Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Goosebumps #11: The Haunted Mask (R.L. Stine)

Carly Beth and Sabrina are best friends, but Carly Beth looks much younger and gets picked on by everyone, including her friend. While at lunch, two guys named Chuck and Steve sit with them. Since CB isn't in the mood for rubbery noodles, she accepts Chuck's offer of a sandwich, only to find out he hid a real worm inside. She runs off crying while everyone laughs at her. Steven then convinces her that his pet tarantula escaped and is climbing up her leg. When she goes crazy and starts screaming in the middle of school, he reveals it was all a prank.

She then goes home and discovers that her mom made a realistic mask of her in art class. Though she swears it blinked at her, CB tries to blow it off. Her mom also made her a duck costume, which shes seems breathing and moving right before it attacks her. No worries though. It was just her little brother fooling around.

All Carly Beth really wants is to find a costume so scary that it will send Chuck and Steve running for the hills. She grabs all her money, takes it to the Halloween costume store, and finds out it's closed. The owner takes pity on her and lets her in, but he keeps suggesting gorilla and Star Trek masks that aren't scary at all. When he gets a phone call, she accidentally finds the back storage room and discovers dozens of scary, gruesome, and just plain disgusting realistic masks. The man refuses to let her buy one and acts really weird before taking her money and letting her leave.

She immediately goes home, puts on the mask, and attacks Noah. He gets so scared that he almost wets himself before claiming that he knew it was her all along. Noah also points out that her voice got a lot deeper when she wore the mask. When she tries to take it off, the mask almost refuses to budge before she flips out and finally rips it off.

After giving it some thought, Carly Beth comes up with the perfect plan to scare the guys. She tosses the mask made to look like her on the end of a broomstick and takes off in her creepy mask. After scaring the pants off Sabrina, she manages to scare two poor kids who flip out and have their mother yell at her. She then scares some poor little girl handing out candy with her mom. Carly Beth acts completely different than she normal does and even tries to strangle Sabrina.

Since she really wants to get back at the guys, she basically jumps up behind them and makes them freak out. Though they eventually figure out that it's her, she keeps threatening them with the head on the stick. The head then opens it eyes and whispers for help, which causes them to both drop their bags of candy and take off running. Sabrina finds the whole thing hysterical when they go back to her house to divide up their candy until CB flips out because the mask won't come off.

Sabrina tries to help her and realizes that there isn't a line between the mask and her face. It's like the mask now is her face. After screaming at her friend, CB runs back to the costume shop. The owner lets her in and sadly tells her that it's not a mask but a real face. He was some kind of scientist who made real faces in his lab, but when he left the lab, all his faces became super ugly. According to him, some kids find his hidden room, take a mask, and the mask finds a new home.

He finally tells her that only a symbol of love can remove the mask. Before he can say anymore, the other masks start coming to life and he shouts at CM to run and get out. While running through the streets, she realizes that her mother made the other mask out of love and manages to find it. The other masks suddenly attack, but when puts on the mask her mom made, they all disappear. Carly Beth then takes off both masks and heads home to spend some time with her mom. As they sit down to drink cider, she hears her brother asking how he looks in her mask...

*Her mom supposedly made a mask that looks just like her from paper mache. What the heck kind of paper mache did she use?

*This is clearly a 90s book because the store closes at five every night. I'm pretty sure costume stores are open until at least nine, especially on Halloween night.

*Her super realistic mask costs just $30, which is a heck of a deal if you compare it to the cost of masks today!

*Carly Beth doesn't know what Steve dressed up as and neither do I because we wears a tennis hat with a torn raincoat and puts black soot on his face. I'm guessing some type of a hobo?

*When she comes home at the end, Noah starts screaming and asking what happened to her face, but she realizes he's talking about her actual face and just picking on her, which is such a brother thing to do!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Sweet Valley High #87: My Best Friend's Boyfriend

Ginny and Denise are best friends, even though Ginny is a total plain Jane and Denise is supermodel hot. You might remember Denise from that book where Jessica convinced her she was too old for her boyfriend Jay, so that Jess could swoop in and steal him away, but I'm pretty sure Ginny never appeared in any other books, though I could be wrong.

Ginny is incredibly shy and super nervous, but Denise convinces her that she should volunteer at the whole Project Youth thing, which she eventually does. On her very first day, she gets a call from this guy Mike. His dad died two years ago, and his mom recently announced that she was getting married again to some man he didn't even know she was dating. The day is now over at their house all the time, trying to act like Mike's dad and just generally being a huge pain. Ginny gives him the advice that anyone else would give, which is to talk to his mom. He does, it goes well, and he calls back to tell her and ask her out.

