July 8, 2014

SVU #20, Here Comes the Bride: How Is Mike the Most Mature Person Here?

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:42 pm by Jenn

Spoiler alert: This never happens

Spoiler alert: This never happens

Summary: At the end of Broken Promises, Shattered Dreams, Billie asked Steven for some time apart, so now they’ve broken up. He’s living with Mike and studying at the feet of Mr. Charm. This mostly means that they go out and play pool and get drunk together. Then Mike flirts with girls and Steve tries to do the same, but is dorky and inexperienced, and also not a man-slut like Mike (which is clearly the message we’re supposed to be getting here). Steven decides he wants Billie back, so he goes to their apartment to surprise her, but he sees her kissing Chas on the cheek and flips out. Cheek kisses are always a problem in soaps, too. Same with hugs.

Steven talks to Tom, who smacks some sense into him and gets him to decide fully that he wants Billie back, Chas or no Chas. For some reason, he needs a horn to win her back. Maybe Steven was Ted Mosby before there was a Ted Mosby. Mike knows a woman who runs some sort of store that happens to have horns (I guess it’s a pawn shop? It’s not really clear), and she gives Steven one, and he plays it really badly for Billie, and somehow that convinces her that he really loves her and they should get married. Like, next week. This is mainly so Steven can go to Spain with Billie when she spends her semester abroad.

Alice is still in charge of planning everything, and she goes extra crazy. It doesn’t help that Jessica becomes even brattier than usual and fights her on everything. Unfortunately, Billie no longer has a backbone, and doesn’t tell everyone to shut up and do what she wants, since it’s her wedding. Steven is no help either, since he’s just learn that half of all marriages end in divorce, and he’s freaked out that he and Billie won’t make it. He runs off to buy books about marriage, then starts spouting pop psychology stuff and acting very Stepford. It’s the kind of thing that’s funny to read about, but if someone actually pulled it on you, you’d slap him.

Of course, other crazy wedding stuff happens. The caterer disappears after giving people at his previous wedding food poisoning. Somehow, the water in the Wakefields’ pool is pink. Billie’s dress comes back from the dry cleaner’s with a stain on it. Her parents can’t get back from their vacation in Mexico in time for the wedding. Ned, the one person you’d think would actually be responsible, loses the rings. Steven’s like, “Huh. I guess this was a bad idea, then.” You think?

Because everything had to be thrown together so quickly, no one’s organized a rehearsal dinner, so Ned sends the twins out with Billie, Steven, Tom, and Mike to have a regular dinner in a nice restaurant. It doesn’t go well. Mike starts saying some sexist things, so he and Jessica fight. (More on them later.) Then Billie and Steven fight. Then Jessica and Elizabeth fight. Basically Tom is like, “I don’t know any of these people. I don’t know how I wound up sitting at their table.” Everyone ends up storming out.

Steven finally realizes what everyone reading this book realized long ago: He doesn’t want to get married right now. He tells Ned, who thinks he just has cold feet. Then Billie tells Ned she doesn’t want to get married either. Ned awesomely tells the two of them to talk to each other, because it’s too late at night and he’s too tired to deal with their crap. Steven and Billie come to a decision, but don’t tell anyone the next morning.

Everyone oversleeps, so Alice freaks out again, some more, and tries to get things moving on everything that has to be done for the wedding. Steven and Billie are too scared to tell her that they’ve decided to call it off. Part of me thinks that’s normal, since Alice is a freaking maniac in this book, but most of me is like, really? You’re only enough to make important life decisions but not mature enough to own up to them? They get Elizabeth to do it for them. Elizabeth should have smacked them both and told them to man and woman up.

Speaking of Liz, her and Tom’s plot is so ridiculous and stupid that I can’t believe I have to write about it. They’re sent to get Elizabeth’s Aunt Sylvia from the airport, even though Elizabeth has never met her and the only picture she has of her is from 40 years ago. Sylvia said she’s bringing her husband Howard with her, but Howard’s been dead for years. The plane arrives early, so the passengers are already off when Elizabeth and Tom arrive. They can’t find Sylvia, despite ingenious attempts such as asking random people if they know someone named Sylvia, or if they are Sylvia.

Elizabeth finally finds her, but she’s getting into a car with a man, and Liz thinks she’s being kidnapped. Most people would call the police at that point, if they really believed someone had been abducted, but not Liz. She talks to someone at a rental-car agency and learns that the man driving the car is staying in Santa Carmine, a town a couple hours away. Liz and Tom head off to look for Sylvia there, but first Tom calls Alice, pretending to be Sylvia (no, seriously), and makes up an excuse for why he won’t be seeing her today. These guys are brilliant. But Alice buys it, so I guess she’s just as brilliant.

In another stupid, stupid move, Elizabeth and Tom go home, deciding to resume their search for Sylvia the next day. Never mind that she might have really been kidnapped and could have been murdered by now. When they finally make it to Santa Carmine, they don’t seem to have a plan beyond looking around in hopes that they’ll randomly run into Sylvia or her possible abductor. But then, somehow, Elizabeth does see the man from the car, and she realizes that he looks like her late Uncle Howard. Even though he’s old, Liz and Tom aren’t able to keep up with him, so they’re alone again.

