Friday, February 6, 2015

Sweet Valley Twins Magna Edition #2: BIG for Christmas


It's Christmastime in Sweet Valley, which can only mean one thing: it's time to ripoff a Tom Hanks' movie!

As I mentioned, it's Christmastime in Sweet Valley. The twins just finished up their last exams and can't wait to have some fun. For Elizabeth, this means talking to Amy about all the books they want to read. Amy moans about how books for their age group are oh-so-boring and how she wants to be older. Liz decides that she'll get her a new and exciting book as a gift.

Jessica is at a Unicorn Club meeting when Janet Howell flips out. She thinks the girls slacked off recently and that they don't look as good as they should. Her and her brother Joe decided to hold a joint Christmas party, and she doesn't want the members showing up looking like middle school kids at a party with high school students. Janet praises Lila and Mandy before calling out Jessica for looking like a ragamuffin.

When she gets home, she digs through her closet and realizes that she has nothing to wear. Surprisingly enough, Elizabeth actually agrees that she wants to look older for this party. It doesn't help when they meet this cute older boy named Tim. His aunt works for the company that publishes the Amanda Howard mystery series. He encourages Liz to write his aunt and asks Jessica to save a dance for him.

Jessica goes to the mall and has a bad day. She asks for a makeover at the makeup counter, and some woman snaps at her before whining about kids running loose and parents treating the store like a daycare center. All the clothes look like stuff made for little girls. She goes to the petite department, and everything is way too big.

Liz goes to the mall and has troubles finding a book for Amy. The salesperson first tries to force her to buy a kiddie book before sending her to the adult section. She finally picks out a book, but when it costs $60+, she has to walk away. The saleslady bitches and moans about how she's so tired of little kids trying to buy stuff from her.

The Christmas Carnival comes to town, and Steven acts like he's way too grown up to go. Actually, he acts like that throughout the book. He talks down to the twins, begs them to leave him alone, and even bribes Liz to skip the party and stay home. The twins go and meet a mysterious roasted nut seller who tells them that he hopes they have a memorable holiday.

Lila gets to go to Los Angeles to pick out a new outfit, and Jessica goes with her. She comes home with a ton of new outfits with sequins and all that jazz. It turns out that she couldn't afford anything in the designer stores and that the outlet mall had all crap, but that she found a yard sale on the way home. The women was tiny and petite, and when she couldn't find cool clothing, she just made her own.

Ned and Steven are at the store when they run into Mr. Howell. He tells them that both middle school and high school students will be at the party. Ned flips out because he for some reason assumed that Steven and Joe were just going to help clean up. Steven uses this as his excuse to talk about high school students going wild and how big the party will be.

Meanwhile, Alice comes across the twins in their new fancy clothing. She tells them that unless it's a costume party that their outfits aren't appropriate. When she tells them to wear their old clothing, they tell her that high schoolers will be there. Ned shows up just as they fight, and the two decide that the twins can't go to the party.

After pouting and watching Steven leave, Jessica convinces her twin to sneak out of the house. Just as they're about to leave, Ned and Alice pop up and decide to take them to the carnival. They spend the whole night making out, acting like teenagers, and ignoring the girls. The twins find the roasted nut dealer again and he tells them to make a wish in a fountain. They both wish they were grown up.

Elizabeth wakes up the next day and realizes that her nightgown got smaller. She thinks it's just a growth spurt until she sees an "older lady" in the bathroom. Both she and the lady scream at each other and run away until they realize that they're the twins. Looks like their wishes came true!

Alice comes to check on them, thinks that Jessica sounds funny, and offers to check on her. When she goes away, Jessica sneaks into her room and steals some clothes. Alice interrupts her, so she runs outside and causes a distraction that lets Liz get dressed and escape. Jessica thinks that it's the coolest thing ever, while Liz worries about what will happen to them.

Since this is a completely unbelievable book, they wander onto a job site and hear that the delivery company is missing a driver. Jessica convinces him to let them have a bunch of free doughnuts before giving them a job. She says that someone stole both their purses on the bus and that they have no proof of their identities, but the man just hands them the keys.

Neither can drive, they make no deliveries, and they end up leaving the truck in the middle of the road when it breaks down. Steven sees Liz and recognizes her as the woman he saw running away from their house. He confronts her, Jessica turns up, and he realizes that their his sisters. Even though he freaks out, he agrees to help them hide out in a never before or since mentioned room above the garage.

