December 26, 2010

BSC #64, Dawn’s Family Feud: Shut Up, Jeff

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 3:12 pm by Jenn

Everyone needs to CHILL OUT

Summary: Jeff comes to visit, and the Schafers/Spiers take a trip to Boston. Jeff is being a spoiled brat and trying to avoid Richard, who just wants to do guy stuff with him, and this makes Mary Anne mad, which in turn makes Dawn mad. So the three kids are all bickering and avoiding each other, and the Schafers end up doing different things from the Spiers on vacation. For some reason, Richard and Sharon let this continue, even though they’re obviously not happy. Finally, they tell the kids that they’re going to have to get along because they’re not having separate vacations anymore.

Back home, things are still tense, but Sharon and Richard want everyone to have a family portrait taken together. During the photo session, Dawn and Mary Anne realize how angry they look with each other, which makes them laugh, and everyone apologizes to everyone else. And hopefully Jeff gets grounded or gets half his Christmas presents taken away or something, because he was a total brat through the whole book.

In the B plot, Mrs. Barrett is dating a guy named Franklin DeWitt, who has four kids. The Barrett and DeWitt kids, like the Schafer and Spier kids, can’t stand each other, and every time they’re together, they fight. Claudia and Shannon (yes, Shannon) finally get them to call a truce by pointing out that they can’t play games that need lots of people unless they all get along. Yep.

Thoughts: Dear ghostwriter, it’s the Air and Space Museum, not the Aerospace Museum. Try some research next time.

Mrs. Barrett and Franklin need to take a sitter along on a family picnic? Really?

The Schafers/Spiers sing on long car trips. We must destroy them.

The family gets two hotel rooms, one for Sharon and Richard, and one for Mary Anne, Dawn, and Jeff. Why is a ten-year-old boy sharing a room with 13-year-old girls?? Also, how much does Sharon hate Mary Anne for insisting on staying in her and Richard’s room? You just know Sharon can’t stand how much of a daddy’s girl Mary Anne is.

There is not one chance Mary Anne doesn’t know what the Boston tea Party is, so shut up, ghostwriter.

I thought the BSC girls’ postcard-writing was out of control before, but Dawn writing to Kristy from the car ON THE WAY HOME takes the (sugar-free) cake.

September 23, 2010

BSC Mystery #5, Mary Anne and the Secret in the Attic: Richard Spier, World’s Worst Father

Posted in books tagged , , at 11:11 pm by Jenn

There should be a ghost behind her. This book would be so much better with a ghost

Summary: A bunch of elementary school kids are doing projects for Heritage Day (which sounds like something straight out of Gilmore Girls), and Mary Anne realizes she doesn’t know much about her own family history, so she goes looking for some answers. She winds up getting a huge shock – when she was a baby, right after her mother died, her father sent her to live with her maternal grandparents in Iowa for a year. Oh, and he never told her. And apparently never told her that her grandparents were even still alive, as she’s never met them.

Mary Anne freaks out about this and spends a few days in a daze. Then she overhears a phone conversation between her father and grandmother, Vera, who wants her to come back to Iowa. Mary Anne thinks Vera means permanently, then starts panicking that there will be a custody battle and Richard will be declared an unfit parent. A visit from a census taker, who Mary Anne mistakes for a social worker, just makes her panic more.

Mary Anne finally decides to actually talk to her father (it’s amazing how many problems in this series would be solved through better communication), and she learns that, yes, he sent her to Iowa, but it was because he was having a hard time dealing with her mother’s death, not because he didn’t want her. The grandparents wanted to keep Mary Anne, but Richard refused and brought her home. He claims that telling Mary Anne about all of this would have brought up bad memories for everyone, which sounds like a cop-out to me. Then he gives her a letter her mother wrote her and lets her to go Iowa for a visit.

Thoughts: I find it hard to believe that no one ever mentioned Mary Anne’s trip to Iowa in front of her. That, my friends, is what we call retconning.

Vanessa rhymes “strong” with “strong.” WRONG.

Why does Mary Anne think she’ll be sent to Iowa just because her grandmother wants her there? How much power does she think Vera has? And does Mary Anne think it’s any match for the BSC girls, who think they can convince anyone to do anything?

Claudia can’t even spell the name of the city where she lives? Are you freaking kidding me?

Mary Anne again goes on a date (in Iowa) with a guy who isn’t Logan – and swears Dawn to secrecy. How does she not see anything wrong with this?

February 21, 2010

BSC #31, Dawn’s Wicked Stepsister: They’re Both Awful

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 5:41 pm by Jenn

It's just like "The Simple Life" - Dawn looks like Paris Hilton and Mary Anne looks like a farmer

Summary: Picking up right where Mary Anne and the Great Romance left off, Dawn and her mom adjust to Mary Anne and Richard moving into the house. It doesn’t go well. I guess Richard and Sharon didn’t bother to discuss things like the Schafers’ vegetarianism or Richard and Sharon’s differences in cleaning philosophies before they decided to get married. Dawn and Mary Anne suffer the most from the move, as they’ve chosen to share a room, a decision that quickly proves to be a bad one.

While Dawn thinks Mary Anne is “wicked” (and, to be fair, she’s a big brat at some points), Dawn isn’t much nicer. With some input from Jeff, Dawn decides to get Mary Anne out of her room by making her think she’s hearing a ghost in the house’s secret passage so she’ll move out on her own and no one’s feelings will be hurt. Because it’s much better to scare the crap out of your stepsister than to have an honest conversation with her about how you feel. Whatever, things are fine in the end. But you couldn’t pay me to live with any of those people.

The B plot is kind of fun, if completely unrealistic. All the Pikes are sick or injured, so the BSC girls have to take care of them. Mallory’s 11-year-old-ness really comes out here; she can whine with the best of ’em.

