Monday, May 22, 2017

SVT #4- Choosing Sides

Intro- Today is your lucky day!  I'm bored, so I read another book from my collection.

Cover- This is the edition I have.  It was published in 1986 (when your truly was approximately one year old, but this is a Scholastic reprinting from like 1998. As you can see, their uniforms are very conservative.  Jess seems to have pretty good regrowth going on, like the Twins often do on these newer covers.  Natural blonde, ha!  Also, that girl on the far right looks like a young Mila Kunis.  I think that's supposed to be Ellen, with Lila hiding in the background.  Amy looks better on this cover than she does on the original one, but I can totally see that she's going to grow up to become a girl of questionable morals.  Love her shoe and sock combo!

Summary- Liz is setting the dinner table for Jessica.  Again.  Because Jessica has very important cheerleading stuff to do!  She's prancing about her room in a leotard, and this leads us to a description of the Twins.  (Side note: there's an awkward paragraph where Liz makes Jess go downstairs for dinner and Steven asks "who's that babe in the leotard?" And I cringe.). Jess babbles about how the Unicorns have started the first-ever cheerleading squad at SVMS.  They're called the Boosters and consist of Jess, Lila, Ellen, and Janet, so you know they're super cool and everybody wants to join!  They have to have open auditions for the rest of the school.  Jess is pissed that so many "gross girls" like Amy Slutton and Lois Waller signed up.  Leave me girl Lois alone, you vile bitch!  At Lois is trying to participate in physical activities and better herself.  You sit down, and think about how mean it is to discourage her!

The next morning, Liz thinks about how her house is one of the nicest ones on the block as she leaves for school (I totally didn't even make this up!).  She and Jess walk with Nora Mercandy, and I'd forgotten who that was so I got all excited thinking it was Crazy Nora.  Sadly, it wasn't.  At school, the Boosters hold their first round of tryouts.  They teach everyone the lamest cheer ever "(boy's name) (boy's name), he's our man!  If he can't do it, no one can!".

Meanwhile, because we need to establish a subplot that we can later connect to the main plot, the boys are having basketball tryouts!  Go Bruce!!!!  Bruce makes fun of Ken Matthews for being short and Ken considers leaving until Liz sees and decides to meddle.  She convinces him to stay, and the coach (thinking that the tallest boy on the court is Ken) raves about how Mr. Matthews was his best player, All-State, blah blah blah, I'm getting bored.  Ken has to tell the coach that he's mistaken and the coach is surprised by how short Ken is.  (Side note:  has he never heard of Allen Iverson, or Steph Curry?!)  Ken leave crying and runs into Liz, who offers him help from Steven.  Didn't Ken grow up to be a professional football player or something?  He probably owes it all to Steven Wakefield.

Liz is sad that Amy ditched her for the Boosters, so she basically forces Ken into coming over.  Ken says her house is nice (and I swear there was at least one SVK book where he went to their birthday party or something) and we learn that "Elizabeth loved to hear people admire her family's house".  Shut up, Liz.  Anyways, Ken totally sucks at basketball, so Liz gives him a tennis ball to practice with.  As he's starting to improve, my darling Bruce rides by on his bike and makes fun of him again. I laughed, because I've missed Bruce terribly.

After Ken leaves, Jess complains to Liz about Amy and makes fun of her for hanging out with Ken.  Jessica is terrible in this book, and she says that Liz being friends with Ken is bad for her (Jessica's) reputation.  Especially if someone like Bruce saw them together!  Amy calls at some point and apologizes for ditching Liz earlier.  She tells Liz that she just really wants to be a Booster, and also asks why Liz and Ken were talking earlier.  Hmmmm...

Bruce is awesome, so he's told everyone that Liz and Ken are dating by the next day.  I guess Todd was on vacation or something, because he doesn't show up to punch Ken. Jess is pissed, Amy is jealous.  Ken laughs it off and says he's not giving up on his sportsball.  He talks to Amy about the Boosters and sparks fly between them.  Amy is not very interesting at age 12, so I have no idea why. Maybe Ken has psychic powers and knows that Amy will put out eventually.

Because we have to start teasing the next book (#5 Sneaking Out), Liz is at home writing an article.  Jess is playing the new Johnny Buck album too loudly, so Liz barges into her room to demand that she lower the volume.  While she's in there, she looks at the hat that Johnny Buck threw in her direction that she let Jessica have.  (It's like when I went to a Red Sox game and Big Papi threw his batting gloves at my sister and I, but we only caught one and she let me have it.  Now, we live together and we share it!)  Jessica's room is basically a shrine to Johnny.  I picture him looking like Justin Bieber with a mullet and acid washed jeans, possibly a studded leather jacket and feathered bangs.  Jessica again tells Liz to stay away from Ken "Social Suicide" Matthews.

