October 13, 2015

SVU Thriller Edition, Cyber Stalker: The Return of William White, Part 1: Lizception

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 5:32 pm by Jenn

The guy on the right who's probably William White looks like Milo Ventimiglia

The guy I’m guessing is William White looks like Milo Ventimiglia

Summary: Life at SVU is currently pretty normal – no undercover investigations, no kidnappings, not even any recent twin switches. We’re in that weird alternate universe where Elizabeth and Tom are together, and Nick doesn’t exist (or should I say didn’t – we’ll miss you, buddy). For Liz and Tom, things are too normal – there’s no longer a spark between them. They’ve become so boring that she thinks they’re going to break up. Yes! Finally! Be done with each other! Forever, this time!

But before anything happens there, Elizabeth notices a white tent going up on the quad, along with a banner depicting a white rose. She’s a little panicked because the white rose was William White’s calling card. (Remember William White? That was a long time ago, wasn’t it?) Jessica takes Liz to check out the tent, which houses something called the CyberDreams Virtual Reality Fair. No one knows what that actually means, but everyone on campus is excited to find out.

The twins, Tom, Bruce, and Lila go to the fair, where they learn that they can be hooked up to machines that give them super-awesome dreams. Basically, whatever they want the most will be presented to them as virtual reality. It’s kind of like The Matrix, but they’ll supposedly be able to guide what they experience through their subconscious desires. The only catch is that no one can dream more than twice. Three or more dreams can lead to sensory damage. Everyone wants to participate, so they pay the fee and enter the tent.

In Elizabeth’s first dream, there are books and top-secret documents everywhere. I would laugh about Elizabeth wanting to read more than anything in life, but let’s face it, that’s what I want, too, most days. Plus, the documents contain secrets like who really killed JFK and what the government is hiding at Area 51. Before Liz can start reading, she encounters William White. She’s very confused about why, of all people she could dream of – and remember, the dream is supposed to show her what she wants most in life – she dreams of a psychotic killer.

Tom’s first dream is about how he wants to be a knight and save Princess Elizabeth. Gag. His dream is basically the world’s worst fairy tale. It ends when the real Elizabeth screams and passes out after her William dream. Tom takes her to her room, where she tries to make things romantic but stops when she looks into Tom’s eyes and sees William’s instead. Liz can’t shake her dream, and she keeps thinking someone is coming after her.

Liz and Tom go back to the fair and continue their dreams. In Elizabeth’s, William gives her a white rose and tells her he wants to make up for what happened between them before. Elizabeth is almost won over but fights him off just before she wakes up. Tom continues his previous dream, but it ends just before he finds Princess Elizabeth. Tom tries to get Elizabeth to tell him why she’s been freaking out so much lately, but she doesn’t want to tell him that she dreamed about William.

Apparently people can get around the two-dreams-only rule by signing a waiver and paying extra money (and apparently a lot of college students have that extra money just lying around). Liz and Tom both go in for third dreams, Elizabeth wanting the truth about William, and Tom wanting to hang out with Princess Elizabeth, since she has to be better than the real Liz right now. Dream Elizabeth has to run along a cliff to get away from William, and she almost falls off. Real Liz thinks she’ll die in reality if she dies in her dream. Spoiler: She doesn’t die. But William falls off the cliff, then disappears, so she’s not sure if he’s dead or not.

Tom finishes up his dream, but when he finally reaches Princess Elizabeth, she has no face. He confronts Jonah, who’s running the dream sessions (more on him later), and Jonah admits that the dreams don’t really pull from each person’s subconscious. They’re basically templates that the dream fills in with specific people and experiences. Tom chalks up the faceless princess to a technology fluke. Jonah mentions that the fair was funded and organized by a rich guy who seemed to be college-age.

Elizabeth is freaking out again after her dream, and Tom tries to go after her, but someone knocks him out. Elizabeth ends up on a hill overlooking the campus, and it looks like the tent has already been taken down, even though only a few minutes have passed. Then she sees the literal man of her dreams: the real William. Of course, he has a white rose. Elizabeth pricks her finger on a thorn to prove to herself that she’s not dreaming.

Like Tom and Liz, Lila and Bruce are verging on relationship troubles. Lila feels like Bruce doesn’t pay enough attention to her. They dream about each other at the fair, but in very different ways. Lila’s dream involves a super-expensive shopping spree that Bruce bankrolls. Her second one is about going to a big party and meeting a bunch of celebrities. Lila’s first two dreams are the only ones with happy endings, and show that her life is pretty much just what she wants subconsciously.

In Bruce’s dream, he’s James Bond and has to steal a microchip and take out some terrorists. (He feeds one to piranhas, which is pretty cool.) The terrorists have kidnapped Lila, and Bruce isn’t able to rescue her before his second dream is over. He asks for a third, but decides he doesn’t want to pay the $150 fee. Is Bruce sick? Someone take his temperature. Bruce decides to bring his dream persona into his real life, which for some reason involves driving his car on the beach. Lila isn’t impressed.

Lila and Bruce then get mugged, and Bruce decides to use his dream spy moves on the muggers. Surprisingly enough, he doesn’t actually possess those moves. Lila begs Bruce not to go in for a third dream, but they both end up back at the fair. Lila should have stopped after her second dream, because her third involves Bruce treating her like a hooker. Bruce’s third lets him find the kidnapped Lila, but he accidentally blows her up. Oops! The real Bruce and Lila decide that their real lives are more important than their dream lives, and they’re happy together.

Jessica starts out the book deciding she’s a feminist now and she doesn’t need a man. This lasts all of five minutes, before she meets and immediately falls in love with Jonah. In her first dream, Jess is a PI and Jonah is her client. She has to save him from some sort of dangerous situation, but I’m not really clear on the details. Jessica’s second dream is a continuation of the first, with generic action-movie stuff, and Jess protecting Jonah.

Jessica decides she wants Jonah for real, so she does some flirting. However, he turns out to be a lot more awkward than his dream persona. When Jess comes back the next day to give it another shot, she learns that Alison has also been dreaming about Jonah. Jess does a third session, but Alison’s in this one, along with a second Jonah. Jess and Alison fight over the guys, though…if there are two…why not just each take one and…? Oh, whatever.

The two Jonahs become one, and he basically proposes a threeway. The girls aren’t pleased. Real Jonah admits that he inserted himself in their dreams so he could get to know them better. So Jonah practiced inception before anyone had ever heard of inception. (And I imagine that’s what William did, too.) All this accomplished, though, was giving Jessica and Alison something new to fight about.

Thoughts: “She could no longer look at the bruised sky. It was too much of an omen, foretelling the death of their love.” What a drama queen. It’s just a storm, Elizabeth.

In case you’re wondering, Jessica’s type is “both suave and scraggly at the same time.” Or that’s her type this week, I guess.

“This is one of the safest campuses in the whole country.” Since when??

Dream Lila says “my stars and garters.” Wow.

Dream Lila also says “Private Dancer” is her song. Lila, sweetie, you know what that song is about, right?

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December 9, 2014

SVU #28, Elizabeth’s Heartbreak: Yes, Gin-Yung’s Terminal Illness Is All About Liz

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 8:16 pm by Jenn

Elizabeth, wait, like, a week and you'll have him all to yourself

Elizabeth, wait, like, a week and you’ll have him all to yourself

Summary: Elizabeth and Todd are back together, yay! Liz + Todd 4-EVA!!!!!1!1 (Ugh, I feel dirty.) They’re super-happy and stuff. Little do they know that Gin-Yung has returned from London and wants to see Todd. However, she doesn’t call him or go see him. Elizabeth thinks she sees Gin-Yung on campus, but since she’s supposed to still be in London, Elizabeth just tells herself it’s someone else. Gin-Yung spends most of the book getting bugged by her sister Kim to tell Todd what’s really going on. The ghostwriter really piles on the “what’s wrong with Gin-Yung?” mystery for the reader.

Todd, Elizabeth, Tom, and Tom’s new girlfriend Dana all end up at a recital together. They make civil, mature conversation and agree to have coffee together sometime. Ha ha, not on your life. Tom throws his new relationship in Elizabeth’s face, and she ends up in tears. She decides to focus on Todd and forget about both Tom and Gin-Yung. That’s not so easy, though, as Gin-Yung soon visits Todd and tells him she’s done with London. Now Todd has to decide if he wants to stick it out with Gin-Yung or ditch her for Elizabeth.

Todd tells Liz that Gin-Yung is back and he’s not sure who he wants to be with. Clearly he loves Liz more, but he feels bad about dumping Gin-Yung. Later, Jessica runs into Gin-Yung and tells her that Todd and Elizabeth were doing great, but Todd might leave his one true love for a girl he feels he’s obligated to stay with. Gin-Yung decides to let Todd off the hook so he can be happy. She tells him she fell in love with a guy she met in England, so Todd is free to see anyone he wants. Todd’s like, “Well, that was easy and in no way suspicious!”

But Todd and Elizabeth’s happiness is short-lived. Todd goes to Gin-Yung’s place to return some of her things, and he can immediately see that something’s wrong. She’s sick, and while he’s there she passes out and starts convulsing. He rushes her to the hospital, where Gin-Yung’s family reveals to him and Elizabeth that Gin-Yung has an inoperable brain tumor. She came back from London to say goodbye to her family before she dies.

