Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Little Update

Today marks something of a milestone for the blog. According to Blogger, YA Revisited hit 100,000 pageviews today! When I started the blog back in 2009, I didn't know if I would ever see any pageviews except for my own. I told my family and friends about it, but I was pretty surprised when other people started reading it. I even had a quote from the blog wind up on another site!

Originally, I wanted to blog about Christopher Pike, Sweet Valley High, Fear Street, and the Point Thriller series, which were the books I read as a teenager. I started including The Baby-Sitters Club just because I found a few at a thrift store, and it reminded me of how much I loved those books. Then, I added Sweet Valley Twins, and eventually, I started blogging about books that I never read like Sweet Valley Kids and Goosebumps.

The most popular posts (or most read posts) are:

Anyone sensing a trend here? LOL.

You can take a trip down memory lane with me by clicking any of the links above to go back to one of the older posts, or you can click here to read my very first recap (Freeze Tag). Thanks to everybody who managed to find their way back after Google blocked the site for unknown reasons, and I hope everybody sticks around because I have a ton of new reviews! I still have stacks of unreviewed books, so I plan on being around for another 100,000 views :)

Sweet Valley High #47: Troublemaker

Ah-ha! Julie didn’t die back in middle school! She comes back here because Elizabeth is still playing the recorder and they practice duets sometimes. When she isn’t sucking up to a Wakefield twin, she worries about her best friend Josh because he’s pledging a fraternity and Bruce is being pretty hard on him. Elizabeth thinks it’s sad because when Todd was in the frat, they never, ever did anything like this.

Josh really doesn’t have to do a lot of bad stuff. He mainly dresses up like a girl and lame stuff like that. Elizabeth and Julie run into him while taking an ice cream break at Casey’s, and he mentions that he has to meet some brothers there. Bruce shows up with a bunch of guys and they order a ton of food. They barely eat half of it before handing it over to Josh and demanding that he finish it. He eats about half of it before turning yellow and running away.

Bruce talks to Julie about it the next day and tells her that he didn’t realize it would be so bad because only one or two guys was supposed to go with him. He also asks if she and Josh are a couple, which makes her blush and stammer. She admits to Liz that she has a crush on him, not that she thinks anything will happen. Bruce asks her to be his date for a party at his house, and she gushes about it to Liz. Liz tells Jessica who says that she heard from Lila that he asked a tall blond senior to be his date.

Josh already asked Julie to come to the party, but he seems upset that she is going with Bruce. Elizabeth is concerned too, and she warns her friend that Bruce changed a lot after Regina died. When Julie asks her for a ride, she gets excited because she thinks she changed her mind. Actually, Bruce just asked her to find a way there because he’s too busy getting ready to pick her up. Nice guy.

Bruce acts like Julie is the most gorgeous woman in the world, but Elizabeth sees him with this ballet dancer named Danielle. He keeps sneaking off to make out with her before running back to Julie’s side. He takes Julie to a darkened make out area and has her sit down while he gets them drinks. She hears him come back and they start kissing, but someone turns on the lights and she realizes she was kissing Josh. She runs off in tears and Liz rushes to take her home.

Josh yells at Bruce because the whole thing was a frat prank. Bruce told him that it would be some complete stranger who would judge each pledge on their kissing technique. Bruce makes a joke about him being a bad kisser and he storms off. He tries to talk to Liz about it, and she realizes that he likes Julie as more than a friend. She talks to Julie but she is still really upset.

Julie walks across campus and sees a guy dressed up like an organ grinder’s monkey. He keeps bouncing around kissing people and just as she thinks that he’s a moron, he leaps on her and kisses her. When she sees that it’s Josh, she yells at him and runs away. Josh sneaks away from his next task to talk to Liz, but Bruce interrupts them and makes him go back to the frat. He tells Josh to buy a bunch of Jell-o and give it to Julie who is still pissed. He buys the Jell-O and dumps it on Bruce’s lap. Everyone laughs and Julie realizes that she likes him so they kiss and makeup.

The B-plot is all about Jessica. DeeDee tells her that they need a dancer for a role in their new drama play You Can’t Take it with You. She starts practicing constantly, and Liz warns her that she should actually read the play. She rehearses too much and strains a muscle, but keeps working at it. While shopping with Lila, she sees Danielle tying out a new leotard and freaks out, but the girl says she has an audition with a major ballet company.

When Jess shows up at the audition, she learns that Danielle is going first. The other girl looks like a professional and she thinks about leaving, but changes her mind when she sees Danielle start screwing up. After going on stage, her muscle spasms and she lands on her butt. The director loves it and asks her to come back the next day. He has her mess up on purpose, and it turns out that her character is actually a bad dancer who thinks she’s great. She wants to quit and tries to dance correctly before giving up and doing the part right. Naturally she does a great job and everyone loves her.

*I love that Todd comes back in a handful of books, but in this one, Elizabeth acts super smug about how happy she and Jeffery are.

*Enid and Hugh are fighting yet again in this book. Why do they even bother trying to date?

*Elizabeth mentions that there are about 50 kids at the party. Given that the frat and sorority both showed up, that doesn’t seem like a lot of people.

*Liz and Jeffery give Enid and Julie a ride in his car, but she runs off with Julie. How the heck do they get home and how does he get his car back?

*Supposedly, Jessica looks as good as a dancer as she did in junior high, which is funny since she only took lessons in sixth grade.

*Danielle flirts with Bruce even after what he did to Julie and giggles when she tells him he was a bad boy. Five pages later, she says that she dumped him because of what he did. Yeah right, he probably got bored with her.

*According to John who probably isn’t a reliable source, Bruce told him that he got too soft when he was dating Regina and he never wanted to be like that again.

*In junior high, we were talking about plays and our teacher asked us to list some. I actually named this one and she was impressed that I knew it, but I never told her it came from a SVH book.

*Alice teasingly complains about Julie and Liz practicing and it sounding like wild animals, which I’m sure made Julie feel super confident.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition: Jessica’s No Angel

Janet breaks up with Denny because he told her he had to meet with his science teacher and then she saw him playing basketball. She becomes outspoken against liars, and she demands that the rest of the club sign a pledge to stop people from lying. They want the principal to make people wear a really ugly shirt if they get caught lying. Jessica doesn’t really want to sign it because she constantly tells lies, but she eventually gives into peer pressure.

Since it’s now the fifteenth summer break, the school is getting ready for a huge picnic celebration. A bunch of the Unicorns get dates, and Janet tells Lila and Jessica that since they don’t have dates, they have to spend the whole day with her. They make a bet that whoever gets a date first will get the day off, while the other has to hang around queen Janet.

Jessica is sure that Aaron will ask her, but he starts dragging his feet. She does beg her parents to give them extra money for a special picnic outfit, and they agree as long as she gets a B or higher on her math test. Unfortunately, she bombs the section on the metric unit, which brings her down to a C. The teacher tells her that if she walks his dog Sparky, takes a bunch of measurements and converts them to metric, he will raise her grade. She does it and runs into Denny who doesn’t seem too upset over his breakup.

Lila wants to impress Bruce and get a date for the picnic so she gets a perm. People start calling her names behind her back, but Jessica lies and tells her it looks good. After getting the money from her parents, she buys a new outfit and wears it to meet Aaron for ice cream. She runs into Bruce who asks her to the picnic because Lila looks so weird and she agrees. Then she runs into Aaron who also asks her to the dance and she says yes to him too.

Jessica tells Elizabeth what happened, and her twin gets pissed. They have a fight over lying and Elizabeth says that she never lies and storms off. Jessica makes a wish on a falling star that her twin would understand the importance of lying. The next day, Elizabeth feels the need to constantly tell the truth. She tells her mom that her food is dry, tells her teacher that he picked a boring topic for the upcoming essay contest, and tells the truth to everyone else. She tells Bruce that Jessica had two dates, tells Lila that people call her octopus head, and tells Aaron that Jessica made two dates and that she hates his shirt.

