A 30-something's lovingly sarcastic journey through all of Sweet Valley High, and then some (with lots of swears)

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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!

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”.

The Sweet Life: The Covers

All six “covers” of the upcoming The Sweet Life e-book series have been released and are now on display on the Sweet Valley Confidential Facebook page. The first e-book is available on June 26th. You can get The Sweet Life in hardcover come October 30. I wish they would release both editions at the same time because I am a print book girl. You kids and your Kindles! Let’s take a minute to analyze these covers, shall we? (Fair warning: I’m sure most of you have read Confidential by now, but if you haven’t, there will be some spoilers in here as I speculate what these covers mean.)

The Sweet Life

There they are smirking at us and shit … woooooo, look at me and my sweet life! At least, the twin up front is smirking. The one in the back looks a little less pleased, or maybe shy. I wonder if these are the same models from the SVC cover.

Lies & Omissions

People are lying and omitting in this book, so there will be some good drama, I hope. That boy in the back looks like he’s still in high school. He’s also shirtless. And – Alicia Silverstone circa 1995, is that you? What do you think … are these people Todd and Jess, or Bruce and Liz? Or maybe … gasp! … Todd and Liz! Bruce and Jess!

Too Many Doubts

This cover and title bore me. I have the sickening feeling this is going to be about Liz doubting the depths of Bruce’s love for her or his ability to be a good husband, and/or Jessica worrying that Todd wants to pull another twin switch.

Secrets and Seductions

This title is going to drive me bonkers. You know why? Because Lies & Omissions has an ampersand in it and Secrets and Seductions does not. Consistency, people! Consistency! The cover is a breath of fresh air because it doesn’t have a twin on it. I see black hair so I assume that’s supposed to be Lila (even though she’s always had light brown hair). Good! Let this story not suck!

Cutting the Ties

Who do you think this girl is supposed to be? I would’ve said Lila but her hair is too light compared to the previous book. I don’t know. Cara, maybe? And who’s the dude?

Bittersweet

Okay, another boring twin face, that looks kinda sad and/or resigned to fate. My guess is we only see one twin here because the other one died. I predict there will be an earthquake in which Jessica is pulverized by a falling fridge. Liz is able to hold her hand as she dies and say goodbye. Then she lies and says it’s Liz that died and she assumes Jessica’s identity. She’s realized that this is best because she and Todd were really meant for each other after all and now she can have him, so she takes Jessica’s place as Todd’s wife. Only then Todd realizes the truth because Liz sucks in bed compared to Jessica and also because Liz keeps wanting to play Scrabble and watch PBS, and so he takes her on a motorcycle ride but “forgets” her helmet, and sets it up so that Crunch hits them with his van again. Only this time Todd and Liz both die, and Crunch gets off scott-free after promising to get help for his drinking. The matching lavalieres are donated to the Sweet Valley Museum, but you can only view them from a distance and no flash photography is allowed.

Where is the Steven and Aaron cover? I think Aaron should leave Steven for Tom McKay.

Thoughts on the covers and titles? I’m really digging the rainbow of shades and throwback to the old covers myself. I just find most of these photos very blah. Do you plan to read this series? PS Yes, I do have the latest SVH post almost ready to go. I’m slow lately because not only am I planning a wedding, but my job sucks and I hate it. If I somehow survive tomorrow, I plan to post it then.

Various and Sundry Sweet Valley Stuff

(I just wanted to use the word “sundry”)

*Diablo Cody’s (Juno, Young Adult)’s new Sweet Valley High movie is going to be a musical. This could be god-awful. But I wonder if it has anything to do with the existing Sweet Valley Musical that Francine tried to get off the ground a couple decades ago?

*You can now pre-order the first two e-book installments of the six-part The Sweet Life series from Barnes and Noble, which is a spin-off of Sweet Valley Confidential. I’m taking a vote: Do you want me to review these? Otherwise, I’m not even going to bother reading them. The link for the first e-book (click here) includes a synopsis with some interesting plot points. And the second book is called Lies and Omissions.

*I’ve been meaning to post this forever, but at this post on the excellent YA book blog, Cliquey Pizza you can view a rather startling video of Jonna Leigh Stack, who is a dead ringer for the original cover model for the SVH twins. She most definitely was the model! Good work Cliquey Pizza!

A NEW Sweet Valley Series is On the Way!

…Is that a good thing or a bad thing? You decide!

I want to thank Clementine Bojangles over at Sixteen and Perfect Forever for posting about the latest Sweet Valley news: that there will, in fact, be more Sweet Valley adult books, in a series called “The Sweet Life”. Only this time they will be serialized, much like the original SVHs that we love/love to hate so much, and they are electronic versions only.

I don’t know how I feel about this. Part of the reason I love doing this blog so much is that I do, in fact, love Sweet Valley High. Even when I’m shaking my head in disbelief at bad writing, horrible plots, inconsistencies, or crazy things that MAKE NO SENSE and make me want to scream, I’m still loving it. (Okay, wait, I’m lying a little – whenever I write that I had to drag myself through a book because it was horrendous, I’m being absolutely serious. The latest books I’ve been reviewing are wearing me out.) That is, perhaps, why I was so annoyed with Sweet Valley Confidential – because it felt like a slap in the face of everything that makes me WANT to re-read, laugh at, and snark on the original series as a nearly 30-year-old woman. (No, Francine, it wasn’t because I think Elizabeth doesn’t deserve orgasms.) So setting myself up for more slaps is not appetizing to me, but I’ll try anything once … or twice, or multiple times, because I’m a big glutton for punishment, right!

Also, I really prefer print books to electronic, but whatever.

