Friday, May 28, 2010

SVH #17: Love Letters

Before I begin, I'll quickly mention the giveaway/contest on my other blog where you could win a T shirt or something. Please enter! Please? Contest ends next Friday at 12:01 am.

On to Sweet Valley!

In this book, my possibly favorite character, Caroline Pearce, gets herself in a little bit of trouble. I have to say, I kind of enjoy that SVH books aren't totally focused on those obnoxious Wakefields. Unfortunately, Caroline isn't such a great substitute. Also featured in this book is Caroline's amazingly obnoxious yet totally perfect older sister Anita who apparently thinks the Wakefield twins can walk on water, turn water into wine (well, maybe just grape juice), and would probably, upon dying, return to life three days later.

Summary time. Good old Gossip Caroline is starting to feel like she belongs at SVH. She got to attend a fancy party, people have been nice to her, and she thinks that, for a change, she's actually being noticed instead of just heard. Why is all this good stuff happening? Well, because of Adam, of course! Adam is Caroline's wonderful, sweet, baseball-playing boyfriend whose only shortcoming is that he doesn't actually exist. Since Caroline apparently doesn't care about jinxes at all, she invented a boyfriend for herself. And honestly? A lot of the book is about everyone else in Sweet Valley trying to meet him and learn about him. And me wondering why they care so much.

How, you ask, does Caroline fake having a boyfriend? Well, of course he doesn't live in Sweet Valley and he of course, being the great romantic that he is, constantly sends her amazing, beautiful, romantic letters. Like the following:

"My dearest, inexpressibly dearest, Caroline. Your flower is the one flower I have seen, or see or shall see. When it fades I will bless it till it shines again. Caroline, if you meant to make me most exquisitely happy...and you did surely mean it..." and so it goes on for awhile. Yeah, a "high school student" wrote that. Right. A high school student named Robert Browning.

As you could probably guess, someone finds out that Caroline's boyfriend is really Robert Browning. Who should find out but a Wakefield!. In the most amazing of coincidences, Liz has been working on a play about Elizabeth Barrett Browning. And Robert Browning and poems and stuff. For a contest. Crazy, huh? When Liz practices her play in front of her family, Jessica recognizes some lines from Adam's last letter.

This means big trouble since Liz is planning on performing her play, poems and all, in front of any sucker dumb enough to watch. Well, it is part of the contest. Out of fear for her life and as a favor to the rest of humanity, Caroline begs Liz not to perform her play and Liz, being herself, actually considers it. Knowing Elizabeth Wakefield, I'd be surprised if she didn't. Fortunately for everyone, only Caroline's world is about to end.

The whole storyline comes to a great climax at a party at Lila's that's all about introducing Adam to Sweet Valley. If I were Adam, I wouldn't be real. I'd also be terrified to ever enter that loony bin of a town. And I'd be just a bit scared of the crazies who think some random girl's boyfriend coming to town is cause for celebration. The whole thing is basically because Jess, as usual, wants revenge. Nice girl.

So how does Caroline get around the whole "if Adam doesn't exist he can't come to a party" thing? Rent-a-Date, of course! (Click on the link, I dare ya!) So, Caroline gets a fake date (with the help of Elizabeth) and the guy actually kind of seems to like her. However, in typical crappy book form, Caroline admits that she faked the whole thing. But it's totally okay 'cause, you know, she was honest. And she's trying to mend her gossiping ways. Really.

Oh, in case you were wondering, Liz won the play writing contest. Was there any doubt?

In Other Plot Land, that magical place, things are a little crazy for the Wakefield family. Of course this plot is totally about them. Mrs. Alice Wakefield has been offered a great job in San Francisco. Since Sweet Valley is the absolute bestest place to live in the entire world, Elizabeth and Jessica just can't let her take the job. Because coincidences are the norm in Sweet Valley and because Caroline Pearce is both head and deputy gossip, Caroline learns about Alice's job offer before the twins do. When Jessica hears the news (from Caroline, of course), she gets so upset she almost doesn't literally throw herself on the first reasonably cute guy she sees.

The Terrific Terrible Twins, knowing that Sweet Valley is the best place in the world, turn into obnoxious tour guides in order to convince their parents to stay. Basically, Sweet Valley has decent restaurants, nice scenery, and some other stuff that they couldn't possibly have in San Francisco. Plus some family history. And the kind of "with friends like these, who needs enemies?" friends. But who cares about that?

Jess and Liz don't even mention the things that really make Sweet Valley great: people only age in strange increments and basically get to be one age for a really long time. Pro: eternal youth! If you're feeling like an ugly duckling, chances are all you need to do is get a makeover and change your wardrobe. Voila! Instant beauty and popularity. Funny how that doesn't exist in most of the world. Another pro for Sweet Valley! Eh, that's all I've got.