Over in Theta world, Alison informs the sisters that a singer named Bobby Hornet (if that’s not his real name, it’s a horrible stage name) is putting together a charity swimsuit calendar. Nothing says “let’s raise money for the homeless” like a thong bikini. Bobby’s coming to town and wants a Theta in the calendar. Alison, of course, volunteers as tribute, then learns that a bunch of other girls would love the opportunity, including Jessica, also of course. The girls are told that they can go to a music store the next day to meet Bobby, and he can choose who should be in the calendar.

Jessica’s only hesitation about being in the calendar is that Nick might not like it. Jessica, hon? He doesn’t have to like it. You do you. Anyway, he thinks it’s an awesome idea, because he’s more interested in seeing his girlfriend in a bikini than he is in worrying that other men will see his girlfriend in a bikini.

Jessica goes to the music store in a trench coat, goes up a flight of stairs, drops the coat, and makes a grand entrance in just a red string bikini. Suddenly Bobby’s all, “Alison who?” Someone puts on the “Hallelujah Chorus.” That’s so dumb. Anyway, Bobby tells Jessica the calendar shoot is hers, then asks her to dinner to solidify the agreement. Jessica worries a tiny bit about going out with a guy who’s not Nick, but there’s no way she’s going to jeopardize her spot in the calendar.

On their date, the couple is followed by paparazzi, and Jessica freaks out about being seen with a guy who’s not her boyfriend. Amazingly enough, Nick drives by the restaurant and sees Jessica just as she’s trying to leave Bobby, who’s kind of creepy. Jessica goes to the police station to apologize to Nick, telling him that she thought she had to go out with Bobby to get in the calendar, but if Nick wants, she’ll drop the whole thing. He forgives her, because Jessica is just that charming.

Jessica gets the spot in the calendar despite her disastrous date with Bobby. He tells her that his brother is one of Nick’s co-workers, and that Nick came to visit him. We don’t find out what Nick said, but I’m guessing it was along the lines of, “After this photo shoot, don’t come within 100 feet of my girlfriend ever again.” And then Alison winds up getting a date with Bobby, so I guess she’s okay with not being in the calendar.

Tom has been dating Dana but keeps thinking about Elizabeth. Basically, he slowly becomes obsessed with Dana, first as a distraction from Elizabeth, then because he actually likes her. His father, George, wonders what happened to Elizabeth, but Tom wants to banish all mentions of her and tells George to stop asking about her. Tom spends the whole book trying not to think about Elizabeth, but at the end, he finds a bunch of pictures that George has had taken of Elizabeth. Finally, Tom gets that Elizabeth’s accusations about George might not have been lies after all. Ruh-roh for George….

Thoughts: “And would [Nick] even allow her to pose with sexy Bobby Hornet in the first place?” Excuse me? “Allow”? Not to mention that Jessica has never asked permission to do anything in her life.

In the last book we had a Dash; in this one we have a Dub. People in Sweet Valley have weird names.

Winston to Todd: “You’re depressed because you have two girls in love with you?” Also, his wallet’s too small for his 50s and his diamond shoes are too tight.

Gin-Yung wears a “one-piece pantsuit.” What would that even look like?

September 30, 2014

SVU #24, His Secret Past: More Like THEIR Secret Pasts

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 6:26 pm by Jenn

I don't think Nick ever learned how to hug

I don’t think Nick ever learned how to hug

Summary: Forget about Ben, Josh, and all of Jessica’s other recent love interests: It’s Nick Fox’s time to shine. Jessica meets him on campus when he sees her ad selling her and Elizabeth’s TV, and Jess immediately falls in luuuuuuuuuv. Nick seems nice but it also a little shady. For example, he pulls out some self-defense moves when someone taps him on the shoulder. What Jessica doesn’t know is that Nick is using her for some mysterious reason. He knows he’s falling in luuuuuuuuv with her, and he has to remind himself that he’s hanging out with her for “business.”

Jessica spots a gun in Nick’s glove compartment and starts to wonder what his deal is. She thinks he could be a spy, which gets her really excited. She overhears him on the phone, arranging a delivery, and tries to get him to tell her what’s going on. He won’t, only saying that he carries a gun for protection after a mugging. His mysterious deliveries, weapon, and pager add up to drug dealer for Lila, who is smarter than anyone gives her credit for.

Nick goes to a party with Jessica, asking if she and her friends will be doing any drugs. Jess assures him that they won’t. Nick realizes he’s not going to get anywhere in his “business” with this group, but he likes hanging out with Jessica, so he doesn’t want to move on just yet. In other news, Celine is back and wants to become a Theta and steal Nick from Jessica. Alison has befriended her, which means Jessica has extra interest in keeping Celine out of the sorority. Celine flirts with Nick, promising him a good time, and he realizes that she’s the one who can get him access to drugs at SVU.

Jess is ticked over Nick’s interest in Celine, but since he insists it’s platonic, she shifts her focus to whatever he’s keeping from her. She answers his cell phone (which is another reason she thinks he’s a spy – in 1996, who other than spies had a cell phone?) and hears about a delivery taking place at 2 a.m. She decides she’ll show up and see what Nick’s up to. Brilliant plan, Jess.

Elizabeth has her own mystery man to deal with: She meets a guy named George Conroy who’s on campus in hopes of finding his son. He’s never actually met his son, as Conroy and his wife split up when the boy was a baby (thanks to Conroy’s cheating), and he thinks his wife let her second husband give the baby his last name. He has little information to go on, except his son’s birth month and the possibility that he goes to school in California. That’s so little to go on that even a professional PI would probably be hesitant to take the case.

But Elizabeth never gives up! She will find this man’s son! She thinks Conroy’s story would make a great piece for the TV station. Who knew she was so opportunistic? She doesn’t seem to care that she has so many other responsibilities, like school and the TV station and the care and feeding of Tom. She’s also planning a big surprise 21st birthday for him.

Oh, did I mention that Tom’s birthday is this month? Elizabeth wants to cheer him up since, you know, his whole family is dead. It doesn’t help that he’s been working on a family-tree project for one of his classes. Isn’t that more of an elementary-school thing? Thanks to all the time Elizabeth’s spending helping Conroy and planning the party, Tom thinks there’s something wrong. Elizabeth is trying extra-hard not to let Tom find out about the party, and she’s not a great actress.

But there’s no time to worry about that! Elizabeth needs to reunite a family! She and Conroy visit a bunch of banks, trying to find out if his son has an account anywhere. Of course, no bank will release confidential information to them. This is really a difficult search, since Conroy doesn’t know if his son is using his stepfather’s last name or his mother’s maiden name, Antoniani. There also doesn’t seem to be any confirmation that the son is a) in California or b) in college. I can’t imagine Conroy has done all this searching in multiple other towns.

Just before the party, Elizabeth goes to get Tom for what she’s told him is a romantic birthday dinner. She sees his family-tree project and learns that his mother’s maiden name is Antoniani. Finally, what’s been clear to readers the whole book clicks into place for Elizabeth: Tom is Conroy’s son. This means his entire family isn’t dead after all. She quickly calls Conroy and has him come to the surprise party. Happy birthday, Tom! Your parents lied to you about your paternity!

Alex is having a bad month. She’s doing poorly in her classes, she’s not happy with her appearance, and she doesn’t like that Noah isn’t good at cheering her up. Basically, Alex is Elizabeth at the beginning of freshman year. (Except it’s still freshman year, so I’m not really sure how long these people have been at SVU.) She’s been sober for a while but is struggling to stay on the wagon. Alex sees Noah hanging out with another girl, and of course she misinterprets the whole thing. Despite being so popular earlier in the series, she apparently doesn’t have any friends now, so she spends the book moping.

Things finally fall apart when Noah tells Alex that, basically, she’s not at a weak enough point to ruin her sobriety, and all she wants is pity. Yeah, dump him, Alex. She goes to Tom’s party, despite feeling mopey, and is harassed by a couple of drunk guys. Nick gets them to leave her alone, then reveals to Alex what he’s been keeping from everyone else, including Jessica: He’s an undercover cop. To! Be! Continued

Thoughts: “Tom had a bad case of the blues, but she had the cure.” Liz, he doesn’t have a “case of the blues.” He’s sad beacuse his ENTIRE FAMILY IS DEAD. A party isn’t going to make that better.

Nick claims that the mob rigs carnival games. Why would they? There’s no money in that.

Jessica: “He’s too smooth and good looking to be into drugs.” Lila: “Do you think you have to pass an ugly test before they let you sell drugs?” Hee.

If Nick is telling strangers who he really is and trusting they’ll just keep their mouths shut, I think it’s fair to say he’s not very good at his job.

Why is it a plot point that Nina got a haircut? Is this going to come back later? Should I remember it? Guys, remember that nina got a haircut in this book, in case it’s important later.

