Posted in Nightmare Mansion

Sweet Valley Twins #100: If I Die Before I Wake

Sweet Valley Twins #100: If I Die Before I Wake by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #100: If I Die Before I Wake by Jamie Suzanne

Title: If I Die Before I Wake

Tagline: The final title in the scary Nightmare Mansion mini-series

Summary: On a hill on the outskirts of Sweet Valley sits a beautiful old Victorian house—empty until a big family move in… the perfect clients for Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s new baby-sitting service.

Identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their friends have learned one thing from baby-sitting for the Riccoli family: dreams can come true… and so can nightmares. When the fire in Andrew Riccoli’s dream turned to real flames, the twins took action. They killed the evil creature—half girl, half monster—in the kids’ nightmares.

Before she killed them.

But now the creature has left the kids’ nightmares to terrorize them in real life. And waking nightmares are the scariest of them all.

Don’t go to sleep, Sweet Valley… you may never wake up!

Initial Thoughts:

I hate this series (Too Scared to Sleep, The Beast is Watching You and The Beast Must Die). I hated it when it started. I hated it when it got worse and I can personally guarantee I’m going to hate having to read the next 44k words (the previous books were approx. 29-32k—this is too many boring words).

I can’t tell whether this is badly written or not, because nothing has happened so far and nothing’s going to happen now.

I hate this. This is the worst part of this series. I know there are books that have worse messages or themes, but the obnoxious length of this fucking series takes the piss. Nobody needs 100k+ words where NOTHING happens.

Also, I think it’s time for a short rant about where I’m at with this incredibly stupid mini-series.

1) Steven. He is an utter waste of space and I hope he dies. I think I mentioned, either in the recap or podcast of The Older Boy, that there would come a point where I was just done with Steven. This mini-series is it. There isn’t a single redeeming feature of his scenes. He’s so stupid I’m actually worried that Ned and Alice are wilfully neglecting a child that is limited in his comprehension of the universe. Or that they are ignoring that their fully functioning child is actually becoming a manchild because of their indulgence. I suspect the latter. He acts like an asshole, nobody cares. He shirks his job. Nobody cares. He actively destroys not only Wakefield property, but the property of others too. Nobody cares. The last book ended with him being arrested, and I’m just guessing at the outcome here, but I bet that nobody cares.

His attitude is one of pure arrogance and entitlement. He doesn’t want to apologise for terrifying five children as “a joke” because he doesn’t understand what he did wrong. If he’s laughing, what’s the problem? He thinks he’s entitled to Karen, the hot daughter of one of his lawn mowing clients, simply because he perceives himself as far more attractive and interesting than every other dude on the planet.

Really? This is how idiotic, immature, entitled, incel, rapists are created. A+ parenting, Wakefields.

2) The parents (Riccolis and Wakefields). So, Mrs Riccoli has to be in Florida. Mr Riccoli has vanished from the narrative, because none of the Jamies swapped notes (or a single Jamie is overwhelmed by a four-book deal). And the Wakefields are like, “Yep, I think it’s totally ok that my twelve year olds are responsible for five children, when I wouldn’t let them stay at their own home for a few days without a baby-sitter.”

3) The Baby-Sitters Club. Ok, so you see that your rival book series has a far more interesting hook than “stuff happens but TWINS”, and you rip it off and then you… do fuck all with it. There are five kids in this club, but what do we have? The twins baby-sitting and a their muppet brother riding a lawnmower into whatever doesn’t get out of his way. The baby-sitting is frankly irresponsible. I haven’t dived deep into BSC (but damn, do I love the Netflix show) but their baby-sitting adventures actually show that you must care for the kids, rather than just bitch about how much you get paid. Yes, Jessica is oddly good at looking after kids, but everyone else’s baby-sitting skills range from not bad to screamingly incompetent (Winston giving 8 month old babies soda, for example).

4) The “plot”. The plot treads water for four books. Nothing happens. We’re made to believe that the plot will move forward, but it doesn’t. Nightmares. Oooh. More nightmares. Oooh. Even more nightmares. For fuck’s sake, is this going to escalate or not, because I’m finding it hard to care that Jessica’s sweater got a rip in it after a dream. There’s something going on with Alice, what about that? Well, that’s doing a big fat tread water too. We’ve had eight billion flashbacks to show that Alice baby-sat at that house and Eva had nightmares/sleepwalked. Wow. Such scary. Many engaged.

5) Fluff. Basically, this should be a two-book series, and the b-plots should be removed entirely. While we’re deleting pointless shit, let’s get rid of the monster POV scenes at the beginning and end of each book. They’re boring, pointless and add literally nothing to the story. Bye.

