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

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The World of Sweet Valley: Meet Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield (A free promotional book)

This next book that I’m going to recap is quite a bit different from the others. In truth, I didn’t even know it existed until someone sent it to me several years ago.

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As you can see from the cover, this book was a free promotional item handed out with purchase of any book in any Sweet Valley series. It’s not technically a Sweet Valley High book, although that is the series it talks about the most – it was released under the overarching brand “The World of Sweet Valley.” The copyright date is June 1994. The book is surprisingly easy to find online; you can order used copies from various vendors on Amazon.com, for example. Still, I don’t think it’s worth it for any but the most die-hard Sweet Valley fan as this is almost entirely content you can get elsewhere, as I’ll soon explain, since I’m recapping it anyway because it’s what I want to do with my life today.

The cover shows twin art from four of the series running at the time:

  • Sweet Valley High (debuted October 1983; twins age 16 and in grade 11)
    • See how they have the twins’ faces in a big neon heart? You could actually get that heart somehow as a light-up wall sign. I saw where someone posted a photo of hers once. When I think about seeing the twins staring down at me from within a glowing wall-heart, I feel frightened.
  • Sweet Valley Twins (debuted July 1986; twins age 12 and in grade 6 – something does not compute)
    • At the time this book was released, the series had been renamed “Sweet Valley Twins and Friends” (& I recall hating the new name)
    • The artwork (lower left corner) is from the SVT book The Great Boyfriend Switch
  • Sweet Valley Kids (debuted October 1989; twins age 7 and in grade 2)
    • I dislike this artwork, which is not what the twins originally looked like on the covers when the Kids series first debuted.
  • Sweet Valley University (debuted September 1993; twins age 18 and college freshmen)
    • The photo is from the first book in the series, College Girls. The cover models are pretty, but they look older than 18 to me.

The book contains samples from all four of these series. Interestingly, there’s no mention of The Unicorn Club, which was a new series out for just 6 months when this book came out. You’d think they’d want to promote the hell out of that!

On the back of the book, there’s a brief letter from Francine Pascal:

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The book opens with Elizabeth narrating (of course). She babbles on about herself and her twin, California girls bla bla, then gets into the theme of the excerpts, which is “twin switches”. Oddly, the book doesn’t tell us exactly which book each excerpt is from (or even which series, although that part is obvious for anyone who pays attention). Not sure this is the best way to promote the books to people who are reading this book because the promo attracted them to the series for the first time, but ok.

The first excerpt, from the Kids series, is supposedly how the twin switching “all started.” I don’t recognize this excerpt, but I think it’s from Sweet Valley Kids #16, Jessica the TV Star (1991). Todd’s house is being used to film some kind of TV special. Todd has a bit part and has been asked to find a girl to star with him in the brief clip, so he picks Elizabeth … only Liz is home sick from school that day, so he mistakenly asks Jessica instead. Jessica shows up for filming pretending to be her sister, but can’t handle that Todd has the only speaking part in the clip – answering a phone – and she’s supposed to just sit there, so she tries to grab the phone away from him and they have to keep re-shooting the scene. When Liz comes back to school the next day, she slowly figures out that Jessica is hiding something from her. She rides by Todd’s house on her bike and is surprised to see it packed full of people. It turns out Jessica blabbed about the special to her friends, and now the entire class has shown up to watch. Liz comes in and exposes Jessica’s twin switch to Todd who isn’t thrilled, but the director is delighted that there are twins and re-shoots the scene with both of them. What’s more, he loves how Jessica tried to grab the phone from Todd before, so he incorporates that into the scene – only he has Liz do it this time while Jessica continues to just sit there. Jessica is taught a lesson. Haha, psych! She’ll never learn any lesson.

Jessica introduces the next excerpt by explaining that Liz isn’t the goody-goody everyone thinks she is and that she has just as many faults as everyone else, but is better at hiding them. LOLLLL. The excerpt is from Sweet Valley Twins and Friends #66, The Great Boyfriend Switch (1993) which I remember buying and reading. The story in that book is that Liz is dating Todd and Jessica is dating Aaron Dallas. Then at the Valentine’s Day dance, Jessica abandons Aaron to dance with Bruce Patman, whom she starts kissing in front of everyone. Meanwhile, some biotch named Veronica Brooks is trying to steal Todd from Liz, and doing a great job at it because Liz and Todd are both wimps. Liz and Aaron wind up bonding over their shared misery, then they start kissing and dating. The twins end up outraged at one another, and the excerpt is about how Liz and Jessica independently decide to fix things with Todd and Aaron by impersonating one another at some big party someone is holding. Jessica, posing as Liz, is interrupted mid-make-up with Todd by an angry Veronica, and she confronts Veronica for stealing a locket that Todd had given Liz and they get in a shoving match at the party, which ends with “Liz” flying through a patio door at “Jessica’s” feet. The twins then realize what they were willing to do for one another to fix shit and make up. The plan also works on Todd and Aaron because those dummies are too dim to realize that Liz and Jess have switched, even though each girl keeps accidentally referring to “herself” in the third person, blatantly not acting right, and shit like that. When Todd and Aaron move in to kiss and make up with Liz and Jessica, the girls quickly make excuses and dash off to switch clothes, then run back outside to hook back up with their respective 12-year-old doofus beaus.

The third excerpt is from one of the SVH werewolf books I just recapped, A Date with a Werewolf. Liz introduces it by sheepishly explaining how she fell for Luke Shepherd (and totally glossing that shit over – she puts it as “we became close”). She also says that Joy Singleton’s throat had not only been ripped out, but “chewed on.” Haha, that’s a nasty detail that I am 99.9% positive was not actually in the werewolf books. The excerpt, which I think was altered slightly in the beginning to start less abruptly, covers how Liz impersonated her sister in order to prowl around Pembroke Manor looking for clues.

