July 5, 2016

SVU #59, Elizabeth in Love: Be Yourself, Even If You’re Chloe

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 4:41 pm by Jenn

I used to have a hat like that. I can't believe I'm admitting it

I used to have a hat like that. I can’t believe I’m admitting it

Summary: We’re one book from the end of the series and Sam and Elizabeth have finally worked things out. Elizabeth: “Yay, we’re dating!” Sam: “…I guess?” It’s like that episode of Scrubs where, after wanting Elliot back for months, J.D. finally gets together with her and then realizes he doesn’t want to be with her. Sam’s been pining after Elizabeth for a dozen books but now decides he doesn’t want a relationship. Commitment is bad! He’ll have to be nice to her now! She might make him (ugh) talk about his feelings and feel vulnerable.

Liz, however, is super-happy and even wants to make herself look prettier than usual by wearing makeup and stuff. Sam thinks she’s dressing and acting like Jessica. They go out for breakfast and talk about how he never told her about his family and their money. She seems to be over it. Really, she’s just thrilled that Sam is finally acting like a normal human being.

Sam manages to tear himself away from the love of his life, to her dismay. She goes to talk to Nina, who thinks Sam should be working overtime to make Liz happy after making her miserable all year. Thanks for your input, Nina! Elizabeth decides to make a fancy dinner for Sam, which includes spending almost $80 on stuff that a typical college student wouldn’t like. She also considers finally losing her virginity.

Sam, for his part, spends almost $40 on flowers for his new girlfriend. He’s not appropriately grateful to her for cooking him such a nice dinner, thinking they’re moving too fast. Dude, you’ve known each other almost a year and have just now finally stopped fighting. All you’ve done so far is eat a meal together. Chill. Sam protests all the fancy stuff, which hurts Liz’s feelings a little, since she worked so hard on something she herself enjoys. I get it – they’re different people! He likes casual stuff and she likes a little glamour! Men are from Mars and women are from Venus!

Elizabeth and Sam talk about his family again. He tells her how his older brother was a great guy until their parents molded him into someone more like them. Sam cut off his family so they can’t change him, too. But he’s still rich, since his grandfather left him money. Poor little rich boy. He says that Elizabeth has changed him, which Liz interprets as a good thing. The conversation turns to sex, and Sam says he’s willing to wait until Liz is ready. I’m sure it’s not just because it means they get to move slowly and he won’t freak out.

Guys, this is the last book Chloe appears in! Let’s celebrate! First, let’s mock her because she thinks she’s a loser for not having a boyfriend by the end of her freshman year. She also really wants cool friends, which…she’s in a sorority. Isn’t she surrounded by supposedly cool people? Really, Chloe is just socially awkward and can’t carry on a normal conversation for more than ten seconds, so no one wants to hang out with her. If she would stop trying so hard, she’d be fine. Alternately, if she would stop thinking Val and Martin are nerds, she’d actually enjoy their friendship more.

Anyway, Chloe has glommed on to Nina, so she asks for some advice on attracting guys. Chloe thinks she needs to dress sexier so guys will want her. Nina actually says some smart stuff throughout the book, like how Chloe should only dress sexy if she wants to. Chloe doesn’t listen – she goes on a big shopping spree and starts wearing clothes that, trust me, college students aren’t wearing around campus, especially not when they should be studying for finals.

Finally, Chloe gets a guy’s attention, but the fact that he immediately seems like a jerk makes me think this won’t turn out the way Chloe wants. She goes out with the guy, James, but he clearly couldn’t care less about her as a person. She’s clueless enough to think he would still make a good date to an upcoming semiformal (which, fortunately, we don’t have to witness). They go to James’ apartment and make out a little, but James wants more. Chloe objects, and of course, James ignores her. Things are about to get really illegal when Chloe manages to make her escape.

She runs straight to Nina, who again says some really smart things: Chloe did nothing wrong, even by wearing sexy clothes, and they need to report James for almost assaulting her. Chloe says no, since he didn’t actually do anything to her. I wish Nina had pressed her a little here, since James shouldn’t get a pass just because his pants didn’t come off, and saying nothing might leave James free to go after another girl. But I guess that’s not the point the writer wants to make here.

Nina encourages Chloe to stop trying so hard and be herself. But Nina, Chloe’s horrible! If she’s herself, she’ll be even less popular than she already is! Chloe actually listens, though – she starts wearing the clothes she actually likes and stops trying to attract guys everywhere she goes. Then she goes to a party and immediately meets a guy. Of course! Also, Nina goes to a study group instead of the party and almost meets a guy. So at least we leave Nina in a good place.

Todd has finally realized that the dream life he wanted isn’t so dreamy after all. He wants a summer internship, but no one wants to hire a guy who dropped out of college. Also, he thinks he has some genius business plan that all sorts of companies will want to snap up, because he’s 19 and has no idea how the world works. He can’t believe that CEOs aren’t falling all over themselves to give him a corner office.

Todd starts having dreams about turning into a loser because he dropped out of school and spends the rest of his life working at Frankie’s. He’s not getting the independence he thought he would, and quitting school has closed him off to a lot of opportunities. So his solution is to go back to school. Well, that was easy. He quickly enrolls for the summer so he can try to get back on track by the fall. Yay, I guess.

Neil has been struggling to stay sane in the duplex, what with Elizabeth and Sam fighting all the time up until now. He decides to move out, and makes arrangements without telling anyone, even Jessica. She finds out when one of Neil’s new roommates calls to tell him the room in her house isn’t available anymore. Jess is furious, but Neil has already changed his mind about moving, since Sam and Liz have calmed down and things are better. Basically, this is a non-plot that just serves to give Neil something to do in his last appearance.

At least he has more to do than Jessica, who spends the whole book mad that Elizabeth wants to be with Sam after he’s been such a jerk to her. The sisters fight a lot, and Jess mopes over how they’re kind of growing apart. She spends way more time thinking about this than she does about her finals. Not that I’m surprised. Then Jess decides to try to get a summer internship at an art gallery, and she rents some movies, and she announces a big party at the duplex without telling her roommates. And then nothing else happens.

Thoughts: Nina has red pony-hair boots. Wh – I – what?

“Being with her was like listening to a song and needing to go out and buy the album right then.” I actually like that line, but the fact that it’s about Elizabeth makes me gag.