Read more about this new series at the New York Times article, here: A “New” Sweet Valley Spinoff, Online.

Will you be reading these? I’ll probably read the first one, but if it’s that awful, I don’t know if I can go on. Either way, no worries! I’ve still got tons of SVH books left, and I’ll be finishing Olivia’s Story soon!

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later

Captain Obvious here: This posting contains major spoilers. Do not read any further if you don’t want to know what happens!

Confidential: This book sucks.

Holy shit.

I don’t even know where to start. Um, I guess with the plot will do, and then we’ll go ahead and tear this apart. Because I’m sorry, but I almost hated this. And I really, really didn’t want to. I was expecting it to be cheesy, and it was, and I was sure Francine would probably choose some paths for the characters that surprised or annoyed me/us, and she sure did. But I was surprised by just how … bad … it was. Aggravating me further is that some characters you’d expect to be in the books, or at least mentioned, were not there at all – not even mentioned in passing. On top of that, the continuity errors were so terrible that I’m honestly thinking Francine put them in there on purpose to fuck with us. Like, “Ha ha! You think the original books had a lot of errors, now check this out, bitches!” I was looking forward to expanded character development, seeing a more mature side of the twins and their friends, and at first I thought I was getting that. But as the book went on, it was clear I was mistaken. So yeah, I’m very disappointed, but don’t think for a minute that I won’t have fun blasting it to smithereens.

The book is laid out with alternating chapters: one chapter Liz in New York, one chapter Jessica in Sweet Valley. Each chapter is told in third person, past-tense. But there are plenty of flashbacks, some of which come on rather suddenly, and all of those are told through the first person, present-tense voice of the twins, Todd, Steven, and Bruce, and probably more people, if I gave enough of a shit to go check. The vast majority of the plot revolves around the current drama between the twins, which is so like many past dramas that it’s hard to believe they are supposed to be permanently torn apart over it, but okay. We’re used to plots being recycled, we can dig it, right? Now the book reveals, very slowly, what has been going on over the years since Sweet Valley University and the Elizabeth series, and it’s supposed to be suspenseful, but for me it’s rather annoying. So I’m just going to lay out all of these past events for you first and then we’ll get into what’s going on in the present day.

The past: It starts with flashbacks to when Liz and Jess were in high school, and the events of Double Love. Elizabeth gives Jessica and Enid rides to school in the Fiat; Enid and Jessica make snippy remarks at each other. Jessica implies Todd called to wish her luck with pledging PBA, and that she’s going out with him that night (when she’s really going out with Rick Andover). She then jumps out of the Fiat and hitches a ride the rest of the way with Bruce Patman in 1BRUCE1. Bruce pisses her off by only wanting to talk about who Liz is taking to the big Phi Epsilon dance. These events sorta kinda fit what actually happened (in both the original and the 2008 versions of Double Love), although it’s been squeezed into one neat scene taking place on one day, rather than spaced out over a couple of days the way it was in DL. Also, there’s no scene in DL where Jess gets mad at Bruce for only wanting to talk about Liz, unless I missed it. In DL, it’s never shown what Bruce talked to Jess about during their car ride, so we could say we just weren’t privy to it until now.

College days are next. Jessica and Liz roomed together in their sophomore year. There is no mention of the events of the Elizabeth series, when Liz fled to London to become a scullery maid after another Jessica betrayal. Liz and Todd start dating again sometime when Liz is 20, and become very serious, and Liz is faithful to him (yeah fucking right). Senior year, the twins live off-campus on the top floor of an old house that once housed SVU faculty. Todd is a basketball star and big man on campus and has recently pulled off a huge upset over UCLA for the state championship. His friend Jim Regis is throwing a huge party featuring Todd as the guest of honor, but Todd doesn’t really want to go and especially not by himself, so he has an easy out when Liz comes down with the flu. Knowing how important it is that Todd be there, Liz gets Jessica to accompany him because I guess Todd would have more incentive to go if he brings someone he hates. The fuck? It’s really not a good sign when the book starts confusing me this early.

Todd and Jess, who’s clad in clothes borrowed from Liz (typical), arrive and meet Jim and his girlfriend, Lianne Kane, who also went to Sweet Valley High (after the twins were there). Is there anyone at Sweet Valley U. who did not also go to Sweet Valley High? I’m just curious. I think SVU only exists to make it easier for kids to avoid escaping the Sweet Valley bubble. It’s a conspiracy. At the party, Jessica is introduced to a guy named Hank as Liz, and Todd goes along with the joke rather than let Jess correct him. The two of them spend the whole night winking at each other as Jessica pretends to be her sister. The game turns them on for some reason and on the way back home, they make out in Todd’s car and head back to his apartment to bang each others’ brains out. Todd lives with Winston in a downtown Sweet Valley rented room, but Winston is away for the weekend. Surprise! Win comes home early and sees Todd and who he assumes is Liz rolling around in bed. They have no clue he saw them. They start a one-month affair in which they meet in a diner that no one ever goes to called Shirley’s. There is no further physical contact; they’ve just fallen in love and want to talk in private every day.

Consumed by guilt, Jessica finally ends the affair, telling Todd she hates him only so he won’t try to pursue her further. Todd tells her the same and he stays with Liz. But Liz comes close to finding out when the twins run into Todd and Winston in the on-campus bookstore. Winston makes a sly joke about catching Todd and Liz together that weekend of Jim Regis’s party. Liz doesn’t hear what’s going on because she’s busy with books, and Jess and Todd quickly make cover-up excuses. Winston realizes that it was in fact Jessica he saw and is weirded out. Todd can’t bear to keep a friendship going with someone who knows that he’s the type of jackass who cheats but has to keep the secret for him, so he moves out that very day and ends the friendship. Wow, that’s final. Liz understands that they had some kind of weird falling-out that Todd doesn’t want to discuss and is content to leave it at that. That is um, very unlike her. The book does say that she asked Todd several times but then let it drop which again is not like her. The Liz we know would’ve pitched a fit when he didn’t tell her and they would’ve had a mini-breakup over it. Maybe she really HAS grown up?