So how does this plot end? Anyone have a guess? Hands raised, who thinks the Wakefields move to San Francisco? Anyone?

Just a few points...

  • Lila wore a dress from The Designer Shop to the fancy party mentioned at the beginning of the book. There's another pro for Sweet Valley! Store names! Want something unique? Try the Unique Boutique! Want something designer? Try The Designer Shop... there's no place finer!
  • When Liz tells Caroline about her play and the contest, Caroline assures Liz that she'll win and actually, she bets no one else will even enter. Liz refers to that as a "left-handed compliment". As a left-handed person, I resent that. And, um, lefties are better. So there.
  • Not only does Caroline tell Jessica about the possibility of moving, she uses her gossipy big mouth to mention it to Elizabeth at a pretty bad time. Like before Liz has told her boyfriend Todd (but after Liz had imagined writing Browning-style poems to her love from San Francisco). Annoying as the Wakefields are, that wasn't nice, Caroline.
  • As soon as she learns about Adam, Anita offers to give Caroline a makeover. That's so Sweet Valley. And what a sister, only caring when there's a boy involved. Anita really is sweet.
  • There's some foreshadowing throughout the book for the next book which is about Bruce Patman and Regina Morrow, two people I care about not at all. I'm only mentioning it because it takes up space and um, well that's about it.
  • Lila Fowler will believe just about anything. Even when Jess tells her that Adam's letters were fake, Lila still believes Adam exists. And she totally bought it when Jess mentioned that gullible was taken out of the dictionary. Actually, Liz kinda believes in Adam, too.
  • I had planned on keeping track of the number of times Caroline shoved her foot in her mouth. I lost count though, so, sorry. It was a lot.

So, anyway, I think I have to reconsider my girl crush on Caroline Pearce. She really is pretty obnoxious even with the lesson learning and all. I'm not really feeling the love on this one so sorry for the lack of detail/points. I think next up'll be a book by Peter Lerangis. Yes, that Peter Lerangis.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Getting Rid of Margarine by Betty Ren Wright

This book was published under two titles: first as Getting Rid of Marjorie, then as Getting Rid of Katherine. With that in mind, I'm calling it Getting Rid of Margarine. Next time, person who decided to change the book's name, think a little more carefully. I actually own two copies of this book, one under each title so one of them'll be a giveaway. I'd hoped that there'd be a few "Marjories" in "Katherine" but sadly, it was not to be. On to the post; it'll be a short one tonight.

Getting Rid of Margarine begins at the end of the school year. The main character, Emily, is pretty much looking forward to a not terribly exciting summer of hanging out with her grandfather. Meanwhile, Emily's best friend Sally will be spending the summer writing a book. Emily's just a little jealous of Sally who's pretty, talented, and all that good stuff Emily isn't. It's only interesting because Sally knows it. Plus, she thinks pretty highly of herself and her talents--she thinks Emily with the boring summer ahead of her wishes she could write a book too.

Turns out, Em's summer isn't gonna be so boring after all--Gramps (it's Grandpa really) has been away and while he was away he, er, um, uh, got married. I don't think Emily realized old people could do that.

So, the new wife's name is Margarine, she's like buttah, a city person (Em and fam live in the country), and afraid of nature. Emily's real but dead grandmother is in the process of being canonized and no one, but NO ONE should even think about taking her place. With the support of the dairy-filled state of Wisconsin in which she lives, Emily decides to do what the butter union deemed impossible: get rid of Margarine.

Possible Margarine removal methods include:
1. Scaring her with a snake
2. Convincing her there's an intruder at night
3. Carefully inspecting all toast, baked potatoes, and homemade baked goods and promptly discarding, no, burning any items that could conceivably contain or be covered with Margarine.

Yes, Emily carries out her plans with the snake and the fake intruder, unfortunately she likes cookies too much to bother with number three. Although Margarine is scared out of her mind by items one and two, she doesn't leave.

So, it turns out to be a disappointing summer all around. Sally's book sucks (remember Sally?), Margarine buys cookies at the store instead of baking them herself, and Emily totally fails at her mission. No surprises, really.

Because all books must end with a Valuable Lesson, Emily realizes that maybe Margarine isn't so bad, it's important to watch your cholesterol, and even if your house was broken into while you were at home and a young child, there's no need to be afraid that someone will ever try to break into your house again. Oh, and if you play the piano and have a step-granddaughter who doesn't, lessons might be a good way to bond with her. Which is how Emily eventually decides to spend her summer.

There it is, short and sweet. Now go have a cookie.