Friday, December 30, 2016

The Babysitters Club Super Mysteries #1: Baby-Sitters' Haunted House

So, the super mystery books came out way after I stopped reading these books. This is the first time I ever read one, and it ticked me off a lot!

It's summer for the 700th time, and it conveniently falls in between Dawn moving back to California and Abby joining. Stacey is also out because of her whole thing with the bad girls, so Shannon fills in sometimes. When the book starts, Kristy has just demanded that everyone skip out vacations so they can work as much as possible. Claudia also learned that she failed English class, but her teacher was nice enough to let her do one last paper over the summer to make up for it.

They get a call from Lisa, Karen and Andrew's mom. Seth's, her husband's, assistant got hurt and they need someone to watch the kids. Their schedules are so full that only Claudia can take the job. Lisa calls a few days later with an even bigger job. Her friends, Mr. and Mrs. Menders, recently inherited a house in Maine. They and their four kids are heading to check it out and decide whether to live there. Since they want to open a health food store and need some help, Lisa and Seth go too. They need someone to watch Karen, Andrew, and the Menders' kids.

Kristy automatically assumes that she should get the job since they're her siblings. Everyone else doesn't agree because she's the one who demanded they work. Tons of people want to go, so they decide to ask their parents for permission and decide the next day. Dawn, Claudia, Mary Anne, and Kristy all get permission. Dawn wants to help them open the store, Mary Anne wants to see all the historic sites, and Kristy thinks she should still go anyway. Lisa hears the story and invites them all to come without pay. Nice, right?

After a long drive in which Mary Anne puts everyone to sleep reading from travel guides, they get to this big ass mansion and meet the family. Lionel is 14 and obsessed with everything California and wanting to be an actor. Jason is quite and standoffish. Jill is around 11 and wants to be just like Dawn. There's also Martha who is basically Mary Anne at nine. They also meet the Coopers, who are the caretakers. Mrs. Cooper has chronic laryngitis and can't talk, but they seem fine.

Naturally, a bunch of random and weird things happen. The uncle who passed away and left them the mansion also left behind a black cat that bursts out of nowhere. Dawn hears a screeching noise in the hallway late one night. They also see candles flickering in the windows. The girls then meet Georgio, the grandson of the old caretakers. He wears all black and is pretty much a goth kid, but they can't decide whether to trust him or not.

Dawn and Claudia find orange candle wax splattered across the hallway and catch Lionel watching them. While coming back one night, they see someone walking across the fourth floor. Mr. Cooper says that it's impossible because no one can get up there. They also catch Lionel and find out that he was the one with the candle. He swears that he wasn't upstairs though. To make matters worse, Georgio warns them to stay away from that floor.

That makes it odd when he shows up the next day and asks Claudia for help. Since she's “so artistic,” he suggests that she help him decide on the layout for some rose bushes. They bond a little when she tells him that the kids want to participate in a parade for the town's anniversary, and he seems disappointed when he learns she's leaving soon. Complicating matters is the fact that Georgio is much older. Not only does he have his license, but he's in college, eek.

Mary Anne checks out the historical society and finds plans for the house. The woman in charge tells her that another woman was there recently and had an accent. She finds that there is a dumbwaiter in the house that they never noticed before. The girls go to a fair in town and spend the whole time following around women who speak with an accent but find nothing. They do uncover the dumbwaiter and find something inside. Dawn climbs in and discovers that the pulleys make the noise she heard and finds a tape recorder inside of a woman screaming, which explains another odd noise they heard.

The Coopers show up unexpectedly, leaving Dawn trapped inside. She conveniently overhears Mrs. Cooper talking with a Scottish accent. Claudia gets the chance to meet the old caretakers, but Georgio keeps changing the subject every time she brings up the fourth floor, which makes her suspect him. The kids finally get inside but only find a missing dress and a bunch of antiques. They also learn that before the uncle died, he kept talking about a treasure in the attic.

One night, Mr. Menders casually mentions that if they turn down the house, his cousin gets it. They only get if they live there full time, which he never thought to mention before. Also, his cousin moved to Scotland. Mary Anne winds up seeing Mrs. Cooper running away from the historical society.

They wind up stuck in the house with the Coopers during a massive storm. Claudia thinks Mrs. Cooper poisoned the kids hot chocolate and flips out. Nothing happens at all. The next day, they finally tell the adults what happened. They search their rooms and find a list they left behind of all the things they planned to do to screw with them. The Menders then go to the police.

Since the mystery is over, the girls all head to the parade and then the fair following. Georgio invites Claudia to spend Homecoming weekend with him and tells her how much he likes her. Mary Anne thinks that she sees the Coopers, which is impossible because they apparently hopped on a plane and took off. They pretty much just get over the whole thing that same day.

Back in Stoneybrook, Jessi and Mallory are left with the club. Shannon and Logan can barely make any meetings. They wind up so overloaded that they consider asking Stacey for help and actually give Janine a job. Things get so bad that they wind up turning jobs down. Mrs. Pike is particularly upset over this. They also forget to turn on the answering machine and miss out on some other jobs.

Becca is ticked because Jessi promised to give her roller blading lessons but has no time. Their clients are ticked because no one can sit for them. Eventually, people just stop calling. They flip out and think they ruined everything. After making some calls though, they find out that their regulars just have plans. They get a bunch of kids together to walk in the Celebrate America parade and have a great time. Mallory even convinces Sam to ride in front on his unicycle and films him so Kristy can see later. Huh, Sam just gets better and better.

In the end, we get a bunch of letters. Claudia confesses to Georgio that she's only 13. Andrew and Kristy write to let the Menders know that a boat he found on the fourth floor has treasure on the side and was the treasure all along.

*Mary Anne says that Karen is precocious, which means that she's smart for her age. I want to strangle Karen though. She's so annoying in this book, and every time she does something irritating, they just laugh and say she's precocious. No, she's an annoying pain in the ass.

