July 31, 2010
Summary: Laine comes to visit Stoneybrook and Stacey quickly sees that she’s a completely different person than she used to be. She’s dating a 15-year-old (named King, of all things), she thinks the BSC girls are babyish, and she’s basically just an all-around snob. Things come to a head at a Valentine’s Day dance at school, when Laine snubs her date, Pete Black, and Stacey finally calls her on all her crap. Laine decides she wants to go back to New York immediately, and no one’s sad to see her go. Stacey realizes that they’re too different to be friends anymore, but fortunately, she still has an awesome best friend in Claudia.
In the B plot, the BSC girls plan a Valentine’s Day party for some of their sitting charges. They think Nicky Pike and Carolyn Arnold have crushes on each other, but he actually (unknowingly) likes Marilyn Arnold. It works out, though, because she likes him, too, and Carolyn really likes James Hobart. The seven- and eight-year-olds in Stoneybrook are luckier in love than the teenagers.
Thoughts: This book starts with the series’ second reference to snow and global warming. The ghostwriters need to stick to writing about sitting jobs and sleepovers.
Annoying thing Laine does (ATLD) #1: Calls Stacey Anastasia because it’s more grown-up than Stacey.
Weird how Stacey thinks it’s a big deal for Laine to date a 15-year-old, but when she dates (spoiler!) Sam later in the series, it’s perfectly fine.
ATLD #2: Mocks Dawn for using the word “dude.”
Laine asks what everyone would be doing on a Friday night if they weren’t going to a dance, and Mallory says homework. Mal, try thinking before you speak next time. If we let you speak again.
Everyone gets really excited about watching To Kill a Mockingbird. Yeah, that sounds perfectly normal for 11- and 13-year-olds.
Bart tells Kristy he’ll take her to the dance, then says he might stay home to watch a game on TV. Kristy sure knows how to pick ‘em, doesn’t she?
ANOTHER mention of global warming? Is this a Dawn book in disguise?
Pete tells Laine, “You have hair like gossamer.” Aw, Pete. She’s going to get so much mileage out of that. Also, what 13-year-old guy knows the word “gossamer”?
ATLD #3: Calls her boyfriend Heart (he calls her Babe).
ATLD #4: Is sarcastic to Mary Anne. (Only I’m allowed to do that!)
ATLD #5: Tells the BSC girls to grow up.
How, as a 13-year-old, did Laine get a job at a boutique? And just how trendy can this boutique be if it’s called Flowers and Bows?
Stacey says “sartorial.” 13-year-olds don’t talk like that, ghoswriter!
ATLD #6: Goes on a diet to lose five pounds she doesn’t need to lose, then tells Stacey to do the same.
Nice thing Laine does (NTLD) #1: Wears earrings Claudia made for her a lot.
Stacey proves to be more mature than Laine: When she gets to the dance, she tells herself she has the choice between acting mature and being a brat, and she chooses to be mature. Rock on, Stace.
ATLD #7: Says sixth-graders have no muscle control.
ATLD #8: Tells Pete she’s tired and doesn’t want to dance, then dances with another guy.
NTLD #2: Leaves the BSC-verse FOREVER.
July 29, 2010
Summary: John Pfeifer is in love with Jennifer Mitchell, who’s dating Rick Andover (from Double Love) and planning to run away with him. John thinks Rick is bad news, so he calls the police on him when he sees Rick robbing a music store. Jennifer thinks her father called the cops, so she hates him, even when he winds up in the hospital with heart problems. John finally tells Jennifer the truth, and now she’s mad at him for making her think her father had called the police. John lets Elizabeth get way too involved in the situation, but she actually solves everything by giving Jennifer flowers and pretending they’re from John. Another couple together thanks to meddling.
In the B plot, Jessica and A.J. are having problems, or something. Whatever.
Thoughts: Why is thinking someone is “special” a euphemism for having a crush? I thought it was a euphemism for someone being mentally slow or dumb. As in, I think Jessica’s pretty special.
