Crash Landing!

Ah, Sweet Valley. Nothing takes me back to be preteen years faster than looking at this book series I was completely obsessed with. When I first became interested in them, they were out of print which just made me want them more!

How will I collect them all?

As I kid I really liked the series and wanted to even live in their idyllic Californian world, and I thought the stories were fun and interesting. But as an adult I know they weren’t the best written book. Most of them are cheesy, silly, or sometimes don’t make sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill except with a different type of drama.

So the story follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer. Jessica is the fashionable, social butterfly, cheerleader that dreams of parties and popularity.

They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first book focused on the two girls, but the later ones were divided into two stories: one about a friend or relative while the other is about the girls. The later series got a bit darker and was done in short series, two or three books that went together. The topics ranged from drugs, sex, school dances, serial killers, sports, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff. 😉

Yes as the series progressed the writers changed, and while I didn’t like some of the alterations I still continued to read and collect (still do so today) the novels. What can I say? They are such a big part of my childhood they bring on a tsunami of nostalgia.

So what does that have to do with us? Well quite a few of the books in the series were mysteries, supernatural, had psycho characters, or other themes that fall in line with this blog.

So the novel series is similar to the Nancy Drew Files were you have a little teaser at the end like a preview, and the book picks up from there. In the last review Elizabeth was kidnapped. Since then Elizabeth (who always lectures Jessica) cheated on her boyfriend with Nicolas Morrow, Tricia Martin’s sister had some trouble, Roger turned out to be Bruce Patman’s cousin and a millionaire, Caroline had a fake boyfriend, Bruce and Regina got together but Regina had to leave for Switzerland, and Jessica and Lila fought over a two-timing guy who turned out to be a drug dealer and threatened Jessica’s life.

Quite a lot. So here we are onto the next book:

Crash Landing! (Sweet Valley High #20) by Francine Pascal & Kate William

Remember in Secrets (Sweet Valley High #2) Enid reconnected with old boyfriend and pen pal George Warren. Well, since then—George has been stepping out on her with her pal Robin, a cheerleader.

Ugh cheerleaders.

But we aren’t supposed to hate Robin, we are supposed to feel bad because they are in “love”. They meet in pilot’s class and “fell” in “true love”. Sorry for the snark, I’ve been reading the blog Snark Valley and it must have been rubbing off on me.

Elizabeth had caught them and made them promise to tell Enid and Allen (Robin’s boyfriend) the truth. George agrees to do so after they go on their first flight. But all goes wrong and they end up crashing in Secca Lake.

George is okay with a bump, but Enid loses her ability to walk and has to use a wheelchair. They are investigating the crash, but George knows it is all his fault as if he was more experienced he would have handled it.

So the mystery is-What caused the plane to crash? Will George date Enid even though he is no longer in “love”? And what about poor Robin?

It’s like a soap opera.

Usually I do a little synopsis that they provide, but my copy of this is a hardcover and doesn’t have one.

I know, right?

So Jessica has hated Enid since she chose her sister over her, but in this when she discovers that Robin and George were cheating-she totally becomes Team Enid and has all the girls freeze Robin and George out.

“…Jessica really did feel sorry for Enid. She had never thought much of George Warren one way or another-but now she was prepared to see him as a villain”.

I can just see him as a regular guy, then in the next scene wearing a handlebar mustache and top hat to show his evilness…sorry-the snark is just overflowing. 

Low Jessica, very low.

Now some may say this is hypocritical, but at this point in the series she has only had one boyfriend, Bruce Patman, (who cheated on her-maybe that’s why she takes it to heart). She has never cheated as she was never in a serious relationship-she does later-but at this time not a hypocrite. Elizabeth is as she is always cheating on Todd. She always “owes” people a date or some stupid justification.

Anyways, George decides to stay with Enid as she saved his life and lost the ability to walk. No George, no. Don’t do it.

Even though I’m actually in love with another!

This is probably why I love Lifetime movies and such. These books trained me.

Hmmm…?

