Friday, July 24, 2015

Sweet Valley Twins #67: Jessica the Thief


There's some random girl named Veronica who keeps popping up in this book. She apparently tried to steal Todd from Liz at one point but I never read that book. Elizabeth really, really doesn't like her but Jessica tries to get her to relax and says that she's reformed or something.

While at lunch, Ellen brags about her earrings, which her mom let her borrow. They're from Mexico and super heavy, so she takes them off and leaves them on the table when they all run off to get fresh brownies. When they come back, her earrings are gone. Despite everyone looking for them, no one finds them, and Ellen's mom is so mad that she grounds her for a week.

This leads to a rash of thefts but only of girls who are Unicorns. Someone steals Mandy's new hat, Janet's hairbrush, Mary's denim jacket, and Ellen gets hit again when someone steals her deodorant. The worst is when Lila starts watching her new Watchman, a tiny television that her dad bought for her. She and Jessica start fighting over it, and their teacher takes it from them. When Lila goes to get it after class, she finds that someone stole it from the teacher's desk.

They finally decide to go to the principal, and he agrees to tell other teachers what happened so everyone can keep a look at for the missing items. Later that same day, Lila comes storming down the hall and seems especially pissed at Jessica. She demands that Jess open her locker, and everyone finds the Watchman inside her locker. The principal brings her in for a discussion but after checking her locker, finds none of the other missing things. He lets her know that they need to talk about what happened and that she faces suspension.

Everyone believes she was the thief, who they dub the Sweet Valley Swiper, and the Unicorns stop talking to her. Liz doesn't really believe that she's innocent either. Apparently, Jessica borrowed a sweatshirt and a skirt and never gave them back. Liz finally decides that she does believe her and enlists Amy to help her find the real thief. They bring back the Snooper club that they started as kids.

Jessica plays sick to stay home from school. Alice doesn't necessarily believe her but feels bad for everything she's going through and lets her stay home. Liz goes to school and changes clothes so she looks like her twin. She then goes to Veronica and tells her that Mandy is now on her side and thinks she's innocent. Liz "casually" mentions that Mandy would be heartbroken if someone stole her jeweled heart pin before walking away.

Liz then goes to Mandy and lets her in on their new plan. Mandy and Lila don't believe that she's actually Liz until they call the Wakefield house and put both twins through a test. Liz has no clue what the name is of some actor's fiance, and Jessica misspells thief, which makes them realize Liz really is just pretending to be Jess.

Cut to Mandy running up to Liz and accusing her of stealing her pin. They all have a big fight just as Veronica walks up. She lets it slip that she knew someone stole the pin. When they point out that no one else knew it was stolen, Veronica tries to come with a bunch of excuses. The principal shows up and makes her open her locker, where they find everything she stole. She winds up getting suspended.

Steven and Joe, Janet's brother, decide to take an IQ test from some magazine. The results come in saying that Joe has average intelligence but that Steven is a genius. He starts playing chess, reading about law, and listening to opera music. When they watch a Jeopardy type show, he gets all the answers right. Joe goes crazy trying to keep up with him.

While "sick" at home, Jessica helps her mom clean his room and finds a bunch of proof that he lied. She even finds out that he taped the television show and replayed the episode to make him look smart. When she confronts him, he admits that Joe faked the letters to pull a prank on him and that he just played along to drive him nuts.

The Unicorns all show up to kind of apologize to Jessica for thinking that she was a thief. Janet gets Jess alone and tells her what Joe did to Steven. Joe then shows up with a letter he says the testing center sent, which says that Steven got the results of another guy and that he really just has average intelligence. He pretends to be down for a few minutes before announcing that he knew all along Joe was pranking him. Jessica then shows up with the clothes Liz was missing. It turns out that Alice washed the clothes and put them on Liz's dresser, but they fell behind where she couldn't see them.

*Liz is the only one who notices that the first letter from the testing center misspelled quotient. Joe misspells three different words in the next letter. Did his computer not have spell check?

*Anytime some random new girl shows up in a book and something bad starts happening, you know it's her. There was no reason to believe Jess did it.

*Ellen tries to make Jessica pay for her missing earrings. Jessica basically snaps at her and she runs off in tears.

*Elizabeth gets sad because Jessica thinks their snooping club was ridiculous and it's one of her favorite memories.

*Supposedly no one knows Jessica's locker combination except for her. Isn't it funny how Liz constantly gets in her locker in other books?

