November 7, 2012

SVH #129, Cover Girls: America’s Next Top Psychopath

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 8:30 pm by Jenn

Putting girls in bathing suits on the cover of a book for girls isn’t going to increase your sales

Summary: SVH students get two weeks off to do internships with various companies, mostly ones their parents work for. But the twins land one with Flair magazine, with Elizabeth working for an editor and Jessica working for a photographer. Liz gets off to a great start, since she’s so motivated and sycophantic, so her boss, Leona, loves her. Jess has a harder time with the photographer, Quentin, who’s in bed with Simone, a thoroughly horrible model who treats everyone like crap, especially Jessica. But Jessica is determined to get in good with Quentin (in more ways than one) because she thinks he can help her break into modeling.

Jessica steals a camera and gets Lila to take photos of her on the beach so she can put together a semi-professional portfolio and impress Quentin. The camera is destroyed, and Lila refuses to pay to replace it, so Jessica tries to keep quiet about it. Cameron, a guy who works in the mailroom and has a crush on Jessica, buys a new camera and passes it off as a cleaned-up version of the old one. Let’s just gloss over the fact that a guy who works in the mailroom would never be able to afford a new camera of that quality.

Todd’s bored interning for his father, and also jealous that Elizabeth is doing so well, so he tries to get her to blow off her tasks and hang out with him. But Liz is a career woman, you see, and wants to do so well at her internship that she lands a real job with Flair during the summer. Todd goes to visit Jessica on a shoot, and Quentin thinks he’s model material and enlists him to pose with Simone. Suddenly Todd is hot stuff and has a big future in modeling. Elizabeth isn’t happy because she doesn’t get that Todd and Simone are only snuggling up to each other because, you know, it’s their job.

It only gets worse with Liz: She talks nonstop about her internship and treats Maria and Enid about as well as Simone treats people. They call her on it but she still doesn’t care, because this is life in the real world, yo, and Liz gotta get paid. But then she has a legitimately good suggestion for the magazine that her boss rejects, so now Liz is sad. Sad, sad Liz. And her friends aren’t around to listen to her mope, because Maria and Enid have wised up and won’t spend any more time with her, and Todd is hanging out with Simone and becoming Mr. Popularity. Sad, sad, sad Liz.

Anyway, back to Jessica. She corners Quentin in the darkroom and makes out with him, because that’s a totally reasonable, normal thing for a 16-year-old girl to do to a 20-something guy with a girlfriend. He keeps kissing her even after he realizes she’s not Simone, then asks her out. Then Jessica and Cameron, who have become friends, get into a big fight because she’s becoming so jerky. They totally do that thing where they scream at each other and then make out. Then he tells her they’re going on a date, and she accepts, but oh, noes! It’s the same night as her date with Quentin! Whatever shall Jessica do??

Jess isn’t the only one with conflicting plans: Leona wants Elizabeth at some get-together that she thinks will help her with her career, but Liz has already made plans with Maria and Enid in an attempt to smooth things over. So if Elizabeth cares about her career, she’ll have to ditch them. Clearly this is the sort of thing all 16-year-olds can relate to.

This book, in a nutshell: Everyone is horrible.

Thoughts: From the back cover: “Fashion! Models! Deadlines!” Yes, deadlines are quite glamorous. I feel positively elegant every time I have to meet one.

I enjoyed the recent three-book break from Elizabeth. It’s a shame it didn’t last longer. Seriously, she is worse than Simone.

Elizabeth got Todd a tie for his 16th birthday. DUMP HER, TODD.

“I always proofread everything four times.” Elizabeth, you may have OCD. Also, I thought you were so perfect that you never made mistakes. Therefore, you shouldn’t have to proofread even once.

Leona to Elizabeth, who thinks getting a trendy haircut and dressing more like a teenager will help her career: “It does take courage to be different. But in this case being different served no purpose.” HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

I’m pretty sure those internships are just excuses for the SVH teachers to take two weeks off and for a bunch of companies to skirt child labor laws.

October 27, 2012

SVH Super Edition, Jessica Takes Manhattan: The Princess Diaries

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 12:33 pm by Jenn

What a stupid cover

Summary: SVH’s roof collapses after an earthquake, so while the school is closed for a week, Lila and Jessica take a trip to New York. Lila oversleeps and misses their flight, so Jessica goes on by herself. But there’s an emergency during the flight and they have to divert to New Orleans. In the midst of the chaos, Jessica discovers that her disguised seatmate is a rock star named Ryder Mitchell. They immediately fall in luv, but Ryder confesses that he’s going to New York to enter into a fake engagement with an awesomely named singer, Deidra La Monde. He wants to be with Jessica, though, so they make plans to meet at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day.

