August 4, 2015

SVU #41, Escape to New York: The Show Must Go On

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

Jessica's ridiculous orange coat is actually in the book

Jessica’s ridiculous orange coat is actually in the book

Summary: Jessica loooooves New York. She gets to hang out with Vince and go out to clubs and shop in really cool stores and see all sorts of interesting weirdos. She may be a little traumatized by her time in security training, but it’s nothing a little partying with a movie star until 3 a.m. won’t fix. Elizabeth is worried about Jess overdoing, which she definitely is, since she passes out a couple times. Vince is kind of clueless, since he doesn’t think that indicates that they should stay in more.

What Elizabeth should really worry about is the fact that Jessica doesn’t want to take over the lead in her play. When has Jess ever turned down the chance to be in the spotlight? Jessica is still stuck on becoming a bodyguard – specifically, Vince’s bodyguard. I guess it’s not enough to hang out with him and almost kiss him. Jess doesn’t admit that part of the reason she doesn’t want to do the play is she’s worried it will be awful, and she doesn’t want to be responsible for that. Fair enough.

But this leaves Elizabeth without a leading lady. Fortunately, Tom’s TV piece about Vince and the plays brings in a bunch of actresses who are excited to act opposite Vince. Things are also looking up for Tom, who has a lead on a job with a theater magazine. Never mind that he knows nothing about theater. Vince and the twins help him fake it for the interview. I hope Tom realizes that once he’s in the door, his bare-bones theater knowledge won’t do him any good. But he does get in the door, and is assigned to review Elizabeth’s play. Of course. So…where can one get a job writing for a magazine without any experience and without having to provide any writing samples? I’m asking for a friend.

Elizabeth’s possible new leading ladies all scamper once they find out Vince isn’t in her play after all. Only one is left, Marie, and Liz doesn’t even remember her original audition. She only gives her the role because she’s desperate. This is a bad idea – Marie is horrible. It turns out that she’s Hildy’s sister, and they can’t stand each other. Also, Marie is dating Ted, the dramaturg, and he snuck her name on the callback list. This Ted guy is awful. But Marie is awfuler – so bad that Ken, the lead actor, quits.

Now Elizabeth has no male lead and a horrible female lead. This summer is turning out great! Liz manages to recruit Vince to take over, which Tom isn’t happy about, since he thinks Vince is into Liz. Never mind that Vince is now all over Jessica. Tom needs to calm down. About a lot of things, really. Vince tries to talk Jessica into taking over Marie’s role, but she keeps resisting until a disastrous rehearsal. Hildy and Marie fight about something dumb, Ted fires Hildy, and Marie is given Hildy’s role in Claire’s play. Jessica steps up and takes over Marie’s role opposite Vince.

Then there’s another shakeup. Tom is removed from his assignment covering Elizabeth’s play and replaced with a notoriously mean critic. I cackle. Welcome to the real world, Liz. Of course, we all know her play will get rave reviews and the critic’s heart will grow three sizes, because Elizabeth is a Wakefield. It helps that Gerald and Claire’s plays are horrible, because as mediocre as Liz’s play probably is, it looks like Shakespeare next to their pretentiousness.

So of course, Elizabeth is the new wunderkind of theater, getting summoned to the stage by the audience at the end of the play. Jessica is a star, and someone tells her she’s like Audrey Hepburn. Just what we need, another layer on Jessica’s already humongous ego. Elizabeth and Tom are fine, though they still haven’t slept together, and there’s no mention of whether Jessica and Vince are going to try to have a relationship. (Nick who?)

In the barely there B-plot, Bev, one of Jessica’s friends from the security training, tracks her down in New York. She reveals that she’s an FBI agent and was at the training undercover, trying to bust Pruitt for using recruits for illegal activities. Jessica passes along the information that she found criminal records on some of the recruits. Bev realizes that since some of those records were sealed juvenile files, Pruitt broke the law. That’s it, that’s the whole plot. I think the ghostwriter didn’t know how to stretch out Jess’ storyline over three books.

Thoughts: “Just then a group of hip young teenage girls clacked by in clogs.” Um, no. Not in 1998. Everyone was wearing flip-flops, Skechers, and Steve Maddens.

Jessica tries on “a scarlet silk jumpsuit by Charlotte Spade. The neck and cuffs were trimmed with shocking pink ostrich feathers.” Ewwwww. (Fortunately, she knows it’s awful.)

If Marie and Hildy hate each other, then why did Ted, Marie’s boyfriend, cast Hildy in Elizabeth’s play during the original casting?

And now, for your enjoyment, some lines from Elizabeth’s play:

“In life, there are potholes and pitfalls and deep, dark wells ready to catch you out when you least expect it. But sometimes you need to take the plunge, seek out danger before it takes you by surprise. Sometimes it’s better to jump in than to fall in.”

“In journalism, people always tell you that the truth is malleable, the truth is a hologram, a trick of the eye.”

“With each edit, with each tiny word you add or remove, you change a story and thus create a new truth, as suddenly and surely as a snowball creates an avalance.”

“But in love and life, as opposed to documenting stories, the reality is always unequivocal. Or is it?”

July 21, 2015

SVU #40, Private Jessica: Dismissed!

Posted in books tagged , , , at 6:11 pm by Jenn

Why is Pink yelling at Jessica?

Why is Pink yelling at Jessica?

Summary: At the end of the last book, Tom had just suffered a medical crisis. It turns out he’s allergic to myrrh and had a reaction when Tish used it during an aromatherapy session. Where do you even get myrrh? Oh, wait, they’re in New York. You can get anything there. I’m not sure of the point of this development – it doesn’t affect anything in the story, since Elizabeth and Tom weren’t going to have sex anyway. It gets wrapped up quickly and isn’t mentioned again.

Elizabeth continues with her play rehearsals, which are getting worse and worse by the minute because her female lead, Hildy, is insane and Elizabeth has no idea how to actually be a director. The only good thing about the experience is that Liz gets to hang out with mega-hunk movie-star Vince.

