Friday, March 24, 2017

Sweet Valley High #75: Amy's True Love



The big talk around town is that Jeanie and Tom McKay just broke up. You might remember that she's some random cheerleader and that he's the big tennis star. Jessica tells Liz that she's getting tired of Amy. Apparently, Amy is now more boy crazy than ever and recently clam jammed Jessica at the disco over some hot guy. As the other cheerleaders crowd around to hear the story, Amy shows up all excited. Completely not sensing the vibe in the room, she asks if she can go after Tom now.

Jeanie rushes off in tears while everyone else just stares at her. Jessica, who would totally go after any hot guy with a girlfriend or not, freaks out at her about being such a bitch. She and Lila make her feel like a total whore and backstabber. The other two then decide to give Amy the silent treatment for a few days.

Amy isn't exactly having the best time ever though. Her sociology teacher warns her that she's in danger of failing and that her last paper on social work wasn't very good because Amy picked a topic she knows nothing about. The teacher suggests that she volunteer at Project Youth and write a new paper to get some extra credit.

On her first day, she meets Barry. He's on the tennis team with Tom but is a little too goofy for her to actually date. They bond a little as he trains her, and he quickly develops a huge crush on her. Barry keeps talking to her in school, but she keeps asking him for her to snag Tom. Tom barely knows she's alive and seems to be going through some stuff on his own.

Her parents are a little too busy for her too. Her dad just got a job to do a new book, and her mom is always at the station. When she tries to make dinner for them, she forgets to defrost the chicken. Amy tries to tell them a funny story about two guys fighting over her in art class, which they find not at all funny. Her mom then gives her a lecture about how college is coming up and it's time she buckle down and get serious.

The other big news is that Enid's cousin Jake is coming into town. He's super hot, so naturally Lila and Jessica plan to throw themselves at him. While coming up with ideas as to what to do with them, they manage to bring up how Amy threw herself at Lila's cousin and how he left her for Enid. Even Liz thinks it's cold, but Jessica points out that Amy did it to herself. I guess by acting just like Jess?

Jake comes to town and meets everyone at the disco. Though Jessica and Lila do throw themselves at him, he doesn't seem all that interested,. He does, however, seem interested in Tom. They play tennis together and have an earnest talk that leaves Tom feeling super confused. He keeps thinking about how he loves Jeanie but doesn't want to be with her and how Amy keeps turning him off.

Amy tries everything she can to snag Tom. She sneaks up on him in the library, follows him around school, and even asks him for tennis lessons. At the disco, she follows him to get a drink and keeps asking him to dance. He kind of pawns her off on Barry before running away. Lila and Jessica see and use it as an excuse to tease her.

Tom rushes out of the disco early and finds himself alone with Jake. He pours out his feelings, and Jake reveals that he's gay. Tom has no clue what to say and feels really awkward, so they walk away. Enid later confesses to Liz that Jake told her he was gay and that she had no idea what to say either.

Amy comes up with a final plan to win Tom, which involves buying tickets to a big concert. She asks him out in front of a group, and when he turns her down, she keeps pushing the issue. Kirk “The Jerk” Anderson calls her a dumb blond for not figuring out that Tom doesn't like her, and she runs away in tears. Jessica tracks her down, tells her that Barry stuck up for her, and that Kirk is just stupid. Amy tells her about working at Project Youth and how much she likes it and finds an apology note from Tom in her locker.

Liz just so happens to be doing an article on Project Youth and catches Tom with a pamphlet about homosexuality and teens. They have a short talk before he meets with a counselor. He later catches her and Enid, confesses that Jake told him a big secret, and asks for his address to write him a letter. Jessica and Lila break their silent treatment, and Jessica even reveals that she thinks Barry is a nice guy and kind of cute.

Amy's mom and dad admit that they've been way too busy lately and want to spend more time together as a family. Mrs. Sutton says that Liz called about doing an interview on the Project Youth thing, which leads to Amy telling them about how she did it for school but now wants to stick around. She then asks Barry to go to the concert with her. The book ends with her learning about the Miss Teen Sweet Valley pageant and Barry telling her that he thinks she can win.