Apparently Elizabeth has a crush on Rupert Everett and Neil has one on Matt Dillon. It would make more sense the other way around.

Advertisements

June 21, 2016

SVU #58, The Dreaded Ex: If No One Wants to Be Friends With You, Maybe You’re the Problem?

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 5:06 pm by Jenn

Girl on the left, you are a style disaster

Girl on the left, you are a style disaster

Summary: Did you know that Sam and Elizabeth are fighting? In case you’ve forgotten, we get to read about more of their issues with each other. Liz talks things over with Nina and says that she thinks they can work things out, but Nina reminds her that Sam’s not exactly a catch, and Liz can do a lot better. Eventually things in the duplex get so bad that Elizabeth tells Sam to move out, though she quickly realizes that Jessica and Neil might be mad since they’ll have to cover his rent or find a replacement roommate. Then Nina changes her mind and basically tells Liz to be with Sam if that’s what she wants. You’re not helping, Nina.

Neil thinks things will calm down Liz and Sam them if they start dating other people. Yeah, as if that won’t lead to more problems, like jealousy. You’re not helping either, Neil. Elizabeth considers a writing contest that would give her a chance to spend a semester at the University of Boston, because why work things out with your potential next boyfriend when you can just move across the country and hope to never see him again? She tells Jessica and Neil that Sam’s supposed to move out, but they override her decision and tell Sam he can stay.

Nina tries a new tack: make Elizabeth realize she’s in love with Sam. Liz will only admit that she has “strong feelings” for him. Sam comes in and Elizabeth worries that he overheard her. Jessica tells her sister to chill out for a while and things with Sam will blow over. Then suddenly Sam decides to just apologize to Liz and make up with her. She sees that he’s wearing the hat she gave him, which is some sort of magical move that makes her suddenly forgive him, I guess. They kiss. I really don’t care.

Todd wants to read up on business strategies for his bar, so he buys a couple of books at SVU’s bookstore. Because campus bookstores are known for affordable reading material? He meets an SVU senior named Terese and lets her believe that he still attends SVU. Todd’s co-workers, Cathy and Ryan, call him on not being completely honest with Terese. They think he’s ashamed because he dropped out and works in a bar, and if she dumps him because of those things, she’s a snob.

On Todd and Terese’s first date, he pretends he’s still in school and in a frat. They hit it off because she has no idea that half the things he says are lies. When she wants to hang out again, he meets her on campus, making it look like he’s coming out of a class. They run into Nina, who mentions that Todd dropped out. He lies that he only considered it, and tells Terese that Nina likes to exaggerate. Later, Todd and Terese run into a former classmate of hers who dropped out and now works as a waitress. Terese is judgmental, so Todd thinks he’s right not to tell her he dropped out, too.

For their next date, Terese wants to pick Todd up at the frat house where she thinks he lives. She also wants to take him to the Hot Dog Festival people talk about for half the book. He thinks he’s talked her out of going to the frat house, but she shows up anyway and is told that he doesn’t live there. As he’s trying to come up with a lie she’ll buy, they run into a professor who mentions that Todd dropped out. Once the whole story comes out, Terese tells Todd that she doesn’t care why he dropped out or that he works in a bar, but she can’t trust him anymore, so they’re done. Cathy and Ryan remind him that there are other people out there to date. I assume Todd just ends up with Cathy?

In the plot that lets us know how pathetic Chloe is, she’s trying way too hard to get people to like her. She buys bagels for her sorority sisters and is upset that they’re not as grateful as she’d like them to be. She keeps joining their conversations, then pouting because no one invites her to hang out. Chloe also tries to avoid her nerdy sort-of boyfriend, Martin, so people won’t think she’s a nerd by association. Then she realizes she would have more fun with Martin than with her sorority sisters who don’t want to spend time with her anyway. She decides to give Martin a makeover so she’s no longer embarrassed to be seen with him in public.

Chloe chats with a couple of Theta sisters, trashing Martin by calling him a nerd. Then she makes him get a haircut and tries to buy him new clothes. He’s on to her and calls her on trying to change him. He also wonders why she wants to spend so much time with him after saying she just wants to be friends. Chloe actually has a crush on him but is in denial, and doesn’t want to date a nerd. She blows him off, then gets blown off by some Thetas. Looks good on ya, Chloe. Later, she tries to act like nothing happened and everything’s fine between her and Martin, who’s understandably cold to her.

Chloe talks to her BFF Val about Martin, but doesn’t bother to mention that she’s in love with him. Val asks if she can ask out Martin, since Chloe supposedly just wants to be friends with him. Chloe says yes, thinking Martin will turn Val down. She’s wrong, so ha, Chloe. She finally decides to be honest with Martin about her feelings, but she realizes he’s still mad and wants to move on. She runs into Nina and finally asks if she can tag along to the Hot Dog Festival instead of just waiting for an invitation from various people like she’s been doing the whole book. I guess we’re supposed to feel sorry for Chloe because no one likes her and she’s too pathetic to make new friends or extend an invitation, but I can see why no one wants to hang out with her.

Thoughts: This book came with a Bowling for Soup poster and free cassette offer. Score!

These are the facts, Sam: Buy your own groceries. Leave mine alone.” Those aren’t facts, Elizabeth. As a journalist, you should really know what the word “fact” means.

For college students, these people sure get up early, especially on the weekends.

I’m not 100% what the Hot Dog Festival is all about, but I think people just eat hot dogs for three days. I’m not sure that qualifies as a festival.

June 7, 2016

SVU #57, Who Knew?: When You Live With Elizabeth, You’re No Longer Entitled to Privacy

Posted in books tagged , , , at 4:29 pm by Jenn

Obviously the person designing the covers had just given up by this point

Obviously the person designing the covers had just given up by this point

Summary: Sam has successfully stayed away from the duplex for a few days, still not wanting to face Elizabeth after their kiss. Elizabeth is desperate to talk to him, even falling asleep on his bed while waiting for him to come home. You’d think she’d take the hint, but no. Sam runs out of people to crash with and starts driving around town, looking for a hotel. There’s a big football game, so a ton of people are in town, and the only hotel with a vacancy is the super-fancy Sweet Valley Resort Hotel. Sam would rather not stay there, though…because his family owns it. We’ve known for a while that Sam is rich (but won’t spend his family’s money), and now we know how they got that way.

