, get that? See, he decides not to go because the only reason he would want to go is to see Liz, which isn't cool.

*I didn't really explain the whole Conner and Liz thing but it's super annoying. He snarks on her in creative writing class, she gets pissed off when he calls her Barbie in the library, and then suddenly they're both infatuated with each other. She even says that it's the first time she's ever had a real crush, which is ridiculous given that she falls in love with dudes after five seconds.

*One of Liz's goals for the new year is that she won't give out constructive criticism, no matter how badly Enid needs it. I think I get why Enid went her own way later in the series!

*Melissa is pretty pathetic. She was the captain of the cheer squad back in EC and decides to wear her several year old cheer sweater to every practice and tryout. Seriously, why do people flock to her?

*Even though Tia met the twins and some of their friends in SVH, there's no mention of that here and I'm pretty sure no mention later that they knew each other before.

*One reason Liz hates living at Fowler Crest is because her dad and Mr. Fowler argue after every dinner. She gets so upset that she can't eat, which causes her pants to fall off her. Aw, poor baby. When she attempts to get snacks, the maids and housekeepers freak her out so much that she just runs away. Her life is so hard.

*The fashion articles submitted are just bad. Lila basically calls out all these different groups on campus and mocks people for not dressing like her. The girl who wins writes a column about how fall clothing lines are meant for people in cold weather states and then encourages everyone to wear swimsuits under their shorts and tank tops. I'd just drop the whole idea of a column.

*This is only the first book in the series and I'm already hating everyone.