Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Baby-Sitters Club #33: Claudia and the Great Search

Kristy is worried about Emily because she isn’t learning fast and isn’t picking things up. Claudia winds up sitting for her and notices some of the problems. She works with her on colors for awhile and Emily seems to respond. Mrs. Thomas-Brewer later calls the BSC and asks for Claudia specifically, hoping she can work with her some more.

Being around Emily makes Claudia doubt herself. It doesn’t help that Janine just won another award in school and her parents are going crazy over her. Claudia quickly decides she’s adopted and the more she thinks about it, the more she’s convinced that it’s the truth. She doesn’t look like her parents, she isn’t smart like them and things just don’t add up.

She starts investigating her past and finds weird things. For one thing, her birth wasn’t announced in the local newspaper. Then she discovers a locked box, which she’s sure has her real birth certificate in it. She contacts her doctor for some information, only to learn that she had a different doctor for the first few years of her life. She even reads a book on Stacey’s suggestion about an adopted girl.

Eventually she decides to call a bunch of adoption agencies, but actually only calls one. They can’t help because they’ve only been in business a few years. Then she finds the other kids who were born the same week as her and calls around. She can’t find one woman, but finds all the other kids. She decides that the woman must be her birth mother and confronts her parents.

As soon as she tells her parents that she was adopted, they explain that she wasn’t. The locked box is full of emergency money and isn’t a big deal. Her birth was announced in a different newspaper that went bankrupt. Lastly, she looks like both her parents and also looks exactly like Mimi did as a girl. They give her a photo of Mimi and she has it framed with a photo of her.

*Emily is way behind the other kids, but miraculously after a few sessions with Claudia, she’s almost caught up to other kids her age.

*Claudia notices that her parents have albums full of Janine, but only a few of her and none of her as a baby-baby. Her parents explain that when people have more kids, they naturally take more pictures of the first kid. I call bull shit on that! I have two older brothers and there are a fairly equally amount of photographs of each one of us.

*I’m starting to get sick of Kristy’s attitude, probably because I’ve read a lot of the newer books lately. In this one, she acts like she has to fix Emily, even though her parents aren’t worried. In the later books, she acts like she’s the only one that can take care of Watson or look over him.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sweet Valley High #1: Double Love

Ah, the one where it all began. Jessica and Elizabeth are perfect size-6 wearing identical twins. Liz also has a crush on Todd Wilkins, the star of the basketball team. He smiled at her in the cafeteria and now she’s daydreaming about him. He actually calls for her, but Jess monopolizes the conversation and attempts to make her twin look bad.

The two discover that day that they’ve made it into the most exclusive sorority on the Sweet Valley High campus, as did Enid Rollins, Cara Walker and a few other friends. Jessica runs into Todd, who is a member of the sister frat and tries to convince him to take her to a big upcoming dance, even though he’s more interested in her sister and what her sister’s plans are.

Jess runs into the super sexy Rick Andover and he tells her that he’ll pick her up the next day. She’s go all out for their date: low cut red shirt, high heels and a short skirt. Then she keeps their date a big secret, which makes Liz think she’s going out with Todd. Rick takes her to a seedy bar (Kelly’s) and keeps putting the moves on her. When another guy tries to stop him, they get into a fight and the cops show up. One of the cops thinks she’s Liz and lets her off with a warning.

Caroline Pierce sees Jess dropped off and hears the cop use Liz’s name, so she spreads the story around school. Everyone starts thinking Liz was the one in the bar, even Todd and Enid. Liz confronts Jess, but she could care less because she just discovered their brother Steven is dating Betsy Martin, a total trash bag who goes out with all kinds of guys. Unlike Jess, who has made eyes at 17 guys so far in this book.

Eventually Jess offers to clear things up, but never really does. Todd confronts her on what happened and she breaks down, finally (kind of) taking responsibility. Todd thinks she’s just covering for her sister, which shows him a different side of her and he asks her to the dance. Winston meanwhile, stands up for Liz when Bruce picks on her and they end up going to the dance together.

