Friday, March 6, 2015

Sweet Valley Twins #45: Lucy Takes the Reins

This book came early enough in the series that Liz still gave a damn about horses. She admits that she's been too busy to go to the stables that often but she and Ted are still apparently good friends. Before I get into that story, let's deal with Jessica.

The Wakefield family take a picnic together, and she and Liz head off for a walk. When she comes back, she just wants a big ass piece of chocolate cake. She finds the lid to the cooler off to one side and wonders what happened. A baby skunk pops out and runs away, which causes everyone to laugh about how she's so bad around animals.

Jessica and Lila head to the beach a few days later and realize that there is almost no one there. It turns out that there was a huge oil spill. She hears a crying noise and finds a baby seal trapped between two rocks. Jessica manages to get him out and ruin her outfit at the same time, but she does meet Adam. Adam is a cute volunteer working for some ecology group cleaning up the beach.

Though she agrees to go back the next day and help, she skips it to go to Booster practice. SVMS sixth graders take a trip to the aquarium, and she gets to see the seal, which she named Whiskers, again. It won't eat when the vet feeds it, but it eats when she feeds it. She starts going to the aquarium ever day or working on the beach clean up. She even convinces her parents to start recycling. Whiskers nearly dies and has to have surgery, but he survives, and she eventually gets to say goodbye before the vet releases him back into the wild.

Ted has a big problem. Remember when he bought Thunder from Lila? Well, he fell behind on his stable fees. The owner gives him until the day of some big championship to get caught up or he'll have to sell his horse. While talking to him one day, Liz sees this girl standing by the fence. Her name is Lucy, and she's been bringing carrots for the horses. Ellen and Lucy have a little run in, where Lucy tries to give her advice. Ellen snaps at her and tells her to ride a horse herself, and Lucy freaks out and runs away.

This all leads up to another moment where Ellen and Lucy face off. This time, Lucy rides Thunder and does a great job. She still remains secretive about herself and won't talk about her past though. That doesn't change, even after Ted screws up and falls off Thunder, which causes him to break his leg. The only way he can win the prize and keep Thunder is if Lucy takes his place. Lucy initially turns him down but later changes her mind when she learns that her old rival Alison will compete.

Liz is doing some research and finds an article from Lucy's old town. She was in some huge riding competition, fell off her horse, and lost the competition. Lucy tells her that she epilepsy and learned that day. She had her first seizure, which caused her to fall. Her parents were so upset that even though the doctor said she would be fine with medication, they sold her horse and made her stop riding.

Ellen really wants to win the $1,000 top prize, and she begs Jessica to help her find dirt on Lucy. Conveniently, while faking being sick in the nurses office, she hears Lucy come in and get her medication. Ellen finds out the whole story and plans to call Lucy's parents and tell them about the competition. Liz overhears Ellen and Jessica on the phone and tries to warn Lucy herself but can't get through. The next day, she learns that Lucy and her family went to her grandmother's house, got back late, and went right to bed.

The competition comes down to three people: Alison, Ellen, and Lucy. Right before Lucy is about to make this dangerous jump, her parents arrive. She gets through her turn and confronts her parents. Lucy tells them that she's fine and whatnot, and her parents generally seem pretty cool about it. Her dad even asks what they'll do with all the prizes that she wins.

Ellen naturally screws up, which leaves just her and Alison. Lucy gets through the setup slightly faster and sets a new record. Since she wins, Ted gets to keep Thunder. Alison lets her know that her old horse is up for sale, and her parents agree to buy back the horse.

*Everyone is all shocked because Jessica ate THREE hot dogs. Seriously, they act like this is some huge deal. God, she's practically Robin Wilson! <insert sarcasm here>

*Ted says that Liz is a much better rider than Ellen. When he gets hurt though, Lucy is his only choice. Why wouldn't he ask Liz?

*I really don't know anything about epilepsy, but riding and jumping a horse seems dangerous.

*The whole thing with her parents is ridiculous. After all that, they fold in like two sentences.

*Ellen doesn't really seem like the type of girl who would sacrifice precious shopping and Unicorn time to train a horse for a big competition. She does, however, seem like the type to own a horse named Snow White.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sweet Valley High #20: Crash Landing!