After all of this insanity, Elizabeth and Tom finally got to the police. But the cops think they’re crazy: If Sylvia got in a car with a man who looks like her husband, then she’s probably not in any danger. Way to do your job, police. But the horrible rehearsal dinner happens to be at a restaurant right near Sylvia’s hotel, and Elizabeth and Tom run into the man from the car and learn what’s really going on: The man is Carl, not Howard, and the only picture they have of Sylvia was originally of two couples – Sylvia and Howard, and Carl and his wife. Sylvia and Carl (now dating) came to Sweet Valley together to spread their late spouses’ ashes. So when Sylvia said she was bringing Howard, she meant in an urn.

There’s a happy ending, though: Sylvia and Carl decide that after Billie and Steven’s wedding, they’re going to find a justice of the peace and get married. When Steven and Billie call off their ceremony, the Wakefields just turn it into Sylvia and Carl’s wedding. I hope there was some kind of financial agreement made later, because the Wakefields and Winklers spent a lot of money on something two other people enjoyed. Whatever, mazel tov. Steven and Billie are still dating, and she’ll go to Spain alone for the semester. Sylvia throws the bouquet, but no one wants to get married, so everyone avoids it. Womp womp.

Jessica and Mike are half flirty, half crabby with each other, partly because she thinks he and Val are hooking up. Steven asks Mike to be his best man, and Jess throws a hissy about having to be in the wedding with her ex-husband. Val calms her down by telling her the truth about her history with Mike: He was friends with her husband, who was a racecar driver and was killed in a crash. Mike has been looking out for Jessica this whole time, asking Val to do the same. He even sold his car so they could afford to keep their business going.

So now Jess thinks Mike is awesome, and they decide to try dating again. First they try to fight temptation by eating gross foods that make them not want to kiss each other. Then Mike starts acting more subdued, and Jessica realizes he’s trying to be like Steven. Bad call, dude. Also, insert your own joke here about how Mike wanted Jessica to be attracted to her brother.

At the totally lame rehearsal dinner, Mike runs into an old (female) friend, and Jessica gets extremely jealous for no reason, because how dare her not-really-boyfriend talk to other women when she’s around? Doesn’t he know she’s the only female who exists? He can’t even talk to her mother or sister! If Alice asks how he is, he’d better ignore her! Eventually they realize that since Jessica is so overdramatic and jealous, and Mike can’t seem to keep himself from having completely innocent conversations with other people who have breasts, they shouldn’t be together. So last time they broke up because Mike was insane, and this time it’s because Jess is.

Lila’s father wants to buy her donut shop, though he apparently doesn’t know it’s hers. I don’t know how that’s possible, considering all the publicity it’s gotten lately. Plus, you’d think she’d brag to him that she runs a successful business. Anyway, Lila wants to give the shop to a non-profit organization, but she plays hardball with her father and gets him to pay twice what he wanted for the shop. Bruce starts to realize that his girlfriend is kind of good at negotiating. He worries that someday they’ll end up married, then divorced, and he’ll lose all his money and toys to her.

So Bruce decides that they should create pre-nups. Never mind that they’re not getting married, and aren’t even engaged. They work on them, but start fighting and agree to drop it. Then they both secretly go to their lawyers to have them create the pre-nups. Their lawyers happen to work for the same firm. Bruce and Lila make out while their lawyers basically attack each other, fighting about hypothetical situations and money that doesn’t actually exist. I don’t know.

Thoughts: Billie doesn’t appear to care that she just had a miscarriage. It’s a little disturbing.

Dear ghostwriter, Lila’s father’s name is not Robert. It’s George. Be ashamed of yourself.

Tom: “I don’t know anything about weddings.” If you’re not in it, sit down and shut up. That’s all.

Elizabeth not calling the police over a possible abduction is why we can’t have nice things.

“A lot of strange stuff seems to happen to the Wakefields that doesn’t happen to anyone else I know.” Finally, Tom and I agree on something.

June 24, 2014

SVU #19, Broken Promises, Shattered Dreams: I Donut Think This Is a Good Idea

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:36 pm by Jenn

And the award for most overdramtic book title goes to...

And the award for most overdramtic book title goes to…

Summary: When we last heard from our charming Sweet Valley friends, Billie was pregnant and Steven was making plans for their future. He wants them to get married, start their family a little ahead of schedule, and try to figure out how they can still become lawyers. Billie, however, isn’t completely sure what she wants to do. She talks to her friend Chaz (the guy Steven is jealous of), and he sends her to see his sister at a clinic. There, Billie learns about the magical world of choices. She can have the baby, yes, but she can also place it for adoption or have an abortion.

Though the Wakefields and Winklers don’t yet know about the pregnancy, Steven tells Jessica, asking her to keep her mouth shut. Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Steven, you naïve dork. Jessica’s mostly excited that Steven and Billie are getting married, which means she gets to wear a pretty dress and be the center of attention as a bridesmaid. What do you mean, the bride’s supposed to be the center of attention? Oh, you naïve dork.

Billie’s parents show up for a surprise visit, and Steven awkwardly shuffles them over to Ned and Alice’s so the families can all be together and learn about the baby at the same time. Except Billie still isn’t sure she wants to keep the baby. There’s some fighting, and though Steve is very supportive of whatever Billie wants to do, he clearly likes his vision of a happy little family.

The news comes out about the baby and the wedding plans. The families are stunned, but agree to help support Billie and Steven however they can. The wedding’s in two-and-a-half weeks (…yikes), and Alice will be planning most of it. This is a Bad Idea. Alice turns into a nutcase, and has the nerve to disagree with the color Billie picked out for the bridesmaid dresses. Hey, Alice, it’s not your wedding, so pipe down.

