Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #85: Elizabeth the Seventh-Grader

Sweet Valley Twins #85: Elizabeth the Seventh-Grader by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #85: Elizabeth the Seventh-Grader by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Elizabeth the Seventh-Grader

Tagline: Elizabeth is getting ahead!

Summary: High expectations…

Elizabeth Wakefield is thrilled when she hears the news: her teachers want to skip her to seventh grade! Everyone is proud of her—except her identical twin, Jessica, who wants her sister back in sixth grade where she belongs.

But Elizabeth vows to prove that she can make it as a seventh-grader—even if it means staying up all night to finish her homework, or sneaking out to a seventh-grade party.

Trying to meet everyone’s high expectations is turning Elizabeth into a zombie. Maybe she can make it as a seventh-grader, but does she want to?

Initial Thoughts

I have so many questions. Where are we in the school year? Last book was Valentine’s Day, so we are at the earliest in the second half of February, which means well into spring semester. Elizabeth probably has about three months of school left for the year. And even if we stick to the main series books, the last one felt like a spring semester book. Flu season generally is the heaviest in the first part of the year, and Shakespeare makes me think of second semester English class for some reason. Why the fuck would they promote her now instead of waiting until next fall and having her skip seventh grade completely? Am I really supposed to believe that Elizabeth would be happy to leave her twin, her friends, and the Sixers? Am I supposed to believe that she’d be happy with all this extra pressure when at the end of the last main series book she was annoyed at how much pressure her parents put on her and how they expect too much and she can’t measure up to it? Are you trying to tell me that Elizabeth sneaks out to a seventh-grade party? Unless Jessica is egging her on (and from earlier in the blurb, it sounds like she won’t be), I will not believe this at all.

So many questions. I’m sure the answers will be just fine. Just. Fine.

Elizabeth the Seventh Grader (cover by Dove)

[Dove: I really looked forward to Wing either explaining how this could or could not happen based on US logic, since skipping a school year isn’t a thing here. And she’s irritated before she’s even started. A good sign. Also, since we universally hate these ugly covers, have mine instead:]

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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 Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #78: Steven the Zombie

Sweet Valley Twins #78: Steven the Zombie by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #78: Steven the Zombie by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Steven the Zombie

Tagline: Steven’s in for it now!

Summary: Has Jessica’s joke backfired?

While reading a book about old New Orleans, Jessica Wakefield learns all about voodoo and decides to try it out herself, She knows exactly who she’ll make a voodoo doll of—her brother, Steven, of course.

Incredibly, the doll works. Poor Steven is lurching and leaping and writhing for days. Jessica is exhilarated by her powers… until she loses control of them. Steven’s still moaning in pain, but Jessica’s not doing voodoo anymore. Now Steven’s a zombie, and it’s all her fault!

Initial Thoughts:

Sweet Valley is known for its sensitive approach to everything, so I’m certain that this won’t be 130 pages of exploitation. Right? *wide grin*

Also, if anyone’s been creeped out by the way Wing’s been all “OMG! I LOVE THIS SERIES! IT GIVES ME THE FEELS! I LOVE THIS CHARACTER! THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD!” etc., fingers crossed that this is the book that returns her to form. I have my explosion gif at the ready. [Raven: Marshmallows on sticks are go, people!] [Wing: Oh, god, the pressure. THE PRESSURE.]

Important Note: For anyone who wasn’t here for One of the Gang or skipped my lengthy intro there, I have a mobility disability. This means I use words that are off-limits to able-bodied people.

[Wing: I’m going to share a couple links here before any Wing Goes Boom moments may or may not happen. These talk about Halloween, because that’s when a lot of these conversations happen, but the application is broader.

On Halloween, Insensitivity Goes Beyond Kimonos And Black Face by Leah Donnella over on NPR’s Code Switch.

African Voodoo Should Not be Fodder for Halloween by Shantrelle Lewis over on The Root.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #77: Todd Runs Away

Sweet Valley Twins #77: Todd Runs Away by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #77: Todd Runs Away by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Todd Runs Away

Tagline: It’s not the answer… [Wing: Yes it is. Get out of Sweet Valley. Get out.]

Summary: There’s only one way out… [Dove: ALL RIGHT! TODD’S GOING TO JIM JONES THIS THING!] [Raven: I went to Kurt Cobain, myself.]

Todd Wilkins is a great basketball player. His dad thinks that nothing is more important. But when Todd joins a creative-writing class taught by an exciting new teacher named Mark Ramirez, Todd discovers he has other talents, too.

The more time Todd spends on his writing, the less time he spends on basketball—and Mr. Wilkins isn’t happy. But he doesn’t blame Todd. Instead, he wants the school to fire Mr. Ramirez.

Todd doesn’t want to let either his father or his teacher down, but he can’t find a solution to his problems. So Todd plans to run away. Can Elizabeth Wakefield convince him not to go?

Initial Thoughts

For some inexplicable reason, every time I thought about recapping this book, I thought it was about Steven running away. Wishful thinking, I guess! Also, recapping two books in a row is a recipe for me hating the second book. I’ll try to be fair to this one, but between that and the Elizabeth to the Rescue setup, well … I’m ready to hate it.

[Wing: Note from the future. Holy. Shit.] [Dove: I’m very frightened that this means that Wing liked it. I’m getting very alarmed that we’ve finally worn her down.]

