Saturday, December 3, 2011

Point Horror: Thirteen (Lucinda by Lael Littke)

Kate and her older brother Brandon are moving back to their old hometown after six years. On the night he graduated from high school Brandon had a fight with his girlfriend Lucinda over flirting with other people. Lucinda threatened to go to her “special place” and he turned his back on her. Kate saw something weird in the lake and no one saw Lucinda again.

Lucinda’s little brother Keith sent back a newspaper clipping, showing that the lake in town was drying up. At one point, the town moved all of its buildings and flooded the area, creating the lake. Brandon moves them back and asks Keith about Lucinda. Keith claims that no one has found anything except for an old graduation robe.

They run into his old friend Holly who is excited to see him. Kate mentions that she wrote him a ton of letters, but he never wrote her back. Holly explains that she feels responsible because Lucinda wasn’t happy about her relationship with Brandon. She also believes that Lucinda ran away from home and just never contacted anyone.

The first night back Kate hears weird noises. She wakes up and finds a puddle of water in her room. She follows the water drops back to the old lake and sees a big wet spot on the house where Lucinda and her family once lived. When she goes home, Brandon is clutching an old graduation robe that he found on the back porch. He is convinced that she left it there as a sign.

Kate goes to Keith’s house and asks to see photos of their old house. She notices a pipe coming out of the basement and remembers his mom telling them that it was venting for an old crawlspace. She goes back to the lake that night and finds the house. Kate spots stairs leading down to the basement and follows them.

She hears a noise, looks up and sees a woman in a red graduation robe. Thinking it’s Lucinda, she calls out and the figure jumps into the basement. The woman attacks her, they fight and she pushes Kate further into the basement. The figure opens a hidden door, shoves her inside and Kate comes face to face with the real body of Lucinda.

Kate pushes her off and when she turns around, she sees Holly. Holly was an expert scuba diver and the group of them frequently dived in the old lake. When Lucinda stormed off, she went to her “special place”, which was the old storm cellar/crawlspace. They fought and Holly shoved her inside, took her equipment and left her. She explains that she knew Brandon would eventually go back to Lucinda.

Keith shows up and helps her subdue Holly until the police arrive. The next morning Kate finds a bouquet of flowers in her room next to a puddle of water, one last sign from Lucinda.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sweet Valley Twins #11: Buried Treasure

I did a little happy dance in Half-Price Books when I found this one on the clearance shelf. I heard that the store no longer buys SVT or BSC books, but every time I go in, I find at least one book I don’t have. Imagine my surprise when I discovered TEN BOOKS that I didn’t have and all for just 50 cents each.

This one starts with Jessica and Ellen finding a metal box buried in the backyard, when they attempt to help her little brother bury his pet bird. I would really love to know what happened to poor Ellen Riteman. Did she move away? Get pregnant as a freshman? Anyway, her brother Mark wants to open the box right away, but they don’t want to share with him. Jessica pretends to sprain her ankle again and sends him back to her house for her crutches.

As soon as he leaves, they cut the lock off the box and finds photos, letters and $200. They agree to split the money and when he comes back, they pretend that they just got the box open. Mark wanders off and they read through all the letters. A man named William wrote them to Jane, asking her to run away with him and not marry the man her parents wanted her to.

Jessica comes home later that night with a ton of new stuff, including a new Walkman just like the one she ruined a few weeks earlier. She lies and tells Elizabeth that she found it at the mall. Ellen comes to school the next day with a pair of fancy gold earrings and tells everyone that her aunt sent them to her as a gift.

Elizabeth is in the process of running for class treasurer against dorky Peter DeHaven. He decides to get new tennis shoes like everyone else wears, but they all make fun of him for wearing the shoes with brown socks and brown pants. Then he buys flashy surfer shorts and gets picked on for leaving the tag in place.

The school is selling candy bars to pay for a sixth grade field trip to Disneyland. Amy is in charge of the money,  but the money box mysteriously goes missing. Liz keeps seeing all of Jess’s new things and suspects she stole the money. She confides in Amy, who gets pissed off and tells Caroline. Everyone decides that Jessica and Ellen are guilty.

Ken feels bad and starts spending time with Liz because everyone hates her. Amy gets pissed off again and quits as her campaign manager, going to work for Peter instead. Mark hides in Ellen’s closet and when he overhears them talking about the money, he threatens to tell their parents. He does, but they pretend he made the whole thing up.

Jessica and Ellen start feeling bad because everyone thinks they stole the class money. They decide to come clean and tell their parents the truth. They see a woman coming down the street and since she looks just like the woman in the picture, they freak out and think she is a ghost.

