May 6, 2014

SVU #17, Deadly Attraction: Running Away Is the Solution to Every Problem

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 8:26 pm by Jenn

That bathing suit is hideous. Jessica is supposed to be the fashionable twin

That bathing suit is hideous. Isn’t Jessica supposed to be the fashionable twin?

Summary: It’s not long after Elizabeth was blackmailed with photos of Jessica and Louis kissing, and she quickly tells Jessica that she’s been busted by the administration. Jess has more important things to worry about, since, you know, Chloe tried to kill her. Louis rushes over to check on Jessica, and she confronts him for not telling her he’s married. He tells his whole sob story about how, as soon as he figured out Chloe was a psycho, he ditched her, but she followed him and won him back over. Instead of calling the police like a normal person, he’s just been running from her every time she does something crazy and tracks him down.

This time is no different, as Louis has decided that the only way to keep Jessica safe is for him to leave town. Jessica decides to go with him, even though that means she might never see her family again. As she’s packing, Elizabeth goes out to their Jeep and Chloe grabs her, thinking she’s Jessica. She tells Liz to tell Jessica to stay away from Louis or she’s dead.

Jessica and Louis hit the road, but after a couple days, Chloe tracks them down. They get away. Then they’re on the run again. It’s boring and goes on for a while until Louis locks Jessica in the house where they’re staying and goes outside to confront Chloe. He bluffs that he wants to get back together with her and would be glad to leave with her tonight (since that’ll get her away from Jessica). But Chloe’s smarter than Louis and has actually lured him into a trap. She wanted him out of the house so she could turn on the gas.

Louis rescues Jessica just before the house explodes and takes her to the hospital. He finally tells the police what’s been going on, but they think Chloe was killed in the explosion. They’re at least 99 percent sure. Considering the number of times people have come back from the “dead” on soaps, I’d be like, “I don’t care if you’re 2,000 percent sure – show me a body.” But the police won’t listen to Louis and don’t think he and Jessica are in any more danger.

But yep, Chloe shows up with a nice and tries to kill Jessica, who’s still unconscious. As Louis is pulling her away, Chloe accidentally stabs him instead. She panics and runs away. There are so many smart things Louis could do (including simply letting someone know Chloe was there, getting himself checked over by a doctor, or calling the police back), Louis patches himself up and follows Chloe. He’s decided he’s going to die, and he’ll just kill Chloe, too. I don’t know why he thinks he’s doomed, since he’s IN A HOSPITAL and all, but whatever, this plot needs to be over. So Louis gets Chloe in his car and Thelma and Louises both of them. Better luck next time, Jess.

Now that Mark is back at SVU, Santos wants him to help keep Todd and Elizabeth in line. But they don’t need much keeping in line, since Elizabeth has decided to drop the investigation, thanks to the blackmail photos. Then Liz randomly decides to resume things, and asks to spend the night in Todd’s room since Chloe’s lurking around. The next day, they discover that Santos had someone break into the twins’ room and steal Liz’s computer and files with all the investigation stuff on it.

So now Elizabeth and Todd have to go on the run. They manage to crash at Lila and Bruce’s apartment for the night (more on that later), making Bruce and Lila think they’re back together and looking for a sex pad. Gin-Yung spots them pretending they’re dating again and gets mad. She calls Tom, who’s still in Vegas, being really boring and getting ready for some wrestling match.

Elizabeth goes to the TV station to get some investigation stuff Santos couldn’t get to, but one of Santos’ henchmen spots her and tries to grab her. Gin-Yung swoops in and saves the day with a getaway car. She blasts Elizabeth for stealing Todd, but Liz assures her that there’s nothing going on between them. She also invites her to help her and Todd, even though Todd previously didn’t want Gin-Yung involved in something potentially dangerous.

While Elizabeth goes to see Daryl again, Todd and Gin-Yung figure out that Santos is laundering gambling money through his construction company, which is supposed to be doing work on SVU’s campus. Elizabeth decides it’s time to go to the authorities with this information; Daryl has agreed to come forward, so they have enough evidence to bust everyone. Gin-Yung also introduces Craig, the wrestler who will be competing in Vegas, to Daryl so he can get an advance warning about what’s about to go down. Meanwhile, in Vegas, more henchmen (there sure are a lot of them) warn Tom to make Liz back off or Daryl’s brothers and sister will get hurt.

Just before Tom does his big interview with Craig, the story breaks. Liz calls Tom to let him know that Daryl is making a statement; once he does, Santos won’t be able to threaten anyone. Tom doesn’t get a chance to warn her that Daryl’s siblings are in danger. But it doesn’t matter anyway, because Daryl changes his mind and says that Elizabeth and Todd’s accusations are false. So the threats reached Daryl after all, and he backed down to protect his siblings. Todd tells Tom to spread the word to Craig so he knows what kind of danger he could be facing.

Tom does so, but Craig decides to do the right thing anyway, announcing on live TV that he was offered money to throw his big match. He was blackmailed with the threat of a positive steroid test a year ago, which could hurt his father’s senatorial campaign. It looks like the jig is up, but Santos tries a Hail Mary pass (I figured a sports-related storyline could use some sports references) and kidnaps Elizabeth, Todd, and Gin-Yung, locking them in a basement. They manage to grab them in a roomful of people, by the way. Still not the most ridiculous thing about this book.

Elizabeth and Todd spend their time in the basement arguing, which delights Gin-Yung, since it means they really don’t want to get back together. Priorities, Gin-Yung. Worry about your love life later (if you survive). Santos arrives with Mark and some henchmen, offering the investigators money to retract heir story. The investigators won’t take his bribe, so Santos threatens to kill Daryl’s siblings. Fortunately, Mark, who everyone thought was working for Santos, has actually turned on him and helps the investigators take out the henchmen. Yay for Mark being a good guy!

