Book Review: Sweet Valley High Super Edition #6 – Spring Fever

Book: Sweet Valley High Special Edition #6 – Spring Fever – published by Bantam Books, paperback edition, 233 pages.

Synopsis: The Wakefield twins never expected that spending spring break with their great-aunt and great-uncle in Walkersville, Kansas, would be so exciting. But Jessica and Elizabeth find out that small-town life can have its share of big adventures.

Their vacation gets off to a bad start when the local girls give them the cold shoulder. And Aunt Shirley and Uncle Herman won’t let the twins out of their sight. But things pick up when the girls meet gorgeous identical twins, Alex and Brad Parker. Jessica thinks Alex may be the man of her dreams, but she can’t get away from her overprotective aunt and uncle to find out. Then, Elizabeth makes an unexpected discovery about the Parker twins that could mean big trouble….

Come along to the country with Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield, and catch Spring Fever!

My thoughts: This was one of my favourite “super edition” Sweet Valley High books when I was growing up, it always gave me such a nice summery feeling (apparently I liked summer as a kid? as an adult it’s one of my top 5 most hated things).

The basic premise of the book is that Jessica and Elizabeth take a vacation to visit their Great Aunt and Uncle who live in a small town in Kansas called Walkersville, oh and who of course are never again mentioned in the entire book series. The twins settle into sleepy town life and spend their days sleeping in, eating homemade pie, playing with kittens, and going for walks. I don’t know about you guys but that sounds like a pretty perfect holiday to me. The only downside to life in Walkersville is town meangirl Annie-Sue Sawyer, who decides that she hates the twins and starts making their life difficult. Jessica and Elizabeth can’t seem to figure out what she possibly could have against them. I have to say though, Jessica keeps wearing a fringed jacket that sounds pretty offensive so tbh I’m on team Annie-Sue in this situation.

A carnival comes to town, and the twins meet Alex – a handsome (ooh!) carnie (gross) who tends to the horses (cute). Jessica falls for him almost immediately (shock horror), and they are understandably excited to discover that Alex is also a twin! Jessica comes up with the bright idea that Elizabeth date Alex’s twin brother Brad, despite Elizabeth already having a boyfriend back in Sweet Valley. Poor old Jeffrey French. I was quite shocked that straight-n-narrow Liz went along with this, and even started to have feelings for Brad (of course her morals caught up with her and she put an end to it pretty quickly). Jessica sneaks out every night to meet up with sexy horse wrangler Alex at the carnival, which results in her sleeping in every day and eventually ends up giving Aunt Shirley and Uncle Herman (lol) major anxiety. Clearly they’ve never lived with a teenager before.

Everything comes to a head when Jessica sneaks out one evening and Alex leaves her in charge of Midnight – the rough and ready horse he’s trying to sell. Nasty old Annie-Sue comes along and decides that she wants to ride Midnight, because her father is buying him for her. Perfectly reasonable, except for the fact that Midnight is SKITTISH AF and takes off with Annie-Sue on his back. Jessica saves the day, and Annie-Sue is grateful – revealing that she’s only been making Jessica’s life difficult and blackmailing her for her lush bejeweled 80’s headbands because she’s jealous. Didn’t see that coming!!! The girls make up and all is forgiven, although Jessica’s secret shame of sneaking out at night has finally been revealed to Shirl n Herm in all the drama. It’s nicely swept under the rug though, and in the end Jessica is permitted to go to the square dance with Alex.

In the meantime, Elizabeth has discovered that Alex does not have a twin and is actually a pretty awful human being who pretended to be two people in an attempt to date both twins at once. Of course Elizabeth chooses not to inform Jessica of this, and instead lets her to along to the dance with Alex despite him being a liar and a generally gross guy. Alls well that ends well though, and the story is wrapped up nicely with the girls getting a lovely send off from the town at the end of the square dance. Farewell Walkersville, it’s time to head back to Sweet Valley!

