Thursday, January 26, 2012

Goosebumps #54: Don’t go to Sleep! (R.L. Stine)

All Matt really wants is a little freedom from his family. His older siblings Pam and Greg make fun of him all the time, ignore him when they’re supposed to take care of him, and get him into trouble. He also wants a bigger bedroom because his bedroom is too small for all of his stuff, but his mom claims they need the guest room for his grandparents’ once a year visits.

The final straw comes when his brother throws the family dog (who he hates) on his chest and his brother sticks him with making dinner. After everyone goes to sleep, Matt sneaks into the guest room and falls asleep. He wakes the next day with enormous feet and finds that he became a teenager. When he runs downstairs, he discovers that Pam and Greg are now younger than him and he has to attend high school.

The classes are harder, no one likes him, and guys in black keep following him around. He tries explaining what happened to his teachers, but they think he read too much science fiction. He runs into a younger girl named Lacie, but she is the only nice person he sees all day.

The next day Matt wakes up to no siblings and parents he never saw before, plus a pet cat. He is back in a younger body, but his dad drops him off at a new junior high. He runs into Lacie, who doesn’t recognize him from before, but she still helps him escape the men in black.

Every time Matt falls asleep, he wakes up in a completely different body. One day he becomes a chubby boy, the next day he’s a young boy, etc. He even wakes up in the body of a circus performer-lion tamer with six brothers and sisters. After waking up in an old man’s body, he forces himself to fall asleep and wakes up as a monster. He runs through town and Lacie helps him escape, only to lead him to the men in black. They let him sleep and he wakes up the next day as a human.

Lacie and the guys explain that they are the reality police. The guest room of his house was a hole in reality and when he fell asleep there, he slipped into another reality. There is no way of bringing him back, so they plan on putting him to sleep permanently. He keeps jumping into bodies of real people and they can’t have him disrupting the lives of others.

Matt manages to escape and runs home, but no one recognizes him. He decides that if he goes to sleep in his own bed, then it will fix everything. Since he can’t get inside, he falls asleep and wakes up as a squirrel. He runs inside, but his sister catches him and sticks him in a cage. He escapes, runs into his room and falls asleep.

Matt wakes up in his regular body the next day and gleefully kisses Pam, Greg and his mom. His mom announces that she has a little surprise for him. Since he’s getting older and needs more room, she cleared out the guest room for him…

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

13 Tales of Horror: “House of Horrors” by J.B. Stamper (Point Horror)

Mark works in a wax museum/attraction called the House of Horrors, even though he is secretly afraid of the figures. His crush Lisa spots him after the last group goes through and tells him that they are throwing an after hours party. Mark sticks around and runs into his co-worker Elliott. Elliott warns him that the boss is coming, so he hides in the museum.

Mark hears everyone leave for the night and sees the lights go out. Still thinking that the party is coming up, he hides out. It takes him far too long to realize that he is on the only left there. He runs through the museum, freaking out because he keeps thinking that he hears someone. Suddenly, a shadow falls over him. He trips, falls on a couch and screams in horror.

The next day, Lisa arrives at work, laughing to herself over how stupid Mark is for thinking they were throwing a party. She pauses, seeing one of the figures in a new position, standing over the couch. When she gets closer, she realizes that the figure on the couch looks just like Mark, but when she touches its face, it feels cool.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sweet Valley Twins #58: Elizabeth and the Orphans

Mrs. Arnett divides the class up for a special project on families. Each student has to do a report on their partner’s family. Jessica gets paired with Lila and Elizabeth gets paired with Melissa McCormick, a girl rarely ever mentioned before. Melissa tells her that her project should be easy since it’s just her, her older brother Andy and her mom.

When she gets home that night, she finds her mom laying on the couch and coughing. Her mom has heart problems and been in and out of the hospital for years. We also learn that their parents separated years ago, but apparently never got divorced. They haven’t heard from their dad even once since he skipped out and Andy hates him.

The principal calls Melissa into his office and tells her that her mom had a heart attack. He rushes her to the hospital, where they meet Andy and his principal. They get to see their mom in her room, but she acts really down and defeated. She makes them promise that they will always look out for each other. A few minutes after leaving her room, the doctors call a special code, rush inside and do everything they can, but their mom still dies.

