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

Sweet Valley Twins #66: The Great Boyfriend Switch

20
Nov 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 66: The Great Boyfriend Switch by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 66: The Great Boyfriend Switch by Jamie Suzanne

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?

Initial Thoughts:

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.]

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Sweet Valley Twins Magna Edition #1: The Magic Christmas

5
Nov 2018
Sweet Valley Twins Magna Edition #1: The Magic Christmas by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins Magna Edition #1: The Magic Christmas by Jamie Suzanne

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.

Initial Thoughts:

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.]

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Sweet Valley Twins #64: The Charm School Mystery

22
Oct 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 64: The Charm School Mystery by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 64: The Charm School Mystery by Jamie Suzanne

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!

Initial Thoughts:

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.]

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Sweet Valley Twins #63: Poor Lila!

15
Oct 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 63: Poor Lila by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 63: Poor Lila by Jamie Suzanne

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?

Initial Thoughts:

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.]

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Sweet Valley Twins #61: Jessica the Nerd

24
Sep 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 61: Jessica the Nerd by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 61: Jessica the Nerd by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica the Nerd

Tagline: Is Jessica turning her back on popularity?

Summary: Jessica Wakefield is humiliated when she finds out she’s been accepted into a special program called SOAR!, for gifted math and science students. Along with her twin sister, Elizabeth, Jessica must go to special science classes every day with some of the biggest nerds at Sweet Valley Middle School.

Then a strange thing happens Jessica discovers that she actually likes SOAR! But Jessica’s friends in the Unicorn Club aren’t happy about her new interests. They tell Jessica she must choose: SOAR! or the Unicorns!

Initial Thoughts:

Oh boy.

I hate it when the word ‘Nerd’ is weaponised.

Let’s look at the cover. FUCKING HELL, IT’S RICK MORANIS!

Four nerdy boys gathered around Jessica in a sinister, vaguely inappropriate way. I’ve seen videos like this on the internet.

And that ginger kid, what the actual fuck?! BEGONE YOU SOULLESS DEMON!

[Dove: I love this book. I’ve been looking forward to it for quite awhile now. Not as much as Poor Lila! but that book is pure magic.]

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Sweet Valley Twins #60: Ciao, Sweet Valley!

17
Sep 2018
Sweet Valley Twins #60: Ciao, Sweet Valley! by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #60: Ciao, Sweet Valley! by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Ciao, Sweet Valley!

Tagline: Just how welcome is Giovanna in Sweet Valley? [Dove: Well, given how well they usually take outsiders, I reckon it will go: 1) excited and welcoming; 2) cool and snooty as soon as she doesn’t bow down and worship the perfection of Sweet Valley; and then 3) EVERYTHING IS AWESOME.]

Summary: Jessica Wakefield and her twin sister, Elizabeth, are looking forward to having an exchange student named Giovanna come and live with them for three weeks, Jessica can’t wait to show the Italian country girl all the great things about Sweet Valley. But when the Wakefields finally meet Giovanna, Jessica is in for a shock. Giovanna is gorgeous and sophisticated—and Sweet Valley bores her to death!

When Giovanna arrives at Sweet Valley Middle School, she’s rude to Jessica’s friends in the Unicorn Club, she talks constantly about how great Italy is, and she flirts with the cutest boys in school. As far as Jessica is concerned, Giovanna has worn out her welcome. How will she ever get through the next three weeks?

Initial Thoughts:

I hate this book. I don’t want to read it. There’s a reason I never bothered to buy it back in the day. I borrowed it from a friend and decided I didn’t need a copy. It was one of the last ones I bought when I was filling in the gaps in my collection.

I utterly loathe this book. The only reason I didn’t swap with someone is because: 1) Raven knows better than to swap with me after he got burned by The Class Trip; and 2) despite my deep desire to not recap this, I thought Wing would like The Ghost in the Bell Tower (and I thought she’d probably burn our servers to the ground on this one), also; 3) I was pretty sure that Wing wouldn’t swap with me unless I made a very good case for it. My co-recappers are (rightly) very suspicious when I try to swap.

Note from the future: When I rage at Giovanna’s attitude, I am aware that the rage should be (and is) directed at the current Jamie Suzanne’s lack of knowledge about Italy and apparent xenophobia. But for shorthand, I rage at Giovanna.

Note from even further into the future: I completely forgot the Rizzo family is Italian. It’s ok, so did the author. You’d have thought Giovanna might have approved of them, especially with Mrs Rizzo speaking Italian as her first language, but yeah, no, that never happens. Giovanna never even meets Sophia.

Apology to any Italian readers: Hi. I’m really sorry that this Jamie Suzanne is being so offensive about your country with pretty much every sentence Giovanna utters.

[Wing: Why are we doing yet another foreign exchange student story? Why are we doing yet another New Girl story? Why are we doing — huh, I guess the next question is why are we doing the recapping at all, but I have an answer for that one.]

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Sweet Valley Twins #59: Barnyard Battle

27
Aug 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 59: Barnyard Battle by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 59: Barnyard Battle by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Barnyard Battle

Tagline: A field trip leads to battle of the year

Summary: High Stakes…

When Ms. Shepard becomes the student teacher in Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield’s social studies class, school becomes a lot more exciting. Ms. Shepard organizes a weekend field trip to a pioneer farm where the six th graders will have to live just as the pioneers did—with no modern conveniences.

The boys bet that the girls won’t be able to survive without their hair dryers. The girls insist that the boys can’t live without TV and junk food. The battle of the year is on, and both sides are determined to win!

Initial Thoughts:

Loving the cover. Purple dungarees! [Dove: This is one of my favourite covers. Wakefield Gothic.] [Wing: I love that plaid, too.]

One issue: I am led to believe these girls are identical twins. The books, I feel, are pretty clear in this regard. Why, then, do these two girls look so palpably different? Dungers-Twin has a thicker and more Were-Pig nose than Plaid-Twin. Plaid-Twin has a wider mouth than Dungers-Twin. And NEITHER twin has a FUCKING dimple in her left cheek.

They’ve been lying to us, people!

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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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