Thursday, March 22, 2018

Sweet Valley High Series Overview

The Sweet Valley High series began in 1983 and ended in 1998.  When I was a teen, I read most of Sweet Valley High #1-32 plus most Super Editions that were published up through 1988.  I quit reading the series in 1988 when I read the back cover synopsis for #41 and learned that Regina Morrow dies in #40 due to a rare reaction to cocaine.  I was devastated, since Regina was my favorite character.  I felt like the series had betrayed me, so I no longer wanted to read the books.

I revisited the series around 10 years ago and read up to #35 at that time.  I refused to read any higher since I wanted to pretend that Regina doesn't die.  Furthermore, I did not like the cover art changes and refused to consider reading any higher-numbered books.

I found that during this most recent reading that I was no longer as emotionally connected to the characters, so I did not mind reading past Regina's death.  I had purchased the entire series, although I did not know how far I would get.  I have never liked the cover art changes of the higher-numbered books, but I was open to reading them so long as I was able to enjoy the stories.

I ended up reading the entire series, including most of the special editions.  The books I elected not to read are the six secret diaries books for the twins and the four sagas that feature the past history of the prominent Sweet Valley families.  The entire set consists of 181 books, so I read 171 of 181 books.

During this reading, my feelings towards most of the main characters shifted somewhat from how I once felt.  Here are my opinions of the main characters.

Elizabeth Wakefield - I like Liz of the early books, but Liz from the last part of the series is awful.  I hate that Liz.

Jessica Wakefield - I still like Jessica as much as ever.  I don't like her outright mean stunts, but aside from those, I greatly enjoy her escapades.

Steven Wakefield - I liked him okay when I was a teen, but I now find him quite boring.

Enid Rollins - Enid has always been boring.  The funny thing is that I am more like Enid than any other character.  However, I wouldn't want to read about myself, so there you go.

Todd Wilkins - I liked Todd when I was a teen, but I find Todd of the early part of the series to be boring.  The Todd of the later books is boring and a loser.  He's a loser because he forgives Liz for cheating on him in every book.  He also cheats on her sometimes, but he thinks that's okay.

Jeffrey French - Liz should have stayed with Jeffrey.  The main flaw in this series is that we don't get enough of Jeffrey.

Bruce Patman - I like Bruce.  Sure, he's arrogant and not somebody I would want as a friend.  But Bruce is a lot of fun.  I enjoy reading about him.

Lila Fowler - I used not to like Lila that much.  I now consider her a goddess.  She tells it like it is, and the reader does get to see that Lila has a vulnerable side, which is why she acts like such a snob.  Lila is another person I would not enjoy in real life, but in a book, she is awesome.

Regina Morrow - Regina was once my favorite character, but I now like her no more than any of the other characters.  My teen mind did not realize how how unrealistic and superficial the treatment of her deafness is.  Now that I can see that, I do not like Regina as much and did not mind reading about her death.

Mr. Collins - I always liked Mr. Collins, and I still do.  However, when I read the books this time, I found him a bit creepy at times.  It didn't help that I read some online reviews mentioning Mr. Collins' pervy behavior.  He does seem to like Liz a bit too much in the early books.

The Sweet Valley High chronology is very confusing, since the set consists of 143 numbered books plus 38 special editions interspersed throughout the set.  I will only mention the numbered books in the following summary, but each section of numbered books contains many unnumbered special editions.  It would be too cumbersome to try to list all the special editions in the label for each section.

#1-39 from 1983 to 1987:  These are the books from before the death of Regina Morrow.  The series is completely innocent at this time.  Nothing is a big problem.  Even when characters are nearly raped, they shrug off the event like it was nothing.  Students haze each other, but this seems to be a normal activity with no consequences.  No one gets charged with assault.  These are the most idealistic books in the series.  Watch a music video from the early 1980s like Madonna's Borderline or Material Girl, and you get a clear picture of what these books are like.  The books are very much a product of the time.  These are very good books.

#40-94 from 1987 to 1993:  The series still has the same overall premise and quality as the original books, but it has begun to tackle some harder issues, like homosexuality and interracial families.  Rape is no longer considered an act that a girl can just brush off as nothing.  Hazing is still accepted as normal, but at least the characters see it as somewhat of a problem.  Liz becomes a feminist and protests against beauty pageants and soap operas, since she sees both as demeaning to women.  #94 marks the end of the canon Sweet Valley High books.

#95-100 from 1993:  Beginning with these books, the series switches to a miniseries format, with most stories spanning multiple books.  The series also gets a new look and a new attitude.  This group of books is unlike all others in the series.  Liz drives drunk, Jessica's boyfriend dies, and the twins have a murderous doppelganger.  These books are deeply depressing and don't fit in with the rest of the set at all.  I do not like them.

#101-128 from 1993 to 1996:  These books vary widely in quality.  Some books are very good while others are awful.  Some of the writers clearly did not understand the Sweet Valley High premise and how to write the series.  That kind of problem is always the fault of the person in charge of the series, so someone wasn't doing their job.  During these books, Liz's personality shifts where she constantly cheats on Todd, even though she is supposedly committed to him.  Todd and Liz break up in practically every book, but somehow, they end up back together.  I never liked Todd, but it was during these books that I began to hate him.  I also began to hate Liz as well.  Oddly, Jessica calms down slightly in these books and is somewhat more stable.

#129-143 from 1997 to 1998:  The cover art changes to photographs of the stars of the Sweet Valley High television series.  Most of these books are not good and are rather tiresome.  Devon Whitelaw arrives in Sweet Valley, and the love triangle between Devon, Liz, and Todd is awful.  The series should have been ended rather than being allowed to deteriorate to this extent.

I cannot understand why Liz is stuck with Todd for most of the 181 book series.  I feel that this was a big mistake.  Liz and Todd's tiresome relationship and Liz's odd personality change are the two largest contributing factors to the decline in quality of the series.

I do understand why Liz gets back with Todd when he comes back from Vermont, since it makes for a good story line for Liz to dump Jeffrey for Todd.  I don't understand why she is stuck with Todd from #59 through to the very end of the series, especially since she cheats on him constantly from #101 on.  Liz is supposed to be a character who does the right thing under all circumstances, or at least that is Liz at the beginning of the series.  Liz of later in the series has got some serious problems.

