Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sweet Valley High #45 Family Secrets, On the Run, and #46 Decisions

In Sweet Valley High #45, Family Secrets, cousin Kelly comes to visit the Wakefields.  Kelly is unhappy that her mother plans to remarry, and Kelly's mother hopes that Kelly can adjust to the idea while she stays with the Wakefields.

Kelly idolizes her father, who is abusive, but that fact has been hidden from Kelly.  Liz and Jess wish that they could tell Kelly the truth, but they have been forbidden from telling her.

I found it interesting that Kelly falls in a love with a boy who has the same manipulative personality as her father.

I enjoyed this book.

In Sweet Valley High Super Thriller, On the Run, Liz and Jess continue to work as interns during the summer at the newspaper.  Liz becomes friendly with Eric Hankman, who just arrived in Sweet Valley.  Jessica's friend, Darcy, thinks she recognizes Eric, and she soon believes that Eric is a murderer.  Jessica fears for Liz's safety.

I did not like this book.  It bored me.

In Sweet Valley High #46, Decisions, Robin Wilson's rich aunt will pay for her college tuition, but Robin is required to go to her aunt's alma mater.  Robin's boyfriend, George, takes for granted that Robin would rather stay in Sweet Valley instead of doing what her aunt wants.  Robin feels like neither George nor her aunt cares about what she thinks.

Jessica is hired by Alex Kane to watch over his younger sister.  Alex is a serious music student who practices for hours each day.  He needs Jessica to watch his sister so that he can practice.

I wanted to slap Jessica during this story.  Jessica falls in love with Alex and does everything she can to distract him from his music.  She can't understand why Alex is so involved in his music and won't pay attention to her.  Think, Jessica.  Why were you hired?

I enjoyed this book.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Sweet Valley High #42 Caught in the Middle, #43 Hard Choices, and #44 Pretenses

In Sweet Valley High #42, Caught in the Middle, Sandra Bacon and Manuel Lopez have fallen in love.  Unfortunately, Sandra's parents are prejudiced against Latinos.  They believe that all Latinos are untrustworthy.  Sandra tries to bring up the subject, but her parents won't budge.

When Manuel is accused of a crime, Sandra must decide whether to tell the truth—that she was with him and that he is innocent—or lose Manuel forever.

This story is still relevant today.  The statements that Sandra's parents make in this book are exactly the same as ones I hear people making nowadays.

On page 40, Liz and Sandra go into the student lounge so that they can be alone to talk privately.  I have been wondering about the student lounge ever since early in the series.  Why is it that no students are ever in the student lounge except for the ones who need to talk privately?  Additionally, isn't having a student lounge just asking for trouble?  Why would a high school have a private place where students can gather without faculty supervision?  Yikes.

On page 69, Jessica and Cara work on Lila's birthday banner in the student lounge.  The banner is for a surprise party.  How do they know Lila won't walk in?  I guess because nobody is ever in the lounge except for the students who are in the book's current scene.

I enjoyed this book.

In Sweet Valley High #43 Hard Choices, Enid's grandmother comes to live with Enid and her mother.  Enid expects to have a wonderful relationship with her beloved grandmother, but she finds that Mrs. Langevin has changed.  Mrs. Langevin acts helpless and sullen, needing someone to watch after her constantly.  Enid soon finds that she has no life, and that all she can do is take care of her grandmother.  Will Enid's life ever be the same?

I have not enjoyed reading about Enid's problems in the past, but in this book, I am totally Team Enid.  I really felt for her and was quite absorbed by the story as I wondered how the conflict with Enid's grandmother would be resolved.

This is a very good book.

In Sweet Valley High #44, Pretenses, Cara Walker feels like her relationship with Steven Wakefield has gone stale.  Jessica encourages Cara to add mystery to the relationship.  In short, she should make Steven jealous.  What kind of idiot would follow Jessica's dumb advice?

I cannot stand these boring Cara and Steven books where the two of them come up with some stupid reason for not trusting each other.  We've already read a variant of this story before.  So here we go again.

Cara sees Steven reading a letter, and she wonders why Steven acts weird about it.  The letter is from a secret admirer, and so why wouldn't Steven act weird about it?  What's bizarre is that Cara wonders why Steven acts weird about the letter.  The reason this is bizarre is because Cara is the one who wrote the letter, so she knows what is in the letter.  This plot is so dumb!

I did not enjoy this book.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Sweet Valley High #40 On the Edge, #41 Outcast, and Double Jeopardy

In Sweet Valley High #40, On the Edge, Amy Sutton and Bruce Patman work on a school project together.  They spend lots of time together, and Bruce has fallen under Amy's spell.  Everyone in school knows except for Bruce's girlfriend, Regina Morrow.  When Regina finally learns about the relationship, she is devastated and becomes friendly with a boy who runs with a crowd that does drugs.

