Friday, April 3, 2015

Sweet Valley High #40: On the Edge

You have no idea how much I looked forward to finally, finally recapping this one.

Regina Morrow is one of the most beautiful girls in Sweet Valley High. Daughter of a former professional athlete and a fashion model, she was also deaf before having a miraculous surgery that restored her hearing. Now she's back in Sweet Valley and in love with Bruce Patman.

Bruce doesn't feel the same way, according to Amy Sutton. Ever since the two paired up to work together on a class project, there's been love in the air. She delights in telling her friends all about her relationship with another girl's boyfriend. Jessica doesn't really believe it until the other cheerleaders tell her that Bruce saw her in the hallway and couldn't keep his eyes off her.

Elizabeth thinks that someone should tell Regina what's going on before she hears it through the grapevine. Not her, god, not her. No, she thinks Bruce should tell her. She's perfectly fine lecturing others about the importance of honesty as long as it doesn't apply to her. Even though she planned a big party and invited all three members of this screwy love triangle, she doesn't tell Regina the truth.

Regina's been feeling a little down lately. Things seem off with her and Bruce, and she even wonders if maybe he's seeing someone else. She also can't help noticing how much time he spends with Amy. He even blows off a date at the last minute because Amy's cousin agreed to meet with them but could only do it on Friday night. Her cousin is a sociology student at Sweet Valley College and knows all about drugs. What he doesn't know is that Amy arranged it so she could get him away from Regina on a date night.

The Wakefield party goes well, but some people do notice that Bruce and Amy can't take their eyes off each other. Liz then realizes that the two of them sneaked away together into a wooded area that we've never heard about before. Who knew Calico Drive sat right up against a forest? She gets Jeffrey to get them out and tries to talk to Regina. Regina wants to go home and asks about Bruce, Liz tries to change the subject, and she then sees the two of them coming out with Jeffrey. Regina explodes on all of them, tells Liz that she should have told her the truth, and demands that Bruce give her his keys before saying that she never wants to speak to him again.

Bruce tries calling multiple times, but Regina refuses to talk to him. She even leaves his keys in her mailbox so she can avoid him. This guy Justin recently struck up a friendship with her, and after the break up, he becomes her rock. The only problem is that Justin hangs out with a bad crowd, and many of his friends use drugs and alcohol. He even takes her to Kelly's on one of their dates. The other problem is that he once dated this girl Molly. She keeps giving Regina the eye and acting like a huge bitch around her, making it clear that she wants him back.

Molly and her best friend Jan invite Regina to a party at Molly's house while her parents are gone. Regina wants to be brave and have them like her so she agrees to go. Liz tries to talk to her a few times about the reputation of that crowd, but Regina is all like bitch, please. Actually, she just gives her the evil eye and points out that her life is no longer Liz's concern.

Amy's cousin is giving them more information on the drug scene in Sweet Valley, including this big time drug dealer named Buzz. Jan, Molly's best friend, is super tight with him, and she heard through the grapevine that Buzz would be at Molly's party. Bruce is all "oh noes, I must save Regina," and Amy is all "man, now he'll be too busy trying to save her to make out with me." Despite warning Regina, she still goes to the party. Bruce then warns Liz, who warns Nicholas, who rushes over to stop her. The cops stop him for speeding and make him go to the station because they don't believe his story. Regina does write and send a letter to Liz before leaving.

The party consists of a random group of people sitting around and drinking beer. Regina has a few sips to fit in, but she really just wants to go home and get away from that crowd. Buzz then shows up, and Molly and Jan totally peer pressure her. Jan keeps pushing her to try his coke, and Molly says that it will be an experience she never forgets. Justin just kind of fades into the background.

Regina does one line and notices that her nose burns. Jan then forces her head down and says she should do another before actually kind of shoving a 20 dollar bill up her nose and pushing her down again. After this line, Regina starts talking about some weird noise that she hears. Jan realizes that it's the sound of her heart beat, which is way too fast. Justin shows up again and says that she needs to lay down, so he puts her on the couch. When she gets worse, he demands that someone call 911, and Buzz freaks out.

