Sweet Valley Twins books

  1. Best Friendsswt
  2. Teacher’s Pet
  3. The Haunted House
  4. Choosing Sides
  5. Sneaking Out
  6. The New Girl
  7. Three’s a Crowd
  8. First Place
  9. Against the Rules
  10. One of the Gang
  11. Buried Treasure
  12. Keeping Secrets
  13. Stretching the Truth
  14. Tug of War
  15. The Older Boy
  16. Second Best
  17. Boys Against Girls
  18. Center of Attention
  19. The Bully
  20. Playing Hooky
  21. Left Behind
  22. Out of Place
  23. Claim to Fame
  24. Jumping to Conclusions
  25. Standing Out
  26. Taking Charge
  27. Teamwork
  28. April Fool!
  29. Jessica & the Brat Attack
  30. Princess Elizabeth
  31. Jessica’s Bad Idea
  32. Jessica on Stage
  33. Elizabeth’s New Hero
  34. Jessica, the Rock Star
  35. Amy’s Pen Pal
  36. Mary is Missing
  37. The War Between the Twins
  38. Lois Strikes Back
  39. Jessica & the Money Mix-up
  40. Danny Means Trouble
  41. The Twins Get Caught
  42. Jessica’s Secret
  43. Elizabeth’s First Kiss
  44. Amy Moves In
  45. Lucy Takes the Reins
  46. Mademoiselle Jessica
  47. Jessica’s New Look
  48. Mandy Miller Fights Back
  49. The Twins’ Little Sister
  50. Jessica & the Secret Star
  51. Elizabeth the Impossible
  52. Booster Boycott
  53. The Slime That Ate Sweet Valley
    In which the twins’ English class write and produce a comedy sci-fi romance movie, using camcorders.
  54. The Big Party Weekend
  55. Brooke & her Rock-Star Mom
  56. The Wakefields Strike it Rich
  57. Big Brother’s In Love
  58. Elizabeth & the Orphans
  59. Barnyard Battle
  60. Ciao, Sweet Valley
  61. Jessica the Nerd
  62. Sarah’s Dad and Sophia’s Mom
  63. Poor Lila!
  64. The Charm School Mystery
  65. Patty’s Last Dance
  66. The Great Boyfriend Switch
  67. Jessica the Thief
  68. The Middle School Gets Married
  69. Won’t Someone Help Anna?
  70. Psychic Sisters
  71. Jessica Saves the Trees
    In which Jessica turns activist in order to get attention, and Elizabeth has her spirit crushed because she fails to be completely objective while writing for a middle school paper.
  72. The Love Potion
    In which Jessica is driven to weird lengths by her desire for Johnny Buck concert tickets, and Mary gets an Elizabeth-approved boyfriend.
  73. Lila’s Music Video
  74. Elizabeth the Hero
  75. Jessica and the Earthquake
  76. Yours for a Day
  77. Todd Runs Away
  78. Steven the Zombie
  79. Jessica’s Blind Date
  80. The Gossip War
  81. Robbery at the Mall
  82. Steven’s Enemy
  83. Amy’s Secret Sister
  84. Romeo and 2 Juliets
  85. Elizabeth the Seventh-Grader
  86. It Can’t Happen Here
  87. The Mother-Daughter Switch
  88. Steven Gets Even
  89. Jessica’s Cookie Disaster
  90. The Cousin War
  91. Deadly Voyage
  92. Escape from Terror Island
  93. The Incredible Madame Jessica
  94. Don’t Talk to Brian
  95. The Battle of the Cheerleaders
  96. Elizabeth the Spy
  97. Too Scared to Sleep
  98. The Beast Is Watching You
  99. The Beast Must Die
  100. If I Die Before I Wake
  101. Twins in Love
  102. The Mysterious Dr. Q
  103. Elizabeth Solves It All
  104. Big Brother’s In Love Again
  105. Jessica’s Lucky Millions
  106. Breakfast of Enemies
  107. Twins Hit Hollywood
  108. Cammi’s Crush
  109. Don’t Go In the Basement
  110. Pumpkin Fever
  111. Sisters at War
  112. If Looks Could Kill
  113. The Boyfriend Game
  114. The Boyfriend Mess
  115. Happy Mother’s Day, Lila
  116. Jessica Takes Charge
  117. Down With Queen Janet!
  118. No Escape!