Lila and Bruce are making do with their hovel, but their money situation is just getting worse. Lila’s credit card is declined and Bruce has been totally cut off from his trust fund. Bruce eats dinner at the frat house and hangs out there for a while, making Lila mad since she’s supposed to know where he is all the time and they’re supposed to do everything together and he didn’t bring her any food (okay, that last one might be a fair gripe). So now they’re broke, hungry, have no hot water (their landlady sucks), and are mad at each other.

What does any regular college student do when he needs a meal but has no money? He goes home. Bruce suggests that he and Lila go to her place for dinner, which works out well. Then she says they should spend the night at their respective families’ houses, which would be a lot more pleasant than enduring another night in their horrible apartment. Both are secretly relieved to be away from each other because all that closeness is driving them nuts.

The night apart turns into multiple nights, with both delaying the return to the apartment because they’re enjoying the luxuries of home (and being away from each other) so much. Finally they decide that they shouldn’t live together. You think? They’re still dating, though.

Remember how Winston and Denise joined ROTC? Did you think that might be an interesting turn of events? Ha ha ha ha ha no. Denise excels while Winston hates every minute of it. He also keeps accusing Denise of having a crush on their drill instructor. The drill instructor is up for promotion and has to have all his recruits perform perfectly in an upcoming inspection. Winston’s a threat to that, so he assigns Denise to get him up to where he needs to be. This means Denise gets to yell at Winston and say she’s following orders.

Winston is so annoying in this book that Denise agrees to go to a ball at the Officer’s Club with the drill instructor. There, she realizes that he’s a jerk and only cares about his inspection, not the recruits. At the inspection, Denise purposely performs poorly to embarrass the guy, which would probably get her kicked out of ROTC if she wasn’t already planning to quit. I don’t get the point of this plot, so I’m glad it’s over.

Thoughts: Elizabeth is all judgmental of Louis for sleeping with a student, like, you just got blackmailed by the dean. If we’re grading on a curve, Louis is a prince among the rest of the SVU staff.

“Alex was working out in a yellow unitard.” Oh, ALEX.

“Gin-Yung was possessive and territorial.” No, she’s not. You’re projecting, Tom.

Why didn’t Louis just kill Chloe? He didn’t have to kill himself. I choose to believe he preferred death over having to put up with Jessica.

April 22, 2014

SVU #16, The Other Woman: Jessica Wakefield’s 568th Poor Relationship Choice

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

Um...where exactly are you looking, Louis?

Um…where exactly are you looking, Louis?

Summary: Jessica and her new honey, Professor Louis Miles, have no willpower, so they make out in his car, despite his protests that he shouldn’t be dating a student. Jessica gets very “he is my one true love and if I cannot be with him, I shall surely perish.” Some of the Thetas develop crushes on Louis, which just makes Jessica feel worse. Then Jess sees Louis with another woman and feels even worse.

Louis tracks Jessica down on the beach and they…well, it’s not said explicitly, but I’m pretty sure they have sex. Then he swears her to secrecy and makes her leave. Nice guy. He thinks his mystery woman is approaching. Jessica mopes around her dorm room for a while, waiting for Louis to call. Angsty, lovesick Jess is easily the most annoying version of that girl. Liz thinks she’s in love, but Jessica denies it. That’s the kind of relationship every girl dreams of – the one you can’t even tell your sister about.

Louis tells Jessica straight out that they can’t be together. She thinks it’s because he’s a professor, but he’s trying to keep her away from his mystery woman (whose name we learn at one point is Chloe). Jessica gets more and more ticked at him, and blows up at him after a class about chivalry. Later, she goes to his house for more possible sex (the book is really vague about it), and these two are starting to remind me of Liv and Fitz from Scandal, with all their “we can’t be together! But let’s just sleep together one last time!”

On her way to her dorm, Jessica realizes that a car is following her. She tries to flee, but the car just speeds up and chases her. Louis gets a call from Chloe, who brags that she’s chasing Jess and is going to kill her. She does try, running Jessica off the road, but Jess is fine. Chloe approaches and warns her to stay away from Louis…who’s her husband. Yep, Jessica’s sleeping with a married man. Raise your hand if you’re surprised. (I’m only surprised this is the first married man she’s dated.)

Elizabeth and Todd’s investigation into the possible SVU sports scandal is heating up. They question Daryl, a former basketball player, about why he left the team, wondering if it was because of drugs. Daryl takes them to his house to show them that he’s the only adult taking care of his brothers and sister. His sister also has physical problems and therefore big doctor bills. Daryl dropped out because he didn’t have time to practice, and because he needs to make sure his brothers stay out of trouble. Elizabeth still wonders if Daryl fixed games because he needed money.

Todd doesn’t want Gin-Yung involved in the investigation, since it’s already proven to be dangerous, but Elizabeth convinces him to bring her on board since she knows so much about sports and SVU’s sports program. Todd and Liz meet with Santos (the guy Todd was supposed to meet with in the last book when he was attacked), and he agrees to let Todd rejoin the basketball team – if he and Elizabeth stop snooping around and calling former players. Todd says no.

Mark is back in the picture, so Todd suggests that they and Elizabeth talk again. Mark continues to deny that he accepted any money or bribes while he was at SVU. Todd won’t let up, and Mark gets so mad about his accusations that he punches him. Ha! Now you know what it’s like, Todd.

Liz and Todd go back to Daryl’s, and this time he tells them that he’s still getting money from the school, even though he no longer plays for them. Basically, he was paid off to leave the team. Next, Elizabeth and Todd talk to a former SVU student who now goes to art school. He’s happy not to play basketball anymore – and in fact, SVU financed his transfer. Todd realizes that a bunch of students were paid not to fix or throw games but to leave the team altogether.