I FUCKING HATE THIS BADLY-PLOTTED MESS OF A MINI-SERIES. tl;dr: I wish Team Grapplegate had been handed this series. They are capable of being funny and sassy.

[Raven: This. All of this. All of this and more.]

[Wing: Dove hit so many points, so I’ll just add that we should take a look at the summary. Specifically: They killed the evil creature—half girl, half monster—in the kids’ nightmares. The last book ended on a cliffhanger. What you do not do is spoil the resolution to that cliffhanger in the summary of the next book. Yes, even if it is clear to us that none of the main characters (or, hell, the supporting characters) will day. Yes, even if it is a flat-out lie like that. Look, I get it, the summary for this was probably written before the last book was finished, but come. the fuck. on. We cannot even get consistency in that?]

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Posted in Nightmare Mansion

Sweet Valley Twins #99: The Beast Must Die

Sweet Valley Twins #99: The Beast Must Die by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #99: The Beast Must Die by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Beast Must Die [Wing: This is a goddamn lie.]

Summary: When Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield began babysitting for the Riccoli family, they soon learned of the kids’ bad dreams. And slowly, the terrifying truth becomes undeniable. The nightmares are real. Something evil is in the kids’ house and in their dreams—something that wants them dead. So when they can no longer stay awake, there’s only one thing left to do: the baby-sitters and the kids must enter the deadly world of their dreams…

Don’t go to sleep, Sweet Valley… you may never wake up! [Wing: The way I feel at this moment, never waking up sounds like a pretty good deal.]

Tagline: On a hill on the outskirts of Sweet Valley sits a beautiful old Victorian house—empty until a big family move in… the perfect clients for Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s new babysitting service.

Initial Thoughts

The day I’m writing this, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. I am heartbroken and in mourning. I am sharp edged and angry and even more afraid for vulnerable people in my country (including myself). Ginsburg meant a lot to me for a variety of reasons, and to this country, to the fight for equality and personal rights.

Which is to say, I am in a terrible place to be recapping Sweet Valley, have little patience, and even less ability to be funny. So this’ll be a grand old time!

(Not recapping the recaps, but here is the first book and here is the second book. We’ve not had much fun with this mini-series so far, though I liked the last book more than Dove and Raven did. Also: 99th main series book! I’m pretty pleased to have that number, and I’d like to party like it’s 1999 again.)

[Dove: I hate this whole series. I can’t even think of something witty to say. The entire thing is treading water. By the end of this, we’ve had 120k words of nothing happening, except Steven tits about on a lawnmower, which we’re supposed to find hilarious. I want to thump whoever came up with this. It’s fucking stupid and the Jamie(s) in question should be embarrassed.]

[Raven: Another chapter of this terrible mini series. Roundly bang the sounding brasses, let joy be unconfined, it’s time to get SHITFACED.]

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Posted in Nightmare Mansion

Sweet Valley Twins #98 – The Beast Is Watching You

Sweet Valley Twins #98: The Beast Is Watching You by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #98: The Beast Is Watching You by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Beast is Watching You

Tagline: On a hill on the outskirts of Sweet Valley sits a beautiful old Victorian house—empty until a big family move in… the perfect clients for Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s new babysitting service…

Summary: Little by little, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield’s dream job of baby-sitting for the Riccoli kids is turning into a nightmare. Andrew Riccoli dreams that someone tried to set fire to his room—and then wakes up in a cloud of smoke. Then Gretchen Riccoli dreams she’s falling—and wakes up at the bottom of the mansion’s dark, winding staircase. The twins are getting scared… too scared to close their eyes in the Riccoli mansion.

Don’t go to sleep, Sweet Valley… you may never wake up!

Initial Thoughts:

The first book in this series is hardly a zinger. For a spooky book with an action-packed premise, not a lot happened.

Here’s hoping the second swings a little harder for the fences.

[Dove: This is where I really lost my patience with this mini-series. The b-plot is my personal bugbear and I will never forgive or forget. I hate this mini-series.]

[Wing: I did not have high expectations. I was partially correct.]

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Posted in Super Editions

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #7: Jessica’s Animal Instincts

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #7: Jessica's Animal Instincts by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #7: Jessica’s Animal Instincts by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica’s Animal Instincts

Tagline: Jessica has a new friend… a grizzly bear cub!

Summary: Furry new friends…

Taking care of animals is easy! That’s what identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their friends think when they volunteer at the Sweet Valley Zoo.

