Posted in Nightmare Mansion

Sweet Valley Twins #100: If I Die Before I Wake

Sweet Valley Twins #100: If I Die Before I Wake by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #100: If I Die Before I Wake by Jamie Suzanne

Title: If I Die Before I Wake

Tagline: The final title in the scary Nightmare Mansion mini-series

Summary: On a hill on the outskirts of Sweet Valley sits a beautiful old Victorian house—empty until a big family move in… the perfect clients for Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s new baby-sitting service.

Identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their friends have learned one thing from baby-sitting for the Riccoli family: dreams can come true… and so can nightmares. When the fire in Andrew Riccoli’s dream turned to real flames, the twins took action. They killed the evil creature—half girl, half monster—in the kids’ nightmares.

Before she killed them.

But now the creature has left the kids’ nightmares to terrorize them in real life. And waking nightmares are the scariest of them all.

Don’t go to sleep, Sweet Valley… you may never wake up!

Initial Thoughts:

I hate this series (Too Scared to Sleep, The Beast is Watching You and The Beast Must Die). I hated it when it started. I hated it when it got worse and I can personally guarantee I’m going to hate having to read the next 44k words (the previous books were approx. 29-32k—this is too many boring words).

I can’t tell whether this is badly written or not, because nothing has happened so far and nothing’s going to happen now.

I hate this. This is the worst part of this series. I know there are books that have worse messages or themes, but the obnoxious length of this fucking series takes the piss. Nobody needs 100k+ words where NOTHING happens.

Also, I think it’s time for a short rant about where I’m at with this incredibly stupid mini-series.

1) Steven. He is an utter waste of space and I hope he dies. I think I mentioned, either in the recap or podcast of The Older Boy, that there would come a point where I was just done with Steven. This mini-series is it. There isn’t a single redeeming feature of his scenes. He’s so stupid I’m actually worried that Ned and Alice are wilfully neglecting a child that is limited in his comprehension of the universe. Or that they are ignoring that their fully functioning child is actually becoming a manchild because of their indulgence. I suspect the latter. He acts like an asshole, nobody cares. He shirks his job. Nobody cares. He actively destroys not only Wakefield property, but the property of others too. Nobody cares. The last book ended with him being arrested, and I’m just guessing at the outcome here, but I bet that nobody cares.

His attitude is one of pure arrogance and entitlement. He doesn’t want to apologise for terrifying five children as “a joke” because he doesn’t understand what he did wrong. If he’s laughing, what’s the problem? He thinks he’s entitled to Karen, the hot daughter of one of his lawn mowing clients, simply because he perceives himself as far more attractive and interesting than every other dude on the planet.

Really? This is how idiotic, immature, entitled, incel, rapists are created. A+ parenting, Wakefields.

2) The parents (Riccolis and Wakefields). So, Mrs Riccoli has to be in Florida. Mr Riccoli has vanished from the narrative, because none of the Jamies swapped notes (or a single Jamie is overwhelmed by a four-book deal). And the Wakefields are like, “Yep, I think it’s totally ok that my twelve year olds are responsible for five children, when I wouldn’t let them stay at their own home for a few days without a baby-sitter.”

3) The Baby-Sitters Club. Ok, so you see that your rival book series has a far more interesting hook than “stuff happens but TWINS”, and you rip it off and then you… do fuck all with it. There are five kids in this club, but what do we have? The twins baby-sitting and a their muppet brother riding a lawnmower into whatever doesn’t get out of his way. The baby-sitting is frankly irresponsible. I haven’t dived deep into BSC (but damn, do I love the Netflix show) but their baby-sitting adventures actually show that you must care for the kids, rather than just bitch about how much you get paid. Yes, Jessica is oddly good at looking after kids, but everyone else’s baby-sitting skills range from not bad to screamingly incompetent (Winston giving 8 month old babies soda, for example).