*I loved the reference to a Watchman! But I also loved that Lila thought she could just get away with watching soap operas on it in the middle of class.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Gimme a Kiss (Christopher Pike)



Lieutenant Fisher is in an interrogation room with a young woman named Alice in the hopes of finding out what happened to a group of teenagers. Alice's dad, a prominent local dentist, interrupts and wants nothing more than to take her home, but she decides to stay. She gives him a little information and warns up to him when he offers her a pop. Alice mentions her friend Jane writing in her diary and about how everything she wrote was fantasy.

Cut to Jane writing in her diary. She reads past entries about how she met and started dating her boyfriend Kirk. He walked into an ice cream shop and ordered a banana split right after she did, but she took the last banana, so they split the sundae. They went out a few times, and on one of their dates, she told him to "gimme a kiss." She then reflects on how none of that was true. They really only ran into each other because he didn't have enough to pay for his ice cream, and he asked her out by suggesting that he come over and watch a game because his television was broke.

Before she can write much more, her friend Sharon comes over. They talk about their class trip to the Santa Barbara Islands the following day and how Alice's dad paid for the boat they rented and the trip. She also briefly thinks about how Alice and Kirk once dated before Alice shows up with a wetsuit for Jane. She warns her that it has a rip and that she should use special thread to fix it but that normal thread will work for the weekend before making a cryptic comment about Kirk. Jane also notices that Alice has a new cold sore on her lip and offers her Blistex, which she refuses.

At school later that same day, Jane has a run in with Patty, the head cheerleader. Patty hates her because she wrote an article for the school paper where she called out the football team for sucking and the cheerleaders for spending more time on their hair and make up than cheering. The football and cheer coaches tried to get her kicked off the paper, but the advisor only stopped her from writing sports. Not long after seeing Kirk, she sees Patty flirting with him and then hears directly from her that Patty wants him.

The day gets a lot worse though. One of her friends tries to talk to her about something, realizes that she doesn't know what's going on, and runs away. Patty then confronts her with pages from Jane's diary. Though she denies making the copies, Patty does tell her that she plans to hand out more copies and that Kirk confirmed everything she wrote, including the fact that they had sex.

Jane runs off and finds Alice and Sharon. She swears that they never had sex and that she's still a virgin. They then run into her advisor, who takes them into his office and talks with them about the dangers of sex and tries to give them condoms. Sharon takes a few but only after determining that they really work. Jane escapes and runs into Kirk. He denies talking to Patty at first, but acts so slippery and reveals just enough that she realizes he did say they slept together. Jane slaps him across the face and tells him that he will never kiss her again.

After school, she goes to her job at Dr. Palmer's (Alice's dad's) office. Alice shows up briefly to talk with him about how to use a new piece of equipment. He then gets Jane alone and lectures her on premarital sex and the dangers of boys. Jane asks if Kirk can come on the boat, and when he refuses, she asks him if Kirk can come so he can talk with him about those issues too. He agrees but points out that he tried to talk to him before and that Kirk never listens. Jane then reveals to Alice that she plans to get back at both Kirk and Patty by making them kill her.

Cut to Alice and Fisher. Alice reveals some of the details of Jane's plan and how she wanted to make it look like they pushed her overboard. She also reveals that she saw and read Jane's diary at her house and accidentally arranged it so Jane would take the notebook to school. Alice does deny that she was the one who made copies of the entries though.

While on the boat, Jane goes forward with her plan. Alice tells Kirk that Jane wants to talk to him and tells Patty the same thing. Jane picks a fight with them both, accusing them of sleeping together. She also tells Patty that she has witnesses who can prove Patty stole her diary and made copies and that Patty and Kirk were actually on the date Jane supposedly had sex with him. The fight gets more heated, and as the chaperons start approaching, she calls the other girl a whore. Patty hits her in the head, and Jane goes over the side of the boat.

Jane then swims from the boat, finds a stash of equipment she left for herself earlier, and gets to shore. She walks to her car and drives to a cabin owned by Sharon's parents. Jane plans to hang out all weekend and come back on Monday to reveal it was all a prank. Before that can happen, she sees a report on the news. After she went over the side, Kirk jumped in to look for her. He kept searching even after everyone else gave up hope, and authorities later found his body floating in the water. They think he had a cramp and drowned before help could arrive.

Back at the police station, Alice says that Sharon always knew about the plan but didn't get the chance to tell her until much later. She also says that she thinks he died of the bends. Though she was in the water with him and diving, Alice swears that he didn't use her equipment because they were too far away from each other. Fisher presses her on what she thinks happened, which leads to her breaking down.

