Posted in Super Editions, Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #3: The Big Camp Secret

Super Editions 3: The Big Camp Secret by Jamie Suzanne
Super Edition 3: The Big Camp Secret by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Big Camp Secret

Tagline: Sleep-away camp has some hidden surprises for the twins!

Summary: Identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield can’t believe they’re finally at sleep-away camp! Even though there are no boys, and Elizabeth’s friend Grace had to cancel her plans to go at the last minute, it will be two whole weeks of fun, fun, fun!

The twins waste no time diving into their favorite activities. Jessica begins to arrange a rendezvous with the boys’ camp across the lake. Elizabeth spends much of her time riding horses and making new friends. But the real excitement starts when Grace turns up in the most unexpected place.

Should the twins take a chance and hide Grace? If they do and they’re caught, camp may just turn out to be the worst two weeks of their lives!

Initial Thoughts:

The Big Camp Secret?

Joke just writes itself.

[Raven: Hi everyone! Quick note for you: this recap went up VERY LATE INDEED, all down to me, and both Wing and Dove have yet to comment on my asinine blatherings. So, if you’re a big fan of the comment back-and-forth, come back tomorrow morning (Tuesday) when, hopefully, all will be complete and I’ll delete this note. Cheers!]

[Dove: Thanks to my insomnia, I’m up in time to comment, but keep in mind I’ve only had a maximum of five hours’ sleep, you may want to wait for Wing.]

[Wing: And on Wednesday, 25 Oct, I finally have a chance to comment. Nothing like a lot of build-up for not a lot of snark.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #30: Princess Elizabeth

Sweet Valley Twins 30: Princess Elizabeth by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 30: Princess Elizabeth by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Princess Elizabeth

Tagline: Did Elizabeth break her promise to her new friend? [Wing: It is always Jessica and some sort of twin shenanigans. Why are they even bothering to make it seem like a question?] [Raven: Spoilers!]

Summary: Arthur Castle, an exchange student from a small country called Santa Dora, is coming to Sweet Valley Middle School and the sixth graders can’t wait! They have planned all kinds of welcoming events and parties for him.

Arthur doesn’t want anyone to fuss over him. He wants more than anything to be treated just like any other boy. He also wants to discover what real American kids are like. When Arthur meets Elizabeth Wakefield, his dream comes true. Their friendship grows quickly, and soon he even tells her his deepest secret – that he is actually a prince! The next day his secret is all over the school, and Arthur is furious. He thought he had made a true friend in Elizabeth. How could she betray his trust!

Initial Thoughts:

I don’t like this book. I’ve been on a run of books I don’t like, and I’d like to get off.

On reflection, my anti-royal stance has made this book impossible. I should have swapped with Wing. I did come up with a reason – I’ve found Wing will always swap books as long as you come up with a reason. Raven won’t. He knows me too well. [Wing: Well, since I dislike pretty much every book in some way or another, it’s no skin off my nose to recap a specific one (except for things like dogs or adoption or USA politics — oh, wait, that’s in this book. However, Dove was too slow this time, and I’d already written my last recap and couldn’t switch. Actually, now that I know she’s just switching to get away from the books she hates, I’m going to start saying no.]

The Front Cover: Why is Elizabeth getting married? No, really, Elizabeth, why are you getting married? You’re twelve.

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #29: Jessica and the Brat Attack

Sweet Valley Twins 29: Jessica and the Brat Attack by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 29: Jessica and the Brat Attack by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica and the Brat Attack

Summary: More than she can handle…

Jessica Wakefield can’t wait for the school fair – until she gets stuck being in charge of the water-balloon booth. Who wants to be drenched by every kid at Sweet Valley Middle School? So when her twin sister, Elizabeth, is offered a baby-sitting job that day, Jessica sees the perfect opportunity to steal the job away and stick her sister with the water-balloon booth.

But Jessica’s plan backfires. The kids she baby-sits turn out to be real monsters. The minute their parents leave, they begin tearing up the house – and her! Jessica needs help fast. But will Elizabeth feel too betrayed and too wet to come to her sister’s aid?

Tagline: Jessica meets her match when she takes up baby-sitting!

Initial Thoughts

Wait, so we just finished a book that was all about them pretending to switch places because they switch places so often, and now we have non-consensual switching places? I am already tired of this Twin Magic Gone Wrong thing and all I’ve done is read the summary.

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #28: April Fool!

Sweet Valley Twins 28: April Fool by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 28: April Fool by Jamie Suzanne

Title: April Fool!

Tagline: Is Elizabeth pretending to be Jessica – or is Elizabeth really Elizabeth?

Summary: It’s April Fools’ Day and the Wakefield twins are about to play their biggest and best trick ever. Usually Elizabeth and Jessica pretend to be each other. But this year they won’t switch identities, everybody will just think they did.

