December 8, 2015

SVU #47, You’re Not My Sister: Elizabeth Has No Time for Your Psychological Breakdown

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:21 pm by Jenn

At no time in this book is Jessica ever this put-together

At no time in this book is Jessica ever this put-together

Summary: Liz has FINALLY filled her parents in on Jessica’s condition, and they’ve taken her home to get her some help. Ned, Alice, and Steven wonder why Elizabeth didn’t notice sooner that Jess was such a wreck. Instead of admitting that she did notice, and just tried a bunch of ineffective things to snap her out of it, Elizabeth whines that she has a life and can’t be with her twin 24 hours a day. Never mind that she WAS with Jessica 24 hours a day, or that everything Elizabeth was doing that wasn’t about Jess was dumb. Liz has a hissy fit and goes back to school.

Jessica sees someone outside her window and thinks it’s her guardian angel. She spends most of the book on this topic, making people think she’s either seeing things or that she has a stalker. Steven actually has a smart idea, wanting to call the police, an especially good move since we know Nick was killed by a guy with some pretty dangerous connections, and it would be reasonable to fear that they would come after Jessica, too. Also, we know she’s being watched, since we keep getting sections from her stalkers point of view. He’s trying to find a moment when he can get her alone.

When Elizabeth gets back to school, she goes to see Mike, because why should Jessica’s mental health be more important than Liz’s barely-first-base action? They make out a little, but Liz balks at going any further. Partly it’s because Mike slept with her sister, which is, admittedly, weird. But she’d still rather hang out with Mike than answer any of Jessica’s messages.

Ned and Alice’s big solution for Jessica’s problems is to bring over a psychiatrist and give Jess the sedatives he prescribes. Amazingly, Jess doesn’t get better! She gets a little crazier every day, mainly because Elizabeth won’t talk to her. Jess worries that something bad happened to her like it happened to Nick.

Liz is sent to L.A. to cover a story about an extreme-sports TV network, which is hosting some sort of competition. (This will come up in the next book.) Mike tracks her down there and they come very, very close to hooking up. Elizabeth wants to, since everyone sees her as a prude, and she wants to prove that she can have a purely physical relationship. Yes, Liz, this is a perfectly mature response to people being mean to you. Elizabeth panics over buying condoms and realizes she’s not ready for sex. Especially sex with her sister’s ex-husband.

Back in Sweet Valley, Jessica is worse than ever – she thought Elizabeth was coming for a family dinner, but Liz doesn’t show up. Jess tries to call her at her hotel, but Mike has asked the receptionist not to put through any calls. This just makes Jess even more worried that something bad has happened to her twin. She sees her guardian angel again, but now her family thinks the sedatives are making her hallucinate. So…maybe have her stop taking them? No? You’re not going to do that? Okay.

The guardian angel leaves Elizabeth a note letting her know that Jessica needs her. Thanks for your help, angel! This sends Liz back home, where the sisters make up. Then Jess gets really clingy, which is unsettling. She tells Elizabeth all about her angel, leading Liz to tell her she needs to get over Nick’s death already. Thanks for helping, Liz! She continues that she has a life and can’t waste her time dealing with Jessica’s stupid problems, like depression and possible psychosis because her boyfriend was murdered. I mean, Jess is such a drama queen, right? Like, move on already!

Somehow, Jessica doesn’t punch her sister in the face. Instead, she says Elizabeth is right, and she appreciates what Liz has done for her. You mean how she abandoned you? I know, that was great of her, right? I think this is all supposed to seem like Elizabeth was using tough love on her sister, but it’s more like she’s selfish and didn’t want to have to deal with Jess, so she ignored her until Jess came to her senses.

Then Elizabeth starts to do something useful: She wants to get Jess’ expulsion from SVU revoked. She and Nina (who has temporarily moved into the twins’ dorm room because Liz is lonely, and because Nina needs something to do) decide to use the angle that Jess is suffering from a mental-health disorder and should be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The school should have noticed that something was wrong and done more to help her. Never mind that ELIZABETH didn’t do more to help Jess. Also, they didn’t give her a fair expulsion hearing, which is the only part of this I will go along with.

