Friday, July 26, 2013

Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller #1: The Christmas Ghost


Since Sweet Valley can apparently do nothing without the help of kids, it lets the local schools raise money for the new children's wing at the hospital. Elizabeth, Amy, and her friends decide to hold a bazaar, while Jessica gets distracted with Lila's plans for her Christmas party. She promises to help her bake cookies and runs off to help her pick out decorations, and she doesn't even want to get up when it comes time to go to the bazaar.

While window shopping a few weeks before Christmas, they see a porcelain carousel horse. Elizabeth thinks about how it reminds her of the carousel that was once in the park, and Jessica just likes it because it looks like a unicorn. Elizabeth later hears her twin telling their mother all about it. When she points out that it sounds like something her twin might like, Jessica says that she didn't even like it.

The middle school pledged to raise $100, but the bazaar brings in less than $44. Elizabeth gets the brilliant idea to ask movie star Beau Dillon for help. Even though Alice warns her that he's a busy actor, she writes him anyway because she knows he'll be in town. He writes her back with his agent's phone number, and they schedule a meeting at the house.

Jessica naturally decides that she was always interested in helping her twin raise money and she can't wait to meet Beau. At Lila's party, Elizabeth tells everyone about the letter, and Lila accuses her of lying to be the center of attention. Jessica goes from bragging about meeting Beau to hiding in the background. Everyone pretty much acts like it's a huge lie because Elizabeth wants attention.

Even though it really annoys her, she decides not to tell anyone. A few days later, she finds Jessica going through things in their parents' closet, looking for gifts. Jessica starts bragging about how Alice bought her the carousel horse, and it leads to a huge fight. Elizabeth finally tells her that if she doesn't stop being so selfish, she'll wind up without any friends.

Beau agrees to stop by their house a few days before Christmas. Elizabeth waits around all day and actually apologizes to her whore sister for being so mean. She finally has to leave to hand out presents to the needy, and Jessica mopes around the house thinking about how everyone will tease her. He shows up late because of car trouble, agrees to help with the fundraising, and makes plans to see her a few days after Christmas. Then, he calls her Elizabeth.

Since this is Jessica, she decides not to tell her twin what happened. Elizabeth walks around looking super sad because she really thought he would step up and help her. Jessica is mainly annoyed and irritated, and she can't figure out why she won't just let it go. All that matters to her is that she gets to go on a date with him.

When she goes to bed on Christmas Eve, she thinks that she sees her lamp turning into a clown lamp they had as kids. She remembers how much Elizabeth broke it and how much it scared her, so she broke it and claimed she didn't know what happened. She later notices that the unicorn on a poster Lila bought her for Christmas seems to come to life. It all ends with a little blond girl sitting at the foot of her bed.

The little girl says that she's the Ghost of Christmas Past, and Jessica realizes that she looks just like the twins did. She takes her back in time, showing her how much Elizabeth loved the carousel at the park. She also sees them in second grade when they were best friend. She was so close to Liz that she even turned down Lila when she wanted to sit with her at lunch. The GOCP also shows her the start of sixth grade when Elizabeth went home crying to their mom over the Unicorn club and how she lost her twin. It makes her feel bad because she was so busy with her own life that she didn't realize how much her sister was hurting.

The Ghost of Christmas Present later visits her, and it's the unicorn from the poster. He takes her on a long ride that makes her lose her slipper. The unicorn takes her to Christmas Day, but lets her see life through the eyes and mind of her sister. She sees Elizabeth moping a little over the carousel horse, and she sees herself get snippy about how she won't let Liz borrow her new Christmas shirt. She also learns that her twin is still thinking about Beau and how he let her down.

This all leads up to her meeting the Ghost of Christmas Future. Wearing a long white robe, it takes her to a high school party by the lake. She sees a tall blond girl surrounded by friends, and immediately decides that it must be her and that it proves Elizabeth was wrong about her being selfish. The blond mentions her sister being in the woods on a sorority initiation, and she asks one of the guys if he hung up the tags in the right spot. Apparently, the girl had to follow a line of flags back to the party. He says he did, but he later tells someone else that he put them too high for her to see, and they all laugh about it.

Jessica wonders what her twin did wrong, and she goes into the woods to find her. She eventually does, but learns that it's actually high school Jessica in the woods. She also gets to see her teen self sitting alone at a football game, while Elizabeth is surrounded by all of her friends. She then sees herself at the Dairi Burger when Bruce asks her on a date. It turns out that he wants to take her to a dog show and enter her, which makes everyone laugh.

