Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #93: The Incredible Madame Jessica

Sweet Valley Twins #93: The Incredible Madame Jessica by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #93: The Incredible Madame Jessica by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Incredible Madame Jessica

Tagline: Good fortune or bad luck?

Summary: The mysterious powers of Jessica Wakefield…

Jessica Wakefield can see the future! She’s been saying so for months, and when she opens up a fortune-telling booth at the Sweet Valley Middle School fair, she finally proves it. Everything she predicts comes true—her studious twin sister, Elizabeth, flunks a history test, Patrick Morris breaks up with Sophia Rizzo, and Aaron Dallas gets suspended from the basketball team.

Jessica is elated—she’s the hottest act in town. The only problem is, she’s telling everyone exactly what they don’t want to hear—and the more she predicts, the more people blame her for their bad luck! Does Jessica have to lose her psychic powers to keep her friends?

Initial Thoughts:

Another psychic/fortune teller book? Are you kidding me? They really love coming back to this well, don’t they? [Raven: My thoughts exactly. Not AGAIN.]

I suppose this irritates me because I do not believe in fortune telling, ghosts, mediums, psychics, etc. Put them in a supernatural book where these things are real, and I’ll love the hell out of them if it works within the story, but when books are set in the real world? Nope.

Example:

The Conjuring movies. Absolutely love the fictional Ed and Lorraine Warren. They seem like sweet, generous people, motivated by God to help families suffering from spiritual torment. Lovely. (And the fact that Patrick Wilson plays Ed doesn’t hurt.)

Real life: Ed and Lorraine are complete scam artists, attaching themselves to high profile cases to give themselves some oomph.

Also, I might be a bit grumpy because I’ve left my recap to the last minute and have to use my weekend to get it down.

[Wing: On the one hand, I do believe in some supernatural things. On the other hand, Dove’s absolutely right in that most people who do it in the public eye are scammers. On the other other hand, I’m not looking forward to another repeat plot. On the other other other hand, it cannot be as bad as the last book.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #91: Deadly Voyage

Sweet Valley Twins #91: Deadly Voyage by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #91: Deadly Voyage by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Deadly Voyage

Tagline: Hijacked!

Summary: It’s the best field trip of the year: identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their classmates from Sweet Valley Middle School are taking a ferry to a Pacific island, where they’ll get to see porpoises and unusual birds. But soon after they set sail, the twins discover that their teachers have been left behind!

Desperate to get back to shore, the girls search for the captain—and find him bound and gagged! The boat is in the hands of thieves, and the twins and their friends are in serious danger!

Initial Thoughts:

Well, the premise sounds interesting, at least. The twins, hijacked on a school trip! Gotta beat Ithig, or books about one of the countless School Dances.

The premise also promises the Sweet Valley Twins cast at war with “thieves” … perhaps this could be Jamie Suzanne’s version of Die Hard?

Yippie-Kai-Ay, mofos!

[Wing: Yup.

 

via GIPHY

 

Every time Die Hard comes up, I hear this now. Every. Time.]

One point: This is the first part in a two-part series (or, as it says on the cover, a “sequence”) . As the second part of the sequence is called Escape from Terror Island, I’m presuming Part One ends with the SVT Crew marooned on the aforementioned Island of Terror…

Maybe the voyage won’t be as deadly as advertised. Or maybe Ellen Riteman will get killed. Who knows?!

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #89: Jessica’s Cookie Disaster

Sweet Valley Twins #89: Jessica's Cookie Disaster by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #89: Jessica’s Cookie Disaster by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica’s Cookie Disaster

Tagline: What’s the secret ingredient?

Summary: Jessica Wakefield, baker to the stars…

Jessica Wakefield is a wonderful baker! At least, that’s what her home economics teacher thinks when she tastes the cookies Jessica baked at school. They’re so good, the teacher submits a batch to the producer of the television talk show, Lifestyles of the French and Famous. And now the producer has invited Jessica to appear on the show with four hundred of her delicious cookies for the studio audience!

Jessica is thrilled. She and her friends in the exclusive Unicorn Club get to work baking cookies. But there’s one big problem: Jessica can’t remember the secret ingredient that made her recipe so amazing! And the harder the Unicorns try to follow the recipe, the worse the cookies taste. Will Jessica have to appear on national television with four hundred of the worst cookies ever baked?

Initial Thoughts:

“Okay, time to write another recap! Let’s check out what books I have coming up…”

*checks upcoming schedule*

“Next month I have Deadly Voyage! Wow, that sounds great! After that, there’s The Twins Take Paris… how cool! Then there’s Elizabeth the Spy. Exciting! Then we have The Beast Must Die! Amazing, a great set of cool-sounding yarns on the horizon… … … So, what do we have this week?”

*reads book title*

“Jessica’s. Cookie. Disaster.”