*Multiple times they mention that Lionel is pompous or whatever, but I have a hard time believing that none of them would find him attractive or develop a crush on him. He winds up volunteering to coach Jason's new baseball team and gets a job working in the theater.

*Despite her reason for going, Kristy spends most of her time with Jason. She takes him to the clubhouse to meet kids and gets pissed because they don't bend over backwards to make him feel welcome. The kids admit that they don't play with summer kids anymore because it lost them the championship before and how they always leave. Kristy thinks the best way to fix this is to talk smack about how they don't have a sponsor and how they suck on the field. Yeah, that will make things all better.

*Jill becomes obsessed with Dawn as soon as she meets her. She dresses like her all the time and won't leave her side. Dawn tries to get her to join the swim team with Martha, but she refuses unless Dawn joins too. It would make me scream. They finally convince her to start sitting, which leads to them both joining the swim team.

*Karen goes overboard trying to find Martha new friends. She then gets irritated when Martha says her best friend is back in Boston. Even though she can have other best friends, Martha should only like her. Martha eventually makes friends all on her own.

*Georgio is 19, which makes the whole Claudia thing super creepy. He thinks she's 16, which still seems a little weird to me. She also spends most of the book trying to decide if he's evil or a good guy, but then winds up with a crush on him anyway. I'd love to get a response back from him regarding the letter she sent!

*Seriously though, even if she was 16, what parent lets their teenager go to college Homecoming weekend and spend the whole weekend with a guy she spent a total of 19 minutes with one summer?

*In Stoneybrook, Jason, Lionel, and probably Jill would be too older for sitters. Yet, Lionel is the only one who doesn't need one. They have four girls sitting for five kids, and Jill then becomes a sitter all on her own.

*This whole not getting paid thing is ridiculous! They basically spend all their time watching over the kids, the parents are never home, the adults literally never do anything with their kids, but they pay the girls with food and a place to stay.

*Also, on the Georgio story, he and Claudia wind up on the ferris wheel. Despite him clearly being into her and asking her to spend a weekend with him, he's happy just giving her a kiss on the cheek. Sure.

*Even though Shannon promised to help as much as possible, she skips most meetings and can only sit a few times. I guess it's good that all parents in Stoneybrook suddenly decided to stay home at night?

*There is no way I would forgive Kristy as easily as they do. She literally tells them that no one can go on vacation because it will make the club look bad if there aren't any sitters available. She then decides that all four of them should just take off for an extended trip. Did she not even look at the schedule first??

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Babysitters Club #111: Stacey's Secret Friend

Stacey is suddenly a member of the Pep Squad, which is some random club filled with kids who have school spirit or something. She and Barbara (remember her as the best friend of the girl who passed away?) recently made a large jaguar from paper mache for some upcoming school event. Claudia gave them the “brilliant” idea to use two big ass glass marbles for its eyes. Just as they finish, the new girl walks right into and completely destroys the jaguar. Her name is Tess Swinhart, she feels awful about what happened and offers to help, but she winds up dumping glue all over Alan Gray.

Alan thinks the new girl is totally awful and makes it his mission to destroy her. He starts calling her Swine-hart because she's a bigger girl who wears pink all the time. Alan even creates a comic book to make fun of her. Kids pass it all around school and make fun of her behind her back and to her face. She doesn't get it when someone writes Petunia on her locker, and she doesn't get why King constantly calls her Babe. Stacey decides that she'll make over Tess and turn her into one of the cool kids.

Since they're partners in their English class, Stacey invites her over to work on their project, which is a replica of a real castle. Instead of working though, she encourages Tess to flip through her fashion and makeup magazines. Tess really isn't into it, so Stacey drops a bunch of not too subtle hints about how she can change her style. Stacey then makes up an excuse that she needs to leave for a BSC meeting before they get any work done. She also drops hints about how Tess should switch from her thick black glasses to new contact lenses.

Though Tess does join the Pep Club at Stacey's urging, it's clear that she doesn't want to be there. Someone randomly decides they should change the school mascot, the administration agrees, and they decide to vote on it at the next pep rally. Stacey suggests a panther because they really wouldn't have to change the mascot much. When everyone else submits their ideas, there are multiple cards with Tess's name. Barbara and Stacey just throw those away and decide to make large cards with the animals on the front that they'll hold up for kids to vote on at the rally.

Tess eventually comes to school with a little bit of makeup on and a blue sweatshirt instead of one of her pink outfits. Stacey keeps going on and on about how good she looks to the point of making the poor girl uncomfortable. The rest of the BSC are too sure how to feel about Tess. She's definitely a little odd, dresses weird (always in pink), is something of a klutz, and seems pretty cold. Kristy thinks it's weird that Stacey won't invite Tess to sit with them, and Claudia points out that the two girls aren't really friends. Stacey does attempt to warn Tess about King, but Tess thinks she's only doing it because she likes him too. Stacey really doesn't know what to do when she hears that Tess has a date with King at some new restaurant called Hog Heaven.

During the pep rally, Stacey holds up the cards as the crowd yells for which mascot they like the best. When she holds up the pig card, people laugh like crazy. It turns out that someone blew up a big picture of Tess and pasted it on the card. Someone in the crowd hits the poor girl with a hot dog. As she tries to get up and run away, she falls over the side of the bleachers. Stacey runs over to help, but Tess realizes that Stacey knew about the kids making fun of her all along and tells her that they are not friends.

Still not one to give up, Stacey stops by her house. Poor Tess sprained her wrist and broke her ankle. She finds that Tess has this amazing room with a replica of a famous mobile hanging from the ceiling and all this unique stuff. Tess then reveals that she transferred from a school in Paris. Stacey realizes that's why she didn't get all the pop culture references and why she acted so odd. She also finds a bunch of photos of Tess and her friends and even a fashion magazine from Paris that show kids wearing bright pink clothes and thick black glasses. Tess once again tells her that they aren't friends and asks her to leave.