*The whole thing with the teacher telling her that she needs social work experience to write a paper on it is BS. How are high school kids supposed to get experience like that?

*One of the guys “fighting” over Amy is AJ Morgan. I assumed after the whole Jessica debacle that he would avoid her friend group like the plague.

*I saw this book and totally though, hey! This is the one where Tom comes out of the closet. I wasn't sure I actually read it before or just read about it until I got to the part with her cooking frozen chicken on the grill though.

*Jessica bleaches her jeans, soaks them in hot water, and puts them on in the tub to make them as tight as possible. How did she get out of high school without getting pregnant?

*Amy is shocked that two almost front row tickets cost a whole 60 bucks. Me too because I paid more than that for nosebleed seats to a Vince Gill concert last summer!

*The woman in charge of Project Youth tells Amy that if she wants to stick around that they can find a way to pay her. Wait, what? I always assumed this was just a volunteer thing. Aren't all the teens working there volunteers?

*You have to love that Jessica gave Amy the silent treatment for doing the same thing she always does. If she had any interest in Tom, she would have gone after him even faster.

*I really thought that Tom came out out in this book. He actually just questions if he's gay and never says anything outright. Given how he talks about Jeanie, it seems like he's just an unsure guy after a break up and not really gay.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Nancy Drew Files #100: Dance Till You Die (1994)


It's the middle of October and extremely cold wherever River Heights is, but Nancy and George are putting on halter tops and short shorts to hit some new club. It features a different theme every night of the week, and the current theme is summer beach party. Bess will meet them there. She recently got a job at the club and wants to surprise them with both her outfit and her job, which makes me feel slightly uncomfortable.

While waiting in line, they see a nerdy guy with a camera trying to snap some shots. The bouncer gets extremely angry at him for no real reason and basically slams him into the wall and back in line. Though concerned, the girls ignore it because they make it to the front of the line. It turns out that Bess is some type of “host,” which means that she wears a skimpy mermaid outfit and lounges around on a fake boulder.

Bess tells them that the nerdy guy is Tom, some rando who keeps following her around and taking picture. True to form, he pops up to take some shots of her. While dancing, Nancy hears a scream that suspiciously sounds like Bess and finds her friend missing. She finds a fire door nearby propped open with a nonworking alarm and one of Bess's hair decorations on the ground.

Lonnie, the owner of the club, is quite concerned. He tells them all about Charity, the woman who previously held Bess's job and lets them into the dressing room. All they find is a flier for some underground show. Lonnie mopes about how these parties might kill his club. Kids show up, make a mess, and the hosts walk off with money and leave the “property” they borrowed completely destroyed.

Nancy and Bess go to the show and find Charity, but they unfortunately also find her boyfriend Gaetan. He's a complete dick and makes them feel like shit for even questioning him, but Charity seems upset that Bess went missing. Etienne, the DJ from the dance club, also shows up, which makes Charity and her guy take off. Etienne tells them that he and Gaetan planned on opening a club together but that the other guy took his investment and keeps ignoring him. Nancy finds it suspicious that despite the cold, Etienne doesn't wear a coat.

To investigate Tom, they go to the quarry where his dad works because he apparently works for his dad. Tom is shocked that Bess went missing and shows them to his darkroom, which is conveniently on-site. Nancy finds it weird that he has so many pictures of Bess and notices that some were taken months ago. Creeeeepppppyyy. He offers to give them a tour, walks off because he hears someone calling him, and the girls almost get crushed by falling boulders. His dad luckily saves them and sends them home while yelling at Tom for being so irresponsible.

In the hopes of tracking down Charity, Nancy looks her up in the phone book, how quaint. Though Charity wears all black, has eight piercings in one ear, and acts like a total rebel, she's actually from the rich side of the tracks. Her dad explains that they had a fight over her boyfriend, Charity ran off, and they haven't heard from her since. Her mom is so upset that she can't get out of bed, and her dad begs them to call if they hear anything.