I read an interesting opinion about Liz in the comments to a now-defunct Sweet Valley High blog.  One person theorized that Margo really does switch with Liz in #100, which would explain Liz's permanent change in personality.  That person made a comment that went something like "Well played, Margo."

I find that theory rather intriguing, although I don't believe that Margo actually makes the switch.  After all, we get Liz's point of view many times during #101 and up, and besides, in Return of the Evil Twin, Margo reappears and definitely had not taken Liz's place.

I do believe that one can conclude that the terrible events of #95-100 had such a profound effect on Liz that her personality shifts permanently.  After all, Liz drives drunk in those books, through no fault of her own, and her passenger gets killed.  Those events would cause psychological problems.  Furthermore, Jessica suffers the death of her boyfriend in those books, so this could explain why Jessica is slightly calmer in later books.

I enjoyed reading through the entire Sweet Valley High set, although the best books are the canon books, #1 through #94.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Sweet Valley High Last Wish, Earthquake, and Aftershock

For the final photo cover of the series, used on Last Wish, the television twins mimic the cover art for the very first book in the series, Double Love, which was painted by James Mathewuse.  Jessica is once again in denim, and Liz is off to the side.

In the antepenultimate volume of the Sweet Valley High series, Last Wish, Liz and Jess prepare to celebrate their seventeenth birthday.  Elizabeth plans a surprise party for Jessica at the Beach Disco.  Meanwhile, Jessica plans a surprise party for Elizabeth on the beach.  When the invitations go out, all of the twins' friends figure out that both girls are planning parties.  The twins' friends get together and figure out how to salvage the situation.

On page 40, Liz states that maybe she and Todd shouldn't have gotten back together after all of their fights.  I heartily agree.

This is a surprisingly good book.  The plot is utterly ridiculous, but that's why this is a good book.  Somehow each twin thinks that her twin is uninterested in having a party and thinks that the surprise party that she is planning will be the only one.  While unbelievable, this is exactly what the early Sweet Valley High books are like, with a total lack of realism.  This book captures all that perfectly for one last time, so it is a good story, at least until near the end when the earthquake strikes.

In the penultimate volume of the Sweet Valley High series, Earthquake, a devastating earthquake strikes Sweet Valley during the twins' seventeenth birthday party.  The Wakefields' home is destroyed, and their neighbor's house catches on fire.  As the fire spreads, Liz tries to rescue Enid, and Ken tries to rescue Olivia.  Devon shows himself to be a despicable coward who only cares about himself.  He refuses to help Liz rescue Enid.

Meanwhile, Jessica tries to help a boy rescue his younger sister, who has fallen into a deep crevasse.  The rescue fails, and the girl dies.  Jessica is devastated.

After the Wakefields' house collapses, Lila and Todd are trapped in the bathroom together.  On page 132, Lila is "totally, passionately sick of Todd Wilkins."  On page 196, Lila reflects, "Dying with Todd was worse than dying alone."  On page 218, Lila thinks she and Todd are about to die, so she makes a confession.  "I have to tell you something.  I never really liked you."  Lila is such a goddess.  She doesn't hold back.

Both this book and the next book make a point of mentioning as many past events as possible from the entire run of the Sweet Valley High series.

I did not like this book much.  It is too depressing.

In the final volume of the Sweet Valley High series, Aftershock, Liz has lost her memory of the events immediately following the earthquake.  Liz and Enid think that Devon is a hero, and he doesn't mind letting them think that.  What a loser.

By the end of the story, Liz regains her memory, and Devon rides off into the sunset, never to be seen again.  Not that this matters, since the series is over.  Todd and Liz don't get back together.  I don't care, since I was done with Todd and Liz's relationship several dozen books ago.  Even worse, the horrid Liz, Todd, and Devon love triangle lasted for nine books, which was eight books too many.

I did not enjoy this book.

After finishing this book, I fully intended to read the entire Sweet Valley University series.  But first, I tried again to read Sweet Valley High Senior Year.  Nope, Senior Year is still repulsive.

I then read the first Sweet Valley University book, or at least I partially read it until I had to begin skimming.  What a depressing story.  I now understand that the dreadful Nancy Drew On Campus series was modeled after Sweet Valley University.  Nancy Drew On Campus was published two years after the first Sweet Valley University book, and the premise is very similar.  I couldn't read Nancy Drew On Campus, so I can't read Sweet Valley University.

So rather suddenly, my Sweet Valley High reading experience ended.

A Sweet Valley High series summary will follow.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Sweet Valley High #141 A Picture-Perfect Prom?, #142 The Big Night, and #143 Party Weekend!

In Sweet Valley High #141, A Picture-Perfect Prom?, Elizabeth and Jessica's junior year in high school is drawing to a close.  It's time for the prom, although there was that Jungle Prom that we are probably not supposed to remember.  Jessica and Lila create a list of all the boys at SVH and rank them, while listing their negative traits.  Unfortunately, the list gets leaked, and none of the boys will go to the prom with Jessica or Lila!

Liz has dumped both of her boyfriends, but she wants to go to the prom with one of them.  She thinks both want to be just friends, but she waits for a signal from one of them. 

Liz has serious problems.  In the previous book, Liz declared herself independent of men, but now she waits for one of them to choose her.  I hate Liz.  I hate her so much.  I also hate Devon and Todd.

On page 3, Lila states that the store, Lisette's, is "so early eighties."  I guess that's right, since the Sweet Valley series began in the early eighties.

On page 9, Jessica understands how ridiculous Liz and Todd's relationship has become.  "He's forgiven you—and you've forgiven him—so many times it makes me sick."  Same here, Jess.

The first half of the book is completely boring.  I did not enjoy this book.  This needs to end and fast.

In Sweet Valley High #142, The Big Night, Liz somehow ends up with two dates for the prom with both Devon and Todd.  Jessica ends up without a date.  I think we can see where this is going.

Liz goes to the prom with Todd, and Jessica goes to the prom with Devon while pretending to be Liz.  Jessica lets Liz know what she is doing, and Liz is mostly okay with it.  Of course the boys find out, and Liz gets dumped by both of them.  Yay!

I also did not enjoy this book.  I don't like reading about a bunch of losers.