Everyone graduates from college; Jessica takes off for L.A. and goes through a series of public assistant jobs. Todd and Liz stay together, become writers for the Sweet Valley News (Todd as a sports writer … since when did he write?) and eventually move into a house in the Sweet Valley Heights development where everyone and their brother also lives. No literally … I think Steven and Cara, who are now married (poor Cara), also live there. Everyone else’s siblings have long since vanished into the black pit of forgotten Sweet Valley siblings. Steven is a successful lawyer (color me surprised) and he “works long hours” but everyone, including Cara, knows he’s cheating on her. They just don’t know with whom. Cara deals with her pain by baking cakes and pies all day long (but don’t worry, Francine is sure to clarify that she hasn’t gained any weight).

Bruce Patman’s parents get in a car accident around the time of graduation, and Mrs. Patman is killed instantly. Mr. Patman is a coma and taken off life support after a brief period of time. Liz of course shows up to the fucking hospital and (literally) holds Bruce’s hand through it all. He falls in love with her immediately for some reason. His parents’ death changes him so instead of trying to steal her away from Todd, he stays content with being Liz’s newest best friend while thinking about how “extraordinary” she is. If that makes you want to vomit, welllllll, so will the rest of the book! That’s right, it’s 291 pages of various people thinking about how perfect Liz is, including Jessica, who blames a lot of her insecurity and bitchy actions on the fact that Liz is so incredible. She even thinks Liz, her identical twin, is prettier than her. Normally that would be cause for eye-rolling and a “That’s so Jessica!” but here the humor fails to creep through. In fact, I think I first began to feel nauseous right around the time Jessica made this admission.

Jessica meets and marries (after a mere two months of dating) her second husband (after her first marriage to Mike McAllery her freshman year, which she had annulled) – a filthy rich, devastatingly handsome older man named Regan Wollman. (Jessica once dated someone in HS named Chuck Wollman. Even in this book, the name redundancy lives on!) Regan is 42, obsessed with his young wife, and hates all the clubbing and flirting she does. He reacts badly after catching her flirting at a party, twisting her arm but later apologizing. Then he throws another fit after Jessica sunbathes topless for hours at the bow of their boat in front of the captain. So now after a mere six months of marriage, Jessica realizes she doesn’t love Regan and is scared of him. She’s also gotten bored with, you know, traveling all around the world and sailing on a yacht and having whatever she wants at the drop of a dime. I thought she wanted to live like Lila. Now she is and we hear that she hates it. What the hell is going on? After the couple move to Cannes, Jessica packs a bag and tries to get their driver to drop her off at the airport, but Regan appears and insists they go shopping for new shoes as part of his apology for the boat captain thing. For the moment, Jessica’s plans are dashed. Later on, Jessica succeeds in making a narrow escape in a taxi. She flies to Geneva and then to the U.S., where she moves in with Liz and Todd.

Todd works at home so the jobless Jess is stuck in the awkward position of avoiding him all day. By now Todd and Liz have been together for nearly 7 years and living together for two, and the closest they’ve ever come to breaking up is when Todd grew distant after he slept with Jessica. Now the sexual tension is killing Jessica and Todd. They love each other, you see, but both of them pretend to hate each other. Liz still has no clue and Winston’s never let the secret slip. Winston, by the way, has earned a lot of money from a dot-com venture with Bruce Patman and become a total douchebag who dates gorgeous women and treats them like shit. So we’re supposed to hate him, and that’s a little hard to swallow (especially since he hasn’t shown up in the book since that awkward college bookstore scene).

Jessica is taking a walk on the beach by herself to sort out her feelings when she runs into her brother Steven making out with Aaron Dallas. The hell? Now we know who Steven’s been cheating on Cara with. Steven is upset that he’s been caught by the imperfect twin. No, really, he is. I seriously feel like everyone in this book worships Liz and looks down on Jess. I don’t think it’s just her imagination, it’s the way it really is. Well, it is true that Jess is the one who runs her yap all the time so okay, I do get it! Jessica assures Steven and Aaron that she won’t tell anyone, then decides that the best thing is go straight to Cara and tell her. As you might guess, this infuriates Steven, even though he probably wouldn’t have been brave enough to come out if it weren’t for Jessica spilling it. The marriage ends and Steven and Aaron are forced to bring their 2-month-long affair into the open. They are serious enough that they consider themselves life partners and plan to marry when California laws change. I’ll be damned if Steven realizing he’s gay (or bi? because it reads more like that, honestly) isn’t the most interesting thing that boy has ever done, in the entire history of Sweet Valley.

Bruce takes Liz out to dinner with the intention of telling her he loves her and that he’s known about Jessica and Todd for a long time. (He caught them eating at the diner one time. So? That doesn’t prove anything.) He couldn’t bear the thought of hurting her with the news previously. But now he thinks that, five years after the fact, it’s time to spill all because Liz and Todd are engaged and looking to set a date. But before Bruce can get it out, Ken Matthews runs up bawling that Winston’s dead. Yep. It turns out that Winston drunkenly fell 20 feet from a balcony in his house onto a marble floor. This comes after almost no mentions of him otherwise, except for being the near-foible to the early stages of Jessica and Todd’s love.