They need money, and a temp agency in town offers a sign on bonus. The agency hires them both despite having no proof of who they are. Jessica gets stuck with a cute guy on the bus. She lies and says she's a model, but it turns out that he's a photographer working for the same fashion house that just hired her as a temp. Jessica does a bunch of jobs horribly before getting put in a filing room by herself.

This causes her to sketch a bunch of designs for new clothing. The head of the fashion house walks by talking about how their line keeps doing badly. Jessica flips out about his crappy clothing, shows him her designs, and he naturally loves them. He hires her on the spot as his new designer and asks her to stay with the company to see the line come to fruition.

Elizabeth lands a job at a publishing house. She does slightly better than Jessica but not by much. At a meeting, they start talking about how the sales of kids' books are down. She goes off on them about how boring their stories are and suggests a series called Sweet Valley Twins about two sisters who are completely different. She gets promoted and put in charge of the series.

Though both girls are happy, they also miss being kids. Things get even worse when they see their parents crying because they miss them so much. Steven freaks out about how much pain they caused their parents before admitting that he misses them too. They all decide to go back to the carnival and make a new wish.

When they find that the carnival left, they get on a bus and go to its new location. It's closed for the night, but they convince someone to let them in. They find the little old lady who made the clothes with her husband, who is the nut roaster. He tells them to make another wish and see what happens, but they remain big.

On the way back to Sweet Valley, all three fall asleep. Steven wakes up first, and when the twins wake up, they're back to their normal size. The bus driver is a little worried because he swore Steven got on with two older gals. They rush home, and Ned welcomes them with open arms. Even though they were missing for days, he punishes them with an old-fashioned Christmas.

*Jessica's horrible outfit at the beginning? Jeans, sneakers and a purple tee shirt with a unicorn on the front. If dressing like that makes you look like a kid, Janet would hate me.

*The woman in the bookstore is a real bitch. If you know that kids don't have a lot of money, why would you show them such expensive books?

*The whole Ned/Alice carnival thing is weird. They hold hands all night, share a milkshake with two straws, and constantly kiss and giggle. Except for a few minutes too, they make the twins walk with them. Why not just leave them at home?

*The high school/middle school party is a little weird too. Janet's parents are fine with it, but would you be okay with your sixth, seventh, and eighth grade kids hanging out with high school juniors and seniors?

*This book is so ridiculous that I told my roommate about some of it, and he begged me to tell him it was all a dream. Nope.

*Way to be parents, Ned and Alice. They at first assume that the girls got up early and took off, but they do eventually call the cops. They spend the rest of the book just sitting around and looking depressed while Steven runs around town.

*The party is a little crappy. A bunch of people ask about the twins, and he has such a bad time and feels so guilty that he actually leaves early so he can spend some time with them.

*This one has the twins as "adults" on the inside cover. They pretty much look like they do in SVH. I do want to point out that Elizabeth describes her nightgown as being ankle length, and it's on her knees on the cover.

*Jessica is concerned that she looks fat. She tells Liz that she sometimes worries that all the crap she eats now will make her fat later. I want to punch her.

*The scene in Alice's bedroom is straight out of Big.

*When she has to pick clothing from her mom, Jessica chooses black heels and a black jumpsuit. That is so perfect for running around town during the day. Liz chooses a sensible blue suit. Does Alice not own jeans?

*What's up with this room over the garage? It even has its own separate entrance, which Steven uses to sneak the twins up sleeping bags, food, and clothes. They could have let Cara live there instead of shipping her off to London!

*Jessica gets a little embarrassed and so does Liz about the size of their chests. Given how flat they look on the inside cover, I'm not sure why they were embarrassed.

*I love that the store that wouldn't give her a makeover is the same store that later hires her to work at the makeup counter as a sixth grader.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sweet Valley High Super Thriller #11: R for Revenge


Watch out Nora, Margo, and Jessica. There is a new nut job in town who just might be worse then you...okay, just as bad as you.

Sara, some random character I care nothing about, hurt her leg and is out for a few weeks, so Jessica convinces Lila to take her spot on the squad. Apparently, Jessica and Heather's fighting got so bad that their squad is now down to eight girls. While practicing, Jessica sees a hot guy with a camera. Her and Heather both go overboard to give him something to look at.

It turns out that his name is Brad and that he's in town on assignment for Scoop magazine. The lead reporter, Diane, was one of the Girls of '76. Even though we had three whole books that made a big deal out of the current squad, her squad went to nationals back in the 70s. She now wants to write an article on where they all are now. She hires Elizabeth to help her research what happened to the girls, and Brad goes around flirting with Jessica and hitting on Liz. He actually makes comments about how in some countries he could marry them both and how neither should mind if he dates them both.