Billie becomes less and less sure about the choices she’s making. She’s afraid of having a daughter who turns out like one of the twins – either a big mess she can’t control, or a goody two-shoes who’s no fun. Steven, for his part, worries that he’ll have a son who gets horrible grades. But he’s not as freaked out as Billie, who actually locks herself in the Wakefields’ bathroom so she can panic in peace. Steven talks her down.

Billie gets confirmation that she won the guitar competition from the last book, so marrying Steven and having the baby will mean giving up a semester in Spain. Steven tries to cheer her up by decorating their apartment like they’re in Spain. Steven is actually pretty cool in this book. I don’t expect to ever say that again, so enjoy it now.

But then there’s more fighting. Billie feels like Steven is making all the decisions for them. Billie, sweetie? If you don’t like it, tell him. He thinks you’re okay with everything because, you know, YOU KEEP TELLING HIM YOU’RE OKAY WITH EVERYTHING. Funny how that works. Anyway, Steven’s also not completely happy, since he’ll have to take an internship he doesn’t really want in order to provide for his family. There’s fighting, there’s fighting, there’s fighting, and then suddenly something’s wrong and Billie starts bleeding.

Yes, in the grand tradition of soap operas (and this series is definitely a soap), Billie miscarries. Steven feels guilty because they were fighting, and he thinks he put too much stress on Billie. Billie worries that now that they’re not “obligated” to get married for a baby, Steven won’t want to marry her anymore. Except…Billie wasn’t 100 percent down with getting married. I don’t understand that girl. Whatever, the next book’s called Here Comes the Bride, so that kind of answers that question.

Jessica and Val have started their own fashion business, despite not having business degrees, experience running businesses, or, in Jessica’s case, even the tiniest grasp of how the real world works. I don’t know who would want to do business with them. Jessica’s still a college freshman! But apparently things are off to a good start, and Val has everything under control. They just need money.

Since no bank in its right mind would loan money to Jessica outright, she has the option of using her and Elizabeth’s Jeep as collateral. This means convincing Elizabeth to co-sign. Liz is too smart for that, but it’s a moot point – Lila agrees to invest some of the money her father gave her in her unreliable best friend’s startup company that has no business plan or promise of being successful. Silly children with their silly disposable assets.

Jessica and Lila come up with a mutually beneficial idea: a fashion show at Lila’s donut shop. Lila is done with people not paying for food, and the fashion show will bring her exposure. The Thetas will model the clothes. I’m not sure a place that sells unhealthy food is the best place to show off clothes – “you’ll only be able to fit into these if you stop eating donuts!” – but at least someone’s trying something different.

Tripler-Wakefield Designs, or whatever, gets to work, but Jessica’s uneasy because Val and Mike seem really close. And also because there’s no fabric. Apparently fabric imported from other countries often gets held up in customs, but Val insists that what they’re getting is top-of-the-line stuff. If you’re suspicious that Val is actually using the money to buy what she says she’s buying, you’re not alone – Elizabeth is wary, too.

Jessica goes home to help with the wedding, but while she’s gone, she can’t get in touch with Val. The fashion show is coming up quickly, and nothing appears to be ready. Since the proceeds are going to charity, they can’t call it off, or everyone could be arrested for fraud. Jessica eventually ditches her horrible mother-of-the-groomzilla to check on her business, and realizes that Val hasn’t been there for a while. She thinks Val and Mike have taken all their money and run away. Lila (possibly jokingly) suggests that they flee the country, and Jessica (totally not jokingly) gets ready to go.

But it was all a misunderstanding. Val and Mike did leave the state, but only to go to Texas to get more fabric, since what they ordered was destroyed in a fire. Val thinks the show will be able to go on time, and no one will be a fraud. In fact, everything goes well, and somehow, these plucky young entrepreneurs with their laughable business practices are successes.

Speaking of laughable business practices, as I mentioned above, Lila has realized that giving away food isn’t a way to make money. And how do you donate your proceeds to charity when there are no proceeds? Also, how do you pay your employees when you’re not bringing in any money? The answer is that you don’t, which is why Lila’s employees quit. Lila orders her friends to start paying their tabs, but since they don’t have money, she puts them to work. Cue Isabella and Danny trying to make donuts without having any idea how.

And there’s another problem: Jessica knocked down some guy named Pelmer in the shop, and he claims he’s injured, so he’s suing Lila. She needs money to pay for a lawyer, but she’s not very cooperative about the process. (Lila, uncooperative? I know, I was surprised, too.) Lila assigns Winston and Denise to follow Pelmer and find out if he’s really injured. This might actually be the smartest thing Lila’s ever done. Too bad Winston and Denise are horrible at being private investigators, and Winston’s a klutz, so when they get photographic proof that Pelmer is a liar, Winston breaks the camera and accidentally exposes the film.

Bruce becomes Lila’s punching bag, but he tries to be patient while she’s dealing with all her issues (which is good of him, considering he got her the donut shop in the first place). Danny and Isabella quit, sick of Lila’s abusive management tactics, and Bruce tries to convince them to help out their friend. Funny, I never thought of Lila as their friend. But then Bruce learns that since Lila’s the only one who owns the shop, he has no liability in the lawsuit. He immediately quits and takes off to let Lila handle everything on her own. Also, Winston, Denise, Danny, and Isabella picket the shop, which is great.

Lila begs her friends for help, reminding them that they’re putting on a charity fashion show, and that the shop’s proceeds also go to charity. They get her to admit that she opened the shop so she could be respected, not philanthropic. With everyone back on board, they organize the successful fashion show, but Lila isn’t happy with Bruce. I’m not sure why he wants her back anyway. They were both awful to each other.

