Friday, October 22, 2010

The Baby-Sitter’s Club #7: Claudia and the Mean Janine

So originally I had this plan, where at some point I’d start reviewing Baby-Sitter’s Club books, but only after I made it through a good chunk of the teen books. Then I stumbled onto a thrift store that had something like 30-40 of the books for 25 cents! I knew it was now or never, so I snagged them. I’ll try to space the books out some, so you don’t end up with a ton of BSC book reviews all at once. That same store had a couple SVH and Fear Street books too, so yay! LOL

It’s been a long time since I picked up a Baby-Sitter’s Club book and I probably should have started with a different one. At least this one has Mimi, who I completely forgot about! Basically it’s summer, which I’m guessing is the summer between 7th and 8th grade, back when the books followed some sort of realistic path.

Claudia is taking summer art classes and the BSC decides it would be “fun” to start a new play group for kids in the neighborhood. Somehow they get parents who think it’s a smart idea to leave their child, with a dozen other kids and five newly teen girls watching over them. Plus the BSC charges $3/child/day and agrees to split the money between them. This is a pre-Mallory book, but they ask her to help out with the group and then don’t pay her. Child labor at its finest!

Claudia is also having problems with her older sister Janine, who I for years thought was Jeanie. She’s super smart and taking all this brainy classes and Claud feels like crap. The book is supposed to be about how mean Janine is, but I actually think Claudia is the bitch. Like Janine is trying to point something out and Claudia gets so mad that she almost hits her! Plus Janine is jealous of how close she is with their grandma Mimi.

One night the two girls are fighting and they hear a thud from downstairs. It turns out that it’s Mimi and she’s unconscious. She ends up at the hospital and the doctors say she had a stroke. The rest of the book focuses on Claudia trying to take care of her and working with her, rather than her parents getting Mimi actual help. Seriously, would you leave a 13 year old girl home alone with an elderly woman who recently had a stroke?

Mary-Anne has to watch Mimi one day because Claudia already had a sitting job lined up and apparently no one else in the club could take the job (?). MA keeps pushing Mimi and acting like a snotty substitute teacher and Mimi kind of snaps and shouts at her. Later she apologizes and they make up over tea. It’s kind of shitty though because Mimi can’t remember words and MA keeps getting snotty with her and making her repeat words.

Anyway, Claudia finally has it up to here (picture me holding my arm up high) with Janine and confronts her. Janine confesses that she’s jealous and feels like everyone expects her to be the smart one and to focus on her schooling instead of family. Claudia makes her feel better and she ends up spending more time with Mimi. Kind of makes me sad that Mimi will die soon!

The play group is a huge success, but does have some funny moments. Jenny is so prissy that she won’t wear a smock over her clothes and keeps showing up in fancy dresses. Kristy’s new step-sister Karen tells everyone that her little brother Andrew is a monster and he gets Jenny to start wearing her smock.

Other moments:

*Stacey shows up with a new haircut and everyone oohs and ahhs over it. Yet when MA gets a haircut later, everyone’s pissed that she did it without talking to them.

*Claudia wears earrings shaped like little green Coke bottles. I totally want those earrings!

*Kristy’s mom is packing up the house and getting ready to move them in with Watson, yet they were married in the last book. Wouldn’t you have most stuff moved already?

*Louis (the dog) is still alive in this book and the kids give him a bath and do his hair. Kristy realizes that he looks like a girl.

*The Pike family is getting ready to go to Sea City for two weeks and Stacey and MA are going too. I actually found the next book at the thrift store too and I remember it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sweet Valley High #120: In Love with the Enemy

I love Ken Matthews. I hate Jessica Wakefield. By the transitive property, I should hate Jessica for loving Ken…or something like that.

