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 #92: Escape from Terror Island

Sweet Valley Twins #92: Escape from Terror Island by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #92: Escape from Terror Island by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Escape from Terror Island

Tagline: Island prisoners…

Summary: Identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their friends from Sweet Valley Middle School are shipwrecked! After their ferry was hijacked on a school field trip, the twins saved the day by tying up the hijackers and seizing the helm. But the boat got caught in a storm, and now the twins and their classmates are stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere.

Elizabeth and Jessica are determined to escape. But it won’t be easy. The hijackers have found their way to the island—and they’re out to kill!

Initial Thoughts

I did not enjoy Deadly Voyage, the first half of this Nightmare at Sea sequence, as much as Raven and Dove, but I love stranded on an island stories, and I hope to like this one a lot better. Though that summary does give away the fact that Elizabeth survived the cliffhanger ending of the last book. Which is not actually a surprise, because we know SVH exists, but still shouldn’t be given away in the damn summary.

[Dove: Not just SVH, before then we’ve got the Unicorn Club, Team Sweet Valley (two books only) and Junior High. I mean, it’d be fucking awesome if they killed her off and stuck to it, that would show real balls, but it wasn’t likely.]

[Raven: You mean to say that Elizabeth Wakefield is in the SVH books too? SPOILERS!]

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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 #90: The Cousin War

Sweet Valley Twins #90: The Cousin War by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #90: The Cousin War by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Cousin War

Tagline: Guess who’s dating Robin’s dream guy!

Summary: The boyfriend battle…

Identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are delighted when their cousin Robin comes to Sweet Valley for a visit. They can’t wait for Robin to meet their friends—and maybe even find a date in time for the Girls-Ask-Boys Dance at Sweet Valley Middle School.

When Robin meets Todd Wilkins, she’s certain he’s the one for her. But she’s in for a big surprise: Todd already has a girlfriend—and her name is Elizabeth Wakefield! Will Robin have to fight her own cousin to win the boy of her dreams?

Initial Thoughts

Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no. I hate love triangles. I know, I know, this is not the series for that (at least when we get to SVH, I’ve heard), but god, I hate love triangles, I hate girls fighting over a boy, I hate the tagline and the summary.

I am not looking forward to this book.

[Dove: Well, I hate love triangles. I hate Robin. I pretty much hate Sweet Valley High’s format of using boy trouble as plots A, B and C in a single book. This is just going to be awesome isn’t it? … Or…?]

[Raven: Pretty much sick of love-centric stories in this series. They always devolve into everyone going “well, we’re not really boyfriend and girlfriend, even though we’ve been together for forty damn books. Look, I just wanna snog this hot newcomer, k?”]

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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 #88: Steven Gets Even

Sweet Valley Twins #88: Steven Gets Even by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #88: Steven Gets Even by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Steven Gets Even

Tagline: It’s a boy-girl scare war!

Summary: Jessica and Elizabeth are about to get the scare of their lives…

Steven Wakefield has had it up to here with his twin sisters, Jessica and Elizabeth. Ever since the boys in their class at Sweet Valley Middle School challenged the girls to a Scare War, the twins have been driving him crazy: they’re busy coming up with schemes to scare the boys—and they’re testing them all on Steven!

So when the twins and their friends have a slumber party, Steven figures he’s really in for it—who knows what kind of stunts the girls will pull? But Steven’s got some spooky plans of his own. One way or another, he’s going to out-scare them all!

Initial Thoughts:

ANOTHER fucking Steven book?

I am so close to rage-quitting this series. I swear Wing and Raven are scheming behind my back. Yes, it is gone 5am and I haven’t slept for days, why do you ask?

I’m so “ugh” about this whole situation that, at the time of writing this, I haven’t made a cover. I will at some point, but perhaps not when I’m so anxious that I can only sleep in two hour blocks.

This is not hyperbole, I cannot sleep. I’ve had insomnia for decades, but not like this. I’m getting a couple of hours each night and that’s it, which is a long way of explaining why I’m going to be so irritable throughout this book.

[Raven: Hi, I’m Raven, and I’m sleeping fine.]