I remember being obsessed with this cover when I was a kid. On re-reading it I’m mostly annoyed that although Jessica’s gingham dress matches the outfit she wears to the square dance, ELIZABETH’S DOES NOT. She’s supposed to be wearing a red and white checked shirt, but I guess that might have looked a bit too matchy matchy.

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

Book: My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier – published by Allen & Unwin, kindle edition, 375 pages.

Synopsis: ‘I promise,’ said Rosa. ‘I won’t kill and I won’t make anyone else kill.’

I can’t see the loophole. Since the guinea pig there’s been nothing. Months now without Rosa killing as much as a mosquito

As far as I know.

Che Taylor has four items on his list: 1. He wants to spar, not just train in the boxing gym. 2. He wants a girlfriend. 3. He wants to go home. 4. He wants to keep Rosa under control.

Che’s little sister Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and so good at deception that Che’s convinced she must be a psychopath. She hasn’t hurt anyone yet, but he’s certain it’s just a matter of time. And when their parents move them to New York City, Che longs to return to Sydney and his three best friends. But his first duty is to his sister Rosa, who is playing increasingly complex and disturbing games. Can he protect Rosa from the world – and the world from Rosa?

My thoughts: I’d heard very little about this book before picking it up, except for the basic synopsis. A story about a child psychopath? Yes please! This book turned out to be quite different from what I’d expected, but was still an enjoyable read. I think I was expecting more of a thriller element to the story, and although there were some creepy moments and an underlying current of something not quite right, it wasn’t as shocking as I’d thought it would be.

I loved a lot of things about this book. In particular I loved the diversity of characters, and how naturally they all fit into the story and added a richness to it in their own way. I loved the aspects of psychology that flowed through the book, although I would have liked more of a focus on this I can understand why it wasn’t fleshed out as much as I would have liked. It was particularly interesting for me to read a book with Australian characters, which for some reason is not something I do very often. I really should do something about that. I had to laugh to myself when phrases like ‘tracky dacks’ came up, because I feel like a lot of people probably would have scratched their heads over that.

All in all I really enjoyed this book, I found myself getting swept into the story whenever I would pick it up.

Rating: 6/10

Library Haul

I love our local library. I love to wander around and browse all of the shelves, and see all of the titles that I’ll probably never get around to reading (a girl can dream, right?). For the most part, I reserve my books on the library’s website, and then go and pick them up in one go once they’ve all been set aside. Here’s my latest library “haul” of books I’d recently reserved:

The Special Ones by Em BaileyHe keeps us here because we’re Special. Esther is one of the Special Ones – four people who live under his protection in a remote farmhouse. The Special Ones are not allowed to leave, but why would they want to? Here, they are safe from toxic modern life, safe from a meaningless existence, safe in their endless work. He watches them every moment of every day, ready to punish them if they forget who they are – all while broadcasting their lives to eager followers on the outside. Esther knows he will renew her if she stops being Special, and that renewal almost certainly means death. Yet she also knows she’s a fake. She has no ancient wisdom, no genuine advice to offer her followers. But like an actor caught up in an endless play, she must keep up the performance–if she wants to survive long enough to escape.

Perfect Days by Raphael MontesThe path to true love rarely runs smoothly…Teo, a medical student, meets Clarice at a party. Teo doesn’t really like people, they’re too messy, but he immediately realises that he and Clarice are meant to be together. And if Clarice doesn’t accept that? Well, they just need to spend some time together, and she’ll come to realise that too. And yes, he has bought handcuffs and yes, he has taken her prisoner and yes, he is lying to her mother and to his mother and to the people at the hotel he’s keeping her at, but it’s all for her own good. She’ll understand. She’ll fall in love. She’ll settle down and be his loving wife. Won’t she?