It’s big game night in Sweet Valley, which must mean it’s a Friday night. Though don’t they have games at weird times of the week, like a Wednesday night game sometimes? Apparently SVH and Palisades are having a big rivalry and it’s driving both schools crazy. Foreshadowing perhaps…

Todd agreed to hold seats at the game for Liz and Enid because Liz was working on a story. They get there late and the only seats they can find are on the opposing side. They meet these two girls Caitlin and Marla, who work on the other school’s newspaper. They start talking about a way to get the two schools together. Liz suggests a poetry reading and Enid correctly says that only a few people would show up. They finally decide to host a co-dance and get so excited with the idea that they miss the end of the game.

Jess has been whoring it up, er cheering on the sidelines and even she takes some time away from her own life, to realize that the other school is playing dirty. One of the players hits Ken slightly above the belt, just as he’s going in for a touchdown and Palisades wins.

The other players want to have a rumble (ha! So 1950s musical right now), but Ken convinces them not to play dirty. He gets into a funk and not even Jess can help him. Actually she doesn’t really try. She wants to go to the Dairi Burger, he doesn’t, so she runs off in a huff. Ken, Todd and Aaron bond and get into a fight with some guys from the other team. Ken even gets punched again.

Jessica goes to the beach with Lila and Amy the next day and there’s a big surfing competition going on. Jess keeps wandering around, trying to look all hot in the hopes of ending up on television. Rosie Shaw is a big deal surfer, who wins the competition and then tries to make Jess’s life a living hell. Actually she just picks on her because Jessica thinks that she can win the next competition and that cheerleading is harder than surfing. Lila even makes a bet with her over surfing.

The guys decide to have a guy’s night at Bruce’s house, but it’s really lame. They basically sit around, cook out, watch some movies, play tennis (?) and play pool. Ken tries to call Jessica because he blew her off earlier in the night and feels bad, but the other guys make fun of him. Bruce decides to paint the football field at Palisades and only Winston talks back. Bruce demands they play a round of poker, with the winner making the final choice. He wins and they paint “Palisades Pumas purr like kittens”. I’m totally naming my make believe band that name,

Jessica is taking the surfing thing seriously. She gets up before sunrise and heads to the beach with Steven’s board. Wait, when did Steven start surfing? Shouldn’t that have been mentioned before? Anyway, she crashes, but this random guy saves her. His name is Christian Gorman and he offers to be her teacher.

Liz, Enid and the other girls meet for brunch, which proves that Liz is a 40 year old woman stuck in the body of a teenage girl. They decide to host a costume party, so no one knows who is who. The other girls know of an old factory they can use for the party, but it’s slated for demolition and they have to hold the party that weekend. Time to shape up!

Jessica and Ken start having problems right away because he feels bad for what they did and Jessica doesn’t want to listen to him. Instead she makes him leave, so she can get up early in the morning. Liz has her own problems because no one likes the idea of a dance, at least not one with Palisades. Bruce goes off on her and other people deface her posters or rip them down. She has an odd moment where she thinks that the dance isn’t a good idea and that something bad might happen.

Jessica, who’s totally in love with Ken, starts spending more time with Christian. She opens up about how she’s jealous of Liz or at least of how people treat her and he tells her all about his perfect brother, who sounds exactly like Liz. By the way, I think Jess gets just as much attention. Anyway, they bond and end up making out. They keep getting closer (in like two days) and even when he’s all weird and distant, she’s sure that they’re soul mates.

The prank war between the two schools keeps getting worse. Palisades toilet papers all the guys’ cars and writes in shaving cream. The Sweet Valley guys start wearing jean jackets and sunglasses and form a gang mentality. This all leads up to some big fight scheduled for the night of the dance. Nice of them to schedule it in advance.

Liz and the other girls contemplate abandoning the dance, but instead decide to force people to see how good each school is. Ah Liz, god bless her heart. Even Jess says she should call the dance off, but Liz would rather write a special edition of the Oracle, focusing on Palisades.

Liz goes to Palisades High and as soon as she mentions where she’s from, no one will talk to her. A group of guys even tries to run her off. By the way, she got to take time off school for this. Turns out the other girls didn’t fare any better on their visit to SVH. Gasp! People in Sweet Valley treating others like crap? How can this be?