It’s at this point that I started to hate this book.

While Liz rushes home, Steven shows up at their house and bitches out Jessica for telling Cara and ruining his marriage. Jessica is left behind to cry in Todd’s arms. They start kissing and are about to rip each other’s clothes off when Liz arrives home with Bruce and catches them. She thinks they’re crying over Winston while Jessica thinks the truth is finally out. Instead, Liz mentions Winston has died, and Jessica plays along because it’s a very convenient excuse for why she’s in Todd’s arms. The funeral is depressing and even though Winston has annoyed me at times while reading the original SVH series, I do think such a major character deserved a better send-off than that. (He also deserved his own cover art, but that’s another matter.) I have to say I’m pretty depressed that his character was assassinated (in more ways than one!). In fact, this whole book is pretty much bringing me down.

Our very last flashback explains how Liz finally does find out the truth about her cheating, lying boyfriend. I had assumed she would catch them kissing or that Bruce would tell her, but instead, she comes home to find Regan and Todd having a good old fashioned fist-fight in the living room. That’s right, Regan has caught up with Jessica. And the second he looked at her and Todd standing together in the living room, he knew what was up and gave up on trying to win her back. Are Todd and Jess really giving each other the sexy eyes enough that people can just glance at them and know? Liz breaks up the fight, and Regan tells her it’s obvious that Jessica and Todd have something going on before he storms out of the house. Liz looks at J and T, sees it’s true, throws some lame profanity-laced insults at them that sound like they came from a 9-year-old, and leaves for good. Jessica and Todd are free to admit their love for one another, but they’re also wracked with guilt! Wah wah.

The present: For the past eight months, Liz has been in New York City, where she writes for a little off-Broadway review publication called Show Survey. She was somehow able to get an apartment and a job within days of fleeing Sweet Valley and her traitorous sister and former fiance. Jessica has been trying to get Liz to forgive her ever since, but Liz ignores all of her text messages, emails, landline phone messages (left on an answering machine, hah), and Facebook friend requests. Liz hasn’t made any friends in the city whatsoever, although she did sleep with a guy named Russ Klein for two months before he got tired of her bawling after every orgasm. Now her boss, David Stephenson, is interested in her. Although Liz considers bedding him after they go out to dinner, spur-of-the-moment (where she is pissed at having to pay the tip – get over it, it’s not a date), she ultimately decides not to go for it. Hence we have the scene from Chapter 1 preview, which has been edited only slightly.

In the meantime, Jessica and Todd have moved into a two-bedroom townhouse together, which Alice helped them decorate, and are in love and planning to marry in four weeks. Liz refuses to come to the wedding, which is understandable. Jessica has a very successful marketing position with a stupid company called MYFACEISGREEN (is that supposed to be like the real-life brand KISS MY FACE) that markets green products to large cosmetic companies. Todd still writes for the News. Jessica and Todd spend a lot of their time feeling weighted down with guilt and it makes for a miserable existence. Todd has to drag Jessica to a party at Lila’s house, which she shares with her estranged husband, Ken Matthews. That’s right, Lila and Ken. What … the … fuck? I know they were together for SVH books 2 and 3, but Ken seems too … dumb jock for Lila. I guess it doesn’t hurt that he’s a famous NFL player now. He and Lila are working on a divorce after more than a whopping two years of marriage, and Lila sleeps around on him I think, but Ken loves her enough that he doesn’t care, or something. I don’t know. Lila has a small boob job and doesn’t do anything other than be a trophy wife. Great, just great. Love that this is the life Francine has chosen for her.

The party at Lila’s is about as dull as every other party these kids have ever attended. The only people there are Sweet Valley people, all of whom still live in Sweet Valley. What the hell happened to all those friends they made in college? Enid Rollins is a gynecologist who is “arrogant”. She is secretly sleeping with A.J. Morgan, whose description as the “bad boy” of SVH completely baffles me, but I’ll have to talk more about that later because my brain will fall apart otherwise. Enid is hiding her relationship with A.J. for some reason that will be revealed later. I kind of don’t care. Jeffrey French – gasp! he’s alive! – is also at the party with his wife (remember that point) and he’s a dentist. Robin Wilson and her husband Dan Kane, who works with Steven, are there. Robin is a caterer and food critic who’s only put on a few pounds since high school. And lastly, stupid Caroline Pearce. She’s a real estate broker who writes her own gossip blog (read by whom? the ten people it’s about?) and recently survived cancer. She’s even more annoying than she was in SVH – for real – and according to Jessica, has a “big ugly body”. Caroline tries to nose into Jessica’s business and Jessica tells her off, yells at Lila for inviting Jessica when she knew nosy Caroline would be there, and then leaves the party with Todd.

Back to Liz. She tries to interview a playwright named Will Connolly for her latest article, but he’s really rude to her. And get this: he looks exactly like Todd. Yawn, been there, read that storyline before, Francine. Will and Liz end up drinking at the same bar, the Wicked Teapot, that afternoon where he calls her “Lizzie” within a few minutes of being introduced to her as Elizabeth and she freaks out. They swap their sad stories and bond. Will left his law career, family, and his fiancee Wendy behind in Chicago, so that he could move to NYC in pursuit of his play-writing dream. In response to Liz’s sob story, Will (jokingly) suggests that she bring a hot date with her back home to Sweet Valley for the twins’ grandmother’s upcoming birthday celebration, then have that person seduce Jessica and ruin her relationship with Todd. Liz takes the idea seriously and plans to execute it. She and Will introduce themselves to the Teapot’s bartender, described as a superhot wannabe actor with an Irish accent, Liam O’Connor. Liam seems interested in Liz, but later on it’s explained that he in fact isn’t. Whatever! Liz goes home with Will and they kiss but then she leaves before any clothes come off. It’s good to know the twins can still make dudes fall in love with them instantly.