Liz and Tom once did a story about the ADA, so she goes to him to get their notes. While they’re working together, and actually getting along again, Lila calls (more on that later). Elizabeth thinks Tom is getting ready for a super-special date with a super-special lady, which sets off her poor-me-I’m-so-neglected siren. You broke up, Liz. You were two seconds from having sex with Mike. Chill out.

Armed with what must be pretty flimsy information on the ADA, Elizabeth and Steven come up with a plan. She approaches the dean and threatens to sue the school if Jessica’s situation isn’t reviewed. There’s no resolution in this book, but I think we can all expect Jess to be reinstated at SVU, though hopefully they’ll have her go through an extensive psychological evaluation first.

Meanwhile, Jessica decides that her sedatives are messing with her head, so she stops taking them. Then she decides that since she stopped seeing the angel when she quit the pills, there must be a connection, so she starts taking them again. Then she decides to just take a bunch and take care of the whole situation altogether. She leaves Elizabeth a goodbye message and then starts having weird dreams or visions or something. Elizabeth gets the message and heads back to Sweet Valley.

The angel finds Jessica outside the house, and Jess finally realizes it’s Nick. Yes, friends, Nick faked his death to save his own life, but didn’t tell Jessica because he knew she’d never let him go, and the truth would put her in danger. Somehow this is better for her? Whatever, Nick. He tells her he’s okay, and that he’ll always love her. Fortunately, Elizabeth finds Jessica before the pills kill her, and I assume she’s okay even after overdosing on sedatives. At least now she knows her dead boyfriend isn’t really dead. Hooray, she’s cured!

Danny’s having a really tough time with Isabella gone. He’s getting drunk every night to try to forget her, but it still doesn’t take his mind off of the fact that he might never see her again. Tom thinks he would feel better if he were allowed to talk to Isabella, so he sets out to find out which clinic her parents took her to. He makes some calls, but can’t get any answers, not least because he doesn’t speak German or French. Finally he realizes that Lila might know where Isabella is. But Lila won’t give up the information without a catch: Tom has to come on a double date with her, Bruce, and a prospective student named Chloe Murphy.

Tom reluctantly goes on the date, thinking Chloe will be just like Lila. But Chloe’s not like other girls! She reads the New York Times! She’s interested in things other than clothes and country clubs! Tom really hopes she decides to come to SVU when she finishes high school. Keep it in your pants, Tom.

As for Danny, he calls the clinic, but Isabella’s father won’t let her talk to him, even when Isabella says she wants to. Mr. Ricci thinks everyone at SVU is on drugs, and that Danny’s a bad influence on his daughter. Danny wishes he’d never made the call in the first place. He goes back to drinking, and is offered drugs by a guy at a bar. Even though drugs are what took Isabella away from him in the first place, he contemplates taking some.

Dana starts out the book thinking that she wants to take things slowly with Todd. That doesn’t last long. After a run-in with Elizabeth, who tells Todd that Dana’s a bad choice in girlfriends, Dana throws out her plans, and she and Todd start going at it like bunnies. Then she starts talking about marriage and makes him panic. Oops!

Thoughts: For the record, Prince Albert is still alive.

“It’s macho jerks like Patman who make it harder for the rest of us.” Tom, sweetie, you’re a macho jerk, too.

“That way we can get on with our relationship, and you can get on with being lonely and bitter…or whatever it is you do when you and Tom Watts aren’t busy with your tedious little on-again, off-again love-hate drama.” I have newfound respect for Dana.

Chloe’s taking a feminist-law class, which means she really shouldn’t spend any more time with Tom.


November 24, 2015

SVU #46, I’ll Never Love Again: Dr. Elizabeth Wakefield’s Surefire Cures for Depression

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 5:09 pm by Jenn

This isn't indicative of depression. Everyone in college looks like this

This isn’t indicative of depression. Everyone in college looks like this

Summary: Never mind that Jessica’s boyfriend died not long ago and she’s barely functioning – Lila thinks she should worry about being kicked out of the Thetas. Jessica’s so far gone that I’m surprised she remembers who the Thetas are. Elizabeth, Denise, and Alex are in favor of Jess being allowed to stay in the sorority, but considering the fact that Alison is the sister leading the charge against her, the odds aren’t in her favor.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth has developed a little crush on the frat guy she danced with at a recent party, but when she has an actual conversation with him, she realizes he’s nowhere near her type. She also meets a guy named Lachlan who she actually has something in common with (they both like Walt Whitman), but she thinks he has a girlfriend. You know this is a weird book when Elizabeth’s the one crushing on various guys. Mostly this means that Liz is getting tired of taking care of Jessica, because it’s taking away time she could be spending flirting.