4) The “plot”. The plot treads water for four books. Nothing happens. We’re made to believe that the plot will move forward, but it doesn’t. Nightmares. Oooh. More nightmares. Oooh. Even more nightmares. For fuck’s sake, is this going to escalate or not, because I’m finding it hard to care that Jessica’s sweater got a rip in it after a dream. There’s something going on with Alice, what about that? Well, that’s doing a big fat tread water too. We’ve had eight billion flashbacks to show that Alice baby-sat at that house and Eva had nightmares/sleepwalked. Wow. Such scary. Many engaged.

5) Fluff. Basically, this should be a two-book series, and the b-plots should be removed entirely. While we’re deleting pointless shit, let’s get rid of the monster POV scenes at the beginning and end of each book. They’re boring, pointless and add literally nothing to the story. Bye.

I FUCKING HATE THIS BADLY-PLOTTED MESS OF A MINI-SERIES. tl;dr: I wish Team Grapplegate had been handed this series. They are capable of being funny and sassy.

[Raven: This. All of this. All of this and more.]

[Wing: Dove hit so many points, so I’ll just add that we should take a look at the summary. Specifically: They killed the evil creature—half girl, half monster—in the kids’ nightmares. The last book ended on a cliffhanger. What you do not do is spoil the resolution to that cliffhanger in the summary of the next book. Yes, even if it is clear to us that none of the main characters (or, hell, the supporting characters) will day. Yes, even if it is a flat-out lie like that. Look, I get it, the summary for this was probably written before the last book was finished, but come. the fuck. on. We cannot even get consistency in that?]

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Posted in Nightmare Mansion

Sweet Valley Twins #98 – The Beast Is Watching You

Sweet Valley Twins #98: The Beast Is Watching You by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #98: The Beast Is Watching You by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Beast is Watching You

Tagline: On a hill on the outskirts of Sweet Valley sits a beautiful old Victorian house—empty until a big family move in… the perfect clients for Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s new babysitting service…

Summary: Little by little, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield’s dream job of baby-sitting for the Riccoli kids is turning into a nightmare. Andrew Riccoli dreams that someone tried to set fire to his room—and then wakes up in a cloud of smoke. Then Gretchen Riccoli dreams she’s falling—and wakes up at the bottom of the mansion’s dark, winding staircase. The twins are getting scared… too scared to close their eyes in the Riccoli mansion.

Don’t go to sleep, Sweet Valley… you may never wake up!

Initial Thoughts:

The first book in this series is hardly a zinger. For a spooky book with an action-packed premise, not a lot happened.

Here’s hoping the second swings a little harder for the fences.

[Dove: This is where I really lost my patience with this mini-series. The b-plot is my personal bugbear and I will never forgive or forget. I hate this mini-series.]

[Wing: I did not have high expectations. I was partially correct.]

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Posted in Nightmare Mansion

Sweet Valley Twins #97: Too Scared to Sleep

Sweet Valley Twins #97: Too Scared to Sleep by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #97: Too Scared to Sleep by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Too Scared to Sleep

Tagline: The first title in the scary Nightmare Mansion mini-series

Summary: On a hill on the outskirts of Sweet Valley sits a beautiful old Victorian house—empty until a big family move in… the perfect clients for Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s new baby-sitting service…

The Wakefield twins and their friends love baby-sitting for the Riccolis, until little Juliana Riccoli starts having horrible nightmares. One night she wakes up crying, saying a monster attacked her. The twins tell her that bad dreams aren’t real, but Elizabeth is secretly afraid. If the monster isn’t real, why does Juliana have deep scratches on her back?

Don’t go to sleep, Sweet Valley… you may never wake up!

Initial Thoughts:

Hey kids, do you love Baby-Sitters Club?

YEAH! (excited cheering from a bunch of tweens in the 80s/90s)

And do you love A Nightmare on Elm Street?

YEAH! (one or two kids back away nervously muttering that their mum wouldn’t approve)

And do you love it when boys are so utterly mentally incapacitated that it’s actually cruel to leave them alone without adult supervision?

… (kids look unenthusiastic. a tumbleweed blows past)

WELL, GREAT! THIS SERIES IS FOR YOU.

