Archive | November, 2010

PICKING UP WHERE MARGO LEFT OFF: SVH#111 “A DEADLY CHRISTMAS”

30 Nov

It’s been just ten books since Margo fell to her death in the Fowler’s pool house [or DID she?] but already it’s that time of year again! Yes, by book #111 we enter our fifth Yuletide celebration of the year! Congratulations, Francine, on mastering the fifth dimension and allowing the twins to remain sixteen for five successive Christmases.

But enough of that, and onto the insanity that is: “A Deadly Christmas.” It is probably the most sexual Christmas of the SVH series, but you must first understand that although “Playing With Fire” implied that Jessica was doing the unspeakable with Bruce, she is in fact a virgin in this one. Only in Sweet Valley.

Cover courtesy of ShannonSweetValley

I love the cover, because Jessica looks like she is about to be burnt to death. For reals, this time. Also, I get all nostalgic about the cutouts, with the deceivingly pleasant, festive exterior. Mwah ha ha!

I also love the plot, which is centred around Jessica falling madly in love with a guy who is trying to screw over the Wakefields. Among my favourite SV books are those where Jessica thinks she’s met “the one” and he’s all “Ha blondie – let’s see how much I can get out of you while I concurrently screw your sister/hook up with Lila behind your back/ win at tennis.”

In the previous five books of this miniseries, the Wakefields have been visited by an old family friend who we’ve never heard of before, called Sue Gibbons. [Remember, Sue = EVIL in Sweet Valley]. She bears the news that not only has her mother died [which is true] but that she has a rare, terminal blood disorder [which is not.]

Sue and her environmentalist fiancée Jeremy want to have a Sweet Valley wedding, of course. But there’s a twist – Sue’s deceased mother disapproved of Jeremy, so if the couple are married, Sue will not receive the inheritance. Instead, it will be left to Alice, who will probably blow the whole thing on renovating the Spanish tiles or sneaking off to the Hilton Hotel with Henry Patman. So Sue and Jeremy concoct a devious plan  – to fake a break-up and steal the money!

Jeremy pursues a lovestruck Jessica Wakefield, to try to convince the Wakefields that the engagement is off. Then Sue comes up with the mysterious blood disease, and Jeremy agrees to marry her. In the aptly titled “Left At The Altar” Jeremy ditches Sue and makes Jessica his fiancée. But really, he’s only breaking it off so Sue and he can run off with the fortune. Or at least that’s what Sue thinks…Instead, Jeremy is out to rip off all of them and return to Costa Rica with his wife, and his fortune. THE FUCK?! Ugh, I take it back. This plot is awful and makes zero sense. For example, why bother planning the wedding? Why doesn’t Sue pretend Jeremy doesn’t exist, take the damn money from Nalice and then elope? Also why is it that because Jeremy is found to be a career criminal he can’t be an environmentalist? Haven’t you heard of Peter Garrett? You may have mastered the dimension of time, Fran Pasc, but the characters are still completely 1-D.

The real fun is watching Jeremy wrap both girls around his finger.

He kidnaps Sue and ties her up in a cabin, then demands the inheritance from the Wakefields as ransom. Methinks young Jeremy is a complete sicko, because at this point in time, Sue is entitled to the inheritance anyway. [Don’t worry, the dumb ass Wakefields don’t suspect it’s him. Idiots.]

Next, he plans a romantic getaway with Jessica, and asks her to do the deed and prove her love for him. Seriously? She’s sixteen, you dirty man. Jessica agonizes about it, and thinks about condoms [yes, they say the C-word in this one!], and shivers a lot. I think they used the same ghostwriter from every single Elizabeth-centric story arc in SVU.

We learn that he is planning to scoot with the money in exactly ten days because he is a very devious man. [Ten bucks says he checks into The Shady Lady on the way out.]

I have ten days to kill so I might as well enjoy myself, Jeremy thought. Might as well get some kicks along the way.

Excuse me while I go file a DOCS report.

Of course, super sleuth Liz is onto it by then, and his true identity is revealed and Jessica is rescued from the burning cabin and everyone lives happily ever after and sings bloody Christmas carols and Sue has no rare blood disorder after all. Sheesh!