Emily comes to Stacey with some bad news. King, Alan, and some other random guy are planning on playing a bad joke on Tess. When she goes on her “date” with King, he'll keep putting her in front of all this pig stuff. They'll take pictures, make horrible comments, and put the whole thing in the paper. Stacey tells the BSC, Kristy comes up with an idea, and surprisingly, Tess agrees to go along with it.

Claudia gets a huge plate of fries and smothers them in ketchup. When they see King and Tess, Stacey pretends to trip, which causes Claudia to drop the whole platter on him. Stacey then pulls out a rag covered in blue paint and smears it all over him. Abby stands nearby and takes photos of everything. They then tell him to knock it off or they'll share the embarrassing pictures with everyone they know. King kind of slinks off with his tail between his legs. Tess is suddenly okay with everything and happy, but in the end, she seems to like Barbara way better than Stacey or anyone else.

While all this is going on, Jackie starts acting weird. He keeps stealing his mom's new cell phone and inviting Nicky over. When Nicky can't come over, Jackie flips out and mumbles to himself a lot. Abby finds Nicky giving Jackie a “lesson” that involves walking on the roof of the house. While sitting for him, three other kids show up to talk to him. She sees them acting really threatening to him and being bullies but decides to see what happens. It turns out that one of the kids thought he stole his jacket, so Jackie hired Nicky as his bodyguard. When he explains that it was really his jacket, the other kid calms down and they even play soccer together.

*Abby does a really bad job of watching over Jackie. There is no way she should have let those kids into the yard, and there is no way she should have left Jackie alone. That could have ended way worse.

*The comic Alan makes is really mean and kind of makes me rethink the way I felt about him in the FF series.

*Tess outfit #1: black boots, brown cords, shirt with a Peter Pan collar, and pink cardigan. That's what she wore when she walked through the mascot.

*Speaking of the mascot, who just suddenly decides to change their school's mascot? The administration should have just said no!

*Stacey picks panther because she says that she can just paint the one they made a new color next year. Damn, even she knows that she's never leaving eighth grade!

* Tess outfit #2: hot pink sweatshirt and matching pants with white lace collar and cuffs. I don't think even Claudia could pull that one off...

* Tess outfit #3: the one from the cover: hot pink overalls with a pink, green, and yellow flowered shirt underneath. Mary Anne thinks it looks cute, but everyone else finds it disgusting.

*Tess also wears a pink, yellow, and maybe green pantsuit type outfit that Stacey thinks looks like it's from the 70s. Tess says it was her mom's and she loves it. If Claudia wore it, people would be all up in her business about how it was so innovative.

*Stacey basically says that Tess growing up in Paris is even more impressive and sophisticated than how she grew up in NYC. Ooh, I think someone is jealous.

*When Tess shows up with makeup on, she's incredibly uncomfortable and even says that she doesn't like the way the mascara feels. Stacey poo poos her because you “can't feel” makeup. Fuck yeah you can, it's why I pretty much wear makeup once a year. Well, that and the fact that I work from home, so some days I don't even wear pants!

*It's funny that her glasses are so lame when hipsters today made those glasses stylish. I may not be a hipster, but the glasses I wear most days look a lot like the pair on the cover but in brown.

*I'm sure I did a bad job of recapping this book, but Stacey is really and truly awful. She gets it in her head that Tess needs saving and does all this crap to change her looks without really being her friend or spending any time with her.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Baby-Sitters Club #75: Jessi's Horrible Prank

Ugh, this is the book that makes me so glad I never wanted to be a teacher.

Even though SMS is constantly running out of money for school things, they keep doing Short Takes. This time, Jessi signed up for a class on computer programming because she thought it sounded interesting. SMS once again brings in a brand new teacher. Mr. Trout is kind of dorky. He's super tall and skinny, always wears pocket protectors, and worst of all, he seems afraid of his students.

This causes the kids in his class to go a little crazy. They stop listening to him and do whatever the hell they want. They throw spitballs at each other, make fun of his name, joke around about how he has a lisp, and generally act like little assholes. Jessi feels bad for him but not so bad that she doesn't go along with them. They do stupid shit like arrange to throw their books on the floor at the same time. It makes Mr. Trout jump and gets him a little distracted, but they all act like it was the funniest thing in the world.

Jessi feels bad enough that she talks it over with the BSC. Kristy pretty much rolls her eyes and says that he needs to grow a back bone. Everyone else feels a little bad for him but wonder why he became a teacher. Mary Anne being Mary Anne almost cries about the whole thing. Everyone in his class fails their first test because they were too busy goofing off to learn anything, but he just goes over the materials again, which does absolutely nothing.

It's also time for the Sixth Grade Follies. It's some lame show that the sixth grade puts on to make fun of their teachers. Jessi volunteers as both a performer and a member of the finance crew. The teachers decided to charge admission and give the money to a local charity. The two Dollies, two teachers who look and act just like Dolly Parton, are in charge of the whole thing. They kind of encourage Jessi and her Latino friend to participate by saying they want to represent all students, which is a little weird.

Despite the fact that Jessi is black, which she thinks means people hate her, she hosts the first meeting. Everyone shows up except for one girl, but her parents wouldn't let her hang out with Jessi anyway because they are totes racist. Becca finds the whole thing so exciting that she keeps following them around all the time. They come up with some funny sketches, including one where Jessi dresses up as one of the two Dollies to start the show.

Jessi starts feeling even worse for Mr. Trout. She notices that he's super quiet and keeps to himself most of the time. He doesn't even talk with the other teachers. One of the girls in her class realizes that he wears a toupee and tells everyone. They set it up so that one kid gets his toupee off with a fishhook. He's clearly embarrassed, especially since the hook gets caught in his coat, but he lets everyone off.

Someone else then comes up with a “super funny” skit. Jessi will come in with a bald cap on her head and dressed like a Klingon. A kid dressed up like their teacher as Elvis will say he was kidnapped by a Klingon, Jessi will step out and repeat it with his lisp, and everyone will laugh. She doesn't want to do it and even plans on backing out, but before she can, the kids tell one of the Dollies. She thinks it's absolutely hysterical and pushes Jessi to do it.

