Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #103: Elizabeth Solves It All

Sweet Valley Twins #103: Elizabeth Solves It All

Title: Elizabeth Solves It All

Tagline: No one can be right all the time… [Dove: Uh… what fucking planet is this ghostie from? Saint Elizabeth Wakefield can.]

Summary: Elizabeth Wakefield’s new advice column is the rage at Sweet Valley Middle School. Not only is “Dear Elizabeth” the most popular column in Sixers history, letters from troubled readers are pouring in by the hundreds!

At first, Elizabeth is thrilled by her success. But then she starts to worry. Her friends expect miracle cures for every problem… and she’s running out of answers. Soon her advice is causing problems instead of solving them! Now Elizabeth’s. the one who needs help. How can she get out of this mess?

Initial Thoughts:

I don’t have any initial thoughts. I don’t remember this one. It’s kind of mixed up with Elizabeth the Seventh Grader, and also literally every story where Elizabeth butts in on someone else’s life and starts meddling. [Raven: I too feel like we’ve read this story before… Odd.]

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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 #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 #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 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 #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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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #86: It Can’t Happen Here

Sweet Valley Twins #86: It Can't Happen Here by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #86: It Can’t Happen Here by Jamie Suzanne

Title: It Can’t Happen Here

Tagline: It’s just a game… isn’t it?

Summary: The most dangerous game…

Social studies class gets a lot more exciting when a visiting teacher, Mr. Levin, comes to Sweet Valley Middle School to teach the students a game. The rules are simple: Mr. Levin tells the pupils what to wear the next day, and they get points for obedience and demerits for disobedience. They get extra points for ratting on anyone who disobeys.

Everyone loves the game, especially Aaron Dallas, who is determined to be the best player of all. But Elizabeth Wakefield thinks that something is fishy. Why is it so important that everyone dress the exact same way? And if it’s just a game, why is everyone taking it so seriously?

Initial Thoughts:

So.

It Can’t Happen Here (cover by Dove) – I’m sorry, I had to

Sweet Valley tackles the Holocaust.

I’m sure this will be sensitively done.

My only thought is that I’m glad Wing isn’t doing this one. Our servers can’t take two back-to-back explosions from her.

I only remember one thing about this book, and it isn’t the plot, so I will guess that despite the touchy subject, and the historic fails Jamie Suzanne(s) has with tackling sensitive subjects with grace and tact, that this was so bad I forgot everything about it. Kind of like Steven the Zombie. I remember it being offensive. I also remember that it was boring as fuck. I can’t actually remember the book.

Also, here’s my cover. I used as much tact as this Jamie Suzanne did:

While on the subject of my 3D renders, JC of Oh God Why?! Nostalgia and I got into a conversation on Twitter about how it really couldn’t happen here (Sweet Valley) because it’s perfectly aryan and middle class. This culminated in us agreeing it’s probably the town slogan. So, this was born:

We can only assume this is the town sign

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Posted in Magna Editions

Sweet Valley Twins Magna Edition #3: BIG for Christmas

Magna Edition 3 - BIG For Christmas
Magna Edition 3: BIG For Christmas

Title: BIG for Christmas

Tagline: A wish come true…

Summary: A Christmas miracle…

Identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield have been invited to the biggest, best Christmas party of the year. They can’t wait. Even high school kids will be there. They’ve already planned the perfect outfits when they hear the terrible news: their parents forbid them to go. Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield insist they’re too young.

The twins are absolutely furious. They go to bed that night, wishing more than anything that they were grown-ups with the freedom to do whatever they wanted.

The next morning, Jessica and Elizabeth wake up and discover that the most amazing thing has happened…

Initial Thoughts:

Sweet Valley Twins Magna Edition #3: BIG for Christmas (cover by Dove)

I love Big, it’s one of my feel-good movies – I especially like the story I heard that De Niro was up for the lead role, and actually spent some time with Jared Rushton (the kid who played Billy) to get into the role. Rushton apparently spent this time yelling, “Come on, De Niro, keep up!” and hounding him into rough-housing.

And I love – I guess? – Sweet Valley.

Among the things I also love? Christmas. I would watch Hallmark Christmas movies year round if it didn’t make them less special.

So this has to be a winner, right? I mean, look at how awesome The Christmas Ghost was.

PS: Fuck these stupid covers. Here, have mine instead. [Raven: Lovely cover!]

[Wing: Dove’s covers are always so wonderful. I’m looking forward to all the rest. As for the rest of the things, I’m not as big (ahem) a fan of Big as Dove, but I saw a stage show of it once and there was a scene with beautiful stars as a gift, and it was one of the loveliest things I’ve ever seen on stage, so I am inordinately fond of Big now.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #82: Steven’s Enemy

Sweet Valley Twins #82: Steven’s Enemy book cover
Sweet Valley Twins #82: Steven’s Enemy by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Steven’s Enemy

Tagline: Ben likes Jessica, Steven hates Ben…

Summary: Family feud…

Steven Wakefield can’t stand Ben Oliver. First Ben stole Steven’s starting position on the basketball team, then he beat Steven in the election for class treasurer. Now Ben has developed a crush on Jessica, Steven’s own sister. Worst of all, Jessica is falling for Ben!

When Steven sees Ben at his house, he’s furious. He forbids Jessica ever to go out with Ben. But Jessica says no way. She’s not taking any orders from her big brother.

Steven’s determined to get back at Jessica. And he’s already thought of the perfect plan for revenge!

Initial Thoughts:

I hate Steven. I really hate Steven.

I have never read this one. As has been long established, I read these back in the day, but began to taper off at the end of the Grapplegate run. I started to buy the missing books from eBay once I got it in my head that owning the whole collection was a life goal, and I started reading them in order as they arrived, starting from Poor Lila, because it’s the most awesome Lila book. (And I stopped around chapter 2 of Cammi’s Crush.)

This one I skipped. I hate Steven, so I put it at the bottom of my list, and it was one of the last cheap ones I bought. Some of this series, believe it or not, is very expensive. The Haunted Mansion quadrology set me back more money that I want to think about.

So, I’m dragging my feet. Also, we took a lot of months off, so I hope I still remember how to recap!

Warning from the future: I drop the c-bomb. Once censored, used in retelling a story. Once with venomous hatred towards a fictional character. [Raven: Wait, we’re warning for that?! Jees, best go hit the back catalogue.] [Wing: I think she’s giving the warning for me, because I hate it used as a pejorative but love it as a body part description.] [Dove: Correct.]

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Posted in Podcasts

Episode 34: The Slime That Ate Sweet Valley

Wing, Raven and Dove talk about Sweet Valley Twins 53: The Slime That Ate Sweet Valley. They also discuss Bleak Valley and how the book ties into this theory.

Music is provided by Stuart Taylor, who can be contacted on taylorstuart602@gmail.com if you wish to commission music.

You can read our recaps at Sweet Valley Online, tumblr or visit us at Facebook or Twitter (follow @SweetValley_)

Raven: Hello! How the flippin’ ‘eck are ya? Yeah, it’s been a while. Have you been hitting the gym? You look good. Nice shoes!

In April, we declared a short break. Turns out, it was a long break. But we’re back! This week it’s a podcast, recorded pre-break (the last of our “banked” material). And next week, it’s a recap from moi which is, quite frankly, rather odd. Then there’s Wing, then there’s Dove, and we’re back in the groove.

More recaps, more podacts, and more snark. And then it’s Christmas! Yay!