Meanwhile, Ken practices and starts to improve.  He can't get his mind off Amy and it's pretty lame.  Amy is also practicing hard.  Apparently she's super good at baton twirling but the Boosters aren't aware of this yet.  Lila and Ellen call her and suggest that she quit.  She hangs up on them.

The next day, over a lunch of "pizzaburgers", Lila tells Jess that Johnny Buck is coming to town in the next book!  Jess is all upset because tickets cost $25!  Oh, the humanity!  Janet sits down and announces that she has a plan.  The Unicorns write a letter to Amy (pretending to be Ken) and tell her that she really sucks and that she should just give up.  They also write one to Ken (from Amy), professing her love and wanting to know if he loves her too.  It's all pretty stupid, so I'm starting on beer #3 for the day.  Amy immediately figures out that Ken didn't write the letter, but Ken gets all butthurt over his and refuses to talk to Amy.  Liz overheard Lila and Ellen discussing the letters in the bathroom and confronts them.  They tell her that they have a "special surprise" waiting for Amy at her next audition.

Liz straightens things out with Ken before his tryouts, but Amy will not listen to her warnings about the Unicorns' dastardly plan.  Basically, they make her do that stupid cheer from earlier using Ken's name, and she has to do it all alone in front of everyone.  Surprisingly, it distracts my Bruce, and Ken is able to score on him a few times.  He likes that stupid cheer and is motivated.  After Amy finishes, she keeps cheering and gets the crowd involved too.  Then she busts out her super sweet baton skillz and the Boosters beg her to join.  Ken also gets a spot on the basketball team and is going to surprise his dad with the news.

Cue awkward exposition/teaser for the next book.  Johnny Buck is coming, as we all know.  And Jess will do anything to go.

Afterthoughts- I picked this book up, thinking it was a newer one because of the cover.  These older books are pretty short, so it only took like an hour to read and blog.  Maybe I'll attempt the Jungle Prom series next because these SVTs are melting my brain.  But, points for Bruc being on 1/3 of the pages.

SVT Super Chiller #6- The Curse of the Golden Heart

Into- I'm back! I was going to do the entire Jungle Prom story arc for my triumphant return, but I decided to do a totally random recap, just to get the feel of things again. Today, we recap and revisit a Super Chiller ghostwritten by Jamie Suzanne in June of 1994. I was 8 1/2 when this was published, so I'm sure it was very scary band intriguing back then. Let's see if it stands the test of time...

 Cover- I'm having trouble uploading a cover imagine, but there's not much going on anyways. We have the Twins scuba diving near a shipwreck and Liz is holding the aforementioned Golden Heart. It did not happen like this in the book, naturally. Also, this book is from the "And Friends" era. I never understood why they bothered with that subtitle, since every book centered around the Twins meddling in someone's life anyways.

Recap- It's Spring Break in Sweet Valley (again)! Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall the Twins going to Great Aunt Helen's haunted hotel, AND also to San Diego for Spring Break...maybe they get a month off or something? Anyways, they're at the beach with Lila, Steven, and Joe Howell. The Twins decide to go snorkeling at a place called Pirate's Cove even though it has a bad reputation for dangerous waters and shady beach guys. Jess immediately ditches Liz in the water, of course. Liz thinks she sees a shipwreck and starts collection junk. She finds a handle from an old cup, a fishing reel, some shells, and a rusty object covered in barnacles. And I totally have NO idea what that object will turn out to be...*sigh*, I forgot how predictable these books are. As she's searching, a weird current comes out of nowhere and she almost drowns. But, she doesn't and I'm sad.

 They leave the water and see some creepy old guy in full diving gear staring at them. Add in a random throwaway paragraph where they run into their neighbor Mr. Walker. He mentions that he's leaving the next day for Colorado (probably because marijuana is legal there, and it's pretty cool). I thought that would be important to the story, so I took the time to write it down. Trust me, nothing comes of this and I'm not sure why it was even mentioned.

The Twins return to the beach the next day. Janet and Amy Slutton join them (and I mentally ponder exactly how Janet and Lila are related. I know they're cousins, but which parent is related to which? We never really see Mr. Fowler giving Janet any special gifts or anything, so maybe her mom and Lila's mom are sisters?). Joe and Steven find a conveniently-placed flyer for scuba lessons at Pirate's Cove and everyone signs up. Side note: the lessons will be held at a "seedy" shack, and I'm already seeing numerous red flags. They meet the instructor and he's a Scottish guy named Joshua Farrell. Turns out he was the creepy guy Liz and Jess saw near the shipwreck!