While working on her special edition, Bruce pops up to tell everyone that Tom McKay was intentionally hit with a tennis ball during his last match with Palisades. Liz doesn’t want to write about it or the rivalry, but Mr. Collins overrules her and puts it in the paper. Everyone focuses on the bad stuff and her stories end up on the trash heap.

Despite the fact that she’s now all “in love” with someone else, Jess goes to the dance with Ken. She makes him promise that he won’t fight, but he doesn’t really listen to her. All of the guys head outside and the girls start realizing that it’s a non-sausage fest party. Liz finally calls the cops, but the fight has already started.

Ken is fighting with a few guys, when he finds himself up against the leader of the Palisades group. Conveniently he’s the leader, but has never been mentioned before and never shown up in any of the other scenes. They start fighting and the guy knocks him on the ground and keeps punching him. Jessica runs outside, just in time to realize that the leader of the Palisades group is none other than Christian! Oh noes, what could happen next??

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sweet Valley High Magna Edition: Elizabeth’s Secret Diary Volume II

I kind of hate these books because while it’s over 300 pages long, we really only get a few pages of new shit and the rest is packaged from old books. This one takes place from the time Todd moves back to Sweet Valley to the one where she sets up Dana and Aaron.

At the beginning of the book Todd is taking Liz out for their anniversary, but he seems really preoccupied with something. In a very un-Liz moment, she thinks about how much she likes the fancy restaurant and how it’s a “perk” to dating a rich Todd. You know, as opposed to the poor Todd she wasted all those other books on.

Eventually Todd confesses that his friend Michelle is coming into town from Vermont. He and Liz almost broke up after she found a letter the girl wrote, calling Todd cute buns and signing it with a bunch of kisses. Is this something that actually happened in the books? I have no idea, but I can’t remember it. Todd is kind of an ass too because they have plans for their anniversary and he wants to bring Michelle.

Liz freaks out and goes home, where she gets all emo about it and write some lame poetry about Michelle being easy. She invites Enid over the next day to make chocolate chip cookies (natch). She hears a knock at the door and it’s Todd with Michelle. I kind of love Liz in this part because she makes snide comments about her being fast and loose. They have another fight and Todd runs off.

Enid makes her feel bad about what happened, so she decides to take Todd some cookies. She finds him and Michelle kissing and runs away, but he sees her and tries to stop her. Jess wants the full story and I love this too, because she sits down and listens to his messages on the machine. Liz runs upstairs and digs out her old diaries, to remember her other major love…until the next Secret Diary.

I’m not going to summarize the whole book because that’s just insane. It basically follows the books in the series that deal with Todd coming back, her and Jeffery breaking up and then her cheating on Todd. She and Todd are having some problems and she sees Jeffery in the Dairi Burger. They share a moment and she remembers when she loved him.

She and Jeffery end up kissing a few times and she talks to him about stuff. Like in The New Elizabeth, she runs into him on the beach and she tells him about her surfing lessons. He thinks it’s admirable that she wants to try something new, agrees to cheer her on at the event (though he isn’t mentioned in that book) and they kiss.

After all the illicit smoochies, Jeffery climbs the trellis outside her room and they make out a little on her bed. He wants her to tell Todd what’s going on, but she won’t. Then Todd also climbs the trellis and nearly catches them. He dances with her in her room, they kiss and she makes him leave because Jeffery is hiding in the closet.

When her parents start having problems and then separate, she thinks Todd isn’t listening to her and starts kissing Jeffery again. He again demands that she tell Todd the truth, but she won’t. Todd and Jeffery even get into a fight at the Oracle office, when Jeffery hears Todd acting rude to her. Eventually she realizes that she’s in love with Todd and can’t be with Jeffery, but promises to keep him in her heart.

After going through her journal, Liz realizes that she does love Todd and he’s the one she wants. I really fucking hate this because she says that she can forgive him for one kiss because of all the kisses she shared with Jeffery that he doesn’t know about. She actually says this! It’s something like, how can I be upset with him for kissing someone else, when I kissed Jeffery all those times and never told him? You are such a fucking slut.