*gets up, leaves house, drives to coast, throws book in the fucking sea*

[Dove: I would like to disclaim that Raven did not physically leave the house. He has not left the house for over two weeks. We are taking lockdown seriously. Though I’m pretty sure he imagined it heavily. And the alternative covers will be back, as soon as I get creative again. At the moment I’m managing my anxiety with digital filing (I’m Konmari-ing my Sims 2 downloads folder), and creativity is not an option. Apologies. I hate these crappy covers as much as you guys do. More. Definitely more.]

[Wing: I really want to bake cookies now.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #87: The Mother-Daughter Switch

Sweet Valley Twins #87: The Mother-Daughter Switch by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #87: The Mother-Daughter Switch by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Mother-Daughter Switch

Tagline: Jessica and Elizabeth trade places—with their mother!

Summary: Which is easier—to be a mother… or a daughter?

After a big fight with their mother, identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield come up with a brilliant way to show her that being a kid is no piece of cake: they decide that she should give it a try. To their shock and delight, their mother agrees! The twins will get to be their own mother, while Mrs. Wakefield will be a kid.

But the twins soon discover that parenthood is exhausting—who would have guessed Mrs. Wakefield would be such a messy, mischievous kid? Jessica and Elizabeth decide to trade places again—but their mother says no! Are the twins stuck being their mother’s mother forever?

Initial Thoughts:

The Mother Daughter Switch (cover by Dove)

Okay, so this is a role-swap rather than a body-swap. Gotcha. [Dove: After BIG for Christmas, it would’ve been too soon, surely?]

Sounds interesting, from the blurb. The twins get to be Alice, while Alice gets to be the twins. And it sounds like Alice is a right scamp while she’s doing it! Should be a fun romp.

Promising. So, undoubtedly, it’ll be atrocious.

Also, great cover by Dove!

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Posted in Super Editions

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #5: Lila’s Secret Valentine

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #5: Lila's Secret Valentine by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #5: Lila’s Secret Valentine by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Lila’s Secret Valentine

Tagline: Where is Lila’s valentine?

Summary: Caught in a lie…

Lila Fowler is dreading Valentine’s Day. She has no valentine, and she’s determined not to let her friends in the exclusive Unicorn Club know. So she tells everyone that she does have a boyfriend and sends herself flowers and candy to prove it. Her valentine’s name is Gray Williams, and he’s rich, cute and completely made up.

The Unicorns are totally impressed, and Lila is thrilled—until her friends pressure her into bringing Gray to the Valentine’s dance. How can she bring a date that doesn’t exist.

Initial Thoughts:

Today is Dove and I’s anniversary, so it should be a perfect time to recap a loved-up Valentine-themed book.

However, we’ve just had an argument, so the level of dewey-eyed gushiness this recap with entail remains to be seen. (Don’t worry, we rarely argue, and it’s all a storm in a teacup anyway.)

It’s a book about Lila, on the face of it, which is great. But I suspect there’ll be a lot of pre-teen mushiness, which I’m pretty meh about. We’ll see.

Also, I hate the new covers. I do like Dove’s rework, which I’m sure is displayed below.

Lila’s Secret Valentine (cover by Dove)

[Dove: I’m here for anything Lila, although we’ve reached the point where I kind of don’t remember what’s going on. I didn’t read it as a kid, and if I’ve read it since, it was a few years before we started recapping, so it’s all mush. On the other hand, I did enjoy making a Super Edition cover for this, which you can see here:]

[Wing: Ridiculously adorable cover. I’m guessing this book will have far too many misunderstandings that would be resolved if people would just talk to each other, but since most of them are twelve, I suppose I believe it.]

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Posted in Super Chillers

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #7: The Haunted Burial Ground

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #7: The Haunted Burial Ground by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #7: The Haunted Burial Ground by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Haunted Burial Ground

Tagline: Haunted…or tricked?

Summary: The Unicorn Club is throwing the best Halloween party Sweet Valley Middle School has ever seen! Lila Fowler’s dad has lent the girls a rundown shack in the woods—a perfectly spooky place for the party.

But as the Unicorns are fixing the shack, strange and scary things happen: Ellen Riteman discovers a human skull, Jessica Wakefield gets lost in a cave full of bats, and a mysterious girl appears out of nowhere to relay ghostly warnings.

Then the twins hear that the shack was built over an ancient Native American burial ground. Could the shack really be haunted? Or are the Unicorns the victims of a terrifying Halloween trick?

Initial Thoughts

Jesus fucking christ, that cover. That title. That summary. I know I went into The Unicorns Go Hawaiian expecting the worst and was pleasantly surprised, but the haunted burial ground trope is even worse, and even if it turns out to be a terrifying Halloween trick (and, no lie, I expect it to be about 50/50 as to whether it is supernatural or mundane when it comes to the Super Chillers), the stereotypes are likely to be horrific and offensive.