In Sweet Valley High #143, Party Weekend!, ... I am quite dismayed that the stories keep coming.  This terrible story arc should have ended several books back.

Anyway, the prom is over, thank goodness.  Now, the students of Sweet Valley High and surrounding schools celebrate with a weekend of competitions.  This will end up a disaster just like everything else—mainly a disaster for the reader.

Jessica starts seeing Christian Gorman's ghost and even speaks to him.  But she might be dreaming.  The rivalry between the schools gets really bad, and someone could get hurt.

I can't even remember much about the book.  I was so bored.

#143 Party Weekend! is the final numbered volume in the Sweet Valley High series.  But wait, we're not done yet!  Three more books remain.  Can we survive the twins' 17th birthday and the earthquake?  Probably not.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Sweet Valley High #138 What Jessica Wants..., #139 Elizabeth's Mine, and #140 Please Forgive Me

In Sweet Valley High #138, What Jessica Wants..., Devon Whitelaw has enrolled at Sweet Valley High.  Jessica has decided that he is the boy for her.  As Jessica plots how to get Devon to notice her, she helps Todd plan a special date for Liz on the beach.  Unknown to Jessica and Todd, Devon and Liz have fallen in love.

I really liked Devon in this book and was all for Liz and Devon's budding romance.  Notice that "liked" and "was" are in the past tense.  The rest of the miniseries completely spoils the romance.

I greatly enjoyed this book, but I doubt I could ever enjoy it again or even read it again since I know what happens in the rest of the story arc.

In Sweet Valley High #139, Elizabeth's Mine, Devon and Todd fight over Elizabeth.  The situation gets so bad that Elizabeth dumps both of them.  Good riddance, but sadly, the story doesn't end here.

I can't even tell Devon and Todd apart on the cover.  They almost look like twins.  It's not worth any effort in trying to figure it out.

I did not enjoy this book as much as the previous one.  Liz and Devon's romance is quickly going stale.

In Sweet Valley High #140, Please Forgive Me, both Devon and Todd try to get Liz back.  This is such a sorry love triangle.  I hate all of them.

On page 196, Liz finally realizes that she doesn't need a man.  "Look, Jess.  I've had a steady boyfriend since... forever!  It's time I learned how to fly on my own—taste freedom for what it really is.  How am I supposed to learn who I am if I always see myself reflected in someone else's eyes?" 

It sounds great, but it won't last.  Liz is such a loser.  I hate her.

I did not like this book.  I found it boring.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

High International Shipping Costs and Free Domestic Shipping

Chinese sellers are able to list items on Amazon, eBay, and other sites for as little as U.S. $0.99, shipping included.  The Chinese receive subsidized postage rates, and the rest of the world is paying their postage for them.  Read the following article for more information.

As U.S. Postage Rates Continue To Rise, The USPS Gives The Chinese A 'Free Ride'

I still offer to ship books internationally, but most of my prospective international buyers think I am ripping them off.  They think I am choosing to use the most expensive shipping method instead of using a less expensive method.  The United States Postal Service no longer offers surface mail.  It does not exist.  We are only allowed to use the expensive method.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I do not offer to ship internationally for heavy bulk lots.  This is because it takes time to weigh the lots and figure out exactly what the postage will be.  It's not worth my time to do that when I know that no international buyers will be willing to pay the high cost.

I recently learned that deselecting international shipping on eBay was not enough to block international buyers from purchasing the bulk lots.  An international buyer purchased one of my bulk listings recently, which both surprised and dismayed me.  I was surprised since I thought I had blocked them.  I was dismayed because I knew that the buyer would back out.

I sent the requested invoice with the postage of $82.00 along with an apologetic message stating that I did not have a cheaper method to use.  The buyer immediately stated that she could not pay that much and asked for the transaction to be canceled.  That's why I don't offer international shipping on heavy bulk lots.  The transactions are always canceled.

After investigating, I learned that I must also select "exclude shipping locations" and select all continents in order to prevent international buyers from purchasing the heavy lots.  Each time an international buyer expresses interest in a heavy lot, they always back out, since the shipping is very high.  I understand completely, and I prefer to save trouble by not allowing them to initiate the purchase.


Some buyers really get hung up on free shipping and whether it helps or hurts them.  Many think that I have $3.95 fully built into the price of each book on eBay and think they are being ripped off when they purchase two items together that have free shipping.  These days, I don't think about the shipping when I price my items, except when I price bulk lots where I may be selling the books at or below cost.

Let's say that I have a book priced at $19.99 on eBay with free shipping.  This same book would have still been priced at $19.99 without free shipping, but then $3.95 would have been added to the base price of $19.99.  This means that my shipping is really free on eBay, so don't overthink it.

Others think that free shipping is always better and worry when they purchase like items that don't have free shipping.  I received an order on Etsy for six books.  On Etsy, postage is set at $3.95 for the first book and $0.50 for each additional book.  The buyer realized right after submitting the order that I have an eBay store which offers free shipping.  She told me, "Oh no you have an ebay store and it offers free shipping ... :'( I should have shopped there instead."

I had a feeling it didn't matter, but out of curiosity, I decided to see how much difference it would have made.  I found the same books in my eBay store and figured out how much she would have paid.  I sent her the following explanation of what I discovered.
I thought I'd compare my prices on eBay to what you paid here, just because I wanted to see if it did matter.  First, the books are different copies that are offered on the two sites.  Four of the titles are on eBay.  For the books that are there, with the eBay 10% discount and free shipping, the total for those books would have been about $58.

The four books that you purchased here with the 10% discount and paying for shipping ended up being around $58.  The difference looks to be just about $0.35, so it really didn't make a difference since some of the books on eBay are priced higher.  I try to price my items in a fashion so that it doesn't make a difference where you purchase the books.
I price many of my books cheaper on Etsy than what I do on eBay, which causes the shipping cost on Etsy not to matter.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Sweet Valley High #135 Lila's New Flame, #136 Too Hot to Handle, #137 Fight Fire with Fire, and Mystery Date

In Sweet Valley High #135, Lila's New Flame, Fowler Crest burns, and Lila is accused of arson!  Steven Wakefield interns for the district attorney, and he is certain that Lila is innocent.  Despite clues that point to Lila's guilt, Steven continues to try to prove her innocence and finds himself falling in love with her.