The woman comes up and tells them that her grandmother lived in the house as a young woman. They tell her the whole story and she smiles because she’s in a similar position. The story makes her realize that she should marry the man she loves, even though her life will be hard. Their moms show up together because they were called into the school. Laura lets them keep the money and takes the box. The moms decide that Mark should get the leftover money.

Amy does a complete makeover on Peter, getting him in cool clothes. He does a rap at the debate and everyone seems to like him. They accidentally get locked in a supply closet and find the missing trip money. Amy apologizes, makes up with her and later makes up with Ken. They turn the money in and because everyone likes Jess again, they vote for Liz and she wins the campaign.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sweet Valley High #24: Memories

Steven Wakefield is still trying to get over the death of his girlfriend Tricia Martin. Then again, given that it took 130+ books to finish off a school year, it’s probably only been a few weeks since she died. Her sister Betsy keeps riding him, trying to convince him that it is too soon for him to start dating again. He really likes Cara Walker, but decides that he should focus on Tricia’s memory.

Even though Liz is usually the one that gets in the middle of other people’s lives, here she thinks that Betsy is right. She basically wants her brother to sit around, mope, cry and not move on. Jessica is the one that wants him to get back on the horse and start dating again. He keeps coming home from school, but spends the whole time with Betsy moping over Tricia.

Cara approaches him at a party and he completely blows her off. When Jessica suggests she call him, she decides that she needs to just back off and give him time. His friend Artie sees her at a party and thinks she looks pretty cute. He asks Steven if it is okay for him to ask her out and he says he doesn’t care. The more he thinks about it though, the more the idea of Cara out with someone else really bothers him. He calls her thinking that she’s on a date, but she admits that she doesn’t really want to go out with anyone.

Steven asks her out on a date and when she suggests they go to a big party at Bruce Patman’s house, he asks if she minds just being alone with him.

He picks her up, she cooks and they take a picnic lunch out. They have a long talk and he realizes that he really likes Cara and she’s changed a lot since her parents’ divorce. When he discovers that her birthday is coming up, he offers to take her out on the town and even pick the restaurant.

Steven shows up with a birthday gift of a book by her favorite author and she announces that she made reservations at the Valley Inn. He tells her that he went there once with his family, but doesn’t tell her that he went there on his last date with Tricia. He keeps having flashbacks of their date and eventually runs out of the restaurant, leaving her there alone.

Steven tells her the truth and apologizes for the way he acted. Cara accepts his apology, but explains that she thinks he needs more time before he dates again. He goes to Liz because eventually everyone goes to Liz and tells her that he really likes Cara, but is lost. Liz goes to Betsy, explains how he feels and somehow makes it all better. Apparently Betsy thinks that it is perfectly fine for her to be too drunk/high to even see her sister before she died and to be completely moving on with her life, but god forbid Steven even dance with another woman.

Cara and Steven both get a letter telling them to go to the clock at the high school. Teddy Collins rides by and presents each one with a small package. Cara has one with a sketch of Steven and he gets a sketch of her. He realizes that only Betsy could draw like that and Cara points to a note hanging out. The note tells Steven that Betsy was wrong and he should move on with his life. They kiss and everything is fine.

Two different B-plots happen in this book. In one, Liz sees a good looking guy at the mall that looks just like Todd, who just went back to Vermont. She follows him all over the place, until she finds herself face to face with him before a big volleyball match against Big Mesa. She, Jess and some other people play against his team, but she plays badly because she can’t stop staring at him. Jess helps her snap out of it and they win the meet.

He comes up to her later and kind of asks (demands actually) that she meet him at the big dance after the match. She goes all ga-ga for him, until she realizes that he’s kind of a jerk. She decides that just because he looks like Todd, he doesn’t have to be like Todd. She ditches him for Winston and then Jessica does the same thing, making him look like a dipstick.

The other B-plot surrounds Jessica, who hears that Winston has a famous director uncle coming into town. She makes Winston her new best friend, pretends like she’s interested in him, volunteers as his partner for an English assignment and constantly invites herself over to his house. She finally meets his uncle and acts like typical Jess, only to discover that the director uncle couldn’t make it and she’s been schmoozing a city planner.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ghosts of Fear Street #4: Nightmare in 3-D

Wes is getting frustrated because, much like me, he can’t see the image inside 3-D posters. This annoying set of twins live down the street and he nicknames them Gabby and Corny. They bring a new poster to school and brag about how well they see the image. When they get a new poster, Wes finally snaps. The first person that identifies the image inside wins a prize.