Elizabeth helps Jessica write a paper about Heidegger for Professor Malika, who pretty much hates Jessica and wants to shame her for being in a class that’s over her head. In the library, Liz runs into Lachlan, who tells her he doesn’t have a girlfriend…but then he sees a picture of Jessica and Nick, mistakes Jess for Liz, and thinks Liz is in a relationship. So much for that. Maybe if Elizabeth were paying attention to her sister instead of flirting, she would realize that Jessica thinks Nick’s ghost is following her, and that a philosophy paper is the last thing she should be worrying about. (For the record, Jess is being followed, but not by a ghost.)

Apparently Jessica has never written a college paper before, because Elizabeth has to tell her how to do it. She uses makeup as a metaphor, telling Jess she needs to put on foundation (i.e., write an outline) before she can put on blush and eyeshadow (i.e., write the thing). Somehow this clicks with Jess, who gets right to work. But because Jessica is two sandwiches short of a picnic, she just plagiarizes stuff and thinks she’s writing it herself.

Liz starts to proofread Jessica’s paper and quickly realizes that she copied pieces of it. But before she can bring it to Jess’ attention, she sees Tom’s editorial (see below) and gets distracted. So Jess turns in the paper and starts feeling better. Elizabeth decides to keep her on that track by having a barbecue at Theta House. When Jessica shows up, wearing clothes she clearly doesn’t care about, the Thetas see that she’s really gone downhill. Not that they come up with any suggestions for ways to help her, of course.

Elizabeth goes for a drive, but the Jeep breaks down and has to be taken to a garage. In the coincidence to beat all coincidences, the mechanic on duty is our old pal Mike McAllery. Liz has apparently forgotten anything bad she ever thought about Mike, because now she wants to catch up with him. Also, she realizes he’s hot. Mike expresses concern over Jess and asks if he can do anything to cheer her up.

Professor Malika summons Jessica to his office so he can tell her how awesome her paper was. He’s impressed that a student at her level would understand such profound concepts and express such well-formed thoughts. In fact, they’re so profound and well-formed that he’s pretty sure she plagiarized them. They’ll need to meet with the dean, and Malika will recommend that Jessica be expelled. To add insult to injury, this is the day Alison decides to let Jessica know that she’s been kicked out of the Thetas.

Elizabeth and Mike’s big plan for helping Jessica deal with her depression is…a picnic. Wow. I bet they spent a whole five minutes coming up with that idea. Elizabeth takes Jess to the beach to surprise her with the picnic and Mike’s presence. Jess mistakes Mike for Nick and breaks down. So the day isn’t off to a good start. It only gets worse when Jess is down through the whole meal and Elizabeth keeps telling her to cheer up. I wouldn’t fault Jess for throwing sand in her sister’s face right now.

Jessica leaves, and Mike tells Elizabeth they should let her be by herself for a while (even though it means she’ll have to find her own way home). Jess walks back to the dorm, stopping at a drugstore on the way. She sees sleeping pills and realizes that they could be the solution to all her problems. Meanwhile, Liz and Mike hang out on the beach, start developing some sort of weird attraction to each other, and kiss.

Jess is seconds away from overdosing on sleeping pills when she realizes that dying is no way to honor Nick. She will just have to get through her depression. In the morning, Liz sees Jessica’s sleeping pills and thinks Jess has killed herself. When Jessica wakes up, she doesn’t even remembering buying them. She gets ready for her meeting with Malika and the dean, but her clock is broken, so she’s late. Not that it matters – Malika has enough evidence of her plagiarism to get her expelled.

