Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #45: Lucy Takes the Reins

Sweet Valley Twins #45: Lucy Takes the Reins by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #45: Lucy Takes the Reins by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Lucy Takes the Reins

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.

Initial Thoughts:

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.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #42: Jessica’s Secret

Sweet Valley Twins 42: Jessica’s Secret by Jamie Suzanne (Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant)
Sweet Valley Twins 42: Jessica’s Secret by Jamie Suzanne (Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant)

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?

Initial Thoughts:

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.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #40: Danny Means Trouble

Sweet Valley Twins 40: Danny Means Trouble by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 40: Danny Means Trouble by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Danny Means Trouble

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!]

Initial Thoughts:

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.]

The cover

Two things:

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.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #37: The War Between the Twins

Sweet Valley Twins 37: The War Between the Twins by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 37: The War Between the Twins by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The War Between the Twins

Tagline: The twins are fighting mad… at each other!

Summary: Bitter rivals…

Jessica Wakefield has written an article about the Unicorn Club for the class newspaper The Sweet Valley Sixers. As its editor, her twin sister Elizabeth has promised to run the article in the very next issue. But when Elizabeth has to take Jessica’s article out at the last minute, Jessica is furious!

Jessica and her fellow Unicorns decide to teach Elizabeth a lesson by starting their own paper, The Unicorn News. Before long, it’s clear that Sweet Valley Middle School isn’t big enough for two newspapers, and Jessica’s begins to take the lead. Will Elizabeth’s beloved Sixers be able to hold its own against the sensational news that the Unicorns print?

Initial Thoughts:

This always sticks in my head as being yet another rehash of the student council story, which I hated both times they did it already. However, each time I read it, I remember that I actually like this story, because we have #BestJess and Sulky!Liz and forgery and pre-photoshop MY HED IZ PASTEDE ON YAY.

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Posted in Super Chillers

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #1: The Christmas Ghost

Super Chiller 1: The Christmas Ghost by Jamie Suzanne
Super Chiller 1: The Christmas Ghost by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Christmas Ghost

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?

Initial Thoughts:

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.]

[Dove: … seriously? I win?]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #31: Jessica’s Bad Idea

Sweet Valley Twins 31: Jessicas Bad Idea by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 31: Jessicas Bad Idea by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica’s Bad Idea

Tagline: Has someone taken Jessica’s place as “most popular girl”?

Summary: Everyone has always made fun of Sandra Ferris. She’s gawky and shy, and people whisper about her everywhere she goes. But the Wakefield twins step in and change Sandra’s life by giving her a new look – hair, clothes, make-up, the works!

Suddenly, the ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan, and that means trouble for Jessica. Now Sandra is getting all the attention. And even worse, Jessica discovers that Sandra is running against her for Sweet Valley’s sixth-grade Citizen of the Year… and it looks as if she just might win. Jessica has to find some way to tame the monster she has created – and her time is running short!

Initial Thoughts:

For reasons I can’t quite explain to myself, I sort-of enjoy this book. I also could barely explain them to Wing, but she did swap with me. I don’t know why I like this book, I don’t like the makeover trope at all and I want to punch Sandra for most of the book. But at least I feel strongly about it. When it comes to Jessica on Stage, the book I swapped with Wing, my feelings are a shrug and the word “meh”. [Wing: Whereas I wanted to punch everyone for most of the book, so status quo.]

The cover: Sorry, Jessica, but that is a horrible top. Sandra looks great though.

ALSO ALSO: If anyone can figure out why this cover hurts my soul, I will send them a free copy of Lila’s Music Video. The book. If I had Lila’s actual music video… I’d need to find someone to convert it to mp4, so I could put it on YouTube. Hint: I like my covers to be uniform. This one is not uniform.

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #30: Princess Elizabeth

Sweet Valley Twins 30: Princess Elizabeth by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 30: Princess Elizabeth by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Princess Elizabeth

Tagline: Did Elizabeth break her promise to her new friend? [Wing: It is always Jessica and some sort of twin shenanigans. Why are they even bothering to make it seem like a question?] [Raven: Spoilers!]

Summary: Arthur Castle, an exchange student from a small country called Santa Dora, is coming to Sweet Valley Middle School and the sixth graders can’t wait! They have planned all kinds of welcoming events and parties for him.

