October 27, 2015

SVU Thriller, Deadly Terror: The Return of William White, Part II: The Phantom of the Library

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 5:12 pm by Jenn

That is some awful, awful modeling

That is some awful, awful modeling

Summary: William is back and better than ever! I mean worse, worse than ever. He tells Elizabeth that he wants to make up for all the horrible things he did (you know, like murder), and would especially like to earn her forgiveness. Half of his face is heavily scarred, so just pretend he’s the Phantom of the Opera. And things turned out great for him! Elizabeth is understandably skeptical, and just trying to wrap her mind around the fact that a guy she thought was dead is still alive.

William goes to a much-needed therapy session, where his psychiatrist, Dr. Denby, tries to remind him that he put Elizabeth through a lot, so expecting her to forgive him immediately is pretty unrealistic. William thinks she hates him because he’s ugly now. He has some plan in mind but won’t tell Dr. Denby what it is.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth calls the police, who admit that they never told her William was alive because she was already traumatized. But he’s supposedly drugged up and under lock and key with Dr. Denby. If Elizabeth thinks she saw him, she’s just a nutty girl. Jessica thinks Elizabeth should give William a second chance, arguing that the cops would get involved if he were really a threat. Yes, those reliable Sweet Valley police officers. They’re almost as helpful as Jessica.

Tom notices that Elizabeth is acting strangely, but she doesn’t tell him about William. Besides, she has something much more important to worry about – she’s helping out with some archiving project in the library basement. There’s a lot of stuff in the book about this project, but none of it is important. It’s just a reason for Elizabeth to hang out in dark passageways, and for Tom to get mad that they’re not spending enough time together. (Tom spends the whole book upset with Elizabeth for not being like his Cyber Dream version of her. He’s unbearable.)

William tracks down Elizabeth again and gives her a white rose. The next day, Tom sends her flowers, having been advised by someone at the TV station that they might make Elizabeth calm down. Elizabeth prefers the wildflowers William sends, along with a note asking her to meet him in the library basement. Elizabeth goes back and forth on whether or not she should meet him, but ultimately doesn’t, thanks to a Jessica-related emergency (see below).

Tom sees William’s flowers and thinks Elizabeth’s cheating on him. He follows her and Jessica to the mall, where Liz catches him lurking and yells at him. Having been stood up, William goes back to Dr. Denby, who tells him to find a way to run into Elizabeth. William does, also running into Jessica for the first time (so at least now no one can say that Elizabeth has just imagined seeing William). Jess is all, “He was nice to me! You should go out with him!”

William throws pebbles at Elizabeth’s window that night and gets an invitation to her room. He tries to kiss her, but Elizabeth realizes how ridiculous this whole thing is and puts on the brakes. Tom is still being a creepy stalker and watches them through the window, sure that his suspicions are correct about Elizabeth being a cheating cheater. The two of them fight, and I really wish this were the end of their relationship for good.

Elizabeth finds a secret room behind a bookcase in the library basement (of course, right?) William tells Dr. Denby that he did something bad, but Dr. Denby thinks he can play dirty when he prize is his true love. I think Dr. Denby’s qualifications should be reviewed by the AMA. Elizabeth finally agrees to go on a date with William, who takes her to the library basement for a picnic. He’s been living down there and knows all the secret passageways because his grandfather designed the building, and he’s been hanging out there since he was a kid.

Elizabeth quickly notes that something smells gross, but she tries to ignore it so she can focus on getting back together with the guy who tried to kill her and her friends, I guess. But what William wasn’t counting on was Elizabeth’s inability to engage in any kind of intimacy beyond kissing. Elizabeth asks to move more slowly, and William has a tantrum, saying that Dr. Denby told him Elizabeth owes him, since everything bad that’s happened to him was her fault.

Elizabeth tries to go along with the crazy, saying that she’d like to meet Dr. Denby. William’s happy to oblige – in fact, she can meet him right now! He’s there in the basement! He’s the rotting corpse in the closet! Elizabeth decides to take a rain check on that meeting, but William won’t let her leave. And since it’s dark and Elizabeth isn’t familiar with the passageways, she can’t really get away from him. William chases her around, yelling that he’s going to scar her face, too, kill her, and then kill himself so they can be together forever. Fun times.

Elizabeth manages to find the bookcase that will get her out of the passageway and back to the basement, but as she’s running off, she trips over a gas pipe. Now she has to deal with a psychotic killer AND natural gas. William decides to use his lighter to try to find Elizabeth. Bad idea! As Tom arrives to talk to Elizabeth, the basement goes up. Elizabeth manages to get out without any injuries, and she and Tom are so happy to see each other that their fight is immediately over. William is considered dead in the explosion. No one bothers to follow up. Good police work, SVPD!

Jessica’s plot stems from a book I didn’t read, Jessica’s Secret Diary, Volume III. Long story short: Over the course of SVH books 83 through 94, Jessica met a young producer/director named Charles Sampson who wanted her to star in his movie, Checkered Houses. She helped Charles get the movie off the ground but didn’t act in it because Sam didn’t want her to. Also, Charles was totally in love with Jessica, despite the fact that he was in his 20s and she was 16, because there was no shortage of that in the SVH books.

So now Charles wants to take Jessica to the Independent Movie Awards, since his usual date can’t make it. Jess would never pass up this kind of opportunity, so she gets to work finding a spectacular dress (even though she doesn’t have much money). She goes shopping with Lila, who’s really annoying in this book, though she’s fed up with Jess, so I guess I can relate. Jessica wants a really expensive necklace to go with her dress, so Lila suggests that she convince the owner of the jewelry store to loan it to her and get free publicity in exchange.

