Friday, June 26, 2015

Sweet Valley Twins #51: Big Brother's in Love

Steven Wakefield has it bad. He's "in love" with this girl named Jill Hale. Though he took her out on a date, things went so bad that now she barely speaks to him. Janet Howell starts picking on him, even though it wasn't that long ago that she was obsessed with him, and points out that Jill is now dating her older brother Joe. Jessica makes a bet with her that Steven can get over Jill in the next week. If she wins, she and Elizabeth get Janet's tickets to some random show called Staying Up with Bob or something like that, but if Janet wins, she gets Liz's new camera.

Liz is, naturally, unhappy with this agreement but agrees to help her twin win the bet. Since the only girl Steven ever spends time with is his friend Cathy Connors, they decide that she's his perfect match. They make plans to send her a bunch of gifts from a secret admirer, which will then make Steven so jealous that he falls in love with her.

They first decide to send her a dozen roses, but the cost is way out of their budget, so they send her tulips. The lady running the flower shop loves their secret admirer story so much that she even sends her more flowers than they can afford. Caroline Pierce conveniently sees the delivery truck and brings it up in front of Steven. Unfortunately, Steven doesn't really care because he's still obsessed with Jill.

This leads him to make a fool of himself in front of her. He accidentally spills chocolate milk all over her and keeps saying the wrong thing. When she reveals that she likes motorcycles, he lies and says he's about to buy one. She gushes over him a little but still makes it clear that she's all about the Joe.

Steven buys a motorcycle magazine and realizes that owning a bike costs money. Since he only has 30 bucks in savings, he needs to get a part time job. Ned and Alice are less than thrilled because apparently he's too busy with basketball and band, but they agree to let him apply. He runs around town and keeps whining about how he wants a real job before asking Cathy to get him a job at the mall restaurant where he works.

Jessica and Elizabeth need more money to buy Cathy gifts, but their parents won't give them any advances because their grandmother gave them $100 each not too long ago. Steven offers them $1.50 if they do his laundry for him. Jessica ends up finding his savings and rushes off to spend it. Liz catches her, she refuses to say where the money came from, and they have a huge fight. Liz refuses to help her until she tells her where the money came from.

They do get a bunch of heart shaped balloons and leave them outside Cathy's house. Each time they leave her a gift, they leave her a selection of letters too. Steven and Cathy start goofing around at work, they make a huge mess, and Jill shows up. She acts really cold around him, but Cathy convinces him to ask her out. He does, and Jill just laughs it off.

Steven finally goes to Joe and tells him he's in love with his friend's girlfriend. Joe thinks it's funny because he actually doesn't like her that much. It turns out that she only wants what she can't have and that she's one of those girls who does whatever a guy wants. Joe wants a girlfriend who has her own interests. Also, Jill only liked motorcycles because Joe and his dad bought one they plan on fixing up together.

The next time he goes to work, he and Cathy goof around until he realizes that he actually likes her. They wind up kissing just as the twins show up with one last gift. Cathy puts the letters together and realize it spells Steven Wakefield. They kiss again, and the twins snap a picture of them together.

Believe it or not, Steven doesn't mind. He and Cathy both get fired for goofing around on the job, and he tells Ned and Alice the whole story. Every one is fine up until the twins mention the bet. The Wakefields decide that it isn't right for them to take an expensive item from Janet. Steven offers to give them the money to buy the tickets from her.

Elizabeth shows up at a Unicorn Club meeting with a picture of Steven and Cathy kissing. Janet grumbles but agrees they won and hands over the tickets. Jess repeats everything their parents told them about betting getting out of hand and how they shouldn't bet expensive things. Janet agrees to save face and decides to sell them the tickets and change the way club members can bet in the future.

The television show has some stupid tricks segment, and Liz becomes obsessed with somehow getting on the segment. She tries a bunch of stuff like wiggling her ears and balancing a ping pong ball on her nose before stumbling across a stupid trick by accident. Steven tosses a pea at her, which she hits with a knife and sends it right into the middle of his forehead. It turns out that she can do it every time.

She and Jess go on the show and sit at a ping pong table made up like a dinner table. She keeps hitting Jess in the head with peas as the crowd goes wild until she catches the last one in her mouth. People at school go crazy and greet them with flower bouquets. It's kind of a big deal.

