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Evil twins snarkily recap Sweet Valley Twins, High, University, Confidential & Sweet Life

Sweet Valley Twins #58: Elizabeth and the Orphans

20
Aug 2018
Sweet Valley Twins #58: Elizabeth and the Orphans by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #58: Elizabeth and the Orphans by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Elizabeth and the Orphans

Tagline: Can Melissa and Andy make it on their own? [Raven: They’ve got to hold on to what they’ve got. It doesn’t make a difference if they make it or not. They’ve got each other, and that’s a lot. For love… they’ll give it a shot. #AndyUsedToWorkOnTheDocks.]

Summary: Friends in need…

Elizabeth Wakefield’s friend Melissa McCormick needs help. Her mother has suddenly died, leaving Melissa and her brother, Andy, alone. Their father left years ago, so they have only each other to depend on.

If the social workers find out that Melissa and Andy are now orphans, they will be put in separate foster homes. So Andy devises a plan: he and Melissa will get jobs to pay the bills and they’ll tell everyone that their father is returning home soon.

Only Elizabeth knows the truth, and she sees how fast the bills and responsibilities are piling up. She also knows she has to do something—the right thing—before it’s too late.

Initial Thoughts:

I have to be honest, I didn’t re-read this one after purchase. I really liked Melissa in a later book, Poor Lila, but I don’t know if her characterisation is the same in both. Honestly, I don’t like parent death books. It pisses me off. I know everyone’s grief process is different, but I have never once seen a kid in a book grieve like I did.

Backstory, my dad died when I was nine. (My well-meaning but idiotic family never explained he got cancer. They told me he had a stomach bug. This has left me with a deep-seated phobia of vomiting.) What happened was: he was healthy, he was sick for a few months, he died. I cried for about 20 minutes straight after hearing about it, and while I was intermittently sad for a period of time after, I was not broken. This event changed my life, obviously, but mostly because it left me in the care of an emotional abuser. I hate parent death books because most of the time the grief is gigantic and life-changing, and the parent is their best friend, even twenty years later the wound isn’t healed, and oh gosh, wouldn’t things just be perfect if dead parent was still alive?

For this reason, I try to avoid books with a parent death in them. So I read this once, maybe twice, for completest reasons, but never returned.

[Wing: Sorry, all, unexpected family stuff over the weekend, and I’m only having a chance to comment Monday, 20 August, around 10 a.m. Central USA time.]

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Sweet Valley Twins #57: Big Brother’s in Love!

13
Aug 2018
Sweet Valley Twins #57: Big Brother's In Love by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #57: Big Brother’s In Love by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Big Brother’s in Love!

Tagline: Jessica and Elizabeth have made the perfect match! [Wing: Considering that girl looks even more like a Wakefield than Steven does and that they are wearing weird matching outfits, I’m pretty sure Jessica and Steven are dating now.] [Dove: I had never noticed how much she looks like the twins.] [Raven: It’s been established before that the cover artist can olny draw two faces.]

Summary: Playing Cupid.

Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield usually find their older brother, Steven, annoying, but now they feel sorry for him. He’s been wandering around the house in a daze because he’s in love with Jill Hale. His problem is that Jill likes Steven’s best friend, and it looks like Steven’s going to be lovesick forever! The twins decide to help Steven get over Jill. Maybe Cathy Connors is the solution…

The twins think Cathy and Steven make a perfect couple, but Steven only sees Cathy as his friend. Can the twins help turn a friendship into true love?

Initial Thoughts

I don’t really like matchmaking stories, and I’m already annoyed by the mere premise of this book. This is going to be great.

[Dove: I hate Steven. But… I do actually like this book.]

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Episode 28: Jessica’s New Look

10
Aug 2018

Wing, Raven and Dove talk about Sweet Valley Twins 47: Jessica’s New Look. They also discuss Bleak Valley and how the book ties into this theory.

Music is provided by Stuart Taylor, who can be contacted on taylorstuart602@gmail.com if you wish to commission music.

You can read our recaps at Sweet Valley Online, tumblr or visit us at Facebook or Twitter (follow @SweetValley_)

 Category: Podcasts

Sweet Valley Twins #56: The Wakefields Strike It Rich

30
Jul 2018

Sweet Valley Twins 56: The Wakefields Strike it Rich

Title: The Wakefields Strike It Rich

Tagline: Now they can buy anything!

