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

Archive for August, 2012

Bantam’s Loveletters Newsletter, Issue 6 (1988)

Here’s a special treat for you guys courtesy of reader Kat K.! Kat generously sent me a scan of one of the items I’ve been looking for: an issue of Bantam’s Loveletters newsletter! These newsletters were offered free in the back of Sweet Valley books in the late 1980s. You had to mail in a coupon to subscribe. For some reason, I never signed up for these. Boy do I regret that now. It’s pretty sweet – features include an interview with author Caroline B. Cooney, and some Sweet Valley news including a call for identical twins to play Liz and Jess in a TV show! Damn, they were looking as early as the late 80s! Click the screenshots below to see the whole thing. You might wanna zoom in on each piece after you click so you can read the whole janx. Yes I just said janx. Leave me alone, I’m excited about this.

Thanks again, Kat!

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Sweet Valley Confidential: The Sweet Life: #3 Too Many Doubts

Cry, Elizabeth, cry!

Liz wakes up to a frantic phone call from Robin Platt, crying that the police are at her house because “Mr. Patman” tried to break in and attack her again. Liz rushes over to Robin’s place, where Robin paces, cries, and starts to say “I really need a –“ before breaking off and looking sheepishly at Liz. Oh, lord! Don’t tell me, she’s an alcoholic and because she drinks, she can’t possibly be a rape victim. Anyway, Liz brushes her suspicions aside. While Liz is at Robin’s, Bruce texts her saying he really needs her right now. Liz puts her phone away and thinks Robin has seen his message, but then Robin carries on like she hasn’t. Then the media shows up, and Robin panics. Liz tries to calm her down.

Back at jail, Bruce is sitting with his head in his hands. Ben Bookman bails him out, and Missy Le Grange shows up in her white Bentley to whisk Bruce away. Missy loudly disparages all the reporters and talks about what animals they are, and tells them they shouldn’t damage her car because they can’t afford to fix it. Damn, Missy is kind of awesome. Bruce is upset because Elizabeth won’t answer his text messages, and he really needs her. Missy makes her disapproval of Liz clear, and offers to take Bruce away to her family’s vineyard to hide out. Meanwhile, Liz finally shows up at the jail, but she’s too late. When she learns Bruce left with Missy, Liz is horribly jealous. She knows Missy has always wanted a piece of that.

Back in Missy’s car, Gavin MacKay, the private detective, calls Bruce’s cell with news about his case. He asks if he’s sitting down, then tells him it was Elizabeth Wakefield who signed the lease on the house for Robin Platt. He sends Bruce a picture of the lease to prove it. Bruce has no doubt that’s Liz’s signature. He demands Missy take him back to his mansion instead of to her plushy vineyard digs. Elizabeth shows up at the Patman manse, and Bruce asks Missy to leave, which she does after assuring him she’ll always be there for him. Liz and Bruce have a big fight about the lease. Liz says she was only trying to find out more for him. Bruce thinks maybe Liz never even loved him and that she was just using him to get back at Todd. Liz swears that’s not true. Then Liz says she thought maybe Bruce just had a seizure and didn’t remember that night with Robin, or blacked out, or had some “condition” like his mother had. Bruce throws a glass against the wall and breaks it, and then he grabs Liz and yells in her face to never talk about his mother like that. Liz flees the mansion and goes straight to Jessica’s house to hide out.

Speaking of Jessica, she’s gone out with Liam again, just for the fuck of it really (not literally). They go to a restaurant called Blu, where the paparazzi see them and snap a picture of them just as Liam leans over the table and kisses Jessica. Todd’s going to love that. Then Liam asks Jessica to go home with him again, but she says no and that she needs more time. Then Michael Wilson calls her to beg her to come back to work. Jessica agrees to at least think about it. When she tells Liam, he immediately says she shouldn’t go back to her job, then softens his tone when he realizes Jessica doesn’t like being told what to do. Oh lord, this relationship could be explosive. Liam really sounds nuts. He tells Jessica she and Jake should move in with him. Jesus, it’s only the second date! Calm down!