Meanwhile, Mark asks Santos to let him rejoin the team. Santos easily agrees, not least because Mark is mad at Todd and Elizabeth for snooping. Until Mark can transfer back to SVU, he’ll be an assistant in the athletics department, and get paid to keep an eye on other students. After he leaves, Santos enlists someone else to follow Elizabeth. But apparently he doesn’t know she’s a twin, because he just tells his minion to keep an eye on a freshman girl named Wakefield who drives a red Jeep. This leads to a nice fake-out when Jess is being followed by Chloe but we’re led to believe it’s Santos’ minion.

Elizabeth is summoned to see Dr. Beal, the head of the administration, who tells her to back off of Santos or he’ll have Jessica expelled. He accuses Jessica of helping Winston cheat, since she was the one who let him into Stark and Louis’ office. He also has another card up his sleeve: pictures of Jessica and Louis making out in his car. If Elizabeth doesn’t drop her investigation, everyone will find out about Jess and Louis. While she’s leaving, Liz runs into Mark and learns that he’s working at SVU. Mark sees the photos, and Beal warns him not to make any trouble.

Lila and Bruce move into their new beach house together and quickly start decorating. But then the landlady tells them that Bruce’s check bounced. It turns out that, though Bruce has a trust fund, he’s only allowed a certain portion of it every month. His uncle holds the purse strings and doesn’t like that he’s moved in with Lila. Bruce asks for more money, but his uncle refuses. Lila doesn’t have access to her money either, since it’s all in Italy, and can’t get more from her father. For the first time in their lives, Bruce Patman and Lila Fowler are broke.

This means they can’t stay at the beach house, so they have to scramble to find a place to sleep. Lila, to her credit, tries to be optimistic; it might be romantic for them to have to suffer and struggle together. The lovebirds get a little apartment together, but right from the start, things are bad. Lila almost blows the place up because she doesn’t know the difference between a gas oven and an electric oven. They barely have money for food. The roof starts falling apart, and since it’s been raining, everything gets wet. The hot water goes out. They lose phone service because the last tenant has an outstanding bill. And the landlady’s out of town, so she won’t deal with the repairs she should be financing.

But Lila remains optimistic and even enjoys herself, despite the crumminess of her living arrangements. (Seriously, if it were me, I’d be on the phone with my landlady demanding that everything get fixed, and I wouldn’t hang up until it was.) I’m mostly surprised that Bruce and Lila are both willing to slum it for more than two hours.

Winston feels guilty about stealing the physics test, but not guilty enough to not cheat. After all, if he fails the class, his parents will make him leave SVU, which means he won’t be able to date Denise anymore. (His parents would make him leave school for a bad grade in one class? Huh?) Winston aces the test, but his professor knows he couldn’t have gotten so smart overnight, so he’s immediately accused of cheating.

Winston won’t come clean, only saying that he went to Stark’s office to get the study guide, and that Jessica let him in because she was there to see Louis. Stark calls in Winston’s parents, warning that this could lead to expulsion. Winston breaks the news to Denise, who has zero sympathy for her boyfriend. She tells him to be a man and deal with the consequences. Those consequences involve being placed on academic probation, which, frankly, is better than Winston deserves. Mr. Egbert agrees, announcing that Winston will be joining ROTC to learn how to develop character and be a man.

Instead of the Mulan-like music montage I was hoping for, we get a scene of Winston showing up for his first day in ROTC and discovering that Denise has also enlisted. I look forward to Winston failing miserably at even the smallest tasks while Denise gets to be a star.

There’s some stuff about Tom while he’s hanging out with other student journalists in Vegas, but unless he hooks up with one named Christine, I don’t care. At one point he calls Gin-Yung to find out if Elizabeth and Todd are hanging out. Gin-Yung promises that it’s all platonic, and Tom hopes she’ll let him know if that changes. I hope that Tom stays in Vegas forever because he bugs me.

And now I have that Mulan song stuck in my head.

Thoughts: Elizabeth: “[Tom’s] not Superman, and we’re not Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.” But wouldn’t it be fun if you were?

“I’d give my life for you.” Jessica, you’ve known him for five days. Tone it down.

“He’d never liked Elizabeth much. He thought she was uptight, sanctimonious, and humorless. The type who was always sneering at people who weren’t like her.” I’m not really a Mark fan, but the enemy of my enemy is my friend, so…

“I’m so glad I didn’t die. Not now that I’ve found Louis.” Because life is only worth living if you’re in a relationship. If Jessica were single, SHE MIGHT AS WELL JUST KILL HERSELF.

March 11, 2014

SVH #14, Shipboard Wedding: Sink or Swim

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:18 pm by Jenn

Yo, guys on the left, you're about to fall into the pool

Yo, guys on the left, you’re about to fall into the pool

Summary: We’re still on this freaking cruise. It’s never going to end, is it?

So anyway, everyone’s mad at everyone else because of all the kissing of other people’s fiancées and the fighting over whether or not people should know about that kissing. As a refresher, Todd and Elizabeth are kind of back together, Tom keeps making out with Nicole (who’s engaged to Jason), Isabella and Danny are fighting, Leonardo is obsessed with Alex, Noah and Gin-Yung are hanging out, Nina keeps spending time with Rich (even though he’s a pretentious and boring egomaniac and she kind of hates him), Lila wants to break up with Bruce, Bryan is a wimp, and Jessica can’t find her mystery savior. Oh, and Winston and Denise are missing.

Jessica’s search for that mystery savior has landed her in jail. She was caught breaking into people’s rooms so she could find the savior’s button, and after Jason’s wedding ring was reported missing, she was accused of stealing it. (Danny still has it. Danny should probably say something.) There’s a great scene where Jessica tries to appeal to the captain and her other jailers, telling them she was breaking and entering for love, and they pretend to humor her and then laugh in her face. Then some guy shows up pretending to be a lawyer and gets Jessica released, but he doesn’t stick around long enough for her to find out who he is.

Everyone else is at a dance (well, of course) and jealous of the new pairings. Tom is especially mad because Elizabeth went back to Todd two seconds after they split up, but dude, you’re the one who kissed someone else. I mean, be mad all you want, but if you can’t keep your lips to yourself, you don’t get a say in what Liz does.