Summary: You can’t be too rich… or can you? When Jessica, Elizabeth, and Steven Wakefield’s great-aunt Helen arrives in Sweet Valley, she brings a big surprise: one hundred dollars in cash for each of them!

Now the Wakefield kids are faced with a problem: how will they spend all this cash? [Dove: #FirstWorldProblems]

Jessica shows off by showering her friends with presents. When the money runs out, how will she explain she is broke? Elizabeth buys an autographed copy of her favorite author’s latest mystery, and her money madness leads her to believe there’s a mystery right under her nose! Steven takes beautiful Jill Hale on a dream date to an expensive restaurant. But when the dinner bill arrives, Steven realizes he is not so rich after all.

Can money buy the Wakefields friendship, mystery and romance?

Initial Thoughts:

Let’s get this out of the way before we start:

EXTENDED, y’all! Two minutes of amazement. If you’ve not watched Orphan Black, you’re missing out. Seriously. [Dove: I think Orphan Black was inspired by Sweet Valley High, when so many people looked like the twins/stole their lives/twin switches/etc. Also: EXTENDED SCENE FOR THE WIN.]

Next… one hundred dollars. In cash. Each. DAMN, that’s a pretty hefty sum for a tween in the late Eighties.

Only two Wakefields on the cover? I’ll be generous and say it’s Steven and Elizabeth. Jessica’s obviously out of shot, having spent her cash on drugs, now earning Steven’s cash in a time-honoured fashion.

[Wing: I am thrown by the FUCK YOU TAMARA CHASE tag, so this is going to be interesting.]

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Sweet Valley Twins #55: Brooke and her Rock-Star Mom

23
Jul 2018
Sweet Valley Twins #55: Brooke and her Rock-Star Mom by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #55: Brooke and her Rock-Star Mom by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Brooke and Her Rock-Star Mom

Tagline: Having a famous parent should be great… shouldn’t it? [Raven: I dunno, you don’t hear many people shouting stuff like “My dad’s Fred West!”]

Summary: A mom with a secret…

Brooke Dennis’s dream has come true. Her mother, who has been living in Paris, is moving back to Sweet Valley. When she returns, Brooke’s mother has a new family—and a new career. [Wing: This made me think the new family was supposed to be one of the surprises, which infuriated me, so thank god it wasn’t that.] It turns out that she is Coco, the incredible new rock singer all Sweet Valley is talking about!

When Brooke finds out that her mum is the cool new singer, she’s ecstatic—until she learns that she must keep her mother’s identity a secret. Coco’s agent thinks that if the public finds out that Coco has a family, it will ruin her image.

How is Brooke going to keep something so fabulous a secret—especially when all of her friends are going Coco crazy!

Initial Thoughts:

First off: the cover, as you can see, says “mum”, the British spelling, but the book itself says “mom” all the way through. Why bother changing the cover but not the content? We English have grown up on American books, we know what a “mom” is. We also figured out sneakers, trash cans, sidewalks, parking lots, and so forth. It’s ok, we can keep up. Ok, so we don’t totally get the American use of “jumper”, but mom/mum is pretty self-explanatory. [Raven: Fun Fact – originally, this book was entitled Brooke And Her Rock-Star Maoam.]

I’ve only read this book maybe once or twice in my tween-teen years. I only recently bought a copy when I was finishing my collection. At the time, I wasn’t all that fussed about it. It seemed like your standard Sweet Valley fare, OMG the angst I feel for being soooo soopah speshul! I’m rich and my mommy’s famous, cry meeee a riiiiivahhhh!. Reading it as an adult who is now aware of her issues? Yeah, this is not a healthy book at all.

#TeamBrooke (or #TeamBrookette)

OMG, THE SONG TITLES IN THIS BOOK.

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Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #4: The Unicorns Go Hawaiian

16
Jul 2018
Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition 4 The Unicorns Go Hawaiian

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition 4 The Unicorns Go Hawaiian

Title: Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #4: The Unicorns Go Hawaiian

Summary: Aloha, Unicorns!

Just when Jessica Wakefield becomes bored with Sweet Valley, [Wing: So every book then?] she wins a trip to Hawaii. [Wing: Wut. Already starting off with a Wakefields must win trope? Damn it.]  She takes five of her best friends from the exclusive Unicorn Club and they’re ready to have the time of their lives.