Nicholas tells the cops about the party, and after some back and forth, they agree to take him to the party and give him his ticket later. They arrive just in time to find Regina mumbling incoherently and nearly passed out on the couch. As they put her in an ambulance, she tells Nicholas that she wants to see Liz and Bruce. They get to the hospital and sit around waiting for some news. The doctor comes out after talking to the parents to talk with them about how Regina had a heart murmur and the coke caused a heart attack. Just as he finishes, Nicholas walks in and tells them that Regina is dead.

There are hundreds of rumors going around school, so Chrome Dome announces a special assembly. Mr. and Mrs. Morrow requested that the school have a memorial service for her at the end of the week and that the funeral remain open to family only. They also wanted students to know that it was an unfortunate accident and that the cops would arrest some people but they didn't want kids blaming anyone. Liz thinks that she'll always blame Molly.

When she gets home, she has a letter waiting for her from Regina. The letter basically says that no one can tear apart a happy couple and that she had known for awhile that she and Bruce weren't happy. She also apologizes, of course she does, and says that she hopes Liz and she will be friends forever.

Nicholas comes to the memorial service and reads a poem by one of Regina's favorite poets. Liz then gives some lame speech about forgiveness and all that jazz. In the end, she once again thinks about how everyone should blame Molly for what happened and how she can never look at her the same way again.

*It's really sad that Bruce became a good guy and then completely reverted to his old behavior. Anyone want to guess how long good guy Bruce will last if SVC continues?

*Liz really pisses me off. She always brags about what a good friend she is, but she can't be bothered to tell a good friend that her boyfriend is cheating on her and that everyone in the school knows? Did she learn nothing from the Enid/George thing?

*This book scared the shit out of me as a kid. It made me say that I would never, every try drugs no matter what. A lot of people roll their eyes and say the book is cheesy, but damn if I didn't remember the entire plot of it after reading it as a kid.

*Amy also ticks me off. Why would you want to be with a guy who is willing to cheat on his girlfriend with you? I can never figure out why some girls do this, and yes I know, guys do it too. I actually knew someone who had a boyfriend and cheated on him with a guy who had a live-in girlfriend. Her excuse was, "well they clearly weren't happy so why does it matter." I've also known girls who would date guys where were married or in relationships because they assumed the guys just weren't happy. I no longer know any of them.

*The memorial service and hospital scenes are kind of sad. I totally cried and then had to explain that I was crying over the fictional death of a character...again. Did I mention that he was around when I read The Faults in Our Stars and then watched the movie with me?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Spooksville #14: The Evil House (Christopher Pike)

It's Halloween night in Spooksville, and the gang goes to a party thrown by this guy Bryce. He swears that he lives alone, and while they don't necessarily believe it, they do notice that everything in the house seems to belong to him and that there's only one bedroom out of three that anyone uses. Bryce and Sally bot go as vampires, Adam wears a sheet to be a ghost, Watch goes as Sherlock Holmes, and Cindy is a fairy princess.

After talking about the witch, they agree to go to Ann Templeton's house. She gives them the option of choosing trick or treat. Adam and Bryce want Mars bars, which she gives them. Watch wants better glasses because he has problems seeing, and he gets new glasses. Sally refuses to make a decision, but Cindy hesitantly asks for advice. Ann warns her that she may find herself in a dangerous place by the end of the night.

While out wandering around town, they come across Dead Lane. There's apparently only one house on it at the very end, and people tend to go missing every year on Halloween. When they go to check things out, they see a flame inside a jack o'lantern rise in the air and float off on its own. They then hear someone screaming in fear inside, so unlike me, who would run away quickly, they decide to investigate.

They find a big picture of the house as it once looked with a kid dressed as a magician standing outside with a sign saying Marvin the Magnificent. They keep investigating, go throw a passageway, and find themselves in the basement. Sally and Bryce are suddenly thirsty, and Adam feels dizzy. The passageway moves from the basement and suddenly opens onto a large carnival.