Lila makes it to New York before Jessica, but she’s mopey because she wanted Bo (her boyfriend from the camp books) to meet her there and he refused to come up from D.C. Little does she know that he’s planning to surprise her there. In other news Lila doesn’t know, there’s a princess named Charlotte (from the made-up country of Laestra) who’s staying in the same hotel and who looks enough like Lila to cause them to be mistaken for each other. In fact, Bo mistakes Charlotte for Lila and gets himself roughed up by her bodyguards. Lila has no idea at first and takes advantage of the mistake to get a nice suite and special treatment.

Jessica finally makes it to New York, and she, Lila, and Bo live it up on Charlotte’s dime. (Well, Laestra’s dime, I guess.) Charlotte, meanwhile, just wants to be left alone, so she poses as Lila and works at a soup kitchen. (Why, yes, we did see this plot in the London books.) There’s some dumb subplot with her falling for a guy there, but I don’t care about either of them. Anyway, Jessica and Lila get kidnapped on Valentine’s Day; the kidnappers think Lila is Charlotte and take her for ransom. They’re pretty dumb, and Jess and Lila bicker with each other like they’re Buffy and Cordelia in “Homecoming.” It’s all pretty weak.

The girls swear they’re not who the kidnappers think they are, but promise to get them money (through Lila’s father) if the guys don’t hurt them. They’re taken to Yankee Stadium (because the ghostwriter has to mention every New York landmark at least once in this book) while the kidnappers try to get money while slowly turning on each other, thanks to Jessica planting suspicion in the dumber one’s mind. Meanwhile, Bo realizes Lila’s missing, tries unsuccessfully to get help from the police, and connects with Ryder, who got worried when Jessica didn’t show up at the Empire State Building.

The kidnappers can’t get a hold of George, so Lila tells them to ask Bo for their million-dollar ransom. They tell Bo to bring the money to the stadium, not bothering to tell him to come alone and not call the police or anything. Seriously, they’re dumb. Jessica, smarter than she looks, hides a bottle, breaks it, uses the glass to cut through the ropes on her and Lila’s wrists, and frees them. She also uses baseballs to trip up the kidnappers, ultimately locking them in a storage room.

As the girls escape, the guys arrive with the money but don’t know where to go. The girls head back to their hotel, where they run into Charlotte. She jumps in to help find the guys, but no one calls the police, for some reason. Charlotte’s bodyguards stop the kidnappers before they can kill Ryder and Bo. So good triumphs over evil once again. And then there’s a stupid concert and I don’t care about Ryder.

Thoughts: I guess Ryder isn’t worried about the press finding out he likes underage girls. There’s reference to him being a teenager, but if he’s old enough to get married, he’s probably 18 or 19. And Jessica’s 16. 16! Why do older guys always fall in love with her?

And why doesn’t anyone notice that Lila doesn’t have Charlotte’s foreign accent?

Lila and Jessica eat pickled chestnuts. That’s disgusting.

With this book, the series really joins the ’90s: The rich people all have cell phones. (Except they keep calling them cellular phones.) Also, someone mentions a video dating service. I totally forgot those ever existed.

Bo has a dream about Lila falling off one of the Twin Towers. So…that’s disturbing.

Jessica first finds baseball bats but ditches them in favor of using the baseballs like she’s in Home Alone. Lila suggests that they arm themselves with the baseball bats just in case. Silly Lila, trying to be helpful and smart.

October 10, 2012

SVH Saga, The Patmans of Sweet Valley: Patman Begins

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 8:23 pm by Jenn

I don’t like the way that cowboy is looking at me

Summary: 1825-1846: Sophie Edmonton, daughter of an English duke, falls in love with a stable hand named Henry Patman. (Sigh.) Since he’s poor, she has to keep the relationship from her father. Sophie and Henry plan to elope, but her sister Melanie reads her diary and tells their father what they’re planning. Henry winds up deported and Sophie winds up with a lord. Meanwhile, Henry goes to New York and wins a plantation in a poker game.

1851-1852: Sophie’s daughter Emma runs away from a planned marriage so she can become an actress in London. She changes her name to Vanessa and doesn’t tell anyone her father’s an earl. She lives with a guy named Patrick, who falls in love with her and proposes, and though she accepts at first, she ultimately leaves to join a traveling troupe. She falls in love with the director, who is secretly the son of a marquess. Why are all these rich people pretending not to be rich?

1861-1864: There’s this really boring section about James Patman (Henry’s son) disagreeing with his family about slavery being wrong, then helping free slaves via the Underground Railroad. He marries a former slave named Hope and she gets pregnant, but before she can have the baby, she’s murdered. (This was the only part of the book I had any kind of emotional connection to. Everything else was bleh.) James goes back home and learns that his whole family’s dead. Cheerful!