In the B-plot, Lila is dating a starving artist, called Robby. First he pretends to be rich, then she pretends to be poor, and now they are happy. Yawn. Who kidnapped our Lila? I can’t wait till the camp miniseries where she hooks up with Beauregard Creighton the Third and they get caviar shipped from Paris.

But now I will leave you with this, a quote from everyone’s favorite hypocrite,

“Now he was engaged to Jessica and supposedly through with Sue, but Elizabeth didn’t trust him for a second. In Elizabeth’s opinion, if Jeremy cheated on Sue, that meant he wouldn’t hesitate to cheat on Jessica, either. While Jessica was fickle and impetuous when it came to matters of the heart, Elizabeth drew great happiness and satisfaction from the fact that she and her boyfriend, Todd Wilkins, had weathered romantic storms to forge a relationship that would last.”

Smug bitch.

I suppose the 13 infidelities she committed during junior year don’t count as cheating?

People in glass houses, Lizzie. People in glass houses usually get pushed and lacerate their carotid arteries, like Margo did. Here’s hoping.

Any others you’d like to see for our Christmas countdown? I will do anything from the BSC to Sweet Valley Twins, High or, with gritted teeth, University. I am keen to get my hands on a particular SVT Super Edition, “A Christmas Without Elizabeth.” It sounds AWESOME, although possibly too good to be true…

IT’S A SWEET VALLEY CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN!

22 Nov
As the festive season approaches, I can’t stop thinking about all the hysteria that might ensue:

Evil twins, pool pushes, Fowler parties, broken engagements, and Jessica Wakefield getting trapped in a burning house…..[fingers crossed]
Christmas is indeed a magical time, especially in Sweet Valley where you celebrate an average of six every year, much like the Halloween epidemic in Stoneybrook.
So to celebrate, I’m donning my Ken-Matthews-inspired elf suit, and in the six or so weeks leading up to December 25, I will be recapping the best Sweet Valley Christmases [and maybe even a BSC Christmas or two.]
Wreck the Halls With Bloody Bodies, Peeps!

Christmas Edition #1

Sweet Valley University #8 “Home For Christmas.”

I’m not the biggest fan of SVU: The virginity saga, the dead boyfriend syndrome, the attempts at Enid, nay, Alexandra, having a personality…However, Winston getting babes and the inevitable hook-up of Bruce and Lila made several of these abominations bearable. And so to kick off Christmas Season, I will make a rare exception and recap “Home For Christmas.”

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The one where Winston Egbert’s Yearbook Wish Comes True or SVH #56 Lost At Sea

14 Nov

Winston’s Secret Diary, Volume I

Thanks, Fran-Pasc, for once again giving us a glimmer of hope.

Don’t sweat it – this isn’t a recap of 20 books, just one book that felt like it went for 20 years. Then again, time is a little skewed in Sweet Valley, where I live.

There was a time when I thought I’d love to be stuck on a desert island with Jessica – I even wrote it in the yearbook in sophomore year, right after I’d answered the “what-would-you-save-if-your-house-was-on-fire” question with “marshmallows.” But things changed when I met Maria Santelli. She’s like a brunette version of Jessica without all the batshit-craziness – a babe in a cheergirl costume who knows how to shut up and let me be the attention whore.

But just how much of a psycho Jessica really is I never fully appreciated until we were stranded on Anacapa island, facing imminent death.

Be careful what you wish for folks, because it might turn out like this:

It started out like most Thursdays in Sweet Valley – bright and sunny. I was psyched to be going on a boat trip with Mr Russo to study the ecology of local rock pools! I also took the buddy system very seriously – I was partnered with Jessica, Randy Mason and Lois Waller. Did you know, Lois is fat? Now that Robin Wilson is anorexic, Lois is back to being our resident chubby chick. Shame! Also, her mother is the school dietician.

Being a class clown does have its downsides – I seem to be a magnet for freaks like Caroline Pearce and the aforementioned metabolically challenged.