Meanwhile, Tom keeps looking for a job. I can’t imagine there are many summer internships that haven’t already been filled. Tom is so desperate for a job that it’s make him dumber; he asks for a job at one shop before even realizing it’s a tattoo parlor. Then he goes to a comic-book store, where the other employees mock his lack of knowledge like they’re on the Internet and he’s a girl. He drops by a public-access production office, but the place is a mess and no one cares about the work. He can’t believe no one thinks this is important. It’s public access, Tom. You’re not going to get any awards there.

Things get even worse for Tom when he starts to see how much time Elizabeth has been spending with Vince. They run into him at a restaurant, and Vince announces that he’s leaving his play because Claire is almost as insane as Hildy. Tom’s annoyed when Vince gives Elizabeth his phone number. But Vince doesn’t quit – a newspaper has mentioned the play, and how Vince will be proving that he’s more than just an action star, so he’s afraid he’ll get criticized if he drops out.

Out on the town again, Tom has a disastrous meeting with an employment agency, then accidentally runs into a PA from a Maury/Jerry Springer/trainwreck-type show called Tease-n-Tell. The PA spills the coffee she was delivering, decides it’s the last straw in her horrible job, and quits. Tom immediately takes her job, even though he’ll be working for a show that’s not exactly the kind of award-winning journalism he was hoping to be a part of. He’s so embarrassed about the job that he doesn’t tell Liz where he’s working, instead saying it’s a “classy cable news magazine currently in development.”

Elizabeth’s male lead, Ken (not Matthews), is also fed up with his job, and he quits the play. For some reason, there’s no understudy and no immediate move to recast. I feel like this whole fellowship is not quite on the up-and-up. Where’s the dramaturg? Who’s actually running things? How does Elizabeth think she can put on a successful performance with only 50% of her cast?

Tom’s show learns of Vince’s appearance in Claire’s play and decides to do a story on it. Tom, despite being a lowly PA, is somehow assigned to take a camera crew to the theater to get some rehearsal footage. I’m not sure when his PA job went from taking coffee orders to doing actual work that will affect a TV show. I assume the ghostwriter doesn’t know what a PA actually does, not to mention a PA who’s only there for the summer and has only been on the job for ten minutes. But it’s just an excuse for Tom to get involved in Elizabeth’s plotline.

Tom takes a crew to the theater, where he tries very, very hard not to let Elizabeth find out what show they’re from. Tom’s embarrassed to have to be around naked people, including Vince, who at least keeps his pants on. I don’t know, I kind of get the impression that Tom isn’t as uncomfortable around half-naked Vince as he lets on. But that would be a whole different book.

Tom realizes that his story about Claire’s play might be bad for his relationship with Elizabeth – I guess because she’s friends with Vince? And Vince might come off looking bad? Or just because he didn’t mention to her that they were going to be there? I don’t know. Tom tries to get the story pulled, which is hilarious, because no TV show is going to cut a segment so some college student doesn’t have a fight with his girlfriend. Especially since the segment is supposedly going to grab big ratings. I’m sure.

Vince finds out about the segment and accuses Liz of selling him out. Meanwhile, Tom quits his job because Tease-n-Tell doesn’t fit with his views on ethics in journalism. Did he think he’d be doing segments on seeing-eye dogs or children running lemonade stands to raise money for cancer research? He’s lucky he didn’t get “I Slept With My Daughter’s Boyfriend – Is He My Baby’s Father? Or Is It One of the Aliens Who Abducted Me Last Week?”

Elizabeth wonders if things would have been different if she’d slept with Tom – he would have been more loyal and not done something to hurt Vince. Honey, no. Tom would still be a doof. The two of them fight, and since Liz can’t get in touch with Jessica (more on that later), she turns to Vince for comfort. They hang out in Central Park and start goofing around, then kiss. Elizabeth realizes she still loves Tom, so she tells Vince they can’t do anything. Vince is like, “Do you have an identical twin I could hook up with instead?” Elizabeth: “Actually….”

Elizabeth and Tom make up, as they always do. And then Hildy quits Elizabeth’s play to take over Vince’s role in Claire’s play, since he decided to quit after all. So now Elizabeth has no cast for her play, which everyone pretty much hated anyway. I’m sure whoever gave her the fellowship really appreciates all of this.

In Florida, Jessica’s facing her boxing match against Pruitt. Even the chance to interview with a top security company doesn’t make her feel much better – she could be covered in bruises by then. Jess at least puts some effort into getting ready for the match, and is smart enough to realize that Harlan is a moron – he thinks Jessica and Pruitt are fighting over him. Wow.

While cleaning up in Pruitt’s office, Jessica finds a key in a drawer and immediately thinks it unlocks something super-important and secret. If she can find it, she can use it to get Pruitt to call off the fight. Okay, Jess. Whatever you say. Jessica’s friends assure her that she’ll be fine, and that they have something in the works, but they won’t tell Jess what it is. She isn’t sure she can trust them.

She’s even less sure when she uses Pruitt’s key to open a file cabinet containing information on all the recruits. With the exception of Jessica, everyone there has a record. Jess is like, “I’m friends with criminals! This is not cool!” I’m curious as to how she thought her partner from the obstacle course in the last book attained her knowledge of how to hotwire a car. Harvard? Pruitt has also circled the names of a few people who showed skills at sharpshooting. Please tell me this program is actually a training ground for spies, and that Jessica’s stumbled across some sort of Manchurian Candidate plot.

At the boxing match, Jessica manages to stay on her feet and avoid getting punched by doing some dance moves. Partway through the match, her friends put lead in her gloves, so when Jessica gets in some good punches, Pruitt goes down. But someone rats out the women, and Jessica and her friends get expelled. They’re lucky they don’t get arrested. There go Jessica’s hopes of being a security guard to the stars. (And there goes Ned and Alice’s tuition money.)

