A 30-something's lovingly sarcastic journey through all of Sweet Valley High, and then some

Archive for July, 2012

Sweet Valley Confidential: The Sweet Life #1: The Sweet Life

I’m guessing the one in the front is Jess because of her trademark devious smile!

Alright, I’m up to speed with these e-books! The fourth in The Sweet Life series came out on Sunday, and I must say I’m enjoying these much more than I did Sweet Valley Confidential. That’s not to say that they are great – if they weren’t about Sweet Valley, I wouldn’t be able to get through them all. In fact, if it weren’t for this blog, I probably wouldn’t have bothered, but now I’m glad I did. So let’s get to the recaps already, starting with the very first book.

It’s been three years since the events of Sweet Valley Confidential unfolded, so let’s see where our twins are now, shall we? Jessica lives in a townhome with her two-year-old son, Jake, in Sweet Valley Heights. She and Todd are still married, but he moved out four months ago. Her married name is Jessica Wakefield-Wilkins. She’s now a vice president at that terribly-named MYFACEISGREEN marketing company, which is now called VERTPLUS.NET. Ugh, which name is worse? The company is owned by George Fowler. (They fixed his name! Remember how they put it as “Richard Fowler” in SVC?) Anyway, Jessica is known as “the Queen of Green” for her fabulous ideas that everyone loves, and has an assistant named Katy Johnson who adores her and is apparently part Watusi. Michael Wilson, the boss with a crush on Jessica in SVC, is EVP of the Sweet Valley VERTPLUS.NET office. He’s apparently also George Fowler’s nephew, or at least I guess so, since we hear his nephew is Jessica’s boss … and Michael is her boss, so … I’m confused. Was this mentioned in SVC? I’m too lazy to go back and figure it out. Jessica is also still good friends with Liz’s friend from New York, Liam O’Connor, who’s now doing movies.

Elizabeth is living in a Beverly Hills penthouse, so I guess she moved from New York, finally. She writes a local interest column and a blog for the L.A. Tribune. Todd also works there as a sports writer, but Liz doesn’t run into him much. She’s thankful for that because she still feels awkward around him, even though she doesn’t love him anymore. She spends her weekends at Bruce Patman’s mansion in ritzy Sweet Valley Hills, where she’s had a hard time getting used to his wealth and keeps making a big thing out of it. She no longer eats red meat, but she pretends she does in order to please Bruce and his French chef, Mme Yvonne Dechamps. She pushes the meat around on her plate until half of it is hidden under some other food and therefore looks half-eaten. She is described as doing this fairly often. She also lets Bruce think she is fluent in French, when she’s not, because it makes him happy. (I guess she forgot all that high school French she was so fluent in during SVH.) What a fake bitch. Yes, I never stop ragging on her. Bruce is now a near-billionaire or something in his own right and owns a bunch of boring companies that I don’t care about. Let’s get to the story.

Jessica gives a bang-up presentation at work about her new promotion campaign for Revlon, a cosmetic line she calls MEANGREEN, and the crazy body-paint costume fashion show that she will use to show it off. Jessica has her assistant, Katy, chime in during the meeting about how awesome it is, and everyone else agrees except for Jessica’s bitchy rival, an “elegant middle-aged woman” named Tracy Courtright. When Jessica tries to get home after the presentation, Michael Wilson tries to stop her for chit-chat, but she’s running late and knows Todd will be furious. She lies and says she has theatre tickets because it’s not acceptable to say you have child care obligations. When she gets home, Todd is indeed raging mad because Jessica is the mother and is supposed to act motherly and be the primary child-rearer. Todd married Jessica thinking she was delightfully floozy or something, and now that she’s more successful than Todd the sports-writer, he can’t stand it. That’s why they split up. No, really. Now Todd sends Jessica snarky text messages in ALL CAPS LIKE THIS.