Super Editions

  1. The Class Trip
  2. Holiday Mischief
  3. The Big Camp Secret
  4. The Unicorns Go Hawaiian
  5. Lila’s Secret Valentine
  6. The Twins Take Paris
  7. Jessica’s Animal Instincts
  8. Jessica’s First Kiss
  9. The Twins go to College
  10. The Year Without Christmas
  11. Jessica’s No Angel
  12. Good-Bye Middle School
  13. Elizabeth: Next Stop Jr. High
  14. Jessica: Next Stop Jr. High

Super Chillers

  1. The Christmas Ghost
  2. The Ghost in the Graveyard
  3. The Carnival Ghost
  4. The Ghost in the Bell Tower
  5. The Curse of the Ruby Necklace
  6. The Curse of the Golden Heart
  7. The Haunted Burial Ground
  8. The Secret of the Magic Pen
  9. Evil Elizabeth

Magna Editions

  1. The Magic Christmas
  2. A Christmas Without Elizabeth
  3. BIG For Christmas

Unexpectedly Charming

Title: Unexpected Family

Author: Jill Kemerer

Harlequin Love Inspired

September 2015

Unexpected-Family-SmallReasons I Might Actually Remember This One: I unabashedly loved this story of ordinary flawed people who’ve grown up since their divorce, but my single favourite scene was the Parents Night. Stephanie scrambles to get herself and her four-year-old there; Tom shows up late, yet the teachers and parents fall all over him. It’s an important scene in the book, since it brings up Stephanie’s issues with his previous absence from their marriage and her own mother’s absence from, well, everything. But more than that, it was achingly real. I don’t know a single mother who doesn’t have a story like that, because dads get credit just for  showing up. I even understand, a little, why we do it: we want to encourage men to be involved in parenting, so we go overboard praising even minimal efforts, whereas somehow we just expect mothers to parent. But it stings sometimes, and I appreciated the book for acknowledging it.

Active Ingredients:


Secret Baby

Sequel-Ready Family

Circumstantially Celibate

Divorced but not Forgotten

Mommy Issues

She Works Hard for the Money

Plot Moppet


Sweet Valley Twins #53: The Slime That Ate Sweet Valley

Where Are We? Sweet Valley Middle School: Mr. Bowman’s English class

When Are We? Some indeterminate point during the school year. This book starts on the Monday after a “big social studies project” and a “big science project.”

Recap: Jessica tells Mr. Bowman that they’ve been doing too much reading and slimewriting in English class and they should do something fun. Instead of laughing uproariously or turning to drink he entertains suggestions from the class, and shy Leslie Forsythe suggests they make a movie. Elizabeth suggests they use a camcorder and the VCR from the school library.

After school Elizabeth, Leslie, Amy, Brooke and Sophia go to Sweet Valley Video to talk to the manager, Leslie’s friend Deirdre, who studied acting at UCLA. Nice to see that career choice worked out for her. They look at movies to get an idea what kind they want to make.

Ultimately Elizabeth talks the class into combining “a love story and a horror story in a comedy.” Okay then. They’re having auditions, and naturally both Jessica and Lila want the lead. Elizabeth wants to be the scriptwriter. Leslie secretly wants to audition as well, but is nervous.

Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield reveal that sometime soon (but not until after the movie) they’re going to Mexico without the children. Steven thinks he’s old enough to look after Elizabeth and Jessica without help. I wouldn’t agree to look after Jessica without a stun gun, even now that I’m an adult.

Pete has been playing pranks in English class. He made a cricket noise one day, and on the day the students are all listing their three job choices (for the movie) in order of preference, he uses a string to make an easel fall over.

Amy suggests the title while she and Elizabeth are brainstorming on the phone. They both agree it’s perfect because the Unicorns will hate it.

Jessica and Lila both volunteer their parents’ camcorders because Mr. Bowman says the school library one is old and doesn’t record sound very well. Mr. Bowman has the class watch Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde so they can discuss camera techniques. Pete makes the VCR turn itself off and on again several times. Afterwards the students brainstorm ideas for their slime movie. Mr. Bowman suggests he and the principal take part as victims of the slime monster.

At the auditions Lila is wooden, Jessica and Randy are great, and Dierdre is too shy to try out (plus she secretly really likes Randy) so she sneaks away and cries. Awww. Poor kid. I was that shy once too.