1886: Katherine (granddaughter of Emma) is an up-and-coming teenage actress. She travels to America with the Royal Shakespeare Company and falls in love with James’ son John in Kansas. The night she’s supposed to leave, he plans to meet her at the train station and propose. But there’s a robbery at the bar where John works and Katherine leaves on a train just before he can get to her. She’s hurt because she thought John stood her up, but she reads about the hold-up in the newspaper and goes back to Kansas. She’s too late, though – John has already split town. Oh, and her whole family is dead, too, because of a fire. What’s up with people’s whole families getting wiped out?

1890-1893: John goes to Texas and hooks up with a cowgirl named Samantha (no relation to this Samantha). Just as he’s about to head to another city to look for work, since their ranch isn’t doing well, they find oil.

1924-1927: William (one of John and Samantha’s kids) marries Helena and they have a son named Paul who dies when he’s just  few weeks old. Hold on to that thought.

1941-1945: Katherine has a daughter named Cassandra, who becomes a doctor and works at a hospital in Europe during World War II. She falls in love with a wounded solder named Spencer and gets pregnant. But Spencer returns to the war and is killed in battle, and the news makes Cassandra miscarry. In 1945, Spencer’s best friend Peter looks Cassandra up and they get together. She’s supposedly not able to have any more kids, but has two anyway, Marie and Peter.

Meanwhile, a guy named Reginald Rainier starts working for William and becomes like a son to him. Helena meets him and thinks he looks like William. Some digging turns up a very soap operaish story: Reginald and Paul (William and Helena’s son, remember) were switched at birth, and Reginald is really a Patman. So now Reginald has money and marries his girlfriend May, who, if you ask me is a little too interested in his sudden inheritance. They name their first child Henry, after Reginald’s adoptive father. (They later have a son named Paul – that would be Roger Barrett Patman’s father – and I thought it was sweet that they named him after William and Helena’s late “son.”)

1960s: The two families come together again – Henry and Marie go to high school together and get engaged their senior year. She learns she has leukemia and thinks she’s going to die, so she breaks up with Henry in a letter. He’s in California at the time and decides to go to college there instead of Harvard. As we know, he gets together with Alice but she dumps him for Ned. A few years later, Marie moves to L.A. and runs into Henry. She finally tells him about her illness and recovery, and he forgives her for lying. They quickly get engaged, get married, and have everyone’s favorite potential rapist, Bruce.

Thoughts: Henry’s not just a stable hand, he’s a stable hand who says, “As you wish.” I think we all know who that character is based on.

Find me one person who cares what Bruce Patman’s great-great-grand-something thought about slavery. I dare you. I mean, there’s a whole chapter of the family fighting about secession. SO BORING.

I know people didn’t live as long in the past, but did they all have to get married after two months of dating? Because pretty much everyone in this book (and the other sagas) practically runs to the altar. And these aren’t even shotgun weddings.

Bruce’s ancestors are all better people than he is. And Marie and Hank seem like normal people, so I can’t figure out where they went wrong with the kid.

September 25, 2012

SVH Saga, The Fowlers of Sweet Valley: Les Misérables

Posted in books tagged , , , at 9:57 pm by Jenn

Why does the third one down look like a dude?

Summary: 1789-1793: Lili de Beautemps is really rich. Then the French Revolution comes around and her family loses everything (including their heads). Lili herself is almost guillotined, but she’s saved by Georges Oiseleur, her maid’s brother. (And yes, his name translates to George Fowler.) She spends a few years as a seamstress in Paris, making her own dress when she’s invited to a fancy party. There, she meets Count Matthieu de Bizac, who seems to fall in love with her. She thinks she’s fooled him into thinking she’s a noblewoman, but he knows she’s not and doesn’t care.

Lili and Matthieu get married, but not long after they move into a hotel (while Matthieu looks for a place for them to live and mysteriously disappears for long periods of time), she wakes up one morning to see that he’s taken his stuff and split. It turns out he was married already, and this isn’t the first time he’s seduced another woman and “married” her. Also, he’s left her with no money. Oh, and she’s pregnant. Lili moves into an apartment and prepares to be a single mother. However, she dies just after giving birth and asks her friend Marie to take care of her daughter, Celeste.

Meanwhile, Georges has been looking for Lili, since he’s in love with her. He’s also recovered her family’s estate and wants to get her back home. Instead, he finds out she had a daughter and died. Georges goes hunting for the daughter so she can get the estate.

1809: Celeste grows up with Marie’s children, then goes to work as a maid for the Marquis de Bocage. She’s mostly in charge of waiting on the marquis’ Lila-like daughter Emilie. Georges meets her and thinks she’s like Lili, so he sends her little gifts and arranges for her to be tutored by a woman named Solange (who he winds up falling in love with). Celeste also meets the marquis’ son, Marc, and they have feelings for each other but know nothing can happen because he’s upper-class and she’s a maid.

