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?
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.
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!
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*]
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?
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.
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.
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.]
Tagline:Has Elizabeth’s best friend become her worst enemy?
Summary: Elizabeth Wakefield is shocked and upset when she hears that her best friend, Amy Sutton’s, house has burned down But she’s happy to learn that Amy will be staying with the Wakefields while Amy’s parents look for a new home It will be just like having another sister around!
But living with Amy isn’t as much fun as Elizabeth thought Amy treats Elizabeth like her personal maid And every time Amy talks about the fire, she stretches the truth a bit more Even worse, Amy is spending all her time with Elizabeth’s twin sister, Jessica, and the snobby Unicorn Club. Elizabeth is puzzled and hurt When Amy tells her new friends one of Elizabeth’s biggest secrets, it’s the last straw Now the whole school is laughing at Elizabeth’ Can she ever trust Amy again?
This book is in a tricky spot.
The previous book in the series, The Carnival Ghost, was a legitimate all-star, a true Hall of Famer. These words have some clown shoes to fill. How can you follow Hendrix?
Truth is, you can’t.
This book is boring.
[Dove: Agreed. Also, I loathe Amy, so there’s little hope for me enjoying this book.]
Summary: Elizabeth Wakefield has known Todd Wilkins since she was a toddler, but she’s never noticed how cute he really is, until she sees him dancing with her sister, Jessica. Now Elizabeth can’t stop thinking about him—and everywhere she goes, Todd turns up, too. Could he actually like her as much as she likes him? Elizabeth wishes she knew more about boys. But when she finally asks her twin for some advice on the subject, she makes a terrible discovery: Jessica has a crush on Todd, too!
How can Elizabeth fall for a boy that her sister already likes? There’s only one honorable thing to do: forget Todd and never let Jessica know she cares. But that’s not going to be an easy thing to do
THAT’S Todd Wilkins?! But he’s about eight!
I dunno, I expected the Glorious Todd Wilkins to be… cool? Dashing? At least “blonde”, for some reason. Not this nervy looking gimp, dressed as a tomato and carrying the Horn of fucking Gondor.
[Dove: Mostly I remember this as “the tween version of Sweet Valley High #1: Double Love”. But it’s actually better, because, in general, Twins is better than High, and Grapplegate are better than most, if not all, ghosties.]
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?
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.]
Title: Super Chillers 2: The Ghost in the Graveyard
Tagline: Is Sweet Valley Haunted?
Summary: Strange things have been happening to Sam Sloane ever since he moved from San Francisco to Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield’s neighborhood in Sweet Valley. He can’t work out why everything in town looks so familiar—or why he’s mysteriously drawn to a crumbling old mansion in town. When he visits a cemetery in the dead of night and sees a ghost who looks just like him, he turns to Elizabeth and Jessica for help.
At first the twins think Sam is imagining things. After all, who believes in ghosts? But the more the girls get to know their new friend, the more they feel he’s telling the truth. Something is out there. The twins are going to have to do a little ghost hunting of their own. But what happens if they do discover the ghost? Or worse, what happens if it discovers them?
Although my chosen moniker is suitably gothic, I do not have a horror pedigree.
Sure, I like horror films. They are fun, and scary. And horror books? I love me a bit of Stephen King. I’ve screamed at Freddie and Jason, cowered from Samara, laughed at Chucky and was Finally Destined to face down Fate itself.
I enjoy it… but I don’t live and breathe it.
Both Wing and Dove have a much more visceral pull into the fright genre. They devour it whole, consuming all they can in a search for more thrills and for the love of the form. It’s a long love, from childhood, and it informs their nostalgia for this very site. Go check out all the fine work on point horror dot com for proof. [Wing: Well, he’s not wrong. Even our names come from a Point Horror book.]
But me? I’m a fairweather frightmeister. If pushed, I prefer a belly laugh or a pewpewpew space epic.
The point of this confession? A mere FYI.
This Super Chiller isn’t really in my wheelhouse. So take all you read with a hefty pinch of salt.
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!]
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.]
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.]
Lois Waller has always been too shy about being overweight to join in school activities. When the Sweet Valley PTA decides to have a bike-a-thon, Lois finds the courage to take part. It’s a chance for her to win a brand-new mountain bike—and it’s the perfect opportunity to put snobby Bruce Patman in his place.
Everyone at Sweet Valley Middle School knows how much Bruce bullies Lois. Although Jessica Wakefield thinks that anything Bruce does is perfect, her twin sister Elizabeth disagrees and is on Lois’s side. Elizabeth thinks Lois has a good shot at winning. But she doesn’t know how far Bruce Patman will go to see Lois lose!
At last! A book about a peripheral character I (we) love! I’m sure this will go a long way towards rectifying the cruelty inherent in each and every one of her previous appearances!
Let’s assess the cover…
THAT’S Lois? REALLY?! She’s LITERALLY EXACTLY THE SAME SIZE AS EVERYONE ELSE. I’m guessing that the artists missed a memo, and the publishers thought “fuck it.”
Also, THAT’S Bruce?! THAT’S the cutest boy in the whole school? He’s got a face like a slapped arse!
[Dove: This is the thing that really annoys me, because it either means that Lois is a pound or two heavier than the “normal” kids and must be treated like she’s the size of a house. Or she’s bigger than that, and we cannot possibly have a heavy girl on the cover of a book about pretty, thin, perfect people.]