However, the trip was uneventful, despite Jessica refusing my attempts to get a lifejacket on her. [She was flirting with Ken Matthews, who currently has the personality of a corpse. My goal for this year is to get him in drag.]

Anyway, while she was batting her eyelids and purring, I was busy trying to sort out our ecology project. You’ll regret that Jessica, I remember thinking to myself. Little did I know just how much.

Anyways, after I’d stumbled over my own feet half a dozen times and studied the marine life of Anacapa Island, we were headed back to SVH to get past first base with Maria in the parking lot reconnect and share our findings. I put a hermit crab on Jess’s head as well. Hehe.

But we never made it back-  no, an intense storm came out of nowhere and the trusty Maverick went down like Annie Whitman on a slow Tuesday. I was incredibly scared but managed to coax Jessica into a lifeboat. Of course, it capsized, and Jessica was forced to swim for her life. I on the other hand regained control of the boat and oared myself to Anacapa Island. Did I deliberately let Jessica go? That’s one secret I’ll never tell….

These measly biceps did me proud, plowing through the fierce swell and torrential rain, and I drifted up on the beach at nightfall, and fell into a deep slumber.

I spent the following morning foraging berries and cooking fish and stuff, then bitchy McBitch decided to waltz on over to the island and steal some for lunch. Oh and I made a fire out of sticks. Mad skills.

Jess decided to ignore me until she got too hungry [I knew she couldn’t survive a day without one of those fricken blueberry pancake breakfasts. Hard to believe she’s still a six]. Then we bonded over wood-gathering.

I didn’t even try to make a move, although it had been a looooong 48 hours. And Maria and I normally get up to a whole bunch of stuff the Wakefields wouldn’t even dream about.

But I did get her to help me make a shelter and shit, you know the whole wilderness survival thing. There was lots of sulking, although she did save me from a bear at one point.

And I did open up to her about how being the class clown isn’t always a barrel of laughs. I almost smacked one on her when the storm came, and I definitely came the conclusion that if there were no sheep, I’d be happy to contribute to the gene pool with Jessica.

Meanwhile, she was worrying about never shaving her legs or shopping at Lisettes again.

But just when we thought the end was nigh and we were destined to a Tom-Hanks style existence….a chopper showed up. No matter what happens in Sweet Valley, there is always someone to rescue you. Unless of course you happen to be standing at the fridge when the earthquake strikes [which reminds me, how DID Lois Waller and Robin Wilson survive???]

Home safe now, now to refuel with a double whopper and a Clam Special from the Dairi Burger.

You know you love me

xoxoWinstonEgbert

Introducing Trusty-Sort-of-Boyfriend-Todd: Sweet Valley Twins #43 Elizabeth’s First Kiss

8 Nov

Between the combover, the mutism and the vacant look on his face, Todd had all the makings of a Liz Wakefield project.

For obvious reasons, I skipped to the last chapter first, knowing that if the kiss happened as promised, Fran-Pasc wouldn’t waste it on the rest of the book. And it happened…kind of. Although it was more of a peck on the cheek and less of a salty-french-fried-chocolate-millshake-makeout. They are twelve, after all. And he is only her sort-of-boyfriend. So after plowing through all the ocean-eyed-sunstreaked-haired-same-but-different mantra, I discovered that this book is pretty much a toned down version of Double Love [i.e. The twins fight over Todd, but Jessica doesn’t accuse him of sexual assault.]

Jessica has the hots for Todd, or at least the idea of Todd, and because all the Unicorns are getting sort-of-boyfriends, she needs one too. Only strangely, whenever Todd is around her, all he wants to do is talk about Liz, because THAT’S ALL ANYONE DOES IN SWEET VALLEY.

I quite like Liz in this book [SHAME!] – she actually seems like a real 12-year-old noticing boys for the first time. In true Liz fashion, she overanalyzes everything that Todd says and does, which reminds me of myself until oh, about four years ago. And I am in my 20s. For instance, she and Toddles have an awkward conversation about bowling in which she admits how clumsy she is, and then she proceeds to beat herself up for the next week for so stupidly offending him. Then, when Jessica asks her to go bowling she wonders if Todd will think she’s going because of him, but then if she stays home Jess will get a crack at TBT and BLAH BLAH BLAH. I still hate Liz, but maybe that means I hate myself.

