Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sweet Valley High #23: Say Goodbye

Todd Wilkins is leaving Sweet Valley! Oh noes! Actually, when you consider that he is supposedly one of the most popular guys at SVH, no one really seems to give a shit except for Liz. She cries quite a bit and mopes over his leaving. She tells both Steven and Enid that they decided to stay a couple and not see other people. Both try to convince her that it doesn’t make sense.

Enid throws Todd a going away party and they sneak off for a few minutes together. Todd tells her that his dad sat him down for a talk over their relationship and it isn’t fair of him to keep a hold on her. She tells him that she can’t picture dating anyone else and cries again. He gives her a gold locket, she promises to never take it off and they decide to stay together. Given that she can’t even stay faithful when he’s 10 minutes away, I don’t see this ending well.

Jessica takes it upon herself to find another guy for her twin and Nicholas Morrow is just perfect. She goes to Mr. Collins and asks him to assign Liz a story to take her mind off Todd. He has her cover the boat race, so Jess calls Nicholas and convinces him to invite Liz to the race as his guest. Liz isn’t too sure, but he claims that he just wants to be her friend.

Liz runs into Bruce at the race and they exchange a few comments over how love letters can make you feel better when the person you love is so far away. Nicholas acts uncomfortable, changes the subject and drags her off. When he wins the race, he invites the twins to a celebration party on his dad’s yacht. Later he asks Liz to go out with him later in the week.

Jessica decides that Nicholas is the perfect replacement for Todd. They start spending a lot of time together, but Liz keeps writing long letters to Todd every day. When he calls, Jessica fake cries to him. She tells him that all Liz does is sit around the house, moping and writing letters. He feels so bad that he backs off and stops writing and calling.

After a few dates with Nicholas, Liz starts feeling bad about leading him on. At the same time, she keeps calling Todd and he never calls her back. She gives up, starts flirting with Nicholas and asks him on a real date. They go on multiple dates and even kiss a few times, but she claims that her heart still belongs to Todd and never takes off his necklace.

Jessica ran up a huge bill on a new outfit and the Wakefields insist she get a job and pay them back. She starts working at a dating agency and decides that since she did such a good job with her twin, she should fix up her brother too. She picks out three women and give them Steven’s number, but tells them not to mention the agency.

The first woman is 43, divorced and super rich. She keeps calling Steven, which freaks him out. The second woman never calls, but the third woman shows up at their house. She wears all leather, smokes and has weird piercings. She tells him about the agency, he flips out and screams at Jessica for messing in his dating life.

The next day, he sees a car on the side of the road with a flat tire and Cara Walker behind the wheel. He helps her change her flat tire and suggests they grab a cup of coffee. She tells him all about her dad and brother moving to Chicago and her parents’ divorce. Steven realizes that she’s changed and grown up a lot. He asks her to come to Lila’s party that night because he would really like to see her.

Todd randomly shows up in town to help his parents pack up the house. Winston convinces him to go to Lila’s party and when Jess sees him, she tries to hustle him out before he sees Liz. He sees Liz dancing and looking “in luv” with Nicholas, so he runs off. Liz sees him and chases after him.

Nicholas drives Liz home and she breaks it off with him, telling him that she isn’t ready for a relationship with anyone else. She drives all over town and finally finds Todd sitting in his old backyard. They have a long talk and decide to break up as long as they live so far apart. She’ll keep the necklace because it represents their love, but they won’t be tied to each other anymore.

Steven comes home, acts perfectly nice and goes to bed. Lila calls with big news. Betsy Martin saw Cara and Steven getting way too close and confronted them on the dance floor. She told Steven that it was too soon after Tricia and he ran off crying. Liz gets over Todd really fast by devoting herself to making her brother feel better. Oh and Jessica picked a date from the agency for herself, but he turned out to be a future undertaker and just plain creepy.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Babysitters Club #27: Jessi and the Superbrat

Becca Ramsey is obsessed with the television show P.S. 162 and one of the guys on the show, Lamont. During one episode, she casually mentions that the guy playing Waldo lives in Stoneybrook. Jessi talks to Mallory, who reveals that Derek Masters lives in town when not filming his show and was in Nicky’s class.