September 16, 2014

SVU Thriller, The Roommate: Have You Seen “Single White Female”? Now You Don’t Have To

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 6:51 pm by Jenn

I don't know why there's a balcony. That building looks really unattractive, though

I don’t know why there’s a balcony. That building looks really unattractive, though

Summary: We haven’t gotten a lot of Isabella-centric storylines, which is probably why I went into this book feeling like there isn’t a whole lot to her. She’s a little like Lila, in that her parents seem to be rich and she likes fashion, but she’s much more down to earth. In this book, though, she proves to be pretty smart, and shows that following your gut is usually the best move, especially when there’s someone unstable involved.

Anyway, Isabella has a fabulous birthday with all her friends, then wraps up the night with some alone time with Danny. He gives her a ring, so of course she thinks he’s proposing, but he just wants to let her know how special she is by giving her a family heirloom. He pretty much says that he loves her but isn’t sure he wants to marry her. Yet he’ll give her something special that’s been in his family for generations? How is it that he loves her enough to do that but not to marry her? Whatever, this is just setting things up for Isabella and Danny to be on the outs a little.

Isabella and Jessica go get free haircuts from salon students, and Isabella’s is kind of a disaster. (Jess, for once, is smart enough to trust her instincts, and she decides not to let the untrained style disaster assigned to them touch her precious hair.) To add insult to injury, Isabella then bangs up her car and can’t afford the repairs. She also can’t ask her parents for money, and she’s too busy with extracurriculars to get a job. I would suggest that she drop one or more of those extracurriculars so she has time for a job, but that’s crazy talk. Instead, Isabella decides to look for a roommate for her two-bedroom apartment. No, I don’t know why her parents agreed to pay rent on a two-bedroom when she’s the only one living there. The Riccis don’t seem that bright.

As if we’re in some bad movie, we’re treated to a montage of horrible roommate candidates before we come to Lisa Fontaine. She’s shy, she’s a bad dresser, and she’s awkward, but she doesn’t seem like an awful person to live with, and she can pay her share of the rent, so Isabella will take her. Also, she claims to have transferred from NYU, and people from New York are, of course, awesome, so how can Isabella turn her away?

Lisa tries desperately to befriend Isabella, who warms up to her as soon as she proves useful around the apartment. One shopping trip later and the girls are BFFs (and sometimes pretending to be sisters, which is kind of weird for people past the age of eight). The only thing Isabella finds strange about her new roommate is that she doesn’t like people touching her stuff, but Isabella can kind of understand that. Danny tries to smooth things over with Isabella by giving her a kitten, and Lisa names it Rosie. Lisa gets a little too rough with Rosie, who doesn’t appreciate it. This is when I started to get nervous and make threats against the ghostwriter.

Isabella thinks Lisa is the perfect roommate, but it’s not long before things start to go downhill. Lisa deletes a message Danny leaves for Isabella on their answering machine, so she can have lunch with Isabella. She tells Isabella that Danny never called. They start talking about their families, and Lisa mentions that she had a twin sister who died at birth. She also says that her parents were very protective of her, which is why she’s never been on a date or done a lot of the things most college students do.

Jessica meets Lisa and thinks she’s awesome. Jess has recently been in a good mood since she started dating a guy named Josh. (Ben doesn’t exist in this universe.) She hasn’t introduced him to many people yet, just Elizabeth and Tom, because she thinks he’s so awesome that all the other girls at SVU will want to steal him. Normally I’d think that Jessica was delusional, but the guy is pretty great.

Jessica introduces Josh to Isabella, but it’s not really an introduction – they know each other from high school. In fact, they dated in high school. (I don’t know what the odds are of a girl randomly meeting and falling for her friend’s ex without knowing it, but they have to be astronomical.) Jessica quickly becomes jealous of their closeness, but Isabella promises that she and Josh are ancient history.

Lisa, though, decides to mess with Jessica’s head, and later with Danny’s. When he calls looking for Isabella, Lisa tells him that she’s hanging out with an old boyfriend. Then when Isabella gets home, Lisa tells her that Danny was mad when he called, so Isabella should ignore him for a while to teach him a lesson. When Danny finally calls back and asks Isabella to meet him, she goes looking for a sweater she loaned Lisa and finds a bunch of what she thinks are her clothes in Lisa’s closet. They’re actually Lisa’s own clothes that are exactly like Isabella’s. Creepy…

Isabella tries to tell Danny about Lisa’s weird behavior, but he’s so jealous of Josh that he doesn’t listen. Danny’s boyfriendliness in this book is really lacking. Later, Isabella spots someone with her exact haircut and realizes it’s Lisa. She rushes over to Jessica and Elizabeth’s room to talk to Jess…who’s out with a new friend. Elizabeth thinks her name is Lisa. So we have clothes- and hair-copying, and friend-stealing. Isabella is right to be freaked out.

Jessica and Lisa are suddenly BFFs the way Lisa and Isabella were BFFs, and Jessica wants Lisa to join Theta. She invites her to a frat party, asking her to remind Isabella about it. Of course, Lisa doesn’t, so she goes out to have fun with Isabella’s friends, after spending some time chatting up Danny and making him think she’s both awesome and normal. At the party, she tells Jessica that Josh probably hasn’t shown up because he’s with Isabella.

Now Isabella’s on the outs with Theta, and Lisa’s…um…on the ins? I guess. Jessica nominates her as a new member, ignoring Isabella when she protests. Jess is a worse friend in this book than Danny is a boyfriend. Speaking of Danny, he gets a late-night visit from someone he thinks is Isabella, but who’s actually Lisa. He actually puts the brakes on before they can have sex, and asks her to have breakfast with him the next day. Lisa shows up at breakfast instead, of course, telling herself that Danny knew she was the one in his room and is just pretending it was Isabella.

Jessica’s supposed to go to Malibu with Josh for the weekend, but he has to cancel. Instead of picking up a phone or going to her room to tell her in person, he gives Lisa a note to deliver to Jessica. Then she sends Josh off in Isabella’s direction. So just as Jessica’s learning that her weekend plans are being called off, she sees her boyfriend with his ex. Now Jess is furious with both Josh and Isabella.

Lisa tells Danny that Isabella’s cheating on him with Josh, then makes sure that Isabella sees her with Danny and thinks they’re getting closer. Isabella’s had enough and decides to kick Lisa out of the apartment. While she’s packing Lisa’s things, she snoops a little, finding answering-machine tapes Lisa’s stolen, plus pictures from a farm and letters addressed to someone named Helen Mueller. There’s also an article about a girl named Rosie Mueller being found dead in a well after playing in the woods with her twin sister Helen. Of course, Helen is Lisa.

Meanwhile, Jessica’s still on her quest to get Lisa into Theta, but now she also wants Isabella out. The one person she thinks can help her is her old nemesis Alison. Alison has her own nominee for the only empty spot in the sorority, so Jessica convinces her to help her get Isabella ousted so both Lisa and Alison’s girl can join. Alison will bad-mouth Isabella to the other sisters, pointing out that she’s stopped caring about her appearance, so she’s not a good representative of them anymore. Jessica doesn’t have to lift a finger.

Lisa comes home while Isabella’s about to pack her stuff, so Isabella jets to the registrar’s office to get some contact info. There isn’t any – no one named Lisa Fontaine or Helen Mueller is registered at SVU. Back at the apartment, Lisa realizes that Isabella was looking through her things. She starts going dark, remembering how, when she and her sister were young, Rosie got all the praise and Helen got…locked in the cellar as punishment. Okay, now I just feel sorry for her. It’s not her fault she’s crazy! She had horrible parents! We also get a flashback to Rosie falling down a well and Helen leaving her there to scare her and make her experience what it’s like being locked in a cellar.

When Isabella gets home, she finds the kitten dead. Curse you, ghostwriter! That was so unnecessary! Isabella tries to find another place to spend the night, but all her friends hate her, so she sleeps in the student union. Poor Izzy. As soon as she sees Lisa leave the apartment in the morning, Isabella runs in to grab some of her things, but she’s not fast enough. Lisa ties her up and heads out to meet Danny.

Jessica FINALLY talks to Josh about how she thinks he’s cheating on her with Isabella, and he tells her she’s wrong. He’s rescheduled their Malibu trip, has only been spending time with Isabella to comfort her, and no longer has the feelings for Isabella that he does for Jessica. Jess is smart enough to realize that this means something else has been going on with Isabella, and she might be right about Lisa being a nutjob.

Jessica goes to the apartment, where Isabella has smartly turned up the TV so someone will come over and tell her to turn it down. While Jess frees her, Danny starts figuring out that Lisa has some issues. She tells him that Isabella attacked her, and mentions that she, not Isabella, was the one in Danny’s room the other night. As Danny runs off to find his girlfriend, Lisa goes home and finds Jessica in the apartment. She ties Jess up and makes Isabella write a fake suicide note.

While Lisa’s distracted by Jessica, Isabella manages to escape the apartment. Unfortunately, her streak of smart moves suddenly comes to an end when she decides to use the elevator (which we’ve been told is broken many times throughout the book, and which has supposedly just been fixed). She begins a slooooooow descent to the basement. Meanwhile, Danny happens to run into Lisa’s aunt in the lobby; she’s looking for her niece, Helen, who recently escaped from a psychiatric facility. Danny doesn’t care.

