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

Sweet Valley Twins #58: Elizabeth and the Orphans

20
Aug 2018
Sweet Valley Twins #58: Elizabeth and the Orphans by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins #58: Elizabeth and the Orphans by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Elizabeth and the Orphans

Tagline: Can Melissa and Andy make it on their own? [Raven: They’ve got to hold on to what they’ve got. It doesn’t make a difference if they make it or not. They’ve got each other, and that’s a lot. For love… they’ll give it a shot. #AndyUsedToWorkOnTheDocks.]

Summary: Friends in need…

Elizabeth Wakefield’s friend Melissa McCormick needs help. Her mother has suddenly died, leaving Melissa and her brother, Andy, alone. Their father left years ago, so they have only each other to depend on.

If the social workers find out that Melissa and Andy are now orphans, they will be put in separate foster homes. So Andy devises a plan: he and Melissa will get jobs to pay the bills and they’ll tell everyone that their father is returning home soon.

Only Elizabeth knows the truth, and she sees how fast the bills and responsibilities are piling up. She also knows she has to do something—the right thing—before it’s too late.

Initial Thoughts:

I have to be honest, I didn’t re-read this one after purchase. I really liked Melissa in a later book, Poor Lila, but I don’t know if her characterisation is the same in both. Honestly, I don’t like parent death books. It pisses me off. I know everyone’s grief process is different, but I have never once seen a kid in a book grieve like I did.

Backstory, my dad died when I was nine. (My well-meaning but idiotic family never explained he got cancer. They told me he had a stomach bug. This has left me with a deep-seated phobia of vomiting.) What happened was: he was healthy, he was sick for a few months, he died. I cried for about 20 minutes straight after hearing about it, and while I was intermittently sad for a period of time after, I was not broken. This event changed my life, obviously, but mostly because it left me in the care of an emotional abuser. I hate parent death books because most of the time the grief is gigantic and life-changing, and the parent is their best friend, even twenty years later the wound isn’t healed, and oh gosh, wouldn’t things just be perfect if dead parent was still alive?

For this reason, I try to avoid books with a parent death in them. So I read this once, maybe twice, for completest reasons, but never returned.

[Wing: Sorry, all, unexpected family stuff over the weekend, and I’m only having a chance to comment Monday, 20 August, around 10 a.m. Central USA time.]

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Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #1: The Christmas Ghost

18
Dec 2017
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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Sweet Valley Twins #21: Left Behind

18
Jul 2017
Sweet Valley Twins 21: Left Behind - Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 21: Left Behind – Jamie Suzanne

Title: Left Behind by Francine Pascal

Summary: Out in the cold…

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.]

Initial Thoughts

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.]

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Sweet Valley Twins #18: Center of Attention

19
Jun 2017
Sweet Valley Twins 18: Center of Attention - Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 18: Center of Attention – Jamie Suzanne

Title: Centre of Attention

Summary: Stepping over the line…

Jessica Wakefield just can’t stop her wild imagination. Her mother is very ill, and Jessica thinks it’s much worse – she might even be dying! Soon, the news spreads all over Sweet Valley Middle School. Elizabeth, Jessica’s twin sister, is furious, but Jessica loves being the center of all that attention.

Even the teachers feel sorry for Jessica, and they let her skip her homework and be excused from tests. And now, Jessica has a chance to get the lead in the school musical – if she can manage to take advantage of everyone’s sympathy just one more time.

Tagline: Has Jessica finally gone too far? [Wing: WHAT DO YOU MEAN, FINALLY?!]

Initial Thoughts

Oh my god, I am going to hate everything about this. Not only does that premise sound terrible on its own, but I spent more than a decade watching my mother die a slow, painful death, so I am particularly touchy about sick mother/dead mother stories.

(At least I’ll probably be back to my hatred of all things Sweet Valley, which I understand a lot better than my unexpected moments of love for it.)

[Wing: Note from the future: It gets real in here, from the text and the recappers, especially about parental death, heart ache, and abusive childhoods.]

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Sweet Valley Twins Super Edition #1: The Class Trip

5
Jun 2017
Super Edition 1: The Class Trip - Jamie Suzanne

Super Edition 1: The Class Trip – Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Class Trip

Tagline: Finally, it’s the day for the big adventure!

Summary: It’s the Sweet Valley Middle School sixth grade trip to a fabulous amusement park. Both twins, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, have been waiting for this day for ages. And now that it finally here they’re not even talking to each other.

Despite their argument Elizabeth can’t stay angry for long. [Raven: I can’t believe they’re now putting their stock phrases in the bloody SUMMARIES.] But when she goes to apologize to Jessica, she is nowhere to be found. As Elizabeth searches for her lost sister, she’s caught up in a series of exciting and dangerous adventures as incredible as Alice’s trip through Wonderland – adventures that lead the Wakefield twins to discover what real friendship and sisterhood – is all about!

Initial Thoughts:

Ooooh, a Super Edition! What on earth can be Super about it? The last few books have been pretty super in themselves, so maybe this book will be extra special and fun!

[~~# Future Raven: NOPE. #~~]

And the cover! Four kids in front of a bus! I recognise Elizabeth and Jessica in the middle, but why is the demure Liz wearing purple? Is there some Twin Magic for us to enjoy? And who are the others? I trust they’ll be integral to the plot of the upcoming book!

[~~# Future Raven: Double NOPE. They are superfluous to the so-called “action.” Also, hello! I’m from the future, and I eat my food in lozenge form. #~~]

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Sweet Valley Twins #14: Tug of War

1
May 2017
Sweet Valley Twins 14: Tug of War by Jamie Suzanne

Sweet Valley Twins 14: Tug of War by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Tug of War

Tagline: May the odds be ever in your favour. There can only be one winner!