Finally, Jessica introduces an excerpt from one of the Sweet Valley University books (no clue which one). This is the only one of these four series that I never read any of, but I’ve heard a good amount about it. Basically, Jess and Liz are pledging the Thetas, a sorority that their mother was supposedly part of. (Hippie Alice was part of a sorority?)  Jessica dances with a black man and the president of a fraternity starts giving them shit over it because he’s a racist POS. Liz tells the frat prez off in front of everyone, and then she gets a note from the sorority president telling her she has to apologize to the president for offending him and go on a date with him to prove her loyalty to the Thetas. OK, so the Thetas are obviously garbage, and Liz refuses to do it.  Jessica is so afraid that Liz will get them blackballed that she impersonates Liz and goes on a date to the homecoming football game with racist frat boy, who predictably acts like a douche the entire time. Jessica as Liz even makes an impassioned plea for forgiveness. OMG, this is so gross. Liz skipped the game to study (of course), but Steven and girlfriend Billie are there and they see “Liz” with racist frat boy and are appalled. Steven confronts Liz after the game (which Billie has some kind of problem with because she thinks Steven is acting too much like an overbearing dad or something). Liz quickly realizes it was Jessica and pledges to get back at her. Jessica gleefully informs us that Liz forgave her later on, because she “has to.” And that pretty much sums up one of the main reasons why Jessica never learns.

Next, the book gives us special sneak previews of Elizabeth’s Secret Diary and Jessica’s Secret Diary, two Magna Editions that were released later that year. (It’s almost time for me to recap these.) The main purpose of the diaries is to further our understanding that Liz is a hypocrite and Jessica is a sociopath. Liz’s diary excerpt is about how she cheated on Todd with Ken Matthews when Todd first left for Vermont. I guess I’m supposed to be shocked, but Liz is always cheating on Todd with somebody so … Jessica’s diary excerpt is about how she impersonated Liz to go on a date with Jeffrey. During a romantic stroll on the beach, Jeffrey suddenly realizes “Liz” is Jessica, or that’s the impression Jess has, but he makes out with her anyway and then never breathes a word of the incident to Liz. Nice Jeffrey character assassination! And again, how shocking that Jessica would try to make out with her sister’s boyfriend, because she’s never done it before! The only thing that really raised my eyebrows was that they inserted racier language into these. E.g., Jessica thinks about “ripping off Jeffrey’s clothes.”

Lastly, there’s a Sweet Valley trivia quiz which covers all four series. At the end of the quiz, the book says: “To find out the answers, turn to the next page, hold the page up to a mirror, and read the reflection!” Then you turn the page and the print is just regular facing type and you definitely don’t need a stinkin’ mirror. Editing fail!

In the back of the book: There’s yet another Sweet Valley Fan Club ad, plus a promo advertising four upcoming Christmas books, one in each series.

Coming up next …: Now that we’ve finished our werewolf arc, it’s time for the next thrilling mini-series!

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#101 The Boyfriend War

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What the fuck is going on with Lila’s right leg

Woooo! So glad Margo’s evil reign of terror is over (for now!) so we can get back to some good old boy-chasin’ shit. It’s the first book in the “Sweet Valley Passion” three-book mini-series, and we’ve fast-forwarded from the disastrous Christmas of The Evil Twin to spring break. I guess this was necessary to make sure everyone had enough time to get over the fact that Jessica is a far worse sociopath than any of us thought. Oh yeah, and the whole thing where a serial killer who looked just like the twins tried to stab them to death and shit. Not to worry, this book tells us the twins are now “the best of friends” once again! I know y’all were really worried.

We open in the Sweet Valley High cafeteria, where Caroline Pearce is now welcome to sit with the popular bitches. She will pop up a few other times in this book hanging out with Amy, which still strikes me as bizarre. Jessica is eagerly telling everyone about how she and Lila are headed to Club Paradise, Lila’s uncle Jimmo’s fabulous Jamaican resort, which is apparently a Sandals-knock-off. And I’m already annoyed because it took me a few pages to learn the resort is in Jamaica, because Jess just keeps saying “the Caribbean”! You’re not visiting the whole region Jess! Or maybe she thinks her friends don’t know where Jamaica is … it wouldn’t surprise me, actually, since I’m not sure SVH actually teaches these kids shit.

Anyway, Jessica is busy thinking about how great her life is and babbling about it to anyone who’s breathing, which excludes the last two loves of her life, and thinking about “her own wonderful life.” Damn, she really did forget about Sam quick! She’s not the only one with spring break plans, though. Bruce’s girlfriend Pamela is going on a trip to the Grand Canyon, Amy’s boyfriend Barry is headed to Palm Springs, and Todd Wilkins is going camping in Yosemite. These are trips that Enid has declared make the junior class “old and boring.” And what is Enid up to for spring break? Oh, just hanging around Sweet Valley with Olivia and Liz. Who’s boring now, bitch?

Jessica spends another glorious day gloating at her family and borrowing half of Liz’s shit to pack. Liz wants to know which Club Paradise Jess is going to, exactly, and is shocked to hear it’s the Montego Bay one because Liz heard that’s the “Kiddie Club Paradise” aimed at families. Love how dorkus Liz, who was just bashing all-inclusive resorts a few pages ago, knows this shit and Jess doesn’t. Jess just laughs because there’s no way Lila would go someplace like that, although Lila has been acting awfully strange lately – not excited at all. Jessica just figures Lila has gotten too used to these kinds of trips. The girls fly first class into Montego Bay on Lila’s family’s dime, where they find Jess’ luggage is delayed and Lila’s Uncle Jimmo jovially tells her she won’t need all that stuff anyway. It turns out ol’ Jimmo had two Kiddie Club camp counselors quit and needed some last minute help, so Lila’s parents agreed to send her and a friend to work there for a week (how they actually made Lila do this, I have no idea), and then Lila tricked Jessica into coming with her so she wouldn’t have to endure it alone. Now Jessica is furious and so am I because I can see the bratty kid antics I’ll be subjected to coming a mile away. Lila tries to appeal to Jessica by saying she couldn’t bear to deal with this situation on her own, and she knows Jessica wouldn’t voluntarily sign up for this situation (Jessica agrees), but Jessica isn’t having it. She tells Lila their friendship is over. (Note – I actually doubt that Jessica wouldn’t have agreed to go if she knew. I think she’d just figure she could slack off and get out of watching the kids.)

