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!

Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #80: The Gossip War

Sweet Valley Twins #80: The Gossip War by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #80: The Gossip War by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Gossip War

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.

Initial Thoughts:

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 screaming harpy 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.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #78: Steven the Zombie

Sweet Valley Twins #78: Steven the Zombie by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #78: Steven the Zombie by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Steven the Zombie

Tagline: Steven’s in for it now!

Summary: Has Jessica’s joke backfired?

While reading a book about old New Orleans, Jessica Wakefield learns all about voodoo and decides to try it out herself, She knows exactly who she’ll make a voodoo doll of—her brother, Steven, of course.

Incredibly, the doll works. Poor Steven is lurching and leaping and writhing for days. Jessica is exhilarated by her powers… until she loses control of them. Steven’s still moaning in pain, but Jessica’s not doing voodoo anymore. Now Steven’s a zombie, and it’s all her fault!

Initial Thoughts:

Sweet Valley is known for its sensitive approach to everything, so I’m certain that this won’t be 130 pages of exploitation. Right? *wide grin*

Also, if anyone’s been creeped out by the way Wing’s been all “OMG! I LOVE THIS SERIES! IT GIVES ME THE FEELS! I LOVE THIS CHARACTER! THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD!” etc., fingers crossed that this is the book that returns her to form. I have my explosion gif at the ready. [Raven: Marshmallows on sticks are go, people!] [Wing: Oh, god, the pressure. THE PRESSURE.]

Important Note: For anyone who wasn’t here for One of the Gang or skipped my lengthy intro there, I have a mobility disability. This means I use words that are off-limits to able-bodied people.

[Wing: I’m going to share a couple links here before any Wing Goes Boom moments may or may not happen. These talk about Halloween, because that’s when a lot of these conversations happen, but the application is broader.

On Halloween, Insensitivity Goes Beyond Kimonos And Black Face by Leah Donnella over on NPR’s Code Switch.

African Voodoo Should Not be Fodder for Halloween by Shantrelle Lewis over on The Root.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #75: Jessica and the Earthquake

Sweet Valley Twins 75: Jessica and the Earthquake
Sweet Valley Twins 75: Jessica and the Earthquake

Title: Jessica and the Earthquake

Tagline: A nightmare? Or an earthquake…

Summary: Jessica’s waiting for the big one…

When Jessica Wakefield wakes up in the middle of the night, her whole room is shaking. The next day at school, Jessica is a celebrity: she’s the only one who witnessed Sweet Valley’s own earthquake! [Wing: How is it even a little possible that no one else in the middle school woke up?]

When Jessica hears reports that another, bigger earthquake may hit, she quickly spreads the news. After all, Jessica is Sweet Valley’s earthquake expert! The more people she tells, the bigger and more dramatic the story becomes. Soon Jessica has everybody preparing for a real catastrophe!

Initial Thoughts:

As I’ve said previously, this is around the time when I stopped reading the books as they came out. I did read this one back in the day, but it was towards the end of the run, so it didn’t get a re-read back then. I remember that I enjoyed it then. I don’t know if that’s true now.

Also, this book becomes hilarious in hindsight (or maybe harsher), when you realise that the last two books of Sweet Valley High are called Earthquake and Aftershock, and do not have the happy-go-lucky vibe of this book.

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #73: Lila’s Music Video

Sweet Valley Twins #73: Lila's Music Video by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #73: Lila’s Music Video by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Lila’s Music Video

Tagline: Lila’s going to be a star!

Summary: Lila’s in way over her head…

The Unicorns are making a music video! Lila Fowler insists on being the singer, since it’s her video camera. But there’s one catch: Lila has a terrible voice, and she’ll be humiliated if anyone finds out.

As hard as Johanna Porter tries to coach her, Lila is hopeless. Johanna is shy, but she has a fabulous voice—which gives Lila a great idea: Johanna will do the real singing from backstage, while Lila lip-synchs on camera!

Their plan works perfectly. The video is so fantastic that the Unicorns submit it to a competition on RockTV, and Lila wins the chance to perform—live! Lila is terrified.

How will she ever get away with this one? [Raven: Is this summary just 75% of the damn book?!] [Wing: That means for once the summary isn’t a lie, though!]