Liz asks Will to attend her grandmother’s birthday with her and he can’t go. Then she asks Liam and he agrees despite barely knowing her. Liam’s family moved to L.A. from Ireland so it works out well for him, we’re told, even though Liz is only planning to be there for less than 24 hours. Liz doesn’t tell him that she wants him to seduce Jessica; she thinks Liam is hot enough that things will happen naturally on their own. But she’s being kind of wishy-washy about the whole thing. She irks me.

Funnily enough, while Liz is plotting all this, Jessica is back in California having champagne at a bar with one of the VPs at her company, Michael Wilson, who is crushing hard on her. Jessica is considering giving him what he wants because then she and Todd could split up and Liz would be happy and reconcile with Jess. But just as Michael is about to confess his feelings to Jessica, she realizes how in love with Todd she is and flees the bar. Or at least I think that’s what’s going on. Sometimes this prose is so weirdly written that I don’t know what the fuck I’m supposed to be getting out of it.

Liz tells Will that she’s going to carry out the plan to break up Todd and Jessica at their grandmother’s birthday. Will is shocked because he was just joking, and seriously? What kind of bitch would want to ruin her own grandma’s birthday like that? Liz tells him off with a “Fuck you” and storms out. Ooh, Liz is letting the F-bomb fly. Then the night of Grandmother Marjorie Robertson’s birthday arrives! As you’ll see when I review the first Sweet Valley Saga, that’s the name she had in that book too. I have to give points for continuity because when it comes to this novel, it’s a rare event. Bruce is at Grandmother’s dinner because Alice had arranged for him to be Liz’s date before she announced she was bringing Liam. Now Bruce is sad because he’s afraid she’s having sex with Liam. I could really give a shit.

The dinner goes fine until all them dern young people have to ruin it! Liam becomes infatuated with Jessica the second he lays eyes on her which makes about as much sense as Nicholas Morrow falling for Liz’s looks but not Jessica’s, or Bill Chase falling for Liz, but not Jessica because Liz looked so much like his dead girlfriend, but okay. Liam follows Jessica around all night and she’s kind of annoyed by him, but still disappears with him for a bit. Todd thinks she’s off hooking up with him and freaks the fuck out. When they come back, everyone starts fighting and screaming while Alice frantically yells for Ned to bring out grandmother’s birthday cake already as a distraction. He takes fucking forever to get the damned cake and I’m wondering if one of the kitchen staff ate it. Grandmother Marjorie tries to restore some order, but they’re all ignoring her because who gives a fuck about the old birthday girl! What, you think this party is for YOU Grandmother? Finally, Alice screams, “Ned! Bring out the fucking cake!” and I just about fell off the couch! Holy shit! That’s gold!

At the end of the night, Todd and Jessica are miserable and go to bed without resolving the fight. Liz and Liam fly back home; Liz is now mad that Liam got the hots for Jessica. Okay Liz, make up your fucking mind, either you want him to ruin your sister’s life or you don’t. I hate this bitch. Back in NYC, Liz finds Will and sleeps with him as therapy for the total shitstorm she just willingly caused; they become “friends with benefits.” It feels really forced on us as opposed to something that happened naturally, and I’m thinking it was thrown in there just to appeal to modern readers with the whole “friends with benefits” bullshit. Meanwhile, Jessica decides to leave Todd and flees the house in the middle of the night, catching a flight to New York City. She’s sure Liz will forgive her if she explains that she’s not going to marry Todd. Okay, so now she DOESN’T love Todd enough to leave her sister for him. Liz comes back from Will’s where she’s spent the night, to find Jess curled up asleep outside her door. She lets her in and they cry and make up because I guess by now Liz has realized her relationship with Todd was over long before he ever cheated on her with Jessica, or something dumb like that. I don’t know. Liz realizes Jessica truly loves Todd and tells her to go back to him, but when Jess leaves the building for the airport, she finds Todd already waiting outside. They make up too. Bla bla, fucking bla! Liz makes up with Liam; she and Will sleep together for a while and then Wendy moves to New York and she and Will get back together and that’s the end of him and Liz. What was the point of sticking them together then? To showcase Liz as an independent woman? To give her more of a sex life? Who cares?

Liz gets an increased series of job offers from real-life New York magazines and all her dreams start to come true. Good for her. Jessica’s wedding day arrives and Liz is the maid of honor. The night before the wedding, Bruce tells Elizabeth he’s selling his house to move to New York, because he loves a girl who lives there. Liz doesn’t get that it’s her because she’s a moron GOD I HATE LIZ. Do you guys realize I just voluntarily read a book all about how great Liz is? Liz panics because she can’t stand the thought of Bruce in love with someone else, the selfish twat! Then Bruce confesses it’s Liz he loves and she realizes she loves him also … yeah right. They have sex at Bruce’s house and he gives her the best orgasm of her life. Their sex scene kind of grosses me out to be honest with you. It’s very vaguely described, but Liz and Bruce feel so … unnatural together. They go to the wedding the next day glowing with the force of their love! I could just hurl.