The women head to the airport and wait around to catch flights home. No one seems particularly upset about the discharge, even though I would think the ones with records would have been happy to find a program that could find them jobs. Strangely, all four of the discharged women were on scholarships. Why would the program be so eager to bring in criminals? Ooh, maybe they’re planning a big heist. Before Jessica can give that much thought, she decides to head to New York to hang out with Elizabeth instead of going home to Sweet Valley.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth has learned that Jessica was kicked out, and she’s frantic to get a hold of her sister. Tom offers to fly them both to Florida to pick up Jess. Again, I bet the fellowship people love that Liz is going to skip town while she’s supposed to be working. When Tom and Elizabeth get to the airport, Jessica has just arrived, so the trip to Florida is a moot point. I hope the tickets were refundable.

Vince happens to be at the airport, too, and the second he meets Jessica, they’re into each other. I mean, of course. What is a Wakefield if she’s not adored? So now Vince is going to stay in New York. I bet his agent is really sick of him. He and the fellowship people should get together.

Thoughts: Only Jessica would find a key in a drawer and automatically assume it’s to something super-secret.

Ken quits Elizabeth’s play, and Vince wants to quit Claire’s play. So…why doesn’t Vince do Elizabeth’s play? Is that too easy a solution? Am I missing something?

“Why would they give us all scholarships and then take it all back?” I don’t know about the first part, but as to the second part: Because you committed a crime. No one in on it seems too regretful, either. That’s disturbing.

I keep wanting to spell Pruitt’s name Pruit, because I got used to spelling it that way for Ray on Beverly Hills, 90210. I guess Pruitt’s mama coud afford more than one T.

“Some awesomely cute guy had insisted on giving her his seat in first class.” Jessica is so awesome that strangers just give her stuff. Ugh.

July 7, 2015

SVU #39, Elizabeth ♥ New York: Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 9:20 pm by Jenn



Summary: Tom has landed a great summer internship. Elizabeth was supposed to do an internship for some news show, but it fell through, so she’s stuck working at a bookstore. They’re happy to spend the summer together, as they’ve supposedly planned for a while. Tom is also happy to possibly get some – he thinks this summer is going to be when Liz finally has sex with him. The only person who’s not happy is me, because I have to suffer through another book about Tom.

Elizabeth is a disaster at retail, so it’s good news when she learns that she’s won a fellowship to spend the summer putting on a play in New York. Apparently one of her professors submitted a one-act play she wrote but didn’t tell her about it because it was a long shot. What a surprise that perfect Elizabeth Wakefield beat the odds and came out on top once again!

Elizabeth is uncertain about taking the fellowship, since she’s a journalist, not a playwright. You’d think the fact that someone thought the play was good enough for the fellowship in the first place would be a confidence-booster. She’s also hesitant because she and Tom had planned to spend the summer together, and now she might go to New York. Liz tells Tom about the fellowship, and he immediately starts questioning the logistics: Where will she live? How will she get around? Can she survive a summer in a big, dangerous city, seeing as how she’s just a little girl?

Alice helps out by calling a college friend named Tish to get advice on where Elizabeth can stay. Coincidentally, Tish’s adult daughters are both away for the summer, so there’s plenty of room for Elizabeth to move in. Free housing! Lucky girl. Tom starts worrying about being away from his precious Liz for more than five minutes, so he quits his awesome internship and announces that he’s going to New York with her. That’s not weird at all! Have fun explaining that to future prospective employers, Tom. “I see here that you quit an impressive summer internship after just two days. Why is that?” “Sex.” Tom will also be living at Tish’s. Sigh.

While Tom is so certain that Elizabeth is going to sleep with him, Liz is having mixed feelings. She loves Tom and wants to show that love physically, but she also isn’t sure she’s ready for that next step in their relationship. I can’t tell you how boring it is to read about how they keep almost doing it and then don’t. I really, really couldn’t care less about them.

Anyway, New York. The city is awesome! There are so many people! It’s hot! There’s lots of traffic! People are rude! Liz and Tom meet Tish, who is supremely annoying. She’s every New Age cliché rolled into one, with more added on. If I spent more than five minutes with her, I’d have to leave the room. Elizabeth and Tom go sightseeing, then get all turned on and rush back to the apartment to have sex. Unfortunately, the cab ride home is a little crazy, and Liz accidentally bites Tom’s lip, drawing blood and killing the mood.

Elizabeth starts her actual fellowship, which allows her to cast and produce the play she wrote. The other two fellows are a goth girl named Claire (I can’t believe she doesn’t go by another name, like Raven or Abyssinia or something) and a guy named Gerald who is every pretentious English lit major you will ever meet. They think Elizabeth’s play is stupid – and to be fair, it really, really is. It’s based off a fight she and Tom had in the newsroom. It’s pretty basic for someone who’s supposed to be this spectacular writer, and I have a hard time believing someone thought it was good enough to win a competition.

The dramaturg, Ted, thinks it’s lame, too. He gives Elizabeth a bunch of notes, mostly about how the characters are holding back emotion. Since the characters are based on her and Tom, Liz thinks this means that she and Tom hold back emotion, which is related to their lack of sex. She wonders if they should break up. I think they should, but that’s mostly because I don’t like Tom and don’t want to have to read about him. I guess I’m too partial to get a vote.

Tom looks for a job, but it’s not like a journalism major can just walk into a news studio and start working. Elizabeth takes the wrong subway and ends up at Coney Island, so she calls Tom to come rescue her. Girl, get on another train. You don’t need his help. Tom thinks that since he’s coming to her rescue (and spending a lot of money on a cab to get to her), he should be rewarded. In bed. Shut up, Tom.

Elizabeth has another horrible day, since everyone at the theater thinks she’s lame, and they don’t want her input on their plays. In fact, the only person who’s nice to her is an actor case in Claire’s play. After he gives Liz some encouragement, she realizes that he’s mega-hot movie star Vince Klee. Okay, how many celebrities have the twins met over the years? Vince wants to do some serious theater (he’d probably spell it theatre to make it seem even more serious) because he has a reputation as a mindless action star. Hey, don’t knock it. There’s a lot of money in that.