After Todd leaves, Liz goes to Jessica’s townhouse to bring her the latest red meat meal she pushed around on Bruce’s fucking gold-edged china, or whatever. Jessica will eat anything. We learn that Liz and Jessica primarily bond through gossiping now, or something, so this gives us a convenient update on other characters. We learn about Steven and Aaron’s four-month-old daughter, Emma, who they conceived with the help of a surrogate mother named Linda Carson. She lives in San Diego and the twins don’t like her. Steven and Aaron don’t know who Emma’s biological father is and have promised never to do any DNA testing to find out. Next we hear that Lila Fowler is still married to Ken, apparently, because she’s trying out for a reality show. I somehow can’t see Lila doing a reality show. I could see her saying it is “gauche”, however. And finally, Liz says that Caroline Pearce calls her whenever she has juicy gossip on Liz’s ex-best-friend, Dr. Enid Rollins, Sweet Valley’s top gynecologist. Enid had an affair with the husband of one of her patients, and the patient found out when she walked in on them doing an elaborate scenario in Enid’s office involving her tied to the examining room table as a kidnapped patient. The dude’s name is Brad Jones and he’s a pool salesman. No more A.J.? Hahaha.

Liz goes home to Bruce’s mansion where he tells her he saw Todd with another Tribune reporter, a “dark-haired girl” named Sarah Miller, at the Lakers game. Liz says the office gossip is that Sarah wants Todd. Bruce and Liz drink Cristal to celebrate Bruce’s charity group winning a large land deal over Rick Warner, a shady gas company executive. Liz thinks that now a Democratic Party “mover and shaker” named Darko Crowitz (laughing my fucking ass off at that name) is going to start bugging Bruce to run for an office more than he already is. Wooo. Bruce says he isn’t interested. Then Bruce tells Liz he went ahead and volunteered her for a spot on the benefit committee for a “greyhound dinner” with someone Bruce has known all his life named Missy Le Grange. Liz hates Missy Le Grange, but agrees to do it just because Bruce wants her to. I would strangle my boyfriend if he did that to me. Instead Liz fucks him in his study. Who said she’s not still a pushover? Oh, and Liz still doesn’t know that Jessica and Todd first had sex behind her back when they were all still in college. Bruce does know this, but he’s never let on to Liz.

Lila Fowler Matthews goes to an audition for The True Housewives of Sweet Valley reality show – yes, it’s really called that – where she feels she has an edge because she’s one of just two brunettes there, and the other one isn’t as hot as she is. She decides to win the judges over by acting spoiled, bored, and snooty, and it works. They also love that she’s famous NFL quarterback Ken Matthews’ wife. I think Lila sounds mega boring in this chapter, and it kills me. Even worse, she’s mainly auditioning for the show to get the attention of her father. Old George is always going on about how great his son-in-law is, and how great his nephew is, and how great Jessica is (because of her work at VERTPLUS.NET), but he never has anything to say about Lila. These Daddy issues are getting tired.

Back to Jessica. Caroline Pearce casually drops the bomb on her that Todd was with Sarah Miller, the reporter with a crush on him, at the Lakers game. Bruce was there too, and he saw them and told Liz, but Liz didn’t bother to tell Jessica. That pisses Jess off, but only momentarily. She Googles Sarah and reads some of the articles she has written on “green” beauty. Imagine her shock when she discovers Sarah has been plagiarizing Jessica’s quotes and press releases …. Over and over and over. Jessica shows the evidence to Liz and they go back and forth about which one should turn her in to the Tribune. Finally Jessica says that she will do it. Two weeks later, Sarah is fired. Todd comes over and he and Jessica have a knock-down, drag-out fight about it. Todd sounds just like the douchebag he was in the SVH series! He goes out of his way to stand up for Sarah and act like she only plagiarized once, when it most definitely wasn’t just once. He clearly believes this dumb bitch over his own wife. (I’m reminded of so many similar fights between him and Liz, like the one in Perfect Summer with Courtney Thomas, where Courtney could do no wrong and Liz always came off like a horrible person just for stating the obvious.) He accuses Jessica of having set him up in college and all this other hurtful bullshit. Jessica calls Sarah a bitch and snottily tells Todd he can fuck her if he wants. He yells that he’ll fuck who he wants and Jessica yells back that she’ll fuck who she wants too, and that’s the end of that. Thankfully, Jake is out of the house with his nanny Liza, which seems to be the case about 80 percent of the time.

