Tagline: Three-way calls can be triple the trouble!
Summary: Making enemies and influencing people…
Jessica Wakefield and her twin sister, Elizabeth, have persuaded their parents to get three-way calling for their phone. Jessica is psyched – more gossiping, more matchmaking, more fun!
There’s just one problem. Jessica didn’t read the instructions carefully, [Wing: Is anyone surprised?] and when she thinks she’s dishing gossip to Lila Fowler, she’s also dishing it to Ellen Riteman. And the gossip is about Ellen. The gossip spreads until the entire Unicorn Club is in an all-out gossip war!
Can Jessica turn her telephone tricks around and win her friends back? [Raven: Ah, a comedy basic. Nice.]
Note: Thank you to @idecisivekepner who provided the last sentence of this book. More on that when we get there.
I read this a few years ago when it arrived from an eBay seller, but I honestly couldn’t remember much about it other than this was an Ellen book. And that she doesn’t get within 5 miles of a stable. This book is about Ellen, and not the shrill screamingharpy that she gets turned into when a Jamie gets confused by the brief of “write about Ellen”.
Let’s do this.
(For those of you who weren’t here for the past hundred books: I love Ellen. She is my favourite character. My love for her has infected Raven and Wing. So I suspect we’ve all set our hopes rather high.)
[Wing: Well I have now. Prior to this week, I didn’t know it was an Ellen book.]
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.]
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.]
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?
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.]
Tagline:Sleep-away camp has some hidden surprises for the twins!
Summary: Identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield can’t believe they’re finally at sleep-away camp! Even though there are no boys, and Elizabeth’s friend Grace had to cancel her plans to go at the last minute, it will be two whole weeks of fun, fun, fun!
The twins waste no time diving into their favorite activities. Jessica begins to arrange a rendezvous with the boys’ camp across the lake. Elizabeth spends much of her time riding horses and making new friends. But the real excitement starts when Grace turns up in the most unexpected place.
Should the twins take a chance and hide Grace? If they do and they’re caught, camp may just turn out to be the worst two weeks of their lives!
The Big Camp Secret?
Joke just writes itself.
[Raven: Hi everyone! Quick note for you: this recap went up VERY LATE INDEED, all down to me, and both Wing and Dove have yet to comment on my asinine blatherings. So, if you’re a big fan of the comment back-and-forth, come back tomorrow morning (Tuesday) when, hopefully, all will be complete and I’ll delete this note. Cheers!]
[Dove: Thanks to my insomnia, I’m up in time to comment, but keep in mind I’ve only had a maximum of five hours’ sleep, you may want to wait for Wing.]
[Wing: And on Wednesday, 25 Oct, I finally have a chance to comment. Nothing like a lot of build-up for not a lot of snark.]
Summary: The Sweet Valley Middle School Choral Group is off to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national choral championship. Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield and their friend Anna can’t wait to go. For the twins, it’s their first big trip away from home. For Anna, it’s her chance to find her long-lost sister Leslie, who she has just discovered is living in Washington, D.C.
Jessica comes up with a brilliant plan to bring Anna and Leslie back together again. But they don’t realize that their dangerous escapade is about to become an international news event!
Tagline: Excitement and danger await the twins in Washington, D.C.!
I can’t even bring myself to make a political joke right now. That is how much the world has worn me down. I’ll be back to fine form next time, and I hope Raven has just as much vitriol to share for this super edition as he did during his recap of The Class Trip. [Raven: I promise nothing,]
Oh, wait, one thing: remind me, last time, were the twins able to sing or not able to sing? I know back in the musical book, they could, but I could have sworn there was something since then that said they couldn’t. We’re only 26 books in, and I already can’t keep it straight.
[Dove: In Sweet Valley High they can’t sing more often than not, but I find in Twins they more often can sing than not. Maybe the Jamie Suzannes thought girls’ voices change as well as boys and that explains it?]
Tagline: Is there room at Sweet Valley for an outsider? [Dove: No. Absolutely not. Not even if she’s white.]
Summary: Ginny Lu Culpepper had such high hopes for her life in Sweet Valley. But after just one day of being ridiculed by her new classmates, she’s beginning to wish she was back home in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, Then Elizabeth Wakefield comes to her rescue. Ginny Lu realizes that being different doesn’t have to be bad. Being different makes her quite special.
Even Elizabeth’s twin sister, Jessica, is willing to help Ginny Lu – especially when it will mean getting herself out of a jam at the same time. But how can the twins convince the other kids to give the new girl a chance?
