Friday, April 17, 2015

Sweet Valley High #80: The Girl They Both Loved

Is it weird that I don't really care for the later books that took the focus off the twins?

Anyway, you might remember Michael Harris from that earlier book where he was a controlling dick who was engaged to Maria before she wound up with Winston. He is now a dirt bike racer, a hobby we never heard mentioned before, dating April Dawson, a girl never mentioned before the last book. As much as she loves him, she doesn't like that he's so serious all the time. He goes to bed early every Friday night to prepare for the race the next day and only seems to care about racing. Oh, and he completely hates Artie Weston. The two were once friends, but they had some falling out and no longer speak.

April really, really wants to know what happened, so she goes right to the gossip hounds. Lila thinks they fought over a girl, someone else said Michael almost killed Artie in a race, someone thinks it was some other stupid problem, and someone else suggests it was Artie who almost killed Michael. She even asks Cara for help since she dated Artie way back in the day and hears about what a good guy he was.

Michael finds out that his grandmother is sick and has to go see her. All he cares about is how he can't race and how Artie will probably win. April decides to relax and take in an old Hitchcock flick. She runs into Artie in line, they watch the movie together, and then go out to eat. He finally asks about Michael and reveals that he knows she's his girlfriend. They decide to race together the next day.

Someone tells Michael about it when he gets back. He flips out, but then they make up again. April demands that he either go out with her the next Friday night like a couple or they won't go out again. He agrees and then cancels with a lame excuse about needing to babysit. Michael does offer to let her come over, but she claims, probably rightly so, that she'll spend all night watching him work on his bike.

April naturally runs into Artie again when she goes to the movie. He tells her what they fought about. There was this girl coming to the races that they both liked. They kept trying to outdo each other all the time. Michael hated that Artie's family had more money and that he kept winning. They challenged each other to a race, Michael crashed, and he blamed Artie. Oh, and the girl ended up having a boyfriend and didn't notice either of them. He offers to drive her home, they find Michael waiting, and there's a huge fight. They agree to race yet again, in the same place they did before.

April ends up calling Liz for help a few hours before the race the next day. She and Enid rush over, they all go to the track, and get there just in time to see Artie crash. God, this is so annoying. Basically, Michael realizes that accidents can happen and makes up with Artie by bringing him Dairi Burger food, and then he apologizes to April for being an asshat.

There are two other stories. One is that Jessica goes to one of the races and meets the most amazing and gorgeous man in the world: Sam Woodruff. They start dating, but she won't let him come by her house or meet her parents because her parents would freak out over his bike. She comes home from running errands and find that he's already there. Turns out that he stopped by, Alice talked to him about Liz's accident, and he agreed not to let Jess on his bike, so everyone loves him.

The other story is about Liz and Todd. They have a fight when he makes a minor sexist comment and agree to make a bet about who can do the opposite gender roles the best. The loser has to pay for dinner. Liz has to make a shelf, replace a sink washer, and change a tire. Todd has to make an apron, make dinner including her famous chocolate chip cookies, and do the grocery shopping for a week. In the end, Todd screws up dinner and her shelf comes crashing down so they call it a draw.

*Liz goes to a supply store to get stuff for her bookshelf. Everyone ignores her, so she has to come back with Jess for help. Were there really not home improvement stores in California back then? This is like a construction supply place.

*It really seems like Todd has to do way more work than Liz does. Then again, he can't handle going to the grocery store and says people literally yelled at him to get out of the way.

*Todd serves crunchy rice because he couldn't cook it all the way through. He also couldn't find vanilla for the cookies so he used peppermint extract. I'd like to point out that he made cookies, a salad, and chicken and rice and spent FOUR hours in the kitchen.

*There's some cute moments with Ned and Alice, where she calls him out for being the only one to let the car run out of gas other than Jess and how he flooded the bathroom once.

*Alice completely freaks out when she finds a dirt bike magazine in Jessica's room and brings up Liz's accident. Given her daughter, wouldn't she just think it was Jess checking out new guys?

*Also, why does no one ever bring up Rusty? Remember, the cousin that was in the accident and was the reason why Liz wasn't allowed to ride Todd's motorcycle?

*Given the title and the fact that April and Artie kind of went out, I would have thought this book would have the two fighting over her. Nope, it was just about some random chick mentioned on one page.

*I really like Artie and April together. They were actually pretty cute. Michael is just an ass. It's nice to see that nothing changed in the last 60 books or whatever. He still wants things his way and doesn't like when he doesn't get what he wants. He is actually shocked that April expects them to go out on a date on a weekend night.

