Sweet Valley Online

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

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)

 

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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Sweet Valley Twins #51: Elizabeth the Impossible

4
Jun 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 51: Elizabeth the Impossible by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 51: Elizabeth the Impossible by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Elizabeth the Impossible

Tagline: Has Jessica created a monster? [Dove: Well, evil begets evil, I suppose.]

Summary: Jessica Wakefield is convinced that her sister, Elizabeth, is perfect. Who else is as smart, friendly, and creative as her identical twin? So when Sweet Valley Middle School announces it will be choosing a Model Student, Jessica launches a secret campaign to make sure Elizabeth wins.

But Jessica doesn’t count on what happens. As soon as word gets out about the contest, Elizabeth takes becoming a Model Student a bit too seriously. She starts telling everyone what to wear, what to eat, and how to act. Elizabeth’s become positively bossy! Jessica would do anything to get the old Elizabeth back. What will it take to turn Elizabeth the Impossible back into the girl everyone knows and loves.

Initial Thoughts:

I deliberately swapped for this one. This is a book I love. I think it’s a joy to poke fun at Elizabeth, and this book really delivers.

Also, if you read it with a cynical eye, it’s actually a story of dysfunctional relationships, and someone with no power socially using one single pressure point to take over another person entirely, to the point where they drop their friends and change their life to appease this one person. Basically, Elizabeth/Pamela is one fucked up ship. And it’s hella interesting. And once I get to a certain point in the story, I will go into that a bit more in depth.

Warning: As above, I’m going to liken the Pamela/Elizabeth friendship to an abusive relationship. While it’s going to be light, I will use phrases used by emotional abusers that may act as triggers. It’s light, but exercise good judgement.

Note: I’m going to quote a metric fucktonne of this book.

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Sweet Valley Twins #50: Jessica and the Secret Star

28
May 2018

Sweet Valley Twins 50: Jessica and the Secret Star, by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica and the Secret Star

Tagline: What’s the new girl hiding? [Raven: A cock?] [Dove: That she’s been there all along and the Wakefield twins are just really fucking unobservant?] [Wing: Backyards full of bodies. She’ll be Jessica’s new BFF.]

Summary: Maria Slater has been an actress since she was three years old, but now that she’s twelve she can’t find any work. So Maria hopes to forget her past and start life again at Sweet Valley Middle School, where she can play the role she has always wanted: the typical sixth-grader.

But for Maria, being typical becomes harder and harder, especially when Jessica Wakefield discovers Maria’s secret past Everyone wants to be friends with a movie star, but will anyone want to be friends with plain old Maria?

Initial Thoughts:

HOLY FUCK JESSICA’S HAND IS FUCKING HUGE.

Also, there’s a black girl in Sweet Valley. Unexpected. I can’t see this ending well.

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Sweet Valley Twins #49: The Twins’ Little Sister

21
May 2018

Sweet Valley Twins 49: The Twins’ Little Sister

Title: The Twins’ Little Sister

Summary: Baby-sitting blues…

Since they were seven, Elizabeth and Jessica have wanted a little sister. Now that they’re twelve, the twins know they’re responsible enough to help out with a new baby, and they’re determined to prove it to their parents.

The twins get their chance when neighbors go on holiday and leave their five-year-old daughter with the Wakefields. Chrissy is so cute and sweet that Jessica and Elizabeth think it’s going to be easy to take care of her.

But from the moment Chrissy arrives, it’s clear that she’s spoiled. Before long the twins begin to wish she would just disappear!

When they get their wish and Chrissy does disappear, the twins are faced with their biggest problem yet .They’ve got to find Chrissy before her parents come back! [Wing: Why does anyone ever trust the Wakefield twins with any living creature? WHY?]

Tagline: Are Jessica and Elizabeth ready to be big sisters? [Wing: NOPE.]

Initial Thoughts

We already know that Jessica hates to baby-sit and isn’t all that great at it. Why are we having yet another story where she tries? What is her obsession with having a little sister? Why does this book even exist?

[Dove: *applauds*]

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Sweet Valley Twins #48: Mandy Miller Fights Back

8
May 2018
Sweet Valley Twins #48: Mandy Miller Fights Back by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #48: Mandy Miller Fights Back by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Mandy Miller Fights Back

Tagline: Will Jessica lose her new friend?

Summary: Mandy Miller wants to join the Unicorns, but the Unicorns don’t want Mandy Miller! She wears wild second-hand clothes, and the other members think she tries too hard to fit in.

Jessica thinks she’s funny and nice, and she likes her offbeat way of dressing. The Unicorns have asked Jessica to tell Mandy that she can’t join, but Jessica just can’t bring herself to break the bad news.

How can Jessica be friends with the Unicorns and Mandy at the same time? Suddenly Mandy gets some frightening news that makes the Unicorns seem unimportant to both Mandy and Jessica—and now Jessica is afraid of losing her new friend for good!

Initial Thoughts:

Mandy sounds like an old friend of mine, from my college days. Let’s call her Plover. She had her own unique dress sense and a fun, gregarious personality. She was very popular. She’s now a super-ace singer and photographer, still rocking her style with aplomb.

I think I’m going to like Mandy Miller.

