Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #82: Steven’s Enemy

Sweet Valley Twins #82: Steven’s Enemy book cover
Sweet Valley Twins #82: Steven’s Enemy by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Steven’s Enemy

Tagline: Ben likes Jessica, Steven hates Ben…

Summary: Family feud…

Steven Wakefield can’t stand Ben Oliver. First Ben stole Steven’s starting position on the basketball team, then he beat Steven in the election for class treasurer. Now Ben has developed a crush on Jessica, Steven’s own sister. Worst of all, Jessica is falling for Ben!

When Steven sees Ben at his house, he’s furious. He forbids Jessica ever to go out with Ben. But Jessica says no way. She’s not taking any orders from her big brother.

Steven’s determined to get back at Jessica. And he’s already thought of the perfect plan for revenge!

Initial Thoughts:

I hate Steven. I really hate Steven.

I have never read this one. As has been long established, I read these back in the day, but began to taper off at the end of the Grapplegate run. I started to buy the missing books from eBay once I got it in my head that owning the whole collection was a life goal, and I started reading them in order as they arrived, starting from Poor Lila, because it’s the most awesome Lila book. (And I stopped around chapter 2 of Cammi’s Crush.)

This one I skipped. I hate Steven, so I put it at the bottom of my list, and it was one of the last cheap ones I bought. Some of this series, believe it or not, is very expensive. The Haunted Mansion quadrology set me back more money that I want to think about.

So, I’m dragging my feet. Also, we took a lot of months off, so I hope I still remember how to recap!

Warning from the future: I drop the c-bomb. Once censored, used in retelling a story. Once with venomous hatred towards a fictional character. [Raven: Wait, we’re warning for that?! Jees, best go hit the back catalogue.] [Wing: I think she’s giving the warning for me, because I hate it used as a pejorative but love it as a body part description.] [Dove: Correct.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #80: The Gossip War

Sweet Valley Twins #80: The Gossip War by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #80: The Gossip War by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Gossip War

Tagline: Three-way calls can be triple the trouble!

Summary: Making enemies and influencing people…

Jessica Wakefield and her twin sister, Elizabeth, have persuaded their parents to get three-way calling for their phone. Jessica is psyched – more gossiping, more matchmaking, more fun!

There’s just one problem. Jessica didn’t read the instructions carefully, [Wing: Is anyone surprised?] and when she thinks she’s dishing gossip to Lila Fowler, she’s also dishing it to Ellen Riteman. And the gossip is about Ellen. The gossip spreads until the entire Unicorn Club is in an all-out gossip war!

Can Jessica turn her telephone tricks around and win her friends back? [Raven: Ah, a comedy basic. Nice.]

Note: Thank you to @idecisivekepner who provided the last sentence of this book. More on that when we get there.

Initial Thoughts:

I read this a few years ago when it arrived from an eBay seller, but I honestly couldn’t remember much about it other than this was an Ellen book. And that she doesn’t get within 5 miles of a stable. This book is about Ellen, and not the shrill screaming harpy that she gets turned into when a Jamie gets confused by the brief of “write about Ellen”.

Let’s do this.

(For those of you who weren’t here for the past hundred books: I love Ellen. She is my favourite character. My love for her has infected Raven and Wing. So I suspect we’ve all set our hopes rather high.)

[Wing: Well I have now. Prior to this week, I didn’t know it was an Ellen book.]

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Posted in General

A Quick Break

We are taking a quick break from our usual recapping schedule. Life got hectic for all of us, but if you want to blame someone, blame Raven, who got rather ill! (In all seriousness, when I suggested we take a break, the response all round was both quick and grateful.)

We are taking a further month off, because we all innocently assumed that our first month off would go: 1 week of Raven’s illness, 3 weeks of getting caught up on everything. It actually went 4 weeks of Raven’s illness, and zero catching up was done.

We will be back on 6 May 3 June with Raven’s recap. Our usual pattern is: Wing, Dove, Raven, week off.

If you want to know when a certain book will go up, check this page out. I keep it as up to date as possible.

Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #78: Steven the Zombie

Sweet Valley Twins #78: Steven the Zombie by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #78: Steven the Zombie by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Steven the Zombie

Tagline: Steven’s in for it now!

Summary: Has Jessica’s joke backfired?

While reading a book about old New Orleans, Jessica Wakefield learns all about voodoo and decides to try it out herself, She knows exactly who she’ll make a voodoo doll of—her brother, Steven, of course.

Incredibly, the doll works. Poor Steven is lurching and leaping and writhing for days. Jessica is exhilarated by her powers… until she loses control of them. Steven’s still moaning in pain, but Jessica’s not doing voodoo anymore. Now Steven’s a zombie, and it’s all her fault!