Devon Whitelaw's parents were recently killed in an accident, and Devon is set to inherit a fortune.  He must find a guardian, and Devon's search leads him in the direction of Sweet Valley.

I dearly love the cover art of this book.  I am not a fan of the photo covers, but Jessica's face captures the expression of disgust perfectly.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

In Sweet Valley High #136, Too Hot to Handle, Devon reconnects with his uncle in Las Vegas.  Devon is certain that Uncle Pete will be the guardian he needs, but Devon learns some shocking information about his uncle.

Steven and Lila have really fallen for each other.  Steven finds more evidence that could prove that Lila is the arsonist, but later, he uncovers more information that could lead to the true culprit, someone who is out for revenge against Lila.

What I love about these books is that the idea of a romance between Steven and Lila, while ridiculous, is also strangely alluring.  Additionally, the books are suspenseful since the reader wonders who burned down Lila's home.

This is another very good story.

In Sweet Valley High #137, Fight Fire with Fire, Steven Wakefield is certain that he knows who tried to kill Lila when her house was set on fire.  But he must prove his suspicions.

Devon Whitelaw arrives in Sweet Valley.  He has finally found his guardian, and he plans to attend Sweet Valley High.  Devon attends a football game, and he spots a beautiful blond-haired girl.  Moments later, Devon spots the same girl in a cheerleader outfit and is puzzled how she changed so quickly.  Devon doesn't know her name, but he knows that she is his destiny.

All three books in this trilogy are quite good.

In Sweet Valley High Super Romance, Mystery Date, Olivia Davidson feels like a misfit.  She only feels normal in a chat room, where she feels like she can be herself.  She falls in love with a boy who visits the chat room.  The two arrives to meet, and Olivia is horrified to learn that the boy is Ken Matthews.  Does the couple have a chance?

I did not like this book.  It bored me, and I did not read much of it.  I probably would have liked the book better if I had read it when young.

The next paragraph contains a major plot spoiler about the final two books in the series.  Stop reading now if you don't want to know.

I feel like the main purpose of this book was to set us up to be devastated by Olivia's death in the earthquake that strikes Sweet Valley.  In my case, it didn't work, even though I do like Olivia.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Sweet Valley High #132 Once Upon a Time, #133 To Catch a Thief, #134 Happily Ever After, and "R" Is for Revenge

In Sweet Valley High #132, Once Upon a Time, Liz and Jess take jobs as nannies for a royal family in France.  On the trip to France, Jessica falls in love with a handsome young man.

Todd and Liz fight just before the twins depart on their flight, so Liz is miserable.  The children don't like Liz, so she goes off by herself, leaving Jessica with the children.  Liz falls in love with Prince Laurent on first sight.

I cannot stand all the conflict between Todd and Liz.  Just break up already.  Oh, wait.  They break up in every book, but then they get right back together!  Ugh.

This book bored me.

In Sweet Valley High #133, To Catch a Thief, Elizabeth is madly in love with Prince Laurent, but she learns that he is engaged to a dreadful shrew, Antonia.  Prince Laurent wants to break off his engagement, but if he does, Antonia's mother will seek revenge.

Jessica's love interest turns out to be a thief.  Jessica is devastated.

This book has no suspense.  The back cover reveals the entire plot of the book.  If I had not known that information, I would have found the book to be at least somewhat interesting.  The scene pictured on the front cover, which shows the girls in a dungeon, is the final scene in the book.  When a publisher spoils the entire plot on the back cover and pictures the ending on the front cover, you know there is a serious problem.

This book also bored me.

In Sweet Valley High #134, Happily Ever After, Prince Laurent breaks off his engagement so that he can be with Liz.  But wait...

If I had read this book when it was first published, I might have felt some suspense.  Since I knew that the series continues through to #143 and has several special editions, I knew that Liz could not possibly marry Prince Laurent, despite the title and cover photo.  For that reason, this book also bored me.

Why do the twins almost always go to France when they go on international trips?  Aren't there other places that might be interesting?  I suppose that France was chosen since Francine Pascal lives in France.

In Sweet Valley High, "R" for Revenge, the officials at Sweet Valley High have decided that all school activities must have a faculty adviser.  The cheerleaders get the librarian, Nancy Swanson, to agree to be their adviser.  All goes well until the cheerleaders begin to disappear, one by one.

I was shocked that the Sweet Valley High officials finally decided that school activities need a faculty adviser.  Wow.  It only took them until nearly the end of the series to figure this out.  The hazing and assorted criminal activity could have been stopped long ago if only faculty members had been present at school activities.

Todd and Liz aren't speaking because Todd doesn't like how much time Liz is spending on the cheerleader story.  Liz finally calls to make up, and Todd won't listen.  He hangs up on her.  What a baby.  I hate both of them.

I enjoyed this book.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Sweet Valley High Jessica Takes Manhattan, #129 Cover Girls, #130 Model Flirt, and #131 Fashion Victim

In Sweet Valley High #128, Jessica Takes Manhattan, Jessica and Lila spend one week in New York City.  Lila is mistaken for Princess Charlotte, who just arrived.  Lila is taken to Princess Charlotte's suite.  Meanwhile, the princess ends up in Lila's small room and is quite thrilled about the situation.  The princess is happy to be away from media scrutiny.  Kidnappers mistake Lila for Princess Charlotte, and Lila and Jess are held hostage for ransom.

The reason Jessica and Lila get to go away is because Sweet Valley High's roof collapsed.  It will take around one week to repair.   I find it doubtful that a collapsed roof would be repaired in just one week.

On page 131, we learn that Lila has a "cellular phone."  Since Lila is the only character who has a cell phone, we can assume that only the wealthy would have had a cell phone in 1997.

However, I owned a cell phone beginning in 1996, and I wasn't wealthy.  There were these things called "cell phone plans" where one didn't have to pay the full cost of the phone.  And can you believe we still have those plans now?  Wow.

This is a fun book.  I read it quickly and greatly enjoyed it.

Jessica Takes Manhattan is the final illustrated Sweet Valley High cover.  The rest of the series uses photographs of the actors and actresses from the Sweet Valley High television series, which starred identical twins Brittany and Cynthia Daniel.

