Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sweet Valley Twins #1: Best Friends

Ah, the book that started the Sweet Valley Twins franchise. Jessica and Elizabeth are starting sixth grade and realizing that they are two really different people. Elizabeth wants to start a school newspaper and is shocked that Jess wants nothing to do with it. Jessica wants to join the Unicorn Club and doesn’t give a damn if Liz wants in the club or not.

Janet Howell decides that Jess must complete three tasks before joining. Apparently the club is really selective about bringing in sixth graders, but they are interested in her and one other girl. She is a little surprised that they don’t want Liz, but gets over it pretty fast. Her first task involves hiding Mrs. Arnett’s lesson plan book and putting it in her bag. Then she has to stand outside the girl’s room and convince three girls to use the boy’s room.

The last task is to come to school looking completely different from Liz. She waits until Liz gets dressed, wears a different outfit, curls her hair and puts on makeup. Liz can’t believe how different she looks and runs to change her looks too, but they’re late for school. Janet is stunned and invites Jess into the club.

Liz kind of loses it because she thinks that she is losing her twin. She cries constantly, but then decides to change her hair in a way that Jess doesn’t like and everyone fawns all over her. She invites Amy and Julie Bowen to help her with the paper and suddenly has a new group. Liz tells Jess all about how bad she feels and Jessica decides that she will get Liz an invite into the club.

At the next meeting Jessica brings up her sister and Janet freaks out. She claims that they can kick people out, but no one can leave the club. Jessica threatens to quit if Elizabeth can’t join. Janet decides to give her one task and if she passes, she’s in the club. Her task is to take Lois Waller out to the Dairi Burger and switch her whipped cream with shaving cream on her sundae.

Elizabeth thinks it’s a mean joke and refuses to do it. Jessica decides to call Lois herself and pretend that she’s Liz. Lois meets her, she pulls the joke and Lois runs home in tears. Jess tells her sister that the club decided the joke was wrong and wants her in anyway. Liz goes to one meeting and is completely bored because all they do is talk about movies and boys.

Elizabeth eventually learns what Jessica did and quits the club. She calls Lois and they come up with their own scheme. Lois switches Lila’s whipped cream with shaving cream and they all have a big laugh. They keep fighting so much that Alice decides that it’s finally time that each girl have her own room, so everyone is happy.

Oh and Jessica is suddenly fascinated with ballet dancing because of a lesson in gym class. Ned signs the girls up for dance lessons through Madame Andre’s dance school. Jessica comes to the first class in a purple leotard, purple legwarmers and bright tights, with streamers in her hair and a bunch of makeup. Madame Andre calls her out and barely looks at her again, while highlighting everything Liz does.

Ah and we cannot forget poor Steven. The girls hear rumors about a girl named Roberta Manning getting kicked out of the Unicorn Club for dating a high school boy. Jessica learns that it was Steven and he flips out, demanding that they never mention her name again. When Jess makes a comment about the club, Steven cracks up. Roberta wasn’t kicked out, she quit after she went out with Steven and Janet asked him out behind her back. Then Roberta went after a college guy, so Steven doesn’t want to even think about her again. Poor guy.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Baby-Sitters Club #3: The Truth About Stacey

Stacey’s parents want her to see a specialist in New York. She hates the idea, but doesn’t get a choice given that she is basically a kid. They promise that it will only take a few days, but later announce that they actually have to spend five days in New York City. In what is our first Thanksgiving in the series, they skip a trip to NYC because of going back in a few weeks.

Kristy wants the club to keep afternoons free because Mrs. Newton is pregnant and she will need help when the baby comes. Of course everyone in town needs help from the BSC! The big storyline really revolves around a new club that pops up: The Baby-Sitters Agency. Janine rushes in during a meeting and gives them a flyer.

The club promises sitters at least 13 and can sit later at night. They all worry about it a little and Kristy decides to call the club, just to see how things work. The girl on the phone takes the information, calls around and finds a sitter. She gets a cut of everyone’s pay.

Things get worse when the Agency advertises at school and gets new members. Everyone is feeling pretty down and wondering what they should do. Stacey goes over to Kristy’s house and sees Jamie Newton there. His mom went into labor and Mrs. Thomas offered to watch him. He seems down about the baby, so they throw him a big brother party. Jamie breaks down and tells Stacey that his mom won’t use the club anymore.