At the next BSC meeting, Jessi wants to talk about him, but Mrs. Masters calls first. The show is on hiatus and she needs a sitter for Derek and his little brother Todd. Jessi is the only one free, so she gets the job. On her first sitting job, she is shocked that he (a) doesn’t wear glasses like Waldo and (b) is really bad at science, while Waldo is a genius. She is also surprised that he likes playing with his little brother.

At her next ballet class, Jessi learns that the Stoneybrook Civic Center is doing a production of Swan Lake and her teacher thinks she is talented enough to audition. Jessi moans about the audition constantly and how she’s not that great, but of course flies through the first two auditions. Derek even comes to one and gives her a list of tips he picked up from other girls there.

Derek starts telling Jessi about a boy that picks on him in school. Everyone picks on him, but John is the worst. The kid threw his lunch out a window, tied his shoelaces together and threw food at him. Jessi hates the kid so much that she calls him superbrat. She also tells all the other girls about the kid and they vow to watch out for him.

Claudia sits at the house and takes the boys to the playground. Derek brings up John again and winces when he sees a group of guys from his class. Claudia takes the initiative and asks the boys over to the house. Once they see that Derek has a normal house and is a normal guy, they all get along. She is a little upset when she learns that John wasn’t there.

A few weeks later, Derek announces that they are moving back to California because he got a role in a TV movie. He makes Jessi promise that she’ll come for a visit and then convinces her that she should become an actress or model. She talks to her parents and they agree to let her meet with agents in Stamford.

Jessi convinces herself that acting and modeling is a better choice because she will never get a role in the ballet. She writes down a bunch of numbers, but then has her last audition. When she finds out that she got a role, she drops the idea of modeling.

Jessi decides that they should throw Derek a goodbye party. They decide on a breakfast party at Kristy’s because it’s the only time they can all make it. They serve cereal, doughnuts and juice and everyone has a great time. Karen and Becca both freak him out because they still act like he’s a huge star.

Jessi tells him about her new role and how it means she won’t be moving to California. Then she realizes that John wasn’t at the party and asks Derek about it. It turns out that he was the one being the horrible kid and he wanted to tell someone about it, but he didn’t want to admit what he did, so he just lied. Instead of being pissed, she thinks it’s funny and they laugh about it in the end.

*Obviously Derek auditioned for the movie before leaving California. So why didn’t they just stay in town until they knew for sure? He can’t possibly make enough money to justify multiple moving trips back and forth the country. Then again, maybe he does since they apparently just lock the door to their house and leave everything there…

*I really hate how Stoneybrook is such a small town in some books and a huge deal in others. In this one, the Civic Center ballets are so important that dancers come from New York and other big cities just to audition.

*And yes, with all that talent coming from around the world, I’m sure they would feel the need to give an 11 year old girl a role.

*Kristy makes the members wear bathrobes to the party, just so the other kids can identify the leaders. And she wants them to wear curlers, but Claudia talks her out of it.

*Kristy having the party is weird because she never even meets Derek until then. Plus there are constantly references to her living “so far” away from everyone else, so they made parents shlep their kids out to her house in the middle of nowhere.

*Actually it’s odd that all of the girls volunteer to help with the party, since only Claudia, Jessi and Mal ever meet him.

*Kristy tells Karen about Derek, knowing how she is and is then stunned that Karen goes overboard with wanting to meet him and become a huge star.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Point Horror: The Phantom (Barbara Steiner)

Forgive me if this one is lacking some details. It started out kind of interesting, but then got super boring and I started speed reading and skimming.

