This week Danielle concludes the Janie series with the 2013 Caroline B. Cooney novel Janie Face to Face. Janie is headed off to college and wants to use that as an opportunity to assert her independence from her family. She does this by only going back to stay with her family every weekend. Also, Janie’s Connecticut parents are now in assisted living since her father is not doing well after the stroke he had in the last book and they somehow lost all their vast wealth. Janie decides that’s a good enough reason to start distancing herself from them. At the same time, we’re introduced to Hannah and are gifted little vignettes that tell the story of how she kidnapped Janie. This sections are not kind to Hannah, and also amazingly bonkers. Meanwhile, at school, Janie meats a new boy, Mike Hastings, who quickly reveals himself to be an absolute creeper. However, Janie decides that’s all fine until she learns that Mike has been working with a supposed true crime writers to investigate her life for his latest book. In what might be her only good decision in this book, she dumps his butt. However, the rest of her family is still receiving solicitations from the writer, and some of them seem far more willing to talk than Janie is. In another disturbing trend, Stephen and Janie both reunite with their terrible exes, Kathleen and Reeve respectively. In a spur-of-the-moment decision at Janie’s departure from a visit, Reeve proposes by shouting his request across the airport (romantic) and Janie actually says yes. Wild. Anyway, it soon becomes clear that the person behind the book, and the investigation, into Janie’s life is not what he seems to be, and the revelation has the potential to upend Janie’s life forever (but it definitely won’t).
This week Danielle is back to finish (kind of) the Janie series with the 2000 Caroline B. Cooney book What Janie Found. Janie’s back and more teen than ever! While rifling through her father’s office (he had a heart attack/stroke, don’t worry about it) she comes across a folder labeled “HJ” and immediately concludes it has something to do with Hannah. Also, Reeve is back in her life, trying just so hard to get back into her good graces, which, for some reason, she is allowing him to do. Reeve notices Janie looking at the folder but wisely decides not to pry this time since he’s still on thin ice. Janie discovers a checkbook in the folder and deduces that her father (the Connecticut one) has been sending money to his estranged daughter, and Janie is not on board with this. Meanwhile, in Colorado, Stephen is dating a girl named Kathleen who’s father just happens to have been in the FBI, and they are both super interested in the Janie kidnapping story, to a degree that is problematic. They grill Stephen about the story over dinner and this is in no way foreshadowing for how terrible they are. Janie, meanwhile, discovers that the checks her father was writing are being sent to, of all places, Colorado, so she concocts a plan to go there on the pretense of visiting Stephen, but with the intention of tracking down Hannah to get some answers. This is obviously a terrible plan, so of course her brother Brian and freaking Reeve come along. Unrelated, but Janie is also a bridesmaid in Reeve’s sister’s, Lizzie the Lawyer’s, wedding for reasons that are dumb. Anyway, in Colorado, Janie waffles on whether to leave a note for Hannah in the PO box, and in the meantime Kathleen, encouraged by her father, grills Janie about her experience as a “kidnapette”, and that term tells you all you really need to know about Kathleen and her father as people. The question remains: Will Janie confront Hannah and finally get the therapy she so desperately needs? All we can say is that there’s actually a fifth book, surprise!
This week Danielle brings more of the Caroline B. Cooney Janie series with the 1993 novel Whatever Happened to Janie? Jenny/Janie has contacted the Spring family, which she was taken from, and they demand that Janie sever ties with her current family and friends for at least three months and come live with them in New Jersey. It has to be one of the single worst decisions we’ve ever encountered in any media for this podcast. Janie, naturally, has a hard time adjusting to life with the new family, new school, and no friends. It doesn’t help that her new siblings alternate between pitying and resenting her, and sometimes blaming her for not thwarting her kidnapping as—and this can’t be stressed this enough—a three-year-old child. It’s criminal that no one in this family is receiving the therapy they all so desperately need. Janie eventually wears her new parents down enough that they let her call her previous parents, which at least seems to help a little. Also helping is that her hunky former neighbor Reeve is still all aboard the Janie train and drives down to take her out on a date. The plot to this book is about as thin as the previous book, but Sam still gets plenty upset at all the characters behaving abominably in a situation that requires way more empathy and kindness than is on offer. It also doesn’t help that the end of this book is so inconsequential that it feels like half the pages are missing. So enjoy as Sam continues to be mad at very slowly learning Janie’s story.