The four girls go over with gifts for Jamie and his new little sister Lucy. Kristy asks Mrs. Newton point blank about babysitting and she admits that they are too young to sit for a newborn. She wants older kids until Lucy gets older. Kristy comes up with a slew of ideas, including free housework, cutting prices and creating Kid-Kits.

Kristy also decides that they need new recruits/members and makes the girls wear sandwich boards advertising the club. She finds two girls named Janet and Leslie that were former members of the BSA, but dropped out. They come to one meeting, get jobs and then never show up again. Their clients call, pissed off because they never showed up.

They confront the girls at school and find them with Liz Lewis, president of the BSA. It turns out that they tricked the BSC to make Liz look better. Kristy breaks down twice and cries, which freaks Stacey out a little. She sits for Jamie and learns that he doesn’t like his new sitters. One burned a hole in the couch with a cigarette, another talked on the phone all the time and they all ignored him. She sits for Charlotte and discovers that she feels the same way. Her sitter invited over a boyfriend.

The girls walk home from school and see Jamie playing outside by himself close to the road. They talk to him and learn he has a sitter. They send him back inside and warn him to play in his backyard. They go to the Newton house that night, explain what happened and she is shocked. She agrees to call other parents and warn them about using the BSA.

Stacey goes to NYC and gets stuck staying with Laine and her family. She talks to Dr. Johansson, who warns her that the doctor her parents talked to is a quack. They secretly schedule an appointment with another doctor. After one day of tests, Stacey talks to her parents and tells them about the other doctor. They rush for that appointment and he basically tells them that she’s fine, warns them about the other doctor and suggests they give Stacey more freedom.

Both families go out to dinner and Stacey gets pissed because Laine doesn’t bring her a snack, but buys herself one. She storms out, Laine follows and they have a long talk. They go back to being friends and at the end of the book, Laine calls her to hear about everything that happened. The BSA went out of businesses, but Liz now does makeovers. Stacey is excited about her life and wants Laine to visit soon.

*Claudia points out that high school kids could sit until 2 am or possibly overnight and Stacey says they could sit for an entire weekend. Really?? When I was in high school, I still had a freaking curfew!

*Poor Charlotte! She always thought her sitters were her friends, until the little sister of one set her straight. She told her mom, who asked Stacey to sit, not realizing that Charlotte wanted her friend to come over, not a sitter.

*Apparently a small diet soda and popcorn cost 95 cents in Stoneybrook, but $1.75 in New York. I know this book came out in the 80s, but no place around me ever had stuff that cheap! And I live in freaking Ohio!

*Stacey “likes” two guys, Sam Thomas and Pete Black. She never sees Sam anymore, but still mentions that she likes him. Then Pete asks her to a dance and she kind of forgets about Sam.

*I have the older copy and the reissue. In the reissue, Ann says that she wanted a character with diabetes because two of her friends are diabetic. Then she explains that she wanted readers to have a responsible young woman that takes her disease seriously. Um, did she forget about Stacey’s Emergency? Plus this is generally a horrible depiction of the disease…says me, a diabetic. LOL.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Point Horror 13 Tales of Horror: Blood Kiss (D.E. Athkins)

Elizabeth and her friends Delia and Val are obsessed with the new guy Ken. He not only looks great, but he seems interesting too. For some reason a rumor spreads that he might be a real life vampire and they love him even more. He starts dating a cute cheerleader, but a few days later she comes to school with a scarf wrapped around her neck and won’t tell anyone what happened.

Ken makes his way through a few different girls at school all with the same results. Then Delia stakes her claim on him, they date a few times and she comes to school with a turtleneck and refuses to discuss what happened. Val goes after him next, but things are different. She looks better than ever, while Ken constantly looks drained and out of sorts. Finally they break up and both she and Delia downplay the whole thing, saying that the stories are just rumors.

Elizabeth decides to confront him and he asks her out. She wears a low cut dress and throws herself at him. She brings up the vampire rumors while they park and he tells her to make up her own mind. He nips at her neck and she is disappointed that he is just a guy.

Oh, but wait! Suddenly his eyes start glowing and she realizes that he really is a vampire. He explains that teenage girls always want to play with him, but they eventually get sick of it. Val was the exception. She wanted to keep playing and he finally pulled away from her. Of course, why would a vampire want free flowing blood? Elizabeth just leans back, exposes her neck and lets him suck away.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sweet Valley Twins #19: The Bully

Dennis Cookman is a huge bully. He steals money from Lila, beats up on a kid named Jimmy Underwood and generally hates everyone. Elizabeth, Amy, Aaron, Jimmy and Ken meet up to figure out a way to get him to stop. Steven wanders by and tells them flat up to tell a teacher and get some adult help. They disagree, but eventually tell Mr. Bowman. He promises to talk to Dennis and put an end to things. Of course Dennis gets even more pissed off.