As is the case in Double Love, Jessica pursues Todd with vigor, and Liz lets her get away with it, because she is a doormat. Without confessing who her crush is, Liz asks Jess for dating advice, and of course gets the solution to all relationship woes, a makeover, from her twin. Please note Jessica hasn’t been kissed yet, which surprises me. So Liz rocks up at SVMS decked out in purple and with her hair curled, and because Lila is a bitch [who I love] she sends a rumour around that Liz is looking for a boyfriend. So everyone from me to Randy Mason chases after her, even though it’s TBT she wants. [Trusty Boyfriend Todd? Trusty sort-of-boyfriend Todd? TSOBT?]

Anyway – eventually the whole gang decides to go to the bowling alley, and TSOBT only agrees to go with Jess because Elizabeth will be there too. Todd, you are waaaaay simple.

And you have an extraordinarily long neck

Luckily, Jessica ditches him for Aaron Dallas, so he is free to go off and hold hands with Liz and deliver the timely peck. What would have been awesome is if, when they were bowling, Liz did something clumsy and Todd fell for her in spite of it. But no, we are in Sweet Valley, so instead we get this scene:

“If I bowl a strike,” said Elizabeth, “it’ll be the first one in my whole life.”
“There’s a first time for everything,” Julie reminded her. “Come on, we want to win!”
Elizabeth stepped back, took two running steps, and threw the ball. To her enormous surprise, it went straight down the middle of the lane and smashed into the pins. Every single one of them crashed to the floor.
“A strike!” Amy yelled, jumping up and down. “I knew you could do it! Now we’re ahead!”
“Hey,” Todd said admiringly, “that was pretty good.”

Screw you, Liz. On the night of my first pash, I tripped over the bloody sound equipment at the school dance and the plastics laughed in my face. So screw you.

While all this is transpiring, [maybe bad things happen to me because I use words like ‘transpiring’] Steven is two-timing a sporty feminist chick called Lindsay [who I dig], and an flirtatious, vapid airhead called Candace [who I do not.] I liked Steven waaaay more in SVT, when he didn’t fawn over his sisters and mope after much-younger girls and dead people. He totally strings both girls along, then has to ditch Candace at the bowling alley and break her little heart. Go Steve! The only thing I dislike is that he asks Liz for relationship advice.

The one that should be called, “Too Good To Be True” or SVH #21 Runaway

1 Nov

Covers thieved from Shannon’s Sweet Valley High Page and The Closet

I voted for #60, That Fatal Night, mainly because Ken looks just as I imagined him – a corpse with no personality. But this one runs a close second, and I’ve gotta say I heart the flashdance appeal of Jessica’s outfit.

RUNAWAY:

Nobody loves Jessica Wakefield! Elizabeth is tired of her selfish ways, Ned doesn’t invite her to an important court hearing, and everyone teases her about how she is a bad cook, a terrible student and moreover, bad at life.

[Forget the cover – this book is AWESOME!]

For once, I have to empathise with Liz – Jessica steals her new blue silk blouse and it turns up, scrunched in a ball in her chaotic room while the sociopath is lounging on her bed, wondering what to wear on a date with Neil Freemount. I have been there, and my sister is a whole 32 months and four minutes older, and it is not fun. Team Elizabeth? Moi? Just this once…

Although I give kudos to Ned for not giving in to his whiny youngest daughter, he is actually a bit of a bastard in this book. Like here, for instance:

“You know,” their father said, laughing, “I have never been able to teach your mother how to do justice to a salad. That woman has a master’s degree, and she still cant mix a decent dressing.”

Read: Get back in the kitchen, bitch. And not to work your interior-designer’s magic on the Spanish tiles…..

I can only hope she feeds him Chinese food and sends him into anaphylactic shock. That’ll show him.

When he’s not being a reasonable father to his daughter or a chauvinistic prick to his wife, Ned is worrying about Steven, who is home from college AGAIN, but this time- for good!

