Crash Landing!

Ah, Sweet Valley. Nothing takes me back to be preteen years faster than looking at this book series I was completely obsessed with. When I first became interested in them, they were out of print which just made me want them more!

How will I collect them all?

As I kid I really liked the series and wanted to even live in their idyllic Californian world, and I thought the stories were fun and interesting. But as an adult I know they weren’t the best written book. Most of them are cheesy, silly, or sometimes don’t make sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill except with a different type of drama.

So the story follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer. Jessica is the fashionable, social butterfly, cheerleader that dreams of parties and popularity.

They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first book focused on the two girls, but the later ones were divided into two stories: one about a friend or relative while the other is about the girls. The later series got a bit darker and was done in short series, two or three books that went together. The topics ranged from drugs, sex, school dances, serial killers, sports, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff. 😉

Yes as the series progressed the writers changed, and while I didn’t like some of the alterations I still continued to read and collect (still do so today) the novels. What can I say? They are such a big part of my childhood they bring on a tsunami of nostalgia.

So what does that have to do with us? Well quite a few of the books in the series were mysteries, supernatural, had psycho characters, or other themes that fall in line with this blog.

So the novel series is similar to the Nancy Drew Files were you have a little teaser at the end like a preview, and the book picks up from there. In the last review Elizabeth was kidnapped. Since then Elizabeth (who always lectures Jessica) cheated on her boyfriend with Nicolas Morrow, Tricia Martin’s sister had some trouble, Roger turned out to be Bruce Patman’s cousin and a millionaire, Caroline had a fake boyfriend, Bruce and Regina got together but Regina had to leave for Switzerland, and Jessica and Lila fought over a two-timing guy who turned out to be a drug dealer and threatened Jessica’s life.

Quite a lot. So here we are onto the next book:

Crash Landing! (Sweet Valley High #20) by Francine Pascal & Kate William

Remember in Secrets (Sweet Valley High #2) Enid reconnected with old boyfriend and pen pal George Warren. Well, since then—George has been stepping out on her with her pal Robin, a cheerleader.

Ugh cheerleaders.

But we aren’t supposed to hate Robin, we are supposed to feel bad because they are in “love”. They meet in pilot’s class and “fell” in “true love”. Sorry for the snark, I’ve been reading the blog Snark Valley and it must have been rubbing off on me.

Elizabeth had caught them and made them promise to tell Enid and Allen (Robin’s boyfriend) the truth. George agrees to do so after they go on their first flight. But all goes wrong and they end up crashing in Secca Lake.

George is okay with a bump, but Enid loses her ability to walk and has to use a wheelchair. They are investigating the crash, but George knows it is all his fault as if he was more experienced he would have handled it.

So the mystery is-What caused the plane to crash? Will George date Enid even though he is no longer in “love”? And what about poor Robin?

It’s like a soap opera.

Usually I do a little synopsis that they provide, but my copy of this is a hardcover and doesn’t have one.

I know, right?

So Jessica has hated Enid since she chose her sister over her, but in this when she discovers that Robin and George were cheating-she totally becomes Team Enid and has all the girls freeze Robin and George out.

“…Jessica really did feel sorry for Enid. She had never thought much of George Warren one way or another-but now she was prepared to see him as a villain”.

I can just see him as a regular guy, then in the next scene wearing a handlebar mustache and top hat to show his evilness…sorry-the snark is just overflowing. 

Low Jessica, very low.

Now some may say this is hypocritical, but at this point in the series she has only had one boyfriend, Bruce Patman, (who cheated on her-maybe that’s why she takes it to heart). She has never cheated as she was never in a serious relationship-she does later-but at this time not a hypocrite. Elizabeth is as she is always cheating on Todd. She always “owes” people a date or some stupid justification.

Anyways, George decides to stay with Enid as she saved his life and lost the ability to walk. No George, no. Don’t do it.

Even though I’m actually in love with another!

This is probably why I love Lifetime movies and such. These books trained me.

Hmmm…?

George breaks up with Robin, of which when people see his car out front think he is meeting her for a tete-a-tete. Robin becomes so blue she goes off her diet and starts consuming everything.

Enid has to go through surgery and they have no clue what will happen, will she be able to walk or lose her ability forever?

Robin kind of annoyed me, coming from someone who struggled with anorexia I don’t think they dealt with her emotional issues the right way-in how she starts becoming anorexic and develops emotional eating issues.

The writers

Robin reaches out to “Everyone’s Best Friend and Always There to Help” Elizabeth Wakefield, but Liz totally disses her. Man you are awful. How dare you say you are a friend and not even care to listen at all.

Liz has a dinner party for herself, Enid, George, and Todd. It is super awkward as George is finding it harder and harder to pretend to care about her romantically when he doesn’t, and Enid is clinging to him tighter and tighter. It makes me think in Couples Retreat when the counselor is talking to Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell.

Don’t leave!!!

They are having a dance, I think in almost every book there is a dance or fancy party. I have to stop and say it gave me highly unrealistic views for how high school would be. At the dance it is super awkward and after watching George and Robin, Enid puts it together. But even though she knows he’s be cheating, she wants him and ignores it all.

Elizabeth hatches a plan to “save” Enid and wake her up and use her legs. She borrows Teddy Collins, Mr. Collins’ son, and will have him “drown” until Enid saves him. Only one giant problem with this, Elizabeth is sure that Enid will jump in and save Teddy, getting the use of her legs back. But what if Enid doesn’t save him? What if it isn’t the plan that awakens motion in her legs, but what if she instead has a heart attack as she can’t save Teddy and thinks he is really drowning? Or what if she tries to save him but doesn’t get the full use of her legs and drowns herself? I think Dr. Elizabeth should be sued for malpractice.

