Wednesday, December 30, 2015

More Tales to Give You Goosebumps

The Werewolf's First Night

Brian is a little nervous about going to Thunder Lake with his parents on summer vacation because he's now old enough for the boys' teen camp and he heard stories about werewolves roaming the camp. He hears wolf noises coming from the woods, sees one of the guys eating raw hamburger meat, and sees fur on another. Just as he starts to freak out, they reveal that it was all a big joke play on all new guys. That's when Brian completely transforms into a werewolf and starts chasing them all around camp. Unexpected.

P.S. I Don't Write Back

David is spending the summer at Camp Timber Lake Hills and is upset that his parents never write him. While all the other campers get letters, he gets nothing. He finally gets a letter from his mom that they aren't coming to visit him and to not write back. Then he gets another that says his parents are sending them to live with his uncle and to not write back. When he looks closer, he sees the letters are addressed to Camp Timber Lane Hills, which is the camp across the lake. He sneaks out, finds the other David, and tries to give him the letters before the other David starts screaming at him to leave. When he gets back, his counselor yells at him for sneaking out and reveals that the camp across the lake burned down 30 years ago. David heads back to his cabin, looks closer at the letters, and finds that each one is dated from 1964. Dah dah dum.

Something Fishy

Eric is a normal kid who loves fish. It's super hot outside but since he loves his fish, he spends all his money on his tank instead of stuff like ice cream or swimming. One day, he starts looking deep into his tank and suddenly shrinks down to the size of his fish. The fish attack, he grabs a spear from one of his decorations, and attacks them back. His sister yells at his mom that there's a dead fish in the tank, and when she goes to scoop out the fish, she grabs him too. As she flushes him down the toilet, he wakes up in his bed regular size. A few days later, the temperature rises again and he does the same thing. Only this time, his mom comes in and tells his sister that she picked him up some fighting fish and dumps them in the tank right on top of him.

You Gotta Believe Me

Stan's parents don't believe in television, so he reads a lot of science fiction. That's why he realizes aliens are real after seeing a spaceship by his neighbor, Mr. Tribble's, house. Unfortunately, Mr. Tribble tells him it was nothing and sends him home. He then sneaks over and sees the aliens talking about the stages of their invasion. The aliens nab him and make him watch a bunch of sci-fi shows before letting him go. When no one believes his stories of aliens invading, he decides to stop them himself with a bunch of aluminum foil. Seriously. In the end though, the aliens come back anyway.


Ashley, Greg, and Jack are hanging out on the beach with Greg eating his trademark gummy worms and picking on Ashley. They find a treasure chest that washed up on the beach and open it to find a huge blob monster trying to get out. The monster eats the gummy worms and then drags Greg inside when it can't find anymore. Ashley and Jack rush to the store, get more gummy worms, come back, and tempt the blob monster until it lets Greg go. Greg looks back, sees a bag of gummy worms hanging out the side of the chest, and starts to go back until they stop him. As they wander off, they see two guys walk up to the chest, comment on the gummy worms, and start to open the chest without even attempting to stop them. Nice Ashley, nice.

Dr. Horror's House of Video

Ben loves horror movies so much that he and his friend Jeff make their own. While on a trip into town with his mom, he stumbles onto a new video rental place called Dr. Horror's House of Video. The owner, Dr. Horror, tells him that he makes his own movies in his garage and lets him watch part of his Lizardman movie. Ben sneaks back the next day because he wants to see how the movie ends. The store is closed, so he sneaks in and later finds himself locked inside. He then wanders into the garage and finds both Dr. Horror and Lizardman. Dr. Horror offers him a role in his next film, they start acting, and Ben quickly realizes that all the monsters are real. Though he thinks Dr. Horror wants to help him escape from the ropes that tie him to a tree, he really just fixes his hair and keeps on rolling...

The Cat's Tale

Marla's parents moved her and her brother to the middle of nowhere from NYC, so she isn't a happy camper. One night when the electric goes out, she has a nightmare about a monster attacking and wakes to see a furry streak run by. The streak is actually a black cat that somehow found a way into her room. Marla falls in love with that cat she names Misty. They spend every day together until she eventually goes to the swimming pool. The water freaks her out, something claws her leg, and she gets pushed into the pool. Her brother then hands her Misty and says the cat followed her there. Marla keeps hearing whispers singing a song about a cat's nine lives as she slowly becomes more cat like, including only wanting to eat tuna, drink milk, and having a fear of water. She tries to give the cat to an animal shelter, but Misty comes back. Marla then takes her out in a carrier, and while stopping to grab a soda, she hears screeching tires. A guy jumps out of his truck and freaks out that he hit and killed her cat. Marla goes home with a smile on her face, only to hear the whispered song come back later that night about eight lives left.

Shell Shocker

Tara and her brother Tommy find some shells on the beach and fight over one in particular. She wins and holds the shell up to her ear to hear someone talking. The little voice tells her where she can find the biggest shell in the world. Not really believing the voice, she follows its directions and finds a cave filled with bones. Though the voice says it's just fish bones, Tara thinks it might be human bones. She does find the biggest shell and starts celebrating before a huge hermit crab climbs out and attacks her. As it seemingly eats her, a tiny hermit crab pops out of the smaller shell and cheerfully tells its mom that it brought her another.

Poison Ivy

Matt's parents send him off to camp for the summer, which is horrible for a city boy. On his very first day, he nearly tumbles into a patch of poison ivy. On that same night, he hears a scratching at the door, checks it out, and sees the poison ivy creeping over the camp. Though no one believes him, they have to the next night when the poison ivy comes creeping over the doors and windows and blocks them in the cabin. Luckily, one of the guys has aftershave that the plant hates. They spray enough to kill the poison ivy. Just then, they see a funnel cloud in the sky. Aftershave boy then admits that the smell attracts mosquitoes...