Out of options, Sam checks into the hotel, landing the owner’s suite. Due to some sort of tax issue, the hotel is actually in his name, so he’s technically the owner. And yet he lives in a duplex and shares a bathroom with three other people. Sam, what’s wrong with you? This is like Todd wanting to pay his own rent even though he has a bank account full of money from his parents. Boys, you are in college! College students are poor! Take advantage of…you know, not being poor!

Sam invites his friend Anna over, she of the plan to make Elizabeth jealous by making her think Sam had a one-night stand. Anna tells Sam that he’s clearly in love with Elizabeth and needs to let her know. Meanwhile, Liz is still obsessed with the fact that Sam’s been MIA, and is so distracted that she can’t have a normal phone conversation with Nina about her best friend’s problems.

Elizabeth goes looking for Sam, because SHE IS A STALKER, and happens to drive past his car outside the hotel. She goes in to ask if he’s there and learns that he spent the night in the owner’s suite because he’s…well, the owner. She goes up to see him, finds out that Anna spent the night, and flips out. Sam thinks his problems are solved – Elizabeth won’t want him anymore, so he doesn’t have to worry about things like expressing his feelings or becoming vulnerable while actually spending time with the woman he’s in love with. Anna thinks he’s nuts. Anna’s right. I would like to swap Elizabeth out for her, please, and finish out this series in peace. (Only three books left!)

So now Elizabeth is all mopey over Sam a) not telling anyone his family’s rich and b) hooking up with Anna again. She tries to vent to Nina, but that doesn’t work out, since Nina’s mad about Elizabeth not listening to her problems earlier. I really wish that Nina had enough of a backbone to cut ties with Liz and seek out friends who are there for her when she needs them and help her when she needs advice. Elizabeth doesn’t even care that much that she’s blowing off her supposed best friend.

Sam finally returns to the duplex, having decided he needs to be upfront with everyone, especially Elizabeth. Neil’s ticked that Sam lied to everyone, which…whatever, it’s not like he killed someone and covered it up. I mean, I think the whole thing’s dumb, but Neil seems like the kind of person who would be pretty forgiving in this kind of situation. Anyway, Sam tries to talk to Elizabeth, but after all those days of wishing he’d come home, she now wishes they’d never met.

Sam makes up with Anna by buying her flowers, then tries the same tactic with Liz. Liz happens to be off with Nina, making up with her instead of getting tossed in a Dumpster like she deserves. When Elizabeth gets home, she verbally tosses Sam in a Dumpster, making him change his mind about trying to make things work between them. I honestly don’t see what either of them sees in the other, and I couldn’t care less about this relationship.

The problems Nina’s been trying to discuss with Elizabeth have to do with Josh, the guy she’s recently started dating. She thinks he’s eager to have sex, and that her desire to take things slowly is turning him off. He’s really hot and cold with her, and eventually she decides to just go ahead and sleep with him, I guess so she doesn’t lose him. The next morning, Nina realizes she made a mistake, but she still likes Josh and wants to date him. She’s convinced herself that this is a solid relationship, or will at least become a solid relationship over time.

Clearly, Josh doesn’t agree. A friend of his, Dan, asks Nina out, confusing her since she thought everyone knew that she and Josh were a couple. Dan tells her that Josh okayed a date between them, claiming that they have an open relationship and are free to date other people. I’ve never felt sorrier for poor, naïve Nina. Nina talks things out with Elizabeth once they’re friends again, and Liz helps her see that she’s not at fault for the destruction of the relationship. I only wish we’d gotten a scene where Nina told Josh off, preferably in public, in front of someone he was trying to pick up.

The Jessica/Neil/possibly-gay-Jason triangle is still in play, with Jess and Neil both still insisting that he or she is the object of Jason’s affection. Neil’s upset with Jessica because he saw Jason first, but Jess claims she’s just trying to prove that Jason likes girls and doesn’t want to date Neil. Okay, but there are better ways of going about this. Both of them continue hanging out with Jason, and it’s not easy to tell which way Jason leans.

Jessica ultimately decides that she’s going to take herself out of the equation and let Neil have Jason, if that’s what Jason wants. This may be the most mature Jessica has ever done/ever will do. I’m actually shocked that she was worried enough about her friendship with Neil to let him win. But I’m also not shocked that things don’t turn out the way she’d planned: When she goes to see Jason to “break up” with him (keep in mind that they’re not officially dating), they end up kissing. And you’re probably not surprised to hear that Neil sees them.

For some friends, this could spell the end of the friendship, but Jessica’s still on her maturity kick, and Neil is already more of a grown-up than most people in this series, so they make up without much further drama. They’ve decided separately to bow out of the love triangle, valuing their friendship more than a guy neither is even sure likes one of them.

Jason asks them to meet him, and the three finally talk about the weird situation. Jason reveals that he’s struggling with his sexuality – he thinks he’s gay, and was basically seeing Jess to figure out if he likes girls at all. He’s realized that he does like guys, or at least he likes Neil, but because he’s just now figured that out about himself, he’s not ready to be in a relationship. So all around, these three handled things pretty well. Too bad they didn’t start getting smart until after things had blown up. Fortunately, Neil gets over it pretty quickly, realizing that he still has Jessica to pal around with. Poor guy. Make some new friends! There’s more to life than being a supporting character in the never-ending drama that is the Wakefield twins’ lives!

Thoughts: Josh’s version of sweet talk: “Oh, you smell so nice. Like a field of wildflowers! It’s making me dizzy. Your hand is so smooth and small. You feel so good to me.” Ugh.

“Nina had an important role to play, but everyone knew that Elizabeth was the star.” Hey, Nina figured out what Enid never did!

“‘So, you’re not attracted to me,'” Jessica stated bluntly, and immediately hated herself for trying to make this whole conversation about her.” Hold up. Are we still talking about Jessica Wakefield?

May 10, 2016

SVU #56, Dropping Out: Todd Is Sooooooo Grown Up Now

Posted in books tagged , , , , , at 5:28 pm by Jenn

Why is there hay? There's no hay in this book!

Why is there hay? There’s no hay in this book!

