Posted in Super Chillers

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #5: The Curse of the Ruby Necklace

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #5: The Curse of the Ruby Necklace by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #5: The Curse of the Ruby Necklace by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Curse of the Ruby Necklace

Tagline: A mysterious death in a spooky old house… [Wing: I first read this as “in a spooky old lighthouse” and now I’ve made myself sad it isn’t true.]

Summary: A necklace, a movie, and a murder…

Identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are thrilled when they land small parts in a movie being made in Sweet Valley. The film is based on the true story of the mysterious death of twelve-year-old Lillian Keller, and it’s being filmed at the creepy old Keller mansion.

One stormy afternoon, Jessica finds an old necklace on the beach near the mansion. She puts it on, and that very night she has a terrible nightmare about a girl falling to her death. She becomes convinced that someone—or something—is trying to tell her that the mystery of Lillian Keller’s death is far from solved. But can a necklace really hold the secret to a murder?

Initial Thoughts

Despite my little lighthouse wish when reading the tagline, I am excited as hell to recap this one. I’m hoping for Jessica the Sleuth, fun murder mysteries, and creepiness galore. Also, now that I’ve finished the book, that cover is kind of ridiculous; (a) that’s not storm clothing even on the beach and (b) they looked like that when Becka hired them?

(Also: Happy New Year! I wrote this at the end of 2018 and it posts at the beginning of 2019, which delights me to no end. Here’s to another year of these ridiculous books. Spoiler: For once, this is a great thing.)

[Dove: Is it just me or does Jessica have zombie face on the cover? “Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.”]

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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 #69: Won’t Someone Help Anna?

Sweet Valley Twins #69: Won't Someone Help Anna by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #69: Won’t Someone Help Anna by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Won’t Someone Help Anna?

Tagline: Can Cammi help Anna survive at Middle School?

Summary: From the minute she arrives at Sweet Valley Middle School, everybody loves Anna Reynolds. She’s outgoing and funny—and almost as boy-crazy as the Unicorns! All of Anna’s new friends are especially impressed that she can handle the pressures of school as a hearing-impaired student.

The only one who isn’t impressed is Cammi Adams. For some reason, Cammi is convinced that Anna won’t last long at their school. When her prediction starts to come true. Cammi realizes that she may be the only one who can help Anna. But if she does, it will mean revealing a secret she wants to keep hidden forever!

Initial Thoughts:

ALERT! ALERT! A MINORITY HAS BREACHED THE TOWN DEFENSES!

DEPLOY THE WAKEFIELD AGENTS! JESSICA001 TO BULLY THE MINORITY INTO LEAVING, AND ELIZABETH001 TO BEFRIEND AND TERRIFY THE MINORITY. IF THEY DON’T SUCCEED, DEPLOY NYDICK001 WITH OPTIONAL WHIRLYCOCK ATTACHMENT.

*ahem*

[Dove: You missed out she’s a twofer. She’s both Asian and disabled. Sweet Valley will not tolerate this. The wall building will commence shortly.]

[Wing: Obligatory BURN SWEET VALLEY TO THE GROUND just to get us off on the right foot.]

To the text!

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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 Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #67: Jessica the Thief

Sweet Valley Twins 67: Jessica the Thief by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 67: Jessica the Thief by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica the Thief

Tagline: Guilty until proven innocent? [Wing: So Ned is the lawyer involved in this, I see.]

Summary: Framed…

Is there a thief at Sweet Valley Middle School? Things have started disappearing, and the whole school is searching for the culprit. But everyone is shocked when some of the stolen goods turn up in Jessica Wakefield’s locker!

Jessica insists that she’s been framed, but the only one who believes her is her twin sister. Elizabeth. When Jessica and Elizabeth team up to find the real thief, they can hardly believe what they find out!

Initial Thoughts

I kind of hate stories about people being falsely accused, so I can’t see this going well for me.

[Dove: I remember getting into a conversation with someone on Twitter (I think it was@_sunshinebooks) about how tiny Jessica looks in comparison to the rest of the girls on the cover. There’s something not quite right about the proportions there. Also, who is the girl in the peach dress? Is that Veronica?

Also, when I first read this, Watchmans (handheld TVs) hadn’t hit the UK, mostly, I think, because they were completely expensive and rarely worked. I misread the branding and spent the entire book wondering why Lila was so braggy about a Walkman, which pretty much everyone I knew owned.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #65: Patty’s Last Dance

Sweet Valley Twins 65: Patty’s Last Dance by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Patty’s Last Dance

Tagline: Patty Gilbert doesn’t need friends — or does she?

Summary: Scared and alone…

Patty Gilbert has dreamed of being a ballerina since she was a little girl Following her dream has meant making sacrifices, and one thing Patty has never had time for is friends. But when she beats her biggest rival, Kerry Glenn, for the lead role in Swan Lake, Patty is sure it has all been worth it.

Then Patty learns that she has scoliosis, which means she’ll have to wear a back brace for several years. Patty feels as if all her dreams have been shattered, and the worst part is she has nowhere to turn for support. Kerry has always acted friendly—and she’s the only person who really seems to understand how Patty feels about ballet. But can Patty trust Kerry with her secret?

Initial Thoughts

Since Patty’s friends are probably going to be one or both the Wakefields, no, no she does not need friends. Though that summary makes me think that we might get very little Wakefields. Do I dare get my hopes up? Since we’re back to a regular series book after a special edition that I pretty much loved — I’m going to guess no, no I should not get my hopes up.

[Dove: Oh, it’s a retelling of Deenie by Judy Blume. Anyone who tries to tell a story that Judy Blume did already (I see you Jessica’s Secret – even if you are written by #BestJamie) won’t get it done as well as she did.]