But of course it works, and Enid is saved and then she lets George go.

Meanwhile, Jessica’s B story is really sad. She and Lila are taking a gourmet cooking class-which Lila walks out on she was never one for doing “work”. Jessica excels at everything and has a real knack, but because she screws up once her family treats her like crap. In fact, her mom, dad, and sister are pretty awful and condescending to her in this. And then Elizabeth’s all holier-than-thou saying Jessica is awful for being mean and judgmental to Robin when she was the same like a few days earlier. When I read this series as a kid I always liked Elizabeth, but as an adult looking at her, she is full of baloney. Jessica may do some screwed up things, but at least she is honest about who she is. I really felt bad for her in this book-she definitely got the short end of the stick while Elizabeth is the golden child, meh.

Whatever…

No outfits in this one. So let’s move on

The Next Book in the Series:

Another thing I loved about these books is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

[Jessica] had just about enough of her family treating her badly all the time. And since her plan to impress them had been such a miserable failure, she was going to have to come up with some other way of changing their minds about her. Only I better think of something fast, she told herself, tears tricking down her cheeks as she threw herself onto her bed. Because I don’t think I can stand things the way they are around her for another minute!

Jessica embarks on a desperate course of action in Sweet Valley #21, RUNAWAY!

But we will not be reviewing that. The next will be #26 Hostage

For more Sweet Valley High, go to Kidnapped!

For more mystery reviews, go to The Glass Forest

Kidnapped!

Kidnapped! (Sweet Valley High #13) by Francine Pascal

Ah, Sweet Valley. Nothing takes me back to be preteen years faster than looking at this book series I was completely obsessed with. When I first became interested in them, they were out of print which just made me want them more!

I’m going to find them and read them!

As I kid I really liked the series and wanted to even live in their idyllic Californian world, and I thought the stories were fun and interesting. But as an adult I know they weren’t the best written book. Most of them are cheesy, silly, or sometimes don’t make sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill except with a different type of drama.

Wow…

So the story follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer. Jessica is the fashionable, social butterfly, cheerleader that dreams of parties and popularity.

They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first book focused on the two girls, but the later ones were divided into two stories: one about a friend or relative while the other is about the girls. The later series got a bit darker and was done in short series, two or three books that went together. The topics ranged from drugs, sex, school dances, serial killers, sports, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff. 😉

Yes as the series progressed the writers changed, and while I didn’t like some of the alterations I still continued to read and collect (still do so today) the novels. What can I say? They are such a big part of my childhood they bring on a tsunami of nostalgia.

So what does that have to do with us? Well quite a few of the books in the series were mysteries, supernatural, had psycho characters, or other themes that fall in line with this blog.

So the novel series is similar to the Nancy Drew Files were you have a little teaser at the end like a preview, and the book picks up from there. In the last review I didn’t think I’d be reviewing another Sweet Valley High until book #13, but I forgot book #11.

Ooops…

So there is only one book between the last review and this one, and it turns out that Steven’s girlfriend has cancer and she dies. It is very sad, but it won’t be the end of it…unfortunately. But that a book for another day.

Not looking forward to that…

KIDNAPPED!

Elizabeth unfastened the chain lock as Carl became aware of what was happening.

“No!” he cried as he rose to prevent her escape. “Elizabeth, no!”

She unlocked the bolt and pulled on the door handle. It wouldn’t be long before she was free. But something was wrong. The door wouldn’t open! Elizabeth gasped as Carl seized her. He grabbed her under the arms and threw her onto the sofa with the force of a man possessed. His eyes now bright with anger, he came toward her.

This is it, though Elizabeth as she squeezed her eyes shut. This is the end.

WHAT! I’m HOOKED!!!

Jessica and Elizabeth are candy stripers. Jessica only to meet Jeremy Frank, well-known handsome TV personality who had been laid up with a broken leg. While Elizabeth, of course, loves it. Tonight there is a party and Jessica is getting ready, while Elizabeth is still at the hospital and then going to tutor Max Dellon. Jessica has moved on to a new guy of her dreams, Nicholas Morrow who is everything she wants. Rich, handsome, etc.

Jessica waits, but at 8 she can’t do it no more-someone else might grab Nicolas-and has her friend Cara Walker pick her up-leaving a note for Elizabeth when she gets home. At the party Jessica meets the dreamboat, and Regina, his sister (who is deaf).

Meanwhile, in chapter 3, we see what happened to Elizabeth. Elizabeth stayed late at the hospital, and is hurrying to her car-hoping to hurry and get to Max’s. Next to her car is a junky creepy pedophile van, but Elizabeth doesn’t even notice. Really girl? As an adult it makes you wonder why something didn’t happen to her earlier.

She was grabbed, chloroformed, and kidnapped. And she is in a junky old place. Who took her?

Max is waiting for Elizabeth, but she is an hour late. That’s not Elizabeth at all. By 9:40, he knows something is up and decides to head to the hospital.

Todd is worried about Elizabeth, but Jessica makes up a lie as to where she is as she wants to focus on Nicholas.

Low Jessica, very low.

Elizabeth wakes up and finds herself alone, but then her kidnapper comes home. It is Carl, the janitor. Carl who asked her for help, Carl who she pitied, and now is a victim of his interests.

Help me! For God’s sake someone help me!”

Todd has had enough and calls Mr. Collins, who Jessica said Elizabeth was babysitting for. He finds out the truth and guns after Jessica. Jessica realizes the time and that Todd is right-

The Wakefields come home and see the note that Jessica left-growing worried about where Elizabeth is.

Where is she? How will they save her?