Initial Thoughts:

Sweet Valley is known for its sensitive approach to everything, so I’m certain that this won’t be 130 pages of exploitation. Right? *wide grin*

Also, if anyone’s been creeped out by the way Wing’s been all “OMG! I LOVE THIS SERIES! IT GIVES ME THE FEELS! I LOVE THIS CHARACTER! THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD!” etc., fingers crossed that this is the book that returns her to form. I have my explosion gif at the ready. [Raven: Marshmallows on sticks are go, people!] [Wing: Oh, god, the pressure. THE PRESSURE.]

Important Note: For anyone who wasn’t here for One of the Gang or skipped my lengthy intro there, I have a mobility disability. This means I use words that are off-limits to able-bodied people.

[Wing: I’m going to share a couple links here before any Wing Goes Boom moments may or may not happen. These talk about Halloween, because that’s when a lot of these conversations happen, but the application is broader.

On Halloween, Insensitivity Goes Beyond Kimonos And Black Face by Leah Donnella over on NPR’s Code Switch.

African Voodoo Should Not be Fodder for Halloween by Shantrelle Lewis over on The Root.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #75: Jessica and the Earthquake

Sweet Valley Twins 75: Jessica and the Earthquake
Sweet Valley Twins 75: Jessica and the Earthquake

Title: Jessica and the Earthquake

Tagline: A nightmare? Or an earthquake…

Summary: Jessica’s waiting for the big one…

When Jessica Wakefield wakes up in the middle of the night, her whole room is shaking. The next day at school, Jessica is a celebrity: she’s the only one who witnessed Sweet Valley’s own earthquake! [Wing: How is it even a little possible that no one else in the middle school woke up?]

When Jessica hears reports that another, bigger earthquake may hit, she quickly spreads the news. After all, Jessica is Sweet Valley’s earthquake expert! The more people she tells, the bigger and more dramatic the story becomes. Soon Jessica has everybody preparing for a real catastrophe!

Initial Thoughts:

As I’ve said previously, this is around the time when I stopped reading the books as they came out. I did read this one back in the day, but it was towards the end of the run, so it didn’t get a re-read back then. I remember that I enjoyed it then. I don’t know if that’s true now.

Also, this book becomes hilarious in hindsight (or maybe harsher), when you realise that the last two books of Sweet Valley High are called Earthquake and Aftershock, and do not have the happy-go-lucky vibe of this book.

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #73: Lila’s Music Video

Sweet Valley Twins #73: Lila's Music Video by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #73: Lila’s Music Video by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Lila’s Music Video

Tagline: Lila’s going to be a star!

Summary: Lila’s in way over her head…

The Unicorns are making a music video! Lila Fowler insists on being the singer, since it’s her video camera. But there’s one catch: Lila has a terrible voice, and she’ll be humiliated if anyone finds out.

As hard as Johanna Porter tries to coach her, Lila is hopeless. Johanna is shy, but she has a fabulous voice—which gives Lila a great idea: Johanna will do the real singing from backstage, while Lila lip-synchs on camera!

Their plan works perfectly. The video is so fantastic that the Unicorns submit it to a competition on RockTV, and Lila wins the chance to perform—live! Lila is terrified.

How will she ever get away with this one? [Raven: Is this summary just 75% of the damn book?!] [Wing: That means for once the summary isn’t a lie, though!]

Initial Thoughts:

Sweet Valley Twins #73: Lila's Music Video (v2 cover) by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #73: Lila’s Music Video (v2 cover) by Jamie Suzanne

This book bugs me. It’s available in two covers, as you can see. I ordered it multiple times, deliberately seeking out the pink badge cover, and always ended up with the ugly “it’s the 90s, this is our version of grown up” cover. Raven sensed my frustration (read: came home to find me raging about how it was unfair that people didn’t check their listings on eBay/didn’t clarify that the cover may be different to the image shown), and bought me a copy. It only took him one attempt to get the pink badge cover.

Or there are 73 of the 90s covers hidden somewhere in our house. Failing to spark joy. [Raven: Don’t look under the bed.]

After much seeking of this cover, I do love it. Lila looks fabulous and sparkly, she even has a smug little smirk, because she knows she’s better than… well, everyone. Jessica is displaying her double-jointed abilities/overlarge hand. And there are two other girls even I don’t recognise. One looks like bad fanart of Willow from Buffy (and either doesn’t have a left arm or is lightly caressing Lila’s buttocks). The other looks like Ruby from Supernatural. (The Ruby that married Sam in real life, not the other one.)

Maybe they’re Tamara Chase and Kimberley Haver, and that’s why I have no idea who they are. If so, Raven hates one of them with the fire of a thousand suns.

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #71: Jessica Saves the Trees

Sweet Valley Twins #71: Jessica Saves the Trees by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #71: Jessica Saves the Trees by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica Saves the Trees

Tagline: Will Jessica risk losing her friends for the sake of some trees? [Wing: Are they as cute as a baby seal? Because Jessica will get her clothes dirty for that.]

Summary: Jessica goes green…

Soccer fever has hit Sweet Valley Middle School! Everyone is excited about the forthcoming season, including identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. But Jessica’s happiness quickly fades when she learns that the school plans to tear down some beautiful old trees to make room for a bigger soccer field. Jessica risks her popularity, and possibly the soccer team’s chance at a big championship, by starting an environmental crusade to save the trees. But can she hold her ground against all her new enemies—including the boy she likes?