There’s also a stupid plot where Tom casually proposes to Elizabeth, and she’s not sure if he’s serious or not, so she accepts, but it turns out he WAS serious, and he even gets her a ring. But then he’s all, “This is happening way too fast,” like, no kidding, so they call of their kind-of-not-even-real engagement, which she wasn’t even excited about. On the plus side, Tom enjoys spending time with the Wakefields since it reminds him of when he had a family, so that’s kind of nice.

Thoughts: I really want a donut now.

I’m surprised and a little impressed that the book presents abortion as an option, but the women who talk to Billie about it almost sound like they’re trying to talk her into it.

Bruce says Lila was fired from the department store because she was “unsuited for the workforce.” Winston: “I wish I were rich enough to be unsuited for the workforce.” Heh.

Jessica: “I hope you know what you’re doing.” Val: “I hope so too.” Yeah, they sound like people who should be starting a business together.

I take back what I said about Lila not being able to run a business. She knows how to boss around people to get them to do all the work, which is basically the same thing.

“Just between you and me, Lila, I’ve never trusted Jessica Wakefield.” I’m going to let you in on a little secret, Alison: Everyone knows that.

“Don’t act like a big martyr. You’re a man. You don’t have to do anything.” Well, then enjoy being a single mother, Billie.

June 10, 2014

SVU #18, Billie’s Secret: Sorry You Have to Think About Steven’s Sex Life Now

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 8:09 pm by Jenn

Billie wins the award for most '90s outfit in the series

Billie wins the award for most ’90s outfit in the series

Summary: Billie (remember her?) has started playing the guitar, and has proven to be very talented. She enjoys it so much that she’s considering changing her major to music. This means ditching the path she’d set for herself to go to law school. Billie’s worried about how Steven will react to the idea, since he basically has their future all planned out: law school, then a practice together, then a family. In fact, Steven is already a little annoyed with Billie’s new hobby, not to mention her new musician friend Chas; he thinks they like each other. You know, like that.

Despite Steven’s lack of support, Billie decides to enter a competition; the prize is a semester in Spain, studying with a famous guitarist. When Steven hears about this, he flips out: If she’s going to Spain, that must mean they’re breaking up. But then things take a twist, because suddenly Billie’s making decisions for two. That’s right, folks: Steven slipped one past the goalie. Billie’s pregnant.

A girl named Amy (not Sutton) contacts Elizabeth wanting her to investigate a local club, Kitty’s. Amy applied for a job waitressing there, but thinks she was rejected because she doesn’t have a big enough chest. Elizabeth turns on the feminism and decides to go undercover, stuffing her bra and dialing up the charm. She doesn’t tell anyone about her “job,” though Mike finds out, since he’s a patron, but he promises to keep his mouth shut.

Tom is a jerk through this story – he doesn’t like how much time Elizabeth spends with Jessica and her friends, and doesn’t seem to realize that getting upset about that sort of thing is just a few steps removed from being controlling and abusive. Elizabeth decides to tell Tom about her job, but then she catches him checking out a girl with bigger breasts than hers and decides he’s a jerk. He tries to make things up to her, but sees her with her padded bra and thinks she got implants. Tom is pretty dim, eh?

Tom finally calms down about Elizabeth, realizing that he can just spend their time apart hanging out with his own friends. It seriously took him 20 years to figure that out? But when he, Danny, and some others go out for a guys’ night, they end up at Kitty’s, and Tom discovers just where Elizabeth has been spending her time. Then Liz makes a scene and reveals that she’s been stuffing her bra. Guess what? So have a bunch of the other waitresses. Womp womp. There’s a stupid, rushed ending to the plot, but everything works out for everyone (except the dumb club).

Now that she’s single again, Jessica feels like she needs something to make her life meaningful. Maybe focus on your schoolwork? No? Okay. She decides to get a job at Taylor’s Department Store, because Jessica should definitely be in a customer-focused job where she has to show patience and be kind to everyone. On her way to her interview, she runs into Mike (remember him?), who has become a little bit fun since we last encountered him. He thinks she’s crazy for wanting to work in a clothing store.

Jessica applies for the job anyway, and is quickly hired. Her mentor is one Ms. Val Tripler, who Jess gets along with well, but her supervisor is a guy named Mr. Farley who isn’t very nice. Then again, Jess isn’t great at being professional, so it’s hard not to feel sympathy for him. When Isabella, Winston, Danny, and Denise turn up to do some shopping, Mr. Farley yells at Jessica for socializing with them, though she was really waiting on them as customers. This whole thing is dumb and boring.

Jess goes over to Steven’s apartment to complain about her job, but instead hears him and Mike talking about her. Mike thinks Jess will quit or get fired rather than stick it out. Steven nicely bets against him, believing Jessica will be professional. If he loses, he has to do handyman services for Mike for two months; if Mike loses, Steven gets his car. How is that a fair bet?? Anyway, now Jessica has motivation to keep her job.

Things don’t really get better, but Jessica does get to see a different side of Mr. Farley. After she has to deal with an especially annoying customer, he tells her about how he used to have a short temper when he first started out in sales. Jess also spends more time with Val, who takes her to a fashion show. There, they run into Mike, and Jessica learns that he and Val know each other. Someone’s jealous…

Lila’s annoyed that her parents still think of her as a child, and she decides that, like Jessica, she’ll get a job. She’s so confident (or, you know, arrogant) in her abilities as a salesperson that she tells Bruce they’ll probably make her a manager by the end of the week. She doesn’t even last a day – in fact, she and Bruce cause a scene and are kicked out of the store.