[Raven:

] [Dove: Damn you for using my favourite Meat Loaf song.]

[Wing: Nothing like opening with a Meat Loaf song to put Wing in a good mood.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #96: Elizabeth the Spy

Sweet Valley Twins #96: Elizabeth the Spy by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #96: Elizabeth the Spy by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Elizabeth the Spy

Tagline: Hands up! It’s a robbery!

Summary: Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are witnesses to an armed robbery! Though the crook was disguised as a clown, all the evidence points to Joe Carrey as the culprit. Elizabeth can’t believe it! Joe is the ice cream scooper at Casey’s, and he’s one of the nicest people she’s ever met.

Then Elizabeth investigates more deeply and finds a clue that just doesn’t fit. It’s enough to convince her that Joe Carrey is innocent. But can Elizabeth convince the jury?

Initial Thoughts:

Oooooh! Exciting!

Criminals and intrigue and trials and shit.

Looks like there’s been a robbery at a store committed by a clown, not to be confused with a Robbery at the Mall committed by a chicken. Excellent work there, plot manatees!

I’ve enjoyed a fair few of the Plucky Girl Detectives books, so I hope this one doesn’t disappoint.

[Dove: At this point, I am so over the Plucky Girl Detectives books. I think no crime gets solved in Sweet Valley without Elizabeth being involved.] [Wing: Wasn’t the very first Plucky Girl Detective story driven by Jessica?]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #95: Battle of the Cheerleaders

Sweet Valley Twins #95: The Battle of the Cheerleaders by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #95: The Battle of the Cheerleaders by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Battle of the Cheerleaders

Tagline: Aaron Dallas? In a skirt?

Summary: War between the sexes…

Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their friends have joined the girls’ basketball team. They ask the boys’ team to come and root for them—it’s only fair, since the Boosters cheer at every one of the boys’ games. But the boys say no way—girls’ sports are stupid.

Outraged, the girls boycott the boys’ games. And once the Boosters stop cheering, the undefeated boys’ team starts losing… and keeps losing.

The superstitious boys are getting desperate. They need the girls in order to win. After the boys beg and beg, the girls finally agree to come back under one condition: they not only want the boys to come to their games, they want boy cheerleaders!

Initial Thoughts:

I don’t really have any beyond the fact that the last line of the last book was that the twins were like, “OMG! Why have I never played basketball before? It’s super awesome!” and my feeling was very much: They have.

In fact, Jessica’s hobby of choice was basketball in Steven’s Enemy… admittedly because of the wide array of cute boys that play it, but even so, she cared then. And I’m sure in the earlier books before we started tracking such things, she’s played on the school team. [Raven: Elizabeth also coached Ken Matthews to a standard that allowed him to win a spot on the team. With a tennis ball.] [Wing: #4, Choosing Sides, is where Elizabeth coached Ken after Steven, basketball genius (and apparently coaching genius, too) failed. In #20, Playing Hooky, Jessica’s the fucking star of the SVMS sixth grade girls basketball team. #47, Jessica’s New Look, has at least one of her dates with Aaron to watch the Lakers play. #82 is Steven’s Enemy, in case you want to go back and see yet another book where Jessica discovered her love of basketball. So yeah, I’m going to have a hard time giving this book a fair chance because I am so goddamn annoyed that (a) the twins are discovering basketball all over again, (b) they have to create a sixth grade girls basketball team, and (c) I’m pretty sure there’s a continuity error around the boys team, too.]

Also, Jessica’s been on a bunch of dates with Aaron to see the Lakers play – partly because Aaron was wowed by Jessica’s obvious knowledge and enjoyment of the game, rather than just “yay, date!”

So basically, I’m coming in to a completely new book with a chip on my shoulder thanks to the clumsiness of the previous Jamie, who may well not be this Jamie.

Also, it’s about sexism, so, y’know, I suspect I’ll be a mite tetchy throughout.

Note: Any spelling mistakes or random lines of characters should have been edited out. But if not, I have kittens. Kittens who think the tippy-tappy of my soft keyboard is the most magic thing ever and must be pounced on.

