Monday, September 8, 2014

Review: "Power Play: Sweet Valley High #4"

Power Play: Sweet Valley High #4 by Francine Pascal
4 out of 5 stars

Before Reading:'s face-off time with the twins! I always think of them having long, straight hair but it's always kind of short and wavy on the covers. Weird. This is the uber fat-shaming one. I'm sure I'll have a LOT to say about this one!

The Main Plot in 50 Words or Less: Robin is infatuated with Jessica and the Pi Beta Alpha sisters. Jessica is disgusted with her fat rolls and does everything she can to keep her out of the sorority. Elizabeth helps Robin, but does more damage in the end.

The Second Plot in 20 Words or Less: Lila becomes the typical "rich girl wanting daddy's attention shoplifter". Elizabeth helps her out, too.

Opening Lines: Elizabeth Wakefield didn't know how messy things would get with Robin Wilson and the sorority pledging, until she was in too deep to back out.

Closing Lines: Jessica in love with an experienced college man meant storm clouds would be gathering soon. And all Elizabeth could do was hope that the inevitable winds would not shipwreck those close to her sister-including herself. (I don't even know what this means. Too much metaphoring.)

Best WTF Lines: Too many to type, so I made a handy graphic below. Enjoy. (I even color-coded it for you, see if you can figure out who said what!)

(Click to make bigger, sorry I had to split it up!)

Happenings in SV: Robin Wilson thinks Jessica is her best friend, but Jess is just using her to run her errands and stuff. Robin wants to join the Pi Beta Alpha sorority at SVH (why does a high school have a sorority, anyway??), Jessica is the president and "promised" Robin she would nominate her. Of course, she never does and Elizabeth ends up doing it instead. Jess is pissed and decides to haze Robin, making her run the track every day, wear a bikini to the beach, and ask Bruce Patman to the Discomarathon (dance of the week/book).

Elizabeth bribes Bruce into saying yes to Robin by giving him a glowing article in the "Eyes & Ears" column of the school paper. He agrees, but then totally humiliates Robin at the dance by dumping her at the dance floor in front of everyone. Robin is devastated and runs off, but ends up coming back with some geek called Allen Walters (never heard of him). Then Robin gets blackballed from the sorority (thanks to Jess) and she is heart-broken.

After the vote, she cuts everyone out of her life and stays home for a while, then starts working out and eating better. The book kind of makes it seem like it's been a few weeks, but I don't know about that. Robin starts to lose a lot of weight and even becomes pretty. Liz stops her one day and mentions it. Robin fixed her penetrating eyes on Elizabeth, "Liz, I may have been stupid about almost everything-the Pi Betas, Jessica, and maybe even you. But if you're asking me if I'm starving myself to death, I wouldn't give any of the PBAs the satisfaction." Yeah, right.

Robin eventually gets thin and pretty and tries out for the cheerleading squad and makes co-captain, with the furious Jessica. She also wins Miss Sweet Valley High, which is some kind of football queen (I don't even know) and snubs Bruce Patman for Allen.

Lila starts giving Jessica tons of expensive gifts and Liz finds it a little suspicious. When Liz is at the mall one day, she talks to a shop keeper who tells her that they've had some theft lately and Liz thinks it might be Jess. Later, she sees Lila at a shop, stealing a bracelet. Liz almost gets pinpointed for the theft, but runs off. (That's not suspicious at all.) Then, Lila calls Elizabeth up, panicking, because Jessica gets arrested for shoplifting! Lila finally fesses up and her daddy is called in and fixes everything. For some reason, Lila asks Liz for all this help and begs her not to tell Jessica anything about it.

Fashion Icons: You can see all the Robin tents up in the WTF-graphic, so I'll skip those.

Jessica was wearing leotards and exercising with Jane Fonda via video cassette.

Jessica was bouncing down the steps in an ice-blue string bikini, heading for the backyard pool. With her slim body, she'd never suffer the miseries poor Robin had gone through that day at the beach.

An oddly dressed young woman [Lila] was standing in Lisette's studying the counters. She was wearing a pair of bright green, skin-tight pants and a loose striped blouse that looked as though it could accommodate two people.