While heading over to talk to Bess's parents, they randomly stumble upon a tied up Bess. She can't remember a lot except that the guy had a tattoo of a green eagle on one arm, which means he wore short sleeves. The cops come and take statements before leaving. Bess's mom makes a huge dinner and asks the girls if they can stay the night to keep Bess safe.

That turns out to be a good idea because someone tries to break into her room that very night. Though he gets away, he does leave shoe impressions behind, which Nancy deduces are a size 13. They head over to Etienne's apartment to check on him and ask him some questions but instead find his strangled body on the ground. Guess who has a tattoo of a green phoenix on his arm? One cop says it's a common tattoo on soldiers in Europe. Upon being questioned, Bess says that perfectly matches the tattoo she saw. We now have a kidnapper but no one else.

Nancy heads to see Charity. Though she's upset that Etienne is dead, Gaetan doesn't seem that surprised. He's more concerned over his immigration status and what this will do to him. He's the cops number one suspect and instead of talking to them, he ran when they showed up at his apartment. Charity isn't happy that her parents are worried but absolutely refuses to do anything without Gaetan and won't come home unless they change their minds about him. Oh yeah, this sounds like a healthy relationship. Nancy passes along her dad's card and warns Gaetan that he really needs a lawyer.

Nancy arranges for the cops to pick up Gaeten, which makes everyone think things are fine. Bess even makes plans to go to the Halloween party at the club, but Nancy makes her switch costumes with her. She finds out from the police that someone dosed Etienne with ether before killing him and that someone dosed Bess with the same thing. Though she tries to talk to Tom, he refuses to speak with her except to let it slip that he knows Etienne died, which is apparently not public knowledge.

To make things worse, a random car keeps following them. Nancy realizes that it's Lucas, the scary bouncer from the club. Lonnie says that Lucas wouldn't hurt a fly but does agree to talk to him. Nancy lies to protect Bess and says her best friend is skipping the party. Her detective friends pulls a report on Lucas and finds that he's a bad guy complete with a record for assault with a deadly weapon. He warns her to be careful, but she and George go to the party anyway.

While at the party, she finds a foreclosure notice from the bank for the club. Then, while looking for Lonnie in a back room, a valve explodes and nearly blows her face off before Lonnie saves her. He tells her it's a common problem he thought he fixed, which Bess backs up because she saw him working on it. Charity is also there to whine about her boyfriend some more, and Bess has it out with Tom after she hears that he's been telling people they're dating. Nancy tries to follow him when he runs away but loses him in traffic.

The girls then decide to hide out in the dressing rooms and try to find out what's happening. Lonnie and Lucas are nice enough to discuss their whole plan, which involves setting up the plumbing system to explode, collecting the insurance money, and splitting it in half. Etienne was once in on their plan too. They split up, but someone whacks Nancy over the back of the head and knocks her out. Hm, that sounds familiar.

She comes to with Bess and George locked in the dressing room with her. Lonnie confesses that they killed Etienne, who was behind the kidnapping, and went after Bess because she saw them in the pumping room once and they thought she figured everything out. He leaves them trapped in the dressing room with 30 minutes left behind the building explodes.

Luckily, George has her pocketknife, which they use to break through their bonds. They get outside and down the alley just as the building explodes. Nancy goes after Lonnie and actually finds him, but he has a gun that he turns on her. Since she's Nancy Drew, she hits him in the head with a telephone and then knocks him out with a kick to the face. The cops show up to arrest him, having already captured Lucas.

Charity and Gaetan come to see Nancy a few days later. They made up with her parents and agreed to put off getting married for a few years. Carson plans on helping Gaetan with his immigration plans so he can stay in the country. Oh and Gaetan is apparently a musician and already lined up a ton of work. Charity has to be all smug like as she claims that her future looks better than ever before.

*My copy says that it's a special collectors edition, though I don't know why. The only thing different about is it that is has gold on the title.

*Yeah, so the bouncer in the very beginning was way out of line. There was no reason for him to basically body slam a guy for taking a picture.

*Nancy describes Etienne as wearing an orchid color shirt. While I assume that's a shade of purple, it's just random because my local grocery store, of all places, sells like four different colors of orchids now.