The steward who turned Jess in for thievery in the first place is after her again, but the mystery “lawyer” trips him and Jessica’s able to hide in a movie theater. Meanwhile, the police arrive and try to arrest Elizabeth for stealing the ring. Of course, they’re not going to fall for the old “it wasn’t me, it was my identical twin!” story. Isabella finds Danny (who’s hiding like a six-year-old afraid of getting in trouble for eating cookies before dinner) and demands that he tell the truth.

So Danny finally comes clean about the “stolen” ring, which puts both twins in the clear. But Jason’s mad that Danny lied to try to stop the wedding, so he fires Danny as his best man…and enlists Tom to take his place. Poor, dumb, naïve Jason has no idea what’s been going on between Tom and Nicole. Oh, and the wedding’s tomorrow, and everyone on the ship is invited.

Jessica’s still hiding in the movie theater through all this, and Nina and Danny wind up there, too. They start talking, and when Nina kisses Danny on the cheek (just as a friend), Jessica misinterprets this as romance. Now she thinks Danny’s a two-timer, and she isn’t sure if she should tell Isabella. Ironically (I guess), in the first book, Isabella insisted that if Danny ever cheated on her, she wouldn’t want to know.

That night, Alex and Isabella wind up in the twins’ room and all four girls cry over their relationship woes. They see Nina and Rich together and think they’re happy, when Nina’s really just faking it. Also not happy: Tom, who’s been kicked out of his and Danny’s room. Todd finds him, they fight, and just when things are about to get sort of interesting, they…stop. And they decide to work together to get Tom and Elizabeth back on track. It involves Todd pushing Tom overboard so Elizabeth will save him. There’s no way this could go wrong!

Everyone goes to the wedding, with Alex throwing Gin-Yung shade for hanging out with Noah, and Danny hiding in the back (Danny hides a lot in this book). Everything goes fine until “if anyone knows why these two shouldn’t be married.” This is when Danny decides it’s finally time to say something to Jason about his fiancée kissing another guy. Jessica shoots him down, accusing him of two-timing Isabella with Nina. Isabella’s madder at Jessica than with Danny.

While Jason’s confronting Danny, Nicole gets super-dramatic and tries to flee in a lifeboat. She winds up in the water, so Danny jumps in so save her. Jason punches Tom, who also goes in the water, but he wanted to be there anyway so Elizabeth would save him, so he just goes with it. But Danny tries to save Tom as well, so Tom has to get rid of him. Elizabeth doesn’t seem to realize (or care?) that Tom’s in the water, so Todd tosses her in after him. Brilliant plan, guys. It doesn’t work, since Tom clearly isn’t drowning, and Elizabeth still doesn’t want to be with him.

Noah’s like, “Well, everyone is has gone insane, so I might as well, too,” and he knocks out Leonardo. Bruce approaches and Noah tells him that Leonardo fell. Alex joins them and the guys stick to their story. And speaking of insane, Jessica decides to recreate her first meeting with her mystery savior by…jumping in the water and pretending she’s drowning again. I’m pretty sure this is certifiable psychopath behavior. Gin-Yung gets a little revenge on Todd by pushing him in the water.

At this point almost everyone’s in or has been in the ocean except Isabella, who agrees to make up with Danny as long as he doesn’t get her dress wet. Jessica doesn’t have any luck fake drowning, but she does finally meet her mystery savior. It’s Randy Mason, Sweet Valley Middle School’s resident nerd. Jessica doesn’t care that he used to be a nerd, or, apparently, that he’s been STALKING HER ALL WEEK. Seriously, this guy is creepy.

Leonardo has decreed that he’s taking Lila back to Italy so she can properly mourn Tisiano. He’s taking Alex there, too, so she can become a model. Bruce isn’t going to let Lila go without a fight, possibly a physical one. Lila, however, is resigned to her fate, especially when she realizes that if the situation were reversed – if she’d died and Tisiano were moving on this quickly, say, with someone like Jessica – she’d be jealous. After all the wedding madness and ocean wackiness, Lila decides she can’t be without Bruce, so they’re back together. And I guess Leonardo regains consciousness with some brain damage, because now he’s okay with them being together, and he’s fine with Alex leaving him and getting back together with Noah. I don’t know.

Bryan is still hanging out with Jean, learning to swim and trying to figure out how to get back to the boat so he can reunite with Nina. He dreams about water-skiing back to the ship, and decides to make that dream come true. Because that’s totally reasonable for someone who only learned to swim two days ago. Bryan takes some skiing lessons (this all happens over less than a day, by the way) and gets a guy to take him on his boat out toward the ship. He shows up while everyone else is falling/getting pushed in the water, but he falls in as well, so Nina has to save him. This is so dumb.

Winston and Denise spend the entire book floating around on a sinking boat, thinking they’re going to die. They wash up on an island and decide to become the new Swiss Family Robinson or something. (I hope there are monkey butlers and chewy, chewy cocoa beans.) Then they’re suddenly both knocked out. It turns out they’re not on a deserted island – they’re on the same island as a resort, and they were knocked out by golf balls. But the good news is they can go home with everyone else. And they didn’t embarrass themselves by falling overboard.

Thoughts: These books would be a lot shorter if they didn’t spend so much time recapping previous books.

Danny describes dating Isabella as “like falling forty floors into a pool of Jell-O with your arms around the person you love most in the world.” Danny, please don’t ever become a writer.

“Jessica instantly loved the bridesmaid dresses, which had a tropical theme. The girls wore brightly colored green, aqua, and pink silk sarong skirts that reached their ankles. Their silk tops were cropped and shoved each girl’s tanned midriff.” I don’t care where you’re getting married – no one’s midriff should be visible.

Nicole’s wedding dress has “tiny seed pearls sewn over every square inch.” That sounds awful.

