nostalgic reads

Nostalgic Reads – Power Play

Nostalgic Reads

Power PlayTitle: Power Play

Authors: Francine Pascal, Kate William

Series: Sweet Valley High #4

Blurb: Robin Wilson wants to join Pi Beta Alpha, Sweet Valley High’s highly selective sorority. She may not be beautiful or popular, but she’s friendly and smart. So when Elizabeth nominates her for the sorority, Jessica is less than thrilled. She is determined to find a way to keep Robin from Pi Beta.

But Elizabeth is just as determined to make Robin a sorority sister, and the twins become locked in a struggle that develops into the biggest power play at Sweet Valley High. Who will prevail? Which twin will triumph? What happens when sisters go head-to-head?

Review: This is something that I know didn’t really hit me when I read this book back when I was a kid.

So Jessica is president of the Pi Beta Alpha sorority now, because of course she is. And she doesn’t really want Robin Wilson to become a member. Why? Because she’s “a little overweight.” Even Elizabeth, who is supposed to be the nice sister, thinks that Robin should stop eating, as though being skinnier would stop all of her problems. Now, here’s the thing. I spent most of my childhood thinking I was fat. I wasn’t, although I am NOW. I wish I was the size I was back then, especially since I thought a size 8 or size 10 was “fat” at the time. I remember when I read about Robin Wilson thinking to myself that of course she should lose weight. It will solve all her problems, and therefore, it would solve all my problems as well, right?

Wow, how toxic is that train of thought!

Robin wants so desperately to fit in that she wants to join this sort of terrible organization that excludes people not deemed “worthy” enough. Despite being its president, Jessica does not want Robin to be pledged to Pi Beta, so Elizabeth agrees to do it instead. This makes Jessica very, very not happy.

Fat shaming comments:

  • Elizabeth thinking that Robin is “a little overweight. All right, a lot overweight.”
  • Jessica calls her a “tub of lard.”
  • Another Jessica gem: “One look at that shape and they’ll be calling us the Pi Butterball Alphas!”

And this is all in Chapter 1, y’all. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

The entire pledge drive is designed to make Robin feel bad about herself for being overweight: jogging around the track in shorts (while people laugh and heckle her), wearing a bikini to the beach, and asking Bruce Patman out on a date. Which Bruce agrees to do because Elizabeth promises him a bit story in the paper about his tennis prowess, but then he dumps Robin at the dance and humiliates her.

Still Robin makes it to the final vote – in which someone blackballs her, eliminating her from the chance at membership. She is absolutely devastated. She disappears after the vote, feeling completely humiliated, and when she comes back, she’s almost a ghost – not speaking to anyone, keeping her head down. Instead, she turns into a machine, running every day, going on a diet. And she begins losing weight and looking beautiful – even though she was already beautiful before, just a bit bigger than the other girls.

Once she is thin enough, she tries out for the cheerleading squad, another domain of Jessica’s. She has completely changed – lost weight, got more stylish clothes and hairstyle, wears make up now. Even snotty Bruce Patman is impressed. And when she tries out for cheerleading, not only does she make the squad, she gets made co-captain with Jessica!

Now that Robin feels better about herself, she starts to rebuild her friendship with Elizabeth, and recognizes Jessica for the terrible person that she was. She knows that Jessica is the one who blackballed her from Pi Beta and knows that Jessica completely  took advantage of their “friendship” before. Robin just wanted to believe it so badly that she let Jessica walk all over her. It’s sad, really, but Robin is different now.

And bold. There is a contest for the title of Miss Sweet Valley High and competition is fierce. Robin posts the following signs all over school:


It has come to my attention that members of Pi Beta Alpha have forbidden any girl who is not a member to go out for Miss Sweet Valley High. I know all about the PBAs. They blackballed me. I accept their challenge. I ask for your vote.

Robin Wilson

That’s pretty badass. And it works. There is a backlash against PBA for their snobbiness, even though they try to deny it. Robin stands firm . . . and wins the title! Here’s the thing though. She is asked if she has a message for the student body. Her message is:

“Only something we all know but don’t always remember — ‘Know yourself.’ And don’t try to be anyone else.”

Except, Robin, you did try to be someone else. You completely changed everything about who you were to make yourself acceptable to the student body. You are Sandy at the end of Grease, changing completely for all the wrong reasons. It also leads Robin to get back at Bruce Patman and to reject the PBAs when they try to retroactively invite her for membership.

