Friday, May 23, 2014

Sweet Valley Twins #60: Ciao, Sweet Valley!

Elizabeth decides that it would be really cool to take part in a foreign exchange student program, so she sends off for more information. When the packet comes, she learns that they can't take part in it because they don't speak a second language. Enter Ned and Alice, who decide that taking in a foreign exchange student is a great idea.

Jessica immediately starts daydreaming about seeing a hot guy show up. When the lady from the program calls, she mishears Giovanna as Giovanni and assumes she's a boy. She tells all the Unicorns, and they start planning a bunch of parties and events to welcome him to town. Amy and Elizabeth have to break the news that it's actually a girl staying with them.

While trying to track down a cot for her, they meet a neighbor named Mrs. Dalone. Her family was from Italy, so she introduces them to spumoni and shows them photos her cousin took. Jessica instantly thinks that Giovanna will be a country bumpkin with no fashion sense and no idea about life in the city city. Elizabeth tries to make her realize that she comes from a big city, but Jessica won't listen.

Cut to Giovanna getting off the plane in a leather jacket Jessica once saw in a magazine and loved. She can barely speak English on the first night, but she has a better handle on it the next day and blames it on her lack of sleep. She quickly lets them know that she's far better than them. Giovanna has her own scooter, drinks coffee at breakfast, has wine with dinner, and even has her own maid. She also looks down on their strawberries for not being fresh and wrinkles her nose at the idea of pancakes.

When it comes time to introduce her to the kids at school, things get even worse. Even though he's Lila's boyfriend, Rick falls all over himself to be around her. All the guys in school go all out to get her attention, including Bruce and Aaron, Jessica's boyfriend. The Unicorns are less than happy and demand that she do something about it.

Jessica is supposed to move Giovanna into her room halfway through her visit, but she keeps making up excuses. The twins take her to see Mrs. Dalone, and she acts like a huge bitch. She complains about her accent, the way she speaks Italian, and even the cakes that she made for their visit. Once Jessica also sees her sharing ice cream with Aaron, she decides to make her pay.

The twins planned a pool party for Giovanna, and everyone in school shows up. Janet, Lila, and Ellen are the last to arrive. Lila shows up in a red bikini, which was supposedly a one of a kind, but it's the same suit that Giovanna has. Every guy flocks around her and ignores everyone else.

Giovanna has to write an essay comparing America and Italy and read it in class. Lila and Jessica offer to "help" her with her English, but Lila actually changes the entire essay to talk about how cool America is without mentioning anything about Italy. She gives it to her at the last minute, and when Giovanna tries to stop reading it, the teacher makes her go on.

When they get back that night, she tells them that she called the head of the program and made arrangements to leave the next day. The twins finally tell her how her actions affected everyone around her. Giovanna claims that she never knew people were upset with her. She says that she doesn't really know all the right words and sometimes says the wrong thing and that she never meant to hurt anyone.

They go back to see Mrs. Dalone so Giovanna can apologize. She announces that she planned her own trip to Italy, and the two make plans to get together. The book ends with Giovanna on her last day in Sweet Valley. Suddenly, she's best buddies with both twins and teams up with Jessica to tease Elizabeth about being so good in school.

The B-plot deals with Mr. Seigel and Mrs. Wyler sneaking around school. They keep whispering in the halls and spending a lot of time together. The Unicorns try to figure out what's going on, and Giovanna tells them that it's clear they are secretly in love and planning a wedding. They buy them a gift and make a big speech in school, but they aren't getting married. They're just working on a new science class.

*The Wakefields plan to turn the den into a bedroom when they think they have a male student, but when they learn their student is a girl, they decide to have her sleep with the twins. Why can't she still have her own room?

*Check out that cover! Most of these bathing suits are nowhere near appropriate for sixth grade girls.

*Then again, Giovanna wears full makeup, leather pants, and a pair of leather boots to middle school.

*Giovanna really is a little bitch. She turns up her nose at everything, treats everyone pretty rudely, and then acts surprised that people don't like her.

*She also flirts with every guy who crosses her path, and then can't believe that people thought she was flirting or trying to steal their guys.

*The Unicorns present is a silver picture frame that costs $39.99, which is probably the most affordable thing ever mentioned in one of these books.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #2: Holiday Mischief

It's almost Christmas in Sweet Valley, so what better time to pull a choral competition out of nowhere? Sweet Valley Middle School made it into the national choral competition, but since they're competing against bigger schools, they need ten more people. They decide to hold an open audition for some new singers. Since Jessica and Elizabeth were far too busy for chorus before, they decide to audition now.