A strongman instantly approaches them and recognizes them as newcomers. He says that his people know how to deal with creatures like Bryce and Sally and makes some more weird comments before wandering away. Watch suddenly starts smoking from a real pipe and develops a British accent when he leads them to a fortune telling booth. The fortune teller has two heads: one nice and one not so nice. The fortunes they give relates to Holmes and not Watch.

Watch keeps pressing them and learns that they were once just one girl from their hometown. Everyone who accidentally finds the carnival eventually becomes their costumes. They wander around town and find cowboys and other people living out their costumes. Watch then realizes that Sally and Bryce are both becoming real vampires.

This leads them to the magic show, which is some big deal. Marvin pulls a "volunteer" from the audience. The guy, who is dressed as a gladiator, starts crying, and a guy dressed like Wild Bill has to force him on stage and into a box by gun point. Marvin starts sawing through the guy's body and real blood seeps onto the stage, which makes Bryce and Sally lick their lips. Watch makes a big scene and demands that Marvin saw Adam in half instead. Since he's now become a ghost, the trick won't work. Marvin is so impressed, however, that he demands they join him for dinner in his fancy mansion.

They all go by horse and carriage to his mansion, and Cindy agrees to sit with him. It turns out that Ann actually told her that she was the only one who could save her group that night. When she raises her wand, which was part of her costume, Marvin gets worried and tells her that he's the Master and the only one who can control anything in this world.

When they get to his house, he separates everyone and Watch winds up in the dungeon. Over dinner with Cindy, he reveals that he knew Ann's grandmother when she was the town witch. When he went to her house on Halloween night, she gave him a book of spells. He later got sick and was near death when he read a spell, which sent him to this new world. Marvin also reveals that he's now trapped there and wishes he could go home to see his parents. Cindy offers to help but in a way that insinuates he doesn't have very much power. He then announces that if she doesn't help, he'll do unspeakable things to her friends.

Down in the dungeon, Watch and the gang are trapped. Adam walks through the cell door in his ghostly form and tracks down Cindy, who uses her magic wand to break the lock. The fortune telling duo shows up and hells them escape through the maze of the mansion. Marvin shows up just as they find a way back home.

Watch finally tells him the truth: there is a ghost in his old home, and it's his ghost. When he did the spell, he trapped his soul in this weird spot between life and death and his real body died. They convince him to go home and make peace with this spirit before moving on. Then, they all go through the doorway.

The epilogue lets us know that everyone comes home in the same form they were originally, including everyone trapped in that world in the past. They run into the two headed fortune teller and discover that she always had two heads. She lets them know that their futures now look bright.

*Last year, Ann apparently fed a neighborhood kid to the crocodiles in her moat because he planned to TP her house. Is it wrong that I like her?

*Ann demands that Watch do a trick for her first, so he uses the laser beam gun from the earlier book to fry one of her crocks. When she gives him his new glasses, she makes him hand over the gun first.

*A lot of people hide during Halloween because real werewolf went door to door the year before and ate a bunch of people. Watch claims he just got fur on their furniture.

*The strongman wears black shorts and black boots and has green skin. I wonder if this was some type of allusion to the Hunk?

*Sally and Bryce keep trying to eat people and suck their blood. Watch gets so freaked out that he keeps running away from them. Bryce suggests they try it just once before going home, but Sally points out that they probably wouldn't want to be human and know the taste of blood.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sweet Valley Twins #37: The War Between the Twins

Jessica Wakefield can't wait to see her first news article in print. After multiple complaints that the Sixers didn't cover the Unicorns enough, Liz finally agreed to let her twin write a story. She could put in anything she wanted as long as it didn't go over 200 words. Jessica shows a copy to the Unicorns, and they're all excited about it.

Julie and Elizabeth get stuck putting the paper together. Turns out that it was a super busy news week, and they almost don't have enough space. Just before the paper goes to bed, Mr. Bowman rushes in with a big story. Some coach broke his leg, and it's such an important story that it needs to go on the front page. Liz has no choice but to cut Jessica's story. She plans to tell her twin that night, but she spends the night working on a project with Lila, and this is way too important for her twin to tell her over the phone.