Jessica doesn’t think she can make the deal on her own, so she asks Elizabeth to come with her. Somehow they talk the owner into letting an 18-year-old college student borrow a stunningly pricey necklace. Unsurprisingly, the necklace promptly disappears from the twins’ dorm room. Jess blames the fault clasp on the necklace’s box and enlists Elizabeth to help her search the quad for it. When that proves fruitless, Elizabeth decides to ask Tom to make a be-on-the-lookout announcement on WSVU. Tom has no intention of helping her with anything, which, fair enough. I mean, he’s a jerk, but you don’t break up with a guy and ask him for a favor the next day.

So the twins ask William for help, and he’s more than happy to look for the necklace. If he can’t find it, he’ll even loan them money to pay for it. Elizabeth’s like, “Well, he’s the only one of my friends who’s offered a loan.” Yeah, because all of your friends are college students and don’t have that kind of money. Also, why would they loan you money to replace something your sister was dumb enough to lose? Whatever, because William “finds” the necklace, saving the day. It’s never confirmed, but I’m 99.999% sure he stole the necklace in the first place. Anyway, Jessica goes to the awards, Checkered Houses wins best picture, and all is well.

Thoughts: Lila’s very anti-purple for someone who was once in a club devoted to that color.

Oh, so William’s crazy? What a twist! Were we actually supposed to think he was reformed?

“There’s no way anyone down in those tunnels could have survived that blast.” Then I guess you shouldn’t waste time making sure!

May 5, 2015

SVT Super Edition #3, The Big Camp Secret: Saving Grace

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 8:07 pm by Jenn

Liz looks weird. Amy looks cute

Liz looks weird. Amy looks cute

Summary: For their 86th summer, the twins are going to camp for two weeks. Amy and Ellen are also attending, but Lila skips out at the last minute in favor of a trip to Paris. That seems like a much more Lila-like vacation than camp. I can’t imagine she’s a big fan of the outdoors. Anyway, that’s not really important; it just leaves an empty bed in the cabin. A friend of the twins’ named Grace was supposed to go to camp, too, but her parents are possibly getting divorced and Grace doesn’t want to bring up camp in case it makes them fight. They want to take separate vacations and leave her with her godmother. I don’t get why she can’t go to camp if they’re going to be gone themselves. This whole setup is really dumb.

So the girls go to camp, where they first thing their counselor is an annoying girl named Tina. Jessica short-sheets her bed, because in teen books, someone always knows how to short-sheet a bed. I remember reading how to do it, either in a BSC book or in the Paula Danziger book There’s a Bat in Bunk Five, but without a visual example, I completely forgot about it. Fortunately, though, the annoying girl isn’t a counselor; the girls instead get Jamie, a nice girl who seems perfectly suited for this job.

Really, the whole camp sounds like a preteen’s dream. There are tons of activities, no one seems forced into doing stuff they don’t want to do, the food isn’t too horrible, and almost everyone is nice. There’s only one problem: The boys’ camp is on the other side of the lake, and there’s no comingling. Jessica wants the two camps to have a dance, and she spends most of the book trying to drum up support. Of course Jess can’t go two weeks without male attention. She asks the camp director, Mrs. Edwards, about having a dance, and Mrs. Edwards says she’ll think about it.

At a campfire, Mrs. Edwards tells a ghost story about a nearby hill called Crying Moon Mountain. Two people were in love, they couldn’t be together, one of them died, etc. There’s supposedly a ghost in the cabin on the mountain. Elizabeth and Amy think that’s dumb, so Jessica peer-pressures them into checking the cabin out in the middle of the night. Now Elizabeth wishes she’d kept her mouth shut. During a treasure hunt, the girls meet another camper named Barbara, who’s apparently the only girl at camp who isn’t nice. She thinks everyone is beneath her, and she seems to be allergic to fun. Even Elizabeth can’t stand her.

That night, Elizabeth and Amy climb the hill to the cabin. Jessica accidentally scares them when she decides to tag along, feeling bad that she made them go up in the middle of the night. In the cabin, the girls are scared again when they learn it’s not empty. But there’s no ghost – it’s just Grace. She hopped on a bus to camp instead of going off with her godmother, who thinks she’s on a cruise with her mom. She’s staying in the cabin so no one knows she’s a camp stowaway.

The other girls want Grace to be able to experience camp like everyone else, so they take turns skipping activities and letting Grace participate in their place. She’s able to hide in plain sight by keeping her face hidden when Jamie’s around, or pretending she’s just staying in another cabin. Everyone who finds out plays along, because who doesn’t want the poor, sad kid to have a good time?

Well, Barbara, that’s who. She hates her cabin-mates, and she wants to bunk with the twins and their friends. She threatens to rat out Grace if they don’t let her move in and take Lila’s unused bed. The girls have no choice but to give in. Unfortunately, this gives Barbara the freedom to make them do her bidding in all sorts of ways. Instead of dressing up as hula dancers for a luau, they have to dress as clowns. And she throws a game of Capture the Flag just for the heck of it. I don’t know why you’d want to have a bunch of people you’re living with mad at you, but Barbara makes no sense anyway.

Somewhere in here, Jessica starts to circulate a petition to garner interest in her dance idea. Once a bunch of girls have signed, she decides to get some boys’ signatures. She paddles a canoe across the lake and hands off her petition to some boys, including Bruce and Jerry McAllister. They couldn’t care less about a dance, but a cute boy named Sandy shows some interest in both the dance and Jessica. Leave it to Jess to make a love connection while attending an all-girls camp.

Grace is apparently a pretty good artist, and she makes a sculpture of a horse. She and her friends are sad that she can’t enter it into a competition. The day of the contest, the girls see that Barbara has entered the sculpture of her own. She wins, and everyone decides this is the last straw. She’s been too mean to everyone, and now she’s stolen Grace’s artwork and put her own name on it. Barbara retaliates by threatening to out Grace if Jessica’s dance goes forward.

