December 15, 2009

BSC #17, Mary Anne’s Bad-Luck Mystery: The Cokie Monster

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 9:09 pm by Jenn

If only this were a picture of the vegetable blouse

Summary: Mary Anne gets a chain letter, which she doesn’t follow up on, and the BSC girls wind up having a bunch of bad luck. Being 11- and 13-year-old girls, they blame the chain letter. Mary Anne receives a “bad-luck charm” from an anonymous sender and decides to wear it to counteract the broken chain letter. (Wouldn’t that make it a good-luck charm?) It turns out the “charm” is a mustard seed, and it was sent by Cokie Mason, the BSC girls’ nemesis, making her first appearance here. Once the girls figure it out, they get revenge on Cokie and her friends.

Thoughts: This book takes place around Halloween, which should mean that less than two months have passed since Mary Anne’s last book, which is completely impossible. But I don’t see the point in analyzing time frames in this series because it’ll probably make my head explode.

Claudia says she loves this time of year and Kristy replies, “Why? You get dressed up every day.” Point to Kristy.

But Claudia gets her own point later when Dawn goes on another anti-junk-food rant. Dawn: “The rest of you will be wearing dentures when you’re ninety. But I’ll stil have all my own teeth.” Claudia: “If I live to be ninety, I’ll just be glad to be alive, teeth or not teeth.” Of course, it’s a moot point since Claudia will be dead from diabetes-related complications by the time she’s 60 (sorry, Stacey, she’s going to steal your thunder) and Dawn won’t actually have all of her original teeth because I’ll have knocked most of them out.

And now for the clothing description that makes my head go, “Huh?” Claudia apparently has “a vegetable blouse.” It’s “an oversized white shirt with a green vegetable print all over it – cabbages and squashes and turnips and stuff.” I’m surprised Dawn doesn’t have one, too.

December 12, 2009

SVH #18, Head Over Heels: Bruce Patman’s Heart Grew Three Sizes That Day

Posted in books tagged , , , at 10:48 pm by Jenn

Kelly Monaco has a new boyfriend

Summary: Regina Morrow and Bruce Patman are in loooooooove, and everyone’s worried about Regina, since they think Bruce isn’t actually capable of showing emotion. Jessica bets Lila that they’ll be broken up by the time a school carnival comes around, and they put up their term papers as stakes – whoever loses the bet has to write both hers and the winner’s. Of course, this means Jessica has a vested interest in seeing Regina and Bruce break up, so she makes Regina think that he’s using her. It works and Jessica wins the bet, but Lila gets the last laugh, earning Jessica a D. Jessica was dumb enough to trust her, so it’s her own darn fault.

Regina has also learned that there’s a treatment that can restore her hearing – but it requires her spending a year in Switzerland. She doesn’t want to go because she’d have to be away from Bruce, but after they break up, she changes her mind. Bruce finds out about the treatment and writes a letter professing his love for her, but he asks Elizabeth to arrange it so Regina doesn’t get it until she’s already on her way to Switzerland, so she can’t stay behind because of him. Regina realizes that Bruce loves her enough to be away from her for that long so she can get what she wants.

The B plot involves Lila falling for a guy named Jack who works construction but apparently has something else going on. It doesn’t really go anywhere, but Jessica decides to use Jack to get revenge on Lila for the term paper, so that plot will come back in the next book.

Thoughts: Seriously, doesn’t Regina look like Kelly Monaco on the cover?

I don’t think Bruce’s evilness has been completely established, so him falling for Regina doesn’t seem that weird to me. I do like her, though. (Yes, I know what ultimately happens to her. I’m not looking forward to it.)

For once, Jessica whines and doesn’t make me want to tear her hair out. She complains multiple times about having to write a 15-page term paper, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to complain about. 15 pages is pretty long for a high school paper. I didn’t even write that many 15-page papers in college. And we know Jessica’s attention span is about five seconds long, so just imagine how long it would take her to write 15 pages.

Elizabeth is the queen of understatements: “Much as she loved her twin, she occasionally doubted Jessica’s tact.” Really? Really? I doubt Jessica’s everything. Except her ability to accessorize.

Elizabeth is also pretty dumb in this book. She meets a friend of the Morrows’, who mistakes her for Jessica, and she has no idea why he thinks he knows her. She really didn’t think he might have thought she was her twin? Doesn’t that happen, like, 137 times a week, as Jessica would say? Also, there was no point to that scene, so it was a pointless moment of stupidity.

SVH’s carnival only raises $800. Aren’t these people rich?