I took the Sweet Valley High series very seriously when I was a teen.  I adored the books and the characters, especially Regina Morrow.  One day, probably in 1988, I was in a bookstore looking at the books that were available, and I chanced to read the summary on the back of #41, which is the next title after this one.  I was devastated to learn that Regina Morrow dies of a rare reaction to cocaine in #40.

Regina was so important to me that I quit reading the Sweet Valley High books.  So long as I never read any books from #40 or higher, then I could pretend that nothing ever happens to Regina.  It was in 1988 that I read my first Christopher Pike book, Last Act, and his books took the place of Sweet Valley High.

I am now so far removed from my idealistic teenage views that Regina's death does not bother me like it did back then.  I wish some other character had died instead, but I can accept that Regina did.

I enjoyed this book despite the horrible ending.

In Sweet Valley High #41, Outcast, everyone at Sweet Valley High blames Molly Hecht for Regina's death since Regina died at Molly's party.  Molly has become an outcast.  She tries to apologize to Liz Wakefield and to her friend Justin Belson, but both of them snub her.  Molly finally turns to Buzz, the drug dealer who supplied the drugs that killed Regina.  Buzz acts like he cares about Molly, and she has no one else.

Jessica is rather giving in this book.  She comes up with the idea to create a scholarship fund in Regina's name.

The Pi Beta Alpha sorority is compared to other school clubs.  I started thinking about this.  Why does the sorority not have a faculty sponsor?  Furthermore, why does a high school have a sorority?  Sweet Valley High is a strange place.

Sweet Valley apparently has only one drug dealer, and his name is Buzz.  If they can only get Buzz arrested, then Sweet Valley will once again be the perfect place with no drugs.

It is quite realistic how the school turns on Molly.  On page 127, Mr. Collins tells Liz to consider Molly's pain and how she is feeling.  Finally, Liz comes around and decides to quit blaming Molly.  After all, Regina was the one who used the cocaine.

This is a good book.

In Sweet Valley High Super Thriller, Double Jeopardy, Elizabeth and Jessica get summer internships at the newspaper.  Jessica immediately attaches herself to a young reporter and comes up with crazy mysteries to try to gain his interest.  Pretty soon, he doesn't trust Jessica after he learns that she made up the stories.

Late one night, Jessica enters the parking garage.  She spots a man carrying a bundle.  When an arm falls out of the bundle, Jessica is terrified.  She gets into the Fiat and leaves as fast as she can.  Later, a young woman's body is found.  Steven's friend, Adam, is accused of the murder.  The victim was his girlfriend.  Jessica knows he is innocent and sets out to find the culprit.

I enjoyed this book.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Sweet Valley High #37 Rumors, #38 Leaving Home, and #39 Secret Admirer

In Sweet Valley High #37, Rumors, Susan Stewart was raised by her aunt.  She has plenty of money and has always been told that her mother is someone wealthy.  Susan will not be told her mother's identity until she turns 18.

Meanwhile, Susan has been invited to the exclusive Bridgewater Ball.  Lila Fowler is jealous and spreads a vicious rumor that Susan's mother is criminally insane.  Susan's aunt won't tell her anything, so Susan believes that the rumor is true.  Susan is confused and lonely, feeling that she has lost everything.

Jessica believes that Mrs. Wakefield is pregnant.  She and Liz drop hints, but their parents won't reveal anything.  Jessica begins spying on her mother.

As usual, the subplot is hilarious.

On page 50, we learn that Jessica borrows her mother's clothes in addition to Liz's.  Really?  We know the twins are identical, but their mother must be the same perfect size 6 and the same height.  Wow.

From page 140:
"Liz!  Emergency!"

"What?  What is it?"  Elizabeth looked up from the book she was reading.  Jessica's emergencies usually involved running out of Diet Coke or finding a split end.
This is a very good book.

In Sweet Valley High #38 Leaving Home, Liz has her heart set on going to boarding school in Switzerland.  She applies and will be interviewed for a scholarship.  Jessica and Steven are horrified and decide to do whatever they can to ruin Liz's chances of getting admitted to the exclusive school.

Winston Egbert purchases a lottery ticket for the upcoming lottery.  On a trip to the convenience store, Winston's jacket gets taken accidentally by a man, and Winston is left with the man's jacket.  Winston's lottery ticket was in his jacket, and he now has the man's lottery ticket.  The lottery ticket wins the prize of $25,000, but only Winston knows that the money isn't really his.

The main plot is annoying.  Jessica and Steven are very mean to Liz and ruin Liz's dream.  If this story had been set in any universe other than Sweet Valley, there's no way that Liz would have forgiven them.