The side story in this one is about Lila Fowler’s mysterious aunt who gives her presents she doesn’t want, so she passes them along to Jessica. Then Elizabeth sees a new store in the mall that sells similar items and the manager says they have had a string of shoplifting happening. Yep, rich and wealthy Lila is stealing. And because Elizabeth tried to investigate, Jessica gets suspected and arrested. Lila finally breaks down and confesses that she did it because her father, who is one of the richest people in Sweet Valley, doesn’t pay one bit of attention to her. She has to go to court, but their lawyer is able to take care of things so that Lila only gets probation.

In conclusion, this particular book is really terrible. It has a horrible message for young girls — if there is anything about yourself that is the least bit off the norm, you must do anything possible to change yourself in order to be accepted. It’s only redeeming quality is that Robin specifically says she’s not starving herself. So no anorexia, yay! But still, change yourself and throw it in the faces of all the people who rejected you. That’s the way to be! Sure, it’s the plot to many teen movies, especially from the 80s, but it’s still bad. Really bad. Although a bit satisfying to see Jessica get so thoroughly defeated. No one deserves it more.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Chapter 9 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

HPGOF Banner

In Chapter 9, all of the happiness we have been experiencing so far immediately turns to terror and confusion. Let’s go!

Everyone heads back to the tents and gets ready to go to bed. Fred and George are very excited about their winnings and all the Irish fans look like they will be celebrating late into the night. Harry does drift off to sleep, the dreams of one day getting to play in the World Cup himself, when he is awoken to the shouts and screaming. Mr. Weasley tells the kids to run out of the tent and go hide in the woods. The cause of all this?

A crowd of wizards, tightly packed and moving together with wands pointing straight upward, was marching slowly across the field. Harry squinted at them . . . They didn’t seem to have faces . . . Then he realized that their heads were hooded and their faces masked. High above them, floating along in midair, four struggling figures were being contorted into grotesque shapes. It was as though the masked wizards on the ground were puppeteers, and the people above them were marionettes operated by invisible strings that rose from the wands into the air. Two of the figures were very small.

They soon see that the floating figures were Mr. Roberts and his family. Mr. Weasley, Bill, Charlie and Percy run off to help while the twins, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny get out of harm’s way. Once in the woods, they run into Draco Malfoy, who sneers at them because that’s what he does. He also threatens Hermione, saying that she needs to keep her head down since the attackers are targeting Muggles. They also run into a group of French teenagers, who Hermione says go to Beauxbatons, another magical school.

The worst part about all this: Harry realizes that he has dropped his wand somewhere. With everything going on, he now feels very vulnerable without a way to magically defend himself. Crashing through the bushes, they see Winky the house elf, running in a strange zigzagging pattern. Harry guesses that she is behaving weird because she didn’t have permission to hide. Hermione takes offense to this.

“You know, house-elves get a very raw deal!” said Hermione indignantly. “It’s slavery, that’s what it is! That Mr. Crouch made her go up to the top of the stadium, and she was terrified, and he’s got her bewitched so she can’t even run when they start trampling tents! Why doesn’t anyone do something about it!”

And thus, the idea for S.P.E.W. is born. Although, now is not really the time, Hermione. Let’s work on surviving the night first.

They run into a group of wizards trying to impress some veela. They run into Ludo Bagman, who doesn’t seem to know what is going on. Then, they hear footsteps and a loud voice shouting, “MORSMORDRE!” A bright green light rises into the air.

For a split second, Harry thought it was another leprechaun formation. Then he realized that it was a colossal skull, comprised of what looked like emerald stars, with a serpent protruding from its mouth like a tongue. As they watched, it rose higher and higher, blazing in a haze of greenish smoke, etched against the black sky like a new constellation.

The appearance of this weird green skull thing is met with terrified screams. The kids are also met with a bunch of apparating wizards ready to stun the perpetrator. Harry and the others duck, but are immediately questioned as to what happened. Mr. Weasley is there, as is Mr. Crouch and several other people from the Ministry, including Mr. Diggory. Hermione explains that the person who said the incantation was behind the trees and they couldn’t see what it was. The stunning spells went into the trees as well, so maybe they got someone.