George breaks up with Robin, of which when people see his car out front think he is meeting her for a tete-a-tete. Robin becomes so blue she goes off her diet and starts consuming everything.

Enid has to go through surgery and they have no clue what will happen, will she be able to walk or lose her ability forever?

Robin kind of annoyed me, coming from someone who struggled with anorexia I don’t think they dealt with her emotional issues the right way-in how she starts becoming anorexic and develops emotional eating issues.

The writers

Robin reaches out to “Everyone’s Best Friend and Always There to Help” Elizabeth Wakefield, but Liz totally disses her. Man you are awful. How dare you say you are a friend and not even care to listen at all.

Liz has a dinner party for herself, Enid, George, and Todd. It is super awkward as George is finding it harder and harder to pretend to care about her romantically when he doesn’t, and Enid is clinging to him tighter and tighter. It makes me think in Couples Retreat when the counselor is talking to Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell.

Don’t leave!!!

They are having a dance, I think in almost every book there is a dance or fancy party. I have to stop and say it gave me highly unrealistic views for how high school would be. At the dance it is super awkward and after watching George and Robin, Enid puts it together. But even though she knows he’s be cheating, she wants him and ignores it all.

Elizabeth hatches a plan to “save” Enid and wake her up and use her legs. She borrows Teddy Collins, Mr. Collins’ son, and will have him “drown” until Enid saves him. Only one giant problem with this, Elizabeth is sure that Enid will jump in and save Teddy, getting the use of her legs back. But what if Enid doesn’t save him? What if it isn’t the plan that awakens motion in her legs, but what if she instead has a heart attack as she can’t save Teddy and thinks he is really drowning? Or what if she tries to save him but doesn’t get the full use of her legs and drowns herself? I think Dr. Elizabeth should be sued for malpractice.

But of course it works, and Enid is saved and then she lets George go.

Meanwhile, Jessica’s B story is really sad. She and Lila are taking a gourmet cooking class-which Lila walks out on she was never one for doing “work”. Jessica excels at everything and has a real knack, but because she screws up once her family treats her like crap. In fact, her mom, dad, and sister are pretty awful and condescending to her in this. And then Elizabeth’s all holier-than-thou saying Jessica is awful for being mean and judgmental to Robin when she was the same like a few days earlier. When I read this series as a kid I always liked Elizabeth, but as an adult looking at her, she is full of baloney. Jessica may do some screwed up things, but at least she is honest about who she is. I really felt bad for her in this book-she definitely got the short end of the stick while Elizabeth is the golden child, meh.

Whatever…

No outfits in this one. So let’s move on

The Next Book in the Series:

Another thing I loved about these books is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

[Jessica] had just about enough of her family treating her badly all the time. And since her plan to impress them had been such a miserable failure, she was going to have to come up with some other way of changing their minds about her. Only I better think of something fast, she told herself, tears tricking down her cheeks as she threw herself onto her bed. Because I don’t think I can stand things the way they are around her for another minute!

Jessica embarks on a desperate course of action in Sweet Valley #21, RUNAWAY!

But we will not be reviewing that. The next will be #26 Hostage

For more Sweet Valley High, go to Kidnapped!

For more mystery reviews, go to The Glass Forest

Too Good to Be True

Too Good to Be True (Sweet Valley High #11) by Francine Pascal

Ah, Sweet Valley. Nothing takes me back to be preteen years faster than looking at this book series I was completely obsessed with. When I first became interested in them, they were out of print which just made me want them more!

As a kid I really liked the series and wanted to even live in their idyllic Californian world, and I thought the stories were fun and interesting. But as an adult I know they weren’t the best written books. Most of them are cheesy, silly, or sometimes don’t make sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill except with a different type of drama.

So the story follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer. Jessica is the fashionable, social butterfly, cheerleader that dreams of parties and popularity.