Liz’s day is looking up, but it comes crashing back down when Ted casts a famous character actress as the lead in her play, without consulting Liz. The actress is annoying and totally wrong for the part. Tom spends the day helping Tish with her aromatherapy business (yes, really), and when Liz comes home, he tries to help her relax using the techniques he’s learned. But when he suggests that they head to the bedroom, she snaps at him. I’m on her side – he needs to read the room and realize she’s not in that kind of mood.

So Tom goes out drinking, encounters a sexist jerk trying to get a woman drunk so he can sleep with her, and realizes that he’s been going about this sex thing all wrong. He goes home and makes up with Elizabeth, who lets him sleep in her bed (all clothes on). The next day, he wakes up with a rash. I hope it’s scabies. Elizabeth goes to rehearsal and finally stands up for herself, telling Ted and Hildy that her play will be performed as written. Apparently Ted was pushing her to try to get her to be more confident and assertive. Then Liz is scandalized because Claire wants her actors to perform nude. Who cares? That’s not Liz’s problem.

Lest we forget about the other Wakefield twin, Jessica gets to have an adventure this summer, too. Her friends all have fabulous summers lined up, but Jessica’s plans haven’t been solidified yet. She tells everyone she’s going to a summer program at the Sweet Valley Police Academy, even though she hasn’t been accepted yet. She’s sure she will, especially after she stops a purse-snatcher from stealing Lila’s bag. But Jessica’s wrong – the academy program is full, so we’re spared the ridiculousness that would be Jessica learning to be a police officer.

Instead, we get a different kind of ridiculousness. Someone submitted Jessica’s name for a special training program for security personnel, and she’s been offered a spot in their Florida session, plus some money. Jessica immediately deposits the money, then tells her parents about the offer. Ned and Alice are somehow surprised that their daughter acted impulsively and made a decision that might not be able to be reversed. Jess drags Liz into it, saying that if Liz gets to go to New York, she should get to go to Florida. Never mind that Ned and Alice are the ones financing most of these adventures. They investigate to make sure this training program is legit, and when they confirm that it is, they let Jessica go.

The first person Jess meets is a guy named Harlan, who’s also flying to Florida from California. Jess thinks her summer will be awesome if there’s a hot guy to flirt with. If she weren’t so boy crazy, she’d realize that Harlan is kind of a jerk. Then again, if Jessica were smarter about any number of things, she’d realize that this summer program isn’t going to be the way she expects. She thinks it’ll be glamorous, teaching her martial arts and how to protect hot movie stars from stalkers. Instead, it’s basically boot camp.

It takes about two seconds for Jessica to get on the bad side of one Sergeant Pruitt, who thinks she’s a princess cheerleader girly-girl who’s in way over her head. I picture Pruitt as Kate Mulgrew (in Orange is the New Black, not Star Trek). She picks on Jessica for everything under the sun, which at first makes Jess want to quit, but then motivates her to shine. She and her partner totally kill an obstacle course, scaring off a snake with a makeshift blowtorch Jessica makes using hairspray and a lighter. Pruitt sabotages the truck they’re supposed to drive, but Jessica’s partner hotwires it to save the day.

Unable to rag on Jessica after she did so well in the competition, Pruitt gives her kitchen duty for “fraternizing” with Harlan. Never mind that all the others were talking to each other, too. Some of the other women are given KP duty, too, and at first Jessica’s worried because she thinks they don’t like her. They assure her that they do, and that everyone hates Pruitt, which allows them all to bond.

Pruitt gives Jessica and her new friends overnight guard duty after they failed to complete a bunch of laps she made them do. She also threatens to have a guy working in the gym discharged; I think the ghostwriter keeps confusing this program for the military. After catching Jessica trash-talking her, Pruitt suggests that they settle their differences in the boxing ring. Jessica is dumb enough to agree, despite not having any boxing experience. Oh, and Pruitt is a Golden Gloves champ. Good job, Jess! Let’s see her try to get out of this one.

Thoughts: Whenever I see a phrase like the title of this book – “X ♥ Y” – I think of Jack saying, “I do not heart prison anymore” on Will and Grace. And now you will, too.

“They’d been planning to spend the summer together for months.” That’s impossible – Tom and Elizabeth just got back together two books ago. Does continuity mean nothing in this series?? Oh, and Nick doesn’t seem to exist.

“‘Liz, please, just remember how much I’ll miss you if you go. That’s all I ask.’ Did that sound too manipulative? Tom wondered.” Yes, it does. Stop that.

Tish wears “a green crocheted vest with floor-length fringe over a flowing, diaphanous purple-and-gold blouse and a black peasant skirt.” She also wears “several crystals” as necklaces. I cannot deal with this woman.

Jessica, singing: “Summerti-i-ime, and the living’s easy / The fish are – something…and it’s OK to wear white shoes!” I’ll admit I laughed at that.

Tom runs into a friend in New York who makes $60,000 a year and can afford a penthouse on the Upper East Side. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha no.

“Doesn’t she realize everything I went through to be with her? You’d think she would want to do something for me!” Is Tom a meninist? Discuss.

April 3, 2013

BSC #115, Jessi’s Big Break: So They Think She Can Dance

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 6:17 pm by Jenn

If "Center Stage" taught me anything, it's that these kids are way too happy

If “Center Stage” taught me anything, it’s that these kids are way too happy

Summary: Jessi spends a few weeks in New York, dancing with an elite program that could springboard her to superstar status. She stays with her cousin Michael (Aunt Cecelia’s son) and his wife, who remind her how awesome New York is, in case someone in this series hasn’t mentioned that in the past five minutes. The dance classes are wonderful, Jessi makes a ton of friends, and she feels independent and grown-up in the city.

Back home, Mallory and Becca are lonely and mopey. Mal is at least mature enough not to whine, but Becca is a brat, and I can’t believe her parents (and Cecelia) put up with her attitude. Mal goes to visit Jessi one weekend and feels out of place since Jessi’s New York friends are all dancers. Also, because Jessi’s so busy with classes and taking in the culture of the city, she doesn’t call home very often.