“Yes! We got them! There’s someone here! Unconscious! It’s — but — blimey . . .”

“You’ve got someone?” shouted Mr. Crouch, sounding highly disbelieving. “Who? Who is it?”

They heard snapping twigs, the rustling of leaves, and then crunching footsteps as Mr. Diggory reemerged from behind the trees. He was carrying a tiny, limp figure in his arms. Harry recognized the tea towel at once. It was Winky.

First off, what the hell is Crouch’s problem? He seems ready to believe that Harry, Ron or Hermione are the ones who caused all this, but then behaves very strangely when Winky is discovered. He doesn’t believe it was Winky and goes to look through the bushes for anyone else. And of course it wasn’t Winky! The voice that cast the spell didn’t sound like a house elf, as Hermione points out. Although house-elves don’t usually carry wands, but Winky had one in her possession – it was Harry’s. She says that she found it. They cast a spell to prove that Harry’s wand was in fact the one that cast the illuminated skull into the air, but determine that Winky must have found the wand after the fact.

Despite this, Crouch is absolutely livid that his house-elf was anywhere near this situation and dismisses her immediately. Winky is devastated, begging Crouch to change his mind, but Crouch is adamant that he distance himself from this whole situation. Mr. Weasley leads the kids away after Harry is given back his wand and we finally learn what’s so terrifying about the skull.

The skull with the snake coming out of it was Voldemort’s symbol, the Dark Mark. It was seen all over when Voldemort rose to power. Whenever his followers, called Death Eaters, killed someone, the symbol hovered over the house. It inspired sheer terror, knowing that if the symbol was there, it was too late to save anyone.

The odd thing? The Dark Mark scared away the wizards in the masks earlier. Voldemort’s supporters loved tormenting Muggles. They thought it was fun. However, if they were Death Eaters, they would be scared of seeing Voldemort come back because they had to betray him in order to avoid staying out of Azkaban. They wouldn’t necessarily be excited to see him if he came back.

Harry feels very strange about all this. Voldemort seems to be everywhere: his scar hurting after the dream, the Death Eaters, the Dark Mark. So many things to wonder and worry about.

See you next time for Chapter 10!

Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly Wrap-Up – 4/19/19

Weekly Wrap-Up

What a week, you guys! It’s been crazy here, that’s for sure, but I’m back blogging again, which always makes me feel good. Plus, due to the holiday this weekend, I have a day off from work today! Yay three-day weekend! Definitely needed, because work has been absolutely insane this week, so I can definitely use the break.

Let’s take a look at reading progress last week, shall we?

  • I read chapters 28 through 56 of The Raven’s Tale by Cat Winters, finishing that book for NetGalley. It was so good! You can read my review from yesterday here.
  • I read chapters 6 through 9 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling, although I did not get the post up on Chapter 9 yesterday. Ran out of time. I’m going to try to do that today.
  • I finally made some more progress on Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas, reading chapters 32 through 39. I’m hoping that once I finish the next few review books I have, I can devote more time to this one.
  • I started The Circle: Taken by Sage Sask this week for a book tour next week, reading the prologue through chapter 22. It’s pretty good so far.

Hoping to schedule some posts for next week since it will also be busy and I’m hoping to still get in my normal postings. We’ll see how it goes. Hope you all have a lovely Easter, if  you celebrate!

Books I've Read

Book Review: The Raven’s Tale

The Raven's TaleTitle: The Raven’s Tale

Author: Cat Winters

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Series: none, standalone

Edition: eBook ARC from NetGalley

Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Edgar Poe counts down the days until he can escape his foster family—the wealthy Allans of Richmond, Virginia. He hungers for his upcoming life as a student at the prestigious new university, almost as much as he longs to marry his beloved Elmira Royster. However, on the brink of his departure, all his plans go awry when a macabre Muse named Lenore appears to him. Muses are frightful creatures that lead Artists down a path of ruin and disgrace, and no respectable person could possibly understand or accept them. But Lenore steps out of the shadows with one request: “Let them see me!”

Review: Oh, this was right up my alley! I could tell after only reading two chapters in.

This concept, taking a real historical figure, known for their connections to bizarre and haunting things, and turning their story into a true paranormal tale is really amazing, and Cat Winters does it wonderfully. This makes me want to read a more realistic biography of Poe and see where the similarities are. I know he lost his parents and that they were theater performers (or at least I knew about his mother, didn’t know his father was as well). I don’t know much about his foster family (the Allans), his time at university, or any of his other relationships. It would be very interesting to see just how much Winters did her homework, but guessing from her notes and resources, she did it pretty well.

