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: Oooh...it'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.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

My Favorite Children's Book #4: Madeline's Rescue

What was your favorite picture book as a child? What book did you return to, over and over again, until your parents were completely sick of it? Was it Madeline? Max & the Wild Things? Paddington? This feature shows off some of my favorite children's books, in no particular order, and I also want to hear what you think! So comment below. :)



Madeline's Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans

I asked my sister, A, what children's book I should do this week and she said Madeline, because "she has red hair like me". And then my mom mentioned a Madeline doll she wanted and it seemed like that was the book to do. Turns out I don't actually have the first Madeline book though! I really thought I did too, weird. This is the second book in the series, published in 1953 and a Caldecott winner in 1954. I always loved finding books with the Caldecott or Newbery seal on them as a kid, it made them seem so special. (Which I suppose they were or they wouldn't have won.)

I'm sure you know the original story of Madeline: "twelve little girls in two straight lines. The smallest one was Madeline." Madeline's Rescue can be taken two ways: the first in that she is rescued from the Seine river by a stray dog and the second in that Madeline herself rescues the dog from living on the streets. This book is super morbid for a children's book.

Poor Madeline would now be dead
But for a dog
that kept its head,
And dragged her safe from a watery grave.

Of course she is safe though and they take the dog home with them and name her Genevieve. All is well until the evil board of trustees arrive for their annual inspection and Lord Cucuface (really, that's his name) makes the dog leave. The girls scour the city, looking for her but she is gone. That evening, Genevieve shows back up at the home and the girls are ecstatic to see her. Even more so when she has puppies. (How and when did she have time for that?!) In the end, each of the twelve girls has her own puppy to walk in two straight lines and Genevieve has Madeline.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: "Jane Eyre" Classic a Month #7.2014

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
2.5 out of 5 stars

I've decided that I am not a fan of the Bronte sisters and am definitely more of an Austenite. After the fiasco of Wuthering Heights, I should have known better, but I'd heard so many good things about Jane Eyre, that I decided to give it a shot. Looking back at WH now though, I'd be more likely to give it 1.5 stars. :/ I finished this last week and last weekend, I was super bored so I decided to give the Jane Eyre movie on Netflix a shot. It seems like they added a ton of classic movies/series on there recently. (Maybe because I've been searching for them lol.) I got about halfway thru the movie and will probably finish it this weekend, so I'll try to do a Book vs Movie next week for it.

So, Jane Eyre had some interesting parts in the beginning of the story and then around the middle and towards the ending, but everything else was booooring. They could have taken out 100 pages in between each interesting section and made the book half as long. Part of the problem was that there was a good amount of conversation taking place in French, with no translation. "To speak truth, sir, I don't understand you at all; I cannot keep up the conversation, because it has got out of my depth." Also, there was a strong religious theme, which is fine for some people, I just don't enjoy reading about it too much.

The first part of the book deals with young Jane Eyre, who is an orphan and living with her uncle's widow and her incorrigible children. She has a rough time, barely better than a servant, getting attacked by the eldest boy, completely misunderstand by her guardian. Finally, Mrs Reed has enough and sends Jane to a boarding school and away from the family forever. Jane is elated to be away from them, but unfortunately, the school is not much better. Worse, probably. Run by a religious tyrant, she barely gets fed, lives in near squalor but forced to maintain their high education standards, and has to watch her best friend die. (So sad) But Jane perseveres and eventually the school gets better and she becomes a teacher there. (Remember, back then, girls became teachers as young as 16 or 17.)

After a while and too many pages of introspection, Jane decides to leave the school and magically finds the perfect job in the paper. She travels to a far away place to become a governess for the Rochester household. When she gets there, she is welcomed heartily by Mrs Fairfax, the housekeeper (whom she confuses for the lady of the house) and her charge, the young French child, Adele. Jane begins a somewhat comfortable life there but is still a kind of restlessness. One day, she is taking some letters to town when she runs into a frightful man and his horse and giant dog. Literally. She frightens the horse and the man falls and sprains his ankle. Any guesses who that man is?

Yep, the not-so-dashing Mr Rochester. They make a great point throughout the book of how unattractive both Jane and Mr Rochester are. Which I suppose is rather refreshing to not have practically perfect people, but comes across as overly insistent. "No, no. I am quite ugly. Well, I am quite ugly too!" Psshh... Mr Rochester is an unfriendly, gruff man and of course, Jane falls for him immediately.

Jane to herself: He is not of your order: keep to your caste, and be too self-respecting to lavish the love of the whole heart, soul, and strength, where such a gift is not wanted and would be despised.

And then there is a very large amount of pages of them having witty banter, one-sided conversations of Mr Rochester saying lots of stuff, and how Jane feels about it all. I could not unlove him now, merely because I found that he had ceased to notice me. Mr Rochester throws Jane off for a while by showing an intense interest in a young woman named Blanche, who is one of the "pretty people".  But it's all a (stupid) ruse because Rochester has fallen for Jane as well.

Rochester to Jane: "I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you-especially when you are near to me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame."

This review is so long already, y'all, and I haven't even gotten to the weird parts yet! Let's speed it up, okay? Rochester loves Jane, Jane loves Rochester, he asks her to marry him, she refuses because she's a lowly servant, he doesn't care, convinces her, Mrs Fairfax disapproves, there's a fire in Rochester's bedroom, someone is messing with Jane, Rochester tells her it's all cool, the wedding day comes, and welcome to Crazy Town, population 2: Mr Rochester and his FIRST WIFE THAT HE KEEPS LOCKED UP IN THE ATTIC. Yes, I had to do all CAPS on that, I'm sorry. This is so weird, it doesn't even feel like the same story. Rochester claims it's all perfectly innocent and acceptable, because the first wife is unhinged and mentally ill. And he still wants Jane to stay and be his mistress. Of course, Jane freaks and runs off.

