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

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 Super Chiller #3: The Carnival Ghost by Francine Pascal

26
Mar 2018

Super Chiller 3: The Carnival Ghost

Title: The Carnival Ghost

Summary: Is Claire a girl… or a ghost?

A travelling carnival is on its way to Sweet Valley and Jessica and Elizabeth can’t wait to ride on the roller coaster, have their fortunes told, and try their luck at the games. But when they get there some odd things happen to the twins. A fortune-teller warns Jessica to stay away from the carnival. And a mysterious girl named Claire seems to appear out of nowhere and suddenly becomes best friends with Elizabeth.

Elizabeth is strangely drawn to Claire. She begins to ignore her friends, her chores, and even her sister to spend time with her new friend. It’s as if she’s under an evil spell… a spell no one, not even Jessica, can break. And if her twin is in danger, how can Jessica help her?

Tagline: Elizabeth meets a mysterious new friend!

Initial Thoughts

I have been looking forward to this book for so, so long. Dove may have sold me on giving Sweet Valley as a whole a try because she promised me werewolves in books to come (much, much later), but she sold me on Sweet Valley Twins specifically because there are supernatural books. We’ve had a couple, and they’ve been fun, but this one is right in my sweet spot: potential ghost, travelling carnival, roller coasters, fortune tellers, mysterious new girls. I cannot wait.

And, finally, I don’t have to wait. I predict this will be a wild ride. Good or bad? We’ll see.

[Dove: First off, apologies for the tardiness of mine and Raven’s comments. Second of all: BEST SWEET VALLEY BOOK EVER. EVER. EVER.]

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Sweet Valley Twins #42: Jessica’s Secret

5
Mar 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 42: Jessica’s Secret by Jamie Suzanne (Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant)

Sweet Valley Twins 42: Jessica’s Secret by Jamie Suzanne (Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant)

Title: Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret Jessica’s Secret

Tagline: Something has come between the twins!

Summary: Jessica Wakefield has always prided herself on being the more sophisticated twin, but suddenly it’s her sister, Elizabeth, who is blossoming. Overnight, something wonderful has happened to turn Elizabeth into a young woman. And now Jessica’s sure that if anyone—especially her sister—finds out that it hasn’t happened to her, she’ll die of humiliation.

Then the twins get permission to travel to San Diego by themselves to visit their cousin Robin. It’s the perfect opportunity for Jessica to prove just how grown-up she really is. But will acting older than her age get Jessica into more trouble than she can handle?

Initial Thoughts:

This, for me, is where the series kicks into gear. The fact that Team Grapplegate are at the helm and have probably just shrugged off the editors’ rulings? Not a coincidence. There are so many fun books coming our way, and I’m so glad we’re finally getting to that point.

And yes, I am aware that Wing is going to kick me so hard if she doesn’t enjoy this slew of books as much as I do. [Wing: You promised me Sweet Valley werewolf fic if I don’t like this book. I won’t kick you, I’ll hold you to that.]

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Sweet Valley Twins #41: The Twins Get Caught

26
Feb 2018

Sweet Valley Twins 41: The Twins Get Caught

Title: The Twins Get Caught

Summary: Against their better judgment…

Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield can’t wait until Saturday night. Their friend Aaron Dallas is throwing “the party of the year” at a new teen club called the Hangout. Everyone from their class will be there—including Jessica’s latest crush, dreamy Todd Wilkins. But when Steven, the twins’ older brother, gets into trouble at the Hangout, Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield decide that the club is off-limits. That’s the last straw for Jessica. First, her parents wouldn’t let her get her ears pierced, and now they’re going to make her miss a great [Wing: Looking?] party! Even Elizabeth thinks they’re being unfair. Then Jessica comes up with the perfect plan to get them to the Hangout. But can she convince Elizabeth to go along with it? [Wing: Of course she can. There’s very little that she can’t talk Elizabeth into doing, including giving Jessica the shoes off her damn feet.]