With their friendship splintered, the girls mopily report to their bunk, then get up for orientation the next morning with the rest of the new counselors. I’m really confused how this works. Does the resort just bring in a new slew of counselors each week instead of bringing on full-time staff? (This means Jessica is getting paid, right? It’s never mentioned.) Where do they find this many qualified teenagers to babysit? I think we’re supposed to believe it’s a special Spring Break deal, but not every school has spring break the same week y’all. And what do they do with Kiddie Club Paradise when it’s not spring break, just leave it sitting there? Anyway, the head counselor is a overly perky lady named Trixie Nash, who is straight out of Disneyland or something. The other counselors are: Marcy, a repeat camp counselor and a tall “senior” (I assume they mean senior as in high school senior, not as in a Golden Girl) who reminds Jessica of Enid Rollins, Anne, a tall, black girl with short hair who’s “shy”, and Julia, a “heavyset” blonde who already hates Jessica’s guts because Jessica just went ahead and let her know that she thinks she’s fat. There are also three male counselors: a tall dweeby guy with big ears named Charles Grogan who crushes hard on Jessica (while Julia appears to be crushing on Charles), and two short, “anemic-looking” dudes named Harold and Howard. Hey, did I mention that Julia is overweight? Because this book does in every scene she’s in, and makes sure it’s basically her defining personality trait. I wouldn’t have expected anything less from an SVH book! And don’t worry, Jessica proves she’s still the same bitch she was waaaaay back in Power Play by treating Julia like dirt about her weight as much as possible.

The girls get assigned their groups of kids. Lila gets a super sweet and polite gang of kids who do her every bidding, while Jessica has the rowdiest, most abominable group of children ever who basically act rabid with no one even attempting to stop them other than Jessica. Jessica starts screaming at them as soon as she meets them (literally), so she probably deserves it.  (Actually that’s the least of what she deserves!) It’s implied that the kids stay at the Kiddie Club Paradise and never see their parents until the week is out. So these parents just entrust their kids with these random teenagers all week? Although if Jessica’s “kiddies” always act this way, I don’t blame them. Even worse, at the beginning of each day the counselors are required to put on special acts to amuse the kids. Jessica does a cheerleading routine that bores everyone, whereas Lila bribes the resort band into playing the newest Jamie Peters (!) song for her act. I was going to make a joke that maybe Lila can play her marimba for everyone, but then she actually whips out a marimba and plays it along with the band! The next day, Jessica tries a new act by doing a modern dance routine, but one of her bratty kids rolls a marble out onto the stage to make her fall, and she goes flying up into the air while everyone, including lead counselor Trixie, laughs hysterically. Seriously, discipline does not exist in this place. There’s a later scene where Jessica’s kiddos steal the swim lane rope out of the swimming pool and use it to tie up Lila’s kids, and Larry the lifeguard basically just stands there yelling at Jessica to do something about it while she just stands there yelling at her kids.

Jessica is determined to get back at Lila for this bullshit. One afternoon, Lila pays the resort’s formal clothing shop worker, Renata, to watch her kids for her while she takes off on a sightseeing tour with Mick Myers, the resort’s windsurfing instructor who all the kid’s moms salivate over. (There’s a funny part where one of Lila’s children explains to her that his mom said she likes to windsurf with a “fox” at the resort, and the kid is confused because he didn’t think foxes lived in the ocean.) Jessica decides the ultimate revenge would be to steal Mick from Lila. Meanwhile, Julia is trying to think of a way to get back at Jessica because Jessica told her she was too fat to attract any boys. Oh my god, somebody please drown Jessica. Julia is also jealous because Charles keeps panting after Jessica and Julia wishes she could get guys to look at her that way, but she’s just not as perfect-looking as Jessica and Lila. Yeah, this wouldn’t be an SVH book if they let us see Julia’s POV without some remarks about how perfect the nearest Wakefield is.

All the campers and counselors (except Lila, who’s still on her tour with Mick) are gathered in the “Kiddie Kabana” for a fingerpainting exercise when Mick suddenly pops up and hits on Jessica. I guess he just got back from taking Lila out? In the meantime, Julia has faked being sick so that Charles will watch her kids while she wanders off to think about how she can have a romance of her very own this spring break! It’s just so hard when the one guy who’s “in her league” (Charles, of course) is busy chasing Jessica.  Just then, Julia spies Mick and Jessica standing nearby talking, so she hides behind a bush to listen. Mick is explaining to Jessica that he only took Lila out because he had to, since she’s his boss’s niece, and that he’d rather be with Jessica. He wants to take Jessica windsurfing this afternoon, if she can manage to pawn her brats off on somebody else. After Jessica agrees and leaves, Julia pops out from the bush to chat with Mick herself and, I guess, try to steal him from Jessica. “Julia knew that her voice was her only asset, so she concentrated on putting as much sexiness into it as she could muster.” I just rolled my eyes so hard my contacts fell out.

Jessica gets Charles to watch her kids while she goes windsurfing with Mick, then out to an early dinner with him to some special bistro. He really lays it on thick, telling her how special she is and how he much prefers his “golden goddess” to a “mousy brunette” like Lila. After dropping Jessica off, he then takes Lila out dancing and tells her he prefers his “brown-eyed goddess” to a “dumb blonde” like Jessica. He claims he totally didn’t just have his tongue down Jessica’s throat or anything, he just had no choice but to hang out with her because she is so pushy and he didn’t want to upset a fellow co-worker, or something like that. OK. After finishing his dancing date with Lila, Mick then meets back up with Jessica to take her to his “secret lagoon”. He then takes Lila there the next day, as well as for a moonlight swim off the pier. The girls just vanish at any time they please while whomever watches their kids. I love how Trixie the Pixie (as they call her) seriously gives no fucks about which camp counselors are actually doing their jobs. Also, didn’t we already do a similar plot like this with these girls fighting over the same dude in Showdown?

Meanwhile, Mick loved Julia’s “voice” and he has started taking her out on lunch dates. He tells her he thinks she is “voluptuous” and that he doesn’t want to date Jessica and Lila anymore because they are “too thin.” Julia has decided that the perfect way to get back at Jessica for (repeatedly!) calling her fat is to show off her new relationship with Mick at the right time. This book is getting sad. In other news, Marcy, the supposedly sensible counselor, has already implied that she was involved with Mick previously and that he isn’t a good guy, but of course nobody wanted to listen to her. Did I mention Mick is a total egomaniac who constantly talks about how hot he thinks he is? He’s the Bruce Patman of the Caribbean. I guess it would make sense that Jessica would go for that.