Summary: Todd is living the glamorous life in Sweet Valley, doing such grown-up things as working part-time at a bar and paying rent. He thinks that since he’s an adult, he should stop taking his parents’ money and pay his own way. I guarantee he’ll regret that when he’s 25 and living on ramen. Note to Todd: You’re 19. It’s okay to let your parents pay for stuff while you get your degree. It’s even recommended. But no, Todd wants to be a big boy and navigate his own way in the world. Too bad he sucks at it and can barely make it to class on time. Even when he does make it to class, his grades aren’t very good. And on top of that, his car needs repairs.

After making a date with a classmate named Jodi, Todd gets a ride home from Elizabeth. He confides that he’s thinking of taking the rest of the semester off, and possibly the next one, so he can just work at the bar and enjoy being a grown-up. Elizabeth tells him he’s crazy. They get into a fight and he ends up walking home because he doesn’t want to have to listen to her anymore. I feel you, Todd.

Things start looking up for our boy when his boss offers him a promotion – he’ll become an assistant manager and make $10.50 an hour. Todd’s eyes are briefly replaced with dollar signs. He thinks $10.50 an hour is a huge amount. Doesn’t he drive a BMW? $10.50 should be nothing to him. Todd wants the promotion, but the drawback is that it’s a full-time position. He’ll have to bite the bullet and drop out for the semester. After some consideration, mostly about all the stuff he’ll be able to buy with his new riches, Todd accepts the job. He immediately realizes that a couple of his co-workers aren’t happy for him, but he doesn’t know why.

Todd drops his classes but doesn’t bother telling his parents (which is ridiculous, because THEY PAID HIS TUITION). When they find out, they’re furious. His father orders him to reenroll at SVU, and when Todd doesn’t, they close his bank account and take back his car. So Todd is finally doing what he’s been wanting – paying his own way. It’s just bad timing, since Todd will have to take the bus to meet Jodi for their date. But hey, he’s a rich man now, so he might as well wine and dine her.

After dinner, Todd takes Jodi by his bar to show her where he works. She hates it. She also hates that he’s no longer taking classes and is just a bartender. When she agreed to a date, she thought she was dating a student. Todd’s bummed, but when he runs into Sam later, and Sam talks up how awesome it is being single, Todd decides he’s better off.

Soon, Todd discovers that his new work responsibilities come with a lot of…well, responsibilities. He doesn’t get to just do the fun stuff anymore. He has to be in charge and make sure things are running smoothly. This is especially difficult when some of his co-workers are still cold to him. He finally learns that it’s because bartender named Cathy was hoping to be made assistant manager. She thinks she can handle the new tasks, and she would have liked the raise in pay. I was waiting for her to mention that Todd doesn’t need a higher-paying job since he has rich parents.

Todd suggests that he and Cathy split the job and work different shifts as assistant manager. They’ll work together one night a week to make sure they’re on the same page. It’s a good idea on paper, but in practice, it doesn’t go well. Cathy ends up ditching the promotion and going back to being just a bartender. And though Todd is getting a whole $10.50 an hour now, he realizes that it’s expensive to be a grown-up, especially without his nest egg to fall back on. He manages to get a little money selling back his textbooks, but it’s going to be a struggle.

He runs into Lila and Alex, who think he’s cool for dropping out, but clearly they don’t get what it’s like to have to work for a living and support yourself and do mature things like pay for utilities and car repairs. They just think he’s cool because he doesn’t have to worry about midterms. Fortunately, Todd’s attitude has started to change, as he realizes he should worry about getting a new car instead of the motorcycle he’s been wanting. Unfortunately, he’s still a friendless college dropout working in a bar, making his parents mad.

In SVU plots involving people who actually still attend SVU, Elizabeth is trying to deal with her break-up. She runs into Finn, who’s a jerk to her, and ends up fleeing a coffee shop in tears. Sam sees her and lays into Finn. He buys Liz a journal and a Bugs Bunny pencil to cheer her up, and she realizes he’s not the total clod she thought he was. When Finn accuses Liz of sending Sam after him, she stands up to him, pretty much calling him a slut and saying he sleeps around because he feels inadequate. Go, Liz!

To thank him for his presents, Elizabeth gets Sam a baseball cap (apparently he collects them). At home, they’re awkward around each other, and she misses an opportunity to give him the hat. When she goes to his room later, she hears him talking to a girl and chickens out. Sam has been wrestling with his feelings for Liz, but he doesn’t want to date her because he knows he’ll end up letting her down.

Elizabeth tries to stalk Sam in his room, I guess to see if he has another girl over again. At the end of another awkward chat, she goes to kiss him on the cheek but accidentally kisses his lips instead. Suddenly Liz is in love with Sam and can’t stop thinking about him. She leaves his present in his room, but never hears back from him about it. That’s because Sam starts avoiding the duplex, thinking he won’t be able to control himself around Liz. Buddy, I don’t think she wants you to control yourself. They spend the rest of the book apart.

After all of her late-night partying, Nina’s realized that her grades are suffering. But she can’t resist spending time with her new guy Xavier. She wants to know if they’re a couple, but he tells her he doesn’t like labels. Pssst, Nina: That means he’s just fooling around with you until he finds someone hotter. Get out now. She tries to have an actual conversation with him, but he clearly isn’t interested. He just wants to make out and flirt.

Nina isn’t the only one Xavier’s making out with, and when she goes to visit him one day, she finds him with another girl. Later, he goes to see her and tries to get her to come out with him. Nina just closes the door in his face. Unfortunately, her backbone is only there temporarily, as she decides to go see him again and give him the chance to explain himself and apologize. Instead, she finds him with yet another girl.

Nina finally realizes that Xavier is the wrong guy for her. She’s much more suited to a guy named Josh, who she meets in the library. She decides it’s time to stop partying so much, get her grades back up, and go back to her old self. Nina and Josh go on a date and start getting closer, though she’s worried that he’ll turn out to be just like Xavier. I’d say she has a good chance of ending up happy, though, since Josh seems to be genuinely interested in her, and not just in making out.

There’s a teeny side plot with Jessica and Neil that doesn’t really go anywhere, and mostly happens off-screen, so to speak. They both met a guy named Jason, and Neil asked him to study together. He thinks it’s a date, but Jessica thinks Jason is straight and actually wants to study. In fact, she thinks Jason doesn’t know Neil is gay, and was really flirting with her. Neil points out that a) everyone at SVU knows he’s gay, thanks to his ultimately unsuccessful run for president, and b) Jason got Neil’s phone number, not Jessica’s, so he must not like her.