*Nancy must not be that great of a detective because when she finds Bess, she immediately unties her and messes up all the evidence.

*So Bess is all discouraged at dinner and makes a comment about how she can focus on her diet tomorrow because kidnapping is a good excuse to eat. Nancy and George just laugh it off, but it kind of made me feel bad for Bess.

*I kind of, no I really hate, the Charity and Gaetan story line. She's an 18 year old girl who wants to marry some random guy she's known for a few weeks and is totally in love with, oh and the guy's a musician. She acts like everyone is against her one true love, but I want to smack her for being a stupid teen girl. It's also kind of BS that not only is he here illegally, but he somehow manages to keep finding work? I'm not trying to be political or anything, I think it's just a shitty B-plot.

*Tom apologizes to Bess in the end, and she says he's not such a bad guy. I am really glad it didn't end with her agreeing to go on a date with him. He's literally been taking photos of her for six or eight months now, keeps sneaking around her all the time, and tells all these random people she's his girlfriend. She should be calling the cops, not talking to him on the phone!

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Baby-Sitters Club #121: Abby in Wonderland



Abby wakes up one morning and wonders why she feels out of sorts before remembering that her family is heading to the Hamptons to spend 10 days with her grandparents and she didn't finish packing the night before. Anna wanders in as she tosses everything in her bag and complains that she needs to take her time so things don't get wrinkled. Their mom then gets a call that there's some work she needs to do ASAP. Since they can't leave until later in the day, Abby can squeeze in one last meeting.

While taking the ferry, she gets pissed because her mom does work and whines to herself about how her mom will probably spend the whole trip working. She also thinks about all the friends she had on Long Island that she doesn't talk to anymore. They take the time to drive by their whole house, which depresses just about everyone. Abby suddenly can't wait to get to the Hamptons.

Though her grandparents are older, they're both super active. Her grandma is planning a huge anniversary party with an Alice in Wonderland theme while working on her family history. Even though her grandfather had a triple bypass, he's back to being active and loves playing on the beach with her. Basically, everything seems perfect.

That all changes when she notices her grandma acting weird. Her grandparents keep arguing over who will do certain things, she gets a phone call about something that needs checked up on, and the woman seems upset that so many people aren't coming, especially her sister Leah. The two woman had a fight over something in the past and haven't talked in years, but no one will tell Abby what the fight was about.

Abby takes matters into her own hands and calls her great uncle. She tells him that her grandmother was so disappointed when she got his rejection letter because he's always the life of the party. He changes his plans around so he can come after all. She also calls her cousin who eventually agrees to try and make it and bring her kids.

When her grandmother asks her to grab something out of her room for her, Abby finds brochures about breast cancer and realizes that she's sick. She goes to the library and looks up information about it and wonders who she can talk to before deciding to keep it a secret. Abby thinks about telling Mallory who calls her and then Kristy but decides against it because it's not really her secret. Though she does keep waiting for someone to spill the beans.

Her grandmother has a friend who works on off-Broadway shows and brings a bunch of props and costume pieces for everyone to use. Kristy then comes to town for the weekend and for the party, as does her aunt Miriam. You might remember her as the woman who dumped her baby on their front steps without a word. Even Miriam picks up on the fact that this party seems really important to her mom.

Miriam eventually tells her what happened with Leah. Abby's grandmother joined Weight Watchers and asked her sister not to tell anyone. Leah then brought it up in the middle of a big party, the two fought, and stopped speaking. Abby decides that if she tells anyone about the cancer, her grandmother will stop speaking to her too for betraying her confidence. She instead calls Leah and tells her grandmother, which leads to the two women finally talking and Leah agreeing to come to the party.

The party is a huge hit, and her grandmother gives a short speech. When she doesn't mention the cancer, Abby runs off to cry until her grandma finds her. She tells her what she knows and learns that her grandmother found a lump, which the doctor removed for testing. She then tells Abby that she knows she can get through it because she has her family beside her, hugs her, and then tells her that she'll always have her family too. The end. WTF Martin?