Liz and Todd go to the Dairi Burger to celebrate getting back together and she remembers seeing Jeffery there the first time. She’s sitting in the same exact seat and looks up, to find him sitting in the same seat too. Only this time he’s with some redhead and smiling in a way he never did with her. She kind of nods her smug head, thinking that everything worked out like it should. Yeah, you cheated on your boyfriend and fucked over another guy, sounds like another day in Sweet Valley.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Point Horror: Blind Date (R.L. Stine)

Whoa! This book is so old that it was before they started putting the little “heartbeat” line on the spine of the Point Horror books!

So Blind Date centers on Kerry. He’s just your ordinary kind of high school guy, except that he was in a car accident about a year ago. He doesn’t remember anything about that night, but he remembers the headlights of another car coming towards them. He lives with his annoying brother Sean and his cop dad, who does nothing except talk about his brother Donald.

Donald was some huge deal/popular football player and the only reason Kerry even gets a spot on the team is because of his brother’s legacy. During a practice, he accidentally rams the quarterback, who has to be carried off the field. His buddies and his girlfriend all vow revenge. Plus he gets tossed from the team.

Not long after, Kerry gets a mysterious phone call from a girl. She tells him that his friend Margo, who moved across town, wanted to set them up. Amanda and her were friends, but now Amanda has transferred to his school. She asks him to pick her up at home and gives him an address.

On the night of their big date, he goes to the house and has a flashback to the accident. Then he meets a man and woman, who cry when he asks for Amanda because that’s the name of their dead daughter. He runs home, all confused about what happened. Mysterio girl calls back and says he went to the wrong house: turns out she lives on a similar street and her name is Mandy, he just heard Amanda. They make plans to meet at school, so he can give her a tour.

The day before he meets her, he and his buddy Josh are playing basketball when football Sal’s buddies wander up. They apologize to him and say he woke up and told everyone it was an accident. Nah, just kidding, that only happens in his mind. They actually beat the shit out of him pretty hardcore.

With a broken face and a bleeding nose, he gets to meet Amanda and she’s just as hot as he imagined. The only weird thing is that she’s wearing kind of old fashioned looking clothes. Plus she has kind of a warped sense of humor, but they seem to mesh well together. She sees a picture of the upcoming dance and asks him to take her. Date #2! Woo-who!

Before date night can arrive, Kerry’s dad has a startling announcement: his brother Donald escaped. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering where the fuck he escaped from. Yeah, turns out that Mr. Stine decided to throw us a little twist. Turns out that Kerry and Donald were out driving around with Donald’s girlfriend. They got into a wreck and even though she was sitting in the middle, she died and they both survived.

Donald flew into a rage and tried to kill Kerry. He never really got over her death and he’s been locked away in a mental institution ever since. Turns out that his girlfriend’s name was Amanda. Kerry is noticeably shocked and though his dad was (2 pages ago) freaking out, now he just tells him to watch out and let him know if his brother calls.

Kerry meets Mandy at the dance and they have a good time, except she keeps grabbing him and ramming her tongue down his throat. I wonder if Stine ever got laid in high school or if these books are just what he wished happened back then? She wanders off and the quarterback’s friends end up chasing him around the school. This time they really do want to apologize because Sal did wake up and told them what happened. Um okay, pointless.

Kerry goes back to the dance and finds Mandy, but she’s ready to go home. They head outside with Josh and his date, where they see that someone trashed Kerry’s car. I’m actually kind of sad because he was driving a Mustang. Mandy freaks out, jumps on the next bus and takes off. The next day she apologizes, saying that it was just too terrible to be around.

He starts getting all these weird phone calls and he blows them off. At first he thinks it’s Sal’s girlfriend and later he thinks it’s Donald. Donald finally does call and gives him a cryptic message, but also says that he’s on his way back. Yet Kerry opts not to tell his dad. Then Mandy says that Donald’s been following her around. Kerry asks how she knows his brother and she says she doesn’t know him, which he accepts. Um, if you don’t know him, then how do you know his name? Kerry never told you!