Neil hits it off with Jason, though he’s still not sure if Jason wants to be more than friends. Jessica tries to settle things by asking Jason out, wanting to prove he’s straight. Neil gets angry, since, straight or not, Jessica shouldn’t be moving in on a guy her best friend likes. Fair enough. Elizabeth suggests that the two of them actually ask Jason his preferences, but they don’t want to listen to her logic. Neil’s upset that Jessica has betrayed him. I’m upset that this plot is almost exactly like an episode of Will and Grace.

Thoughts: Elizabeth says “dammit.” I AM SCANDALIZED.

Xavier: “We’re communicating on a metaphysical plane where no words are truly needed.” Translating: “We’re just going to band until I get tired of you.” Seriously, Nina, get out of there now.

“If it were physically possible for a person’s head to burst free from his neck, Sam would have been decapitated by a wave of disgust.” Beautiful.

Neil, re: Jessica: “How, in the name of all that is good and holy, have you lived with that girl for nineteen years?” Elizabeth: “I have an incredibly high tolerance for shrieks and pouting.” Hee.

April 26, 2016

SVU #55, The First Time: Finn-timacy Issues

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

This is so "Beverly Hills, 90210"

This is so “Beverly Hills, 90210”

Summary: Sam is out at Todd’s bar, Frankie’s, when he spots Elizabeth’s boyfriend Finn with a woman who is definitely not Elizabeth. And let’s just say the woman can’t be mistaken for Finn’s sister or cousin or some other woman he’s not romantically involved with. Elizabeth actually has a date with Finn planned for later and has no idea that her man currently has another blonde draped all over him. Sam lets her know, but she doesn’t believe him, and not just because Finn would never go to Frankie’s, or any other townie bar. Apparently SVU students are very against mingling with non-SVU students.

On their date, Finn professes his undying affection for Elizabeth and asks to date exclusively. When she says yes, he decides it’s time for the sex to happen. Elizabeth has been thinking about this lot – though, for Elizabeth, even ten seconds of thinking about sex is a lot – and is edging closer to being ready to lose her virginity. She gets turned off, though, when Finn wants to get it on in his car in the parking lot. Fair enough. Finn invites her over to watch movies, though he can’t find any when they get to his place. SUSPICIOUS. They’re about to get horizontal when Elizabeth finds High Noon. Finn gets blocked by Gary Cooper.

Eventually Finn tries to undress Liz again, but she finally tells him she’s a virgin and wants to take things slowly. He assures her that they’ll move at her pace…as long as her pace leads them to the bedroom in the next five minutes. Elizabeth admits that she’s scared about her first time, which Finn says is very high school of her. What a compassionate, caring guy you’ve chosen here, Liz! She ends up running home, crying. Yeah, you’re not ready for this Liz.

On campus, Elizabeth sees Finn talking to another undergrad and thinks he’s getting her phone number. She realizes she doesn’t want to lose him to another girl. Yeah, that would be such a horrible loss. Finn thinks they should work through their sex anxiety by visualizing everything going well. Finn, if you want to picture your girlfriend naked, it’s not like she can stop you. They agree to finally do the deed on Saturday, after a party at the duplex.

Liz is still nervous but not backing out. She gets birth-control pills (a HUGE step for our girl), then wonders if they should also use a condom. Considering Finn’s popularity with the ladies, YES. She calls Finn to chat, but he’s busy with a supposed study group, which sounds suspiciously like just one woman. Poor, naïve Liz.

At the duplex party, Sam tries again to get Elizabeth to see that her boyfriend is a jerk. He brings up seeing Finn at Frankie’s, even getting Todd to confirm that he was there with another girl. Finn just calmly pleads innocent, and of course, Liz buys it. After spending some time at the party, they go to his place for their big night together. Only this time Elizabeth finally realizes for sure that she’s not ready.

Finn, of course, doesn’t react well. He calls Liz out for being a tease, and tells her she’s lucky he chose her since he can have any girl he wants. Then he calls up one of his other conquests and invites her over while Elizabeth is still standing right there. Liz tries to call Jessica to come get her, but she reaches Sam instead. He brings her home and manages to not say “I told you so” about what a jerk Finn turned out to be.

Sam, by the way, has spent the book being an idiot. He wants to show Elizabeth how much of a jerk he is so she’ll see how bad Finn is, too. I don’t get his logic. Anyway, he enlists an ex named Anna to pretend they’re hooking up just so he can toss her out the next morning and make Elizabeth think that guys are dogs, I guess. Since Elizabeth is dumb, it works. I don’t know how it’s going to make Liz want Sam, though.

In the last book, Chloe and her new friend Val were accepted as Theta pledges, and now they’re facing some hazing. A couple of Theta mean girls make the pledges do humiliating things like kiss sorority guys on command and give the sisters massages. In the cafeteria one day, Val is ordered to fat-shame her roommate, Deena. Val has started to grow tired of the Thetas’ shenanigans, and this is the last straw for her. She doesn’t want to be a part of a group that’s so mean to other people. She announces that she’s dropping out.

Chloe is given the task next, and she seriously considers doing it. After all, being a Theta is all she’s ever wanted (for the last two books). But she realizes that Val and Deena have become good friends of hers, and she’d rather spend time with them than with the Theta snobs. She ditches the task as well and quits the pledge process.

But! Denise and Jessica learn about the hazing and reprimand the sisters behind it for being so cruel. They don’t want Theta participating in demeaning activities, and they hope the pledges don’t hold the hazing against the rest of the sisters. They’ve decided that anyone who dropped out of the pledging can be reinstated. Val doesn’t really care, but Chloe’s thrilled. After spending some more time with Val and Deena, she goes to the party at the duplex and hangs out with a semi-nerd named Martin. She judges him harshly at first, then decides to take pity on him because he’s not as bad as she thought. Martin, run away!

Todd spends the whole book working and becoming more and more of a townie, because it makes him feel grown-up. He’s determined not to live off of his parents’ money, though he doesn’t mention to them that he’s dropped a few classes and therefore doesn’t need as much for tuition as they’ve been paying. Todd is annoying so I really don’t care about him anymore.