Ethics go out the window when it comes to cute guys. Remember when Zach went out with the girl he met on a counseling line on Saved by the Bell? Ginny just knows that Mike will be super attractive and that he'll be disappointed at how she looks, so she convinces Denise to take her place. Denise is supposed to go, tell him that it's against the rules for them to date, and end things.

Obviously, things do not go as planned. See, Denise is still with Jay and deliriously happy until basketball season starts. I was under the impression that it was always basketball season in Sweet Valley but apparently not. He's now so busy with practice and team stuff that they never see each other or spend any time together. When Mike pays her all sorts of attention, her head turns. He immediately picks up on something wrong and asks if she has a boyfriend, which she denies. Though he knows that she's different than she is on the phone, he thinks she's just nervous and plans a second date.

That leads Ginny to sit back and try not to cry as Denise talks about her wonderful first date and how she can't wait to see him again. Though she does ask if Ginny has a problem with it, Ginny says she's happy for her friend but asks what she'll do about Jay. Denise thinks about it for a bit and breaks things off with Jay, who seems completely blindsided by it. After another date with Mike that doesn't go perfectly, Denise convinces Ginny to come along on a date with them and pretend that she is actually Denise.

This date goes a lot better, but Mike actually seems to like Ginny as Denise more than Denise as Ginny. They have more in common, crack each other up with jokes, and have good chemistry. Denise sees it and briefly wonders if maybe Ginny should be with Mike before deciding that they make a better couple. She even attempts to kiss him before telling him that it will wait until their next date.

Ginny is back at Project Youth on one of her days off when Mike calls in and thinks she's someone new. He tells her all about how he met one girl through a pen pal type thing but now he's met someone new who he really likes. Ginny is heartbroken but advises him to be honest and tell the first girl that he's not interested if he likes someone else.

On their next date, Mike finally steps up and tells Denise that he's just not feeling it. He thinks they're better suited as friends than a couple. Denise finally admits that she actually misses Jay and that she just liked all the attention Mike gave her. They agree to end things, but on the way out of the restaurant, they run into Todd and Elizabeth who says Denise's name. Mike is all shocked when Denise tells him the whole story of what happened and especially so when she reveals that her friend “Denise” was actually the real Ginny.

Ginny heads into work feeling worried that Denise stopped talking about Mike and won't reveal what happened on their date. Mike calls in and says that he took her advice, ended things with the first girl, and now wants to ask out the second girl. She gets all teary eyed, ends the call abruptly, and runs outside. Ginny hears someone ask what they want to do on their date and mumbles a reply before turning and seeing Mike behind her. He tells her that she was always the second girl and that he wants to take her out. They kiss and I guess start dating at the same time that Denise gets back together with Jay.

The b-plot really pisses me off. Jessica stops by Project Youth to pick up Amy, who is upset and distraught. As confidentiality apparently means nothing, she tells Jess that a girl from another school called in for help because one of her teachers is sexually harassing her. Jessica tells Elizabeth, and Liz immediately decides that she should do an article in the paper.

Mr. Collins is less than happy with the topic after what happened with Suzanne and seriously warns her about writing the article. He points out that it might make kids see things that aren't there and lead to some big time false allegations. Mr. Cooper then puts his own foot down and says she can't write it. They decide to go through the galleys every week to ensure the article doesn't appear.

Even though she has no proof, Liz goes forward with her article. Mr. Collins reads it and hates it, and Mr. Copper once again tells her she can't print it. Jessica tells her she should just do it anyway, so Liz makes copies and gets her friends to help her pass it out all over school. Mr. Cooper threatens to suspend her, but then it turns out that EVERYONE in the school read it and absolutely loved it, so she gets off without any repercussions.

*Denise sees a “bag lady” on the street and comments to Mike that it's sad in a super snobby way because Sweet Valley was once so much nicer. When he calls her on it, she backtracks and pretends she meant it was sad because people in town formerly took care of each other.

*Mike gives the woman $5, and Denise swoons over how he's so much more mature than other guys her own age.

*They go to a restaurant on their “three person date” where the servers dress up like ducks and it has a whole farm/duck thing. Why is this place never mentioned again???

*Seriously, when you were in school, would you read some photocopied flyer that some random student handed you? Supposedly everyone reads her article because they pass out copies all around school, but I would assume must would go right in the trash.

*I hate the whole article story. It's not like the girl going through the problem would find a copy and read it, so it really doesn't help anyone. Given the way things happen in Sweet Valley though, I could see multiple girls coming forward with false stories though.

*John is a good guy in this one. He helps hand out copies and even tells Liz that she should write it because guys don't always see things the same way that girls do and that they need to know when they're stepping over the line. Seems strange that they turned him into a date rapist a few books later.

*Thanks for showing that the Wakefield twins never, ever get in trouble. Sure Liz broke multiple rules and went against the rules imposed by several faculty members, but why should we punish her in the slightest?