George Warren is an ass, and Robin Wilson is a bitch. They "got to know" each other during flight classes and fell in love. Robin dumped her boyfriend, and George plans to dump Enid too. First though, he has to take her up in a rental plane because he promised that she'd be the fist one he took on a flight after getting his license. While she has fun, he can't stop thinking about the talk they need to have later.

Something goes wrong with the plane that causes the engine to go out. George has to make a crash landing in Secca Lake. Conveniently, half of SVH is there, including Robin who apparently wanted to be right there after the dumping so she could rub it in Enid's face. Enid wakes up first after the crash and realizes that she needs to save George. She gets out of the plane, swims around to his side, undoes his seat belt, and gets him out of the plane. When he falls out, he slams into her, which causes her back to slam into the metal door. Enid quickly realizes that she has no feeling in her lower body.

Jessica, Elizabeth, and their parents are all at the police station because this takes place right after she had that date with the psycho drug addict she stole from Lila. They hear the call come in, and Ned and Alice rush them both to the hospital. The doctor tells Mrs. Rollins that there is some swelling and that they won't know how bad her injury is until the swelling goes away. But on a happy note, George walked away with some scrapes and bruises. To save you some worrying, I'll let you know that Enid is okay.

Once the swelling drops, they decide to operate. Elizabeth stops by to see her the day before and finds George there. He seems really uncomfortable and makes an excuse to leave early, but he does promise that he'll come back and wait during her surgery. Liz gives him some mean looks and silently wishes that he'll stick with his promises this time. Oh, you mean like when he promised to love his girlfriend and not cheat on her with the first cheerleader that comes along?

Enid gets through the surgery, and the magic doctor tells her mom that she'll be fine. Not only can she walk again, but she can start physical therapy almost right away. George is relieved because as soon as Enid can walk again, he can dump her and live happily ever after with Robin.

Enter Jessica. She asks Lila to run her by Robin's house so she can tell her that practice changed. That changes when she sees George walking down her driveway. Turns out that Allen, her former boyfriend, told Cara that she dumped him for another guy. Other people saw her faint on the beach when she saw the plane go down. Jessica puts two and two together and comes up with whore. She, Cara, and their whole little group decide to freeze Robin out and give her the silent treatment.

Enid winds up in a wheelchair but does go to physical therapy. It doesn't take long for her to realize that something is off with George. He barely talks to her, she has to beg him to come see her, and he hasn't kissed her in a week. Liz plans a dinner party for her, Todd, Enid, and George. George leaves the party early, and Enid has to get a ride home with Todd.

This all leads up to some super uncomfortable scene. Enid tells him that he is the only thing that she has to live for and that if he wasn't around, she would have no reason to walk. George drops to his knees and cries about how he loves her and that she has a lot of things going on in her life.

Elizabeth spends most of the book acting super judgmental about how George is a lying bastard, even though she basically lies to her best friend too. Robin starts eating again and gains a bunch of weight. The two girls do meet up, but Liz leaves early because she just can't handle being around her, which causes Robin to gasp eat a whole hot fudge sundae by herself. George also whines about how he loves Robin ever so much and doesn't know what to do.

There's a big dance coming up, and Enid asks George to take her. He clearly isn't having fun, mainly because he can't stop looking at Robin. Enid gives him the chance to dance with someone else, and like a dumb ass, he chooses Robin. Robin then "dreamily" puts her head on his shoulder. Enid blows up and accuses him of being in love with her in the middle of the dance.

Liz is so worried about her friend that she waits until late the next day to talk to her. Enid claims that nothing happened and that Robin means nothing to George. She then says that George could never leave her when she was in a wheelchair and that it's clear she's not getting out of it anytime soon. Cue dozens of pages of Enid not walking and no one understanding why. Her mom even comes to talk to Liz because her doctors can't figure it out.

Since Liz is the only one with any sense, she realizes that it must be psychological. I'll spare you a ton of details. She borrows Teddy from Mr. Collins and asks him to pretend like he can't swim. Enid is sitting outside when he falls into the Wakefield swimming pool and starts "drowning." She jumps out of her chair and pulls him out of the water. Even though Jessica reveals that he's a great swimmer, no one cares.