Jessi’s only problem in New York is Quint, her sort-of boyfriend. He keeps wanting to talk to her, and she’s afraid he’s going to tell her he wants to date. She doesn’t feel ready, so she keeps putting off The Talk. Eventually, though, she tells Quint that she likes him and can see herself dating him, but not until they’re older. He’s fine with it and things between them relax.

So now that Jessi’s New York experience is completely awesome, she gets some good news: David Brailsford, the director of the program, wants her to apply for another program, one that will keep her in New York permanently. It’s a real honor, but it means leaving her family and friends, and dancing even more than she already is.

As much as Jessi immediately wants to say yes, she does some really mature thinking about the situation. She worries that she’ll get bored after the freshness of being in New York wears off, and that she’ll run herself into the ground by dancing so much. She won’t have time for anything else in her life. Plus, of course, she’ll be away from her family and friends.

Jessi’s parents are supportive of whatever she chooses to do, and surprisingly, Aunt Cecelia is her biggest champion. She regrets not following her dreams when she was younger. She’s even disappointed in Michael for giving up a potentially successful art career to attend business school. Ultimately, Jessi decides to defer the decision until she’s older, and use the time before then to learn even more in Stoneybrook. She’ll get to live her normal life while still finding a way to follow her dream. Not bad for an 11-year-old. I don’t even know how to snark on that!

Thoughts: Aunt Cecelia encouraging people to follow their dreams seems out of character to me. The Cecelia we’ve seen so far strikes me as the sort of person who would want her son to go to business school and do something practical instead of hoping to make money painting.

At the beginning of the book, Jessi learns she’s in the program and then has to convince her parents to let her go. So why did they let her audition if they hadn’t yet decided whether to let her go if she got in?

If I’d talked to anyone the way Becca does in this book, I would still be grounded today. But no one says a word to her! They’re just all, “Oh, she’s upset because Jessi’s gone.” Yeah, but she can be upset with her mouth closed.

Quint is five-eight at the age of 11? Holy cow.

All the ballet terminology thrown together makes me think of “steppity-step and jazz hands.” (Bonus: The other actor in that scene is Principal Green from Dawson’s Creek.)

Mallory writes in the BSC journal, “Several of the children were pretty difficult.” That girl is 11 going on 40.

Brailsford: “You’re one of us now.” Run, Jessi! He’s a cult leader!

October 27, 2012

SVH Super Edition, Jessica Takes Manhattan: The Princess Diaries

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 12:33 pm by Jenn

What a stupid cover

Summary: SVH’s roof collapses after an earthquake, so while the school is closed for a week, Lila and Jessica take a trip to New York. Lila oversleeps and misses their flight, so Jessica goes on by herself. But there’s an emergency during the flight and they have to divert to New Orleans. In the midst of the chaos, Jessica discovers that her disguised seatmate is a rock star named Ryder Mitchell. They immediately fall in luv, but Ryder confesses that he’s going to New York to enter into a fake engagement with an awesomely named singer, Deidra La Monde. He wants to be with Jessica, though, so they make plans to meet at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day.

Lila makes it to New York before Jessica, but she’s mopey because she wanted Bo (her boyfriend from the camp books) to meet her there and he refused to come up from D.C. Little does she know that he’s planning to surprise her there. In other news Lila doesn’t know, there’s a princess named Charlotte (from the made-up country of Laestra) who’s staying in the same hotel and who looks enough like Lila to cause them to be mistaken for each other. In fact, Bo mistakes Charlotte for Lila and gets himself roughed up by her bodyguards. Lila has no idea at first and takes advantage of the mistake to get a nice suite and special treatment.

Jessica finally makes it to New York, and she, Lila, and Bo live it up on Charlotte’s dime. (Well, Laestra’s dime, I guess.) Charlotte, meanwhile, just wants to be left alone, so she poses as Lila and works at a soup kitchen. (Why, yes, we did see this plot in the London books.) There’s some dumb subplot with her falling for a guy there, but I don’t care about either of them. Anyway, Jessica and Lila get kidnapped on Valentine’s Day; the kidnappers think Lila is Charlotte and take her for ransom. They’re pretty dumb, and Jess and Lila bicker with each other like they’re Buffy and Cordelia in “Homecoming.” It’s all pretty weak.

The girls swear they’re not who the kidnappers think they are, but promise to get them money (through Lila’s father) if the guys don’t hurt them. They’re taken to Yankee Stadium (because the ghostwriter has to mention every New York landmark at least once in this book) while the kidnappers try to get money while slowly turning on each other, thanks to Jessica planting suspicion in the dumber one’s mind. Meanwhile, Bo realizes Lila’s missing, tries unsuccessfully to get help from the police, and connects with Ryder, who got worried when Jessica didn’t show up at the Empire State Building.

The kidnappers can’t get a hold of George, so Lila tells them to ask Bo for their million-dollar ransom. They tell Bo to bring the money to the stadium, not bothering to tell him to come alone and not call the police or anything. Seriously, they’re dumb. Jessica, smarter than she looks, hides a bottle, breaks it, uses the glass to cut through the ropes on her and Lila’s wrists, and frees them. She also uses baseballs to trip up the kidnappers, ultimately locking them in a storage room.

As the girls escape, the guys arrive with the money but don’t know where to go. The girls head back to their hotel, where they run into Charlotte. She jumps in to help find the guys, but no one calls the police, for some reason. Charlotte’s bodyguards stop the kidnappers before they can kill Ryder and Bo. So good triumphs over evil once again. And then there’s a stupid concert and I don’t care about Ryder.

Thoughts: I guess Ryder isn’t worried about the press finding out he likes underage girls. There’s reference to him being a teenager, but if he’s old enough to get married, he’s probably 18 or 19. And Jessica’s 16. 16! Why do older guys always fall in love with her?