But things don’t turn out the way they had planned. Jessica has a streak of bad luck, Janet Howell is convinced she is a Hawaiian princess, [Wing: WUT. GOD DAMN IT.]  and Mandy Miller, Mary Wallace, and Ellen Riteman find out a secret they must keep from Lila Fowler.

The girls don’t understand why their trip to paradise is turning out to be the worst holiday ever… until they discover the curse of the Hawaiian volcano goddess! [Wing: WHAT THE EVER LOVING FUCK ARE YOU SHITTING ME RIGHT NOW. I DON’T WANT TO RECAP THIS.]

Tagline: It’s the trip of a lifetime! [Wing: Considering how rich most of Sweet Valley is, I doubt that.]

Initial Thoughts

WHAT THE FUCK I WANT TO BURN EVERYTHING DOWN OH MY GOD.

Over on Twitter, Dove encouraged me to post a list of the things I rage-feared would happen in this book. I did that right before I read anything about the book.

Here is my list:

  • Some sort of bullshit Hawaiian princess storyline
  • Only white people live in Hawaii except for the SUPER SPECIAL magical native.
  • Someone (probably Jessica) will be amazeballs at surfing without even trying.
  • Someone (probably Jessica) will be amazeballs at hula, just as good as the “locals.”
  • People who live in Hawaii will be called Hawaiians indiscriminately from Hawaiians being actual native peoples.
  • Everyone will wear cheap tourist “Hawaiian” shirts and plastic leis.
  • All the food will be “Hawaiian” simply by adding pineapple to it. There will be no mac salad, loco moco, malasadas, or L&L (oh my god I’m so hungry right now).
  • WW2 references + American imperialism.
  • Fucking haoles the whole entire lot of them, in that terrible stereotypical loud, brash, rich white American tourist way.

CLEARLY I DID NOT SET MY EXPECTATIONS LOW ENOUGH VOLCANO GODDESS CURSE OH MY GOD I NEED STRONGER LIQUOR AND MORE FIRE. [Raven: This is gonna be AWESOME.] [Dove: Or she’s going to drink so hard she falls off her chair and doesn’t finish the recap.]

Shallow: The girls on that cover are not wearing nearly enough purple. 

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Sweet Valley Twins #54: The Big Party Weekend

2
Jul 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 54: The Big Party Weekend by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 54: The Big Party Weekend by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Big Party Weekend

Tagline: Mum and Dad will be back any minute!

Summary: While Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield are away on holiday in Mexico, twins Jessica and Elizabeth and their older brother, Steven, are left with May Brown, the world’s most horrible baby-sitter!

But the Wakefield kids are determined to throw a party on Saturday night, with great food, fabulous music, all their friends – and no adults. They make an elaborate plan to get May out of the house, and the party of the year is on!

By the end of the party, the house is a wreck. How will Jessica, Elizabeth, and Steven ever get the mess cleared up before May – and their parents – come home?

Initial Thoughts:

I do quite like the cover, with the Little Wakefields tidying up after what can only be perceived as a thoroughly mediocre party. The broom-wielding Steven’s clearly eying up his sisters and saying “right, who wants the first paddlin’?” [Wing: Jessica. Or at least that’s what he’s hoping.]

One thing that does piss me off, however, is the crooked flower-painting on the wall. Firstly, it’s a completely shit picture. Secondly, by itself it’s obviously too small for the wall it’s being displayed on. Thirdly, it has been hung far too low.

Alice is an interior designer. She’s shit at her job.

Also, this:

[Dove: Also, I love that Chalet Girl (a film that is far better than it should be) directly references this advert. If you’re not a Brit, screw you. That joke isn’t for you. As for the actual book we’re recapping, there was a lot that just had me shaking my head and silently judging.]

[Wing: I feel like I’ve read this book before, but that is impossible, because I’ve never read any Sweet Valley until we started these recaps last year. Is there another parents gone/party weekend book that has similar beats in the plot? Most likely.]

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Sweet Valley Twins #53: The Slime That Ate Sweet Valley

25
Jun 2018
Sweet Valley Twins #53: The Slime That Ate Sweet Valley by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #53: The Slime That Ate Sweet Valley by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Slime that Ate Sweet Valley

Tagline: Will Jessica get slimed?

Summary: Best actress Jessica Wakefield?

It’s green. It’s gooey. It gobbles up humans. It’s The Slime that Ate Sweet Valley coming soon to a cinema near you and starring Jessica Wakefield!