When April 1 comes, the twins’ trick works perfectly – too perfectly for Elizabeth. Everyone believes she is Jessica pretending to be Elizabeth. And being Jessica always means getting into trouble. By the end of the day, Elizabeth is beginning to wonder whether she is the biggest April Fool of all for agreeing to be part of this charade.

[Raven: Or are WE the fools for recapping this ridiculous series? You decide!]

[Wing: We are certainly the fools for having to read this book. I raced through it as fast as I could and still wish I could get that 15 minutes back. In order to get through this recap, I’ve embraced my inner Jessica and put on a face mask (mint and charcoal). It will be dried in 10 minutes. I will devote that much more time to this book, and then that’s it, straight to the final thoughts section, even though I normally love Raven’s recaps. This book is just that boring.]

Initial Thoughts:

Ah, a rare thing… a book title containing an exclamation mark / point. Although scouring the SVT series, it seems it has another eight such books to keep it company.

I quite like April Fools’ Day, but I appreciate that the mileage of others may vary on this issue. The day generally consists of half the people partaking and recounting hilarious pranks, while the other half sneer and condescend at the pranksters and pray for a swift resolution to the enforced jollity. Any form of awkward interaction gets the thumbs up from me.

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #27: Teamwork

Sweet Valley Twins 27: Teamwork by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 27: Teamwork by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Teamwork

Summary: Dollars and sense…

Spending money is one thing the Wakefield twins are very good at, but earning money isn’t that easy. Especially earning $87.50 in just three weeks. [Wing: Didn’t Jessica easily earn around that amount just a few books ago by selling Ginny’s artwork to local stores and taking a cut of it? Why can’t she do that again?] [Raven: Because Ginny told her to strongly do one?] That’s how much Jessica and Elizabeth need to take a bus trip to visit their great-aunt Helen.

Mr. Wakefield has told the twins that they must be responsible for earning their own bus fare. [Wing: … but why?] Elizabeth’s Idea of dog-sitting is the perfect solution, especially since their friend Ken is helping them. [[Wing: Is he earning the money for himself or for their bus fare?] But that’s when Joe comes along. The poor dog has been abused and the three suspect that Joe’s owner is the guilty one.

If Jessica, Elizabeth, and Ken keep quiet about Joe and collect their pay, the twins will have all the money they need. But what’s more important – the trip or a dog who needs help? [Wing: Yeah, that dog is dead if it has to rely on the Wakefields.]

Tagline: Can the twins prove that they’re not babies any more? [Wing: Well, considering the dog on the cover and what happened the last time a Wakefield took care of a dog, I’m going to say NOPE. Also, who is that dude on the cover? Is that supposed to be Steven? Because too young. Ken? Because EVERYONE LOOKS LIKE A WAKEFIELD.]

[Dove: It’s Ken. Steven has brown hair.]

Initial Thoughts

That dog is a dead dog, and once again the Wakefield looks are taking over Sweet Valley.

[Dove: About three weeks ago, I said to Raven: Shall I tell Wing this is a book where the dog “goes to live on a farm” in the end? Raven said no, because he doesn’t want to see our site burn.]

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Posted in Ghost Writers

The Katherine Applegate/Michael Grant Books of Sweet Valley Twins

You’re going to have to bear with me on this, because I’m still a bit gushy. Michael Grant followed me on Twitter, and I thought that was a big deal. Then he tweeted at me. (@SweetValley_ if you want to follow me, by the way.)

And this was news to me. I knew that Katherine Applegate was a ghostie, but I never knew that Michael Grant was involved, so this generated a lot of squee from me.  I had been a fan of Katherine Applegate since the Making Out years, then found Michael Grant’s Gone series independently. Wing and I nearly exploded with joy when we realized they were married. I think many of our squees were about how much talent was contained within their house!

I have been telling Raven and Wing that SV gets so much better once we hit a point. And that point pretty much encompasses the books that Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate wrote.

Then Katherine Applegate gave us this little gem.

I had to ask about the Super/Special/Chiller editions and Michael kindly gave more information.

I’m amazed that these lovely people took the time to answer my questions about some old books. I’m also delighted that Michael actually started this conversation.  This has just been a lovely conversation, with some great snippets of information that we’ve wondered about for quite awhile.

And – feel free to skip this part – here’s one of the reasons why it’s so lovely. I grew up reading these two without even knowing about it. I then fell in love with the writing they published under their own names. I was quite a lonely teen, and reading the Making Out series in particular, knowing that Nina was so odd but loved gave me a bit of hope.

tl;dr, Katherine Applegate’s writing impacted my life, and later the same was true of her husband. And for 20 minutes this evening, I existed to them too.

Edit: It gets better. Michael Grant answered some questions about the Sweet Valley Twins ghostwriting experience.

Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #26: Taking Charge

Sweet Valley Twins 26: Taking Charge by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 26: Taking Charge by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Taking Charge

Tagline: How far should the twins go to help a friend?

Summary: Even though Jessica and Elizabeth don’t always see eye to eye, they know their problems aren’t half as bad as those of their classmate, Patrick Morris. At least the twins have one big, happy family.

Patrick’s parents seem to be the meanest people in the world. They don’t let him have more than one friend visit at a time, they refuse to let him go to the big rock concert with the gang and, worst of all, they forbid him to join the Sweet Valley band!

That’s when Patrick decides to take matters into his own hands. And, if his parents don’t listen this time, they’ll really be sorry!

Initial Thoughts:

To be honest, I don’t like this book at all. I think it’s silly and functions strongly on “because the plot says so”. I did swap with Wing to get this book, but that’s because the next book is a dog book, and Raven and I are solidly in the “cat people” camp, while Wing adores her wonderful dog. Also, there’s the vibe of bad parenting, which ties in to my background. In all honesty, I’d rather be recapping April Fool! but it really did make sense to leave that with Raven – and he’d fight me for it anyway. [Raven: Damn straight.] [Wing: Doggy! I can’t wait for the doggy book.]

The cover:

Elizabeth: If you don’t get back into that decrepit deathtrap right now, Patrick Morris, I’m going to drag you in by your ear!

Seriously, it looks like she’s trying to put him in America’s Most Deadly Time-Outs for the lulz.

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Posted in Podcasts

Episode 9: Belinda Billie B*ll*cks

Dove: Apparently I didn’t remember to update this on Monday, so:

Wing, Raven and Dove talk about Sweet Valley Twins 24: Jumping to Conclusions; Super Edition 2: Holiday Mischief; and 25: Standing Out. They also discuss Bleak Valley and how these books tie into this theory.

Music is provided by Stuart Taylor, who can be contacted on taylorstuart602@gmail.com if you wish to commission music.

You can read our recaps at Sweet Valley Onlinetumblr or visit us at Facebook or Twitter (follow @SweetValley_)

The book mentioned can be found here.

Also: TB, I’m so sorry, but I (Dove) keep referring to you as “TG”. Apologies.

Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #25: Standing Out

Sweet Valley Twins 25: Standing Out by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 25: Standing Out by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Standing Out

Tagline: Can a girl really be one of the guys? [Dove: Of course not. Gender roles and stereotyping are so important. Girls must bake and wear makeup and boys must lift heavy things and be macho.]

Summary: Billie Layton is a real tomboy. She’s the only girl on the Little League softball team and the most respected athlete at Sweet Valley Middle School. But suddenly her whole world is turning upside down.

First, Billie’s parents are expecting a new baby and don’t seem to have any time for her. Then there’s her longtime friend, Jim Sturbridge, who’s always been Billie’s best friend, but now he seems interested only in Sally Holcomb – and Billie is jealous! Could it be that Billie likes Jim as a boyfriend and not just a buddy? Something is happening to Billie and it’s very confusing! How can Elizabeth and Jessica convince Billie that she can have everything she wants?

Initial Thoughts:

I actually really like this book. It’s one of the early books that I re-read often as a kid. However, the message of this book is breathtakingly offensive. So it’s yin and yang for me.

[Wing: WHY IS THIS BOOK SO TERRIBLE? It has some really great moments, AND THEN IT IS TERRIBLE.]

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Posted in Super Editions, Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #2: Holiday Mischief

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition 2: Holiday Mischief by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition 2: Holiday Mischief by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Super Edition #2: Holiday Mischief

Summary: The Sweet Valley Middle School Choral Group is off to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national choral championship. Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield and their friend Anna can’t wait to go. For the twins, it’s their first big trip away from home. For Anna, it’s her chance to find her long-lost sister Leslie, who she has just discovered is living in Washington, D.C.

Jessica comes up with a brilliant plan to bring Anna and Leslie back together again. But they don’t realize that their dangerous escapade is about to become an international news event!

Tagline: Excitement and danger await the twins in Washington, D.C.!

Initial Thoughts

I can’t even bring myself to make a political joke right now. That is how much the world has worn me down. I’ll be back to fine form next time, and I hope Raven has just as much vitriol to share for this super edition as he did during his recap of The Class Trip. [Raven: I promise nothing,]

Oh, wait, one thing: remind me, last time, were the twins able to sing or not able to sing? I know back in the musical book, they could, but I could have sworn there was something since then that said they couldn’t. We’re only 26 books in, and I already can’t keep it straight.

[Dove: In Sweet Valley High they can’t sing more often than not, but I find in Twins they more often can sing than not. Maybe the Jamie Suzannes thought girls’ voices change as well as boys and that explains it?]

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