Social service shows up on their doorstep the next day because a nurse contacted them. Their neighbor, Mrs. Franco, offers to take them in until they can reach their dad. Andy lies, telling her that he is in Europe, but he should be back any day. Their neighbors are leaving on a trip for Europe and the wife decides that she should call social services before leaving.

Andy pays one of his old basketball buddies $50 to call and pretend that he is their dad. Sam calls Mrs. Franco, promises that he’s on his way into town and she leaves happily. Andy claims that between their mom’s bank account and the cash around the house, they have more than enough to last for a few months. Money runs out pretty fast and he quits the basketball team so he can get a part-time job.

Melissa wants to work too, but he won’t let her. She stays at home, cleaning the house and cooking dinner for him, which she burns. Andy starts skipping school and the principal schedules a phone meeting with his “dad”. Sam comes over, answers the phone and leaves, saying Andy owes him a future favor.

The pressure of lying to everyone keeps grating on Melissa and she finally breaks down to Elizabeth because Sweet Valley has no other helpers. Elizabeth helps by cleaning the house, cooking dinner and talking to her. They clean Mrs. McCormick’s bedroom and find a stash of letters under the bed. Melissa learns that her dad kept writing and sending money, but she always sent the money back.

Melissa tries talking to Andy, but he doesn’t care. He claims that their dad made up the stories on paper because he never showed up or gave them money in person. Melissa goes back to acting like a doormat, until she sees three guys in black sneaking around the neighbor’s house. She calls the police and when they get there, she discovers that one of the guys was Andy.

Melissa calls Elizabeth, who asks her dad for help. Ned posts his bond and gets him out of jail, but both kids get foster care. Elizabeth mopes over what to do for days and finally sends a letter to their dad at his last known address. Melissa and Andy meet at their house with their social workers to pick up some stuff. Mr. McCormick shows up at the last possible minute, rescuing the kids from foster care.

Jessica and Steven spend the whole book fighting over completely stupid crap. She thinks he spends too much time on the phone with his new girlfriend. She makes a phone schedule and he won’t follow it, but it is unfair. They fight over food, the couch and who gets to throw a pool party. When they find out what happened to Melissa and Andy, they make up and throw one huge party for all their friends.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sweet Valley High #41: Outcast

Molly Hecht is an outcast and they should run her out of Sweet Valley. Everyone blames her for Regina Morrow’s death because she had the party where she died. They are more than filling to forget that (a) Justin took her to the party and (b) she only went because Bruce cheated with Amy. Hell, Bruce and Amy even go to the funeral together. Of course, they look like crap, but Liz makes them feel better by telling them that Regina forgave them.

No one trusts or likes Molly anymore and generally makes her feel like crap about herself. No one talks to her and they all ignore her at school. Justin shoots her down, so she tries talking to Liz. Liz basically tells her that she loved Regina and wants nothing to do with her. Then she makes the mistake of going to the cemetery and running into Nicholas, who makes her feel even worse.

When she gets home, her parents lecture her constantly. She suggests moving to San Francisco with her dad and he tells her that her punishment is going to school every day and taking what everyone dishes out because she deserves it. Nice parenting, right? She sneaks out of the house and runs into Buzz. He is a wanted man, but he makes her feel better.

Buzz realizes that Molly holds the key to his escape. He sucks up to her, making her feel like she is a great person. He plies her with beer and pot before telling her that he cares about her and thinks she is his soulmate. Then he reveals that he is leaving town and asks her to go with him. Molly offers to clean out her savings account and go with him.

Jessica decides that she should do something for Regina. She decides on a scholarship fund for needy girls and gets the PBA involved. Just as she freaks out about money and handling the actual fund, Ned offers to take over the project and handle the money and finances. Basically, Jess just gets to take the credit without doing any of the dirty work.

Nicholas shows up on their doorstep the next morning and she tells him about the fund. They share a moment and Jess starts crushing on him again, but then Liz shows up and he forgets about her. He drives Liz to school and tells her what happened with Molly. He wants Liz to apologize for him because he feels bad. Liz realizes how hard things are for Molly.

Liz talks to Justin, who refuses to listen to her because he hates Molly and blames her. She follows Molly to the bank and sees her taking out a few thousand dollars. Molly refuses to talk to Liz and runs away. So, Liz goes to Justin that night and tells him what she saw. They somehow track Molly down and follow her to her meeting spot. Justin recognizes Buzz, drops Liz off to call the cops and follows their car.