I’m sure the ship’s captain appreciated everyone jumping in the water. How much do you think that guy hates doing college cruises?

February 25, 2014

SVU #13, SS Heartbreak: All the Usual Relationship Drama, Just On a Boat This Time

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:51 pm by Jenn

I guess that's Todd without the shirt? Put a shirt on, Todd

I guess that’s Todd without the shirt? Put a shirt on, Todd

Summary: In the aftermath of Tom and Nicole’s kiss, Isabella wants to keep Jason from finding out. Danny, however, is Mr. Ethics and thinks his best friend should know that his fiancée kissed another guy. He also wonders if Isabella would have been able to keep from kissing Tom if she’d been in Nicole’s position. (Remember, Isabella used to have a crush on Tom.) I’m not sure what that has to do with anything, but whatever, Danny’s in a bad mood.

Jessica overhears them talking about the kiss and how Elizabeth saw it, so she heads back to their room. Tom is already there, wanting to explain things to Elizabeth. She wonders if Liz would have kissed Todd if they’d been in Tom and Nicole’s positions. There’s an awful lot of “what if”ing going on. Elizabeth only wishes she could kiss Todd right now and make Tom jealous. All in good time, my dear. Jess wants everyone to shut up about the kiss so Jason and Nicole can get married. That’s our Jessica – she doesn’t care if the bride and groom are happy, as long as they have a wedding.

Danny and Isabella try to spark up some romance between Jason and Nicole, though Isabella doesn’t think Danny’s romantic enough to be able to inspire it in others. Jason’s still into spending more time with his friends than his fiancée anyway. Danny decides that the best course of action is to convince Jason to end the engagement, but without it looking like Danny’s trying to influence the decision. His ideas are all stupid, and even though Jason isn’t that bright, he’s at least bright enough not to listen to Danny.

Meanwhile, Liz is unable to handle being single for five seconds, so when she runs into Todd and Gin-Yung, she immediately latches on to her ex. Poor Gin-Yung. Todd and Liz spend the day together when the ship stops at an island called Juma. Tom hangs out with Nicole, and when Liz sees them, Todd can tell that she’s not over Tom. He’s also still interested in Gin-Yung, so he knows he and Elizabeth shouldn’t try to get things started again.

But then Nicole asks Tom to kiss her again, so she can know if there’s really anything there, and also because Elizabeth is being mean to him, so he deserves something nice. Liz sees them smooching and kisses Todd in retaliation. Gin-Yung sees that, and runs off. She encounters Noah, who’s lost Alex to Leonardo, and the two of them decide to hang out. So at this point, half the couples who came on the cruise together are with someone else.

Isabella and Danny argue about the second Tom/Nicole kiss – literally everyone knows about the two kisses except Jason. Isabella still doesn’t think it’s a big deal. Danny wants to tell Jason, who happens to show up just as they’re talking about him. He thinks Nicole is acting weird because she has cold feet about the wedding. So what better solution than to speed things up and get married tonight? Danny panics and tells him that the ring is gone. Why, it must have been stolen!

Jessica is desperate to find the mystery man who saved her when she fell overboard, but she’s going about it in a very weird way. She still has his button, so she pulls a kind of Cinderella by breaking into people’s rooms and trying to find the shirt it goes with. So okay, it’s a Cinderella if Prince Charming were a criminal.

A steward catches her in the middle of a search and offers to keep quiet for a bribe, but Jessica’s too dumb to understand that she can just pay him off. During a dance that night (because of course there’s a dance), the ship’s captain finds Jessica and demands Jason’s ring. He knows from the steward that Jess has been breaking into people’s rooms, and since the ring was reported stolen, Jessica must have taken it. Oops!

Remember how the last book ended with a cliffhanger, with someone arriving in a helicopter and Lila thinking it was Tisiano? It wasn’t. It was his brother, Leonardo. He thinks Lila’s being disrespectful to Tisiano’s memory by going on a cruise so soon after his death. (Fair enough.) Lila decides he’s right and she needs to end things with Bruce. They start spending time apart, but then there’s some weirdness with a glass fish they both want to buy. He buys it and gives it to her, saying it’s like a pre-engagement present, but she tells him she can’t be with him.

In case you care about Alex (doubtful), she and Noah are starting to realize that they might not be as compatible as they thought. She’s still very concerned about being seen as her high school self, and he’s concerned that she’s a narcissist. While they’re on the outs, Alex meets Leonardo and they hit it off. He’s a real smooth talker. He happens to have a modeling agency, and he thinks she could do well in Milan. Um…what? Suddenly Alex has a new life goal.

Hateful Bryan is stuck on an island, but the good news is it’s the same place where Denise and Winston are stuck. They decide that they can take a boat to Juma, then wait for the cruise ship to make a stop there. But Bryan is a wimp and won’t get in a small boat. Juma has an airport, so Winston and Denise agree to take a boat there, then…send a helicopter for Bryan? Because that’s reasonable? Anyway, while they’re on their way to Juma, Bryan gets pickpocketed. He’s stuck in a foreign country with no money. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Bryan meets a guy named Jean who works as a fisherman while preparing to apply to college in Miami. Jean agrees to help Bryan learn to swim if Bryan will help him fish and write his college application essay. In addition, Bryan gets a place to stay and free food. Unfortunately, he may have to stay there forever, because Winston and Denise are on the wrong island. There’s no airport, and the ship isn’t going to be making a stop there. Denise and Winston eventually take another boat to the right island, but the engine dies. Then Winston drops his paddle in the water. Winston, you had one job.

Rich is still into Nina, who realizes that he’s a horrible bore. She’d rather be with Bryan. Let that sink in. She’d rather be with Bryan.

Thoughts: “The only adults in sight were gorgeously weathered Captain Avedon and his uniformed crew.” First of all, “gorgeously weathered”? Second of all, college students are adults. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.