Todd is completely smitten when he sees Liz all dressed up, but barely acknowledges Jess. Jess tries all night to get his attention, but he can’t keep his eyes off her twin. When he drops her off and gives her a kiss on the cheek, she can’t take it anymore. She promptly runs inside and tells Liz that he wouldn’t take no for an answer and kept grabbing at her. Todd keeps trying to see Liz and she keeps turning him down. Then he reveals that he wants to forgive her for going out with Rick and she goes off on him.

Cut to a few days later and Rick actually stops the twins. He hops in their car and speeds off, freaking them out. Todd sees the look on Liz’s face and chases after the car. He punches Rick and saves the twins. Jessica tries to kiss him, but Liz pushes her off and kisses him instead. Jess lets it slip that she really was with Rick that night, Todd feels stupid for not believing in Liz and they finally get together.

Liz decides to get back at her twin by pulling a twin swap. She pretends to be Jess and reveals that Liz writes the gossip column for the school paper. Following tradition, the kids toss “Liz” in the swimming pool fully clothed. Jessica ruins two reputations, but a pool toss totally makes up for it! Oh and Steven is actually dating Betsy’s sweet sister Tricia, so it’s all good.

The other plot is that Ned is spending a lot of time with Marianna West, a chick from his office. With Alice working all the time, the kids are convinced that he’s having an affair. He’s working on a case, where the Fowlers and Patman families are trying to take over the football field. In the end, it turns out he was helping her on the case and helping her make partner, no one cheats.

*The whole sorority-fraternity thing is weird to me and not just because my high school didn’t have anything like this. It’s confusing because Todd, Bruce and other guys are already in their frat, but the girls just got into their sorority and all the other pledges were juniors.

*Yeah, so apparently the school leases the football field from the city, but it isn’t owned by the school. When the lease expired, others had a chance at buying it. Does that make sense to anyone? We have one football field here that’s owned by the city, but that’s just so multiple lower income schools can all use it.

*Jessica borrows Liz’s tuxedo shirt, matching pants and bow tie. First of all, that doesn’t really sound like a Liz-type outfit and second, it sounds butt ugly.

*Ha-ha! Liz goes on a date with Ken Matthews, which ticks Jess off because she thought he had a girlfriend, so she wasn’t interested in him. They totally should have brought this up later!

*Bruce wants to take Liz to the dance for an appearance and then go somewhere “fun”. Where is Annie when you need her?

*The more I read these books, the more I realize Jessica was a total psychopath!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Baby-sitters Club #88: Farewell, Dawn

Remember how Dawn kept saying she was never going to leave her mom? And how she was happy to be back? Yeah it turns out that it was all a lie because now she wants to move home. She kind of plays it off like she’s missed it all along, even though she hasn’t mentioned it since coming back. She’s sad because Sunny’s mom is in the hospital and she misses the beach, the sunshine and the warm weather.

She calls her dad just to talk and when Carol’s on the phone, she lets it slip that she wants to move back. Carol is cool with it, tells her to talk to her mom and she’ll talk to her dad. As soon as Sharon comes home, Dawn announces that she wants to move back. Richard walks in on the conversation and both worry that she isn’t happy with them. She assures them that she loves everyone there, but wants to go home. Then she manages to change the subject, so Mary Anne won’t hear her.

Dawn gets right to work planning for her trip. Eventually she decides to call Kristy, who is shocked that she hasn’t yet told Mary Anne. She just wants Kristy to get to work finding someone to replace her in the club. She keeps trying to tell Mary Anne about the move, but something keeps coming up. She finally arranges for the two to spend the night together. Logan calls and tells Mary Anne what’s going on because he heard it from Robert. Mary Anne is upset and kind of cuts her off.