Tagline: Jessica’s scheming gets both the twins in trouble! [Raven: That’s literally the tagline for whole series.]

Initial Thoughts

When doesn’t Jessica’s scheming get them into trouble? It also sometimes gets them out of trouble. I’m more concerned about what’s going on with those expressions. Also: that great looking purple sweater.

[Dove: I never really remember this book because the plot seems like it could only cover a day or so – much like Jessica and the Money Mix Up.]

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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 #37: The War Between the Twins

8
Jan 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 37: The War Between the Twins by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 37: The War Between the Twins by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The War Between the Twins

Tagline: The twins are fighting mad… at each other!

Summary: Bitter rivals…

Jessica Wakefield has written an article about the Unicorn Club for the class newspaper The Sweet Valley Sixers. As its editor, her twin sister Elizabeth has promised to run the article in the very next issue. But when Elizabeth has to take Jessica’s article out at the last minute, Jessica is furious!

Jessica and her fellow Unicorns decide to teach Elizabeth a lesson by starting their own paper, The Unicorn News. Before long, it’s clear that Sweet Valley Middle School isn’t big enough for two newspapers, and Jessica’s begins to take the lead. Will Elizabeth’s beloved Sixers be able to hold its own against the sensational news that the Unicorns print?

Initial Thoughts:

This always sticks in my head as being yet another rehash of the student council story, which I hated both times they did it already. However, each time I read it, I remember that I actually like this story, because we have #BestJess and Sulky!Liz and forgery and pre-photoshop MY HED IZ PASTEDE ON YAY.

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Sweet Valley Twins #36: Mary is Missing

1
Jan 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 36: Mary is Missing by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 36: Mary is Missing by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Mary is Missing by Francine Pascal

Summary: Missing person…

Jessica Wakefield is convinced that Mary Wallace has disappeared. No one has heard a word from her in three days. She hasn’t been at school, she didn’t turn up for Lila’s ice cream party, and worst of all, the Unicorns’ treasury money seems to be missing. [Wing: Oh, god, are we back to “stolen” money actually being misplaced?] What’s more, Mrs. Wallace, Mary’s mother, is acting very strange.

Jessica’s twin sister, Elizabeth, thinks that Jessica is just being her usual overdramatic self, until the twins get a mysterious and confusing phone message. Maybe Jessica’s idea isn’t so farfetched after all. Maybe Mary has been kidnapped. If that’s the case. Mary is in big trouble… and the twins had better figure out that cryptic phone message fast.

Tagline: How can a twelve-year old girl disappear into thin air? [Raven: Mr Nydick’s Love-Wagon?]

Initial Thoughts

Well here we are, and I survived one year in Sweet Valley. I think it’s like dog years, because the past twelve months feel like they’ve lasted a decade. #sweetvalleytime

This time last year, I was horrified by what I’d agreed to when I read my first Sweet Valley book. This year, I know that while I hated a huge amount of the books, I did love a few and enjoy even more.

Dove swears we’re into the good books. We’ll see about that.

[Dove: This is a ridiculous book. The premise is so full of holes and silliness that there are multiple idiot balls that need grasping with an iron grip in order for it to happen (and believe me, Wing covers them), but on the other side, this book is fun.]

[Wing: Oh lord, here we go.]

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Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #1: The Christmas Ghost

18
Dec 2017
Super Chiller 1: The Christmas Ghost by Jamie Suzanne

Super Chiller 1: The Christmas Ghost by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Christmas Ghost

Tagline: This year Jessica is in for a very scary Christmas

Summary: Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are looking forward to the most glorious Christmas ever. The tree is decorated, the presents are wrapped, and movie star Beau Dillon is coming to town! The actor, who’ll be in Sweet Valley to publicize his new movie, has agreed to help Elizabeth raise money for the children’s wing of the local hospital. But when the teen star arrives at the Wakefields’ house, it’s Jessica, not Elizabeth, he meets.