They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first book focused on the two girls, but the later ones were divided into two stories: one about a friend or relative while the other is about the girls. The later series got a bit darker and was done in short series, two or three books that went together. The topics ranged from drugs, sex, school dances, serial killers, sports, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff. 😉

Yes as the series progressed the writers changed, and while I didn’t like some of the alterations I still continued to read and collect (still do so today) the novels. What can I say? They are such a big part of my childhood they bring on a tsunami of nostalgia.

So what does that have to do with us? Well quite a few of the books in the series were mysteries, supernatural, had psycho characters, or other themes that fall in line with this blog.

So the novel series is similar to the Nancy Drew Files where you have a little teaser at the end like a preview, and the book picks up from there. In the last review I didn’t think I’d be reviewing another Sweet Valley High until book #13, but I forgot book #11

So let’s see since Secrets, we had Jessica being controlled and abused by her dream guy, Bruce Patman, discovering he is nothing but a nightmare; had the sisters compete to have a girl join or not join their sorority; Jessica went out with a much older man; Todd got a motorcycle; Elizabeth cracked her head riding the motorcycle and went into a coma, along with having a personality change; Roger Barret becomes a sport star and tries to go after Lila Fowler; and Jessica tried to keep the school “slut” from joining the cheerleading squad. Wow.

What?!

So that leaves us with number 11:

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE

Suzanne rose from the couch and wound her arms about Mr. Collins’ neck. She could feel his muscles tensing as she pressed up against him

Suzanne, stop it,” Mr. Collins warned. She parted her lips and tilted her head back, willing him to embrace her. He was so close. His heart was beating much too quickly…

Trembling with the effort, Mr. Collins pulled free from her. “Get your things,” he ordered. “I’ll wait for you in the car.

She stared at him for a long, incredulous moment. How dare he reject her? Her eyes narrowed to razor-thin slits. “You wanted to kiss me. I know you did.”

Mr. Collins shook his head. “Believe me, I’m doing you a favor.”

But Suzanne scarcely heard what he was saying. Rage was boiling inside her. Oh, he’d pay for this. She’d make him pay. “You’re the one who’s going to be sorry Roger Collins!” she hissed.

Mr. Wakefield’s old college roommate, Tom Devlin, and him got back into contact. Devlin is a diplomat and has been all over the world, but has returned to New York City. His daughter, Suzanne, proposed  an idea of having her and one of the twins exchange home’s for a week during their spring break as Suzanne has always longed togo to California. (Although they are rich why not take a family vacation? Whatever).

Whatever…

But only one Wakefield daughter can go, and of course resident drama queen, Jessica pitches a fit when she loses the coin toss to Elizabeth. But Jessica can’t be out-tricked for long, and makes Elizabeth feel insecure in her relationship with Todd, getting her to switch places.

Suzanne, or Suzy as she asks everyone to call her, arrives looking glamourous as ever. She even has a dazzling English accent from her time abroad.

Even though Suzy is wealthy, lived all over, and had everything-she is kind, caring, and doesn’t mind lending a helping hand in everything-cleaning, cooking, etc.

She’s almost too good to be true,” Enid said…

Is she?

At the school picnic things go a little strange. Suzanne who is an amazing swimmer, medal-winning, starts drowning-causing Mr. Collins to have to swim out and save her. Suzy is so grateful, but Mr. Collins acts weird.

Meanwhile, in New York Jessica is having a less than thrilling time until Suzanne’s gorgeous boyfriend agrees to take her out-using his and Suzanne’s tickets.

Back in Sweet Valley, Elizabeth, Todd, and Suzanne drive by Mr. Collins’ house as Elizabeth needs to drop off some stuff for the school paper, The Oracle. Why she needs to go to his house, or even knows where he lives, I don’t know. Weird things you didn’t question as a preteen.

Suzanne delivers the papers for Elizabeth, getting a “drink of water” from the  garden hose and splashing her body, showing off her body.

Really, an “accident”.

One day Elizabeth is supposed to babysit Teddy, Mr. Collins’ son, but Todd scores some awesome tickets to the Lakers’ game. Suzy agrees to fill in for Elizabeth, promising to notify Mr. Collins but doesn’t, surprising him instead.

