Posted in Super Chillers

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #8: The Secret of the Magic Pen

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #8: The Secret of the Magic Pen by Jamie Suzanne (USA Cover)
Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #8: The Secret of the Magic Pen by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #8: The Secret of the Magic Pen by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Secret of the Magic Pen

Summary: A pen that tells the future?

The summer holidays are here, and Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield and their friends have just arrived at sleep-away camp! On a hike through a dark, eerie cave, Elizabeth finds something incredible—a glowing pen! She can’t wait to use it to write an article for the camp newspaper.

But as she writes, Elizabeth is astonished to find herself composing a mystery full of scary twists and turns. And to her horror, little by little the mystery seems to be coming true! This isn’t just an ordinary pen. Could it be haunted?

Initial Thoughts

On the one hand, I love some of the Super Chillers and enjoy the ideas behind almost all of them. On the other hand, Elizabeth. Unless a ghost is around to try to kill her, I’m not really feeling a book about her right now.

On the other other hand, the weather turned again, and I am once more cold enough that a story set in the summer is a pleasure.

Also, I don’t hate the USA cover, but damn, that other one is terrible.

[Note from the future: Y’ALL. THIS BOOK.]

[Dove: I saw no need for me to make a cover, since we have the USA one. Which is good, because my ideas were absent. The first time I read this, it immediately slipped out of my brain – I blame The Carnival Ghost, it just set the bar damned high – but this time around I enjoyed it a bit more. I do love the summer camp trope, and I’d completely forgotten that was the setting for this book.]

[Raven: Ooooh, a magic pen. Spooky! How very Stephen King…

]

(more…)

Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #87: The Mother-Daughter Switch

Sweet Valley Twins #87: The Mother-Daughter Switch by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #87: The Mother-Daughter Switch by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Mother-Daughter Switch

Tagline: Jessica and Elizabeth trade places—with their mother!

Summary: Which is easier—to be a mother… or a daughter?

After a big fight with their mother, identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield come up with a brilliant way to show her that being a kid is no piece of cake: they decide that she should give it a try. To their shock and delight, their mother agrees! The twins will get to be their own mother, while Mrs. Wakefield will be a kid.

But the twins soon discover that parenthood is exhausting—who would have guessed Mrs. Wakefield would be such a messy, mischievous kid? Jessica and Elizabeth decide to trade places again—but their mother says no! Are the twins stuck being their mother’s mother forever?

Initial Thoughts:

The Mother Daughter Switch (cover by Dove)

Okay, so this is a role-swap rather than a body-swap. Gotcha. [Dove: After BIG for Christmas, it would’ve been too soon, surely?]

Sounds interesting, from the blurb. The twins get to be Alice, while Alice gets to be the twins. And it sounds like Alice is a right scamp while she’s doing it! Should be a fun romp.

Promising. So, undoubtedly, it’ll be atrocious.

Also, great cover by Dove!

(more…)

Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #84: Romeo and Two Juliets

Sweet Valley Twins #84: Romeo and 2 Juliets by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins #84: Romeo and 2 Juliets by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Sweet Valley Twins #84: Romeo and Two Juliets

Tagline: Will the real Juliet please stand up?

Summary: A battle for stardom…

Jessica Wakefield is dying to play the part of Juliet in the Sweet Valley Middle School production of Romeo and Juliet. But during the week of auditions, she comes down with an awful case of flu! The only way she can win the part now is by getting her twin, Elizabeth, to try out—pretending she’s Jessica!

Elizabeth reluctantly agrees. She has a great audition and wins the part for Jessica. But there’s a slight problem—Elizabeth falls in love with the part and won’t give it up!

Who will get to play Juliet?

Initial Thoughts

I have been earwormed because of that tagline.

And now you have, too.

Also, the answer to that question of who will play Juliet? I’m 99.9% certain it will be Jessica, and that other .1% is that it will be both of them and they’ll take turns. In part because acting is Jessica’s thing, and Elizabeth’s thing is writing, but also because despite recent events, Elizabeth has no spine, especially when it comes to giving in to Jessica.

Romeo and Two Juliets (cover by Dove)

[Dove: I second Wing’s theory. Doesn’t Jessica always get what she wants? Also, enjoy the alternative cover by me.

Just so you all know: I loathe Shakespeare – the stories are fine, I hate the wording that everyone finds so magical. Probably because I was forced to memorise a full act of the play overnight because Mrs Martin, the worst teacher in the world, gave an exaggeratedly spiteful punishment for talking during class. And, the following day when I had spent all night memorising, hadn’t slept, was reciting it in the shower, on the bus, during assembly in preparation, she said, “Oh, I can’t be bothered to listen to you. Go away.” That’s the kind of thing that makes you hate Shakespeare. Not the fault of Shakespeare, obviously, and I enjoy modern-day retellings, but in its pure form, I loathe it. So this book was a bit of a problem for me when everyone’s like, “Yay, Shakespeare!” my brain just went, “I still fucking hate Mrs Martin.”]

