Tag Archives: sweet valley

The One Where Nicholas Morrow proves he’s still got it: SVH #26 “HOSTAGE”

14 Jan

I recently spent an entire 22-hour plane ride engrossed in “Dancing on My Grave”, the tell-all autobiography of America’s prima ballerina Gelsey Kirkland. It’s a haunting read, depicting the mental torment of Kirkland, [who is in my opinion the greatest classical ballerina of the 20th century] and her well-publicised battle with cocaine.

So as I drifted off to sleep in that mid-afternoon, jet-lagged haze, where do you think my thoughts took me? To Baryshnikov? No! To the New York City Ballet? No!

Engrained in my conscious from a very young age is of course that ominous association between cocaine and…. Regina Morrow.

Oh,oh with white teeth

Oh, oh Regina…. [I googled this. I think it’s a Bjork song]

Now I’ve recapped Regina’s untimely end previously, so when I was wide awake at 4am the following day, I started reading this epic little piece of fiction: SVH #26 “Hostage”. It’s the story of Bruce and the twin’s secret mission to free Regina from a “mean little man” [their words, not mine] and his evil accomplice.

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Run, don’t walk from the zombie…..Or SVH #83 “Steven’s Bride”

10 Aug

Steven Wakefield is officially a zombie. Seriously. The guy’s about to celebrate the biggest day of his life and he can’t even muster an expression. Not even a hint of joy, or fear, or god help us, a vague look of interest in the woman he’s asked to become his wife.

This is Steven’s wedding look:

You will notice, it is pretty much the same as his grieving look:

And his “fond memories” look:

 

This is his “oh-fuck-my-parents-are-splitting-and-I’d-better-come-home-from-college-again-to-look-after-my-sisters” look.

Notice a difference? Nope, me neither

Poor Steven. I always give him such a bad rap. But seriously – all he seems to do is come home from college, date a bunch of high school girls, and mope around after they’ve died/moved on/ failed to embody Tricia Martin’s personality despite being her doppelganger.

And this time, he goes one better. He takes the advice of stupid, stupid Jessica and agrees to marry sixteen year old Cara Walker so she doesn’t move to London with her mom.

The background is that Steve and Cara have been dating for about fifty books, which probably equates to a few months in Sweet Valley land. During this time he has dumped her – twice – for a Tricia Martin clone, treated her like shit when he’s actually trying hard at law school, and come home from college repeatedly to hang out with her and the other high schoolers at the Beach Disco.

[I will ignore the fact that ten years later he is dating Aaron Dallas, because that casts a whole new light on what he actually got up to away at SVU.]

Anyway, Cara is being her usual boring self and tells her much cooler friends – Jessica and Lila – that she is moving to London for good. Jessica feels bad for her brother, because she knows how hard he took Tricia’s death, and losing another gf would be disaster! So the logical solution, she decides, is to convince Steven to marry Cara! In the end it takes just one conversation.

Although Cara is still in high school, and he is still grieving Tricia [not to mention the fact that Billie Winkler, aka love of his life, is still twenty-five books away], Steven has this response to Jessica’s bright idea:

“Why didn’t I think of that?” he shouted. “Jess, you’re a genius!”

The next 100 pages are dedicated to keeping the secret from their parents, and convincing Liz not to blab. There are 137 scenes of Steven and Cara agonizing about the situation and planning a civil ceremony with just the two of them. I want to shake them and remind them that if there are this many misgivings, it’s probably not the right thing to do.

Then Jessica discovers that Steven has turned down a lucrative scholarship for an intensive law program at SVU. She now decides to plot against the marriage and convince Cara of all the downsides of married life. She says impressive things like, “women are still repressed by the institution of marriage” and, “you’ll probably take up cooking and knitting.” This is a little funny ‘cause when Steven and Cara are finally hitched in ‘Confidential, Cara spends about 90% of her time in the kitchen.

Jessica’s scheming rocks the very unsteady foundations of this relationship, because Cara finds her voice and jilts Steven at the altar on the day of their elopement. Oh and the Wakefields are there. Liz blabbed.

Steven, naturally, is pissed, and he waits till Cara has boarded her flight to speed to the airport and declare his undying love. He says his final goodbye, knowing they are just too young to enter in to anything like marriage.

My advice to Steven: Cut your hair. Stick around at college for one weekend. Go to a frat party. Pash and dash.