“She dreamed of the day when Tom would pick up his morning paper and see that she’d won the Nobel Prize – on that day he’d finally understand the magnitude of his mistake. ‘Elizabeth,’ he would whisper as Nicole or her successor looked on through a mist of tears.” I assume she would be getting this Nobel Prize in the field of drama queenery?

“Do you know it’s impossible to say ‘toy boat’ five times fast without getting tongue-tied? Go ahead, try it.” Guys, Winston is my dad.

The ship shows the movie A Night to Remember, which is about the Titanic. Holy crap!

The ship also has a mini-golf course, but wouldn’t that be difficult? Wouldn’t your ball roll all over the place if the water were choppy?

A snorkeling guide has the motto “We’ll teach you how to snorkel even if you’re a New York’l.” I’m embarrassed that I laughed at that.

February 11, 2014

SVU #112, College Cruise: Ship of Fools

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

Look at the pecs on Jessica's mystery admirer!

Look at the pecs on Jessica’s mystery admirer!

Summary: In He’s Watching You, Elizabeth learned that William had left all of his money to her. At the beginning of College Cruise, she’s decided not to accept it. The money comes from a psychopath who almost killed her, and she doesn’t feel right taking it. Fair enough. Also, Elizabeth has been thinking a lot about ethical issues lately. Danny’s taking a class about ethics and has gotten everyone into playing a game called Scruples, where you talk about ethical dilemmas. (These people are so boring.) Basically, it establishes that Danny is super-ethical, but the rest of the group is a little looser with what’s wrong and what’s right.

Anyway, spring break is approaching, but no one has any solidified plans yet. Some of the couples want to spend it together, and in Noah’s case, he’s worried that Alex will go home to Sweet Valley and hook up with some hunk who was in love with her in high school. Little does Noah know that no one like that exists. Nina wants to spend the break with Bryan, but he’s in manifesto-writing mode for the BSU. (Spoiler alert: Bryan is super-annoying in this book, and I kept hoping he would get eaten by a shark. Second spoiler alert: He doesn’t.)

Danny learns that his high school best friend, Jason, is getting married…really soon…to someone Danny’s never even met. Clearly Danny and Jason are really close. The wedding will be on a cruise ship, the SS Homecoming Queen, on a trip only for college students. I bet the crew on that cruise hates every minute of it. Danny’s invited to be Jason’s best man, but Danny doesn’t have the money for the cruise. This is why destination weddings are a bad idea for 19-year-olds.

Elizabeth accepts the money from William’s will after all, but makes a bunch of charitable donations, which is nice of her. Then she gets the idea to share the rest with her friends in some big, splashy way. She and Bruce both end up at a travel agency; he wants to take Lila on a trip to get her mind off of her dead husband. Elizabeth sees an ad for the cruise on the SS Homecoming Queen, which seems like a great idea to her. She invites all her friends over – Jessica, Tom, Danny, Isabella, Alex, Noah, Winston, Denise, Nina, Bryan, and Todd – and tells them she’s paying for them all to go on the cruise over spring break. Everyone’s in (though Bryan will have to miss some BSU thing).

Arrangements are quickly made, and Elizabeth puts together rooming assignments. But things at the travel agency get screwed up and she’s summoned at the last minute to redo them. She has a class so she sends Tom instead. He’s thinking that the cruise might be the right time for him and Elizabeth to finally get intimate, so he puts them in a room together.

Everyone heads to Miami to get on the ship for the Caribbean. Elizabeth discovers her rooming assignment and she’s not happy. She reasonably tells Tom that when she’s ready to have sex, she’ll let him know. To his credit, he shuts up and redoes the assignments. But he does start to realize that Elizabeth makes a lot of decisions for them. This becomes a theme in the book.

The group finally meets Danny’s friend Jason and his fiancée Nicole. It turns out that Tom already knows Nicole – they went out the summer between high school and college. She met Jason and ditched Tom without any explanation. The two of them decide not to tell anyone that they know each other, since they’ve already acted like they just met, and it’s too late to come clean. Why did they pretend not to know each other at all? This is dumb. It’s all a setup for Elizabeth and Tom to have problems.

See, Jessica’s feeling down because her marriage failed and her last boyfriend turned out to be a rapist. So Elizabeth feels like she needs to spend a lot of time with her, which means no alone time for her and Tom. So Tom ends up spending time with Nicole instead. Jason’s off with all his buddies, not paying attention to what Nicole’s doing.

Tom and Nicole almost kiss, but get interrupted. Then Tom and Elizabeth make up. But later, they have another fight, and Tom calls Elizabeth a control freak. He tells her no one’s having fun and it’s her fault. He ends up alone with Nicole again, and this time they do kiss. But who’s watching? Elizabeth and Danny. Dun dun DUN!

Jessica’s mystery admirer is still on the canvas – in fact, he’s followed the group on the cruise. She should definitely find this creepy, but since he’s sending her flowers and stuff, she doesn’t. She manages to fall overboard (that’s our Jess) and is rescued by an unknown man, who she figures is her admirer. All she has to go on is a button she pulled from his coat.

Bryan’s vacation doesn’t get off to a good start. Winston accidentally bumps him into the water and he has to be rescued (Bryan can’t swim). The ship’s doctor, Rich, flirts with Nina while tending to Bryan. Winston worries that Bryan will get revenge, but Denise says he won’t get violent since Nina won’t let him. (Heh.) Later, Winston accidentally hits Bryan in the head with a shuffleboard disk. Then he throws up on Bryan. I laugh and laugh because Bryan won’t stop complaining about how cruises are for upper-class people, and how everything is about race, and how he doesn’t want to and doesn’t know how to do any of the activities Nina wants to do. DUMP HIM, NINA. DO IT NOW.