Marc decides to try to find another woman to distract him from Celeste. He agrees to a ball Emilie wants to throw, but he doesn’t connect with any of the women there. He and Celeste end up kissing, then secretly seeing each other for a few weeks. Then he proposes, but Celeste won’t marry him since she doesn’t want him to give up his inheritance and station in life. Marc’s mother thinks Celeste is a seductive hussy and fires her for sullying her perfect little boy.

Celeste meets up with Georges, who finally figures out that she’s Lili’s daughter. He also finally gets to tell her that he’s restored her family’s estate. Now that she’s rich, the marquis has no reason to object to Celeste marrying Marc. I’m sure she enjoys having in-laws who hated her so much when she was poor. Anyway, Celeste and Marc are pretty much the only people in the book who get to make their relationship work.

1880-1893: Rose, Celeste and Marc’s granddaughter, grows up with Pierre, Georges and Solange’s grandson. They totally have that best-friends-who-are-really-in-love-but-won’t-admit-it relationship, and it’s incredibly boring. Long story short, Pierre tells Rose he loves her, but she doesn’t believe in love, so he goes off and marries someone else. Then Celeste writes a book and marries an American named Robert Eastman.

1914-1960: Celeste and Robert’s daughter, Isabelle, meets two soldiers, Charles Doret and Jacques Oiseleur (a cousin of Pierre’s). Charles is interested in her, but she’s more interested in Jacques and starts sneaking onto the military barracks to meet with him. When World War I begins, Jacques and Charles are both sent to the front. But first, Jacques and Isabelle secretly get married.

After some time, Isabelle goes to the front as well to work as a nurse. She reunites with Charles, who tells her Jacques was killed in battle. Charles and Isabelle start spending time together, and he proposes. Isabelle still loves Jacques but marries Charles anyway, only to find out after the war ends that Jacques didn’t die after all. He’s furious that his wife married his best friend, and he thinks Charles lied about Jacques being dead so he could steal her. He runs off to India, and Charles and Isabelle end up moving to America (specifically, Sweet Valley).

Everything seems peachy in Sweet Valley, where Charles becomes the mayor and Isabelle gets pregnant. One day Jacques shows up in town, now using the name Jack Fowler. Isabelle tells him how she and Charles got together, promising that Charles didn’t manipulate her or lie to her. Jack tells her he’s not in love with her anymore.

Fast-forward to the ’50s, when Charles and Isabelle’s granddaughter, Grace Doret, has just been born. Charles and Jack still hate each other, and Charles decides to block some zoning change that results in Jack losing his ranch. Fast-forward again to 1960, when Jack and Charles have a big fight at Secca Lake, in front of their families, including 16-year-old George Fowler and eight-year-old Grace.

1971-1989: After growing up poor, George has worked his way through college and started his own computer company. He has a chance meeting with Grace and asks her out; neither knows that the other is from a rival family. George also doesn’t know that Grace is engaged to someone else. They start dating but keep the relationship a secret so their families don’t freak out. But Grace’s parents catch them and order her to marry her fiancé and dump George. If she doesn’t, they’ll disown her. Grace decides to stick with the money and the high-class fiancé.

Sometime later, George pulls some business shenanigans and takes over the Dorets’ company. Then he shows up at Grace’s engagement party and proposes. They elope and go to Paris for their honeymoon before the Dorets can find out that a Fowler ruined them financially. When Lila’s born a couple years later, only Isabelle and Jack come to meet her, as Grace is now on the outs with her family.

Two years later, Grace tries to mend fences with her parents. George is furious and orders her not to let them see Lila. Isabelle has a stroke and Grace tells George she wants to go say goodbye, but he again refuses to let Lila go near the Dorets. Grace goes anyway, refusing to leave even when George comes after her. When she gets home, she learns that George has filed for divorce and wants sole custody of Lila. Grace is so upset to lose her child that she runs off to Paris.

14 years later, we get the events of The Morning After, The Arrest, The Verdict, and The Wedding, with Grace and George getting married again.

Thoughts: Pretty much everyone in this book settles for a second choice. It’s depressing. (Hence my recap title.)

Lila would die if she knew how similar her ancestors were to Elizabeth.

No one tells Lili that Matthieu is married and has fooled other women into marrying him. People in high society in late 18th century France were mean.

The town gossip in 1924 is Evelyn Pearce. Thank goodness we were spared The Pearces of Sweet Valley.

Did we know George made his fortune in computers? Well, we do now. And did we know he was such a jerk? We really do now.

According to this book (which came out in 1996), it’s still 1989. Weird.

September 11, 2012

SVH #128, Kiss of a Killer: Night of the Living Undead

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 10:13 pm by Jenn

But…where did they get torches?