After the fight, Todd goes to Sarah’s apartment, where she starts bawling and he holds her and kisses the top of her head. They start making out and fall back on Sarah’s bed, but after Sarah pulls her clothes off, Todd freezes and just sits there. Sarah starts touching herself to warm him up, and he freaks out, apologizes, and runs out of the apartment.

Lila comes over to Jessica’s place and dances around with glee because she has won a spot on The True Housewives of Sweet Valley. Jessica can only wonder about whether or not Todd is actually having sex with Sarah Miller, or just kind-of sort-of seeing her.

Liz is about to shower and Bruce comes and tells her she’s supposed to call Missy Le Grange in an hour to talk about the greyhound fundraiser. Liz feels she has no choice but to accept Missy because the Le Granges and the Patmans have been friends for ever and ever, and Missy is never going to go away. Bruce and Liz start to have sex in the bathroom when the phone rings and Bruce goes and gets it. It’s his personal assistant Dean with some bad news. It turns out an intern at Bruce’s foundation is accusing him (through her priest) of trying to rape her at a bar called Charm Bar in downtown Sweet Valley. Bruce claims he has no clue who this person could be, and that he first heard of this just now. Liz is sure that slimy Rick Warner is behind this.

Jessica, freaking out about her fight with Todd, texts Liz to come over to her house right away. Liz does and after Jessica pours out her sob story about her awful fight with Todd, Liz explains about Bruce. Jessica runs right over to Bruce’s house to launch a PR campaign for him. Working with Bruce and his lawyer, Ben Bookman (who is apparently not used to dealing with this sort of thing. Great, just great) Jessica makes a website and videos on YouTube or some shit of all kinds of celebrities talking about what a great guy Bruce is. What the hell? Are you sure you should be encouraging people to talk about Bruce’s past, Jess? Would love to see Nicholas Morrow on there, for starters.

Bruce explains what he thinks happened. He was supposed to meet with some dude named Alan Bloom at Charm Bar the night of the alleged assault. Alan had sent him a handwritten note asking to see him, but he never showed. While Bruce was waiting for him, the bartender spilled some pink drink on Bruce. He went to the restroom to clean it, and on his way out he ran into a sobbing girl. Bruce bought her a Coke and she told him a story about how her dad had been abusing her and she’s scared to go home because he’s mad at her. At Bruce’s suggestion, the girl called a women’s shelter. Shortly afterward, Bruce got sick to his stomach. The bartender had him lie down in an empty office with a couch, where he passed out for a while, then woke up and went home. The bartender told Bruce the girl had left. Bruce never shared this version of events with Liz.

Meanwhile, Liz starts doing some investigative reporting. Jessica sends her Bruce’s version of events, and Liz calls Alan Bloom, who has zero recollection of ever trying to set up any meeting with Bruce at Charm Bar. Next Liz goes to Charm Bar to talk to the bartender who was working the night of the assault. It turns out his name is Jackson and he’s now at some place called Friday’s. (Not TGI Friday’s, I gather.) Jackson’s version of events is totally different from Bruce’s. Liz poses as a regular old reporter and doesn’t let on that she is Bruce’s girlfriend. That’s a recurring theme throughout this book – no one seems to have any clue that Liz is Bruce’s girl even though he’s kinda famous in the area, and they’ve been dating for THREE YEARS. Jackson tells her that Bruce was drinking Johnny Walker neat, which is indeed “Bruce’s drink”, and that he was hitting on a young girl sitting near him. The girl kept turning him down, and then she disappeared, so Jackson assumed she went to the bathroom, and then Bruce disappeared, and then the girl came back crying, grabbed her jacket, and fled the bar. Liz is rattled. Next she goes to All Saints, the accuser’s church, where she had her priest tell police that Bruce had assaulted her. The priest, Father Riley, refuses to talk to Liz because it’s none of her fucking business who the accuser is. (He puts it that way too … just kidding.) Liz starts interviewing interns to figure out the name of the accused. She talks to numerous interns before she figures out that the name of Bruce’s accuser is Robin Platt. To get Robin’s number and address, she calls an intern named Heather Horowitz and pretends to be Robin’s friend Diana. I know Liz is trying to protect her man, but I feel like she’s a horrible person at this point. She’s also conveniently overlooking how Bruce tried to rape HER back in the 11th grade!