What’s the harm in pretending to be your twin? No harm, Jessica thinks – until strange things start happening and three ghostly visitors appear. Is Jessica’s imagination working overtime or have the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future come to teach Jessica the lesson of a lifetime?

Initial Thoughts:

Ok, first of all, I think if you’ve listened to the podcast you may know this, but I don’t assume that everyone does: I LOVE THE SUPER CHILLERS. Actual ghosts are here.

Before I was confident enough to ask Wing to take on this gigantic recapping project, I used the “mentionitus” method of testing the waters. While we sat on PointHorror.com, griping about how rarely the bad guy (known on that site as the “Muffin Man”) was supernatural, I would say lightly-casually-oh-I’m-not-hinting, “It’s funny, Sweet Valley Twins has a much younger audience, but they always had real ghosts in their ghost stories.” Wing would raise a scathing eyebrow and say that she’d never read Sweet Valley. Ever. And she was sort of proud of that.

Then curiosity would overcome her. “Really? Because in Babysitters’ Club, it was always the Scooby Doo villain – a human pretending to be a ghost. So you have actual ghosts?”

“Actual ghosts,” I would say. “And it’s odd, they seem to act up the most over Christmas.”

And that is the groundwork of how you get someone who clearly is going to hate something, to do it anyway. [Raven: I have such an inappropriate comment here.] Mention that one thing they like. (Also, there will be werewolves in Sweet Valley High.) [Wing: I feel like I should be more upset that my BFF so blatantly exploits my weaknesses, and yet.] [Dove: I do realise that the above is basically “how to brainwash your friends”. But I had an agenda. And here we are.]

Second of all, I adore A Christmas Carol. I know most people do, but I feel like I might go the extra mile. I feel like I’ve seen every fandom-variation of this story – heck, I’ve even written one. I adore this story.

I’ll admit The Carnival Ghost is a better story on its own merits, because it’s not fanfic of an iconic tale, but this one holds a special place in my heart.

The Cover: Why is the ghost awkwardly pointing to the left? Jessica looks great, but the ghost looks like it wasn’t happy to be modelling for the cover.

[Wing: Tis truly the season for Christmas Carol retellings. We did a few over at the Devil’s Elbow (Fright Christmas and The Fright Before Christmas), and yet somehow this has the best versions of the ghosts. I mean, come on: an angry flying unicorn? Clearly this was going to win.]

[Dove: … seriously? I win?]

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Sweet Valley Twins #34: Jessica the Rock Star

4
Dec 2017
Sweet Valley Twins 34: Jessica the Rock Star by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 34: Jessica the Rock Star by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica the Rock Star

Summary: An unforgettable performance…

After seeing singer Melody Power in concert, Jessica is more convinced than ever that she too can become a rock star. And when she finds out that four of the cutest boys at Sweet Valley Middle School are forming a band and need a girl singer, she grabs the opportunity to launch her new career.

When Jessica starts rehearsing with the band, Elizabeth Wakefield thinks the whole thing is a nightmare! The more Jessica tries to sing like Melody Power, the worse she sounds. What can Elizabeth do to save her sister from total embarrassment? Jessica’s singing debut is about to become a rock ‘n’ roll disaster!

[Wing: I have so many questions, starting with why the boys need a girl singer, why the band can’t be made up of girls, and why Jessica is trying to sing like someone else instead of her own amazing self. She sure was confident last time we saw her singing.]

Tagline: Can Elizabeth keep her twin from putting on a terrible performance? [Wing: … why would it be terrible? The twins can sing.] [Raven: Singing’s only half the story.]

Initial Thoughts

On the one hand, I love when Jessica is on stage and performing. On the other hand, I loved it when it was acting and hated it when it was singing last time. This very well could be a mess.

[Wing: My schedule is really fucking thrown off right now. This will go up without Dove and Raven’s comments, because I didn’t realise I was up this week until late Sunday night. Check back later for their delightful snark.]

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