On Thursday afternoon, Mick asks Jessica to come out with him again, but she can’t get away. Then Marcy and Charles suddenly agree to watch the kids, which is described as “unexpected.” Is it though? Since Jessica’s luggage has finally arrived, she puts on one of her hot new bikinis and then strolls the beach by herself hoping to run into Mick. Instead, Larry the lifeguard comes running up, all excited to see her. He tells her he’s basically been too wimpy to talk to her before because he’s scared of her kids. How is this guy a lifeguard again? They hang out on the beach where Larry rubs suntan lotion on her and then runs off to bring her a drink, where he sees Mick smooching on Lila. Since Larry had no idea Jessica and Mick were also seeing each other, he brings Mick and Lila over to hang with him and Jessica because he wants Mick to see how hot his girl is. Of course, this means everybody but Larry gets a big surprise. Jessica is still too dim to tell that she’s being two-timed. Jess thinks Lila must have found a way to make Mick hang out with her again and is eager to tell him it’s okay and to make sure Mick knows she’s not interested in Larry (even though she is, haha). Lila also has no idea what’s going on, of course, she just thinks Jessica’s still salty over the whole lying-to-her-face-about-babysitting thing. The scene ends with a stupid chickenfight in the ocean where Jessica and Lila pretty much try to beat each other up while atop Larry and Mick’s shoulders.

That night, Jessica heads to the pier to meet Mick only to find Lila there instead, waiting on him as well. It quickly becomes obvious what’s going on, but they still refuse to believe it. They start arguing and accusing each other of trying to ruin their respective dates with Mick. Lila laughs and tells Jessica Mick could never like her because he thinks she’s a dumb blonde. The truth hurts so Jessica slaps Lila in the face and knocks her into the water, and Lila pulls her in with her and their dim bulbs slowly understand they’ve both been had. They make up and agree to find a way to get back at Mick.

Since Mick still hasn’t shown up to meet either of them on this mixed-up date of his, they head back to the cabin to appeal to Marcy for help since they actually care about her opinion now. Julia pretends to be asleep in her bunk, so she overhears everything. She decides to interrupt them to explain that, well, Mick likes her “best”. Oh come the fuck on, Julia. It turns out Mick even took Julia to his special secret lagoon. Lila has to tell Julia that Mick has been calling her a “fat blob” behind her back. As the girls are suddenly realizing they’ve been triple-timed and Mick has been using the same lines on all of them, Anne the “shy” counselor waltzes in declaring she’s in love. It turns out Mick didn’t show up for Jessica and Lila because he was out with her. Later on, we learn he has also been dating Renata as well.

The five girls all team up to get back at Mick at the big closing talent show the next night, which is Friday and their final night at the resort (I think). Jessica charms Mick into agreeing to come to the talent show, while the girls work with Jessica’s bratty kids to learn how one of them puts on such shitty magic tricks. (On Thursday morning, Jessica’s kids put on a big magic show as their special talent act, which went horribly but made the audience delighted because their screw-ups were so hilarious.) Jessica’s kids then teach Lila’s kids how to be brats. Thank god for both me and Lila that it’s the end of the fucking week in this book. At the magic show, Jessica acts as the magician while Lila is her assistant. They pick Mick as their volunteer, then proceed to “borrow” his expensive watch and smash it as part of a magic trick while Mick watches. They then pretend to pull various items out of the back of his head while also lopping off a bunch of his beautiful long blond hair that we keep hearing so much about. Mick has by now realized that Jess and Lila are fully aware they’ve been two-timed (or really, quintuple-timed) and is begging them to stop but has too much pride to just stand up and run off the stage. The girls douse him in some purple dye powder that one of Jessica’s bratty children used to die the hair of another bratty child earlier in the week, then make him “disappear” under the stage for the next trick. Julia is waiting for him underneath the stage where she pretends to be sympathetic and acts like she’s washing the purple dye powder out of his hair when she’s really just finishing the job. She then helps him come back up for the final trick where Mick “reappears”, popping back up on the stage under a purple spotlight, which then changes to a “regular” spotlight to reveal Mick’s newly dyed purple hair to the audience’s great amusement and Mick’s great shame.

After the show, Mick confronts the girls and tries to lunge at Jessica and Lila to beat or strangle them or something. Oh, so he’s violent too. He’s stopped and chased off by the crowd of angry kids. Jessica and Lila make up and decide they are best friends for life. They actually deign to invite Julia to come get a lemonade with them so that we can see Julia has no hard feelings over Jessica acting like ass to her all week, but she turns them down because she has a date with Charles. I wish Julia had gone with them because I wanted her to poison Jessica’s lemonade.

The sub-plots: Bruce’s parents are separating, so he’s stomping around Sweet Valley doing his best Bruce Banner impression, raging at his friends at the Dairi Burger for going on spring break trips with their families, and flinging his lunch tray into a tree! PATMAN SMASH! Don’t worry, Liz is nearby to do some condescending glares, or this wouldn’t really be Sweet Valley. Then Bruce and Roger overhear Marie Patman angrily accuse Henry of having an affair. Bruce is outraged and determined to discover who the other woman is.

Meanwhile, Liz is spending her spring break working on an honors English paper for extra credit that she doesn’t even need, because she already has an A! And what is the paper about? It’s a research paper on her mom, Alice – and Liz needs a WHOLE WEEK for that shit! She’s the smart one, y’all! And OH MY GOD – it turns out Todd’s parents invited Liz to come to Yosemite with them and she said NO because she WANTED to do schoolwork instead. Todd tells her he wouldn’t do a paper unless he had no choice and she tells him he sounds like Jessica. Well duh, he was just hearing an awful lot of what Jess “sounds like” a few months ago, Lizzie dear.

