Friday, August 26, 2016

Sweet Valley High Super Edition: Falling for Lucas

The twins and most of their friends are heading off to Colorado for a school sponsored ski trip. Lila and Jessica spend time shopping and bitching about how they need to find the perfect guy. Enid is less than happy at the idea of competing with them for guys. Liz doesn't seem to care one way or the other, but she is excited about getting away from home for awhile.

While on the bus, Todd wakes up and can't go back to sleep. He thinks that things will be better if he could just fall asleep in Elizabeth's arms. That leads to him sneaking over to her seat, trying to cuddle with her, and kissing her. Liz wakes up and flips out at him, which causes Mr. Collins to wake up and scream at him. It becomes the talk of the bus as people keep gossiping about it.

Liz is completely mortified when they stop for breakfast at a rest stop. Olivia and Enid keep telling her that he meant well, but Liz starts thinking that maybe Todd is a pig who only cares about one thing. After they lecture her for a bit, she decides that maybe it's okay that he tried to ruin her reputation. They even kiss before making up.

Jessica and Lila spend their rest stop time checking out guys and snapping at each other. They spend so much time checking out one guy that they almost miss the bus. It turns out that the guy in question is actually married to their waitress though. Enid stops by the gift shop and picks up a book about how to be sassy on the slopes and meet your dream guy.

This is when we spiral into a few different stores. First is Liz and Todd. Todd makes arrangements with Winston to have the room to himself on their first night. Poor Winston winds up sleeping on the couch in the lobby. Todd gets Liz alone and asks her to check out his room. She thinks he's just trying to protect her reputation and wants to kiss her in the privacy of his room. When he lets it slip that Winston is gone for the night, she goes to the bathroom. Though he thinks that she's just freshening up, she comes back and drops ice cold water in his lap.

Though he's super in love with her, he can't help noticing this gorgeous woman in her 30s who keeps staring at him. The woman even stops to talk to him while he's waiting for Liz. When he tells her that he's with someone else, she tells him not to stand outside in the cold for too long or he'll get frostbite. Todd spends most of his time trying to get Liz alone, while Liz keeps trying to avoid him.

After a particularly bad argument on the slopes, she skis off away from him. Just as he goes after her, an avalanche happens. Liz runs straight for ski patrol and meets Dirk, the leader of the patrol. He tells her that there is nothing they can do until the morning because the storm that caused the avalanche is still so bad. Todd is still on the mountain and runs into the gorgeous woman from before. They find a little cabin and break down the door to get inside.

Cassandra, the woman, uses all her feminine wiles on Todd to no avail. They wind up reaching an agreement that he's too young for her and that she shouldn't hit on him. That works up until he wakes to Liz rubbing his body in the middle of the night and realizes that it's actually Cassandra. She laughs at him, makes it clear that there's room in the bed for him, and tells him not to wait too long or she might change her mind.

Liz spends hours with Dirk. They manage to get Todd on the radio and hear that he's with someone before his radio dies. When ski patrol finally does get a helicopter up in the air, Liz demands to go. Dirk says no but then changes his mind because it's oh so important to her. They find the cabin and manage to get inside just in time to see Cassandra throwing herself at Todd once again.

Naturally, Liz assumes that Todd realized she wouldn't sleep with him and went after someone else. She refuses to speak to him and mopes around all the time like she never cheated on him before. Dirk finds her and tells her that she's way more beautiful than Cassandra and that the woman has nothing on her before kissing her. Todd catches them and shouts at Liz about how she's been cheating on him this whole time. To make a long story shorter, Enid points out that Todd saw the same thing that she did. They make up and find out that Cassandra and Dirk are now dating.

Enid uses her book to find a fling but fails at every turn. One tip says to wear fluorescent sunblock. She wears bright green sunblock and meets a guy with a nose ring and his hair dyed both purple and green. One tip says to offer help to a bad skier, but the guy she picks is there with his girlfriend. Another recommends yelling single in the lift line, which leads to her sitting next to a family man who wants to sing opera.