Nina’s been going out more, and has a crush on Xavier, a singer with a band called Wired. He seems really into her, but then he doesn’t call her after he says he would, and he brushes her off the next time they see each other. Nina’s fooled herself into thinking they’re dating, despite the fact that they’ve talked, like, twice and he would rather flirt with groupies. At the duplex party, guys keep talking to Nina, who’s suddenly a hot commodity. She only has eyes for Xavier, though, and by the end of the book, they’re about to head to bed together. P.S. It’s Elizabeth’s bed. So at least that piece of furniture is going to see some action.

Thoughts: For a med student, Finn sure has a lot of free time to go on dates, and a lot of money to spend at expensive restaurants.

“‘Girls like that don’t have one-night stands. So a guy’s gotta put on a little show. It’s not like I’m the only one who does it. All guys do.’ Not all guys, she corrected mentally.” You know, Liz, it’s usually the guy who says “not all men.”

The ghostwriter needs to NEVER write another sex scene. I want a promise in writing.

The ghostwriter also needs to stop thinking that college students call each other “darling.”

April 12, 2016

SVU #54, Rush Week: I Really Wish People Would Stop Rewarding Chloe’s Horrible Behavior

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , at 4:49 pm by Jenn

Is that Chloe? I want to bite her

Is that Chloe? I want to bite her

Summary: When Chloe first arrived at SVU, she was very much against joining a sorority, since she didn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. But now that everyone in her dorm thinks she’s a dork, and she’s kind of become friends with Jessica, she’s desperate to join Theta and move into the sorority house. Chloe befriends a girl in her dorm, Val, and is so eager not to lose her that when Val says she also wants to become a Theta, Chloe decides to work extra-hard to get them both inducted.

Theta has just elected new officers: Denise is president, Alex is vice president, Lila is treasurer, and Jessica is pledge chairwoman. Jessica is immediately inundated with requests to consider new pledges. She was really excited about her new role, but that wears off pretty quickly since people only want to talk to her to kiss up or ask for a favor. Chloe doesn’t like that other girls are sucking up, either, but it’s because she can’t convince them that she and Jessica are totally BFFs. Chloe has totally deluded herself into thinking she’s not annoying and that Jess really wants to spend time with her.

The first step in making Val a viable pledge: a makeover! Chloe wants to turn Val from dorky to glam. Val has un-rush-worthy clothes and spends too much time with her dumpy roommate, Deena, which disgusts Chloe. Chloe, by the way, becomes a huge witch in this book, to the point where I can no longer tolerate her. She thinks that if Val keeps hanging out with Deena, Deena will ruin Val’s chances with Theta. Chloe takes Val shopping, buys her a bunch of new clothes, and pays for her to get a haircut. Val continually objects to letting Chloe spend so much money on her, but Chloe’s family is so rich that she doesn’t think her parents will even notice.

Rush week events begin, and Jessica is already sick of them. The girls rushing Theta are all idiots. Two of them make the huge mistake of saying homophobic things about Neil, not realizing that he and Jessica are best friends. They figure they’ve lost their shot at Theta because of that, but Jess tells them it’s really because Theta doesn’t want bigots. It’s a pretty awesome moment.

Chloe is shocked when Val hits it off really well with the Thetas – much better than Chloe herself does. Jess can see that Chloe’s trying really hard and reminds her that the whole sorority votes on new members. In other words, sucking up to Jess is a waste of time. But Chloe doesn’t catch the hint, and she hatches a plan to win Jessica over. She buys scalped tickets to a concert Jessica really wants to go to and offers them to Jess, pretending her mom bought them but Chloe can’t go. Even though Jess was really hoping to get tickets, she turns Chloe down, knowing it’s wrong to accept a bribe.

Val meets Chloe’s horrible roommate and her horrible friends, and again, Val manages to make a good impression. Chloe worries that Val will end up surpassing her in the popular department and ditch her, so she invites her to the concert. But then they run into a couple of Thetas who want to go to the concert, and Chloe gives them the tickets, deciding that a bribe is more important than having a good time with a new friend.

At the next rush event, Chloe goes on and on about how she’s a Theta legacy and her family’s rich and her mom is BFFs with some designer. Jess is irritated until someone calls Chloe out for lying about dating Tom. Jess comes to her defense, saying that Tom led her on. That night, Chloe starts worrying that she won’t get into Theta, and even wakes Val up to get reassurance. I really don’t know what Val sees in Chloe, especially since she’s starting to get that Chloe thinks Val will ruin her chances with Theta.

When it comes time for the Thetas to discuss pledges, it first seems like Chloe will be turned down. Jessica starts talking her up, though, and everyone begins to spin Chloe’s negatives into positives. I don’t understand this. Jess clearly can’t stand Chloe. Why is she going to bat for her? Anyway, the officers decide to give Chloe a little test.

On Bid Day, Val gets an offer from Theta, Jessica invites Chloe to breakfast off-campus. Chloe thinks she’s being taken somewhere private so Jess can break bad news to her where she can’t make a scene. They meet up with Lila, Alex, and Denise, and everyone but Chloe orders a huge breakfast. When they’re done, the Thetas all pretend they haven’t brought any money with them, so Chloe will have to pay. Chloe says she will, since she’s desperate to be a Theta and will do anything for a bid.

The girls imply that they’d like Chloe to buy new furniture for the house (didn’t Alison do that?), so if she agrees to, they’ll make her a Theta. Chloe says again that she’ll do anything because being a Theta is the most important thing in the world to her, despite the fact that she was so against it just a couple books ago. When bids go out, Val gets an offer from Theta, but Chloe gets nothing. Then Jessica tells her in person that Theta wants her, but they wanted to teach her a lesson about sucking up. I can’t believe they want to voluntarily spend time with this trainwreck of a girl.

Elizabeth is still seeing Finn, and since she hasn’t talked to him for a little while, she goes by the med school to see if she runs into him. She does, and she has to pretend she’s there to meet up with someone else. This makes Finn jealous, and he quickly invites Elizabeth to his place for dinner. Sam is also jealous because Liz likes Finn, but I really don’t care how Sam feels about anything.

The couple’s date goes well, but when Finn is ready for dessert, Elizabeth backs off. Oh, and by “dessert,” I mean sex. Elizabeth isn’t quite ready to take that step, so she asks Finn if they can slow things down. He’s all, “Yeah, that’s completely fine. Now I’m going to take you home for a completely unrelated reason.” Smooth, Doctor. He tries again after another date, using the excuse that he’s so into Liz that he can’t help himself. Red flag!