Lila films her first day of True Housewives at her house, with the three other women picked for the show. There’s Devone Waters, described as African American and beautiful, Ashley Morgan, blonde and sexy, and Marina Delgardo, an “Eva Longoria spitfire type.” Ashley keeps following Ken around and hitting on him. Lila decides that in order to get the most attention on the show, she should play the “bitch” so she snaps at the other girls, tells Ashley to lay off her husband, orders Ken around in front of everybody, and goes on and on about how awful Ken is and how she treats him like shit and gets whatever she wants, and how he’ll never leave her. The other girls are horrified that this will be on camera, but Lila claims she doesn’t care. At the end of the day, the director Eric Sanders has them watch a few of the takes, which he thinks are great. Ken vanishes halfway through, and once the crew is gone, he packs his things and leaves, calling Lila a “first class bitch.” Lila tries to say she was putting on for the camera but Ken tells her that was the real her and walks out. I really don’t like Lila in this series so far. Lila has always been vain and shallow and whatnot, but she’s also cunning and hilarious. This Lila is just like any other Kim Kardashian-esque wannabe on TV.

Caroline comes over to Jessica’s house and tells her that Todd is serious about Sarah. Jessica flips out and kicks her out of the house and then decides to go out on a date with Liam O’Connor, because Todd hates him. Liz thinks this is a bad idea because Liam doesn’t just have a crush on Jess, he’s positively obsessive about her.

“Jessica felt like she was on a mission. A fuck mission.” That’s how the chapter about Jessica’s date with Liam begins. I nearly died laughing when I read that. Holy shit! That’s solid gold right there. While she is out, Todd starts texting Jess like crazy about how there’s nothing between him and Sarah Miller, and how sorry he is and he didn’t mean what he said and he’s looking to make up. Unfortunately for Todd, Jake took Jessica’s phone out of her bag and put it in his playhouse, so she doesn’t have it. Todd calls the house frantically looking for Jessica and freaks when the nanny Liza says she’s “out” because he’s sure she’s with Liam. Great ESP, Todd. Meanwhile, Jessica goes to dinner with Liam and it sounds mega boring. All he can do is babble about his new movie. Finally he says he wants to make love to Jessica because he’s in love with her. Jessica has what sounds like incredibly boring detached sex with Liam. Fuck Mission: Complete. Then she goes home, sees all of Todd’s texts, and pretty much wants to kill herself.

Liz finds Robin Platt’s house and thinks snottily to herself about how shabby it is. Fuck you, Liz. She’s also amazed that Robin, the alleged victim of sexual assault, appears to be hard and guarded as opposed to the innocent little girl Liz apparently thinks all victims of sex crimes should resemble. I still hate Liz with the fire of a thousand suns. Liz poses as a therapist named Laura Christer and says she’s from Robin’s church. Robin believes her even though she’s obviously never seen “Laura” at church before. Maybe it’s a huge church with 11 services? “Laura” claims Father Riley told her the name of the accuser (which Robin is surprisingly not angry at) and that he thinks “Laura” can help Robin. Again, Robin believes “Laura” even though Father Riley has never told Robin this himself. You’d think he would’ve warned her she was coming over if that was the case. And, Liz, wow … Impersonating a licensed therapist? Isn’t that a crime too? In order to get Robin to trust her, “Laura” claims she too was assaulted once upon a time and tells Robin a story similar to Robin’s own. Boy do I hate her. Robin tells “Laura” that Bruce kept hitting on her, and was drunkenly crying about his shitty relationship with his girlfriend. “Laura” bristles and wants to know what he said, and Robin says Bruce told her they have lousy sex and she’s very boring. When I read this I laughed so hard I nearly peed myself. Anyway, Robin says that when she came out from the bathroom, Bruce pushed her into an office and tried to rip her blouse off. Robin shoved him and he fell, but he scratched her with his ring, which left a scar on her hand. (She shows it to Liz.) Her story fits very neatly with that of Jackson the bartender’s. Even worse, when Liz casually asks Robin about her father – because Bruce had said the girl was crying about her father’s abuse – Robin says her dad has been dead for years. Robin cries to “Laura” about how she’s not sure she’s doing the right thing, and wants to know if she should just drop the whole thing. Then Robin cries to “Laura” that she is the only person she has available to help her. As you can see, Liz has gotten herself into a real mess. F. HER.