Until Elizabeth accidentally lets a mischievous monkey named Spanky out of his cage and Spanky begins showing up in the strangest places…

Until Bruce Patman, who is secretly scared of birds, takes care of a baby bird named Drumstick, and Drumstick just won’t leave Bruce alone…

Until Jessica falls in love with Gus, a grizzly bear cub who’s lost his mother. When the zookeeper tells Jessica they must return Gus to the wild, can Jessica say good-bye to her furry friend?

Initial Thoughts

Wing: *reads title of book*

Wing: HOLY SHIT, DOVE HAS PROMISED ME WEREWOLVES FOR YEARS AND THEY ARE FINALLY HERE.

[Dove: I have repeatedly pointed out they are in Sweet Valley High, not twins. I have done my best to manage expectations given how often you reach for the flamethrower in this series!]

Wing: *reads tagline*

Wing: GODDAMN IT.

Already hate this book. I’m sure this will go well. [Raven: I’m with you.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #96: Elizabeth the Spy

Sweet Valley Twins #96: Elizabeth the Spy by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #96: Elizabeth the Spy by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Elizabeth the Spy

Tagline: Hands up! It’s a robbery!

Summary: Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are witnesses to an armed robbery! Though the crook was disguised as a clown, all the evidence points to Joe Carrey as the culprit. Elizabeth can’t believe it! Joe is the ice cream scooper at Casey’s, and he’s one of the nicest people she’s ever met.

Then Elizabeth investigates more deeply and finds a clue that just doesn’t fit. It’s enough to convince her that Joe Carrey is innocent. But can Elizabeth convince the jury?

Initial Thoughts:

Oooooh! Exciting!

Criminals and intrigue and trials and shit.

Looks like there’s been a robbery at a store committed by a clown, not to be confused with a Robbery at the Mall committed by a chicken. Excellent work there, plot manatees!

I’ve enjoyed a fair few of the Plucky Girl Detectives books, so I hope this one doesn’t disappoint.

[Dove: At this point, I am so over the Plucky Girl Detectives books. I think no crime gets solved in Sweet Valley without Elizabeth being involved.] [Wing: Wasn’t the very first Plucky Girl Detective story driven by Jessica?]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #95: Battle of the Cheerleaders

Sweet Valley Twins #95: The Battle of the Cheerleaders by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #95: The Battle of the Cheerleaders by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Battle of the Cheerleaders

Tagline: Aaron Dallas? In a skirt?

Summary: War between the sexes…

Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their friends have joined the girls’ basketball team. They ask the boys’ team to come and root for them—it’s only fair, since the Boosters cheer at every one of the boys’ games. But the boys say no way—girls’ sports are stupid.

Outraged, the girls boycott the boys’ games. And once the Boosters stop cheering, the undefeated boys’ team starts losing… and keeps losing.

The superstitious boys are getting desperate. They need the girls in order to win. After the boys beg and beg, the girls finally agree to come back under one condition: they not only want the boys to come to their games, they want boy cheerleaders!

Initial Thoughts:

I don’t really have any beyond the fact that the last line of the last book was that the twins were like, “OMG! Why have I never played basketball before? It’s super awesome!” and my feeling was very much: They have.

In fact, Jessica’s hobby of choice was basketball in Steven’s Enemy… admittedly because of the wide array of cute boys that play it, but even so, she cared then. And I’m sure in the earlier books before we started tracking such things, she’s played on the school team. [Raven: Elizabeth also coached Ken Matthews to a standard that allowed him to win a spot on the team. With a tennis ball.] [Wing: #4, Choosing Sides, is where Elizabeth coached Ken after Steven, basketball genius (and apparently coaching genius, too) failed. In #20, Playing Hooky, Jessica’s the fucking star of the SVMS sixth grade girls basketball team. #47, Jessica’s New Look, has at least one of her dates with Aaron to watch the Lakers play. #82 is Steven’s Enemy, in case you want to go back and see yet another book where Jessica discovered her love of basketball. So yeah, I’m going to have a hard time giving this book a fair chance because I am so goddamn annoyed that (a) the twins are discovering basketball all over again, (b) they have to create a sixth grade girls basketball team, and (c) I’m pretty sure there’s a continuity error around the boys team, too.]

Also, Jessica’s been on a bunch of dates with Aaron to see the Lakers play – partly because Aaron was wowed by Jessica’s obvious knowledge and enjoyment of the game, rather than just “yay, date!”

So basically, I’m coming in to a completely new book with a chip on my shoulder thanks to the clumsiness of the previous Jamie, who may well not be this Jamie.