 The Twins and Steven rent their scuba gear, while Lila's dad buys hers. She even has a purple wetsuit! I love her so much. As they're getting ready for their first lesson, letters arrive for the Twins. They're super old looking and written in fancy script and seem to be a chain letter. Something about The Curse of Carlotta and how something has been taken from the sea. Carlotta is pretty unhappy about this, and warns them that they too will be cursed if they don't send 6 copies of the letter to their friends...uh oh.

 This is apparently important enough for the Unicorns to hold an emergency meeting. Ellen is confused, naturally. Lila can't send out her letters because her dad's secretary is on vacation (have I mentioned how much I love Lila?!) and I sense trouble. Liz also refuses to send out her letters, because she's an idiot. Good, let her be cursed and drown so she can't steal Bruce from me in the future. Also, where is Bruce?! I hope he's spending his spring break planning our wedding, but I digress.

 Liz has a nightmare about being on a sinking ship. As she's trying to escape (and I'm crossing my fingers that she doesn't), she sees an older man and a man with a red beard sword fighting. The old man calls the red bearded man a traitor and the red bearded man tells a beautiful dark haired woman named Carlotta to escape. She refuses to go without him. As Liz wakes up, she has the fleeting thought that the red bearded guy looks like Joshua Farrell. Scuba lessons officially start the next day so everyone (including Lila, which I find to be absolute bullshit) takes the bus to the beach. They sit through a 2 hour safety class but then aren't even able to go in the water because Joshua thinks it's too rough. As they prepare to leave, Lila realizes that she's lost her super fancy expensive diving watch. Bummer. Jess sleeps over at Fowler Crest that night. She treats us to a description of Lila's super pimp private bathroom. Lila has her own shower AND a whirlpool tub. She even has special lavender monogram towels AND her own phone next to the tub. I'm jealous, because my bathroom is nice but it only has a shower! I miss taking bubble baths, damnit. Lila breaks a nail and rips her robe while Jess is in the bathroom. She also falls down and Mrs Pervis comes upstairs. She's worried about Lila because apparently Lila fell down the stairs that morning, followed by a slip on the kitchen floor, and a collision with the cabinets. Lila convinces her that she's just clumsy, but we all know it's that damn curse. Lila decides to do her letters all by herself but, when she pulls out her top of the line/super expensive fountain pen, ink explodes everywhere! She decides to type them on Mr. F's computer (because it's 1994 and computers cost like a million and five dollars, so she doesn't have her own yet), but the entire computer crashes. Fuck.

 Another day, another diving lesson. Liz goes to look for Joshua at his shack (the number on the shack is 1779, and that could be important later), and sees him sitting at his table. She goes in to get his attention, but it turns out to just be an empty wetsuit! Omg, I'm like totally super chilled right now...not. They partner up for lessons and nobody picks Liz (hahaha, I love this) so she's partnered with Joshua. As she's swimming underwater, she looks into his mask and sees nothing! Totally empty! Omg! The only cool thing that happens in this chapter is that she almost drowns again out of fear. But sadly, today is not my lucky day. At this point, I'm getting really bored with this book, so I crack a beer. It's a pretty good beer. 7% ABV, Extra IPA. It's more interesting than a book where Liz keeps escaping death.

 Lila comes over that night, super upset. Apparently, the computer managed to send the letter to EVERYONE involved with Fowler Enterprises! Mr. F is NOT pleased and he's going to ground Lila when/if he ever comes back from his business trip! He might even take away her allowance! When Lila leaves, Liz notices that another letter has arrived. She keeps trying to figure out what she has that this Carlotta bitch wants, but of course she still has no idea. She looks over her "treasure box" another time, and tosses the rusty barnacle object into the trash. She has another dream that night about Carlotta and the red beard guy.

 Lila comes up with the brilliant idea that Liz can just read the letter onto a tape, make copies, and play them for people. But, when they go to record, the tape starts saying "Curse of Carlotta" in a scratchy voice. Liz smashed the tape and is still like "fuck these letters"! Idiot. Nothing much happens for like half a chapter, except for Liz finding a scorpion in her lunch and then deciding not to participate in her scuba lesson. Then, randomly, some employee from Fowler Enterprises shows up on her doorstep and asks about the curse. His name is John Filber (oh good, at least it's not Pfeifer) and the curse is significant to his family. Liz and Jess agree to meet him at the beach the next day so he can show them something... nope, totally doesn't sound shady at all, this is a great idea!!!! I hope he drowns Liz, Crazy Margo Style! Sadly, he doesn't. He just shows them something metallic that's been embedded in coral for like 200 years. Apparently his great great great great grandfather showed his great great great grandfather, and the tradition continues. John can't touch it for some reason, but the Twins start getting ideas. Finally, this book is taking forever and I need another beer. Liz thinks about how John reminds her of Joshua.