Cut to the cabin. The power suddenly goes out and plunges Jane into darkness. She manages to get to one door but can't open it, and when she opens another door, someone fires a gun at her, which breaks the nearby window. While trying to figure out where to go in the house, she finds a loaded gun but doesn't know how to use it. The door opens, and she slams the person over the head with a fire poker only to find out that it was Sharon.

The figure outside then throws in a Molotov cocktail that starts a fire. Jane tries to break a window with a glass jar and breaks the glass instead and finally realizes her only option is to get Sharon and herself upstairs. Though she initially plans on jumping out of a window, she discovers that she'll probably fall to her death on a series of jagged rocks and that there is no change Sharon will survive. After carrying her to the bathtub, Sharon wakes up and mumbles a little before telling Jane she loves her and passing out again. Jane uses her scuba diving equipment to provide Sharon with oxygen and comes up with one last idea.

At the police station, Fisher leaves Alice alone to talk with Patty. After hitting on him multiple times, he finally reveals that they found Jane's body in the burned out shell of the cabin. Patty goes crazy because she thinks he's trying to frame her and reveals that she spent the whole day and night by herself without anyone seeing her. She also tells him that Dr. Palmer had some serious hang ups about sex and hated anyone having sex. He even went off on Patty for getting birth control. Patty thinks he had something to do with what happened to Jane.

Cut to Dr. Palmer himself showing up and demanding that Fisher release Alice. He even insinuates that Fisher did something inappropriate when he wasn't around. Fisher than drives to the cabin and has a look around. On the way out, he sees something silver and finds a bicycle, which leads to him looking for Jane's car. He doesn't find the car, but he does find footprints, tire tracks, and a human body part. Fisher suddenly realizes that Jane had access to medical files and dental records, which were the same things used to identify her body.

Back to Jane, who is now hiding in Alice's closet. She went to the dentist's office, got some cocaine solution and other supplies, and hid in the closet. It turns out that she left Sharon in the cabin, and that's the body they found. Alice and her dad come home, and Jane listens as Dr. Palmer badmouths her and talks about how she's a horrible person. When Alice opens the closet door to grab her nightgown, Jane pulls her in and chloroforms her.

Even though she practically burned off the soles of her feet, she manages to drag an unconscious Alice down the stairs and to her family's guest house. Alice finally wakes up and seems surprised that Jane is still alive. Jane blames her for setting the fire, trying to shoot her, and for what happened to Sharon. She also shows Alice the gun she has.

When she brings up Kirk, Alice has a break down and they fight. Jane gets the upper hand and knocks her down. Jane then reveals that Kirk told her what he did to Alice, and Alice starts crying as she says that he gave "it" to her. Alice finally confesses that she arranged for Patty to find the diary and that she killed Kirk. She took two tanks: one with oxygen and one with laughing gas. When Kirk needed more air, she gave him the laughing gas. He passed out and died when he came up too fast.

Alice keeps playing with something in the room, and Jane eventually realizes that she turned on the gas. When her friend starts talking about lighting a candle, Jane tries to calm her down because she doesn't really want to die. Alice finally cracks and says that Kirk gave her a disease. Jane flips out until Alice points out the cold sores on her mouth and says he gave it to her so that he could get rid of it and that now she has a venereal disease and no one will ever kiss her again, which reminds me so much of that episode of The Office.

Jane laughs at her and tries to tell her that it's just cold sores and that no one gives you a disease to get rid of it themselves. She also rightfully points out that her dad clearly messed her up. Alice keeps trying to light matches as the gas fills the room, but a man suddenly shows up, rushes in, and carries Jane outside. He then goes back and saves Alice.

Though they don't say it, it's Fisher. He comes back to help her up as police show up from all sides. Fisher stops to talk to one cop, tells him that this is the real Jane, and the guy recommends he take her to a witch doctor. Dr. Palmer shows up, starts screaming about how Jane's death was a hoax and he's going to sue the police department, so Fisher pushes him in the swimming pool. As they reach his car, Jane says she doesn't know him, and he tells her it's okay but that he's been thinking about her all night. Aw, I kind of hope those two crazy kids end up together.

It's been awhile since I did a Pike book that wasn't a Spooksville book, and I think I picked a good one. I don't think I read Gimme A Kiss since I was 13 or so, but it actually holds up pretty well!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sweet Valley Twins #88: Steven Gets Even


Mr. Bowman introduces his students to horror literature, but they all whine because old books and movies aren't scary. He reads to them from Frankenstein and gives out a list of books and stories. He wants them to pick one, read it, and write a paper or do a project about it.