Lila hightails it to Daddy, ordering him to buy Taylor’s and have Mr. Farley fired. After all, he deserves to be punished for not knowing who Lila is. George is like, “Oh, you silly little girl – here’s some money. Go buy yourself something pretty.” Bruce isn’t much better, thinking Lila should be grateful that her dad wants to take care of her, and that she’s free to do whatever she wants and not worry about money. Lila doesn’t like being thought of as spoiled and useless.

Bruce somehow gets the idea that Lila should open a donut shop. I don’t know. She turns it into a non-profit, with proceeds going to a women’s shelter, which is nice of her, but…she has no experience running a business, and couldn’t even last a day as a salesperson. This isn’t going to end well.

In the end, Jessica and Lila’s plots converge: George buys Taylor’s, and everyone at the store is laid off. This means Jessica stumbled across a loophole in Steven and Mike’s bet – she gets to leave a job she hates, but without quitting or being fired. Steven wins, which I guess means he’ll be driving his baby around in Mike’s car. Also, Val wants Jessica to go into business with her, which is about as good an idea as Lila running her own donut shop. Oh, and since the sale was a long time coming, Mr. Farley knew exactly who Lila was, and George knew exactly what was going to happen to his daughter’s job. Mean!

Thoughts: I’m surprised Jessica doesn’t want to work at Kitty’s. She’d get to look pretty and flirt with guys for tips, two of her favorite things.

Why is Billie majoring in economics if she’s going to go to law school? Also, if she has to get Steven to help her with her econ homework, maybe it’s not the best fit for her.

Mike: “Some people resent being controlled.” Hey, he learned something!

Billie’s parents “agreed that work was probably going to be a necessity for Billie, and music was a very risky career choice.” Well, I don’t think she was going to major in music with the intention of slacking off for the rest of her life.

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.

October 22, 2013

SVU #6, The Love of Her Life: Too Late, Todd

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:20 pm by Jenn

I guess this is Elizabeth and Tom? Tom looks dorky

I guess this is Elizabeth and Tom? Tom looks dorky

Summary: We pick up a few pages before the end of A Married Woman, with Mike coming to Steven and Billie’s apartment looking for Jessica. There’s yelling, there’s the fight over the gun, there’s a shot going off, and then we learn that Steven’s okay but Mike was shot. Fast-forward, and Steve’s arrested while Mike’s taken to the hospital. He’s so bad off that Billie thinks he might be dead. Jessica’s in shock and goes home while Billie starts trying to get Steven a lawyer. (By the way, Ned and Alice are out of town and, as of the end of the book, have no idea what’s happening in Sweet Valley.)

Steven is sent to jail, which is dumb because he hasn’t been arraigned yet, so wouldn’t he be in lockup? Not hanging out in general population with actual murderers? Steven isn’t sure exactly what happened with the gun or who pulled the trigger, but he’s pretty sure he’s going to prison. Elizabeth learns of his arrest from the news and rushes to the police station. Steven will have a bail hearing the next day and will be charged with attempted murder.

Elizabeth encourages Jessica to go see Mike in the hospital, since her presence could help him recover. Except Mike’s in the hospital because he was planning to shoot Jessica, so I think Liz should shut her trap. Anyway, Jessica’s still in shock so she just goes back home. Mike’s mom also bugs her to go to the hospital, so Jess lies to get her to shut up.

Steven gets out on bail, and Jessica finally snaps out of her shock a little, realizing how happy she is that her brother wasn’t hurt. When Mike’s mom calls her again, telling her that Mike is asking for her, she decides to go to the hospital. And then it gets worse: Mike’s paralyzed and might never walk again. (Except this is Sweet Valley, so of course he will.) Now Jessica feels horrible and decides that their wedding vows are more important than her freaking safety and the ability to live her day-to-day life without a guy TRYING TO SHOOT HER, so she won’t be leaving Mike after all.

Amazingly, Mike thinks this is actually the wrong choice. He and Jess have both realized that she was too young to get married. He tells her he’ll get an annulment, and that when Steven is arraigned, he’ll tell the judge that the shooting was his fault. But somewhere between Mike saying this and the arraignment arriving, he changes his mind and almost lets Steven go to jail. But apparently he has a conscience, and when Jessica yells at him, he admits that he accidentally shot himself. So Steven is free, and Jessica is getting an annulment.

Over in the secret society story, we revisit Elizabeth discovering that William is the leader. She’s currently with William at his place, and instead of playing it cool and pretending nothing’s happened, she lets him know that she knows, then takes off. Tom runs into her and she confirms his suspicions about William.

William goes looking for Elizabeth but instead finds Celine, who has moved on from Tom and is now with Peter. William tells her that Elizabeth is on to them, and since Celine knows about the secret society, she’s at risk. Then Celine and William hook up. When Liz gets home, she confirms that she knows about William’s role as the leader of the society. This whole thing is dumb because William just…lets her talk. Like, she’s about to bust you, moron. Stop her!

But no, William doesn’t stop her, and Elizabeth proceeds to get more information on the society out of Tom. Apparently it’s called the Fraternal Order of the Gallows, and he was inducted as a freshman by guys in ski masks. They wind up back at Liz’s dorm, where William attempts to intimidate them, but they tell him they’re going ahead with their story for the TV station. William is STILL too dumb to try to stop them. Instead, he waits a few hours, then kidnaps Elizabeth, with help from Celine and Peter.

