The Grand Finale: The Book and Beyond


What’s that, a book?

If you are connected to me on Facebook/Twitter, etc., you already know this, but my book is finally available on the Amazon Kindle Store and for Nook.


Click to purchase

The book includes the recaps of the first 100 Sweet Valley High books, which first appeared on this here blog, but the book also contains recaps of the second hundred-or-so books in the series which are not on here. I’ll keep this blog up for posterity (and there’s also some non-SVH recaps on here, see the categories on the left) but it’s officially come to its grand finale.

There’s not much more to say but thanks for hanging in there with me the last six years. I appreciate the support and even the fact that you have taken the time to read things I wrote amazes and flatters me.

After spending the last seven or so years revisiting Sweet Valley High, I’m excited to move on to other things, including

The Golden Girls Reviewed By [a Golden Girls recap blog]

The Unwatchables

You can always see what I am up to on my website at 

and following me on twitter @robinhardwick

On Facebook here and here

or on Tumblr

or at

Keep in touch and let me know how you like the book.



Lila’s New Flame, as written by Bret Easton Ellis




Another excerpt from my forthcoming book. I recap the “Lila The Arsonist” in the style of everyone’s favorite nihilistic writer and snarky tweeter, Bret Easton Ellis.



as written by Bret Easton Ellis, author of Less Than Zero and American Psycho

and I was like in my living area with the Ralph Lauren sheets and the Renoir painting and then this flame came at me and my last thought was oh wait this is a chanel suit and marnie shoes but i want to die but then Bo would be sad for breaking up with me and he would regret it. suddenly the flames came close and i thought, this is it, this is how you die and i felt okay and imagined my parents when they got back from their vacation to Bali or whatever colonized island they will rape of its tourism and what my funeral will be like and I hope no one serves canapes.

As the flames lick at my perfectly manicured nails I pass out and wake up in a hospital in a gown that I am sure is less threadcount than my dinner napkins and I see Jessica Wakefield wearing a jumpsuit from Lisette’s and her twin sister wearing head to toe LL Bean and Jessica tries to talk about shopping because my entire wardrobe and house burned up but I am so sick I want to die but I pretend to hear them anyway. While Jessica talks about crop tops and halters, all I can think about is my mother and father on a beach in expensive loungewear drinking mojitos and conversations that don’t involve me. “Li-dear, a French cut blazer is going to make a comeback.” “Lila, we’ve decided to go with the marble angel fountain instead of the stone minotaur fountain.” “Henry dear, what time did we make out massage appointment?” “Lila, did you know I make very expensive computer chips?” “Lila dear, don’t put, you’ll get frown lines.” “Lila, that French cut maillot is dynamite for your hips.” “Henry, that’s not appropriate, that’s our daughter.” “Grace, leave me alone, or I’ll divorce your ass gain.” “Henry, how dare you, after I let you go back door on me.” “Grace, shut up with the sex talk. Our daughter was almost raped for god’s sake.” “Henry, you imbecile. That was almost two books ago.”

I think time has passed but I don’t know because I kept refusing the disgusting hospital meals so they stopped bringing it. This is what it must be like to be unpopular. No one bothers to talk to you and you don’t matter and no one cares and you wear the same dirty outfit and you don’t have any worth except being a warm body to fill the world. Suddenly I woke up and Steven Wakefield appeared in a Sears brand suit, Bugle Boy shoes, Wayfarers, a Chess King Shirt, Depp Hair Gel. He is asking me about how the fire happened but I kept looking at the sad flowers on my bedside table. “I wonder how something like this grows in such a environment.” “Lila, we need to talk about how the fire started.” “Who decides when it will bloom. God? No one? How can there be a god when my Persian rug was destroyed?””Lila, why were you holding matches?” “I wish I still had a photosynthesis for life.” “Lila, did you notice anyone suspicious on the scene?” “We are all just flowers waiting to be destroyed.”

If You Lived Here, You’d Be Perfect By Now: The Unofficial Guide to Sweet Valley High will be released in February 2013. 

What Jessica Wants: Dispatches from an Intergalactic Space Mission

I’m currently in the process of reading and recapping the second haldf of the SVH series for an upcoming book. To prove that I really am writing it, here’s an except, a recap of #138, What Jessica wants, the miniseries in which we meet brooding, whiny orphan Devon Whitelaw.

From the captain’s log of the vessel Teenageriac, sent to earth to find the perfect human specimen:

Target acquired. Landed pod where it was the most green and most beautiful. Earth GPS identifies as Sweet Valley. Mission: to find most genetically advantageous humanoid to extract DNA to build master intergalactic race. Must not fail. Intergalactic UN is counting on me.