Dawn spends most of the book waiting for Mary Anne to make some big gesture, but it never happens. Mary Anne babysits, spends time with Kristy or Logan and does whatever possible to stay out of the house. The BSC plans a huge going away party for her and make her a special video of photos from their experiences. Dawn gets misty eyed, thinking Mary Anne was involved, but it turns out that she was the only one who didn’t help. She doesn’t even watch the tape, but took a walk with Logan instead.

Just before the book ends, she finds Mary Anne in the bathroom. Mary Anne confesses that she’s sad because when Dawn left before, she always knew she was coming back, but now she’s really gone. She’s also sad because she’ll miss seeing Dawn in the bathroom mirror. They share a sweet moment and make up.

At her last club meeting, Dawn gets even sadder because Shannon is given her job, but makes it clear that she can’t help much when school starts. When she leaves, she starts to cry because she feels like that door is closing on her life. She keeps feeling doors slamming shut and locking behind her. The whole club goes with her to the airport to say goodbye. She hops on the plane and keeps waiting for the door to lock. Then she realizes that the door isn’t locking because she can always go back.

*There’s also a whole Christmas in summer thing because James Hobart breaks his leg. The BSC gets a bunch of kids together and organizes a whole thing for him, complete with games, decorations and a tree. I get it and it’s kind of cute, but I’m not sure why they would go all out.

*Dawn is a spoiled brat here because she spends the whole book wanting Mary Anne to feel down and miserable.

*Apparently Kristy told Claudia, who told Stacey, who told Robert, who told Logan. Do Robert and Logan really run in the same circles?

*Poor Mallory and Jessi! They find out after everyone else that Dawn is moving and only because Mary Anne acts passive aggressive at a meeting and the whole thing comes out.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sweet Valley Twins #28: April Fool!

Jessica comes up with a great idea for the twins annual April Fool’s Day trick. Instead of switching places like they always do, they’ll just pretend that they made a switch. They play up the way they look, so everyone will think they switched places. It works right from the start, with their whole family thinking they switched places.

Liz just won a big essay contest and she gets to pick a free magazine subscription as her prize. The teacher calls Jess up, thinking she’s actually Liz, and she picks a teen music magazine. Then Jess fails a soufflĂ© making dish in home ec and the teacher gives her a bad grade, but writes it next to Liz’s name. Liz gets an A, but the grade goes to Jess.

Then Liz gets called out in class for a note Jessica wrote and given a detention. She gets another detention when the principal sees her running in the halls and thinks that she’s Jessica. The Unicorn Club grabs her and tells her she has to take part in a charity car wash. After washing the car, she discovers it was all a big prank. To top it all off, Am y takes Jessica home for a special dinner and swimming because she thinks she’s actually Liz.

The one good thing is that both her detentions are cancelled. The principal has to leave and her teacher has a dentist appointment. When she gets home though, Mrs. Wakefield is pissed. Jessica was supposed to send an important package and she never did. She sends Liz upstairs and she has to listen as Jessica gets ready to go to Amy’s and even wears her new swimsuit.

To make matters worse, Alice won’t let her go to the big school dance that night. She has to go with her parents to a special school board meeting. It turns out that the meeting is at the school and just as they get there, Alice makes her go to the gym and drop off a shirt for Jessica. Liz walks in and everyone shouts.

Ha-ha Liz, the joke is on you. Jessica set the whole thing up as a fucking joke on you! Almost everyone knew they didn’t switch places and just pretended. The teacher switched their grades, the principal never planned on giving her a real detention and the magazine subscription is actually the one she wanted. Liz feels bad for about 12 seconds and then laughs it up with everyone because no one gets that Jessica is a psychopath.

*Liz’s revenge on Jessica for a day of torture is to lie and say she told off Bruce Patman. She doesn’t even keep the joke going for very long because as soon as Jess looks freaked out, she announces it was a joke.

*Steven fakes having a heart attack and Liz takes him seriously. Is she really six years old?

*Alice wears a brunette wig and Ned puts his tie on backward. Hardy har-har.