Yes, Suzanne is too good to be true. Underneath that beautiful exterior she is rotten to the core. She tries to seduce him, trying to add another conquest in her life, but Mr. Collins won’t take the bait. And he rejects her.

She walks back to the Wakefields and tears her blouse, messes up her hair, etc. When she gets there she accuses Mr. Collins of attacking her. Will Suzanne’s evil plan work? Or will everyone see through her careful facade?

Hmm…

Like the Nancy Drew Files, one of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author always gives great detail to what she wears. I’ve decided to add a special section for this in these reviews too.

Outfits-

When Jessica wears the black crepe from Suzanne’s closet.

Thoughts After Reading:

Rereading it I realize there are some things that are just not quite kosher here-in the relation to each other. Elizabeth going to Mr. Collins house multiple times, the Devlins not caring about underage drinking, Suzanne’s boyfriend trying to rape Jessica but they don’t tell her parents it charge him, and more. But anyways in the end they reveal that Suzy is evil and all works out, Mr. Collins is reinstated (although wouldn’t there be a bigger investigation into what was said), and Suzy goes back to NYC (she doesn’t face ay charges either). Jessica returns lying about the great time she had, when it was awful (how come we never see how this affects her? It’s like the writers don’t think about what would happen logically). Then we have poor Steven…

The Next Book in the Series:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

On the other hand, her recent experience with Suzanne had taught her that appearances could be deceiving. It was best not to form judgements based on superficial evidence.

“You can’t be sure of anything until you talk to Tricia,” Elizabeth said gently

Steven was close to tears. “I’ve tried. But-but she says nothing is wrong. Liz, I know she’s hiding something. I can see it in her eyes. And it’s driving me crazy!”

What terrible secret is Tricia keeping from Steven? Find out in Sweet Valley #12, WHEN LOVE DIES

***SPOILER ALERT***

We will not be reviewing that book and since they say it in the title, I will reveal the end. She dies. It is very sad.

The next Sweet Valley High book we will review will be Kidnapped. 

For more Sweet Valley High, go to Secrets

For more book reviews, go to The Demon of River Heights

Secrets

Secrets (Sweet Valley High #2) by Francine Pascal

Ah, Sweet Valley. Nothing takes me back to be preteen years faster than looking at this book series I was completely obsessed with. When I first became interested in them, they were out of print which just made me want them more!

As a kid I really liked the series and wanted to even live in their idyllic Californian world, and I thought the stories were fun and interesting. But as an adult I know these weren’t the best written books. Most of them are cheesy, silly, and sometimes don’t make sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill.

So the story follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer. Jessica is the fashionable, social butterfly, cheerleader that dreams of parties and popularity.

They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first book focused on the two girls, but the later ones were divided into two stories: one about a friend or relative while the other is about the girls. The later series got a bit darker and was done in miniseries, two or three books that went together. The topics ranged from drugs, sex, school dances, serial killers, sports, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff. 😉

Yes, as the series progressed the writers changed, and while I didn’t like some of the alterations I still continued to read and collect (still do so today) the novels. What can I say? They are such a big part of my childhood they bring on a tsunami of nostalgia.

So what does that have to do with us? Well quite a few of the books in the series were mysteries, had supernatural elements, psycho characters, or other themes that fall in line with this blog. So we get to review them!

So the novel series is similar to the Nancy Drew Files where you have a little teaser at the end like a preview, and the book picks up from there. In the last book Double Love, the sisters competed for the same guy, Todd Wilkins. Todd really liked Elizabeth, but Jessica did all she could to stop the romance. A bunch of other stuff also happens with the football field being involved in a big tug-of-war between companies, Elizabeth and Jessica afraid their dad is having an affair, Elizabeth and Jessica’s brother dating a girl from the wrong side of town, Jessica pretending to be Elizabeth and damaging her reputation, dances/parties, etc.