*I had to laugh when Liz's bookshelf fell down. All she did was buy two brackets and a piece of wood. I've put up dozens of those shelves in my life. Heck, the ones in my parents' house are still standing 18 years later!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Friends Forever Special: Everything Changes

It's the summer before eighth again, which makes me think that these girls must be incredibly stupid to keep repeating the same grade. Stacey is off to Manhattan for the summer, and Claudia's parents decide to make their vacation a surprise. Mary Anne, Kristy, and Abby all plan on going to Camp Mohawk, but at the last moment, Mary Anne decides to stay home.

Kristy gets a call from Logan early on to say that he wants to drop out of the club to focus more on sports. She gets upset because she thought Mary Anne already knew but calms down when she finds out she didn't know. Then, she gets a letter from Jessi. She just got into a new ballet school that meets six times a week and has to drop out. Abby then reveals that she too wants to drop out to focus on soccer and have fun not sitting or dealing with meetings.

Kristy is so upset that she stops talking to her entirely. They spend half the book not talking with Abby trying to explain things to her. Kristy finally apologizes and tells her that she understands where she's coming from. She isn't happy, but she still wants to be friends.

Stacey spends much of her free time with Ethan. They go out and stay out late at night, go to parties where there are no adults, and make plans every night. Ed finally sits her down and says that he doesn't think Ethan is right and that he's too old. This all comes about after he saw Ethan standing outside of a club. They can spend 14 hours together each week, but she can decide how to use those hours. She spends all week sitting home alone and saves those hours for the weekends.

Ed then drops a new bombshell. He and Sam are talking about her moving into his apartment. Stacey hates the idea and complains constantly. Ethan talks things through with her, she apologizes to her dad, and when he learns that it was all due to Ethan, he agrees to possibly change his mind about him. They all go out to dinner together, and Ed seems to soften to him.

Claudia finds out that her parents planned a trip to an island off Maine. They have no phone, television, or radio, and they want them to devote themselves to simple things like reading good books. She ends up catching them all breaking the rules. Janine brought her computer, her mom reads trashy romance novels, and her dad sneaks off to watch television at a neighbor's house. Claudia agrees to keep all their secrets.

She also finds out that a bunch of artists came there to work and meets a real life artist. She and Janine take some classes together, and Janine actually seems to relax a little. Claudia also sets a goal of eating lobster every day and succeeds.

Mary Anne is worried that her dad will accept a new job and move the family to Philadelphia. She's also worried about what they'll do if they stay because their rental house is way too small. To cap it all off, she's getting annoyed with Logan. He wants to be around her all the time and seems to always be around.

Her grandmother comes for a visit and gives them a bunch of Alma's stuff because most of it disappeared in the fire. Mary Anne attempts to break it off with Logan a few times and keeps failing. She finally works up the courage to talk to him, and he's so annoyed that he stops talking to her. As she says, it's hard to break up with someone you never see. Richard decides to stay in Stoneybrook, and they all decide to renovate their barn and turn it into their new home.

Kristy, Mary Anne, Stacey, and Kristy all meet up at the end. After some talk, they call Shannon and learn that she has to drop out of the club. Claudia admits that she wants more time for her art, Mary Anne needs more time to work on her house, and Stacey wants to spend more time in NYC. Kristy cries a little because she wants more time too. They decide to cut back on meetings and change the way they operate. Kristy is sad, but she also thinks it's the right choice.

*Abby is allergic to horses, hay, weeds, etc., so I have no clue why she thought going away to summer camp was a good idea. I also wonder how she can play soccer and do other stuff.

*Richard gets his deposit back when MA changes her mind literally two days before they leave. I always assumed they got paid since CITs were the ones doing all the hard work. Also, wouldn't that leave them in a lurch since she dropped out?

*Remember how there were older counselors in the first camp book? Kristy and Abby are now the ones completely in charge of their cabin.

*Ed is kind of an asshat. He limits how much time she can spend with Ethan but makes plans with Sam all the time. There are a few scenes where he goes out to dinner and doesn't come home until 11 or later at night and expects her to sit home alone.

*Why would you take teenagers to an island in the middle of nowhere with absolutely nothing to do? I'm guessing they would lose their minds by the end of the week, if not sooner.

*I love that Stacey's excuse for wanting to change the BSC is because she wants to spend more time in New York. It's not like she can just hop on the train after school or something.

*There are no connections between some characters. Stacey and Claudia write, and Mary Anne and Kristy write. That's it.

*Shannon, Jessi, and Mal show up at Mary Anne's house with a gift for her. It's a scrapbook so she can record new memories. It's cute, but it's strange that they never hang out anymore.

*Sharon gasps when MA's grandmother brings out Alma's stuff. I'd like to think it's a gasp of horror. Would you really want your husband's dead wife's wedding portrait, teething ring, and baby cup out on display in your house? Those are literally the things she brings them.

