Saturday, June 25, 2011

This Story End Predictably

The lissome woman, easily 15 years my junior, walked up to the desk, smiled brightly, and said "can I grab you for a minute?"

She needed help with her Microsoft Word document. Line spacing or some such nonsense.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Very bad book (series) never grow up

I meant to post a link here for anyone who may follow this blog but not my other one. My review of the very trashy Sweet Valley Confidential.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bad Books for Kids

Recently, at our holiday work party, we had a little friendly contest to see which staff member could find the worst book cover in our collection. Entries were submitted anonymously and voting took place during the pot luck lunch.
This was my contribution:

Ok, ok -- before anyone jumps down my throat for being insensitive to this serious subject, I do agree that there should be children's books that address issues that some kids sadly have to cope with. My problem with this book was the unfortunate title paired with the depressing cover art and the funny image of dad slumped over in his drinkin' chair. The book is over 20 years old and is the last copy in our collection, so I have to imagine that the children's department now has to have something better or at least more relevant. The children's staff member I did show it to was shocked that we still owned it, but did do a very entertaining reading of it using his "storytime" voice.

Of course I didn't win, and the books that placed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd weren't really unintentially funny (ok, maybe 2nd was) so apparently I work with some folks that don't get it(which actually sounds about right). I voted for the book below, as whichever coworker who submitted it understood what the contest was really all about, asking yourself which editor approved that?!

Trixie gets a surprise from her friend's busy hand!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What?! With a side of Why and Noooooo!

Had to post this here after browsing the Urban Outfitters website and seeing this!

For some odd reason (the movie?) Sweet Valley High is being rereleased and sold at Urban Outfitters. I'm curious to know if there was some repackaging and editting/updating going on there too, as you can tell from my previous review that this book is cold boogers on a plate next to the Gossip Girl series or 99% of the young adult lit that is out there right now. I liked the new tagline for this book "Secrets are meant to be spoken" but I would have suggested "Secrets this lame are meant to be kept to oneself, srsly!" And I cannot believe they're charging $5.99 for it when I got mine for a quarter.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Secret secrets are no fun, secret secrets hurt someone"

I decided to take a break from my "serious adult reading" and read the recently donated "serious teen reading" Sweet Valley High: Secrets.
I didn't really get into the Sweet Valley High series -- by the time I was old enough to read them, I wasn't interested (college is a different story). I did read about 30 or so of the Sweet Valley Twins series in grade school. Actually, I am embarrassed to admit I was probably in 5th or 6th grade still reading SVT, while I noticed today that when I cracked open Secrets, it's recommended for ages 12 and up. Alright, I was a bit immature back then and still wanted to be a member of the unicorn club, ok?!

This title was the second in the SVH series following the lives of beautiful California twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield (I recall each SVT book was required at some point to mention their tanned skin, sunkissed hair, eyes as blue as swimming pools) as they navigate the turbulent waters of teen life at Sweet Valley High. I found Secrets to be particularly dull as it spent most of its 118 pages chronicling the break-up of secondary characters Enid and Ronnie after Jessica gives Ronnie a copy of a letter from Enid's ex-boyfriend (discussing how they used "bennies" and once hit a kid with their car!) and instead of being upset with Enid's drug abusing, kid running over past, Ronnie is jealous that she's still communicating with her ex! At the same time there is a rumor going around started by that bitch Lila Fowler that their French teacher is having an affair with the student she tutors after school. This is some scandalous shiz for a 12-year-old!
I thought a more appropriate title for this book would have been Gossip, since that was going on throughout, and I was more than half way through when I remembered that it was about secrets instead: Enid's secret past, the fact that she was keeping it a secret from her jerky boyfriend, and Jessica secretly copying the letter and letting Elizabeth take the rap. Oh yeah, the reason why Jessica is trying to ruin Enid's life is because she doesn't want her sister Elizabeth to have any other friends and Jessica wants to be crowned queen of the dance so that she can be with hunky Bruce Patman.
I was only 5-years-old when this book came out, and I find the language and descriptions even embarrassing for back then -- the teachers "sock it to (them)" with homework, outdated references to E.T. and the Boston Strangler, and the clothing descriptions! The lead singer of the Droids (SV's "answer to the Rolling Stones" with a female lead?) is all decked out in "black velvet jeans, sparkly pink leg warmers over the jeans and a purple satin top." Yes, I think I turned out fine for having skipped this series during my formative years.
On a scale of squeaky clean teen fun, Sweet Valley High: Secrets is more badass than staying out past your curfew since Jessica actually gets into some wine(!), but not as hardcore as, say crushing up Smarties candy and snorting it like cocaine off of your desk during recess.
Not recommended for: adults with a reading level above 6th grade, or today's teen, who probably doesn't know who E.T. or the Boston Stranger are.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Golly gee, working in the library sure is swell!

