Monday, March 29, 2021

Sweet Valley Twins #78: Steven the Zombie


In social studies class, they're working on a unit on the Civil War and the antebellum period. For some reason, this makes all the kids obsessed with Gone with the Wind. They need to do a final project, so Lila decides to throw a GWTW themed party. She naturally plans on dressing up as Scarlet and plans on holding a contest to see who can pull off the best Scarlet costume.

Jessica finds the section on voodoo fascinating and makes a voodoo doll of Steven. This happens after he ruins her favorite poster of Johnny Buck. She even cuts up his favorite shirt for the doll. Though Liz sees her, she makes her promise that she won't tell anyone. Before long, everything she does to the doll happens to him. Everything from spilling honey on his shirt to phantom pains in his leg. Jess plans on using her voodoo work for her project.

Meanwhile, Liz is volunteering at a shelter and gets along really well with this kid Benjamin. He has leg pain and can't find a reason for his pain. Benjamin gets to come over to Casa Wakefield for dinner one night and tells Jess all about his pain and how it keeps him from sleeping. She makes a voodoo doll of him that she coats with rosewater, Vitamin C, and a mixture of other ingredients as she recites a spell. Benjamin actually starts getting better and has so little pain that he doesn't even need his cane.

Todd volunteers he and Liz to do an antebellum cooking project and make a huge dinner for the whole class. Liz worries that neither of them have enough experience and picks out a “simple menu” of like six things to make. They make cornbread three different times that ends up being as hard as a brick, burnt to the bottom of the pain, and then somehow both salty and with the consistency of chewing gum. No matter how hard they work, Todd keeps messing things up with his cooking experiments.

Liz refuses to say anything bad to him because this happens not long after his dad came down hard on him for writing and he tried to run away. Jess convinces her to plan for all his mistakes and experiments and try to stop him. She changes the labels on ingredients and mixes up all the measuring spoons and cups. They make this huge meal that looks great. When they serve it in class though, it makes the teaches so sick that she has to leave school earlier and five other kids get really ill. Worried that he feels crappy about himself, Liz confesses what she did. Todd just laughs and asks her to be honest from now on.

Cut to the night of Lila's party. Since Lila had her dress flown in from some fancy museum in New York, Jessica thinks she'll lose until Liz reminds her of the curtain dress. Luckily, Alice has heavy green velvet curtains in the living room. Jess uses a temporary rinse to dye her hair brown and gives herself a perm. The chemicals react and turn her hair orange though. Liz steps up again and finds the perfect hat to cover her hair. They then pin the curtains together to make the perfect dress.

At the party, Jess wins as the best looking Scarlet against Lila, Ellen, and most of the girls in school. Aaron wins as the best Rhett and gets to dance with her. Liz makes Jess leave the party early to make sure they get back to the house before their parents get home. Not only do they get the curtains back up, but the orange color somehow washes out of her hair the next morning.

Jessica starts getting a little worried about Steven to the point where she walks him home from school. He seems really pale and tired all the time. She starts doing a healing ritual on him like she did with Benjamin. Nothing seems to work though. He even misses a few days of school and goes to the doctor. Jess finally sneaks into his room one night to watch him sleep and finds him laying in bed, not moving, with saliva all over his chin.

As all of us would, she runs screaming to her parents and says she thinks she killed him. The next morning, they try to figure out what the heck happened. As it turns out, Liz told Steven everything right away because she can't keep her mouth shut and her nose out of other people's business. He then played along the whole time and even had Joe lie to Jess to say he was acting like a zombie in class. Steven really did get sick though and had a minor case of the flu.

Ned and Alice make the whole family agree to never mention the word zombie again. Jess is super worried though because this was her final project. She convinces Steven to come to her social studies class and convinces Liz to help her send him secret signals. They blindfold him and do things like stab him in the leg, which causes him to grab his leg and scream. The teacher stops Jess in the middle of the demonstration. Though she says she doesn't believe in voodoo and never wants to hear the word again, she gives Jess a C- on her project.

*I hate Liz in this book at the end. Okay, so she tattles on Jess to Steven because she thinks voodoo is stupid, but then she admits that she didn't realize how seriously Jess took things. Except she totally did! She was there when Jessica was almost crying because she thought their brother was dying and did nothing.

*Also, Liz in the end was all “jeez, I didn't think about your project at all” when she knew the whole time that Jess's project was on voodoo.