Arthur doesn’t want anyone to fuss over him. He wants more than anything to be treated just like any other boy. He also wants to discover what real American kids are like. When Arthur meets Elizabeth Wakefield, his dream comes true. Their friendship grows quickly, and soon he even tells her his deepest secret – that he is actually a prince! The next day his secret is all over the school, and Arthur is furious. He thought he had made a true friend in Elizabeth. How could she betray his trust!

Initial Thoughts:

I don’t like this book. I’ve been on a run of books I don’t like, and I’d like to get off.

On reflection, my anti-royal stance has made this book impossible. I should have swapped with Wing. I did come up with a reason – I’ve found Wing will always swap books as long as you come up with a reason. Raven won’t. He knows me too well. [Wing: Well, since I dislike pretty much every book in some way or another, it’s no skin off my nose to recap a specific one (except for things like dogs or adoption or USA politics — oh, wait, that’s in this book. However, Dove was too slow this time, and I’d already written my last recap and couldn’t switch. Actually, now that I know she’s just switching to get away from the books she hates, I’m going to start saying no.]

The Front Cover: Why is Elizabeth getting married? No, really, Elizabeth, why are you getting married? You’re twelve.

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #26: Taking Charge

Sweet Valley Twins 26: Taking Charge by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 26: Taking Charge by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Taking Charge

Tagline: How far should the twins go to help a friend?

Summary: Even though Jessica and Elizabeth don’t always see eye to eye, they know their problems aren’t half as bad as those of their classmate, Patrick Morris. At least the twins have one big, happy family.

Patrick’s parents seem to be the meanest people in the world. They don’t let him have more than one friend visit at a time, they refuse to let him go to the big rock concert with the gang and, worst of all, they forbid him to join the Sweet Valley band!

That’s when Patrick decides to take matters into his own hands. And, if his parents don’t listen this time, they’ll really be sorry!

Initial Thoughts:

To be honest, I don’t like this book at all. I think it’s silly and functions strongly on “because the plot says so”. I did swap with Wing to get this book, but that’s because the next book is a dog book, and Raven and I are solidly in the “cat people” camp, while Wing adores her wonderful dog. Also, there’s the vibe of bad parenting, which ties in to my background. In all honesty, I’d rather be recapping April Fool! but it really did make sense to leave that with Raven – and he’d fight me for it anyway. [Raven: Damn straight.] [Wing: Doggy! I can’t wait for the doggy book.]

The cover:

Elizabeth: If you don’t get back into that decrepit deathtrap right now, Patrick Morris, I’m going to drag you in by your ear!

Seriously, it looks like she’s trying to put him in America’s Most Deadly Time-Outs for the lulz.

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #25: Standing Out

Sweet Valley Twins 25: Standing Out by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 25: Standing Out by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Standing Out

Tagline: Can a girl really be one of the guys? [Dove: Of course not. Gender roles and stereotyping are so important. Girls must bake and wear makeup and boys must lift heavy things and be macho.]

Summary: Billie Layton is a real tomboy. She’s the only girl on the Little League softball team and the most respected athlete at Sweet Valley Middle School. But suddenly her whole world is turning upside down.

First, Billie’s parents are expecting a new baby and don’t seem to have any time for her. Then there’s her longtime friend, Jim Sturbridge, who’s always been Billie’s best friend, but now he seems interested only in Sally Holcomb – and Billie is jealous! Could it be that Billie likes Jim as a boyfriend and not just a buddy? Something is happening to Billie and it’s very confusing! How can Elizabeth and Jessica convince Billie that she can have everything she wants?

Initial Thoughts:

I actually really like this book. It’s one of the early books that I re-read often as a kid. However, the message of this book is breathtakingly offensive. So it’s yin and yang for me.

[Wing: WHY IS THIS BOOK SO TERRIBLE? It has some really great moments, AND THEN IT IS TERRIBLE.]

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Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #22: Out of Place

Sweet Valley Twins 22: Out of Place - Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 22: Out of Place – Jamie Suzanne

Title: Out of Place

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?

Initial Thoughts:

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.

tl;dr: DON’T WANNA.

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