In Sweet Valley High #129, Cover Girls, for a school project, Jessica and Elizabeth intern at a fashion magazine, Flair, in Los Angeles.  Jessica schemes to get a modeling job, which she is certain will launch her career.  Liz interns for the managing editor and strives to be just like her.

This book is extremely boring.  I did not like it.  It also didn't help that it gave me bad flashbacks to the Nancy Drew Girl Detective Model Mystery Trilogy.

In Sweet Valley High #130, Model Flirt, Jessica is torn between the photographer, Quentin Berg, who could help launch her career, and mail room clerk, Cameron Smith, who won't be able to help Jessica's career.  Jessica solves the problem by dating both men.

Liz learns that her editor, Ms. Peirson, isn't the nice lady she thought when Ms. Peirson takes credit for Liz's great idea.

Liz is upset that Todd has gotten with the model, Simone.  After all, how dare he kiss another woman?

Um, Liz cheated on Todd with Joey for the previous two sets of books, and she didn't see a problem with that.  Liz is a hypocrite, and I hate her.  I hate her with a passion.

The book is boring until halfway through when it finally becomes interesting.

In Sweet Valley High #131, Fashion Victim, Liz has been fired after trying to get credit for her own idea.  Liz tries to get proof against Ms. Peirson, while Todd continues dating Simone.  Jessica loses touch with Cameron and soon regrets that she went after Quentin.

This book mostly bored me.  I do not like this trilogy.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Sweet Valley High #126 Tall, Dark, and Deadly, #127 Dance of Death, and #128 Kiss of a Killer

In Sweet Valley High #126, Tall, Dark, and Deadly, most of the girls at Sweet Valley High immediately fall in love with the new student, Jonathan Cain.  Liz senses something wrong with Jonathan, and she deeply dislikes him.  Enid is especially smitten, and she rejects Liz's friendship when Liz criticizes Jonathan.

Jessica will stop at nothing to gain Jonathan's affection, despite Jonathan's rude behavior and warning that she needs to stay away from him for her own safety.

In Sweet Valley High #127, Dance of Death, Jessica and the rest of the girls continue chasing after Jonathan.  Jessica shares a passionate kiss with Jonathan, but the next day she learns that Enid spent the rest of the evening with Jonathan and has a hickey on her neck.

Liz's summer fling, Joey Mason, has moved to Sweet Valley.  Liz is confused, torn between Todd and Joey.

Jonathan throws a party at his mansion.  The evening ends in tragedy with one person dead.

On page 102, Jessica paces around the school's gravel parking lot.  This surprised me.  I always thought that Sweet Valley High had a paved parking lot.  Why would the pampered students of Sweet Valley High put up with gravel?

In Sweet Valley High #128, Kiss of a Killer, Jonathan nearly kills Enid, after losing control.  Enid lies in the hospital, unconscious.  Liz breaks into Jonathan's house to search for clues.  She finds some books about vampires.  Liz looks into the history of vampires and concludes that Jonathan is a vampire.  Can Liz save Jessica before it is too late?

It's clear that Jonathan really is a vampire.  Unlike the werewolf trilogy, this trilogy leaves little doubt.  Actually, there is slight doubt, since nobody witnesses Jonathan drinking blood, but I feel confident that he is really a vampire.  Like with the werewolf trilogy, the subsequent books in the series make no mention of vampire and simply refer to Jonathan as a "disturbed serial killer."

Liz is so disgusting.  She decides that she is in love with Todd, but she can't bring herself to tell Joey the truth.

I greatly enjoyed this trilogy.  I found all parts interesting with nothing boring.

I did not make note of which book, but one of these vampire books is the first book in the series to mention the Internet by name.

The next books in the sequence are The Fowlers of Sweet Valley and The Patmans of Sweet Valley.  I decided not to read either book.  I am not interested in reading about Lila and Bruce's ancestors.  I want to stick with modern day Sweet Valley,  Let's get this series finished as soon as possible.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Sweet Valley High Falling for Lucas, #123 Elizabeth's Rival, #124 Meet Me at Midnight, and #125 Camp Killer

In Sweet Valley High Super Edition, Falling for Lucas, a group of students from Sweet Valley High goes on a ski vacation at Snow Mountain Lodge.  Jessica and Lila both immediately fall for Lucas, who is one of the ski instructors.  Both girls scheme to keep Lucas away from the other.

Todd tries to trick Liz into spending the night with him in his room.  It's not clear exactly what Todd intends to have happen, since the text is vague.  I figure we can assume the worst, which is what Liz does.  Liz is furious, so she and Todd have a big fight.  Todd chases after Liz late one evening on the slopes and is swept away in an avalanche.  Liz is remorseful and fears for his safety.

For most of this series, I have not liked Liz and Todd's relationship that much.  By this point in the series, their relationship is unbearable.  They fight in nearly every book, and then they make up.

This book is just okay.

In Sweet Valley High #123, Elizabeth's Rival, Liz and Jess have signed up to be junior counselors at Camp Echo Mountain in Montana.  They are joined by several other Sweet Valley High students as well as Liz's childhood friend, Maria Slater, who is going to be moving back to Sweet Valley, and Maria's best friend from New York, Nicole.

Liz and Nicole both fall for Joey, who is one of the counselors.  Nicole pulls dirty tricks on Liz, and Maria refuses to believe that Nicole has done anything wrong.

It's really odd that most of the junior counselors selected for a camp in Montana either come from Sweet Valley or once lived in Sweet Valley.  This series is no longer trying to be in the slightest bit believable.

On page 182, Liz lies to Joey about Todd, telling him that she and Todd are both free to date others.  Liz now lies just as easily as Jessica.

In Sweet Valley High #124, Meet Me at Midnight, Liz and Nicole hate each other.  Liz wants to keep dating Joey, but Todd Wilkins unexpectedly arrives.  Nicole threatens to tell Todd about Joey.  Poor Liz doesn't know what to do, refusing to tell Todd the truth or break it off with Joey.

Jessica sneaks out of camp to see a boy in town, which is strictly against the rules for junior counselors.

Liz is really much worse than Jessica at this point.  Jessica has cheated on serious boyfriends in the past, but Jessica did not have the deep commitment to them that Liz claims to have to Todd.  Liz is supposedly deeply committed to Todd, but she cheats on him constantly.  It's pathetic and shows Liz to have no morals.