Must assume identity. From my short observations, this settlement is run by teenagers. Will assume role of male teenager. Must do research. Watched Rebel Without a Cause, A Beautiful Mind, and Teen Wolf. Have created perfect hybrid. Name is Devon Whitelaw. Devon was the name of the computer on my first space mission, and Whitelaw because it seems that Whites make the laws in Sweet Valley.

Arrived at school. Said they needed something called “:school records” and “parent permission.” Was not prepared for this. Found nice old lady and mind controlled the crap out of her to make her think she was my former Nanny. Telling everyone my parents died seems easier. Dammit, my assistant forgot to brief me before I left.

My dear soldiers, I never expected such success in my first hour! Upon arrival to high school in the mechanical, two wheeled ground tank, I spotted someone with perfect genetic potential. Perfect size six (up to the specifications determined by the overlords), blond and blue-eyed combination, and a svelte body. An initial scan of the subject tells me that she is superhuman, and does not ever need to use the bathroom. I must have implemented the scan too long because she stared back and started to release the hormonal scent of a request to mate. Departed area quickly.

Later, I entered a “chemistry” class and the Human Specimen 10.0 was to be my assistant to creating new human life and atomic bombs. Slight drawback, turns out this “class” is only for mixing lesser chemicals. I had to hide the synthetic embryonic sack containing the fetal centaur I just created. Instead, I created a chemical the same color as her eyes and the ocean and her mating hormone began to release. I toned it back, Commandor would not be happy if I started this master race without permission.

Also encountered the most odd specimen, he seemed to be a genetic misfire. Appendages hung about his body as if too long, no coordination, and an undying need to create corny comedic encounters. Identifies as the species Winston Eggbert. May find him useful later.

And finally, news to make the Commandor proud: this genetic perfection I encountered has already started to multiply! There are two of them! Their genetics are so virile! I must encapture one and bring her back. But oh, which one?

Fellow intergalactic travelers, I have decided on which Wakefield clone will be the savior of our plan for the master species. She calls herself Elizabeth. Even though she has a mate, my scan of her brain tells me that she is ready and willing to betray this mate at any cost. The second clone, Jessica, seems to have no brain activity in her frontal lobe, thus making her capture easy but not as satisfying. I mean, I am twenty hundred light years from my home, don’t you think I should have some fun?

Entrapment of Specimen Elizabeth almost foiled and mission aborted! Met who I thought was Elizabeth at a nice restaurant (these earthlings are so obsessed with food and escorting others to the consuming of food) but it as psycho clone, and the moon was obviously in the second cycle because she was down to mate (DTM in scientific terms). Apparently these troublesome clones are the most important residents of the city. Note to self: figure out why this city is so fucking weird.

I am proud to say that the mission looks like it will be a success. The key to winning over Specimen Elizabeth was to tell her said madeup background and create some fireworks. We sealed the contract with our mouths under the bleachers. Next step is asking her to donate her organs and brain for the cause of propagating our alien race. Signing off for now. Over.

My book will hopefully be out in early 2013. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and subscribe to my podcast.

The first ever Sweet Valley High Tweetup

Sooooo, I have about 15 books left to read in the entire series before. To help get me through it, I thought I would host a tweetup where we can read it at the same time, or you can just follow the tweets!

When: Saturday, May 5
When: 10am-12pm PST
What: Follow me on twitter @robinhardwick, read A PICTURE PERFECT PROM, and livetweet your thoughts using the hashtag #svhtweetup, or just follow the hashtag to read the tweets.

Prepare to snark!

It’s Really Happening!

I’ve mentioned this before, but I am ready to make it official: I’m writing a book.

I’ve decided that the best way to motivate me to complete this book is to have people invest in it- I can’t procrastinate or put it off if I make it public.

I don’t usually feel comfortable asking for money, but this project will take some funding, so I’ve launched an IndieGoGo campaign. Your support and comments over the last few years have been more than generous, but I hope you will consider contributing to the campaign. Any contribution is welcome, no matter what the monetary value is.

Just as valuable is spreading the word, posting on your blogs, forwarding this to your friends, etc. I’ll be updating here, my twitter, Facebook, and the campaign with updates as I write.

Along with compiling all the recaps in this blog, the book will include full recaps of books 100-130, a full SVH glossary, and additional essays.

I am really excited about this campaign and the book project- it will be a major accomplishment in my life, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Excuse me while I get self-referential for a bit.