Cut to the night of the show. Jessi as Dolly opens up the show on a huge note, but her doing Mr. Trout brings down the house. People just can't stop talking about. The BSC pig out on ice cream and keep telling her how she's a superstar. Becca keeps staring at her like she's Taylor Swift or something. Jessi gets so many compliments that she decides Mr. Trout will be fine with it.

He's definitely not okay though, so not okay that he doesn't come to school the next day. She finds out from one of the Dollies that he just didn't show up to work one day. The principal went to his house, found the place empty, the phone shut off, and his car gone. Mr. Trout apparently called in later to say he wasn't coming back because he was going back to grad school.

They get a brand new teacher who doesn't give them lip. He sends one kid to the principal's office right off the bat and makes it clear that any other disruptions aren't tolerated. The Dollies tell Jessi not to worry about Mr. Trout because he didn't really fit in and that her skit shouldn't have bothered him. The principal refuses to give him a second chance and tells her that he wasn't cut out for teaching. Even her friends and parents say the same thing.

Jessi eventually makes up a petition to bring him back and hangs it up in school. Only the BSC members sign it. Jessi starts thinking that maybe everyone else was right and that he wasn't cut out for teaching. They learned more from their new teacher in a few days than they did the whole time with him. She finally decides to write him a letter to apologize for being a brat. At the end of the book, she gets a letter back. Mr. Trout sucks up to her by saying he always thought she was an intelligent and polite young lady, that he holds nothing against her, and that while he appreciates the gesture, he won't come back because he's going back to college.

In other news, Becca starts acting a little weird. She goes with Jessi to a sitting job at the Pike house and gets all the kids interested in her. Other kids in town keep showing up at sitting jobs and working together on some mysterious project. Charlotte finally gives Stacey something and tells her not to open it until the BSC meeting. It's an invitation to the BSC Follies, a show the kids decided to put on together.

Vanessa dresses up like Claudia, which is hysterical. She carries around a backpack filled with food, keeps snacking in the middle of the show, and at one point, contemplates turning a clock into a hat. It's just so amazingly adorable that Mary Anne almost cries and everyone else laughs their asses off. Vanessa is the only good part.

*This book pisses me off really bad. There is no way those kids shouldn't get punished. I don't care how lame Mr. Trout is, the toupee incident alone would result in some serious detention time. Even if he doesn't tell on him, the story spreads around the school in no time.

*These are the kids who will get their parents to come to their high schools and bitch to their teachers about how they have too much homework, count on it.

*I can't stand the teachers either. They think he was a terrible teacher because he didn't hang out with them in the teachers lounge. I guess some people really never get over the whole high school mentality.

*Claudia outfit: a tie dyed tee shirt, bell bottom pants, an alligator barrette, and cats eye glasses from the 50s. I bet older Claudia is one of those chicks walking around in clear lens glasses to look smart.

*Jessi merely “suggests” that the Dollies let her help come up with a dance routine, and they put her in charge of it.

*The girl who doesn't come to her house? She squeezes her hand after the show and tells her she did a good job, so I guess she cured racism!

*For the meeting at her house, they put out potato chips, pretzels, M&Ms, Goldfish and Triscuit crackers, tortilla chips, and a massive bowl of fruit. Jessi starts worrying that they won't have enough food, even after her mom reminds her that her dad is grilling hamburgers and hot dogs too. How much food does she think eight people will eat??

*One guy shows up early, his dad walks him in, and stops to talk to her parents. Jessi kind of makes it out like a racist thing, but I think it's more the dude wanting to find out where his kid will be all day.

*How many books have we had where the school does some fundraising thing because they need money? Maybe they should stop hiring teachers to teach one month classes all the time!

*Jessi keeps talking about Peter Pan and making it out like she was the star. I think she even comments that she was the comedic highlight. Hm, I think I read a different book...

*Despite being the one who planned the whole damn thing, Becca is so embarrassed to perform at the follies that she runs backstage at first. She wears a tutu and keeps stretching all the time to play Jessi.

*Claudia and Kristy have a minor fight over nose piercings. Kristy thinks it's crazy, but Claudia thinks it looks cool until she puts a clip on ring in her nose and says it hurts. Kristy also complains that a piercing is FOR LIFE, which is insane. I've now had one eyebrow pierced twice and one pierced once. Don't wear one anymore and have just a tiny scar in one eyebrow.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Sweet Valley Twins #118: No Escape!

Lila apparently now as a crush on Aaron, which is wrong on so many levels but mainly because he's her “best” friend's kind of boyfriend. Jessica thinks it's definitely wrong and hates that Lila keeps complimenting him on his clothes. Neither girl is happy because they have to go to a safety lecture at the spelunking club and take a quiz before they can go on the big sixth grade trip to the caverns. Elizabeth naturally finds this exciting, but Aaron hates it because he allegedly has a ton of caving experience already.

Jessica and Lila become even less happier after finding out that Metro, the hottest new makeup store ever, is opening the next day. They make plans to skip their last class and even consider calling in sick to school to get there later before realizing that they have to be at the safety lecture. Instead of doing what they should, they con Tamara and Kimberly into going and taking the quiz for them.

When Liz comes home, she can't stop talking about all the dangerous stuff and what they heard at the lecture. Jessica tries to play it off like she knows what she's talking about. Though she gets a little nervous, she eventually decides that it's a school event, which means it can't be too dangerous. “Lila” winds up doing so well on the quiz that she ends up in the smartest group with Winston, Liz, Aaron, and Maria. They get assigned the ice cave, which is the hardest cave. Jessica winds up in the beginner group with Amy, Todd, and some other kids.

Before they leave on the field trip, Liz and Jessica have a fight over clothes. Jessica feels completely confident in new tennis shoes, a hot pink tee shirt, and tiny denim shorts. Liz points out that the cave is dark and cold, which causes her twin to reluctantly add an old sweatshirt to her bag. She avoids all the supplies her mom left her and fills her bag with magazines and makeup.