Liz plans to tell Jessica before homeroom, but her twin is so excited that she shows up early to grab a copy of the newspaper. All the Unicorns yell at her because she promised they could read it. Her and Liz have a huge fight, and Jessica decides that the Unicorns will just put out their own paper. Everyone thinks it's a great idea.

Unfortunately, they have no idea how much it takes. Janet puts herself in charge as the head editor, assigns Ellen fashion, gives Lila entertainment, and makes Jessica the news editor. As the Unicorns are also in charge of the big upcoming dance, they don't really give a shit about any other work. Ellen turns in two paragraphs, Lila does a short assignment, Kimberly writes the history of the club in two paragraphs, and no one else except Jessica does any work.

Janet promises that her dad's secretary can help them with the typing, but at the last minute says she couldn't. Mary and Jessica spend all weekend typing up the stories and putting together the paper. When it runs short, they add the minutes from their last meeting. Lila was supposed to buy light purple paper but buys super dark paper at the last second, and she backs out of helping them make copies.

They want to get the paper out before the Sixers, but the copy machine is reserved so both come out at the same time. No one can really read it, and they think it's incredibly funny anyway. The paper was the same color as the ink, and they make fun of their meetings.

Janet wants to drop the whole thing, but Jessica doesn't want Liz to think she's a failure. Janet puts her in charge of the whole paper and she makes some big changes. The paper will be shorter, printed on white paper, and it will cover all types of news and not just news relating to their club. The paper is something of a failure until they decide to publish an interview with Donny Diamond, the hottest new teen singer.

Since no one actually knows him, they just look up answers in a magazine and rephrase the questions. Everyone loves the paper, and they end up having to print off more and more copies. Jessica and Lila's gym teacher, Mrs. Langberg, isn't as thrilled. She brings Jessica in and asks her a bunch of questions. Even though she lets her go, she seems suspicious.

The idea keeps growing. They start encouraging people to write in with their own questions. When they can't find an answer in a magazine, they just make things up. A few letters come in from someone accusing them of lying, and another letter demands a picture. Jessica just takes and existing picture of the Unicorns with Ellen's brother and pastes Donny's head on top.

Lila has some famous record producing uncle in LA, and he offered to find her a musical guest for the dance. They keep advertising a special top secret guest, and word spreads that it's Donny Diamond. High school students even get their little siblings to buy them tickets to the dance. They keep denying it's Donny, but Janet tells them to hush because it's good publicity. Mrs. Langberg finally brings them in for a sit down, and Lila admits that her uncle forgot his promise and that they have no guest. Langberg offers them the use of her nephew and his band, Donald Kaminsky and the Polka Dots as long as they tell the truth first.

Jessica and Lila have to stand up in front of everyone and tell them that they don't actually know Donny Diamond, that it was all faked, and that he isn't the special guest. The band comes out, with Donald wearing a striped shirt and a clashing polka dot tie. As the band plays, the crowd screams for Donny. Donald rips off his tie and fake wig, has someone toss him a guitar, and breaks out into a rock song as Donny Diamond.

Turns out that Donald Kaminsky was his real name, which he obviously changed and that Mrs. Langberg is his aunt. She told him what happened, and he took time out of his busy schedule to write them the letters. They arranged the whole fake band thing as a way to get them back for lying. Donny then has them gather the rest of the club to take a real club picture and agrees to be an honorary Unicorn.

*You have to love that the teacher makes Jessica and Lila get in front of everything and tell the truth but that she pretty much lets the rest of the club off without even the smallest of slaps on the wrists.

*Ned and Alice gush over having two editors in the family, which has to make Liz feel bad. She's been working on the paper all year, Jessica does it for a week, and they both get the same praise.

*It turns out that the Sixers is the only game in town. I always thought there were newspapers for each grade, but apparently theirs is the only one. And um, in a later book, there IS a paper for the upper grades.

*Jessica says they should never fight again, and Liz says they should probably agree to try not to fight instead. Given that they fight every week, her plan sounds better.

*The Unicorns favorite dessert is grape sherbert, so they put the recipe in the paper without checking it first. It calls for four gallons of grape juice, which would make one hell of a lot of sherbet.

*Despite the name, this really isn't that much of a war. The twins basically just don't talk for a few weeks.