A clueless Elizabeth goes out with Mike, then comes home to find out that Jess has been expelled. She blasts Jessica for not fighting harder when she was accused of plagiarism. Jess tells her she’s done dealing with Elizabeth’s concern. Liz is all, “I’ve done all these things for you, to help you get through this!” as if Jessica asked for any of it, or could have benefited from Elizabeth’s form of “help.” Liz finally says that she has more important things to do with her time (like flirting and going out with Jessica’s ex-husband), so from now on, Jessica’s on her own. What a wonderful sister Elizabeth is.

A lot of bad things happen to Tom in this book, which makes me happy. He airs his editorial response to Elizabeth’s sex-is-bad essay, but because he’s a jerk, it’s mostly an attack on Liz for not giving it up. He complains that women have too much power, because they’re allowed to turn down men. He makes a fair point when he says that Liz got mad at him for having a relationship with someone else, but it’s Tom, and I don’t want to give him any points.

Basically, all the girls on campus turn on Tom, thinking he’s sexist (which he is). My only regret is that Elizabeth doesn’t get to see girls shoving him and glaring at him, which would help her realize that she’s much better off without him. Tom also gets in trouble for using WSVU to rail against a woman who done him wrong. When he sees Elizabeth just minutes later, he calls her a “frigid old maid,” which, yes, true, but also, shut up, Tom.

Danny is also having a bad week, but he at least deserves some sympathy, since his amnesiac girlfriend just went to Switzerland and he might never see her again. Danny and Tom go to a bar to drown their sorrows, but Danny gets so drunk that he mistakes a girl there for Isabella and almost gets pummeled by her boyfriend. Tom rescues him, which is the only good thing he does in this book.

Dana and Todd are quickly falling in luuuuuuuv, but they’re so worried about getting hurt that they’re hesitant to go out on a date. Plus, Todd’s still struggling with Gin-Yung’s death, and he’s afraid that going out with someone else would dishonor her memory. After a lot of awkward conversations, they finally go out, and even though the date doesn’t go well, they admit their feelings for each other and start to get it on in the car. How romantic.

Thoughts: Todd thinks Dana is “fabulous.” Take it down a notch, Todd.

Tom: “I’m not on any medication!” Danny: “That’s a decision you might want to rethink.” Danny went back to being awesome all of a sudden.

Elizabeth decides that she needs to tell Ned and Alice what’s going on with Jessica, but she never does. So do Ned and Alice ever check in with their kids? I wouldn’t be surprised if they moved away and didn’t tell their kids where they went.

“You’re so special,” Dana tells Todd as they’re making out. Who talks like that? (Though it reminds me of that time on Gilmore Girls when Logan tells Rory she’s special, and she replies, “Like, ‘stop eating the paste’ special?”

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.

November 19, 2013

SVU #8, Home for Christmas: Meet the Parents

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:58 pm by Jenn

Bryan, go away. You aren't even in this book

Bryan, go away. You aren’t even in this book

Summary: Steven is still unconscious in Mike’s kitchen, while Mike is oblivious (and also a little woozy from the gas) in the other room. Mike miraculously gets some feeling back in his legs and manages to save Steven’s life. As soon as Steven’s okay, the two of them are on the road to being friends. Mike has done a 180 and wants to be a better person. Also, he wants Jessica back. He even gets her a new engagement ring.

The first semester of the twins’ freshman year is almost over, so it’s time to make plans for Christmas break. Tom has no family, and he and Elizabeth can’t go five minutes without being all over each other, so she invites him to come to Sweet Valley for the holidays. There’s also going to be a high school reunion, and Liz wants to show off her new boyfriend. The Wakefield siblings head home with Tom and Billie in tow, agreeing not to tell their parents anything they’ve been up to in the last three months. Ned and Alice have no idea that Jessica got married and got an annulment, or that Steven was arrested.

Wackiness ensues, with Tom being klutzy and embarrassing himself all over the Wakefields’ house. Elizabeth sleeps with Tom on the pullout couch; their clothes stay on, but she’s starting to think about turning over that V card. Ned almost catches the lovebirds together, but Liz hides under the couch.

Thanks to her lack of personal-life drama (for once) and her sudden commitment to studying, Jessica does really well on her finals. She’s also getting closer to James, and she invites him to the reunion. But then Mike resurfaces, showing up at the Wakefields’ unexpectedly and asking her to take him back. For once in her life, Jessica makes an amazingly mature decision: Though she loves the idea of being married, she knows she’s too young, so she turns Mike down.