Lila screams and stops talking to her, Bruce breaks their date, and Aaron breaks up with her. She gets frustrated and makes another wish that her twin would cut it out. Suddenly, Elizabeth lies about everything. She thinks that the toast tastes delicious even though its days old, tells her teacher that she loves the essay but that their new puppy ate her rough draft, and acts like Jessica is the best sister in the world. She tells Lila that Jessica wants to be just like her and she tells Aaron that Jessica never had a date with Bruce though he did ask her.

While all this is going on, Jessica screws things up for Janet. She tells Denny that Janet is heartbroken over losing him, and she tells Janet that Denny was crying over her even though it was just allergies. He hangs out with her a little and meets Sparky who it turns out loves crumb cake from his favorite store. She schemes to get them back together, but Elizabeth almost ruins it by telling them the truth. Then she turns around and says that Jessica thinks of Janet like an older sister and was willing to sacrifice herself to get them back together.

Jessica makes another wish and Elizabeth goes back to normal. Lila shows up and takes her to a fancy spa for a makeover, only she has the guy give Jessica a perm and puts her hair back to normal. She does it because Elizabeth told her how much Jessica wanted to have the same look. While going home, she sees Sparky running around in the storm and tries to help him.

He runs into a garage and it’s Denny’s house. Denny tries to get the dog out from under his mom’s car, and the dog refuses to budge. They ride bikes over to the bakery and run into Janet who sees them and rushes off. They try to buy a cake, but she bought the last one. When they go outside, she gives them the cake, which has a note on top to Denny. She thought they were on a date, but he explains everything and they get back together.

They manage to help Sparky and get him home, but she gets back and her parents ground her for a month for sneaking out. The next day, they come home early and tell her that her teacher called them in for a conference and explained everything. Oh, and because of a mixup with his grading key, she really did get a B on her test after all. Then Elizabeth wins the essay contest by writing something about the trouble with lying.

*After all that talk about wearing something special, Jessica winds up wearing jean shorts and a white tee shirt to the picnic. Ooh, fancy.

*According to Elizabeth, the only time that she ever lies is when she needs to get Jessica out of trouble. How quickly she forgets every other book in this series!

*I think it’s funny that the Unicorns are so anti-lying when they constantly tell lies to each other.

*Jessica’s perm washes out because she spends the night running around in the rain, which I knew would happen because I saw Legally Blond LOL.

*Jessica gets grounded early on because she “lied” about getting a B on her test, which totally isn’t true. Doing extra credit work is no different than answering extra credit questions on a test.

*Elizabeth is one of the first people to get a date to the picnic. When Todd asks her, she thinks about how she wouldn’t go with anyone else. Yeah right.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sweet Valley Twins #42: Jessica’s Secret

Jessica is playing with her hair trying to make herself look more mature when Elizabeth walks in with a big smile on her face. After hinting around for a few minutes, she finally says that she started her period, and because they’re twins, she knows that Jessica started too. Jessica seems a little quiet, and she wonders if her twin is having problems adjusting. They head downstairs to tell their mom, and she’s so excited that she agrees to make anything they want. Over spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, and cream puffs, she and Ned gush over how group up they are.

The next day, Jessica tells Elizabeth that they should ask their parents to go to San Diego and visit their cousin Robin. Her family spent a year living in France, and their parents wouldn’t let them see her before she left because they were too young. Jessica keeps dropping hints at dinner and kicking Elizabeth to get her attention until Ned finally announces that they already talked things over and decided to let them go.

Elizabeth has a crisis in school and freaks out because she doesn’t have any supplies. She asks Jessica for help, and she runs off in a panic. After locking herself in the bathroom, she starts crying because she didn’t get her period. Then, she wonders who else has their period and thinks Lila and Ellen both did but kept it a secret from her. That doesn’t stop her from wanting to go shopping for their trip.

Jessica has no money because she spent it all on a new album, but Elizabeth has a little. They spend an entire day shopping and after Liz picks out a new shirt, Jessica picks out an entire outfit. They barely have enough for it all, but Jessica pouts until Elizabeth gives in and blows her money on Jess’s new outfit. The Unicorns think her new shirt looks like something a little kid would wear. When she stops to ask Jessica a question, she tells her twin off in front of everyone about her baby-ish clothing. It actually makes her cry, and she tries to talk to Alice who just tells her that this is a difficult time for both of them. Nice parenting.

Jessica pretty much forgets about the argument, but Elizabeth is still a little upset. Jessica also keeps complaining about all the stuff Elizabeth wants to do like visit the zoo and tell ghost stories because all of that is stuff little kids do. She thinks Robin will be much more mature now and that they can find other things to do. Robin is a little more mature, and she grew up so much that they barely recognize her when they see her.

Robin ends up having a room exactly like Jessica and she dresses in all black. She talks about the Jaguars, the exclusive club that just asked her to join once she passes their initiation. She also shows them a picture of her high school boyfriend Johnny who has his own red convertible. She and Jessica start palling around and kind of ignoring Elizabeth. It doesn’t help when her little sister Stacey takes them all to the zoo for her birthday, which they think is completely beneath them.

Robin’s parents give her permission to have a slumber party as long as she invites Becky. They were once really good friends, but she blew her off for her new club. Jessica also turns into a little Robin. When their cousin says she hates Johnny Buck, she suddenly does too, and when the girl says she smokes, Jessica says she does too. They call Elizabeth a baby, and she locks herself into the bathroom and cries.

The girls show up for the party, but they seem really snobby and bitchy. They didn’t bring any clothes or sleeping bags because they plan to use the night for her initiation. She has to go over to Johnny’s house and get him to drive her to a nearby park by midnight. Becky shows up, but she and Elizabeth refuse to go with them, which leads to everyone calling them babies as they leave.

Jessica thinks it’s weird that her cousin is so nervous until the other girl admits that she doesn’t even know Johnny. They sneak into one house and a dog comes after them, but the owner finds them outside and reveals that they were in the wrong house. Elizabeth and Becky decide to play a game and then tell the adults what happened if the other girls aren’t back. Elizabeth keeps freaking out and Becky tries to warn her because they are standing behind her.

Jessica and Robin come home with her parents, and Elizabeth tries to apologize. Jessica pretty much verbally bitch slaps her about how she’s a huge baby and everyone hates her. She ends up sleeping downstairs with Becky. The next day, which is their last day in town, the adults announce that they are calling the parents of every girl and telling them what happened, and Robin gets grounded for one month but she does agree to call Becky and apologize.

On the bus ride home, Jessica refuses to speak to her twin. Elizabeth has to wake her up so they can change buses, and she gets bored of waiting for the driver so she goes for a drink. Since her stomach is bothering her, she gets a ginger ale. Elizabeth tries to warn her that the driver won’t wait, and they bus takes off without her. She starts whining and then Liz pops up behind her. She got so worried about her twin that she went to track her down.

After a day of the silent treatment, Jessica finally admits what happened. They went to the park alone, and the Jaguars gave Robin another task. She had to go back to her house and cut off all of Becky’s hair while she was asleep. She refused and her parents pulled up right then. Jessica also tells her that she never started her period and Elizabeth feels bad for talking about it all the time. Jessica goes to the bathroom and learns that she started her period, so things are okay again between them.

*Why would you tell your kids that they could go on a four-day trip before asking anyone? They give the twins permission without even talking to their aunt.

*Um yeah, I’m not sending my 13-year-old kids off on a bus trip on their own. Besides that, Jessica constantly shows that she has no maturity whatsoever.

*Getting your period does not make a you a “woman” despite what Ned and Alice say. Given that Jessica gets in trouble every book, they should really know better.

*For someone who is supposedly so smart, Elizabeth sure is dumb in this book. Does she really not understand that twins don’t get their periods at the same time?

*They go shopping for pads and get embarrassed when the cashier does a price check in front of everyone, including Todd who Jessica has a crush on in this book.

*This is actually one of those books when I said, “I want to punch that bitch in the throat” in regards to Jessica. How did I ever read these books as a kid? She is such a selfish little bitch that it kills me. Elizabeth spends all of her money on a new outfit for her and gets repaid by being called a baby. The rest of the book is just gravy after that.

*Did anyone’s parents make such a big deal out of starting your period? I’m pretty sure my dad didn’t even know for like a year, and my mom just took me shopping for what I needed.