*The “simple menu” she plans is fish gumbo, black eyed peas, cornbread, hush puppies, and peach cobbler. Yup, totally simple!

*Since when does Elizabeth not have cooking experience? I thought there were multiple books before this where the twins cooked?

*While I can see all the girls becoming obsessed with GWTW, I can't see guys in the sixth grade being that into the movie too. I've literally never seen it though. That movie is hella long!

*Janet dresses up as Melanie because she likes her better than Scarlet. I can't imagine Janet not wanting to be the center of attention.

*Steven replaces the poster he ruined in the end, and Jessica replaces his shirt that she destroyed.

*While I get that the voodoo didn't work, what's up with Benjamin? He has intense leg pain, goes to multiple doctors who find nothing, and can barely function. Jess does a “healing ritual” a few times, and he's up and moving around like nothing is wrong. They never explain it!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Nancy Drew Case Files #69: Running Scared (1992)


Since George is the absolute best athlete of all time, the girls are off to Chicago to watch her compete in the Heartland Marathon. On their first day in the city, they see Annette, the top women's marathon runner in the country. She nearly gets hit by a car, but Nancy steps in and saves her. Kevin, her trainer, feels an instant connection with George and makes plans to see her at dinner.

Derek, her agent, gets Nancy alone and reveals that someone started sending her threatening notes. They make plans to get together later and talk. Bess also randomly runs into this hot guy named Jake. They spend a few hours together before he gets super busy and leaves. He starts to talk to her at dinner that night but gets distracted by Gina, another runner. After a bad encounter with “ace reporter” Brenda Carlton, Nancy catches Annette and Gina fighting, with Gina vowing to get her revenge.

During her meeting with Derek, she realizes that Gina didn't write the notes. Gina is Italian and doesn't speak very good English, and the notes all feature lots of American slang. Derek calls her to Annette's room later to show her that someone left her a threatening note with a knife through it. Annette tells them about how Gina blames her for getting disqualified from a race and how Gina then stuck metal in her friend's shoe to force her out of another race.

The other main suspect is Irene, the owner of a big name shoe company. Rumor says that she wanted Annette but was turned down and went to this girl Renee. Since Renee hasn't won many races, the company is about to drop her. Brenda shows up at a press conference and taunts Irene about Annette being a winner and Renee being a loser.

Bess and Nancy head to a hot club and meet up with Jake. Jake leaves early but dances with Bess a few times. The next morning, they find that George already left with Kevin. She left a note though about how he shot footage of Annette almost getting run over and solid to a big company. Nancy starts suspecting him of hurting Annette to further his career. Before she can do much though, she and Bess almost get hit by a planter falling from the sky.

Nancy moves them in time but sees someone looking down at them from the eighth floor. They run upstairs and see Gina coming from that floor. It turns out that the planter actually came from Irene's window. Bess points out that they now know it wasn't Kevin because he was with George the whole time. When they go to the gym to meet them though, George reveals that he left early. They then find Annette trapped and passed out in the sauna.

Annette wakes up quickly and claims that she's fine. She also refuses to let Nancy call the cops. That all changes when they head out to do some shopping. Someone grabs Nancy in the dressing room and tries to choke her before running away. The only person who knew where they went was Irene. Nancy then sneaks into Irene's office and finds that her company did make an offer to Annette who turned them down. Irene also has a memo that says if Renee doesn't start winning, the company will drop her endorsement deal.

Our three main gals and Annette go out again and get shot at. The sniper used a gun with a silencer on it. Nancy gives chase and sees him get in a car with the logo of Kevin's company on it. When she tells George her suspicions, George says it can't be him. Annette finally agrees to call the cops. After hearing all the evidence, they confront Kevin.

It turns out that it wasn't him though. He checked the car out from the head office after the shooting. Kevin tells Nancy that he was out shopping for a good luck charm for George, which is a silver running shoe on a necklace. George finally admits that she can see why the evidence would point to him. That doesn't stop her from letting Kevin take them all out for dinner though.

Two other things happen. Gina confronts Bess in her hotel room and tries to attack her before Nancy shows up. Bess then tells Nancy that Jake is super boring and obsessed with running so she doesn't plan on seeing him again. Brenda loudly goes off in the lobby about an exclusive interview she has with Gina and how she'll bust Nancy's investigation open first. When Nancy tells her to chill the eff out before she puts someone in danger, Brenda says she's just jealous because she's such as a better detective.