When Todd sees the tabloids with a picture of Jessica and Liam kissing, he is so mega-pissed that he accidentally rips the magazine. The clerk makes him pay for it, and Todd knows he’s going to go home and devour every word. Then he gets back to his house and sees Sarah with a duffel bag out front. She’s run out of money and can’t pay her rent. Todd tells her to move in with him. Bow chicka bow wow. Todd STILL thinks there’s no way Sarah could have copied Jessica’s work as much as Jessica said she did. Gee, of course not. She only got fired for one teeny tiny accidental copying, isn’t that right? Todd is so dumb. He could, you know, choose to trust the person he loved enough to marry, or he could do some investigation of his own in about two flat seconds by asking his frickin’ boss at the Tribune. But, as we know, everyone in this book is too dumb to even realize that these things are options.

Jessica and Elizabeth have a conversation in which we learn Jessica absolutely does believe in Bruce’s side of the story. Liz goes to hide out at her parents’ house – they’re on “another” one of their “endless cruises”. Must be nice. I want to retire adn live the Ned and Alice high life.

Jessica gets Bruce to agree to hire Annie Whitman as his lawyer because Ben Bookman fucking sucks and doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing. Okay, so it’s really just out of his realm of knowledge. I’m just feeling mean.

At work, Liz is in trouuuuuble. A source has revealed to Andy Marker, the main reporter assigned to Bruce’s story, that Liz signed the lease on Robin Platt’s house. Now Liz’s boss, Tim Walt, says that the managing editor, Fred, is probably going to fire Liz unless they can come up with a good reason for her doing that. She shouldn’t have gotten so involved because it was out of bounds for a reporter. Liz is real stupid. The only way Liz can keep her job is to tell Robin who she really is, and get her to agree to an interview. Liz tells Robin, who’s seriously mad for almost no time at all that she’s been completely tricked and deceived by someone posing as a therapist! She also looks “glassy-eyed.” This chick is definitely not who she says she is. Robin agrees to do the interview as long as her anonymity is completely protected. Now Liz’s intuition tells her for certain that something is up with Robin and her story, but can’t put her finger on it.

Lila hosts a wine and cheese party for the latest True Housewives filming. All of the show’s fans now think Ashley Morgan is the mega bitch of the century for stealing Ken from his pregnant wife. Ken and Ashley have been seen out and about, even kissing at one point. At the party, Lila pretends to eat peanut butter on a pickle while Marina expresses doubt that she is really pregnant because it’s too early for her to have cravings. Devone tells Marina to shut up. She’s nice and fully supports Lila. Lila pretends to be sick and runs off to the bathroom just so she won’t have to eat the peanut butter pickle. When she comes out, Ashley has arrived, and she and Devone are having a huge argument. Ashley sees Lila and screams at her about rumors Lila spread in the press, that Ashley was a stripper and a hooker in her previous life. Lila denies having anything to do with the rumors, but of course she did. Lila calls Ashley a bitch and Ashley calls Lila a stupid slut, then lunges at her. Lila grabs her stomach and yells “Don’t hurt the baby!” Just then, Ken appears and storms onto the set, yelling, “Back away from my wife!” Ken loudly announces that he wants to be with the mother of his child. He and Lila start making out on TV and then Ken carries Lila upstairs where they have sex in her bedroom, safely shut away from the cameras.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks. A perfect scene. Of course, now Lila has to figure out how she will deal with her fake pregnancy. Her current plan is to pretend to have a miscarriage later. (She doesn’t actually want children.)

In the wake of Bruce’s scandal, he hears that the federal government plans to deny Bruce’s Social Impact Group the permits they need to develop the land they won over the slimy Rick Warner and his gas company. Bruce goes to his board meeting where a board member who doesn’t like Bruce, named Don Edgewater, volunteers a vote to ask Bruce to step down. Bruce says it won’t be necessary because he already is stepping down. He says it’s because the Group needs to focus more on the work they do and on keeping that slimy Rick Warner, the gas executive, from stealing the land they’ve won, because he’ll drill all over it and pollute the groundwater and give everyone cancer. Everyone gasps and then gives Bruce a standing ovation, even Don. Bruce wishes Liz was there to see it because then she might realize he’s not such a monster.