Henry Patman has hired Alice Wakefield to do some interior design work on the Patman plant in Chicago, so he and Alice head to Chicago over spring break week. This leaves Liz unable to interview her mom for her paper, so she starts picking through her mom’s old trunks in the attic instead. Before Henry and Alice leave, Bruce overhears his dad on the phone with Alice, talking about some roses he sent her. Bruce decides that Alice is his dad’s affair partner and flies into an absolute rage. He confronts Liz about it in the Dairi Burger, who insists that’s ridiculous and starts looking through her mother’s trunks for proof that her mom has never loved anyone but Ned. I’m not sure how evidence from the past is supposed to prove what’s happening in the present, but Liz is the smartest of all in Sweet Valley so we should just go with it right? Instead, Liz gets a shocker when she opens a trunk that contains an old wedding gown, veil, shoes, and a framed photo of Alice dressed in these things and standing next to a smiling, tuxedo’ed Henry Patman in an obvious wedding day photo. I mean, if you’ve read Sweet Valley Saga #2 then you already knew about this shit. But Liz is floored, and Bruce is convinced this old evidence that Alice and Henry are indeed having an affair in the present. Liz doesn’t want to believe it, but you know nobody can just ask anybody shit around here, so they suffer in silence. To add to Liz’s agony, she’s been spending every week watching old love movies at the downtown Plaza theater, which is doing some kind of “beat the heat” special because Sweet Valley is in the middle of a horrible heat wave, and to hear this book tell it, the movie theater is the only damn place in town with air conditioning. (Amy and Caroline even show up for a couple of movies!) And if you happen to like watching old movies, well this book just goes ahead and spoils the plots of several for us as Liz over-analyzes what happens in each movie because somehow movie plots tie to the present day situation. What the fuck? She reluctantly decides that Bruce might be right because in the movies, the characters always go back to their first love, and Henry was obviously Alice’s first love. I repeat, ladies and gentlemen, Liz is supposed to be the smart one. Oh yeah, and Liz also keeps conveniently going out with Bruce so they can talk about their parents, while Bruce privately thinks about how hot she is. Gee, I wonder where they’re going with this one.

In other news, right before spring break begins, Amy Sutton learns her English grade sucks – wow, there’s a shocker – and that she HAS to do the same extra credit paper that Liz is doing by choice, or else it’s curtains for Amy’s grade. I’m surprised Amy isn’t pulling a Suzanne Devlin and throwing herself at Mr. Collins to take care of that lil’ problem. Amy asks Jess if she can borrow any of her interesting relatives’ history, so Jess offers to let her write about her ancestors, twins Jessamyn and Elisabeth, as though they were Amy’s, and tells her to get some info from Liz. Oh, I’m sure this is going to turn out fine. Amy isn’t so dumb as to think that Liz would actually voluntarily let her cheat, so after Jess leaves for Jamaica, Amy starts showing up at Liz’s house uninvited on the regular, supposedly to ask Liz for advice on how to research family history. Is this paper really that difficult? Amy spends most of the time asking Liz (and Ned) about what Liz’s her great-great-grandmother Jessamyn was like rather than talking about her own family history. Because Liz is stupid whenever the plot calls for it, which is all the time, she just finds it kind of odd but doesn’t wonder why Amy might be spending more time researching Liz’s family than her own. Amy’s little plan blows up at the end of the week when, thanks to all the time she’s spent asking about Jessamyn, Liz decides she’s going to expand her paper to include Jessamyn. Now Amy is back to square one and has to write about her own boring mom, who’s just a local sportscaster, you know, totally not interesting at all! *eye roll*

TLDR: These sub-plots are basically one big add for the first two Sweet Valley Saga books.

On the cover: We have the chicken fight scene, illustrated. Jessica and Lila look a lot happier here than they do in the book. Interestingly, we were told in the book that Jessica brought Liz’s green bathing suit on vacation with her while Lila brought a pink bikini, but here Lila is wearing green while Jess is in pink. Lila is on Mick’s shoulders – that’s Mick? He is so not all that. And why is he wearing boxer briefs? Larry looks like all the other dark-haired guys that have been on the covers lately. He may as well be Bruce or Todd. Jessica’s left leg and Lila’s right leg are weirding me the fuck out, but I think that’s just the angle …

Quotes: Jessica explaining to Liz why she is bringing so many bikinis to Jamaica: “I don’t want to commit myself to any particular tan line.”

Ned Wakefield lectures Jessica after she jovially shares the news of the Patmans’ pending divorce: “Jessica! That’s not a very sensitive attitude.” She responds, “So? The Patmans are not a very sensitive family.”

From the mouth of Lila Fowler: After Julia asks Lila how she makes her hair look so perfect: “I suppose I was just born with perfect hair.”

Lila explaining how she keeps getting Renata to watch her kids for her: “Where there’s a bill, there’s a way. Especially when it’s a ten or twenty.”

Other stuff: In the book’s opener, Amy wants to know how Caroline can stand eating hot roast chicken when Sweet Valley is going through a heat wave … but they’re eating indoors in the cafeteria! Do they not have A/C now in that damn school?

The old movies that this book spoils are Casablanca, Adam’s Rib, The Philadelphia Story, His Girl Friday, and My Favorite Wife.

This book is notable for the number of past plots it recalls. I’m thinking the ghostwriter of this one paid careful attention to the Sweet Valley plot bible! It even mentions the time Elizabeth and Bruce had to work together as a pretend couple in the Sweet Valley Twins book The Middle School Gets Married.

Jessica pointedly makes a “fat chance” remark at Julia moments before Julia shows her up at the opening mini-talent show by showing off her wonderful singing voice.

Lila teaches her kids to sing “Row, row, row your yacht.” This is quite possibly the greatest scene in the entire story.

The new Jamie Peters song is called “I Just Want to Say Hello.”

Lila seems mildly revolted that Julia is from Wisconsin, and Julia thinks to herself that she’s “impressed with how Lila had conveyed her scorn in such a civilized manner.”

Bruce thinks about how he once tried to “take advantage” of Liz (see Dear Sister) but reasons any other guy would’ve done the same and is basically not at all sorry that you know, Liz wound up having to flee his house. Isn’t this supposed to be the dude that Pamela reformed, or some shit? I’m glad they keep making sure we know that stuff is only temporary.

When Bruce confronts Liz about their parents at the Dairi Burger, he yells that now everyone knows the Wakefields aren’t the moral family they claim to be. What the fuck is he talking about, NOW everyone knows? They didn’t realize this six books ago with the whole Jungle Prom fiasco?

There’s a hilarious scene where Liz and Bruce discuss Liz’s discovery that their parents must have been married before. Bruce starts panicking wondering if he and the twins are actually siblings. The book doesn’t mention that would mean he’s committed incest with both of them, but I think we know why he’s so fucking stunned. LOL!

In the back of the book: There’s an excerpt from Bridie of the Wild Rose Inn, the first book in the Wild Rose Inn historical romance series. Wow, I bought that book at Waldenbooks as a kid. (Let me pause while I pour one out to Waldenbooks.) The first copy came with a pull-out flap with a paper rose stencil on it. I never bothered to pick up any of the others.

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Coming up next: Bruce and Liz continue to dig into the truth about their parents, which also means I end up taking more naps than I was anticipating.

#96 The Arrest

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In which, apparently, Elizabeth Wakefield’s attempts at bringing the mullet back meet with disaster.