Jessica feels so confident after the audition that she goes home and makes a salad without being asked. Then she peels potatoes. Maybe this is why everyone always gives her whatever she wants. Which happens again: at school the next day Mr. Bowman announces Jessica is playing the female lead.

But all is not perfect. Randy Mason gets the male lead, even though Jessica thinks he’s a “first-class nerd.” Lila gets offered the part of the Slime Monster, but turns it down (boo, hiss: a real diva would have run with that role, Lila), so Winston Egbert gets it. So Jessica gets to act with two boys she can’t stand.

Elizabeth, Amy, Leslie and Maria are the scriptwriters. Lila is in charge of clean-up. Bet that Slime Monster’s looking pretty good now, huh? But she refuses, saying she’s going to operate her father’s camcorder. WHY is she allowed to get away with that? She’s still stuck on the clean-up crew as well, though, just not in charge of it.

When Jessica’s in the lunch line on Friday Janet Howell comes over and pompously congratulates her, telling her she’s sure Jessica will make the Unicorns proud. On Saturday Lila drags the camcorder around everywhere, filming her friends at awkward moments in the name of “practice.”

Elizabeth, Amy, Maria and Leslie work on the script. Elizabeth and Amy are determined to solve the “mystery” of why Leslie didn’t audition, since she loves movies and all. Shyness must be so rare in Sweet Valley that they literally cannot identify it.

By Monday everyone is sick of Lila filming them in embarrassing situations. Also, the script is finished. Elizabeth lets Jessica read it that night, and Jessica freaks out because she discovers she’ll have to kiss Randy and Winston.

Later she confides to Mandy that part of the reason she’s so upset is that she’ll have to have her first kisses on-camera. Although in the middle of that explanation she also says she was kissed by a high school freshman,  but that doesn’t count somehow because she didn’t kiss him back.

At rehearsal she deliberately keeps interrupting with stupid requests for water and to have the lights turned down, and they don’t make it all the way to the kiss scene. At the second rehearsal she fakes a coughing fit. Mr. Bowman (probably guessing what’s going on) says they’ll just rehearse the lines, not the action, for the kissing scenes.

Lila pretends to be nice, and gets Jessica to come over to her house and practice fake-kissing a pillow. Which Lila films. And then she offers to keep the film at her house so Steven can’t see it. Oh, Jessica. How can you not know this is a set-up?

Leslie stops by the video store, and admits to Dierdre that she was too scared to audition. Dierdre explains to her that she gave up acting because she was too afraid to audition, and has regretted it ever since.

The four scriptwriters get together to watch what there is of the movie so far, and also a real movie, which Leslie recites big pieces of, making them all realize she can really act. She admits to the others that she was there during auditions but got scared and left, and also tells them about her crush on Randy. Maria (who has actual acting experience) tells her that even real actresses lose their cool when they get near somebody they like a lot. They all bemoan the fact that it’s too late for Leslie to try out.

Lila invites everyone over to her house and shows off her videos of everyone’s embarrassing moments, including Jessica’s kissing practice with the pillow. Jessica is so humiliated that on Monday she quits the movie (and ends up being assigned to work on the costumes). That afternoon Leslie tries out and gets the part. She also enlists Pete’s help to get back at Lila.

That weekend the Unicorns have a sleepover to celebrate the end of filming, and everyone talks about how special it is to be in front of the camera until they’ve convinced Lila she needs to try it. So she does the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, passionately, using a dust mop as Romeo.

On the night of the screening of The Slime That Ate Sweet Valley, which the entire school attends, Pete has made the video of Lila into a “coming soon” ad at the start of the film.


The Unicorns seriously over-estimate their importance to other people:

Leslie giggled. “Did you know that Lila and Jessica tried to bribe me not to sign Winston’s petition? They promised they’d wave at me when they saw me in the hallway if I didn’t.” (p. 9)

Elizabeth seriously over-estimates the abilities of a sixth-grade English class:

“Hey, I’ve got the perfect solution to the argument,” Elizabeth said. “We’ll make a comic spoof of a horror-story plot with a love-story ending!” (p. 17)

I sort of love Jessica, though:

As Jessica started out the door, Lila caught up with her. “Did you hear?” she asked, smiling sweetly. There’ll be bit parts, as well as the lead. I’m sure you’ll get some kind of role, Jessica.”