The cover: Wooo, two girls with a sweet life.

Other things you need to know: There are so many brand name drops in this book that I can’t keep up with them all. It’s pretty annoying, actually.

Bruce is the same age as the twins in this book. That annoys the hell out of me. He’s supposed to be more than a year older! (He turned 18 in the beginning of the SVH series when they were still 16.)

Todd’s hair is now “blondish brown”.

Sweet Valley “was its own world” when the twins were growing up, but is now “just a suburb of L.A.” that, “with improved roads, was only an hour away.” Okay, wasn’t it an hour away before? I don’t fucking know. I’m mad today, if you can’t tell.

Jessica once threw a “fabulous Marie Antoinette-themed, seaweed-masked ball that everyone had just loved” based on a seaweed beauty mask Jessica was promoting. Really, everyone just loved it?

Liz and Jessica now have the same taste in music.

Liz apparently liked to wear makeup in high school just as much as Jessica did. More revised history!

There’s a snotty sentence in here about how meat-eaters always think everyone else should be eating meat too. The fuck? (I am an offended meat-eater with vegan relatives)

Caroline’s dumb blog is called PEARCINGBITCHES.COM. Are you serious??

Oh, and in case you’re wondering – every text, web address, and company name is capitalized in this book. WELL I HATE THAT.

I don’t normally read e-books. Are they usually this horribly edited? This e-book is full of typos and misplaced words, and sentences that run into each other, and odd spaces. Sucks a big fat wiggling bag of dicks.

There’s no mention in this book of Jessica and Liz’s prior history with Bruce.

There’s some dumb bullshit where Liz thinks about how various people never mix up her and Jessica, unlike everyone else. Dude, EVERYONE has mixed them up at one point or another. She thinks specifically about Todd, which cracks me up.

Jessica thinks about how she lost her virginity when she was a teenager just to get it over with. Is that what happened in the Sweet Valley University series? I remember that is when she did it with Mike or whatever, but I don’t remember any of the details.

Just in case they come up again later: some of the other interns who worked with Bruce are Renada Leight, a chick named Ella, Mary Ann DiNato, and Anne Greenberg. They are all beautiful and young and Liz feels inferior to all of them. Liz feeling inferior to someone, that’s a first.

In the back of the book: Ads for the rest of the series, brief Francine bio and acknowledgements, and a partial list of Francine’s other books and series most of which are out of print, so check Amazon if you are interested)

Coming up next: Jessica tries to get Todd back, Lila tries to get Ken back, and Liz and Bruce face “his darkest hour”.

Excerpt from The Sweet Life Now Available

Woo hoo! You can now read an excerpt from The Sweet Life (the first book in the upcoming six book miniseries) on Entertainment Weekly’s books page, Shelf Life. I’ll have my thoughts up this weekend! You can read the excerpt at this link right here. You can get the full e-book on July 15, and the paper copy will be available in October.

I’ve also read In Love with a Prince and that post is almost done, so look forward to that as well … woo hoo. (It’s well past 100 outside … might as well chill in the A/C with my laptop)

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