Friday, January 30, 2015

Fear Street Seniors #10: Wicked


Prologue:

Melanie Anderson could be a shampoo model, or so everyone tells her. She thinks it's because she never uses any chemicals and spends a lot of time taking care of her hair. As she stares at her reflection in pleasure, she sees two faces appear. Repeatedly saying that they can't be there because she already gave them what they wanted, she turns to run. A silver cord comes out from the mirror and decapitates her. Yup, these books are a little darker than the Fear Street books from my youth!

We then cut to Marla Newman getting ready for a debate in history class. Sitting down in the cafeteria next to her debate opponent Kenny, she Jessica Wakefield-like mentions that she dresses better than him. Another girl, Clarissa, shows up and makes some snide comments before "accidentally" spilling iced tea all over her new shirt. They shout at each other, Marla silently hopes she falls on her face, and she trips and does fall on her face. Clarissa claims she pushed her and stomps off.

Roxanne and Elena, two juniors she sneers, make the mistake of sitting down next to her. They tell her that they only want one thing from her: friendship and that friendship is power. Someone's been watching My Little Pony! Well, someone other than me and my roommate. When she goes to her class, she sees them standing by the door and staring at her. As she tries to talk, she lets out a loud burp and feels something pushing on her throat and stopping her from breathing.

It turns out that she needs to win at everything because her mom is a real hard ass. Kenny keeps outdoing her in everything, and after beating her in the debate, he gets a higher grade on their French test. Just then, someone comes over the speaker with an announcement, which is actually a recording of the debate. She runs to the office and finds Clarissa, this girl Josie, and some other girls.

She and Josie hate each other for no real reason, so they're basically real teen girls. When Marla's dad hired Josie to work for his hardware store the previous summer, Marla decided that she wanted the job and he fired the other girl. Josie proudly says that she got her back, but Marla tells them that they'll all pay. When they ask if she's threatening them, she tells them that it's a promise. Ooh, a teenage girl is coming for ya! Actually, this kind of scares me.

Upset over the day, Marla creates a list of people that she hates. Her mom then sits her down to talk with her about her day. We learn that her mom is a super go getter who never seems to have anything bad happen to her. When she asks to see her French test, her grade somehow goes from an 85 to a 98. The next day, her teacher congratulates her for doing so well on the test. She then finds out that someone posted her hate list in the school and everyone saw it.

To get back at Josie, who she blames for posting the list, she steals her clothes and dumps them in a dumpster. While leaning in to push the clothes down, something shoves her from behind and then locks the dumpster on her. Luckily, two random guys show up and save her. Clarissa and her friends laugh at her, but she runs to hop in the school shower.

When she gets out, she finds Roxanne and Elena waiting for her. They claim that they summoned a higher power to change her test grade and can get her anything else that she wants. While they aren't witches, they call themselves students of the Dark Arts. Marla agrees to join them later that night, and they call upon a higher power. Something happens and Marla starts to fall down into a deep and dark pit. The other girls save her, start chanting, and they all chant in unison to summon some random power.

This time, a yellow piece of parchment paper comes out of the pit with her name on it. She can't understand the writing, which the others describe as a lost language. They tell her that if she signs it, she'll get access to all her powers and form a deep connection with a Dark Force. Elena comes at her with a knife, but it's actually just the way she needs to sign the paper, with her blood. Since she's a teen girl, she thinks about this for approximately five seconds before slicing open her hand and bleeding on the paper.

A massive storm rises, lightning strikes her, and she passes out. She wakes up in bed at home and thinks it was all a dream until she finds the parchment in her bed. After donning some new black duds, she heads to school and meets up with her coven. They decide that she should go after all the people on her hate list, but she actually goes after her French teacher too. Kenny is apparently the only one who can translate French quickly, so the teacher speaks to him all the time. When she wishes he would shut up, the teacher starts losing all his teeth and runs from the room.

When she hears that one of Josie's friends Trisha got into Brown University ahead of her, she flips out. Trisha is super rich and her dad agreed to buy a new building for the school, so she must pay. Eh, as someone who watched rich people think they can do whatever they want in real life, I'll allow it. She really just makes her designer skirt split in half in the middle of the hallway, and oh noes, Trisha was wearing embarrassing underwear!