They discover her car and figure out something happened to Elizabeth at the hospital, or shortly after. When the police come into it, they start looking at Max.

Its up to the gang to track her down and clear his name.

On the case!

Thoughts After Reading:

Rereading…yes it is campy, and predictable but I still really enjoyed it. I think that the suspense and drama was right on point. As a teen and an adult, it got me wanting to get to the conclusion to find out what happens next. And that opening scene, fantastic!

Like the Nancy Drew Files, one of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author always gives great detail to what they wear. I’ve decided to add a special section for this in these reviews too.

Outfits-

For the party when Jessica is trying to impress Nicholas Morrow

The Next Book in the Series:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

There was no way Elizabeth could mistake the look she saw in his eyes, a look that said, “You’re the one I want.” It made her feel awkward and uncomfortable. She had a strong suspicion that Nicholas hadn’t reacted this way with Jessica. And she dreaded what would happen when Jessica found out.

Will Elizabeth leave Todd for Nicholas? Find out in Sweet Valley #14, DECEPTIONS

For more Sweet Valley High, go to Too Good to Be True

For more mysteries on a kidnapping, go to Deadly Intent

For more mysteries about a sister disappearing, go to Death Wears a Beauty Mask

For more mysteries about a disappearance, go to He’s Gone

Too Good to Be True

Too Good to Be True (Sweet Valley High #11) by Francine Pascal

Ah, Sweet Valley. Nothing takes me back to be preteen years faster than looking at this book series I was completely obsessed with. When I first became interested in them, they were out of print which just made me want them more!

As a kid I really liked the series and wanted to even live in their idyllic Californian world, and I thought the stories were fun and interesting. But as an adult I know they weren’t the best written books. Most of them are cheesy, silly, or sometimes don’t make sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill except with a different type of drama.

So the story follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer. Jessica is the fashionable, social butterfly, cheerleader that dreams of parties and popularity.

They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first book focused on the two girls, but the later ones were divided into two stories: one about a friend or relative while the other is about the girls. The later series got a bit darker and was done in short series, two or three books that went together. The topics ranged from drugs, sex, school dances, serial killers, sports, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff. 😉

Yes as the series progressed the writers changed, and while I didn’t like some of the alterations I still continued to read and collect (still do so today) the novels. What can I say? They are such a big part of my childhood they bring on a tsunami of nostalgia.

So what does that have to do with us? Well quite a few of the books in the series were mysteries, supernatural, had psycho characters, or other themes that fall in line with this blog.

So the novel series is similar to the Nancy Drew Files where you have a little teaser at the end like a preview, and the book picks up from there. In the last review I didn’t think I’d be reviewing another Sweet Valley High until book #13, but I forgot book #11

So let’s see since Secrets, we had Jessica being controlled and abused by her dream guy, Bruce Patman, discovering he is nothing but a nightmare; had the sisters compete to have a girl join or not join their sorority; Jessica went out with a much older man; Todd got a motorcycle; Elizabeth cracked her head riding the motorcycle and went into a coma, along with having a personality change; Roger Barret becomes a sport star and tries to go after Lila Fowler; and Jessica tried to keep the school “slut” from joining the cheerleading squad. Wow.

What?!

So that leaves us with number 11:

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE

Suzanne rose from the couch and wound her arms about Mr. Collins’ neck. She could feel his muscles tensing as she pressed up against him

Suzanne, stop it,” Mr. Collins warned. She parted her lips and tilted her head back, willing him to embrace her. He was so close. His heart was beating much too quickly…

Trembling with the effort, Mr. Collins pulled free from her. “Get your things,” he ordered. “I’ll wait for you in the car.

She stared at him for a long, incredulous moment. How dare he reject her? Her eyes narrowed to razor-thin slits. “You wanted to kiss me. I know you did.”

Mr. Collins shook his head. “Believe me, I’m doing you a favor.”

But Suzanne scarcely heard what he was saying. Rage was boiling inside her. Oh, he’d pay for this. She’d make him pay. “You’re the one who’s going to be sorry Roger Collins!” she hissed.

Mr. Wakefield’s old college roommate, Tom Devlin, and him got back into contact. Devlin is a diplomat and has been all over the world, but has returned to New York City. His daughter, Suzanne, proposed  an idea of having her and one of the twins exchange home’s for a week during their spring break as Suzanne has always longed togo to California. (Although they are rich why not take a family vacation? Whatever).

Whatever…

But only one Wakefield daughter can go, and of course resident drama queen, Jessica pitches a fit when she loses the coin toss to Elizabeth. But Jessica can’t be out-tricked for long, and makes Elizabeth feel insecure in her relationship with Todd, getting her to switch places.

Suzanne, or Suzy as she asks everyone to call her, arrives looking glamourous as ever. She even has a dazzling English accent from her time abroad.

Even though Suzy is wealthy, lived all over, and had everything-she is kind, caring, and doesn’t mind lending a helping hand in everything-cleaning, cooking, etc.

She’s almost too good to be true,” Enid said…

Is she?

At the school picnic things go a little strange. Suzanne who is an amazing swimmer, medal-winning, starts drowning-causing Mr. Collins to have to swim out and save her. Suzy is so grateful, but Mr. Collins acts weird.

Meanwhile, in New York Jessica is having a less than thrilling time until Suzanne’s gorgeous boyfriend agrees to take her out-using his and Suzanne’s tickets.

Back in Sweet Valley, Elizabeth, Todd, and Suzanne drive by Mr. Collins’ house as Elizabeth needs to drop off some stuff for the school paper, The Oracle. Why she needs to go to his house, or even knows where he lives, I don’t know. Weird things you didn’t question as a preteen.

