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.