I really dislike this spineless Steven. He was sooo much better as a fourteen year old in Sweet Valley Twins. No really – that kid rocked, and generally got the better of his sisters. Of course, it takes his hook up with Billie Winkler [his housemate, during Margo’s reign] to bring out some ‘tude in Steven – and replace his Bieber locks with a style more befitting a law major. Steven and Billie forever. You can hang your hat on that.

My Christmas Wish: Sweet Valley Twins Special Edition “A Christmas Without Elizabeth”

13 Dec

I am totally digging this cover. For starters, there’s a shot of a woe-begone Liz with all her hair chopped off, sporting a fugly and completely unflattering red ensemble. But that has nothing on the title, nor the by-line: ““What If Elizabeth Had Never Been Born?” Oh, what if! Please, ghostwriters, make my day –

The first part of the book is actually rather likeable. Jessica had been elected head of the SVMS party planning committee, and like Angela of “The Office” fame, the power is going to her head. She has a kitty of $186 to spend, once she’s come up with a knockout theme to impress all the boys she’s after. Liz, meanwhile, is helping at the homeless shelter, and she befriends a poor family called the Glasses, whom she can pity and shoulder pat whenever she likes. The volunteer work is so all-consuming that she is blowing off TBT, Amy, homework and even the Sixers. She steals the $186 and gives it to Mrs Glass to put a down-payment on a rental property. Because they are poor, I fear it may be a place on the Wrong Side Of The Tracks, possibly near The Shady Lady or The Martins. Mr Glass is “working away” and uncontactable, and without the money for a week’s rent, the family are evicted. That night, Jessica figures out that her twin stole the money, and Elizabeth is the subject of everyone’s anger from the Glass kids to the Unicorns. And so she bawls, and feels sorry for herself and wishes that she had never been born… [If Only].

That was the first part of the book. The good bit. From here on in, Liz is taken around town by a spectre, whose sole purpose is to visit Liz and prove how wonderful she is and how the universe wouldn’t function without her. The angel, however, is fairly shrewd, making this observation about St Liz:

“Personality Problems Profile. Elizabeth can be very self critical. She takes on more responsibility than is age-appropriate. She can be stubborn and exhibits a tendency towards self-righteousness. She is a major goody-goody.”

She then takes Liz for a spin around the Valley, “A Christmas Carol” style, showing all the things that would’ve happened had Elizabeth never been born:

#1 Without Liz, Sophia Rizzo is a social pariah, and her brother ends up in reform school because he got in so many fights defending her.

#2 Sophia’s mom and Sarah Thomas’ dad never get married.

#3 Sarah Thomas is dead. [Apparently without Liz, she would have died from falling down a flight of stairs.]

Dear God.

#4 Denny Jacobsen is dead. Without St Liz, there was no-one to rescue him when a monster wave hit and his surfboard whacked him on the head.

I’m starting to see a pattern here.

#5 Brooke Dennis a social outcast. [Maybe a leper?]

#6 Mary Giaccio/Wallace is still in foster care and has mousy, limp hair.

#7 TBT is miserable and boring without the love of his life and stays at home playing video games all day [so really, nothing’s changed.]

#8 Amy and Winston are not on the Booster’s cheer-squad. OK, I read Booster Boycott, and Liz had nothing to do with me being on that squad, dammit!

#9 I get beaten up by Jerry McAllister and Charlie Cashman. [Would’ve liked to see Liz stopping that one. ]

#10 The Unicorns are called the Sharks and they smoke actual cigarettes! OMG!

Enough, spirit, enough! Show me no more!

#11 Alice is accused of having an affair and Nalice divorces, because there was no St Liz to defend her! [She’s been boning Hank Patman all along, I knew it! If only Liz had covered it up and she could continue her wicked ways….]

#12 Ned is a divorced alcoholic who hangs out at Kelly’s.

#13 Steven has a tattoo, an earring and a ponytail. He is also in the hood. This is what happens as a direct result of a divorce in Sweet Valley. And the divorce is a direct result of Elizabeth never having been born.

Here’s an excerpt of the Wakefields, sans Liz:

Mrs Wakefield ran out the door after him. “Will you at least be home to open gifts tomorrow morning?”

Steven stopped in midstride halfway across the lawn. “Did you get me that CD player I want?”