The Spirit of the Harvest Moon

Jenny's parents take her to a lodge near the end of summer where it turns out there are no other guests. She meets this dog Bravo, the lodge owner, and his son Tyler. That first night, the owner locks her windows and won't let her open them, and she then hears someone calling her name and saying it's cold from outside. Tyler tells her that there was a hiker who mysteriously went missing and now comes back as a ghostly mist. The ghost takes one person every year on the harvest moon. Though she tells her parents, they say he was probably just playing a joke on her. On the night of the harvest moon, they leave her alone but tell her that Bravo will be outside to protect her. She later hears Tyler yelling for help and claiming that he locked himself out. Jenny tells him to stay away because he's the ghost and hears Bravo barking. Bravo then comes back to the door and barks. When she lets him in, the dog looks up, says thank you, and then tells her that it's cold outside, making this my favorite story in the whole book.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #162: The Case of the Last Song

Nancy, Bess, and George are off to Chicago for an antiques fair a la Antiques Roadshow. Bess finds out that the antique bracelet from the 1920s that her grandmother gave her is glass and only worth $50, and Nancy meets an annoying know it all named Wes Clarke who tells her that the Al Capone poster a client gave her father is a worthless reproduction. George brings along an old reel to reel she found hidden in her parents' antique that Clarke tells her isn't worth much.

Bess then runs into a college student she knows named Lisa who works for the company throwing the fair. She invites them to stay in her aunt and uncle's fancy apartment that overlooks the lake and takes them to meet someone who specializes in antique appliances. The guy, Dave, finds a hidden recording in George's player that is actually a recording of Lou Knight, a famous jazz musician. It's one of his lost recordings that is worth thousands of dollars. They also meet Jason, a publicity agent for the company, who wants to take some pictures of it.

At a party later that night, Nancy sees a woman storming off after having a fight with Jason. She introduces herself later as Inez. Not only does she also work for the company, but she plays it off like she barely knows Jason. It also turns out that Jason has a twin brother named Ethan who hits it off really, really well with George.

When they go back to Lisa's apartment later, they find that someone store the recording. Lisa claims that no one else has access to the apartment and that you need a key just to get into the lobby. She does, however, recommend that Nancy investigate the disappearance and lets it slip that some other items were stolen after making an appearance at similar antiques fairs across the country.

Nancy gets approval from the president of the company and starts sneaking around the whole office. She sees Inez acting sneaky and hiding what she was looking at on her computer. Inez lies and says there were never any other robberies until Lisa shows up and tells her Nancy is on the case. Inez keeps acting suspicious, and Lisa whines that Nancy will suspect her next, which actually does make me suspect her.

Not a whole lot happens in the middle of the book, except that Nancy has another run in with Clarke. She previously admired an antique fingerprinting kit from the 1920s that he had on his table. After having another run in with him, he finds the kit missing from his table. He then accidentally knocks her bag out of her hands, and the kit conveniently falls out. The head of the company shows up and announces that she's working for him, which leaves Clarke all pissed off.

Ned also shows up but has no real story except that he knows someone who knows someone who is a jazz historian. While talking with Nancy, they hear Bess screaming in another room and run in to discover that she found the missing tape in Lisa's dresser.

They all go to a party at Jason's fancy loft. Nancy finds out that Ethan is perpetually broke but always seems to have money for the so-called important things in life, including a Rolex watch and an original Beatles poster. Ethan catches her rummaging through his brother's room, which she plays off as just looking for a picture of Bess that was taken the day before.

Nancy, Ned, and Bess take the tape to Ned's peeps. It turns out that everyone in the jazz world heard about the tape and now wants to hear it. When they play it though, it's a woman singing. Lisa then storms in, reveals that it's her demo tape, and that she's pissed they stole it from her room. How they confused a new tape with an antique tape is beyond me.

Nancy gets a list of all the items stole in the past. They do an online search and keep seeing the same website turn up. After looking closer, they find that every item stolen in the past was listed on that site for sale under the same seller. Lisa then realizes that the name the seller uses is the same nickname given to Inez. Ah-ha, I knew I couldn't trust that sneaky bitch!

Ned, as the only one Inez doesn't know, agrees to send an email and ask about an item for sale. While checking out the head office, Nancy hears people coming and manages to hide before Ethan and Inez walk in and start fighting. It turns out that she really is stealing and selling stuff on the site and that Ethan knew about it and even helped her. She got the email from Ned but thought it was suspicious. They leave, but when Nancy comes out, someone hits her over the head and knocks her out. How does this chick not have serious head damage?

She wakes up on the train and manages to get to Jason's apartment. Just as she walks in, someone comes up behind her and comments on her hard head. The person holds a gun to her head, and while he says he's Ethan, she thinks it's Jason. The other twin then shows up, which leaves her feeling even more confused.

Nancy finds the missing recorder, presses a button, and tapes the two fighting and then Jason's confession. In a majorly confusing move, we find out that he somehow stole the antiques from people and sold them but set it up so people would blame the website and Inez. It makes absolutely no sense. In the end though, he gets arrested and Nancy managed to save the main part of the recording. It's the real thing and will probably net George a few thousand dollars.

*Bess rocks a gold metallic top with black pleather pants at one point. That is so totally 2001! I remember having my own pair of pleather pants that I wore to a Godsmack concert lol.

*George is apparently an excellent swing dancer. Does that seem odd to anyone else?