Elizabeth tells Jessica what’s going on, and Jess says she’s doing the right thing – Finn will be more interested in her if she keeps denying him sex. Yeah, that sounds like a foolproof plan. Off-screen, so to speak, Liz tells Finn about her relationships with Todd and Tom, and why she’s a little gun-shy. She’s still thinking over what to do the next time Finn brings up sex. Also, somehow their relationship has made her feel like she needs to stop fighting with Sam over stupid things, since she’s dating a man instead of a boy, which makes her more of an adult. Oh, just hook up with Sam already. We all know it’s going to happen.

Nina decides to move out of the duplex, thank God – her constant fighting with Sam was bugging the crap out of me. She gets a single in a dorm, but I guess she doesn’t have any friends other than Elizabeth, because she gets lonely pretty quickly. She meets a classmate named Francesca and agrees to go see a band with her. Nina has to study, so she plans to only go out for a few hours, but she ends up staying out until one in the morning. Then she decides to keep partying since she’s already out. Never mind that she has an 8 a.m. class.

After falling asleep in class, Nina goes to her dorm to take a quick nap before she has to go to her part-time job. The nap turns into an hours-long sleep, and Nina misses work. Francesca is completely unconcerned. Nina doesn’t seem to get that Francesca only cares about having fun. Then again, Nina’s decided that she needs to have more fun, even if it means her grades suffer a little. There’s no way this will turn out badly!

Todd gets the really boring plotline in this book. To make a long story short, Dana has moved out, and Todd wants to become a big ol’ bachelor. He decides to drop some classes and work more hours at the bar, possibly using some of his money to buy a motorcycle. He meets a girl named Lucy and they hit it off, but she cools off on him when she finds out he works at a “townie” bar. He hangs out with a friend all night and decides going to class isn’t that important, now that he’s a grown-up with a grown-up job. Yeah, good luck explaining that logic to your parents.

Thoughts: In a throwaway moment, we learn that Neil lost the election. Boo!

Finn wears “a black Armani jacket, Levi’s, and loafers without socks.” Run away, Elizabeth! Never trust a guy who wears loafers without socks.

A girl named Angela asks Jessica if she can eat coconut, since she’s allergic to nuts. Jessica can’t believe she’s never had coconut before. Angela says it’s because she’s from Michigan. Jessica doesn’t know what that has to do with anything, but she realizes she doesn’t know if coconut is a nut. My head hurts.

March 15, 2016

SVU #53, Truth or Dare: SVU’s Elections Are a Gay Old Time

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , at 4:43 pm by Jenn

The love child of Wentworth Miller and Brian Austin Green

The love child of Wentworth Miller and Brian Austin Green

Summary: Neil is our star in this book. Yay, Neil! He and Jessica go out to a club, where girls keep hitting on him. Then a guy named Dave hits on him, but Neil doesn’t want to get involved with anyone; something happened at Stanford to turn him off of dating for a while. Jessica has decided to run for pledge chairwoman at Theta, and Neil is a little jealous that she has an activity she’s so excited about. At Stanford, he was in student government, fencing, and debate, but at SVU, he hasn’t found a club yet.

So Neil goes to the Student Center to sign up for something, only to learn that SVU has no debate team or fencing club. The budget has been cut so much that only the frats and money-making teams like football and basketball have survived. Neil then runs into a guy named Chip who’s running for SVU president. Chip is a frat guy and only really cares about getting more funding for Greek life. A girl Neil complains to suggests that he run for president as well. He latches on to the idea, deciding to ask Jessica to be his campaign manager, since she’ll be great at getting his name and message out to the other students.

Jessica’s happy to be in charge of something, and I have to say, she makes a great campaign manager. Neil starts campaigning right away, telling the students that he wants to make SVU more democratic. They should be able to choose activities to be offered, rather than having to pick from the few available. Who can say no to that idea?

A guy named Chris approaches Neil, happy that a gay student is running for president. Record scratch! Neil is barely out and is shocked that someone has caught him on gaydar. Chris is with the GSG, the Gay Students Group, who wants to offer Neil their support and endorsement. Neil fears that he’ll end up getting outed, and that his sexuality will overshadow his platform. But the damage is done, and soon everyone on campus has heard the rumor that Neil is gay. This brings the bigots and homophobes out of the woodwork.

During a chaotic night at the duplex, Jessica gets a call from Chris letting her know that the GSG wants to endorse Neil. Jess hasn’t yet talked to Neil about this, so she doesn’t know that he’s not happy about being the GSG’s new mascot. When she tells him, he argues that his sexuality and personal life should be kept separate from his campaign. Jess doesn’t see the harm in being known as a “gay candidate” – after all, Neil is gay, so he’s automatically a gay candidate. Of course, Jessica’s straight, so she doesn’t get why Neil might not want to out himself. The two of them fight, and Jess quits the campaign.

Neil turns down the GSG’s endorsement, which Chris isn’t happy about. Neil figures out that Chris wants to take advantage of having a GSG ally in student government; he doesn’t care about Neil’s platform at all. Chris refuses to withdraw the endorsement – the GSG will support Neil without his consent, and everyone at SVU will learn that Neil is gay.

Anti-Neil flyers start circulating, calling him “queer” and urging people not to vote for him. The Thetas are horrified and vow to help bolster Neil’s reputation. Jess talks to her buddy Alejandro, who encourages her to make up with Neil and return to his campaign before it becomes a total disaster. Before she can, someone from the school’s paper tries to ask her about a statement made by the GSG about how Neil is in the closet because he’s ashamed. Jess is smart enough not to give a comment. Neil is also questioned, and he proves to be very media-savvy – he won’t comment on his personal life, and he won’t distract from his platform.

The twins confer with Steven, wondering if they can sue the GSG. Steven teaches them about a little thing called the First Amendment. The twins decide to write an article for the paper about Neil’s campaign, trying to do a little damage control. Meanwhile, the GSG circulates flyers telling people to prove they’re not homophobes by voting for Neil.

Jessica and Neil make up, but she still doesn’t get the big deal about letting himself be outed. After all, there’s nothing wrong with being gay, so why shouldn’t people know? Neil finally tells her what scared him back into the closet: He fell for a closeted professor at Stanford, and they snuck around behind the guy’s wife’s back. Eventually the professor came clean, and his wife made him quit and move away in exchange for keeping his secret. So Neil lost his first love, then came out to his parents, who disowned him. Jess feels horrible and now gets why Neil is so private.