When they get to the cave, others tease her for her clothes, so she grabs her sweatshirt and puts her bag in the wrong place. This ends with Liz getting Jessica's bag and Jessica getting Liz's bag. That probably wouldn't matter except that there's an earthquake that causes Liz's group to get trapped in the ice cave. To make matter's worse, their guide Terry gets knocked out and breaks his leg too. He only wakes up for seconds at a time before passing out again.

Jessica is the only one freaking out over her twin being missing. Everyone else tells her to calm down because they probably didn't even feel the tremor. She starts going through her twin's bag and wonders why she brought stuff like extra clothes, a candle, and food. When Todd tells her about all the dangers of caving, she freaks out and confesses what she did. Todd and Amy then agree to go with her and save Liz.

Liz was walking across a bridge that collapsed during the tremor and fell in the water. They finally realize that she has hypothermia and try to help her. Maria already gave her extra clothing to Terry, and Winston trips and drops all their other bags in the water. Only Lila has her bag left and like Jessica, she brought nothing useful. They wind up wrapping Liz's legs in plastic trash bags, making her wear a pair of tiny leggings, and putting Lila's backpack on her head.

Terry comes to just in time to see Aaron try to climb his way out of the cave. He instead falls down, almost cracks his head open, and causes a bunch of rocks to fall down. Terry tells them that there is one way out, which is through a super tiny hole way up the wall. The only one small enough to get through is Liz, which makes me wonder if the ghostwriter is calling Lila fat?

Liz starts lecturing Aaron on being a jackass and how he keeps doing everything the lecturer told them not to, which leads him to confess that he didn't listen. He thought he knew everything and played hangman with Winston until the quiz came. Winston was so busy playing with Aaron that he missed all the important parts too. Winston copied off Liz, and Aaron copied off him. Lila then confesses that she cheated too, so it turns out that only Maria and Liz actually deserved to be in the smart group.

They get Liz outfitted with a helmet that has a broken headlight to protect her head, a flashlight, some matches, and a candle. Lila turns over the glow in the dark eye shadow that she bought at Metro to help Liz mark her path. They then go a cheerleading lift to get her up to the hole and send her on her way. Though she freaks out at first, she starts calming down pretty quickly, though she does accidentally drop her helmet.

Jessica, Todd, and Amy get there 20 minutes later. The other two run for help, while Jessica stays behind. Cave workers get everyone out in minutes but won't let Jessica go with them to find her twin. They tell her it's too dangerous and that no one in their group is small enough to get through the hole in the wall. They send her back to wait while they go a different route to catch up with Liz.

Liz crawls on her stomach for a long time before reaching an area where she can sit up, but she then realizes that there are three ways to go and that she's too far away for Terry to help her. She then drops her flashlight on the ground and breaks it. Liz keeps going but slowly runs out of matches and then drops her candle in a puddle of water. Just as she's about to burst into tears, she reminds herself of how Jessica would act. Thinking of her twin gives her the strength to move on and keep going. She really does give up after coming to a dead spot. Though she hears someone calling her name, they can't hear her. Conveniently, she grabbed Jessica's camera from her bag. The flash lets her see enough to get out, and the camera makes enough noise for them to hear her and find her.

The twins have a big reunion, but Liz keeps pushing the quiz issue until Jessica confesses that she cheated. Liz then reveals that Lila confessed in the ice cave so they already knew. She also tells her about using the camera, which makes Jessica brag about how packing it saved her twin. They use the last picture on the roll to take a picture of them together.

*Aaron says he once had to find his way out of a cave with no flashlight and that he once saved a kid from falling off a cliff. I call bull.

*If Amy is so smart in science like they told us in multiple other books, how did she wind up in the worst scoring group?

*Lila uses her glow in the dark eye shadow to draw on the cave walls and gets pissy when Liz tells her to stop. Liz doesn't tell on her though, but I would tell on her and get her ass thrown out of the trip.

*The other kids want to try the cheerleading lift earlier, but Liz tells them that it's way too dangerous. All it is is Winston and Aaron lifting her with her hands, which is really lame.

*If the hole is so small that only someone with the frame of an 11 year old girl can fit through, why wouldn't they seal it up?

*Also, given what Liz goes through in that cave section, there is no way Terry should have volunteered her to go through!

*Lila threatens to sue and says her dad will sue someone for her getting stuck. They all just roll their eyes and tell her that you can't sue a cave or an earthquake.

*Lila also abandons her crush on Aaron. She tells Jessica that he was super mean to her in the cave and that he was the type of guy who wouldn't give you a bandage if you were bleeding.

*I probably looked at this cover a dozen times and always thought the guy looked way too old to be Aaron. It wasn't until today that I realized he was Terry.

*Kimberly and Tamara actually try to tell the girls what to do in the cave and give them more info about the lecture, but Lila and Jess just blow them off.

*Liz actually thinks that Jessica wants her to use the camera to take a picture of her and Aaron, but Jess says she wants to save her last photo for her twin. Aw.

*This is kind of the last Sweet Valley Twins book! The only other two left in the series are the diary books that just set up Sweet Valley Junior High.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Sweet Valley Kids #30: Jessica's Unburied Treasure

The Wakefield family is off to the Grand Canyon! Jessica and Elizabeth are so super close in this book that they share everything. They even decide to take just one suitcase for all their stuff. Alice thinks this is just about the cutest thing ever. They also ask the flight attendant if they can share just one blanket on the plane. People think this is so cute that they can't stop talking about them, and one flight attendant even brings them wing pins.

Once they land in Arizona, they go to pick out postcards to mail their grandparents. They conveniently want the same exact one, so they decide to just share the postcard and mail it to their grandparents from the both of them. After hiking down to the basin, they find out that their group will split up into three smaller groups. One group at a time will go water rafting down the river, camp out overnight, and come back the following morning as the next group heads off.

