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 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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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 #74: Elizabeth the Hero

Sweet Valley Twins #74: Elizabeth the Hero by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #74: Elizabeth the Hero by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Elizabeth the Hero

Tagline: Elizabeth saves Denny’s life!

Summary: Elizabeth Wakefield and her friends are walking on the beach one stormy afternoon when they witness a terrible surfing accident. Denny Jacobson is drowning! Elizabeth dives into the water and saves him.

Now Elizabeth is a hero. Her picture is in the newspaper and Denny showers her with presents and attention. But Janet Howell, president of the Unicorns, is angry! She’s got a big crush on Denny and is determined to make Elizabeth’s life a misery.

Elizabeth decides that being a hero is awful. How can she possibly get Denny—and now Janet—to leave her alone? Finally she and Jessica cook up a brilliant plan to get rid of them both, but it might mean putting Elizabeth in danger!

Initial Thoughts:

So, Elizabeth is a hero in this one? She saves someone’s life, apparently. I thought she saved the lives of every New Girl that moves to Sweet Valley.

Also, one of my classmates at school had Denny as a surname, so I can’t take Denny seriously. It doesn’t help that he looks a bit like a young Hugh Grant on the cover. Actually, on second thoughts, could he be any more like a young Chandler from Friends?

Finally, the offscreen guy with the microphone is wearing a white suit. I’d say something cutting, but I had a cream suit in University. Although I only wore it for comedic purposes, so don’t judge me.

[Dove: I think Denny looks much older than Elizabeth. But you’re right about Chandler.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #72: The Love Potion

Sweet Valley Twins #72: The Love Potion by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #72: The Love Potion by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Sweet Valley Twins #72: The Love Potion

Summary: A magical solution…

Peter Burns has a huge crush on Mary Wallace. But Mary doesn’t think Peter is the boy for her—and Mary’s friends in the Unicorn Club are certain that Peter is the wrong kind of boyfriend for a Unicorn! No matter what Mary says, Peter won’t take the hint. Then Mary and the other Unicorns stir up a fake magical brew to sell at the Sweet Valley Middle School Carnival. Will this love potion work some real magic and change Mary’s mind about Peter? [Wing: Not that I necessarily think Mary will just go along with the Unicorns’ opinion of him because she’s got a backbone on her, but shouldn’t something be done about them, too?]

Tagline: Will the Unicorns’ fake magic help Mary find a real romance? [Wing: Two things. (1) Wow, they’re actually admitting something they do is fake? (2) Thanks for the Bad Romance earworm, ghostie!]

Initial Thoughts

I love when the Unicorns have some sort of ridiculous school scheme (I’m betting some sort of fundraiser), and I love when Jessica tells fortunes and thinks she’s psychic, etc., so this should be a good combination. I hope.

[Dove: I have no nostalgia attached to this one. I never read it back in the day. Jessica and the Earthquake is the last one I remember reading, thought I may have read a later one, but I started missing books around here, because it was embarrassing being a teen, rather than a tween, and buying these books.]

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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 Twins #70: Psychic Sisters

Sweet Valley Twins #70: Psychic Sisters by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #70: Psychic Sisters by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Psychic Sisters

Tagline: Can Jessica and Elizabeth really read each other’s minds? [Raven: Nope!]

Summary: Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are so different, it’s sometimes hard to believe they are twins—until the day they discover that they can read each other’s minds! When their friends hear about the twins’ special talent, they convince them to be the star performers in the forthcoming school talent show.

But one morning the twins wake up to discover that their gift is gone. Now Jessica and Elizabeth must work out how to convince people that they are still psychic. Otherwise, they’ll be the laughing-stocks of the entire school!

Initial Thoughts:

From the above synopsis, I did not expect great things.

“Oooh! Mind reading! How exciting! SPECIAL TWIN POWERS! That’s so cool!” Meh. I’ve no truck with such mumbo-jumbo, which I’ll get into later in the recap. Either way, nothing here smacked me on the ass with the Excitement Kipper.

Also, this cover? All very Big Train Staring Contest.

[Dove: I wasn’t excited about the premise of this book. But honestly, that might be because the spine of the book is silver (like the Super Editions) but the cover is pink (like the regular series) and little things like that really piss me off (as evidenced by the anger I have towards the cover of Jessica’s Bad Idea). It’s not the book’s fault the outside is imperfect, but I have issues.]

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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…