This week Danielle brings the 1998 Danielle Steel novel The Klone and I: A High Tech Love Story. Stephanie is your average middle-age mother of two whose husband is a complete tool and decides to divorce her for petty reasons. Luckily, Steph is not one to be kept down, and during a brief trip to Europe she bumps into Peter, who works in bionics. That tidbit will become very important later. Anyway, Steph and Peter start to date seriously, ever her kids are generally on board. However, it’s not long before the unthinkable happens: Peter has to go on a business trip for two weeks. During his first night away, Steph is surprised to see a very strangely dressed Peter show up at her apartment. Peter insists he’s actually Peter’s robot clone and prefers to go by Paul Klone, a name that nearly breaks Sam. Steph decides this is some elaborate joke, even after some surprisingly acrobatic sex and a call from an out-of-town Peter explaining he sent his clone over because he couldn’t fathom her being alone for two entire weeks. Our baffled hosts draw two conclusions from this: First, that Peter has a very low opinion of Steph and maybe all women, and Second, Steph does not seem to be all that bright. Eventually, Steph comes around to the idea that she’s also dating Peter’s significantly more outgoing clone, or klone if you will. Sam will not. Steph is mildly torn between her love of Peter and the excitement of Paul, and yet no one seems concerned that this supposed top secret prototype robot clone is running amuck, stealing Peter’s credit card, crashing his car, and flying across the country to surprise Steph whenever Peter’s out of town. Sam finds it difficult to care about the perfunctory love triangle when the facts of the clone gets virtually no attention. So join us this week for a book that is amazingly at once completely goofy and also, somehow, far too serious.
This week Danielle brings part two of the 2023 Thai drama La Pluie (ฝนตกครั้งนั้น ฉันรักเธอ). When we last left off, Tai had just seen Phat being kissed by Phat’s ex-girlfriend. Shocking as this is, Tai does the adult thing and talks to Phat to clear up any misunder- Kidding! He throws a tantrum and runs off into the mountain wilderness with no jacket or water. Unsurprisingly, by the end of the day Tai is not doing well and everyone else is very worried. Luckily, it starts to rain so Phat hears Tai’s voice, and Tai somehow guides them to his rescue. In a missive twist, Lomfon also hears Tai (and maybe Phat?) in his head. This weird, three-way soulmate phenomenon will go criminally under-examined in this story and is, frankly, a massive missed opportunity to end the show with a throuple. Anyway, drama ensues as Lomfon thinks Tai might be his soulmate, Tai’s bother Thian is hurt by Lomfon’s lack of interest in himself, and Phat becomes uncharacteristically jealous and codependent on Tai. Luckily, the wild coincidences have come to a middle as the following items are revealed, listed here in no particular order: Lomfon was saved from being hit by a car several years ago by a mysterious stranger he’s been in love with ever since. That mysterious person turns out to be Tai. Phat had a next door neighbor several years ago that was going through a rough time since his parents were getting divorced, so he had his grandmother smuggle notes of support back and forth between them, but they never met in person despite literally sharing a fence. That mysterious person turns out to be Tai. Sam basically gives up at this point. Anyway, the rest of the story is pretty much your typical drama shenanigans playing out until everyone is happily paired off. However, Sam and Danielle do create an amazing alternate story about Phat trading a cured animal to a little girl in the style of a back-alley drug deal, so keep an eye out for their next book: Big Phat: Animal Health Dealer.
This week Danielle brings the first part of the 2023 Thai drama La Pluie (ฝนตกครั้งนั้น ฉันรักเธอ). Tai is your normal twenty-something, except he has a not-uncommon condition where when it rains he goes deaf, except for the voice in his head which is his soulmate and they can talk in their heads, but only when it’s raining. Got that? As amazingly bonkers as that premise is, unfortunately, the first half of this series isn’t all that interested in answering the many, many questions Sam and Danielle have about this horrifying universe. To make matters worse for Tai, his parents, who are also voice-in-head-when-it-rains soulmates are getting divorced, and it’s caused him to reject the soulmate voice in his own head and he refuses to meet that mystery man. The concept of time, as usual, is a shambles in this TV show, especially as it’s told primarily through flashbacks, but at some point Tai takes a cat to the vet and discovers the super-hot veterinarian Phat is actually his soulmate, and he starts to regret rejecting him. There are also some shenanigans where Tai hears Phat making-out with someone (what a constant horror-show this world is) and pegs him as a bit of a playboy. At another point, Tai’s ridiculous brother Thian blows up at someone named Lomfon in a bookstore for picking up a book. Tai’s smooths things over but, uh oh, it looks like Lomfon may have a crush on Tai, but double uh-oh becuase Lomfon and Thian are in the same film class and Thian might have a crush on Lomfon. It’s at this point Sam taps-out and all but begs for the high-school relationship drama to end and the crazy rain shenanigans to resume. For better or worse, Danielle leaves him wanting more as she promises that part two ratchets up the insanity. But just before ending, she leaves us with this cliffhanger: Tai, after hooking up with Phat, accidentally walks in on him being kissed by his ex-girlfriend, dun dun dunnnnnnnnn! Join us next time for the thrilling, and truly insane, conclusion.