“Yes,” Jessica said coolly. “I’m sure I’ll get the lead role. And I hope you’ll enjoy your bit part, Lila.” (p. 28)

Way harsh, Mr. Bowman:

“How do you audition for the part of a Slime victim?” Caroline asked.

“Just be yourself, Caroline,” Mr. Bowman said as the bell rang.

I’m side-eyeing Elizabeth so hard right now:

“Brian kisses Sherri?” Jessica shrieked. “You mean, I’ve got to kiss Randy Mason, on top of Winston Egbert?”

“Not on top of Winston, exactly,” Elizabeth said, this time not able to control her grin. “More like beside him.” (p. 87)

Sweet Valley Twins #72: The Love Potion

I will probably never again succeed in doing two of these in order, so I think we should all pause for a moment to celebrate.

Where are we? Sweet Valley Middle School’s annual charity carnival

When are we? Whenever they hold the damned charity carnival.love potion

Recap: The ghostwriter either noticed that there’s no way the Unicorns could “always have the coolest booth” if they’re in sixth grade, or this is a different, more logical, ghostwriter. Because the book starts out by pointing out that now that they’re in sixth grade the Unicorns finally get to participate in the school carnival, which raises money for charity. If this is a school thing, I don’t get why the Unicorns even get to have a booth. They’re hardly a school club or anything.

Anyway, while they’re trying to come up with an idea, Mary shows up late to the meeting with exciting news: Johnny Buck is coming to Sweet Valley. Everyone wants to go, but especially Mary and Jessica because they’re huge fans.

Also going on in the background: someone named Peter Burns has a huge crush on Mary. She likes him as a friend, but because he’s a “geek” and won second place in the science fair the Unicorns make fun of him, and try to convince Mary to be mean to him so he’ll stop talking to her.

It turns out there will be only two thousand tickets for the Johnny Buck concert, so the Tribune is holding a contest. One thousand randomly selected (I presume) winners will get two tickets each. Every entry has to include a form from the paper, so Steven Wakefield buys thirty copies, and Jessica buys six (all she can afford). Elizabeth was awake first, so she just sent in the one entry from the Wakefields’ copy of the paper. (Mary, it turns out, bought seventy-five copies.) Steven and the twins make a bet that whoever doesn’t get to go has to do the others’ Sunday chores for a month.

Jessica starts sucking up to all the other Unicorns so that if one of them wins she’ll get invited along. Nice.

Steven wins two tickets, and plans to take his girlfriend, Cathy Connors. Neither Elizabeth nor Jessica win, but Amy does, and she invites Elizabeth along.

Steven is a dork, so he loses his tickets. After making Jessica swear (in front of their parents) that she didn’t hide them, he agrees to her deal: if she helps him find the tickets, she gets to go with Cathy. I don’t even know who Cathy is, but she’d probably have more fun dating Jess than Steven. No, wait: that’s not what Jessica meant. She just wants to go, and convinces Steven that Cathy will only be even more impressed with him for giving his ticket to his kid sister. Uh, whatever.

Meanwhile Jessica has come up with the perfect idea for the Unicorns’ booth: they can concoct a purple drink and sell tiny bottles of “love potion.” That is actually cute. Nowadays some idiot would sue them because it didn’t work, or the city would shut them down for not having a food service license. Lila’s father pays for four hundred glass bottles to sell the stuff in, and Mary finds a recipe for pineapple punch (they use food colouring to make it purple).

The Unicorns have also convinced Mary to go out with a basketball player named Tim Davis, because he’s cute and on the basketball team. Janet tells Tim that Mary likes him, so he calls Mary and invites her to a picnic, and she agrees. The closer they get to the date the less she likes him, because all he talks about is how well he plays basketball. He’s a conceited blowhard, but she convinces herself he’s just made a bad first impression and deserves a chance, so she still agrees to go to the picnic (the day after the carnival) with him.

Peter, meanwhile, has been being adorable: helping with the stupid special edition of the Sixers (that’s what the Sixers‘ booth is going to do, sell an edition that profiles all the charities that will benefit from the carnival), bringing Mary a not-yet-on-the-shelves edition of a magazine his uncle works at because Johnny Buck is on the cover, and just generally being thoughtful. I am entirely Team Peter.

