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 Nightmare Mansion

Sweet Valley Twins #97: Too Scared to Sleep

Sweet Valley Twins #97: Too Scared to Sleep by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #97: Too Scared to Sleep by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Too Scared to Sleep

Tagline: The first 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…

The Wakefield twins and their friends love baby-sitting for the Riccolis, until little Juliana Riccoli starts having horrible nightmares. One night she wakes up crying, saying a monster attacked her. The twins tell her that bad dreams aren’t real, but Elizabeth is secretly afraid. If the monster isn’t real, why does Juliana have deep scratches on her back?

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

Initial Thoughts:

Hey kids, do you love Baby-Sitters Club?

YEAH! (excited cheering from a bunch of tweens in the 80s/90s)

And do you love A Nightmare on Elm Street?

YEAH! (one or two kids back away nervously muttering that their mum wouldn’t approve)

And do you love it when boys are so utterly mentally incapacitated that it’s actually cruel to leave them alone without adult supervision?

… (kids look unenthusiastic. a tumbleweed blows past)

WELL, GREAT! THIS SERIES IS FOR YOU.

[Raven:

] [Dove: Damn you for using my favourite Meat Loaf song.]

[Wing: Nothing like opening with a Meat Loaf song to put Wing in a good mood.]

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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 Nightmare at Sea

Sweet Valley Twins #92: Escape from Terror Island

Sweet Valley Twins #92: Escape from Terror Island by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #92: Escape from Terror Island by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Escape from Terror Island

Tagline: Island prisoners…

Summary: Identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their friends from Sweet Valley Middle School are shipwrecked! After their ferry was hijacked on a school field trip, the twins saved the day by tying up the hijackers and seizing the helm. But the boat got caught in a storm, and now the twins and their classmates are stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere.

Elizabeth and Jessica are determined to escape. But it won’t be easy. The hijackers have found their way to the island—and they’re out to kill!

Initial Thoughts

I did not enjoy Deadly Voyage, the first half of this Nightmare at Sea sequence, as much as Raven and Dove, but I love stranded on an island stories, and I hope to like this one a lot better. Though that summary does give away the fact that Elizabeth survived the cliffhanger ending of the last book. Which is not actually a surprise, because we know SVH exists, but still shouldn’t be given away in the damn summary.

[Dove: Not just SVH, before then we’ve got the Unicorn Club, Team Sweet Valley (two books only) and Junior High. I mean, it’d be fucking awesome if they killed her off and stuck to it, that would show real balls, but it wasn’t likely.]

[Raven: You mean to say that Elizabeth Wakefield is in the SVH books too? SPOILERS!]

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Posted in Nightmare at Sea

Sweet Valley Twins #91: Deadly Voyage

Sweet Valley Twins #91: Deadly Voyage by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #91: Deadly Voyage by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Deadly Voyage

Tagline: Hijacked!

Summary: It’s the best field trip of the year: identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their classmates from Sweet Valley Middle School are taking a ferry to a Pacific island, where they’ll get to see porpoises and unusual birds. But soon after they set sail, the twins discover that their teachers have been left behind!

Desperate to get back to shore, the girls search for the captain—and find him bound and gagged! The boat is in the hands of thieves, and the twins and their friends are in serious danger!

Initial Thoughts:

Well, the premise sounds interesting, at least. The twins, hijacked on a school trip! Gotta beat Ithig, or books about one of the countless School Dances.

The premise also promises the Sweet Valley Twins cast at war with “thieves” … perhaps this could be Jamie Suzanne’s version of Die Hard?

Yippie-Kai-Ay, mofos!

[Wing: Yup.

 

via GIPHY

 

Every time Die Hard comes up, I hear this now. Every. Time.]

One point: This is the first part in a two-part series (or, as it says on the cover, a “sequence”) . As the second part of the sequence is called Escape from Terror Island, I’m presuming Part One ends with the SVT Crew marooned on the aforementioned Island of Terror…

Maybe the voyage won’t be as deadly as advertised. Or maybe Ellen Riteman will get killed. Who knows?!

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #90: The Cousin War

Sweet Valley Twins #90: The Cousin War by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #90: The Cousin War by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Cousin War

Tagline: Guess who’s dating Robin’s dream guy!

Summary: The boyfriend battle…

Identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are delighted when their cousin Robin comes to Sweet Valley for a visit. They can’t wait for Robin to meet their friends—and maybe even find a date in time for the Girls-Ask-Boys Dance at Sweet Valley Middle School.

When Robin meets Todd Wilkins, she’s certain he’s the one for her. But she’s in for a big surprise: Todd already has a girlfriend—and her name is Elizabeth Wakefield! Will Robin have to fight her own cousin to win the boy of her dreams?

Initial Thoughts

Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no. I hate love triangles. I know, I know, this is not the series for that (at least when we get to SVH, I’ve heard), but god, I hate love triangles, I hate girls fighting over a boy, I hate the tagline and the summary.

I am not looking forward to this book.

[Dove: Well, I hate love triangles. I hate Robin. I pretty much hate Sweet Valley High’s format of using boy trouble as plots A, B and C in a single book. This is just going to be awesome isn’t it? … Or…?]

[Raven: Pretty much sick of love-centric stories in this series. They always devolve into everyone going “well, we’re not really boyfriend and girlfriend, even though we’ve been together for forty damn books. Look, I just wanna snog this hot newcomer, k?”]

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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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