Thanks Serena for leaving this comment, and it really made me think and want to give a direct response. I really appreciate you posting this- and I don’t know what sort of trouble you could get in (maybe I’d spike your punch with vodka?) and I’ve actually only deleted one comment in this blog’s lifespan…because it contained really hateful and racist language for the sake of being hurtful. And along with all the porn spam. But anyway, essentially:

Because Francine’s publishers are contacting all the Sweet Valley recap blogs and treating them like straightforward “fanpages” (instead of mockery done by critical readers who may remember the series with some fondness as a part of their childhood but aren’t blind to it’s faults) and giving bloggers free swag to give away in contests/asking them to promote her upcoming book…

You guys are gonna lose your edge! Please don’t sell out and cut back on the snark, especially when it comes to the new book (which the majority of first-chapter-readers seem to think is crap…except for people who were invited to meet the publishers — ooh, ahh! – to get a sneak peek and not-so-surprisingly only have positive things to say.)

I understand bloggers may be excited to be in touch with an author/publisher, and get free merch, yada yada. But the danger is that you’ll start thinking, “oh, they’ve been so nice to me…I don’t want to not-be-nice back! I’ll cut them some slack and give their product a more favorable review.”

That is a totally valid and astute observation. I was contacted by St. Martin’s press and asked to link to the Sweet Valley Confidential Website, which I did (and just did again). I wrote back when they asked me and said “Have you actually read my blog? Are you sure you want me to be associated with your product?” She wrote back and essentially said what Serena mentioned- they are considering these blogs as fanpages. To be fair to the publisher, it is their job to promote this book and get publicity- maybe even going with the idea that “any press is good press.” I can see why they are going with the plan to connect with people’s childhood memories instead of social commentary… ultimately, they need to sell books, right?  I’ve also spoken to many people about SVH (I’m often introduced to friends of friends as “someone who blogs about Sweet Valley High”) and most people remember it, but not everyone wants to talk smack about it. Legit. They would rather have it as a piece of childhood nostalgia and not deconstruct it for its social implications. Totally legit, although it does frustrate me. But I’m someone who alienates 85% of the population because I’m always looking at pop culture through a sociological lens instead of “just stop taking everything so seriously….and just enjoy it”. The way I do enjoy things IS looking at it through a critical lens and understanding the social implications. Don’t get me started on Avatar. However, it makes sense for the publisher to go this route because their goal is to sell the book. Which, last I checked, is the goal of a publishing company. So I’m at peace with that.

Did I agree to link to the first Chapter? Sure, because it was of great interest to me and to my readers. Am I grateful that this blog is linked on the website? Sure, but it’s not like it has brought me a plethora of new readership. In fact, to demonstrate my own free will to be critical: wtf is with that “website”? Can it even be called that? St. Martin’s press, please splurge for a web designer. Or a class in Dream Weaver.

Was the first chapter “good”? HELLS NO. It was a living cliche of bad romance novels and trite writing. Did I enjoy it? Yes. In much of the same way I enjoy Dear Sister (not that they are even in the SAME LEAGUE of badness (goodness)). And this opinion had nothing to do with any freebies (I’ve also yet to see any freebies). A “Team Elizabeth” or “Team Jessica” t-shirt which probably doesn’t fit my body type anyhow doesn’t impress me much anyway. I actually think that is trite, overdone marketing idea. I promise you all that I’m still thinking for myself….OR AM I? I mean, I once fell for the allure of a shitty co-op and a hot cult leader from Good Friends after the tragic occurrence of my family making fun of my cooking skills. So, you never know.

And let this be considered an OPEN INVITATION TO FRANCINE PASCAL if she ever was willing to do some sort of interview or something. I’d of course be nice to her as a person (maybe), but feel no hesitation in offering a “critical response” to her life’s work. Francine, BRING IT ON!

Serena, you rock, thanks for bringing this up, and making me think more about my motivations. I am so going to nominate you for Pi Beta Alpha.

Thanks to Sweet Valley Confidential’s tumblr, I was reminded of the awesome commercial for the board game:

Mini-Enid: “Jessica, you stole my boyfriend!”

Mini-Jessica: [Shrug] “Just like in the books! Which is reinforcing that stealing boyfriends and a disregard for any decent behavior towards friends makes me a winner!”

Also, good job on the depiction of the school. And how I pictured the twins. And the school  Students busting down the halls skipping at smiling at all times. Lots of high wasted pants and feathered hair. Gazing into each others eyes over a large popcorn at the movies. High school parties where a card table is set up for  a punch bowl. But wait, why are Liz and Jess both cheerleaders? Didn’t anyone involved with the production of Sweet Valley actually read the books?