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Evil twins snarkily recap Sweet Valley Twins, High, University, Confidential & Sweet Life

Sweet Valley Twins #60: Ciao, Sweet Valley!

17
Sep 2018
Sweet Valley Twins #60: Ciao, Sweet Valley! by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #60: Ciao, Sweet Valley! by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Ciao, Sweet Valley!

Tagline: Just how welcome is Giovanna in Sweet Valley? [Dove: Well, given how well they usually take outsiders, I reckon it will go: 1) excited and welcoming; 2) cool and snooty as soon as she doesn’t bow down and worship the perfection of Sweet Valley; and then 3) EVERYTHING IS AWESOME.]

Summary: Jessica Wakefield and her twin sister, Elizabeth, are looking forward to having an exchange student named Giovanna come and live with them for three weeks, Jessica can’t wait to show the Italian country girl all the great things about Sweet Valley. But when the Wakefields finally meet Giovanna, Jessica is in for a shock. Giovanna is gorgeous and sophisticated—and Sweet Valley bores her to death!

When Giovanna arrives at Sweet Valley Middle School, she’s rude to Jessica’s friends in the Unicorn Club, she talks constantly about how great Italy is, and she flirts with the cutest boys in school. As far as Jessica is concerned, Giovanna has worn out her welcome. How will she ever get through the next three weeks?

Initial Thoughts:

I hate this book. I don’t want to read it. There’s a reason I never bothered to buy it back in the day. I borrowed it from a friend and decided I didn’t need a copy. It was one of the last ones I bought when I was filling in the gaps in my collection.

I utterly loathe this book. The only reason I didn’t swap with someone is because: 1) Raven knows better than to swap with me after he got burned by The Class Trip; and 2) despite my deep desire to not recap this, I thought Wing would like The Ghost in the Bell Tower (and I thought she’d probably burn our servers to the ground on this one), also; 3) I was pretty sure that Wing wouldn’t swap with me unless I made a very good case for it. My co-recappers are (rightly) very suspicious when I try to swap.

Note from the future: When I rage at Giovanna’s attitude, I am aware that the rage should be (and is) directed at the current Jamie Suzanne’s lack of knowledge about Italy and apparent xenophobia. But for shorthand, I rage at Giovanna.

Note from even further into the future: I completely forgot the Rizzo family is Italian. It’s ok, so did the author. You’d have thought Giovanna might have approved of them, especially with Mrs Rizzo speaking Italian as her first language, but yeah, no, that never happens. Giovanna never even meets Sophia.

Apology to any Italian readers: Hi. I’m really sorry that this Jamie Suzanne is being so offensive about your country with pretty much every sentence Giovanna utters.

[Wing: Why are we doing yet another foreign exchange student story? Why are we doing yet another New Girl story? Why are we doing — huh, I guess the next question is why are we doing the recapping at all, but I have an answer for that one.]

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Sweet Valley Twins #51: Elizabeth the Impossible

4
Jun 2018
Sweet Valley Twins 51: Elizabeth the Impossible by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 51: Elizabeth the Impossible by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Elizabeth the Impossible

Tagline: Has Jessica created a monster? [Dove: Well, evil begets evil, I suppose.]

Summary: Jessica Wakefield is convinced that her sister, Elizabeth, is perfect. Who else is as smart, friendly, and creative as her identical twin? So when Sweet Valley Middle School announces it will be choosing a Model Student, Jessica launches a secret campaign to make sure Elizabeth wins.

But Jessica doesn’t count on what happens. As soon as word gets out about the contest, Elizabeth takes becoming a Model Student a bit too seriously. She starts telling everyone what to wear, what to eat, and how to act. Elizabeth’s become positively bossy! Jessica would do anything to get the old Elizabeth back. What will it take to turn Elizabeth the Impossible back into the girl everyone knows and loves.

Initial Thoughts:

I deliberately swapped for this one. This is a book I love. I think it’s a joy to poke fun at Elizabeth, and this book really delivers.

Also, if you read it with a cynical eye, it’s actually a story of dysfunctional relationships, and someone with no power socially using one single pressure point to take over another person entirely, to the point where they drop their friends and change their life to appease this one person. Basically, Elizabeth/Pamela is one fucked up ship. And it’s hella interesting. And once I get to a certain point in the story, I will go into that a bit more in depth.

Warning: As above, I’m going to liken the Pamela/Elizabeth friendship to an abusive relationship. While it’s going to be light, I will use phrases used by emotional abusers that may act as triggers. It’s light, but exercise good judgement.

Note: I’m going to quote a metric fucktonne of this book.

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Sweet Valley Twins #50: Jessica and the Secret Star

28
May 2018

Sweet Valley Twins 50: Jessica and the Secret Star, by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica and the Secret Star

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?

Initial Thoughts:

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.

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Sweet Valley Twins #47: Jessica’s New Look

30
Apr 2018
Sweet Valley Twins #47: Jessica's New Look by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #47: Jessica’s New Look by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica’s New Look

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?

Initial Thoughts:

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.

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Sweet Valley Twins #45: Lucy Takes the Reins

9
Apr 2018
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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Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #2: The Ghost in the Graveyard

12
Feb 2018

Super Chiller 2: The Ghost in the Graveyard by Jamie Suzanne

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?

Initial Thoughts:

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.

Onward!

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Sweet Valley Twins #40: Danny Means Trouble

5
Feb 2018
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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Sweet Valley Twins #33: Elizabeth’s New Hero

20
Nov 2017
Sweet Valley Twins 33: Elizabeth’s New Hero by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 33: Elizabeth’s New Hero by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Elizabeth’s New Hero

Tagline: Can the twins keep their new friend from making a terrible mistake?

Summary: When a team of East German gymnasts visits Sweet Valley, it’s one of the biggest events in the town’s history. Jessica and Elizabeth – and the whole Wakefield family – are right in the center of things. They’re playing host to Christoph Beckmann, a cute blue-eyed boy who happens to be one of the best gymnasts on the team.

As the days go by, the twins learn more and more about their new friend. He tells them that it is his parents who wish him to be a champion and that he just wants to have fun and be like other kids his age. [Raven: Didn’t we just do this with Prince Arthur?] So with the help of the Wakefields, he gets his wish. Between hamburgers, basketball and surfing, Jessica, Elizabeth, and Steven may have done too good a job. Now Christoph refuses to go back to his country. Can Jessica and Elizabeth make him understand all that he’ll be missing if he stays?

[Wing: Why is the underage boy in a foreign country not all that friendly with his country even making that choice?]

Initial Thoughts:

Cute Boys! Gymnastics! Defection!

This book promises everything!

Let’s look at the cover… Elizabeth Wakefield meets Ellen Degeneres. I swear the artists for these covers can only draw three faces, tops.

[Dove: Raven’s not wrong. That blonde male model is Ken Matthews and Tom McKay too.]

Also, GYM EQUIPMENT! It looks like Phys Ed is pretty underfunded at Sweet Valley Middle School. Explains why a lot of the girls have been spotted using a recumbent Mr Nydick as a pommel horse.

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Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #3: The Big Camp Secret

23
Oct 2017
Super Editions 3: The Big Camp Secret by Jamie Suzanne

Super Edition 3: The Big Camp Secret by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Big Camp Secret

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!

Initial Thoughts:

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.]

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Sweet Valley Twins #30: Princess Elizabeth

16
Oct 2017
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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