Lisa follows Isabella to the basement, now in full-blown psychosis, thinking that Isabella is her dead sister. Danny finds Jessica in the apartment and frees her, then heads down to the basement, where Lisa knocks him out. Isabella and Lisa end up in the elevator, with Lisa trying to choke Isabella. She thinks she hears Rosie calling to her from the bottom of the elevator shaft, and she wants to go down and rescue her, since she feels guilty for letting her die. Isabella can’t stop her, and Lisa falls to her death. (Or what I assume is her death. We all know Sweet Valley’s history with evil twins not really being dead.)

Happy ending! Danny’s not hurt too badly. Isabella and Jessica are friends again. Danny proposes for real, but Isabella thinks they should wait before they make that kind of commitment. I assume her money problems also get sorted out, or she at least comes up with a more reasonable way to pay for her expenses besides letting someone move in without a background check or references.

Thoughts: Here’s the plot of Single White Female, in case you’re unfamiliar with it. If you took a drink for every similarity between that movie and this book, you’d be drunk halfway through.

Why does Isabella live in an apartment in the first place? Why doesn’t she live at the Theta house?

Danny, I like you, but giving a girl a diamond ring and not thinking she’ll interpret it as a marriage proposal? Is dumb.

“Do you honestly think I’d date a crimninal?” Actually, Jessica, I’m surprised you haven’t already.

The Zeta frat has a Mexican-themed party with a banner that says “Zetas Go South of the Border!” Oh…oh, dear.

Tom’s going to a journalism conference for a few days and doesn’t plan to take any clothes with him. Tom, you’re gross.

March 25, 2014

SVU Thriller, Kiss of the Vampire: Vampire Journalists Give New Meaning to the Word “Deadline”

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 6:47 pm by Jenn

Scary for the wrong reasons

Scary for the wrong reasons

Summary: Elizabeth and Tom both apply for a journalism mini-fellowship that will send the winner to New Orleans to help a famous journalist with some research. Tom wins and gets to spend the weekend in the Big Easy with Nicholas des Perdu. Wow, a whole weekend! He and Elizabeth act like he’s going off to war. Of course they’re one of those couples who can’t go ten minutes apart without talking about each other the whole time.

Nicholas is super-rich, with a driver named Fortune and a housekeeper named Marielle. Nicholas is doing a story on Halloween and All Saints’ Day in New Orleans, but I’m not sure how much work actually gets done. As soon as Nicholas sees a picture Tom brought with him of Elizabeth, he’s distracted. We get a flashback to 1788 in France, and what do you know? Nicholas was alive back then. The flashback is to his wedding to a woman named Lisette, who looks like Elizabeth. Seriously, how many lookalikes do the twins have?

Tom and Elizabeth are supposed to talk on the phone while he’s gone, but he forgets to call her the first night he’s in New Orleans, so they have to suffer for, like, 12 hours with no communication. Elizabeth tries to call Tom, but the phone number he gave her doesn’t work, and Nicholas’ number is unlisted. When Tom finally gets around to picking up the phone, he suddenly gets drowsy. Marielle’s lurking around, and the two of them start making out. Marielle tries to bite him, but Tom suddenly realizes that he’s doing something wrong and makes Marielle leave.

Nicholas has another flashback, this time to when he had to leave Lisette to go deal with some pesky peasants. While he’s reminiscing, Elizabeth has a dream about Nicholas, though she’s never met him. The next day, Tom’s supposed to head back to Sweet Valley, but bad weather delays his flight. Oh, no, now he and Elizabeth have to wait even longer to see each other! How ever will they survive?

Tom kills some time by reading about women being killed in New Orleans and found with their blood drained. He goes exploring in Nicholas’ house and discovers a coffin in the basement. Of course. Tom heads back to Sweet Valley, and not long after, Nicholas follows, wanting to meet the woman who looks so much like Lisette.

Back at SVU, the twins are throwing a big Halloween party in an abandoned house on campus. No, I don’t know why there’s an abandoned house on campus. No, I don’t know why it hasn’t been turned into a dorm or a frat/sorority house. No, I don’t know why the administration would leave an empty building there for students to easily throw big parties in. Stop asking me questions! Anyway, the money’s going to charity, so the party is a Nice Thing, because Elizabeth isn’t allowed to just be normal and have some fun.

When Tom gets back to town, he goes to the house (Hollow House – ooh, spooky) to help Elizabeth set up for the party. The lights have been acting up, and when they go out, Tom leaves Liz alone to check the fusebox. Elizabeth thinks he comes back and makes out with her in the dark, but obviously it’s Nicholas.

Eventually Liz meets Nicholas for real, and he tells her he came to Sweet Valley to keep working with Tom on the story. He takes Elizabeth out somewhere, to “talk about Tom,” so now Tom’s confused about why his girlfriend, formerly so clingy that she couldn’t stand to be away from him for two days, is spending time apart from him. Also, Nicholas doesn’t want Liz to tell Tom he’s in town, which should be a major red flag, but we all know Elizabeth has no instincts about that sort of thing. Tom tries to get Elizabeth’s attention back on him, but she’s having too much fun with her new boy.

Jessica spots Elizabeth getting into Nicholas’ car and thinks she’s cheating on Tom. She kind of is, though it doesn’t seem like she’s acting under her own control. There’s another flashback, and we learn that when Nicholas returned home to Lisette, she’d been told that he was dead, so she killed herself. Nicholas starts drinking, and one night he meets Marielle, who turns him into a vampire. Back in the present day, Elizabeth comes to her senses enough to stop making out with Nicholas, who goes to a bar and kills someone else because Elizabeth ditched him.

Tom and Elizabeth finally get some alone time, but they go to a vampire movie and Elizabeth freaks out and bolts. Nicholas isn’t happy that his long-dead non-wife is seeing someone else. He goes to Liz’s dorm and tries to make her jump out her window, but Tom manages to save her. He and Jessica are starting to realize that something weird is going on. Tom also reads in the paper that there have been killings in Sweet Valley similar to the killings in New Orleans, so he wonders if Nicholas is in town. Meanwhile, Nicholas sends Elizabeth flowers – white with one red – and a note saying he’ll see her that night. Then he calls to tell her they’ll be together forever. Ohhhhhkay…

By the way, Jess is now in Theta, and there’s a single room available in the sorority house. Alison also wants the room, and of course, since these two hate each other, there’s going to be a fight to the death to determine who gets it. Jessica tries to claim her territory by moving furniture in, but Alison one-ups her by putting a sleeping bag in there to indicate that she’s spending the night. In fact, both girls end up there overnight, but neither trusts the other enough to fall asleep in the same room.

This subplot is only important because of what happens the night of the Halloween party. Alison locks herself in the room, so Jessica goes outside to taunt her through the window. She yells some threats about wanting Alison to die, so of course that means something bad is going to happen. As Jess is leaving, she sees someone else outside the window but thinks Alison has a gentleman caller.

So: party! It’s awesome. Tom’s not there, since he’s discovering that Nicholas is staying in a hotel in Sweet Valley under the American translation of his French last name. Meanwhile, Denise and Magda find Alison in the sorority house, minus a lot of her blood. Guess who Alison’s visitor was? Go on, guess!

Tom goes to the party to tell Jessica that Nicholas is in town and may have something to do with why Elizabeth’s been acting weird. Jessica tells him about the flowers, which she’s sure were from Nicholas. They hear about Alison, who’s been taken to the hospital, so now they’re pretty sure Nicholas is a vampire. They can’t find Elizabeth, though, since Nicholas has whisked her away, planning to take her to New Orleans, then on to Paris.

So we head back to New Orleans, but Nicholas and Elizabeth get there first since Jessica and Tom can’t get a flight. Nicholas plans to spend the night in his coffin, then consummate things with Elizabeth the next day. At this point the ghostwriter isn’t even trying to pretend the whole story isn’t a metaphor for sex. (Just like Twilight. Ug.) When Elizabeth wakes up, though, her head is clearer and she realizes that she wants to be with Tom. Too late! Nicholas wants her to wear Lisette’s wedding dress and become his eternal bride. I can’t believe I just typed that sentence.

There’s some making out, and now Nicholas makes his move, biting Liz. Of course, that’s just when Jessica and Tom arrive. Tom rescues Elizabeth while Jessica fights Nicholas off with a candelabra. I guess that was the only weapon handy. Meanwhile, Elizabeth has accidentally started a fire, so between that and the vampire, things are getting a little dangerous. Jess has an advantage, though, since Nicholas thinks she’s Elizabeth/Lisette. She uses that as a bit of a distraction, allowing Tom to come in and knock him out. Then Tom and the twins flee the house. Nicholas most likely gets out, too, but they can’t be sure.

Tom and the twins go back to Sweet Valley, and Jessica decides not to move into the sorority house after all. I guess it would be pretty creepy to live in a room where someone almost died. A guy delivers some flowers for Elizabeth, and Jess accepts the delivery, seeing that they’re the same roses Nicholas sent before. Jessica’s smart enough to throw them out.

Thoughts: “[Elizabeth] raised one leg and examined a tiny bleach spot on her jeans. Should she change? No. Not for an evening with Nina.” Sorry, Nina. You don’t warrant clean clothes.