When using another tip, she comes thisclose to hitting on Winston. He told everyone he's this great skier but can barely stand upright. Her book falls out of her pocket, but he agrees to keep her secret. When she goes to the nightclub to ask a man to dance, she winds up sitting alone while all the other girls laugh about her scoping guys. The only thing interesting that happens is that she and Winston actually admit that they were kind of interested in each other on the slopes. Liz finally tells her to just do what she wants, which leads her to roast marshmallows in the fireplace.

Then we have Lila and Jessica. On the very first day, they meet Lucas. He's a gorgeous ski instructor, so Jessica pretends like she needs way more help than anyone else. She uses her parents' credit card to book an all day private lesson with him. This pisses off Lila. The two come up with a bet about who can kiss him first. The loser has to ski a double black diamond trail.

Lila forces Jessica to share the lesson with her. While she's in the bathroom, Jessica cancels the wake up call Lila set and begs Liz to wake her up in the morning. Though she does get Lucas alone for a few hours, nothing happens and Lila eventually shows up. They fight over him constantly, but it seems to me like he doesn't really have an interest in either one.

During another private lesson, he shows up with a girl who really can't ski. The girl kind of takes over the lesson, which pisses them both off. Lila gets him alone just as one of his friends stops by to tell him about a party. She overhears the location of the party and comes up with a plan. While Jessica is upset over Liz still being in the ski patrol office and Todd being missing, she pretends to go to the bathroom and actually sneaks out to the party. Jessica later sees Lucas and Lila coming back to the resort and has the perfect view of them kissing.

Since she doesn't want to welsh on their bet, she heads to the trail the next day. Lucas finds out where she is and thinking that she is still a novice, he rushes after her. It turns out that she isn't as good of a skier as she thought. Lucas tries to help her, he winds up crashing into her, and they both tumble down the mountain. Jessica then decides that it doesn't matter who kissed him first but who gets him in the end.

After lying to Lila about being in pain, she waits for her friend to go skiing and sneaks into his room. Lucas actually starts kissing her just as Lila comes back to see him. Jessica locks the door so she can't get inside and goes back to kissing him. Lila then bribes room service to sneak her in on a food cart. While Jessica is in the bathroom, Lila locks her in and throws herself at Lucas. The two girls start fighting, Lila lets her out, and they keep screaming at each other until they look around and realize he's gone.

When they head downstairs later, they find Lucas and Enid feeding marshmallows to each other and seemingly being in heaven. Both are so disgusted at losing out to someone like Enid that they pack a pact to never fight over a guy again. Yup, that should totally last.

*Jessica thinks that this trip is a fresh start and that a new guy is just what she needs to get over the whole breakup with Ken and Christian's death. Maybe you should just take a break from guys for awhile?

*They had to pay for this trip themselves, and Jessica says that she'll owe her parents money forever because of it. But then they say that Amy signed up and can't go because she's failing French and her mom won't let her go. It's not like Mrs. Sutton could get her money back.

*At the rest stop, Liz is envious of how put together Olivia looks in her painted leggings and tee shirt. She should be jealous of Lila, who wears leather pants and a silk blouse. I have no idea how she kept those looking good on a bus.

*Lila briefly remembers fighting with Jess over that guy Mick in the Caribbean and how maybe they should just avoid guys, but then changes her mind and decides to fight tooth and nail for some guy neither one knows.

*Liz is clearly thinking about sex as much as Todd does. While making out in his car near the beginning of the book, she has to stop herself because it just feels too good and she's worried about where it might lead.

*As someone in her 30s, I think the Cassandra story is icky. There is no way I would throw myself at a teenage boy. Hell, I have a hard time finding any teenager even remotely attractive!

*Jessica spots a 25 year old guy and says that he's too old for a relationship but just right for a fling. Why would a 25 year old guy even go after a 16 year old girl? That's just gross.

*I'm pretty sure Lucas would get fired for all this. I can't imagine the resort would be happy with him going after multiple teenage girls in a single week.