Back to Steven and Aaron’s boring baby story. They hire a nanny named Agneta to take care of her, since Aaron is going back to work. Agneta takes baby Emma to the park. There’s a woman named Melissa there, who has befriended Agneta and Emma over the past few days. Melissa recently gave birth to a stillborn baby and is having a hard time dealing with it. Agneta and Melissa are pushing Emma on the baby swing when Agneta realizes she left her phone back on a bench. Melissa offers to watch Emma while Agneta goes and gets the phone. Agneta goes and grabs it, and when she comes back, Melissa has taken off with Emma and is nowhere to be seen. Why didn’t Agneta just freakin’ tell Melissa to get grab her phone for her if she wanted to be so helpful? The police come and everyone gathers at Steven and Aaron’s house, crying. Annie comforts Aaron while Steven paces around, being lawyer-like. The police interview Agneta in front of everyone and Steven hears a description of “Melissa” and suspects that it might be Linda Carson, Emma’s surrogate. Steven shows Agneta a picture of Linda and Agneta confirms that Linda is indeed the kidnapper. In the very next chapter, everyone hears a “strange sirenlike wail”. It’s the spoiled brat Emma – Linda has left her on their front porch with a note saying “Can’t stand that wail anymore! She’s all yours! Thank God!” Everyone laughs and skips off to the Dairi Burger. (Not really, but that would be the appropriate response.) Aaron and Steven don’t care if Linda is ever caught because now they know she’ll never come back for adorable spoiled little Emma. Thank God this story is over with. Emma sounds like a nightmare. I guess I’m supposed to think she’s hilariously cute, but really, I get a headache just thinking about it. Aaron and Steven agree the best thing to do is let Agneta go, and Steven starts a new childcare business at his office, where everyone has to have extra security to enter. Emma stays there instead. Great, can we stop hearing about her now, and Aaron throwing a fit over her “pink prison”?

At Jessica’s townhouse, Jessica is shaken when Jake yells that it’s not fair that Emma has two dads and he has none. Todd hasn’t been around for the past couple weeks because he’s busy with work or something. So Jessica gets dolled up and goes over to Todd’s house to get her husband back, and Sarah Miller opens his front door in a black see-through teddy. Wauh wauh wauuuuuuuh.

The District Attorney, Tom Colton, decides to formally charge Bruce with felony aggravated assault and attempted sexual assault. He doesn’t think he can prove the charges, but he’s afraid if he doesn’t file felonies, Rick Warner won’t throw him enough re-election fundraisers later, and he really needs them. Annie hears about the charges and thinks maybe she should get Bruce to do a plea bargain in exchange for lesser charges and a slap on the wrist – even though she also thinks there’s no way Bruce won’t beat the felony charges in court. I don’t get it, why have him do a plea deal then? Bruce, meanwhile, is considering fleeing the country to someplace without extradition treaties. Ever since he tried to break into Robin’s house, the whole country has been sure of his guilt anyway, celebrity statements be damned. It turns out Bruce’s mother’s “condition” that Liz was talking about was bipolar disorder, which is very common, but apparently automatically means that Bruce’s mother was “crazy.” Now he’s afraid he’s crazy too. You know, I know so many bipolar people, and while it’s not fun for them, and occasionally not for other people, it’s just not a huge big deal. Did Mrs. Patman refuse to take her medication or something? Anyway, Annie shows up at Bruce’s mansion to bring him the news, only to find that he has fled the country, leaving a note behind apologizing for the mess. NO BRUCE NO. Now, as Annie knows, Bruce’s guilt is as good as cemented in the minds of any judge and jury.