[Raven: On the other side of the coin, I love Shakespeare. I studied film, theatre and television at University, and have acted in a fair few Shakespearian productions. Personally, I think that liking Shakespeare is a direct corrolation to having a good English teacher. As Dove demonstrates above.]

(more…)

Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #67: Jessica the Thief

Sweet Valley Twins 67: Jessica the Thief by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 67: Jessica the Thief by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica the Thief

Tagline: Guilty until proven innocent? [Wing: So Ned is the lawyer involved in this, I see.]

Summary: Framed…

Is there a thief at Sweet Valley Middle School? Things have started disappearing, and the whole school is searching for the culprit. But everyone is shocked when some of the stolen goods turn up in Jessica Wakefield’s locker!

Jessica insists that she’s been framed, but the only one who believes her is her twin sister. Elizabeth. When Jessica and Elizabeth team up to find the real thief, they can hardly believe what they find out!

Initial Thoughts

I kind of hate stories about people being falsely accused, so I can’t see this going well for me.

[Dove: I remember getting into a conversation with someone on Twitter (I think it was@_sunshinebooks) about how tiny Jessica looks in comparison to the rest of the girls on the cover. There’s something not quite right about the proportions there. Also, who is the girl in the peach dress? Is that Veronica?

Also, when I first read this, Watchmans (handheld TVs) hadn’t hit the UK, mostly, I think, because they were completely expensive and rarely worked. I misread the branding and spent the entire book wondering why Lila was so braggy about a Walkman, which pretty much everyone I knew owned.]

(more…)

Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #66: The Great Boyfriend Switch

Sweet Valley Twins 66: The Great Boyfriend Switch by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 66: The Great Boyfriend Switch by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Great Boyfriend Switch

Tagline: The Valentine’s Day dance isn’t what anyone was expecting…

Summary: Mixed-up romance…

As Valentine’s Day approaches, everyone at Sweet Valley Middle School is pairing up for the first dance of the year. Elizabeth Wakefield has been asked by sweet and serious Todd Wilkins, and her twin sister, Jessica, is going with wild and funny Aaron Dallas. The twins and all their friends are sure it’s going to be the most romantic night out ever.

But when they get to the dance, everyone seems to go a little crazy. Jessica abandons Aaron to dance song after song with Bruce Patman. And devious Veronica Brooks goes after Todd, leaving Elizabeth with no one to dance with—except Aaron! Romance is in the air all right, but will these mixed-up couples ever get straightened out again?

Initial Thoughts:

Now THIS is what Twin Magic is all about! Clandestine sexual misdirection. A Valentine’s Day dance, boyfriends and girlfriends and relationship woes. Wonderful.

The cover? A bunch of girls. Presumably all the Unicorns. Fair enough. The composition is a bit weird, it’s pretty lopsided.

Nothing else to say about it, really.

[Raven: Hello! As you can see, this recap is a day late. That’s all on me. Apologies! However, yesterday (Monday) was my birthday, so I’m going to claim Birthday Boy Privileges. Bosh. Done.]

[Dove: I actually love the cover of this. I’m slightly envious of the American covers, which show the entire picture with a banner across with the title – although I prefer the UK layout overall. I like it when the picture clearly references something that happens in the book, and this is a picture of the photo Ned took of all the girls before their first date. Adorable. Everyone looks so pretty. Except for Janet. Janet always looks terrible. And why isn’t Ellen on the front cover. I’m guessing the cover goes (back to front, left to right): Janet, (Belinda or Mandy, maybe?), Lila; Mary, (Belinda or Mandy?), Amy; Elizabeth, Jessica. Commenters, feel free to correct me. I’m really confused about the two brunettes in the middle, they don’t actually look like anyone we’ve seen before on the covers. Amy’s hair is way darker than usual too.]

[Wing: Surprisingly cute cover. Haven’t at least some of them already had first dates? Also, busy week, haven’t had a chance to comment until Wednesday, 21 November, but here I go.]

(more…)

Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #64: The Charm School Mystery

Sweet Valley Twins 64: The Charm School Mystery by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 64: The Charm School Mystery by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Charm School Mystery

Tagline: Elizabeth, Amy and Maria try to catch a thief!

Summary: When a charm school opens in Sweet Valley, Jessica Wakefield can’t wait to attend. What could be better than going to classes about clothes, makeup, and parties?

Jessica’s twin sister, Elizabeth, has no interest in the school at all—until she uncovers some suspicious things about its owners. Elizabeth convinces her friends, Amy and Maria, to sign up for lessons and do some detective work. But the girls soon realize that charm school isn’t as easy as they thought it would be. What’s more, Amy and Maria are worried that Elizabeth’s sleuthing may put them in real danger. It looks as if the girls may be in over their heads—in class and in their investigation!

Initial Thoughts:

Charm School? What the hell?

Are these actually a thing, anywhere, at all? Even in the Eighties? Even in SWEET VALLEY?

As for the cover… dece. Elizabeth and Maria being impressively sleuthy. We know it’s Elizabeth as she’s carrying a notebook. A notebook that’s not purple, and not full of hearts and scribbles of ‘Mrs Jessica Buck’ on every page.