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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 Magna Editions

Sweet Valley Twins Magna Edition #2: A Christmas Without Elizabeth

Magna Edition 2 - A Christmas Without Elizabeth
Magna Edition 2: A Christmas Without Elizabeth

Title: A Christmas Without Elizabeth

Tagline: What if Elizabeth had never been born? [Dove: The series would merely be called “Sweet Valley Kid?”]

Summary: The strangest gift of all…

Elizabeth Wakefield is in terrible trouble. She was in charge of keeping all the money that Sweet Valley Middle School raised for a Christmas party. But Elizabeth secretly lent the money to a homeless family so that they would have a home over Christmas. [Raven: Of COURSE she did.] Now Elizabeth has been caught without the money and without an excuse. Everyone is furious with her.

Elizabeth decides to run away. She thinks Sweet Valley would be better off if she’d never been born. On her way out of town in a terrible storm, Elizabeth meets a mysterious girl who claims to be her guardian angel—and shows her just how important she is after all.

Initial Thoughts:

This book is based on one of my favourite films: It’s a Wonderful Life. If you’ve not seen it, track it down and give it a watch. It’s from 1946, and likely available via number of streaming services. It’s one of only two films to make me cry*. The first was Watership Down when I was six, the second was this when I was twenty-two. [Wing: God, Watership Down, not an okay heartbreak in that one.]

(*Then I hit mid-thirties, and they released Up. Downhill from there. Nowadays? Shit, I well up if I can’t find my fucking socks.)

[Dove: The cover. Why does Elizabeth have a bob? Their hair is always long on all the other covers.]

A Sweet Valley book, based on its central premise? I’ve an open mind. I’ve no beef with such chicanery. Cows aren’t sacred. I present the following video link as Exhibit A… a song about my favourite film, by my favourite band, which is legitimately one of my favourite things ever.

Seriously, if you can’t spare 2 hours 10 minutes for the film, spare three minutes for the video.

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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 #66: The Great Boyfriend Switch

Sweet Valley Twins 66: The Great Boyfriend Switch by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 66: The Great Boyfriend Switch by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Great Boyfriend Switch

Tagline: The Valentine’s Day dance isn’t what anyone was expecting…

Summary: Mixed-up romance…

As Valentine’s Day approaches, everyone at Sweet Valley Middle School is pairing up for the first dance of the year. Elizabeth Wakefield has been asked by sweet and serious Todd Wilkins, and her twin sister, Jessica, is going with wild and funny Aaron Dallas. The twins and all their friends are sure it’s going to be the most romantic night out ever.

But when they get to the dance, everyone seems to go a little crazy. Jessica abandons Aaron to dance song after song with Bruce Patman. And devious Veronica Brooks goes after Todd, leaving Elizabeth with no one to dance with—except Aaron! Romance is in the air all right, but will these mixed-up couples ever get straightened out again?

Initial Thoughts:

Now THIS is what Twin Magic is all about! Clandestine sexual misdirection. A Valentine’s Day dance, boyfriends and girlfriends and relationship woes. Wonderful.

The cover? A bunch of girls. Presumably all the Unicorns. Fair enough. The composition is a bit weird, it’s pretty lopsided.

Nothing else to say about it, really.

[Raven: Hello! As you can see, this recap is a day late. That’s all on me. Apologies! However, yesterday (Monday) was my birthday, so I’m going to claim Birthday Boy Privileges. Bosh. Done.]

[Dove: I actually love the cover of this. I’m slightly envious of the American covers, which show the entire picture with a banner across with the title – although I prefer the UK layout overall. I like it when the picture clearly references something that happens in the book, and this is a picture of the photo Ned took of all the girls before their first date. Adorable. Everyone looks so pretty. Except for Janet. Janet always looks terrible. And why isn’t Ellen on the front cover. I’m guessing the cover goes (back to front, left to right): Janet, (Belinda or Mandy, maybe?), Lila; Mary, (Belinda or Mandy?), Amy; Elizabeth, Jessica. Commenters, feel free to correct me. I’m really confused about the two brunettes in the middle, they don’t actually look like anyone we’ve seen before on the covers. Amy’s hair is way darker than usual too.]

[Wing: Surprisingly cute cover. Haven’t at least some of them already had first dates? Also, busy week, haven’t had a chance to comment until Wednesday, 21 November, but here I go.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #52: Booster Boycott

Sweet Valley Twins 52: Booster Boycott by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 52: Booster Boycott by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Sweet Valley Twins #52: Booster Boycott

Summary: No boys allowed.

Winston Egbert wants to join the Boosters, Sweet Valley Middle School’s cheering squad. No way, the girls say! A boy as a cheerleader? So what if Winston happens to be a terrific gymnast? So what if he makes up fantastic cheers? Jessica Wakefield and the other Boosters vow they’ll do anything to keep Winston off the squad.

At first Winston endures the girls’ nasty pranks, Charlie Cashman’s bullying, and his classmates’ giggles. But something happens to make Winston give up for good!

When the state cheering competition arrives, the Boosters are surprised to see that almost every other squad has a boy as a member. Without Winston, they’re sure to lose! Is there any way the Boosters can get Winston back?

Tagline: Winston Egbert wants to join the Boosters! [Wing: We get it, book. WE GET IT.]

Initial Thoughts

Oh, good, I bet this book is filled with gender essentialism. Y’all know how much I love that. BOYS? In CHEERLEADING? Heaven forbid.

[Dove: I really enjoy this book. It’s good fun, and the Unicorns are hilariously ridiculous.]

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