Even with an attempt to at least be a competent villain, William is still lame: Elizabeth and Tom pretaped their story, so kidnapping Liz won’t stop it from airing. When it goes live, William flips out. Celine starts to realize that the guy really is crazy, and that they’ve gone too far. While the secret society members gather and plan to throw her in a pit (which apparently will look like suicide? Somehow?), Celine sneaks off and calls Tom. He calls the police and they all rush to rescue Liz. Also rushing to rescue Liz is Todd, who’s decided that he wants to get back together with her. More on that in a minute.

Back to Liz’s almost-murder: Tom fights William, who ends up in the pit, hanging on to the edge with one hand. Tom contemplates dropping him (dude, the police are right there!), but instead pulls him out so William will have to go to prison and think about what he’s done. Or spend the rest of his life plotting revenge. Whichever.

Once Elizabeth is safe, Tom heads off to talk to the police, and Liz runs into Todd. He declares his love and asks her to get back together, but he’s too late. She only has eyes for Tom now. She tells Todd that they agreed to move on and try dating other people, which is exactly what she’s going to do. Todd doesn’t take this well and vows to get her back. It’s kind of scary. Like, even William doesn’t say stuff like that.

Tom comes to see Elizabeth, and after some hugging and chaste kissing, she realizes that he wrote the poem she thought William had written her. Then Tom finally tells her what he’s been wanting to let her know about his life: His freshman year, his family (parents, brother, and sister) was driving out to see him play football when they were killed in a car accident. The second Tom heard, he quit the team. But now his life has meaning again because of Elizabeth, or something stupid and flowery like that.

In other, much more boring stories: Todd and Mark (Alex’s boyfriend) are suspended from the basketball team for a semester because of the department’s illegal recruitment methods. Todd doesn’t think this is so bad, but Mark can’t handle it and decides to quit school and try for an NBA career. Alex still blames Elizabeth for the whole debacle.

Winston and Denise are making out a lot, because Winston’s from Sweet Valley and that’s all he knows how to do with a girlfriend. Everyone thinks they should have sex. Denise doesn’t want to. Winston remains a virgin. Not virgins: Bryan and Nina, who are Doing It.

Thoughts: Elizabeth and Celine hate each other, and Nina’s mentioned not liking her roommate, so why don’t Liz and Nina move in together?

Danny, I like you, so pleas stop telling Winston to try to bang Denise.

When Steven gets out of jail, he’s all, “Colors are brighter! Food tastes better!” He was there one night. Shut up, Steven.

The police arrest the secret society members and then leave Elizabeth to find her own way home. Yeah, leave the girl who was just kidnapped to walk home in the dark. And wouldn’t they need her to go to the police station and make a statement?

Speaking of statements, I’m not sure the police ever took Jessica’s or Billie’s about Mike’s shooting. If they had, there would be three witnesses saying that Steven acted in self-defense/defense of Jessica. This freaking series….

October 9, 2013

SVU #5, A Married Woman: They Both Reached for the Gun

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , at 6:33 pm by Jenn

Llama face!

Llama face!

Summary: Elizabeth is distressed now that she knows a) Jessica’s married to Mike and b) Mike is about five seconds away from beating the crap out of her twin. Mike’s still angry that Jessica hasn’t told anyone about their marriage, so Jessica agrees to host a dinner party for Elizabeth and Steven. However, Liz is the only person she tells about it. Steven is still doing that thing where all he talks about is Mike, Mike, Mike, and I don’t know how Billie can stand to talk to him, let alone share an apartment with him.

Mike finds out that Jess didn’t invite Steven to dinner – and Steven says he wouldn’t go anyway – so Jessica’s still in trouble. Tom agrees to go to Jessica’s dinner party with Elizabeth, because for some reason, Tom thinks Mike is a good guy. Also, free food! The guys bond over guy stuff, as well as hating William. Just when things between Jessica and Mike seem to be looking up, he runs into Steven and they get into a huge fight. Mike mentions that he and Jessica are married; this is the first Steven’s heard of this, and he’s furious. Jessica literally runs away, spending the night in Isabella’s room. (Poor Isabella barely gets anything to do in this book, though she and Danny are now dating, so good for her.)

Isabella tries to talk Jessica into staying away from Mike, but Jessica has no willpower, so she goes back home. While organizing some drawers, she discovers that Mike has a gun, and that’s the last straw for her. She can put up with a guy who throws tantrums, trashes the apartment, and might hit her, but she’s not going to live with someone who has both a temper and a weapon. Jess is packing to leave him when he comes home and catches her. She tells him she’s done with their marriage, but he’s not going to hear that.

Jess knocks Mike out with a lamp, then flees to Steven and Billie’s apartment. Mike tracks her down and arrives all Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire (substitute yelling of “Stella!” with yelling of “Jessica!”). He has the gun, and he tries to use it to intimidate Jessica into coming with him. Steven jumps in, the guys fight over the gun, and it goes off, but it’s not clear who was shot.

The secret society is still a secret, or at least its leaders are. Elizabeth thinks Mike’s in charge, but she has no evidence. William keeps her on that idea, and she’s too dumb to be suspicious of him. Tom tries to convince Elizabeth that Mike isn’t the head of the secret society, and somehow she starts to think that Tom is the head. She’s done some research on him, since she’s curious about his background, but there’s not much there, other than that he used to be a star athlete and isn’t anymore. William, of course, pushes Elizabeth to keep suspecting Tom.