On the cover: Now that I’ve read this, I’m guessing that is supposed to be Liz, since she’s the one with too many doubts! Here’s a link to the full-size stock photo at Shutterstock, copyright Jason Stitt.

Other b.s.: Devone’s name goes back and forth from being spelled “Devone” to “Devon.” ANNOYING.

Marina’s name is spelled as “Eva” numerous times. I presume the author was thinking of how she’s supposed to look like Eva Longoria while writing this. The editor of these books S-U-C-K-S, SUCKS!

This book says that Bruce was always “gentle” with Annie in high school. I have a hard time seeing that one.

Coming up next: Secrets and Seductions, the first book in the series to not have a Wakefield twin on the cover. Good! More Lila and her crazy baby scheme!

Sweet Valley Confidential: The Sweet Life: #2 Lies and Omissions

Nice sunglasses

Lila and Jess are hanging out at Jessica’s house while Jake is out with Liza, the nanny. Lila is still surprised Jessica “went the kid route.” Me too, since the kid is freakin’ never around. Lila is upset with Jessica because she needs to talk about how to get Ken back, and all Jessica can talk about is her plan to save Bruce Patman. Lila thinks about how she’s never liked Bruce (except you know, that one time in college that she did a little more than just like him) and how she thinks he’s probably guilty, simply because the whole incident makes her uncomfortable by reminding her of John Pfeifer.

Since he left her, Ken has completely ignored Lila’s texts and calls. This has never happened before. When Lila asked Ken for a divorce three years ago, Ken was the one begging Lila to take him back. Lila doesn’t like it. She realizes she might almost love Ken.

Jessica ignores Liam’s numerous texts, checking up on her, and figures that as long as she doesn’t tell anyone she slept with him, Todd will never know. Jess decides her best bet for getting Todd back is to quit her job so she can be the stay-at-home mommy and wife he wants. Oh, God. Jessica calls Todd, who’s delighted to hear from her at long last after all those texts he sent, and Jessica insinuates nothing happened with Liam other than dinner. Todd is obviously relieved. They make plans to meet at “their” restaurant – Le Bouchon, where Todd proposed to Jessica – and Jessica will tell Todd about her job then. Liz comes over before Jessica’s latest fabulous VERTPLUS.NET party and thinks about how dull and boring she is next to Jessica, and how maybe she really has always been the boring twin. Well, duh. Liz is having a hard time with what Robin told her alter-ego, fake therapist “Laura Christer,” about Bruce – that he drunkenly complained to Robin his girlfriend was a horrible bore and bad lay. Liz is also having a few twinges of jealousy about Jessica and Todd, and sort of secretly hoping they don’t reunite. She’s also horrified when Jessica tells her that she’s going to quit her job for Todd, because this is a job Jessica excels at. Liz doesn’t share any of these thoughts with Jessica; she just mopes around in her flats while Jessica gets dressed in her fabulous slinky red gown. She doesn’t even tell Jessica that she knows the name of Bruce’s accuser and that she’s met with her. Instead she just says she finds herself kind of doubting Bruce’s story. Jessica assures her Bruce will be vindicated in the end.

Liz eats dinner with Bruce at his house, where she questions him about some of the things she has heard. She doesn’t let him know she’s met Robin and spoken with her. Bruce gets angry that Liz doesn’t believe him. Liz has an uncomfortable flashback to that time in Dear Sister when Bruce tried to force himself on Liz after she attempted to back out of sex with him at his parents’ beach house. Liz apparently barely remembers the full details, because she only recalls he tried to make her kiss him or something.

Liz drives over to Robin’s house again where Robin says someone keeps calling her and hanging up, and she’s sure that means somebody has discovered that she is Bruce’s accuser. Liz can’t help but feel bad for Robin, who’s afraid to leave her house and looks just awful. Liz offers to rent out a house near the church for Robin, with her own money, to keep her away from the prying eyes of the press, as well as from Bruce. Since Liz’s name will be on the lease, no one will find Robin.