Jane to Rochester: "Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton?-a machine without feelings? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!-I have as much soul as you-and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you."

She travels across the countryside for days and nights and ends up on the doorstep, starving and sick, of the Rivers siblings. Spoiler alert: she's related to them. She convalesces there for a month or so and thanks to St John, the eldest sibling, gets a job in the local town as a schoolteacher. And then there's more weird when he asks her to go on a missionary trip with him to the Middle East...as his wife. She's come to think of him as a brother (she doesn't know she's related yet) and still loves Rochester, so she's like "uh, no. But I'll go as your sister." He refuses and says it's her duty and her mission, etc...She still refuses and around that time, gets a letter forwarded from the Rochester house about a distant uncle who died and left her a ton of money. Then it all comes out that she and the Rivers' are cousins, Jane is ecstatic to finally have family, and she splits the money with them.

Finally, Jane gets happy with her money, decides she is worthy of Rochester and still loves him and needs to see him again, so she takes the trip back to him. There, she finds the house burned to the ground and no one around. She learns from the locals that Rochester was badly injured trying to save his crazy wife but she died and now he is blind and missing a hand and living in the woods somewhere. She runs to him and vows never to leave him again and all that mushy stuff. He can't believe his ears at first, thinking her a spirit that he called to him, but he comes around and asks her to marry him again. She says yes, of course, and then spends the last chapter of the book talking about St John. More weird, right?  And that's it, thank you very much. Why do I always spend the most amount of time on the books I don't like that much? Strange.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

TILT: Reading is Awesome!

What do all the cool kids do these days? They read! Why else would all these teen book movies be so popular these days?! (My sister is getting really sick of all the "dying kid" movies lately lol.) So this week's Things I Love Thursday is dedicated to the cool kids. :)

(If you do not want your product mentioned, please contact me!)


Read TShirt by ShopGibberish --this is the kids version, but they do have adult sized also.

Hot Girls Read Printable by MaidservantOf --yeah, we do! ;) (This shop is on vacation right now, but check back in September!)

Smart Boys Poster by MeganLee --I'm in total agreement!

Reading is for Awesome People Print by IkeStudio --love the colors in this one.


Bonus: This cute little print by Wayah is only $4.00!! Seriously adorable...think how great it would be hanging above a shelf full of Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, etc...!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review: "The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line: Veronica Mars #1"

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line: Veronica Mars #1 by Rob Thomas
3.5 out of 5 stars

Are you a marshmallow? If you said yes, this is the book for you. If you have no idea what I'm talking about and are just craving smores now, stop reading here and go get Veronica Mars season 1 now! Alright, now back to you marshmallows...I figured this would be a good review, since the news about the web series just came out (although I still don't really understand the premise). This book picks up right after the movie, so there may be spoilers for that here. (OMG, the movie was soooo gooood!! *flailing* still 5 months later lol) The first book in the VMars series (yes, it's going to be a series!!) shows Veronica back in Neptune and back in the spy biz, against her dad's wishes.

The best thing about this book is that it is an all new case, it's not a remake of the show or the movie. You get brand new VMars stories. I had a bit of a hard time at first getting into the story and "hearing" Veronica's voice. I've read several reviews that the audiobook (read by Kristen Bell) is very good, so that's what I would suggest to you. Then you can literally hear Veronica's voice! Once I got into it though, it was really good. Most of the favorites are there: Keith, Mac, Wallace. Unfortunately, we don't get much of Logan, as he is off on military duty. Boo. Need more Logan. Shirtless, preferably. Also, more Weevil. He is one of my favorite VMars characters and his story in the movie was just heartbreaking.
(thanks to maneater for the pic!)

The case itself is interesting...it's spring break in Neptune, which is apparently a hot party spot, and girls are going missing. Veronica is approached to help find the girls, since Sheriff New Lamb is just as incompetent as his little brother. Did anyone else find it odd that they made Dan Don's older brother? Veronica takes on the case, because money, and ends up running into someone from her past that she'd never thought she'd see again. Not spoiling it of course, because it could be any of dozens of people, but it was pretty shocking.

Veronica has her smarty-pants on for this case and with Mac and Wallace's help, blows things up for the sheriff and various bad guys. She gets into plenty of trouble along the way, of course. Pretending to be a college girl only interested in how she looks in her bikini, throwing herself at Dick Casablancas (love him, but still want to see him grow up a little), sneaking around and getting caught, a trip to the hospital, tazers, guns, knives, drugs...all a typical day in Neptune.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

TILT: Book Furniture

I am obsessed lately with getting more book space and have started branching out from just plain old bookcases, so I thought this would be a fun Things I Love Thursday. I am especially intrigued by the bookshelves built in and around the bed. I would love that. How about you? Do you have books stacked up into a bedside table? Turned into a chair? Throw a blanket on a stack and sleep on them? ;)


Side Table
Behind the Bed (check out the calligraphy comforter too!)
Staircase
Bed Cocoon 


Drawers
Around the Bed
Chair
Side Table 2

I did manage to turn a few of these colorful Readers' Digest books that my mom found for me into little shelves. Eventually I want to hang them all and spread my Wild Things out on them. :)