Mandy keeps getting more and more insistent that Donald is following her and asks Kerry to run away with her. She says that her family has a cabin in the woods, so Kerry logically packs a bag and runs off with her. He notices a huge ass hammer in the trunk, the same type of hammer the police tell him inflicted the damage on his car. Once again he ignores that. This guy really wants to get laid.

She gets “lost” and takes him past Amanda’s house several times, which freaks him out but he still ignores the feeling. He finally flashes back to the night of the accident and remembers that he was the one driving, that Donald let him drive even though he wasn’t old enough. They get to the cabin, she makes him some tea, he starts getting sleepy and he wakes up, tied to a chair.

This is where things get really weird. She literally starts taunting him with a stuffed moose head and rams it over his head. Is that even possible? I assumed a stuffed head means it’s, you know, stuffed. She tells him that she’s Amanda’s sister and she’s going to ruin his life like he did hers. He hears someone yelling and people running around. Suddenly the moose head is ripped off and Donald is standing there.

Donald apologizes for what he did before, but accurately points out that he saved his life this time. Then he tells her that Mandy is actually a girl he met in the mental institution. She has a condition where she thinks that she’s other people and takes over their life. She heard about Amanda and kept pumping him for details and information. She eventually believed that she was her sister and set about getting revenge. Does that make sense to anyone?

They share a brotherly bonding moment, while Mandy (whoever) lays on the floor. The book jumps forward a few weeks and Josh offers to set Kerry up on a blind date with his cousin. Kerry says he’s done with blind dates (hardy-har-har) and then chases after him, wanting to know what she looks like. Hilarious.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Terror Academy: Boy Crazy (Nicholas Pine)

I never read any of the Terror Academy books because I was a little too old for the young adult books by the time they started coming out. I think I stopped reading them around 1994, except for a few, so this is all new to me.

Shannon and her brother Patrick are on a bus, moving to live with their dad. Apparently their mom dad and he fell into a deep depression and became an alcoholic. He moved away and they lived with their grandparents for awhile. Now he has a new job, got a new apartment and he wants his kids back.

Of course Shannon isn’t ready to trust him at all because she’s kind of a bitch. Like her dad stops at the grocery store and she freaks out because it’s next door to a liquor store. She literally doesn’t see anything in the strip mall other than the liquor store and thinks he’s drinking again. Plus she keeps talking about this horrible thing he did at her birthday party.

It’s actually kind of weird because Pine keeps insinuating that her dad did something really bad. She says her friends all called him a pervert after the party and stopped talking to her. After pages and pages, she finally reveals that he showed up drunk and tried to kiss her best friend. It’s not that shocking, nor is it really disturbing. Plus her best friend refused to talk to her after it, which seems kind of harsh.

Her dad shows her their new place and she mopes because her new bedroom isn’t as big as her old one. She does get excited about her new school, which is bigger and looks like a private school. The day after they move, she gets up super early and takes a walk around town. She meets this guy Charley, who instantly develops a crush on her. His dad found the apartment for her dad and they bond a little.

He asks her out and she turns him down because she doesn’t find him that attractive. In a bitchy move, she’s completely lost and can’t find her way home. She asks him for directions and flips out when he wants to walk her home, instead of just telling her how to get there. She finally asks him what’s up and he tells her that he wants to make a good impression on her, before she meets the preppy guys at school, including this guy Skip.

Cut to Shannon’s first day at school. Skip sees her walking in and instantly hits on her. A classmate warns her that he picks out the new girls right away because the other girls in school won’t date him, but she thinks the girl is jealous. They talk for a few minutes and she’s instantly smitten. Where was her old school, Sweet Valley?

Charley warns her about Skip’s ex-girlfriend Katie. He keeps saying that he did something to her that put her in the loony bin. In fact, everyone in the book refers to it in this way and says that she’s in the loony bin. Of course she thinks that he’s insane. He points out all of Skip’s friends, telling her stories about them. One guy is a gun freak, one guy drinks constantly and one guy pops pills. She once again thinks he’s jealous and goes off to sit with them.