“Maybe I really NEED to go to some club, toss down a couple of diet Cokes, and then flirt outrageously with some good-looking airhead.” Whoa, Liz. Put the brakes on before you get out of control.

Jessica has a wicker dresser, so I automatically question her taste in everything ever. Clearly Alice didn’t pass on her interior-design genes.

Jessica packs a suitcase before she and Tom chase Elizabeth and Nicholas to New Orleans. I’m sure that didn’t make them lose any time. Also, you’re not going there for a vacation, Jess. I don’t think you’ll need a change of clothes.

January 14, 2014

SVU #11, Take Back the Night: Lila + Bruce 4EVA!!!!!!1!1

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:31 pm by Jenn

Doesn't Jessica look like Charisma Carpenter?

Doesn’t Jessica look like Charisma Carpenter?

Summary: It’s the morning after James attacked Jessica, and Elizabeth wants her sister to report the assault. Jess just wants to move on. James calls her and asks to meet with her, so she heads off to yell at him for his behavior. Elizabeth tells Maia about the assault, and Maia feels guilty for not turning James in when he raped her, since it might have prevented him from hurting anyone else. However, when Liz asks her to talk to Jessica, Maia refuses.

Jess meets with James, who of course doesn’t think he did anything wrong. I mean, she was dressed like a whore, so obviously he was going to try to nail her. If she didn’t want to sleep with him, she should have said something. When Jess and Elizabeth meet up back at their dorm room, Liz tells her that James raped Maia. Then she goes over to see Steven and Billie, planning to tell them about Jessica’s assault. Uh, mind your own business, Liz.

But no, Elizabeth’s business will not be minded! She goes to Sigma House and confronts James, because the best place to have a private conversation with a rapist is in a house full of people who hate you. Liz thinks James is sending her notes, since she stopped him from raping Jessica (and also messed up his car). She calls him out, but he just wants an apology for his wrecked car.

Jessica learns that a Theta named Mariela has a date with James, and tries to convince her to call it off. Mariela thinks she’s just jealous. While talking things over with Tom, Elizabeth comes up with the idea to organize a Take Back the Night rally to get people talking about date rape. Maia thinks it’s a good idea but doesn’t want to attend. Jessica’s leaning towards going, and makes up her mind when Isabella convinces her to use the opportunity to brand James a rapist.

So while they’re at the rally, Jessica gets herself on WSVU and says that she was assaulted. Though she doesn’t name James specifically, she gives enough details that anyone would know who she’s talking about. Maia realizes that James also attacked Jess. Back at her dorm room, Jessica gets another anonymous note (the nice one, not the weird ones Liz has been getting) and a whistle she can keep with her for protection.

Alison and Mariela aren’t as supportive of Jessica’s actions as other people are. They taunt her for being jealous, for trying to humiliate Mariela, and for putting a dent in James’ reputation. Alison also says that everyone’s seen James and Jessica being lovey-dovey together, so no one’s going to believe that he raped her. It’s going to be his word against hers, and he’s a star athlete while she’s a freshman who just got out of a marriage to a loser.

Jessica proceeds with filing charges anyway, which leads to the Sigmas harassing her. James tries to talk to her again, this time coming to her room, but fortunately, this time she won’t give in. Maia tells Elizabeth that she wants to help, but I’m not sure what she plans to do, since she doesn’t want to testify to help Jessica’s case. She also still won’t talk to Jessica about her own assault. She plans to leave SVU if James is found not guilty.

Elizabeth, Steven, and Billie help Jessica get ready for her hearing by asking questions they think she might be asked. They’re all ridiculous questions that no real lawyer would allow to be asked, but the hearing will be in front of a panel of administrators and students, not a real court. Jessica runs into Mike, who wishes her luck (because somehow everyone knows about the charges, though probably not Ned and Alice). Later, Jessica and Elizabeth find a nail in one of their Jeep tires. But then a tow truck arrives and the driver says someone called to let him know they’d broken down. The caller also paid the bill. Weird. I think Mike’s behind all of this.

Anyway, Maia comes to see Jessica just before the hearing, to wish her luck. Jessica reveals that she knows James raped Maia. At the hearing, Jessica testifies about her assault, but no one thinks there’s enough evidence that James intended to hurt her. Jessica wants to tell them that James has raped in the past, but she doesn’t want to bring Maia into it. Even with Elizabeth’s testimony, no one’s convinced that Jessica interpreted the situation correctly. The twins are even accused of creating a publicity stunt for SVU.

When James testifies, he paints himself as completely innocent (of course) and Liz is crazy. He just wanted to have sex with Jessica, but her wacky sister showed up and read the situation wrong. James is cleared, and Jessica is advised to get counseling. But then! Maia shows up, begs to be allowed to testify, and announces that James raped her. For some reason, this destroys him; he didn’t realize he’d hurt her. James isn’t really a bad guy, everyone! He just thinks “no” means “yes”! So that plot’s over.

Lila and Bruce are still stranded, and it turns out that they didn’t really have to be. You know how the first rule of being stranded somewhere is to take inventory of your belongings? (Okay, maybe it’s not the first rule, but it should be.) Yeah, Bruce didn’t do that. They’ve had a map all along and didn’t know it. So now they can get to a ranger station ten miles away. Except they get lost, probably because two rich kids from southern California probably have no idea how to read a map.

Fortunately, Jessica has finally realized that Lila never made it back to school. She calls Mrs. Fowler and reports that Lila’s MIA, so now people are actually looking for Lila and Bruce. The Thetas make arrangements to go looking for them, but they wait too long and never actually go. Instead, there’s just a deus ex machina moment involving a helicopter, and all of a sudden they’re rescued.

Once she’s back in Sweet Valley, Lila can’t stop thinking about Bruce. For various reasons, they don’t see each other while they’re hospitalized, and when Bruce is released without seeing Lila, she worries that they’re not going to pursue a relationship like she wants. But don’t worry, Lila! He just went out to get you flowers! He does want to be with you! It’s just as it always should have been.

I’m still not sure what William’s end game is, but he’s moved from stalking Liz to trying to gaslight her. He steals Elizabeth’s keys and has Celine move her car to make her think she’s crazy, and leave a sonnet behind, I guess to confuse her. Liz keeps seeing William at the library, and he even loans her a book of sonnets. Elizabeth gets a creepy feeling about him but has no concept of following her intuition and avoiding him.

Celine keeps trying to get William to spend time with her so she can make him forget about Liz, but he’s too obsessed to fall for that. Celine and William finally get sick of each other, so William decides to leave Liz notes by himself. After she wakes up from a nightmare in which William is the guy from the library, she finds his latest note, which includes his name. Finally, this is going somewhere!

Time to wrap up Alex’s attempt at having an interesting plot. She’s still talking to T Squared about all her problems while mooning over (and being a klutz around) Noah. She spills some soda around him and calls it fizz, which Noah thinks is awesome. In fact, she’s awesome enough to study with. Wow, way to go, Alex. When she talks to T Squared later, she calls soda “fizz” again, because this is what passes for plot development. Long story short, T Squared is Noah, and he suspects that Enid is Alex.

Alex and Noah go on a date, but she can’t stop thinking about T Squared. She calls him and tells him she wants to meet, which is against the rules of the hotline where he works. It’s also against the rules for the peer counselors to look at the caller ID and find out who they’re talking to, but T Squared/Noah can’t help himself, and he uses it to confirm that he’s been talking to Alex.

If Noah were smart, he would just tell Alex who he is, but noooooo, he has to keep acting like Noah and T Squared are two different people. Then he sees Alex talking to Todd and wonders if they’re together. Finally, Noah calls to ask her out again, and reveals that he’s T Squared. Happy endings for these two boring people.

But dull as Alex’s plot is, it’s not as dull as Isabella and Danny’s. It’s their three-month anniversary, and Danny’s determined to show his girlfriend that he’s romantic. At the same time, Isabella wants to show that she’s not just a posh princess. She decides that they’ll go camping. But that same night, Danny arranges a romantic dinner, and they don’t get each other’s messages about where to meet. Eventually Danny goes to Isabella’s room to wait for her, and he falls asleep there while she camps out alone. Ha ha! How very funny! I wish they had more to do, because I like these characters.

Thoughts: “I keep telling you – the only way to get letters is to write them.” Elizabeth, stop taling like my dad.

Liz tells Steven and Billie about Jessica’s assault without asking her first. Not cool, dude.

At the hearing, the dean asks Jessica, “Are you aware that your accusation could have a profound effect on Mr. Montgomery’s reputation?” And that’s when I threw the book across the room.

Bruce tells the Sigmas not to get revenge on Jessica, threatening anyone who does. That made me say, “Awww.” Even though it’s ironic considering his past crimes.