The Unicorn Club apparently stopped doing initiation tasks at some point, but now Jessica wants to bring them back. Grace Oliver wants to join the club, so Jessica sets up her tasks. She has to stand up in the middle of class and recite a poem and later borrow homework from six kids. When she completes both tasks, Jessica demands that she get Dennis to sit with her for an entire lunch period.

Every time Grace goes to Dennis, he shoots her down. She finds his baseball mitt and takes it back to him and he finally starts acting nice. Jessica lets her off the hook, telling her she just needs to find six purple sweatshirts and she’s in the club. Before she does, Dennis offers to sit with her at lunch and even share his sandwich.

Our little “heroes” decide to make Dennis look like a laughingstock. Aaron knows a secret entrance and exit to an old cave that everyone swears is haunted. An old rain tunnel runs through the back of it. They stage a mock argument in front of Dennis with Aaron volunteering to spend the night in the cave. Dennis and a bunch of kids show up and see Aaron go inside.

The next day everyone comes back. Aaron sneaks through the tunnel and emerges through the front of the cave. Ken volunteers to do it next and Dennis decides to keep watch all night with Jimmy, making sure he doesn’t sneak out. Ken does the same thing and this time Jimmy volunteers. Dennis claims that if Jimmy lasts the night, then he will too.

When Jimmy walks out, Dennis suddenly claims that he has a sore throat and can’t stay outside all night because he is sick. No one is scared of him anymore because they realize it’s all an act. He talks to Grace and she tells him that the only way people will stop making fun or him or teasing him is if he spends the night in the cave.

Dennis decides to go inside, but then Aaron comes running up. It starts raining and he explains that the rain will go through the tunnel and flood the cave. They try convincing Dennis to come out, but he refuses because he thinks it’s a joke. They go inside and he still won’t leave.

Finally Grace goes inside, points out the rising water and they make a break for the exit. For some reason, which is never explained, Dennis gets stuck. I think they say he’s too tall or something, but he made it inside the cave. They form a human chain and pull him out just minutes before the cave floods. Suddenly everyone likes him and when the book ends, he’s eating lunch with Jimmy. I guess Jimmy got over the black eye and constant death threats pretty fast!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Baby-sitters Club Super Special #6: New York, New York!

Apparently SMS is having a two-week vacation and Claudia discovered some famous art school that’s open to anyone. Take classes when you want, drop out when you want and you can be any age, as long as you pay. Stacey offers to let her stay with her dad when she goes and then Mallory wants to take classes there too. Before long, the whole club is going and staying with either Mr. McGill or Laine.

Claudia takes classes and her teacher is this famous artist she calls Mac. He keeps telling her to slow down or spend more time on her artwork, so she constantly pouts. She even makes comments about how he’s the only teacher who never complimented her art. He does like Mallory’s work, so she gets pissed at her, makes rude comments and ignores her. On the last day of class, Mac tells her that she’s a talented artist and he pushed her to make her better. Of course.

Mallory is a total brown noser who spends the whole book sucking up to Mac, talking to him about his daughter and being the perfect person. Then she whines and can’t figure out why Claudia is so pissed off. When Claudia makes up with her, she asks Mac about her own art and he tells her flat out that she won’t ever draw like Claudia, nice. She decides it doesn’t matter because she just wants to illustrate kids’ books.

Jessi meets this dancer named Quint and they spend a lot of time together. His teacher wants him to audition for Julliard, but he’s afraid because all the guys in his neighborhood pick on him. Jessi convinces him to audition and even goes with him to talk it over with his parents. He gives her a kiss, which is her first kiss and eventually reveals that he did get into the school.

Kristy finds this stray dog and sneaks it into Laine’s apartment. She thinks they can’t have pets and Laine thinks she’s hiding the dog from her parents. Watson tells her she can’t have the dog, but she keeps holding out hope that he’ll change his mind. Mrs. Cummings finds the dog and convinces her to put up flyers around town. Kristy names his Sonny, for Son of Louis because he reminds her of her old dog, and she spends most of her money on him. She finds a great home for him at the end.