And why doesn’t anyone notice that Lila doesn’t have Charlotte’s foreign accent?

Lila and Jessica eat pickled chestnuts. That’s disgusting.

With this book, the series really joins the ’90s: The rich people all have cell phones. (Except they keep calling them cellular phones.) Also, someone mentions a video dating service. I totally forgot those ever existed.

Bo has a dream about Lila falling off one of the Twin Towers. So…that’s disturbing.

Jessica first finds baseball bats but ditches them in favor of using the baseballs like she’s in Home Alone. Lila suggests that they arm themselves with the baseball bats just in case. Silly Lila, trying to be helpful and smart.

June 18, 2012

BSC #102, Mary Anne and the Little Princess: British Invasion

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 9:36 pm by Jenn

I have concerns about this limo

Summary: A family called the Kents, who are somehow related to the royal family, buy a house in Stoneybrook while the parents work at the United Nations (just go with it). They have an eight-year-old daughter, Victoria, and want her to hang out with Americans, so they hire Mary Anne to be her “companion.” I don’t know why they don’t just have her make a bunch of friends, but whatever. Victoria’s kind of a brat, but not horribly so; she’s just spoiled and is used to having her way. But she takes to Mary Anne and calms down a little.

There’s a random trip to New York, which involves Mary Anne, Stacey, Kristy, and Victoria ditching the girl’s nanny in a very out-of-character-for-the-BSC-girls move. Victoria’s parents make an appearance but don’t spend much time with her, which makes her understandably upset. Mary Anne realizes that she also hasn’t made any friends in Stoneybrook and doesn’t even seem to like hanging out with kids her own age. Sharon guesses it’s because she doesn’t want to get close to anyone, since people in her life are always leaving.

Mary Anne invites Victoria, her nanny, and their driver over for Thanksgiving, but Victoria’s upset by her parents’ absence. She winds up breaking down and having a talk with Mary Anne about her fears that her parents don’t really love her. Mary Anne has been experiencing a little separation anxiety of her own, as her father’s on a business trip, but she gets Victoria to see that her parents will always love her and come back to her. She also talks Victoria into trying to make some friends.

The B-plot parallels the main plot a little: Sharon misses Dawn and has kind of been using Mary Anne as a substitute daughter. She’s even started calling Mary Anne her daughter instead of her stepdaughter. Fortunately, nothing is over the top, and Sharon just admits that she misses Dawn but doesn’t see Mary Anne as a replacement. Also fortunately (for Sharon, at least), Dawn has planned a surprise visit and asked Mary Anne and Richard to keep it quiet. So Dawn shows up on Thanksgiving and Sharon has a great holiday.

Thoughts: Mary Anne finds a tie on a bookcase and a loaf of bread behind a pillow. Has Sharon been checked for mental illnesses?

There’s a chapter where Victoria goes to a middle school football game, and there are a bunch of BSC sitting charges there, including Becca, who’s become obsessed with royalty. At the beginning of the chapter, there’s a scene at the Ramseys’ house where everyone’s teasing her a little about wanting to be a princess. It made me realize that of all the BSC girls’ families, I’d most want to be a part of Jessi’s. Her mom is sweet, her dad is funny, and Becca seems like a fun little sister to have. I could take or leave Cecelia, though.

That said, I might like to hang out with Richard and Sharon (as long as Dawn and Jeff weren’t around). Sharon’s fun, and somewhere along the way, Richard picked up a pretty good sense of humor.

Do a lot of eight-year-olds know what David Letterman looks like? What about British eight-year-olds?

March 3, 2012

Dawson’s Creek 4.18, Eastern Standard Time: Road Trip!

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , at 2:37 pm by Jenn

Someone please give this woman a retroactive Emmy

Summary: Dawson and Gretchen are in his bedroom, playing a game. No, not that kind of game. The board game Life. Seriously. The next day is senior ditch day, which Gretchen remembers fondly as a time when she and her friends drove to Virginia and back for no apparent reason. Dawson notes that he’s never done anything even close to that interesting. He decides that they need to take a road trip, and apparently Mitch and Gail don’t need to know anything about it.

Jen is quiet during a session with Frost, thinking about the song “Sweet Jane.” Suddenly she’s in Grand Central Station with Joey, supposedly visiting New York to see a college. Pacey and Drue are at school, despite it being ditch day; Drue was told he might not graduate if he ditched, and Pacey’s about to take a test. Drue suggests that they ditch after that, but Pacey wants to be a good student. Drue pretends to wonder what Joey might be up to.

Jen and Joey meet up with an old friend of Jen’s named Tyfo who’s excited that she might come back to New York. Jen isn’t sure she can do it. As Pacey starts his test, Dawson and Gretchen get a flat tire after six hours of driving. She’s happy that the trip might turn into an adventure. She suggests hitchhiking, but there’s a town six miles away that he’d rather walk to. Joey and Jen head to Jen’s admissions meeting, but it quickly becomes clear that there is no meeting. She really came to New York to see her father. Jen sends Joey off to explore, but Joey wants to go with her.

Dawson and Gretchen find themselves in a tiny place in Maine that might actually be a ghost town. They’re able to buy a new tire, but they can’t get a ride back to their car because the mechanic’s car isn’t working. Dawson offers to help him fix it as Gretchen heads off to find something to eat. Jen and Joey go to Jen’s father’s office, and Joey suggests that Jen take a few minutes to really think about what she wants before she does anything.

Back in Capeside, Pacey and Drue give each other meaningful looks. Jen cries in a bathroom, and Joey asks her what happened to her. Jen says she hated visiting Capeside when she was little because she didn’t like staying with Grams. One weekend she and her mother were supposed to go to Capeside alone while her father worked, and her mom got so fed up with Jen that she sent her home. Jen was happy to skip the Capeside trip and spend the weekend with her father.