Initial Thoughts:

Sweet Valley Twins #73: Lila's Music Video (v2 cover) by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #73: Lila’s Music Video (v2 cover) by Jamie Suzanne

This book bugs me. It’s available in two covers, as you can see. I ordered it multiple times, deliberately seeking out the pink badge cover, and always ended up with the ugly “it’s the 90s, this is our version of grown up” cover. Raven sensed my frustration (read: came home to find me raging about how it was unfair that people didn’t check their listings on eBay/didn’t clarify that the cover may be different to the image shown), and bought me a copy. It only took him one attempt to get the pink badge cover.

Or there are 73 of the 90s covers hidden somewhere in our house. Failing to spark joy. [Raven: Don’t look under the bed.]

After much seeking of this cover, I do love it. Lila looks fabulous and sparkly, she even has a smug little smirk, because she knows she’s better than… well, everyone. Jessica is displaying her double-jointed abilities/overlarge hand. And there are two other girls even I don’t recognise. One looks like bad fanart of Willow from Buffy (and either doesn’t have a left arm or is lightly caressing Lila’s buttocks). The other looks like Ruby from Supernatural. (The Ruby that married Sam in real life, not the other one.)

Maybe they’re Tamara Chase and Kimberley Haver, and that’s why I have no idea who they are. If so, Raven hates one of them with the fire of a thousand suns.

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #71: Jessica Saves the Trees

Sweet Valley Twins #71: Jessica Saves the Trees by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #71: Jessica Saves the Trees by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica Saves the Trees

Tagline: Will Jessica risk losing her friends for the sake of some trees? [Wing: Are they as cute as a baby seal? Because Jessica will get her clothes dirty for that.]

Summary: Jessica goes green…

Soccer fever has hit Sweet Valley Middle School! Everyone is excited about the forthcoming season, including identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. But Jessica’s happiness quickly fades when she learns that the school plans to tear down some beautiful old trees to make room for a bigger soccer field. Jessica risks her popularity, and possibly the soccer team’s chance at a big championship, by starting an environmental crusade to save the trees. But can she hold her ground against all her new enemies—including the boy she likes?

Initial Thoughts:

I remember enjoying this as a tween. This isn’t my original copy – someone borrowed it and I never got it back, so there’s a big ugly CEX sticker on one of the better cover pictures. Look! You can pretend that someone’s going to burn Jessica as a witch!

I suppose we’ll find out if this is going to be as good as I remember (Poor Lila!) or utterly rubbish (The Bully).

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #68: The Middle School Gets Married

Sweet Valley Twins #68: The Middle School Gets Married by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #68: The Middle School Gets Married by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Middle School Gets Married

Tagline: Wedding bells in Sweet Valley?

Summary: Married, with children… [Wing: This is not a reference I expected to see here. Is it an actual reference to the show? No idea, but I like it.]

As part of a health-class project, all the students at Sweet Valley Middle School are pairing up into simulated marriages. Their assignment is to manage a make believe household and care for an egg that represents a baby.

The only problem is, their teacher. Mr. Siegel, is picking the couples Elizabeth Wakefield finds herself paired with snobby Bruce Patman, who refuses to help out. Jessica Wakefield’s pretend husband, Rick Hunter, teases her mercilessly and refuses to stop. And Todd Wilkins gets stuck with Lila Fowler, who only wants to eat out! [Dove: Lies, Lila/Todd get two lines of screen time and the subject of eating doesn’t even come up.] Can the middle-schoolers survive two whole weeks of married life?

Initial Thoughts:

I love-love-love this book. This is one of my favourite tropes, and I love to see it popping up in media I enjoy, and this book started my love of it. Dawson’s Creek did a marriage project episode, and it was pretty good. But, y’know, the downside of Dawson’s Creek is that Joey’s in it.

I wish there were pictures of all the couples. I always assume the couple on the right/back of the cover is Lila/Todd, but maybe it’s Sophia/Patrick, since they get more screen time. Sophia has black hair on both her previous book covers, and the boy doesn’t look like Patrick or Todd particularly, but I will concede that he has Patrick’s hair. [Raven: How do you know this? They are all literally the same, especially the boys.] [Dove: … I didn’t have a lot of friends when I was a tween. Shut up.] [Wing: I sort of want Dove to annotate every cover with the character names and what is wrong with the depiction.]

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