Brenda then shows up all confused because Gina missed their meeting. They all head upstairs, and Nancy uses her lock picking kit to break into the room where they find Gina passed out with a massive bruises on her head. The cops get all the suspects together and in a great move, the head detective throws Brenda out. No one really breaks down or confesses anything, but Renee does go off about how she can't wait to beat Annette in the race.

Nancy then sees someone try to drag Annette into a waiting car. She gets there in time to save her but not in time to stop Brenda from taking a bunch of photos. Brenda claims she got an anonymous tip from someone who told her to be out there with her camera at that time. After some thought, Nancy sits down and tells Derek that she has some big news: the person behind everything is Annette.

In the end, the person helping her the entire time was Charles, a random dude only mentioned once who is also Renee's trainer. It turns out that his real name is Calvin and that he's on Interpol's most wanted list for poisoning racers in Europe. They figure out that he knows they know the truth and wants to kill Annette to save himself. Nancy even realizes he'll hide at one of the water stations during the actual marathon.

The cops come to the race and catch Calvin/Charles at the 26 mile mark. Renee comes in first in the race with Annette 100 yards behind her. The cops arrest Annette and tell her that her accomplice already talked. George then finishes the marathon with her best time ever. Kevin makes plans to come to River Heights for a week and suggests he bring along a racing friend for Bess, but she cuts him off and tells him she's done with racers forever.

*George wants to check out the race route and claims it's not a good idea to run it before the marathon. BUT, she's totally fine with cycling the whole route on a bicycle. What the heck?

*Since Bess hates any physical activity – their emphasis, not mine – she decides to go shopping instead of bike riding.

*Kevin is an Olympic athlete who retired to become a sportscaster and personal trainer. Of course he would fall for some random girl from Illinois.

*The club they go to is called Mrs. O'Leary's Cow, which seems really poor taste.

*Gina hates Annette because she was in a race and threw an elbow pretty hard into another runner and hurt her. That runner submitted an anonymous complaint that got Gina tossed from a race. Despite no evidence, she thinks Annette turned her in.

*The detective actually tells Brenda that he won't let his investigation turn up in her gossip column, which is a sick burn for someone who thinks she's a star reporter.

*Annette started the whole thing because she realized there were better racers coming up behind her and she wanted to stay on top.

*I have no knowledge about marathons at all, but are there really huge marathons like this just for women? I always assumed marathons were for all ages and genders.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Ghosts of Fear Street #35: Horror Hotel Part 2: Ghost in the Guest Room (R.L. Stine)


Joe and grandpa switched bodies at the end of the last book. As they attempt to do a spell to switch back, grandpa disappears. Joe hears strange noises in the wall and thinks he might be in there. When he touches it though, weird good appears on his hands. His mom then wanders in and reminds him to put on his costume for the night. She tells him that if things don't go well, they might lose the hotel.

When he finally gets ready, she asks him to go out and get some ice for the opening night party. Joe has no idea how to drive and almost causes a massive accident. He survives and does well at the party, only to wake in the middle of the night with the feeling that someone is trying to suffocate him. It's the goo again, which covers his face and slides down his throat. Joe tries to run away and runs into the wall. It becomes soft and lets him go through it.

There he finds a bunch of webs covering every square inch as well as grandpa. Joe gets to him and fights off the webs. They then run through the webs and dig under them to find a way to escape. The wall opens again and lets them fall through. Grandpa digs out a bunch of old books owned by the Fears and searches for one to help them change bodies again. When he finds one and reads it, Joe feels as if his skin is on fire.

He runs to the bathroom and hopes in the shower. When he gets out, he's covered in blisters. Once he pops them though, he sees his old body. Joe then drags grandpa into the shower and helps him pop his blisters to become his older self. Everything is fine until Joe plays basketball with Nick and notices that he's now shorter. When they check the growth chart, he lost several inches. Joe worries to his grandpa that the spell went wrong and that now he'll keep shrinking until he disappears.

Joe goes to Nick who takes him to the comic book store and Stan, the one person who might help. Stan uses the internet to research the key and learns about Mr. Withers. He used the key to perform spells and ended up in an asylum for 50 years before dying. It turns out that grandpa knows all about the guy and that his grandmother used to tell him to give Mr. Withers some water and ask him any questions.

Grandpa tells Joe where to go. He digs up the grave and hands the corpse a glass of water. Withers then comes to life and tries to choke him but just wants more water. He explains that he did four spells with the key and knows how to use it. While he'll tell Joe the secret, he'll only do it if he can see Shadyside first. To do so, he needs Joe to take his spot in his grave. Joe agrees and even shakes on it.

