Archive for February, 2011

Caitlin – The Love Trilogy – #2 – Love Lost
February 11, 2011

Obviously, you should read my review of The Love Trilogy #1  Loving before you go any further.

When last we met our heroine, the RAVEN HAIRED Caitlin Ryan, she was blissfully in love with cleft-chinned cowboy Jed Michaels, but burdened with the guilty secret of her unintentional role in The Accident.

The Accident is a huge part of Loving and I probably should have explained it in more detail earlier, but it is so convoluted and ridiculous that I was hoping it would go away.  But no, The Accident is here to stay. Apparently, it cannot be contained by only one book! So, I will do my best to explain it to you, but please know in advance,  it is not going to make any sense. Because it actually doesn’t. Just go with it!

Here goes: Caitlin Ryan, RAVEN HAIRED rich bitch extraordinaire falls in love at first sight with Jed Michaels. Caitlin throws herself at Jed, but he isn’t interested because he thinks Caitlin is a bitch and Jed’s mother is a bitch and he just doesn’t like bitches.  Besides he’s already dating a scholarship girl named Diana. Jed is really into Diana, because she’s really poor and helpless and fragile and totally reminds him of his sister and apparently he’s into that kind of thing.   Meanwhile, Caitlin is producing a drag show at school – for charity of course – and needed a shovel for a prop. She uses this as a pretext to lurk over to the dean’s house – where Diana is babysitting – to see if Jed and Diana are making out or studying or something.  When Caitlin arrives at the house, Diana is inside answering the phone and the dean’s 6-year-old son Ian is contentedly playing in the yard by himself. Jed is nowhere to be found. No one sees Caitlin as she sneaks into the backyard and unlocks the shed to take a shovel. She’s in such a hurry to leave that she forgets to lock the shed. As soon as Caitlin is out of sight, Ian immediately wanders over to the shed, goes inside and eats a bunch of pesticides. He wanders back out and then falls down, hits his head and slips into a coma. Eventually, he wakes up, but he’s mysteriously paralyzed from the waist down.

Everyone blames The Accident on Diana, because she wasn’t watching Ian and must have left the shed unlocked. Even thought Diana knows she locked the shed, she also knows no one else could have left it unlocked. But, no one knows that Caitlin was there, and of course Caitlin doesn’t confess. Confessing is for poor people! Diana feels extremely guilty about The Accident and drops out of school and breaks up with Jed and disappears.  Caitlin also feels really bad for her role in The Accident, and also for letting Diana take the fall, but not bad enough to keep her from scooping up Jed and making him her own.

When we rejoin this saga, Caitlin and Jed have been desperately and beautifully in love for months now.  The only thing that mars their perfect coupling is the secret of Caitlin’s role in The Accident.

Jed’s love has TOTALLY changed Caitlin! Nowadays, she spends her afternoons helping poor, paralyzed Ian learn to walk again. She tells herself that if she can help Ian walk again it will balance out her culpability. She’s like a miracle worker!  Ian loves her, his family loves her and even the professional medical staff is impressed by Caitlin’s almost supernatural healing abilities. Its like she was born to tend to sick people! Like it is in her genes or something (hint, hint)!

When she isn’t making miracles, Caitlin is kinda obsessed with the fate of Diana.  She asks around about her and eventually finds out that Diana is anorexic now and has been hospitalized. For some reason, everyone calls it “anorectic”, which is an official word but I don’t think it applies in this case. (Clearly, A LOT of medical research has gone into The Trilogies).  One of the best/worst parts of this epic tale is the misinformation about anorexia. Of course, Caitlin knows that this anorexia was caused by the guilt Diana feels about The Accident, and The Accident was really Caitlin’s fault and therefore Caitlin caused Diana’s anorexia! Of course she did! Because that’s totally how anorexia works! (It isn’t.)