Summary: Apparently at the end of Dance of Death, Katrina wasn’t completely dead, but now she is. Ned and Alice decide to finally do some parenting and tell Jessica she can’t see Jonathan anymore. Jessica gets them to have dinner with him, and Joey comes over as well so Elizabeth can continue to be uncomfortable with their relationship. (Obviously she’s going to get back with Todd. Whatever.)

Then Enid is attacked and ends up in a coma. The SVH kids want to go after the killer for revenge for the attack and Katrina’s death. Never mind that they don’t know who the killer is. Enid wakes up briefly and says Jonathan’s name, making Elizabeth think she named her attacker. She and Maria go to Jonathan’s mansion and find some books about vampires, which convince Liz that that’s what he is.

Jessica sneaks off with Jonathan, but Elizabeth sees and tells Alice and Ned. They call the police, who find the couple at a beach cave where the other attack victims’ blood was also found. So Jonathan took Jessica to a cave possibly used as a hideout by the killer, but only Elizabeth is suspicious. She shares her vampire theory with the other SVH kids, who turn themselves into an angry mob and take off to find Jonathan.

Liz gets a call from Enid’s mother telling her that Enid only said Jonathan’s name because he found her after the attack and got her to the hospital. Elizabeth starts to doubt that Jonathan’s the killer and/or a vampire. By then, the angry mob has ditched her, and Jessica has the Jeep, so Liz is stuck without a ride. She calls Joey, who’s mad that she ditched him and only wants him for his car. P.S. Joey’s a jerk. Fortunately, Todd’s still around and drives Elizabeth to the cave.

Jessica’s there with Jonathan, who’s announced that he needs to leave town. He knows Elizabeth and Maria stole his vampire books and thinks they know something they shouldn’t. Jessica begs to go with him, promising to stay with him forever. He tells her he has a ring that keeps him safe from sunlight, and they can share it. Before he can suck Jessica’s blood or anything, Liz and Todd show up and warn Jonathan about the teenage vigilantes. He runs off, leaving Jessica behind, heartbroken, at least until the next hot guy comes along. And there’s never any explanation of a) who the killer is or b) whether Jonathan’s really a vampire. Make up your own conclusions!

Thoughts: Proof Enid is totally messed up in the head: While everyone’s freaking out over Katrina’s death (and she’s more concerned over the fact that Jonathan chose Jessica over her), she wonders if Jonathan would like her more if she cleaned his house.

Ned grounds the girls and bans Jessica from seeing Jonathan, then lets her invite him to dinner and gives her his credit card to buy a new dress. Which would involve going shopping, which would defeat the purpose of a grounding. So…way to parent, Ned. Again.

Also, I would rather let Jonathan suck my blood than eat with the Wakefields.

Winston: “It does seem unlikely that a town the size of Sweet Valley would have two deranged killers.” Substitute “dozens” for “two” and you have one of the (many, many) problems with the series.

“It was a long-standing tradition among the Wakefiend kids…that they watched out for each other without parental involvement.” Because that’s always worked out so well in the past.

I wonder what kind of results Maria got when she looked up vampires on the Internet in 1996. Back then, it was pretty much just Dracula and Anne Rice, right?

Todd: “Jonathan is still innocent until proven guilty.” Lila: “Oh, sure. But what about Katrina? She was innocent until proven dead!” Um…what?

September 1, 2012

SVH #127, Dance of Death: Disturbing Behavior

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 1:56 pm by Jenn

That’s the guy everyone’s so excited about? Everyone needs to calm down

Summary: Some girl is dead and Jessica’s with Jonathan. But first, let’s deal with Elizabeth’s love life. Todd catches her with Joey and decides he’s done being oblivious/letting her cheat on him whenever she wants without consequences. Elizabeth doesn’t really have time to deal with him, though, since she thinks Jessica’s been murdered. She and Joey race to Secca Lake, but of course the deal girl isn’t Jessica. She’s safe and sound (…I guess) with Jonathan, who’s still playing his “I’m so attracted to you but we can’t be together” game with her. He kicks her out, but when Enid shows up, he lets her in and sucks face with her. Then he sucks neck with her. Though he’s the only one doing the sucking.

Now that two teenagers are dead, Sweet Valley decides to try to protect everyone else. They institute a curfew for everyone under 18, which the SVH kids hate. Bruce and the now-goth Todd (because remember, everyone loves Jonathan and wants to be exactly like him) decide to host a big party at Jonathan’s house to a) offer everyone some curfew-breaking fun and b) spend time with their new idol. Jonathan objects to the party but ultimately decides there isn’t much he can do about it. Before then, he sucks on Enid’s neck some more, and now Jessica’s really ticked. Then her cat gets murdered, seemingly by the same person who killed the two teenagers and drained their blood.