The other girls want her to use the power to push Josie through a plate glass window but she resists. They have no problem with killing her because she looked at them wrong or something. After a short argument, they agree to leave. Josie then makes a snide comment that leads to Marla running to the bathroom. She notices that her eyes look darker and feels the power go through her, even though she didn't use it. A bunch of people start screaming, and when she runs outside, she finds Josie's lifeless body covered in blood after crashing through a glass door.

Elena and Roxanne think it's funny and point out that since she felt the power move through her, she probably did it herself. They even ask how she feels having blood on her hands, which is pretty disgusting even for teenagers. Marla runs out to check on Josie and finds her alive and talking to herself. She keeps saying that someone pushed her through the door and whispers something about the Doom Spell.

They then tell her that she signed a pact that will last forever, which sends her off the deep end. She runs home and lies to her mom about having a stomachache. She keeps thinking that it can't possibly last forever, which causes the Dark Forces to recreate the pact she signed all over her walls and ceiling. Feeling a sharp pain in her hand, she sees her cut come open and start bleeding again.

Then it's back to school. Kenny offers to help her in French class and pokes fun at her before taking off. She calls him back, tells him that she's super stressed and could actually use his help. After accidentally running into Clarissa, she apologizes and asks about Josie. This might seem like a new and improved Marla, but then she sees the gruesome twosome again. This time, she learns that since she signed the pact in blood, the Dark Forces want blood back. She must kill someone before the next full moon or die herself, and the Dark Forces want her to kill Kenny. Either they're big South Park fans or they have a big problem with valedictorians.

The next time she sees them, they refuse to be around her. Elena tells her that they don't want to be there when the Dark Forces come after her. They also explain that Melanie, the former third member of their group, died a horrible death when she refused to kill. There was blood everywhere and they never located her head.

While most of us would lock ourselves in a room after that, Marla heads to gym class. She starts having intense stomach cramps that knock her off her feet. Her gym teacher, who probably transferred from Stoneybrook Middle School, tells her to walk it off and climb the rope. While near the top, the rope turns into a wiggling snake. Marla screams, lets go, and drops straight to the ground.

She wakes up in the nurse's office with the nurse talking about her fall. The nurse starts to mention another student falling from the rope but trails off when she sees two large scratches on Marla's neck. The nurse does let her know that she doesn't have a concussion or internal injuries, which makes me wonder about her medical training. She gets ready to cut a bandage for her neck, something takes her over, and she starts to stab her with a pair of scissors before the gym teacher pops up to check on the student she almost killed.

Knowing that she needs to kill Kenny and kill Kenny now, Cartman, err Marla, heads over to Kenny's house. While working on their French together, she realizes how cute and nice he is and wishes she paid attention before. Trying to channel the powers to kill him doesn't work so well for her until he tries to get a good look at her neck. The power rushes through her and she starts strangling him with her mind.

Just before he dies but while he's still purple, she stops. Kenny asks why she tried to kill him, and she explodes. While he doesn't believe in witches, he changes his mind after she tells him the whole story and shows him the parchment. Since his dad just so happens to have an interest in the occult, he has a ton of witchcraft books on hand. They go through everything and find nothing about a blood pact. Kenny convinces her that the girls made it all up and that they were the ones causing all the crazy stuff to happen. Since she believes him, she rushes off to the Fear Woods to find the other girls.

When she confronts them with what she learned, they admit that they needed her to gain more power. Now that she knows the truth, they have no use for her. They make the trees come at her and throw boulders at her, and what little magic she has is practically worthless. They finally decide to set her on fire, but when she says that she'd rather freeze to death, they do that instead. Once her body temperature drops as low as possible, they laugh and say it will be over soon.

They leave her there to die, but she hears someone calling her name. It turns out that Kenny followed her to the woods and he brings her back to his house. After bringing her body temperature back up, he tells her that he couldn't stand the thought of losing her and they kiss. Aw, I think I'm starting to like this guy. Marla tells him that she doesn't want him to get involved, but he says he already is and that he has a plan that will use her "death" to their advantage.