This book picks up after Elizabeth played a trick on Jessica, getting her dunked fully clothed. So here is where our story begins…

SECRETS

It wasn’t fair, Jessica raged, tears streaming down her face. Enid was going to the fall dance with Ronnie, and she was sure to be named queen. Ronnie was so blind with love that he’d swing a million votes her way.

Jessica sighed. She just had to win. If she were queen, Bruce Patman would finally notice her. She’d never wanted anything so badly in her entire life. She’d do anything to make it happen.

Out of the corner of one wet eye, Jessica glimpsed a piece of paper sticking out from under the bed. It looked like a letter.

Dear Enid,” she read with a sudden voracious interest. A smile crept slowly across her features as a plan shaped itself in her mind.

Time to put my evil plan in motion…

Jessica is mad that her sister got one over on her and had her dunked in front of everyone. But she doesn’t think on it too long as she has something more weighty on her mind. She has been in love with Bruce Patman for years but he never paid attention to her. She has watched him go through every A-list girl except herself! Her latest attempt to snag him is to win Fall Queen, as Bruce is nominated Fall King. If the two are crowned, they will have to go to the following dances and school activities together-and he will fall madly in love with her.

The dance is two weeks away and Jessica can’t wait!

I’m so excited!

Elizabeth has noticed that her best friend Enid Rollins has been so down lately. The decide to do a marathon baking session to cheer her up-but no dice. Finally Elizabeth just asks her and Enid unloads. Enid has a secret-a big secret. She has a police record.

When her parents divorced two years ago, she got involved in drinking and drugs. She and her boyfriend, George Warren, hit a boy while driving. The kid turned out to be okay-but the two were arrested, given 6 months probation, and put through drug counseling. Enid was changed by it and George was sent away to a private boarding school.

Enid is worried about her boyfriend Ronnie Edwards finding out. He said a lot of stuff in the last book that makes Enid certain that if he discovered her secret he’d dump her right away.

In my open she would be much better without him. He’s a rude, jerky, jealous, control freak, and abusive.

Enid has been writing to her friend George these past years and is afraid that Ronnie will see it as cheating on him. She shows the letters to Elizabeth, but it is nothing more than average friend encouragement and support. Elizabeth promises to keep the letters a complete secret.

Meanwhile, Jessica and her friends are talking about Ms. Dalton the French teacher. Jessica’s best friend Lila Fowler hates Ms. Dalton as not only is her father dating the 25-year-old teacher (really? 25), but her boyfriend, Ken Matthews, has a giant crush on her. She starts a rumor that Ms. Dalton and him are having an affair.

Jessica returns home later in a bad mood. She tried to charm Bruce Patman-but received nothing. She wants to hang out with her sister-but she’s gone again off with Enid. Enid who hates Jessica. She starts thinking of everything that is wrong and goes in her sister’s room-as her’s is painted an ugly brown (bad idea by Jessica) and too messy (she hates cleaning). As she sits there she spots a letter, and a terrible, awful idea is born.

Later Enid, Ronnie, Elizabeth, and Todd are double dating when Elizabeth and Todd notice something is off with Ronnie. The couples split ways with Enid and Ronnie heading to the classic make-out spot. Ronnie acts totally different and all over Enid-and then breaks their date to the dance.

When he tries to go farther than Enid wants, she manages to get loose-but then it all comes out. Ronnie knows all about George and her past.

“The letters. Liz must have told him about the letters.”

Jessica leaves for a party at Lila’s hoping to snag Bruce Patman there. Elizabeth calls up Enid, but she won’t have anything to do with her. Elizabeth stays home wallowing in confusion, while Jessica heads out.

Jessica is super disappointed to find out Bruce already has a date to the dance and puts her eyes on now dateless Ronnie.

Elizabeth confronts the question of how this could have happened, discussing it with her favorite teacher-Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins tells her to look for the key thing-motivation. Why would anyone want to do this? Break up Enid and Ronnie?

Hmmm…

Like the Nancy Drew Files, one of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author always gives great detail to what the twins wear. I’ve decided to add a special section for this in these reviews too.

