Friday, December 19, 2014

Fear Street: The Stepsister 2 (R.L. Stine)


It's been like a whole year since Nancy tried to kill her sister and got sent to an institution, so of course she's ready to come home again. Emily starts out the book thinking about what happened over the last year and watching her stepsister Jessie move her things into her room so Nancy can have a room of her own. While holding a swan that someone gave Jessie after her mother died, Emily hears a scream that causes her to jump and break the swan.

The scream came from Rich, her younger stepbrother. He got really dark over the last year and now spends all of his time working on a horror movie with his friends. Rich is pissed off because someone told their dad that he sneaked out and went to a party, which ended with him getting grounded for six weeks. Both deny him getting in trouble, but he doesn't believe them.

Jessie's friend Cora-Anne comes over, forgetting that Nancy is coming home. She helps diffuse Rich by talking to him about horror movies. They hear their parents coming in, and Nancy shows up with a knife in her hand. It turns out that it was a prop leftover from Rich's film. She seems okay but also really nervous and shy. After just a few minutes, she makes up an excuse and goes to her room.

Emily does find a bottle of expensive perfume in her room tipped over. She immediately blames Nancy and plans to talk to her before Cora-Ann interrupts. She points out that it was probably just the breeze from the window Emily left open and that she needs to calm down. Rich makes a rude comment about the smell and makes it clear that maybe he was the one who knocked it over.

They all go out to breakfast today to spend some time together. Nancy then suggests that she and Emily talk, but when they're alone, she tries to strangle her. Ha, just kidding! She actually just puts her hands on her neck to show that Emily doesn't really trust her. Trying to kill someone really damages the trust they have in you! Emily's little dog Butchie comes running in and jumps all over Nancy. That breaks up the moment and lets them relax enough to talk about what happened. Emily then goes out with her boyfriend Josh, but when she comes home that night, she hears someone sneaking around the house and thinks it might be Nancy going crazy again.

Cora-Ann has been hanging around the house a lot because her parents are fighting. She admits to Emily that her dad moved out and that she didn't want to bother Jessie with her problems. Jessie then gets pissed and tells Emily that Cora-Ann is her friend and her friend alone. She wakes up a few nights later because of a bad nightmare. She had a friend named Jolie at camp who died, and she found her body. The nightmares all came back in recent months, which as Emily points out might be because Cora-Ann looks an awfully lot like her.

Then a bunch of weird things happen. She finds that someone sliced her favorite black dress in half. She blames Nancy, and Cora-Ann thinks it was the cleaner. Rich shows up with a pair of scissors and jokes about it. She tells her parents, but they think it was just a joke. It doesn't help that Nancy puts her foot out and trips her, causing Emily to fall down the stairs. Nancy swears that it was an accident and that her medication causes muscles twitches. She does have a nice moment with Nancy, who is working on fixing up their old tree house. But then someone cuts her brakes.

Emily ends up in a bad accident and remembers seeing her sister carrying a toolbox. She tells her parents, but her stepdad blames himself. He knew the brakes were loose and just never got around to getting them fixed. Emily finally tells them that when Nancy really does kill her, they should probably ground her for a few weeks.

A few nights later, Cora-Anne shows up with her bag in the middle of the night. Her dad came by the house and they had a huge fight. They offer to let her spend the night with them. When Emily gets up the next day, the other girls tell her to use the bathroom first. Emily notices that the toothpaste feels weird and then she can't open her mouth. When she looks over, she sees a tube of super glue in the trash. Um, super glue doesn't work like that?

Cora-Ann helps her rinse her mouth and calls 911, who tell them to get her to the emergency room. She naturally blames Nancy, and Nancy bursts into tears, freaks out, and runs from the room as she cries about people always blaming her for stuff. Gee, I wonder why they would do that. It probably doesn't help when Emily finds her dog murdered on the floor, and Rich makes a rude joke about dead dogs in the house.

To get her mind off all the stuff at home, Emily asks Cora-Ann about her family life. Cora-Ann tells her that her mom wants to move them all back to Parkerstown. Turns out that's the same town Jolie came from, and she lets it slip that she knows what happened. Jessie is suspicious because she never told her "best friend" about one of the most important events in her life. She convinces Emily to go with her to her friend's house. They see Jolie's parents on the porch. They tell her that Cora-Ann was Jolie's cousin, the same cousin who was so upset over her death that she couldn't come to the funeral.

Jessie decides that Cora-Ann is responsible for everything. She wore that black dress, used Emily's perfume, and the dog always came to her first. It's clear that Cora-Ann did everything to hurt Jessie and that it had nothing to do with Emily. Emily immediately apologizes to Nancy, but Nancy won't let her in her room. She says she's too busy working on a mural she's painting in her room. A mural that she won't let a single person see.