The Epilogue is “For All Sweet Valley Fans of Old”. It tells us the details of Jessica’s third wedding day and then gives us the latest update about a rather random cast of characters! “Random” because characters no one gives a crap about are mentioned, while characters who were major (such as the bitch Amy Sutton!) are NOWHERE TO BE FOUND in this entire novel! So, the condensed version:

Bill Chase lost his right leg below the knee to a shark in Australia. He lives in San Diego with his wife, Lianne Kane, whom he stole from that Jim Regis dude mentioned earlier in the book. Lianne spends the wedding reception flirting with Jim until Bill gets mad and they leave early.

Roger Collins is an author. He quit teaching because the whole Suzanne Devlin incident made him too uncomfortable to continue on, even though his name was cleared. What the fuck? He sure didn’t seem traumatized over it through, you know, the whole rest of the SVH series. He wrote a book about the ordeal called Lies and it’s a bestseller. He lives with his girlfriend whom he met when she was a student at Sweet Valley High. That seems creepy enough to be appropriate for old Rog. I really want to know who this girlfriend is. His son’s name is suddenly Sam, not Teddy. What? Sam is a junior at UCLA and is 19. Is this some other kid? What the hell Francine?

Aaron Dallas is Steven’s life partner and he hopes to marry him whenever California officially legalizes gay marriage. And that’s about all that is said about him in the Epilogue, other than he and Jessica have learned to tolerate one another following her big blabbermouth moment.

Lila and Ken have been separated for six months but their status “changes as the wind blows” and Caroline claims Ken has proposed to Lila again. Lila brought Jeffrey French as her date to the wedding. Wait, wasn’t Jeffrey married earlier in this book? I went back and checked it at least three times. In a glorious continuity moment worthy of Spring Fever, Jeffrey’s wife has been sucked into a black hole to join Annie Sue Sawyer’s little sister. He’s now “still unmarried and unattached.” Lila only brings Jeffrey because she thinks dating the boy she lost to Elizabeth years ago will “spice things up” or some bullshit. But she loses interest in him and he ends the evening wandering off with Dee Dee Gordon, and I think it’s supposed to imply that they go make out for 45 minutes. Speaking of Dee Dee, she’s engaged but her fiance couldn’t come to the wedding. She’s still attracted to Bill and used Jeffrey as a substitute for him. Isn’t her name spelled “DeeDee” with both words together though?

Charlie Markus and Annie Whitman are married and have a two year old son. Annie’s a lawyer. Charlie is referred to as “the boy who saved her” from her Easy Annie days. What? That was Ricky Capaldo. Annie dated Charlie in a Super Edition and he was almost never mentioned again until it was time for her to break up with him and date Tony Esteban. Seriously, does Francine not know her own series? Also, if anyone “saved” Annie it was fuckin’ Jessica with her stupid cheerleading acceptance speech in the hospital!

Betsey Martin (was there always an “e” in Betsy?) is suddenly someone who never changed from her old ways. She sleeps around and is an alcoholic now, having given up drugs for the drink. It says she dropped out of high school but that isn’t accurate; in the SVH series it was said that she did graduate. And I think she’s supposed to be dating someone named “Sam Nobel.” There was some weird Nobel Prize joke about that at old grandma’s birthday. I’m starting to wonder if I read this book when I was drunk, myself.

A.J. Morgan’s description is WAY, WAY off. It says he has long blonde hair and was a bad boy in high school. No, he had red hair and was a sweet Southern gentleman who only liked Jessica because he thought she was reserved and innocent. I think Francine is confusing him with Rick Andover. Either that or there were some major character changes in the SVH series that I haven’t gotten to yet, ones that involved him dyeing his hair. Here he’s such a loser that Enid won’t admit she’s dating him, because she’s about to run for city council and he’s bad for her image. In addition, earlier in this book Jessica angrily says that in 7th grade Caroline Pearce told everyone about how Jess let A.J. touch her boob. But A.J. was an Army brat who moved to Sweet Valley in 11th grade around the time Jess started dating him.

Roger Barrett Patman is a Hollywood producer and married to a rock star named Zoe Jones. Zoe is given her own update entry like she’s someone we’re supposed to know. Are we? I mean, Francine goes on about her for a few small paragraphs!

Nicky Shepard is mentioned for some weird reason. I consider him a really minor character. He is the kid who got Jessica to run away in book 21. I think he comes back way later in the series but is still not much of a big deal. In case you care, Nicky is a recovered alcoholic dating another recovered alcoholic and they spend the wedding looking down on everyone drinking.

Cara has forgiven Steven for cheating on her with Aaron. Of course she has, that fucking pushover. Now she is dating the CEO of a diet company or something.

George Warren lives in London and works for Silicon Valley. He and Robin are still on good terms.

Everyone is wealthy and successful and I hate all of them.

Francine then gives us a tiny section about characters who died. She only includes Winston, Regina, and Tricia Martin, leaving out other very significant characters. For example, Ronnie Edwards doesn’t make it all the way through the original SVH series (hope I am not spoiling anything for you guys), yet he is mentioned in the Double Love flashback as Enid’s love interest. Isn’t that weird to mention him there and then forget that he dies later? Then Francine mentions Suzanne Devlin, and completely screws up the description of what happened to her. I am mega confused. She says Suzanne came back to Sweet Valley a “changed person” six YEARS after the Roger Collins fiasco and that she had multiple sclerosis and crashed her car and died after drinking champagne with her medicine. WOW. If that isn’t the most mangled description in the whole fucking world! 1) It was six months, 2) it was discovered that she had mono instead of MS, and 3) she didn’t die. You know what that reads like? Like a fan who hasn’t read the books in 15 years and can’t remember what happened and is recalling it to the best of her ability. Which is cool and all except 1) Francine isn’t “just a fan” and 2) EDITORS? HELLO?

I think Francine might be fucking with us, I really do.