“Steven, you know we don’t have that kind of money –“

“Then the answer’s no.”

 

#14 Without Liz, Jessica is ugly and unpopular. When the Sharks come round pretending to be her friend, she jumps at the chance. They then force her to scale City Hall and remove the star from the top, and she falls to her death.

It is now that Elizabeth realizes she is crucial to everyone’s livelihood, and agrees to go back to the real world.

When she “wakes up”, she’s at the SVMS Christmas party, as the guest of honour. A guest of honour? At a fucking Christmas party? With all this miracle work, she’s practically Jesus Christ, so why am I not surprised?

Everyone is gushing over her, and the crowd cheers every time she opens her mouth. Then the friggen Glasses turn up with good news – they’ve moved into an even better apartment! In the space of one day! Even Mr Glass is there, which is surprising because I was beginning to think he might be George…

The moral of the story – Elizabeth Wakefield is central to the functioning of Sweet Valley, to California and to the entire solar system. Can I have the past two hours of my life back? Please? Francine, if you’re reading this: “A Christmas Without Elizabeth” is the perfect title for a spin-off series, where Margo finally has her way….Just a thought.

***

As many of you know, I am a major Sweet Valley nut. But above and beyond that, I am a Christmas dork. I freaking love Christmas. I turn into this corny, caroling version of myself. So this year, I decided to put a Sweet Valley spin on my Christmas decorations. The Evil Twin scene from last week is in the living room. And this is what became of my book collection:

Go back to College, Steven or SVH # 135 Lila’s New Flame

18 Oct

Before I forget, the TEAM MARGO shirt is still up for grabs here

There is so much I love about this photo. It could only be better if the Chuck Bass of Sweet Valley [yes that’s you Bruce Patman], walked into the frame at that moment.

Since SVH junior year has reached 1997, there’s also some awesome outfits in this one:

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Presenting Magenta Galaxy and Daniella Fromage: SVH#62 Who’s Who?

11 Oct

“I’m telling you, Liz, the boys around here are so immature it makes me want to join a convent sometimes.”

How’s that for an opening line? Right up there with “Marley was dead. As dead as a doornail.” and “Two households, both alike in dignity/ In fair Verona where we lay our scene.” Yup, Jessica Wakefield, right up there with the likes of Dickens and Shakespeare with her sociological observations.

But lets not kid ourselves – the awesomeness of this book lies not in the plot, nor the Wakefield twins nor the D-list characters they dredge up.

On the contrary, this book is in my all-time top ten SVH books [All things Margo-related knocked it out of the top five] on account of the incredible outfits it produced.

Cover courtesy of Shannon’s Sweet Valley High blog

 

The plot is quite ordinary by comparison – Jessica applies to a dating service under two psueudoyms – Daniella Fromage and Magenta Galaxy, and hooks two eligible teenagers, Pierre and Brett, respectively. Daniella is a “cultured” snob based on Suzanne Hanlon, [who Jessica hates but uses to borrow clothes and personality traits]. Magenta is a Dana Larson-style wild rocker, a character that Jessica is going to find extremely difficult to back up because she has no musical talent. Also, she hates foreign films and doesn’t speak French, rendering this whole exercise a complete waste of time destined for a chaotic end. How she thinks this could possibly work is beyond me. I think she needs a part time job. Or a hobby. Seriously.

So, Jessica goes along and dates both at once, and our book culminates in a dinner scene where she and Liz switch between the characters. Finally, Pierre and Brett wise up, and Jessica is ruined until a couple of books later where she meets someone else on a teen phone line. Apparently teens met through dating services and phone lines in Sweet Valley back in the day. Good God. I’m glad facebook hasn’t been discovered yet.

But enough of that- lets see how Daniella Fromage and Magenta Galaxy measured up in the fashion stakes:

DF:

“How about this cream silk blouse?” Elizabeth suggested, picking up the cream coloured silk one she had noticed before. “You have those navy blue linen pants. They would look great with this.”

A square silk scarf in red, blue and gold caught her eye. She made a triangle out of it and held it against the blouse. Terrific.

“Oh that’s great!” Jessica exclaimed when she saw the effect. “It’ll be perfect with that little red bag of Suzanne’s and my blue suede flats.”