Jed Michaels: Creepy Cleft-Chinned Cowboy

Remember how Caitlin wrote Jed a letter confessing her role in The Accident, but decided not to give it to him and instead hid the letter in book? Remember how that seemed like a bad idea? It totally was, because Jed finds the letter and he is PISSED. He actually wants to kill Caitlin, but decides that maybe he will just rape her instead. Seriously.

Thankfully, he decides at the last minute that while Caitlin deserved to be raped, he just couldn’t do it, so he just goes back to Montana for the summer.

Confused and hurt, Caitlin knows that she can’t live without Jed so she decides she needs to do something to prove to Jed how sorry she is for lying about The Accident. I mean, a girl can’t just give up on a guy just because he tries to rape her, right?

Its pretty obvious what Caitlin needs to do to make things right. She immediately tracks down Diana at the Eating Disorder Hospital and – using a fake name and wearing a disguise – she signs up as a volunteer.

This is not just any disguise, you guys.

It isn’t like she just puts on glasses with a fake nose and mustache attached and calls it good. No, this is a serious disguise. Caitlin slicks her hair back, uses makeup to make herself pale and tired looking, gets some frumpy clothes, puts on a pair of glasses and – presto-chango! – she is unrecognizable!

Having basically morphed into someone else, Caitlin becomes a volunteer at the hospital, passing out magazines and books to the patients.  When she finds Diana catatonic and refusing to eat, she requests that the hospital allow her to try to help the girl. Obviously, they agree.  How could they not? Who wouldn’t allow a random teenager unfettered access to a severely mentally ill patient?

So, armed with a couple of library books on anorexia and a little elbow grease,  Caitlin cures Diana of anorexia!

Initially, Caitlin’s treatment plan of  holding Diana’s hand and whispering generic encouragement in her ear doesn’t work. In desperation, she whispers to Diana that the accident wasn’t her fault and that someone else had left the shed unlocked. Obviously, this totally does the trick and Diana wakes up and starts eating again.

All of the doctors and  hospital staff are thrilled and impressed by Caitlin. She’s like The Anorexia Whisperer!

At first, Diana doesn’t recognize Caitlin. How could she? Caitlin does have her hair in a bun and is wearing glasses. She thinks that Caitlin is just a random traveling miracle worker named “Karen Martin”. But, as Caitlin’s anorexia treatments continue, Diana starts to think that she recognizes Caitlin’s voice. Unsure of herself, Diana invites Laurence, another Highgate Student who knows both girls to help her decide if “Karen Martin” is really Caitlin Ryan. Laurence, who must have x-ray vision or something to see through Caitlin’s brilliant disguise, immediately recognizes her.

But, instead of immediately confronting “Karen”, Laurence and Diana just play along with the charade. Well, that’s probably easier. It might be awkward to point out that Caitlin is wearing a disguise and pretending to be a different person while performing amateur eating disorder treatments.

Meanwhile, Diana’s doctor – the handsome, dark-haired Dr. Westlake – also recognizes Caitlin. After taking to Diana, who tells him that “Karen Martin” = Caitlin Ryan, Dr. Westlake realizes that Caitlin is the daughter of a girl who he had loved and lost 17 years ago – a girl named Laura Ryan (DUN DUN DUN!). Dr Westlake remembers meeting Regina Ryan (AKA Mean Old Grandma) back in the day and decides to pay her a visit to talk about her amazing granddaughter, The Anorexia Whisperer.

Mean Old Grandma remembers Dr. Westlake and immediately announces that he is Caitlin’s father.

Of course he is.

Apparently Dr. Westlake and Laura had fallen in love in college, but Mean Old Grandma didn’t approve, and forbid them to be together. Before she could tear Laura away from the then-struggling medical student, Laura got knocked up. Mean Old Grandma forced Laura to leave without out even saying goodbye to her love, and Dr. Westlake never heard from them again.  Laura died giving birth to Caitlin and Mean Old Grandma became her guardian. For convenience’s sake, Mean Old Grandma lied to Caitlin and told her that her father intentionally abandoned her. But in truth, Dr. Westlake didn’t even know she existed.

