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.]
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 Ghostnearly killed me.
A travelling carnival is on its way to Sweet Valley and Jessica and Elizabeth can’t wait to ride on the roller coaster, have their fortunes told, and try their luck at the games. But when they get there some odd things happen to the twins. A fortune-teller warns Jessica to stay away from the carnival. And a mysterious girl named Claire seems to appear out of nowhere and suddenly becomes best friends with Elizabeth.
Elizabeth is strangely drawn to Claire. She begins to ignore her friends, her chores, and even her sister to spend time with her new friend. It’s as if she’s under an evil spell… a spell no one, not even Jessica, can break. And if her twin is in danger, how can Jessica help her?
I have been looking forward to this book for so, so long. Dove may have sold me on giving Sweet Valley as a whole a try because she promised me werewolves in books to come (much, much later), but she sold me on Sweet Valley Twins specifically because there are supernatural books. We’ve had a couple, and they’ve been fun, but this one is right in my sweet spot: potential ghost, travelling carnival, roller coasters, fortune tellers, mysterious new girls. I cannot wait.
And, finally, I don’t have to wait. I predict this will be a wild ride. Good or bad? We’ll see.
[Dove: First off, apologies for the tardiness of mine and Raven’s comments. Second of all: BEST SWEET VALLEY BOOK EVER. EVER. EVER.]
Summary: Elizabeth Wakefield has known Todd Wilkins since she was a toddler, but she’s never noticed how cute he really is, until she sees him dancing with her sister, Jessica. Now Elizabeth can’t stop thinking about him—and everywhere she goes, Todd turns up, too. Could he actually like her as much as she likes him? Elizabeth wishes she knew more about boys. But when she finally asks her twin for some advice on the subject, she makes a terrible discovery: Jessica has a crush on Todd, too!
How can Elizabeth fall for a boy that her sister already likes? There’s only one honorable thing to do: forget Todd and never let Jessica know she cares. But that’s not going to be an easy thing to do
THAT’S Todd Wilkins?! But he’s about eight!
I dunno, I expected the Glorious Todd Wilkins to be… cool? Dashing? At least “blonde”, for some reason. Not this nervy looking gimp, dressed as a tomato and carrying the Horn of fucking Gondor.
[Dove: Mostly I remember this as “the tween version of Sweet Valley High #1: Double Love”. But it’s actually better, because, in general, Twins is better than High, and Grapplegate are better than most, if not all, ghosties.]
Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield can’t wait until Saturday night. Their friend Aaron Dallas is throwing “the party of the year” at a new teen club called the Hangout. Everyone from their class will be there—including Jessica’s latest crush, dreamy Todd Wilkins. But when Steven, the twins’ older brother, gets into trouble at the Hangout, Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield decide that the club is off-limits. That’s the last straw for Jessica. First, her parents wouldn’t let her get her ears pierced, and now they’re going to make her miss a great [Wing: Looking?] party! Even Elizabeth thinks they’re being unfair. Then Jessica comes up with the perfect plan to get them to the Hangout. But can she convince Elizabeth to go along with it? [Wing: Of course she can. There’s very little that she can’t talk Elizabeth into doing, including giving Jessica the shoes off her damn feet.]
Tagline: Jessica’s scheming gets both the twins in trouble! [Raven: That’s literally the tagline for whole series.]
When doesn’t Jessica’s scheming get them into trouble? It also sometimes gets them out of trouble. I’m more concerned about what’s going on with those expressions. Also: that great looking purple sweater.
[Dove: I never really remember this book because the plot seems like it could only cover a day or so – much like Jessica and the Money Mix Up.]
Title: Super Chillers 2: The Ghost in the Graveyard
Tagline: Is Sweet Valley Haunted?
Summary: Strange things have been happening to Sam Sloane ever since he moved from San Francisco to Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s neighborhood in Sweet Valley. He can’t work out why everything in town looks so familiar—or why he’s mysteriously drawn to a crumbling old mansion in town. When he visits a cemetery in the dead of night and sees a ghost who looks just like him, he turns to Elizabeth and Jessica for help.