Grace is upset over all the trouble her presence has caused, and she decides she should leave camp and take away Barbara’s power. Her friends decide to leave her alone for the night; hopefully she’ll feel better in the morning and rejoin the camp activities. Meanwhile, Mrs. Edwards asks Jessica about the dance petition. Jess never told the boys that it was a secret, so they started bugging their counselors about when the dance was. The counselors asked Mrs. Edwards, who was confused because she’d never officially approved the dance. But it’s all good because she’d already decided it was a good idea. The dance is on, and Barbara can’t do anything about it, so nyah nyah.

Just before the dance, Barbara delivers a note she found from Grace, explaining that she’s going to walk to the bus station and go home. But there’s a huge thunderstorm, and the girls worry about her walking around while it’s unsafe outside. They call the bus station to find out if she’s gotten there, but she never showed up. The twins decide it’s time to tell Jamie and Mrs. Edwards what they’ve been hiding. The grownups aren’t pleased with the fact that Grace has been attending camp without her parents’ knowledge, but they’re more worried about finding her.

Everyone forms search parties, but Barbara can’t stop being a jerk for two seconds, so no one wants her to join them. She runs off, which means there are now two missing girls. Good job, Barbara! She heads up to the cabin, where she’s been hanging out during the day, crying over letters from her parents. Barbara’s parents, like Grace’s, are having a lot of problems, and they snark about each other to their daughter. So we’re supposed to feel bad for Barbara, because she has trouble at home, and I guess that’s supposed to excuse her horrible behavior.

It turns out that Grace is still at the cabin – she decided to wait out the storm there, then hurt her ankle and had no choice about leaving. She didn’t realize that people were looking for her. Barbara tries to make amends by revealing that she entered the sculpture in the contest so Grace could get the prize. Things are going well until Barbara learns that Grace read her parents’ letters. She’s too mad to care that Grace can relate, and could probably use someone to talk to who understands what she’s going through.

Barbara opts for the dramatic storm-out, but suddenly lightning strikes the cabin and it catches on fire. She runs back in to get Grace, who has somehow already passed out from smoke inhalation. Grace is so grateful that she no longer cares that Barbara is a brat. And now that Barbara’s received some positive attention, she’s okay. Grace’s parents are summoned to camp, and she finally tells them how she feels and stuff. She could have saved everyone a lot of trouble if she’d just talked in the first place instead of worrying about upsetting people.

Grace is allowed to finish out the camp session, which probably won’t be much fun with an injured ankle. While she’s reuniting with her parents, her friends are clueless about what’s been going on – all they know is that Grace was in the cabin when it caught fire, and Barbara was somehow involved. Barbara comes to tell them everything, but everyone’s mad at her and yells at her for a little while. Then everyone else leaves to see Grace, and Jessica tries to kick Barbara out of the cabin, throwing her things outside.

Grace tells everyone what happened, and how Barbara saved her life. Then she urges Barbara to tell all the other girls about her family troubles so they’ll understand why she’s been acting the way she does. They’ll probably still hate her, though. I guess then everyone forgives everyone, and all the girls enjoy the rest of their time at camp. And, of course, they get to go to the dance. Barbara makes a love connection with Jerry. Good for her? Now I just want to reread There’s a Bat in Bunk Five.

Thoughts: The girls get to put sheets on their beds instead of using sleeping bags. What kind of fancy camp is this?

They play Capture the Flag wrong. You’re not supposed to know where the other team’s flag is.

Barbara may be having a rough time at home, but being nasty without provocation is a good way to lose my sympathy. “They had started silly rumors about her, saying she was mean.” They’re not rumors if you’re actually mean, you brat. You can’t be mean to people and then complain when they’re mean back.

“It’s not a crime to have trouble at home.” Grace, please repeat that over and over through the rest of the series and into SVH.

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?

August 11, 2013

BH90210 6.13, Courting: Gossip Girl

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:56 pm by Jenn

"Dear Diary: Today I was awesome. Just like yesterday. Tomorrow, I plan to be even more awesome. Ha ha, like that's possible!"

“Dear Diary: Today I was awesome. Just like yesterday. Tomorrow, I plan to be even more awesome. Ha ha, like that’s possible!”

Summary: Kelly and Colin take Erin to eat at the Peach Pit before Kelly goes to court to support Donna. David thinks he should skip the trial and look after his sister, but Valerie’s sure she’ll be fine with Colin. Brandon and Susan arrive, and Valerie tells David that Brandon and Kelly hooked up while Susan and Colin were out of town for Thanksgiving. David advises her to keep that to herself. The trial requires Donna and her adorable dress to skip a trip with the other Rose Court finalists, because apparently that’s STILL GOING ON. But hey, at least she has Joe.

Brandon reports on the trial for the Condor, using a tiny, very ’90s laptop. The gang arrives as Joe’s lawyer dodges questions from the press about how the trial will affect Joe’s football career. The prosecutor offers a deal that would give Joe a suspended sentence and community service. Joe won’t take it since he can’t play football if he pleads guilty. Valerie sees Brandon and Kelly chatting and tries to convince David that it means something. David accepts that Kelly spent the night at the Walshes’, but that doesn’t mean she and Brandon had sex.

Ray shows up for the trial with LuAnn, and there are some awkward looks exchanged with Donna. Felice also comes to support her daughter. Kelly calls Colin to check on Erin, who’s having fun painting with him in the park. (Colin has younger brothers, so he’s used to taking care of kids.) Well, at least she’s having fun until she gets sad about missing her family. Donna testifies in court, and like her deposition, her explanation of what happened on Halloween makes Joe sound like the instigator. Suddenly, the defense attorney remembers how to lawyer, and the truth about Ray’s violent behavior comes out.