My dear readers, I am decidedly not digging this new story layout in the post-A Night to Remember books. I think they took a tip from a soap opera and decided to drag out the same story over multiple books with little bits and pieces in order to flesh out each ~215 page book more. Sounds good in theory, but it doesn’t match up so neatly with the events of the last book, and in some cases the dragged-out storyline is most snooze inducing. Thanks for helping me get to bed on time last night, Francine!

This is book 2 of the “Sweet Valley Terror” (LMFAO) mini-series, and “the arrest” in question already happened in the last book (but not the way the cover depicts it). Now we cut to Liz being questioned by the cops, unable to remember much of anything, and her dad Ned yelling “Now see here!” and pounding the table when the cops push Liz to answer. Liz is then booked for involuntary manslaughter which shocks everyone, even though in the previous they told her that’s what would happen. She’s put in a jail cell, teary and disheveled, with two other ladies who are clearly just there to show us how out of place Liz is. There’s an older drunk lady with smeared makeup and a younger lady who is a prostitute (most likely from Betsy Martin’s part of town). The ghostwriter goes out of his/her way to show us that these two are nothing like our saintly Liz. They briefly pick on Liz, asking her if she’s here because she drove her daddy’s Porsche too fast, and then the prostitute says she’s glad Liz isn’t in her line of work because it would be too much competition. She helpfully explains the guys go nuts for the blonde California girl look that Liz has. Oh, for fuck’s sake. Then the drunk picks on Liz some more, and the sex worker tells her to lay off and encourages Liz to cry so she’ll feel better. Liz spends the night in jail before being released on bail. I thought the cops told Ned in the last book that Liz could be booked and released to the custody of her parents. Maybe I’m remembering that wrong, although Liz is a juvenile, so I’m not sure why they would make her stay overnight in a cell with adults anyway.

When Liz is released, she avoids all of her friends, and, it goes without saying, Jessica. Hey, so is the rest of the fam, for the most part. Ned and Alice are busy prepping Liz’s defense and basically assuming Jessica is doing fine. So you know, they’re ignoring her sociopathic ass like they normally do. Steven is worried about Jess, but the parents encourage him to stay away from their house because his presence might hurt Elizabeth.That’s right, Jessica is the one still grieving Sam’s loss, but everyone’s worried about Elizabeth. I think I’m beginning to understand a lot about why Jessica is as fucked up as she is. Remember no one even knows it’s Jessica’s fault that Liz was drunk in the first place.

Speaking of “Jessica’s fault”, in this book, Jessica pushes aside her guilty thoughts about spiking Liz’s and Sam’s drinks at the Jungle Prom, and instead focuses on the fact that Liz must pay for killing Sam in the ensuing accident. Okay bitch, you do you I guess.

Back at school after her night in the clinker, pretty much everyone but Enid glares at Liz and her close friends all avoid her (including Todd). Even though Enid is trying to be friendly, Elizabeth ignores her and then chooses to sit by herself in the lunchroom. Enid sits down beside her anyway, reminds her she’s Liz’s best friend, and scolds her for avoiding her. Liz says she’s sorry and all seems fine again there. But then when Enid gets up to go pick up her lunch, Liz spies a copy of the newspaper sticking out of Enid’s bookbag and decides to just help herself to it while Enid is in line. Guess what’s on the front page? An article about Liz’s arrest, with Liz’s picture plastered across the front page (huh? can they do that with a 16 year old?). Liz is sure Enid put the paper there so Liz would see it and feel bad. Yes, that’s totally what your adoring best friend would do, Liz. Elizabeth runs out of the cafeteria crying while Jessica smirks nearby. It turns out Jessica snuck the paper into Enid’s backpack as Enid passed her in the cafeteria. She wanted Liz to see it and get upset with Enid. This doesn’t make ANY SENSE. 1) If Jessica can successfully sneak a paper into someone’s backpack as they pass without that person noticing, she needs to be a secret agent; 2) why would Jessica assume Liz would see the paper? I didn’t think Liz had a habit of plowing through people’s bookbags – isn’t that more Jessica’s forte? and 3) why would Jessica assume that Liz would react the way she did? It’s a silly reaction and ridiculous assumption to make. I know that people react in strange ways when they are going through bad times, but this just seems like a mega stretch for the ghostwriter to set this up this way. Anyway, we don’t really hear much about it (if anything) after this, so I guess Liz forgave Enid for her “trick” pretty quickly.

Jessica then moves on to trying to steal Todd for herself. Man, Todd is such a fucking idiot. I mean, that’s canon in this book (that he is a fucking idiot), but he’s really moronic here. He just straight up avoids Elizabeth, then sits around moping that he wishes he could talk to her. HELLO? YOU CAN. WALK OVER TO HER AND MOVE YOUR LIPS, FUCKHEAD! God, I can’t stand it. I just can’t stand it. Jessica takes this opportunity to spend every waking moment calling Todd up and bawling about how sad she is that Sam is gone. She thinks to herself about how Elizabeth has to pay for what she did and that she has to go to jail and this stealing Todd will help complete the punishment or something and she just sounds like a fucking psycho (more on that later). She also has a brief scene where she wails at Sam to forgive her for moving in on Todd. Girl, he forgave you for way too much when he was alive as it was.

So yeah, Jessica and Todd start hanging out.Todd hopes Jessica might put in a good word with Liz for him, but of course she’s not going to do that, and he’s too DUMB to do that himself. They take a walk on the beach in the area where Jessica claims she once walked with Sam (she thinks to herself that this is actually not the place), and Todd holds her when she cries, and there’s a weird movie date in the beginning.where Jessica tries to hold Todd’s hand and he blocks her with his popcorn.  Everyone at school starts talking about Todd and Jess, and Todd and Jess keep on hanging out, and Todd and Liz keep on not talking to each other. Then one day Liz and Enid drive past Todd’s house and see the Jeep there and Liz gets upset but doesn’t do anything about it (not that she ever would). Finally, on Todd and Jessica’s second beach walk, she wears a cardigan of Liz’s just to fuck with him. Todd looks at Jessica and starts reminiscing about Liz and how much he misses her, and then Jessica crawls into his arms while wearing Liz’s cardigan and they start kissing. I don’t even care. In my version, Zombie Sam would have already shambled over and ripped Jessica to shreds.