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Posted in Super Editions

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #6: The Twins Take Paris

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #6: The Twins Take Paris by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #6: The Twins Take Paris by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Twins Take Paris

Tagline: On the run in Paris…

Summary: Identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are ready for the trip of their lives. They’ve been selected to participate in their school’s Bonjour Paris! project, and they get to live with a real French family in the City of Lights for two whole weeks!

But on the plane, Jessica makes a startling discovery about their French mother, Madame du Noir. And when the twins meet her in the Paris airport, Jessica is absolutely convinced: Madame du Noir is wanted for murder, and Jessica and Elizabeth are her next victims!

The twins are determined to escape from Madame du Noir’s clutches—even if it means running all over Paris!

Initial Thoughts:

I’m sure the title of this is a play on the title of another film or sone, but all I have at the moment is “The Cars That Ate Paris” and my Google-Fu feels weak today. Sound off in the comments if you’re feeling in an enlightening mood.

So… this book! The title is exciting at least. Two weeks in Paris with the Wakefield Twins? What could be better?

Polio.

Polio could be better.

[Dove: I was sure the twins weren’t allowed to go to Paris after the whole Mademoiselle Jessica thing…]

[Wing: This book. This. book.]

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Posted in Nightmare at Sea

Sweet Valley Twins #91: Deadly Voyage

Sweet Valley Twins #91: Deadly Voyage by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #91: Deadly Voyage by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Deadly Voyage

Tagline: Hijacked!

Summary: It’s the best field trip of the year: identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their classmates from Sweet Valley Middle School are taking a ferry to a Pacific island, where they’ll get to see porpoises and unusual birds. But soon after they set sail, the twins discover that their teachers have been left behind!

Desperate to get back to shore, the girls search for the captain—and find him bound and gagged! The boat is in the hands of thieves, and the twins and their friends are in serious danger!

Initial Thoughts:

Well, the premise sounds interesting, at least. The twins, hijacked on a school trip! Gotta beat Ithig, or books about one of the countless School Dances.

The premise also promises the Sweet Valley Twins cast at war with “thieves” … perhaps this could be Jamie Suzanne’s version of Die Hard?

Yippie-Kai-Ay, mofos!

[Wing: Yup.

 

via GIPHY

 

Every time Die Hard comes up, I hear this now. Every. Time.]

One point: This is the first part in a two-part series (or, as it says on the cover, a “sequence”) . As the second part of the sequence is called Escape from Terror Island, I’m presuming Part One ends with the SVT Crew marooned on the aforementioned Island of Terror…

Maybe the voyage won’t be as deadly as advertised. Or maybe Ellen Riteman will get killed. Who knows?!

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Posted in Super Chillers

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #9: Evil Elizabeth

Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #9: Evil Elizabeth by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #9: Evil Elizabeth by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Evil Elizabeth

Tagline: Who’s afraid of Elizabeth Wakefield? [Dove: Somehow, everyone and no one.]

Summary: Everyone thinks of Elizabeth Wakefield as the nice twin. That’s why she loves her Halloween mask – it’s so scary that no one can believe Elizabeth is behind it.

But her appearance isn’t the only thing that changes when Elizabeth puts on the mask – little by little it makes Elizabeth act evil… only Elizabeth doesn’t know it. It’s up to her twin sister, Jessica, to destroy the mask… before Elizabeth does something she’ll regret forever.

Initial Thoughts:

OMG, we’re here. WE’RE HERE! WE’RE FINALLY AT EVIL ELIZABETH.

THE TITLE LITERALLY EXPLAINS WHO SHE REALLY IS!

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chillers #9: Evil Elizabeth (cover by Dove)

I’ve been looking forward to this one for awhile now, although I’m now coming at it from the point of view of someone who’s feeling less hateful to Elizabeth. I still think she’s beige fucking paint, and has no hope of a career as a fiction writer, but of late her parents have both put pressure on her to be a grownup, and treated her like a kid. Her boyfriend turned into a massive himbo over Valentine’s day, and a week or so later, he nearly dated her cousin – thanks to her identical twin ruining her life.