[Raven: This recap is like Gandalf, in that this recap is never late, nor is it early. It arrives precisely when it means to. By this, I mean this recap is late, so I’m attempting to put a wizard’s hat on it. So, apologies. But if you really think about it, IS this recap late? Yes it is. But IS it? Yes. But it’s actually ON TIME. *waves hands in a mesmerising way*]

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Sweet Valley Twins #47: Jessica’s New Look

30
Apr 2018
Sweet Valley Twins #47: Jessica's New Look by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #47: Jessica’s New Look by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica’s New Look

Tagline: Jessica’s got a new secret – will the whole school find out?

Summary: It’s the most exciting day of Jessica’s life—Aaron Dallas has asked her out! Nothing could ruin Jessica’s wonderful mood—except the fact that she has to start wearing glasses. Jessica is convinced that the Unicorns will drop her the second they see her. And Aaron is sure to change his mind about their date.

For Jessica there is just one solution—she’ll never leave her room again! How can Elizabeth help her sister realize that wearing glasses is definitely not a tragedy?

Initial Thoughts:

I’m going to be 100% honest here. I can’t get behind Jessica’s thinking at all. I actually misread the final line on an eye test deliberately when I was 11 because I was so desperate to wear glasses. I think they’re cool. So I just want to hoof Jess in the face because this is a major comedown from the #BestJess who ruined a billion outfits to save a baby seal.

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Sweet Valley Twins #46: Mademoiselle Jessica

23
Apr 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 46: Mademoiselle Jessica by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 46: Mademoiselle Jessica by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Mademoiselle Jessica

Summary: A model family…

Jessica Wakefield is sick and tired of spoiled Lila Fowler’s constant boasting. So when she reads about the Model Family competition being sponsored by Teenager Magazine, she’s tempted to enter just to put Lila in her place. The first prize is a fabulous, all-expenses-paid trip to Paris. To compete, all Jessica has to do is write an essay describing her perfect family.

But the family Jessica ends up writing about is nothing like her real family. Still, it’s just a joke, until her twin, Elizabeth, posts the essay by mistake. Now it’s good-bye France and hello trouble—unless Jessica can convince the Wakefields to pretend to be something they’re not!

Tagline: How far will Jessica go to win a trip to Paris? [Wing: Considering she buries people in the Mercandy backyard on a whim, I’m sure there’s no limit to how far she’ll go.]

Initial Thoughts

Two things: One, why are you posting your sister’s essay? WHY? WHY ARE YOU MEDDLING AGAIN? I DON’T FOR A SECOND BELIEVE IT WAS AN ACCIDENT.

Two, I cannot spell “mademoiselle” right on the first try to save my life. Fingers crossed that I won’t have to write it again in this recap, because The Carnival Ghost nearly killed me.

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Episode 26: Lucy Takes The Reins

15
Apr 2018

Wing, Raven and Dove talk about Sweet Valley Twins 45: Lucy Takes The Reins. 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_)

[Raven: A few tech issues with Dove’s audio in this, hence the delay. Back to the normal schedule next week!]

Podcasts

Sweet Valley Twins #45: Lucy Takes the Reins

9
Apr 2018
Sweet Valley Twins #45: Lucy Takes the Reins by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #45: Lucy Takes the Reins by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Lucy Takes the Reins

Tagline: Can Elizabeth help Lucy face her toughest challenge? [Dove: Obv. Nothing is too hard for Saint Elizabeth.]

Summary: Elizabeth Wakefield’s friend Ted Rogers is in big trouble. He’s fallen behind with his payments to Carson Stables for the care of his horse, Thunder. Unless he wins the prize money in a regional jumping championship, he’ll have to sell the magnificent animal.

With everything riding on this competition, Elizabeth offers to help Ted train. Soon they’re spending most afternoons at the stables. That’s where they meet a mysterious new girl named Lucy Benson. Lucy seems to know a lot about horses. And when Ted has a bad fall, only weeks before the competition, Elizabeth is convinced that Lucy can take his place. Elizabeth doesn’t know that a secret fear has kept Lucy off a horse for the past two years. But she does know that Lucy needs to compete – and to win – for Ted’s sake… and her own.

Initial Thoughts:

I was under the impression that I’d never read this before – the story seemed unfamiliar to me, but then Jessica referred to currycombs as “hairycombs” and I knew I had read it before. It just didn’t stick. So that’s a really good sign. [Wing: HAIRYCOMBS OH MY GOD.]

Note: As someone who generally adores Ellen, the only way I can get through this is to pretend that the Ellen in any horse book is a completely different Ellen to the one we see at school. This isn’t me being a Malfoy apologist (“Jason Isaacs is hot, so Malfoy racism is excusable…” thinking), it’s just that the Ellen who rides horses is shrill, spiteful, vindictive and violent, whereas the one we see in school tends to be vague in her meanness. Absolutely she’s in the mean girls clique, but she has a strong follower stance. Yes, she’s mean, but she appears to take her cues from Lila and co. In this, she has no leader and she’s a real alpha bitch, not a beta one. If you look at Holiday Mischief, when Ellen is away from the rest of the Unicorns, it doesn’t occur to her to keep being mean, and she actually helps Anna hide her lack of singing ability. That’s why an Ellen sans Unicorns who leads two terror crusades against other horse riders seems so strange.

[Wing: This is the Ellen I love. She’s horrible and holds her own with Jessica and Lila.]

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