This week, Sam rounds out the Winter Bizarre with the 2007 ABC Family movie Holiday in Handcuffs. Melissa Joan Hart (character name unknown) is always trying to please her very demanding parents, but this year she’s excited because she’s bringing her successful boyfriend to the family Christmas trip to a rural log cabin. However, after tanking a job interview, Melissa is dumped by that same boyfriend mere hours before they were supposed to leave. What’s a girl to do? Easy: Kidnap the nearest available man, in this case Mario Lopez (character name also unknown). This sets Melissa on a wild ride where she has to convince her family that the very-much-not-happy-to-be-there Mario is actually her boyfriend, so they can all just get off her back, okay. This is, obviously, a perfect plan, and through a series of truly convoluted events, and aided by some remarkably oblivious family members and a Mario Lopez who could really be doing more to escape, Melissa mostly manages to keep up the ruse. However, things start to get serious when Melissa sees how much her family all love Mario, and Mario develops Stockholm Syndrome. Crazily enough, the movie doesn’t end when Melissa gets busted for kidnapping, but somehow there’s still a lot more to the story. Other highlights include: A strange family tradition involving a “key master”, a surprise interest in art from both characters, some sporadic narration, and a drunken grandmother threatening to shoot police officers with a flintlock pistol. Seriously, this movie is just all the bananas.
Danielle kicks off our Winter Bizarre/Switcheroo season with the 2021 Hallmark movie Next Stop, Christmas. Angie is your average New York doctor whose life is terrible because her parents are divorced and, despite having good friends, is single. The horror. Luckily, the universe is here to fix Angie not living the life planned for her. More specifically, Christopher Lloyd gives Angie a magic ticket so that when she gets on the train to Yonkers, she falls asleep and wakes upon a much older train ten years in the past with her then boyfriend, soon to be rejected fiancée Tyler. Angie is, understandably, upset but goes with it and decides to use the opportunity to enjoy her last good Christmas (in her mind). However, things are not as rosy as she remembers as her parents are having marriage issues and she’s oblivious about how distant she is from her sister. It’s around this time that they run into Angie’s childhood friend Ben, and here’s where Sam smells a love triangle, but it’s really more of a Ben pining over Angie for far too long, verging on creepy. Angie quickly deduces that her rejection of Tyler’s proposal is why she’s back in time, and she also decides to parent trap her mom and dad into fixing their marriage. She accomplishes this in the most ludicrously infuriating way, but for some reason still isn’t returned to her own time. This tees the movie up for an ending that is so full of dread and psychological horror that Sam and Danielle can only conclude that the powerful time-imp Christopher Lloyd is exacting revenge for a stiffed tip.
This week Danielle completes a double-feature with the 2007 movie Blood and Chocolate. Hold on to your hats werewolf fans, because we’re back with lycanthropes! If you hoped this movie shares more than a name with the book, prepare to be greatly disappointed. This time, our much more adult werewolf Vivian is in Bucharest, and while breaking into a werewolf church (go with it) she runs into Aiden, a graphic novelist making a new book about werewolves, of course. Aiden is super into Vivian but she doesn’t feel the same at first. That’s the boring stuff, the crazy stuff is that now the city seems to be run by the werewolves now called loups-garoux. They also seem to abduct people, possibly criminals, to hunt for funsies. Vivian is not into the hunts, but her cousin Rafe is, and the pack leader Gabriel really don’t like humans at all. Also, he wants to dump Vivian’s aunt Astrid to hookup with Vivian, but now it’s somehow even creepier than in the book. Anyway, as you might expect, Vivian and Aiden start dating in secret, but that secret doesn’t last long. When Gabriel finds out, he sends Rafe to confront Aiden in the bone cathedral (Sam’s favorite part) and utters possibly the greatest line in cinema history. While the plot seems thin, that’s because the movie is just stuffed full of irrelevant werewolf lore that Danielle loves and Sam is just confused by. So come learn if the movie is as good as the book (spoiler: it’s not). Oh yeah, there’s also a prophecy, but it super doesn’t matter. Enjoy!