That same day, Jess runs into Liz and her friends and has to use the bathroom. Since she's too scared to go upstairs by herself, she convinces Lila and Liz to go with her, and Amy and Maria go too. They run into Janet, who tells them that the bathroom is broken and they have to use the one on the top floor. No one wants to go with her, so she makes fun of them until they all agree.

While in the bathroom, she sees a furry arm reach inside and flip off the lights. They then hear moans and the sounds of glass breaking and freak out until they also hear someone laughing. Bruce, Charlie, Aaron, and Brian pulled a prank on them. They had a tape recorder all set up, and Charlie covered his arm with a brown sock. The boys keep making fun of the girls and spread the story all over the school.

This leads to something of a prank war. Jessica and Lila pretend they have a crush on Charlie, which makes him uncomfortable. While watching a movie in class, she offers him candy from a box. He suddenly starts screaming and interrupts the class. Bowman makes Jessica show him what was inside the box, which was her finger painted to look dead. The boys then prank Lila and leave threatening notes for the girls before hanging a doll that looks like Liz in her locker.

It all comes to a head when Janet finds a threatening note in her locker. She schedules a meeting to decide what to do about the boys. The Unicorns wind up working with Liz, Amy, and Maria to get them back. Janet thinks they should test out some of their ideas and Jessica suggests Steven. Liz isn't on board until he shows up and acts super annoying.

They try out a bunch of pranks on him. They put a plastic spider in his cereal, which he finds, and then hides a rubber cockroach in the bowl, which causes him to run away screaming. They arrange for a tape recorder to play screams from his closet, float fake "ghosts" past his window, hit him with frozen red Jello, and put red food coloring in the shower, which makes it look like blood coming out. Needless to say, Steven eventually decides to get back at the twins.

The girls then play some of the same pranks on the guys in school. The guys wind up practically crying in fear a couple of times, which leads to the girls hosting a celebration party at the twins' house. They hear weird noises outside and see a mummy at the window. Just as they start to freak out, Liz realizes that the "mummy" is wearing Nike shoes.

They then paint a disgusting face on a sleeping bag with glow in the dark paints and run outside, pretending like something is chasing them. Jessica and her friends then come running out with the sleeping bag over them. All the guys run away in fear, but they catch three and drag them back into the house.

Charlie keeps up his mummy act and tries to grab Jessica, but Liz turns the water hose on him and makes him go in the house too. They then make the guys sign a contract that shows they (the girls) won the prank war. They also make the guys call them "Your Awesomeness" and cluck like a chicken.

As soon as they get that out of the way, they hear a bunch of weird noises and realize something is in the basement. Jessica gets trapped in the pantry when the lights go out, and everyone else is stuck in the living room crying and whimpering. No worries though. It was just Steven playing a trick on them. He tells them that he's basically the champion and they all suck.

Everyone goes outside for some fresh air and sees two gruesome figures walking down the street. One has an eyeball hanging from its eye socket, and one has no face at all. Elizabeth actually hides in the tree, and some of the other girls run inside and lock the door. The figures get closer and reveal themselves to be Ned and Alice. The girls kept making fun of the movies they found scary that they dressed up to get back at them.

*Ned and Alice are pretty bad parents again. They both lecture the twins on playing pranks on Steven and how they need to give him a break but say nothing to him. He even plays a prank where he makes the twins AND Ned think he cut off his finger and they don't say a word.

*Steven comes up with a joke that took me multiple readings to get. Knock knock. Who's there? A tape recorder. A tape recorder? Agh! It's a joke about them getting scared in the bathroom but I really didn't get it.

*Is stuff like Sherlock Holmes and Frankenstein really appropriate for sixth grade students? Those two and Dracula are on the list of things they can read.

*Jessica freaks out in the pantry because she read one of Poe's stories and thinks someone is bricking her inside it. Elizabeth is so scared after reading a Doyle story that she can't handle being around dogs.

*Maria can apparently impersonate Alice exactly. They play a prank on Steven where they make him think he ate a candy bar filled with rat poison. When he doesn't believe them, the twins pretend to call Alice on the phone. Maria can do her voice so well that he immediately thinks she's his mom. I call BS.

*Where did this Brian kid come from? He turns up in the beginning of the book and is supposedly part of that little group. It just made me wonder if they forgot about Todd.

*There's some new Johnny Buck song out where he sings "Gotcha gotcha gotcha gonna getcha" or something similar, and no one can stop singing it.

*Steven fantasizes about Johnny Buck writing a new song about him after hearing how he got back at the twins and their friends. Given that this is Sweet Valley, I'm surprised it didn't happen.