Also, it’s about sexism, so, y’know, I suspect I’ll be a mite tetchy throughout.

Note: Any spelling mistakes or random lines of characters should have been edited out. But if not, I have kittens. Kittens who think the tippy-tappy of my soft keyboard is the most magic thing ever and must be pounced on.

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #93: Don’t Talk to Brian

Sweet Valley Twins #94: Don't Talk to Brian by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #94: Don’t Talk to Brian by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Don’t Talk to Brian

Tagline: Brian Boyd has a horrible secret….

Summary: The news that rocks Elizabeth’s world… [Dove: Yes, Elizabeth. This is all about you.] [Raven: It’s always about Elizabeth.]

Elizabeth Wakefield has always thought that Brian Boyd, the class bully, was bad news. He’s mean and loud—nothing but trouble. As far as she’s concerned, Sweet Valley Middle School would be better off without him! Then she learns a terrible secret about Brian: he’s been taken away from his parents because they physically abuse him.

Elizabeth and her friends are horrified, and so are some Middle School parents when they see how scared and upset their kids are. When Brian is sent to a school closer to his new home, there’s a big sigh of relief.

Now Elizabeth has finally got her wish—the school is rid of Brian. So why does she still feel so rotten?

Initial Thoughts

Why does Elizabeth feel so rotten? Because she’s intruding on someone else’s life again, I bet. I’m already angry at this book, and I haven’t read more than the summary and the tagline. I have no faith that ghostie will handle child abuse well at all, I have a feeling they are going to try to blame his Nazism on his abuse, and I’m primed to burn Sweet Valley to ash.

So let’s do this! /falsely chipper

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Posted in Super Editions

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #6: The Twins Take Paris

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #6: The Twins Take Paris by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #6: The Twins Take Paris by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Twins Take Paris

Tagline: On the run in Paris…

Summary: Identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are ready for the trip of their lives. They’ve been selected to participate in their school’s Bonjour Paris! project, and they get to live with a real French family in the City of Lights for two whole weeks!

But on the plane, Jessica makes a startling discovery about their French mother, Madame du Noir. And when the twins meet her in the Paris airport, Jessica is absolutely convinced: Madame du Noir is wanted for murder, and Jessica and Elizabeth are her next victims!

The twins are determined to escape from Madame du Noir’s clutches—even if it means running all over Paris!

Initial Thoughts:

I’m sure the title of this is a play on the title of another film or sone, but all I have at the moment is “The Cars That Ate Paris” and my Google-Fu feels weak today. Sound off in the comments if you’re feeling in an enlightening mood.

So… this book! The title is exciting at least. Two weeks in Paris with the Wakefield Twins? What could be better?

Polio.

Polio could be better.

[Dove: I was sure the twins weren’t allowed to go to Paris after the whole Mademoiselle Jessica thing…]

[Wing: This book. This. book.]

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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 Super Chillers

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #9: Evil Elizabeth

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #9: Evil Elizabeth by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #9: Evil Elizabeth by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Evil Elizabeth

Tagline: Who’s afraid of Elizabeth Wakefield? [Dove: Somehow, everyone and no one.]

Summary: Everyone thinks of Elizabeth Wakefield as the nice twin. That’s why she loves her Halloween mask – it’s so scary that no one can believe Elizabeth is behind it.

But her appearance isn’t the only thing that changes when Elizabeth puts on the mask – little by little it makes Elizabeth act evil… only Elizabeth doesn’t know it. It’s up to her twin sister, Jessica, to destroy the mask… before Elizabeth does something she’ll regret forever.

Initial Thoughts:

OMG, we’re here. WE’RE HERE! WE’RE FINALLY AT EVIL ELIZABETH.

THE TITLE LITERALLY EXPLAINS WHO SHE REALLY IS!

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chillers #9: Evil Elizabeth (cover by Dove)

I’ve been looking forward to this one for awhile now, although I’m now coming at it from the point of view of someone who’s feeling less hateful to Elizabeth. I still think she’s beige fucking paint, and has no hope of a career as a fiction writer, but of late her parents have both put pressure on her to be a grownup, and treated her like a kid. Her boyfriend turned into a massive himbo over Valentine’s day, and a week or so later, he nearly dated her cousin – thanks to her identical twin ruining her life.

So… I do honestly wonder if this will impact how I feel about Elizabeth and this book overall.

But for now, have a cover. Sometimes the simplest things are the best. I basically copied that very famous meme.

[Raven: Best cover yet!]

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