*The Jaguars all wear custom silver ID bracelets, which actually sound a lot cooler than the whole purple clothing thing.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fear Street: Lights Out (R.L. Stine)

Lights Out starts with a letter from “Me” telling someone named Chief that he/she will get even with the people at Camp Nightwing. Then it jumps to Holly, who recently broke up with her boyfriend and got suckered into helping her Uncle Bill run his summer camp. Something terribly happened the year before and he desperately needs help, though I’m not sure why given that he has a whole bunch of counselors.

After meeting up with her friend Thea, she learns that this girl Geri is at camp. They were once good friends until Geri wanted her to cover for her while she went out with an older guy her parents didn’t like. She didn’t lie very well, the parents found at the truth, she got grounded, and she blamed Holly. While hanging out, they hear someone crying for help and find Bill buried underneath a pile of sports equipment.

He tells them that the wall cabinet fell over despite being screwed into the wall, and he got trapped under all the crap that fell out. They help him up, he looks at the cabinet, and complains about needing to talk to the handyman. He also calls Holly princess, and she reminds him that they don’t want anyone to know that she’s his niece. When he walks off, she sees a red feather tucked into one of the holes in the wall.

Holly meets Debra the head counselor of her cabin who seems like a hardass. All of the counselors get together for a hot dog roast and Bill has them introduce themselves. This guy Kit stands up and comes right at her with a huge knife, but it turns out that he’s just a horror movie fan who likes practical jokes. Thea sticks around to hang out with John, he summer love from last year, but he doesn’t really want anything to do with her.

The next day, Holly decides to go for a swim. She runs into Mick, the requisite hot guy, who walks with her. They find three of the camp canoes laying on the beach with huge holes in the sides, and she finds another red feather. She goes back to the cabin and has a run-in with a bat, which leads to Debra yelling and Geri laughing at her.

The kids finally arrive and Debra leaves her to gather up their kids and take them back to the cabin. Two of the girls fight over who gets the top bunk, and when one girl climbs on top, the bunk collapses on the other girl. Debra comes back in and starts screaming again, claiming that Holly can’t do anything right.

She calms the girls down and Geri looks all super smug. She asks Debra not to yell at her in front of the campers, which leads to the woman screaming again, and she tries to talk to Bill who basically tells her that he doesn’t have time for her with so much other stuff going on. Oh, and she finds another red feather tucked inside the bed.

Kit follows Geri around like a little lost puppy dog. He wanders into the cafeteria screaming in pain with a snake wrapped around his arm. The tosses it onto Holly’s table and she screams because she has a massive fear of snakes. Naturally it’s fake, and Thea thinks that he did it because Geri told him too. It also leads to Debra screaming at her again for not taking care of the campers.

She sneaks out that night to meet Thea by the lake, and she talks about how much Geri hates her. She decides to head back, but Thea sticks around in case John shows up. She finds two girls walking in the woods and make them go back to their cabins. She also runs into Mick, who grabs her arm and acts kind of rude before suddenly feeling bad and running off.

The next day, she talks with this nice and cute counselor Sandy and he actually seems to understand what she’s going through. Things keep getting worse though. A camper knocks over one of Debra’s vases that she’s holding and she gets yelled at. She also finds a snake hidden underneath her pillow and Debra yells at her about that too because it’s a little nonpoisonous snake.

Then, she has a run-in with Kit and Mick. They hold her arms behind her back and Geri comes out of the woods. The other girl tosses a bucket of leeches on her, then grabs her and pushes her into a creek. While laying there in the mud, Geri tosses more leeches on her.

Holly thinks that she sees Sandy in the woods but he disappears. The little trio are real dicks who basically shout and tease her. Mick gets bored of it, but he won’t even help her out of the creek. Once they leave, she hears someone yelling in the woods and goes to help, but only finds John. He acts a little embarrassed and then accuses her of spying before storming off.

As a kicker, she goes to the arts and crafts cabin and finds the walls covered in blood and someone slumped over the wheel. It’s Debra, and when she gets closer, she sees that the girl’s pendant got stuck in the wheel. She rushes outside and runs into John who comforts her before running off to find Uncle Bill. Just as he leaves, she finds another red feather.

Uncle Bill decides to put Geri in her cabin as the new head counselor because she has more experience. When Holly tries to tell him what happened, he flips out and threatens to send her home. He also points out that no one else has as many problems with others as she does. The whole group goes to another bonfire, and she decides to sneak away and go through their cabins.

She manages to check out Kit’s area and find nothing, but she does find a small key and a locked box near John’s bed. Just as she starts to open it, he comes walking into the cabin. He accepts her apology and takes back the box, but warns her that if she doesn’t stop snooping, he will make her pay. Just before going back to her cabin, she sees a decoration of Mick’s that has red feathers on it!

Suddenly it’s a new day and everyone is getting ready for an overnight. The first day is fine except that Geri yells at her and no one else really talks to her. That night, she hears someone crying in the woods and goes to investigate. John steps out of the shadows with a knife, but before he can do anything, a girl walks out. Her name is Courtney and she’s a camper. They dated and her parents disapproved so they snuck off to be together at camp. Since Uncle Bill is smart and doesn’t want a lawsuit on his hands, he forbids counselors and campers from dating so they had to sneak around. She promises not to tell on them and they apologize for John being a dick.

She wakes up the next day to find Sandy waiting for her. He suggests they go for a canoe trip and she heads off with him. Not long after getting in the water, he starts pointing out things he shouldn’t know and reveals that his brother was the one who died there the year before. He goes a little crazy, and when they reach the rapids, he throws his paddle over the side. They start fighting and she whacks him in the head with her paddle.

After jumping over the side, she starts fighting with the current and watches Sandy and the canoe head off. Holly manages to get through the water and get to the shore where she runs through the woods until she sees Sandy step out from behind a tree. They fight some more and he rambles about how Debra was the reason his brother died, and now that he killed her, he wants to bring down the entire camp.

Holly gets away and starts running with him right behind her. She sees a small cave and sneaks inside but it’s filled with snakes. Sandy grabs her ankle and starts dragging her out, so she grabs a snake and jams it in his face. She hears him scream and roll down the hill, and when she peeks out, she sees his white face laying at the bottom of a hill. Mick shows up then and she flips out, thinking that he came after her too.

Actually, Mick has a crush on her and decided to follow her and apologize for being the biggest dick in the world. He gets her help, and suddenly she’s laying down in bed with Uncle Bill apologizing for putting her in such a bad position. After recovering, she goes walking through the woods with Mick. A snake comes out of nowhere and she casually picks it up and tosses it over her side, saying that they don’t bother her anymore. Then Mick puts his arm around her and they totter off together. Why does Stine keep letting girls wind up with these guys who are complete and total dicks?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sweet Valley High #37: Rumors

It’s time again for the Bridgewater Ball, which actually means nothing because I think it only gets mentioned three times in the entire series. Jessica complains that it’s a bunch of stuckup people, but when pressed, she admits that she would go if someone invited her. Lila wants to go too, and she’s pretty annoyed that no one has asked her yet.

She also finds out that big time director Jackson Croft is coming to town to cast his next movie. Jessica thinks that it’s her chance to become a star. Elizabeth reads about how his son was killed by a drunk driver who hit his family, and she wants to interview him for the paper. She thinks that it will get kids interested in learning more about SADD.

The real story though is Susan Stewart. She’s a beautiful and popular girl who always dresses well, but no one knows where she came from. Her Aunt Helen is her guardian and the woman kept her mother a big secret. The rumor is that her mom was some heiress or model who couldn’t keep her child. Helen works constantly, but her mother sends money to support Susan.

Susan is also dating Gordon, this total douche bag who is rich. His parents love her so much that they invite her to play golf with them at the country club, and they encourage him to ask her to the dance. Lila keeps seeing her around the club and gets so jealous that she makes up a rumor about Susan. She tells Caroline and Cara that Susan’s mom is in a mental institution. The rumor spreads fast, and people stop talking to her when they hear that her mom killed someone. One of her Bridgewater friends even breaks plans with her for no reason.