Brandon tells Steve that Colin got up early that morning to practice, even though he might not be allowed to play football anymore. Steve wants to take bets on the outcome of the trial, but Brandon has to remain impartial. Colin continues doing art with Erin, this time painting her portrait. She’s slowly turning into a handful. Brandon calls Susan to discuss his story, and she tells him the AP wants to pick it up, since he can get to the defendant. However, Joe’s lawyer doesn’t want him talking to the press.

Joe testifies, but has to admit that Ray didn’t injure Donna – in fact, Ray was the only person hurt. LuAnn’s all smug. Valerie is next called to the stand, which Kelly finds funny, since Valerie hardly ever helps other people. Val testifies as a witness to Ray and Donna’s fight in Palm Springs. After court, the gang goes to the Walshes’ house for dinner; Steve wants a celebration, but David doesn’t want to jump the gun. Valerie tells Brandon that she knows they hooked up on Thanksgiving. He basically tells her to stop talking before he ditches her as a friend.

Joe practices again the next morning, and Brandon meets him there to try to discuss the trial. Joe is extremely optimistic, saying that everything happens for a reason. He’s sure that things will work out in his favor. Everyone returns to court, and Donna’s nervous, but Felice thinks that Valerie’s testimony tipped the scales in Joe’s favor. Brandon corners Ray to plead with him to stop making himself out to be the victim, since the real victim is Donna. He needs to tell the truth and get the trial to end.

Donna is surprised to be recalled to the stand and questioned about the incident in Palm Springs. The prosecutor gets her to admit that she lied in her hospital admission form, saying that she fell. Since she lied to protect her former boyfriend, maybe she’s lying now to protect her new boyfriend. Donna feels horrible for possibly hindering Joe’s freedom, but he doesn’t blame her. Colin’s still on Erin duty, and Valerie finds it impressive, considering…

The next time Colin sees Kelly, he accuses her of cheating on him with Brandon. She admits to spending the night at the Walshes’, but nothing else. Colin doesn’t believe her, and the fact that he believes Valerie instead is pretty ridiculous. Through this whole fight, Erin has been in the bathroom, getting ready for a bath, so of course she falls into the tub and almost drowns. Colin gives her CPR and revives her.

Susan is so super-proud of her boyfriend on his first syndicated story. He’s totally going to be the next Edward R. Murrow because he’s smart and talented and can cook a perfect soufflé and his breath always smells like daisies. Also, he’s honest. Brandon decides to beat Valerie to the punch by telling Susan that Kelly spent the night at his house, but nothing happened. He didn’t sleep with Kelly because of his feelings for Susan. She’s not sure he’s telling the complete truth. Now that Colin’s saved Erin, he somehow no longer cares about what may or may not have happened between Kelly and Brandon, so they’re good.

Back to court for the third day of the trial. Kelly blasts Valerie for spreading gossip, warning that her behavior will get her in trouble one day. Ray is cross-examined, and poor Felice and Dr. Martin have to listen to him lie that he never hurt Donna. By which he means not on purpose. He says that if he ever hurt her, it was only because he loved her. Joe’s lawyer gets Ray to admit what really happened on Halloween. Now LuAnn isn’t so smug anymore. The case is quickly dismissed.

The prosecutor offers to put Ray in jail if Donna will testify against him. Instead, Donna tells Ray about the offer and just says he needs to try harder in his next relationship. Um, what? Brandon goes home to finish up his story, and Valerie admits that she told Colin about Thanksgiving. She asks forgiveness, claiming that she doesn’t gossip to hurt people. He basically tells her what Donna told Ray: “Don’t do it again.”

Speaking of Ray, he comes by the house to thank Brandon for setting him straight. Because Brandon is awesome and perfect and a hero, and if he’d been at the beach apartment when Erin almost drowned, he would have saved her in one breath, then flown her to the hospital like Superman. And when she got back, he would have baked a chocolate cake for her and rented out Disneyland so she could ride on all the rides as much as she wanted. Anyway, Ray’s going to leave town.

The day of the Rose Court final announcement, the gang gathers in Pasadena and discusses how Steve’s been taking bets. He may or may not have gotten a girl’s mother to bet against her. Donna’s friend Lisa is crowned Rose Queen, and though the gang is disappointed that Donna didn’t win, Donna’s thrilled just to be there. Joe thinks she would have done better if she hadn’t been distracted by the trial. Donna tells him and her parents that she wouldn’t change anything. Then we end on Brandon finishing his story, because it’s ALWAYS ABOUT BRANDON.

Thoughts: Of course Brandon saves the day. OF COURSE.

I think Erin may have been aged, probably because they needed someone to have conversations with Colin. She’s…not very good, though. Her eyes are open when Colin starts to give her CPR! Also, I think she might have fake eyelashes.

I used to proofread legal transcripts for a living, which gave me the ability to spot believable courtroom scenes, and the ones in this episode are believable (unlike Donna’s deposition in the last episode). There’s one big screw-up, though: At the end of the trial, the judge dismisses the jury…but there was no jury. Oops!

Thanks for being a completely useless Greek chorus, Steve and Clare. Keep up the great work!

August 7, 2012

SVH #125, Camp Killer: And Then Suddenly There’s an Axe Murderer

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 10:00 pm by Jenn

I love that guy with the axe. His name’s Cobra!

Summary: The first two books in this mini-series were about Elizabeth hooking up with Joey, Jessica hooking up with Paul, Nicole being a horrible person, the kids being brats, Lila finding her male counterpart, etc. For some reason, the third is about an axe murderer.