 That night, they have a fire on the beach and Joshua tells ghost stories (because hanging around at night with a bunch of 12-14 year olds is totally not creepy enough already). Liz asks about the shipwreck, and finally we get some exposition...

 In 1779, a pirate named Red Beard (I bet the writers put SO much thought into that name) had amassed a great fortune from doing pirate stuff. He buried it off the coast of the Bee World, and made a map. One day, he overtakes a governor's ship and finds his greatest treasure of all, the governor's niece Carlotta. Since she's all noble and shit, she can't marry a pirate even though she's totally taken with his sexy ginger beard and cool pirate outfit, so he gives up piracy (or is it "pirating"?) and the governor pardons him and his men. He gives Red Beard a locket with his coat of arms on it and Red Beard gives half of it to Carlotta. I think it's slightly rude to destroy such a nice gift. Then, one night, as Red and Carlotta are sailing around doing non-pirate things, a storm hits! The ship's bosun (whatever that is, I'm too lazy to research it) isn't at his post because he's looking for Red's map, so the ship sinks and everyone dies. The legend is that the bosun's ghost can't rest until the 2 halves of the locket (and thus Carlotta and Red) are reunited.

 Liz looks at the letters later and realize that they're dated 1779, and that it's the same as the address of Joshua's shack! Omg, is he a Pirate Ghost?! Does anyone remember that episode of South Park? she gets another letter, basically saying the same shit about how Carlotta wants her stuff back, but Liz is dumb and still hasn't figured it out. Steven comes to collect her trash and complains about the rusty barnacle object almost ripping the bag. Finally, Liz gets her head out of her ass and realizes this could be important. She cleans it up and (duh), it's Carlotta's half of the locket!!! It has half of a map on it! They're gonna be rich! She then realizes that John's relative was the ship's bosun and that's why he can't touch the locket. Ok, whatever. Jessica wants to buy a Rolls Royce and a mansion in Hollywood for their parents, and Steven wants to buy the LA Rams. (Fun fact time! The LA Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995, and then returned to LA in 2016).

 Liz still isn't sure about this whole thing, so she decides to go to the library the next day. Nerd. She toddles off to the big downtown library and along the way she noticed that Sweet Valley could really use more benches. And that the big town clock has been broken for years but the town is using their resources for other projects. She thinks about how nice it would be to "grant all of Sweet Valley's civic wishes" by updating the homeless shelter and filling the daycare with new toys. And I vomit. You go do that, Saint Elizabeth, and Steven and I will be over here, enjoying our football team. Maybe we'll buy the Red Sox too, and the Lakers. The librarian, Mr. Dallas (I wonder if he's any relation to Aaron Dallas) shows Liz some info about the shipwreck, along with a convenient list of all crew members on board. As she's leaving the library, Steven jumps out of the bushes and grabs her. He's been following her all day and has noticed that John is also following her. Creeper. They run home to hide and create a plan for retrieving the other half of the locket.

 Liz has another lame dream about Carlotta, and learns that Carlotta isn't the one cursing her. Apparently, the bosun is responsible for the curse. Because, he's a dick. The Twins and Steven go to the beach at night (and it's raining, because of course it is). Steven dives down with a hammer and smashes the coral until the locket is free. As he surfaces, John reveals himself to have been hiding under the pier. He grabs it and is all like "bwahahah! I'm rich, fuckers! Peace out!" But, as he runs away, he trips and the locket falls into the sea. Liz sees a ghostly figure walking further down the beach, but then it disappears. So nobody's rich and we never find out what the treasure was. Liz reveals later to Jess and Steven that Joshua was listed as the bosun and he survived the wreck. He died a tortured soul in Pirate's Cove. The book ends with Liz having a dream about Red and Carlotta being reunited on a ship.

 Afterthoughts- Why did they allude to Red Beard looking so much like Joshua if Joshua was actually the bosun? Was there just like a whole crew of ginger pirates in 1779 Sweet Valley, or is it a literal red herring?! (Lol, see what I did there?!). Overall, this book was pretty terrible but now I've read it so you don't have to. You're welcome.