Don’t wanna. Don’t wanna. DON’T WANNA.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not as bad as some books (Class Trip, I’m eyeballing you right now), but it’s just not good either. In all honesty, I’d have been happier doing Left Behind. This is just stupid. The only reason I didn’t ask for a swap was because this is a horse book, and I get them (just like Wing gets adoption, and Raven gets… whatever Wing and I are actively trying to avoid). [Raven: Thanks for that.]
As an indication of how much I don’t want to do this: since opening this document, I have re-organised my “rock” folder in my music, including re-naming all of my Aerosmith songs, and finding HD cover artwork for them. While I was at it, I updated the settings of Mp3tag, so if I need to update anything else with the specific settings I used for “The Very Best of Aerosmith”, then I have them saved.
Side note: If, like me, every time you listen to Crazy by Aerosmith, you wonder just how high Steven Tyler’s range is, well, here’s a breakdown of all the best singers.
What do you mean I’m shirking? Oh, all right, let’s get on with this.
Elizabeth Wakefield’s good friend, Sarah Thomas, is miserable. [Wing: Good friend? I don’t remember hearing a damn thing about her.] Her father is spending most of his time with his fiancée, Annie – a woman Sarah doesn’t like at all. She thinks Annie is just after her father’s money, but doesn’t know how to prove it without sounding like a jealous brat.
Some of Sarah’s friends begin to notice the change in her, and when Elizabeth asks her what’s wrong, Sarah just starts to cry. She desperately wants to tell Elizabeth the truth, but Annie has made her swear never to talk to anyone about her. If Annie is really as awful as Sarah thinks, can Elizabeth help her to come forward with the truth before it’s too late?
Tagline: How can Sarah win back her father’s attention? [Wing: Based on that cover, in a terrible, illegal way.]
There is literally nothing about this book that makes me think this is going to go well. Is Annie abusing her? Because all that talk about Annie making Sarah promise not to talk to anyone about her sort of leans that way.
[Dove: I actually love this book. So much more than the one I recapped. Also, as pointed out on Shannon’s Sweet Valley blog, what the fuck has happened to Sarah’s left arm? What is seen cannot be unseen.] [Raven: That’s some creepy Samara shit right there.] [Wing: Well fuck, I hadn’t noticed it at first, but now I can’t stop looking at it. I hate you.]
Tagline: How do you stop the meanest kid in Sweet Valley? [Dove: Wait. How do you even find the meanest kid in Sweet Valley? Who compiled the initial list? Who narrowed it down? Were independent ombudsmen involved? Why isn’t Jessica the meanest kid in Sweet Valley? I have so many fucking questions.]
Summary: Dennis Cookman is the biggest bully at Sweet Valley Middle School. Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, along with the whole sixth grade, are trying to figure out what to do about him. When Dennis smashes Jimmy Underwood’s bicycle, some of the kids feel he’s gone too far.
Just because Dennis is bigger and older doesn’t give him the right to pick on the sixth graders. Something has to be done to stop this bully once and for all! That’s when Ken Matthews comes up with the perfect dare that will expose Dennis Cookman as the coward that he really is.
I love/hate this book. I’ll explain what I love and what I don’t. Oh, and I’ve been reading this book since 1990, and it was only on this read-through I was able to figure out the layout of the cave to make the plot make sense. Note from the future: Or did I? Someone draw me a fucking picture!
The cover: Why is Jessica gazing at a spot over Dennis’ right shoulder? Did she – SQUIRREL!
Title: Second Best [Wing: Why does the boy on the left — Tom? — look like a male Wakefield twin? What is going on with the genetics in Sweet Valley?] [Raven: Really? You wanna pull at THAT thread?] [Dove: Or it’s all very simple, and Alice has mothered more than three children.]
Summary: Things are happening fast for the Wakefield twins. The biggest party of the year is coming up. If Jessica can get “un-grounded” in time, she’ll be able to go. Elizabeth is entering a state-wide essay contest, hoping to win the $100 prize. And both twins are putting in extra time on their special school projects.
Cute, smart and popular Tom McKay is in Jessica’s work group. His anti-social brother, Dylan, is in Elizabeth’s. Dylan feels that he will never be as good as his brother. So why should he even bother to try? Elizabeth really wants to prove to Dylan that he can be the best at something, too. But can she help him without coming between the two brothers?
Tagline: Is the boys’ problem too tough for even Elizabeth to handle… [Wing: EVEN ELIZABETH WTF]
Oh, god. I’m not ready. What if I like another book? What am I going to do?!
[Dove: Not a fan of this book – the story itself is good, but like Tug of War, there’s a lot of Elizabeth smugness in it.]