Meanwhile, Sweet Valley High implemented a new rule that all clubs and activities must have an academic advisor. The girls hate the idea of someone controlling them and telling them what to do. Liz suggests they take to Nancy Swanson, the new library assistant. She's quiet, has a ton of school spirit, and pretty much lets the girls walk all over her, so she's the perfect fit. They don't know that she's obsessed with the 70s and keeps hearing voices and mumbling to herself all the time.

Nancy comes up with some big ideas for the squad. She teaches them a dance to Crocodile Rock, which I refuse to believe that none of them heard before. She also picks out new uniforms for them that are retro. If only she didn't talk to herself and mumble about the 70s squad, she would be the perfect advisor!

Elizabeth and Diane manage to track down all the girls on the squad except for one. She, Maria, and Enid end up finding some old yearbooks and see that there was another girl on the 76 squad originally. No one knows what happened to her, but they do learn that she had a medical condition that caused facial ticks and some other craziness.

Loretta was the one girl they couldn't find, but they do find her sister. Gina tells them that she dated this guy George. One night, she came home completely pale and with the cops in town. She told them that George tried to grab the wheel and drive her car off the road, they fought, and he died in the ensuing crash. His former girlfriend, and the same girl from the earlier version of the squad, showed up and screamed that she killed him. Loretta died a few months later.

Amy and Jade then go missing. Nancy says that they went to pick up the new uniforms, but they don't come back that night. Jessica is so busy dealing with Brad that she lies and said they had car trouble. When she sees him all flirty-flirty with Heather, she kind of snaps. She shows up at his hotel room, and he thinks that she's Heather. Brad admits that he dated them both and had no issues with lying to them because they were just having fun. Jessica agrees and they make out a little.

Heather then goes missing, so Jessica just lies and says that she went to pick up the girls. All the girls go missing except for Annie and Lila. They later show up when she's getting ready for another date. Nancy, who is in the car with them, pulls a gun and demands she get in the car. She then locks them in the basement and continues going cray-cray.

Turns out that Nancy was the original cheerleader. When she developed her completely made up medical condition, the others taunted and teased her to drop out. George was the only good thing in her life, but then she saw him making out with Loretta. He swore he really loved her and that Loretta threw herself at him, but then she spotted them again. She kind of went cray-cray back then, left the squad, dropped out of school, and disappeared with the exception of that time where she called Loretta a killer.

Nancy leaves the other girls locked in the basement. She just comes downstairs to yell at them about making too much noise and to pull a gun on Jessica. Nah, she actually just threatens her and leaves again. Nancy also leaves the water running, which fills up the basement. Amy and Jade almost drown, and Heather is nearly dead. They manage to get themselves free and get to the basement door but it's locked.

Since Elizabeth hasn't been around in awhile, she suddenly realizes that Nancy was the cheerleader in the yearbook. She rushes over to her house, tries to talk to her, and Nancy shouts at her. Liz manages to grab the trophy that the squad won back in the 70s before Nancy throws her in the basement too. Apparently, someone stole the trophy years ago, which is why no one in town ever remembered the original squad.

The girls decide to do a cheer and get Nancy's attention. Liz remembers some of the names from the old yearbook, which they add to the cheer. They tell Nancy that they just can't do it without her. She opens the door, the water – which has by now reached almost over their heads – crashes into her, she falls down, and they call the cops.

Brad shows up long enough to hit on Jessica, tell Heather that she looks good, and make a comment that neither of them meant anything to him. Diane screams at him, he misses the big shot of Nancy coming out in handcuffs, and she threatens to tell his girlfriend about his shenanigans on the road. Jessica and Heather kind of make up and agree to stop fighting all the time.

One week later, yes one week later, the article comes out. Good old Winston came to pick up Maria, had his camera handy, and got the big shot, which the magazine published. Liz gets a byline as a research assistant, and Ned continues not knowing what his kids do when he's not there.

*Jean and Sandra quit the squad because of the fighting. It makes me a little sad to lose some of the original characters in the later books.

*Why would anyone care about a cheerleading squad winning a title 20 years ago and what happened to them later? Scoop is supposedly a national magazine published on the East Coast.