On Monday Robin showed up in designer jeans, a rainbow top, and a new hairstyle. Lip gloss and perfect eye makeup created an effect that almost caused Bruce Patman to walk into the gym door.

Comfortable overalls disappeared. Sneakers went into the closet. With carefully dressed hopefuls lounging around on the school lawn, leaning against the white oak trees, Sweet Valley High looked like a spread from a fashion magazine. [Doesn't it always, with its "no fatty" policy??]

Jordache jeans were challenged by Calvin Kleins. Miniskirts were seen next to tapered slacks. Makeup and new hairstyles turned the young women into Glamour models.

Twin Hijinks: Elizabeth is at home & answers the door to Robin, who knows she's not Jessica. Elizabeth asks her how she knows and Robin says, "I don't mean to offend you, Liz, really I don't, but I'm pretty sure Jessica's never dressed like that in her life." (Old jeans and a flannel shirt)

The salesclerk at Lizette's grabs Jess for shoplifting, thinking it's Liz. When they're together, the clerk thinks it's a gang lol.

Other Thoughts: This book was so amazingly horrendous, I just had to give it 4 stars. I don't think I've ever read a book that made me feel so awful about being a chubby bunny. :p I'm not sure what exactly the authors/ghost writers/editors/publishers were thinking with this one, but they missed the mark, big time. Not only does Robin get tortured nonstop for being a fatty, but when she finally does lose weight (very quickly and unhealthily), she immediately becomes Miss Popular.

Elizabeth calls Jessica "Jessie" throughout the book, which kept throwing me off. I don't think she does that in any other books. This book also had about 637 examples of Jess saying "thirty-seven" in it. (See what I did there?) Why was that number so important?

The Next Book*: Jessica with a college guy? Elizabeth fears her twin has gotten in over her head this time. Is she right? Find out in Sweet Valley High #5, ALL NIGHT LONG.

*(not necessarily what I'll be reading)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review: "Pippi Longstocking" Classic a Month #8.2014

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
3 out of 5 stars

Pippi is one of those books/characters that is probably better off left behind in your childhood memories. Reading her as an adult was excruciating and a little bit sad. As a child, you hear about this amazing girl who lives on her own with her horse and monkey and gets to do whatever she wants, with no adults to ever tell her no. She has fantastical adventures, can go to bed whenever she wants, doesn't have to go to school, nothing bad ever happens to her, and everything is always wonderful in Pippi's world. (Even with her father, the infamous cannibal king, missing at sea.) Who wouldn't love this book, as a child? Who of us never dreamed of being Tommy and Annika, with Pippi as a neighbor? Getting to go on picnics and running into an angry bull, discovering secret clubhouses in hollowed out trees, playing "don't touch the floor" in the kitchen (okay, my sister and I actually did that one in the living room lol), watching Pippi fly thru the air at the circus and beat the strongest man ever. Overall, this is the perfect adventure book for children and it's evident why it's a classic.

However, reading it as an adult brings on a completely different tone. You begin to feel sorry for Pippi, being alone all the time. Many of the chapters are tinged with sadness, such as when she makes the burglars stay and play with her til 3 in the morning and then gives them a little gold for their trouble. Or when Pippi goes to Tommy & Annika's for a coffee party and their mother scolds her for not behaving.

Pippi looked at her in astonishment and her eyes slowly filled with tears. "That's just what I was afraid of," she said. "That I couldn't behave properly. It's no use to try; I'll never learn. I should have stayed on the ocean."

The child just wants to be loved. And honestly, she needs a little discipline. You know you're getting older when you want to just spank the child for behaving like that lol.

And then there was the question of her amazing strength and ability to wriggle out of any sticky situation. Why is she so strong? Genetics? Did Mr Nilsson bite her in a rabies-induced rage? Children don't question those kinds of things, but it just seems odd to an adult. I feel like if Pippi had either not had her super-human strength or got into a little more trouble occasionally, the story would have been more believable. She is never held accountable for her actions, she always manages to get out of a bad situation. That makes the story a little boring at times, honestly. And then there's the lying. Oh, the lying is awful. What parent would want to read this book to their child?? Luckily, children aren't quite so closed minded as adults and just see the story for what it is...a fantastical story about a fantastical little girl with red braids and a monkey on her shoulder.