Kenny saunters up to them the next day and tells them that he has the power and wants to join their group. They ask him to prove it, and Marla, who is hiding in a nearby closet, makes Roxanne's bag fly across the fall. They tell him to meet them in the woods at midnight, and Kenny wanders over to the closet and whispers that they're dead. Am I the only one hoping someone was walking by right then and stopped in fear?

Of course the girls aren't stupid. They knew Marla was hiding and tricked Kenny to coming to meet them. They plan on throwing him in the pit as a sacrifice to the Dark Forces and hold a knife on him. Marla runs out of the woods and fights with Roxanne, but the other girls make the tree roots come alive and pin them both. Remembering the chant from her first night, she calls upon the Dark Forces to open a chasm in the ground. Elena falls in and presumably dies. They assume Roxanne died, but she comes back with a green flame in her eyes and screams about how they need to pay for killing her best friend. Eh, you're like 16, you probably won't even know that girl in a few years.

Roxanne comes at them with fire, but Kenny grabs a flaming branch and sets her on fire. Her robe goes up in flames. Just as they start to rejoice, she throws off her robe and comes at them again only this time, she's covered in gross red scars and bubbling skin. Roxanne then pins them both with tree roots/branches and says she'll kill Marla and torture Kenny.

Suddenly, Elena's voice comes from the massive hole in the ground. Roxanne runs to help her get out, but it's actually Marla using her power to mimic the other girl's voice. This gives her the chance to run out and push Roxanne over the edge. She and Kenny embrace and think that they're finally free.

The next day in school, it's a brand new Marla. She apologizes for being a bitch to some of her classmates and makes up with Clarissa who invites her to join her and her friends for pizza. She also talks to Josie, who is recently back from the hospital and thanks her for sending her flowers. While she has a French final, she can't wait to see Kenny again.

Kenny runs up with fear in his eyes. He explains that he found something about her pact in his dad's old books after he got home the night before. Anyone who
signs the pact and uses their powers against another of their kind will die exactly 12 hours later. They stare at each other for a few seconds before they hear a rumbling sound and see the ground open up. Marla tries to grab him, but it's too late. The roots come out of the ground and drag her below. Woo-hoo, that means Kenny is single!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Baby-Sitters Club #58: Stacey's Choice


Stacey's mom seems a little rundown lately, but Stacey thinks that Maureen is just busy looking for a new job. She tells her daughter that while Ed pays child support and alimony, he can't keep supporting two homes. Ed then calls with some super big news: he just got a huge promotion at work and he wants Stacey to come to NYC as his date, even though no other kids will be there, which comes across as a little creepy.

Stacey immediately says yes and starts planning her trip. The older girls all go downtown to pick out the perfect outfit for her. Jessi had a dance class and poor Mal got stuck going to see her grandparents. They also stop by the Rosebud Cafe, which is the first time I think it got brought up in the series. Stacey comes home to find that her mom is still feeling sick.

While in the middle of a math test, the principal calls and asks her to come right to his office. Mrs. Pike comes to pick her up and tells her that her mom passed out while downtown after a job interview. She rushes Stacey to the hospital, and she finds out that her mom has pneumonia. After a sleepless night, she decides to stay home from school and take care of her mom. When her mom points out that she can't do it forever, she calls their neighbors and makes a schedule so someone will always be there.

When her mom doesn't get better, she calls her dad and tells him she can't come for his party. He gets a little sad, she snaps at him that he's a workaholic which is why he can't find a date, and they hang up on a sour note. Stacey then decides that she can go but only if she just stays the night and comes back the next day. When she tells her dad about her decision, he agrees that it's a great idea. He contemplates calling a visiting nursing services but they hang up before making any final decisions, which will come back to bite her in the ass.

Mrs. Pike picks her up from school and drops her off at the train station. She gets in late, has to iron her outfit, and they arrive at the event late. Stacey keeps wandering off to call and check on her mom. After a full dinner, dessert, several speeches, a slideshow, and a presentation, she thinks it's time to go, even though everyone else plans to dance.