Jessica’s theory about men: “You have to make them do what you want. Otherwise, they’ll never think of it themselves.” It must be exhausting to be her.
Wait, Bruce has black hair? I always thought he was blond.
Jessica wants to put Lila in her slam book under “most likely to end up in jail for tax evasion.” Ha!
A.J.: “Liz, can I ask you something?” A.J., nooooooo!
Cranky Elizabeth: “Just don’t expect me to solve every problem that comes along.” But I was led to believe that’s all she’s good for!
July 25, 2010
Summary: Dawn’s been exchanging letters with Logan’s cousin Lewis, but when it’s time for them to actually meet, she’s worried that she’s too plain and boring to really attract a guy. She gives herself a horrible makeover, going for a kind of punk look, and takes some outdated advice from Mary Anne and some articles about dating. Instead of making herself seem cool, she’s just more annoying than ever. And she has the nerve to blame Mary Anne for giving her bad advice, instead of blaming herself for taking said advice. Finally Dawn realizes that she’s being dumb and goes back to the way she was before. Which was equally annoying. So that didn’t quite work out.
In the B plot, the BSC girls are sitting for an overweight kid named Norman who has detestable parents and a bratty older sister. The girls get involved in the family’s personal business (and though I agree that the parents treat Norman horribly, it’s really not their place to say anything) and get Norman to stand up to everyone. So the lesson here is: If you eat too much, and are probably clinically depressed, tell your family they’re annoying and they’ll start being nicer. Then pretend you have diabetes so you can lose weight.
Thoughts: Kristy’s New Year’s resolution is to make the Krushers awesome: “I was too easy on those kids last year.” There is soooooo much wrong with this situation.
Apparently Dawn doesn’t know the word “snowglobe.” Maybe they don’t have them in California?
Norman’s father’s name is Harold Hill, but no one makes a Music Man reference. What a wasted opportunity.
If the Hills don’t want Norman to eat junk food, why do they buy it? I bet they leave drugs lying around rehab centers, too, just for kicks.
Dawn keeps a picture of herself in her wallet. PROBLEM!
Part of a postcard Dawn sends to Lewis: “Mary Anne said you have an extremely hunky voice. Can’t wait to hear it whisper in my ear.” The only way I would ever be able to write that to anyone is if I were drunk or laughing hysterically.
Dawn wears black lace capris leggings, a metallic silver skirt with crinoline underneath, a stretchy black and white striped shirt, and feather earrings. She also piles her hair on top of her head and puts it in six braids. Very ’80s.
July 23, 2010
Summary: Ronnie Edwards has gotten into some trouble thanks to gambling, and his bookie, Big Al (yes, really), wants him to pay up. A big soccer game is coming up, and Big Al wants Ronnie to fix it so Sweet Valley wins by two goals, so Ronnie asks Jeffrey to make it happen. But, oh, no! A college scout is coming to the game, so if Jeffrey throws it, he’ll be putting his future in jeopardy! But if he doesn’t throw it, Big Al’s gonna make Ronnie sleep with the fishes! Or something. Jeffrey decides he’d rather save Ronnie than go to the college he wants to attend, so he agrees to the fix, even though Elizabeth is against it.
During the game, Elizabeth sees Ronnie with one of Big Al’s henchmen (of course there are henchmen) and follows them, getting herself kidnapped. Once she and Ronnie escape from their captor, Ronnie calls the police to tell them everything, and Elizabeth tells Jeffrey not to throw the game. Of course, Sweet Valley wins, and Jeffrey will get to play soccer in college. Oh, and Ronnie’s safe, but it’s not like anyone actually cares about that.
In the B plot, Jessica’s been making ugly jewelry that some boutique actually wants to buy, but she can’t afford the materials she needs to make the jewelry. She buys a few hundred dollars’ worth, thinking Ronnie will loan her the cash as he said he would (before his money problems), and when the loan falls through, she uses her mom’s credit card. Oh, and then the boutique doesn’t want her stuff after all. Jessica gets busted for spending close to a thousand dollars on beads and junk, and it looks like she’ll have to start working at the boutique to pay her parents back. I’m sure that will be thrilling.