Right before the auditions, they run into Anna Barrett. She seems super nervous and reveals that she can't sing. She's adopted and recently found a letter about how her older sister Leslie was adopted by an Australian guy and his wife. They're moving to the embassy in Washington DC, and since that's where the event takes place, she knows that she has to go there. Her parents won't tell her about Leslie, but they did say she could go to the contest. Since the teacher lets them audition in groups of four, she partners with Ellen and the twins. They all pretend she's singing, and all four get picked for the chorus.

As soon as they get to DC, they run into Sherrie. Not only is she super pretty, but she has the voice of an angel and is the lead soloist for a school out of Ohio, which won the last three years in a row. She's also a 12-year-old bitch, who only cares about winning and making the Sweet Valley girls look like idiots. They all wind up in a sledding race, and she nearly runs Jessica off the hill.

Anna really wants to meet Leslie, but she doesn't know what to do or how to find her sister. She also needs to keep hiding the fact that she can't sing. Jessica squirts disappearing ink on her at one point just so she can skip the solo contest, which would involve singing in front of their teacher. They find the embassy, and Jessica comes up with a plan to help them sneak away.

She and Ellen buy some fake bugs and hide them inside a lozenge tin like Sherrie has. Ellen switches tins with her dinner during, Sherrie opens it and sees the bugs, and screams. When she blames the prank on Jessica, everyone looks at Elizabeth. It turns out that Anna and Jessica rushed off earlier. The teacher wants to find them, but Liz lies and says that Anna had a sore throat and Jessica tried to help her.

Sherrie then sees Jessica and Anna sneaking out of the house. She runs to tell their teachers and lies, saying that they said something about meeting some boys. Cut to the girls arriving at the embassy. They sneak in by following a single couple around. This is all so ridiculous, but basically, they somehow manage to run around the embassy without anyone seeing them.

They find some guy stealing something, a cute teenage boy shows up, the man starts chasing them, and the teenager helps them escape. It turns out that he's the ambassador's son, Anna mentions her sister, he tells her that his sister is just a baby, and surprise! He's actually Leslie, as in Leslie is actually her older brother. He introduces them to his parents, tells them about the thief, and they go on a hunt for the guy.

Jessica recognizes him by the ring he was wearing, and it turns out that he took the cook's place. They arrest him, find the real cook, and the ambassador celebrates with them. Elizabeth tells their teachers where the girls went, the teachers show up, and everyone celebrates again. Anna admits that she can't sing, but it's totally okay because they all get their picture in the newspaper.

Sherrie thinks they just made up everything to make themselves look better, but she also wants to know all about the embassy. The competition finally takes place, and naturally Sweet Valley does awesome. Not only do they win first place, but Dana wins some big alto thing and Jessica ties with Sherrie for first place in the soprano section. She doesn't really care though because Leslie sent her flowers and he's super cute.

*So basically there are 10 open spots, and the twins and their friends get four of those spots. How does that even work? Why wouldn't the teacher want to hear each person sing on their own instead of listening to random groups? Plus, what kind of singing teacher wouldn't be able to tell that someone wasn't singing?

*They literally don't hold a single rehearsal before leaving for DC. The teacher doesn't even pick soloists until they get there.

*I was in choir in school, and we rehearsed every day and every day after school leading up to a competition. There is no way that Sweet Valley would even place at something like this let alone win.

*The teacher lets Anna and Elizabeth take a cab across Washington DC on their own so she can change clothes after the ink incident. Do they even give a shit about their students?

*The thief was supposedly a spy, who stole a random document from the embassy, but they never say what he stole. He's also the worst spy ever because he actually goes back to working as a cook with the document in his shoe instead of you know, getting the hell out of there.

*How the heck would Leslie's parents get the chance to adopt him? His dad even says that he had a top secret job and had to move all the time. Would an agency really think that was an appropriate lifestyle for a kid?

*It's nice that Jessica wins a competition without ever practicing once, especially since Elizabeth even mentions early in the book that they had to sing songs they never heard before.

*Bruce Patman is in chorus. How random is that? It's also a little odd that they make it seem like he was in chorus beforehand.

*Jessica wants to get a picture of the president for Lila, but Ellen rightly points out that Lila would care more if it was a picture of Johnny Buck.

*I'm pretty surprised that they didn't get to meet the president. I thought they met celebrities everywhere they went!