She eavesdrops on a few girls and learns that people hate her because she's a horrible person. They point out a long list of things she did wrong in the past ending with the Beau situation. She keeps seeing her twin surrounded by cool people and wearing a silver bracelet with a heart-shaped charm on it. She confronts the ghost about what happened and grabs his cloak, which falls off and shows her nothing is underneath.

Jessica wakes up in her bedroom on Christmas morning. She rushes downstairs and tells Elizabeth that Beau showed up after all. She also opens the carousel horse and hands it over to her twin because she liked it a lot more. Beau sends Elizabeth a bunch of flowers and the bracelet she wore in the future with a note about meeting her later. Jessica vows to always put her twin first and not act like a bitch, something she sadly doesn't remember later.

*Little Jessica called Bruce Fat Man the Pat Man, which cracked me up. It makes him blush and all of his friends laugh at him.

*It's funny that she thinks she isn't selfish because if she were, she wouldn't have her friends from the Unicorn club. Yup, those girls are totally not selfish.

*One of the cheerleaders is a pretty girl with brown hair named Cara. I guess that's Francine's way of letting us know that Cara only moved to town after middle school.

*This book is odd because the first few chapters focus completely on Elizabeth before changing to a Jessica story.

*The Wakefields wouldn't even let the twins go to a concert alone, so what makes her think they would let her go out with a teenage actor? Then again, what makes her think a 17 year old guy would actually ask a 14 year old girl on a date?

*Jessica doesn't want to get on Lila's bad side because she got her something really good for Christmas. It's a poster of a purple unicorn. Seriously, with Lila's money, she couldn't afford something a little better for her best friend?

*When she sees teen Liz, her group of friends include Todd and Winston. I love that Amy wasn't included in the story because the ghostwriter knew she wasn't in SVH yet.

*Jessica sees Beau at home at one point, and this teenage actor apparently has a big ass Malibu mansion to himself. While that seems pretty common today, it seems a little less so in the late 80s.

*Don't get me started on the fact that Elizabeth wrote to Beau and got a response back in less than a week. Do I really need to tell my Christian Slater story again?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sweet Valley Twins #44: Amy Moves In


Elizabeth and Amy finish up working on some huge assignment for school. Amy asks her to spend the night, but Alice tells her that she can't because the family's been so busy that they haven't had time to spend with each other, so she wants to take them out to dinner. Amy mentions building a fire in the fireplace before Elizabeth leaves. She gets home just in time to have Jessica pout and whine because her twin hasn't had time for her lately.

The next day at school, she sees people whispering and a few people start to ask her questions, and she's also upset that Amy didn't meet her before class. Caroline gives her an update: Amy's house burned down. Someone on her street saw it happen, and the rumors start swirling. By the end of the day, she hears that Amy broke both her legs and will be in the hospital for a month. She also talks to her teacher, who lets her know that they can turn in their project the following week.

When Elizabeth gets home, she immediately runs to her mother to tell her what happened, and she finds Amy sitting in her room. They tell her that Amy will be staying with them for a few weeks until her parents find another house. Amy says that the fire started after she left, and that she tripped over her shoelaces and broke her leg, but she'll pretty much be okay.

Jessica goes out for ice cream with the Unicorns, and when she leaves, they demand that she call and tell them everything when she finds out what really happened. After seeing Amy, she calls everyone and Mary comes over with her stuffed teddy bear. Lila and Ellen show up next with candy for Amy and want to hear everything. They all sign her cast, but Ellen acts like she can't stand Amy.

The rest of the book pretty much involves Amy lying her ass off to everyone and avoiding Elizabeth. She tells everyone that she broke her arm when she had to jump out of her bedroom window to escape the fire, and her lies start growing. She tells them the ambulance ran every red light on the way to the hospital, they had a police escort, and the doctor said it was the worst broken bone he had seen in 30 years.

Mr. Bowman asks her to write a story for the paper. He suggests she work with Elizabeth, but she refuses and says she wants to write it herself. The Unicorns give her a bunch of clothes to borrow because hers burned up, and they make her the center of attention. The only downside is Ellen. She hates spending time around Amy, keeps changing the subject when she's around, and acts like they don't have time for her. She starts spending a lot of time with Brooke Dennis and tells the other girls that she convinced her to throw a party with the Unicorns.