Mary Anne and Stacey babysit for these two super rich kids, Rowena and Alistair, who’s parents are foreign diplomats. Mary Anne acts like the know it all she always does. They start noticing that this guy keeps following them and come up with all kinds of crazy theories. Mary Anne thinks he wants to kidnap them and Stacey thinks he hid something in their backpack. It turns out that his name is Bill and he’s actually the kids’ bodyguard.

Dawn flips out because being in the city is so crazy and don’t you know that people are murdered there every day. She meets this guy Ritchie that lives in the building and is stuck inside because he broke his ankle. He gets a walking cast and takes her on a tour of NYC, which includes eating from a street vendor and sampling Godiva chocolate.

*Jessi gets pissed when Laine won’t let her just wander over to Quint’s house and she thinks it’s because she’s 11. Um no, it’s because you’re in the big city now and can’t just disappear.

*Kristy does the exact same thing though! She just goes over to the apartment of the people who want the dog. She does tell Mrs. Cummings the address, but seriously, they just let her go over there on her own.

*Dawn’s behavior in this book seems kind of…out of character? She literally stays inside all day by herself and cleans or organizes Ed’s apartment because she’s too afraid to go outside.

*Laine takes them to Mythology so they can see the laughing mirrors. I love it when there’s a little callback to another book! Plus they get a limo and Mr. Cummings gets them free tickets to a Broadway show.

*Speaking of the show…does anyone really buy that a bunch of early teens and pre-teens would really have fun going to Tavern on the Green and a Broadway show?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sweet Valley High #64: The Ghost of Tricia Martin

Steven met a girl named Andrea that is apparently the 700th doppelganger of Tricia Martin, his long ago dead girlfriend. Liz warns him that just because she looks like Tricia that doesn’t mean she is exactly like her. He agrees, but secretly thinks that Andrea will be exactly like Tricia.

On their first date, he takes her to a restaurant where he went with Tricia, suggests she order the chef’s salad, which was Tricia’s favorite dish and marvels at how alike they are. Andrea interrupts him, saying that he called her Tricia multiple times. He apologizes, breaks down, tells her the whole story and she agrees to keep seeing him.

Liz asks what he plans on doing about Cara (you know, his actually girlfriend). He feels kind of guilty, but then blows his sister off. He does call Cara, but only so he can take his mind off Andrea. During their phone conversation, he thinks about how she acts way too immature for him. Apparently cheating on your long-term girlfriend is mature behavior.

Steven surprises Cara with a secret date, which involves hiking. She wears the wrong shoes because he never told her what they were doing. He treats her like crap during the entire date until she is practically in tears. He finally apologizes, but instead of telling her the truth, he blames it on schoolwork.

He keeps dating Andrea and trying to turn her into Tricia. He takes her to the same places he went with his ex, like the aquarium. He flips out when she wants vanilla ice cream because Tricia always ordered chocolate. He wants her wearing her hair down because Tricia wore her hair down. then he decides to take hang gliding lessons to take his mind off the two girls.

Cara tries talking to Liz, who won’t say anything and betray her brother. Jess and Lila convince her to go shopping and she overhears Andrea making a date with Steven on the phone. Cara calls him that night and he accuses her of eavesdropping on him. They fight and he “accidentally” breaks up with her. At his next lesson, he keeps thinking about the two girls and crashes.

Jessica starts dating a do-gooder named Keith because he looks really cute. He takes her to protests, lectures and other places she hates. Jess finally snaps and makes him take her to a mind numbing commercial movie. She sees Andrea kissing another guy.

The whole family rushes to the hospital to see Steven. Cara comes and gets there just in time to hear him call for Tricia. She runs off and he whispers her name. When Steven wakes up, Jess tells him all about Andrea and the other guy. He pretends that it was a friend, but then sees her kissing him outside. When he confronts her, Andrea tells him that they only went out five times, they were never serious and she found someone that likes her for her and not a dead girl. She even shoots him down when he suggests they stay friends, ouch.

Cara comes back, tells him she appreciated their relationship and tries to leave. He starts to ask her a question and when he won’t finish, she demands he finish. He kind of apologizes, she tells him that she still loves him and they make up because she is a huge wuss. Oh and the book ends with Ned and Alice fighting constantly.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Baby-Sitters Club #1: Kristy’s Great Idea

Ah, the book that started it all…I guess it’s the fact that I’m reading this one after reading some of the others, but I couldn’t help noticing some continuity errors, or at least things that are never mentioned again.