But first, color war! It’s a book about summer camp, after all. Elizabeth and Nicole are the team captains, and Nicole fixes things so Joey’s on her team. Somehow Elizabeth finds out and switches him back, though that’s never explained. Nicole also wants to mess with Liz by sending Todd a picture of her kissing Joey, but Maria stops her and tells her to find a new hobby, because as it turns out, Maria is quite awesome.

Jessica goes to visit Paul again, and when they go back to camp, they decide to play a prank, making everyone think Crazy Freddy (an axe murderer from a camp story) is real. The plan is ruined when Jessica and Paul’s sister Tanya are kidnapped by a real axe murderer. I did not make that up. Jessica’s smart enough to pull off Tanya’s friendship bracelet as they’re dragged off, to indicate to people that something’s wrong.

Joey heads off to play hero, and Elizabeth and Nicole both go after him. They barely stop fighting long enough to not let each other die. Joey gets himself knocked out by the axe murderer (Cobra! I love it!), but Paul overpowers the guy, thanks to a diversion caused by Nicole and Elizabeth. Nicole further proves to not be as horrible as she seemed by letting herself get captured so Liz can save the others.

In what I guess is supposed to be comic relief, Lila and Bo go out to look for Jessica and Tanya, but they get lost and wind up spending the night in the woods. A crop-dusting pilot finds them but won’t take them back to camp because a) his boss is a jerk about schedules and b) this guy is clearly a jerk, too, because hello! Stranded people! Have a heart! The pilot calls his brother, for some reason, and the brother recognizes Bo and Lila’s names because they’ve been ordering food from his delivery service all summer. And then they invest in the pilot’s company, and I bet that will never come up again.

So there’s a happy ending, right? Sort of. Liz and Nicole are okay, and Nicole decides she doesn’t want Joey after all, so she’s okay with him being with Elizabeth. But Elizabeth doesn’t really want him either, since her heart belongs to Todd, or whatever. Jessica and Paul are still together, I guess. I don’t care. No one got axe-murdered, so it’s not a happy ending for me.

Thoughts: How do the people in these books never develop PTSD? Jessica was almost killed, but she’s totally fine ten minutes later. Wait, why am I looking for realism in SVH books? Again?

Lila’s defense of Bo paying people to do his chores: “He was providing jobs.” So Lila’s going to end up with a job as a political spin doctor, yes?

“She didn’t understand how she could be cheating on Todd, whom she’d loved for ages.” I love it that Elizabeth’s pretending this is the first time she’s done this.

The campers and counselors play Capture the Flag (of course), which reminds me of playing War on youth-group retreats when I was younger. It was basically Capture the Flag but with a military theme. Some players were designated “lieutenants” or “generals” (five-star, four-star, the whole shebang), and if you captured an officer from the other team, you got points. We also had “grenades” (I think they were balloons filled with paint) we could use to assult another team’s “fort.” We played in the woods after dark, and though we all had flashlights, the team leaders usually made us keep them off. I can’t believe no one ever got lost or horribly injured. I doubt we’d be allowed to play that game today without our parents having to sign sheets of paperwork.

April 14, 2012

BSC Super Special #13, Aloha, Baby-sitters!: The BSC, Hawaiian Style

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , at 5:04 pm by Jenn

I want to wear a grass skirt and hula on a beach in Hawaii like a dork, too!

Summary: The BSC girls (minus Kristy, Mallory, and Shannon; plus Logan and Robert) have raised all the money they need to go to Hawaii, so off they go. Jessi makes them all keep a journal of the trip for poor, unloved Mallory, which is why everyone gets a chapter:

  • Jessi spends the whole trip taking way too many pictures and writing down every little detail of the trip for Mallory. If I’d been with her, I would have hidden her camera and notebook.
  • Stacey and Robert aren’t getting along since he had the nerve to talk to another girl on the trip and Stacey’s uncharacteristically jealous. They go with a small group on a side trip that involves helicopter tours over a crater, and Stacey’s helicopter crashes. She and her group have to walk back to civilization, but the lack of food takes a toll on Stacey and she ends up passing out from low blood sugar. However, when she’s back with Robert, she sees how worried he was and they make up.
  • Mary Anne and Logan have decided to spend the trip TBI, together but independent, since their friends have been teasing that they spend too much time together. They avoid each other a lot but admit at the end of the trip that they wish they hadn’t, and they won’t try that again. Mary Anne also accepts a job sitting for a real Hawaiian family, who – shocking! – turn out to be like any other American family. Mary Ann is asked to sit again the next day, but instead she sends…
  • Claudia, who has been depressed for a lot of the trip. She’s just learned about the attack on Pearl Harbor and is uncomfortable with her Japanese heritage. She also wonders how Mimi, who was living in Japan during World War II, viewed the whole situation. When she sits for the Hawaiian family, she meets their grandfather, who’s Caucasian and served in the war. He tells her that he doesn’t have any animosity toward the Japanese, and in fact has Japanese-American friends. He also points out that the U.S. hurt Japan worse with the atomic bombs. After that, Claudia feels a lot better.
  • Dawn finds a little beach and enlists some local kids to clean it up.
  • Abby talks her way into a commercial for sunscreen by saying she’s on her school’s volleyball team (not true) and is 18 (SO not true). Karma gives her a sunburn.
  • Mallory and Kristy run a farm daycamp back in Stoneybrook, but Kristy’s barely in the book, other than to make everyone wear shirts advertising the club (yes, even in Hawaii). While at the park with a tantrum-throwing Jenny Prezzioso, Mallory encounters a woman who thinks she’s a horrible sitter and neglects her charges. The woman, Mrs. Wellfleet, even calls Kristy during a meeting to bash Mallory. Later on, Mallory takes her sisters to the park and catches Mrs. Wellfleet’s own son throwing a much bigger tantrum. Mal manages to be the bigger person and not rub it in the woman’s face.