Then Jessica takes another mature step by telling her parents everything that’s happened in the past three months. Ned and Alice are furious that their kids lied, especially Jessica, who got married and never said anything about it. But they’re over it by the next morning, so it’s kind of a waste of time.

The last time we saw Todd and Alex, they were drunk and making out. When they wake up together the next morning, they’re hungover and don’t remember what happened. The hickies on Alex’s neck and the scratches on Todd’s back indicate that there was some nookie. That’s right, folks – Todd is no longer a virgin, and his first time WASN’T with Elizabeth. And also, now we know some things about Alex that we wished we didn’t.

Todd’s still in love with Elizabeth, and so screwed up over sleeping with Alex, being suspended from the basketball team, and losing the love of his life that he decides to drop out of SVU. Alex asks him to go the reunion, fantasizing about wowing everyone with her new personality and hot new guy. She’s a lot more mature about all the Elizabeth stuff, but only briefly. Todd and Liz have a conversation about where things stand between them, but knowing that she and Tom are happy together doesn’t make Todd love her any less.

The reunion rolls around, and for some reason Bruce is there, even though he was a year ahead of the twins in high school. It’s really only so he can keep bugging Lila about flying planes. They hang out together and actually enjoy each other’s company a little. I smell a love match! Meanwhile, Todd and Elizabeth try to make each other jealous by making out with their respective dates. Then he asks her to dance, which starts a face-off brewing. Tom doesn’t want Todd dancing with Elizabeth, and Alex doesn’t want Elizabeth to get her claws back into her ex.

While Jessica and Lila make bets on whether there will be violence (which is probably what I’d be doing if I were there), things get tenser. Todd gets controlling, trying to keep Elizabeth from going off to find Tom. Tom returns to “rescue” her, which leads to a fistfight between the guys. Todd is no match for Tom (who, remember, used to play football), and he ends up unconscious. Elizabeth awesomely tells Alex that Todd is her problem now, then leaves to go make up (and make out) with Tom.

In boring plot news: Liz gets some creepy phone calls, mostly likely from William. She also gets a broken angel with a note saying, “If I can’t have you, no one will.” She’s not nearly as freaked out as she should be.

Thoughts: Why is SVH having a reunion? They only graduated six months ago!

Ned and Alice not knowing about Steven’s arrest is ridiculous. I’d be ticked, too, if my kids kept something like that from me.

“‘I mean, the doctors said I probably shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machinery….’ He glanced down at the steering wheel, pretending to be confused. ‘Uh-oh.'” Steven made a funny!

I refuse to believe that Elizabeth doesn’t have all of her Christmas presents bought and wrapped by Thanksgiving every year.

Ned: “Why did I even bother as a father?” Uh, you didn’t. You suck as a father. Why are you so surprised that your kids are screw-ups?

No one seems concerned that Olivia shows up at the reunion, so I guess they’re all cool with her being a zombie?

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



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 25, 2013

SVU #4, Anything for Love: Marry the Man Today, Trouble Though He May Be

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:07 pm by Jenn

This never happened. I don't think Jessica's even met Nina

This never happened. I don’t think Jessica’s even met Nina

Summary: Jessica and Mike have been living together for about a month, and she’s still under the impression that he’s Prince Charming and not at all five seconds away from smacking her the first time she talks back. He wants her to prove her love for him (always a red flag) by marrying him. Of course, Jessica says yes, because for Jess (to paraphrase Taylor Swift), when you’re 18 and somebody tells you they love you, you’re gonna believe them.

So the two lovebirds go off to Vegas and get hitched in a chapel full of cats. Awesome. When they get back from their honeymoon (camping – blergh), Steven yells at Jessica some more. She doesn’t tell him they got married, which ticks Mike off. Jess tries to tell her Theta non-friends (and Isabella), but they all hate her now.

Also, there’s a bigger problem: Parents’ weekend is coming up, and Ned and Alice are still in the dark about Jessica’s living arrangements, not to mention her secret marriage. She doesn’t want to tell them and keeps coming up with excuses. Isabella says she can pretend to move back in over the weekend so her parents don’t know she’s living with Mike. This sets Mike off – he thinks Jessica’s embarrassed by him.