I was loving this outfit…then I realized that instead of “black snakeskin pumps” it read “blue suede flats”. Daniella Fromage, you’ve let us all down…

MG:

For her outfit, she had chosen tight black bicycle pants, a black tank top, and a leather jacket she’d borrowed from Lila. Almost anything from Dana’s collection would look right with the ensemble.

“The guitar pick earrings, definitely!” Elizabeth said. “And those black bangles.”

On Thursday night, Jessica had another blue streak in her hair. She wriggled into a blue strapless minidress and fastened a necklace of dice and tiddlywinks [what are tiddlywinks?] around her neck. In among the clicking pieces were scrabble tiles that spelled out “hard rock”.

This is a legitimately awesome necklace. I give it 18 points.

Dana looked down at her wrists. She was wearing four thick black bangles on each arm. They went perfectly with her skintight black pants, black and white-checkered shoes, and lime green t-shirt. In one ear she wore a guitar pick dangling from a silver wire.

Uh, no offence Dana but you look more like The New Elizabeth than a, like, hardcore rock chick.

One outfit: Two Ways

Faced with two dates on the same night, Jessica must appear as both Daniella Fromage and Magenta Galaxy. Being two places at once is a cinch when you have a doormat for an identical twin, who agrees to act as one of the females. But not content with spending the night with just one of the guys, Jessica decides she and Elizabeth will continually switch between DF and MG

“Here’s how we’ll do it. We’ll wear the same basic outfit, black leotards and black skirts, but I’ll start out with Magenta’s jewellery and you can wear Daniella’s accessories. And Suzanne’s cropped jacket. And a beret. And we’ll each have a blue streak in our hair, but when we’re Daniella we can cover it up with the beret.

DF

MG

[I love you guys, but not quite enough to subject myself to blue hair dye.]

Oh yeah and it turns out that Brett S and Pierre de Luc are as fake as Magenta and Daniella – Pierre thinks Fellini is a type of pasta and confuses Ingrid Bergman with “Swedish director Ingmar Bergman”. And Brett gets the Doors and the Rolling Stones confused. These people are weird.

I thought Jessica would learn from the inevitable failure of her ridiculous plan, but no – she and doormat are back up to their dirty tricks when she dates a photographer and a gaffa in the Fashion Victim story arc.

Are you Team Magenta Galaxy or Team Daniella Fromage? After all, this is the one-dimensional world of Sweet Valley where you couldn’t possibly be a bit of both…

Later this week: WLMS Chapter 12 and Your chance to WIN a Team Margo T-shirt [screw the Wakefields – Margo Forever!]

Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield: Better than Margot Fonteyn [but not as good as Margo Black…]

28 Aug

This was the first Sweet Valley book I ever read, so I will do my best to keep the snark to a minimum

Not!!!

The book is about the twins and their classical ballet class, which of course they are the star pupils of despite never having done ballet before or since this book.

The ghostwriter obviously read an “ABC of ballet” dictionary, because she knows three, and only three, steps: glisse, fouette, and jete. And so in every rehearsal scene, which accounts for 50% of the book [the other 50% is Jess sulking and Liz being self-righteous]; we get a rundown of one twin or the other executing one of these steps. Having done ballet since the tender age of four, I am more than amused at Elizabeth’s ability to go from a battement glisse [on the barre] to a fouette [basically a turn on one leg with the other leg whipping in and out] to a hop on one leg, known as a jete.

But suspending disbelief, we are taken to the originally titled “Dance Studio” in downtown Sweet Valley, which is run by a French expat known as Madame Andre. The students, including the twinkies, Kerry Glen, Jo Morris and Amy “Tomboy” Sutton, are preparing for a production of Coppelia in the upcoming fall recital.

In about the first two pages, we learn that Jessica is an amazing ballerina but goes unnoticed, while Liz is pretty average and yet Madame Andre’s favourite.

“Oh Lizzie, you don’t know how terrible it is to be ignored. Madame never looks at me. She never sees my plies or my battement glises because she’s always looking at you. You’re teacher’s pet. Madame likes you 337 times more than she likes me.” Jessica reflects that perhaps she fell out of favour when she dressed up for her first ballet class. I can see why:

*Outfit recap*

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You can’t be a hippie and a jock, or SVH Super Edition #9 “Mystery Date”

7 Aug

Before I recap the absurdity that is this book, let’s first take a moment to appreciate some of the awesome outfits it produced:

Read on for outfit snaps and Ken doing some serious birdwatching..

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