Lila dresses herself up in a very skimpy mini-dress and goes to the stadium to see Ken. An intern lets Lila right into the men’s room, where Ken ignores her and walks out the back door. Lila is briefly interrupted by some cameramen asking if she and Ken are still together. Lila lies and says yes. Then she flees to the parking lot, where she finds Ken outside his Porsche – with Ashley Morgan, Lila’s sexpot True Housewives co-star, hanging all over him. Lila uses all her old tricks to get Ken to come back to her, but he coldly tells her it’s over, and he and Ashley leave together in the Porsche. Not giving up, Lila waits until the next True Housewives filming, which is a cocktail party at co-star Devone Waters’s house. Ashley isn’t there because she’s probably off banging Ken and pretending to be interested in his football career. (For the record, we learn that Lila has only been to two of Ken’s football games. Daaaamn!) Devone offers Lila wine, and she turns it down in favor of club soda. She then starts crying and tells Devone and Marina that Ken has left her for Ashley, and, even worse, Lila is pregnant. (She isn’t, of course.) Now the shit will really hit the fan! I gotta say, now this is really getting good.

Moving right along … Remember in the first Sweet Life book when Jessica made Caroline Pearce leave her house because she was mad Caroline had told her about Todd (allegedly) sleeping with Sarah Miller? Now Caroline is ready for revenge. She’s never wanted anything more than to be friends with the Wakefield twins, and Jessica has rejected her friendship for the last time. In yoga class, Caroline’s friend Amy Dent shows her a cell phone picture of Liam O’Connor at the Imagine hotel (where Amy works) with a pretty drunk blond girl, waiting for the elevator to his room. The girl is Jessica, of course, and it’s from that night. Now Caroline knows about it. Even worse, Amy then says she went by Liam’s room that night (to see if he needed anything – yeah right), and heard Liam and Jess having loud sex. Caroline goes right home and posts a blog entry about what Amy said, complete with the picture, and then sends the link to Todd.

Jessica texts Annie Whitman looking for some legal advice for Bruce. Annie thinks about how she’s always had a “soft spot” for Bruce. (That’s one way to put it, Annie.) We learn Annie divorced Charlie Markus six months ago because he was jealous of her fabulous career as a defense lawyer in San Diego. Charlie couldn’t make his books sell, so he wrote one called Easy Annie. Since Charlie is supposedly the boy who saved Annie from her reputation in high school, that didn’t go over so well with Annie. (News flash: It was NOT Charlie Markus! It was Ricky Capaldo! Annie didn’t date Charlie until later! Come on Francine, get it RIGHT.) After divorcing Charlie, Annie moved from San Diego to Sweet Valley, and they share custody of their six-year-old son. Annie looks forward to helping Bruce out. She likes Jessica now that motherhood has made her a more bearable person than she was in high school, when she tried to keep Annie off the cheerleading team. (The whole part where Annie tried to kill herself as a result is left out.)

Aaron and Steven argue over their baby daughter, Emma. Aaron is really going overboard spoiling Emma. He thinks if she sleeps in her crib instead of with her dads, she’ll turn into a sociopath. He calls the crib “the pink prison” and gives Emma a new toy every time she cries. Ugh. Steven is afraid that if Emma sleeps in the bed with them, she’ll suffocate, and that she’ll also turn into a spoiled brat like his sister. But he won’t assert himself, so Aaron keeps on acting like an idiot and giving Emma whatever she wants. I couldn’t really give any less of a crap about this storyline.

Jessica’s MEANGREEN launch party is a mega hit. Woooo. Everyone loves the body paint suits on the models. At the end of the night, Jessica tells her boss Michael Wilson that she is leaving the company. He’s upset both because she’s awesome and because the reason she gives is that she and Todd are going to work on their marriage. He really wants him some Jessica. After the party, Jessica meets Todd at the restaurant, where they reconcile and he’s delighted to hear she’s quitting her job for him. Then Jessica goes to the bathroom while Todd checks his email on his smartphone. He sees Caroline’s blog post and realizes he was right, Jessica really is a horrible scheming person. When Jessica comes back out of the bathroom, Todd has left. Jessica checks her own email. Caroline has sent the same blog post to her.