They get about four hours of sleep, and in the morning, Ed admits that her wanting to leave early hurt his feelings. She snaps that she only wanted to do what was best for everyone. He then tries to make things up with her before she leaves. She gets back, and Mrs. Pike says there was a problem. Turned out that too many people showed up to watch her mom and that her dad hired a visiting nurse without telling her. Maureen tells her that she can't take care of everyone all the time.

The same day that she left for NYC, Sam came to see her at school, which he never does because it's too babyish for him. He offers to walk her home and seems disappointed when he can't but then he just walks away. Kristy comes to a meeting at the end of the book and reveals that the two have a date for the next weekend. Stacey then asks Claudia to make a best dad certificate for Ed and calls to make up with him.

In other parts of Stoneybrook, the kids go all ordering crazy. They keep buying and ordering stuff from comic books and magazines until they realize that they have no money and a bunch of crap they don't want. They get together, write a bunch of skits and songs and tour the neighborhood. No one wants to buy their stuff, but everyone gives them money for performing. They all buy yo-yos and plan to throw a yo-yo competition.

*Stacey's "super cool" outfit is a pair of black and white checked socks, black leggings, a black bodysuit, and a fake hot pink knee-length silk jacket. None of which sounds appropriate for a fancy dinner.

*Zingy's, which we all know is and always has been in the Washington Mall, is now suddenly conveniently located in downtown Stoneybrook and is where Stacey found her outfit.

*When Ed sees her for the first time, he literally goes speechless for a few seconds and then says she looks just like her mom. It left me a little skeeved out.

*I love how the books always made Stacey out to be some kind of math whiz. Her math test is literally questions like A+B=12, if B=4, what is A? Um, yeah, it doesn't take a genius for an eighth grade girl to answer eighth grade math questions LOL.

*It's nice to know that Mary Anne's mom came back from the dead to watch over Maureen! Stacey mentions that she came to her house at midnight.

*Since Stacey is always described as the cool one, it's funny that she makes her dad some certificate like an elementary school student would.

*Vanessa orders a bust developer, which made me giggle, but I laughed more when Kristy said she couldn't wait until it came and Mary Anne agreed.

*According to Stacey, Sam is her boy who is a friend and not her boyfriend. She also points out that they talk on the phone sometimes but really haven't dated, which is weird given the whole Shadow Lake thing.

*Is it weird that I'm not sure who is Stacey and who is Dawn on the cover?

*Stacey brings up Judy, the homeless woman who lived near their old building and Ed has no idea who she's talking about. Funny given that he was of the ones who had that whole meeting about what the neighborhood could do for her.

*Some of the recaps I read said that Stacey completely overreacted and how Maureen was an adult who could take care of herself. I'd agree, but she's constantly calling Stacey to her room for weird things. She loses the remote to the TV, needs tissue, feels hungry...you get the picture.

*There are multiple mentions of how Maureen's life is so hard because she cooks, cleans, occasionally works temp jobs, and goes on two job interviews a week. Look, I'm sure it was hard and all, but I once worked 45+ hours a week, cooked and cleaned for myself, fostered cats, and went to grad school full time.

*There's a whole thing about how Jake ordered a vial of moon dust and it said there were only 20 in the world, but then it turned out that most of the kids ordered the same thing. Suzi then gets a vial of moon dust in the mail and Buddy gets upset that she ordered on too and how it's not really special. Except, that Suzi cannot read or write. It's a whole point in another chapter that she has to keep asking him for help. So how the hell did she order it?

*Uber cool Stacey also freaks out when her dad introduces her to the president because it takes her a few seconds to realize he means the president of his company and not the country.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #1: The Class Trip


This is one of those annoying books that introduces a new character every chapter, so I'm not sure how well my recap will come out.

So Sweet Valley Middle School is heading to the Enchanted Forest amusement park for the day. Elizabeth just can't stop worrying because Jessica won't listen to her. She tells her mom that Caroline asked her to sit with her on the bus, she said she was already sitting with Jessica, Jessica promised, but she doesn't know if her twin remembers. When they get on the bus, Jessica sits with Lila and says they made plans that morning. Elizabeth has to sit with Caroline, and she's so annoyed that she vows never to forgive her twin.