Thoughts: Richard and Sharon let Dawn and Mary Anne spend the night alone in the Spiers’ house the night after the wedding. Isn’t 13 young for that? Also, no way Richard would go for that.

I felt bad for Mary Anne for having to move from the only house she’d ever lived in, but when she used that to guilt Dawn into giving her a sitting job, that went away. And whatever traces were left went away when she called Dawn fat. Shut up, Mary Anne.

Myriah Perkins wants to write a letter to the president (Bush Sr. at the time) to tell him she lost a tooth. Myriah is awesome.

Why does Richard keep making bacon for Sharon when he knows she won’t eat it? Wouldn’t he object to wasting food?

Don’t Dawn and Sharon know that if you have an Oriental rug, it’s the only place your cat will ever get sick? And a follow-up question: why do Dawn and Sharon have an Oriental rug?

Mallory admits to having chicken pox scars in “unmentionable places.” And now I will never think of her the same way again.

February 15, 2010

BSC #30, Mary Anne and the Great Romance: You and Me Could Write a Great Romance

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 5:15 pm by Jenn

They're as scared of the bouquet as I am of their dresses

Summary: Mary Anne’s father and Dawn’s mother announce that they’re getting married, even though they really haven’t been back together for very long, and they’ve been seeing other people. But whatever, we all knew this was inevitable. Mary Anne and Dawn are really excited at the prospect of being stepsisters, until Mary Anne learns that Sharon doesn’t like cats, and that they’ll all be moving into the Schafers’ house. Nothing really gets resolved, since nothing’s going to change about the situation, no matter how Mary Anne feels about it, and in fact, the book ends on a cliffhanger. Well, “cliffhanger.” No one really cares who catches Sharon’s bouquet.

In the B plot, the BSC girls are trying to help Marilyn and Carolyn Arnold, who are engaged in a sibling-rivalry battle. Mary Anne solves it by suggesting that they not share a room anymore. A boring end to a boring plot.

Thoughts: Claudia wears a shocking-pink tunic over a white shirt with pink and yellow umbrellas on it, a yellow belt with a pink buckle, black knickers, and yellow stockings. Who wears knickers, other than people who work at Colonial Williamsburg?

Marilyn makes up a friend named Gozzie Kunka. What, Jane Smith was taken?

Marilyn also splits her and Carolyn’s room down the middle with masking tape. Wow, ghostwriter, what a fantastically original idea that no one has ever thought of before!

Mary Anne buys Sharon a charm that’s a replica of a Stoneybrook High School class ring because she knows Sharon never got one. That’s actually pretty awesome.

Kristy tells Mary Anne that Logan attending a BSC meeting isn’t “club policy.” I think she’s just bitter that he told her he would only join the club if he didn’t have to go to meetings.

Mary Anne imagines her and Dawn’s bridesmaids dresses being pale pink with lace collars, and she wants them to wear straw hats. Will Anne Shirley be attending as well?

Dawn and Mary Anne place the other BSC girls on the guest list for the wedding before mentioning family members or their parents’ coworkers. They’re almost as self-centered as Jessica Wakefield.

Apparently Richard, Sharon, and Dawn all agree that Richard and Mary Anne will move into the Schafers’ house…and then don’t tell Mary Anne. That’s a pretty crappy move.

Mary Anne suggests that Marilyn and Carolyn live in separate bedrooms because they’re so different, but then she agrees to share a room with Dawn. Someone’s not listening….

October 19, 2009

BSC #4, Mary Anne Saves the Day: The Dawn of Dawn

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 8:45 pm by Jenn

That's funny, this says my hairstyle makes me look like I'm ten...

That's funny, this says my hairstyle makes me look like I'm ten...

Summary: The BSC girls have a huge fight over something stupid and stop talking to each other. Mary Anne becomes friends with the new girl at school, Dawn Schafer, who dumbly believes Mary Anne’s story that she’s sitting alone at lunch because all of her friends are absent. Mary Anne is also trying but failing to get her cartoonishly strict father to back off and let her grow up already.

The BSC fight makes Mary Anne learn that she’s not as much of a doormat as she thought she was, and her newfound friendship with Dawn leads to the revelation that Dawn’s mom, Sharon, and Mary Anne’s father, Richard, dated in high school. Mary Anne also handles an emergency with a baby-sitting charge (the prissy Jenny Prezzioso) well enough to convince her father that she’s mature enough to stay out later, redecorate her room, and stop wearing her hair in the braids he always made her wear for no evident reason. Ultimately, the BSC girls make up, Richard and Sharon meet up again, and Dawn is invited to join the club.

Thoughts: Dawn is pretty low-key in this book, and it’s nice to enjoy it while you can, because later in the series she can be pretty unbearable at times. Also, she never stops mentioning that she’s from California. I think it’s mentioned more times than the fact that Stacey’s from New York.

Mary Anne Saves the Day reminds us that though the BSC girls are pretty mature for 12-year-olds, they can also be pretty immature. They practically get into a hair-pulling slap-fight at a four-year-old’s birthday party. Yeah, I don’t think I’d be hiring girls like them to watch my kids.

This is one of the few books where Kristy misses a meeting – and she does it purposely. You just know that if anyone else had skipped out, there would have been a trial and public execution. Don’t mess with Kristin Amanda Thomas.

Mary Anne is definitely the quietest, most conservative member of the club, but when she’s brainstorming apology notes to give to her fellow club members, she provides a gem that provokes genuine laughter. She imagines writing to Kristy, “I’m sorry you’re the biggest, bossiest know-it-all in the world, but what can I do about it? Have you considered seeking professional help?” She took the words right out of my mouth.

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