Joe is fine up until his flashlight goes out. He then does math problems in his head to calm down. Mr. Withers finally comes back but tries to bury Joe alive. Now that he's seen the modern world, he refuses to go back. He wants to eat microwave burritos and drink cherry slushies. Joe fights him and ends up breaking off his finger bones to make him stay in the coffin. Withers finally gives up and tells him that he enchanted the key so that only his apprentice could use it. If anyone else used the key, it would make their spells go wrong. They could call the apprentice in a séance, but the apprentice is Martin, the same ghost who possessed Joe.

He goes home to find Nick and grandpa waiting for them. They call the monster hunting club over and have another séance. Martin once again attacks him and calls him Colin. The club members show him stuff to try and make him realize how much time passed, but he chases Joe outside who leads him to the cemetery. Joe then shows him Colin's grave and makes him realize that his rival is dead. Martin kicks the headstone and feels much better. He then reverses the spell and says that he needs to leave because he hears his mom calling.

At the end, Joe stops by the mirror on his way to school. He notices that he's the right height and age but that his reflection wears old-fashioned clothing. His reflection then tells him that he's Colin and asks why he gave Martin back the key after all the work it took to steal it from him...

*I guess Stine didn't expect fans of Fear Street to read any of these books. While Simon Fear died in the fire, some of his old spellbooks somehow survived.

*The things they show Martin include a sneaker and a calculator.

*I still maintain that I would love to stay in Hotel Howie.

*Withers was Simon's assistant and learned all about magic at his hands. There's no explanation for why he was an okay guy when Simon was so evil.

*Does anyone else love that Withers is most excited about slushies and burritos out of everything in the modern world? He also loves the steel carriages that don't need horses.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #154: The Legend of the Emerald Lady (2000)


Jack and Emma Isaac are friends of Carson who bought the Sugar Moon Plantation in the Caribbean and fixed it up. Nancy heads down with Bess and Ned to be their first visitors. Not long after getting there, a man dressed as a pirate pops up. The parrot on his shoulder warns them of the full moon in two nights before the man laughs and they wander away. Jack explains that it's Old Ironbones, a fisherman who had an accident and kind of lost his mind. He now wanders around the island, teaching his parrots new phrases and feeding stray animals. While Jack doesn't like him, Emma keeps defending him.

They also learn that the couple bought the plantation from the former owner's estate and met with Duncan, the owner of a local antique shop. Duncan estimated the value of some of the things they wanted to sell and seemed especially interested in silverware with the old owners initials. Emma locked them away. They head into town to rent snorkeling equipment and meet Pierre, a French neighbor who instantly falls for Bess. After a short walk, they come back and hear Emma screaming.

It turns out that someone spilled a cup of lemonade across her dresser, which attracted thousands of red ants. While they help her clean up, Nancy finds a feather by the dresser. She then sees a woman with feather earrings running away from the scene. The woman is Rafaella, their cook. She seems super distracted when Nancy tries to talk to her but makes it clear that she would do nothing to hurt the couple. Nancy also notices that her earrings aren't missing any feathers and learns that she bought them from a popular shop downtown.

While Bess wants to just relax after dinner, Nancy and Ned want to take a romantic walk. Emma says that she's heading upstairs, but they later see her on the beach with Old Ironbones. Nancy sees her hand him an envelope and him take her arm. When she sees her later, Emma has this smug look on her face that quickly disappears. She then denies that she went anywhere and claims that Nancy must have gotten her confused with someone else in the dark.

Nancy decides to sneak up to the attic and take a look at the antiques. She hears a weird noise and then sees the shadow of a person. Before she can do anything, someone hits her from behind. No worries though. It's Nancy, so she's fine except upset that she missed the intruder. She tells Jack and Emma the next day, and they explore the attic. Nancy manages to find a letter a woman wrote to her true love in prison with clues as to where she hid her necklace. Whoever broke in likely took the rest of the letter.

Pierre comes by to pick them up for a day of snorkeling. While they're in the water, Nancy and Ned go further out. They hear a scream and find Bess surrounded by barracudas with Pierre nowhere around. Noticing that they're attracted to her jewelry, Nancy has Ned drop some coins in the ocean, which distracts the fish long enough for them to get away. Pierre returns, claiming that he went to a different area and got caught in the current. He seems to feel really bad for what happened to Bess.