In other news, the Pike family can't go to Sea City this year. Mr Pike needs a new fuel pump, which will take the whole vacation fund. After moping around for so long that Mallory wants to tear her hair out, Dawn comes up with a new idea while sitting for them. They can turn their yard into Sea City. They set up kiddie pools with water, play games, make beach snacks, and have a ton of fun.

It all lends up to one last vacation day. Stacey takes them downtown the same way they went downtown on vacation and arranges for them to meet the mayor and tour the fire station. A bunch of kids go back to the Pike house for a sleepover, but someone clogs the toilet, and they all have to go across the yard to the McGill house. None of the multiple sitters get any sleep, but the kids have a great time. Mr and Mrs Pike wind up so frazzled that Stacey thinks they'll never have another staycation again.

*Abby complaining about her mom working really annoyed me. God forbid your mom work on the ferry when there is nothing else to do or that she do some work while you're at the beach without her.

*She also throws a fit about the book on tape her mom listens to while driving and makes them turn it off to listen to music, even though both her mom and Anna were into the tape!

*Abby also makes a comment about how she always refers to Long Island as home but that she guesses Stoneybrook is her home now. The way she says it comes off as really snotty though, like she doesn't want it to be her home.

*Her aunt Miriam dresses as the duchess and puts her son in a matching pig costume. Abby points out how it's just like the story and is so cute, but I honestly do not remember that character at all.

*Abby's grandmother's mom had 12 siblings, but nine of them died in the Holocaust. It's meant to be this sobering and serious moment, but it comes across as really forced to me.

*Kristy sees Abby's mom lounging on the car and soaking up the sun when she first arrives and makes a comment about how too much sun is bad for you. Hm, let's see...who spends five minutes just sitting in the sun and who spends hours practicing with her baseball team in the sun and heat?

*Kristy also seems really appalled when the woman tells her that being too practical isn't good either. Abby says that Kristy doesn't believe there is such a thing as being too practical. Man, she is going to be a real hoot in high school.

*Her grandmother dresses up like the White Queen. The book has her in an outfit with a see through skirt, white piping around the inside, and matching bloomers. It clearly doesn't match the outfit on the cover.

*Abby naturally goes as Alice and flips out when Anna's friend brings over her four little sitters who all dressed as Alice too. She calms down when she realizes it will just add to the crazy Wonderland feel of the party. I think it's a little weird though. Did she think there were enough characters that everyone would come as someone different?

*So this is a whole book about a woman who has cancer, but then it turns out that she might not have cancer and everything gets summed up in two final pages. That pisses me off.

*Ann tells kids in her end notes that families will always come together and that if someone in your family is sick, you'll always have your family to turn to for help. I'm not getting into my personal/private life her, but she's a damn liar. Not everyone has a big happy family they can turn to all the time.

*The triplets accidentally blast Mrs Pike with water balloons, she seems super ticked, and takes her time coming out, but she actually attacks them with a Super Soaker before running back inside laughing. I totally want to be that kind of mom!

*Poor David Michael. He can come to the Pike house during the day because Kristy comes with him, but because she's in the Hamptons when they hold a sleepover, he can't come. Yet they have multiple sitters there like Stacey, Mallory, Jessi, and Logan. Could no one watch him at night?

*Claudia wears orange leggings with a yellow tunic decorated with beads, matching earrings made from the same beads and clay, and aqua shoes. Abby says she looks like a sunset, but I say she looks like she's color blind.

*Abby is so super active all the time that she can't even handle being stuck in traffic or sitting on the ferry. She also explains that sitting still is so way harder for her than other people.

*The Pike vacation thing didn't make a lot of sense to me because I'm assuming they already put down a deposit or even paid for the whole house. It's so close to when they usually go that I can't imagine they got a full refund.

*Abby is kind of smarmy about how none of them thought her aunt could handle raising a baby and how she guesses they were wrong. I'm sure she assumes anyone in the BSC could do a better job too.

*In case you couldn't tell, I really don't like Abby. I'm glad I only have a few more of her books to get through.