December 10, 2009

BSC #16, Jessi’s Secret Language: This Title is So Misleading

Posted in books tagged , , at 8:54 pm by Jenn

Way to keep a secret, guys

Summary: The BSC girls – mainly Jessi – start sitting for a deaf kid named Matt Braddock. Jessi learns sign language to communicate with him, and unwittingly starts a trend around town, as the other kids the BSC girls sit for want to learn how to talk silently. This also helps them bond with Matt and his sister Haley, who usually has to serve as an interpreter. Jessi’s also dealing with her ballet classmates, as some of them don’t like her because she’s young, talented, and/or black. One of her classmates has a sister who’s deaf, and Jessi’s sign language shenanigans help them connect.

Thoughts: Sorry your first book is so boring, Jessi. Also, if millions of people know sign language, is it still a secret?

December 6, 2009

SVH #17, Love Letters: Uh…You Wouldn’t Know Him. He Goes to Another School

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 5:56 pm by Jenn

It says I may have already one a million dollars!

Summary: SVH’s resident gossip, Caroline Pearce, is tired of not having close friends or a boyfriend, so she makes one up – she literally pulls the old “my boyfriend goes to another school; you wouldn’t know him” trick. She even writes her own love letters, borrowing heavily from Robert Browning. That’s where she gets tripped up, though – Elizabeth has written a one-act play about Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning, and when Jessica hears a portion of a letter she includes in the play, she figures it all out.

Caroline gets clued in that Jessica and Lila are on to her, so she asks Elizabeth for help, and of course, Elizabeth delivers. She tells Todd what’s going on and he recruits a friend to play Caroline’s boyfriend at the party Lila throws for him. Caroline ends up confessing the truth anyway, but she gets a guy out of it, so she’s probably learned…well, nothing.

The B plot involves Alice being offered a job in San Francisco and the twins trying to convince her and Ned to stay in Sweet Valley. Since this series is called Sweet Valley High, not San Francisco High, they’re obviously not going anywhere. The C plot features Regina and Bruce getting involved, which rubs Elizabeth the wrong way, since she doesn’t think Bruce is capable of love, and she doesn’t want him to hurt Regina. I’m pretty sure Regina can take care of herself. And if she can’t, Nicholas will take care of Bruce.

Thoughts: I understand using the secondary and tertiary characters more, since that allows for a ton more plot possibilities, but who the heck cares about Caroline Pearce? Also, if she annoys so many people, how did she get into Pi Beta Alpha? And if she’s such a gossip, why do people talk to her?

Does there have to be a party in EVERY book? To quote both Buffy and Gilmore Girls, we’re verging on having a “somebody sneezed” party or a “day that ends in Y” party, with the theme of “hey, walking works – let’s drink.”

For those who like continuity, Dennis Creighton, Jessica’s brief secret boyfriend who turned out to be 15, makes a quick reappearance, for no apparent reason. Just thought I’d mention it.

I also thought I’d mention that Jessica is willing to take a bus at one point in this book. I’m surprised Lila willingly associates with a person who takes public transportation.

December 5, 2009

BSC #15, Little Miss Stoneybrook…and Dawn: Sabrina Bouvier is the Swan Brooner of Stoneybrook

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 10:45 pm by Jenn

You call those pageant smiles? You're sloppy! Sloppy babies!

Summary: The BSC girls get a little jealous when Charlotte’s parents request Claudia as her sitter because she’s close to Stacey and Charlotte misses her so much. So when Mrs. Pike asks Dawn to help Claire and Margo get ready for a beauty pageant, Dawn accepts, wanting to prove that she’s just as good a sitter as Claudia is. This leads Mary Anne to back Myriah Perkins, Kristy to help Karen, and Claudia to pressure Charlotte into joining in the festivities. All the girls suck except Myriah, who comes in second (even though she should have won because the girl who does win, Sabrina Bouvier, can’t carry a tune). Mallory and Jessi provide snarky color commentary.

Dawn is also dealing with her brother, who wants to move back to California because he’s so miserable in Stoneybrook. The storyline that’s been building over the past half-dozen books finally comes to a head, and Jeff goes back to California for good.

Thoughts: I love how low-class the Little Miss Stoneybrook pageant is. There are 15 girls, Sabrina’s apparently the only one who’s ever been in a pageant before (though why would she slum it in this dinky little affair?), and no one other than Sabrina gets all made up or wears a really expensive dress with tacky rhinestones on it. (See Living Dolls, the documentary starring child pageant star Swan Brooner, or the TLC show Toddlers and Tiaras for how it’s really done.) The parents don’t even participate, they just let the BSC girls take charge of everything. So of course their girls don’t do well – there are no pushy pageant moms there to live vicariously through their daughters.