Liz sees Allen moping over Susan and realizes that he has a crush on her. After seeing Susan crying in the library and having no friends, she talks to Allen. Allen ends up comforting her and telling her that he doesn’t believe the rumors. He gets up the courage to ask her on a date, and she accepts because Gordon not only broke their plans for the ball but he also dumped her.

Allen encourages her to talk to Helen and even drives her home from school. Helen tells her that she just can’t tell her the truth and leaves in a hurry. A few days later, she writes Susan a letter and breaks down in tears. It turns out that she’s actually her mother. She got pregnant by a man who couldn’t commit and moved to Sweet Valley to start over again. She tears up the letter and hears someone knocking on the front door.

In walks Jackson Croft, wanting to talk about the past. Yup, he’s tots Susan’s dad. They were together for awhile, but he was about to leave to film a documentary overseas. They broke up without her telling him she was pregnant. She wrote him one letter and then never wrote him again. He tells her that he wants to know his daughter and help them out more but he can’t promise anything else.

Helen tells him to leave and let her think about things, but then Susan gets home. She takes one look at them and knows something is going on. Helen rushes off, but Jackson tells her that he is her dad. He suggests that she move to Los Angeles to live with him and his wife, but all she wants to know is her mother’s identity. Jackson realizes that she doesn’t know and Helen rushes off in tears.

Susan finally puts it all together and breaks down in front of him. He basically tells her that she should talk to her mother and she finally goes into her bedroom. She tells Helen that when she was a kid, she always wished that she was her mom. They cry together and decide to start over again.

Jessica decides that Gordon is her ticket to the ball. She starts dressing more like Liz to show her demure side, but Lila is always by his side. When they go to the casting call, she learns that he asked her to the dance. Elizabeth gets her interview, and Susan shows up unexpectedly. When they learn her identity, Jessica immediately runs off to tell everyone that she sees.

Winston decides to throw a party for the “poor people,” and everyone shows up. Gordon asks Susan for a dance, and she comes back excited that he just asked her to the ball again. Lila gets pissed because he never broke their date, and Liz is sad for Allen. Susan thinks that he only asked her out of pity, but when he shows up filled with excitement, she realizes that she was stupid. She “breaks up” with Gordon in front of everyone and runs off with Allen. Lila tosses a glass of water in his face and storms off too.

The B-plot is that the twins think their mom is pregnant. She suddenly has weird cravings, has a doctor’s appointment that she doesn’t want to talk about, gets sick in the morning, and seems moody. Jessica finds a bag of new baby clothes hidden in her closet, and Alice starts talking about baby names. She calls Steven who comes back to help.

They start talking about how much they love families and babies. Steven offers to drop out of school and help out around the house. After their parents not saying a word, they finally sit them down for a family meeting. It turns out that Alice bought the clothes for a family friend, and that they were talking about leaving the twins alone while they went on a one-month vacation. Oopsie.

*Jessica is astounded that last year’s ball had $5,000 worth of flowers. Am I the only one who thinks Lila probably spends that much on flowers for a party at her house?

*A really annoying scene at the beginning has Liz reading an article in the paper and nodding her head in satisfaction because it is so well written. Yes, because a professional journalist needs the approval of a Wakefield twin.

*Bill Chase isn’t sure if he should go to the casting call until Liz talks him into it. And yet he never had a problem with it back in the early books.

*If the clothes were just a gift, why the heck would she hide the bag in the back of her closet and under stuff? Plus, she was literally rubbing her stomach and smiling at one point, very odd.

*So, Jackson was so into his work that he couldn’t settle down like Helen wanted. It apparently didn’t take him too long to change his mind, since he and his wife had a 14-year-old son and Susan is only 16. Looks like he was already married or dating someone when she was born.

*The book kind of makes it seem like he only came to see her because his son died. He always knew she existed, but he couldn’t make the trip from LA to check on her even once.

*UM, since when do directors host casting calls? I know that directors will sometimes pick the lead roles, but he’s casting non-speaking football player type background characters.

*Unbelievably, Jessica doesn’t get a callback, but somehow she’s perfectly fine with that.

*The big time director is not only willing to give Liz an interview about drunk driving, but he decides to do it right there. That’s pretty good given that the book makes a point of how he won’t even talk about that night or his son to anyone.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sweet Valley Kids #24: Cousin Kelly’s Family Secret

Alice has some big news for the twins: Kelly is coming to spend a few days with them before Thanksgiving. They don’t think it’s strange that she’s coming early even though her mom has to make a special 4-hour roundtrip to bring her down before they come down a few days early. That is until people at school bring it up.

When Kelly gets there, they have fun playing and dressing like each other. On the first night though, Kelly has a nightmare and wakes up crying. Alice comforts her and tells the family that Laura and Greg are having some problems and might get a divorce. She asks them not to tell anyone and to keep it a secret from people at school because it will just upset her.

The next day, they all dress up in matching blue tee shirts and jeans, and everyone at school oohs and ahs over how much they look alike. Everyone seems to like Kelly, but Lila wants to know why she came early. Kelly doesn’t have an answer so Jessica blurts out that her parents might get divorced. Kelly naturally starts crying and runs off, which makes Lila feel bad. She decides to get this older girl Crystal who is the daughter of a divorced couple. Crystal explains that she likes not listening to her parents fight, and while she lives with her mom, she still sees her dad all the time. That really doesn’t make her feel any better.

The twins decide to make her feel better no matter what. Alice makes Kelly’s favorite dinner and they sleep together on the fold-out couch so they can be three peas in a pod. When they go back to school, Elizabeth keeps asking Kelly what she wants to do and making her the center of attention. She gets all the other kids involved, and the make her the Queen of the Playground.

After making her a fake crown and having her give a speech, they start playing. Winston tells a bunch of jokes, and Kelly outlaws school and all vegetables except corn and peas. While sitting on the slide, Elizabeth notices a car pulling up outside. Laura and Greg get out, and they ask Kelly to go with them on a special ride. The twins rush home and find everyone sitting in the living room. Laura announces that they aren’t getting a divorce, and Greg says they want to work on some things, and they all celebrate with a big Thanksgiving dinner the next day.

*I’m sorry Greg, what exactly are you working on? How to not cheat on your wife and be a huge douche bag?

*It’s funny that Kelly never gets mentioned in SVT, but she does in SVK since these books came out after they introduced her in SVH.

*Todd brags about going skiing over Christmas vacation and says he has a big secret. They convince Kelly to find out what it is, and she does but she won’t tell them. It turns out that his family rented a big chalet and they invited the Wakefields to come along.

*Elizabeth picks up a piece of tinfoil off the ground and makes Kelly’s crown. Even as a kid, I probably wouldn’t have worn something that was laying on the ground for god knows how long.

*This one is kind of like the G-rated version of Family Secrets, but it’s a little weird to see Laura taking Greg back given what he does later.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sweet Valley Twins #5: Sneaking Out

The twins are super excited because Johnny Buck is coming to town. The last time he came through Sweet Valley, Ned and Alice grew a pair and said they were too young. Now they are a whole year older and sure to go. Bruce Patman already got tickets and let them know that they were already half sold-out so they better hurry.

Jessica has a special reason to see The Buck: he gave her his hat. The twins went to his hotel and as he was leaving, he threw his hat in the crowd. Even though Elizabeth caught it, Jessica ripped it out of her hands because he clearly looked directly at her. She thought it was his secret message to her.

As soon as they get home, they find Steven in the kitchen excited about getting tickets. He lets them know that their parents still think they’re too young. They don’t believe it until their parents get home. They would let them go if they could go too, but Ned has a big case going on and Alice has an important meeting so they can’t make it to the concert. Jessica says that she would be glad to go with Steven, but they refuse to let them intrude on his big date.

Jessica decides that no matter what, she is going to that concert. She mentions it to the Unicorn club and is surprised that not many parents will let their kids go. Only Janet and Lila actually got permission. Jessica lies and tells them that she wrote Johnny a letter and will meet him backstage. She also says that she is going to make him a honorary Unicorn and everyone is in awe.