December 30, 2013

SVU #10, No Means No: Elizabeth is More Awesome Than We Were Led to Believe

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 3:27 pm by Jenn

Jessica has hot dog legs

Jessica has hot dog legs

Summary: Jessica is nothing if not persistent, as she’s still determined to pledge Theta, even though Alison almost got her arrested. She’s also still trying to get with James the football player, who is slowly becoming creepier and creepier. Now that the charges against her have been dropped and she’s dating someone respectable, Jess thinks she can get in good with Alison. She’s wrong, because Alison is a mean girl. She goes to the Theta house for a party, and when Alison announces that she’s not allowed to repledge, since she didn’t technically complete the challenge to steal the book, Jess outs her for calling the police on her. The Thetas agree to vote on whether Jess can repledge.

Alex overhears Alison and Peter congratulating themselves for calling security on Jessica, which is all the proof anyone needs that Jessica was set up. When the vote is held, half the Theta sisters want Jessica out. Alex to the rescue! She arrives just in time to reveal that Alison set Jessica up. Even though Jessica’s never done anything to help her, and even though she herself is barely still a Theta, Alex leads the charge to allow Jessica to repledge.

Since the Thetas don’t want two sisters who can’t get along, Magda (the president) announces that Jessica gets to decide whether or not Alison can stay in the sorority. Jessica is thrilled to have this kind of power, and I kind of can’t blame her. Of course she wants Alison out, but Isabella and Denise point out that it’s punishment enough just making her wait for the verdict. Eventually Jessica decides that Alison can stay in the sorority, but she has to wait tables in Jessica’s place one night. Not nearly a fair punishment, in my opinion, but whatever.

Back to James. Someone warns Jessica that he turns into a different person when he’s been drinking, but our Jess was never one for noticing red flags. James asks her to dinner at the Mountain Lodge Inn, which is a few miles from SVU, up a winding mountain road. At dinner, he drinks a lot, and Jessica gets more and more turned off.

Through the book, Elizabeth has been working on a class project with a girl named Maia, but they’re not working well together. Elizabeth thinks they should write about how SVU needs a policy on consensual sex. (I’m not sure how such a policy would work – don’t you just tell everyone, “Don’t rape people”? Or would they have to sign a pledge not to rape people?) For a writer, Elizabeth isn’t very observant, as Maia keeps making comments about how she hates athletes and is clearly uncomfortable with the topic of rape, but Liz doesn’t catch on. Not even when Maia sees James, gets spooked, and runs off.

Eventually Maia confides in Elizabeth that she was raped. Elizabeth urges her to talk to someone, but Maia’s worried that she’ll be blamed. Maia even holds off for a while on telling Elizabeth who the rapist is, but when she does, it’s at the worst possible time: It was James, and he’s out with Jessica. They’re even at the same restaurant where he ate with Maia before he raped her. He pulled off at a lookout on their way home and assaulted her.

While Elizabeth tries to get in touch with Tom to drive her to the Mountain Lodge Inn (he knows the roads better than she does, and she thinks it would be safer), Jessica keeps refusing drinks from James. By the way, William is still doing that thing where he sneaks out of the institution, stalks Elizabeth, and – remember, she’s completely unobservant – doesn’t get caught. So he knows she’s looking for Tom, but he doesn’t know why. She takes off, and someone comes to the library to ask if anyone left him a message. He gets the news that Elizabeth wants to meet him at the Mountain Lodge Inn. He says he’s Tom, but William knows he’s not.

After dinner, James and Jessica head back down the mountain. This is after Jessica realizes that he’s not doing too well, and tries to call Elizabeth to pick her up. They pull off at a lookout as Elizabeth heads up the mountain, unknowingly followed by William. At the lookout, James tries to rape Jessica, who manages to fight him off. Then things get awesome: Elizabeth spots their car, grabs a wrench from her glove compartment, and smashes James’ window. Then she grabs him by his tie and uses it to pin him to the side of the car while Jessica gets in the twins’ Jeep.

When the twins get back to campus, Elizabeth tries to convince Jessica that the assault wasn’t her fault. However, she decides not to tell her that she knows James has already raped at least one person. She sensed someone else on the mountain with them (mystery library message retriever, not William), but doesn’t know who he was. Then someone leaves Jessica’s purse (which she’d left at the restaurant) outside their door; inside it is a card for a taxi service.

Lila and Bruce? Still stranded in the mountains, with wolves gathering. Also, no food or water. And it’s cold. Basically, the opposite of the ideal situation. Lila shows some awesomeness by fighting off a wolf with a flare gun, and she and Bruce are getting closer to their inevitable future romp in the sack, so there’s that. Also, he’s turned on by looking at her legs. Who knew Bruce was a leg man? Lila claims to know survival skills because she tagged along on a trip with her father and some executives to the Bolivian jungle. (Which I call bull on – I’ve been there, and no way could she last 30 minutes.)

The survivalists hear a helicopter, but when Lila tries to signal it with the flare gun, she discovers that Bruce didn’t reload it, despite having claimed to. They fight. Aww, it’s like they’re married already. Lila refuses to use her Bolivian jungle skills to snare food, claiming that she doesn’t want to kill anyone, so Bruce says he’ll use his mad fishing skills from the times he went fishing in Nova Scotia. Both of them are lying about their abilities, but Bruce’s lies almost get him killed – he tries to fish in some rapids, trips, falls in the water, and almost drowns. Lila has to save him.

Bruce and Lila would probably kill each other for food if he didn’t have a fever. Lila realizes that without medical attention, food, or water, he’s pretty much toast, so she sets aside their rivalry to take care of him. She later decides to try to go for help, but she’s not in great shape herself, and she ends up having a weird daydream about her dead husband and Bruce. Then Bruce shows up, desperate for her to stay with him, so she calls off her trip to find help.

But then things start looking up. Lila finds some stuff on the plane that she can use for a fire and to hold water. She also finds a stream with fish in it, so that takes care of their lack of food and water. The Lila/Bruce part of this book ends with Lila fishing naked, then lying down with Bruce to keep him warm with her body heat. Someday they’ll tell their children this story. No, wait – someday they’ll tell their servants to tell the children this story.

In other news, Elizabeth is still a virgin. She and Tom keep approaching the edge of having sex, but she’s spooked by the thought of getting pregnant or catching an STD, so she keeps putting the brakes on. Tom is annoyed because he claims she sends him mixed signals. They discuss this a couple different times, but Liz pretty much wins the debate with the point that the victim sometimes gets blamed, which isn’t fair.

Alex has turned into a party girl, drinking to the point of passing out all the time and sometimes waking up in bed with someone else (often Todd). She decides to try to get clean. There’s this guy she likes, Noah, and she makes a clumsy fool of herself in front of him, which embarrasses her enough to make her want to drink again.

Alex has no friends, so she calls a campus hotline to talk to a peer counselor. The guy she talks to calls himself T Squared, since he’s on line 22 (22 = twenty-two = two Ts = T Squared). She tells him her name is Enid, since she feels more like that version of herself than like super-hot, sophisticated Alex. T Squared is super-nice and helpful, and they really hit it off. Anyone who doesn’t get right away that T Squared is Noah, you are too young for this book and should stick to Dr. Seuss. Also, Alex decides to ditch Todd, since he’s still a partying mess.

After embarrassing herself in front of Noah again, Alex starts feeling really sorry for herself. She feels like she did in high school when she got rid of her pot and pills and went into withdrawal. Then she realizes that that’s exactly what’s happening now – she’s clumsy and awkward because she’s quitting alcohol cold turkey. Alex calls T Squared to share her revelation and confide that she has a crush on a guy who thinks she’s a dork. He tells her to tell the guy how she feels. But since he clearly has to be Noah, we know she’s technically already told him how she feels.

Thoughts: “I’m the last one to give out fashion advice, but you’ve been wearing a lot of this big and baggy stuff lately. Have you gained ten pounds that nobody knows about?” Wow. Screw you, Elizabeth. Especially since you recently gained at least the freshman 15.

“Sometimes you say no when you mean yes.” Screw you, too, Tom.

There’s a typo calling T Squared “T Square,” which cracks me up.

“It was one thing to get a little tipsy at a fraternity party – but getting drunk in a restaurant seemed utterly gross.” That’s like Cher saying it’s only okay to smoke pot at parties.

Maia thinks she led James on by wearing a backless dress. I don’t…I…just…no words.

Jessica gets in James’ car after he’s been drinking because she’s afraid her reputation would take a hit if she asked someone at the restaurant to arrange a ride for her. Yes, that would definitely be more horrible than you dying in a fiery car crash.

December 17, 2013

SVU #9, Sorority Scandal: I’m Cold and There Are Wolves After Me

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:28 pm by Jenn

They're clearly not even trying to illustrate a real scene from the book

They’re clearly not even trying to illustrate a real scene from the book

Summary: Elizabeth gets a C on a paper (the horror!) and goes to talk to her professor, George Martin (yes, another George) about it. He’s all, “I was just kidding!” and invites her to work on a project with him, since she likes Lord Byron so much. Elizabeth fails to see the massive red flags he’s practically waving in her face, because he’s hot.

Jessica is still determined to become a Theta, even though VP Alison hates her and the girls all seem snobby (minus Isabella and Denise). She gets another chance, but it requires a dare: She has to steal Professor Martin’s beloved first-edition Byron. When Jessica sneaks into his office to get the book, she’s caught by campus security. If you think this plot sounds like Steve’s storyline in “Emily,” you are correct. It’s almost exactly the same story.