*Steven gets insulted when he can't get a job at a computer store and the guy calls him unskilled. Dude, you're a freshman, of course you're unskilled.

*He also applies for a job as a lifeguard and gets pissed off when he can't get a job without passing certification first. Everyone keeps telling him to apply at a fast food place, which ticks him off because those jobs suck.

*Why does no one point out that it's illegal for a 14 year old to work anyway? At one point, the manager of his restaurant actually leaves he and Cathy alone to run the whole place.

*Jill comes back in the end after seeing the picture of him kissing Cathy and asks him out. He just thinks it's hilarious.

*The orange and brown polyester uniforms they wear on the front cover are actually the same uniforms they wear in the book.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sweet Valley High Super Edition: Winter Carnival

This is one of those very few books in the Sweet Valley High universe where things don't go well for one of the twins. See, Elizabeth isn't having the best run of luck. When the book opens, she's all excited for the upcoming winter carnival. The school buses all the students up to some random lodge and let them have fun all weekend long.

The only downside is that Todd is coming back to town. He apparently worked for some Big Brothers thing and his little brother won an award. He asked Liz to go with him because she knew his little bro or some crap, but at the last minute, it turns out the awards ceremony is Friday night, which is the same night as the big opening party for the carnival. Jeffrey is less than pleased that she's blowing him off.

Liz and Enid spent all this time filling out a contest form for some new trivia game show. Jessica rushes in and announces that she and Amy were one of the two duos selected for the pilot. Naturally, they didn't know a lot of the answers, so they just used Liz and Enid's answers. All she wants to do is brag about how hot the guy competing against her is and how much fun they'll have. Jessica then reveals that the squad was picked for some state competition.

Elizabeth recently entered a writing contest too. Mr. Collins calls her into his office to tell her that she received an honorable mention nod. That night at dinner, Jess keeps talking about all her good luck while Liz pouts. The Wakefields think that getting an honorable mention out of more than 200 students is great, but Liz keeps thinking about how she's clearly a huge loser.

It doesn't help that Jess keeps acting like classic Jess. Jeffrey surprises Liz with plans to take her to her favorite Italian restaurant for dinner. When she gets home though, she finds a note Jess left her. Even though it was her night to cook, she skipped out to study with Amy for the trivia contest. Jess pretty much blows off all her responsibilities for weeks.

Liz keeps lashing out at Jess too. When Jess wears one of her sweaters, Liz flips out to the point where both Ned and Alice basically tell her to STFU at the dinner table. Jess tries to talk to her, which leads to Liz snapping about how she can never trust her. She gives her twin one shot at making things up to her. She is playing tennis with Jeffrey but needs to pick up Teddy Collins from a birthday party. The father of the birthday boy is calling to leave her directions to his house, and she needs Jess to write them down for her.

Jessica has a date set with David, the guy from the trivia show, but she promises to get the directions. See where this is going? She gets the directions but leaves with the paper in her purse. By the time she realizes what happened, it's too late to get in touch with Liz. Jess gets home and finds Liz waiting in the dark. Turns out the dad drove Teddy home, but she's pissed that it made her look so irresponsible so she basically stops talking to her.

They make up again, but then Jessica gives her some "advice" about Jeffrey, which is basically to ignore him and try to make him jealous. Liz follows her advice and makes it seem like she might have feelings for Todd still. Jeffrey gets pissed and storms away from her. This makes her hate Jessica all over again and leads to Jessica trying to make things better.

She arranges to meet with Todd, who is staying with Winston. Jess makes him think that the party is some huge deal and that Liz should really be there. He then calls Liz and tells her that she doesn't have to come to the ceremony. She gets a message from him later basically telling him not to come at all. Liz flips out because she made Jeffrey mad and now doesn't have Todd either.

Jess also screws up once again. Jeffrey leaves a note for Liz and asks her to meet him that night and make up. Jessica promises to get the car home in time for Liz to go, but after winning the trivia challenge, the whole group goes out to eat at some restaurant. By the time she gets home, it's way past the time Jeffrey wanted to meet, and Liz is sure they're over.

Jessica once again decides to help. She leaves Jeffrey a note in his locker to meet her before the party starts and signs it with Liz's name. Unfortunately, she doesn't have a chance to tell her twin what she did because Amy takes forever getting ready. They finally get to the buses only for Amy to remember she left her allergy medication at home. Jess leaves a message with Sandy for Liz and decides to drive them up to the resort. Amy tells her that she'll just have to meet Jeffrey herself and pretend that she's Liz.