Elizabeth points out that she has no money because she just blew three weeks of allowance on a new shirt. To make money, Jessica invites Amy over and tries to get her to buy the shirt even though it’s way too big on her. Elizabeth gives her an honest opinion of how the shirt looks and Amy decides to just buy one in her own size.

Jessica keeps coming up with ways to find money and sees an ad for a dog walker. Even though she is scared of dogs, she calls and makes an appointment with the woman. She does such a good job that the woman agrees to hire her and take the dog home the following day. Jessica even convinces her to pay her upfront so she can buy her mom a birthday present.

When she takes the dog Sally home, she tells her parents that she met a really sweet old lady who didn’t want to leave her dog in a kennel for the week. Her parents are so touched that they agree to help her out a little. This really means that they do all the work for her. She keeps saying that she’s sick or she has a meeting so her parents, Steven, and Elizabeth get stuck walking the dog.

She also convinces her mom that she is so upset over missing out on the concert that she wants to spend the night with Lila. The day of the concert arrives and she spends all day getting ready. Sally’s owner, Mrs. Bramble, should be there by lunch, but she calls because the bus broke down and she can’t get there until at least 2:30. Jessica thinks that it’s too late to the concert and since she just gave Sally a ton of water, she decided to tie her up outside. She also steals a dress that Elizabeth just bought for the next big dance and the matching shoes. She even grabs the earrings that her twin used several allowances to buy for her mom’s birthday. She doesn’t know that Sally took off right after she left.

At the concert, she leaves Lila to get closer to the stage. She runs into Bruce who flirts with her and they go to get a drink, but he changes his mind when The Buck comes back on stage. She gets as close as possible and starts seeing other girls with the same hat as hers, and she realizes that her hat isn’t anything special. Buck leaves the stage and a guy starts passing out autographed pictures.

Someone knocks her down and she starts crying. The man helps her get up and gives her a picture, saying that he autographed it especially for her. Another girl looks at it with interest until she realizes that it’s the same as hers. She finds Janet’s group who she rode with and Janet picks on it because she bought the exact same photo at the souvenir stand.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth comes home and finds a note from Jessica. She goes outside and discovers the dog missing. After scouring the neighborhood, she confesses the truth to Alice just as Mrs. Bramble shows up. They search together, only to go to her house and find that Sally went through the dog door and is waiting in the living room.

Alice takes Elizabeth to Lila’s house, upset that Jessica thought spending the night was more important than her responsibilities. She goes inside and sees that Jessica is wearing her new dress, which now has grass stains all over it. She also discovers that her twin lost one of the new earrings and they can’t find it anywhere. Alice takes Jessica back to Mrs. Bramble’s and she apologizes, but then she breaks down and confesses the whole story.

Mrs. Bramble admits doing something similar years ago and getting punished by her mom. She agrees to forgive Jessica and gets her to walk her dog for the next month. Jessica goes home and finds that the woman bought her a present on her trip, a pretty black and silver bracelet. She gives it to Elizabeth to give to their mother for her birthday and they make up. Oh and Brooke Dennis moves to town and acts like a total brat.

*Ah, remember the days when a hot group/artist took weeks to sell out an arena? Actually, me either. I went to see New Kids on the Block probably not longer after this book came out, and my parents actually waited in line to get me tickets, and it sold out in less than a day.

*Wait a second…Ned and Alice both have business meetings at 4 pm on a Saturday? Oh, so they are both secretly having affairs, got it.

*Since when does Secca Lake has a huge amphitheater? That is where the concert is, and everyone actually has assigned seating. Their tickets are so far back that The Buck looks like an ant, yet Bruce gets front row tickets.

*Mrs. Bramble is pretty conniving. She pays Jessica $25 to take care of Sally for a few days, but she then makes Jessica walk her twice a day for one month to make up for things.

*Elizabeth is awfully forgiving given that her twin steals her brand new dress and her present for her mom.

*Since when is Jessica scared of dogs? Not only do they have a dog in SVH, but she also helps them take care of a dog later in the SVT series.

*I’m shocked that Ned and Alice actually do something responsible here and won’t let them go alone, but they then let her get away with lying to them. They don’t find out about the concert, but they go from grounding her for a month to letting her off the hook.

*On a side note, this was one of the first SVT books that I read. I had a copy for years after I sold the other ones, but I lost my original copy. We went into a thrift store to track down some costume accessories and I stopped by the book section even though this one never has anything. Someone must have donated their daughter’s collection because there were around 6-7 SVT books I didn’t have and 4 SVH books I’ve been looking for, including #17 Love Letters, which I’ve somehow never read!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Scavenger Hunt (Christopher Pike)

Scavenger Hunt begins with a teenage boy arriving at a church in the middle of nowhere. After dipping his hands in the holy water, he wonders if can escape. He starts to drop two quarters in the donation box, thinks about how he needs to call the police, and drops all of his money inside before lighting a candle. He sneaks past a woman in black and steps into the confession box. The priest on the other side listens as the boy asks if he believes in the devil and admits to killing someone before telling his story.

The book jumps back to Carl prior to the day at the church. He has a dream that a dam collapses on him and his friend Joe, and they see a monster coming at them. He wakes up in a cold sweat, remembering that Joe really did die in a flash flood in the desert and the police found his skeleton a few months later. The requisite hot chick Cessy calls and he talks to her and his friend Tom. Tom has some odd moments because he was hurt in a football incident, but he asks them to join their scavenger hunt team and to pick them up.

Carl goes downstairs and eats a fast breakfast. He finds a message on his machine from Tracie, a girl he once had a crush on. She wants him to join her team with her friend Richard/Rick. A few minutes later, he nearly runs over Richard who is the class brain, three years younger than them, and about to graduate. Richard tells him that Paula, Joe’s former girlfriend, is also in their group, so Carl makes up an excuse to leave. After trying to catch a glimpse at Cessy naked in her swimming pool, she pulls him into the pool and he has to switch clothes with Tom.

Tracie thinks she’s in love with Carl, so she isn’t too happy when he turns up with Cessy. She talks to Cessy’s brother Davey and thinks about how much they look alike and how they randomly showed up at the start of the school year. She also thinks about how much Paula changed after Joe’s death, and Paula thinks about how much she dislikes the new people in the school.

At the assembly to kick off the scavenger hunt, the teacher Mr. Partridge tells them that they need to find ten things hidden in locations around town. He wears all grey and has reflective sunglasses on, which he explains that he needs to wear all the time because of a rare disease he contracted. He also tells them that the winning team gets a free all-expense paid trip to Hawaii.

Rick figures out the first clue and they take off, followed by Carl’s team who also figured things out. They find a box filled with hunting knives and as they start walking away, Davey tells Rick about a story he just read in the paper. A group of miners found a hidden mine named Valta in Rust Valley. They put some of the treasure in the bank and went back for more. When they disappeared, the banker found the map and went off on his own, but he too disappeared. Davey wants Rick’s help finding that mine. Tom tells Carl that they were there before, and Carl wonders if it’s Red Ravine, an area he hiked with Joe. Rick figures out the next clue and the two groups go their separate ways.

Both groups wind up at the video store, thanks to a clue that quotes lines from Star Wars. Cessy and Davey disappear into the ice cream store, and Tracie offers to get stuff for everyone else. She disappears for nearly 30 minutes and comes back slightly confused and with the wrong foods. They work together to solve two more clues, gaining a necklace and two white socks, which Tom puts on before separating again. Carl’s clue takes them to old oil tanks on the outskirts of town.

That clue leads them to a large hill outside of town. Davey and Tom wait in the car, while Carl and Cessy climb the hill. They find a pair of hiking boots and a note telling them to keep going. They wind up at a little purple house with a pair of jeans on the front porch and go back to the truck to pick up the others. While inside the house, they see a purple lizard that climbs on Cessy. Carl knocks it away and Davey steps on it, smashing its head and causing black blood to ooze out.

The book then goes back to the boy talking to the priest. He once again says that he killed someone, a close friend, in the past. He also talks about his group on the scavenger hunt. He tells the priest how they kept driving into the wilderness, even making a wrong turn and getting lost at one point. Then he mentions that he saw someone come back from the dead, which the priest doesn’t believe.