Suzanne delivers the papers for Elizabeth, getting a “drink of water” from the  garden hose and splashing her body, showing off her body.

Really, an “accident”.

One day Elizabeth is supposed to babysit Teddy, Mr. Collins’ son, but Todd scores some awesome tickets to the Lakers’ game. Suzy agrees to fill in for Elizabeth, promising to notify Mr. Collins but doesn’t, surprising him instead.

Yes, Suzanne is too good to be true. Underneath that beautiful exterior she is rotten to the core. She tries to seduce him, trying to add another conquest in her life, but Mr. Collins won’t take the bait. And he rejects her.

She walks back to the Wakefields and tears her blouse, messes up her hair, etc. When she gets there she accuses Mr. Collins of attacking her. Will Suzanne’s evil plan work? Or will everyone see through her careful facade?

Hmm…

Like the Nancy Drew Files, one of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author always gives great detail to what she wears. I’ve decided to add a special section for this in these reviews too.

Outfits-

When Jessica wears the black crepe from Suzanne’s closet.

Thoughts After Reading:

Rereading it I realize there are some things that are just not quite kosher here-in the relation to each other. Elizabeth going to Mr. Collins house multiple times, the Devlins not caring about underage drinking, Suzanne’s boyfriend trying to rape Jessica but they don’t tell her parents it charge him, and more. But anyways in the end they reveal that Suzy is evil and all works out, Mr. Collins is reinstated (although wouldn’t there be a bigger investigation into what was said), and Suzy goes back to NYC (she doesn’t face ay charges either). Jessica returns lying about the great time she had, when it was awful (how come we never see how this affects her? It’s like the writers don’t think about what would happen logically). Then we have poor Steven…

The Next Book in the Series:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

On the other hand, her recent experience with Suzanne had taught her that appearances could be deceiving. It was best not to form judgements based on superficial evidence.

“You can’t be sure of anything until you talk to Tricia,” Elizabeth said gently

Steven was close to tears. “I’ve tried. But-but she says nothing is wrong. Liz, I know she’s hiding something. I can see it in her eyes. And it’s driving me crazy!”

What terrible secret is Tricia keeping from Steven? Find out in Sweet Valley #12, WHEN LOVE DIES

***SPOILER ALERT***

We will not be reviewing that book and since they say it in the title, I will reveal the end. She dies. It is very sad.

The next Sweet Valley High book we will review will be Kidnapped. 

For more Sweet Valley High, go to Secrets

For more book reviews, go to The Demon of River Heights

Secrets

Secrets (Sweet Valley High #2) by Francine Pascal

Ah, Sweet Valley. Nothing takes me back to be preteen years faster than looking at this book series I was completely obsessed with. When I first became interested in them, they were out of print which just made me want them more!

As a kid I really liked the series and wanted to even live in their idyllic Californian world, and I thought the stories were fun and interesting. But as an adult I know these weren’t the best written books. Most of them are cheesy, silly, and sometimes don’t make sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill.

So the story follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer. Jessica is the fashionable, social butterfly, cheerleader that dreams of parties and popularity.

They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first book focused on the two girls, but the later ones were divided into two stories: one about a friend or relative while the other is about the girls. The later series got a bit darker and was done in miniseries, two or three books that went together. The topics ranged from drugs, sex, school dances, serial killers, sports, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff. 😉

Yes, as the series progressed the writers changed, and while I didn’t like some of the alterations I still continued to read and collect (still do so today) the novels. What can I say? They are such a big part of my childhood they bring on a tsunami of nostalgia.

So what does that have to do with us? Well quite a few of the books in the series were mysteries, had supernatural elements, psycho characters, or other themes that fall in line with this blog. So we get to review them!

So the novel series is similar to the Nancy Drew Files where you have a little teaser at the end like a preview, and the book picks up from there. In the last book Double Love, the sisters competed for the same guy, Todd Wilkins. Todd really liked Elizabeth, but Jessica did all she could to stop the romance. A bunch of other stuff also happens with the football field being involved in a big tug-of-war between companies, Elizabeth and Jessica afraid their dad is having an affair, Elizabeth and Jessica’s brother dating a girl from the wrong side of town, Jessica pretending to be Elizabeth and damaging her reputation, dances/parties, etc.

This book picks up after Elizabeth played a trick on Jessica, getting her dunked fully clothed. So here is where our story begins…

SECRETS

It wasn’t fair, Jessica raged, tears streaming down her face. Enid was going to the fall dance with Ronnie, and she was sure to be named queen. Ronnie was so blind with love that he’d swing a million votes her way.

Jessica sighed. She just had to win. If she were queen, Bruce Patman would finally notice her. She’d never wanted anything so badly in her entire life. She’d do anything to make it happen.

Out of the corner of one wet eye, Jessica glimpsed a piece of paper sticking out from under the bed. It looked like a letter.

Dear Enid,” she read with a sudden voracious interest. A smile crept slowly across her features as a plan shaped itself in her mind.

Time to put my evil plan in motion…

Jessica is mad that her sister got one over on her and had her dunked in front of everyone. But she doesn’t think on it too long as she has something more weighty on her mind. She has been in love with Bruce Patman for years but he never paid attention to her. She has watched him go through every A-list girl except herself! Her latest attempt to snag him is to win Fall Queen, as Bruce is nominated Fall King. If the two are crowned, they will have to go to the following dances and school activities together-and he will fall madly in love with her.

The dance is two weeks away and Jessica can’t wait!

I’m so excited!

Elizabeth has noticed that her best friend Enid Rollins has been so down lately. The decide to do a marathon baking session to cheer her up-but no dice. Finally Elizabeth just asks her and Enid unloads. Enid has a secret-a big secret. She has a police record.