Elizabeth is still worried about Jessica spending time with Jonathan, so she decides to go to the party to keep an eye on her. She doesn’t want to tell Joey about the party, since she’s realized she’s not as into him as she was over the summer, but he learns about it and gets mad that she lied about her plans. Maria goes to the party with Liz, and they’re basically the only two people there who aren’t obsessed with Jonathan and haven’t gone goth. (Maria is also the only sane person left in Sweet Valley. I kind of love her.) Elizabeth sees Todd dancing with Amy’s visiting cousin Katrina and gets jealous, then kind of wishes she’d brought Joey with her.

Jessica decides it’s time to seduce Jonathan, or something, so she waits for him in his bedroom. He tells her he does want to be with her and Enid means nothing to him. While they’re making out, the lights go out and all the candles in the house are blown out. Elizabeth enlists Todd to help her turn on the breakers, and when the lights come back on, they hear screaming. Katrina’s dead, and her blood has been drained.

Thoughts: “The new Enid was hip and sophisticated.” No, sweetie. The new Enid is emo. No one emo has ever been mistaken for hip or sophisticated.

Everyone’s mad that the curfew is 10 p.m. First of all, 10 p.m. is pretty generous. Second, I think the second teen was killed earlier in the evening than that, so it’s not going to do much good.

GHOSTWRITER. TEENAGERS DO NO WATCH HUMPHREY BOGART MOVIES. THEY WATCH ACTION MOVIES AND HORROR MOVIES AND THE NOTEBOOK. STOP PRETENDING YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT TEENAGERS.

Todd’s plan is to become like Jonathan and make Elizabeth regret ditching him. Too bad Elizabeth doesn’t like Jonathan and that will probably just turn her off even more.

I want Joey to be the killer. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Enid and the other goth girls still hang out at the Dairi Burger. How dark and sinister.

The teens having a party while there’s a serial killer on the loose reminds me of Scream. And everything worked out well there, so it’s a great idea.

August 20, 2012

SVH #126, Tall, Dark, and Deadly: Look Who’s Stalking

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 8:31 pm by Jenn

Okay, the guy in the window is legit creepy, but the rest of the book is ridiculous

Summary: Jessica goes looking for a lost earring in a Dumpster at the Dairi Burger and instead finds a kitten. Oh, and a dead guy. His blood has been drained and there’s something on his neck that looks like a bite mark. So clearly this was an accidental death and the police have no reason to investigate. Yeah, I wish. Anyway, no one knows what happened, and the only witness is the cat, who Jessica takes home and names Jasmine.

In what’s certainly a coincidence that has nothing to do with the murder, there’s a new guy in school, Jonathan Cain. He’s pale and wears dark clothes and is all mysterious. You know, like someone whose name rhymes with Bedward Mullen. All the girls at school immediately fall in love with him, especially Jessica, who makes him her latest obsession, and Enid, who goes goth for him. Enid’s ticked that Elizabeth’s hanging out with Maria Slater, which means Liz isn’t around to tell her she’s being a huge idiot.

Elizabeth thinks Jonathan’s a jerk, but Jessica basically starts stalking him. She buys a hot red dress to impress him, then jumps on the back of his motorcycle. Rather than call the police to report a psych stalker, Jonathan tells Liz to keep her sister away from him. Enid also stalks him, following him home to a huge mansion that looks like it’s really abandoned. Oh, and Jessica finds her earring on her windowsill, which is admittedly weird.

In the middle of all this, Liz is flipping out over Joey, her camp crush, who’s going to be transferring to UCLA. She thinks about dumping Todd but chickens out. Maria proves to be the smartest person in the series by giving her actual good advice (like “cut it out already), but of course Elizabeth won’t listen to her. Liz gets a letter from Joey and finds a paddle from camp in her locker, so it looks like Jessica and Enid aren’t the only stalkers in the book. Elizabeth decides it’s better to be bored with Todd but not hurt his feelings, so she tries to forget about Joey.

The stories collide when Jessica sneaks out one night to go see Jonathan. Enid’s also on her way there because the girl is seriously, seriously obsessed. Elizabeth hears a news report about a blond teenager being found at Secca Lake with her blood drained. She thinks it’s Jessica and calls Todd to come get her and take her to the lake. But instead, Joey shows up. Meanwhile, Jessica goes to Jonathan’s house, where he kisses her, then tells her she made a mistake coming there.

Thoughts: I hate this everyone’s-in-love-with-the-vampiry-guy Twilight crap. I prefer my vampire stories to involve slayers and souls.

Of course Enid goes goth. Of all the SVH teens, she’s the one who would go goth.

Maria drives a tan Mercedes. Why get a Mercedes if you’re not going to get one that’s red or silver?

After she loses the earring, Jessica keeps wearing the other one by itself. That is a weird girl. But I can’t help thinking of the other girls at school doing the same thing, like Jessica’s Regina George accidentally starting a new trend.