In fact, Mrs. Perkins is the exact opposite of a pageant mom. Actual pageant moms would probably be sickened by her and her mad parenting skills. This is what she tells Myriah after allowing her to be in the pageant:

“In any pageant, or in any game or contest, there are winners and there are losers. You might be a winner, Myriah, and that would be wonderful. Daddy and Gabbie and I and even Laura would be very proud of you. But you might be a loser, too. There are going to be lots more losers than winners. And I want you to know that we’ll be proud of you if you lose. We’ll be proud of you for having the courage to be in the pageant, and for the work and rehearsing you’ll do.”

Jeff is surprisingly mature for a ten-year-old. He tells his mom exactly how he feels about being in Connecticut, asks if she thinks he should see a psychiatrist, and offers a reasonable solution to his problem, all without whining and while still taking responsibility for his actions. Dawn could learn a lot from him.

I’m surprise Dawn the crusader doesn’t think pageants are sexist, like Mallory and Jessi do. I guess her crusades only extend to healthy eating and ecology. Speaking of healthy eating, here’s a ridiculous Dawn quote: “I’ll never understand how the people on this coast can eat so much red meat and white rice and disgusting stuff.” First of all, it’s not specific to this coast. Second, vegetarians don’t just live in California. Third, stuff it, Brown Rice Queen.

I totally want Margo’s alligator bathing suit. But I have to ask, how in the world does a seven-year-old discover that she can peel a banana with her feet?

Stoneybrook gives Sabrina a parade after she wins the pageant. What the–?

SVH #16, Rags to Riches: Motive? What Motive?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 12:02 am by Jenn

Roger proves that popped collars never looked good

Summary: Roger moves in with the Patmans, his newly acquired family, and tries to adjust to life as a rich snob. Jessica wants him, for some reason, and decides to get his girlfriend Olivia out of the way by showing her and Roger how out-of-place Olivia is in his new life. It works until Roger figures it all out and…does nothing, really. I mean, he gets back together with Olivia, but it’s not like he comes up with some nefarious plot to teach Jessica a lesson or anything.

In the B plot, Regina has been meeting some mysterious older man, which makes everyone at SVH gossip about her. It turns out she’s been hired to do some modeling, but for some reason she doesn’t just come out and say it. So then she appears on a magazine cover and…uh, that’s it.

Thoughts: This book would have been more interesting if it had better developed the contrast between Roger, who’s suddenly rich, and Bruce, who’s been rich his whole life. Instead, Bruce barely makes an appearance and doesn’t seem to have an opinion either way about having a long-lost cousin. Instead the drama comes from Olivia and Roger’s relationship, and it makes no sense. Oh, no, Olivia doesn’t fit in! Well, neither does Roger, so what’s the big deal?

Also, why does Jessica want to go out with Roger? I guess she’s just a golddigger. (Yeah, like you’re surprised.) It just comes out of the blue. Maybe she’s gotten so horrible that now she just wants to break up couples for the heck of it. I wouldn’t put it past her.

And what does Lila have against Regina? When she finds out Regina’s been modeling, she gets really jealous and wants to put a stop to it. What does she care? Has she ever even interacted with Regina? I thought Regina was so perfect and loveable that no one could ever hate her. Also, we’re reminded again and again that she’s beautiful. Is Lila allowed to hate other beautiful people? I thought she was only allowed to hate the ugly and/or poor.

I figured Hank Patman, Bruce’s father, would be a jerk, considering how awful his wife and son are, but he’s actually pretty okay. He accepts Roger into the family immediately, treats him like his own son, and tells him his friends are always welcome at the house. Of course, he’ll probably end up killing a puppy later just to prove me wrong, but as of this point, he’s not a bad guy.

Mrs. Patman, however, is just weird. She wears lounging pajamas to a barbecue. First of all, lounging pajamas? Those are different from pajamas you wear to bed? And who would wear them in front of guests? Hey, maybe she’s an alcoholic. Snobby, non-working wives of rich businessmen are usually alcoholics.

The mall contains stores called the Tennis Shop and the Designer Shop. Is the mall actually just called the Mall?

Unintenionally funniest quote of the book, regarding Jessica’s new “friendship” with Olivia: “Elizabeth couldn’t suppress a twinge of uneasiness about her sister’s newfound generosity. Was it possible Jessica had something else in mind other than good-natured friendship?” Is it possible I know more about Jessica than Elizabeth does?

Previous page