I love that Edgar’s muse is personified into an actual creature that haunts and torments him. The chapters flip back and forth between Edgar (or “Eddy”) and his muse, a terrifying creature of a woman who he names Lenore (because of course he did). Lenore is absolutely fascinating. There is a constant struggle between them as Eddy fights to rise above where he came from, but also to honor the part of him that revels and loves the macabre. This struggle grows as another muse, one that tempts his love of satire, also fights for Eddy’s intellect and talents.

This book just came out this past Tuesday, April 16th, and everyone needs to go get it, right now. Especially if you are a Poe fan, but even if you aren’t familiar with his work, you will enjoy this.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars




Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Chapter 8 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

HPGOF Banner

In Chapter 8, IT’S THE QUIDDITCH WORLD CUP! Let’s go!

The main thing to know: this stadium is huge! It can seat 100,000 people and Harry says that it looks like “ten cathedrals would fit comfortably inside it.” Which confused me at first – wouldn’t Quidditch pitches have to be a similar, regulation size? I know that’s the case with other sports – football fields, soccer fields, baseball fields, etc. Are all Quidditch fields this large? It doesn’t sound like it.

In any case, the Weasleys are in some of the best seats in the whole place. As Harry goes to sit down, he sees a familiar face. Dobby? Dobby the House Elf? No, not exactly.

“Sorry,” Harry told the elf, “I just thought you were someone I knew.”

“But I knows Dobby too, sir!” squeaked the elf. She was shielding her face, as though blinded by light, though the Top Box was not brightly lit. “My name is Winky, sir — and you, sir –” Her dark brown eyes widened to the size of side plates as they rested upon Harry’s scar. “You is surely Harry Potter!”

Harry Potter: known to house elves everywhere.

Winky has some opinions though. She is highly critical of Dobby, who really thinks highly of himself now, so much so that he’s asking to be paid for his work (*gasp*). Winky is saving seats for her Master, even though she is really afraid of the heights. Tons of important people are sitting in the Top Box with the Weasleys, including . . . the Malfoys. Who are just as obnoxious as ever. They are special guests of the Minister due to their generous donation to the wizard hospital.

But enough of those jerks. We get to see a presentation by the two teams’ countries! Up first: Bulgaria. They brought veela, creatures who look like amazingly beautiful women but who cast a spell on menfolk.

The veela had started to dance, and Harry’s mind had gone completely and blissfully blank. All that mattered in the world was that he kept watching the veela, because if they stopped dancing, terrible things would happen . . .

So they’re sort of like sirens, but on land. And the crowd loves them. Doesn’t want them to leave, until the Irish have their say.

Next moment, what seemed to be a great green-and-gold comet came zooming into the stadium. It did one circuit of the stadium, then split into two smaller comets, each hurtling toward the goalposts. A rainbow arced suddenly across the field, connecting the two balls of light. The crowd ooohed and aaaahed, as though at a fireworks display. Now the rainbow faded and the balls of light reunited and merged; they had formed a great shimmering shamrock, which rose up into the sky and began to soar over the stands. Something like golden rain seemed to be falling from it —

Yeah, in case you couldn’t guess, the Irish brought leprechauns with them who are showering the crowd with gold. A good way to win fans, that.

The teams are announced and the players come out, including the famous Krum. I’m not going to go over the actual game play, but it is a brutal match, full of lots of injuries. Ireland wins, but Krum catches the Snitch to end it. Harry thinks that Krum knew that Ireland’s Chasers were too good and that Krum “wanted to end it on his terms.”

Which also brings us to this funny tidbit:

“Vell, ve fought bravely,” said a gloomy voice behind Harry. He looked around; it was the Bulgarian Minister of Magic.

“You can speak English!” said Fudge, sounding outraged. “And you’ve been letting me mime everything all day!”

“Vell, it vos very funny,” said the Bulgarian minister, shrugging.

Hahahahahahaha. I love when Fudge gets treated like a fool. I really don’t like him.