Thoughts: This is easily one of the the worst books in the series so far. It’s so ridiculous and boring and unbelievable. It would’ve been a little more interesting if it focused on, say, Ronnie’s gambling addiction. I don’t think there are a ton of teenagers out there who can relate to being stalked and threatened by a bookie with a horrible name.
Jeffrey and Elizabeth, we’ve taken a poll and we’ve all agreed that you need to cut it out with the PDAs.
What kind of bookie fixes high school soccer games and lets a teenage debtor drive his car?
Jessica knows a lot about business. It’s scary.
Famous moments in bad Wakefield parenting: Alice gives Jessica her credit card.
Elizabeth thinks it’s more important for Jeffrey to impress the college scout than to make sure Ronnie doesn’t get killed. Wait, which one’s the good twin again?
Big Al’s henchman’s weapon of choice is a noose. Because a gun would be too simple? He threatens to break Elizabeth and Ronnie’s kneecaps, but how does he plan to do that with a rope?
July 18, 2010
Summary: The weather forecast calls for snow. Everyone ignores it and gets stranded. That’s what they get.
Stacey and her mom are on their way back from the mall when they get lost on a back road and run out of gas. They’re faced with spending the night in the car and trying not to freeze to death, but some random guy finds them and takes them to his house (don’t worry, he’s married and has a kid, so he’s not a serial killer or anything).
Kristy has invited Bart over for the afternoon/evening, and he gets stranded with her entire family. Karen is at her most irritating. Kristy doesn’t want Bart to see her as a mess in the morning, so she gets up super-early and curls her hair and puts on makeup. Her brothers make fun of her, which she totally deserves.
Jessi is at dance class when the blizzard hits, and there are a bunch of little kids there (they’re rehearsing for a production of The Nutcracker), so she gets to put her sitting skills to good use. Quint is coming to town for a school dance, and he winds up walking to the dance school when Jessi’s dad can’t make it to pick him up.
Mary Anne and Mallory are watching the Pike kids while Mr. and Mrs. Pike go to New York for the day. They run out of food, so Logan brings some over on cross-country skis.
Dawn and her mom go to the airport to pick up Jeff, but his plane is rerouted to D.C. and they have to spend the night in the airport. Dawn whines a lot.
Claudia is sitting for the Perkins girls and winds up having to spend the night with them.
The premise of the book is that Kristy wants the newspaper to publish an article about the BSC girls’ experiences during the blizzard. I’m pretty sure no one cares, Kristy.
Thoughts: The girls’ parents are apparently totally okay with their 13-year-old daughters spending the night taking care of kids. Are they even allowed to spend the night on their own, without other living beings depending on them?
Kristy’s totally invading Mallory’s territory by trying to write a newspaper article. She’s also annoying – she says to the editor, “If you want to pay me, I wouldn’t mind. How much do reporters earn? (I won’t be too picky.)” Shut up already.
Claudia spells disappointed “disapperntened.” Oh, come on, she’s not that stupid.
Claire hears about all her parents’ plans for their day in New York and asks,” Will you ever get to go to the bathroom?” Love it.
I call bull on Mrs. Pike almost running out of food. Wouldn’t she buy everything in bulk and have more than enough?
Bart looks nothing like I imagined. He looks kind of like the guy who played Alan Gray in the BSC movie. So I guess Kristy has a type.
All of the Pike kids sing in the morning. I would kill them.
I’m sure it’s totally a coincidence that Dawn and her mother, who are vegetarians, hit a mailbox shaped like a cow.
Apparently no one in Stoneybrook takes weather forecasts seriously. Around here, people mob the grocery store and stock up on rock salt when even an inch of snow is predicted.
“There was ice cream, too. It was behind the pie, where no one could see it, but Sam sensed its presence.” Heh.
Sharon says Mary Anne’s one bad habit is worrying too much. So crying all the time is a lovable affectation?