At first the twins think Sam is imagining things. After all, who believes in ghosts? But the more the girls get to know their new friend, the more they feel he’s telling the truth. Something is out there. The twins are going to have to do a little ghost hunting of their own. But what happens if they do discover the ghost? Or worse, what happens if it discovers them?
Although my chosen moniker is suitably gothic, I do not have a horror pedigree.
Sure, I like horror films. They are fun, and scary. And horror books? I love me a bit of Stephen King. I’ve screamed at Freddie and Jason, cowered from Samara, laughed at Chucky and was Finally Destined to face down Fate itself.
I enjoy it… but I don’t live and breathe it.
Both Wing and Dove have a much more visceral pull into the fright genre. They devour it whole, consuming all they can in a search for more thrills and for the love of the form. It’s a long love, from childhood, and it informs their nostalgia for this very site. Go check out all the fine work on point horror dot com for proof. [Wing: Well, he’s not wrong. Even our names come from a Point Horror book.]
But me? I’m a fairweather frightmeister. If pushed, I prefer a belly laugh or a pewpewpew space epic.
The point of this confession? A mere FYI.
This Super Chiller isn’t really in my wheelhouse. So take all you read with a hefty pinch of salt.
Title: Jessica and the Money Mix-Up by Francine Pascal
Summary: A matter of trust…
When Jessica Wakefield’s father asks her to run an errand for him, she jumps at the chance. It’s the perfect opportunity to prove to her dad that she can be trusted. All she has to do is deliver an envelope of money for a charity to Mr. Hopper, who lives three blocks away.
What could possibly go wrong? Jessica doesn’t know that she’s about to be sidetracked by Sweet Valley Middle School’s biggest gossip. Or that, when she hides the money to deliver it later, her hiding place will disappear! Jessica’s only hope is to find the money—fast. With Elizabeth’s help, she’ll search all over Sweet Valley. But will the twins find it before their father discovers the money is gone?
Tagline: Jessica is in the biggest trouble of her life!
I … am not looking forward to this book. It might have been a bad idea to start recapping the Baby-Sitters Club books, which I love so much, while recapping Sweet Valley. Similar character age, similar target audience, and yet, I love the hell out of those books and spend a great deal of time hating these.
On the other hand, this is the fourth SVT book I’ve read this week (the last week of December, as I write this), so maybe I’ve just overwhelmed my ability to deal.
[Dove: No, you’re not wrong. I know this is the first Michael Grant/Katherine Applegate book, but that doesn’t mean it’s good. As you can see from our Q&A session with him, he wasn’t delighted by this outline. But I promise it does get better.]
Summary: The Unicorns say Ellen can’t talk to Amy at their party. Ellen can only talk to her date. The solution is obvious. To Ellen, at least.
Notes: (because I don’t see these as warnings) girl/girl tween slash, hand-holding.
Dedication: for Wing, who begged for this in her recap.
Timeline: All over the place, just like the books. It’s set straight after Mary is Missing, but I borrow pairings that happen later, and reference “sort-of boyfriends”. So, um… I’m feeling very Jamie Suzanne today.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
Tagline: The twins are fighting mad… at each other!
Summary: Bitter rivals…
Jessica Wakefield has written an article about the Unicorn Club for the class newspaper The Sweet Valley Sixers. As its editor, her twin sister Elizabeth has promised to run the article in the very next issue. But when Elizabeth has to take Jessica’s article out at the last minute, Jessica is furious!
Jessica and her fellow Unicorns decide to teach Elizabeth a lesson by starting their own paper, The Unicorn News. Before long, it’s clear that Sweet Valley Middle School isn’t big enough for two newspapers, and Jessica’s begins to take the lead. Will Elizabeth’s beloved Sixers be able to hold its own against the sensational news that the Unicorns print?
This always sticks in my head as being yet another rehash of the student council story, which I hated bothtimes they did it already. However, each time I read it, I remember that I actually like this story, because we have #BestJess and Sulky!Liz and forgery and pre-photoshop MY HED IZ PASTEDE ON YAY.