*They eat slices of Chicago deep dish pizza by hand at a party, which makes me wonder if the ghostwriter knew what deep dish pizza looks like.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Goosebumps #4: Say Cheese and Die! (R.L. Stine)

Greg, Michael, Bird, and Shari are best friends stuck living in a small town like all of Stine's characters. They decide to break, er, sneak into an old haunted house called the Coffman house. Not only is it haunted, but there's also an older guy in town who freaks everyone out called Spidey who supposedly lives there too. Oddly enough, they literally say the house is abandoned and sat empty for years before saying on another page that Spidey lives there.

After hanging around for a bit, they find his room in the basement and like horrible little kids, they go through all his stuff and even put on his clothes. Greg finds a camera that he uses to take a picture of Michael right before Michael falls off a ledge or something and hurts himself. They then hear someone upstairs and manage to get out of the house right before finding that the picture he took shows Michael on the ground with an injured leg, just like what just happened.

Greg goes home and takes a picture of his dad's brand new car, a hot little number called a Mercury station wagon. The picture shows the car with a smashed front end. When his dad takes them for a ride, with his mom marveling about the cup holder that pulls right out from the dashboard, his dad takes his eyes off the road and almost hits someone. Greg later takes a picture of his older brother Terry that shows the guy outside with a fearful look in his eyes.

Cut to the next day when the kids all get together to either play or watch a baseball game at the park. After taking a picture of Bird on the field, the photo develops and shows him unconscious on the ground. He tells Shari about all the strange pictures, which leads to her looking over the camera and realizing that (a) it has no manufacturer mark and (b) there's no place to put film in it. They hear someone scream and find Bird laying unconscious on the ground, just like in the picture. Though it turns out he was making fun of them, he then gets hit by a baseball and really does pass out.

By the time Bird wakes up, Terry comes running up with the same long on his face as in the photograph. He tells Greg that their dad was in a car accident. He's now in the hospital and the car is totaled. Their dad is okay but the car is definitely not.

While most of us would try to get rid of this camera, Shari makes Greg bring it to her birthday party. After playing truth or dare, she convinces him to take her picture. When the image shows everything but her, she makes him take another, which shows the same exact thing. Not long after, Shari disappears. Though Greg tries to tell the cops who show up about the camera, they think he's in shock and send him home.

After spending two whole chapters worrying about what to do, Greg gets frustrated and tears up the pictures he took at her birthday party. As soon as that happens, Shari suddenly reappears without any memories of what happened. She and Greg talk it over and decide that they must put the camera back in the house.

While trying to sneak back in, they get caught by Spidey. He reveals that he was actually a scientist years ago who worked to develop the camera. His partner came up with the idea, but Spidey stole it and went on the run. The partner dabbled in the Dark Arts and put a curse on the camera. They struggle, Shari takes a picture of him, and Spidey winds up dead. The last picture taken shows him with a frightened look on his face.

At the very end, the four friends get together and talk about what happened. Shari and Greg lied to the police, telling them that they ran into the house to avoid a storm and found his body there. The book then cuts to two guys who saw them sneak into the house and saw the camera. They then went in and stole it. The last scene surrounds them laughing as they wait to see the picture they took develop...

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Baby-Sitters Club #112: Kristy and the Sister War

The BSC gets a call from Mrs. Kilbourne, aka Shannon's mom. Apparently she wants to go back to school and things are so hectic that she needs someone to sit for Tiffany and Maria. Kristy gets the job and quickly realizes that the girls are really unhappy. Shannon is busy with school, their mom has 900 things going on, and their dad is super busy with some new case.

Kristy initially convinces them that if they help Shannon with some of the billions of things she needs to do that she'll have more time for them. This completely backfires in a bunch of different ways. They make a mess of the kitchen that she gets stuck cleaning up, they screw up her math homework, and they lose Astrid, which results in Shannon tracking her down. After she explodes on them for meddling so much, they decide to get back at her.

Instead of helping, they go out of their way to hurt her. They put purple dye in her shampoo, do the whole bowl over the door trick with red Jell-O, and screw with her appointment book so she misses a bunch of after school activities. Shannon finally breaks down crying to Kristy, who snarkily points out that she knows more about Shannon's house than she does. Kristy then tells her that the girls are only acting out because they want attention from her, and Shannon agrees that something needs to change.

While all this is going on, there's a huge all Stoneybrook dance for all the middle schools in the area. Kristy decides that there should be a similar dance for the kids. Tiffany takes over, holds a meeting, and invites kids from other schools. She and Maria both have crushes on Jordan Pike and want him as their date. They keep fighting over him until they realize that Tiffany actually liked Byron, Maria liked Adam, and Jordan liked Becca.

Claudia is in the seventh grade in this book and dating that guy Mark. They decide to set Kristy up with his friend Steve. Kristy ends up disliking him because he only cares about sports in terms of collecting memorabilia and selling it, but he asks her to the all Stoneybrook dance. She winds up turning him down in the end.

Shannon gets a role in the school play, which starts rehearsals the night of the kids dance so she can't go. Kristy tells the girls to write letters to Shannon and their parents. Shannon shows up at the kids dance and announces that she quit the play. Their parents also come out and tell the kids that they gave up some stuff so they could spend more time together.

When her date gets sick the next night, she calls up Kristy and asks her to be her date. They all have fun dancing with random people. In the end, Kristy forces the BSC to all dance together.

*Kristy is kind of a horrible sitter in this book. She helps the girls make cookies, they mess up the kitchen, and then she just leaves. She says she can't help clean up because she promised her mom she would cook dinner. Can you imagine what she would do if someone else in the club did that?

*Since when does Kristy cook dinner for her family? I thought that was the whole point of her grandma moving in with them.