Somehow he manages to force their car off the side of the road. He apologizes to Molly and begs her not to leave. The cops arrive and arrest Buzz. I’m not sure exactly what they arrest him for. By the time they got to the party, he was long gone. Anyway, Molly safely goes home with Liz and Jeffery, who shows up at the scene.

Molly comes to school the next day and thanks Liz. For what exactly? Being a huge bitch to her? Or changing her mind at the last second? She announces that she is serious about school not, has stopped drinking and drugs and wants to be a better person. Mr. Collins even offers to put her up for the scholarship next year and Liz thinks the Morrow family would really like that.

There is also a scene where Liz writes the story about the fund for the paper. Mr. Collins arrives and lectures her, Olivia, Penny and Jessica about not blaming people. Jessica still wants to blame Molly, but eventually realizes that things cannot be easy for her either.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sweet Valley Twins #114: The Boyfriend Mess

I never read the book before this, but this one sums it up perfectly. Sweet Valley Middle School hosted a TV dating show, kind of like “The Dating Game.” I find it gross that anyone would watch 6th graders dating, but whatevs. Elizabeth freaked out and couldn’t go on stage, so Jessica took her place and accidentally picked Todd. Patrick was supposed to pick his girlfriend Sophia, but accidentally chose Maria. Amy winds up with Aaron Dallas and Janet gets a dorky guy named Donald.

All of the couples get to spend the day at a new amusement park and if they make it back on the bus together, the school gets a free dance. Jess is excited because Lila keeps bragging about going to the park and she hasn’t gone yet. Since they load the kids on the bus right after the show, she gets stuck with Todd.

Liz and Sophia stay behind and overhear some workers talking about exposing cheaters. Since they both cheated, they rush off and sneak into the park. Jessica hates Todd, but has to be nice to him because he dates her sister and he thinks that she is Liz. She would rather cozy up to the host of the show, a teenager named Byron. When Liz gets to the park, she rushes off with Todd, leaving Jessica with Byron.

Maria and Patrick meet Marshall, who says he is Byron’s cousin, but in a sneaky way. They like each other, so Patrick lets them go off together. Sophia warns him about the cheaters, so he attaches himself to Maria and will not leave her side. Everyone ends up fighting over something.

Sophia hears Patrick pledging his love to Maria and flips out. Maria runs off in tears because she likes Marshall. Liz and Todd have a fight because he thought she wasn’t paying attention to him earlier. Oddly enough, Amy and Aaron and Dennis and Janet wind up as friends. Byron confronts Jessica, letting her know that he knows she isn’t her twin. Liz and Sophia hop on the bus and head home.

Maria is late getting back to the van. Byron tells them that if she doesn’t get back in ten minutes, the dance is off. Amy runs back into the park, tracks her down and makes her get on the van. Everyone goes back to the school and meets for the dance. Byron says that they all win because the deal was that the left with who they went with and since Jessica went and left with Todd, it counts.

Then, Byron announces that he is launching a new show that looks at the ups and downs of dating. He shows a bunch of video footage of kids fighting during the day at the park. Instead of being pissed off, they all think that it is hysterical. Elizabeth apologizes to Todd, Sophia apologizes to Patrick and they all dance.

Maria sneaks outside and finds Marshall. She apologizes for acting stupid and tells him that she likes him. They end up talking about movies instead of dancing. Byron sweeps Jessica off her feet and they share a bunch of dances, which makes her the center of the dance.

*I am confused because I read the last book in the SVT series and Jessica is pissed because Lila goes after Aaron, her sort-of boyfriend. In this book, she mentions that they kissed and he is kind of her boyfriend. Yet she doesn’t care that he goes out with Amy and throws herself at Byron.

*Apparently it is perfectly acceptable in Sweet Valley for 12-year-old girls to hop on a bus and take an hour-long trip alone because both Liz and Sophia do it, twice.

*The whole dance thing is ridiculous. If any of the kids screw up, they cancel the dance. BUT, they spent all day decorating and invited the whole school. Can you imagine the bad publicity if they cancelled it at the last minute?

*Again, I have to ask, why would anyone want to watching sixth graders dating? They plan two different shows around the idea and it skeeves me out.