When Jessica jumps on his motorcycle, Jonathan drivers her around for a while, then yells at her about it. So why let her ride with you if you didn’t want her to?

August 7, 2012

SVH #125, Camp Killer: And Then Suddenly There’s an Axe Murderer

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 10:00 pm by Jenn

I love that guy with the axe. His name’s Cobra!

Summary: The first two books in this mini-series were about Elizabeth hooking up with Joey, Jessica hooking up with Paul, Nicole being a horrible person, the kids being brats, Lila finding her male counterpart, etc. For some reason, the third is about an axe murderer.

But first, color war! It’s a book about summer camp, after all. Elizabeth and Nicole are the team captains, and Nicole fixes things so Joey’s on her team. Somehow Elizabeth finds out and switches him back, though that’s never explained. Nicole also wants to mess with Liz by sending Todd a picture of her kissing Joey, but Maria stops her and tells her to find a new hobby, because as it turns out, Maria is quite awesome.

Jessica goes to visit Paul again, and when they go back to camp, they decide to play a prank, making everyone think Crazy Freddy (an axe murderer from a camp story) is real. The plan is ruined when Jessica and Paul’s sister Tanya are kidnapped by a real axe murderer. I did not make that up. Jessica’s smart enough to pull off Tanya’s friendship bracelet as they’re dragged off, to indicate to people that something’s wrong.

Joey heads off to play hero, and Elizabeth and Nicole both go after him. They barely stop fighting long enough to not let each other die. Joey gets himself knocked out by the axe murderer (Cobra! I love it!), but Paul overpowers the guy, thanks to a diversion caused by Nicole and Elizabeth. Nicole further proves to not be as horrible as she seemed by letting herself get captured so Liz can save the others.

In what I guess is supposed to be comic relief, Lila and Bo go out to look for Jessica and Tanya, but they get lost and wind up spending the night in the woods. A crop-dusting pilot finds them but won’t take them back to camp because a) his boss is a jerk about schedules and b) this guy is clearly a jerk, too, because hello! Stranded people! Have a heart! The pilot calls his brother, for some reason, and the brother recognizes Bo and Lila’s names because they’ve been ordering food from his delivery service all summer. And then they invest in the pilot’s company, and I bet that will never come up again.

So there’s a happy ending, right? Sort of. Liz and Nicole are okay, and Nicole decides she doesn’t want Joey after all, so she’s okay with him being with Elizabeth. But Elizabeth doesn’t really want him either, since her heart belongs to Todd, or whatever. Jessica and Paul are still together, I guess. I don’t care. No one got axe-murdered, so it’s not a happy ending for me.

Thoughts: How do the people in these books never develop PTSD? Jessica was almost killed, but she’s totally fine ten minutes later. Wait, why am I looking for realism in SVH books? Again?

Lila’s defense of Bo paying people to do his chores: “He was providing jobs.” So Lila’s going to end up with a job as a political spin doctor, yes?

“She didn’t understand how she could be cheating on Todd, whom she’d loved for ages.” I love it that Elizabeth’s pretending this is the first time she’s done this.

The campers and counselors play Capture the Flag (of course), which reminds me of playing War on youth-group retreats when I was younger. It was basically Capture the Flag but with a military theme. Some players were designated “lieutenants” or “generals” (five-star, four-star, the whole shebang), and if you captured an officer from the other team, you got points. We also had “grenades” (I think they were balloons filled with paint) we could use to assult another team’s “fort.” We played in the woods after dark, and though we all had flashlights, the team leaders usually made us keep them off. I can’t believe no one ever got lost or horribly injured. I doubt we’d be allowed to play that game today without our parents having to sign sheets of paperwork.

July 24, 2012

SVH #124, Meet Me at Midnight: It’s Not Cheating If You Don’t Get Caught

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 9:16 pm by Jenn

Boring!

Summary: Todd has just arrived at the twins’ camp, but he doesn’t notice that Elizabeth is all over Joey. Todd’s staying for a few days, which means Liz has to cool it with the boy toy and pretend she’s all about Wilkins. She plans to break up with him just before he leaves, but she can’t do it. Whatever, she can totally just see Joey for the summer and Todd will never have to know! Apparently Elizabeth has forgotten that she knows half a dozen people at the camp, and some of them, such as Winston, have no reason not to tell Todd that she’s cheating on him.

But then Nicole throws a wrench in the works by threatening to tell Todd about Liz and Joey’s fling. So Elizabeth dumps Joey, telling him she never loved him. Nicole also makes her talk her up to him. Liz catches Joey and Nicole making out one night, so now it looks like the two of them are together. But at the end of the book, Joey tells Elizabeth that he was just using Nicole to make her jealous, and he really wants to be with Liz. What a lovely guy.