He drags his best friend Lauren to the five and dime store and buys a poster. The store owner Sal tells him that sometimes you see things you don’t want to see and warns him about the poster. Then he grabs his arm, says he has the gift of sight and tells him that some things should stay in the 2-D world.

Wes takes the poster home, shows it off to his family and no one sees anything in it. Later that night he gets up close to the poster and notices a praying mantis inside. The bug comes to life and eats a moth flying by. He also sees the toy soldiers on his wallpaper move and decides something is weird about it. The next day, the twins’ dog gets loose in their house and has a big chunk of fur missing when they find him. The twins accuse their cat, but Wes notices a chunk of fur on the poster.

He decides to tell his parents, but they naturally don’t believe him. He does tell Lauren and she doesn’t believe him either, until the bug comes out of the poster and attacks her. Wes is the only one that can see the bug and he has to save everyone. The bug attacks his teacher and he distracts it by throwing books at its head.

The bug follows him into the classroom and goes after the class pets. Wes and Lauren make a big deal about freeing the animals and release all of them. The bug gets bored and wanders down the hallway to the cafeteria. They follow and he manages to save Corny from the bug. He discovers that if he concentrates closely on the bug, it will dissolve back into the poster.

They decide to cut the poster up into a bunch of little pieces. That becomes a bad idea when each piece releases a tiny praying mantis. Wes flicks on the light because all bugs are attracted to light and the bugs flock to it. He concentrates as hard as possible, but it just forms one large bug.

Wes accidentally steps on his glasses, but luckily his sister walks in and he steals hers. Their parents are outside burning trash, so he forces the bug back into the poster, runs outside and throws the poster on the fire.

A few weeks pass and he gets his reward in the mail for identifying the image in the poster. Lauren is uncertain and asks what the image is, or if he can still see it. Wes stares at it and a giant tarantula comes shooting out. He thinks about destroying the poster, but then decides the better option is to call over the twins for a visit…

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sweet Valley Twins #12: Keeping Secrets

Ned has a big secret and he is finally ready to share it with the twins. No he isn’t a pedophile, nor is he running for mayor. Nope, he just has a secret language called Ithing that he wants to teach the twins. It’s really lame and a total rip-off from Pig Latin. You just add “ithing” before and after constantans or some shit like that. Liz picks up on it right away and absolutely loves it. Jessica couldn’t give a shit because she thought he was taking them to Europe.

Ned explains that he and his former best friend used the secret language as kids and it means a lot to him. Please note that he only tells the twins and NOT Steven. Caroline Pierce shows up and Jessica suddenly wants to learn the language so she can drive her crazy. She learns it pretty fast too.

Before long (as in the next day), the twins are speaking to each other in their secret language. Amy overhears and Liz apologizes, but says she can’t tell her the secret because she promised her dad. Jessica even refuses to tell Lila the secret, which really pisses her off. Lila decides to invite a bunch of people to a charity party her dad is holding, complete with some fancy tennis player. She tells Jess that she can only come if she tells her the secret.

For a few chapters, everyone in school acts weird around them. Amy gets chummy with Lila and ignores Liz. Jessica finally breaks down and tells Lila, but only if she never tells anyone. Lila of course sends out invitations written in the secret language. Liz is pissed and refuses to go to the party. Jess does and Lila spills the beans, telling everyone how to talk in the secret language.

The next day at school, everyone starts using the secret language. Amy is pissed that Liz never told her and when Liz tries to tell her, she shoots her down because she already knows the secret. The class gets a substitute teacher and everyone talks in the language to make her look stupid. She has a supervisor coming into town that wants to watch her in action and see if she is fit for a full-time teaching position. The kids all decide that they will use the language and make her look bad again.

Elizabeth worries constantly because she doesn’t want to break her dad’s trust, but she feels bad for the teacher too. She finally goes to the teacher, only to learn that the teacher already knows the secret language and picked it up from everyone else. Lila and the other kids use it around her in front of her supervisor and she shocks them all by speaking it right back to them.

After class, the supervisor approaches a group of kids and asks about the teacher. Lila rants about how she’s a horrible teacher with bad taste in music. He shoots her down, explaining that Lila’s personal taste has no bearing on how a teacher acts and maybe she should act with more maturity. Burn.

Ned comes home, babbles away in the secret language and the twins answer him in English. He acts kind of hurt or surprised and they confess that they don’t want to use it anymore. Ah, so that’s why we never hear of it ever again!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Goosebumps #28: The Cuckoo Clock of Doom

Michael hates his little sister Tara and I kind of hate her too! She trips him, humiliates him and is constantly getting him in trouble with their parents. When his birthday arrives, she jumps on his brand new bike before him, knocks it over and leaves a huge scratch on it. Even worse, his parents snap at him for yelling at her.

