Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Those SASSy Girls

Easy Peasey Lemony Squeezy. Georgia has been read. Review forthcoming.

Reptile World was also awesome. I recommend them highly. I got to pet the biggest python I've ever seen (and, apparently, he's a baby) and help put her back in her box. Man, that snake was HEAVY. (He ain't heavy, he's my python).

Anyways, one of the downfalls of my "no checking out new books" mantra has been the Students Across the Seven Seas books. I've now read all the ones in the series. I reviewed a bunch during the 48-hour challenge here.

So here's the rest of 'em!

The Sound of Munich by Suzanne Nelson

Siena Bernstein lives in Southern California with her mom, where they run a coffee shop. Siena is off to Munich for the semester, the first time she's left California, let alone the country. Siena's father died when she was 3 months old, and her goal in Germany is to finish the last, unfinished task on his life to-do list. When he was a small boy, one of his father's friends smuggled his family out of East Germany, allowing them to move to America. All his life, Siena's father wanted to find this man and thank him, but was unable to. Siena wants to track him down. Add to this new friends (I love Chen, the super braniac biology-nerd cynical poet who looks like a fashion plate). Plus, Siena has a total vibe going with Stefan, the cute (yet verboten) RA. Too bad superficial, bitchy Briana does too.

I loved this one, because the plot to find Peter Schwalm and thank him was really serious, but well done. It added a lot of depth and made me cry more than once. Siena is also a great, free spirit who doesn't let a lot get to her-- I really liked her.

Getting the Boot by Peggy Guthart Strauss

This was an interesting one because Kelly is a very different character than most of the SASS girls. Most of the SASS programs has the one high-maintence cheerleader girl who doesn't seem that interested in the country. Kelly's that girl. Italy sounded like fun--the boys are so cute! But when Kelly spends every night clubbing and breaking curfew with a boy who is nothing but BAD NEWS, she alienates all the girls in her program and has yet to make it to class on time. It gets to the point where Kelly either has to shape up or ship out. Can she get her act together enough to salvage what's left of her summer in Rome?

This was interesting because we usually don't get someone has shallow as Kelly as a main character in the SASS series. Also, the subplot of Kelly's bad-girl exploits (lots of drugs people!) is a little edgier than we usually see in this series, so that was a nice touch.

I wasn't as big a fan of Westminster Abby by Micol Ostow. I was really excited about this one, because it takes place in London. And I do love me some England. Abby has super over-protective parents who are shipping her to London for the semester to get her away from her college-boy boyfriend. But when Abby finds out James has been cheating on her this whole time, she thinks London just might be the break she needs to find her own two feet. And cute British boy Ian just might help her do that...

There were a few little things and two big things that really got me about this book. At one point, Abby's friend Zoe is listening to "subdued eighties New Age angst music". Now, Zoe is a punk rock girl. I think Ostow meant "New Wave music" because she'd be all over The Smiths and Joy Division. I'm not sure what eighties New Age angst music is. Can New Age be angsty?

Then, after a trip to Dublin and the Guiness Brewery, Abby is excited to find out how beer is distilled. Uh... beer isn't distilled. It's brewed. And if you've been the Guiness Brewery, you would know that, I hope.

Here's the big problem. There's a trip to Manchester, which would be SO COOL because Manchester is my favorite city in the whole world and I'd pack everything up and sell most of my books to move back there in a heartbeat. (I lived there from last July 2002-late June 2003.) Abby's guide book calls it a "throbbing urban centre" (which is totally is)

but when Abby gets there, the car ride from the train station...was short but winding as the car cut a twisted path through old, picturesque country roads. Stone walls lined the motorway and sheep grazed lazily on gray-green fields. This was the England of Bronte novels...

That's not Manchester! That's f-ing Yorkshire! Also, yes, you can get England countryside like that not far from Manchester, you're more likely to find mountains (hello Peak District! Remember Pride and Prejudice? Darbyshire is just one over!) Plus, there are 3 train stations actually in Manchester, 2 of which are smack in the middle of city centre. You cannot get to countryside on a short ride from there. The southern train station, maybe. It's in the suburbs, so it might be more country-like, but the whole trip to Manchester wasn't to Manchester. It was to nameless English countryside and broke my heart.

Also, I wanted to smack her for the decisions she made about her love life. WRONG CHOICE SWEETIE!

Pardon My French by Cathy Hopka

This was weird because Nicole is so annoying. She does NOT want to be in Paris, she wants to be at home with her boyfriend, Nate. She's moved around a lot and all she wants for the future is to go to college wherever Nate goes, get married, and have a lot of babies. Nicole doesn't even try to learn French or enjoy herself, but slowly, she comes to realize there is more in life and that Paris doesn't totally suck.

Although I spent the first half of the book wanting to smack Nicole, I really enjoyed her journey of self-discovery. It was a nice ending, but not not so neat and tidy and quick that it was icky. It seemed really natural. Now I want to go to Paris to find a bistro of cafe... Mmmm... Paris. I want to go to Paris. Badly.

Girl Overboard by Aimee Ferris

I really liked this one. Marina is from small town Vermont and off for a semester on a cruise ship to study marine biology and to rethink her relationship with her boyfriend, Damon. We learn lots about marine life, as well as the culture of the different islands and countries they visit. Shallow bitchy French girls! Hott Aussies! Tiger Sharks! Turtles! Saving Baby Dolphins! And IM at sea.

Marina's questions about her relationship are great and true.

How many times can I say "true" before it stops meaning anything? Ah well. Ahoy there! Anchors Away! and Bon Voyage.

Dan gets back from Argentina tomorrow. I can't wait. 3 months until we're off to China. Mmmm... China. That's where SASS should go next!

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