Skip wants to take her home after school, but Patrick needs a ride too. He offers to have his friend take him home and she pretty much forces Patrick in the car. Patrick later tells her that the guys are losers and treated him like crap, but she completely blows him off. Skip asks her to the big dance that weekend, which makes her one of the popular girls. The girls keep warning her about Skip and she thinks that they’re all jealous of her, OR just teasing her. Moron.

So the night of the dance arrives. Charley calls a bunch of times, just asking her not to spend too much time alone with Skip and she ignores him. All of Skip’s friends sit around outside the dance, talking about what happened with Katie. Only one guy, Guy, seems sad about what happened and even he isn’t willing to stop.

Shannon finally works up the courage to ask Skip about Katie. He cries, telling her that Katie was attacked by a group of guys after a dance just like this. She couldn’t deal with what happened and completely shut down, so her parents put her in a loony bin. Shannon decides that he must be telling the truth, even when people at the dance look at her funny.

Skip takes her out after the dance and when she wants to go home, he drives her out into the woods. His friends show up and everyone taunts her about ending up like Katie. His friend Andy is a gun freak and threatens to kill her with a pistol if she doesn’t listen. They tell Guy to “go first” so he can’t chicken out and lock them in a shed together.

Guy says he’s not going to do anything to her because he has nightmares over what happened with Katie. She takes a bottle of whiskey he brought with him and clubs him over the head until he passes out. Then she pulls up floorboards in the shed, slips out and runs off. Charley finds her and helps her to the police station.

The police bring in all five guys for questioning, but let them go because they all claim they were out together. The cops don’t even call the DA because they decide a jury wouldn’t believe her. Skip taunts her at school the next day about how he’s got her. She then discovers that her brother fell/was pushed from a window on the second floor. The girl who was with him claims she didn’t see anything. Patrick ends up in a coma and seemingly wins.

Months later Shannon goes to visit Patrick in the hospital. He’s in a wheelchair, but he can’t move or talk. Her dad is struggling to stay away from alcohol and won’t go to the hospital because he can’t handle seeing his son. She’s now dating Charley and after visiting her brother, decides that it’s time to exact her revenge and he agrees to help.

They sneak into Andy’s house and find his stash of guns. They also find a photo album, with all the photos of girls they apparently raped inside. They steal everything, take it to his friend’s house and then call him. Shannon pretends to be Katie and tells him that his buddy has his stuff and is going to the cops. Andy runs over, they have a fight and he shoots him.

Shannon calls back as Katie and says that his friend Rollie saw him do it and is going to the cops. Andy runs over and kills his other friend. Then she calls the cops and turns him in and watches him get arrested. A few days later she calls Guy and tries to convince him to go the police. He calls Skip instead and arranges to meet him on the bridge outside of town.

They go out there and see the two guys fighting on the bridge. She begs Charley to stop them because Guy was the only one who didn’t want to hurt her. She wants to see him in juvie, but not dead. Charley won’t because he’s afraid they’ll throw him over the side. Shannon runs up and Skip realizes that she’s not Katie. He taunts Guy, who grabs him and throws him over the side. Guy feels so bad that he jumps over the bridge too. Charley tries to grab him, but can’t help. She asks him to take her home, rather than calling the police.

The book ends a few months later with Shannon dreaming. Patrick is fine and her mom is alive and they’re playing together. The dream ends with the guys showing up to taunt her. She wakes up and meets Charley, giving him a huge kiss. He wants to go back to the hospital, but she asks him to take her up to the lake. She tells him that she’s not going back to the hospital and isn’t going to see Patrick again. It’s time for her to move on with her life.

What the fuck?? I can’t believe how insane this book is. There’s no mention of rape or sex, but you just know that’s what the guys are doing. Plus Shannon is such a bitch that I just can’t root for her at all.