Jessica Wakefield is convinced that Mary Wallace has disappeared. No one has heard a word from her in three days. She hasn’t been at school, she didn’t turn up for Lila’s ice cream party, and worst of all, the Unicorns’ treasury money seems to be missing. [Wing: Oh, god, are we back to “stolen” money actually being misplaced?]What’s more, Mrs. Wallace, Mary’s mother, is acting very strange.
Jessica’s twin sister, Elizabeth, thinks that Jessica is just being her usual overdramatic self, until the twins get a mysterious and confusing phone message. Maybe Jessica’s idea isn’t so farfetched after all. Maybe Mary has been kidnapped. If that’s the case. Mary is in big trouble… and the twins had better figure out that cryptic phone message fast.
Tagline: How can a twelve-year old girl disappear into thin air? [Raven: Mr Nydick’s Love-Wagon?]
Well here we are, and I survived one year in Sweet Valley. I think it’s like dog years, because the past twelve months feel like they’ve lasted a decade. #sweetvalleytime
This time last year, I was horrified by what I’d agreed to when I read my first Sweet Valley book. This year, I know that while I hated a huge amount of the books, I did love a few and enjoy even more.
Dove swears we’re into the good books. We’ll see about that.
[Dove: This is a ridiculous book. The premise is so full of holes and silliness that there are multiple idiot balls that need grasping with an iron grip in order for it to happen (and believe me, Wing covers them), but on the other side, this book is fun.]
Tagline: This year Jessica is in for a very scary Christmas
Summary: Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are looking forward to the most glorious Christmas ever. The tree is decorated, the presents are wrapped, and movie star Beau Dillon is coming to town! The actor, who’ll be in Sweet Valley to publicize his new movie, has agreed to help Elizabeth raise money for the children’s wing of the local hospital. But when the teen star arrives at the Wakefields’ house, it’s Jessica, not Elizabeth, he meets.
What’s the harm in pretending to be your twin? No harm, Jessica thinks – until strange things start happening and three ghostly visitors appear. Is Jessica’s imagination working overtime or have the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future come to teach Jessica the lesson of a lifetime?
Ok, first of all, I think if you’ve listened to the podcast you may know this, but I don’t assume that everyone does: I LOVE THE SUPER CHILLERS. Actual ghosts are here.
Before I was confident enough to ask Wing to take on this gigantic recapping project, I used the “mentionitus” method of testing the waters. While we sat on PointHorror.com, griping about how rarely the bad guy (known on that site as the “Muffin Man”) was supernatural, I would say lightly-casually-oh-I’m-not-hinting, “It’s funny, Sweet Valley Twins has a much younger audience, but they always had real ghosts in their ghost stories.” Wing would raise a scathing eyebrow and say that she’d never read Sweet Valley. Ever. And she was sort of proud of that.
Then curiosity would overcome her. “Really? Because in Babysitters’ Club, it was always the Scooby Doo villain – a human pretending to be a ghost. So you have actual ghosts?”
“Actual ghosts,” I would say. “And it’s odd, they seem to act up the most over Christmas.”
And that is the groundwork of how you get someone who clearly is going to hate something, to do it anyway. [Raven: I have such an inappropriate comment here.] Mention that one thing they like. (Also, there will be werewolves in Sweet Valley High.) [Wing: I feel like I should be more upset that my BFF so blatantly exploits my weaknesses, and yet.] [Dove: I do realise that the above is basically “how to brainwash your friends”. But I had an agenda. And here we are.]
Second of all, I adore A Christmas Carol. I know most people do, but I feel like I might go the extra mile. I feel like I’ve seen every fandom-variation of this story – heck, I’ve even written one. I adore this story.
I’ll admit The Carnival Ghost is a better story on its own merits, because it’s not fanfic of an iconic tale, but this one holds a special place in my heart.
The Cover: Why is the ghost awkwardly pointing to the left? Jessica looks great, but the ghost looks like it wasn’t happy to be modelling for the cover.
[Wing: Tis truly the season for Christmas Carol retellings. We did a few over at the Devil’s Elbow (Fright Christmas and The Fright Before Christmas), and yet somehow this has the best versions of the ghosts. I mean, come on: an angry flying unicorn? Clearly this was going to win.]