As Gretchen finds a diner, Jen and Joey finally go in to see Jen’s father, Theo. Joey tells him they’re in the city because Jen got accepted to the University of New York. Theo immediately clears his schedule to spend the day with them. Drue and Pacey go to a bar where Drue seems to spend a lot of time, though under the name Gilbert. He gives Pacey a fake ID so they can do tequila shots. Drue explains that he brought Pacey there because the bar is near a community college, Pacey’s last college option. Pacey doesn’t want to discuss school or the future.

Dawson and Gretchen get a ride back to their car, but when they can’t afford to pay the mechanic for the tire or the ride, he ditches them. Meanwhile, Joey, Jen, and Theo go to a fancy restaurant where Theo’s a VIP. Joey helps Jen out by making small talk with Theo so Jen doesn’t have to. He talks up New York, saying he’s lived there 30 years but it still surprises him every day. It’s like a living organism you can have a relationship with.

Gretchen refuses to give Dawson the food from the diner until he comes up with a solution to their car problem. He suggests walking back to town, calling his parents, and getting them to wire money. Gretchen notes that that’s expensive, requires a lot of effort, and probably wouldn’t work out since the town most likely doesn’t have the capability in the middle of the night. Pacey tries to bluff his way through a conversation with the bartender; he’s supposed to be from Rhode Island, according to his fake ID, but Pacey can’t prove it. (He’s also too drunk to lie well.)

Theo has to leave dinner early, but he tells the girls to stay at the restaurant and get whatever they want, then go out on the town. Jen tries to hide how upset she is that he’s leaving. After dinner, she and Joey go to a roof where they can see all over the city. Joey’s now even more in love with New York. She asks Jen for the rest of the story she was telling earlier, and Jen says she spend the weekend wandering around the city. Joey asks why she didn’t go home to be with her father, and Jen says she did. Then she announces that she has to go. Joey’s worried she won’t come back.

Dawson and Gretchen build a fire on the beach and make out. She interrupts to ask what’s going on with him. He says people have visions of their lives that don’t match reality. Part of him still feels like he and Joey should have had their first sexual experiences together. But now he knows he needs to let go. Dawson has a lot ahead of him in the future, including college, his parents’ new baby, and Gretchen. He’s not sure what they’re waiting for. Gretchen isn’t sure either.

Jen goes to her parents’ house, where Theo’s asleep in the study. She tells him the rest of the story she didn’t tell Joey: When she came back to the house from the train station, she caught him in bed with a 17-year-old. Theo tells her she imagined something that never happened. “Daddy, who are you?” she asked, crying. “I’m your father,” he replies. Jen thinks he knew that she knew, and when her life got bad, he punished her for something she didn’t do. She doesn’t want an apology; she just wants to be able to forgive herself for things she can’t change.

Pacey and Drue wrap up their night with an arrest for underage drinking and a visit from Doug. Doug blasts his brother for adding another screw-up to his long list. Pacey yells that this is all he’ll get in life. Dawson and Gretchen are about to get down to business, but she thinks he just wants to prove something. When they do have sex, she wants it to be because they love each other and are ready to show it to each other.

All at the same time, Pacey’s driven home in a cop car, Joey waits for Jen, and Dawson sleeps on the beach while Gretchen sits nearby, awake. Jen gets to the station in time for the train, and we cut back to Frost’s office, where she tells him she got what she needed. Frost wants to keep discussing her issues with her father, but Jen doesn’t have anything else to say. She leaves his office, telling him she’ll see him around.

Thoughts: Michelle Williams is really amazing in this episode. In the scene where she goes to the house and tells her father what she saw, you can see how much better she is than this show and what she’s usually given to do. And even in the scene in the restaurant, when Joey and Theo are talking about New York and Jen is just sitting there, listening and trying to keep it together, you can tell what she’s thinking, which is the mark of a great actor.

I’m sad that we never really had a senior ditch day, since it took place during our senior trip (which I talked about in my recap of “A Winter’s Tale”).

Maybe Jen could have asked Jen if it was okay for her to tag along to meet with her father before she invited herself.

I also love how whenever characters on a TV show go to New York for the first time, they’re able to navigate the city without any trouble (or a map). Jen sends Joey off to do whatever she wants, and Joey doesn’t get lost or even say she doesn’t know how to get back to the train station.

$40 for a tire? I need to move to Maine.

December 18, 2010

BSC Mystery #8, Jessi and the Jewel Thieves: Punk’d

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 2:57 pm by Jenn

Yeah, you guys don't look suspicious at all

Summary: Jessi goes to New York with Stacey for the weekend so she can see Quint in a big performance. Quint and Jessi overhear an argument from an apartment across they alley from Quint’s and realize that the two men fighting are planning a jewel heist. They spent much of the rest of the weekend stalking the guys (Frank and Red), who stop by two places with stealable jewels: the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a jewelry store. Jessi and Quint want some sort of evidence to take to the police, so that the cops don’t think they’re just silly kids, and it’s a good thing they wait, because it turns out Frank and Red are actors practicing their lines. Oops!

While Jessi’s in New York and her parents and aunt are out of town at a wedding, Becca stays with the Pikes and cries the whole weekend. Poor Mallory and Mary Anne are incredibly patient with her. Mr. and Mrs. Pike do nothing, which is no surprise.

The rest of the book is basically a guide to New York, because we all know how much this series looooooves the Big Apple. And Jessi and Quint decide to just be friends because they’re too young to be in a committed relationship.

Thoughts: Stacey has Jessi leave her shampoo and conditioner behind before they go to New York because she has too much stuff with her. Is she going to let Jessi borrow hers? Wouldn’t Stacey use some expensive, ultra-sophisticated lightening stuff?

If Mallory would stop whining about her geeky self and just take care of kids, she would be so much more awesome. She should also be a teacher instead of a writer. And not just beacuse I don’t want to have to be associated with her in a writerly way.

Vanessa’s poem: “How fair their little faces are, the flowers of the Spring, turned up to catch the sunbeams that the elves and fairies bring.” I bet Vanessa got all sorts of guys in high school.