When her parents divorced two years ago, she got involved in drinking and drugs. She and her boyfriend, George Warren, hit a boy while driving. The kid turned out to be okay-but the two were arrested, given 6 months probation, and put through drug counseling. Enid was changed by it and George was sent away to a private boarding school.

Enid is worried about her boyfriend Ronnie Edwards finding out. He said a lot of stuff in the last book that makes Enid certain that if he discovered her secret he’d dump her right away.

In my open she would be much better without him. He’s a rude, jerky, jealous, control freak, and abusive.

Enid has been writing to her friend George these past years and is afraid that Ronnie will see it as cheating on him. She shows the letters to Elizabeth, but it is nothing more than average friend encouragement and support. Elizabeth promises to keep the letters a complete secret.

Meanwhile, Jessica and her friends are talking about Ms. Dalton the French teacher. Jessica’s best friend Lila Fowler hates Ms. Dalton as not only is her father dating the 25-year-old teacher (really? 25), but her boyfriend, Ken Matthews, has a giant crush on her. She starts a rumor that Ms. Dalton and him are having an affair.

Jessica returns home later in a bad mood. She tried to charm Bruce Patman-but received nothing. She wants to hang out with her sister-but she’s gone again off with Enid. Enid who hates Jessica. She starts thinking of everything that is wrong and goes in her sister’s room-as her’s is painted an ugly brown (bad idea by Jessica) and too messy (she hates cleaning). As she sits there she spots a letter, and a terrible, awful idea is born.

Later Enid, Ronnie, Elizabeth, and Todd are double dating when Elizabeth and Todd notice something is off with Ronnie. The couples split ways with Enid and Ronnie heading to the classic make-out spot. Ronnie acts totally different and all over Enid-and then breaks their date to the dance.

When he tries to go farther than Enid wants, she manages to get loose-but then it all comes out. Ronnie knows all about George and her past.

“The letters. Liz must have told him about the letters.”

Jessica leaves for a party at Lila’s hoping to snag Bruce Patman there. Elizabeth calls up Enid, but she won’t have anything to do with her. Elizabeth stays home wallowing in confusion, while Jessica heads out.

Jessica is super disappointed to find out Bruce already has a date to the dance and puts her eyes on now dateless Ronnie.

Elizabeth confronts the question of how this could have happened, discussing it with her favorite teacher-Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins tells her to look for the key thing-motivation. Why would anyone want to do this? Break up Enid and Ronnie?

Hmmm…

Like the Nancy Drew Files, one of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author always gives great detail to what the twins wear. I’ve decided to add a special section for this in these reviews too.

Outfits-

When Jessica goes to Lila’s party-but imagine in burgundy:

The dance: I see Jessica in this…

And Elizabeth in this:

Thoughts After Reading:

As a teen I loved it! From beginning to end. As an adult, I still enjoyed it-good pacing and the better writing than later books in the series.

The Next Book in the Series:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

Just then Bruce sailed past, nearly colliding with her as she stumbled backward in an attempt to escape Winston’s murderous feet. He swept her with a long look that sent an electric shock tingling up her spine. There was a hint of invitation in his smile, and more than a spark of interest in his sexy blue eyes. Some of her misery faded. Could it be?…

Can Jessica play Bruce Patman’s game and win? Find out in SWEET VALLEY HIGH #3, Playing With Fire.

Of course we won’t because that isn’t a mystery. I don’t think I will be reviewing anything until book #13, Kidnapped. When I get there I’ll do a quick recap-and then continue.

For more young adult fiction, go to Christina’s Ghost

For more books were letters play a key role, go to This Pen for Hire

Secrets Can Kill

Where I live, school starts tomorrow, so I thought what better way to get “back to school” than with a school centered mystery.

Secrets Can Kill (The Nancy Drew Files #1) by Carolyn Keene

So I know most people started with the original Nancy Drew books, but I never grew up reading those. My first introduction to Nancy Drew was The Nancy Drew Files. And of course, the TV show.

In fact, I was first introduced to Nancy Drew by accident. I was looking for a Sweet Valley High book to read and someone had mis-shelved a Nancy Drew Files. 

I first was interested in Nancy Drew when I picked up a copy on accident, as it was mis-shelved with Sweet Valley High. 

Why not try it out?

I read it and loved it and immediately wanted to read the whole series.

Unfortunately, when I started reading them, they were out of print and the library only had a few books in the series. It then became a treasure hunt as I tried to find copies in thrift stores and library book sales.

Background Information:

So this series began in the ’80s and have some updates from the original series. Nancy Drew originally was a 16 year-old, high school, amateur detective, but in this version she has been aged up to 18, and a high school graduate.

She still lives in River Heights, IL and is in a long distance relationship with Ned Nickerson, who is a student at Emerson College.

Yes that is Rick Springfield. He played Ned in the Christmas episode which you can check out on Netflix or youtube.

Her friends are still cousins Bess Marvin and George Fayne; Bess being the beautiful blonde shopaholic who is always eating and George the super athlete in every way. Instead of a blue roadster, in this book she gets a blue mustang convertible.

One of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author (as Carolyn Keene is a pseudonym), always gives great detail to what she wears. I’m totally going to add a special section at the end.

One other thing that this series does a little differently is that every book cover has a handsome guy on it, someone who appears in the book. Some people hate that, but I always think of it as a fun guessing game as we try and figure out which of the characters it is.

Hmm…

Another thing this book series does, is that since it is a “case file” there is a little information sheet at the very beginning. Sometimes the suspects mentioned turn out to be who did it, while other times the person whodoneit is someone Nancy never saw coming.

