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Evil twins snarkily recap Sweet Valley Twins, High, University, Confidential & Sweet Life

Sweet Valley Twins #58: Elizabeth and the Orphans

20
Aug 2018
Sweet Valley Twins #58: Elizabeth and the Orphans by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #58: Elizabeth and the Orphans by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Elizabeth and the Orphans

Tagline: Can Melissa and Andy make it on their own? [Raven: They’ve got to hold on to what they’ve got. It doesn’t make a difference if they make it or not. They’ve got each other, and that’s a lot. For love… they’ll give it a shot. #AndyUsedToWorkOnTheDocks.]

Summary: Friends in need…

Elizabeth Wakefield’s friend Melissa McCormick needs help. Her mother has suddenly died, leaving Melissa and her brother, Andy, alone. Their father left years ago, so they have only each other to depend on.

If the social workers find out that Melissa and Andy are now orphans, they will be put in separate foster homes. So Andy devises a plan: he and Melissa will get jobs to pay the bills and they’ll tell everyone that their father is returning home soon.

Only Elizabeth knows the truth, and she sees how fast the bills and responsibilities are piling up. She also knows she has to do something—the right thing—before it’s too late.

Initial Thoughts:

I have to be honest, I didn’t re-read this one after purchase. I really liked Melissa in a later book, Poor Lila, but I don’t know if her characterisation is the same in both. Honestly, I don’t like parent death books. It pisses me off. I know everyone’s grief process is different, but I have never once seen a kid in a book grieve like I did.

Backstory, my dad died when I was nine. (My well-meaning but idiotic family never explained he got cancer. They told me he had a stomach bug. This has left me with a deep-seated phobia of vomiting.) What happened was: he was healthy, he was sick for a few months, he died. I cried for about 20 minutes straight after hearing about it, and while I was intermittently sad for a period of time after, I was not broken. This event changed my life, obviously, but mostly because it left me in the care of an emotional abuser. I hate parent death books because most of the time the grief is gigantic and life-changing, and the parent is their best friend, even twenty years later the wound isn’t healed, and oh gosh, wouldn’t things just be perfect if dead parent was still alive?

For this reason, I try to avoid books with a parent death in them. So I read this once, maybe twice, for completest reasons, but never returned.

[Wing: Sorry, all, unexpected family stuff over the weekend, and I’m only having a chance to comment Monday, 20 August, around 10 a.m. Central USA time.]

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Sweet Valley Twins #55: Brooke and her Rock-Star Mom

23
Jul 2018
Sweet Valley Twins #55: Brooke and her Rock-Star Mom by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #55: Brooke and her Rock-Star Mom by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Brooke and Her Rock-Star Mom

Tagline: Having a famous parent should be great… shouldn’t it? [Raven: I dunno, you don’t hear many people shouting stuff like “My dad’s Fred West!”]

Summary: A mom with a secret…

Brooke Dennis’s dream has come true. Her mother, who has been living in Paris, is moving back to Sweet Valley. When she returns, Brooke’s mother has a new family—and a new career. [Wing: This made me think the new family was supposed to be one of the surprises, which infuriated me, so thank god it wasn’t that.] It turns out that she is Coco, the incredible new rock singer all Sweet Valley is talking about!

When Brooke finds out that her mum is the cool new singer, she’s ecstatic—until she learns that she must keep her mother’s identity a secret. Coco’s agent thinks that if the public finds out that Coco has a family, it will ruin her image.

How is Brooke going to keep something so fabulous a secret—especially when all of her friends are going Coco crazy!

Initial Thoughts:

First off: the cover, as you can see, says “mum”, the British spelling, but the book itself says “mom” all the way through. Why bother changing the cover but not the content? We English have grown up on American books, we know what a “mom” is. We also figured out sneakers, trash cans, sidewalks, parking lots, and so forth. It’s ok, we can keep up. Ok, so we don’t totally get the American use of “jumper”, but mom/mum is pretty self-explanatory. [Raven: Fun Fact – originally, this book was entitled Brooke And Her Rock-Star Maoam.]

I’ve only read this book maybe once or twice in my tween-teen years. I only recently bought a copy when I was finishing my collection. At the time, I wasn’t all that fussed about it. It seemed like your standard Sweet Valley fare, OMG the angst I feel for being soooo soopah speshul! I’m rich and my mommy’s famous, cry meeee a riiiiivahhhh!. Reading it as an adult who is now aware of her issues? Yeah, this is not a healthy book at all.

#TeamBrooke (or #TeamBrookette)

OMG, THE SONG TITLES IN THIS BOOK.

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Sweet Valley Twins #53: The Slime That Ate Sweet Valley

25
Jun 2018
Sweet Valley Twins #53: The Slime That Ate Sweet Valley by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #53: The Slime That Ate Sweet Valley by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Slime that Ate Sweet Valley

Tagline: Will Jessica get slimed?