By the time they get to the resort, that's her last option. She makes up with Jeffrey as Liz and promises to be his date. Some random chick sees them and then runs into Liz later. When she tells her what she saw, Liz thinks that Jessica orchestrated the whole thing as a way to steal Jeffrey and runs to the bus station. Steven and Cara just got there and try to calm her down, but she refuses to listen and goes home.

Jessica calls and tries to make it up to her, but Liz flips out on her, screams, and says she wishes she never had a sister. Liz then takes a nap and wakes up to a police officer calling her. Jessica was in a serious accident and is now in the hospital but the doctors don't think she'll make it. Liz arrives just in time to get the news that Jessica died after skidding off the road and into a tree, which causes Liz to pass out.

We then get a few chapters of Liz trying to cope with her twin's death. Steven and Ned can barely look at her because of how much she looks like Jess. Alice grieves a lot but tries to move on with her life and eventually turns Jessica’s room into a guest room. Liz goes to a memorial service at Enid's house and watches in horror as Jeffrey and Todd get into a huge fight over her.

Since this is Sweet Valley where nothing bad happens, she wakes up and finds out it was all a dream. Jessica, Jeffrey, and some others show up at the Wakefield house, and all she cares about is that her twin is alive. They make up and everything is cool again. There's some crap at the end too, where Jeffrey reaches out to Todd and tries to be friends with him. They compete together in some events and are pretty cool in the end. Liz also gets some new dress that causes Jeffrey's eyes to pop out of his head, and she reassures him that there's no other guy for her.

*Amy apparently wears contacts. There's multiple parts of the book where she's packing her contact stuff or talking about her contacts, which is weird since it never shows up in any other books.

*Liz mentions that Alice gave the twins a book on dating advice from years ago and that she, Jess, and Amy always read it together and laughed. That's strange since Jessica never wanted anything to do with Amy when they were kids.

*Jessica references Suzanne Devlin and how Todd was in love with her. There's no mention of what happened between them later, but she says that was the reason Liz and Todd finally broke up. Gee, I thought that was because they live on opposite sides of the country. There's also no mention of whether this book takes place during that same Christmas break.

*I love that Liz is so worried about Jeffrey and freaking out over him and Todd and how she loves him so much more given that when Todd moves back, she drops Jeffrey like a hot potato.

*Jessica gets pissed because David won't throw the show and let her win. They do win though, when David incorrectly answers the number of cups found in a gallon.

*David takes her to meet his sister and her boyfriend at a sushi place. I swear the descriptions sound like something out of St. Elmo's Fire. He wears a button up shirt buttoned to the neck with a jewel clip, slim cut pants, and matching glasses.

*Alice buys Jessica a new ski outfit made from some silver material with Lycra, which Liz thinks will hug her twin's curves. Does Jess really need her mother's help to look like a slut?

*In her dream, Liz imagines her dad smoking in his den. Is it weird that I could totally see Ned as a smoker?

*The dream thing is ridiculous. We all know it's just a dream, but it drags on and on for multiple chapters.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Sweet Valley Twins #85: Elizabeth the Seventh-Grader

Elizabeth and Jessica are sitting at home and waiting for their parents. The principal called and asked for a special meeting about Liz. Jessica keeps teasing her about how their mom cried for five minutes after getting the call, and Elizabeth starts worrying that they'll kick her out of school. The truth is that she's been doing so well in school that they decided to let her skip into seventh grade.

After giving it some thought, she decides it's a great idea. Ned and Alice take the whole family out and announce the big news. Jessica instantly flips out because she's the one with older friends, so she thinks that if anyone should move up a grade, it should be her. They point out that it's about brain power and intelligence and not social maturity. Not sure if that's a compliment or not.

Elizabeth thinks that jumping up a grade will be super exciting. She gets her new schedule, which includes a ton of classes she never took before. That means she has to spend most of her time trying to catch up. It must be okay though because she gets a B+ on her first test and can answer multiple math questions when picked in class. Of course that just makes her spend even more time studying because she wants to be more than just a B+ student.

Jessica turns to Steven for help in making Liz come back to the sixth grade. He basically convinces her that reverse psychology is the best option. Jessica joins the staff of the Sixers, starts hanging out with Liz's friends, and generally acts like her twin. The only downside is that Liz gets an invite to a party thrown by Tom McKay, which is only open to seventh and eighth graders.