Amelia “Mel” is a cheerleader and worried about her co-cheerleader and best friend Jillian. Jillian was dating the football quarterback, but he was seriously injured in a game. He went into a coma and died almost a year ago. Her boyfriend Garth was supposed to guard him during the game and he kind of blames himself for what happened.

At the first pep rally, Jillian begs off, saying she can’t handle seeing everyone get so worked up. After the cheerleaders finish cheering, the lights go out and smoke blows across the room. Suddenly Reggie, the dead quarterback walks into the room, wearing his famous uniform. He waves to the crowd and then quickly disappears.

Everyone thinks Coach Pal was behind it, but he thinks it was just a disgusting prank. He uses it to get the crowd fired up for the next game. Amelia sneaks backstage and sees a smoke machine and the box the “phantom” stood on, proof it was a living person. She also sees the coach and drama teacher talking about who could possibly do something like that.

Cut to a few hours before the game and Jillian is hanging out with this guy Shelby. He’s a goofy, short drama club kid that she wouldn’t even look at the year before. Amelia watches how they keep holding hands and he keeps touching her, making her realize that they’ve been together for awhile. The team wins the game and she organizes a group outing to a nearby island.

Jillian and Shelby arrive together, as do a bunch of other kids. Reggie’s brother Tucker also shows up and acts kind of weird. Suddenly, Reggie rises from the water wearing his jersey again. He quickly disappears and then Buddy, the new quarterback is pushed into the fire. He burns his hands badly and is told that he’ll never play football again.

Garth is made the new quarterback for the team and the phantom turns on him. He takes his grill to a party at the coach’s house and it explodes. Someone doused it with gasoline, but luckily everyone walks away from the incident. Then another player puts on his pads and is stuck with benzene soaked needles and winds up in the hospital. Plus Amelia gets weird phone calls from someone claiming to be Reggie and then Shelby calls and warns her to stay away from Jillian and let her lead her own life.

After Garth’s next game, he and Amelia drive home together. Reggie steps in front of the car, they swerve and crash, but survive. They agree not to tell anyone what happened and blame it on a deer. Jillian shows up with a bunch of people, shocked over what happened. A few days later, Garth gets a note signed with Tucker’s initials asking him to meet him on his boat. Garth refuses to go, so Amelia does and it almost killed when the boat explodes. Luckily Tucker saves her at the last minute.

It all boils down to Amelia and Garth getting stuck in the high school. She sees Reggie step out of the shadows, carrying a gun. Realizing that it’s Shelby’s gun, she asks him to drop it. He does, but then runs off and climbs the girders. Garth goes around the back and climbs onto the catwalk. The face mask falls off and Amelia realizes that it’s Jillian. She tries talking her down, but her hand slips and she hits the floor.

Shelby runs in and confesses that he knew all along what she was doing. He thought it was a healthy prank (?) at first that would help her get over Reggie’s death. WTF? Anyway, he begged her to stop and she promised she would, but obviously kept it going. Jillian starts talking about Reggie and how she can see him. He came to her and asked her to help him get even with everyone who helped in his death because they didn’t deserve to be happy.

Jillian also tells Shelby that she knew he loved her, but she never had any feelings for him because her heart always belonged to Reggie. Ouch. Garth runs to call the cops and Amelia sits by her friend’s side, promising she’ll be okay. The ambulance arrives, they head off and then Amelia decides to go with her. Oops too late! Apparently in the five seconds where she was having a conversation to the time they put her in, she died.

BTW, this makes no sense at all! Supposedly Jillian was dressed like Reggie the night they had the accident, BUT she wasn’t even there! They had the accident and she rode up with another group and was there with that group. Not even a psycho can be in two places at once…

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nightmare Hall #7: Pretty Please

Joanna is one of the Beautiful People on the Salem University campus. She and some friends were picked by a local photographer to star in an ad campaign for a clothing store and everyone now calls the group by that nickname. Joanna, Nan, Kelly, Reed and Carl go to a party thrown by a rich girl and Jo meets a cute guy named Evan. He likes that she doesn’t have to be the center of attention and is fine just hanging out away from the crowd.