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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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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #64: The Charm School Mystery

Sweet Valley Twins 64: The Charm School Mystery by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 64: The Charm School Mystery by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Charm School Mystery

Tagline: Elizabeth, Amy and Maria try to catch a thief!

Summary: When a charm school opens in Sweet Valley, Jessica Wakefield can’t wait to attend. What could be better than going to classes about clothes, makeup, and parties?

Jessica’s twin sister, Elizabeth, has no interest in the school at all—until she uncovers some suspicious things about its owners. Elizabeth convinces her friends, Amy and Maria, to sign up for lessons and do some detective work. But the girls soon realize that charm school isn’t as easy as they thought it would be. What’s more, Amy and Maria are worried that Elizabeth’s sleuthing may put them in real danger. It looks as if the girls may be in over their heads—in class and in their investigation!

Initial Thoughts:

Charm School? What the hell?

Are these actually a thing, anywhere, at all? Even in the Eighties? Even in SWEET VALLEY?

As for the cover… dece. Elizabeth and Maria being impressively sleuthy. We know it’s Elizabeth as she’s carrying a notebook. A notebook that’s not purple, and not full of hearts and scribbles of ‘Mrs Jessica Buck’ on every page.

Maria also has a flashlight. Or a Fleshlight. Either way, we’re in for a treat.

[Dove: I know it’s not the book’s fault, but something about the main orange cover is such a turnoff. I always assume I’ll hate any book that colour, even though I don’t. The last one was Mandy Miller Fights Back.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #63: Poor Lila!

Sweet Valley Twins 63: Poor Lila by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 63: Poor Lila by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Poor Lila

Tagline: Has Lila gone from princess to pauper?

Summary: Poor little rich girl…

Lila Fowler has always been filthy rich. So when she overhears her father say he’s lost a fortune, she panics. Can she face the world without money? Her friends begin to suspect that something is wrong when Lila starts walking to school, bringing a packed lunch with her, and even turning down trips to the mall. But Lila’s afraid to tell them what has happened. Without money, she doesn’t feel special any more.

Finally, with a little help from Melissa McCormick and Elizabeth Wakefield, Lila learns that there really are more important things than money. But will her friends in the exclusive Unicorn Club agree? How will they react to a poor Lila Fowler?

Initial Thoughts:

This is the best Sweet Valley book ever. Don’t worry, I have a caveat – The Carnival Ghost is a Super Chiller, this is a main series. Two completely different categories. Both are the best in each. I’m not sure which one is better overall, because I like them for massively different reasons.

Either way, this is THE recap I have most looked forward to. I always knew I’d give Wing The Carnival Ghost, because I knew she’d like it. This one I’d have fought to the death for, so it’s kind of cool that it landed on me naturally.

I will be quoting 90% of this book. If you haven’t read it, you should. I love it.

[Wing: Updated 17 October 2018 with my comments. Sorry, dear readers, I have been slammed with work and am behind on everything else.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #60: Ciao, Sweet Valley!

Sweet Valley Twins #60: Ciao, Sweet Valley! by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #60: Ciao, Sweet Valley! by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Ciao, Sweet Valley!

Tagline: Just how welcome is Giovanna in Sweet Valley? [Dove: Well, given how well they usually take outsiders, I reckon it will go: 1) excited and welcoming; 2) cool and snooty as soon as she doesn’t bow down and worship the perfection of Sweet Valley; and then 3) EVERYTHING IS AWESOME.]

Summary: Jessica Wakefield and her twin sister, Elizabeth, are looking forward to having an exchange student named Giovanna come and live with them for three weeks, Jessica can’t wait to show the Italian country girl all the great things about Sweet Valley. But when the Wakefields finally meet Giovanna, Jessica is in for a shock. Giovanna is gorgeous and sophisticated—and Sweet Valley bores her to death!

When Giovanna arrives at Sweet Valley Middle School, she’s rude to Jessica’s friends in the Unicorn Club, she talks constantly about how great Italy is, and she flirts with the cutest boys in school. As far as Jessica is concerned, Giovanna has worn out her welcome. How will she ever get through the next three weeks?

Initial Thoughts:

I hate this book. I don’t want to read it. There’s a reason I never bothered to buy it back in the day. I borrowed it from a friend and decided I didn’t need a copy. It was one of the last ones I bought when I was filling in the gaps in my collection.

I utterly loathe this book. The only reason I didn’t swap with someone is because: 1) Raven knows better than to swap with me after he got burned by The Class Trip; and 2) despite my deep desire to not recap this, I thought Wing would like The Ghost in the Bell Tower (and I thought she’d probably burn our servers to the ground on this one), also; 3) I was pretty sure that Wing wouldn’t swap with me unless I made a very good case for it. My co-recappers are (rightly) very suspicious when I try to swap.

Note from the future: When I rage at Giovanna’s attitude, I am aware that the rage should be (and is) directed at the current Jamie Suzanne’s lack of knowledge about Italy and apparent xenophobia. But for shorthand, I rage at Giovanna.

Note from even further into the future: I completely forgot the Rizzo family is Italian. It’s ok, so did the author. You’d have thought Giovanna might have approved of them, especially with Mrs Rizzo speaking Italian as her first language, but yeah, no, that never happens. Giovanna never even meets Sophia.

Apology to any Italian readers: Hi. I’m really sorry that this Jamie Suzanne is being so offensive about your country with pretty much every sentence Giovanna utters.

[Wing: Why are we doing yet another foreign exchange student story? Why are we doing yet another New Girl story? Why are we doing — huh, I guess the next question is why are we doing the recapping at all, but I have an answer for that one.]

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