On the other side of this, Tom is suspicious of William. It’s clear that Tom was once part of the secret society – he has a broken star, the society’s symbol – but it’s not clear how much he knows about the other members or the leaders until he makes a confession to Elizabeth about his former involvement. Apparently all the members keep their faces covered when they meet, so no one knows who else is a member. The only current known member is Peter.

William helps organize a charity ball benefiting inner-city kids, and Bryan decides to stage a kind of protest by bringing some actual inner-city kids to it. This is a Big Deal. Tom was supposed to take Celine to the ball, but he backs out since it’s not worth spending that much time with her to try to get information on Peter. Smart man. Elizabeth is William’s date, and once he’s done doing his thing as co-organizer, he invites her over to his place. Is Elizabeth about to swipe her V card??

Tom is using his big, juicy chess club brain to try to figure out who’s in the secret society. He realizes that he hasn’t gotten a threatening message in a while. He’s suspicious of William, and figures out that if William’s a leader, he wouldn’t need to threaten Elizabeth because he already has her believing that he’s not involved.

Tom runs over to the ball to warn Liz, but she’s already left with a guy who’s possibly in charge of a racist, violent secret society. Don’t you hate when that happens? Over at William’s, Elizabeth is looking through his books when she finds a bookmark shaped like a broken star. Suddenly someone else’s chess club brain kicks into action.

In Boring Storyline Land: Winston is obsessed with Denise but isn’t sure if she likes him. I mean likes him likes him. He finally gets up the courage to ask her to the ball, but before he can, she asks him. Win, I think she likes you likes you.

Todd, Mark (Alex’s boyfriend), and the rest of the SVU athletes are facing the consequences of Elizabeth and Tom’s exposé on illegal recruitment. Mark and Alex are fighting a lot, and Alex blames Elizabeth, still thinking that Liz broke the story to get back at Todd for dumping her. Todd is also having a hard time relationship-wise – his girlfriend Lauren is mad at Liz for the story and doesn’t get why Todd isn’t. It’s because Todd is smart enough to know that the story wasn’t personal. Shut up, everyone in this plot who isn’t Todd.

Thoughts: “How many times had she gotten [Elizabeth] out of a jam?” Jessica seems to have herself confused with her twin. I know they’re identical, but I was pretty sure Jess could tell them apart.

William’s most likely the head of a racist secret society, but he helped organize a benefit for inner-city kids. He knows not all of those kids are white, right?

“Are you accusing Mike of unnatural sexual practices? Do you think he dresses in a wet suit and makes Jessica message [sic] him with rubber ducks or something?” Billie, will you be my friend?

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.

August 28, 2013

SVU #2, Love, Lies, and Jessica Wakefield: Two Twins, One V Card

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:45 pm by Jenn

Nice hair, Mike

Nice hair, Mike

Summary: It’s been a few days since the Halloween dance, and Jessica hasn’t heard from Mike. She’s handling it like a mature adult, assuming he has something important to do and will contact her when he gets the chance. Ha, as if. She’s so obsessed with Mike that she doesn’t want to leave her dorm in case she misses a call from him.

Mike eventually resurfaces, and Jessica spends all her free time with him, as well as time that’s not really free, such as the time she’s supposed to be spending in class. She even spends the night at his place. Isabella is concerned that she’s going to…give him her flower, as they say on Friends. By the way, Mike lives in Steven and Billie’s apartment building, and when Steven realizes that Jess is spending all her time there, he gets super-overprotective and basically spies on her. Billie is like, “Freak, I’m gonna leave you if you don’t get it together.”

Despite Steven and Isabella’s warnings about Mike, Jessica sleeps with him, so one of the twins is no longer a virgin. He asks her to move in, but she’s at least smart enough to realize that’s too big of a step at this point in their relationship. Then she has a dream about Lila (who’s married, remember) taunting her for being less of a woman, or something. Jessica changes her mind, but when she goes to tell Mike she’ll move in, she finds another woman at his apartment.

There’s nothing left for Jess to do but stalk Mike and see what else he’s been up to. She sees him at a pool hall with another woman and goes off on him, but he just laughs at her. Later, Mike makes up with her without actually explaining why he keeps hanging out with other girls, and Jess is so happy to have him back that she doesn’t care. She even decides to move in with him after all. I’m sure that will turn out just fine.

Tom wants to keep looking into the possibility of illegal recruitment of athletes on SVU’s campus, but since he used to be one of those athletes, he knows he’s not the right person to try to get information. He teams up with Elizabeth (who uncovered the possible scandal in the first place), and she finds that she kind of has a knack for investigative reporting. Unfortunately, she also finds out that her suspicions are probably correct, which means Todd could get in trouble, since he’s benefited from the recruiting. Elizabeth warns him, but he’s offended that she thinks he would accept illegal offers.

While they’re working together and getting to know each other better, Elizabeth starts to develop feelings for Tom, who already has a crush on her. (Isabella also likes Tom, but it’s not clear if he even knows who she is.) Tom writes Liz a poem expressing his feelings for her (yeah, they’re perfect for each other), and though he doesn’t sign it, she thinks it’s from him. At the Homecoming game, Isabella sees Tom looking at Elizabeth (well, he thinks it’s her but it’s really Jess – more on that later) and realizes that he likes her. But she doesn’t seem like the sort of person to try to steal him away.

Celine is in love with William, as we know, and unfortunately for her, William’s growing more and more interested in Elizabeth. Celine rubs it in to Elizabeth that Todd has a new girlfriend, then spreads rumors about Liz so that everyone on campus thinks she’s a party girl. Elizabeth has befriended a girl named Nina who calls Celine on her crap and makes an effort to convince people that she’s lying about Elizabeth.