Summary: Best actress Jessica Wakefield?

It’s green. It’s gooey. It gobbles up humans. It’s The Slime that Ate Sweet Valley coming soon to a cinema near you and starring Jessica Wakefield!

At first, Jessica is thrilled to win the leading role in the Sweet Valley Middle School’s sixth-grade movie. But soon she learns that being an actress is hard work. When she discovers that she’ll actually have to kiss Winston Egbert and Randy Mason on camera, she begs her twin sister, Elizabeth, to rewrite the script. But it’s too late. The show must go on.

To Jessica, the only thing worse than getting gobbled up by The Slime is having to kiss two boys in front of all her friends!

Initial Thoughts:

I like this book. I actually wish the movie was a Sweet Valley book. It sounds like a NaNo project – a schlocky b-movie about an ooze that covers an adorably perfect town.

I have suggested that Raven write the script for the movie, complete with director’s/writer’s notes in the margin, for NaNo this year. He wasn’t completely opposed to it. So if I mention it here, hopefully Rosey and Jessica T will bully him into it. [Raven: No pressure… *eyeroll*]

Note: If I refer to the Slime as the Smooze, I’m not even sorry. NOTHING CAN STOP THE SMOOZE.

[Wing: I’m already fond of this book because it sounds like a Goosebumps story.]

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Sweet Valley Twins #51: Elizabeth the Impossible

4
Jun 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 51: Elizabeth the Impossible by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 51: Elizabeth the Impossible by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Elizabeth the Impossible

Tagline: Has Jessica created a monster? [Dove: Well, evil begets evil, I suppose.]

Summary: Jessica Wakefield is convinced that her sister, Elizabeth, is perfect. Who else is as smart, friendly, and creative as her identical twin? So when Sweet Valley Middle School announces it will be choosing a Model Student, Jessica launches a secret campaign to make sure Elizabeth wins.

But Jessica doesn’t count on what happens. As soon as word gets out about the contest, Elizabeth takes becoming a Model Student a bit too seriously. She starts telling everyone what to wear, what to eat, and how to act. Elizabeth’s become positively bossy! Jessica would do anything to get the old Elizabeth back. What will it take to turn Elizabeth the Impossible back into the girl everyone knows and loves.

Initial Thoughts:

I deliberately swapped for this one. This is a book I love. I think it’s a joy to poke fun at Elizabeth, and this book really delivers.

Also, if you read it with a cynical eye, it’s actually a story of dysfunctional relationships, and someone with no power socially using one single pressure point to take over another person entirely, to the point where they drop their friends and change their life to appease this one person. Basically, Elizabeth/Pamela is one fucked up ship. And it’s hella interesting. And once I get to a certain point in the story, I will go into that a bit more in depth.

Warning: As above, I’m going to liken the Pamela/Elizabeth friendship to an abusive relationship. While it’s going to be light, I will use phrases used by emotional abusers that may act as triggers. It’s light, but exercise good judgement.

Note: I’m going to quote a metric fucktonne of this book.

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Sweet Valley Twins #45: Lucy Takes the Reins

9
Apr 2018
Sweet Valley Twins #45: Lucy Takes the Reins by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #45: Lucy Takes the Reins by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Lucy Takes the Reins

Tagline: Can Elizabeth help Lucy face her toughest challenge? [Dove: Obv. Nothing is too hard for Saint Elizabeth.]

Summary: Elizabeth Wakefield’s friend Ted Rogers is in big trouble. He’s fallen behind with his payments to Carson Stables for the care of his horse, Thunder. Unless he wins the prize money in a regional jumping championship, he’ll have to sell the magnificent animal.

With everything riding on this competition, Elizabeth offers to help Ted train. Soon they’re spending most afternoons at the stables. That’s where they meet a mysterious new girl named Lucy Benson. Lucy seems to know a lot about horses. And when Ted has a bad fall, only weeks before the competition, Elizabeth is convinced that Lucy can take his place. Elizabeth doesn’t know that a secret fear has kept Lucy off a horse for the past two years. But she does know that Lucy needs to compete – and to win – for Ted’s sake… and her own.

Initial Thoughts:

I was under the impression that I’d never read this before – the story seemed unfamiliar to me, but then Jessica referred to currycombs as “hairycombs” and I knew I had read it before. It just didn’t stick. So that’s a really good sign. [Wing: HAIRYCOMBS OH MY GOD.]

Note: As someone who generally adores Ellen, the only way I can get through this is to pretend that the Ellen in any horse book is a completely different Ellen to the one we see at school. This isn’t me being a Malfoy apologist (“Jason Isaacs is hot, so Malfoy racism is excusable…” thinking), it’s just that the Ellen who rides horses is shrill, spiteful, vindictive and violent, whereas the one we see in school tends to be vague in her meanness. Absolutely she’s in the mean girls clique, but she has a strong follower stance. Yes, she’s mean, but she appears to take her cues from Lila and co. In this, she has no leader and she’s a real alpha bitch, not a beta one. If you look at Holiday Mischief, when Ellen is away from the rest of the Unicorns, it doesn’t occur to her to keep being mean, and she actually helps Anna hide her lack of singing ability. That’s why an Ellen sans Unicorns who leads two terror crusades against other horse riders seems so strange.