Steven finds his tickets inside his geometry book, which he hasn’t looked at for a week. So he gets to take Cathy to the concert, but otherwise he’s grounded.

Mr.  Bowman, the English teacher, was one of the ticket winners, but in order to raise money for the carnival he holds a raffle. Everyone can only enter once, for fifty cents.

At the carnival Jessica attempts to poison Peter by convincing him to buy a bottle of love potion, only because they’d sold all four hundred bottles of the punch she makes up something hideous with hot sauce and sugar and other crap. He turns pale and then green, and the Unicorns all laugh merrily over what a sucker he is.

Elizabeth, Amy, and Mr. Bowman go into the school alone. Elizabeth draws the ticket stub, and I guess Amy is there as a witness or chaperone or something, and it turns out Peter has won Mr. Bowman’s tickets. This is supposed to be kept secret until the picnic. Liz is an idiot, so when Jessica tries to “read her mind” she actually agrees to write the winner’s name on a napkin to help Jessica “visualize.” Jessica steals the napkin and promptly tells all the Unicorns that Peter won, except she can’t reach Mary because Mary has already left her house to go to that picnic with Tim.

Mary’s date with Tim is a disaster. His father is too selfish to pick her up, so she gets dropped at Tim’s house only to find out they don’t have a ride to the picnic after all. They have to ride bikes, and Tim lends her his mother’s, which is so big Mary has to stand up to ride it. Then it gets a flat tire, and ruins her dress, and she ends up walking. When she gets to the picnic she dumps Tim and apologizes to Peter.

I was actually worried that Peter would have guessed (from the way the Unicorns were fawning over him) that he’d won and people knew, and that he’d reject Mary out of suspicion she was after a ticket. But strangely, even though he shares a town with the sociopathic Jessica and her manipulative friends, he’s a nice, non-suspicious boy. He tells her he was willing to try anything, even the horrible love potion. Then Mr. Bowman announces that Peter has won the tickets, and he walks back to Mary and hands her one and gives the other to Jessica.

I took a bunch of deep breaths at this point, and managed to remind myself to view Jessica as an Id-fulfillment fantasy rather than as a “character” in the normal sense. Because she never learns anything for longer than a chapter, and never grows or changes or develops, yet she gets absolutely everything she wants all the time.


Janet was Lila’s cousin, and an eighth-grader. She was also president of the Unicorn Club, which made her just about the most important person in the middle school. (pp. 2-3)

The Sociopath at Home:

If Steven won the contest and she didn’t…well, there was really only one solution. She’d have to kill him and take the tickets. He left her no other choice. (p. 16)

“Do you still think that?” Jessica asked. “Steven, I’m not that dumb. If I had stolen them, I’d be keeping both of them, not turning one over to you.” (p. 73)

It Runs in the Family:

He knitted his eyebrows thoughtfully. “I guess I could search Cathy’s room when she’s not looking.” (p. 89)

That last bit is Steven. He doesn’t want to call his girlfriend and ask if he left the tickets at her house, because that will make him look dumb, but he’s willing to search her room without permission.

Sweet Valley Twins #71: Jessica Saves the Trees

Where are we? Sweet Valley Middle School: soccer field

When are we? Hell if I know. It’s during the school year, and the boys’ soccer team has just made Division A because they were undefeated last year, and Aaron Dallas makes the team after the scrimmage in chapter one. So…whenever that happens?

Look closely: Jessica is CHAINED to a TREE.
Look closely: Jessica is CHAINED to a TREE.

Recap: Soccer is happening, and the boys get to “dedicate” their goals; Aaron scores three and dedicates them all to Jessica. He also becomes the first sixth grader to make the school team, apparently.

Elizabeth, meanwhile, gets chewed out by Mr. Bowman for not being impartial when she reported only one side of a story: Dennis and Alex told her they were unfairly kicked out of a candy shop, and she reported their side without checking with the shop owner, who has shown up at the school to complain. Wow.

Elizabeth corrects her story to include the shop owner’s side, but it still isn’t right, because it turns out the “food fight” that precipitated the whole fuss was two other boys from an entirely different school. Also, a rough draft gets printed by accident, and it includes Amy’s description of Dennis and Alex as “a pair of low-down, lying, slimy, food-fighting finks.” So this time it’s a parent who complains, and Liz gets hauled in and scolded again. They take the middle school paper REALLY seriously in Sweet Valley, apparently.