With Liz’s destruction almost complete (or whatever the fuck Jessica sees this as), all that’s left is for Liz to prepare for her trial. Ned hires some shitty lawyer (oh I’m sorry, he’s “the best lawyer in California”) who comes to the house and tells Liz she doesn’t have much of a defense for her drunk driving, since she can barely remember anything. Ned is so enraged he decides he will just defend Liz himself! WOW. NO WAY DID I SEE THAT COMING. Hah! Who the fuck else would defend Liz? Some yahoo defender with decades of experience in criminal law? No way, Ned the corporate lawyer or whatever the fuck he’s supposed to be will just do it himself! And here to help is Steven Wakefield, aspiring law student extraordinaire. Liz mentions that she can barely recall a light in her face before the crash, and Steve seizes on it. He’s sure that’s the key to Liz’s innocence! I’m sure too, just because it wouldn’t make any fucking sense if this book decided to make some fucking sense for a change.

The sub-plots:  Steven Wakefield has a new apartment and no roommate! He puts up some ads and gets some written responses from a Billie Winkler, who he assumes is a dude. Psych! After he’s told Billie he can move in without ever meeting him – Steven is really hung up on Liz’s trauma, you see – moving day arrives and Billie turns out to be a hot girl. I can already see where this is going. Come on Billie, I don’t even know you and I know you can do better than Steven Wakefield.

Lila’s mother, Grace, finally arrives in Sweet Valley after weeks of Lila yammering on at her friends and stressing out over how to impress the mom she hasn’t seen since she was two years old. Damn Grace, you’ve got a lot of explaining to do. When Lila finally meets Grace at her hotel, they are rudely interrupted by her incredibly stereotypical French boyfriend, Pierre Billot, who seriously sounds like the biggest douchewad in Europe. He describes himself as “Grace’s lover.” Lila is outraged and depressed. When Grace comes to Lila’s hotel room to talk to her later and mentions what happened with John Pfeiffer (or is it Pfeiffer? They keep changing the spelling), Lila yells at her and shuts herself in her bathroom.Lila later catches Grace bawling hysterically at George. I’m just curious how Grace knew about John Pfeiffer when even George didn’t seem to.

Bruce is busy driving 1BRUCE1 around scowling about Pamela and the boy he caught her with the other morning. The boy’s name is now Jake Jacoby (it was Bobby in the last book). Meanwhile, we get to hear Pamela’s side. After dating Jake for several months, he decided they “should go all the way”, and Pamela didn’t want to. Jake was so enraged he dumped her and told everyone they did anyway. All Jake’s friends started asking Pamela out and then telling everyone they had sex with her too, so Pamela’s reputation was ruined. When she approached Jake to beg him to tell people the truth, he refused and then kept her out (kidnapping?) so that he could bring her home super early and it would look like they were out doing it at the Point or whatever. That’s what Bruce saw when he spotted Pamela being kissed by that dude in the last book. Now Pamela desperately wants to tell Bruce the truth because she’s in love with him, but he won’t talk to her because he’s so disgusted by her “past.” Bruce’s ridiculous double standard is, sadly, probably the most realistic thing this book has going. Anyway, old Pammy gets Bruce to meet her at the Box Tree Cafe, where she expects to explain the truth to him and also to share “her news.” Every time the book mentions her “news” I half expect her to tell Bruce that she’s pregnant with his baby. Just as Pam is about to explain herself to a sullen Bruce, Jake Jacoby and two other Big Mesa football players show up and starting laughing at Bruce and calling Pamela “trash.” Bruce stands up to fight them, then changes his mind and leaves the restaurant (and Pamela). Pamela cries miserably at home and thinks about her news – which is that she is transferring to Sweet Valley High to get away from her “reputation.” Good luck with that, since half the Sweet Valley kids already seem to know about your reputation and nobody likes Big Mesa anyways after that little gang fight, or whatever the fuck that was at the Jungle Prom. (PS All this “reputation” talk makes me feel like I’ve time-warped to the 1950s instead of the 1990s.) Back at Sweet Valley, Bruce is shocked when he thinks he sees Pamela going into the main office and wonders what that’s about.

Nicholas Morrow receives a letter from the Hunks TV show informing him he’s been selected to compete. He thinks about how his “best friend” Olivia clearly signed him up for it and smiles. I guess they are trying to set up Nicholas and Olivia now. What the fuck man? Anyway, Nicholas goes on the show to meet the female contestants and then he has to go on a date with each one. The first date, Jakki Phillips, is portrayed as a total freak because she has a tattoo, wears funky clothes, and drives a motorcycle. Nicholas is wearing a blue T-shirt with green pants, so I’d say he’s the fucking freak here. Nicholas thinks all sorts of scornful thoughts about her as soon as he sees her, including disdain for how she’s picking HIM up and saying where they will go. Have I ever mentioned I’ve always, always hated Nicholas’ guts? Jakki takes Nicholas to Club Mud, which is some metal club, and Nicholas gets made fun of for ordering mineral water. He gets stuck drinking tap water instead. Aw, poor baby! All the bikers in the club laugh about what a douchebag he is, and Nicholas proves he can’t hang by immediately departing the bar and calling Olivia to come pick him up. Haha, what a little bitch. His second date is Susan Jax, who can’t stop giggling to save her life and who takes him to “Bobo’s Burger Barn” to eat. Susan is hella annoying, and she draws on the table with crayons and Nicholas thinks violent thoughts about how he’d like to shove crayons down her throat. It’s supposed to be funny, but it just fits his obsessive behavior earlier in the series, so fuck him. For the third date, Nicholas picks up a pretty girl named Ann Hunter, who lives in some area called “Shelter Cove.” This time, Nicholas decides he’s not even trying to dress nice – he deliberately wears sloppy, stained clothes. He deliberately avoids checking out directions to her house in advance, so he gets lost and is mega-late, but she forgives him because it’s all her fault for not warning him the maps wouldn’t be updated with her newish road. Of course, a woman being demure and apologetic for shit that isn’t really her fault is right up Nicholas’ alley, and he perks up. Ann also changes out of her dress clothes into casual wear to make him feel better about his shitty outfit. Come on, girl. The date goes pretty badly from then on: Nicholas gets a flat and Ann has to change the tire for him, and then they go to the amusement park and Nicholas pukes all over Ann on the roller coaster. He’s sure he’ll never see her again, but apparently, Ann was bowled over. When the finale show is filmed live, Jakki and Susan talk about what a horrible date Nicholas was, while Ann says it was a perfect match. He and Nicholas kiss in front of everyone and the crowd goes wild, and I’m gonna be the next person who pukes.