This week Danielle brings Sam back to the 90s with the 1990 Caroline B. Cooney novel The Face on the Milk Carton. Fifteen-year-old Janie Johnson is your average lactose-intolerant teen who just wants to fit in and kiss the cute boy next door. However, one day at school she sees a picture of a missing three-year-old child on a milk carton and is immediately convinced it’s probably her from twelve years ago. This immediately sends Janie spiraling into an existential crisis. Amazingly, Janie starts to have flashbacks to memories of her three-year-old life, improbable as it sounds for her to have one, much less just so freaking many memories from when she was three or younger. Janie begins to question if her parents are really her parents, but instead of asking them outright anything about it, or contacting the hotline from the milk carton for clarification, Janie stalks the family of the missing girl by coercing her kinda-boyfriend into driving her to New Jersey only to chicken out before actually knocking on the door. Finally, Janie confronts her parents who tell her a story about how her mother, their daughter, ran off to join a cult and then showed up one day to dump baby Janie on them, which they raised as their own. Amazingly, the story doesn’t just end there with everyone getting a lot of therapy. No spoilers, but Sam is very upset by the “twist” that everyone just accepts and is downright angry by the end book, so you know this is going to be a good one!
In this week’s (not so) short, Partial Recall is back as Danielle challenges Sam to remember what she told him about the 2011 movie Red Riding Hood. Sam begins his recollection by promptly falling flat on his face, and it only goes downhill from there. Danielle relishes her sweet revenge as Sam struggles to recall the most basic plot details, but does somehow remember a werewolf contract was involved. So join us as Sam becomes outraged at this movie all over again.
This week Danielle brings us the thrilling conclusion of the 1987 Hardy Boys novel Dead on Target by Franklin W. Dixon. The Hardys are on their way back to Bayport convinced that the infamous terrorist known as the Bullet is there to enact the opening night of his previous rehearsal bombing (no, a rehearsal bombing doesn’t make sense, but don’t ask questions). Back in Bayport, the Hardys and Frank’s girlfriend (or maybe Joe’s? Sam still isn’t sure) Callie go to the police. However, the new officer in town, Sam Butler, is not buying their terrorist rehearsal bombing idea, which is really the only reasonable reaction to their story. Undeterred, the Hardy’s decide to sneak into the mall at night to see if they can learn something. Fortunately for them, the mall is guarded exclusively by dogs for some reason, and even more bizarrely, Joe has brought a dart gun, since apparently every in this world just loves a worse version of a gun. While sneaking around, they stumble across the Bullet and instead of tranqing him, Joe shouts his name, alerting him to their presence and getting them all captured. Sam is unimpressed. The Bullet, equally as incompetent as the Hardys, merely ties them up in the mall basement near a pile of plastic explosives set to assassinate the not-yet-but-maybe-soon presidential candidate Walker. Why is this almost presidential candidate so important? Because something, something, anti-terrorism. Luckily, Callie was there with them and manages to escape and free them and Frank goes about disarming the bomb using the classic technique of a human pyramid. That was not a joke. With the bomb disabled, the Hardys still need to save Walker, for some reason, from the Bullet who surely won’t give up that easily. Will they succeed? Will Joe get revenge for the death of whatsherface? Is there a Lion King Mufasa’s death style scene? The answer to all these questions is of course yes, but it all happens in a way that only the Hardy boys can pull off: Hilariously.