Quint, whose parents most likely don’t know where he is during the blizzard: “If my parents want to worry, that’s their choice.” Quint’s kind of a jerk.
Mallory seems to think global warming means it’ll never snow again. Stop talking, Mallory.
Hold up – David Michael, Karen, Andrew, and Emily Michelle all share one bathroom, and Charlie, Sam, and Kristy share another? In that ginormous house? I don’t think so.
July 16, 2010
Summary: The twins invite Nicholas to a work picnic (it’s STILL same summer it was in Double Jeopardy and On the Run, and they’re STILL interning at the Sweet Valley News) since he’s still depressed over Regina’s death. Nicholas trespasses and meets a girl named Barbara, who’s spending the summer with her uncle. The uncle isn’t a nice guy, and somehow Nicholas gets it in his head that he’s, I don’t know, abusive or something (it’s never really clear), and he feels like he needs to rescue Barbara. They start meeting in secret, and Barbara tells Nicholas how some guy keeps coming by to visit her uncle, and the housekeeper keeps freaking out about the nearby cliffs, probably because Barbara’s grandmother died there.
I pretty much completely lost the thread about halfway through, and things only got more convoluted from there, so I can’t exactly sum everything up. Basically, there was a love triangle, and “Uncle John” isn’t really Barbara’s uncle, but he’s also the brother of a skeevy guy running for mayor, who turned out to possibly have killed Barbara’s grandmother. There’s something about an artists’ colony in there, too, but it makes no sense. And John brought Barbara to live with him to try to gaslight his brother, I guess. And then the brother dies and John gets arrested and totally confesses, though there’s no lawyer there, so that could probably get thrown out in court. And it turns out Barbara’s real grandfather, who secretly married her grandmother before she was involved with the mayor guy, is still alive, so…good for them, I guess.
Oh, and Nicholas and Barbara totally fall in looooove, but then she goes back to Europe. Sucks to be Nicholas, again.
Thoughts: So it’s been the same summer for three Super Thrillers, and it’s only July. Please tell me it’s not the same summer in all of these “thrillers” (which aren’t the slightest bit thrilling).
Jessica thinks the more handsome mayoral candidate should win. And that’s why 16-year-olds aren’t allowed to vote.
Darcy makes a very brief (thankfully) appearance in this book. Haven’t we all been through enough?
Nicholas falls in love with Barbara after spending about ten minutes with her. I wonder how many girls grew up with unreasonable expectations of love because of these books.
Barbara, stop telling Nicholas he can’t call you. You didn’t give him your phone number. He literally can’t call you.
Instead of calling the police after getting a threatening phone call, Elizabeth grabs Jessica and Nicholas for an emergency meeting. Dang it, Elizabeth, you’re not Kristy Thomas!
Nicholas’ plan to get Barbara away from her possibly-dangerous uncle is to grab her while one of the twins distracts the uncle. I love how he’s willing to put one of the twins in danger for a girl he met, like, ten days ago. He also claims he can’t think of any other plan. Because clearly, once he came up with the put-a-Wakefield-in-danger idea, he stopped thinking. On another note, why would he let the twins draw straws (well, toothpicks) to determine who would do the distracting? Why would he even consider letting his plan hinge on Jessica?
I’m sorry, is the paramedic tending to Elizabeth trying to flirt with Jessica? That’s professional. Also, she’s 16, you moron.
July 11, 2010
Summary: The BSC girls learn that a bunch of their charges are running a contest to choose the best sitter. The girls immediately try to make themselves look better so they’ll get more votes. They also start receiving hang-up calls and strange notes from someone named Mr. X while they’re sitting. Mr. X also does some weird stuff like decapitating a doll (freaky) and spreading baked beans on the Johanssens’ porch (ick).
The girls don’t want to tell each other after the weird happenings because they want to seem like they can handle any situation. When the truth comes out, it turns out Kristy’s the only person who hasn’t been contacted by Mr. X, and Dawn starts to suspect that she might be responsible. Of course, she’s not – the real Mr. X is Mel, a kid who’s been bullying the Hobart kids for a while and who clearly has some issues to deal with. I mean, decapitating dolls and sending threatening notes? Not exactly healthy. Dawn organizes a sting and the girls catch Mel in the act, and, of course, he confesses to everything, because everyone does that in the BSC-verse. And then they have a sleepover.