*Also, guys in their twenties aren't going to stay with a teenage girl who has no intention of putting out, and these books like reminding us that all the characters are virgins.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Babysitters Club Mysteries #10: Stacey and the Mystery Money

Stacey can't stop thinking about Terry Hoyt, the new guy in school. He has gorgeous eyes, seems really nice, and is cute, so of course she thinks he's perfect for her. Claudia asks about how things are going with Sam – remember him? - and Stacey says that they recently decided to date other people while still seeing each other. Mrs. Hoyt calls in at their next meeting to hire a sitter, but Kristy has to take the job since Stacey already has one. She does learn that he has a twin sister though.

The girls also talk about a counterfeiting ring making its way around Stoneybrook. That becomes important when Stacey takes Charlotte on a trip downtown while sitting for her that weekend. After getting lunch, stopping by to see her mom at the department store, and picking out some random stuff, Stacey buys a headband, hands over a 20, and gets a 10 back in change. When she goes to buy earrings later though, it turns out that the 10 is counterfeit.

When the cops come to investigate, Charlotte freaks out and starts crying about how she doesn't want Stacey to go to prison. The cops let Stacey call her mom, who comes over to watch Charlotte. They bring Stacey, the lady from the earring store, and the women from the department store into the station. Each one tells their story, but nothing happens except that Stacey learns she won't get her money back.

Kristy then goes to sit for Georgie Hoyt. Georgie doesn't seem too keen on the idea of living in Stoneybrook and keeps talking about his dad in a way that makes him seem super strict. He won't let his kids play sports or join teams because they should focus more on their studies, and he won't even let the family rent movies. Georgie makes a comment about how they move around a lot, realizes what he said, and backpedals to say they don't really move much at all. When he accidentally spills milk, she tries to open a closet to get a mop, and he freaks out because she isn't allowed in there. She also thinks it's weird that they haven't unpacked many of their boxes and then finds a student idea for Tasha in a completely different name from a school in Oregon.

Since the BSC assumes that cops in Stoneybrook can never do work without their help, they plan a meeting to talk about the investigation. It's really just an excuse for them to go to the library, read some articles on counterfeiting, and find out that there aren't any books on the subject. Terry, despite never having once had a real conversation with Stacey and only saying hi to her a few times, calls and asks her on a date.

Before the date happens though, Jessi sits for Becca and Charlotte. They want to get in on the investigation too and decide to stake out some of the copy machines around town. Nothing really happens. Becca manages to piss off some guy who's making copies for work. Charlotte keeps records of everyone they see and acts suspicious of a bunch of people too.

Date night arrives, which means Stacey spends way too much time trying to pick out an outfit. Terry introduces himself to her mom as Terry James Hoyt, which is odd in and of itself. They go to the movies and then run into Mary Anne and Logan. They all head to the Rosebud to eat and chat, and Stacey thinks it's weird when he tells them that his middle name is John and not James. She also can't help noticing all the places he says he lived in the past, including Oregon, Iowa, and some random small town. When she finds out he lived in NYC though, they instantly bond. The date ends when they run into Sam on a date with another girl.

During their next meeting, Stacey reveals that he kissed her at the end of their date, and Kristy confesses that Sam is totally jealous of the new kid. As they start going all of their “evidence,” most of the girls think that the Hoyts might be the counterfeiters. They move around a lot, never unpacked, act suspicious, and there's the matter of the fake ID. Since Stacey has known Terry for two whole minutes though, she refuses to believe them. Not only does she act cool to all of them, but she seems relieved when someone suggests it might be Mr. Fiske, her English teacher.

Since he was at the scene of the first crime, they decide to follow him around. Claudia and Charlotte spots him at an office supply store where he orders a bunch of toner and says cost doesn't matter. Claudia does see a guy with a blue moon tattoo on his ear, which she thinks is a little suspicious. They then follow him around school too. All they see is him grading papers and then driving off in an old car. Jessi is the first one to point out that it's not the fancy kind of car you would expect a counterfeiter to drive.