Initial Thoughts:

I remember enjoying this as a tween. This isn’t my original copy – someone borrowed it and I never got it back, so there’s a big ugly CEX sticker on one of the better cover pictures. Look! You can pretend that someone’s going to burn Jessica as a witch!

I suppose we’ll find out if this is going to be as good as I remember (Poor Lila!) or utterly rubbish (The Bully).

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Middle School Yearbook Superlatives

SVMS Yearbook Cover 2018
SVMS Yearbook Cover 2018

Raven and Dove never did yearbooks. They never did superlatives. They felt like they missed out.

Here are what they came up with…

Best…

Best (and worst) Singer…

Most likely to…

The Rest…

Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #68: The Middle School Gets Married

Sweet Valley Twins #68: The Middle School Gets Married by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #68: The Middle School Gets Married by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Middle School Gets Married

Tagline: Wedding bells in Sweet Valley?

Summary: Married, with children… [Wing: This is not a reference I expected to see here. Is it an actual reference to the show? No idea, but I like it.]

As part of a health-class project, all the students at Sweet Valley Middle School are pairing up into simulated marriages. Their assignment is to manage a make believe household and care for an egg that represents a baby.

The only problem is, their teacher. Mr. Siegel, is picking the couples Elizabeth Wakefield finds herself paired with snobby Bruce Patman, who refuses to help out. Jessica Wakefield’s pretend husband, Rick Hunter, teases her mercilessly and refuses to stop. And Todd Wilkins gets stuck with Lila Fowler, who only wants to eat out! [Dove: Lies, Lila/Todd get two lines of screen time and the subject of eating doesn’t even come up.] Can the middle-schoolers survive two whole weeks of married life?

Initial Thoughts:

I love-love-love this book. This is one of my favourite tropes, and I love to see it popping up in media I enjoy, and this book started my love of it. Dawson’s Creek did a marriage project episode, and it was pretty good. But, y’know, the downside of Dawson’s Creek is that Joey’s in it.

I wish there were pictures of all the couples. I always assume the couple on the right/back of the cover is Lila/Todd, but maybe it’s Sophia/Patrick, since they get more screen time. Sophia has black hair on both her previous book covers, and the boy doesn’t look like Patrick or Todd particularly, but I will concede that he has Patrick’s hair. [Raven: How do you know this? They are all literally the same, especially the boys.] [Dove: … I didn’t have a lot of friends when I was a tween. Shut up.] [Wing: I sort of want Dove to annotate every cover with the character names and what is wrong with the depiction.]

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Posted in Magna Editions

Sweet Valley Twins Magna Edition #1: The Magic Christmas

Sweet Valley Twins Magna Edition #1: The Magic Christmas by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins Magna Edition #1: The Magic Christmas by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Magic Christmas

Tagline: Jessica and Elizabeth discover the greatest gift of all…

Summary: Christmas gifts they’ll never forget…

When Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield’s grandparents give them a pair of matching antique dolls for Christmas, they are a little surprised. Their grandparents should know they are too old to play with dolls! Then the twins learn that the dolls are a family legacy from a past generation of twins. But that’s not all that’s special about the dolls. Before they know it, Jessica and Elizabeth are thrown into the most magical adventure of their lives. And along the way they learn what being twins – and best friends – really means.

Initial Thoughts:

This is the John Cena of Sweet Valley. One half of the audience is chanting “Let’s go, Cena!” while the other half is chanting, “Cena sucks!” On my first read, I was firmly in the “Cena sucks!” part of the arena, cheerfully holding my “Even the marines hate Cena!” sign aloft. On the second read, I found myself, not by choice, on the other side, revelling in each of his five moves of doom with gleeful delight.

(Apologies to the non-wrestling fans for that analogy. But I’m sure you got the gist.)

The first time I read it, I’m not sure what my expectations were – maybe another haunting, past life regression, or possibly time travel – and I was angrily disappointed that I had bought a book that lied to me. Also, it’s Christmas. Do not fuck with my dreamy expectations of Christmas. Wing may remember a year when I had ranted so extensively about my broken fairy (twinkle) lights, that I featured in the background of two fanfics arguing with the lights, and bat (of Nostalgic Bookshelf) made me twinkling LJ icons, and, more recently, @buffywatcher23 sends me frequent Christmas gifs and links. I very much love the idea of Christmas, especially in twee fiction. I’m actually trying to work out how I can legally pay for the Hallmark channel via a US proxy and VPN because I love their scenery porn so much.

And despite the cover, this is not a Christmas book. Apologies for the spoilers, but that cover is lying to you. And if you can just let that go, you might move over to my side of the arena, holding your “I Cena” sign next to mine.

[Wing: Damn it. *preps a sign* Also, I keep reading this as manga edition, which would be something different, but probably also fun.]

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