Ned is still a mega successful lawyer and I’m sure he still does every kind of law imaginable; Alice has her own design firm now and is a breast cancer survivor.

Jessica was 15 minutes late to the wedding.

Okay, WTF? about this whole book. My general opinion is already clear, but let me add a bit more. First of all, the way the story was laid out did not work for me. It was very jarring to keep flashing back to past scenes, especially with the change in point-of-view and tense. I find it odd that the present-tense is used for past events, and even that was not always consistent. There were typos and other errors throughout.

Jessica’s speaking tone made me need to swallow a jar of cleaning fluid. There were so many likes and so’s interjected that I literally put the book down to get away from them all. Of course, I could also just speed ahead to the present events where she suddenly stopped speaking that way, for the most part. I don’t know if this was meant to convey she suddenly grew up after Regan told Liz about Jess and Todd. I’m thinking that’s giving too much credit. Either way, it is incredibly irksome. It makes me feel like I got sand stuck up my ass at the beach.

But for me, the worst part is that the entire book revolves entirely around the twins. There are precious few scenes with their parents, their brother (save one chapter that tells us how Steven and Aaron fell for each other), or their friends. As I already said, Winston makes very few appearances before he is killed off and his death feels completely unnecessary. It’s clearly a plot device merely to create a comical scene of Elizabeth assuming Todd and Jess are holding each other for the wrong reason, and perhaps to startle us with a shocking character death. We don’t even get to hear how he feels about Todd cutting him off friendship-wise. Fan favorite Lila is barely mentioned at all which is bullshit. Major characters like Amy Sutton and Nicholas Morrow are omitted completely, even though Nicholas’s dead sister is mentioned. (By the way, yes, Bruce really loved Regina.) Everything revolves around Jessica and Liz and their boring conflict that’s a grown-up version of the same old thing. Most of the major characters are just thrown into Lila’s party scene and again at the end of the book for brief updates. The Epilogue is really disorganized and um, don’t get me started.

The writing style itself was slow and prodding. Scenes were often rehashed and thoughts were redundant. Even the sex scenes (one with Jess and Todd, one with Liz and Will, one with Liz and Bruce) were blurred, vague, and shitty! (We are told that Liz has “taut nipples” and that’s as specific as one of them gets.) All the room taken up with Liz thinking evil thoughts about her shithead sister could’ve easily been devoted to catching us up on other characters and giving us more than second-hand glimpses into their lives. Mentions of “current” things like pop lyrics, Twitter and Facebook usage, and text messaging feel mostly forced, thrown in to prove this book is “with it”. The dialogue was terrible and ridiculous. Characters are not developed effectively whatsoever; they’re just there for Liz to fuck or Jessica to consider fucking and then vanish. The Liz worship kills me, but I could get over it if the novel as a whole was better written. Come on, I’ve been reading and re-capping every last one of these books, I’m used to it by now.

And the pairings – Jess and Todd, for one, but also Liz and Bruce, Steven and Aaron, Enid and the completely re-imagined character A.J. They don’t work for me based on my knowledge of the characters, sure, but they also don’t work because they feel ridiculously fake. Yes, it’s fiction, but I don’t want to read a book that I can’t lose myself in because I’m constantly thinking “Okay, that just doesn’t work.” Because yeah, as a super-fan my panties WILL get twisted in a wad and that is uncomfortable. I CAN’T READ WHILE MY PANTIES ARE IN A WAD. So if you’re going to spring these surprises on us, at least make most of them feel more like they make sense. There’s no mention of Liz loving Bruce until he confesses he loves her, so it honestly feels like she only loves him because he loves her and/or because she doesn’t want him loving anyone else. Jessica and Todd also feels weird; you didn’t convince me they really love each other Francine, especially because pretty much all they talk about when they are together is Liz. And I don’t know if we’re supposed to think they fell in love after a night of joking around at a loud, drunken party but I hope not. Steven and Aaron also feels a bit weird as again, they’re supposed to have fallen in love for life after three sessions at a bar where Steven probably just sat around mumbling about his law practice.

Did Francine even read her own SVH series prior to writing this? For real? Some of these errors are beyond glaring. I haven’t even mentioned all of them! The Jeffrey French wife disappearance is easily the worst one, but there are others that are ridiculous. Some could probably get away with just being changes, but most don’t work that well.

The lavalieres are now gold and aquamarine with the twins’ initials engraved on the back. They swap them at the end of the book. What? That description doesn’t even match what is shown on the cover!

A.J., again. On top of everything I just mentioned, he’s also described as being Enid’s secret crush throughout high school, whom she couldn’t date because there was no way she could compete with Jessica. But Enid was dating Hugh when Jessica hooked up with A.J. Okay, we’ll let that one pass, I guess, but only because Francine included the word “secret.”

This one will spoil something else that happens much later in the SVH series, so forgive me: In Confidential, Caroline spreads rumors that Steven’s secret lover is Lila Fowler. Jessica knows that can’t be right because Lila isn’t Steven’s type. There’s no mention of how Lila and Steven in fact hooked up in Lila’s New Flame.

I think last we heard of Lila in SVU she and Bruce were in love and living together and it was very serious. Here it’s explained that Bruce thinks of that as “nothing” and “a fling” and that it ended quickly. Unless all the recaps I’ve read are lies, that is not accurate at all.

Speaking of Bruce, in the Double Love flashback he’s referred to as a junior, the same as the twins! He isn’t; he’s a senior! Hello?

Lila’s father’s name has been changed from George to Richard and he owns the MYFACEISGREEN enterprise. What happened to his computer chip business?