In Sweet Valley High #125, Camp Killer, Nicole continues to threaten Liz, who is still in love with Joey and hasn't told Todd the truth.  Jessica sneaks around after dark with her boyfriend.  Rumors fly about a killer lurking in the woods.  Everyone assumes that the story is a legend until several people are kidnapped.

I enjoyed these books, but I can't stand Liz's awful behavior.  I really believe that Todd and Liz's relationship should have ended many books ago.  It would have been far better for Liz to have had various serious boyfriends over shorter periods of time, like how Jessica's relationships were handled from #49 on.  Jessica has had relationships that lasted for a stretch of books, then the relationships would end due to the boyfriend's convenient death or Jessica cheating.

It's illogical for Liz and Todd to fight in every book, then they make up.  Liz cheats, and Todd forgives her.  Liz cheats again, then Todd forgives her again.  Todd cheats, with Liz getting angry since Todd's cheating is somehow different, but then she forgives him.  Both of them are losers.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

What to Read Next

My reviews lag weeks behind whatever I am currently reading.  I am not a machine, and I do not write the reviews immediately after finishing the books.  For that reason, I prefer to be reading many books past the books that are currently being reviewed in the blog.  This keeps my stress level low.  I am done with the Sweet Valley High series, but those reviews will continue to be published well into March and could extend towards the end of the month depending upon how I space them out.

I keep private most of the series that are high on my reading list.  I have been pressured by readers of this blog to review certain series.  I understand that you want me to get to certain favorite series, but I will not read those series until I feel like it.  The secret behind my high reading rate is that I read what I most want to read when I want to read it.  I cannot read a book because someone wants me to read it, so I have never participated in book clubs.  Book clubs probably help the average person read more, but they would cause me to read fewer books, since I would have to stop and read what someone else has selected to read.  That does not work for me.  I read on my own schedule.

After I finished reading Sweet Valley High, I wanted to give the Sweet Valley High Senior Year series another chance, even though I find the cover art and style of Senior Year to be quite repulsive.  The first book begins with a series of obnoxious diary pages and is interspersed with more of them.  I refused to read all the Sweet Valley High Secret Diaries books because I hate that sort of thing.  I tried, but I cannot read Senior Year.

I still thought I would like Sweet Valley University, so I read the first book.  Sweet Valley University is set up in the same fashion as Sweet Valley High, in third person and with no diary pages, so the style is not obnoxious.  However, the story is depressing.  Liz is lonely, isolated from Jessica and her friends.  In fact, the story is eerily similar to the first Nancy Drew On Campus book, which was published two years later.  Now I understand.  Nancy Drew On Campus was modeled after Sweet Valley University.  I could not read Nancy Drew On Campus, so I cannot read Sweet Valley University.  

Thus I abruptly ended my entire Sweet Valley experience, well before I intended to do so.  My set of Sweet Valley University books is already up for sale, and I will soon list the Senior Year books.

I wanted to continue with modern books at least loosely similar to Sweet Valley High.  I decided to try the first Hardy Boys Casefiles book.  The story doesn't appeal to me.  I looked at summaries of other Casefiles books, and they seem to be about espionage.  I really enjoyed the Hardy Boys Digest books, but the Casefiles series does not seem appealing.  The only reason I have a complete set is because of a large book purchase from two years ago.  I'm going to get rid of the Casefiles set sometime soon.

Next, I tried to read the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Super Mystery series.  I got through the first two books and lost interest as I read the third book.  The stories are not as good as I would like, and Nancy's romantic thoughts about Frank are annoying.  I don't feel anything, and a story that hints at romance should have romance that connects with the reader.  The romance is forced and unnatural.  These books have nothing on Sweet Valley High in that respect.  Sadly, I'd rather be reading the final books in the Sweet Valley High series than the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Super Mystery series.  It should be noted that the final Sweet Valley High books are not very good, but I would rather read them. 

I realized that I had no choice but to go back to vintage series.  This was a dilemma.  I find it difficult to switch between reading modern books and vintage books.  I had read 171 Sweet Valley High books since late September.  I do best when I read many books of the same type consecutively without changing around to different types.  Since I had spent months reading Sweet Valley High, I was at a loss as to what to read.

I wasn't quite ready to try reading the books of Augusta Huiell Seaman.  Her books are high on my reading list and are, by the way, the only books I have admitted to having high on my list.  I feel that I need to work into Seaman's books because of the difficulty I have in switching between modern and vintage books.  Additionally, I want to wait a little longer because I still need to acquire one book.  Please don't ask which book, because I am not going to tell you.  I prefer to keep that information private, since I have had people take advantage of me when they know that I need a certain book.  They will price the book much higher than if I did not need the book.  I will hopefully be able to locate the book in the next few months, and if not, then you'll know by which book I skip when I read and review Seaman's books. 

So Augusta Huiell Seaman was not an immediate consideration.  My interest in reading Kay Tracey and the Dana Girls was rekindled recently when I made a post about the two series to one of the Facebook groups.  I would like to try to read the Kay Tracey books again.

I started reading the original text of The Secret of the Red Scarf and struggled through it at first, due to my difficulty with the vintage text.  After all, the first Kay Tracey book from 1934 is not remotely like the Sweet Valley High books.  The two worlds are so different.  Nevertheless, I made it through the book plus a few additional books, which is far enough that I feel confident that I can read through the Kay Tracey series.

So, I am now reading Kay Tracey and should continue with other vintage series which are yet to be determined.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Sweet Valley High #120 In Love with the Enemy, #121 The High School War, and #122 Kiss Before Dying

In Sweet Valley High #120, In Love with the Enemy, the students of Sweet Valley High and Palisades High escalate their rivalry into dangerous territory.  Bruce Patman heads a group of students who seek revenge against the students of Palisades High.  A group of Palisades students retaliate, and the war escalates.

Jessica decides to enter a surfing contest.  She gets up early every morning to practice, and she quickly falls in love with Christian Gorman.  Too late, Jessica learns that Christian is leading the Palisades gang against Sweet Valley High.

Liz drives recklessly just because she is excited.  Liz is very much like Jessica in these books.

The students have a dance that is advertised at school, yet the dance has no faculty supervision.  Only in Sweet Valley would that happen.