Enid realizes that she could walk all along and that the doctors were right. She agrees to sit down with George and talk things through. It must go well because at the end of the book, she's fine with him dating someone else and looking forward to dating again herself.

In other news, Lila convinced Jessica to take gourmet cooking classes. Lila quits after a few classes, but Jessica sticks with it because the teacher is super hot. She fantasizes about him falling in love with her, them living in Europe, and her becoming a cooking celebrity. She does so well that he even asks her to join his advanced class. When she finds out that he's married, she goes to the dance with Ken but stays in the class.

Their parents anniversary is coming up, and she thinks that she can finally outdo her twin on something. Jessica comes up with all these plans to make her parents an elaborate dinner. She does a trial run with a seafood salad but pries open the mussels without knowing that it's dangerous and everyone gets food poisoning. Elizabeth then springs two tickets to some fancy dinner show on her parents. Jessica planned to make dinner that night, but they don't want to eat her cooking and make fun of her. They keep picking on her and to foreshadow the next book, she runs to her room and cries about how her family treats her.

*Robin literally only gains 10 pounds, but then she says that the only thing that fits her now is one shirt from her fat days. Seriously? She was so fat that everyone made fun of her, but she can wear some of her old clothes after gaining just 10 pounds?

*Also, people keep whispering about how much weight she gained. It was 10 freaking pounds!

*Liz is such a bitch in this book. She keeps thinking about how the truth will hurt Enid so much, but then she just decides to be quiet. She says that it's up to George to tell her the truth. Yeah, you're a great friend.

*Ms. Dalton is with Mr. Collins and Teddy and making dinner for them. Liz gets really uncomfortable and says that even though she knew they were dating, she didn't expect to see her at his house. Uh, doesn't Todd come over to her house like every day?

*Jessica explains that she's making a cold seafood and pasta salad. Liz makes several comments about how the dish doesn't have a name. What the hell does she think cold seafood and pasta salad means? Not all dishes have some fancy name.

*Yeah, food poisoning doesn't work this fast. They literally just finished eating dinner when everyone gets sick.

*Am I wrong in thinking that Jessica would always check for a wedding ring when flirting with an older guy?

*Poor Ken. He brings her a rose and rushes to get her something to drink, but she keeps thinking about how he's super boring but looks good.

*I really dislike the way Ned and Alice treat Jessica sometimes. They come home late and shout/snap at her about leaving dirty dishes in the sink. When they realize that Liz did it, they're all "oh, something must be wrong. We must talk to her" and don't even bother apologizing.

*There's another scene where they talk about George, and Jessica calls him slime. Ned lectures her on how there are two sides to every story and she shouldn't slander someone. When Liz says she understands where George is coming from, Ned gets all proud of her. Should you really be proud of your teen daughter defending a cheater?

*I'm sorry but cheating is never right. If you're unhappy with someone, break up with them before making out with someone else. These books make it out like George and Enid never had any problems and that he just accidentally fell in love with Robin. Yeah, it doesn't work that way.

*Also, this is the book where the twins get possession of the Fiat. Alice and Ned give it to them because they landed jobs as tour guides and need reliable transportation. Too bad they never actually take those jobs.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Goosebumps HorrorLand #4: The Scream of the Haunted Mask

Carly Beth is chilling at home when she hears something calling her to the basement. When she gets there, she realizes that it's the mask from the regular Goosebumps book. It encourages her to wear it, and the next thing we know, it's the next day and she's riding the bus with her friend Sabrina. She tells her all about how it took all her willpower to not put the mask on. Just then, she looks down and sees a vicious snake wrapped around her neck. Nah, it's just a pet snake someone brought to school.

She and Sabrina volunteer or work, not sure which, at this former farm that now functions as a petting zoo, a museum, and apparently a daycare center. They arrive and see this girl named Laura working. Even though she's only 12, she was left in charge of like six kids. The kids all run around outside and start racing towards this mysterious building on the edge of the property. Laura flips out and calls them all back.