Now, Dr. Westlake is all excited to tell Miracle Worker Caitlin Ryan that he’s her father.

But, instead of being happy, Caitlin is furious. She thinks Dr. Westlake is lying and that he did abandon her and she hates him. Mean Old Grandma would never lie to her! (BTW, she TOTALLY would.)

But, now that her cover is blown by her super-sleuting secret father, Caitlin has to confess to Diana who she really is and the real reason that she is there at the hospital. In disguise. Curing anorexia. AWKWARD!

Love Lost circa 1991

But, Diana isn’t mad at Caitlin at all!  She forgives Caitlin for her role in The Accident and they become really good friends. At the end of the summer, Diana leaves the hospital and moves away, but she and Caitlin vow to be BFFs. Oh and Caitlin starts dating Diana’s friend Laurence, but she just can’t forget about Jed. How could she? Yes, he’s a douchebag with an Oedipus complex, but he does have a cleft chin and rides horses so Caitlin can’t just let a guy like that go!

What will happen when Caitlin and Jed return to Highgate Academy in the fall? Stay tuned for True Love.

Awesome Outfit: Violet Ball gown with a scooped neck and puffed sleeves ending at a row of buttons at the wrist

Cover Art: The original cover of this book (featured at the top of this post) is one of the best of the series. The 1990s reissue of the series to your left is also amazing in its awfulness.

Sunset High – #1 – Getting Experienced
February 2, 2011

As you can see from the image to your left, this is yet another YA nostalgia read. One day, I will read another modern book – I swear! – but its going to be difficult. What with the Trilogy of Trilogies and my latest muse, Sunset High.

Perhaps I’m just dizzy from the low expectations set by my previous read – Loving – but I seriously think these books are freaking awesome.

Oh. Is that doubt I’m sensing?

Before we go any further, I think you should know something: Joan Collins makes a cameo appearance in this book.

That’s correct. JOAN F*CKING COLLINS. Of Dynasty and general 80s fabulousness!

She has actual lines and interacts with Nadia Laurence – Sunset High’s resident Poor Little Rich Girl.

Now, I know that Caitlin Ryan is RAVEN HAIRED and lives part time in a house with a name (Ryan Acres).  I haven’t finished the trilogies, but I’m pretty damn sure that JOAN F*CKING COLLINS dosen’t appear even once.

Nadia Laurence is a bitch of epic proportions, as well as super-rich and neglected by a busy parental figure.  But instead of organizing a drag show/costume contest like Caitlin Ryan – she attends the Academy Awards and hangs out with  JOAN F*CKING COLLINS.

So right off the bat, Nadia kicks Caitlin’s ass.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. 

Our heroine, Kristin Sullivan, and her family have just moved to Beverly Hills from Minnesota. So she’s kind of like a non-bitchy, twin-less  Brenda Walsh!  Kristin is athletic, fun and freckle-faced. She’s one of those unpretentiously pretty girls, who dosen’t even know she’s pretty. I know, right? Gag.

But, its hard to hate Kristin because she’s really nice and has a normal relationship with her parents and the world in general. While she has episodes of self doubt, she has an actual personality and dosen’t even seem to despise herself. How refreshing!

At her old school, Kristin was a fearlessly popular cheerleader, who had a million friends and everybody loved her. In Beverly Hills, she’s just a boring old farm girl. Its like a totally different world in the 90210. For one, there’s no cheerleading! WTF?  At Sunset High, no one give a shit about sports, but there is a media class where the students make elaborate music videos. Kristin’s dancing skills make a great addition to the music video being produced by dark haired, blue eyed Grady Larkin. Grady clearly loves Kristin on sight and she feels tingly whenever he’s near.