This week Danielle brings the 1997 Annette Curtis Klause novel Blood and Chocolate. It’s not even Spook Retorts yet and Danielle is bringing the werewolves! Vivian is your average teenage werewolf who just moved to a new town because her family was chased away from their previous home by an angry mob that burned down their home and killed a bunch of her pack, all because the group of teenage boys in her pack had been murdering a few of the people in that town; total overreaction. Anyway, since her dad was the pack leader (don’t worry, Sam doesn’t let that bad wolf science slide) they pack needs to pick a new one, and the expected top dog (ha!) is Gabriel, who’s also dating Vivian’s mother. As for herself, Vivian has a picture she made published in the school journal next to a story by some boy named Aiden about transforming into a wolf. Vivian is disappointed to learn that Aiden isn’t another werewolf, just a nerd who dresses like a hippie, but Vivian decides to date him anyway, much to the dismay of her pack and especially Gabriel who, in addition to dating her mother, is also kinda into her, and it’s all kinds of gross. The other problem is the teenage boys in her pack are still up to their shenanigans and not at all regretful about all the murder, so we’re sure that won’t cause any problems. Finally, in Sam’s favorite scene, Vivian decides to reveal her wolf side to Aiden and it does not go well. Distraught, Vivian blacks out from having wolfed-out too hard and wakes up the next day to learn there’s been a murder. Afraid she’s losing control, and might cause her family to be uprooted again at the very least, Vivian starts to panic. But first, she stalks her ex and then trashes the room of his new maybe-girlfriend, because teenagers. So we hope you enjoy this very out of season spooky book where the scariest part about it is the patriarchy.
This week Danielle brings Sam the classic 1993 Nora Ephron movie Sleepless in Seattle. Sam, the Tom Hanks character henceforth referred to as Tom to avoid confusion, recently lost his wife. In his grief, he decides it’s a good idea to move him and his eight-year-old son to Seattle from Chicago. Also, Tom is an architect because he’s a romantic interest in a 90’s movie. Anyway, in Seattle Tom’s son calls into to a national radio therapist show (somehow this isn’t Fraiser) to lament that his dad hasn’t found a new love in the mere 18-months since his mother died. Coincidentally, Baltimore based…journalist? Annie (Meg Ryan, of course) hears the radio show and immediately becomes creepily obsessed with Tom despite already being engaged to the perfect man: future president and ghost mansion owner Bill Pullman. Annie decides to abuse her journalistic position and also hires a private investigator to track Tom down. She also writes him a letter saying they should meet on the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day, so she’s gone full wacko. Tom, meanwhile, has begun dating a lovely woman, but his son is determined to break them up because he read Annie’s letter and thinks they should be together instead. And here’s where the movie takes a hard turn into crazy town. Annie lightly stalks Tom and his son, his son continues to be a jerk and manages to run away to New York. Annie is also just the worst to her fiancé, who’s just the nicest and best person, as she waffles back-and-forth about whether she should run off to the Empire State Building to maybe meet a man she has only heard on the radio and dump Bill Freaking Pullman. So join us to hear Sam and Danielle lose their minds as they try to figure out why anyone would root for these people to get together.
This week Danielle dips back into the Janie well with the 1996 Caroline B. Cooney novel The Voice on the Radio. Taking place a few months after the previous, Janie’s boyfriend Reeve is off to college in Boston, and Sam is still irked at not getting the prom scene that was teased. While Reeve is enjoying the college life and his new job at the college radio station, Janie is back home leafing through wedding magazines and fantasizing about their future. This is all totally normal teen stuff and not at all foreshadowing. One night, Reeve gets his big break and is given the chance to DJ on the mic. Did anyone bother to help Reeve come up with a plan for this show? Apparently not, as he’s shoved in front of the mic and immediately panics. So Reeve does what any normal person would, he spills the beans on Janie’s very traumatic and private kidnapping history, in what Sam declares is the progenitor of all true crime podcasts. This horrific betrayal of trust goes over extremely well with the radio audience and Reeve has the new hit show on campus. In the meantime, Janie is dealing with her school wanting to dedicate a page to her kidnapping story, something she is not on-board with since she feels it’s far too private (hear that, Reeve, ya jerk?!). Despite momentary feelings of unease, Reeve is all-in on trading Janie’s story and trust for college radio fame, and even manages to dodge a few close calls where Janie almost uncovers it all. Alas, we all know Janie will eventually find the truth and have to deal with that betrayal, and then Reeve will have to deal with his greatest challenge yet: Exercising even a minuscule amount of willpower. Whatever happens between Janie and Reeve, there’s one thing we can all sure of: This book will for sure end on a cliffhanger. Enjoy!
This week Danielle thrills Sam by bringing the crabs back with the 1988 Guy N. Smith book Crabs’ Moon. In this companion novel to Night of the Crabs the cow-sized crabs are back! Kinda!...