ASSIGNMENT:To pose as a student, go undercover, and investigate a series of thefts at Bedford High.

CONTACT: Daryl Gray, a gorgeous senior with sexy, blueberry colored eyes and an instant attraction to Nancy.

 SUSPECTS: 

  • Jake Webb, a genuine creep who seems to have something on half the kids at school.
  • Walt “Hunk” Hogan, the tough football captain who’s acting strangely paranoid.
  • Carla Dalton, who hates Nancy on sight. Mere jealousy–or something more sinister?
  • Hal Morgan, the class “brain” who Nancy catches cheating on a test.

COMPLICATIONS: There’s more going on at this school than meets the eye. Much more. If Nancy isn’t careful, she could get herself into serious trouble…She could get herself killed.

Nancy thinks this will be a simple job, a few rooms at the school have been broken into, one or two things were stolen. The police can’t do anything as the fingerprints don’t match any of the adults, and the offenses are so minor.

The principal turned to Nancy to pretend to be a student and search who did it, as it is most likely a student. She bought new clothes, will take some easy classes, etc. However, things take a dark turn quickly.

After her shopping trip with Bess she discovers a VHS on her porch. When she puts it in to watch, she sees HERSELF!

What?!

Someone videotaped her, which means whoever she is out to investigate, knows who she is.

The next day, Nancy gets into a race with a handsome guy. When she goes to see the principal and report for her job, it turns out that her contact to know who she really is, is the guy she was racing!

He’s cute!

Daryl Gray is cool, handsome, rich the student body president, and drives a porsche. He and Nancy spend a LOT of time together, and things start heating up between them…

Smirkity smirk smirk

Nancy starts investigating and discovers that they call the strange happenings in the school “the ghost”.

As she searches further she discovers this case involves a kleptomaniac, hidden injuries, false test scores, blackmail, cut brake lines, and espionage!

Nancy figures out who the is responsible for the break ins, but when she goes to confront them the next day-they turn out to be dead! Will Nancy solve the mystery or turn out to be next?

Outfits-

This book doesn’t have as many as later ones do. There is one that caught my eye, when Nancy goes to the dance near the end of the novel. I always imagine her in something like this:

And let’s not forget the cover, I love the purple leather jacket and would totally wear that of I could find one.

Thoughts After Reading:

Loved it! From beginning to end. It had a great twist I didn’t see coming as well.

Nancy’s next case:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

Nancy’s next case:

When she investigates a rock star’s mysterious disappearance, Nancy once again finds herself probing perilous secrets! Her only lead takes her straight to Bess’ new boyfriend. What is he hiding? Finding out my kill her friendship with Bess. But not finding out may kill the kidnapped rock star–with Nancy and her friends next on the hit list.

Can Nancy survive the dark side of the rock scene? Find out in DEADLY INTENT–Case #2 in The Nancy Drew Files,™ available now!

For more Nancy Drew, go to Betty and Veronica: Stranger Than Fiction

For more private investigators, go to Sam the Cat: Detective

For more female private investigators, go to B is for Burglar

For more ’80s mysteries, go to C is for Corpse

For more undercover mysteries, go to The Hyde Park Murder

For more espionage, go to The Manchurian Candidate

A Stitch Before Dying

StitchBeforeDying

A Stitch Before Dying (Black Sheep Knitting Mystery #3) by Anne Canadeo

This is the third book in the series, taking place months after to Knit. Purl. Die, and the death of their friend Gloria Sterling. In this series we have the Black Sheep knitting group made up of: Maggie Messina, the leader, once a high school art teacher, but now is the owner of the knitting shop, Black Sheep (Plum Harbor, Massachusetts);Lucy Binger, newly divorced, graphic designer; Dana Haegar, yoga loving, health foodie, psychologist; Suzanne Cavanaugh, multitasker, incredible cook, mother of five, real estate queen; and Phoebe Meyer, punk rocker, fun-loving, and unconventional assistant at the Black Sheep. The group gab, knit, and solve murders.

KnittingNewYoga

The girls are meeting one night and talking about how overworked and overwrought they all are.

BigBangTheoryMyliferightnow

Maggie agrees with them all and tell them she has a surprise for all. Maggie’s old friend, Nadine, is a manger of the inn hosting a retreat and called to ask her to fill in as a knitting teacher. Maggie of course has agreed. And as payment she negotiated a cottage big enough for the group to stay in, for free.

YayHappy-Success-GIF

The girls are all super excited for the free weekend and agree to head up.

goodtogetout

Suzanne is a bit worried about leaving her husband in charge, but is all for a break. Lucy is happy about the weekend too as she and Matt have hit a rough patch in their relationship. It seems as if he can hardly spend any time with her and he keeps making up all these weird excuses, like “classes” he has to attend to get “certifications” in. The whole thing is highly suspicious and has Lucy worried that maybe he is seeing another woman.

Are you lying to me?

Are you lying to me?

She puts that aside for a moment and joins the group in looking at the place’s website and seeing all the wonderful accruements, becoming very excited for the whole event. Suzanne notices that the place is owned by Dr. Max, something Maggie forgot to tell them. Dr. Max Flemming is a famous psychologist: booming book sales, has been on Oprah, etc. He was a very successful psychiatrist with a booming practice, when one of his patients committed suicide. He lost everything, hitting rock bottom and traveling the world. He returned with new insights and has been trying to share them with the world.

Very_Interesting250

Dana doesn’t like him, Lucy has never heard of him, and Suzanne is crazy about him. This should be an interesting weekend indeed.

this is going to be good

That Friday the ladies head down for the retreat. They are awed by the beautiful inn and Maggie shares that Dr. Max used all the money from his book to buy the inn. He is looking for investors this weekend in the hope to expand his empire.