It comes to a boiling point when Bryan sits on Winston’s hat, which is decorated with old, rusty fishhooks. When he goes looking for Rich, he finds him flirting with Nina again. Bryan decides he’s done with the cruise and is going home. Yay! We all win! I only wish Danny had said something to him about all his “black men don’t do __” stuff. In fact, sometimes I forget that Danny’s black because he doesn’t remind us every two pages. I mean, he stops a pickpocketer in St. Lucia and doesn’t say, “You don’t have to call me a hero. Black men don’t like labels like ‘hero,'” or, “This is all indicative of your culture and your class warfare and racism and 25 other hot-button words I use to make myself look oppressed.”

Todd is having a rough time. He’s thinking about leaving school since he has no friends and can’t play basketball until next year. Also, Elizabeth is with another guy, but I’m sure that has nothing to do with Todd’s decision. He’s been emotional lately, and going on a cruise as a single guy surrounded by couples and people hooking up doesn’t help.

But things are about to start looking up for our violent friend. There are a number of SVU students on the ship, and one of them, a girl named Gin-Yung Suh, recognizes him from the basketball team. She’s a sportswriter for SVU’s paper and has been following Todd’s career (or lack of one, since his suspension). The two of them immediately click. No more mopey Todd!

Even though they’re barely mentioned in the middle section of the book, Bruce and Lila are also on the cruise. They’re being all sweet and couply with each other, though Lila’s still struggling to move past her grief over Tisiano. Just as she realizes that she and Bruce are more compatible than she and Tisiano were, a helicopter arrives on the ship (…wait, what?) and out pops Tisiano. Wait, WHAT?

In doofus news, Winston and Denise miss the boat back to the ship and are stranded in St. Lucia. Womp-womp.

Thoughts: Hearing Noah describe Alex as “colorful” is weird.

“Sometimes Bryan went days without complimenting her. And she was a very good-looking girl.” I think the ghostwriter has confused Nina with Jessica. I don’t see Nina as the type to demand postive comments about her appearance.

Bryan: “Exercise is an elitist preoccupation.” Well, then enjoy being 400 pounds.

Woman at the travel agency to Tom: “Do you know how to use a mouse?” HA. I think pretty much everyone knew how to use a mouse by 1995.

“You must have studied swimming for many years.” How, exactly, does one study swimming?

Gin-Yung is into sports because her grandfather learned English by reading the sports pages, then read them to her when she was growing up. I love that.

Winston eats four lobsters in one sitting. NOT POSSIBLE.

January 28, 2014

SVU Thriller, He’s Watching You: We All Wear Masks

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:17 pm by Jenn

I don't remember a scene where William projects his face onto a wall

I don’t remember a scene where William projects his face onto a wall

Summary: Despite the fact that William revealed his name to Elizabeth in his last stalker note, she hasn’t put 2 and 2 together yet. Not that she would worry if she had, since she believes William is tucked away in an institution, not out and about following her and plotting the deaths of all her friends. He still has an employee, Andrea, under his thumb, and keeps borrowing her car to run errands. Evil errands.

Todd is also out and about, running into a supposed former Big Mesa student, Henry, who thought Todd was a good basketball player in high school. They get coffee together and talk about sports. Todd has to go back to campus for class, so Henry offers to loan him his car. Todd doesn’t find this TOTALLY WEIRD. He borrows the car, but something’s wrong with the steering wheel and he crashes it. When the police show up, they tell him the car was reported stolen and arrest him.

Elizabeth and Alex see the whole thing and go to the police station with Todd. Noah worries that this means Alex still likes Todd (remember, they hooked up a bunch of times), and that Alex isn’t interested in guys who aren’t surrounded by drama. See, girls, guys get insecure, too! Todd’s behavior after the crash doesn’t help him out; he’s angry and even makes his lawyer wonder if he has mental problems. Elizabeth wonders, too, and even thinks that Todd’s the one who’s been leaving her notes. It turns out that Henry was actually William! He loaned Todd the car he keeps borrowing from Andrea, and he rigged it to crash. I’m not really sure why, though.

While Liz is at the police station, Tom and Jessica hang out at a park, and Tom ends up playing some football. He admits that he misses it. Back on campus, a guy named Bob calls Tom, saying he knows he’s a reporter and wants him to do a story about sports at SVU. More specifically, he wants Tom to find out how the other football players feel about James being kicked off the team for raping Maia. He suggests that Tom rejoin the team so he can report undercover. Tom decides this is a great, NOT AT ALL WEIRD idea. Elizabeth is mad that Tom made the decision without consulting her, like he needs to get her permission or something. I’m surprised he doesn’t tell her about going undercover.

The SVU mascot is something called Braino, and the guy who usually plays him has to have surgery, so he’ll be out of commission for a little while. Denise encourages Winston to try out to be his replacement. This is all contrivance for the second half of the book.

William leaves Elizabeth more mutilated dolls, which she still thinks are from Todd. I don’t know why he would get released from the police department and then bring her dolls, but whatever. Todd’s been suspended and has to move off campus. He has no idea what dolls Liz is talking about. More dolls show up later, and Elizabeth tells Jessica that she thinks Todd is messing with her. Jess is the first to suggest that it might be William.

The twins call his institution but are told that he can’t come to the phone. Their strange logic makes them think that that means he’s there. I don’t know. It’s really because Andrea is still keeping William’s little escapes secret, and has been keeping his messages from Celine from him.

Speaking of Celine, she’s still trying to help William, even though she can tell he’s getting creepier and creepier. He asks her to get rid of the wheelchair he was using while he worked at the library. She’s not sure she wants to keep helping him, so he uses a Barbie to threaten her. Celine goes to the institution to see William, and Andrea sees them kissing. When she confronts him later, he kills her. Then he steals a car, drives it into the gorge around the institution (I knew it was a bad idea to have one of those!), and fakes his death.

A guy named Tim calls Danny to suggest that he get a bunch of Tom’s friends together to go to the football team’s big game against State. I’m not sure why none of Tom’s friends thought of this, since the game is a pretty big deal. Nice friends, huh?