[Wing: I’m not sleeping as well as Raven, I’ve also had insomnia for decades, but I am currently sleeping far more than Dove. We’re like Goldilocks up in here, but terrible. Also: I found this book charming as hell.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #86: It Can’t Happen Here

Sweet Valley Twins #86: It Can't Happen Here by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #86: It Can’t Happen Here by Jamie Suzanne

Title: It Can’t Happen Here

Tagline: It’s just a game… isn’t it?

Summary: The most dangerous game…

Social studies class gets a lot more exciting when a visiting teacher, Mr. Levin, comes to Sweet Valley Middle School to teach the students a game. The rules are simple: Mr. Levin tells the pupils what to wear the next day, and they get points for obedience and demerits for disobedience. They get extra points for ratting on anyone who disobeys.

Everyone loves the game, especially Aaron Dallas, who is determined to be the best player of all. But Elizabeth Wakefield thinks that something is fishy. Why is it so important that everyone dress the exact same way? And if it’s just a game, why is everyone taking it so seriously?

Initial Thoughts:

So.

It Can’t Happen Here (cover by Dove) – I’m sorry, I had to

Sweet Valley tackles the Holocaust.

I’m sure this will be sensitively done.

My only thought is that I’m glad Wing isn’t doing this one. Our servers can’t take two back-to-back explosions from her.

I only remember one thing about this book, and it isn’t the plot, so I will guess that despite the touchy subject, and the historic fails Jamie Suzanne(s) has with tackling sensitive subjects with grace and tact, that this was so bad I forgot everything about it. Kind of like Steven the Zombie. I remember it being offensive. I also remember that it was boring as fuck. I can’t actually remember the book.

Also, here’s my cover. I used as much tact as this Jamie Suzanne did:

While on the subject of my 3D renders, JC of Oh God Why?! Nostalgia and I got into a conversation on Twitter about how it really couldn’t happen here (Sweet Valley) because it’s perfectly aryan and middle class. This culminated in us agreeing it’s probably the town slogan. So, this was born:

We can only assume this is the town sign

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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 Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #84: Romeo and Two Juliets

Sweet Valley Twins #84: Romeo and 2 Juliets by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #84: Romeo and 2 Juliets by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Sweet Valley Twins #84: Romeo and Two Juliets

Tagline: Will the real Juliet please stand up?

Summary: A battle for stardom…

Jessica Wakefield is dying to play the part of Juliet in the Sweet Valley Middle School production of Romeo and Juliet. But during the week of auditions, she comes down with an awful case of flu! The only way she can win the part now is by getting her twin, Elizabeth, to try out—pretending she’s Jessica!

Elizabeth reluctantly agrees. She has a great audition and wins the part for Jessica. But there’s a slight problem—Elizabeth falls in love with the part and won’t give it up!

Who will get to play Juliet?

Initial Thoughts

I have been earwormed because of that tagline.

And now you have, too.

Also, the answer to that question of who will play Juliet? I’m 99.9% certain it will be Jessica, and that other .1% is that it will be both of them and they’ll take turns. In part because acting is Jessica’s thing, and Elizabeth’s thing is writing, but also because despite recent events, Elizabeth has no spine, especially when it comes to giving in to Jessica.

Romeo and Two Juliets (cover by Dove)

[Dove: I second Wing’s theory. Doesn’t Jessica always get what she wants? Also, enjoy the alternative cover by me.

Just so you all know: I loathe Shakespeare – the stories are fine, I hate the wording that everyone finds so magical. Probably because I was forced to memorise a full act of the play overnight because Mrs Martin, the worst teacher in the world, gave an exaggeratedly spiteful punishment for talking during class. And, the following day when I had spent all night memorising, hadn’t slept, was reciting it in the shower, on the bus, during assembly in preparation, she said, “Oh, I can’t be bothered to listen to you. Go away.” That’s the kind of thing that makes you hate Shakespeare. Not the fault of Shakespeare, obviously, and I enjoy modern-day retellings, but in its pure form, I loathe it. So this book was a bit of a problem for me when everyone’s like, “Yay, Shakespeare!” my brain just went, “I still fucking hate Mrs Martin.”]

[Raven: On the other side of the coin, I love Shakespeare. I studied film, theatre and television at University, and have acted in a fair few Shakespearian productions. Personally, I think that liking Shakespeare is a direct corrolation to having a good English teacher. As Dove demonstrates above.]

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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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