Jessica isn't a whole lot better. She thinks that Elizabeth wants to keep Amy all to herself, keeps saying that she's trying to push her out, and decides to spend time with Amy too. Every time that Liz brings up working on their project, she changes the subject. Amy basically spends all of her free time with the Unicorns, though she does admit to herself that she only does it because she thinks that she caused the fire by leaving a bag of hot ashes on the floor after starting the fire.

People at school keep asking Elizabeth for details on the fire or commenting on how Amy is never around. On locker clean out day, Amy pitches a fit because Elizabeth has the audacity to want to finish her lunch before helping her. When someone else points out that she's treating her friend live a slave, she pitches a fit, and Liz jumps to her defense, which leads to Amy bitching about how she now knows who her true friends are.

This all leads up to Amy and Elizabeth having a minor argument. Elizabeth was so upset one night that she slept with a teddy bear, and Amy told Lila and Ellen about it. They spread it around school, and people start calling her Baby Bear. Amy acts like she didn't do anything wrong, and after they fight over it, Amy moves her stuff into Jessica's room.

It doesn't take long before she decides that she really can't stand Jessica. She keeps moaning over what people think and how Bruce called her Baby Bear in front of other guys and how Aaron might hear it and decide that he doesn't like her. Amy suggests that she tell off Bruce, which she can't do because oh my god, he's like totally popular and stuff! She then suggests she talk to her "friends," but she can't do that either because then they'll know that it actually bothers her.

Amy's mom gives her some money to pick out some new clothes, and the Unicorns take her shopping. Ellen says that she doesn't want to go, but then shows up with Brooke, saying that they need to help her pick out decorations for her party. Brooke goes with them and actually acts like Amy's friend. Lila takes her to an expensive store and acts like Amy's beneath her for wanting to shop somewhere cheaper. After going to a cheaper shop and hearing Amy turn down her choices, she gives up.

All Amy wants to do is go home because she notices no one paying attention to her anymore, but Jessica convinces her that if she leaves, Ellen will brag about running her off. She gets stuck with the Unicorns a few more times before she gives up. When Jessica goes to meet them at Brooke's house, Amy breaks down in front of Elizabeth.

She tells her all about her lies and how she lied in her newspaper article. Conveniently, Elizabeth has the article because she needed to proofread it. Amy has another problem too. She let Jessica convince her that their teacher would give her more time on their project because of her cast, but the teacher told her no. After their fight, they decided to work separately, so she only has two days to finish it.

Elizabeth agrees to help her write a better article, and they work together on the project. The both get As and Mr. Bowman loves the article, but he wants her to wait until she finds out what caused the fire before printing it. Mr. and Mrs. Sutton show up at the Wakefield house with big news. Not only did they find a new house, but they learned that it was an electrical fire, so everyone is fine once again in Sweet Valley.

*Did your parents let you spend the night with friends when you had school the next day? This happens a lot in these books including the start of this one. I could spend the night on weekends but never on weekdays.

*Jessica is so paranoid that she thinks Elizabeth only suggested they play Scrabble because she knows that Jess hates it.

*The science project storyline really annoyed me! They get either three or four weeks to work on it because it's such a big deal. She knows that the entire project burned in the fire, and then she gives them less than one week to redo it?

*What kind of sixth grader is so good at English that she can edit? Mr. Bowman basically just hands over Amy's article to Liz because she's oh-so-good that she can completely proofread and edit it on her own.

*Let's not forget that the whole point of the book is that Amy's story about the fire spreads across the school. It's been at least two weeks since the fire and he still wants to run an article on it. Why? Hasn't everyone heard about it?

*Ellen's hatred of Amy seems to come out of nowhere. She kind of seems like just another background Unicorn in most books, but in this one, the ghostwriter acts like she's one of the top members of the club.

*When Jessica reads the article, she notices that the true story is different from the one that she heard, and she warns her to avoid the club for a few days because they might be a little upset.

*I get that Lila is rich, but I find it hard to believe that a sixth grader would shop in top stores and buy designer labels all of the time.

*Amy's parents manage to find a house in something like three weeks, which is just insane. I had an apartment fire that pretty much destroyed everything I had, and it took me longer than that to find a new place to live.

*Of course, I also had to deal with nightmares and an inability to be around anything burning including candles, while Amy is A-OK immediately after the fire.