They get to the park, and Lila instantly takes charge. She wants to go to some mirror maze thing instead of the roller coaster Jess wants to ride. Jess loses her and finds her with some cute guy she knows. They decide to run off together, and she ends up with Ellen and some other kids.

Liz pairs up with Julie and Amy to go on some castle ride. She sees Jessica in the last seat and deliberately ignores her. The end of the ride features a swinging ax, and she and Amy butt heads trying to get away from it. The other kids want to go on some other rides, but Liz realizes that she didn't see Jessica get off. Since her twin might be laying dead in the castle, she has to go check on her.

First sign something is wrong? There are no attendants or any other people on the ride or in line. She goes meet a little girl named Princess Charity inside the castle. Though she assumes it's part of the ride, she notices the little girl bleeding. Liz tries to cheer her up by taking a picture of her, but the flash blinds and scares her.

Since the princess needs to save her father and her villagers, Liz basically takes a bunch of pictures. This distracts the guards in the castle and lets the villagers grab the weapons the guards stole. They take back the kingdom, and Elizabeth learns that a girl who looked like her was stolen by an evil king. They give her directions to him and she heads off.

At the river, she meets a boy on a raft, and it's Tom Sawyer. He thinks she's the bees knees and offers to her her save her twin. They follow a series of footprints to a cave Tom never saw before, but while inside, a rock cave traps them. A little tiny mouse climbs up the wall, chews through some grass, and causes another slide. Liz and Tom end up on opposite sides of the wall, and she goes on without him.

Liz manages to see Jessica get picked up by someone and flown through the air. The mouse, who climbed in her pocket, introduces herself as Allegra and tells her to just walk on the moonbeams. She finds Jessica working in a magic rock quarry with a magical chain wrapped around her ankle. The magic starts putting one on her when a limousine pulls up and Johnny Buck pops his head out.

Buck starts singing, which causes the evil witch to freak out. She grabs Jessica and takes off, but Liz hopes in his car to follow. He sings some more, Jessica gets the door to the witch's vehicle open, but when she falls out, another witch on a broomstick grabs her. Liz then tumbles out of the car and falls in the Enchanted Sea. After a few games of checkers with a purple sea monster named Sidney, she finds out that the witch took her to Fairy Tale Land.

Once she gets there, she finds out that the land is full of fairy tale characters but that the witch made everyone unhappy. She cut off Rapunzel's hair, made Peter Pan an adult accountant, turned Hansel and Gretel into furniture, and made Thumbellina a normal person. After chatting with all the characters, Liz finds her way to the witch's house.

She freezes Jessica, who then tries to eat a piece of the castle. In a fit of rage, the witch connects them like siamese twins. When Allegra runs across them and they laugh, Liz notices the witch shaking. They keep laughing until she explodes or something. The fairy tale characters are all free and agree to help them go back home.

They hop on a raft that takes them to a fall. They both freak out and hold hands as they go over the side, and Liz closes her eyes. When she wakes up, she finds herself on the ground with all her friends standing over them. She passed out when she and Amy clunked heads and imagined the whole thing. Right as they head to a new ride, a person dressed as Allegra mysteriously says hi and calls Elizabeth by name, something the characters never, ever do.

*It's nice to know that not only is there an even number of students but that there are only enough seats for the number of students in the class. There are literally no empty seats except for the one by Caroline.

*This cover is wrong! Jessica wears a green jumpsuit so she can match Lila who wears a purple one.

*Nice to know that after a preteen girl hits her head and passes out in their amusement park, the workers let her immediately jump up and go on more rides.

*I'm pretty sure I read this book about 300 times as a kid, but I have no idea why. It was so lame, so hard to get through, and even harder to recap. I literally had to keep going back to find out who was who and what happened where.

*What a head on her! Of course Tom Sawyer would have a crush on Liz and think she's the most beautiful girl in the world. It was funny that he got jealous of Huck though and that Liz wished her twin was there because Jess knew how to handle guys. Ah, if you only knew.