Posted in Sweet Valley

Sweet Valley Twins Podcast Episode 15: Mary Is Missing

Wing, Raven and Dove talk about Sweet Valley Twins 36: Mary Is Missing. They also discuss Bleak Valley and how the book ties into this theory.

Music is provided by Stuart Taylor, who can be contacted on taylorstuart602@gmail.com if you wish to commission music.

You can read our recaps at Sweet Valley Online, tumblr or visit us at Facebook or Twitter (follow @SweetValley_)

[Raven: Hello! This is the first of the now-WEEKLY podcasts, published each Friday. Each will be around 45 minutes to an hour long, and each will tackle a single book (plus Bleak Valley and the usual digressions). There will be one published each week until the podcasts ‘catch up’ with the recaps on 26th Feb. From then on, there’ll be the recap each Monday and the corresponding podcast each Friday. From that point, it’ll be recap / podcast for three weeks in each calendar month, with a ‘fallow week’ in which we’re planning other fun Nostalgic Media content. Enjoy the podcast, and watch this space!]

Posted in Enid Blyton

Secret #1 – The Secret Island

The Secret Island by Enid Blyton
The Secret Island by Enid Blyton

Title: The Secret Island (Secret #1)

Summary: Four runaways, Mike, Peggy, Nora and Jack, find a secret hiding place – a deserted island on a lovely lake. They build a willow-tree house, make their beds of heather and bracken, and grow their own vegetables. And Jack even manages to bring his cow, Daisy, and some hens to the island for fresh milk and eggs every day! But one day invaders come to the secret island…

Initial Thoughts:

This is my favourite Blyton of all time. I’m not sure what’s so special about it, since it’s Blyton’s standard fare of “some kids and some animals live parent-free for a bit, and really enjoy lettuce”. Maybe it’s the lack of smugglers that makes this so special. Kind of like when fandom quite enjoyed Lost, because it was a bunch of people on a desert island, just trying to get along, before the writers jumped on the wacky bus and stuck two fingers up a plotting, pacing and structure.

Also, I’ve never managed to get past the first few paragraphs of any of the sequels.

[Wing: This is my first Blyton experience, and it is adorable. I grew up reading things like Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson and My Side of the Mountain and Black Stallion and the Little House books and Baby Island, which were all about people surviving on their own in the wilderness, at least for awhile. I love stories like that, and this was an utter delight along that vein.]

[Raven: I’ve read a lot of Blyton. Never read this before. Huh.]

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Posted in The Last Vampire

The Last Vampire by Christopher Pike

Cover of The Last Vampire by Christopher PikeTitle: The Last Vampire by Christopher Pike

Summary: Alisa Perne is the last vampire. Beautiful and brilliant, she hunts alone, living among humans, living off humans. But someone is stalking her. Someone wants her dead. And Alisa has a choice to make – to keep a long held promise or protect the mortal she seems to be falling for.

Tagline: This time someone is hunting her…

Initial Thoughts

Oh god, here we go. Five years into recapping on Devil’s Elbow, and I’m finally spending an entire year focused on my favourite of the 80s and 90s teen horror authors, Christopher Pike. I’m saving my absolutely favourite books for the end of the year, but first, I’m taking on The Last Vampire series, which is significantly longer now than the first time I read it.

Note: There’s a lot of religion throughout this, particularly centered around Krishna and Vishnu. I do some basic research as I read, but I have very little knowledge here. My guess is that Pike’s taking a ton of liberties. I think that reading this as an adult, it’s going to smack of cultural appropriation, so keep that in mind when you read the book and this recap.

I loved this series growing up, especially the first book, but oh my god, does it get weird. So weird. Complicated and twisty and fun, but weird.

Though I’ve reread a lot of my Pike books often, this is not a series I read more than the first couple books obsessively, so I’m excited to go through the entire thing again.

2018: The Year of Christopher Pike. Let’s do this.

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Sweet Valley

Sweet Valley Twins #38: Lois Strikes Back

Sweet Valley Twins 38: Lois Strikes Back by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 38: Lois Strikes Back by Jamie Suzanne

Title: Lois Strikes Back

Tagline: Has Bruce gone too far?