Charlotte and Stacey then go out investigating again. They almost get run over by a younger guy running down the street who drops a bag and keeps running. Stacey checks it out and finds it full of fake money. Because apparently you would just leave that behind with all your fingerprints on it? She then calls Terry and Claudia for help, Claudia calls the rest of the club, they all wait around to see what will happen next, and Jessi takes Charlotte back to her house. They manage to take a picture of some guys picking up the bag, and Stacey realizes that the notebook is full of comments about a guy with a blue moon tattoo on his ear.

Terry agrees to wait with her to get the film developed. He then takes her aside to confess that his dad is Secret Service and that his family moves constantly because of his work. He even tells her that his real name is David Hawthorne. After picking up the pictures, he calls his dad. They all meet, his dad gets excited because those pictures were just the break that they needed. They can now take down the whole ring.

The next day, the paper tells the story of some brave civilians who helped stop the counterfeiting ring. Terry comes to see her to tell her that his family is getting ready to move yet again and gives her a goodbye kiss. Stacey pretends like she knows nothing about his move and that his dad was just a cop. Sam calls at the very end to tell her that he misses her and wants to date her again. They once again decide to date each other and date other people, even though Stacey is so heartbroken that she wonders if she'll ever find someone she cares about as much as Terry. Ugh.

*Claudia has a bunch of old magazines and tells Stacey that her mom gave them to her when the library weeded out their collection because they only have space for two to three years of back issues. How freaking big is this library? That's 24 to 36 copies of each magazine!

*Charlie takes Kristy to the Hoyt's house just to make sure that they aren't serial killers and gets so distracted by Terry's sister Tasha that he can hardly speak. Given that he's 17 and she's in eighth grade, that's gross.

*Stacey can't wear jeans on a date with Terry because jeans are “too casual.” You're 13, you shouldn't have fancy date clothes in your closet. The final outfit is a white sweater and white leggings with blue polka dots and a white bow in her hair. How is that not casual?

*Stacey flips out on Jessi for wanting to photocopy a bill to see what it looks like because it's dangerous. Yeah, like no kid has ever done that before. Then again, Stacey tells them that passing a fake bill is a felony and that she's lucky she didn't go to prison. Yup, there are a ton of junior high kids in prison.

*Despite saying her and Sam mutually decided to date other people, she worries that going out with Terry is like cheating on him. She then refers to him as her ex-boyfriend. Make up your mind girl!

*It takes two hours to get the film developed. Terry and Stacey grab a slice of pizza and a soda, sit down at the park, he tells her about his past, and suddenly it's time to get the film.

*Would the Secret Service really let Mr. Hoyt keep doing this job? It seems really unfair to make his family move so often. Terry says that they have never lived in one place for more than a few years and sometimes only spend a few weeks in the same place. It's also an incredible expense for the government! Making new identities for five people is definitely not cheap.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ghosts of Fear Street #13: How to Be a Vampire (R.L. Stine)

Andrew is that annoying little brother that you either had or never wanted. When he and his sister Emily hang out one day, he keeps telling her that he wants to wait around until he sees a real vampire. A dark shadow comes out of nowhere, grabs Emily by the neck, and starts taunting her until she screams. It's really just Andrew's best friend TJ who plays pranks with him all the time.

The next morning, Andrew finds a leather bound book under his bed. Though it originally looks blank, writing suddenly appears on it and lets him know that it's a book called How to Be a Vampire. Writing magically appears on the pages too and informs him that he is officially a vampire in training because he got bit. He finds bite marks on his neck but convinces himself that TJ made up the whole thing. Since the book is super cold, Andrew thinks TJ put it in the freezer.

TJ naturally has no idea where the book came from but seems pretty happy and willing to believe that his best friend is about to become a vampire. Andrew starts feeling pulled to red foods like strawberry jelly and spaghetti sauce. The only problem is that when he eats a piece of garlic bread, he freaks out and feels like his mouth is on fire. TJ eats the bread to show him that the bread is fine and that the problem is with him.