Steven and Jessica make it sounds like seventh grade parties are crazy. He even starts to tell a story before saying he can't say anymore. Ned and Alice decide that it's just too crazy and tell her she can't go. She then decides to sneak out of the house and go anyway. Jessica and Steven also make up a story about a girl who gets ostracized at one of those parties to scare her off but it doesn't work. So Jessica makes her change to a more grown up outfit and does her makeup. Liz hates it and tries to wipe it off, which just makes it look worse, and Jessica just lets her go anyway.

Luckily, she catches a glimpse of her reflection and has time to fix her makeup before the party. She hangs out with some girls from her class who are super mean to another girl, which makes her feel bad. After some random dancing and eating, they sit down to play spin the bottle. Liz has no idea what's going on until the bottle lands on Bruce and they tell them to kiss. She refuses and somehow gets drawn into a game of Truth or Dare. Mary feels bad for her and suggests they leave, which leads to Janet warning her that she'll get a dare in school on Monday.

Elizabeth tries to play it off like she had an amazing time and even tells Jess that that she can't talk about the party but she'll find out all about it the next year. Mary and Janet then tell her the truth about what happened, which makes her realize that her plan is working. She spends even more time with Maria, Amy, Todd, and Winston to plan the big sixth grade camping trip even though she kind of hates them all.

Janet finally gives Liz her big dare: she has to go up to Bruce in the cafeteria and kiss him on the lips. She keeps freaking out about it and tells her friends what happened. They try to convince her she doesn't have to go through with it, but she thinks it's the only way people in her new grade will accept her.

There are other things going wrong for her too. Amy gets her job as editor in chief of the Sixers since she can't work on the paper anymore. The editor of the seventh and eighth grade paper gives her a gopher job. All she does is deliver papers, make copies, and do stuff for everyone else. Liz tries to tell her dad about it, but he's so excited and keeps saying how proud he is that she runs off with her tale between her legs.

Steven finally suggests that Jess sit down and talk with her twin because he really doesn't want to see his sister forced to kiss some dude. Jessica refuses because she thinks that this will finally push her twin over the edge. She starts egging her on, telling her about how guys keep picking on Todd about his girlfriend kissing another guy and how people keep making bets on what she'll do.

When the day finally arrives, she goes right up to Bruce before changing her mind and walking away. Janet and other mean girls sneer at her and call her a chicken, but she just blows them off. Liz does tell Jess though that she's staying in her new grade. She goes to see her friends off on their camping trip before going home and moping around for a few hours.

Alice asks her to run an errand with her and ends up taking her to the campground. Everyone welcomes her back to the sixth grade, including her friends and teachers. The teachers tell her that they noticed how unhappy she was and while she's smart enough, she isn't socially ready for moving up a grade. They all celebrate and go crazy on their camping trip, and Liz asks Amy to become her co-editor on the paper.

*Jessica really learned her sociopath behavior early! Since she didn't really want to write for the paper, she told Liz that Amy was a mess as editor and assigned everyone multiple articles so she needs some help. She then has Liz write the one and only article she was actually assigned and gives it to Amy as her own article.

*Lila is the only one in the entire school that bets Liz will actually go through with it and kiss Bruce. Jessica says she'll make a mint if Liz does it.

*Bruce is gross even as a kid. When she walks up to him in school, he says something along the lines of, "I knew you'd do it," and, "I've been waiting for this." Ew.

*The mean girls practically call this one girl at the party a slut. They go on and on about how she's always surrounded by guys and acts like a huge flirt. Liz feels bad for her because she's clearly unhappy and wants to hang out with the girls. I wonder how those same girls will feel when Jess turns sixteen.

*Did anyone in your schools ever skip a grade like this? I always wondered how it would work. They basically give Liz her new books and tell her to get caught up on her own. No one offers her any help or tutoring either. She somehow has to just figure it out.

*Jessica tells Elizabeth she looks like a giant green bean in what she plans to wear to the party. She wears green jeans, a green tee, and a green headband. Yup, she does look like a green bean.

*The whole book is pretty ridiculous though. Jessica is always hanging out with kids older than her, and I'm pretty sure Liz had some older friends too. Now it's suddenly some huge difference between the two grades.