Laura then decides to tell them the story of the haunted stable. A farmhand sneaked inside one night to scare the head stable guy. Something went wrong, and the people on the farm heard the horses actually screaming. When they got there, they found all the horses dead and the stable boy crushed underneath them. Laura explains that it was all due to a weird and mysterious mask that only shows up at Halloween and how people say the stable is now haunted.

Cary Beth thinks it's weird because (a) it might be the same mask and (b) she swore that she heard horses there. Sabrina then comes up with this great idea to do a report on the stable for school. She drags her back, and Carly Beth for some reason brings along carrots. They hear horses and she freaks out, which leads Sabrina to explain that it was just a trick that she planned with some of their classmates. The only problem is that the other kids never showed up and the carrots go missing. When they go to leave, Carly Beth sees a young boy standing in the shadows on the roof of the stables.

She later goes back to check out the stable for herself and sees a cute boy there. He introduces himself as Clark and first says he lives there before correcting himself and saying that his family lives nearby. They talk a little until she brings up the ghost story. He laughs it off and says that he doesn't believe in ghosts and has never seen anything paranormal there. When she goes to leave though, she hears the horses again.

Cut to Carly Beth randomly stumbling across the store where she bought the mask. In the last book, she tried to find it again and discovered that it disappeared. The shop owner refuses to take back the mask. He tells her that she didn't actually defeat it like she thought and that there's someone out there in the world who once owned the mask that is coming back for it.

Carly Beth goes back to the farm for some special Halloween party with the kids. She ends up finding a book about the history of the farm while on an errand and sees a picture of Clark in the book listed as one of the original stable workers. Clark shows up to party, Carly Beth flips out, and asks Sabrina to keep all the kids away from him. She then confronts him about what she found, he admits that it was him, and then he laughs it off and says it was his grandfather.

The kids then start screaming because their homemade masks stick to their faces. Laura rushes in and reveals that she was the daughter of the farm's first owner and that it was her who wore the mask and scared the stable boy. She demands the mask, but Carly Beth doesn't know what happened to it. Sabrina admits that she stole it from her house and randomly buried it by the stable.

Carly Beth runs and gets it, and decides that she must fight evil with evil. Laura causes Clark to fly through the air and smack his head right as she puts on the mark. The two have some massive fight that ends with all the ghostly horses come out of nowhere and basically trample Laura. Carly Beth can't really get the mask off until the horses come to her. Laura tells her, as the horses nuzzle her, that when she brought the carrots, they viewed it as her being nice to them and no one has been nice to them since they died. The horses disappear and the mask comes off.

When she drops the mask on the ground, it turns to her and lets her know that it will be back to see her next Halloween...

HorrorLand Story:

Carly Beth received an invitation to HorrorLand in the mail and decided to take Sabrina. Not long after arriving, they hear two boys, Matt and Billy, talking about some missing girls. Being extremely nosy, they ask what's going on. Billy explains that his sister Sheena went missing and that they lost two other girls too. Matt shows them his magic mirror, which shows the missing girls. Carly Beth really just wants to go have fun, but Sabrina convinced her that they need to help.

While at a magic show, the magician does a disappearing act, and Sheena somehow pops up. When they go backstage, they find a name tag belonging to Byron, the Horror who agreed to help them. Sheena tells them that she was with the two missing girls, accidentally stumbled through a door, and wound up back in the park. After her announcement, they break into two groups.

Sabrina and Carly Beth wind up in a mask shop, where she thinks that she sees the haunted mask. After trying on a few masks, they wander into the back room and see masks that look just like the missing girls. The masks warn them that they're next. Carly Beth is freaked out enough that she wants to leave the park and go back to the hotel. After passing a sign about werewolf territory, they see a bunch of guys with wolf-like faces. While running away in fear, they discover that they're locked inside the park and that someone is after them.

*Some kid in their class just got her nose pierced. Am I the only one who thinks 12 is way too young for that?

*Carly Beth snaps at her brother that he's worse than most five year olds, which is his age. He snaps back that she's worse than most four year olds, which I thought was pretty funny.