Cut to them heading home on the school bus. The bus stops working when it reaches a bridge and won't move until TJ grabs him and drags him off. TJ reminds him that vampires can't move across running water before the bus starts up and races off. He also finds himself stalked by a scary looking dog that follows him almost all the way home and keeps growling.

TJ then convinces him that he needs to sleep in a coffin or something like a coffin with dirt from his native land, which is really just his own backyard. Since he can't afford a coffin, he settles on a cardboard refrigerator box in the basement and actually gets the best night's sleep he had in days. The only odd thing is that his mom finds him hanging upside down from the rod in his closet the next morning. She thinks he's weird, and Emily thinks he's crazy for even thinking he might be a vampire.

The book magically shows more information but just keeps telling him things after he goes through them. While on the way to school, he suddenly feels really drained and shaky. It turns out that he's becoming more of a vampire. By the time he runs into TJ, his skin is bright red from being out in the sun. TJ helps him cover up with some clothes and sunglasses from the lost and found to better protect his skin. That gives him enough energy that he starts taunting his sister and acting like an asshat. Later that night, he hears someone calling his name from outside his room and opens the door to see a real vampire standing there.

Count Humphrey Ved is the vampire who changed him and shows up to give him some lessons. Ved is less than happy that Andrew is on the small side and doesn't yet have his fangs. He does take him out, changes him into a bat, and encourages him to hunt. Since he doesn't have fangs, Ved says they can hunt bunnies. When Andrew can't do it, Ved assumes that it's because he has such intense cravings for human blood and takes him home before making plans to see him the next day.

Andrew wakes up in the morning to discover that his fans finally came in and runs to tell Emily. Though she first thinks he's wearing fake fangs or that he glued fake teeth on, she later believes him and agrees to help him find a remedy. Emily, Andrew, and TJ spend all day in the library before finally finding out how to kill a vampire. Everything I learned from Buffy was apparently wrong because you can only kill a vampire by cutting off its head, shoving a stake in its heart, and then filling its mouth full of garlic.

When Humphrey shows up the next day, Andrew tries to waste time until they can pull off their plan at the old abandoned Cameron Mansion. Since vampires can apparently control the weather, he convinces the vampire to make it snow and then create a major thunderstorm. Humphrey then causes a mist to come out of nowhere and brags about how they can transform into wolves, mists, and other things to travel. When enough time passes, they head off to the mansion.

Andrew lies and says that he wants his first victim to be a bully from school and arranges for TJ to be waiting at the mansion. They play fight before Andrew drags him inside, but when he asks TJ for the stake, it turns out that the vampire hypnotized him. Once Andrew sees his veins pulsating, he nearly feeds on his friend but forces himself to remember all the fun they had together. When Emily rushes out to help, the vampire hypnotizes her and TJ and decides to kill all of them.

This leads to Andrew making some rude comments and a chase through the house. Just as it looks like the vampire might catch up to him, Andrew tricks him into going outside and into the sun, which causes him to burst into flames and die. He then goes back, checks on his friends, and gets everyone out of the house.

On the way home, he hesitates before crossing the bridge, turns to them, and reveals long fangs. Emily basically runs away screaming before he starts laughing, takes out the fangs, and tells TJ that it's all that is left of Humphrey. TJ then points out that sunlight will kill a vampire but not break the curse, which leads to Andrew showing him his own fangs and turning on his friend. As TJ gets excited and starts asking questions about what it's like to be a vampire, Andrew laughs and says to himself that TJ will soon have answers to all his questions and that he can't wait to hunt with his best friend.

*Andrew assumes that TJ used some type of new ink or a computer chip to make the words show up in the book. I wish I could find a computer chip like that, I'd be rich!

*Emily is so prissy that she wears pleated skirts with pearls every a junior high student. I think she needs to stop blaming her brother for her not being popular and start looking in her closet.

*Andrew settles on the refrigerator box because they call a funeral home and find out that a real coffin would cost $1,200. I guess Shadyside doesn't have pine boxes?

*Humphrey points out that since he eats hamburgers, he eats meat and can't eat humans. I'm not sure that's how that works...