Thoughts: Why does Emily Michelle still use a high chair? Is she age-delayed in sitting, too?
David Michael tells Dawn she’s his favorite sitter. Someone’s sister is going to leave a stuffed horse’s head in his bed….
If the Pike kids only have to eat what they feel like eating, I’m guessing there aren’t a lot of vegetables being served in that house.
Who smears baked beans on someone’s porch? It’s so random. Not to mention a waste of perfectly good beans.
July 9, 2010
Summary: Jade wants to dance, dance, dance! Her father doesn’t want her to. Ooh, conflict! Jade auditions for a dance solo in a school talent show, even though her dad has forbidden her to dance in public (just go with it), and she gets the role. She also catches the attention of a guy named David. He wants to go out with Jade, but she’s not allowed to date (her dad is anti anything fun). Instead of using her words like a big girl and explaining that her Chinese father has rules most parents in America don’t have, Jade just makes excuses for why she can’t go out with David.
To prove that she doesn’t dislike David because he’s poor, Jade tells him her biggest secret, that her grandparents run a laundry. She’s embarrassed by that because of the stereotype about Chinese people and laundries, which David has apparently never heard, since he doesn’t think it’s a big deal. Amy, jealous of Jade for getting the solo she wanted (and totally racist, by the way), finds out about the laundry as well and spreads the news around school.
Somehow, Elizabeth gets involved (I know, shocker) and plays go-between for the lovebirds. And then some other stuff happens, but I got really bored, so I don’t remember it all. To sum it up, Jade dances in the show, her dad comes to see her and says he’s proud, David and Jade patch things up, and Jade gets offered a scholarship and the chance to dance in summer stock but turns it down because the woman putting up the money is a big ol’ racist. Happy ending, blah blah blah, we’ll probably never hear from these people again.
The completely stupid B plot revolves around the twins’ father, who’s feeling old since his 25-year high school reunion is approaching. Elizabeth and Jessica try to show him that being young isn’t that awesome, or something. Let’s just say Ned visits the Beach Disco and leave it at that.
Thoughts: Lila, re: Jade: “Jade’s American. Just because her father was born in China doesn’t mean she isn’t American.” Holy crap, Lila gets it!
Jade is tired of being seen as Chinese rather than American, but she wants to do a dance based on an old Chinese dance. Look, Jade, if you’re going to have layers, can they at least not conflict with each other?
According to Amy, Jade’s a prima donna because she insists on having water nearby when she’s practicing. Yes, proper hydration is usually a sign that one has a bad attitude. Which means Amy must be seriously dehydrated 24/7.
July 7, 2010
Summary: Claudia sits for a girl named Rosie whose parents have her involved in all sorts of activities – namely acting, singing, dancing, and other musical things. The girl is a huge brat with total stage parents who let her act all bratty and know-it-all-ish to everyone. They all suck. But Rosie sucks the most, since she acts superior to everyone and is even rude to Janine, who tries to help her with her homework (which, if she’s so smart, wouldn’t she be able to do it on her own?).
Slowly Claudia starts to feel sorry for Rosie because she obviously doesn’t like having to do so many activities, and she knows the kids at school don’t like her. Then Claudia discovers that Rosie has yet another talent, art, and she actually likes it. Claudia convinces Rosie’s parents to support her love of art, and convinces Rosie to talk to her parents about easing up on some activities. And then Rosie ends up being nice, so it’s win-win.
The B plot ties into the A plot: Claudia’s taken to drawing and painting junk food, and she decides to have a show in her garage. We always knew she’d find a way to combine her two loves.
Thoughts: Claudia wears a man’s paisley vest, a striped button-down shirt, tuxedo-stripe black Spandex stirrup pants, black suspenders with pink flecks, pink ankle boots, and a paisley hair comb. “The boots really set off the formality of the rest of the outfit, sort of like the punchline of a joke.” That’s some joke, all right.