The $25,000 lottery prize seems a bit low.  With inflation, the prize is now worth just $55,000.  That's still a lot of money for a high school student to win, but it's low by modern lottery standards.

I like the lottery subplot much better than the main plot.  The main plot is just weird.

This is a good book.

In Sweet Valley High #39, Secret Admirer, Lynne Henry creates a personal ad feature for the school newspaper.  Penny Ayala has never had a boyfriend, and at Liz's urging, she takes out an ad in the column.  Penny goes with a bizarre comedic ad, thinking that it will give her a chance with a boy who thinks the same way she does.

Unknown to Penny, her ad is answered by a group of boys who are playing a prank on her.  Liz finds out, and she worries that Penny will get hurt.

Liz is rather mean in this book.  She decides to get revenge on the boy who is responsible to thinking up the prank.  Her behavior is quite out of character and more like what we would expect from Jessica.

I enjoyed this book.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Sweet Valley High #35 Out of Control, Spring Fever, and #36 Last Chance

In Sweet Valley High #35, Out of Control, Aaron Dallas is going through difficult times.  His parents are having problems, and Aaron is full of rage.  Aaron picks fights and gets into trouble.  Liz tells Jeffrey that Aaron needs help, but Jeffrey sticks behind his best friend.  Will Aaron's problems drive Liz and Jeffrey apart?

Jessica decides to go into business.  She begins selling Tofu-Glo, an all-natural cosmetics line.  As is typical, Jessica's business scheme does not work out well.

Heather Sanford is Aaron's girlfriend, and Liz instinctively dislikes her.  This is unusual for Liz, and Liz even makes fun of her.  Later in the story, Liz learns that she misjudged Heather.  It's a rather interesting change for Liz to behave in a Jessica-like fashion.

This is a good book.

In Sweet Valley High Super Edition, Spring Fever, Liz and Jess spend spring break at their great aunt and uncle's house in a small town in Kansas.  Aunt Shirley and Uncle Herman are afraid for the girls to go anywhere alone, and they warn the girls to have nothing to do with the carnival workers.  So of course, Jessica immediately falls in love with one of the carnies.  Jessica sneaks around, Liz covers for her, and all of the girls in town seem to hate the Wakefield twins.

On page 41, going to church is mentioned.  Is church something they only do in Kansas?  It's not been mentioned as an activity in Sweet Valley, California.

It takes around 50 pages before the book becomes at all interesting, and even then, the story isn't that great.

Aunt Shirley and Uncle Herman act like they are around one-hundred and thirty-seven years old.  They are the absolute worst fuddy-duddies.  They are ignorant of everything and don't let the girls have any kind of fun.  Who wants to read a book like this?

I do not like this book.  It's boring and stupid.

In Sweet Valley High #36, Last Chance, Johanna Porter has decided to return to Sweet Valley High.  She dropped out months before, but after reading her deceased mother's diary, she decides to fulfill her mother's wish that she finish high school.  Johanna has a rough time in school, but the one bright spot is Peter DeHaven.

Peter seems to like Johanna, but he is currently dating Amy Sutton.  Peter assures Johanna that he will soon break up with Amy, but nothing happens.  Johanna becomes more insecure and thinks about dropping out of school again.

The Jessica subplot features Jessica maliciously trying to break up Steven and Cara's relationship for no good reason.  Jessica can be so infuriating.

I find it really funny that Peter does not end up with either Amy or Johanna.  He is so inept and self-centered that Johanna flat-out refuses him.  Way to go, girl!

This is a very good book.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sweet Valley High Winter Carnival, #33 Starting Over, and #34 Forbidden Love

In Sweet Valley High Super Edition, Winter Carnival, the junior and senior classes of Sweet Valley High are looking forward to spending an upcoming weekend at a ski resort.

Liz is feeling jealous of Jessica, because Jessica won a trivia contest.  Also, Jessica has been inconsiderate, and pretty soon, Liz wishes she had never had a sister.  Even worse, Jeffrey is angry with Liz because Liz will miss the first night of the carnival because she plans to go to a rewards ceremony with Todd.

I enjoyed this book when I was a teen, but it doesn't hold up well.  Liz's behavior is quite stupid.  She doesn't tell Jeffrey about the rewards ceremony, making Jeffrey angry.  She then doesn't understand why Jeffrey is angry.  Even worse and most baffling, Liz takes Jessica's dumb advice about how she needs to make Jeffrey jealous.  Ugh!

This book is just mediocre.

In Sweet Valley High #33, Starting Over, Dana Larson's cousin, Sally, arrives in Sweet Valley to live with her family.  Dana is eager for Sally to fit in, and she is a bit ashamed that Sally was raised in foster homes.  Dana wants Sally to forget about all of that, and she pretty much forces Sally to take on all of her interests.  Dana just knows that Sally will be so happy to live with the Larsons.