Cora-Ann calls to talk to Jessie, who blurts out that they know everything about who she is and what she did. Right as she goes to say something else, a storm that suddenly picked up knocks out the phone line. While searching the house for candles, Cora-Ann shows up at the door with a big ass knife in her hand. Jessie runs for the phone before remembering that it's out, and when she turns around, her friend is gone.

Cora-Ann somehow gets in the house and comes at them with the knife, but Nancy shows up and slams her over the head with a frying pan. I cannot make this crap up. Jessie starts gushing about how she saved her, and Nancy smacks her over the head with the same pan. Nancy then turns on Emily and admits that she never really recovered. She still had the same knife from before and kept it in her bag. Cora-Ann found the knife when she accidentally took the bag and was coming back to tell them. I guess she was in shock, which is why she never said a single word.

Emily goes running through the house and winds up in Nancy's room. She rips the sheet off her mural and sees that it's just the word "hate" repeated over and over again. Nancy attacks her, Emily says she forgives her and tries to keep her calm, and they end up hugging it out. Their parents come home to find two passed out girls on the floor and the other two hugging.

Nancy goes back to the institution at the end. Cora-Ann's parents went to a therapist who told them to get a divorce. They seem a lot happier and her mom wants to stay in Shadyside. She admits that she became friends with Jessie for revenge but later realized she didn't kill her cousin and just became her friend. Their parents call Rich to the table for dinner, and he says he's waiting for this show to end. What is he watching? Family Feud. Ha, ha?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Baby-Sitters Club #82: Jessi and the Troublemaker


Remember back when Jessi took part in that club for kids after school? Danielle Roberts, who was in that club, has cancer but is now in remission, which means her parents naturally need a sitter. The other girls agree to let Jessi take the first sitting job. She asks Mrs. Roberts if they need to watch her closely or do anything special. While watching over her little brother Greg, they hear a big noise. Danielle was wearing her mom's rollerblades and accidentally knocked over a bookcase.

Mary Anne is the next one to have problems with her. While spending time with Greg, she lets Danielle invite Haley, Becca, and Charlotte over to play. She realizes that she hasn't seen them in awhile and goes downstairs. She finds them "sledding" down the basement stairs on a mattress from a baby crib.

Kristy then gets a chance to see her in action. Danielle and her friends turn the water on in her parents' shower, closes the door, and uses duct tape to seal it off. Kristy rushes in and finds water everywhere and the girls kind of just standing around in shock. She manages to take care of everything, but they do end up with water everywhere. They finally decide to call her parents and talk to them, but they pretty much blow it off as her just releasing some steam after being sick for so long.

They can't ignore what happens next. The girls all come over to hang out with Danielle. Danielle wants to play a game where they pack a picnic lunch and pretend to take a trip, which Jessi thinks is cute. Later on, she realizes that she can't find them anywhere and runs outside to find Danielle driving her mom's car down the street. She loses control and hits a parked car.

The neighbors come running outside and calm things down. Everyone is okay, but Vanessa smacked her head on the windshield. The neighbors agree to take care of Greg and get in touch with their parents. The police and an ambulance comes, but Jessi finally gets to go home and sleep. Mr. and Mrs. Roberts both apologize for not listening to her and agree to get tough with Danielle.

Stacey gets to sit at their house the next time and notices that Danielle is really down. She tries calling each of her friends but none of them will talk to her anymore. Stacey calls Jessi and Mal, and since all four girls were conveniently in their homes, they bring them over. Stacey makes them realize that they're all being silly about the accident and they all become friends again.

Subplot time! Jessi and Becca overhear their aunt Cecilia with her friend Mr. Majors talking about a wedding. They assume that they're planning a secret wedding and tell all their friends. They even pick out bridesmaids dresses and an outfit for Squirt. When they find out that they were just in the same wedding together, they don't want to tell their friends they were wrong, so they try to make them fall in love with a romantic dinner. Fortunately, Cecilia calls them out on it and lets them know that they're just friends.

*I love how much Danielle changed from the cover of the last book to the cover of this one. She looks so much like Scarlet Johanson here!

*There's a lot of foreshadowing about the next book here. Stacey keeps pawning her sitting jobs off on others and either showing up late to meetings or not showing up at all. When she saves the day in the end, Jessi even points out that she's starting to act like her old self.