Rosie isn’t a genius so much as really good at a lot of stuff. She’s more like a child prodigy. But Claudia’s the first one to call her a genius, so the error makes more sense when you get the context.
Hey, Rosie? “Rehearse” and “practice” are interchangeable. Also, if you’re such a professional, you would know better than to drink orange juice before a voice lesson.
I love how Claudia mentions the art classes she took in New York with a famous artist to make herself seem talented. Claud, you took four classes with him and he hated you. Not the best example, there.
You can tell this was written before America’s Next Top Model started because they have to explain what a go-see is.
I do appreciate how Claudia gets the humor of pop art and doesn’t take herself too seriously. Sometimes she really is smart than people give her credit for.
Janine buys one of Claudia’s paintings. Because she’s awesome.
July 5, 2010
Summary: Jessica’s totally in looooooooove with A.J. Morgan, but he thinks she’s serious, studious, and boring (basically, Elizabeth). Elizabeth keeps encouraging her to show her true self – possibly the only person who’s ever wanted that from Jessica – but Jess thinks it’s too late. A.J. starts thinking he made a bad decision by getting together with Jessica, who is especially regretting her new behavior when she learns about a contest at the mall in which she can model for a designer and possibly win an entire wardrobe. Even her friends think she’s nuts for the way she’s acting and for considering passing up the fashion event.
A.J. saves a girl named Pamela from drowning, and Pamela is so head-over-heels for him that she pretty much makes it her mission to steal him from Jessica. She’s also Jessica to the extreme, and A.J. happens to be kind of attracted to that. So now Jessica’s Elizabeth and Pamela is Jessica. Elizabeth, Lila, and Amy decide to talk about Pamela a bunch to drive Jessica crazy, hoping that Pamela will make such a big move that Jessica will be forced to show her true colors. Yeah, they’re not so much with being proactive, are they?
Pamela signs up for the fashion event, too, and sabotages Jessica’s outfits, trying to make her look foolish and get A.J. to fall for her instead. It backfires, as Jessica proves Tim Gunn proud by making it all work and comes out looking better than Pamela. In a last-ditch effort, Pamela spills water on Jessica, who unleashes her inner diva and lets Pamela have it. Somehow, this makes A.J. more interested, and of course, Jessica wins the fashion event. And now she’ll never be serious again.
Thoughts: The ghostwriter claims that the twins “represented every exciting and lovable quality a sixteen-year-old could have.” Yes, I often find meddlers and sociopaths quite lovable.
Jessica, trying to sound thoughtful and serious: “Oh, I was thinking about – about nuclear war. You know – how horrible it would be if there were one and everything.” I’m totally stealing that line.
Jessica’s attempt at poetry:
Time is a grinding wheel of merciless pain
We are trapped in our lives
until the hour of death.
But love breaks our chains and lets us fly
into the universe
Where everything is real and alive
Let’s hear the cheerleaders chant that! Elizabeth suggests that she write something lighter (e.g., something that won’t get her referred for psychiatric treatment) and Jessica says it should be about a rainbow or flowers. I don’t know why Elizabeth is so concerned about Jessica’s change in behavior; the new Jessica is clearly much more amusing than the old one.
Does A.J. really believe a girl as supposedly serious as Jessica would be a cheerleader? And didn’t she think he might find that suspicious?
This exchange is really weird:
A.J.: “Maybe you should have a hobby.”
Pamela: “But I do have a hobby, A.J. Or at least, I’m working on one.”
A.J. “What do you mean?”
Pamela: “You know exactly what I mean.”
Is your hobby being annoying, Pamela? Because you might want to look for a new one.
Olivia says she’s doing PR for a school talent show. Do high school productions really need PR people? It’s called Xeroxing some posters and hanging them on the walls.
If Jade’s such a good dancer, why didn’t they ask her to try out for You Can’t Take it With You, since everyone thought they needed a good dancer in the show?