Finding Jake by Bryan ReardonWhile his successful wife goes off to her law office each day, Simon Connolly takes care of their kids, Jake and Laney. Now that they are in high school, the angst-ridden father should feel more relaxed, but he doesn’t. He’s seen the statistics, read the headlines. And now, his darkest fear is coming true. There has been a shooting at school. Simon races to the rendezvous point, where he’s forced to wait. Do they know who did it? How many victims were there? Why did this happen? One by one, parents are led out of the room to reunite with their children. Their numbers dwindle, until Simon is alone. As his worst nightmare unfolds, and Jake is the only child missing, Simon begins to obsess over the past, searching for answers, for hope, for the memory of the boy he raised, for mistakes he must have made, for the reason everything came to this. Where is Jake? What happened in those final moments? Is it possible he doesn’t really know his son? Or he knows him better than he thought?

Kindle Book Haul

I’ve been feeling in the mood for a book haul lately, but unfortunately I have literally NO ROOM on my book shelf for anything new until I read and clear out a few of my existing books. With that in mind I opted for the second best thing – a kindle book haul! Here’s what I picked up:

Hollywood Dirt by Alessandra TorreCole Masten. Abandoned by his superstar wife, Hollywood’s Perfect Husband is now Hollywood’s Sexiest Bachelor: partying hard and screwing even harder. Watch out Los Angeles, there’s a new bad boy in town. Summer Jenkins. That’s me, a small town girl stuck in Quincy, Georgia. I cook some mean chicken and dumplins, can bluff a grown man out of his savings in poker, and was voted Most Friendly my senior year. We were from different worlds. Our lives shouldn’t have collided. But then Cole Masten read a book about my small town. And six months later, his jet landed on our dusty airstrip, and he brought Hollywood with him. From the start, I knew he was trouble. For our town. And for me. Sometimes, opposites just aren’t meant to attract. – I really like Alessandra Torre’s books for a bit of fun and light reading (with a hint of sauciness). I also really love books set in small towns, so hopefully this is something I’ll enjoy.

In A Handful Of Dust by Mindy McGinnisIn a Handful of Dust is set ten years after the first novel, Not a Drop to Drink, as a dangerous disease strikes the community where teenage Lucy lives. When her adoptive mother, Lynn, takes Lucy away from their home and friends in order to protect her, Lucy struggles to figure out what home means. During their journey west to find a new life, the two face nature’s challenges, including hunger, mountains, and deserts – I really enjoyed the first book in this series, although I read it quite awhile ago so hopefully I can still remember the story.

Vivian Versus America by Katie CoyleFor Vivian Apple, the end of the world was just the beginning. Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple has just travelled across the country, fended off roving bands of indoctrinated teenagers, re-evaluated everything she ever thought was true, and uncovered the dark secrets about the recent so-called ‘Rapture’ and the Church of America. And now, she must rescue her maybe-boyfriend Peter from the Church before the world is (supposedly) due to end, which is in less than three months. It’s been a busy apocalypse so far. Stranded in a city on the verge of complete panic, and faced with a society in an ever-increasing state of breakdown, Vivian and her friend Harp don’t even know where to begin looking for Peter. But then a tip leads them to Los Angeles, and the somewhat unlikely location of the Chateau Marmont hotel. Vivian must save the day – or she’ll lose everything worth living for a second time… – I’m halfway through the first book in the series, and really enjoying it so far. I know already that I’m interested in reading the second book but it’s not available at my local library yet, so kindle it is!

Sage’s Eyes by Virginia AndrewsSixteen-year-old Sage is a lonely child. Her adoptive parents watch her obsessively, as if studying her for warning signs of…something. And maybe they’re right to-even she can’t make sense of the strange things she sees and hears. She possesses knowledge that other teenagers don’t, that her parents and teachers-no adult-could possibly have. So when Sage finally makes a friend who understands her alarming gift, he becomes her confidant, a precarious link to the truth about who she really is. For Sage and the alluring new boy at school share many things in common. Perhaps, they’ll learn, far too many things. – As IF I wouldn’t be buying a new VC Andrews book once I discovered that it existed. Her books were a huge part of my teenage years, and I’m excited to see what this one is about. I’d be interested to know if this story is based of one of her earlier ideas (she has passed away, and these are ghost written) or something new, because I have seem some reviews that say it doesn’t read like a Virginia Andrews book. I remain positive though, and I’ll be sure to let you all know what I think when I get around to reading it.