Some actress called Lois Lattimer appears on television to extol the virtues of activism, and since Jessica admires her she decides she needs a cause. Luckily for Jess, the boys’ soccer team might lose out on playing A Division games, whatever the crap those are, because their soccer field is slightly too small. Really? This is a thing in middle school sports? Anyway, she throws herself into fund-raising so the field can be expanded.

Led by Jess, the students raise $1767. Unluckily for Jess, Lila steals her spotlight by getting her father to donate the rest of the needed $5000. Jessica goes off to sit under the trees and cry, and feels a moment of kinship with a small brown bird.

Elizabeth drags Jessica along with her to interview the engineer who’ll be enlarging the field, and the girls learn that some of the trees are going to be bulldozed. At dinner Mr. Wakefield blithers on about old trees, and Elizabeth decides they need to find out how old the trees around the school are, so Mrs. Wakefield suggests she try the Nature Society.

The guy at the Nature Society tells them that some trees in the area are four hundred years old. He DOESN’T say that the trees around their school are that old, but since that’s what they ASKED him, I can’t entirely blame them for thinking that’s what he meant.

Naturally Jessica starts up a “Save the Trees” movement, and somehow the entire student body cares enough about this issue that they are all polarized, with the Soccer people and the Tree people flinging insults at each other. Janet throws a bitchfit and says anyone on the Save the Trees side can’t be a Unicorn. It’s a good thing Jessica, as a baby sociopath, is well capable of looking after herself.

Elizabeth, meanwhile, is agonizing over her efforts to stay neutral and report both sides fairly, which gets her precisely ZERO praise since everyone, even the teachers, has taken a side. People are coming up to her in the halls and telling her the newspaper needs to make a stand, and it’s cowardice not to, and other insane stuff that would maybe be understandable if they were debating war crimes but is completely nuts when applied to adding/not adding three yards to a childrens’ play space.

On the morning the demolition is scheduled to happen Jessica and her supporters bolt out of the school and chain themselves to the trees. Classic.

In the end Elizabeth borrows a stack of books from the Nature Society and stays up all night looking for that one crucial piece of information that will sway everyone to one side or the other. This is Sweet Valley, so she finds it: a picture of trees infested with bugs. The trees around their school have the same spongy patches at the base, so Elizabeth makes the Nature Society guy come out and look. He confirms that the trees will have to come down or else all the trees in Sweet Valley will end up infected, and also informs them that the school trees are only sixty years old. Oops.

So Jessica looks like an idiot, and it also looks like the school will have to spend the soccer-field-expansion money on cutting down ALL the trees. But then overnight Jessica realizes that, since the school is doing that to save the town’s trees, surely the school shouldn’t have to foot the bill. The city council agrees with her, and she gets acknowledged at a school assembly.

Also the Unicorns make up and start planning the next event: the annual school charity carnival, at which they “always” have the coolest booth, which makes precisely no sense because they are in sixth grade so surely they have only been at middle school for, like, less than a year.


Elizabeth on journalism:

“No, its not,” Elizabeth said with a frown. “That’s not being objective. That’s being emotional. We have to write the facts and let people decide for themselves that Dennis and Alex are a pair of low-down, lying, slimy, food-fighting finks.” (p.13)

The inside of Jessica’s head is an unhealthy place:

Two eighth-grade girls walked by with players from the soccer team. They were holding on to the guys’ arms, and it looked incredibly cool in a retro, nineteen-fifties kind of way. (p.21)

A Sociopath is Born:

“I’m through with causes that help people,” Jessica shouted back. “People are mean and selfish. But trees and animals are helpless and nice.” (p.65)

That is perfect 12-year-old philosophy, but I can’t make too much fun of it because some days I still feel that way myself.

reading: Sweet Valley Twins “Frightening Four”

I have stumbled across the most amazing of all the Sweet Valley things: this mini-series. It actually has a name (“The Frightening Four”) and consists of four titles: too scared to sleep

Too Scared to Sleep

The Beast is Watching You

The Beast Must Die

If I Die Before I Wake

The best part about this (well, aside from the only-vaguely-related-to-the-story Beast titles) is that somehow Francine Pascal pulled off the never before attempted feat of capitalizing on the popularity of Goosebumps and The Babysitters Club simultaneously. It’s glorious. Also probably dangerous; I’m amazed the fabric of the universe withstood this, to be honest.