Thoughts: Logan’s disappointed that they don’t get leis at the airport. I would be, too.

I think I’ve figured out why Abby’s so weird: She’s high from all of her allergy meds.

Trivia: Mary Anne is part Norwegian.

Before seeing sugarcane, Robert thought sugar was dug out of mines. What?

In the scene where Mrs. Wellfleet’s son is a terror, Margo Pike proves to be a wonderful kid. The boy steals the shovel she’s using, and at first she tries to be polite and tell him to return it. When he doesn’t, she finds something else to do. Then when he moves on to something else, Margo takes the shovel back. The kid gets mad, so she invites him to play with her. So out of eight kids, at least a couple Pikes are turning out all right.

I actually liked Claudia’s plotline. We don’t hear about her heritage a lot.

December 31, 2011

BSC Super Mystery #2, Baby-sitters Beware: Ice Ice Baby-sitters

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 1:05 pm by Jenn

This never happened, but whatever

Summary: Spooky stuff is happening to the BSC girls. First, Kristy and Abby see someone apparently breaking into the house next to the Rodowskys’. The police (including Sgt. Johnson) are called in, but the house’s owner doesn’t think anything was stolen. Then some of the girls get notes and phone calls saying, “You’re next.” Mary Anne sees a possible stalker outside her house, Kristy gets a rock through her window, someone starts a fire in the trash cans outside Claudia’s house, and Stacey almost gets run down by a car.

The girls are pretty sure this isn’t just some prank Cokie’s playing, but telling an adult or calling the police again would be foolish, so of course they don’t do that. At the library, Abby finds a copy of the article about the girls thwarting the pet-napping ring in the trash, and the girls see that the photo that ran with the article is of Claudia, Stacey, Kristy, Mary Anne, and Dawn. With the exception of Dawn, these are the only girls who have gotten threats.

There’s really only one lead: Stacey remembers seeing a sticker on the bumper of the car that almost ran her down. The girls figure out that it’s from the Stoneybrook Business Bureau, but from the previous year, not the current one. They get a list of members of the bureau for both years but don’t get a chance to do much with it. They decide to keep an eye on the house where the possible break-in took place.

Meanwhile, Kristy’s family is taking a weekend ski trip at Shadow Lake, and she brings Claudia, Stacey, and Abby along. They think they’re leaving all the madness behind in Stoneybrook, but they’re wrong. Claudia accidentally winds up on a closed trail (the sign stating it’s closed is hidden), and she and Abby almost get stranded there. Stacey gets stuck on a ski lift. Kristy is almost flattened by a snowblower. All possible accidents, but the girls are suspicious.

Mary Anne is sitting for the Rodowskys when she sees a second break-in at the house next door, this one for real. She calls the police (and Logan), and the story comes out that the son of the house’s owner was stealing stuff to sell. The guy has no connection to the BSC girls’ troubles and even says he wouldn’t mess with kids. So it’s a red herring, but Mary Anne still solves a mystery.

The BSC members still in Stoneybrook gather for a weekend meeting and finally get around to looking at the list of Business Bureau members. Jessi realizes that one of the people who was a member the previous year but not currently is Karl Tate, the head of the dog-napping ring. A call to Sgt. Johnson lets the girls know that Tate is now out of jail. Mary Anne calls the girls at Shadow Lake and tells Stacey that Karl Tate is free, but there’s a blizzard coming, and the phone goes out before Stacey can hear more than his name.

Watson, Mrs. Brewer, and the little kids head into town for supplies while Kristy, Stacey, Claudia, Abby, Sam, and Charlie stay back to ride out the blizzard. A neighbor, Woodie, encourages them to go to the main lodge, but the teens decide to stay put. That is, until their chimney gets blocked and the cabin fills with smoke, forcing them out. They’re already on edge, what with the weirdness going on, and the fact that Stacey has spotted a woman they’ve seen before, Kris, lurking around with a gun. They decide to tell Sam and Charlie what’s going on once they all get to the main lodge with Woodie.

Back in Stoneybrook, Mary Anne, Logan, and Shannon take Shannon’s dog Astrid for a walk. Astrid chases a cat into Tate’s house, so the teens follow her inside to get her. They end up accidentally locking themselves in Tate’s study, where they find the photo from the article, this time with a big X through it. Then Mrs. Tate comes home and tells the teens that he needs to be stopped.

As the girls, Sam, Charlie, and Woodie head to the main lodge, Karl Tate appears and Abby knocks him out with a big chunk of ice. (Nice.) Next, Kris arrives, and the girls learn that she’s an FBI agent tailing him for violating the terms of his parole. (Just go with it.) Kris takes Tate away, and the others continue their trek to the main lodge. Suddenly, Woodie grabs Stacey and threatens to throw her in the freezing lake. He’s Tate’s son, and he’s basically been driven crazy by what a bunch of teenagers did to his father. Kristy thinks fast, throwing a flare at him, and he falls into the lake.

In the post-madness wrap-up, the girls learn that Tate came to stop Woodie, not to hurt them. And Kristy actually gets in some trouble for not telling her parents what was going on. But I doubt anyone will learn a lesson there.