Liz still thinks Todd is leaving the dolls, since William is “dead” and Todd is still hanging around. “Dead” William is actually back at the library, drinking champagne with Celine to celebrate his freedom. Except the champagne is just a way for William to poison Celine and get rid of anyone who can rat him out. Later, Todd spots William (who he thinks is “Henry”) at the bar where he’s working and living, and chases him but can’t catch him. When he gets to his apartment, he finds Celine’s comatose body. When the police show up, Todd bolts.

William goes to the hospital to pay Celine a visit (and finish her off). He disguises himself to look a little like Todd so if anyone sees him, they’ll think that’s who he is. He almost finishes Celine off, but he gets spotted and has to run. His plan works, however, and everyone thinks Todd was at the hospital to kill Celine. Elizabeth and Alex disagree about whether he’s capable of something like that. Noah goes to the institution to talk to William’s doctor, Dr. Hemphill, but that’s just another contrivance.

Anyway, football! The twins, Danny, Isabella, Alex, Noah, Denise, Winston, Nina, Bryan, and Maia are all going to go to the game together and surprise Tom. But Winston and Denise will be going as Braino and…Braino’s assistant, I guess – Winston gets the role. Later, he sort-of-jokingly-but-kind-of-seriously proposes to Denise, who only gets the sort-of-jokingly part of it. Whatever, Winston, you’re too young.

Football fever spreads across campus, and everyone buys Braino masks. This works out well for William, who can move around undetected. He alters his plan a little, deciding to spare Jessica. Todd also tries to move around undetected, trying to find out who’s leaving Elizabeth the dolls. He’s not much help.

On game day, Tom confirms that this story he’s doing for Bob is totally legit and he’ll get paid and everything. You keep telling yourself that, Tom. Everyone else prepares to take a van to the game, except Winston, who has to drive the Brainomobile. While he’s getting that car ready, William knocks him out. Jessica shows up to give him something and gets knocked out, too. Later, Winston delivers the van to the others, but it’s clearly William pretending he has a sore throat. Darn those Braino masks, concealing everyone’s features! He tells the others that Jessica’s not going to the game.

The only problem with this plan is that now William has to be Braino. He screws up his act with Denise, who thinks “Winston”‘s mad that he has to work with a partner. Dude, he told you he loved you and proposed! What’s your damage?

Then there’s football, but before things can get too boring, Tom gets a concussion and has to leave the game. While Danny and Noah are chatting with him in the locker room, they realize that Bob, Tim, and Dr. Hemphill all have the same last name. They decide that Elizabeth is in danger, so they tell “Winston” to take her back to campus in the Brainomoble while they head back in the van. Oops! They’ve done exactly what William wanted them to do.

In the car with “Winston,” Elizabeth slowly realizes that something is off. When she tells him he’s acting crazy, he flips out, because there’s nothing a crazy person likes less than being called crazy. The others load up the van and find someone in the luggage compartment: Winston. Poor guy was stuck there the whole day. Unfortunately, the group still thinks Todd is the one they’re trying to protect Liz from. Meanwhile, back at SVU, Jessica is freed from the closet where William stashed her, but she doesn’t see her savior. My money’s still on Mike.

Back on the road, which happens to be winding and treacherous and on a cliff, of course. William reveals himself to Elizabeth and commits the ultimate villain sin: telling her his plans. He was going to kill everyone, frame Todd, and flee the country with Liz. Elizabeth thinks fast, pulling William’s mask down so he can’t see, then grabbing the steering wheel and crashing the car. They drive into the side of a cliff, where William is killed. Allegedly. (Hey, I know two of the books in this series have his name in their titles. I’m not as dumb as Liz.)

But the drama isn’t over! Todd was suspicious the whole time, so he went to the game and followed the Brainomobile when William and Elizabeth left. The people in the van catch up with Liz and Todd, but it soon becomes clear that William tampered with their brakes. Then they see Todd and think Elizabeth is in danger. Todd and Liz try to direct the van to a road away from the cliff, but Danny (driving the van) thinks Todd kidnapped Elizabeth. Liz tells Todd to take his hands off the steering wheel so everyone can see that he’s not holding her at gunpoint. That Liz, always thinking.

In case you were worried that this book would end with a dozen fiery deaths, it doesn’t. Elizabeth gets Danny to realize that he needs to let Todd pass so they can follow him. Despite his reservations, Danny does so. But then there’s more drama! They’re going up a hill, and they’ll start rolling backwards and off the cliff! I…don’t understand. It would have made more sense if they almost drove off the cliff, and everyone had to get out of the van before it fell.

No time for logic – we need more drama! Everyone’s getting out of the van when Danny suddenly has an attack of the chickens. Tom can’t get him to budge, so he punches him in the face, knocks him out, pulls him out, and ends up knocking himself out. I’ve lost count of how many people lose consciousness in this book. A while later, Elizabeth wraps things up with some exposition that doesn’t really matter. And then she finds out that William left his whole estate to her. Which doesn’t matter, since we know he’s not really dead, but that’s for another day.

Thoughts: For Christmas, Ned and Alice gave Elizabeth gold silk pants and a matching jacket. Do they hate her?

William has convinced Andrea that he’s a political prisoner and the country’s trying to keep him from exposing terrorists in the government. Well, yeah. I mean, who wouldn’t fall for that?

Everyone rides to the game in a purple van. Was it Crunch’s?

I have to quote melody_powers from 1bruce1 re: William and Barbies:

Okay, time out. I want you all to do something with me. Close your eyes and visualize a busy Toys ‘R’ Us. Something by Hannah Montana is playing over the sound system, little kids are running around and screaming, and there are people with plastic nametags selling loud electronic toys to frazzled parents.

Now, standing in a long line at a cash register is William White, looking kind of crazy but holding it together because he’s in public. His arms are overloaded with hot pink Barbie doll boxes, stacked so high they almost reach the top of his head.

Seriously, imagine it. Hannah Montana. Screaming kids. William White. Barbies.

Awesome.

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?

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