The crowd gathers together for a group photo and Joanna is somehow pushed through a plate glass window. When she wakes up, she’s in the campus infirmary with bandages covering every inch of her head. The doctor promises that she will just have a few minor scars around her eye and chin, but she still feels self-conscious.

Nan and Kelly pick her up from the hospital and take her home. The guys, including Evan stop by the dorm and when they walk in her room, she discovers that someone covered all of the mirrors with thick, black cloth. Evan discovers that the cloth is glued in place and he has to literally scrape it off the mirrors. They all can’t figure out why someone would be so mean to her.

A big costume party is coming up and the girls convince Jo to go shopping for a costume. She finds the perfect Catwoman costume that will cover her bandages. When she gets home, she discovered that someone dropped a tube of high-coverage concealor in her bag. Conveniently, she spotted Even wandering mysteriously into a makeup store that same day.

Then someone sends her a big black hat, with a veil attached to the front and a note, warning her not to go out with her ugly face. Jo is pretty upset, but it doesn’t stop her from going on a skiing trip with a bunch of kids. One girl Tina forgets sunscreen and ends up hideously burnt with blisters all over her face.

Cut to the big costume party. Cat Donovan, who appears in multiple books as a resident of Nightmare Hall, asks Jo to get some extra soda from the basement. While downstairs, she sees Tina at the top of the stairs. Tina falls down the stairs and smacks into Jo. Later Tina admits that someone pushed her down the stairs, thinking she was Jo.

Jo decides to take a walk on campus and someone grabs her from behind. The person warns her about going outside without covering up her scarred face. He shoves a garbage bag over her head, ties it in place and runs off. Jo manages to get the bag off her head and wanders home in a daze. This is all intercut with stories from another perspective, about how ugly Joanna really is and how she should sit at home by herself.

Joanna winds up in the hospital to get her face taking care of and she’s attacked again. This time the person almost kills her, before a nurse shows up. There’s also a lot of talk going around about another student that had horrible scars from a car accident. She mysteriously disappeared a few weeks ago. Plus Joanna is doubting Evan because he seems too good to be true.

This all leads up to the person attacking her and dragging her outside to Evan’s car. Joanna tries fighting back, but the person covers her face and forces her in the car. He drives her to a construction site and demands that she write her name in wet cement before he tosses her in a hole that appears out of nowhere. The voice confesses to killing the other woman because she was too hideous for words.

The voice tells Joanna about his own background. Born to perfect parents, the kid had a hideous scar on one side of his face. His parents kept him inside the house for 12 years, until they found a surgeon that could remove the birthmark. He finally got the chance to get away for college and went crazy. He tried making things as perfect as possible and killing people that didn’t look perfect.

Joanna grabs a huge stick and hits the person. Their hat falls off and it’s Nan! Yeah, I’d be a lot more excited if I even remembered she was in this book. She reveals that her parents had her “fixed”, but she still carries emotional scars. Joanna hits her again, knocks her down and runs for the car. Nan throws herself behind the car and Jo accidentally runs her over. The police arrive and Evan shows up. He apologizes for not protecting her and understands why she doubted him. She just hopes that Nan gets the help she needs.

Like I said, I barely remembered that Nan existed in this book. I don’t think she appeared in the last 100 pages of the book. It was all kind of eh for me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Goosebumps #7: Night of the Living Dummy

Lindy and Kris are sisters that don’t get along and are super competitive with each other. One day they’re investigating a construction site and see clothing. Kris freaks out, thinking that it’s a kid, but when Lindy gets close, she sees that it’s a dummy. She immediately names it Slappy, makes it hit her sister and thinks it’s hysterical.

Lindy gets pretty good at using the dummy and others start noticing. When she gets a gig at a birthday party and Kris realizes she’ll make money, she decides that she wants one too. Their parents tell them to share the dummy first and they’ll see if they both are still interested in a few weeks. They finally break down (after like a week) and buy Kris one from a pawn shop.