They bring the players to the Top Box, first Bulgaria, and then Ireland. Everyone is excited and happy, especially the Weasley twins. They are ready to earn some money because remember who bet all their savings that this would be the outcome of the match? That’s right! I see some more Ton Tongue Toffees in the future!

See you next time for Chapter 9!

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday – 4/17/19


WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words. Three questions, three answers. Let’s go!

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading The Circle: Taken by Sage Sask. I just got a review copy for this and will be posting about it next week. Also still making progress with Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. Finally got back to my Chapter-A-Long posts this week, which makes me happy.

What did you recently finish reading?

I finished The Raven’s Tale by Cat Winters and I loved it so much! Review will be posted tomorrow, so look for that.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I have two blog tours coming up in May that I need to get ready for: Art of Death by Becca Vincenza and The Bone Charmer by Breeana Shields. Other than that, I plan on reading Kushiel’s Avatar by Jacqueline Carey after I finish Empire of Storms.

What are you reading this week? Anything good?


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Chapter 7 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

HPGOF Banner

In Chapter 7, we get settled in at the campsite and enjoy the festivities. Let’s go!

I want to go to the Quidditch World Cup so bad! It sounds like so much fun! More than just a sporting event, this is THE sporting event. It’s a festival-like atmosphere and it just sounds incredible.

So they arrive and are directed to their campsite, managed by a Muggled named Roberts who has to constantly have his memory modified by an Obliviate spell in order to not get too suspicious. It’s all been a bit of a hassle for the people in charge of security, and it’s no surprise as to why.

They trudged up the misty field between long rows of tents. Most looked almost ordinary; their owners had clearly tried to make them as Muggle-like as possible, but had slipped up by adding chimneys, or bellpulls, or weather vanes. However, here and there was a tent so obviously magical that Harry could hardly be surprised that Mr. Roberts was getting suspicious. Halfway up the field stood an extravagant confection of striped silk like a miniature palace, with several live peacocks tethered at the entrance. A little farther on they passed a tent that had three floors and several turrets; and a short way beyond that was a tent that had a front garden attached, complete with birdbath, sundial, and fountain.

I wouldn’t mind going camping if I could stay in tents like these! Speaking of tents, the Weasleys have two tents for their very large group of people, but they are thankfully magical tents, which are about the size of a three bedroom apartment on the inside. It’s also really fun to see different wizards from what we are used to. Like very young children with toy broomsticks. Or wizards from other parts of the world, like Africa or America.

Or Ireland, if you are visiting the tents belonging to Seamus Finnigan’s family. All shamrocks, all the time. They are very proud to support their home team in the World Cup. The Bulgarians are also out in full force with their white, green and red flags and posters of their star player:

“Krum!” said Ron. “Viktor Krum, the Bulgarian Seeker!”

“He looks really grumpy,” said Hermione, looking around at the many Krums blinking and scowling at them.

“‘Really grumpy‘?” Ron raised his eyes to the heavens. “Who cares what he looks like? He’s unbelievable. He’s really young too. Only just eighteen or something. He’s a genius, you wait until tonight, you’ll see.”

Ron might be a little bit of a Viktor Krum fanboy. Just a tad.

They run into a bunch of other friends from school: Oliver Wood, Ernie Macmillan, and Cho Chang. They also run into an older wizard who doesn’t understand what’s wrong with his incognito Muggle attire – he’s wearing a lady’s nightgown. Once they get back to their campsite, they get to see several members of the Ministry, all who stop to say hello to Mr. Weasley.

Including Ludo Bagman, Head of the Department of Magical Games, and one of the people supposedly helping to run the World Cup. He used to play professional Quidditch and is walking around in his bright yellow and black stripped Quidditch robes, which is gaining a lot of attention. He also seems very interested in gambling on the outcome of the match, which Mr. Weasley reluctantly does, but the twins are all in. All their pocket money bet on that Ireland will win, but Krum will get the Snitch.

Barty Crouch, Percy’s boss at the Ministry and Head of the International Magical Cooperation office, also shows up. He would easily pass as the most boring of Muggles in his perfect suit and tie and shined shoes. Ludo hints that they have something else big coming up that they are planning, something taking place at Hogwarts, but of course, they won’t give it away just yet.

Souvenir vendors appear all over the place, selling all kinds of things for Ireland and Bulgaria. As the sky darkens, a path lights up, leading the way to the field. It’s on!

See you next time for Chapter 8!