There has been some interesting analysis as to why the trope came into existance in the 80s. Here are a couple of links to get this started: TvTropes’ Indian Burial Ground, Jana Schmieding’s Bury My Guilt in an Indian Burial Ground, AVClub’s Read This: Digging up the origins of the “Indian burial ground” trope}, Atlas Obscura’s Why Every Horror Film of the 1980s Was Built On “Indian Burial Grounds”, and Northwest Public Broadcasting’s Horror Older Than America: Whitewashing Native Tales For A Mass-Market Audience.

From Schmieding’s piece (Schmieding is a Lakota writer):

All I know, from the point of view of one Lakota Native who enjoyed The Shining as much as you did but with one eyebrow raised, is that the only “ghost stories” I’ve ever heard from my own people are that of ancestors who carry wisdom, who aim to protect, who are considered sacred and powerful, and whose manifestations as malevolent only occur when they’re not talked about. When their story isn’t told. There’s a moral here that I hope you’re grasping. When someone tells you that their house is built on an Indian Burial Ground and it makes the hair stand up on your arms, ask yourself, “What am I really afraid of? Am I afraid of Indigenous people because of pop culture’s portrayal of them as unholy, spurned beasts of the underworld? Or am I afraid of my own willful ignorance of settler colonialism and modern Native issues? Am I afraid that Natives’ stories haven’t actually been told?” I’ll go ahead and assume that it’s a mix of all. But until Native filmmakers and television writers get a chance to scare the shit out of mainstream audiences with our own stories, we’re all stuck with supernatural microaggressions and embarrassingly coded displays of white guilt.

With all that in mind, here we go.

Super Chiller 7 – The Haunted Burial Ground (cover by Dove)

[Dove: My brain says that the Super Chillers went downhill after the covers changed, but in all honesty, maybe Christmas and Carnival Ghosts just set the bar and everything since has been hopelessly flailing at that bar ever since.

On another note, I don’t know if I’ve ever made it clear publicly, but god knows poor Wing has to patiently listen to me bitching about “the new covers” and “the geocities covers” like they’re the worst thing in the world. Every week. Every time we skype, I bring it up. So, in an attempt to put my money where my mouth is, I will be creating badge-style covers for the books from now on. Well, after this we have Amy’s Secret Sister, but after that we are officially switched over to the new covers. So, without further ado, here’s my first cover creation.

I’ve done much better covers after this – this was a bitch to render and I kind of screamed and gave up at some point. Elizabeth’s hair kept pushing through her face (don’t ask), and my computer kept falling over under the weight of the background. So, while it’s not the greatest cover, stick with me, I fully intend to get much better.]

[Wing: A billion times better than the actual cover for so many reasons.]

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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 Super Chillers

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #6: The Curse of the Golden Heart

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #6: The Curse of the Golden Heart by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #6: The Curse of the Golden Heart by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Curse of the Golden Heart (or Curse Stories 2: Electric Boogaloo)

Tagline: Pirate treasure!

Summary: A broken heart…

It’s spring, and identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are taking a scuba diving course at Pirates Cove. On their first dive the twins discover the remains of an old pirate ship, and half a golden heart buried in the sand. [Wing: LIES. They’re only snorkeling at that point.]

Soon the twins receive spooky chain letters demanding that what was taken from the sea be returned. Jessica continues the chain; Elizabeth doesn’t. Suddenly terrible things start happening to Elizabeth. She finds threatening notes in her room and a live scorpion in her lunch bag.

Can Elizabeth discover the secret of the golden heart before the curse destroys her?

Initial Thoughts

Please, ghostie, please don’t resort to pirate speak in this book. Please. I beg of you.

[Wing: Note from the future. Positive: no pirate speak. Negative: we’re rehashing old stories all over the place.]

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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 #76: Yours for a Day

Sweet Valley Twins #76: Yours for a Day by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #76: Yours for a Day by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Sweet Valley Twins #76: Yours for a Day

Tagline: What if he says no?

Summary: A matchmaking disaster…

The members of the Unicorn Club are donating themselves to charity! For a price, they’ll obey a classmate’s wishes for an entire day. But with the big Valentine’s Day dance coming up, Jessica Wakefield can’t resist turning the fund-raiser into a matchmaking plan.

Jessica knows that Mandy Miller has a huge crush on Peter Jeffries. She orders Mandy, as her servant for a day, to ask Peter to the dance.

But Peter turns Mandy down! And then Jessica ends up as Mandy’s servant for the day. Can Jessica repair her matchmaking fiasco before Mandy takes her revenge?

Initial Thoughts

That’s some adorable purple going on there. Also, Mandy’s facial expression is a delight. Damn it, why is Peter (one of them at least) back? I find it nearly impossible to tell them all apart, which makes for boring reading.

[Dove: Don’t hate yourself over all the Peters, Wing. I can’t tell them apart either. I wonder why Mandy’s hair is suddenly black? It could be a wig, but I was sure they bought one that matched her original hair colour (brown) when she lost her hair to chemo?]

[Raven: “I find it nearly impossible to tell them all apart, which makes for boring reading.” … Way to go, Wing. You’ve just given the ghosties explicit justification for their repeated “the twins look identical, but are so very different” schtick.]

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