Apparently he’s the only person in Sweet Valley who does actual grieving after someone dies! It’s been 9 books since Tricia Martin and he still isn’t coping. Jessica, who can’t even be wounded by the death of seven boyfriends before she’s twenty, decides to do some Liz-worthy meddling and set him up with Cara Walker.

At Cara’s party the next night, Jessica is all cranky because everyone fawns over Liz and because Liz and TBT are so happy. Geez, how dare they.

All this pent-up misery pushes Jessica right into the arms of a bad boy – hermit Nicky Shepherd.

We know Nicky is bad because, direct from the horse’s mouth: He spent a lot of time with the crowd from the Shady Lady and drove a fast car. There were also rumours about drugs.

However, he flashed Jessica a brilliant smile and she felt a little charge o f electricity run through her body.

And just like that, Jessica is sold [again].

Nick is all sad and lonesome, which of course turns Jessica on.

“How can you like being sad?” asked Jessica, intrigued.

“It’s easier than being happy,” replied Nicky. [Emo alert!]

So they make out in Cara’s boathouse, and of course spend a good hour on the dance floor, which seems a bit unusual for a loner-emo-hermit-boy, don’t you think?

In the C-plot, Ricky Capaldo [the guy Annie Whitman dated for the longest, i.e. 5 books] is involved in a bitter custody dispute in which his mother is denying his paternal grandparents access because Mr Capaldo won’t pay child support. Because Ned is a shit lawyer, [who has now added family law to his growing bunch of legal practices] he decides to discuss the case with Elizabeth, and get her to cover it for the Oracle. How appropriate Ned. Screw your client’s confidentiality, lets call in the media!! Then again, it is Liz, so he’d be lucky to get 137 characters in “The Eyes and Ears” column.

Jessica has lots of things to say, but Ned ignores her and praises Elizabeth’s opinion on the matter [she blabs on about the poor Capaldo children suffering due to a broken family]. He then encourages Liz to write an article for the Sweet Valley Freaking News about it, and tells Jess to spend her time worrying about something that will interest her more. Go Ned! [I think]

My only consolation is that after the trial, Ricky tells Liz to mind her own business. Go Ricky! Unfortunately, Ned keeps being a tool and encourages her that justice will be done if she prints her feel-good story. In the Sweet Valley News. Because people really care about custody battles over 16-year-olds.  I brought up the blurred distinction between lawyers and journos in Sweet Valley back here, but I think Ned is still a little confused as to their roles.

Meanwhile, Jessica is consoling herself in the back seat of Nicky Shepherd’s brown mustang. He even takes her to a party where the kids have joints, although Fran-Pasc makes the point explicitly clear that Nicky refuses the weed.

He does have several beers though, and Jessica accepts a lift home with him [idiot], and of course he wraps the Mustang around a pole.

I’m not saying I want Jessica to die or anything, but…didn’t Liz have about a teaspoon of  MJPP [Magic Jungle Prom Punch] and kill Sam Woodruff? Nicky’s pretty wasted. Just saying.

Nicky’s parents are probably going to be angry [as they should – maybe Nalice can take some tips?] so he decides to run away to San Fran. Jessica decides to go too! She leaves a note, which she might not have done if she were serious about leaving. Then again, this is Jessica so it’s clearly only a cry for help. And this is Sweet Valley, which nobody in their right mind actually leaves.

The bus scene reminds me of Margo’s journey from Cleveland. I’m not sure why, maybe the old women, newspapers, bag ladies and seedy busdrivers?

Of course, Steven and Liz race to Carver City in the trusty yellow VW, and return Jessica to the safety of Calico Drive, Sweet Valley while Nicky makes the trek to San Fran alone. Apparently emo-boy couldn’t stick it out though, because he turns up in Mystery Date to give the anti-jock demonstrations a hand.

The best part of the book is Liz and Jess getting told. The worst is that because I’m not a size-six blonde-haired aqua-eyed goddess, I cannot do this outfit the justice that sociopath did.

Some SVT recaps coming your way soon, and don’t forget the Team Margo Contest, winner will be announced on Thursday with the release of “When Lila Met Stacey”, Chapter 15

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