This week Danielle returns to her teen detective roots with the Hardy Boys Casefiles book one, from 1987, Dead on Target by Franklin W. Dixon. Frank and Joe hardy are two young men who Sam cannot distinguish between despite Danielle’s instance that they are, in fact, very different characters. The book opens with a dramatic scene of Joe’s girlfriend, Iola, exploding in a car bomb at a political rally she was organizing for a presidential candidate. We cut back an hour and learn this rally is, in fact, a dress rehearsal for a political rally, which is definitely not a thing. After Iola gets explodified, Joe, who was a terrible boyfriend, is extremely distraught and Frank agrees to help him do what they do best: Incompetently attempt to investigate her murder until they luck into a solution. After talking to some people at the local mall, they’re attacked by unknown evil people with, hilariously, dart guns. They escape in the car of a government agent they met earlier named Mr. Gray. A brief car chase later, where Joe earnestly tries to murder some of their pursuers, and the Hardy bros are told to go hide in South Carolina while Mr. Gray and the secret government organization he works for, The Network, takes care of the terrorist organization that attacked them. The Hardys are not ones to listen to reason, so they muster all the hacking skills that existed in 1987, and hack into an airport computer to determine that Mr. Gray is headed towards London, and they follow him there. They quickly foil an attempted hijacking which, considering the terrorist weapons were a single grenade and a can of mace, wasn’t much of a threat to begin with. But the real mystery of this book, in Sam’s mind, is just one thing: How are these inexperienced bothers consistently able to insert themselves into a secret government anti-terrorism organization? And further, how has this terrorist organization, known as the Assassins, existed since the freaking Crusades? Unfortunately, the Hardys have no answers to these questions, but with any luck they may yet solve the mystery of who killed Iola, and bring them to justice. So join us for part one of this fast-paced reboot of the classic mystery series!
After tackling to very long books, Danielle and Sam need a break to recover. So, please enjoy this bonus episode about the Christopher Pike book Bury Me Deep that was released for our Patreon supporters. We’ll be back next week with your regularly scheduled nonsense!
It’s Sam’s turn in the Great Switcheroo to share the 1991 Christopher Pike book Bury Me Deep. Jean is your average horned-up teenage girl who was written by an author who’s definitely human and totally understands how human girls work. Jean is excited for a trip to Hawaii with her friends, but finds herself delayed a few days for reasons too stupid to be real. Finally on the plane to Hawaii, the boy, Mike, in the seat next to Jean dies violently, leaving Jean shaken. But there’s no time for trauma when there are cute boys giving scuba diving lessons at the hotel, so Jean puts aside her experience and tires to enjoy the time with her friend Mandy and also Michelle, the random girl who just invited herself along on the vacation and now spends all her time locked in their shared hotel suite bedroom having sex with Dave, the older of the two diving instructors. Jean starts having spooky dreams about Mike, and is drawn to a particular underwater cave off the Island of Lanai. When Jean recklessly dives to the cave alone she finds a human skull and promptly freaks out. Neither of the cute instructors, Dave or Johnny, believe she saw the skull, and upon investigation Dave can’t find it in the cave. Is jean falling apart from her traumatic experience? Are Dave and Johnny more than simply cute dive instructors, and what happened to their missing partner Ringo (yes, Ringo)? What does any of this have to do with Mike? Will Mandy ever be treated with respect in this book? Help Sam solve this mystery (spoiler, it’s not that mysterious) in the conclusion of our first Great Switcheroo!
Danielle brings another Nancy Drew mystery to Sam with the graphic novel Sleight of Dan. The girl detective is back! Nancy Drew has a brand new mystery to solve, well, not so much a mystery as ruining everyone else’s good time. When a magician, Dan Deville, comes to town and makes his assistant really disappear, Nancy won’t rest until she’s figured out the trick and spoiled it for her friends. There’s a giant boa constrictor that doesn’t really matter, and a bunch of weird magicians who really should matter more, but Sam is focused on the real mystery: Where does Nancy keep getting all those phones, and is she the worst?