The subplots, both boring and not (mostly boring):

  • Claudia thinks Abby is full of herself, since she keeps talking about what a good skier she is. Everyone else knows that Abby’s just a jokester and doesn’t really think she’s better than anyone. Claudia’s cold to Abby until their experience on the closed trail, and after that, they’re fine.
  • Mallory’s parents are putting in insulation at home, so she and Jessi have to skip the ski trip to watch her siblings. Mal is really ticked about this and doesn’t hide it well. She mopes around until Jessi tells her to cut it out. Mallory does occupy herself by putting together the club’s mystery notebook.
  • Mary Anne is mad at Logan because she’s been getting notes in his handwriting telling her not to cry. Logan’s also acting weird, which she thinks is evidence of his guilt. It turns out he’s also getting notes, seemingly in her handwriting, accusing him of lying. They work things out but never figure out who sent the notes. They figure it was probably Cokie.
  • Kristy is worried about Watson, thinking he’s doing too much since his heart attack. She keeps trying to do things for him so he’ll take it easy, finally telling him straight out that she’s worried. He assures her that his doctor said he’s doing really well and can even start exercising regularly. Kristy admits that she doesn’t want Watson to leave like her father did. It’s actually very sweet.
  • Kristy tells Stacey that Sam and his girlfriend have broken up, so Stacey’s worried that he’ll pursue her even though she’s dating Robert. Sam tells her that he thinks of her as a close friend now, though he doesn’t mind keeping his flirting skills sharp with her.

Thoughts: With the way she eats, I can’t believe Claudia still has Halloween candy in December.

When Claudia, Stacey, and Mary Anne smell smoke in Claudia’s house, Mary Anne opens the pantry. In case the canned goods have committed arson?

Abby coming up with Agatha Kristy made me giggle.

Jessi cracks the case on Karl Tate, so good for her. Junior officers are good for something after all.

Shannon’s presence in this book, however, is almost completely pointless. She’s only useful because of her dog. Ironic, though, that a pet-napper’s son was partly undone by a dog.

It’s a little funny that Dawn was really the person who sent Tate to jail, but she wasn’t one of Woodie’s targets.

October 12, 2011

SVH #102, Almost Married: Playing House

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 10:30 pm by Jenn

I feel your pain, Jess

Summary: Ned and Alice are going out of town, as are Todd’s parents, so he decides to move into the Wakefields’ house for the week for a sort of practice marriage with Elizabeth. (Don’t freak out – he’s sleeping on the couch. You know Elizabeth Wakefield would never share a bed with someone unless they were married or both wearing five layers of clothes.) Jessica will only keep quiet about it if he does all her chores and makes her dinner every night.

Elizabeth is flipping out because of the picture she found of Hank and Alice, which she’s told Jessica about. She’s sure that Alice and Hank were once married, and Bruce is sure that they’re now having an affair. Elizabeth and Bruce keep meeting up to talk, and they start to think they’re developing feelings for each other. Because Elizabeth is spending so much time with Bruce, Todd feels jealous and lonely. Also, people keep finding out about him living at the Wakefields’, so it’s not so much of a secret anymore.

Todd gets clingy, and Elizabeth gets frustrated, so she starts avoiding him and making up reasons to see Bruce. Todd also complains when the twins decide to throw a pool party, acting like he really lives there and gets a say in what happens at the house. Pamela has also noticed all the Liz/Bruce closeness, and at the party, she decides it’s time to cut her man loose. Bruce pouts for about two seconds, then immediately goes to make out with Elizabeth. Which Todd sees, of course.

There’s a big fight, Todd leaves, and Elizabeth decides to go for a swim. She almost drowns but Todd comes back and saves her. He’s realized that he wasn’t listening to her or communicating with her in an appropriate way. Seriously, zero real teenagers act like Todd. Anyway, Liz’s near-drowning solves everything, so they’re okay. Then Alice comes home early and the twins confront her about the photo and her possible affair. She tells them the real story and promises that she’s not cheating. Now Bruce wants to get his parents back together. Like anyone cares about them.

Thoughts: I can’t believe Ned and Alice are okay with leaving the twins home alone after what happened the last time. Oh, right, horrible parents. I forgot.

First of all, there shouldn’t be a wedding picture of Alice and Hank if they didn’t get married. The bride and groom usually wait until after the wedding to take photos together; otherwise they break the tradition of the groom not seeing the bride in her dress before she walks down the aisle. Second of all, would you keep a non-wedding picture of yourself with a guy you didn’t marry after you’ve moved and married someone else? Does Ned know about this picture?

Sweet Valley now has a Laundromat/video store/cappuccino bar. Quick, name three things no one associates with each other ever. But actually, it’s a great idea for a business: You can watch a movie and have coffee while you wait for your laundry to finish.

Apparently Bruce knows some Latin dance moves. Who knew?

December 29, 2010

Sweet Valley Super Star, Enid’s Story: Just When Enid Decides to Stop Being Dull…

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 5:58 pm by Jenn

Enid must have had a makeover since her last cover, because she actually looks pretty

Summary: It’s Christmas break, and Enid and Elizabeth are planning to spend some time together since Todd’s out of town. Enid’s also looking forward to a visit from her father, who she doesn’t get to see much since her parents’ divorce. Jeffrey French, unseen since just after his breakup with Elizabeth, makes an appearance at the Dairi Burger and winds up kissing Elizabeth under the mistletoe, thanks to peer pressure. This ignites a couple of sparks between them, but Enid doesn’t seem to notice, as when Jeffrey starts talking to her and wanting to spend time together, she thinks it’s all because of her, and she thinks she might have feelings for him.

Jeffrey asks Enid to a skating party, “just as friends,” and she decides not to tell Elizabeth about it because she thinks Liz isn’t going. Liz shows up anyway, and she’s a little hurt that her best friend didn’t say anything about hanging out with her ex. Also at the party is a guy named Brian, who Enid hung out with back in her druggie days. She wants to avoid him, but Jessica thinks he’s hot. Jeffrey tells Enid that Elizabeth baked cookies for him, and for some reason this makes Enid think that the two of them still have feelings for each other. I guess the secret ingredient in the cookies was subtext.