*Claudia outfit: jeans with holes and designs cut out so you can see her leopard print tights underneath, Doc Martens with yellow shoelaces, black and yellow shoelaces in the braid in her hair, earrings made from black beads and yellow feathers, a black and yellow striped long sleeve shirt buttoned up to the neck, and a "tie" made from black and yellow shoelaces. That sounds awful!

*When Jessi comes downstairs on the day of the "wedding" and finds her parents lounging around the house, she just thinks they're really committed to the secret. How stupid is she?

*Apparently the only thing Jessi can cook is spaghetti, so that's what they make for Cecilia and her beau.

*It's actually realistic that Jessi partly wants Cecilia to get married so she can have some more freedom at home.

*I love that the girls stopped talking because they're so upset over what happened and not because of their parents. Trust me, if one of my friends pulled this when I was a kid, I'm pretty sure I still wouldn't be allowed to be friends with them!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Goosebumps #58: Deep Trouble II







Billy and Sheena Deep are back with their uncle for the summer, but Billy somehow feels that something bad is going to happen. The first thing that happens is that he imagines his sister is an octopus attacking him. Then he decides to scare his sister and make her think he's a shark. She freaks out, but she freaks out because there's an actual shark behind him. This shark "20 times as big as a normal shark." It kind of floats around and wanders off.

They go to tell their uncle, Dr. D, what they saw, but he doesn't believe them. He does give Billy some plankton to feed his fish and mumbles about some random fish he caught. Billy thinks it looks familiar and goes through a book. D tells him it's too big to be in that book but then realizes that it's a minnow. Even though minnows only grow like one inch long and this one is four foot long, it's a perfect match.

Billy wanders off to feed his fish and screams when he sees a head in the fishbowl. Sheena comes in laughing because it's just a doll head. D gets a kick out of it too, and laughs as Billy's fish go crazy over the plankton. Later on, the kids go swimming. Billy sees a weird pink blog that pretty much attacks her sister. When he tries to save her, he realizes that it's a massively huge jellyfish. He ends up swimming into the jellyfish, grabbing her, and pulling her out. Another jellyfish shows up and the two start fighting.

The kids run to find D and discover that he's missing. They then find a giant snail with D stuck underneath it. They get him out, and Billy realizes that the snail looks just like the one in his fishbowl but much larger. He hears a loud noise coming from his room and finds the goldfish have multiplied in size too. They end up throwing the fish over the side of the boat, despite them being freshwater fish. Suddenly, three random strangers show up on the boat.

The oldest man introduces himself as Dr. Ritter, a marine biologist working in the area. After some chit chat, he asks if they've seen anything strange. D tells Billy to shut up when he starts to explain. The giant snail then rolls out on deck and Ritter tells them that they know too much about his secret. He's apparently been doing weird things with the plankton. When the fish eat it, they grow in size. He plans on using it to end hunger.

Since they know too much, he has to get rid of them. He and his minions take them onto a different boat and tie them up. Ritter then tells one of the guys to throw Billy overboard. Just as he starts too, these massive birds appear in the sky. D points out that this what happens when other animals feed on the plankton and other fish. While the birds distract everyone else, Billy gets loose.

They start to run for the dingy, but one of the guys grabs a gun and fires. D slumps over in shock, but no worries, he didn't really get hit. They jump in the dingy and somehow manage to take off. They ride the boat to an island and try to make the best of it. They find a place to rest and some coconuts, but Billy wonders if they'll ever find a way home.

Sheena swims out in the water and catches a fish. Billy, being the typical big brother, decides it isn't big enough and tries to catch one himself. A giant crab, which probably came from my nightmares, grabs him and tries to pull him under. He gets free, and all three run and hide in a tree. A bunch of giant dolphins pop up and the crab runs away. The dingy rope gets wrapped around one of the dolphins, and it starts to carry it off. They all climb on the boat and let the dolphin drag them.

Billy flips out because it looks like the dolphin took them right back to Ritter. When he looks closer, he realizes that it took them back to their boat. As soon as they get on board, Ritter shows up again. He tells them that if a human eats the plankton, they'll turn into a fish. He makes Billy pick a bottle from the cabinet and drink it, but nothing happens. D attacks him, they roll around on the floor for awhile, and D comes out on top. Rather than go to the police, Ritter downs a bottle, turns into a fish, and swims away.

Billy confesses that he wanted to play a prank on his sister. He filled one of the bottles with ice tea and planned to drink it front of her to freak her out. When Ritter made him drink it, he picked the bottle he planted. Sheena giggles about how she did the same thing, grabs a bottle, and downs it. They suddenly hear her body making a weird noise, and Sheena wonders if maybe she picked the wrong bottle.