When the reach the retreat, Nadine is there waiting to greet them. Everyone heads off to eat, except Lucy who needs to use the restroom. As she heads off to the restroom she overhears a conversation between a blonde woman in a business suit, and a younger man dresses in jeans and work boots. The women yells at him that he can’t leave, but has to stay. He becomes angry at her for breaking the deal. She tells him he has to stay or he won’t get paid. They argue a bit more and the man picks up a nearby vase and throws it at the wall breaking it into pieces.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

They both notice Lucy at this point, who is extremely embarrassed. The woman points her to the bathroom, while the man begins to clean up the mess he made.

Whoa

Nadine discusses Maggie’s schedule, along with other things happening at the retreat. There is a moon meditation, something special that happens once a month, and a sock puppet “Finding Your Voice” class. Some of Nadine’s comments about how these are better than real therapy angers Dana so much,  Maggie changes the subject and herds them to their cottage.

thatwasclosewhew

That was close

Maggie heads back to do her Random Knitting class, knitting without a pattern or borders, with Lucy and Phoebe joining her. Maggie has a good sized group with a wide range in ages, occupations, and knitting skills: Helen Lynch, mid fifties, a wealthy public relations executive, and never knitted; Rita and Walter Schumacher, 60s-70s,  housewife and retired engineer, Rita’s an expert while Walter is just along for the ride; Curtis Hill, mid forties, travel writer, never knitted; and Shannon Piper, 30s, ex-model, and an accomplished knitter.

They get to work with Phoebe and Lucy helping Maggie out. While they work, Dr. Max comes over to speak to the group.

fantastic

Lucy notices Curtis taking pics of Dr. Max on the sly with his iPhone. If he is working for a travel magazine wouldn’t they have worked it so that he could get good shots? And with a real camera?

Very_Interesting250

Dr. Max joins them in knitting and shares some words of wisdom and anecdotes. Lucy and Phoebe find a lot of what he says silly, but the rest of the crowd eats it up. There is no denying that Dr. Max has a LOT of charisma.

eyebrowsbowchickawowwow

Nadine comes by with her sister Alice. Alice turns out to be the the same woman Lucy spotted earlier fighting with the younger man.

Very_Interesting250

When tea is served, the class ends and everyone goes their seperate ways. Lucy notices Curtis taking more photos and videos with his iPhone.

Something's fishy

Something’s fishy

Dana and Lucy decide to head out to the moon meditation, just to see what it really is like and whether or not it is worth the hype. While waiting to begin their hike up the mountains, Lucy notices Curtis in the group for the meditation. Before she can talk to him, Dr. Max comes out banging a drum and the group heads up the mountains. There they burn sage, bang more drums, dance, and chant around a bonfire. They start meditating, but Lucy can’t focus on a blank mind instead racing from thought to thought. She opens her eyes a crack and sees Curtis once again recording everything secretly from his iPhone. Obviously something is up and Curtis is not who he says he is.

IDon'tlikeit

After Suzanne, Pheobe, and Maggie have dinner, Suzanne and Phoebe head to the cottage while Maggie goes to the lobby for another knitting class. No one seems to show up, so she just starts knitting and waits. A yoga instructor, Joy Kimmel, stops by. She is supposed to work with her on a class the next day and thought she try a little knitting beforehand. Joy ends up sharing her life with Maggie and reveals that not only does she work full-time at the retreat but is Dr. Max’s ex-wife.

What?

She shares how her depiction in the book was correct and that she was only concentrated on material things. She divorced him when everything went south. Since the, she has apparently changed her life, became a yoga instructor and was offered a job to work at the retreat by Dr. Max. She now is much happier than before.

really?

I don’t know if I buy that…anyways, Joy also mentions what a great help Dr. Max has been to Alice and her son Brian. After the suicide of the patient and loss of practice, Dr. Max’s partner and Alice’s husband Dr. Edward Archer died. Dr. Max has really been there for the two of them, with Alice helping run the inn and the two dating. Brian is the head handyman at the inn as well.

urkelgif interesting hmm

Joyce continues sharing her opinion and philosophy which seems to cover everything from the I Ching to Hakuna Matata. The conversation ends shortly after that and Maggie returns to her cabin, noticing a bob of a flashlight heading up the mountain. But why would someone be going there so late?

Something's fishy

Something’s fishy

After the bonfire, those on the mountains are told to sleep in a single bungalow and continue meditating until they fell asleep. Lucy feels strange up there by herself, and sneaks over to Dana’s cabin. The two talk late into the night.

The next morning at 7:00 am Lucy awakens to a siren. As the ambulance heads into a bungalow, Lucy and Dana do a quick look at all the others trying to see what’s going on and figure out that the only one missing is Curtis.

It turns out that Curtis Hill is dead. And he didn’t die of natural causes, but

Murder

Yes. Murdered.

The detectives detain everyone and begin asking questions.

Maggie, Suzanne, and Phoebe are also woken early by a detective rounding up all the guests and sending them to the lobby for questioning. While waiting their turn they spot Nadine and weasel out the story. Curtis died from carbon monoxide, as his heater in the bungalow wasn’t connected correctly.

Very_Interesting250

Both Alice and Nadine are worried about what this might do for business and let everyone know that not only will business be going on as usual, but that everyone can get a free massage or spa treatment.

Lucy and Dana return and all spill about what happened the previous night. Lucy shares Curtis’ strange behavior and they all speculate why someone would wish to kill him. Maggie shares how she saw someone going up the mountain.