So… I do honestly wonder if this will impact how I feel about Elizabeth and this book overall.

But for now, have a cover. Sometimes the simplest things are the best. I basically copied that very famous meme.

[Raven: Best cover yet!]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #89: Jessica’s Cookie Disaster

Sweet Valley Twins #89: Jessica's Cookie Disaster by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #89: Jessica’s Cookie Disaster by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica’s Cookie Disaster

Tagline: What’s the secret ingredient?

Summary: Jessica Wakefield, baker to the stars…

Jessica Wakefield is a wonderful baker! At least, that’s what her home economics teacher thinks when she tastes the cookies Jessica baked at school. They’re so good, the teacher submits a batch to the producer of the television talk show, Lifestyles of the French and Famous. And now the producer has invited Jessica to appear on the show with four hundred of her delicious cookies for the studio audience!

Jessica is thrilled. She and her friends in the exclusive Unicorn Club get to work baking cookies. But there’s one big problem: Jessica can’t remember the secret ingredient that made her recipe so amazing! And the harder the Unicorns try to follow the recipe, the worse the cookies taste. Will Jessica have to appear on national television with four hundred of the worst cookies ever baked?

Initial Thoughts:

“Okay, time to write another recap! Let’s check out what books I have coming up…”

*checks upcoming schedule*

“Next month I have Deadly Voyage! Wow, that sounds great! After that, there’s The Twins Take Paris… how cool! Then there’s Elizabeth the Spy. Exciting! Then we have The Beast Must Die! Amazing, a great set of cool-sounding yarns on the horizon… … … So, what do we have this week?”

*reads book title*

“Jessica’s. Cookie. Disaster.”

*gets up, leaves house, drives to coast, throws book in the fucking sea*

[Dove: I would like to disclaim that Raven did not physically leave the house. He has not left the house for over two weeks. We are taking lockdown seriously. Though I’m pretty sure he imagined it heavily. And the alternative covers will be back, as soon as I get creative again. At the moment I’m managing my anxiety with digital filing (I’m Konmari-ing my Sims 2 downloads folder), and creativity is not an option. Apologies. I hate these crappy covers as much as you guys do. More. Definitely more.]

[Wing: I really want to bake cookies now.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #88: Steven Gets Even

Sweet Valley Twins #88: Steven Gets Even by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #88: Steven Gets Even by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Steven Gets Even

Tagline: It’s a boy-girl scare war!

Summary: Jessica and Elizabeth are about to get the scare of their lives…

Steven Wakefield has had it up to here with his twin sisters, Jessica and Elizabeth. Ever since the boys in their class at Sweet Valley Middle School challenged the girls to a Scare War, the twins have been driving him crazy: they’re busy coming up with schemes to scare the boys—and they’re testing them all on Steven!

So when the twins and their friends have a slumber party, Steven figures he’s really in for it—who knows what kind of stunts the girls will pull? But Steven’s got some spooky plans of his own. One way or another, he’s going to out-scare them all!

Initial Thoughts:

ANOTHER fucking Steven book?

I am so close to rage-quitting this series. I swear Wing and Raven are scheming behind my back. Yes, it is gone 5am and I haven’t slept for days, why do you ask?

I’m so “ugh” about this whole situation that, at the time of writing this, I haven’t made a cover. I will at some point, but perhaps not when I’m so anxious that I can only sleep in two hour blocks.

This is not hyperbole, I cannot sleep. I’ve had insomnia for decades, but not like this. I’m getting a couple of hours each night and that’s it, which is a long way of explaining why I’m going to be so irritable throughout this book.

[Raven: Hi, I’m Raven, and I’m sleeping fine.]

[Wing: I’m not sleeping as well as Raven, I’ve also had insomnia for decades, but I am currently sleeping far more than Dove. We’re like Goldilocks up in here, but terrible. Also: I found this book charming as hell.]

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