Even though the twins are desperate to go rafting, they hang out with Steven and check out all the nature. Liz loves just about everything she sees, but Jessica isn't too fond of all the bugs. They finally get to go rafting and have a minor argument over who will get to sit in the best seat. The tour guide gets a kick out of it because he thought they shared everything. Jessica gets the seat first, but she has to let her twin have it later.

While on their camping trip, the twins find something in the dirt, which turns out to be a very expensive diamond ring. The tour guide tells them that there's a chance it was lost years ago and that if no one claims it, they can keep it. Alice suggests selling the ring and using it to buy something they both want. Jessica secretly daydreams about keeping the ring and showing it off to her friends. Apparently even Lila doesn't have a diamond ring.

Elizabeth makes friends with an older girl who talks with her about computers. She then suggests they sell the ring and buy a computer. Jessica is totes against the idea, even though she secretly loves computer games. She really just wants to show off her new ring and make all her friends jelly. The twins fight so much that Steven suggests just throwing the ring in the river. Even Alice and Ned start thinking it's a good idea.

Before they can do anything drastic though, the guide comes back with some big news. An older woman in the first group conveniently lost her wedding ring on her trip. She's super upset because her husband gave it to her and he recently passed away. The twins briefly fight over who will give her the ring before Jessica wins. The woman is so happy to get her ring back that she gives them a $20 reward.

This causes the two to fight some more. Jessica wants to buy furniture for her dollhouse, but Elizabeth wants to buy some new books. Ned solves the problem by taking the money and giving them each $10. They then come home and find out that an old family friend is going out of town and will be leaving their kids with them. The twins get all excited until they learn their new guests are boys...

*There is a small continuity error from the other books/series. Jessica talks about how Lila's parents spoil her, but we know it's just her dad.

*It's nice to know that they just take this old lady at her word. No one asks her to describe the ring or anything. They just show it to her, and she's all like, “yep, that's totally my ring.”

*The ring is supposedly so valuable that the twins could sell it and have enough money to buy a brand new computer, software, and a bunch of games. The woman later says that her husband gave the ring to her at their senior prom. What kind of high school senior can buy a ring worth thousands of dollars on the secondary market?

*The beginning of this book is super annoying. There is a reference on every single page about how the twins share everything. All the other SVK books I read though went on and on about how different they are and how the only thing they share is their bedroom.

*I went to a Half Price Books clearance sale and found three SVK books, but all three were Jessica books. It was a super disappointing sale though. Last year, I found like 30 Nancy Drew books and probably 10 SVT books plus a few BSC books. I found one Nancy Drew book, two BSC books, and three SVK this year. I couldn't even find a Goosebumps book in the sale!

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Unicorn Club #14: Lila on the Loose

Remember how in all those other Sweet Valley series that George didn't give a crap about Lila? Yeah, well that's still true. Lila recently got an A on a math test, and he was so excited that he agreed to take her to a fancy dinner at Chez Francois to celebrate. She buys a new dress and drags Jessica to the mall for a new hair cut. After the salon, they stop by Casey's and see Jimmy Lancer with his friends.

See, Lila introduced herself to him once and then made up a story to her friends about how they went on a date. She tries to play it cool while sipping on her nonfat vanilla shake, which she only chose because it sounded more mature than a sundae, while trying to ignore h. Jessica starts in on how if they're really dating, she should go and talk to him and even threatens to go over herself. Lila finally does, but Jimmy doesn't really remember her. She accidentally puts her hand in his sundae, his friends all laugh at her, and Jimmy defends her. He even says that she's the most beautiful girl in Sweet Valley Middle School.

Dinner does not go the way she hoped. Her dad is super late, and the waiter keeps asking if she wants to order. She almost cries at the idea that he forgot about their special meal but then learns that he had a business meeting that ran late. He sends a message to order whatever she wants and he'll see her later. She orders the entire menu and then takes everything home with plans to eat dinner together. Instead, she wakes up in the middle of the night alone.

It turns out that he did come home after all. When she wanders downstairs in the morning, he's sitting at the table with breakfast. He just brushes off her questions about where he was and hands her five $100 bills for doing well in science. Yes, it was a math test and not a science test that she aced. Though she lies to her friends about how he had a special cake made for her and how their meal was so great, Caroline lets it slip that her family was there, saw Lila all by herself, and how they all felt really bad for her.

Since her friends know she lied, she tries to win them over by suggesting they throw a party. Her dad's going out of town yet again, so they can use her house that weekend. While she feels a little better, she can't help noticing how much they talk about their parents. It makes her feel so bad that she tricks Elizabeth of all people into inviting her over that night for dinner and to play Pictionary. Now that's a game I haven't heard mentioned in a long time!

Dinner goes really well, but Lila keeps imaging having a similar night with her dad and failing. She offers to clean the table and gratefully accepts Alice's help in figuring out what to do. She doesn't know how to put away leftovers or what to do with the dirty dishes. While listening to Steve tease the twins, she pictures him standing up for her in the same way. She then realizes that he teases the twins because they're his sisters and he loves them but he teases Lila because she's an annoying little pest and has to leave the room.

Lila runs into Jimmy again at the mall. He's browsing some hard rock CDs, so she goes over and pretends like she loves that music. She then offers to buy him a super expensive CD, he resists, and she adds a ton more to the stack. Since that went so well and her friends wonder if they really are dating, she then invites him to Chez Francois. The other girls are super jealous, but Kimberly admits that she saw Jimmy with some cute girl named Hilary. They also point out that their dads would never let them date a boy in high school.

In the hopes of making her dad feel something, Lila tells him that she met a guy. Instead of asking any questions at all, he basically ignores her. She even shouts that she's dating an older boy, but he just hands her a few credit cards and tells her to have fun. With her friends in tow, she goes crazy at the mall. She spends $500+ on a few bathing suits, drops hundreds more on music and shoes, and buys stuff that doesn't even fit. This ends with her spending $75,000 on five necklaces with unicorn pendants and five super expensive pearl and gold necklaces.