Anyway, Professor Martin is furious that someone wanted to take his precious book, so he plans to press charges against Jess. Elizabeth tries to talk him out of it, but it turns out that Professor Martin doesn’t know the identity or even the name of the would-be thief. Meanwhile, Alison makes all the Thetas shun Jessica, since her arrest is making them look bad. Yet Jessica won’t rat her out because SHE STILL WANTS TO BE A THETA. Sigh.

Liz learns from Professor Martin that security learned of Jessica’s thievery from an anonymous phone call. Clearly, Alison made the call, but it takes a few dozen more pages for anyone to figure that out, and even then, Elizabeth only realizes it because Isabella comes out and tells her. But to be fair, Liz is a little distracted by the fact that Professor Martin is getting too touchy-feely for her liking. She decides to go after Alison, even though Jessica isn’t on board. I guess she’d rather go to jail than be unpopular. She’d also rather bring down Professor Martin than Alison.

Armed with the information from Elizabeth that Professor Martin is a handsy creep, Jessica dresses up as Liz and visits Professor Martin, acting like she wants to date him. He’s all, “Yes, I would love to date you, if by ‘date’ you mean attack you right here and have my way with you.” But Jessica’s smarter than we usually give her credit for – she’s brought a tape recorder with her and has recorded him being creepy and inappropriate. If he doesn’t drop the charges against her, she’ll play the tape for the whole college.

Meanwhile, Liz goes to campus security to get proof that Alison made the phone call telling them about the robbery. It did indeed come from the Theta house, but it was also reporting a bigger crime, so campus security would be sure to come in with full force. Unfortunately for Elizabeth, it’s all a moot point, because Jessica’s blackmail of Professor Martin worked, and the charges have been dropped. She’s keeping the tape, though, because she’s smart. Jess’ next move: revenge on Alison.

In other plots, both interesting and not: On the way back to SVU in Bruce’s plane, Lila and Bruce crash in the mountains. No one knew they were flying together, Bruce is an idiot who didn’t file a flight plan, and everyone thinks Bruce was going on vacation anyway, so no one’s looking for them or has any idea that they crashed. This is all just a plot device to get them closer so they can inevitably fall in love (and what took the writers so long?). There’s an avalanche, wolves, and various other dangerous things. Eventually the two get separated, and they don’t have many supplies, so it’s possible the next book will start with both of them dying of hypothermia.

Elizabeth is being watched by a man in a wheelchair who works in the SVU library. Except we know that he’s William White, who manages to keep escaping and returning to the institution he was sent to after he tried to kill Liz. Celine likes that he’s trying to drive Elizabeth crazy, so she helps him out, doing tasks like leaving Liz a white rose tied in a scarf William took from her. Later, Nina sees a noose in the library; apparently William’s obsessed with hangings.

Bryan has turned into a huge jerk – he’s planning a big march against racism, but shoots down Nina’s idea to allow any interested person to march, not just those in the Black Student Union. I’m pretty sure Bryan just doesn’t like white people. Nina and Bryan spend the whole book fighting, and eventually Nina wins. Well, if you consider dating an annoying guy “winning.”

Billie’s parents come for a visit, and she and Steven try to hide the fact that they live together. Except we know that they’ve been living together since the SVH books, which took place two years before the SVU books, so how have they managed to keep their living arrangements a secret for so long?

Anyway, Steven goes to stay with Mike while Billie’s parents are in town. Then there’s some wackiness about Steven being really bad at hiding where he really lives. But it’s all a waste of time because Billie’s parents had already figured it out and were just letting them make fools of themselves for no reason. Ha…ha?

And finally, the time-filler plot: Winston breaks his arm rollerblading with Denise, and his injury gets him a lot of attention from the girls in his dorm. Denise gets jealous, even though she’s been inviting the girls to dote on him. Basically it’s supposed to be payback for when Denise used Bruce to make Winston jealous, but the plot just makes Denise look like a shrew.

Thoughts: Elizabeth wrote a 15-page paper in two hours. That’s actually really impressive.

Lila and Bruce are stranded for hours before they think to try using the plane’s radio. That’s impressive for completely different reasons.

Mentions of wolves always make me think of this (hence the post title). I know, I’m a huge dork.

Billie wants to be a tax attorney. I got bored just writing that.

Things that are so, so wrong with the Elizabeth/Professor Martin groping plot: 1) She’s embarrassed by it. She has absolutely no reason to be embarrassed. HE should be embarrassed that he can’t keep his hands to himself, especially around his students. 2) Jessica asks if Elizabeth is going to tell Tom, as if she needs to keep it a secret. 3) When Elizabeth does tell Tom, she first asks him not to get mad. He SHOULD get mad – at Professor Martin. 4) “Will I look like a baby if I report him? I don’t even know if it’s against the school rules to do what he did.” She – I just – ELIZABETH. No one is allowed to touch you without your permission. YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS STUFF.

November 5, 2013

SVU #7, Good-bye to Love: The One Where Everyone’s Obsessed With Elizabeth

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:19 pm by Jenn

Ick

Ick

Summary: Stand down, Celine Boudreaux – you’re not needed anymore. The original fabulous queen, Lila Fowler, is back. She’s still in Europe with her husband, Count Tisiano Di Mondicci, and though she’s bored because he has to travel a lot for work, and she misses Sweet Valley, she’s happy. It doesn’t last. While at the beach, Tisiano is killed in a Jet Ski explosion. You read that right. Boom goes the Jet Ski. The count is dead, long live the count. Lila heads back to Sweet Valley.

Once there, she reunites with her friends and starts hanging out at SVU, planning to audit some classes and then enroll the next semester. Jess takes her to hang out with the Thetas, since she wants back in with them, even though Alison hates her. For a while it looks like the group might accept her, but Alison is basically Regina George, so that obviously isn’t going to happen. It’s okay, though, because Lila knows all about Alison, including that the girl has a bit of a shoplifting problem. If Alison causes more trouble, Lila has no problem sharing Alison’s secrets. I missed you, Lila.

Bruce is also back in the mix now, having been barely mentioned in the first few books of the series. He and Lila get back to their little rivalry (though he does acknowledge how difficult it is to lose someone you love, since he lost Regina), mainly over Bruce’s insistence that women can’t fly planes as well as men can. Lila won’t back down, telling him all about the planes she’s flown and all the stuff she can do. She wants to go flying with Bruce, but then she has a nightmare about Tisiano and a plane crash. Methinks Lila has PTSD.

Jessica was so distracted by all the goings-on with Mike that she kind of forgot to study. Now that she doesn’t have him around to keep her from her schoolwork, she’s throwing herself into it, trying to salvage her grades. She also vows not to get hung up on any other boys. You would not be surprised to learn that she doesn’t keep that vow for even half a book.

Elizabeth has to recite a poem for one of her classes, and she does it so well (because she’s tapping into her feelings for Tom) that her professor asks her to recite another poem at some public reading. Elizabeth agrees, but later she realizes that it’s the same night as a big date she has with Tom. She asks Jessica to read in her place, promising to buy her two dresses. You’d think Jessica would jump at the chance to perform and be the center of attention.

Anyway, Jessica does the reading, posing as Elizabeth, and catches the eye of a guy named James who she’d briefly met before. He knows she’s not Liz because Liz doesn’t make his heart go pitter-patter like Jessica does. Jess is hesitant to get involved with another guy, especially while she’s technically still married to Mike, but James seems nice and is sympathetic to her situation, so she decides it’s okay to ease back into dating. Then at the end of the book, she finds out the annulment has been approved, so she’s free to see James.

Steven has been ordered to help Mike with his physical therapy, which makes no sense, not least because Steven was found not guilty, which means there’s no punishment whatsoever. But whatever, this means Steven has to keep hanging out with Mike, which means they keep fighting. Billie’s mad about the whole situation, which I don’t get, because it’s not like Steven wants to hang out with Mike. But she’s mad enough to move out.

So now Mike has contributed to Steven’s relationship issues like Steven contributed to Mike’s relationship issues, which makes them even, right? And now they can kiss and make up? Ha ha, yeah, right. They keep fighting, even after Billie moves back in (which is weird, because nothing changed, so why is she all of a sudden okay with Steven again?). One night Steven’s at Mike’s apartment and starts feeling woozy. He’s half-unconscious by the time he realizes that the gas is on, and that Mike is the only person around who can save him from a fiery, Tisiano-like death.

Todd has turned into an alcoholic stalker. He’s desperate to get Elizabeth back and keeps bugging her to talk to him about a follow-up on her athletics exposé. But Liz is busy being disgustingly schmoopy with Tom. They spend tons of time together and can’t keep their hands off each other. Did I mention they’ve only been dating for a week? It’s really annoying. They almost have sex, but their friends interrupt, so thanks, friends. I didn’t want to have to read that scene.

Elizabeth has also been getting a bunch of semi-threatening, all-creepy notes that say things like “YOU ARE MINE” and “WE’LL BE TOGETHER SOON.” First she thinks they’re from Tom, because semi- that isn’t threatening is sort of romantic, but Tom tells her he only sent one note. Then she thinks they’re from Todd, since he’s gone crazy. It seems pretty clear that they’re something William would send, but since he’s not around, it’s hard to figure that out.