A new family move to Sweet Valley. Mrs. Riccoli has five children, and her husband won’t be joining them for a few months, so she needs babysitters. Elizabeth, Jessica, Winston, Todd and Amy decide they can take turns sitting for her and split the money, and maybe put up signs around town advertising their services. (No mention is made of whose phone will be used on the posters. Alas.)

But the Riccolis’ new house is “the old Sullivan House,” which is apparently “creepy” and which causes Alice to act weird and bolt when she drops in to give decorating advice. All through these books its increasingly obvious that Alice knows somethe beast is watching youthing about the house, and eventually it unfolds that each member of the babysitting group has one parent who knows what happened at the house.

Sweet Valley is nobody’s idea of the go-to place to learn parenting skills, but this is a new low. Five teens were involved in a child’s death, and when their own offspring start babysitting at the house none of them mention this, or notice their kids are having nightmares, or…anything. Hasn’t anyone in Sweet Valley ever watched a horror movie?

Continuing the actual Babysitters Club tradition of twelve-year-olds somehow knowing more about childcare than I do, we get this wonderful scene of Winston babysitting a set of twins:

Actually, it wasn’t the first time he’d changed diapers in his life. He had done some babysitting before, and he had seen lots of diaper commercials on TV. It didn’t take him long to whisk the twins into new diapers. In fact, as he fastened the tabs, pulling them tightly so there’d be no gaps, he thought he’d done an even better job than the Karstens themselves. (TSTS, p. 73)

That conveys…precisely none of what it’s like to change diapers, particularly for two children at once. Maybe I didn’t watch enough commercials as a child, but my learning curve was a bit steeper than Winston’s.the beast must die

Anyway, so the gang continue to sit in pairs for the Riccoli children, who are having nightmares and sleepwalking and generally telegraphing as clearly as possible that we’re in horror-movie territory. When any of the babysitters fall asleep in the house they have the same nightmares, with a scary “faceless” girl wearing only one slipper and clutching an old teddy bear. This culminates in the entire group of babysitters staying there at the same time, trying to stay awake all night, because I guess the Nightmare on Elm Street movies also looked ripe for borrowing.

The best bits are, as always, the Jessica bits.

But whatever Steven was up to, it couldn’t be half as interesting as what was going on in Granville, the setting for The Guilty and the Glamorous. Jessica had been so busy baby-sitting, she’d missed an entire two weeks of her new favorite TV soap opera, which came on right after her old favorite, Days of Turmoil, which was extremely convenient.

Fortunately the plot hadn’t changed much in the two weeks since she’d last seen it. Everyone was still at the same fancy ball they’d been at the last time she watched. Only they seemed to be leaving the giant, fancy party, or at least starting to think about leaving. Coats were being discussed, anyway. (TBMD, p.41)

There is a ridiculous subplot in which Steven tries to earn money by mowing lawns with the Wakefields’ new ride-on mower. I’m sure it was meant to be page-filling hilarity, but it annoyed me so much I can barely even summarize it. If I had had a series of expensive accidents (shredding in-line skates and other people’s hedges and so forth), no one in my family would have just kept giving me further chances to cost them money. We couldn’t have afforded to have me playing around with the lawn mower, basically, and I kept wanting to reach into the book and shake Steven for being careless and Mr. Wakefield for continually enabling him.

I know: applying any kind of real life standard to Sweet Valley is pointless. I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief high enough to get passed Steven failing to read the instructions (more than once) and still being allowed to drive the mower.

Yet I had no problem whatsoever with a vengeful ghost showing up in people’s dreams and then turning out to be (spoilers ahead) Continue reading

#TBRChallenge: Kiss of the Beast

August Suggested Theme: Impulse Read

Does this fit the theme? I guess so, if we count evil impulses. A year ago, I couldn’t stop thinking about an old category romance I’d read ages ago. But I also couldn’t remember the title, author, or which line it had belonged to. Helpful! Luckily the internet (in the form of SBTB) provided the answers, whereupon I basically did what I always do: bought it, put it on the virtual TBR shelf, and happily forgot it.

Continue reading