When Maggie is questioned and reveals what happened the night before, including Joy and the I Ching, the detectives show her a clue from the scene of the crime. The murderer left behind an I Ching symbol, #18.

coincidenceithinknot

After the interview, it is time for Maggie’s workshop. They are in a conference room and have to go down a maze of hallways, not all with properly functioning lights. Needless to say, having flickering lights doesn’t feel good with a murder on the loose.

WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!!

WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!!

Joy cancels, but Dana fills in with the same group from the day before (minus Curtis [of course], and Lucy). While they are working, Helen reveals that she overheard that Curtis didn’t work for a travel magazine, but Expose, a tabloid. That changes everything as Curtis could have some real enemies.

Somethings-fishy-here-GIF

When the class ends they discuss who could hav killed Curtis and why? Could it possibly have been Dr. Max?

While everyone else goes to the spa to redeem their coupons, Lucy takes a nap at the cottage. After she is rested she begins reading Dr. Max’s book, Confessions of a Lost Soul: One Man’s Journey to Reunite Mind, Body, and Spirit.

In his book he relates thriving practice and affluent lifestyle. The patient who committed suicide wasn’t actually his patient, but he still took part in her treatment. When she died, Archer drank himself to death, and as said before, Dr. Max lost everything. He then went on his journey of self-discovery.

Very_Interesting250

Lucy is interrupted by Brian, head handyman, Alice’s son, and the man she saw fighting with Alice the day before. He reveals that they had guests in those bungalows the previous morning and night, so someone had to mess with the heaters during the meditation. If that’s the case, then the person would have had to wait to see which bungalow Curtis chose, and had to be someone on the trip. Or someone who snuck up in the middle of the night.

Very_Interesting250

The detective comes back to the cottage to ask Maggie about a knitted piece he found in Curtis’ room. Maggie says that it is Dr. Max’s, but then Dana reveals new information. She saw yesterday that Dr. Max was in that room the Curtis’ dead body was found, and that Curtis originally started in a different one. So sometime during the night he moved over. But why?

HMMM

Hmm….

Here is where I thought, obviously Curtis wasn’t the intended target but Dr. Max!

its-so-obvious-captain-obvious

After the detective leaves, they talk more about the murder and look up the I Ching symbol. It stands for decay, or

Something has been spoiled, and it is time to repair the damage. In the world of human affairs, indulgence and corruption grow like weeds in an untended garden; they must be faced squarely, and rooted out through bold action. Eliminating corruption — and the sloppiness that often leads to corruption — is one of the most ennobling of all human enterprises, and can clear the way for fresh, new beginnings. Such repair leads to supreme success.

The time has come to be lean and efficient. The weeds must be rooted out now, before the whole garden is lost. Fighting decay, indifference and corruption is not a simple matter; all steps must be evaluated carefully, and planning must precede action. Resist the temptation to strike out prematurely. Gather strength behind you, and marshal your inner resources, because arresting decay is no simple matter. When you do act, pay close attention to the process. Make your strike as precise and clear as the path of the surgeon’s knife.

That night at dinner they run into Nadine who shares more information. Apparently Hill was complaining about his cot, so Dr. Max switched from his massively better one for Hill’s room to make him happy. Unfortunately the cops aren’t really buying that story. Why wouldn’t he tell the police that right away?

urkelgif interesting hmm

The next morning Lucy goes for a jog around the lake and runs into Brian. Her surprise causes her to fall, and Brian walks her back to the cottage. On the way they discuss the book and Brian reveals that Max gave the events quite a spin. His dad, Dr. Archer had gone out of town and left his patients in the care of Dr. Max. Dr. Max was responsible for helping the girl. She called him repeatedly but he just told her to go to the emergency room and call her from there. Or wait until next week when her doctor returned. Instead she killed herself. Brain knows this to be true as he overheard Dr. Max arguing with his father over it.

thenannygasp

What a horrible person!

Lucy mulls this over, meeting up with the girls at breakfast and sharing everything she learned. After breakfast, Maggie has another knitting session. It’s the usual crowd, although Lucy notices that Walter seems to be having a rough day. His suit looks rumpled, wrinkled, and is stained with something greenish.

weird

After class another ambulance comes. There’s been another murder.

What'sHappening?BigBangTheory

Dr. Max.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

Who could have done it? Jealous Alice as Dr. Max was cheating on her with many women. Brain? Was he angry about what Dr. Max did to his dad and his legacy? Or is it another person lurking at the spa?

WhoDoneIt?

bannerbooks-border-black-and-white

Thoughts after reading:

I think that out of the  whole series this one is the weakest link.

One of the biggest problems is that this book does not take place in Plum Harbor, like the others, but in an entirely different setting. Therefore we have all these characters that our Black Sheep Knitting Group has just met, and instead of discovering or figuring out information, it is all regulated through nadine and others.

Not enough is gleaned from the actual characters, who are supposed to be investigating!

I doesn't work

I doesn’t work

Now I don’t know if the author is a New Age fan or not but this book just goes on and on about it.

blahblah

I thought it was super boring.

im_bored_himym

And eventually just started skipping those sections altogether as they did not pertain to the mystery I’m trying to solve.

movingOnsherlocknotinterested

It also kept making me think of Murder in Paradise from the Sweet Valley High series. And let me say that if a plot makes you think of something in the latter half of the Sweet Valley High series when it was seriously declining? Then it is time to take a long hard look at yourself. You can do better Anne Canadeo, I BELIEVE in you.

bannerbooks-border-black-and-white

For more Black Sheep Knitting Mysteries, go to Knit, Purl, Die

For more book reviews, go to Strawberry Shortcake Murder

For more Nostalgia Critic, go to Candy for Christmas