Summary: The halls of Sweet Valley Middle School are buzzing. Identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are running against each other for sixth-grade president! It’s sure to be the most dramatic event of the year – because each one will go to any length to win.

The candidates disagree on everything, right down to how they should make use of the sixth-grade class money. But all this fighting can’t go on without taking its toll. Both sisters know that if they want to remain friends, one of them will have to drop out of the race. But which one will it be?

Initial Thoughts:

This is a story I don’t like, because it comes hot on the heels of Buried Treasure, which again has Elizabeth running for another student council position, and it feels way too early in the series to be reusing plots.

The Cover: Jessica is two seconds away from thwapping Elizabeth’s smug face with that sign. And I’m ok with that. Also, Elizabeth, are you eight? I swear I wore that dress to Selina H’s birthday party when she was eight. We played murder in the dark. [Wing: I would like more details on this game, because I am unhappy to be back to a Wakefield book after my surprise joy during my last recap.] [Raven: Ah, Murder in the Dark. One of the sexier games when I was a kid.] [Dove: Were you playing with Mr Nydick?[Wing: On the one hand, this sounds like way more fun than Heads Up, Seven Up, which is what we played in school all the time. On the other hand, if I’ve found the right game, I much prefer the version called Werewolf. Shocking, I know.]

Also, they’re in Lib Dem and Tory colours. Not a good sign.

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Sweet Valley Twins #11: Buried Treasure

3
Apr 2017
Sweet Valley Twins 11: Buried Treasure (Image from Calibre data

Sweet Valley Twins 11: Buried Treasure (Image from Calibre data scrape – assumed Shannon’s Sweet Valley Page)

Title: Buried Treasure

Summary: Jessica Wakefield and her friend Ellen Riteman keep it a secret when they find some money in an old metal box buried in Ellen’s backyard. But then some money disappears from school and suspicion falls on Jessica and Ellen. Can they prove their innocence?

Tagline: Has Jessica’s good luck run out? [Wing: I can only hope.]

Initial Thoughts

So, on the surface, this could be an entertaining story. Secrets, buried treasure, Jessica finally getting accused of something … and yet, this is Sweet Valley, and I know a book that sounds interesting isn’t actually going to live up to its potential. Also, it will probably make me go boom.

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Sweet Valley Twins #9: Against the Rules

13
Mar 2017
Sweet Valley Twins 9: Against the Rules

Sweet Valley Twins 9: Against the Rules

Title: Against the Rules

Tagline: Is Elizabeth about to make the biggest mistake of her life? I’m guessing no, unless the book focuses on her decision to attend a private tutoring session with Mr Nydick.

Summary: Good friends are big trouble…

Sophia Rizzo is a good writer on the school newspaper, she’s nice, and Elizabeth likes her But all the other kids at Sweet Valley Middle School – including Elizabeth’s twin sister. Jessica – make fun of Sophia because her family is poor and her brother as always in trouble. Even Elizabeth’s parents tell her to stay away from Sophia.

To show Sophia that she’s her friend no matter what anybody says. Elizabeth decides to go against strict orders from her parents and throw a secret birthday party for Sophia.

But is Elizabeth willing to pay the price if she’s caught?

Initial Thoughts:

This promises to be a Very Special Episode of the Sweet Valley Twins saga. Today, we learn about poor people. And Italian Americans. And, thanks to another inspired cover, we know a brunette enjoys a cake.

Woo. And, indeed, Hoo.

[Wing: But the girl on the left appears to hate cake, the brunette, and Liz. And maybe all of Sweet Valley. Girl on the left, are you me?] [Raven: In all seriousness, who is that meant to be? Maybe Amy Sutton? She’s not wearing purple so she’s not a Unigibbon.] Read more about the perfect twins »

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Sweet Valley Twins #2: Teacher’s Pet

9
Jan 2017
Sweet Valley Twins 2: Teacher's Pet

Sweet Valley Twins 2: Teacher’s Pet
(Image not mine, came from Calibre’s data scrape – I think from Shannon’s Sweet Valley Blog)

Title: Teacher’s Pet

Tagline: Will Jessica steal the lead in the ballet recital from Elizabeth? (The answer to that question is always yes. If Jessica can steal something from Elizabeth, she will. And Elizabeth will be like, “Oh, Jess, you’re so funny.”) [Raven: Alternate Tagline – “Elizabeth waves her hands in the air, while Jessica just doesn’t care.”]

Summary: The twins start ballet class and compete for a solo. Jessica is the better dancer but Elizabeth is the teacher’s pet!

Initial Thoughts:

I’ve read this book far too often to have any initial thoughts about it. Sorry.

[Wing: My first time. It was not as terrible as the first one, because there’s a lot less body shaming, but the entire Wakefield family is still pretty obnoxious.]

[Raven: Ballet? Bring it on.]

Front cover:

Liz: I’m a pretty ballerina, watch me twirl!

Jess: Fuck you! Give me four years and I’ll kill my boyfriend and frame you for it. That’ll fucking teach you!

(Out of all three of us recappers, I’m the only one who has any idea what comes after SVT – I’ve not read all the books, but I’ve read Twins, a bit of High (and plenty of recaps), about eight of Uni and all of Confidential and Sweet Life.)

[2 Feb 2017 update: Wing: For another take on this book, check out the Super Serials podcast episode.]

 

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