*They also make the most disgusting snickerdoodle cookies in the history of cookies. They put raisins and walnuts in the batter. I have never, ever heard of anyone doing that before.

*The girls get yelled at because Shannon used up all the towels trying to get the dye out of her hair. Um, why was she drying her hair in between shampoos?

*There really isn't much of a resolution in the end. Mr. Kilbourne agrees to give up some club he's in so he can have more free time, even though the club was never a reason why he wasn't home. Shannon really only seems to give up the play because she didn't like her part or the director, but she'll still have all the other stuff going on that she did in this book. Their mom says she'll only take two classes next semester, which is the exact number of classes she took in the book.

*Kristy says that both Tiffany and Maria are pretending that they have crushes on Jordan because they're too young to think about boys. Isn't Tiffany the same age as Mal and Jess or just a year younger?

*Claudia wears a pink corduroy skirt with a lime green sweater and a lime green hair thing. Kristy says it sounds bad but looks amazing on her. I highly doubt that.

*Kristy is really snarky in this book about Mark. She thinks he's too late for their double date, doesn't pay enough attention to Claudia, and is just a bad choice.

*Claudia gets her to go on the double date by pointing out that Bart might come to the dance with a date. Poor Bart. I wonder what happened to him.

*Steve makes a bad first impression on Kristy because he wears a Yankees jacket, Bulls shirt, and a football hat. She also hates that he buys her a ticket to see some action film. Even though she says she hates those kind of movies, it seems like something she would love.

*The BSC make a rule that none of the kids can bring a date to the dance. They make it seem like everyone was worried about how to ask someone and freaking out over taking a date, but it doesn't seem that realistic for little kids.

*The straw that breaks the camel's back is when the girls dump spaghetti in Shannon's backpack. BTW, this happens while Kristy is watching them!

*Claudia makes Kristy go shopping for a double date worthy outfit. The one she pick out is a fleece vest, silky shirt, and floral skirt with clunky/strappy black heels. There is a great moment where Kristy storms out of Steven E after picking up a white tee shirt that cost $79. Claudia thinks it's a normal price, which makes me wonder how the hell much they charge for sitting!

*During a meeting for the big dance, everyone starts fighting. Kristy puts on some music and makes Alan dance with her. Everyone else falls in line and starts dancing too. It's actually kind of cute because the ghostwriter describes him as looking all amazed, then smiling, and being a little dopey that she wants to dance with him.

*At the real dance, all the girls and guys stand on separate sides of the gym until someone finally starts dancing. It's like we never read a dance book before where everyone just started dancing like crazy.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Baby-Sitters Club Mystery #18: Stacey and the Mystery at the Empty House

The Johanssens are heading off on a vacation to France. Even though they set the lights on a timer and did some other stuff, they still need someone to take in the mail/paper, make the house look lived in, and take care of Carrot. Since this is a job clearly meant for a responsible person, they decide to hire Stacey. To make things even better, she's not really an animal person.

Things go pretty well at first. Carrot seems super excited to see her, and even even likes being around him. Then, things get weird. She starts noticing strange things in the house. Carrot goes bonkers and chews up a bunch of paper, and the dog winds up destroying some other stuff in the house too. She also finds weird things like a glass that she swore she put away in the sink and a broken vase.

Stacey later stops by and sees a strange woman in the bushes with bright red hair. The woman says she's the meter reader and that her husband checks electrical meters too. Stacey slips up and lets it be know that the family are out of the house. She sees the man and woman talking secretively later. On another day, she takes Carrot for a walk, and he leads her to the same couple in their van a few blocks away from the house.

On another trip, she forgets to grab the newspaper. When she comes back from walking Carrot, the paper is gone. To make matters worse, the news reveal that an inmate recently escaped from prison. The next time she stops by the house, she sees a new hairbrush in the bathroom with red hairs in it, the same color as the meter reader.

After telling the BSC, they decide to host a slumber party/stakeout and watch the house from Jessi's room. Though they have fun pigging out and goofing off, nothing really happens. They do see a light come on but then realize that the lights were on a timer. Claudia and Stacey head over the next day and find the broken vase looking new again. They also find a notepad with a phone number written on it. The number is for the bus station, which leads Stacey to think that the escaped inmate somehow knew when the Johanssens were coming back and are out to kill them.

They rush to the bus station, and Stacey sees a guy with red hair moving towards Dr. Johanssen. She runs to stop them only to see the doctor hugging the man. Dr. Johanssen then introduces the man as her friend Bill. He has free reign to stay in their home and even knows where they hide the spare key. He left her a note, but Carrot ate it. When they realize what happened, they all have a good laugh at something that's incredibly not funny.

Watson won some kind of sleigh ride thing, but since he can't use it, he gives it to Kristy. Even if there isn't any snow, the sleigh can still work as a hay ride. Instead of treating her friends, she decides to treat her charges. Before she makes any real plans, she lets the news slip to the Arnold twins. They call all their friends, and things completely snowball. Kristy then has to kick it into overcharge and pray that they get some snow. Snow suddenly comes out of nowhere on the day of the party.

*There is NO way in hell I would trust a 13 year old girl to take care of my house! The idea just astounded me.

*How did Kristy even agree to this arrangement? Stacey says that she misses her human charges, which shows that the only job she does the whole time is walking Carrot. I'm also not sure why she doesn't have time to do a real sitting job.

*Then again, I wonder how they charged the Johanssens. She stops by sometimes, takes him for a quick walk, and feeds him. Other times, she hangs out and plays with him for an hour or more.

*On my “no way in hell tangent,” Stacey gets so comfortable hanging out with Carrot one night that she literally falls asleep in their house.