*Everyone is all caught up in practical jokes, which I find a little hard to believe. Like Ken replaces Amy’s hot dog at lunch with a rubber one and the principal makes a bunch of fake announcements, telling the kids that the ice cream freezer broke, the carnival is cancelled and the buses aren’t working.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Baby-Sitters Club Super Special #5: California Girls!

Claudia has apparently been playing the lottery for awhile now and when it hits $28 million, the rest of the BSC decides to play too. The deal is that if they win anything, they split it evenly and get Sharon to buy their tickets. Dawn hits all but one number and they end up winning just over $10,000, giving each member a little over $1,400. They decide to take their money and spend a few weeks in California with Dawn’s dad.

Mallory gets a kind of big story because she decides that she wants to completely change her looks. She spends almost all of her money on makeup and hair dye, to dye her hair blonde. She spends the whole trip borrowing money from Jessi and trying to figure out why no one pays attention to her. She isn’t picked for demonstrations at Universal Studios or as an extra. Eventually she whines and pouts, until Kristy points out that she liked her better the other way. Stacey and Claudia buy her makeup and she pays Jessi back. Jessi also buys her a bottle of dye and they dye her hair back to red.

Claudia meets a cute guy named Terry at the beach, but when they go out, she discovers that he is just like Janine. She tries changing herself and acting smarter, just so he’ll like her. She even orders escargots at a fancy restaurant. Janine finally points out that she needs to be herself and she invites him to go to Hollywood. They have a great time and decide to keep writing to each other after she goes back.

Kristy attends a meeting of the We Love Kids Club and gets annoyed at how laidback they act. She takes a sitting job for two rowdy boys that the other girls don’t like. They think she’s crazy when she decides to take them to Universal Studios for the day. The boys act out and go all wild, until they see the earthquake ride. They get scared, she comforts them and decides that maybe she doesn’t know everything about sitting.

Jessi spends time with Derek Masters on the set of his show and gets picked as an extra. She has so much fun that she lets Derek convince her she should be an actress. She spends most of the book talking about getting an agent and booking jobs. She’s also fairly annoying because after one day on the set, she acts like she knows everything there is about acting. At the end, she decides that her heart is really in dancing.

Stacey discovers that she loves surfing and Dawn introduces her to some older kids that surf all the time. She spends most of her vacation with them, even though they’re kind of wild and crazy. They get into a car accident and she has to call Carol to pick her up. Carol makes her tell Dawn’s dad what happened, who makes her tell her parents. She feels kind of bad and sticks with the group for the rest of the trip.

Mary Anne sits for this little girl Stephie that lost her mom when she was a kid. The little girl has asthma and even though everyone tells her that she has emotional triggers, MA still freaks out constantly about what might happen. Stephie survives a ton of experiences without an attack, but finally has one when they say their goodbyes. MA survives the event and they write to each other.

Dawn acts like a spoiled brat for most of the book because she hates Carol being around all the time. When Carol finally acts like an adult and comes clean about Stacey’s accident, Dawn realizes she was too hard on her. She writes her a long letter and they make up at the end of the book.

*I know Richard is more laidback now, but I can’t see him letting Mary Anne have all that money to go crazy. Plus, wouldn’t the Pikes want Mallory to put some money back for college? And aren’t Claudia’s parents super uptight about stuff like that?

*There is no way a temporary hair color would turn Mal’s hair from bright red to blonde. Plus, would a 11-year old really know how to dye her own hair?

*There’s a mention at the end of the book that Terry gave Claudia a “large gift” that she won’t tell them about, but they all suspect it’s a stuffed animal. It kind of annoys me that we don’t find out what it is!

*Elaine Stritch is a guest star on Jessi’s show and none of the kids know who she is. It seems like such a random, obscure reference because I know who she is now, but had no clue when I was a kid.

*Dawn makes a ton of comments about how she would never leave her mom behind and move back to California. Yeah, give it a few more books.