While that group finds their wave to a hidden cave, Tracie’s group has to take a break when Rick gets sick. Paula admits that he is sicker than anyone thinks and that he might only have a year left. Rick found a newspaper article about Valta and snuck it out of the library, and he starts reading it again. Tracie realizes that four people went into the mines but only two bodies were recovered. The names of the two that disappeared match Cessy and Davey.

They find the empty boxes that lead to the purple house. Everyone else wants to take a break, but Tracie wants to check out the house. She explores and finds a large picture of Mr. Partridge and realizes it must be his house. She also finds a bunch of newspaper clippings from murders that occurred in a big circle around their town. As they leave the house, she discovers Carl’s watch laying on the ground.

Carl’s group finds another box, which has a bloody and ripped shirt inside, which Tom points on. When they reach the cave, they send Tom away and make Carl start digging. Tracie’s group shows up to meet them and she reveals that they know the secret. Cessy kind of steps back and ignores everyone, while Davey takes control. He starts talking about a group of reptilian creatures that evolved beyond the dinosaurs.

Davey makes everyone dig, and they find a body underground. Tracie thinks it’s Joe until she sees that its Partridge. Davey reaches down and rips off the man’s face to show that it actually is Joe. He explains that Partridge was basically a puppet, a man that he used to teach at the school and a body that he controlled. He also tells them that Joe’s body floated down into the cave and they gave him a choice, which led them all there.

Davey also explains that they need a balance and he wants Tracie to choose who will die. Though he wants Rick, he gives her the choice between her best friend Paula and Carl, the man she loves. When she refuses to make a choice, he picks Rick, which annoys Cessy who finds him interesting. He plans to toss the boy over the side of the cave so he will drop through some weird tunnel thing. Cessy distracts him by saying Tom is back, then whispers something to Rick, snaps his neck, and tosses him over the side.

Davey is ticked because he wanted to do it, so he turns his attention to Carl. He asks him to remember the day Joe died and how hard he worked to save him. Davey then reveals that Carl actually died that day too, trying to save his best friend. Carl refuses to believe it until Davey jams a big hunting knife through his chest. He then tells Carl that it’s his last chance to run and Carl hauls ass out of the cave.

Carl is back in the church and talking to the priest when Davey shows up. He strangles the priest with a wire in the confession room and forces Carl out. He ties everyone up and Tracie starts thinking weird thoughts. When she looks at Cessy, the girl holds her eyes and she realizes that she has control over her mind. Tom shows back up and sticks with the two until he discovers that Cessy killed Rick.

So, Tracie keeps thinking about water and seeing Davey holding a bottle of water and thinking about how neither of them like fire. The two reveal that they have to make a sacrifice every year to keep living in this world. Cessy starts talking about a statue of the Virgin Mother and Tracie explains how people prayer to her. She asks Tracie for help lighting a candle and saying a prayer. Cessy offers to help Davey and he kind of agrees. Tracie grabs the tequila bottle and pours it over him. He turns around, showing his true face.

Carl shoves a knife in his back, which distracts him long enough for them to set him on fire. After burning for a few seconds, there is a pop and he disappears. Cessy tells them that since he didn’t exit through the mine in Valta, he will disappear forever. She also talks to Tracie who admits that she loves Carl and he feels the same way about her. Paula begs her to bring Rick back to life but she can’t do it.

Cessy tells them that she is moving on but she will be back. She kisses Carl and tells him that when she comes back, he will be an old man and not recognize her but she will take him swimming and let him look. Tracie says it won’t happen and Cessy insinuates that they will be old together. Paula talks to Tom who now knows that he is Joe. He was so angry about Carl letting him die that his last thoughts were of revenge, which let him contact the two and come back to life.

Paula begs him to stay with her, and he explains that he can’t because it will make him like Cessy. The idea of sacrificing people for their love is too much for either of them. He tells her that she never moved on because he was still holding her and now he’ll let her go. She gives him back a chain that he gave her, and he promises to go back and try to find Rick. As the book ends, Tracie wonders if it was all just a dream, and Carl looks around the destroyed church, knowing that it’s finally over.

I forgot how long some of these Pike books are! I think I might take another long break from them, just because it takes so long to recap some of the stories.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

New Fear Street #2: Camp Out

Maria knows next to nothing about camping and she’s terrified of the woods, but she still agrees to go camping with her friends. Ellen is an outdoors nut who loves rock climbing, while Beth loves rock climbing but is more fond of boys. While shopping for supplies at the sporting goods store, she runs across football star Brett. He nearly cuts her head off with an axe, and he follows them on their trip, nearly forcing their car off the road.

When they stop to grab some snacks at the mini mart, Beth meets a group of hot guys. Will seems to like Maria, Daniel is all about Beth, and Andrew likes Ellen. They want to team up for the weekend, but Maria is still reeling over her boyfriend dumping her and she just wants to spend time with the girls so they begrudgingly agree. The guys walk with them into the parking lot, and Maria freaks out when she sees a gun. It turns out that it’s just a flare gun, but it still makes her feel uncomfortable.

After hiking through the woods, they hear a gunshot and freak out. It’s just two hunters in the wood shooting at animals. They go a little further, following the map to a small creek that they need to cross to reach their campsite. It’s rained so much though that the rain made the creek a rushing river. While trying to figure out what to do, they hear a ferocious growling in the woods. Just as they get ready to wet themselves, the guys rush out of the woods laughing.

They decide to work together, mainly because the guys have a raft. Maria and Will go across the river , while the others hold a rope attached to the raft. The rope gets dropped and they barely manage to get to the shore before the raft takes off down the water. Everyone gets across safely and they start hiking, but Maria trips and severely sprains her wrist. Will makes a tourniquet and they start hiking again, but Daniel keeps getting pissed that she needs to stop and take breaks because of her wrist.

Maria finally gets to the point where she wants to turn around and head back to get to a doctor. Her friends are fairly annoyed because they like the hot guys, and Daniel claims that they are really close to a great campsite he knows. It turns out that the spot is on top of a sheer rock face. The guys climb to the top and lower a rope down for Maria. She’s a little nervous but agrees, and just as she gets to the top, they drop the rope and she starts dropping.

No worries though, the guys were just adjusting the rope. She finally gets to the ledge where they want to camp and they get their stuff ready. The guys offer them some beer, but Maria just wants to sleep and the other girls agree. She wakes up to hear someone crying out, and decides that it must be the guys picking on them again. The next morning, they discover that Will is missing.

Daniel says that they had too much to drink and he wandered off. Ellen gets too close to the edge of the ledge and sees Will’s body on a lower ledge. She goes down to check on him and realizes that it wasn’t an accident. He has large bruises all over and Daniel’s walking stick is broken under his body. Daniel admits that they argued and Will hit him, so he hit him back and maybe hit him a little too much.

Ellen wants to go for help, which leads to a new argument. Daniel eventually tells her that if she goes for help, he will throw Maria off the ledge. When Ellen gets back to the top, Andrew starts flipping out. Daniel wants to kill all three girls and leave them there, but Maria convinces him that someone will find them and go after the guys. She offers to rent a raft for them using her mom’s credit card. He threatens to kill Ellen and Beth before they leave.

He finally agrees to take the three girls and rent a raft, but he will leave them tied up in the raft when it goes over the massive waterfall. They hike to the rental place and he lets her go in alone. She signs the credit card receipt with a message asking the clerk for help. Daniel walks in and kind of forces her out, and the clerk puts the receipt in the register without looking at it.

They get into the boat and tie up the other two girls. Maria kicks Andrew in the head and knocks his glasses off, but he still grabs her. Before he can tie her up, they hit some rough rapids and get tossed around the boat. Maria realizes that her friends cannot survive being tied up in the rough water and she grabs Beth when they hit a rock. Ellen flies out of the raft, but Maria grabs her leg and pulls her back into the boat.

She jumps out of the raft and starts swimming for shore, and Daniel takes off after her. She gets out of the water first, hears a car, and takes off running. The person driving the car is Brett, and she begs him for help. Daniel is right behind her, and it turns out that the two know each other. He tells Brett about killing Will who he also knew, and asks Brett to help him. Brett shoves Maria in the car and drives them both down to the water.