*Ned is kind of cute in this book. There's a scene where he asks about Brad multiple times and the girls ignore him. At the end of the chapter, he repeats his question and looks super confused. It's also pretty sad that he doesn't know what the hell his teenagers do.

*Don't all schools require an advisor? Every sport, team, and club at my school and every school I know required one. It's kind of weird to think about them going to camp, taking off for nationals, and cheering at overnight games without having an adult nearby.

*Chrome Dome says that he didn't know about the Girls of 76 because of the stolen trophy and because it happened before he moved to Sweet Valley. Seriously though, no one remembered the squad and yet it's still a huge story?

*You have to love that the magazine not only edited the article and got the pictures ready but that it was published and finished in one week.

*Liz and Todd have a huge fight because she gets caught up in the story. Maria totally calls her on it and guesses that they fought because she ignored him for a job.

*Maria and Liz have a fight over who is cuter: Starsky or Hutch. Enid has no clue who either one is.

*When the whole squad goes missing, Nancy says they had a party at Maria's house while her parents were out of town. When they don't show up to school the next day, the parents pretty much just throw up their hands and say they'll deal with it later. Way to be parents, way to be.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Spooksville #17: The Thing in the Closet (Christopher Pike)


Cindy has a massive fear of the closet, so it doesn't fill her with confidence when she checks one night and sees a glowing green light coming from within. She talks it out with her friends, and they basically take a wait and see approach. Adam does, however, tell her to call him if she gets scared later that same night. Naturally, the light comes back and starts taking over her room. Cindy manages to make one phone call before a giant green monster pops out and drags her away.

Adam gets there and finds her missing, so he calls the gang and they all meet in her bedroom. Watch decides that since she had such a big fear of the closet that she made the monster inside come to life. Sally remembers that this kid George has a massive fear too. In a completely dick move, they go over to his house, and Sally keeps riding him until he's terrified. The monster then comes out of his closet, they grab it, and Adam, Sally, and Watch get pulled through the closet.

Cindy wakes up in a completely new world with an elf guy watching her. He introduces himself as Zeta and makes it clear that he really dislikes humans. His uncle is basically the ruler of the world (High Lord). Though he doubts his uncle will help her, he lets her go with him, but he does point out that he won't help her at all. It turns out that the monster is actually a Shadow and that the Shadows live in his world.

The others arrive, find her footprints, note that she has someone with her, and decide to follow her. Trust me, it's not that interesting.

Back to Cindy. The Shadows keep attacking, and Zeta keeps helping her, despite what he said earlier. She flirts with him, though she was all over Adam earlier in the book. The Shadows get closer, grab her, and take her back to their camp. Zeta then hooks up with her friends, admits that he likes Cindy (shocker), and takes them to the camp. They use Watch's flashlight to scare the Shadows and get Cindy back.

Zeta keeps talking about his uncle and some friend of his uncle. Turns out that both of them now side with the Shadow. There was something about how working with them will keep them from attacking their people, even though they still attack the people living there. I don't know, whatevs.

Zeta's girlfriend then shows up, which tots annoys Cindy because she thought he liked her. She gets there not long after Zeta's uncle basically arrests them and puts them in jail. They find out that the only thing separating them from home is a literal curtain between the worlds. Girlfriend uses her uncle's resources to get them horses, and they all ride to the tallest mountain.

High Lord then pops up and demands that they all follow him. He's kind of an asshat, but Watch comes up with an idea. He says that if they laugh at the Shadows, it will make them disappear. Something like how they feed on fear and laughter is the opposite of fear. Sounds like some Yoda crap to me. They laugh, the Shadows disappear, and High Lord is suddenly a nice guy again. He even offers them jobs as his guards.

After turning him down, they go higher up the mountain and call out to their friends. They stick their arms through the curtains and literally pull their friends out. Luckily it's a Sunday and still early in the day, so their disappearances weren't noted by their parents.

*I kind of love Sally. She points out that she's surprised she gets along with Tira given that she usually hates pretty girls.

*Sally also points out that they should probably focus more on getting home and less on solving the problems of another world.

*The curtain thing is as ridiculous as it sounds. It is literally just a plastic curtain separating the two worlds. Their friends poke their hands through and pull them out.

*Cindy comes across a little Jessica Wakefield-ish. In the end, she decides that it's okay if Zeta has a girlfriend since she likes someone else. She even tells him that they make a cute couple.

*Poor George! They literally scare the crap out of him and then just leave him alone for the night. When it ends, they kind of tell him what happened and then just take off without making sure he's okay.