When they get back, they learn that Jack dug around for the necklace. He then tells them that Duncan, the antique shop owner, invited them to a huge party at his mansion. They have the option of salad or fried plantains. Nancy is the only one who chooses plantains, and Emma saves her when she sees poisonous nuts on the top. While talking to the chef, she learns that the waitress left her order sitting out where anyone could find it and then hears Duncan shouting about the jewel.

Sneaky Nancy snoops around and gets caught by Duncan. He seems super suspicious of her and tells her to mind her own business. Duncan also says that he was just talking about a missing pirate map that would be the jewel of his collection. He asks her to dance and seems super dark, which is why she's happy when Ned cuts in to dance with her. Later that night, Nancy finds a page from the letter tucked inside Ned's coat pocket.

As it turns out, the missing necklace had a beautiful emerald in it that is worth a fortune. It seems as though everyone hopes to find it. Jack mentions that he saw Duncan sneaking around Ned's jacket. The page that she found was a replica of the real thing and has a skull and crossbones on it, with a warning to Nancy in the middle.

She then snoops around some of the buildings on the property and hears a weird noise. The noise is Rafaella. Someone kidnapped her and tied her to a post in the building. They sprinkled sugar all over her legs and covered her with red ants. Nancy saves her and learns that Rafaella saw someone sneaking around. When she went to tell Jack, the person grabbed her. Near the spot where the guy grabbed her, Nancy finds a matchbook from a French restaurant.

Nancy talks to Emma and learns that she's been giving Old Ironbones money to care for animals without telling Jack. He's allergic to most animals and hates them, too. They find the chest of drawers originally owned by Miranda, the writer of the letter. Nancy finds a wishing well bank inside, which was one of the clues to the necklace. Since she suspects Pierre, she asks Bess and Ned for help. Bess refuses because he's too handsome to do anything wrong.

While on his boat, Pierre messes with the engine and sends it out to sea. Nancy gets it under control and comes back to shore to find that Ned knocked Pierre out. They pull him back to the house and learn that the chest just went to Duncan's auction. Nancy gets there just in time to see it go up for auction and has to bid on it, but Pierre shows up and bids, too. She gets a message to Jack who calls the sheriff.

The sheriff stops the auction and grabs Pierre. Nancy goes through the drawers again and finds a hidden latch that reveals a secret spot with the necklace. Duncan is in shock that all the stories were true. Miranda loved a man named Giles who gave her the necklace before he was sent to prison. She got sick and wrote to him to help him find it after she died. Giles escaped from prison but was killed on his way back to her.

It turns out that Pierre was an ancestor of the woman and only came to the island to search for the necklace. He admits to breaking into the house and committing other crimes as well as pretending that Ned knocked him out on the beach so he could hear everything they knew. The sheriff then takes him away as Bess says that she hopes they lock him up. The crew then gets to relax on the beach until it's time to head home.

*In case you wonder why George missed the trip, she had a marathon that week that she refused to miss.

*Ned carries Bess's lipstick in her pocket when she doesn't have pockets. Is he not the perfect guy?

*So once again, Bess becomes obsessed with the bad guy and refuses to believe that he could do anything wrong since he's so cute. Sigh.

*When Bess refuses to help them, Nancy cheerfully tells her to call the cops if they don't make it back. Bess just waves because she's so sure that Pierre is innocent.

*Is anyone else curious why they arrested Pierre? I'm guessing the whole breaking and entering thing, even though he didn't steal anything. When you consider that he was the last descendant of the necklace's owner though, would he do any time? I'm assuming that even he does, he'll get the necklace when he gets out!

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Ghosts of Fear Street #34: Horror Hotel 1: The Vampire Checks In (R.L. Stine)


Joe just moved to Shadyside with his parents and brother Neddy to open a hotel with their grandfather. Grandpa claims that they're related to the Fears and wants to open a hotel on Fear Street called Hotel Howie named after him. Joe quickly makes a new friend named Nick and invites him over for dinner. Grandpa delights them with family stories, but it's Nick who notices a portrait of a boy who died in the 1800s who looks exactly like Joe.

He then joins his friend's new club where they hunt monsters. They all claim that they believe in monsters and hunted them before. Robin, one of the girls, goes missing at the end of the meeting and seems a little strange when she comes back. The next day, she comes up to Joe in school and tries to bite him. No one really believes him since she seems normal, but they do notice that she has a drop of blood on her shirt.