This book tells us the Wakefields joined the country club when the twins were age 12 … no they didn’t. The Wakefields didn’t want to join the club even though Jessica begged them. Even in Sweet Valley High, they still aren’t members.

According to this book, Winston never had ANY dates in high school. He couldn’t get any until college. Lies! Oh yeah, Maria is absent from SVC, needless to say.

Guido’s has turned into a hip restaurant called Napkin that everyone just calls Pizza for short. Or at least I think it was Guido’s since that was the pizza hangout. It might in fact be the old Dairi Burger. The book doesn’t say and the description is a little vague. Can’t we just leave it as the Dairi Burger (or Guido’s)? Some things really don’t change.

We are told Liz loved Todd since they were in kindergarten but that he never paid her any attention. Yet they dated for most of the Sweet Valley Twins series.

Along the same lines, we’re told Aaron and Jessica have never really liked each other, ever. They, too, dated for most of the Twins series and also occasionally got together in Sweet Valley High. Here, Jessica doesn’t find Aaron attractive and we also learn he has one brown eye and one blue eye. (what?)

Liz muses about Jessica’s unfaithfulness to men as a weak spot like she hasn’t had that same weak spot multiple times.

Many other things throughout the SVH series are either not mentioned or are completely glossed over.

I don’t get why Caroline is allowed to hang with everyone if they all hate her and don’t want her spilling their business? She’s even at Jessica’s fucking wedding! Cut her off and she won’t have anything to gossip about. There is no way in hell I would let someone whose guts I hate come to my wedding, especially not after I told her ass off in front of everyone.

I am puzzled as to why Francine’s author credits do not include any SV series beyond High, Twins, Kids, and University. Did she really have nothing to do with Junior High, Senior Year, Elizabeth, or The Unicorn Club?

The quickie marriage thing freaks me out. Jessica marries Todd after nine months of “out in the open” dating, and that’s the longest she’s ever waited before! (She married Regan after two months!) Liz and Bruce think about getting married the day after they sleep together for the first time. I don’t think they come out and say so, but it’s obvious that is where it’s headed. Liz wasn’t even thinking of him in that way until he told her he loved her. And Todd considers Aaron his life partner after less than two months. There are other examples but I’ve already forgotten them.

Grandma Marjorie Robertson now goes by “Grandmommy”. How fucking irritating!

The neighborhood that Liz and others live in is called Sweet Valley Heights, but although hardcore fans may remember that this was the original title of this book, other readers are going to get confused. The name of the development isn’t mentioned till several chapters in, and when it is, it’s called “the Heights” and not really explained what the hell that is. The suddenly it switches to Sweet Valley Heights and we learn that’s where they all live or something.

There is some depressing vitriol about how much Sweet Valley has changed since the 80s (which is said, here, to be before the twins were old enough to care), with Starbucks and chain restaurants going up everywhere and crowding out the local businesses.

In my review of the original SVC Chapter 1 preview (which isn’t the whole chapter, by the way), I thought it was weird that Elizabeth sleeps in an old “Sweet Valley” oversized tee. Here it has been changed to a Sweet Valley U shirt. And of course, Jessica sleeps in the same shirt. So at least THAT part makes more sense.

Wakefield family worship is alive and well. Jessica knows Steven’s body so well that she can tell it’s him making out with Aaron when she sees him from behind.

Jessica’s trip with Regan to France is said to be her first trip to Europe which is like, SO not true. Sorry, I couldn’t resist making fun of her dumb voice one more time.

This book says that Sweet Valley University is 20 minutes from the twins’ home on Calico Drive. So that’s the latest change in time it takes to get from one to the other! I think SV just changes the freeway system very often.

It makes me laugh that Liz writes for a free publication with few advertisers yet can afford to live in a New York apartment by herself, and with a doorman no less. Anyone who knows New York rents knows that is highly unlikely, no matter how small said apartment is.

There’s no mention of the earthquake that occurred at the end of the SVH series. In fact, this book insinuates that the twins’ parents still live in that same house and that it’s exactly the same as when they were kids. But wasn’t it destroyed in the quake?

There is a sly reference to the events of Dear Sister which creeps me out. Bruce almost raped Liz, even twisting her arms in an attempt to scare her into yielding to him. She had to assault him to get away. That is called attempted rape. Here Francine makes a sly wink at the time she was “unconscious” the only other time he kissed her. But it isn’t really that sly because Liz was not unconscious; she was not in her right mind, and when she came back to her senses and wanted to leave, Bruce didn’t like it. Also, the claim that this was the only time he kissed her is not accurate, but that’s all I am going to say about that for now.

The timing of this book confuses me as well. Weren’t the twins born in May or June? Yet the events of this book take place in the late summer and by that point the twins have been 27 for at least 8 months (because Jessica says she is 27 around the time she leaves Regan and gets with Todd).

I seem to recall Liz is not mentioned as being 5’7″ inches tall in this final version, the way she was in the chapter preview. Or maybe she was and I forgot. Does this mean that the editors took it out after all the bloggers started bitching about how she grew an inch? Damn, you guys should’ve let US edit it 😉

The cover is whatever. The lavaliere on the back doesn’t match the description in the book. Girl on the cover (Liz) has different lips than girl on the back cover. No, really. Look at it. Is it just me? I don’t think it’s the different lip color; I think girl on the back either had some lip plumping done or is genuinely someone different.

So yeah, this review was harsh. But whaddya want? It’s Snark Valley … harsh is the name of my game. Rest assured if it was great, I would be singing its praises from the rooftops.

What did you think? Hate it? Love it? Or just like it more than I did?

Coming up next … I joyfully return to the original series with the Sweet Valley Saga.

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