Kristin also befriends Monica Miller, a 16 year old washed up child star trying to rekindle her career, without much success. As a child, Monica was on a show called The Twain Family, which seems similar to Little House On The Prairie.  But she hasn’t worked in years, despite auditioning religiously. Also, Monica has a mullet, wears pink overalls and high heels and rides a motor scooter. But that’s not weird or anything.

OMG. Camp Beverly Hills. Its like a drug flashback, right?

Things are going great with Grady and Kristin. They go on the cutest date EVER to a movie screening. Kristin is feeling insecure about being so Minnesota in Beverly Hills, so she buys a weird ass outfit from the store Camp Beverly Hills. It involves a scarf wrapped around her shoulders and it makes it hard to use her arms. Perfect date outfit, right? Kristin tries acting aloof and cool, and Grady is clearly confused by her insane outfit and attitude change. The date is soooooo awkward, until they stop at a batting cage and Kristin ditches the scarf and hikes up her skirt and they have a great time hitting balls for hours. (Not like that, Pervs!)

BUT, one night after drinking a beer Kristin almost goes too far with Grady and things get weird between them. (Teenage drinking! Bonus Points!) Oh, also – according to Grady, all Beverly Hills parents let their teenagers drink beer. So, Beverly Hills is officially teenage heaven!

Meanwhile, Nadia’s insecure attention is divided between attending the Academy Awards and trying to star in Grady’s music video.

Nadia’s dad is a famous movie producer whose movie The Last Stranger has been nominated for Best Picture. Nadia ‘s parents aren’t getting along so Nadia gets to be his date for the Oscars. This is very cool and Nadia buys a lovely white gown from Giorgio of Beverly Hills and is understandably really excited.

Please keep in mind that Nadia is also batshit crazy. She’s a bit of a pathological liar who is waaaaaay too into going on a date with her dad. She is apparently afflicted with both OCD and such dramatically low self worth that every weekend she uses her personalized stationary to score and graph the popularity of all the girls at school. Sadly, Nadia always comes up short. That’s pretty much low self esteem personified, isn’t it? She invented the scoring system and she assigns the scores, but she loses every week.

None of this matters, because while at the Academy Awards, Nadia and her father encounter JOAN F*CKING COLLINS. Miss Collins recalls a movie she made with Nadia’s father and calls Nadia “a stunner” before wandering off. Other famous actors of the 80s are spotted at the awards, like Cher and Ryan O’Neal and Sally Field, but they are not cool enough to have actual lines.

Chilling with JOAN F*CKING COLLINS and (**Spoiler Alert!**) watching her dad win an Oscar isn’t good enough for our stunning little sociopath. At the awards, Nadia is seated next to fictional movie star Scott Sawyer. She manages to spin this brief interaction into a whole fake relationship and tells everyone at school that they totally hooked up and are in love and he’s gonna be her date to the school dance.

At the same time, Nadia is positively sick with jealousy every time she sees Kristin.  So, in an attempt to destroy her perceived competition, she capitalizes on the awkwardness between Kristin and Grady and convinces Kristin that Grady is cheating on her.

But then, Kristin finds out that Nadia invented her romance with Scott Sawyer and she calls her out on it. Nadia begs Kristin not to tell anyone about her ridiculous lie . In a rookie move, Nadia tries to gain Kristin’s loyalty by admitting that Grady wasn’t cheating on her. But, Kristin wasn’t going to tell anyone about Nadia’s psychotic lies anyway. Kristin gets back together with Grady and everything turns out just lovely.

What random celebrity shout-outs and confusing fashion choices await us in Sunset High Book # 2 – A Chance to Make It? Stay tuned and find out!

Awesome outfits:

  • Form fitting khaki jumpsuit
  • Aforementioned pink overalls/high heels/mullet
  • Huge blouse, giant belt, fringed scarf wrapped weirdly around shoulders topped off with pink bobby socks and high heeled pumps

Cover Art:

I don’t have to say anything, do I? Just look at it.