Sunday, 21 August 2011

Tribute to a Childhood favorite

So, as I begin my foray into the adventure of writing about the books I am reading, it seems wrong not to mention the books that turned me into the book-a-holic I am now.

The first chapter-ed novel I ever read was Goblins in the Castle by Bruce Coville.
Just exploring the dark, scary dungeon
 of Toad-in-a-Cage Castle, NBD
I read it 2 pages at a time to my dad before bed when I was about 4-5 years old. After this I was given a Sweet Valley Kids series book in my Easter basket, and it pretty much changed my life! The "Easter Bunny" brought it for me because one of the main characters was named Jessica (which if you couldn't have guessed, is my name). From there I spent YEARS reading all the Sweet Valley books I could get my hands on. There was a used book store around the corner from our house that if you brought in used books, they would allow you to trade for 75% of what they believed the value of the book you were bringing to be. So, I packed up all my Bernstein Bears, and Little Golden Books into boxes and traded them in. I can't even estimate just how many of them I read. The library in Dartmouth used to allow you to take out 30 books and keep them for 3 weeks. In the summer, I would take out and read 30 SV books every 3 weeks. We used to build forts in the woods behind out house and just read there all day.
Sorry Nancy, you won't have
help from this Girl!
I wasn't a Nancy Drew girl, or a Babysitters Club girl (although I have read many of both), I was a Sweet Valley Girl, and I wanted nothing more than to visit the split level ranch occupied by Ned, Alice, Steven, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. It actually left me with life long twin envy.
Where is my identical Best Friend??

Which leads me nicely into the fact that recently I read Francine Pascal's newest edition to the Sweet Valley collection, being 'Sweet Valley Confidential - Ten Years Later'.
You can just tell from the cover
something isn't going well in SV land!!
I really have a love hate relationship with these types of books being written (I'm currently reading Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares, the 5th book of the Travelling Pants series, which also fits into this category). These books are addictive, you have to read them if you read the others, you can't just ignore that it was written, but you're never going to like what the author ended up doing with their characters. It's either not going to be the way you pictures it (if you did at all) or they do something that just doesn't seem likely to you. That was my problem with Sweet Valley Confidential, it just didn't seem believable. I won't get into plot summaries here, but if you read it I'm almost sure you will agree. In addition to that, Francine Pascal must have felt like she needed a paycheck and FAST, as the book was very poorly written. The language used was bad, the words 'like' and 'so' were inserted so unnaturally into the text that sometimes it was confusing to understand what the point of the sentence was. There were also glaring errors throughout the book. Maybe only die hard fans like myself were able to remember the details of books from the 80's and 90's but I don't think George Fowler is going to be very happy Francine though his name was Richard (Lila's father). Overall, I'm not sure what part of me needed to read this, but as soon as I heard it was published, I read it immediately. It was a bad book. But for me it was like having a cup of coffee with an old friend. Someone who if you met today, you probably wouldn't like them at all, but since you have so much history, you make it work. I made this book work for me, and even though I think the plot is out to lunch, it was nice to take a visit back to see my old friends in Sweet Valley, California.

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