Maria also has a flashlight. Or a Fleshlight. Either way, we’re in for a treat.

[Dove: I know it’s not the book’s fault, but something about the main orange cover is such a turnoff. I always assume I’ll hate any book that colour, even though I don’t. The last one was Mandy Miller Fights Back.]

(more…)

Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #54: The Big Party Weekend

Sweet Valley Twins 54: The Big Party Weekend by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 54: The Big Party Weekend by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The Big Party Weekend

Tagline: Mum and Dad will be back any minute!

Summary: While Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield are away on holiday in Mexico, twins Jessica and Elizabeth and their older brother, Steven, are left with May Brown, the world’s most horrible baby-sitter!

But the Wakefield kids are determined to throw a party on Saturday night, with great food, fabulous music, all their friends – and no adults. They make an elaborate plan to get May out of the house, and the party of the year is on!

By the end of the party, the house is a wreck. How will Jessica, Elizabeth, and Steven ever get the mess cleared up before May – and their parents – come home?

Initial Thoughts:

I do quite like the cover, with the Little Wakefields tidying up after what can only be perceived as a thoroughly mediocre party. The broom-wielding Steven’s clearly eying up his sisters and saying “right, who wants the first paddlin’?” [Wing: Jessica. Or at least that’s what he’s hoping.]

One thing that does piss me off, however, is the crooked flower-painting on the wall. Firstly, it’s a completely shit picture. Secondly, by itself it’s obviously too small for the wall it’s being displayed on. Thirdly, it has been hung far too low.

Alice is an interior designer. She’s shit at her job.

Also, this:

[Dove: Also, I love that Chalet Girl (a film that is far better than it should be) directly references this advert. If you’re not a Brit, screw you. That joke isn’t for you. As for the actual book we’re recapping, there was a lot that just had me shaking my head and silently judging.]

[Wing: I feel like I’ve read this book before, but that is impossible, because I’ve never read any Sweet Valley until we started these recaps last year. Is there another parents gone/party weekend book that has similar beats in the plot? Most likely.]

(more…)

Posted in Super Chillers

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

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!

(more…)

Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #29: Jessica and the Brat Attack

Sweet Valley Twins 29: Jessica and the Brat Attack by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 29: Jessica and the Brat Attack by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Jessica and the Brat Attack

Summary: More than she can handle…

Jessica Wakefield can’t wait for the school fair – until she gets stuck being in charge of the water-balloon booth. Who wants to be drenched by every kid at Sweet Valley Middle School? So when her twin sister, Elizabeth, is offered a baby-sitting job that day, Jessica sees the perfect opportunity to steal the job away and stick her sister with the water-balloon booth.

But Jessica’s plan backfires. The kids she baby-sits turn out to be real monsters. The minute their parents leave, they begin tearing up the house – and her! Jessica needs help fast. But will Elizabeth feel too betrayed and too wet to come to her sister’s aid?

Tagline: Jessica meets her match when she takes up baby-sitting!

Initial Thoughts

Wait, so we just finished a book that was all about them pretending to switch places because they switch places so often, and now we have non-consensual switching places? I am already tired of this Twin Magic Gone Wrong thing and all I’ve done is read the summary.

(more…)

Posted in Sweet Valley Twins

Sweet Valley Twins #28: April Fool!

Sweet Valley Twins 28: April Fool by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 28: April Fool by Jamie Suzanne

Title: April Fool!

Tagline: Is Elizabeth pretending to be Jessica – or is Elizabeth really Elizabeth?

Summary: It’s April Fools’ Day and the Wakefield twins are about to play their biggest and best trick ever. Usually Elizabeth and Jessica pretend to be each other. But this year they won’t switch identities, everybody will just think they did.

When April 1 comes, the twins’ trick works perfectly – too perfectly for Elizabeth. Everyone believes she is Jessica pretending to be Elizabeth. And being Jessica always means getting into trouble. By the end of the day, Elizabeth is beginning to wonder whether she is the biggest April Fool of all for agreeing to be part of this charade.

[Raven: Or are WE the fools for recapping this ridiculous series? You decide!]

[Wing: We are certainly the fools for having to read this book. I raced through it as fast as I could and still wish I could get that 15 minutes back. In order to get through this recap, I’ve embraced my inner Jessica and put on a face mask (mint and charcoal). It will be dried in 10 minutes. I will devote that much more time to this book, and then that’s it, straight to the final thoughts section, even though I normally love Raven’s recaps. This book is just that boring.]

Initial Thoughts:

Ah, a rare thing… a book title containing an exclamation mark / point. Although scouring the SVT series, it seems it has another eight such books to keep it company.

I quite like April Fools’ Day, but I appreciate that the mileage of others may vary on this issue. The day generally consists of half the people partaking and recounting hilarious pranks, while the other half sneer and condescend at the pranksters and pray for a swift resolution to the enforced jollity. Any form of awkward interaction gets the thumbs up from me.

(more…)