Brett pulls a backpack out of the back, telling him that he has something for her. They get to the river and Andrew has the raft tied to the shore. They toss the paddles into the water and prepare to tie her up. When he pins her down, she kicks him again, but the guys get her under control. Brett says he knows what she needs and pulls the axe out of his bag. He goes to cut the rope on the raft, but turns and hits Andrew instead.

Daniel and Brett start fighting, and she manages to get away. She unties her friends and sends them out into the woods. The other two guys keep fighting and Daniel knocks Brett out. He jumps into the raft to grab her, but she gets out and manages to cut the rope, sending him down the falls. A ranger suddenly appears, telling her that the clerk finally saw her note. Brett tells her that he went along with Daniel to help her and she thanks him. At the end of the book, Maria goes home to find her parents getting ready to take the family on a two-week camping trip!

*Maria claims that the guys were going to “get trashed” because they had three 6-packs of beer. Yeah, I took more than that just for me the last time we went camping.

*I’m not sure what’s up with Brett. In the beginning, she says that he got into trouble in another town for having knives and stuff and hanging out with a bad group of guys. I assume that group included Daniel and Andrew, but I have no idea why he would turn on him later.

*I wonder why the New Fear Street series didn’t last very long. This book was a lot better than some of the books in the original series.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Club #93: Mary Anne and the Memory Garden

It’s just after the 400th Christmas in the series, and Mary Anne is missing Dawn a lot. Luckily, she has a new school project to take her mind off things.  She, this guy Gordon, and best friends Amelia and Barbara get assigned to the same group. They decide to talk about their Shakespeare project after school, and they start working on making an era-appropriate newspaper. Amelia leaves early to have dinner with her friends and everyone takes off.

The next day, Mary Anne is running late and as she meets with her friends, she hears that a 13-year-old girl died the night before. They keep running into other people who have more news, and she starts worrying that it might be Kristy. It turns out that it was Amelia. Her family was hit by a drunk driver, but everyone else survived. They hold a funeral for her, and Mary Anne breaks down because she realizes that she will never learn more about Amelia.

Kristy kind of loses her marbles after Amelia’s death. She keeps breaking down and crying because it isn’t fair that someone so young would die. When Logan mentions SADD, Kristy thinks it’s a great idea. She tells a teacher who immediately calls the organization. They start papering the school with information and Kristy takes control over the group during their first meeting.

Mary Anne can’t come to grips with her feelings so she goes to see Dr. Reese again. The doctor makes her realize that she needs to deal with her anger and unhappiness before she can get over her friend’s death. In the end, she decides to create a memory garden for Amelia and put a plaque on a bench for the girl, and the school agrees.

Meanwhile, Dawn is having problems in California because of an abandoned lot in her neighborhood. When one of her charges gets hurts, she decides to clean up the lot. She writes a letter to the owner of the lot, but then does the cleaning before she gets a response. They end up turning the lot into a garden, and the owner finally shows up. He warns them that it’s still his property and he can do anything he wants with it, but agrees to let them keep working on the garden.

*Mary Anne says that she heard the sirens from the accident after everyone left, but she made dinner, ate with her family, did homework, and wrote most of a letter to Dawn. Would it really have taken that long for Amelia’s family to eat at a restaurant?

*The group has enough money in the treasury to pay for flowers to send to the funeral. Given how expensive those flowers cost, they must have a ton of money.

*Kristy says that Dawn and Amelia were the main organizers of the Earth Day event. Um, wasn’t Dawn kind of thrown off that project?

*Their chapter is Students Against Driving Drunk, but the name was actually Students Against Drunk Driving. How did the editors miss that one? Apparently, SADD is now Students Against Destructive Decisions, which lets them cover more topics.

*Claudia gives Mary Anne the “great” news that Peaches is not only pregnant but six months along. That’s pretty good given that she had a miscarriage at some point in the last less-than-six-months.

*Dawn sends a letter to the lot owner in Tucson and expects a response by that Friday. She literally tells everyone to show up and start cleaning before he ever responds. Then, she doesn’t realize that he owns everything they put on the lot.

*Dawn is kind of a bitch though. She supposedly knew and worked with Amelia, but all of her letters to Mary Anne are about her new project.

*I don’t remember Amelia, though I know she was in some other books. It’s just annoying that she is supposed to be one of Mary Anne’s close friends.

*Speaking of annoying…Can anyone else in the club function as a leader? Kristy goes from depressed and crying to the leader of SADD in a few pages.

*There is one mention of Abby’s dad dying in a car crash, but Kristy is the one who is the most upset. It would make more sense if Abby was the one who got so sad/depressed, not because she was a good friend of Amelia’s, but because it reminded her of her dad.

*No one knows what to say to Amelia’s brother Josh when he comes back to school so Claudia reminds them of what people told her when Mimi died. I know that she and Mimi were close, but losing your grandmother is a lot different than losing a sibling.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chain Letter (Christopher Pike)

Hey! It’s like I Know What You Did Last Summer on acid.

Brenda, Alison, and Fran are heading into Fran’s house when Alison sees a purple envelope in the mailbox addressed to Fran. After goofing around for awhile, Fran opens it and reads a letter addressed to them and some of their other friends. The note says that the writer will put an ad in the paper and Fran has to do whatever the ad says before passing the next task on to the next name on the list. If they don’t do what he says, he will reveal their big secret.

The girls all freak out a little, wondering if the note might come from someone in the group. Fran gets the newspaper and sees that her task is to change the koala bear mascot into a goat’s head. Alison feels bad for her because Fran spent hours painting the mascot head in the gym, but Fran is completely willing to do the task. The book then jumps to Neil, Tony, and Kipp, the guys in the group. They do a little talking about the note before their friend Joan calls to find out what’s going on. They discuss what happened that night, and then the book jumps back to the previous summer.

Tony, Joan, Kipp, Brenda, and Neil went to see The Beach Boys, and ran into Alison and Fran having car trouble in the parking lot. All seven ended up in Kipp’s car with Tony driving. Kipp played them a tape he made of the coach having sex with a teenage girl, and the girl sounded just like Joan. She got so pissed off that she started fighting with Kipp and hitting things on the dashboard.

Joan accidentally turned the lights off and they hit something on the road. Tony and Joan both wanted to leave, but Neil and Brenda convinced them to stop the car. They found a guy laying in the middle of the road, dead. After a short discussion, they decided to leave him there instead of risking getting in trouble if they called the cops.

Tony finally gets the courage up to ask out Alison, which pisses off Joan because they kind of date. Kipp gets his newspaper ad, which tells him to flunk his next test. Since grades are so important to him, he refuses. About a week later, he crashes into a wall after his brakes go out. Next on the list is Brenda who gets told to tell off the director of the class play. She wants to be an actress and he is one of the people who picks the scholarship winner from their school, but she tells him off.

Neil has to fake getting sick in class, so he pretends to a diabetic sugar crash. Joan gets told to come to school dressed like Bozo the Clown because she cares so much about appearances. When she refuses, someone throws a box full of cockroaches into her bedroom, and she’s terrified of bugs. She comes dressed like the clown, and Tony gets a message to come in last place at the big track meet.

Tony isn’t sure if he wants to do it or not, but he gulps down a few lemonade drinks before the meet and can barely walk. He finishes one race, but passes out during the second and wonders if someone drugged his drink. Last on the list is Alison who has the lead in the school play. The ad says to flub her lines, but she refuses to do it. She gets pushed/tripped during the play, falls into a wall, and the wall collapses, making her flub her lines anyway.

The group thinks that everything is done, but the list starts again. The man, who calls himself the Caretaker, tells Fran to streak naked through the cafeteria during lunch. She starts crying because she thinks that she has a terrible body, and Alison convinces her to run away for a few days. Kipp gets told to tell the school and his future college that he cheated on the SAT, which he refuses to do because it will ruin his life. They all get together to talk about things, and Alison notices that Neil has a new ring with a large emerald, which he says is a family ring. They start talking about Fran, and both Brenda and Neil reveal that they know she is with her grandma. Brenda calls to check on her and learns that Fran is missing.