Also lovely: Paul, the guy Jessica’s sneaking out to see. She’s not supposed to leave camp, but she keeps doing it anyway, going into town to see Paul at the diner his family runs. The guy’s a jerk who has trust issues, but Jessica’s smitten and doesn’t take the hint. She invites Paul to the camp play, which she’s starring in, but gets upset when he never responds. A couple hours before the play, she rides a bike to the diner, only to find out that he’s at home. Someone gives her a ride there, and she and Paul make up, but they can’t get back to camp. Elizabeth winds up taking Jessica’s place in the play, with only Lila, Maria Slater, and Liz’s co-star knowing. (Oh, and Joey, but whatever.)

In other romance news, Winston thinks the other Maria is cheating on him because she keeps mentioning a guy named Hank in her letters to him. (Hank Patman? That would be funny.) Some chick named Lara is totally in love with Winston and is basically stalking him. He comes close to cheating with her, but quickly realizes that a) she’s annoying and b) he doesn’t actually like her. And it turns out this Hank guy is old, so he’s no threat, and it’s a good thing Winston didn’t do anything stupid.

Thoughts: Why do they let junior counselors act in the camp play? That seems unfair to the campers.

Points to the ghostwriter for giving the campers names that kids that age would have in the mid-’90s (Jennifer, Aimee, Ashley, Stephanie, Tiffany).

Nicole’s blackmail plan only works if Elizabeth thinks Todd would believe her story. Why would he listen to a girl he met for two seconds, especially if the story was about sweet, kind Elizabeth Wakefield, who would never cheat or even consider being disloyal?

Trivia: Lila can sew.

This is my 500th post. Woop woop!

July 10, 2012

SVH #123, Elizabeth’s Rival: The Enemy of My Enemy is Still a Horrible Person

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 9:17 pm by Jenn

Those kids look deformed and it’s freaking me out

Summary: It’s summer yet again! This one takes the twins, Lila, and a couple other SVH kids to Montana to be junior counselors at a performing-arts camp. Maria Slater, who was friends with Elizabeth in the Sweet Valley Twins books, is also there, along with her best friend, Nicole. Nicole is a bitca. She and Elizabeth immediately hate each other; they’re both writers and want to write the camp play. They also both like a guy named Joey. Because, you know, girls always have to fight over guys.

You’d think that Elizabeth would be a better counselor than Jessica, but the opposite is true. Elizabeth’s kids are complete shrews, while Jessica’s are in love with her and just copy everything she does. It’s annoying, but at least they listen to her. Jess is also good at her job since she’s not distracted by boys. She’s decided that after losing Christian and having her relationship with Ken end disastrously, she’s going to have a boy-free summer. She even becomes the favorite of the camp’s owner and gets to organize a dance.

Elizabeth writes the play, even though it looked like the job was going to Nicole. Nicole steals it and erases it from her hard drive, so there’s no proof that Liz actually wrote the play. On top of that and her kids being horrible, Maria’s siding with Nicole, and Joey’s not interested, so Elizabeth’s not having the best summer. Fortunately, one of Jessica’s campers has been filming pretty much everything, and she gets Nicole on camera confessing to stealing the play. Jessica sees the footage and airs it for the whole camp. Nicole is brought down and suddenly everyone likes Elizabeth.

…Including Joey, who’s now all over her. Elizabeth had what was basically a crush on him, but as soon as he’s actually interested, she’s all, “Todd who?” She actually tells Joey they’re not that serious. And then Todd shows up, so ha ha!

Lila’s interested in a junior counselor named Bo, but he’s outdoorsy, so she pretends she is, too. Except it’s completely obvious that he’s a poser. It turns out he’s basically the male version of Lila, so they’re clearly a match made in Heaven.

Oh, and Jessica hooks up with the brother of the filming camper, but that part of the plot is stupid and tacked-on.

Thoughts: Lila “didn’t come here to make friends,” but it’s the ’90s, so she doesn’t get the joke there.

It seems like the counselors and junior counselors share cabins, so does that mean the campers are in their cabins alone? That seems like a horrible idea. Of course, what I know about summer camp comes from that one BSC Super Special, The Parent Trap, and Bug Juice. (Did anyone else watch Bug Juice? That show was awesome.) Oh, and I read There’s a Bat in Bunk Five, which was also awesome.

Would a seven-year-old know that you can use hydrogen peroxide to bleach your hair? And why was she alone long enough to be able to do it? I’m guessing her parents will be suing the camp that left hydrogen peroxide where a seven-year-old could get her hands on it.

Bo, for future reference, “I’m watching you” is not acceptable as a love note.

When Todd shows up, Elizabeth’s with Joey and she’s wearing Jessica’s bathing suit, so if she were smart, she’d just tell Todd she’s not Liz.

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