*Stacey knows so little about dogs that she thinks Carrot is dying when he dreams. She would really freak out if she saw my 50 pound dog having a nightmare.

*Maureen gets dreamy eyed when she hears that they're going to Paris. She talks about how she went in college, fell in love with a guy, and planned on staying until her mom showed up and dragged her home. Funny how that never came up during their Paris trip.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Baby-Sitters Club #65: Stacey's Big Crush

Stacey is chilling is Mr. Zizemore's math class when she hears that he'll be taking a short break as a student teacher takes over his class. After hearing the name Wesley Ellenburg, she starts thinking that he'll be a huge dork and that no one will like him. She even wonders if she should try to take control and make the other kids be nice.

No worries though because Mr. Ellenburg is a total hunk. She even thinks he looks like Tom Cruise. All the girls love him because he's hot, but then he makes a bunch of jokes and wins over the guys. Stacey falls in l-o-v-e love and decides to do whatever it takes to win him over. The other girls find it a little creepy and point out that he is nine years older than her, but age matters not in true love.

Since she has no clue what love really is, her version of winning him over is almost adorable. She spends extra time on her homework, dots her eyes with little hearts just for him, and even adds jokes. She also starts wearing dresses because she somehow decided that he prefers girls in dresses. It apparently works though because he asks her to stay late after school and help him clean up his desk, which makes all the other little eighth grade girls super jealous.

Wes needs help a second time, which just so happens to fall on a club day. When she stays late to help, he offers to drive her to her meeting. He accidentally brushes her leg, and she freaks out and thinks that he did it on purpose as a way to show how he feels about her. Wes is, however, completely oblivious to the way she feels about him.

That becomes abundantly clear when she writes him a poem that compares them to two stars in the sky. She stays late after class, gives him the note, and waits for him to read it. He gets really embarrassed, turns bright red, and then makes an excuse to take off. Stacey mopes around and feels mortified for a few chapters as he ignores and avoids her.

On his last day in class, she wears what she thinks is his favorite dress of hers and stares at him. She then works up the nerve to talk to him. Even though he barely says anything to her, she gets it in her mind that he loves her but is too afraid of his feelings. That leads to her thinking that he'll confess his feelings to her at the spring dance.

Stacey spends most of the dance staring at him from the shadows before dancing with him a few times. She finally gets him alone, tells him that she has a crush on him, and then clarifies that she's in love with him. Wes flips out, tells her that she's mature for his age, and makes it clear that there is nothing between them. At first she's horrified, but then she decides that she was crazy to ever think she was in love with him and is okay with seeing him hanging out with teachers and people his own age.

There is a short B-plot that introduces Mrs. Stone and her farm. She asks Dawn and Mary Anne to sit for Elvira the goat. They wind up taking the goat on a bunch of sitting jobs, the goat gets loose, and it eats their neighbors' trash multiple times. Even though it's a pain, they both love her and hate giving her back at the end.

*Wes drives a Toyota with rope holding the bumper on the car, a broken door, and a bunch of other problems. He explains it away as the car being seven years old. Um, I drive a 14 year old Toyota that has none of those problems.

*My best friend in college was an education major and did student teaching experiences. Hers mainly involved watching other teachers. Even when she taught, the teacher was there to watch and evaluate her. Wes takes over the class, and Mr. Zizemore just takes a vacation.

*His “favorite” dress is a navy blue dress with thin straps that flares out above the knee and has white polka dots on it. She also wears a yellow floral dress like the one on the cover to the spring dance.

*I know that teachers learn what to do to avoid inappropriate contact with students, and I'm pretty sure Wes broke every single rule in the book. Not only does he dance with a bunch of his female students, but he constantly lets Stacey stay after school alone with him and even is alone with her in his car.

*How can you even make a joke in math homework?

*Dawn and Mary Anne do a bad job of goat sitting. They feed Elvira everything from banana peels to Hostess cupcakes, all of which seem pretty bad for a goat.

*There are a few mentions of Sam. Someone brings him up when she's mooning over Wes, and he then goes to the dance with one of her classmates. I missed Sam when they started the whole Ethan thing. To make Sam even better, he actually calls when he hears about the dance to ask her, even though he goes to a completely different school.

*Stacey thinks it's “adorable” when Charlotte gets a crush on a boy in her class and basically acts like it's nothing compared to how she feels about Wes. Gag me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sweet Valley Twins #48: Mandy Miller Fights Back

Mandy Miller started spending a lot of time around the Unicorns lately and keeps making it clear that she wants to be a member. Janet calls an emergency meeting and tells the girls that it's time they tell her no way. They all nominate Jessica because Mandy seems to like her best. Before she can tell her though, Mandy announces that Mrs. Arnette just gave them a new assignment and that Mandy picked her as her partner.

Some new museum just opened around Hollywood and decided to host a contest for local schools to do projects about the 1920s. The teacher gives them complete control over what they want to do. Jessica is already a little upset because she got a midterm progress report that she has to show her parents about being late to class all the time. When she flips out about being partners with a clown like Mandy, Elizabeth tells her that no one else wanted to be her partner and Mandy was the only one who even offered.

Mandy comes up with a great idea. Her grandparents did vaudeville and her family still has their costumes. The girls come up with a routine, Mrs. Miller adjusts their costumes, and they start spending a lot of time together. Jessica suggests that Mandy borrow some of her clothes, thinking that if she looked better, the Unicorns might want her. Mandy turns her down and points out that she likes looking a little different.

While rehearsing, they both find a feather boa, fight over it, and Mandy falls when it breaks in half. She finds a strange lump under her arm but blows it off. Jessica finally tells her the club doesn't want her. Mandy blows up and says she wouldn't join if they offered her a million dollars. Though they avoid each other for a few days, they eventually make up.