Celine tells William that Elizabeth has a date to the Homecoming dance (not true), and for some reason that makes him ask Celine to the dance, just as she wanted. This doesn’t really go anywhere, and they’re both annoying, and I’d rather not have to talk about either of them, but oh, well.

The Theta sorority wants both twins (well, they want Jessica; they kind of have to take Elizabeth because Alice was a Theta), but the vice president, Alison, is mad about how Elizabeth treated Peter. She tells Jessica that if Elizabeth wants to pledge, she’ll have to make a public apology to Peter and go to the Homecoming football game with him. When Elizabeth hears about this, she laughs it off; she doesn’t want to be a Theta anyway. So Jessica pulls a twin switch and goes to the game with Peter, fooling Alison and everyone else.

Winston’s having trouble with the Sigma frat brothers, who keep coming to his room to hang out now that they know he lives with a bunch of girls. They flirt with all the girls, who aren’t interested, and the girls eventually tell Winston that he has to fix things. Winston’s kind of a wimp, so instead, the girls decide to humiliate the guys by agreeing to go to Homecoming with them, then standing them up. That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

Winston himself likes Denise, one of Jessica’s friends, and…you know, I’m going to cut this short and just skip to the end: She likes him, too.

There’s also a bunch of stuff with Alex and her new boyfriend, who’s one of Todd’s teammates, and how happy they are and blah blah blah, I don’t care.

Thoughts: If Enid wants to go by Alex now, then I’m going to need the ghostwriter to stop calling her Enid.

The Thetas’ president is Magda Helperin. Continuity, my old friend! How nice to see you!

Isabella puts an ad for condoms on the fridge so Jessica will see it. I’m starting to really like her.

In a dream, Jessica wears a chartreuse cat suit. Dream Jessica is as crazy as real Jessica.

Celine: “I’d say that those two might be doing a little bit more than working. If you know what I mean.” William: “No, Celine, I don’t know what you mean. Are you saying that Elizabeth’s going out with Tom?” Celine: “Oh, no, William, I didn’t mean to imply that.” I’m so confused.

July 17, 2013

SVH Super Edition, Earthquake: The One With the Killer Fridge

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:44 pm by Jenn

I guess the guy on the bottom left is Ken? He looks doofy

I guess the guy on the bottom left is Ken? He looks doofy

Summary: This book has four plots, so I’ll split the recap into four parts:

Jessica and Steven: After their car accident at the end of Last Wish, Jess and Steven are fine, but the new Jeep joins the long list of totaled Wakefield vehicles. (RIP, buddy. You almost made it an entire book.) Jessica wants to go home to make sure Elizabeth’s okay, since her twin spidey sense is telling her something’s wrong. Steven, however, wants to keep going to the gas station where Billie’s stranded. They get into a big fight over it, and even though it would be reasonable for him to just drop her at home and go after Billie himself, and even though Steven practically says he’d rather go get Billie than worry about his own sister, they go downtown.

Once Billie has been retrieved (and she’s fine), she and Steven realize that Ned and Alice are also downtown. Jessica finally heads home while the elder Wakefields are rescued. But on her way, Jess runs into a guy named Bryan whose 12-year-old sister Alyssa is clinging to the edge of a big crevasse in the road. Jessica tries to help Bryan save her, but the girl can’t hold on long enough, and she falls into the pit and dies. That’s right, SVH killed off a 12-year-old. But wait, there’s more!

Elizabeth: At the house, which is massively damaged and about two seconds from collapsing, Elizabeth finds Enid unconscious in a big pool of water. There are downed power lines, and Liz realizes that Enid has been shocked. She tries to get Devon to help her rescue Enid, but he’s some combination of in shock and a huge jerk, so he just sits there and taunts that there’s nothing they can do and they’re all going to die. So for those of you compiling mental lists of which SVH characters to have around in an emergency, Devon should not be on that list.

Elizabeth, however, should. Even though she makes a detour into the swimming pool, and even though she has to face down a rattlesnake (no, seriously), and even though she can’t actually pick Enid up and carry her to safety, Elizabeth manages to get her away from the live wires. Unfortunately, she herself gets shocked in the process, so now she’s unconscious, too.

Todd and Lila: These two spend the whole book trapped in the bathroom, fighting like Xander and Cordelia in Buffy’s basement (I know I made that reference before, I think with Lila and Bruce, but it’s even more appropriate here). Lila first thinks there’s nothing to worry about, but then there’s a fire, which freaks her out because of the fire at her house. Todd proves to also be good in an emergency, though he can’t find a way out of the room. The two of them end up sitting together in the bathtub, kissing goodbye. Fortunately, firefighters arrive just seconds before they can be burned alive.

And the rest: Ronnie Edwards is dead. Try to hold back your tears. Almost everyone else is okay, despite some minor injuries. Winston and Ken take charge, and Winston winds up being the person to get the rescue squad to the house. Ken spends most of the book with Olivia, who’s badly injured, as well as trapped under a beam and the Wakefields’ refrigerator. By the time the rescue crew arrives, she’s died from internal injuries. And it’s actually pretty sad.

Thoughts: Devon doesn’t see the point in calling the fire department. When there’s a fire. And people are trapped in a house. Shut up, Devon. I’m so happy to almost be rid of you.

How is Jessica being immature and selfish by worrying about Elizabeth? You shut up, too, Steven.

I don’t really have anything else to say, so I’ll just tell Devon to shut up again. Shut up some more, Devon.

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