While Lindy’s wears a little suit and shiny shoes, hers wears a flannel shirt, jeans and sneakers. She decides that hers is much cooler. Weird things start happening though, like they find Mr. Wood (Kris’s dummy) sitting on top of Slappy. Mr. Wood keeps moving around the room, saying weird things and acting odd. Kris tells her parents, but they don’t believe her. Then she finds him sitting in the kitchen floor, surrounding by the contents of the fridge and wearing all of her jewelry. Their parents decide that they both have to give up the dummies, but Lindy promises to clean it up, replace the food and promises that nothing like that will ever happen again.

Lindy finally confesses that she did it all, just to freak her sister out. Kris is pissed, but they move past it. Then she finds a note in his pocket, with strange writing on it. She reads the words out loud and swears that she saw his eye blink. Their parents have guests over and Kris tries to entertain them with her dummy, but he keeps talking and insulting them, which gets her in trouble.

Kris is pegged to use her dummy as an opening act for the big school show. Mr. Wood goes off on his own, insulting the principal and spewing green slime all over the stage. She’s suspended from school and her parents promise to take the dummy back to the pawn shop after the weekend is over. Kris sees him wandering out of the room one night and gives chase.

Mr. Wood calls her a slave and fights with her. She screams for her parents and tackles him. Of course when they get there, he’s not moving. They get upset and yell at her again. Lindy saw him move and decides that they need to get rid of him. They stick him in a suitcase and bury him in the yard, but the next day he’s sitting in the kitchen covered in dirt.

When Mr. Wood attacks and nearly kills their dog, they decide to just outright kill him. They drag him to the construction site and he fights back. He runs in front of a bulldozer and it runs him down. The driver freaks out because he saw the dummy running and thinks he hit a kid. He picks up the dummy, which disintegrates and they walk off smiling. Only when they get home, Mr. Slappy is waiting. He’s glad they got rid of the other guy, so he could make them his slaves.

*What kind of parents are these??? They tell the kids to stop being so competitive, but then foster it, by getting Kris her own dummy. They make her wait a whole week before getting her one.

*Lindy had the dummy less than a weekend before she was getting paying gigs. I’m sure some people in the entertainment industry would like to call bullshit.

*By the way, she goes from birthday party act to appearing on a television show in like two weeks. That’s damn good considering that when she started, she couldn’t stop moving her lips.

*I can’t see any young girl getting into dummies. I still find them super creepy today.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sweet Valley High #69: Friend Against Friend

Andy is getting picked on constantly by Charlie Cashman and his buddies, all because he’s black. If you’ve never heard of the character before, don’t worry because I barely remember him too. He wins a contest and gets the chance to study marine biology at the big center in town, which pisses the group off even more. They claim that he only got it because he’s black.

His best friend Neil notices the problem, including the guys throwing trash in his locker and writing “go back to Africa” on it, but he does nothing. He says it’d because Andy doesn’t want him too, but it kind of seems like he doesn’t want to. It doesn’t help that his dad is kind of racist too. He has to sit and listen to his dad and Mr. Cashman complain about a black supervisor at work.

The guys quickly escalate from slashing his tires to worse things. Neil and his girlfriend Penny walk outside and see the gang dragging Andy out of his car. He runs to help, while she calls the cops. Unfortunately Neil is feeling kind of crappy because Andy’s been blowing him off lately and generally being a shitty friend. He lets Charlie goad him into hitting Andy while he’s on the ground. Neil feels terrible and the other guys run off laughing.

Everyone at school acts like Neil is a big hero, which makes him feel horrible. He tries telling Andy the truth several times, but chickens out. Then his dad announces that he knows what he did because Charlie told his dad, who told him. Neil runs off and feels even worse. Andy gets an award in front of the whole school and Neil finally fesses up. At first Andy hates him, but they get back to being friends. It takes a little longer for him to win over Penny, but she finally agrees to forgive him.