Dinner actually doesn't go too bad, though she does roll her eyes a few times because he doesn't know anything about French food. She also has to explain to him what a five star restaurant rating means. To win him over, she presents him with an expensive diving watch that she bought during her shopping spree, which he once again tries to refuse. They take a walk on the beach, he holds her hand, and then he kisses her on the cheek.

Jimmy had such a good time that he calls to thank her. When she tells him that it was her dad's treat, he says to thank him for her. Lila then rushes to her dad's office to tell him that her high school boyfriend is on the phone and wants to thank him for dinner. George just says that's nice and ignores her for a few minutes before basically telling her that he has work to do. She then invites Jimmy to the party and tells him that he can bring some friends.

Their only problem is Mrs. Pervis. Jessica calls and pretends that she's George's secretary. She says that George wanted Lila to join him for a weekend away from home and that she should go and visit her sister for the weekend. Despite making a bunch of mistakes on the call, Mrs. Pervis believes the story and heads off. She does arrange for their limo driver to take Lila to the airport though. Lila then has him drop her off, cashes in her travelers checks, and gets a taxi home.

The process takes way longer than she expected, which leaves her getting home after the party started. Apparently, six car loads of high school students were the first to arrive. More high school kids showed up and started trashing the place. They threw a planter in the pool, ate all the food, broke a bunch of stuff, and even went on the roof and started jumping into the pool. Morons. The kids won't listen to anyone.

Lila gets it in her head that she just needs to find Jimmy and that he'll put a stop to it. One of his jagoff friends stops her and makes a rude comment about how middle school kids are making the party lame. She finally does find Jimmy, but he actually brought Hilary to the party. Hilary drapes herself all over him and says that he can't stop talking about his new little sister. That is the last straw. Lila heads outside and screams at people, but no one will leave.

That's right about the time that George shows up. Even as his daughter breaks down in tears, he ignores her and shouts at people to leave. He tells them that he's going inside to check the damage and that they should all be gone when he comes back. When he does, Lila flips out on him about how he should put her needs first. George literally rolls his eyes and tells her she's grounded, which causes her to point out that he's never around to enforce a punishment. George then says he has to leave early in the morning for yet another business meeting, which leads to Lila crying even more, screaming at him, and then running to her secret hiding place in a tree.

While curled up in a little ball, she has a dream about her dad and hearing him call her name. He really is calling her name, and he wraps her up in a hug when he finds her. He apparently spent hours running around outside trying to find where she went. They have a long talk that ends with him promising to focus less on work and to spend more time with her. Though she assumes that he'll leave anyway, he's still there in the morning. He even tried to make muffins, which he royally screwed up.

When George decides to ground her for two weeks, she tells him that she'll only accept her punishment if he gets grounded too. They agree to try and spend the next few weeks getting to know each other and being a family. They even decide to follow a recipe and make a new batch of muffins. Lila then reminds him of a song they danced to when she was a girl, his eyes light up, and they sing together as he dances with her around the room. I teared up a little.

*It's been so long since I recapped a Unicorn Club book! I was at a used book store a few weeks ago and saw a ton of Sweet Valley books on a shelf. Mentally flipped out a little until I got closer and discovered this was the only one I didn't have.

*Jessica doesn't get why Lila needs to dress up and have her hair done “just” for dinner with her dad. It's kind of sad that Lila views this as such a big deal.

*It's equally sad because she thinks doing well in school will make her an intellectual equal to her dad and that now he'll want to have long conversations with her.

*Though the other girls didn't believe she went on a date with Jimmy, Jessica did because she said Lila wasn't creative enough to come up with a story like that. Ah, middle school best friends.

*Lila apparently has the entire upstairs floor to herself. I don't think we ever knew that before.

*You have to love that Caroline's parents felt bad enough to point out Lila sitting alone at the table but not bad enough to ask her to join them.

*Um, Elizabeth is the one with a secret hiding place in a tree, not Lila. I'm pretty sure Lila never goes outside unless it's to the beach, for a tennis match, or to hang by the swimming pool.

*Jimmy is a tool. Gee, she bought you fancy gifts, you told her she was beautiful, you kissed her (kind of), and you held her hand. I'm absolutely shocked (shocked!) that she would think you liked her.

*George is also a tool. You know that nothing will ever change. He always uses work as an excuse to ignore his own daughter.

*There's actually a scene where she asks about the family business. Every time she asks a question, his eyes literally drift back to the newspaper or he sighs and asks if she's done.

*Lila looks like a middle aged woman on this cover.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Baby-Sitters Club #62: Kristy and the Worst Kid Ever

While sitting for her siblings, Linny and Hannie come over with some big news. They are getting a foster kid in the near future. After briefly arguing over whether it will be a boy or girl and which is better, Kristy watches as Karen, Nancy, and Hannie decide to build a playhouse out of old wooden crates. That gives her time to think about how great the family is.

Kristy is once again sitting when Linny rushes over with the news that the kid is on his way. He starts to let David Michael come over before stopping, and Kristy tells him that they need some time to bond as a family. She does watch a kid with short and spiky hair wearing old overalls get out of the car, and she isn't sure if the kid is a boy or a girl. The kid turns away from Mrs. Papadakis when she tries to hug her. She also marches off, walks across the hood of the car, over the roof, and then jumps in through the window to get her bag.

Let's stop right here and explain that this girl is literally the worst. Lou, never Louisa, lived with her dad and older brother after their mother abandoned them. When her dad died, they both ended up in foster care until social services could locate their mom. While I do feel bad for her, she does a lot of really awful things in the later chapters.

Lou starts out small. She refuses to talk to the other kids and makes fun of the girls for building a playhouse that she thinks is lame. She gets super rude about the fact that they want to paint it pink and acts like a huge bitch. When Mary Anne sits for a group of kids, Lou goes off to David Michael about how Mrs. Papadakis makes her eat vegetables and checks her homework every night. She stages a revolt after learning that they have to ask permission to walk to the school playground. Mary Anne catches her in the middle of the street and tells her that she has to go home. Lou acts super snarky about how it was just a joke and clearly doesn't want to hang out with the other kids, but she gets to go back anyway.