Kristy Thomas comes up with the idea of the BSC after her mom struggles in finding a sitter for her brother David Michael. She tells the idea to Mary Anne and Claudia, who comes up with the idea of a club where parents call and are almost always guaranteed a sitter. They advertise in the newspaper, pass out fliers and meet in Claudia’s room.

The first meeting ends with everyone getting a sitting job. Kristy gets a job sitting for three-year-olds and she assumes that they are twins. When she gets there, she finds that she’s sitting for dogs. Stacey sits at Kristy’s house and meets Sam, who she naturally falls “in luv” with. Claudia sits for Jamie Newton and his cousins. The cousins are kind of wild, but she manages to tame them. Mary Anne sits for Karen and Andrew. She has a few problems with the cats, but it goes pretty well.

Kristy is happy about the club, but pissed off because her mom keeps dating a guy named Watson. He brings over Chinese food and spends time at their house a lot. Kristy wants nothing to do with him and even eats a peanut butter sandwich rather than share his food. Her mom finally announces that they are engaged and she still doesn’t want anything to do with him.

Watson’s ex-wife breaks her ankle and because he can’t find another option, Kristy ends up sitting for his kids. Karen asks her a bunch of questions about her mom and how they might be related someday. Kristy tells her that even though she isn’t ready to be her stepsister, she will be her babysitter for now. She shares a few smiles with Watson and decides that she doesn’t mind him too much. They all get together and celebrate the engagement.

The BSC is slightly concerned over Stacey because she acts weird. She won’t eat junk food and disappears in the middle of a meeting. They decide to have a pizza party and she skips it because she’s going to New York. Mary Anne sees her the next day, but her mom lies and says she stayed in NYC with friends.

Kristy calls her on it at the next meeting and it leads to a huge fight. Claudia sides with Stacey and Mary Anne cries a lot. At the next meeting Stacey confesses that she has diabetes and is surprised that no one really cares. They have their pizza party and decide to have a sleepover once a month. Kristy ends the book by hoping the BSC stays together for a long time…like 13 or 14 years maybe?

*The BSC pays one week’s worth of dues for their newspaper ad. Given that they each pay 50 cents that means the add cost a whopping $2. Were newspaper ads really ever that cheap?

*Fittingly enough, Kristy’s mom is the first client.

*According to this book, the Pike family has a cat named Sarg. Is that ever mentioned in any of the other books? I’m thinking probably not.

*Karen tells Mary Anne that older kids told her about Morbbida Destiny, including her name. I swear that in the other books it’s explained that Karen came up with the name on her own.

*Kristy points out that Watson is kind of a crappy father considering that he is always working or going out on the few weekends that he has his kids. Later she feels bad and recants it, but I have to agree. For someone that only has his kids twice a month, he sure uses a lot of sitters.

*Speaking of Watson as a crappy dad…at one point, he comes over to the house and has dinner. Kristy asks about his kids because it’s his weekend with them and he explains that he got a sitter. Really? You hired a sitter so you could leave your kids and hang out with your girlfriend’s family?

*For some reason I assumed Sam was a freshman, but here he’s a freshman and Stacey is in 7th grade. That means when they “date”, he’s actually a sophomore, which is even creepier. I went to a really, really small school and NO sophomore would date a junior high school student.

*Claudia wears a lacey white shirt, lavender plaid overalls, unlaced red sneakers, a black fedora and puts her hair in four braids. That image gives me a headache.

*Claudia also wears red jazz shoes (WTF?), black pants, a yellow and black checked shirt and a bracelet made from a telephone cord.

*The first time Kristy meets her, Stacey wears a pink sequined sweatshirt with a purple parrot design, zippered jeans and pink plastic shoes.

*The outfit that wins Sam’s heart? a skirt and shirt made from gray sweatshirt material with bright yellow number tens all over it. Stylish.

*Claudia has bubblegum hidden in her underwear drawer, chocolate in encyclopedias, Twinkies in her desk, and Lifesavers in a piggy bank.

*Sam wears ratty jeans and a tee-shirt that says, “I know you are, but what am I?” I think I *heart* Sam Thomas.

*The girls get all excited because they earn a total of $26 something sitting. Man, I wish that amount of money still excited me!

*According to this book, David Michael has a chocolate allergy. I’m almost certain this is never mentioned again because I’ve read books where he ate candy bars, chocolate chip cookies and brownies. In this book, Kristy even mentions cookies in the cookie jar as a snack!