*One of the parties that Ethan and Stacey go to is at his 17-year-old friend's house. Stacey says his parents were out of town so they sat around drinking coffee and reading poetry. Um, sure.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Goosebumps HorrorLand #8: Say Cheese – And Die Screaming

Julie is a camera buff. She has a new idea for the class picture and runs to tell her advisor about it but finds him meeting with her rival David. David's dad is a manager at some camera store and thinks he's hot shit. When she gets an assignment, he just randomly shows up and take photos anyway. Julie tells her teacher about her idea, David butts in, and the teacher decides to turn it into a competition as to who will take the class picture.

The next day, she goes bike riding with her best friend Reena. They come across a yard sale, and Julie finds an old camera. The lady running the sale flips out and tells her to drop it and leave. Her daughter comes up and tells Julie to just take it. When she gets home, her mom has to tell her how a Polaroid camera works, which suddenly makes me feel uber old.

Julie takes her picture, and Reena complains because she has red eye in it. When Julie tries to scan and edit it, the picture gets worse. Reena suddenly starts screaming in pain and her eyes turn bright red. They have to call her parents to come and take her to the doctor. Her best friend then refuses to talk to her and blames her.

She goes to the girls basketball game and finds David there trying to take over her assignment again. Julie trips and breaks the lens on her digital camera but luckily has the old camera with her. When she takes a picture of one of the players, the image only shows her arm. Suddenly, the same girl breaks her arm and they have to call the paramedics.

David then grabs her camera and tries to take a picture. It gets stuck halfway in the camera, and she gets weird pains in her stomach. Right before she passes out, she pulls the picture out and her pain goes away. Though she tries to take the camera back, the house is now empty, so she leaves it sitting with a stuffed monkey. By the time she gets home, both the camera and the monkey are in her room. No matter what she does, the camera just keeps coming back. She even throws it in a pond, but it just comes back a little wet.

Upset, she heads to the camera store. David's dad looks it up and finds that it's the only camera of its type and was supposed to film some horror movie in the 50s that production ended after a string of weird accidents. Julie runs away from the store and tells him to keep it.

David shows up with the same camera the next day. He tells her that he was the one bringing the camera back to her and that he was following her. He just wanted to freak her out and make her stop trying to beat him. David then accidentally takes a picture of these two mean girls, which shows them with thick green skin. Their skin changes, they accuse her of being a witch, and she runs away with the camera.

When she gets home, her little brother tries to grab the camera from her, which leads to him taking a picture of himself with a bee for a face. He then trips and takes a second picture, which shows her falling. He suddenly develops weird hair all over his face, and their parents rush him to the hospital.

Julie finds out that she won the big competition. She gets to stand on the high dive and take a picture of all the students standing in the swimming pool. This also makes her think that this is where she'll fall to her death. She's so freaked out that she lets David take the picture. David loses his balance, starts to fall, and barely holds on. Julie runs up to save him and falls herself, but David grabs her and helps her.

After bonding and agreeing to work together from now on, Julie runs home. She thinks that she finally beat the old camera. All the pictures go back to normal, and her mom calls to say that her brother and her classmates are now fine. Julie sets the camera on her dresser in a way that will let her take a picture in the mirror, which she hopes will cause something bad to happen to the camera. Instead, the finished picture shows two evil cameras sitting side by side.

HorrorLand Story:

Julie gets an invitation to HorrorLand, and unlike all the other books, she goes by herself. Not long after entering the park, she sees Horrors chasing some kids and takes pictures. One of the Horrors comes up to her and demands her camera. When she refuses, he grabs it, takes out the memory card, and throws it into the woods.

The kids then run up to her and give her an abbreviated story of what happened to them. They all go to the Tunnel of Screams, get separated, and she then hears her own screams. When she gets out, a Horror named Byron approaches her, whispers a few things to her, and gives her something before running away. The "something" is a mirror that shows her looking all gross, so she tosses it in the trash.

When she meets up with the group again, they all freak out because a mirror is the key to escape. They go back to the trash can, but some Horrors are emptying it. Julie then suggests that they just go out the front gate, like they never considered that before. A Horror runs up and stamps their hands before the gates open and they walk out. Unfortunately, the stamps on their hands come to life, sprout vines, and take over their bodies. Julie briefly wonders if this is how she'll die before the book ends.

*Parents in these books are always so awful. Her parents yell at her for not letting her little brother play with the camera. Yes, because little kids are always so careful with things.

*Also, some girl in her class spits her gum at her from the backseat of her parents' car. Rather than scolding her, they just drive off.