Joe then heads home and finds his brother acting weird. Neddy's hair is sticking straight up, and he's super pale. When Joe asks if he's okay, his brother growls and lunges at him. By the time he finds their mom, Neddy is back to normal. To protect himself, Joe starts sprinkling himself with garlic powder and carrying it around with him. Nick says that it will repel vampires along with anyone else who catches a whiff.

While checking out the attic, Joe stumbles onto a coffin, which he remembers that vampires use. A bat comes out of nowhere and attacks him, causing him to hop in the coffin. He then gets stuck and can hear the bat outside. His dad saves him and laughs about how it's a prop coffin that opens on his own. He bought it to add to the spooky design of the hotel. Joe later sees a vampire in the hotel and runs, but it's once again his dad who claims it was all part of his opening night show for the hotel.

When Joe finds a note in his locker to meet the monster club in the boiler room, he goes there and finds Robin. She attacks him and shows him her fangs, pushing him against the wall and trying to bite him. Joe sprinkles her with garlic powder, which causes her to start laughing as the other members come out of the shadows. Nick explains that it was a trick to make sure that he believed in monsters.

Joe then heads home and finds the hotel empty. He sees a stuffed rabbit that he never saw before on his desk. The rabbit starts breathing and then attacks him. As Joe knows that vampires can take other forms, he starts freaking out. It becomes a suit or armor and then transforms into a bear skin rug. The bear takes form and attacks him again. He manages to scare it away with a vacuum cleaner. Yes, a vacuum.

The members of the monster hunting club come over with a tool made from a coffin. It supposedly detects monsters but doesn't go off anywhere in the hotel. When it finally does, they can't find any monsters, so they decide to spend the night and hold a séance. This causes Nick to transform into a hairy monster. The monster says his name is Martin and that Colin Fear killed him, the kid from the portrait who looks just like Joe.

Joe runs into the kitchen with the monster behind him. His grandpa sees it happens and mutters something that makes the monster become Nick again. The other kids tell him that they've never seen such a powerful being before and they don't know what to do. Things get even worse when Martin takes over Joe's body and tries to stab him with a knife.

His friends tell him to talk to his grandpa. He then learns that his grandpa knows some spells, one of which he used on the monster. That night, Joe hears Martin's voice in his head. Martin says that he isn't going anywhere until he gets his revenge and tries to force Joe to kill himself. He then forces the kid onto the roof and tells him to jump, but his dad shows up at the last minute to save him.

Martin then reveals that he has control over his body from midnight to 12:15 every night. The ghost tries to kill Joe's dad but runs out of time before he can do it. Joe's dad is pretty surprised by everything but realizes that grandpa's stories were true. Grandpa says that Martin will keep getting stronger every night until he gains complete control over Joe but that they can do a spell that night and get rid of him. It turns out that they need a key though, which they don't have.

Grandpa still does the spell. Martin pretends that it worked and then forces Joe to put his head in a guillotine. Grandpa saves the day and leads Martin on a chase through the house. When Martin tries to stab him, grandpa reaches for the portrait of Colin, which a key falls out of when Martin slashes it. Martin grabs it and the spellbook, which he throws in the fire. Since grandpa can't remember the spell, Martin thinks that he won.

At the last second, grandpa suddenly remembers the spell and banishes Martin forever. They both feel a little weird and head to bed in the hopes that things will be different in the morning. Things definitely are different as grandpa messed up the spell and caused them to switch bodies...

*Hotel Howie will use the Fear Street legacy to draw in visitors. They plan on having different theme nights like vampires and werewolves. I totally want to stay there.

*Joe's mom really hates the whole Fear Street thing. She rolls her eyes when her dad brings it up, which makes it weird that she would move to a town where she can't escape it.

*The monster club trick was pretty cruel. I get that they only want members who believe in monsters, but Joe literally couldn't sleep for days because of it.

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Nancy Drew Notebooks #4: Bad Day for Ballet


Most of the small girls in River Heights are in Madame Durgrand's ballet class. Bess was sick and missed a few classes, which explains why she keeps messing up her steps. She needs to figure it out because they have a big recital coming up. Their teacher picked some kids to have solo dances from Peter Pan and arranged group dances for everyone else. Nancy and her friends get to be mermaids.