Dawn winds up sitting for the kids one day and decides to have them help her make carob brownies. Lou dumps a handful of raw batter on Hannie's head and taunts her for having a cow pie on her head. Hannie bursts into tears, Lou tells her right to her face that she hates her, tells Dawn she hates her too, and locks herself in her room. Dawn talks to her later and finds out that Lou really misses her dad and isn't happy living away from her brother. She apologizes to Hannie too. Dawn then calls Kristy and tells her that Lou isn't the worst kid ever, she's just the saddest kid ever.

When Kristy accepts a job sitting for them, she finds that Lou is still awful. She promises them that they can all play a game of Monopoly once they do their homework and she checks it. The other kids do it, but Lou throws a fit and won't let Kristy in her room. When Kristy talks to her later, Lou shows her homework and briefly talks about her dad, including how he was teaching her constellations and how they had this little spot by the river. Lou then demands that the other kids start a brand new game so she can play, which only gets resolved when Kristy lets Lou take her place.

The worst is after a BSC slumber party. While cleaning up the kitchen in the morning, they hear Shannon (the dog, not the sitter) barking her head off and a hissing noise. Kristy rushes into the living room and finds that Lou stuffed Boo-Boo inside a pillowcase and is holding the cat over Shannon's head to make her jump. When Kristy yells at her, Lou drops the bag and Boo-Boo claws Kristy pretty bad. She then finds that Lou tied a blindfold over the poor dog's eyes, which made her go crazy. Though Kristy kind of lectures her about it, Lou just stares at her and does nothing.

While sitting yet again, Kristy gets a call from Lou's social worker. Though Lou is sure that they found her mom, the social worker says that they actually found her dad's brother. Her aunt and uncle want to take in both her and her brother. Lou goes absolutely bat shit crazy. She throws framed pictures on the wall and breaks them, trashes her room, ruins the playhouse, and then disappears. Kristy eventually finds her crying by a stream because her mom doesn't want her.

Cut to her big going away party. Her aunt and uncle arrive with her brother in tow and seem really happen to take her home with them. They bring her a baby doll and a new football, she bonds with her brother, and she even teases her brother about wanting to hold her new toy. When he says he does, she hands over the doll. They also bring her a brand new puppy. Kristy gives her a book and asks her to write before saying good bye.

The book isn't over yet! Since SMS apparently spent all their money on work experiences for kids outside of school and dances, they have no money left to buy new computers. They ask the kids to hold an auction and donate items for the auction too. Kristy and the BSC can't figure out what to donate, but they do tear apart their houses looking for stuff. To make matters worse, Cokie's dad donated a three minute all you can grab shopping spree to the record store in her name. She literally cannot stop bragging about it.

They hit on the idea of writing to celebrities and asking them to donate things. They get Cam Geary's signed jacket from his latest movie, a signed photograph of an Olympian, a signed set of books from a famous author, the blanket belonging to the latest winner of the Kentucky Derby, autographed toe shoes, and tons of other stuff. The person in charge of the auction can't stop gushing, which causes Cokie to blow a fuse.

When the day of the auction arrives, Watson buys a huge antique bookcase thing and an antique record player. He also buys an old television that someone turned into an aquarium for Karen. Kristy wins the photograph of the Olympian, and Logan buys a pair of pearl earrings, which makes Mary Anne blush. In the end though, the highest bid of the night goes to the 24 hours of sitting that they donated. Bull shit.

*We finally get an answer to Stacey and the New Kids on the Block! The notes in the end say that Ann wanted to do a book about foster kids and decided to make it #35 (or whatever) when doing their story ideas for the year. They later switched to making that book a mystery book and saving the foster kid story line for much, much, much later.

*Why the hell did the Papadakis family even sign up to become a foster parent? Kristy sits there multiple times and so do Dawn and Mary Anne. I like to think they made a bunch of plans just to get out of the house and away from Lou.

*Claudia wears a pair of Docs, purple and white striped leggings, a purple cropped sweater with silver button covers, a black velvet hat that she pinned fake flowers on, and a ruffly short black skirt that Kristy says looks like it belongs on an ice skater.

*Stacey wears a green ribbon in her braided hair that matches her shoes, silver capri pants, a huge white shirt with a green belt, gold earrings shaped like leaves, and green checked leggings.

*Kristy says that she almost fell out of her seat when Cam's jacket hit the $100 mark. If he's a big star like they always say, it should have went for a lot more. There is also no way in hell that a few hours of sitting was worth more than ANY of those celebrity items.

*Cokie's dad threw out a bid for the shopping spree that was so high that no one else even bid on it.

*Stacey makes everyone be quiet at the end because she's calculating stuff before telling them that they had the highest donation. What the hell was she calculating? They literally tell you at the end of bidding how much each item sold for!

*While Lou clearly went through some stuff, there is NEVER an excuse for abusing animals. What she did to Boo-Boo made me see red. I would have literally dragged her home by her ear, screaming the whole way, and told the Papadakis family that she was never allowed back in my house.

*Mary Anne puts on Cam's jacket because it touched him. I can't imagine a world in which she would literally hand that jacket over to someone else.

*When sitting at the Papadakis house in this book, all four kids are there plus the Watson and Brewer clans. Isn't there some rule about how many kids they can sit for at a time?

*Dawn approves of the Fig Newtons that Claudia has but not any of her other junk food. Aw, cute, sweet, clueless Dawn. If she ever actually read the sugar and calorie count on a pack, her poor little head would explode.

*Jessi sits for the Craine kids, the ones with the “ghost cat” from Mallory's book. I totally did not remember them at all and thought there was a mistake at first.

*There's no explanation for the aunt and uncle thing. Did they just not know the kids existed, or did they just hide when they heard their relative died and left behind two kids?