Back in April, I mentioned this book after it was featured on Awful Library Books because...well, look at it! Since there weren't any libraries near me carrying this gem, I requested it as an ILL for a fun-bad-book-summer-read and just finished it over the weekend.
Jinny Williams is a recent high school graduate who lands her dream job -- library assistant for the local library she loves and has volunteered and paged at for as long as she can remember. The book follows Jinny for a year in her life as she learns the ins and outs of the job, experiences dizzying career highs (a chat with the mayor) and soul crushing lows (a theft in the library), in addition to the trouble of balancing two interested suitors at once. The book often reads like a cheap romance mashed together with a instructional manual with a scene on how to process late notices followed by a (tame) make-out session at the drive-in, so it's easy to see how two authors wrote it (one a librarian), but maybe didn't blend their work as seamlessly as they imagined. The writing is very simple, everything is modified by adjective or adverb: "shaking her head vehemently", "Jinny said blithely", or Jinny's new hat is "disgustingly cute", etc.
The book is wince inducing painfully outdated at times. While somethings can be accounted for due to its 1962 publication date (on page 80, Jinny feels a “housewifely pride” in the neat appearance of the library shelves), it's Jinny's romantic options that caused me to cringe the most. Joe, her current boyfriend, is 21, works a blue collar job, and is pressuring her to settledown. He also argues with Jinny in nearly every interaction they have, does not appreciate the library or her need to have a job, and calls her a "snob" when Jinny complains that she can't marry him because she hasn't even met his parents yet. Paul is the "other guy," a junior college student transfering to Princeton that meets Jinny in the library. Paul introduces Jinny to activities that she has always wanted to do that Joe is never interested in, such as going to see a play, or square dancing. Paul is also polite to Jinny, comes from a wealthy family that likes to sing Swedish Christmas carols (?), and happens to look like Joe's twin. I won't spoil the ending for you, but Jinny says some stuff that would have Helen Gurley Brown spinning in her grave.

Overall, this was a very quaint read and I do at times feel sorry for poor Jinny Williams, Library Assistant, because she is on the brink of an age that is about to change forever. While organizing some magazines, Jinny mentions that she likes Caroline and Jackie Kennedy and how nice it is to have a lovely looking family in the White House. Jinny doesn't know that within a year the President will be assassinated, that Beatlemania is on its way to change the landscape of music, that paintings of soup cans will suddenly be art, that we will land on the moon, and that men will be faced with the Vietnam war lottery draft while women will burn their bras in protest of being second class citizens. There is a simpleness in these old books that is simultaneously ignorant and charming. However, Jinny does live in the most bland world and salary for a Senior Library assistant is listed as $1.25 - $1.85 an hour -- with that kind of dough you can buy yourself a whole Coke!
On a scale of career girl reads, I'd rate Jinny Williams, Library Assistant better than sitting home barefoot and pregnant, but far less liberating than being Oprah or a congresswoman.
Recommended for: librarians who need a laugh or nostalgic nerds who enjoy these career romances written during a time they never had to live through.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

More Bad Author Photos

Meet Johnny Boggs. Johnny is a writer of--wait for it!--westerns. Johnny feels the need to look "authentic." Who can blame him? Lots of us white people feel similarly fraudulent most of the time. Some of us put on hoodies and rap CDs and start using our version of the urban patois we picked up from TV shows and movies. Some of us get MLS's and write bitter nonsense in blogs. But Johnny has a real need to look authentic: he has an author photo shoot to go to. He had to think fast, our Johnny. He could have worn the Dockers and polo shirt he wears most days, but that didn't feel right. Even if Zane Grey himself (or rather, his own self) dressed like an accountant for his author snaps, times have changed, and the people expect their western authors to look, well, western. Such a problem! He had the hat and the unshaven look of the mountain man, but he didn't have the clothes. Quickly, he dashed to his closet. There, in the back, past the Members Only jacket from his youth and the souvenir velvet Chicago Cubs pullover, was the scratchy wool tunic he wore in high school band where he cut a fine figure marching along in his white shoes, swinging his clarinet to and fro to the jazzy, marchy renditions of the Prince songs he loved so dearly. But he'd put on a little weight in the intervening years, and it no longer buttoned up at the neck so well any more. What to do? But Johnny is nothing if not resourceful. He rifled Mom's linen closet until he found the yellow tablecloth she only used for about a week and a half in the spring when the jonquils were full on. She wouldn't miss it for one afternoon. Or would she? If she did, there'd be no pie on Sunday. Throwing caution to the wind like the ornery desperadoes in his books, Johnny wrapped the tablecloth around his neck, hopped in the Hyundai with the "I'd Rather Be Killin' Injuns" bumper sticker on it, and sped off to the photo studio.