At his birthday party, Tara keeps hanging around and the girls think she’s cute. Michael is in a school play with some of the girls and they want to see him in costume. When he goes upstairs and changes clothes, she lets them all into his room and they see him in his underwear. Once again, his parents blame him and say he’s overreacting.

Then Michael’s dad brings home a new/old cuckoo clock from a local antique store. He wanted to buy it a long time ago, but it was always too much. The owner found a flaw on it and reduced the price. They all look for the flaw, but find nothing. That night, he sneaks downstairs and sees the clock chiming. He touches the bird and time goes backward.

When he wakes up, it’s the day of his birthday and he has to relive all the embarrassing moments. The next time he wakes up, it’s the day before his birthday. He tries to make his parents listen to him, but they think he’s playing a prank. Then he wakes up and he’s eight again. He tries sneaking into the antique store, but his dad catches him.

The next thing he knows, he’s five again and then a baby. His parents take him to the antique store, where he tries to get to the clock. They keep dragging him off to look at tables. He escapes and toddles to the clock, even as the owner shouts to keep him away from it. He touches the bird and within a few seconds it’s back to the day of his birthday.

Tara doesn’t get to the bike and when he asks about her, his parents don’t know what he’s talking about. He runs up to her room and sees that it’s now a guest room. He checks the clock over and notices the dial that tells the year. Then he notices that the year 1988 is missing, the same year Tara was born. He points it out to his dad and realizes that they don’t even remember her ever existing. The book ends with him deciding that at some point, he might try to find a way back in time to save her.

*I’m sorry, but I’ve done a lot of flea market selling in my days and know a lot about selling. There is no way this guy would have kept a clock in his shop for over 10 years without it selling.

*At one point, Tara and his parents start talking backward to freak him out. It’s kind of funny, but there’s no way I could ever start talking backwards, like “yeh leahcim”.

*Michael thinks that at one point she must have been a nice kid and when she’s a baby, she asks for a kiss. He kisses her and she stabs him in the eye and his mom yells at him. I’d be a little worried about my psychopath daughter.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sweet Valley High #70: Ms. Quarterback

The word is out at Sweet Valley High: Scott Trost failed one of his classes and is no longer eligible to play. Everyone attacks Terri, wanting to know if Ken plans on trying out. Remember how he was blind just a few books ago? Yeah, well he’s totally better now, so don’t worry. Terri knows that he isn’t necessarily perfect again, so she’s naturally worried when he signs up for the tryouts.

Claire Middleton is the new girl in school and she signs up for the tryouts too. Jessica thinks she’s pretty enough to join the sorority, but when she talks to her, Claire goes off on the cheerleaders. She doesn’t get why athletic girls (or any girl) would waste time on cheering. To make matters worse, Jessica’s new crush Danny seems interested in her too.

The whole school starts rallying behind Claire and even the newspaper does a story on her. She’s really good and even beats Ken at a few challenges. Jessica spreads a story about what she said and guys gang up on Claire. They take stuff from her, put toothpaste in her shoes and mess up her locker. Terri stops to talk to her and sees a signed picture from a cute guy named Ted in her locker.

Terri is feeling really bad about her relationship with Ken because he doesn’t talk to her and never has time for her. She tries talking to him multiple times and he kind of blows her off. She runs into the cheerleaders and vents about Claire, revealing the story of the picture. The girls decide to get back at her by coming up with a cheer about him.

Steven comes back because frankly he never spends time at school. He tells Liz about Ted Middleton, a hotshot football player from SVU that died earlier that year. Wait a second! According to the later books and the SVU series, Tom Watts is the star quarterback at the time! Anyway, Liz realizes that Ted must be Claire’s brother, but tells no one.

At the big scrimmage, the girls do their special cheer and Claire quits, walking off the field. Liz tells the girls about Claire’s brother and they all feel terrible. Terri feels worse because she told them about him. She goes to Claire, tells her the story and apologizes. The coach agrees to give her the second string spot on the team and make Ken the top quarterback.

Ken admits that he knew Terri was worried, but didn’t know what to say or do. She tells him that she was worried he wouldn’t want to date her when he got his eyesight back. He pretty much agrees with her and then she takes him back! At the first game, his eyesight goes out and Claire takes the field. The squad does a new cheer for her, she wins the game and everyone is happy.