Summary: Winner takes all…

Lois Waller has always been too shy about being overweight to join in school activities. When the Sweet Valley PTA decides to have a bike-a-thon, Lois finds the courage to take part. It’s a chance for her to win a brand-new mountain bike—and it’s the perfect opportunity to put snobby Bruce Patman in his place.

Everyone at Sweet Valley Middle School knows how much Bruce bullies Lois. Although Jessica Wakefield thinks that anything Bruce does is perfect, her twin sister Elizabeth disagrees and is on Lois’s side. Elizabeth thinks Lois has a good shot at winning. But she doesn’t know how far Bruce Patman will go to see Lois lose!

 

READ AT SWEET VALLEY.ONLINE

Posted in Sweet Valley

Sweet Valley Twins: Podcast Round-Up

[Raven: We’ve been catching up on the podcasts-in-waiting over at Sweet Valley Online, and below we have episodes 13 and 14… Going forward, there will be a weekly podcast chronicling our recapping efforts and furiously mocking the tribulations of out favourite twinny bellends. Episode 15 will publish at 8AM UK time on Friday 19th January. Until then!]

Episode 13: A Great-Looking Sweater

Wing, Raven and Dove talk about Sweet Valley Twins 34: Jessica the Rock Star; 35: Amy’s Pen Pal; and Super Chiller 1: The Christmas Ghost. They also discuss Bleak Valley and how these books tie into this theory.

Episode 14: A Year In Review

Wing, Raven and Dove look back at the highs, lows and ithigs from a tumultuous year of recapping at Sweet Valley Online.

Music is provided by Stuart Taylor, who can be contacted on taylorstuart602@gmail.com if you wish to commission music.

You can read our recaps at Sweet Valley Online, tumblr or visit us at Facebook or Twitter (follow @SweetValley_)

Posted in Making Out

Making Out #1: Zoey Fools Around by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Making Out 1 - Zoey Fools Around by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)
Making Out 1 – Zoey Fools Around by Katherine Applegate (and Michael Grant)

Front Cover Blurb: Ben heard it first, and he told Nina, who told Claire not to tell… but now EVERYBODY (except Jake) knows, and Claire’s wondering if she ought to say something because Jake ought to know that… Zoey Fools Around.

[Dove: Yeah, um, that’s not really what happens, that’s sort of the path of Ben’s theory of the crash, but no, doesn’t relate to Zoey fooling around.]

[Wing: I think it’s like that game where you write something, cover it up, and the next person writes the next scene without seeing what you wrote. No one writing the cover blurb got to see what was written for the back blurb or for the book itself.]

Back Cover Blurb: Zoey fools around and it turns their world upside-down. New couples are formed, friends become enemies and secrets are unearthed…

Initial Thoughts

One thing I love about this series is the wacky formats they throw in there, journal entries, quizzes, one week squashed into a daily countdown. I’m not being sarcastic, I genuinely love this about them.

[Wing: I used to work in publishing, and while this sort of thing can be difficult to work with when designing the book itself, as a reader, I love when publishers include it, including pieces in the character’s handwriting, as long as it’s legible (unlike in the original Baby-Sitters Club books). The daily countdown is probably my favourite formatting trick the authors use.]

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Posted in Mermaid Saga

Mermaid Saga #10 – 11: Mermaid’s Scar by Rumiko Takahashi

Cover of Mermaid's Scar by Rumiko TakahashiTitle: Mermaid Saga Chapters 10 & 11 – Mermaid’s Scar

Author/Artist: Rumiko Takahashi

Cover Summary: N/A

Initial Thoughts

For Wing’s birthday I’m recapping the best part of Mermaid Saga by far. I know it’s my favorite, certainly. It gets to showcase how freaking awesome Mana is. [Wing: This month is full of fun recap surprises for me. I’m thrilled!]

This is the second story besides Mermaid’s Forest to be adapted more than once, receiving an OVA in the 90s and included in the TV series from the 2000s. Personally, I feel the OVA is the better of the two adaptions, sporting rather beautiful early 90s anime art.

I only defer to this version when I need commission reference for Mana and Yuta.