They try out their routine in class, and it goes great except that Mandy screws up a few times. She then gets sick with the flu and misses a few days of school. When she comes back, she passes out and goes back home again.

Mrs. Arnette asked the girls to make a video of their performance, but with Mandy sick, they can't do it. She gets them a late deadline for the contest, and Mandy agrees to let Liz take her place. Their project actually wins first place with Amy and Liz winning second place. The contest peeps want them to do their routine live and in person.

Unfortunately, Mandy calls and asks Jessica to come over. Mrs. Miller talks to Alice first, and Jessica asks Liz to go with her because she thinks it's bad news. Mandy tells her that the doctor determined she has cancer and that she needs surgery. Though she tries to play it cool, Jessica knows that she's upset. Mandy tells her to pass along the news to everyone in school or to just tell Caroline and let the gossip queen take over.

Jessica tells Lila the next day, who immediately runs to tell Janet and tells Jess not to come with her. She does tell Caroline, and everyone in school knows by the end of the day. Jessica later hears that the Unicorns pooled their money to send Mandy a bunch of flowers and a card. She breaks down to Liz and bonds with Amy and Brooke over cancer. The other club members play it cool around her and never even bring up the other girl's name.

That makes it pretty surprising when she stops by Mandy's house and sees the whole club there. They act super awkward, and Janet even suggests that she leave. The Unicorns keep showing up to hang out with Mandy but never mention her around Jessica or even tell her their plans. Janet finally tells her that they thought it was awkward and that Mandy hated her since she was the one who told her she couldn't join the club.

She comes through the surgery fine and cancer free, but she loses her hair from the precautionary treatments the doctors do. Jessica learns that Mrs. Miller bought her an ugly red wig that looks like something little orphan Annie would wear. The Unicorns raised a bunch of money to throw some super huge party. Janet calls a meeting to talk about Mandy and admits that she's different and would be a good fit for their club. Ellen and Lila aren't too sure, but when the club votes, only two people didn't vote for her.

Jessica tells them about the wig and suggests they cancel the party and use the funds to buy her a good wig. They throw in their allowances and get money from their parents too. The whole club buys the wig and takes it to her house but lets Jessica show it to her. Janet then asks her to join, but Mandy says she needs some more time to think it over.

Elizabeth and Jessica do the vaudeville routine in front of the crowd. Jessica brings Mandy up on stage and announces that she was the brains behind the whole thing. A news station was on hand, filmed the routine, and show it on television later that night. Mandy then tells the Unicorns that she'll join their club but that she won't change her looks or attitude before telling Jessica that she fully plans on running for president next year. Sadly Mandy, next year will take 15 years to come...

*Amy says that the Unicorns will just take advantage of Mandy like the way they did her after her fire. Looks like someone likes to rewrite history! Amy totally hung out with them and even lied to make herself look better to them in that book.

*I don't think the ghostwriters get how being popular works. Supposedly, even though Jess is super popular, no one wanted to work with her because they were too worried she would get them a bad grade. If you were popular in my school, everyone still wanted you.

*Lila and Ellen refuse to tell anyone about their project because it's so great and amazing. In the end, it turns out that they just did a normal book report.

*Liz and Amy win second place. All they do is tape some old movies off TV and write a report about the early days of movie making. Is that really worthy of a second place prize?

*First prize gets a new computer for the school. Second place gets a dictionary. Ooh-ooh.

*When talking about the girls in the club, Jess pretty much says that Lila is the rich one and that Ellen is the popular one. Since when is Ellen so popular? I always thought she was the clumsy one.

*Mandy has an annoying little brother who walks around with an iguana all the time and a perfect older sister named Cecilia who she calls Saint Cecilia. I'm pretty sure that she's an only child in the later books.

*Jessica freaks out the first time she sees the lizard but later rolls her eyes when Ellen does the same thing. She's such a little bitch sometimes.

*Mandy absolutely does not fit the Unicorn mold. I have no clue why she even wanted to join. She seems like a better fit for Elizabeth's group of friends.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Baby-Sitters Club #123: Claudia's Big Party

So, a new place opened in my city that has a massive warehouse book sale twice a month. Everything in the store is just $1. Needless to say, I was more than a little excited to find even more Nancy Drew books and some BSC books I didn't have, including this one.

Claudia is back in good old eighth grade but feeling like everyone keeps pulling her in 900 different directions. Not only is she still sitting, but her seventh grade friends want to hang out, she has BSC meetings, the club members want to hang out with her, her parents want her to spend more time on her homework, and her boyfriend Josh wants more time with her. Plus, now Janine wants more of her time.

After making plans to hang out with her seventh grade friends and go shopping for earrings, she remembers that she already had plans with Josh. Josh winds up going with them but complains a lot and makes it clear that he wishes they could go out just the two of them. It doesn't help that they have plans to go on a group date with Mary Anne, Logan, Stacey, and Ethan.

The date goes about as well as you would expect. Josh dresses up too much, gets really uncomfortable because Ethan is so much older than him, and even knocks over his chair in the restaurant. He calms down a little when they all go back to Stacey's house and watch a movie. Josh chats with Logan about sports but still points out that he wants to spend more time with just her.

Claudia's parents sit the girls down to tell them that they're taking off for a weekend trip to Chicago the following week. They think they can trust the girls alone by themselves for a few days. Claudia decides that she should show a party to introduce her seventh grade friends to her eighth grade friends, and Janine somehow agrees this is a great idea. She immediately starts planning what they should eat and offers to help her come up with some game ideas.