Alison has a dream that same night. She sees a lot of smoke and hears someone knocking on the door. When she reaches the door, the voice tells her that she knows who he is, but she wakes up before she can put it all together. A ringing phone wakes her, and Tony is on the other end, telling her that Kipp is missing. She rushes over to his house to discover that the police found a lot of blood in his house and no sign of him.

Brenda then gets an ad telling her to tell every teacher in school to go to hell. Brenda gets through a few teaches before she encounters the coach, who immediately takes her to the principal. Just as everyone is starting to calm down over all the ads/requests, Neil gets a new one that demands he burn down the school.

Before Neil can do his task, Alison gets a call from Brenda. The police found his house on fire and they couldn’t save him. Once the smoke cleared, they found him still in bed wearing his emerald ring. At the funeral, his mom makes a startling announcement, telling Tony and Alison that Neil had cancer. It started in his leg and slowly spread throughout his body. He didn’t want to tell anyone about the cancer because he didn’t want their sympathy. Tony then tells Alison that Neil was in love with her, and she cries because he did ask her out once. Tony tells her that things are fine, but he starts avoiding her.

The girls plan to spend some time together when Alison’s parents go out of town. While getting ready, she hears a noise outside. It turns out that the Caretaker is in her house and tracking her. She manages to get to the garage, but he already took care of the car. She does find her dad’s gun and loads it, but she shoots at him twice and misses both times, hitting the house next door. He chases her through the house and she thinks she got away, but trips and cracks her head on the ground.

Meanwhile, Tony decides to go back to the spot where they buried the man last summer. When the Caretaker started the second round of demands, he started using a code filled with letters. Tony read the code backwards and realized that it was a message from Neil. He flashes back to odd comments that Neil made, especially about the ring. Neil said it was a family heirloom, but his mom didn’t know about it.

Alison wakes up tied to a chair with everyone else around her. Fran admits that Neil came to see her and slipped her a drugged soda, while Joan and Brenda encountered him on the way to Alison’s house. They saw him on the side of the road and thought he was a ghost, and he used that to kidnap them. Neil walks in, yellow and pale and barely able to stand on his feet. He basically rants and raves for a few minutes and Alison tries to calm him down.

She tells him all about how she dreamed of him before and trusts him. When he gets close, she grabs his gun and threatens to shoot him. She asks him about Tony and he tells her that Tony died. She tells him to let her go, and they do a little fighting. Neil says that he can’t trust anyone and that she lied to him, so he offers to give him back the gun to show her loyalty. When she does, he jabs her in the leg with a needle.

Tony bursts through the door and Neil drags her across the room. He starts rambling about how they all had these great lives and they overlooked him and how much he wanted the same things. He also accuses Tony of stealing Alison from him, but then he kind of just gives up. He lets everyone go and Tony refuses to leave. Neil passes out and Tony carries him out of the house.

Cut to a few weeks later and Tony and Alison are talking about graduation. Brenda showed up to sing and the school lifted her suspension for telling off the teachers. She also mentions that Kipp told the police a long story about being kidnapped by sex-crazed girls and Fran claimed that an old man kidnapped her and made her draw naked pictures of him. Kipp told a loving story about Neil at graduation that made everyone cry.

Tony tells her that he took Neil to the mountains and rented a cabin with his parents’ permission. They spent a week feeding deer, talking about old times, and skipping rocks in the lake. Neil was really sick and wouldn’t take any medicine, but he did make Tony promise to bury him in the man’s grave. It turns out that Neil faked his death so his mom could get the life insurance and have money to survive after he was gone. After he died, Tony buried him in the grave and said his goodbyes. As they walk off, a butterfly lands on Alison’s hand, and she wonders if she’s finally getting her innocence back after that night.

*I know that Pike wrote this prior to all the other IKWYDLS rip-offs, but I am so sick of these books! There’s this one, Cusick did one or two, Stine did at least two (one Fear Street, one Point Horror), and there were several Point books with basically the same plot.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Baby-Sitters Club #78: Claudia and the Crazy Peaches

Mrs. Kishi has some big news, but she decides to let Peaches tell Claudia herself. It turns out that Peaches is pregnant. A few days later, she calls and announces that they are moving to Stoneybrook but they can’t move into their new house for one month, so Mrs. Kishi tells them that they can move in with them. Peaches also lets them know that she quit her job so she can focus full-time on being a mother.

Peaches almost instantly puts a wrench in Claudia’s life. Peaches takes her shopping for baby furniture and asks her for advice on everything she buys. Claudia is so excited about having a new baby around that she asks Mary Anne to teach her how to knit. Since Mimi taught her, it will be like having something from Mimi for the baby.

One day, Peaches decides to cook a big dinner for everyone. She takes Claudia to a fancy gourmet food store, they spend all night cooking, and put on vests and bowties to serve dinner. Claudia quickly notices that she has no time for her artwork let alone school and she keeps getting further behind. Every time she makes some time for schoolwork, Peaches has another idea.

One night, she wakes her up because she has a craving for pizza at midnight. After disappearing for a few hours, they start home and Peaches sheepishly admits that she didn’t leave a note. Mrs. Kishi and everyone else are awake with all the lights on in the house. She lectures them both and Claudia explodes, telling her to blame Peaches for being the irresponsible one.

Peaches and Claudia are way too polite with each other after that. Peaches asks Claudia to help her pick out baby stuff, and she says she needs to wait so she can do homework. Peaches agrees and suggests the next day. Claudia comes home ready to work on a new sculpture and Peaches is waiting. They have another fight and Peaches tells her she has too much stuff to deal with to handle a sulky teenager too. Claudia stuffs the blanket in the closet, but Mary Anne asks her to keep working on it.

The BSC is having a problem with a new charge named Natalie Springer. She asks Claudia to be her friend and gets really clingy. She even helps Claudia clean her house. No matter who sits for her, she wants to be their best friend. They decide to get her around other kids to help her make new friends. Shannon invites a bunch of kids over, but Natalie gets really bossy and acts so mean that the other kids take off.

Jessi and a few other sitters try introducing her to other kids, but she either acts too shy or too bossy. Jessi takes her to her house to meet a bunch of kids and they run off playing games. She sees Charlotte and Becca playing jump rope and starts playing with them. Claudia talks to her about being a good friend and they make a list of things a good friend should do. She realizes that she broke some of the rules with Peaches and decides to apologize.

When she gets home though, she hears Janine on the phone and learns that Peaches lost the baby. Claudia blames herself, thinking that she put too much stress on the baby. When Peaches comes back, Claudia apologizes and Peaches tells her that it wasn’t her fault. They cry and bond together, and Claudia shows her the blanket, which she says will be for the next baby. At the end of the book, Peaches and Russ move into their new house and decide that they’ll try again in awhile.

*Peaches’ house sells and the seller demands that they move in something like two weeks. Really? There is no way in hell that I could pack up my rental house and get it all moved that fast, let alone move from a house I owned.

*What happened to Mimi’s room? In this book, Peaches and Russ stay in the den and no one mentions them having a guest room.

*I have a cat named Patches (kitten actually) and almost every time I wrote Peaches, I started to write Patches LOL.

*The timeline in this series really pisses me off. This is book 78 and Peaches loses the baby. They decide to take some time before trying again, but in around 20 books, she’s already had another baby.

*The entire club has suggestions for Peaches from playing the baby music to playing French language tapes. I’m not totally sure on this, but has anyone in the club ever met Peaches? I know that Claudia mentions how much Stacey loves Peaches and Russ, but I don’t think there was a book when she actually met them.

*Mary Anne suggests that she knit a pair of booties because her blanket design is too complicated, which just sounds crazy.

*As “strict” as the Kishis are, why don’t they ever tell Peaches to back off and give Claudia some space? Then again, Peaches knows how much trouble she has in school and still convinces her to put her homework off.

*I thought Peaches was little too rash in her decision making. She was only a month or two along and decided to quit her job, sell her house, and move to a new town.