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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 #56: The Wakefields Strike It Rich

30
Jul 2018

Sweet Valley Twins 56: The Wakefields Strike it Rich

Title: The Wakefields Strike It Rich

Tagline: Now they can buy anything!

Summary: You can’t be too rich… or can you? When Jessica, Elizabeth, and Steven Wakefield’s great-aunt Helen arrives in Sweet Valley, she brings a big surprise: one hundred dollars in cash for each of them!

Now the Wakefield kids are faced with a problem: how will they spend all this cash? [Dove: #FirstWorldProblems]

Jessica shows off by showering her friends with presents. When the money runs out, how will she explain she is broke? Elizabeth buys an autographed copy of her favorite author’s latest mystery, and her money madness leads her to believe there’s a mystery right under her nose! Steven takes beautiful Jill Hale on a dream date to an expensive restaurant. But when the dinner bill arrives, Steven realizes he is not so rich after all.

Can money buy the Wakefields friendship, mystery and romance?

Initial Thoughts:

Let’s get this out of the way before we start:

EXTENDED, y’all! Two minutes of amazement. If you’ve not watched Orphan Black, you’re missing out. Seriously. [Dove: I think Orphan Black was inspired by Sweet Valley High, when so many people looked like the twins/stole their lives/twin switches/etc. Also: EXTENDED SCENE FOR THE WIN.]

Next… one hundred dollars. In cash. Each. DAMN, that’s a pretty hefty sum for a tween in the late Eighties.

Only two Wakefields on the cover? I’ll be generous and say it’s Steven and Elizabeth. Jessica’s obviously out of shot, having spent her cash on drugs, now earning Steven’s cash in a time-honoured fashion.

[Wing: I am thrown by the FUCK YOU TAMARA CHASE tag, so this is going to be interesting.]

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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 #54: The Big Party Weekend

2
Jul 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 54: The Big Party Weekend by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 54: The Big Party Weekend by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Big Party Weekend

Tagline: Mum and Dad will be back any minute!

Summary: While Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield are away on holiday in Mexico, twins Jessica and Elizabeth and their older brother, Steven, are left with May Brown, the world’s most horrible baby-sitter!

But the Wakefield kids are determined to throw a party on Saturday night, with great food, fabulous music, all their friends – and no adults. They make an elaborate plan to get May out of the house, and the party of the year is on!

By the end of the party, the house is a wreck. How will Jessica, Elizabeth, and Steven ever get the mess cleared up before May – and their parents – come home?

Initial Thoughts:

I do quite like the cover, with the Little Wakefields tidying up after what can only be perceived as a thoroughly mediocre party. The broom-wielding Steven’s clearly eying up his sisters and saying “right, who wants the first paddlin’?” [Wing: Jessica. Or at least that’s what he’s hoping.]

One thing that does piss me off, however, is the crooked flower-painting on the wall. Firstly, it’s a completely shit picture. Secondly, by itself it’s obviously too small for the wall it’s being displayed on. Thirdly, it has been hung far too low.

Alice is an interior designer. She’s shit at her job.

Also, this:

[Dove: Also, I love that Chalet Girl (a film that is far better than it should be) directly references this advert. If you’re not a Brit, screw you. That joke isn’t for you. As for the actual book we’re recapping, there was a lot that just had me shaking my head and silently judging.]

[Wing: I feel like I’ve read this book before, but that is impossible, because I’ve never read any Sweet Valley until we started these recaps last year. Is there another parents gone/party weekend book that has similar beats in the plot? Most likely.]

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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 #50: Jessica and the Secret Star

28
May 2018

Sweet Valley Twins 50: Jessica and the Secret Star, by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica and the Secret Star

Tagline: What’s the new girl hiding? [Raven: A cock?] [Dove: That she’s been there all along and the Wakefield twins are just really fucking unobservant?] [Wing: Backyards full of bodies. She’ll be Jessica’s new BFF.]

Summary: Maria Slater has been an actress since she was three years old, but now that she’s twelve she can’t find any work. So Maria hopes to forget her past and start life again at Sweet Valley Middle School, where she can play the role she has always wanted: the typical sixth-grader.

But for Maria, being typical becomes harder and harder, especially when Jessica Wakefield discovers Maria’s secret past Everyone wants to be friends with a movie star, but will anyone want to be friends with plain old Maria?

Initial Thoughts:

HOLY FUCK JESSICA’S HAND IS FUCKING HUGE.

Also, there’s a black girl in Sweet Valley. Unexpected. I can’t see this ending well.

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Sweet Valley Twins #48: Mandy Miller Fights Back

8
May 2018
Sweet Valley Twins #48: Mandy Miller Fights Back by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #48: Mandy Miller Fights Back by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Mandy Miller Fights Back

Tagline: Will Jessica lose her new friend?

Summary: Mandy Miller wants to join the Unicorns, but the Unicorns don’t want Mandy Miller! She wears wild second-hand clothes, and the other members think she tries too hard to fit in.

Jessica thinks she’s funny and nice, and she likes her offbeat way of dressing. The Unicorns have asked Jessica to tell Mandy that she can’t join, but Jessica just can’t bring herself to break the bad news.

How can Jessica be friends with the Unicorns and Mandy at the same time? Suddenly Mandy gets some frightening news that makes the Unicorns seem unimportant to both Mandy and Jessica—and now Jessica is afraid of losing her new friend for good!

Initial Thoughts:

Mandy sounds like an old friend of mine, from my college days. Let’s call her Plover. She had her own unique dress sense and a fun, gregarious personality. She was very popular. She’s now a super-ace singer and photographer, still rocking her style with aplomb.

I think I’m going to like Mandy Miller.

[Raven: This recap is like Gandalf, in that this recap is never late, nor is it early. It arrives precisely when it means to. By this, I mean this recap is late, so I’m attempting to put a wizard’s hat on it. So, apologies. But if you really think about it, IS this recap late? Yes it is. But IS it? Yes. But it’s actually ON TIME. *waves hands in a mesmerising way*]

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Sweet Valley Twins #47: Jessica’s New Look

30
Apr 2018
Sweet Valley Twins #47: Jessica's New Look by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #47: Jessica’s New Look by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica’s New Look

Tagline: Jessica’s got a new secret – will the whole school find out?

Summary: It’s the most exciting day of Jessica’s life—Aaron Dallas has asked her out! Nothing could ruin Jessica’s wonderful mood—except the fact that she has to start wearing glasses. Jessica is convinced that the Unicorns will drop her the second they see her. And Aaron is sure to change his mind about their date.

For Jessica there is just one solution—she’ll never leave her room again! How can Elizabeth help her sister realize that wearing glasses is definitely not a tragedy?

Initial Thoughts:

I’m going to be 100% honest here. I can’t get behind Jessica’s thinking at all. I actually misread the final line on an eye test deliberately when I was 11 because I was so desperate to wear glasses. I think they’re cool. So I just want to hoof Jess in the face because this is a major comedown from the #BestJess who ruined a billion outfits to save a baby seal.

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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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