Dana is rather annoying in this story.  I really enjoyed reading about Sally and her adjustment problems.

The Jessica subplot is the best.  Jessica acquires a new dog and keeps it inside the house hidden from her parents in an attempt to prove that she can take care of a dog.  I especially like when the dog eats through the washing machine hose, and Jessica has to conceal this slight problem from her parents.

This is a very good book.

In Sweet Valley High #34, Forbidden Love, Maria Santelli and Michael Harris have fallen in love.  The problem is that their parents hate each other because of a bad business deal.  Everything seems perfect when Michael proposes to Maria, but then Michael becomes overly possessive.  Maria begins to have second thoughts.

This is a good book.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Sweet Valley High #30 Jealous Lies, #31 Taking Sides, and #32 The New Jessica

In Sweet Valley High #30, Jealous Lies, Sandra Bacon's best friend, Jean West, has been nominated for membership in Pi Beta Alpha.  Sandra doesn't want Jean in Pi Beta Alpha, because the sorority is all she has that Jean doesn't.

Meanwhile, Steven decides to quit college and take a job on a ship.  The Wakefield family is horrified, but Steven will not listen.  They use reverse psychology, acting like they are happy to see him leave in hope that he will change his mind.

This is a very good book.

In Sweet Valley High #31, Taking Sides, Jeffrey French is a new student at Sweet Valley High.  Enid has a crush on him, while Lila decides that Jeffrey is the boy for her.  Liz helps Enid get to know Jeffrey, while Jessica schemes to keep Jeffrey interested in Lila.

Liz soon realizes that Jeffrey likes her, but she reacts by trying harder to get Jeffrey to like Enid.  Liz makes a mess of the situation, risking her friendship with Enid as well as a possible future with Jeffrey.

Liz and Jessica's annoying younger cousin Jenny stays with the family.  Jenny attaches herself to Jessica and to Jessica's current love interest.  Jessica can't spend any time alone with him, and he even seems to like Jenny a lot.

My favorite scene in the book is towards the end when Liz is crying by herself on the beach.  Jessica comes to her and comforts her, helping Liz to see that she does like Jeffrey.  It's wonderful to see Jessica comforting her sister instead of scheming against her.

The early part of the story is rather annoying.  Liz's behavior is stupid, but the story does become quite enjoyable once it becomes apparent that Liz has fallen for Jeffrey and doesn't even know it.

This is a very good book.

In Sweet Valley High #32, The New Jessica, Jessica is tired of people mistaking her for Liz.  She dyes her hair black and adopts a sophisticated and vaguely foreign persona.  Liz is crushed, feeling like she has lost her twin sister and that Jessica has rejected her.  Can Liz get her sister back?

I enjoyed this book.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Sweet Valley High #28 Alone in the Crowd, #29 Bitter Rivals, and Malibu Summer

In Sweet Valley High #28, Alone in the Crowd, Lynne Henry feels like a misfit.  She has no friends, and everyone ignores her.  Lynne loves to play the guitar and write songs.  When The Droids announce a songwriting contest, Lynne decides to enter, but she does so anonymously.

Lynne has always had a crush on Guy Chesney, and he immediately falls in love with the anonymous songwriter.  But Lynne is certain that she can never live up to Guy's expectations, so she tells no one that she wrote the song.

This book is quite unrealistic, like most books in this series, but I have always loved it.

In Sweet Valley High #29, Bitter Rivals, Liz's childhood best friend, Amy Sutton, has returned to Sweet Valley!  Liz is thrilled, and she just knows that Enid and Amy will love each other.

Unknown to Liz, Enid immediately takes a disliking to Amy.  Amy is silly and vain.  She is not at all like Liz's description of her.  Liz is blind to the change and to Enid's feelings.  Will Enid lose Liz's friendship?

I enjoyed this book.

In Sweet Valley High Super Edition, Malibu Summer, Elizabeth and Jessica have taken jobs as mother's helpers in Malibu.  Jessica takes the job that she thinks is better, but it turns out that Elizabeth gets to stay with a fabulously wealthy family while Jessica is stuck in a small house.  Jessica schemes to get Elizabeth to switch with her, but Elizabeth refuses. 

The summer is full of surprises, and Liz unexpectedly falls in love for the first time since losing Todd.  Jessica has a romance of her own, and both girls find themselves in difficult situations.

On page 9, Lila informs Liz and Jessica that she hopes to fall in love this summer since "[t]here are a lot of great-looking girls in Malibu."  I was taken aback, since Lila has so far only been interested in boys.  The book I read is the first printing, and "girls" was changed to "boys" in later printings.

This book held up well, and I enjoyed it as much as I did years ago.