This story is annoying since it rehashes several past plots.  The series has already had gangs from rival schools attacking each other in A Night to Remember.  Bruce Patman has already led a group of boys in pranks in #86 Jessica Against Bruce.  Liz has taken surfing lessons in secret in #63 The New Elizabeth, and this time, Jessica does it.

Jessica has already cheated on past serious boyfriends in a similar fashion to what she does in this book.  So pretty much the entire plot is recycled from various past books.  This is why the higher-numbered books in long-running series tend to be tiresome to read.

In Sweet Valley High #121, The High School War, the situation between Sweet Valley High and Palisades High has worsened.  The rival gang attacks are quite serious.  Jessica continues to see Christian, and she lives in constant fear since he goes to Palisades High.  Jessica also worries that Ken will find out about Christian, and Jessica is not ready to break up with Ken.

I found the first half of the book to be boring at times.  The second half is rather suspenseful.

In Sweet Valley High #122, A Kiss Before Dying, Elizabeth tries to find a way to keep the students of Sweet Valley high and Palisades High from fighting with each other.  She becomes friendly with Rosie Shaw, a student from Palisades High.  Rosie comes up with a plan to get the two groups to settle down.  Liz tells Rosie about where the Sweet Valley High boys are meeting, and it is not until later that Liz realizes that Rosie was using her to cause more trouble.

This book is pretty suspenseful.  The title implies that someone will die, and it's not too hard to guess who that will be, considering the cover art and some melodramatic remarks made during the story.

This is a very good book.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Sweet Valley High #117 Jessica the Genius, #118 College Weekend, #119 Jessica's Older Guy, and Return of the Evil Twin

In Sweet Valley High #117, Jessica the Genius, everyone is worried about the SAT, except for Jessica.  Liz studies for hours, while Jessica has a good time.  When the scores come in, Liz finds that she did much worse than she expected, while Jessica made a high composite score.  Many students think that Jessica cheated, and even Liz and Ken doubt Jessica.

Both Liz and Jess take the test again.  This time, Liz takes it easy while Jessica studies.  Liz does great, while Jessica does bad.  The school insists that Jessica cheated and expels her.  Liz gets the school board to let Liz hold a trial for Jessica so that she can prove that Jessica did not cheat.

This book is like the typical Sweet Valley High book.  It is very good.

In Sweet Valley High #118, College Weekend, Liz and Jess spend a week at Sweet Valley University.  They stay with Steven and Billie.  Jessica throws a party the first night when Steven and Billie are away, and the apartment gets trashed.  Meanwhile, Liz learns more about the journalism program.  She gets to attend a class and writes an essay about college life.  Liz's essay is the best in the class, so the professor offers her a job on the university's newspaper.  Liz decides to get her GED and begin college immediately.

How typical that Liz can write a better essay than an entire class of college students.

I enjoyed this book.

In Sweet Valley High #119, Jessica's Older Guy, Jessica continues her relationship with Zach Marsden, but she has to keep it a secret.  Jessica plans to pledge Theta Alpha Theta, but one of the girls wants to date Zach.  Jessica convinces the girl that Liz is the one dating him.  Jessica comes up with a scheme where both she and Liz show up at a fraternity party as Jessica.  To the Theta girls, however, Jessica will pretend to be Elizabeth.

I enjoyed this book less than the other two in this miniseries.

In Sweet Valley High Magna Edition, Return of the Evil Twin, Nora discovers that she has a twin sister, Margo, who was separated from her years ago.  Nora tracks Margo to Sweet Valley.

Nora also learns about Margo's scheme to take over Elizabeth's life.  Nora is devastated to learn that Margo is dead and pledges to get revenge on the Wakefields.

Nora wants to take over Jessica's life, but she soon learns that Margo is actually still alive.  Margo was believed dead, but she held her breath until the ambulance drove off.  Margo made it wreck, killing the paramedics.  Margo then vanished.  It's rather odd that the Wakefield family never learned about this sequence of events.

Now reunited, Margo and Nora plan to take over as the Wakefield twins.

This is crazy.  We are supposed to believe that a set of identical twins is identical to Liz and Jess, so Sweet Valley now has four identical twins.

This is not a good book.  I felt almost no suspense and skimmed most of the story.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sweet Valley High Stranger in the House and A Killer on Board

In Sweet Valley High Super Thriller, Stranger in the House, Ned Wakefield learns that John Marin is out of prison and on parole.  Of course, the reader has not heard of John Marin until this moment.  Ned helped send Marin to prison, and he has never forgotten Marin's threat to get even with him.  Ned worries about his family and what Marin might do to them.

So of course, Ned does not tell even his wife about John Marin.  He keeps his worries a secret so that no one in his family can take precautions.  Ned soon learns that Marin has been in their house.  But he still tells no one!  I'm sorry, but this is unforgivable.  Ned should have spoken up.  An omission like this could have caused the entire family to have disowned Ned Wakefield, but naturally they don't seem to care think he did anything wrong later.

I found this book quite suspenseful.  Both Liz and Jess have new boyfriends, and I knew that at least one of the two boyfriends, and possibly both, had to be Marin.  Creepy!

In Sweet Valley High Super Thriller, A Killer on Board, John Marin is back behind bars.  The Wakefield family goes on a trip to Catalina Island to recuperate after the recent stressful events.  Soon after the family departs, John Marin escapes from prison and learns their destination.

I found this book rather boring.  I did not care at all.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Nancy Drew Twin Thriller Promotional Papers

The purchase detailed in this post is why I love eBay and why I check my eBay feed everyday.  If you have saved searches on eBay, then you have an eBay feed.

Many collectors have stopped checking eBay, because eBay no longer has the excellent selection that it once did.  However, you never know what might suddenly appear on eBay at any given moment.  That's why I check eBay every single day without fail.

I found nothing of interest on eBay from December 18 through February 9.  That is almost eight weeks.  Others would have given up on eBay, but I keep checking no matter what.  I was finally rewarded in the late evening of February 10.

I checked my eBay feed and saw a picture of the promotional papers for the Nancy Drew Twin Thrillers book club editions.  I have wanted to get the promotional papers for quite some time.  I saw the low price of $9.99 plus postage and clicked on the listing as quickly as I could.  I saw that the listing was set as Buy It Now and didn't bother to read the description.  I knew that I had to act fast, because the listing would not last long.  I managed to complete the Buy It Now just 11 minutes after the seller listed the item.  The good items always go fast on eBay.