You know what would’ve shut Becca up? If, when she stared whining about her mom abandoning her and not loving her, Mary Anne had said, “At least your mother’s still alive.”

When Claudia brings over art supplies to help Becca and the Pike kids make dragons, Becca names hers Charlotte after the spider. Somewhere, Charlotte Johanssen is TICKED.

Quint plays the race card after being kicked out of a jewelry store, but Jessi points out that the guard who kicked them out was also black. Is it wrong that that made me laugh? Like, you’re 11 and a ballet dancer, kid. No one would mistake you for any kind of threat.

Quint suggests that he and Jessi put on disguises (glasses for him, a Halloween wig for her) and pretend to be delivering something so they can see Frank and Red’s apartment. Quint should definitely stick to dancing, because I don’t think the book-learnin’ is going to get him very far.

June 12, 2010

BSC Super Special #6, New York, New York!: Now Who’s the Walking Guidebook, Ann M. Martin?

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

Claudia's wearing shorts over leggings. I fear it's too late for her

Summary: The BSC girls have a two-week break from school (aren’t all of their breaks two weeks long?) and decide to go to New York. Much describing of the city ensues.

Claudia and Mallory take classes with a famous artist/one of Claudia’s idols. He gives Mallory a lot of encouragement but only chastises Claudia for sketching too quickly and not focusing. Claudia takes out her anger over the situation on poor Mallory, who fails to stand up for herself and tell Claudia to step off, like I would. At the end of the two weeks, Claudia finally asks the teacher if she has any talent, since she’d rather just quit now if she doesn’t. He tells her that she’s one of the most talented 13-year-olds he’s ever come across, but she needs discipline and focus. Also, she’s better than Mallory. Claudia’s happy again and apologizes to Mallory, who totally lets the whole thing go even though Claudia was a total bitca to her the whole time.

Stacey and Mary Anne babysit for two British kids, the children of some sort of government officials or something (it’s very vague), and show them around the city. They realize that a guy in sunglasses and a rain hat keeps showing up, and they decide that he must be following them so he can kidnap one or both of the kids. When they finally decide to tell the kids’ parents, they learn that the man is actually the kids’ bodyguard. The parents didn’t tell Mary Anne or Stacey he would be tagging along so they wouldn’t freak out, and the kids didn’t know he was coming because they wanted to be normal, or something. It’s actually kind of a clever plot.

Jessi meets a male dancer named Quint who’s good enough to try out for Juilliard but doesn’t want to because the guys in his neighborhood already make fun of him for taking ballet. She eventually talks him into auditioning and gets her first kiss in return.

Dawn is terrified of the city and won’t leave Stacey’s dad’s apartment. A guy in the building named Richie comes by and convinces her to do some stuff, managing to show her that New York is awesome.

Kristy finds a dog and sneaks it into Laine’s apartment, hiding it from Laine’s parents. Watson won’t let her bring the dog home to Stoneybrook, so she has to find it an owner in New York. She does. It’s dull. Though it’s kind of hilarious when Kristy finds out that, contrary to her belief, the building does allow dogs and she didn’t have to keep sneaking it in and out.

Thoughts: “My mother says I am a pack rat. So what? Pack rats are probably very nice animals.” I love you, Claudia. Though not so much in this book. You’re more annoying than Dawn the Fraidy Cat.

Mary Anne brings Tigger to the train station to say goobye. Just when I think she can’t get any more pathetic….

I find Dawn’s huge fear of the city out of character for her. It would make more sense for Mary Anne, since she’s a chicken about everything else, but she loves New York almost as much as she loves Tigger.

The boys in Quint’s neighborhood call him a sissy for being a male dancer. He’s lucky they don’t know any other words.

Quint’s mom: “Are you and your brother going to be pests today?” Quint’s brother: “No, we’re going to be pests tomorrow. Today we plan to be pains. Is that okay?” Hee hee hee.

Egg creams have never appealed to me. Soda and milk? No, thanks.

Are there really 11-year-olds at Juilliard? (A quick look at their website says no: Students have to be at least 16 to audition.)

I would love to know how much money every aspect of this trip cost. Dinner for eight at Tavern on the Green alone would be pretty expensive.

January 31, 2010

BSC #28, Welcome Back, Stacey!: Way to Ruin the Plot With the Title

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

Looks like Stacey crashed an '80s dance party

Summary: Stacey’s parents’ fighting has reached a boiling point, and they decide to get divorced. Her dad plans to stay in New York, but her mom is considering moving back to Stoneybrook. They tell Stacey that she can decide who she wants to live with, which also means she gets to decide whether to stay in New York or return to Connecticut. Despite feeling like New York is her real home, the lure of the BSC cannot be denied, and Stacey goes back to Stoneybrook.

Thoughts: I really liked this book as a kid, mostly because Stacey was my favorite sitter and I was so excited that she might go back to Stoneybrook. I remember when I first read the book, which would have been when I was seven, I was so impatient to find out what Stacey would decide. Well, seven-year-old me, the title of the book is Welcome Back, Stacey! The front caption is, “She’s home for good!” And the back cover even has Stacey listed as the club treasurer again. I’m sad that you couldn’t put the pieces together from those clues.

I love sarcastic Stacey. Whenever she leaves the house, her mom always tells her, “Have fun and be careful.” In one scene Stacey returns from a trip to Gristede’s to get cartons for the move, and she’s annoyed by the task and her parents’ constant fighting, so she calls out, “I was careful and I had a ton of fun.” Heh.

Why does Stacey’s mom even look at a four-bedroom house in Stoneybrook, let alone buy it? And how the heck can she afford it? Does she sell drugs on the side? I kind of want to start a rumor that she sells drugs on the side.

Stacey has a fantastic crazy outfit in this book: short red pants with purple suspenders over a bright yellow and black sweatshirt (suspenders over a sweatshirt? Really?), purple push-down socks, red hightops, a necklace of wooden bananas and oranges, earrings shaped like sunglasses, and a red scarf as a headbank. When did she get that scholarship to clown school?

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