*The B-plot involves Liz doing an article/survey about what kids would change about the school. She thinks all the answers will be about the food in the cafeteria, but she’s “shocked” at the real answers. Kids don’t like the elitist nature of the sororities, the way kids are treated and the lack of support, even from the newspaper, for girls’ sports.

*Mr. Collins does a class project to teach the kids the importance of discrimination. He divides the class based on eye color and people with light colored eyes are treated like crap. After 30 minutes of this, Jessica suddenly realizes how horrible it is and vows never to treat people badly for arbitrary reasons. Uh-huh.

*Charlie is such a “badass” that he takes Neil for a drive around town. He mainly stops in front of houses, honks the horn and then drives off before they come outside. What a tough guy.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Point Horror: Nightmare Hall #1: The Silent Scream

This is the book that started it all. Jess has just moved into the off campus dorm Nightmare Hall. She meets her new roommates Linda, Milo, Jon, Cathy and Ian, as well as the handyman Tucker. On the first night, their house mother falls down the stairs and breaks her hip, leaving the kids all alone. Ian makes the mistake of telling them the story of Gabrielle, who lived in the dorm before. She was a well liked girl, but one day came home and hung herself in her room, the same room Jess now lives in.

Of course weird things start happening. When Ian says it was a suicide, a window slams shut. When Linda calls it a suicide, the mirror in her room explodes. Jess keeps noticing cold spots in her room that no one can explain. Then she comes home and finds muddy footprints leading into her room and then disappearing.

Weird things happen to other people too. Cathy spends weeks working on a paper, only to have it disappear. She blames Milo and rips apart his room, but finds nothing. Someone sneaks into Linda’s room and rips her official swim team suit into pieces. Jess feels bad, but is distracted by her newfound crush on Ian.

Then Gabrielle’s brother shows up at the house, to pick up her old stuff. He notices Milo and reveals that he knew her in school and was a good friend. Tucker leaves Milo downstairs with her stuff for awhile. Jess wonders why he didn’t mention knowing her and Milo claims it was because they stopped being friends.

Gabrielle keeps reaching out to Jess. She appears in photos taken of her and Ian at the pizza place. Then Jess finds an old photo of her in her room and ends up buying her old books from the bookstore. She also finds a threatening letter to her, sent from someone claiming that he loved her. She wants to talk to everyone about it, but they keep blowing her off.

It all comes to a head when Jess finds herself stuck there by herself. She ends up locked in the basement by herself and someone turns on the gas. Luckily her housemates come home early and save her life. She manages to stab the person in the arm and sees a small piece of fabric hanging in the basement. Milo comes home with a tear in his jacket, matching the fabric. He gets pissed off when they blame him, saying he just found his jacket and storms off. They tear apart his room and find a typewriter matching the letter, more letters to Gabrielle and Cathy’s paper.

The whole group decides to move on with their lives and pretend it never happened. They go to a big dance and Jess and Ian spend some time together alone. He goes inside to grab her jacket and a girl stops by with Milo’s jacket. She tells her that he was with her in the library, when someone dropped off his ripped jacket. He gave her his other jacket. Jess freaks out because it means he was telling the truth.

She hears a voice in the woods behind the house and follows it to find Tucker standing there. He tells her that Milo was there and left a photo of Gabrielle behind. She believes him, until she sees a gash on his arm. Tucker grabs her, but she fights him off. He reveals that he dated her for awhile after her mom died, but then she left him to go to college. She was supposed to marry him after a year, but she started avoiding his calls and ignoring him.

Tucker fights her and suddenly the photo flies out of the stream and onto his face. It molds to his face, cutting off his nose and mouth. The others rush out to save her and the photo slowly peels off and floats away. They walk back to the house and it seems to sigh. Jess smiles, thinking that Gabrielle finally got the peace she wanted because now everyone will know she didn’t kill herself.