Raven and Dove never did yearbooks. They never did superlatives. They felt like they missed out.
Here are what they came up with…
Raven and Dove never did yearbooks. They never did superlatives. They felt like they missed out.
Here are what they came up with…
Title: Won’t Someone Help Anna?
Tagline: Can Cammi help Anna survive at Middle School?
Summary: From the minute she arrives at Sweet Valley Middle School, everybody loves Anna Reynolds. She’s outgoing and funny—and almost as boy-crazy as the Unicorns! All of Anna’s new friends are especially impressed that she can handle the pressures of school as a hearing-impaired student.
The only one who isn’t impressed is Cammi Adams. For some reason, Cammi is convinced that Anna won’t last long at their school. When her prediction starts to come true. Cammi realizes that she may be the only one who can help Anna. But if she does, it will mean revealing a secret she wants to keep hidden forever!
ALERT! ALERT! A MINORITY HAS BREACHED THE TOWN DEFENSES!
DEPLOY THE WAKEFIELD AGENTS! JESSICA001 TO BULLY THE MINORITY INTO LEAVING, AND ELIZABETH001 TO BEFRIEND AND TERRIFY THE MINORITY. IF THEY DON’T SUCCEED, DEPLOY NYDICK001 WITH OPTIONAL WHIRLYCOCK ATTACHMENT.
[Dove: You missed out she’s a twofer. She’s both Asian and disabled. Sweet Valley will not tolerate this. The wall building will commence shortly.]
[Wing: Obligatory BURN SWEET VALLEY TO THE GROUND just to get us off on the right foot.]
To the text!
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?
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.]
Title: Jessica the Thief
Tagline: Guilty until proven innocent? [Wing: So Ned is the lawyer involved in this, I see.]
Is there a thief at Sweet Valley Middle School? Things have started disappearing, and the whole school is searching for the culprit. But everyone is shocked when some of the stolen goods turn up in Jessica Wakefield’s locker!
Jessica insists that she’s been framed, but the only one who believes her is her twin sister. Elizabeth. When Jessica and Elizabeth team up to find the real thief, they can hardly believe what they find out!
I kind of hate stories about people being falsely accused, so I can’t see this going well for me.
[Dove: I remember getting into a conversation with someone on Twitter (I think it was@_sunshinebooks) about how tiny Jessica looks in comparison to the rest of the girls on the cover. There’s something not quite right about the proportions there. Also, who is the girl in the peach dress? Is that Veronica?
Also, when I first read this, Watchmans (handheld TVs) hadn’t hit the UK, mostly, I think, because they were completely expensive and rarely worked. I misread the branding and spent the entire book wondering why Lila was so braggy about a Walkman, which pretty much everyone I knew owned.]
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?
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.]
Title: Patty’s Last Dance
Tagline: Patty Gilbert doesn’t need friends — or does she?
Summary: Scared and alone…
Patty Gilbert has dreamed of being a ballerina since she was a little girl Following her dream has meant making sacrifices, and one thing Patty has never had time for is friends. But when she beats her biggest rival, Kerry Glenn, for the lead role in Swan Lake, Patty is sure it has all been worth it.
Then Patty learns that she has scoliosis, which means she’ll have to wear a back brace for several years. Patty feels as if all her dreams have been shattered, and the worst part is she has nowhere to turn for support. Kerry has always acted friendly—and she’s the only person who really seems to understand how Patty feels about ballet. But can Patty trust Kerry with her secret?
Since Patty’s friends are probably going to be one or both the Wakefields, no, no she does not need friends. Though that summary makes me think that we might get very little Wakefields. Do I dare get my hopes up? Since we’re back to a regular series book after a special edition that I pretty much loved — I’m going to guess no, no I should not get my hopes up.
[Dove: Oh, it’s a retelling of Deenie by Judy Blume. Anyone who tries to tell a story that Judy Blume did already (I see you Jessica’s Secret – even if you are written by #BestJamie) won’t get it done as well as she did.]
Title: The Magic Christmas
Tagline: Jessica and Elizabeth discover the greatest gift of all…
Summary: Christmas gifts they’ll never forget…
When Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield’s grandparents give them a pair of matching antique dolls for Christmas, they are a little surprised. Their grandparents should know they are too old to play with dolls! Then the twins learn that the dolls are a family legacy from a past generation of twins. But that’s not all that’s special about the dolls. Before they know it, Jessica and Elizabeth are thrown into the most magical adventure of their lives. And along the way they learn what being twins – and best friends – really means.