The Sigmas are still allowed on campus, but Celine and Peter have been punished (not very harshly, I have to say) for their role in Elizabeth’s kidnapping. Celine has to live off campus and work in the cafeteria, so I take back what I said about them not getting punished enough, because for Celine, that’s pretty bad. She’s furious with Elizabeth for causing all of her problems, which is ridiculous, but that’s Celine for you.

She wants revenge, so she enlists the help of a couple of guys she’s recently befriended. Guy #1 is a biology student studying fruit flies. Celine convinces him to release the fruit flies in Elizabeth’s room, because I guess he’d rather possibly score with Celine than succeed in academia. This doesn’t work because Elizabeth is so in love with Tom that even a bunch of fruit flies in her room can’t bother her.

Guy #2 is a saxophone player, and Celine gets him to serenade Elizabeth at 6 in the morning. She also tells him that Liz is in love with him. Tom and Elizabeth go to a jazz concert where the sax player is performing, and when he spots them in the audience, he dedicates his next number to Elizabeth. Todd is there, drunk, and thinks it’s hilarious. (It actually is pretty funny.)

Bruce has just come into his trust fund, and he’s like a kid in a candy store with his cool $10 million. He wants to buy a plane. Quick, someone start a meme like the one with the cat that thinks about buying a boat! Anyway, Bruce and Denise (as in Winston’s girlfriend) are doing a class project together, and Winston gets jealous of all the time they’re spending together.

Denise keeps telling him to stop it because there’s nothing going on between them past friendship, and also, Winston is really annoying. At one point he actually goes to Sigma house to retrieve Denise, like she needs a chaperone. She uses some other guy to make Winston jealous, which, let’s be honest, he deserved. Then she assures him that she only wants him, though I’m not sure why, since he’s so needy and jealous. But I do appreciate Denise basically telling him, “Look, Crazypants, I’ll be friends with whoever I want and you’ll just have to deal with it.”

William’s punishment for Elizabeth’s kidnapping and attempted murder is commitment to a psych facility. He befriends an employee and she helps him escape. There’s some other stuff in there, but it basically just serves to reinforce what we already know about William being crazy.

Alex is still a jerk, and pretty much obsessed with how Elizabeth ruined her life by publishing her exposé. She and Todd have been spending time together, drinking and moping and wishing Elizabeth hadn’t changed. After he gets directly rejected by Liz, Todd ends up at Alex’s, and they get drunk and start making out.

Speaking of jerks…Bryan Nelson, man. He gets on Nina’s case about skipping a BSU meeting to study, saying that she’s not committed to the group’s cause. He almost literally tells her that she needs to dump her white friends (mostly meaning Elizabeth) and only hang out with African-Americans. I would love for Denise to give Nina a lesson on how to properly use your backbone.

Thoughts: Why would a count have to sell computer parts?

Trivia: Lila’s middle name is Catherine.

Lila describes Tisiano as “Alec Baldwin, Jason Priestley, and Christian Slater all rolled in one.” That’s a combination I’d rather not picture.

Why is Jessica living with Elizabeth again instead of Isabella?

At first I thought Tom and Elizabeth were a little bit cute together, but then they wouldn’t shut up about their one-week anniversary.

William’s psych facility is surrounded by a gorge to keep patients from leaving the property, but what’s to stop them from killing themselves by jumping into it?

“I’m not into fun anymore.” Let’s be honest, Alex, you’ve never been into fun.

September 11, 2013

SVU #3, What Your Parents Don’t Know…: Jessica, Get Out Now!

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:24 pm by Jenn

She should spill something on them

She should spill something on them

Summary: Jessica’s about to move in with Mike, but he’s hours late to pick her up the night of the move. She’s rightfully ticked, but she forgets all about that when he gives her a car he restored. Jess also figures that the woman she kept seeing him with was helping him with the car. Now she’s happy again, and doesn’t even mind that much when Steven yells at her some more about being with Mike. She tells him they’re going to be living together and she doesn’t care what he thinks.

Jess still wants to be a Theta, but Mike doesn’t like that she spends so much time with them. This is a MAJOR RED FLAG for a relationship, but of course, Jessica doesn’t see it. She skips Theta meetings and events to be with Mike, and doesn’t tell the Thetas that they’re dating, let alone living together. Poor Isabella keeps lying to the VP, Alison, that Jess is still living with her.

Jessica has been spending a lot of money, and she’s down to less than a dollar in her bank account. She wants to cook dinner for Mike, so she pretends to be Elizabeth in order to withdraw $100 from her account. In a perfect world, this book would end with Jessica going to jail, but alas, this isn’t a perfect world. Elizabeth busts her and tells her to get a job. And Jess actually does! As a waitress! Which is one of the last things I would expect her to do!

The Thetas come to her restaurant one night and find out she’s working, and Alison is a total bitca about it, because Thetas don’t have to work for money – they’re either born with it or they marry someone who has it. Jessica finally tells them she’s done with them. Yay, now she has more time to spend with Mike! Who doesn’t like it when he comes home and she’s not there! This is totally another red flag that Jessica really needs to notice! Jess, wake up!

Tom and Elizabeth’s sports-scandal story is out, and they’re happy about their finished product and about their time working together. They quickly move on to their next project: frat hazing, specifically Sigma’s fishy practices. Winston is currently going through those fishy practices – and “fishy” is exactly the right word here, because one of the pledges’ tasks involves eating goldfish. He’s not allowed to talk to anyone outside the frat, so when Elizabeth approaches him to talk about the Sigmas, he runs away.

Liz and Tom decide to pursue the hazing story, and Elizabeth finds out that every seven years, a Sigma pledge dies during the hazing period. Tom has heard rumors of a secret society on campus, and they think it’s connected to the Sigmas. Denise (Winston’s almost-girlfriend) is also concerned with all the hazing and approaches Elizabeth about it.

Then Celine accidentally alerts Liz to what’s going on: Every seven years, the Sigmas single out a pledge who they think is weak, and they treat him worse than the others until he cracks (and, well, dies). This year, Winston is that pledge. Elizabeth and Tom rush over to the Sigma house, where a drunk Winston is on the roof, having been told to walk across it. They get him down and take him to the hospital.

In Elizabeth’s-love-life news: Liz suspects that Tom wrote the unsigned poem she received in the last book, but she’s still not completely sure. Nina thinks William wrote it. Celine decides to mess with Elizabeth, so she tells William about the poem, telling him Tom wrote it. Then she tells Tom that Elizabeth liked the poem. I’m…not really sure what Celine wants to accomplish here. She wants William for herself, but she’s actually doing Elizabeth a favor by letting Tom know that Liz is interested in him.

Anyway, William sends Elizabeth a bunch of white roses and asks her out. They have an okay time. When Tom finally gets up the courage to ask Liz out, she has to decline because she already has a second date lined up with William. Oh, the madness! After they save Winston, Tom comforts Elizabeth, who’s really shaken up over the situation, and they kiss. William interrupts. Ruh-roh!

Nina has her own love interest now: Bryan Nelson, a member of the Black Students Union who wants her to get more involved in the organization. They admit that their parents wouldn’t like them dating; Bryan’s father would find Nina too uninterested in her culture, and Nina’s mother would find Bryan too unsophisticated. (It’s implied that Nina’s mother basically wants her to act white.) Nina starts going to BSU events and gets more interested in Bryan. But the same night that Elizabeth and Tom save Winston from the roof, Nina and Bryan are jumped by a group of students in masks.

Steven is bugging Billie again with all his talk about how he doesn’t want Jessica to live with Mike. She finally tells him that if it’s that big a deal, he should tell their parents and let them deal with it. But Steven invokes the unspoken sibling code of having each other’s backs and doesn’t listen. Interesting, since I’m surprised Jessica didn’t expect him to tell their parents. Billie calls Steven a hypocrite, since they’re living together, too, but of course, it’s different for your little sister. He’s all, “No! I will break them up!” Billie’s all, “You’re sleeping on the couch tonight. And forever.”

In other, unimportant news: Isabella still likes Tom but thinks he and Liz are together, or at least going down that path. Alex is mad that Elizabeth broke the scandal story, since it affects Alex’s boyfriend. She thinks Liz is selfish, and that she wrote the story to get back at Todd for their breakup. Alex apparently shed all of her common sense when she shed the name Enid.

Thoughts: Whoever typeset this book was drunk, and whoever proofread it was even drunker.

The ghostwriter has a scary obsession with Karmann Ghias (misspelled through the entire book). Which are ugly, by the way.

Ned and Alice are going to be ticked when they find out they’re paying room and board for a dorm room Jessica’s not living in.

Jessica drives her new car for the first time and immediately hits something. She’s the Amanda Bynes of Sweet Valley.

No way Peter drives a Jeep. That’s like Bruce Patman driving a Jeep.

Elizabeth drinks wine at dinner with William! That’s crazy!

For not giving Jessica money after she spent all of hers on stupid stuff, Isabella gains major points in my book. Now she just needs an actual plot. So does Danny.

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