It doesn’t help that when they run into Elizabeth and William, Jess doesn’t say anything about the marriage to her own twin sister. Mike’s a jerk, but he has a point here. Though he’s becoming more and more like the Hulk, so it’s not like Jessica’s wrong to want to keep her association with him quiet. Mike also hates William, and the feeling is mutal. Liz finds out that Jess and Mike are living together, and she’s pretty ticked that Jess and Steven didn’t tell her.

Parents’ weekend arrives, and Jessica has to juggle spending time with Ned and Alice while also attending to Mike’s every need. (He thinks her parents aren’t coming to visit.) When they all go to the apartment complex where everyone who isn’t in a dorm lives, they pass right by Mike. When Jess gets home that night, Mike is furious. He shoves her against a wall, then tells her to lock herself in the bathroom before he hurts her any worse. Elizabeth drops by later and finds the apartment trashed. She tells Jessica they’re leaving, but Jess says no, finally revealing that she and Mike are married.

Nina and Bryan are in the hospital after their assault; she’s okay but he’s in bad shape. Nina’s mom has convinced her to transfer out of SVU so she doesn’t have to deal with the racism and hate crimes. Elizabeth is sad, because Nina’s her only friend. (Her former best friend, Alex, spends the entire book grumbling over how Liz ruined the athletes’ lives with her story about illegal recruitment. Shut up, Alex. Just because you and your boyfriend are fighting doesn’t mean Liz plotted to break you up.)

Elizabeth wants to expose SVU’s secret society, which is most likely behind Nina and Bryan’s attacks. Tom’s against it, though, partly because he’s been getting threatening notes warning him to drop the investigation. The notes all include a broken star. Tom’s inner monologue lets us know that he knows exactly who’s behind the secret society. Liz decides she’ll just investigate by herself. It takes her, like, four years to figure out that the Sigmas aren’t behind the attacks; the secret society is.

Elizabeth talks to William about the investigation, and he tries to make her think Tom’s involved. Meanwhile, Celine finds Elizabeth’s notes on the attacks and tells Peter that she’s investigating. Tom lets Liz know that the secret society isn’t going to put up with her investigation without a fight, and in fact might get violent. Of course, Elizabeth isn’t going to back down. Unfortunately, her stubbornness gets Tom attacked.

Tom realizes that the best way to keep Elizabeth away from the investigation is to bring in someone she hates: Celine. He tells Liz she’ll be helping out. Celine thinks this means Tom likes her, and Peter thinks this means Celine’s two-timing him. Nina tells Liz that she recognized the voice of one of her attackers. They stalk Peter a little and determine that his voice is the one Nina remembers. Elizabeth is still going to investigate, and just let Tom think she’s not. She puts together some things Tom said with what they already know about the society, and starts to think Mike is the leader.

As Bryan starts to recover, he tries to talk Nina into staying at SVU. She eventually decides to stay, possibly partly because her mother wants her to leave so badly, and Nina doesn’t want to give her what she wants. Whatever, because Nina’s mom meets Bryan and ends up liking him. This was a waste of time.

Danny has become friends with Isabella, and he knows about her crush on Tom and wants to help them get together. He tells her that he and Tom will “run into” her at a pizza place, but Tom skips out, leaving Danny and Isabella to hang out together. Later, they pull the “running into” bit again, but Tom sees through it and leaves because he doesn’t want to deal with dating drama. Isabella and Danny are clearly going to end up together, and I’m all for it.

In other plots: Winston has no friends now that he’s not pledging the Sigmas, but Denise doesn’t care. They keep spending time together and boring me. Winston confesses that he told his parents he was dating Denise, so when they come for the weekend, they’ll think she’s his girlfriend. She agrees to go along with it. Alex and Todd are starting to miss Elizabeth, because who wouldn’t want to be friends with her?

Thoughts: Isabella’s favorite pizza is avocado, red onion, and black beans. How did she discover that she liked that combination? Was marijuana involved?

Mike calls Steven an “uptight android.” I’m so confused, in a the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend type of way.

Jessica’s first hint that Mike’s a bad guy should have been that he likes reggae.

I like Denise. And I really like the idea of Winston dating a girl who’s three times tougher than he is.

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