At first, Jessica is thrilled to win the leading role in the Sweet Valley Middle School’s sixth-grade movie. But soon she learns that being an actress is hard work. When she discovers that she’ll actually have to kiss Winston Egbert and Randy Mason on camera, she begs her twin sister, Elizabeth, to rewrite the script. But it’s too late. The show must go on.

To Jessica, the only thing worse than getting gobbled up by The Slime is having to kiss two boys in front of all her friends!

Initial Thoughts:

I like this book. I actually wish the movie was a Sweet Valley book. It sounds like a NaNo project – a schlocky b-movie about an ooze that covers an adorably perfect town.

I have suggested that Raven write the script for the movie, complete with director’s/writer’s notes in the margin, for NaNo this year. He wasn’t completely opposed to it. So if I mention it here, hopefully Rosey and Jessica T will bully him into it. [Raven: No pressure… *eyeroll*]

Note: If I refer to the Slime as the Smooze, I’m not even sorry. NOTHING CAN STOP THE SMOOZE.

[Wing: I’m already fond of this book because it sounds like a Goosebumps story.]

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Episode 27: Mademoiselle Jessica

20
Jun 2018

Wing, Raven and Dove talk about Sweet Valley Twins 46: Mademoiselle Jessica. They also discuss Bleak Valley and how the book ties into this theory.

Music is provided by Stuart Taylor, who can be contacted on taylorstuart602@gmail.com if you wish to commission music.

You can read our recaps at Sweet Valley Online, tumblr or visit us at Facebook or Twitter (follow @SweetValley_)

Hello! Raven here. Yeah, I know. It’s been a while.

Here at The Bookshelf Birdhouse, Dove, Wing and I – alongside our other feathered associates – have been recapping up a storm, and recording podcasts like there’s no tomorrow. The raw data for around five Sweet Valley Twins podcasts is currently sat in the Nostalgic Bookshelf Vault, ready for loving post-production and publication.

That all-important, time-consuming step? That’s down to me. And, bluntly, I suck at it.

It’s laborious. It demands total concentration and no background Netflix. It’s technically specific. And it’s outside my wheelhouse.

I struggle through, of course, bogged down, flailing and flapping like a cormorant in an oil slick. I get there. But the constant weekly deadlines give me little time to improve the process, no opportunity to learn a better way. And if there’s a technical issue… it’s horrible.

For the last few casts, we’ve had some syncing issues with Dove’s recordings. There are tiny skips and drops in her audio, which elongate the process almost exponentially.

Truthfully? It all got a bit much for me. I needed a break. So I took one. For a lot longer than I intended.

It took a while to get back onto the horse, but I’ve eventually saddled up, and I’m good to ride. So we’re back, and plan to start publishing podcasts weekly once again. Yay!

I’m currently looking into cool ways to make the job easier. As I’m entirely self-taught, I’m presuming that my current process is horrifically flabby, and the Good Folk of the Internet will have cool ideas and optimisations to make the tasks deft, agile and fun once more.

I hope you enjoy this podcast. The next will be with you sometime next week. There may be a few schedule blips in the coming few weeks, while I smooth everything out, but with good will and a favourable wind we’ll be back to full speed soon.

Cheers all!

Raven (and Dove and Wing)

 

 Category: Podcasts

Sweet Valley Twins #52: Booster Boycott

18
Jun 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 52: Booster Boycott by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 52: Booster Boycott by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Sweet Valley Twins #52: Booster Boycott

Summary: No boys allowed.

Winston Egbert wants to join the Boosters, Sweet Valley Middle School’s cheering squad. No way, the girls say! A boy as a cheerleader? So what if Winston happens to be a terrific gymnast? So what if he makes up fantastic cheers? Jessica Wakefield and the other Boosters vow they’ll do anything to keep Winston off the squad.

At first Winston endures the girls’ nasty pranks, Charlie Cashman’s bullying, and his classmates’ giggles. But something happens to make Winston give up for good!

When the state cheering competition arrives, the Boosters are surprised to see that almost every other squad has a boy as a member. Without Winston, they’re sure to lose! Is there any way the Boosters can get Winston back?

Tagline: Winston Egbert wants to join the Boosters! [Wing: We get it, book. WE GET IT.]

Initial Thoughts

Oh, good, I bet this book is filled with gender essentialism. Y’all know how much I love that. BOYS? In CHEERLEADING? Heaven forbid.

[Dove: I really enjoy this book. It’s good fun, and the Unicorns are hilariously ridiculous.]

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