*Carol is mentioned at being around 32. Sharon turned 42 or 43 in Mary Anne and the Great Romance. Given that Dawn’s dad is older than her mom, he kind of is robbing the cradle. What is Carol thinking though? She marries a recently divorced guy with two kids that’s way older than her!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fear Street: Into the Dark (R.L. Stine)

Paulette is totally blind and totally has a stalker, but she doesn’t realize it yet. She’s just riding along with her buddy Jonathon, who drives like a psycho and is taking her the Shadyside Music Academy where she practices her piano. As soon as she gets out of the car, another car comes flying out of nowhere and she’s almost hit. Luckily this hot guy Brad Jones saves her life. Brad’s a recent transfer student that works at the Academy and thinks she’s a great musician and pretty cute.

She’s pretty smitten, especially when he comes over and asks for her phone number. Jonathon warns her that Brad has a bad reputation and was a criminal in his old hometown. She kind of blows it off, thinking that he seems nice enough. Brad calls that night and acts kind of weird. He keeps talking about how she’s perfect for him and it sounds like his voice has changed. Once again, she kind of blows the whole thing off.

Paulette talks to her friend Cindy about the whole thing, but Brad interrupts. Cindy rushes off and the two talk. Brad lets her feel his face and then tells her how he got a scar on his face. He also mentions playing piano in an old, abandoned house on Fear Street. Cindy comes over that night and freaks out when she sees her room. It turns out that someone broke into her room and painted a threatening note on the wall.

Cut to the next day, where she hears someone walking behind her, right before she’s pushed in front of a car. No one saw anyone near her, but Brad pops up to help her back. He makes some threatening comments and then runs off. She sees him later in the day and asks him what was up, but he swears he hasn’t seen her all day. Brad also wants her to go with him to the abandoned house and listen to him play.

Once they get to the house, Brad tells her that someone murdered the whole family that once lived there, but somehow the gas got left on and someone left behind a piano. They kiss, but then he walks off because he hears a noise upstairs. Paulette gets worried when he doesn’t come back and goes off looking for him. Jonathon shows up and says he followed them because he was worried about her. He searches the house, but Brad is long gone.

Brad apologizes for leaving her and makes up a lame excuse, before telling her they can’t date anymore and taking off. She pines over him, acting like they had some great love. Not long after, someone tries to break into her room and she grabs their arm. The guy leaves behind a class ring that has Brad’s initials, but instead of telling her parents the truth, she lies for him.

Cut to her little gang chilling at the pizza place, when a guy walks in and robs the place. As he’s leaving, his face is revealed and it’s Brad. Paulette swears it isn’t him because she knows his voice and it wasn’t his voice talking. Everyone else, including her best friends, saw his face for themselves. Jonathon accidentally gets shot, which means Brad’s ass really is grass. After making sure he’ll be okay, Paulette makes Cindy drive her to Brad’s job, but he abruptly quit that same day. She also discovers that he robbed a bunch of people in another town and he then calls her and claims he’s innocent.

Paulette’s parents conveniently leave for the night and she falls asleep outside. She wakes up to hear someone walking around, discovers that the person took out her guardrails and freaks out. She manages to get inside and Cindy shows up. Cindy wants her to call the police, which she won’t do and then they hear on the news that Brad robbed a store close to her house. Brad calls and reveals that his twin brother Ed is the one doing all the stupid crap. He’s also obsessed with Paulette, which is why Brad backed off. Brad also needs her help because Ed tied him up in the Fear Street house.

Paulette and Brad come up with a plan to trap Ed. She calls him upstairs, Brad hits him over the head and ties him up. The tied up guy claims he’s really Brad and when she touches the other guy’s face, she realizes that Brad really is tied up. He ties her up, but she pretends to be in love with him, so he lets her go. She breaks his flashlight so he can’t see, they fight and he winds up falling over the banister. She saves Brad and in the end, manages to get him out of the house. Ugh.

It feels weird to read a Fear Street book that came out so long after I stopped reading the books! I’m not sure if this was the last one, but it had to be one of the last ones. The back has an ad for the “new” Fear Street Nights saga.