I’ve watched the English dub, which used to be on Youtube, but you can still find the original version online somewhere. They still haven’t released it on an official DVD, but luckily I’ve got the complete soundtrack on CD. What shocked me about the dub was learning Yuta’s voice actor was Jason Gray-Stanford, who also voiced Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century,” and was RANDY DISHER, the dorky police detective, on “Monk.”

This is also one of the bloodiest stories in the series. And, keep in mind, this is one of those stories where we, the readers, know more about what the villain is really up to before the main characters do. Also, a bit of clarification. One character never got a name in the actual story, but the OVA dubbed her “Misa,” so I’ll be referring to her by that name.

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW

Posted in Sweet Valley

Sweet Valley Twins #37: The War Between the Twins

Sweet Valley Twins 37: The War Between the Twins by Jamie Suzanne
Sweet Valley Twins 37: The War Between the Twins by Jamie Suzanne

Title: The War Between the Twins

Tagline: The twins are fighting mad… at each other!

Summary: Bitter rivals…

Jessica Wakefield has written an article about the Unicorn Club for the class newspaper The Sweet Valley Sixers. As its editor, her twin sister Elizabeth has promised to run the article in the very next issue. But when Elizabeth has to take Jessica’s article out at the last minute, Jessica is furious!

Jessica and her fellow Unicorns decide to teach Elizabeth a lesson by starting their own paper, The Unicorn News. Before long, it’s clear that Sweet Valley Middle School isn’t big enough for two newspapers, and Jessica’s begins to take the lead. Will Elizabeth’s beloved Sixers be able to hold its own against the sensational news that the Unicorns print?

 

READ AT SWEET VALLEY.ONLINE

Posted in The Baby-Sitters Club

Baby-Sitters Club #1: Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin

The Baby-Sitters Club 1: Kristy's Great Idea by Ann M Martin
The Baby-Sitters Club 1: Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M Martin

Title: Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin

Summary: When Kristy Thomas has the great idea to form a baby-sitters club–a chance to earn money and spend time with her friends, all while doing something they each love to do–she has no idea how much the club will change everything.

Crank calls, uncontrollable toddlers, wild pets, untruthful clients . . . running a business is hard work! Kristy and her co-founders, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey, are sure they can handle anything. But only if they stick together . . .

Tagline: Four friends and baby-sitting–what could be more fun?

Initial Thoughts

Well, here we are, kicking off 2018 and Nostalgic Bookshelf with my favorite cheesy contemporary preteen series, The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin. Unlike the Sweet Valley books, I read these obsessively, and still sometimes reread them as an adult. I was a baby-sitter from a young age, and I loved the focus on friends and having adventures together. I’m excited to revisit them now, with a recapper’s eye.

My favourite baby-sitters before recapping: Dawn, Stacey, Claudia, Abby, Jessi, and Shannon.

Least favourite: Kristy, Mary Anne, and Logan.

Say hello to your friends, everyone. We’re in this for the long haul.

[Dove: And I have never read any of these before, so this is Wing’s payback for Sweet Valley. And I’m cool with that.]

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Posted in Nightmare Hall

Nightmare Hall #8: The Experiment by Diane Hoh

Diane Hoh Nightmare Hall 8 The ExperimentTitle: Nightmare Hall #8: The Experiment

Summary: Professor Maximillian DeLure. Award-winning poet, scientist, and professor at Salem University. Dark, sexy, attractive…dangerous. Caryl Amberly is excited to be one of the few students specially selected for his new seminar. Until she finds out what his previous students think of him. Everyone says he’s a real killer. And they’re not talking about his exams….

Tagline: None.

Notes: I will now refer to the bad guy as “Muffin Man” because of The Mall.

Initial Thoughts

I’ve been procrastinating when it comes to this recap. We’ve once again got Nola Thacker doing ghost-writing duties, and I’m simply not a fan of her work in this series so far. Possibly in general. Sigh. Here we go.

[Wing: Normally, I try to go for the original cover, but I’ve been dreading this cover, which has a spider in that window frame part. So … have this cover instead. I couldn’t handle seeing the other one over and over. Sorry.]

READ AT DEVIL’S ELBOW