Elizabeth keeps dodging Bruce’s questions about why she is pulling away from him. She won’t go on TV with him to defend him because she knows Robin will recognize her. She continues to investigate Robin’s past, talking to her old bosses, but can’t find anything to show she isn’t trustworthy – quite the opposite, in fact. Liz also keeps going over to Robin’s new house, a bungalow by her church, to meet with her. Robin cries and says she’s considering just dropping the case because she can’t stand seeing all these celebrities, like actress Christina Black, on television with Bruce defending him. A chapter ends with a cliffhanger, with Robin begging “Laura” to tell her if she should drop the case and move back to her hometown in Kentucky, or stay and fight it, and Liz struggling to figure out what she should say.

Bruce texts Liz and begs her to come stay with him that night because he needs her, but she makes up some bullshit reason that she can’t. He knows it’s bullshit and feels more miserable than ever. Then he meets at a bar called Nevin’s Pub with a private detective, Gavin MacKay, who’s figured out the identity of Bruce’s accuser. He shows him pictures of Robin Platt outside her new home; Bruce recognizes her as the girl he talked to that night at the bar, but he doesn’t remember her being an intern. Gavin tells him he’ll be able to give Bruce the name of the person on the lease tomorrow. After Gavin leaves, Bruce gets completely wasted and GPSes his way to the house. He bangs on the door screaming at Robin and breaks her window while demanding to know why she is lying about him. The police show up and drag him away while the neighbors snap cell phone pictures of him in the squad car. OHHHH SHIT!

The cover: If I had to guess, I would say the girl is Jessica and the boy is Todd. Her expression makes her look like she’s keeping something, and he looks somewhat happy – probably because they are getting back together (or were, anyway). We could also say it’s Liz and Bruce, but I doubt it, since the girl looks too fashionable to be Liz, and the boy looks much too happy to be Bruce in this book.

By the way, I took a look at the credits and saw that the cover photos for all the Sweet Life e-books are stock photos from popular stock photo websites, like Shutterstock and Getty Images. I’m guessing the same is true of the original SVC book. I can’t post the full picture here, even with watermark, without major copyright violations, so you can follow this link to see the full photo of Jessica pulled from Shutterstock, copyrighted by Andresr: Full picture at Shutterstock

What do you think? I think this was a good one to use for Jess. The man’s image is by ZAM-Photography and comes from Getty Images, but I can’t seem to find it there. So no full look at Todd for now.

The two women shown on the cover of the first book are two separate photographs as well, by Joerg Steffens at Corbis Images. He has so many photographs of blonde women that I’m not going to bother trying to find each one, but I’m pretty sure these chicks don’t actually look anything alike, haha!

I feel like Elizabeth the hack investigator, looking this crap up. Yes, I found the images for the rest of the books too and I’ll post them with the other two reviews.

Other stuff: Lila gets mad when Jessica touches her on the shoulder and gives her a patronizing look. Has Jessica turned into Liz?

Lila thinks Jessica’s patronizing look is “the kind of look you gave losers and pathetic women whose husbands had left them for other women. Lila wasn’t going to be lumped in with them.”

Throughout this book and the last, Robin Platt keeps calling Bruce “Mr. Patman”. It’s incredibly annoying to me, although I guess it does underscore how much older they are.

Since we already have a main character in the SV series named Robin, I really wish they had come up with a different name for Bruce’s accuser. Y’all know what a nerd I am about name redundancy. IT’S GETTING TO ME.

So yeah, I thought that this book is much better than the first! Lots of scandal!

Coming up next: The promo for the next book says “the secrets are more scandalous than ever!” which is exactly what it said about Lies & Omissions. In the next book, Too Many Doubts, we’ll hear about whether Bruce and Liz, and Todd and Jess will survive. No clue about Lila’s fake baby!

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