Brian wants to hang out with Enid, and since she basically has nothing else to do, she goes out with him. They wind up at a party and he has some drinks, even though he’s been talking all night about how he’s changed, and Enid decides she doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. Then things get worse for her when she goes to meet her father and he proves her mother right in her accusations that he’s an alcoholic.

Everyone goes to a party at George’s (Enid’s ex) house, and Enid goes off to Miller’s Point with Brian because she thinks Jeffrey and Elizabeth…something. The motives get a little strange here. Brian and Enid do some drinkin’ and tokin’, and Enid trash-talks Elizabeth a little, which is awesome. Jessica winds up at Miller’s Point with a guy named Michael, who’s a friend of Steven’s, and when she sees Brian and Enid together, Jessica decides to hightail it back to the party to tell Lila the juicy gossip. She tells Elizabeth instead, and realizes that this is not a good situation for Enid. Especially now that Brian is driving around town like a maniac and won’t let Enid out of the car.

Somewhere in here, Enid’s parents find out that she’s out with Brian, and her father goes looking for her. The car crashes and Mr. Rollins saves both Enid and Brian, though there’s an explosion and Mr. Rollins and Brian are both burned. Mr. Rollins decides he needs to go to rehab for his alcohol problem, Enid decides her little relapse will be her last, and Brian…eh, who cares?

Thoughts: Enid gives her friends one piece of chocolate each for Christmas. Now we know why she has so few friends.

“Just about the worst event that had ever happened to Elizabeth was Todd’s family moving to Vermont earlier that school year.” Worse than her motorcycle accident, coma, and personality change? Worse than her attempted rape? Worse than her kidnapping? Also, Todd was in Vermont the last time it was Christmas in this series, so the ghostwriter has officially broken the space-time continuum.

No way would Jessica wear a sweater with a snowflake on it. Wrong twin, ghostwriter.

Enid buys Elizabeth a pink heart-shaped box at what sounds like a lingerie store. Is Enid in love with Elizabeth? See, now that I’ve thought that, I’m not going to be able to talk myself out of it.

You can tell this book is from the ’90s because Thai food is considered exotic.

I can’t imagine Enid ever being part of a “wild crowd.” I can’t believe she prefers being so dull.

Pages 127 through 130 are just so weird. First Jessica wants Brian even if Enid wants him, because “all’s fair in love and war.” Then she almost stops to flirt with George, who is, remember, Robin’s boyfriend. When she tries to talk to Brian, he only wants to talk about Enid. (He also thinks Jessica’s name is Jennifer.) Jessica tells Lila she’s mad enough to bite someone, which Lila thinks sounds like fun. Then Jeffrey approaches, but he’s also looking for Enid. Same with Elizabeth. Jessica tells her Enid is suddenly very popular, and Elizabeth says, “I’m sure there’s a logical explanation for the way you’re behaving, but you can tell me later.” And then, like the ADD-afflicted child she is, Jessica gets distracted by a hot guy and moves on.

Enid to Brian: “I think the biggest act of mercy would be to have you humanely destroyed.” Dude! Why can’t we have this Enid all the time?

Why is Lila pretending she cares about Enid when Enid winds up in the hospital? Christmas miracle or sloppy ghostwriting? You decide.

April 9, 2010

SVH Special Edition, Spring Fever: Who Called the Dating Police?

Posted in books tagged , , , at 7:55 pm by Jenn

Like Jessica would be caught dead in gingham

Summary: Jessica and Elizabeth go visit their great-aunt and -uncle in Kansas. It’s as boring as it sounds. No, even more boring. Jessica falls in looooooove (of course) with a guy named Alex who claims to have an identical twin named Brad, who Elizabeth starts hanging out with. Except there’s a twist! Alex is Brad! He doesn’t have a twin! I totally didn’t see that coming AT ALL! Elizabeth tries to get revenge on Alex for being a scumball and dating sisters at the same time, but she basically chickens out and lets it go, because Elizabeth can’t do anything right, even get revenge. And she never tells Jessica, for some reason.

Adding complications to Jessica’s loooooooove affair is the fact that her great-aunt and -uncle are really strict about boys, and they don’t want the twins dating while they’re visiting, so Jessica has to sneak out to meet Alex. The great-aunt and -uncle are really unreasonable about the boy thing, and kind of overstep their boundaries in terms of telling the girls what they can and can’t do. Chill out, they’re not your kids. If they get pregnant, it’s not your problem.

The equally boring B plot is that some girl in town, Annie Sue (yes, really), has it out for the twins because she’s heard they’re awesome and she’s worried that they’ll be more awesome than her. Not possible, A.S. She catches Jessica out with Alex and blackmails her (for fashion accessories, which is kind of awesome in a cheesy way) in exchange for not telling her great-aunt and -uncle what she’s been doing. But then Jessica saves Annie Sue while she’s on a runaway horse, and suddenly everything’s okay and they’re, like, best friends. Which is why I finally added a tag that says “near-death experience makes everything okay.”

Thoughts: This was easily the most boring SVH book so far. I can’t believe I got through it. People think Kansas is a boring place, so why would we read a book that takes place there? Other than The Wizard of Oz, of course. No offense to anyone in Kansas – I just don’t think of it as a happening place. Also, I wonder what ned and Alice had to promise Jessice to get her to go there.

Jessica seems surprised to be randomly hated by another girl. You’d think she’d be used to it. Also, of course Annie Sue doesn’t like Jessica. They’re exactly alike.

Any book that ends with a square dance automatically sucks.

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