Outfits-

When Jessica goes to Lila’s party-but imagine in burgundy:

The dance: I see Jessica in this…

And Elizabeth in this:

Thoughts After Reading:

As a teen I loved it! From beginning to end. As an adult, I still enjoyed it-good pacing and the better writing than later books in the series.

The Next Book in the Series:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

Just then Bruce sailed past, nearly colliding with her as she stumbled backward in an attempt to escape Winston’s murderous feet. He swept her with a long look that sent an electric shock tingling up her spine. There was a hint of invitation in his smile, and more than a spark of interest in his sexy blue eyes. Some of her misery faded. Could it be?…

Can Jessica play Bruce Patman’s game and win? Find out in SWEET VALLEY HIGH #3, Playing With Fire.

Of course we won’t because that isn’t a mystery. I don’t think I will be reviewing anything until book #13, Kidnapped. When I get there I’ll do a quick recap-and then continue.

For more young adult fiction, go to Christina’s Ghost

For more books were letters play a key role, go to This Pen for Hire

The Black Velvet Ribbon

“The Black Velvet Ribbon” by Unknown from Tales From the Midnight Hour edited by J.D. Stamper

This is an old story that no one knows where it comes from originally. It is one you have probably heard before in a hundred different ways.

A man was a bachelor for 40 years, but then he meets a beautiful woman and falls in love. She dresses fashionable except for one thing-she wears a velvet ribbon around her neck.

Hmm…

He doesn’t think much of it and they get married-her all dressed in white except for one thing-the black ribbon.

Their lives continue and she never takes the ribbon off, no matter what she wears.

The thought of it consumes him and he ask her to take it off. She won’t and tells him that he’ll be sorry of she does.

He becomes obsessed with the ribbon and her secret. It’s all he thinks about day and night.

Then one night he can’t take it anymore and while she is sleeping cuts the ribbon off. As soon as that happens, her head falls and rolls away saying “You’ll be sorry…you’ll be sorry…”

Thoughts After Reading:

I love this story. It was one of those “spooky” ones that you always tell each other at sleepovers.

For more short stories, go to Marionettes, Inc.

For more reviews, go to A Talent for Trouble

 

Murder at Oklahoma

MurderatOklahoma

Murder at Oklahoma by Jack M. Bickham

Phyllis “Flip” Ryan is a tall, leggy, blonde studying for Ph. D. in electrical engineering. She has trouble with people taking her seriously as they don’t expect supermodels to be interested in how things work. But Flip has been working hard on her studies and has proved all wrong.

But then Flip is propelled in another direction. When the star of the English department and famous author of Southern romances, Dr. Lilith Weilman, is murdered; Flip decides to take on the case and discover who the killer is.

This won’t be easy as Lilith had plenty of secrets and enemies.

Besides that someone has gone through a lot of trouble to erase information from her computer, information that would be vital in tracking down the killer.

As Flip prepares to use her cool logic and sizzling intellect at this puzzle, she must tread carefully in order to protect her university and her life.

bannerbooks-border-black-and-white

Thoughts After Reading:

I really don’t like this mystery as it is not memorable.

Meh

Yes it is so bad that my brain is unable to keep any part of it in my mind, it is so just so forgettable.

I thought the characters and the story were super bland. I’ve read this three times and the only thing that stays rooted in my mind is that the English professor’s like to LARP which Flip found insane.

I also recall how the book seemed unfinished at the end with Flip contemplating her future goals with the future of her current relationship. Her boyfriend doesn’t want to leave the area as he is doing well at work, but Flip knows she will have to move to find work. It almost felt like the author was planning on writing another novel, but I guess he just was unsure how to end this one as their are no sequels and this book was published in 1998.

The rest of it was boring, bland, and just not worth your time. Just skip it.

For more mysteries that are not in a series, go to The Dashwood Sisters Tell All: A Modern Day Novel of Jane Austen

For more murder mysteries featuring college students, go to Good, Clean, Murder