Brenda is unhappy that the teacher gave the Wendy solo to her friend Alison and stops talking to her. When they get ready for a rehearsal, Dugrand finds that someone stole the only tape of their music. Brenda immediately blames Bess because she was the last person backstage. Jerry, the janitor, is also a suspect. He has to keep putting off his personal life because of rehearsals and has to give up concert tickets he bought for his girlfriend's birthday for the big show. Nancy sees Paul, their teacher's young son playing around, too.

The only clue she has is an Eiffel Tower charm, which the teacher gives to her top students. She instantly suspects Brenda because only she and Alison have that same charm. When she finds that they both have their charms, she turns her attention to Jerry. Nancy finds a tape hidden with his stuff, but it's only a tape of his girlfriend's favorite band.

While waiting for their teacher, Nancy notices that Paul has a whole play area set up to look like Paris. He says that he made it from the pictures his mom has of the city. When she tells him that he needs an Eiffel Tower, he says he has one. She reaches in his secret box to look for it, and he slaps her hand away. Nancy then finds a bunch of cinnamon candies near where the tape was and puts it all together.

She grabs the madame and takes her to Paul. As soon as she asks him, he bursts into tears about how much he hates ballet and wants more time with his mom. The madame apologizes for not realizes how much he missed his sitter, which is the reason he's always around. Paul hands over the tape. Alison and Brenda make up, Nancy gets all the acclaim for solving the mystery, and their big recital goes off without a hitch.

*Saturday morning is when Hannah goes out and leaves them alone. Nancy loves it because Carson always gets up early to make her breakfast, which is super cute.

*They practice at Bess's house and then go out for ice cream. Her mom will only let them leave if they wash off their makeup first, which is so realistic.

*To no one's surprise, George hates makeup and hides when it's time to put it on for the recital. She also hates wearing tights.

*Uh, has the teacher never heard of a music store before? You can literally buy a copy of that tape for like 10 bucks.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Sweet Valley High #110: Death Threat

 Let's recap again, just in case you missed any parts of this absolutely insane story!

Sweet Valley High #107: Jessica's Secret Love

Sweet Valley High #108: Left at the Altar


Sweet Valley High #109: Double-Crossed



Jessica throws herself at Jeremy because even though he literally just got caught making out with Sue, he came back for her! He has no time to celebrate though because, you know, Sue went missing. Jeremy shows them Sue's necklace as proof that someone took her. Jessica thinks the whole thing is ridiculous and that Sue probably made the whole thing up just to trap him. Come on, Jess, it's not like she took a page from your playbook.

Jeremy and the twins head out to the woods to look for her. He makes Jessica go by herself and sends Elizabeth in a different way. While they're out looking, he sneaks inside the cabin and pulls down a trap door to get into the attic where Sue is waiting. Jeremy then gives her a recorder and makes her promise that she'll call the Wakefield house at exactly 7:15 the next morning. It should surprise no one that this is all just a ploy to get her inheritance.

He shows up the next morning to inform Ned and Alice what happened. They all lie about the twins leaving in the middle of the night because they don't want to upset them. Sue then calls and plays the tape over the phone, which says that the kidnapper wants $500,000, conveniently the same amount that she got in her mom's will and will kill Sue if he doesn't get it. The voice also tells them not go to to the cops.

While Ned and Alice agree not to go to the cops, Ned calls his friend Sam, a detective. Jeremy obviously isn't happy with this development. The Wakefield parents also decide that the twins shouldn't go to school until everything is settled. Alice acts super weird when Lila stops to pick up Jessica, which sets off her Lila tingle. When she calls, Jessica keeps whispering to her. She can't hear everything but thinks that someone is holding the family hostage.

To get Robbie back for his nude modeling class, Lila lies and says that an artist wants her to model for him nude. Robbie gets pissed and storms off. When she hears from Jessica, she rushes to his side and then gets Todd to help. They go over to the Wakefield house and see a dark shadowy figure inside and assume that it's the kidnapper and not Jeremy. Robbie luckily has a cousin who works for the power company who can get them everything they need for a scheme to save their friends.

The cousin takes them to the power company and pretends that they're workers. Lila sneaks in to steal uniforms and almost gets caught, which causes her to hide under a bunch of clothes. They then borrow a power company van and get all dressed up. The best part is that Todd doesn't put his coveralls on right and trips getting out of the van, revealing to everyone his boxers. At one point, Robbie tells Lila to keep her eyes forward while he changes in the back, and Todd jokes that she needs to keep her eyes off him, too.