While she wants to keep things small, it doesn't work the way she planned. Shannon, Logan, and some other kids all invite their own friends to the party. Instead of only 12 guests, more than 20 kids show up. They run out of food, the group eats all the pizza they ordered and complain about the lack of food, and start spreading out all across the home. Janine doesn't seem too worried and even disappears with some of the other girls to play on her computer.

Everything changes when Peaches and Russ show up to check on them. All they really see is Mallory and Jessi cleaning up a vase Mallory broke and some other kids laughing in the living room, but they get super angry and demand everyone leave. Janine totally blames Claudia for everything, Peaches tells them that they're grounded, and everyone goes home.

Janine keeps acting super cold the next day. She says that it's all Claudia's fault for letting the party get out of hand and that her friends were super immature. Claudia points out that Janine was the chaperon. After some constant bickering, Janine admits that she's been lonely since she and Jerry broke up and was hoping to spend some time alone with her sister.

Stacey comes by with a vase to replace the broken one. The BSC took up a collection for them. Mom and dad come home just as they finish cleaning up the house. They admit what happened, their parents are pretty cool with it, admit they wouldn't know they threw a party, and ground them both for a short period of time. Claudia makes a candy bouquet for Josh and leaves it in his locker with three certificates she made that guarantee him some alone time. They make up at the very end, and he turns in one of the certificates for a date.

The b-plot is all about Bill and Melody. They keep fighting all the time, and Bill keeps getting grounded or in trouble. All the sitters try to get them to make up to no avail. Mary Anne sits for them, makes them take a walk for her, and loses the house key. The kids end up working together to find a way into the house and completely get over all their fighting.

*Since when is the Rosebud a fancy restaurant? Josh thinks he needs to wear a tie and gets really nervous because it's such a tasteful and classy place. Isn't this the same place Dawn goes with that older guy and Mary Anne constantly goes with Logan?

*The cover doesn't match the outfit Claudia actually wears to the party. In the book, she wears a black jacket with stripes in different colors and black pants.

*Some of the earrings they pick out include pairs with paintbrushes, globes, and plastic judge gavels. Stylish!

*The Kishis are cooler than I expected. They ask if the girls drank and that's about it. Seriously, it was a party with like 20 kids 13 or younger. I doubt it really went out of control.

*Other than the broken vase, the kids just get crumbs on the carpet, play with their food, and laugh a whole lot. We did more damage when I was in junior high!

*It is a little weird to think of Ethan taking the train down to go on a group date with a bunch of kids in middle school. I'm guessing he's a sophomore, so why can't he find a girl his own age?

*Claudia still struggles a lot with math and spends a few hours or more on homework every night. It's super clear that they should have left her in seventh grade.

*What kind of kid goes to a party and lets himself into his friend's parents' bedroom? Claudia find three kids just chilling and watching wrestling on her parents' television while lounging on their bed.

*Claudia acts like Janine is out of control. All she really does is find her a cool website about art, suggests they make chocolate chip cookies, talk about renting a movie, and wants them to have a sister slumber party. What a bitch LOL

*It's funny that she's so “caught in the middle” between her two group of friends considering that they will all eventually disappear and never be mentioned again!

*Everyone blames Bill for the fights with Melody, but she comes across as a little brat. She actually grins when he gets in trouble one time and makes up a bunch of lies to her parents about him beating her up to get him in more trouble. Everyone just glosses over it and deals with Bill being mean to his little sister.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Nancy Drew Files #51: A Model Crime

Bess lost five pounds and went from Nancy's chubby friend to a finalist for the Face of the Year overnight. The contest brings a bunch of amateur models in from across the country for a shot at winning a modeling contract. Think of it like the pre-Internet version of Top Model. Since George has a tennis contest and can't go, Nancy agrees to go to Chicago with her.

They check into their hotel just in time to learn that the other models already left for their first shoot and hurry to catch up. The girls all pose next to a railing by the water, but one of the girls slips and falls over the side. Everyone thinks Maggie just tripped, but Nancy finds evidence that someone cut the railing. This one girl, Heather, makes comments that reveal she has some professional experience and makes fun of Maggie. The other girls point out all the mean things she said about them.

All the girls also meet Thom, one of the main guys associated with the competition and Roger Harlan, the hottest male model in the world. Roger does a little flirting and makes Bess go weak in the knees. They're all excited to find out who they will be partnered with for the first shoot. Nancy overhears the contest peeps talking about how Maggie got Roger and how Heather will be incredibly jealous with Thom hovering in the background. She also finds a tie tack near the scene of the broken railing with the letters RH engraved on the front.

Everyone goes back to the hotel and changes before some random welcome to the party/competition city with a bunch of rich and famous people. Bess can't stop gushing over just how adorable Roger is and how much she wants to work with him. Nancy gets ready to tell her what she overheard, but Thom and the others come in first. Her mouth drops open when she hears that Roger is now paired with Heather!

Even though no one else notices, Nancy sees Heather giving Maggie a crazed look. Everyone else just wants to talk about their partners. Thinking there is something suspicious going on, Nancy decides to check out the modeling agency the next day while the girls get makeovers. She meets Kelly, one of the woman in charge of the event, and Bettina, one of the agents. Bettina reveals that she hates Monique, the main woman in charge. Since Nancy is oh so gorgeous, we also get a scene where Bettina complains that Bess is too short but Nancy is just perfect for modeling.

Kelly later tells her that Bettina and Thom were an item until Monique basically stole her best friend's guy. She also did a little research and discovered that Nancy was an investigator, so she thinks Nancy is there on a case. Nancy gets back to the hotel to find that Bess's “makeover” was really just them straightening her hair. Another girl, Alison, came straight back and hid in her room. She finally comes out and shows them that her hair is either burned off or missing and announces that she just wants to go home.