*She also complains because her mom and dad like playing video games and she thinks they're too old. She should come by my house! Between the three of us living here, we have two XBOX 360 consoles, a PS3, a Sega Genesis, Nintendo Wii, a Kinect, a PS2, and an original Turbo Grafix 16.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sweet Valley Twins #30: Princess Elizabeth

SVMS has an exchange student named Arthur Castle coming for a visit. He's from this tiny, tiny, tiny little country named Santa Dora, and all the students plan to do big projects about his country. Liz does an article for the Sixers and creates some random map, but Jessica plans to do an oral report on the royal family.

The Unicorns plan to throw a little welcome to Sweet Valley thing for him, but Lila decides that it sounds too lame and that they need to do something even more special. They finally decide to throw a party for him too because apparently that's what Unicorns do best. Elizabeth gets the Sixers writers to create a scrapbook for him filled with fun things about America.

Arthur comes to school, and everyone pretty much thinks the Unicorns go overboard. I'm not sure why because all they do is make a banner out of a sheet, give a little speech, and pass out authentic Santa Doran pastries they made themselves. Arthur gets a little nervous every time anyone brings up anything about his home and doesn't seem too thrilled with bringing attention to himself.

When someone asks about what his parents do, he makes an excuse to leave. When they ask absolutely anything about Santa Dora, he's suddenly late for dinner or remembers something he desperately needs to do. The only person he really seems to like is Liz and that's because she treats him like anyone else. He asks her to walk him home, which pisses off the Unicorns because only they're allowed to monopolize his time.

While hanging out with Liz, he goes to pay and drops a wad of his money on the ground. When she picks it up, wouldn't you know it, Arthur is on the money. Turns out that he's the crown prince of Santa Dora. He tells her that he wants people to treat him like a normal kid and begs her not to tell anyone. She agrees and gets her friends to spend more time with him.

Arthur then mucks it all up by coming up to Jessica in the hallway and revealing who he is without actually checking to see which twin she is before running away. Since she absolutely cannot keep a secret, she immediately runs to the Unicorns and calls a special meeting to tell them everything. They ramp up their party plans, start treating him like a prince, and Janet even curtsies and calls him Your Highness.

The Unicorns then drag him to a bunch of special events, including the symphony, the historical society, and some museums. Amy and the other girls decide that the scrapbook is a stupid idea for a prince and scrap the whole thing. Arthur is so miserable that he pretty much just sits back and does what everyone else wants to do.

Arthur blames Liz for his secret coming out because she was the only one he told. Elizabeth is so upset that she skips the big Unicorn party and he takes Jessica as his escort. I doubt this is the first time she's an escort for a rich guy. Jessica picks up on how miserable he is, and he tells her everything he told Liz and everything that Liz told her about him wanting to be a normal kid. Jessica confesses about what happened and lets him know that her twin really did keep his secret.

To give him the experience that he always wanted, Jessica convinces all the kids in school to treat him like a normal kid. They throw spitballs at him, push him out of the lunch line, and act like little assholes. Arthur is so happy that he can't complain. The principal makes Liz give a speech and present him with a copy of the special newspaper made in his honor. Someone throws a paper airplane at him in the middle of his thank you speech, and everyone just has to laugh. Oh, and he takes the twins to some fancy dinner party as his dates and introduces them to his parents.

*The whole project thing is just plain weird. They can basically choose to do anything they want and everyone will get graded the same way. So, Elizabeth making a map and Jessica giving a speech in class is worth the same amount of points as someone who does an in-depth research project.

*Why is Arthur on the money anyway? It's not like Prince William or Prince Harry is on money. Wouldn't they have established money that they don't change?

*Jessica has to show all the Unicorns how to curtsy, which I find unbelievable. I was younger than them when this book came out and already knew how to do it.

*Arthur looks like Butch Patrick on the cover. Also, why is Elizabeth in a wedding dress? There is nothing in this book that even hints at any type of romance.

*I actually found this one at a book sale alone with the SVH book where he comes back and falls for Dana. I look forward to recapping that one as soon as I get through more of the Spooksville series.

*Um, Arthur buys a Confederate flag hat and someone gives him a Confederate flag. Are those really the kind of things we want him taking home to show his people?