Lastly, we have Margo, the creepy babysitter who hears voices and is currently employed under the alias “Michelle” by a dumb rich lady in Ohio who doesn’t check her references well enough. Margo dreams of stealing the rich lady’s jewelry and running away to California. She stole a ruby ring in the last book, but in this book she’s learned it’s not real and now has her sights on some antique jewelry the rich lady is going to sell. In the meantime, she’s busy abusing her poor little babysitting charge, Georgie. She locks him in a closet and kicks him in the head – twice – when he comes out. She’s sworn (threatened) Georgie to secrecy about the abuse. Later, she twists his arm painfully until he agrees to tell her where his mom hid the key to the jewelry safe. The next day, she overfeeds Georgie or something and then drowns him in a lake. Then she takes off on a bus with the jewelry. She has visions about the Wakefield family or something on the bus. Maybe she can connect with Liz’s newfound visionary abilities next. Margo had planned to stop in Albuquerque on the way, but when she starts running out of money for food, the voices in her head tell her to get off in Houston, and she does. There she meets an old lady getting off a bus from LA who has a Sweet Valley newspaper. The lady asks Margo to watch her bag for her while she uses the restroom. Margo sees the article in the lady’s paper about Elizabeth, notes the similarity to herself (or the voice in her head does), and decides she’s going to Sweet Valley. She goes into the restroom to murder the old lady and steal her purse.

Margo is the craziest person in this fucking book and is also somehow the least likable and the most likable at the same time. Also, remember how I called Jessica a psycho before? I’m for real now. When Jessica starts thinking to herself about how she must ruin Liz’s life, she sounds just like Margo.

The cover: To the left we have Liz being taken off to jail in handcuffs, although this never actually happened – recall that in the last book, the cops suggested to Ned that he drive his own daughter to the station because the police “think we can trust” them. Here on the cover, they want you to believe Liz was treated like any other citizen. Hah! Liz looks like Jessica with her hair all down and messy like that. In the background, we can see a rare glimpse of the Wakefield house at Calico Drive! Dig that cactus to the right, separating us from the next scene of Jessica and Todd on the beach in another scene that didn’t really happen. Jessica never coyly pulled Todd to her with his necklace, or whatever the fuck is happening here. These dweebs don’t even really look like Jess and Todd! It’s pretty obvious James Mathewuse is no longer doing these covers. And what’s with all the damn denim on J and T? Looks like fan art of Kelly and Brandon from early 90210 or something.

Other crap: So yeah, this book messes up several names. Bobby from the last book is now named Jake, the Rossi family (Margo’s employers) are now the Smith family, and Bruce refers to a “Maria Santini” when I think he meant to say “Maria Santelli.”

I TOTALLY forgot to mention this two reviews ago, but Abbie Richardson (briefly) appeared in A Night to Remember! She’s back from the character black hole she vanished into many years ago!

And in my review of book 95, I forgot to mention the wacked out time warp around Olivia’s boyfriends. Olivia was dating Rod Sullivan, then in her Super Star book she got together with that James guy, then back in the regular series, nearly one full year after her Super Star book with James, she was with Rod again, then in The Morning After she was recently single again after James had to move, with no mention of Rod.

Jessica’s revenge against Elizabeth is inspired by a story her English class has to read. That story is about a wronged wife who bides her time and gets revenge on her husband 30 years later. Is this a real story? I feel like I should know what this is, but it’s not ringing any bells.

Lila gets her nails done at a salon called The Turn of the Nail. I get that that’s supposed to be clever, but it’s making me cringe with pain because I keep thinking of my nails being bent back because I caught them in a drawer or something. Now, you are too. Sorry :/

Lila says Mexican food is “too ethnic” for her sophisticated Paris-resident mother Grace to enjoy. Too “ethnic”, ce que le fuck does that mean?

The Jeep has been repaired and Jessica is driving it again. I could have sworn they said it was a complete loss after A Night to Remember.

Jessica’s latest bitch trifecta of best friends seems to be Lila, Amy – and Caroline Pearce, that gossipy asshole who wears shirt waist dresses.

When Amy sees Todd and Jessica embracing, Lila laughs and says that “you’d catch Jessica in a clinch with King Kong” before you’d catch her with Todd. Haha, yeah right. You’d catch Jessica in a clinch with anyone who promised her riches, fame, or extreme flattery.

Lastly, I have to mention the weird ass Chapter 4 of this book. Seemingly out of nowhere, the ghostwriter decided to intersect multiple characters’ storylines. It goes like this:

  1. Lila drives off in her Triumph to meet Grace and is almost hit by a motorcycle rider
  2. The motorcycle rider is Jakki on her way to pick up Nick
  3. Bruce passes Nick and Jakki on his way to the Box Tree Cafe to meet Pamela
  4. Bruce throws a single rose he had bought for Pamela out his car window as he thinks of their situation and grows angry about it
  5. Bruce sees Steven Wakefield drive by him and wonders why he’s in town since Ned is trying to keep him away from the family’s troubles at the moment
  6.  Steven almost runs over a girl who steps in front of his car
  7. The girl turns out to be Pamela headed in to meet Bruce
  8. Todd waits to meet Jessica for a movie and sees Mrs. Wakefield’s car across the street, and something red on the hood of her car
  9. Elizabeth comes outside from a shopping trip with her mom, finds the rose, cradles it in her hand, and starts bawling

All of this is for dramatic effect I suppose, but then they cut to a scene of Margo sitting on the bus thinking about how she drowned “Georgie Porgie” and the effect is kinda ruined.

In the back of this book: We have a special excerpt from the first Sweet Valley University book, College Girls. In this excerpt, Jessica quite literally tells herself that she was put on this earth to go to college. No, really, that’s what her purpose in life is. Looking at the events of Sweet Valley Confidential and The Sweet Life, this makes sense to me. She makes fast friends with the sophisticated coffee shop enthusiast Isabella Ricci, who helps fill the void left by a missing Lila – seems Lila might be in Italy or something? Meanwhile, Liz sits in her dorm room by herself crying because Jessica and Enid both had other plans and Todd has disappeared, leaving Liz with nothing to do but feel sorry for herself.

Coming up next: Liz’s trial begins! I’m sure it will be thoroughly realistic and fair.

 

 

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!

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