The paperwork is missing the original mailing envelope and the order form, but the letter and the color brochure are present.

Use the following link and scroll to the bottom of the page to see the mailing envelope, order form, and return envelope that I do not have.

An advertisement for the book club can also be found in the first issue of Pizzazz magazine from October 1, 1977.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Sweet Valley High Murder in Paradise, #115 Treasure of Death Valley, and #116 Nightmare in Death Valley

In Sweet Valley High Super Thriller, Murder in Paradise, Alice Wakefield has won a trip to Paradise Spa.  Liz, Jess, Enid, Lila, and Mrs. Fowler go on the trip with Alice.  Both Liz and Jess immediately fall for boys who work for the spa.  Everyone is enjoying the trip, but soon, the girls sense that something is wrong.  All of the employees are runaways who are not allowed to leave.  One employee turns up dead, and Alice Wakefield vanishes.

The girls discover the spa director's sinister plot.  The director, who has a severely disfigured face, plans to steal Alice Wakefield's face.  Wow.

This book mostly bored me.  On the upside, at least this thriller edition does not use the ridiculous summer intern story of all the previous thriller editions.

In Sweet Valley High #115, The Treasure of Death Valley, Liz, Jess, Todd, Ken, Bruce, and Heather are dropped off in Death Valley for a four-day hiking trek.  The six students were selected via a mandatory essay contest run by Sweet Valley Survival School.  The students are placed in pairs for the trek:  Liz with Bruce, Jessica with Todd, and Heather with Ken.  Clearly, the survival school wants maximum drama.

Heather brought her portable television on the trip and watches her favorite soap opera.  It is then that the teens learn about three escaped convicts who are in the area.  Meanwhile, Liz finds a map to hidden gold, and Jessica makes certain that the group goes off course to find it.

It's quite odd that this particular group of six won the essay contest.  It's even more odd that Liz is the only one interested in the survival trek.  Nobody else is happy.  How did the others win?  I don't guess that we are supposed to question any of this.

The author was not good at suspense or at the humor that is supposed to be present in the Sweet Valley High series.  The books are not anywhere near as interesting as they should have been.

The dangerous scenes are like vignettes.  The danger comes on suddenly, is described minimally, and is resolved extremely easily.  There is no suspense whatsoever.

In one scene, Jessica and Todd are trapped in a tunnel after the entrance collapses.  On page 73, the pair suddenly pushes through the "loose pile of debris" like the rocks are lightweight Hollywood props.  I must say that I have never seen a tunnel cave-in resolved like that.

Each time the teens are in trouble, they yell and bicker constantly.  It's awful.

In Sweet Valley High #116, Nightmare in Death Valley, the nightmare continues.  That is, the reader's nightmare continues.

Page 122 is from Liz's point of view, but the escaped convicts are called names that Jessica thought up.  Liz hasn't had a chance to talk to Jessica, so it's rather strange that she uses Jessica's names.  Perhaps some twin telepathy is at play, or maybe just bad writing.

One of the escaped convicts dies while trapped in a cave with the six teens.  The teens take the time to bury the dead man before trying to get out of the cave.  This is stupid!

Finally, the teens try to find an exit from the cave, but water runs into the cave.  Oh, no!  This is exactly why the teens shouldn't have taken the time to bury the dead man.  The water rapidly rises higher and higher, but before the reader can feel concern, the water suddenly begins falling.  That's what I mean about no suspense.

Shortly thereafter, Ken punches the wall of the cave in frustration.  You'd think he would break his hand, right?  Of course not!  The cave's wall is not hard packed.  The soil is loose.  They start punching a hole in the wall, then they see stars in the sky.  The hole that was just created is right next to the 7-Eleven.  I'm speechless.

These two Death Valley books are by far the worst Sweet Valley High books that I have read so far.  The werewolf books are pretty bad, but at least they were written by a decent writer.  The Death Valley books are just completely awful.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Sweet Valley High #112 Jessica Quits the Squad, #113 Pom-Pom Wars, and #114 "V" for Victory

In Sweet Valley High #112, Jessica Quits the Squad, Heather Mallone is a new student at Sweet Valley High.  Heather tries out for the cheerleading squad, and all the other cheerleaders love her.  Jessica cannot stand Heather, and she is the only one who can see Heather's true personality.

Jessica is falling for Ken Matthews.  Everything is wonderful, until Jess reads Liz's diary.  Jess learns that Liz once had a fling with Ken and that Liz still has feelings for him!

I was annoyed with Liz for pining after Ken.  It's considered such a betrayal that Liz had a brief relationship with Ken during the months that Todd lived in Vermont.  Um, what about Jeffrey French?  Liz had quite a lengthy relationship with him, and these later books ignore that Jeffrey ever existed.

Also, the fling with Ken occurred pretty far back in the series, and Todd has been back from Vermont for ages.  And Liz is just now feeling guilty?

In Sweet Valley High #113, The Pom-Pom Wars, Jessica starts a new cheerleading squad since she can't get along with Heather.  She blackmails Liz into joining her new squad.  Either Liz becomes a cheerleader, or Jessica tells everyone about her fling with Ken.  Both Jessica's squad and Heather's squad hope to compete in regionals, but the squads are forced to merge since the school can only send one squad.

This book is quite boring until Jessica blackmails Liz into becoming a cheerleader.  Oh, yeah!

In Sweet Valley High #114, "V" for Victory, the Sweet Valley High cheerleaders compete in the national competition.  Heather's old squad tries to sabotage the SVH squad.  Todd, Ken, and Winston try to crash the event so that Todd and Ken can mend their relationships with Liz and Jess.  The event does not allow any boys, so the three boys dress up as cheerleaders so that they can get in the gate.

I found it really hard to believe that no boys are allowed at the event, since many schools have coed cheerleaders.  Furthermore, I found it impossible to believe that the audience could not contain boys.  Last, it's ridiculous that three large boys could wander around the event dressed as cheerleaders and have others believe them to be girls.  Right.

Some parts of this trilogy are interesting, but I was mostly bored.