[Wing: This is the Ellen I love. She’s horrible and holds her own with Jessica and Lila.]

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Sweet Valley Twins #40: Danny Means Trouble

5
Feb 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 40: Danny Means Trouble by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 40: Danny Means Trouble by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Danny Means Trouble

Tagline: How do you help a friend who doesn’t want to be helped? [Dove: I dunno, Elizabeth, maybe don’t? He’s not your friend and he doesn’t want your help, so how about you back the fuck off?]

Summary: Jessica Wakefield can’t wait to get to school to see what Danny Jackson will do next. He’s only been at Sweet Valley Middle School for a couple of months but he’s already well known as the best runner on the athletics team and as a major troublemaker. While Jessica is enjoying the effect Danny’s bad behavior is having on her classes, her sister Elizabeth is worried. Doesn’t Danny realize that his pranks are going to get him thrown off the team for good?

When Elizabeth writes a story on Danny and the team for the school paper, she discovers the real reason he’s been getting into trouble. It’s something he’s been hiding from everyone. Can Elizabeth help Danny without betraying him? [Raven: Is it drugs? It’s drugs. It’s drugs, isn’t it. Or, he’s actually a cauliflower!]

Initial Thoughts:

I don’t like this book. It’s not so much that I think Danny should wallow in his issues without help, I just want to stab Elizabeth for butting in. She’s such a busy-body I want to staple her to a wall and have people walk past, muttering about their issues, leaving her impotently unable to act. I think the stress of being incapable of interfering might be the only true way to kill her.

Also, Danny Jackson is not Denny Jacobson. Denny Jacobson is Pamela’s brother and Janet Howell’s love interest. This kid? No fucking clue. And this comes from someone who’s read almost every book in the Twins series. [Raven: Oh, I thought the book title was actually his name. “Hello, nice to meet you. the name’s Trouble. Danny Means Trouble.”]

[Wing: The only initial thought I had was that of course the girl on the cover is Elizabeth. Look at that outfit. JESSICA WOULD NEVER.]

The cover

Two things:

At work, someone once said to me, “Go see, $person. You know who she is, she’s the one with the proper twattable face.” And the thing was, even though I’d only been there for three weeks, I knew exactly who she meant. Elizabeth too has a “proper twattable face”.

Love the white socks/ankle-swinger trousers/brown loafers combo, Elizabeth. Could you look like more of a bell?

[Wing: I see I should have saved my comment for here.]

[Wing: NOTE: This recap contains vague references to abuse, including child abuse (within the text and in real world) as well as scientific violence to animals.]

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Sweet Valley Twins #31: Jessica’s Bad Idea

30
Oct 2017
Sweet Valley Twins 31: Jessicas Bad Idea by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 31: Jessicas Bad Idea by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica’s Bad Idea

Tagline: Has someone taken Jessica’s place as “most popular girl”?

Summary: Everyone has always made fun of Sandra Ferris. She’s gawky and shy, and people whisper about her everywhere she goes. But the Wakefield twins step in and change Sandra’s life by giving her a new look – hair, clothes, make-up, the works!

Suddenly, the ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan, and that means trouble for Jessica. Now Sandra is getting all the attention. And even worse, Jessica discovers that Sandra is running against her for Sweet Valley’s sixth-grade Citizen of the Year… and it looks as if she just might win. Jessica has to find some way to tame the monster she has created – and her time is running short!

Initial Thoughts:

For reasons I can’t quite explain to myself, I sort-of enjoy this book. I also could barely explain them to Wing, but she did swap with me. I don’t know why I like this book, I don’t like the makeover trope at all and I want to punch Sandra for most of the book. But at least I feel strongly about it. When it comes to Jessica on Stage, the book I swapped with Wing, my feelings are a shrug and the word “meh”. [Wing: Whereas I wanted to punch everyone for most of the book, so status quo.]

The cover: Sorry, Jessica, but that is a horrible top. Sandra looks great though.

ALSO ALSO: If anyone can figure out why this cover hurts my soul, I will send them a free copy of Lila’s Music Video. The book. If I had Lila’s actual music video… I’d need to find someone to convert it to mp4, so I could put it on YouTube. Hint: I like my covers to be uniform. This one is not uniform.

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Sweet Valley Twins #30: Princess Elizabeth

16
Oct 2017
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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Sweet Valley Twins #27: Teamwork

18
Sep 2017
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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Sweet Valley Twins #26: Taking Charge

11
Sep 2017
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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