This is the John Cena of Sweet Valley. One half of the audience is chanting “Let’s go, Cena!” while the other half is chanting, “Cena sucks!” On my first read, I was firmly in the “Cena sucks!” part of the arena, cheerfully holding my “Even the marines hate Cena!” sign aloft. On the second read, I found myself, not by choice, on the other side, revelling in each of his five moves of doom with gleeful delight.
(Apologies to the non-wrestling fans for that analogy. But I’m sure you got the gist.)
The first time I read it, I’m not sure what my expectations were – maybe another haunting, past life regression, or possibly time travel – and I was angrily disappointed that I had bought a book that lied to me. Also, it’s Christmas. Do not fuck with my dreamy expectations of Christmas. Wing may remember a year when I had ranted so extensively about my broken fairy (twinkle) lights, that I featured in the background of two fanfics arguing with the lights, and bat (of Nostalgic Bookshelf) made me twinkling LJ icons, and, more recently, @buffywatcher23 sends me frequent Christmas gifs and links. I very much love the idea of Christmas, especially in twee fiction. I’m actually trying to work out how I can legally pay for the Hallmark channel via a US proxy and VPN because I love their scenery porn so much.
And despite the cover, this is not a Christmas book. Apologies for the spoilers, but that cover is lying to you. And if you can just let that go, you might move over to my side of the arena, holding your “I ♥ Cena” sign next to mine.
[Wing: Damn it. *preps a sign* Also, I keep reading this as manga edition, which would be something different, but probably also fun.]
Title: The Charm School Mystery
Tagline: Elizabeth, Amy and Maria try to catch a thief!
Summary: When a charm school opens in Sweet Valley, Jessica Wakefield can’t wait to attend. What could be better than going to classes about clothes, makeup, and parties?
Jessica’s twin sister, Elizabeth, has no interest in the school at all—until she uncovers some suspicious things about its owners. Elizabeth convinces her friends, Amy and Maria, to sign up for lessons and do some detective work. But the girls soon realize that charm school isn’t as easy as they thought it would be. What’s more, Amy and Maria are worried that Elizabeth’s sleuthing may put them in real danger. It looks as if the girls may be in over their heads—in class and in their investigation!
Charm School? What the hell?
Are these actually a thing, anywhere, at all? Even in the Eighties? Even in SWEET VALLEY?
As for the cover… dece. Elizabeth and Maria being impressively sleuthy. We know it’s Elizabeth as she’s carrying a notebook. A notebook that’s not purple, and not full of hearts and scribbles of ‘Mrs Jessica Buck’ on every page.
Maria also has a flashlight. Or a Fleshlight. Either way, we’re in for a treat.
[Dove: I know it’s not the book’s fault, but something about the main orange cover is such a turnoff. I always assume I’ll hate any book that colour, even though I don’t. The last one was Mandy Miller Fights Back.]
Title: Poor Lila
Tagline: Has Lila gone from princess to pauper?
Summary: Poor little rich girl…
Lila Fowler has always been filthy rich. So when she overhears her father say he’s lost a fortune, she panics. Can she face the world without money? Her friends begin to suspect that something is wrong when Lila starts walking to school, bringing a packed lunch with her, and even turning down trips to the mall. But Lila’s afraid to tell them what has happened. Without money, she doesn’t feel special any more.
Finally, with a little help from Melissa McCormick and Elizabeth Wakefield, Lila learns that there really are more important things than money. But will her friends in the exclusive Unicorn Club agree? How will they react to a poor Lila Fowler?
This is the best Sweet Valley book ever. Don’t worry, I have a caveat – The Carnival Ghost is a Super Chiller, this is a main series. Two completely different categories. Both are the best in each. I’m not sure which one is better overall, because I like them for massively different reasons.
Either way, this is THE recap I have most looked forward to. I always knew I’d give Wing The Carnival Ghost, because I knew she’d like it. This one I’d have fought to the death for, so it’s kind of cool that it landed on me naturally.
I will be quoting 90% of this book. If you haven’t read it, you should. I love it.
[Wing: Updated 17 October 2018 with my comments. Sorry, dear readers, I have been slammed with work and am behind on everything else.]
Wing, Raven and Dove talk about Sweet Valley Twins 49: The Twins’ Little Sister. They also discuss Bleak Valley and how the book ties into this theory.
Music is provided by Stuart Taylor, who can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to commission music.
Hello! Raven here again, to apologise once more for the podcast delays. We’ve had some tech issues, which are sadly apparent in places in this podcast (Dove’s audio cuts out a few times). Hopefully, for our next published podcast, and certainly for our next recording session, we should have some upgraded equipment to mitigate these annoyances.
We fully intend to get back to a weekly publishing schedule soon. Thanks for your continued patience, and enjoy the show!