Monique swoops in with claims that something happened to her in the past and carts her away, which gives Nancy time to meet with the stylist. He claims nothing like that ever happened before and how he has no clue how it happened until Nancy finds that someone swapped out some of his chemicals. Then he's all, “oh I thought there was something different” without taking the blame.

Since the contest must go on, the girls all head to some random park to take pictures of themselves using exercise equipment. Heather was supposed to do the rings but won't come out, so Bess does it. She falls off the rings and lands in the mud, just in time for Heather to come out, laugh at her, and call her a pig. I really hate this chick. Nancy finds evidence that someone cut one of the rings.

Bess and Nancy go back to the hotel and grab lunch. Nancy can't finish an entire eclair on her own, which is really just a set up so that Bess can whine about how Nancy never eats as much as she does. They then run into the guy bringing the formal dresses for the next event. Bess flirts with him until he lets them take a peek, and they find that someone attacked Natasha's, another model's, dress. They immediately call Bettina.

This apparently does nothing though because when the girls all meet up to get their dresses, Natasha's dress is still ruined. Heather shows up, makes a rude joke, grabs her dress, and leaves. Nancy follows her outside and sees her talking to Thom. When she tells him what happened, he rushes inside and doesn't notice a note falling out of his pocket. The note, signed with a T, states that the recipient will get a great trip to the Caribbean and a new president.

Bettina comes in and announces that while she can get Natasha a new dress, she won't appear in the shoot that night. All the dresses were custom made and for a specific company and there's no time to make a new one. Maggie and Bess try to calm her nerves by pointing out that they each missed a shoot, and Alison shows up with a wig Monique found for her. Nancy later overhears Bettina making threatening comments and laughing about how the agency will fail with someone she only calls EB.

Cut to Nancy showing up at the event and only seeing Heather. The other girls finally show up after getting stuck in an elevator together. Kelly shows up long enough to point out someone with the initials EB who is not only a gossip columnist but also a content writer for a fashion competitor. Nothing else really happens except that his column talks about all the bad stuff that happened in the competition and Thom tells Bess that the negatives for her portrait shoot were stolen. Without those pictures, she doesn't have a shot in hell at winning.

Wanting to get close to Heather and find out what her deal is, Nancy convinces Bess to sit with the girl for lunch. Heather once again acts super rude and makes an excuse to leave when Maggie sits with them. They head to another shoot where all the clothes for the models were the wrong size except for the stuff reserved for Heather. The girls are all supposed to stand around a fountain, but someone filled the fountain with purple paint that drenches them all.

Nancy later gets a call from Kelly, who tells her that she found some proof Heather is actually a girl named Gloria. Not only did Gloria do professional modeling, but she also did time in juvie for vandalism. If they can find more proof, she'll get tossed from the competition. Kelly also tells her that Roger is shooting a commercial at Marshall Field's the next day.

The agency finds a new photographer to take portrait shots of Bess, which leaves Nancy with a free day. Still having his tie tack, she goes to the shoot Roger's working on. Nancy sees Thom on the elevator with a familiar looking blond woman and finds that Roger is a horrible actor. He's already on take 42 when she gets there. When she tells him what she found, he agrees to help her in anyway he can. Before she leaves the store though, she finds that someone slipped her a threatening note to warn her away from the competition.

As nothing stops her, she meets back up with the models and finds that two are missing. The two are hiding out in their room because they developed horrible red splotches all over their faces. Nancy quickly deducts that someone coated their pillows with itching powder. Though the itching will stop, the marks will stick with them for a few weeks.

She then meets up with Kelly to track down Heather. Though they confront her with the truth about her identity, she claims that it doesn't matter. Even if she doesn't win, there are bigger agencies and more important companies out there. The two women go to the studio and learn that someone stole the images taken just before the fountain disaster. Luckily, Kelly took some images of her own and closer examination reveals that Thom was hiding in the bushes that day.

The night of the winner announcement arrives. Nancy asks Heather to help her steal Thom's briefcase with the promise that Kelly will get her into a major magazine, but Heather turns her down. Kelly then calls with some big news. She was at the meeting where they announced Heather as the winner, but she saw Thom hiding something when he put the votes in his briefcase. When she looked closer, she saw that Heather wasn't the winner.

When the competition ends at some fancy banquet, Thom goes to announce the winner. Kelly rips the paper from his hand and announces that Maggie won. Everyone goes to congratulate her, but Heather stands up and throws a hissy fit. It turns out that she saw him sabotaging the contest and blackmailed him to win. Thom had to screw things up because he was leaving the company to work for its main competitor.

Bess and Nancy show up outside the hotel the next morning to wish Maggie luck and congratulate her on winning. They then hop on a train to head back to River Heights, with Bess offering Nancy a danish but Nancy being “too full” to eat. Bess then reveals that she's glad she didn't win because of how careful models must be to remain in good shape. And Nancy makes a joke about how Bess would rather have food go to her waist than waste food, which makes me want to cut a bitch.

*I know I totally had and loved this book when I was a teen because I remember being jealous of the outfit Bess wears on the cover.

*Speaking of that cover, is it just me or does Nancy totally look like Jessica Wakefield here?

*Nancy says that Heather must be a good model because she looks so nice and wholesome in her photographs. Um, isn't that what good models do?

*Heather really is a mega bitch. She literally called Bess “piggy” multiple times, which made me want to slap her.

*Hearing multiple comments about how Nancy should be a model and why she'd make such a great model was annoying, especially since Bess was hand picked for the competition.