Jessica really hates that Jeremy is so involved in Sue's disappearance. She keeps trying to get his attention, but he keeps ignoring him. When she wears her new swimsuit and does a perfect dive, she finds that he fell asleep. He doesn't seem interested in taking her out on dates or spending any time with her either. To get his attention, she gives him a wedding band, the same wedding band that Steven bought when he was going to marry Cara. It doesn't fit his ring finger but does fit his pinkie. He agrees to always wear it and think of her.

At the same time, he decides that anyone could catch Sue, especially when he finds that she left the attic to get warm. Jeremy ties her to a chair with just enough free space to call the house again and puts a bandanna over her face. This message says that since they called for help, the kidnapper now wants $600,000 and he wants the twins to deliver the cash. Ned agrees to take the money out of their bank account and pay it.

Sam turns out to a super hot detective named Samantha. She seems shocked and let's be honest, a little disgusted, when she hears the story of what happened to Sue, especially with Jessica's part. Jeremy keeps bringing up Stu, Sue's stepdad, as the likely kidnapper and claims that he was upset at losing the money. Sam then points out that Stu has lots of money on his own. Jeremy also gives his whoa is me story about randomly falling in love with Jessica and how Sue was only like a sister to him, despite the whole making out with her multiple times.

Ned comes home with the money. The twins will take it to a gas station and drop it off, after which they can pick up Sue. Liz notices that Jeremy is infatuated with the money and literally keeps smelling it as they count it. Lila and the gang put their plan into motion. Jeremy rushes out of the house after the twins. They see him and think he's the kidnapper. Todd and Robbie jump on him from opposite directions until they see it's him. He then takes off in his car, while Alice wonders what the hell is going on and why the teens are dressed as power company workers.

Jeremy deliberately stopped Sam's car from working to keep her from chasing the kidnapper. He gets to the cabin and drags Sue to the gas station with plans to meet later. While Liz drops off the money, Jess uses a camera to film the whole thing. They see the kidnapper grab the money from a phone booth and then pick up Sue, who seems both tired and sad. When they get back, she eats everything in sight but claims that she can't remember anything about the kidnapper.

They then sit down to watch the video. Sam reveals that Ned arranged to get fake money, which causes Sue to smile for the first time. Despite watching the video multiple times, no one sees anything that will help them catch the guy. Well, except for Jess. See, she can't help but notice that the kidnapper has a very familiar gold ring on his pinkie finger...

*In the last book, Jessica saw Jeremy holding Sue's face in his hands while basically grinding on her as they made out against a tree. In this one, she totally believes him when he says that Sue asked him to go for a walk and then threw herself at him.

*Jessica wears a purple string bikini while hanging out in the backyard with him. This, Ned and Alice, this is why your daughter needs professional help and shouldn't date anyone ever.

*Lila kind of apologizes to Robbie about the whole nude modeling thing but tells him they have more important things to deal with since someone has the Wakefield family held hostage.

*Sue only realizes that Jeremy played her when she wakes up in the middle of the night at the Wakefield house and he never came for her.

*Is it just me or if this a lot of crap to go through for $500,000? That wasn't even a super ton of money back then.

*Jessica imagines herself getting the inheritance when she turns 22 and using it to buy a huge mansion in Beverley Hills. If you ever needed proof that she has no concept of money, here you go.

*Liz tries telling her multiple times that Jeremy is no good. She points out all the times he lied to her, but Jessica just claims that he would never treat her the way he treats Sue. Jessica literally says this right after he claims he's going back to his hotel for a conference call and never answers the phone when she calls.

*I find it really weird that a ring designed to fit Steven's ring finger would only fit on Jeremy's pinkie. I guess it was a way of explaining how big and massive he is or something.

*Sue confessed in the last book that she lied about her rare blood condition to trap Jeremy. She only tells Liz though who never tells anyone else. When talking to Sam, Jessica is the one who reveals the secret to Alice.

*Robbie says that he only knew Jeremy for a week or so before they met Lila and Jessica on the beach. That answers one of the questions I had when reading the last book.

*Jessica is a major bitch in this book. The whole time Sue is missing, she keeps making snide comments about how she probably set the whole thing up. Even where there are hints that Jeremy was in on it, she puts the blame on Sue.

*Ned and Alice let Jeremy hang out at the house all of the time and leave him and Jess alone for hours. That will teach your teen daughter not to get engaged to a grown man!


And, just in case you want to know how this crap show ends: Sweet Valley High #111: A Deadly Christmas.