The two friends work on Neil’s campaign at the Red Lion, but Neil’s now pretty well-known, and the bigots are still angry. A guy yells at him, but Lila, in one of her most awesome moves to date, stands up to him and announces that the Thetas are endorsing Neil. Neil then heads to a dinner with the two other candidates, who turn out to be friendly and supportive. They clearly couldn’t care less that Neil is gay, and they think he’s tough for trying to overcome everything that’s being said about him. They’re also happy that he’s inadvertently getting people interested in student government. Neil realizes that even though the other two are just assuming he’s gay without confirmation, he doesn’t actually care.

Dave pops up again, admitting that he told Chris that Neil is gay, which drew the GSG to Neil in the first place. Neil forgives him, since Dave didn’t mean to start the whole Neil/Chris mess. The candidates have their first debate, and Neil does okay, but not better than his cheerleader opponent. Then someone in the audience starts yelling for him to comment on the rumors that he’s gay. Neil ends up announcing that, yes, he’s gay, but that’s not the important part of his campaign. He gets support from the audience, and later, a date with Dave. Awww!

Over in not-so-happy plots, Dana’s lonely now that Todd is working long hours. She cheers up a little when she hangs out at the bar where he works, which makes her think she can make the rest of her life better. No such luck: She embarrasses herself in music class and runs out. That, combined with the reality that it’ll be hard to become a professional musician, and her lack of free time to spend with Todd, make Dana decide to drop out of SVU.

Todd thinks this is a terrible idea. He points out that they won’t have more time to spend together, since he’s still working and going to school. Plus, her parents will probably cut her off for dropping out, so she’ll need to get a job to help with the rent. Dana then talks to Tom, who’s a little more supportive. He suggests that she give cello lessons, which Dana thinks is a brilliant idea. But her first is a disaster, as she’s basically a glorified babysitter, and her charge is a monster. Todd thinks this is funny. Todd spends a lot of this book sleeping on the couch.

Dana tries to cheer herself up by cooking a special dinner for Todd, but she didn’t confirm that he would be home for dinner. He gets called to work, and Dana throws a fit when he won’t stay home with her instead. She gets suspicious when she learns that the guy Todd was supposed to be covering for is at work, too. She calls Tom to complain, and he invites her to a frat party, where they both get really drunk…and end up in his bed. When she confesses to Todd, telling him she was so drunk that she thought she was with him, he kicks her out of their apartment. With no money and nowhere else to go, Dana heads home to her parents.

Chloe is desperate to become popular, and she thinks landing Jessica as a BFF and Sam as her boyfriend are the keys. No one actually knows Sam, who doesn’t even go to SVU, so I’m not sure about the logic here, but that’s really the least of Chloe’s problems. The biggest is that Sam and new duplex resident Nina are warring, and Nina doesn’t appreciate that Chloe’s always at the house. What’s interesting is that Chloe doesn’t completely hate Nina – she admires her for being assertive and confident.

Things with Sam go nowhere, as he’s content to just hang out at the duplex and listen to music with Chloe rather than doing anything romantic. After he tells Nina that Chloe isn’t his girlfriend, Chloe runs off to feel sorry for herself. She hears her dorm-mates talking about joining Theta, and how Chloe will never be allowed in (not that Chloe actually wants in).

Chloe watches a talk show about ways to make a man fall for you. It’s the most ridiculous, feminist-movement-setting-back crap, and I cringe at the thought of girls watching it and thinking it’s the way to go. Chloe’s too dumb to resist, so she does things like agreeing with everything Sam says, pretending she likes everything he likes, etc. It doesn’t go anywhere, since Sam doesn’t realize that Chloe likes him as anything more than a friend.

So Chloe pulls out the big guns, putting on some lingerie and a trenchcoat to give Sam a little peep show. She goes to his room and opens her coat to greet him. Only he doesn’t open the door – Elizabeth does. The idea of Elizabeth getting flashed by another girl makes me giggle, because how would she process that? I don’t think she would have any idea what to do in that situation. Sam doesn’t realize anything has happened, but Chloe is fully embarrassed.

In other news, Elizabeth thinks she keeps seeing Finn around town with another woman, even though he’s supposed to be out of town. This doesn’t go anywhere. Also, Neil tries to stop Nina and Sam’s fighting, cracking down on the twins a little in the process. Seems to me he would make a very good president.

Thoughts: Giving cello lessons shouldn’t be such an out-of-left-field idea for Dana. After all, when she entered the series, she was giving lessons to Tom’s little sister.

“How do you have time to make your bed every morning?” Jessica knows it takes, like, ten seconds, right?

Jess has a lot of compassion and sympathy for Neil, so clearly we’re dealing with an alternate universe here.

“If someone sees the garbage is full, that person has to take it out.” Nice try, Neil. Everyone will just claim they didn’t notice it was full.

March 1, 2016

SVU #52, Fooling Around: Jess Sure Knows How to Pick ‘Em

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , at 5:14 pm by Jenn

I don't know if that's Finn or Tristan, but I wouldn't trust a med student or a TA with that hair

I don’t know if that’s Finn or Tristan, but I wouldn’t trust a med student or a TA with that hair

Summary: I guess Jessica has the A-plot here. She has a major crush on her art history TA, Tristan, who’s 22 (which means, for once, Jessica’s crush on an older guy isn’t completely inappropriate). Meanwhile, Jess’ friend Alejandro has a crush on her. Love triangle! Well, not really. Jess has no clue that Alejandro likes her, partly because she’s too obsessed with Tristan to notice anyone else. She wants to ask him out, but she’s worried because he’s older and a TA. This is the same person who dated her married professor during her freshman year, right? Alejandro is sad that Jess likes someone else, but still nice enough to suggest that she ask Tristan to tutor her so they can spend time together.

Tristan agrees to the tutoring, though he most likely means it as a euphemism, or at least a jumping-off point for something else. Jessica actually studies so she won’t be totally dumb when she talks to Tristan about art. She’s decided to declare art history as her major, by the way. I don’t know what she plans to do with that degree. Shouldn’t she go into fashion merchandising or something like that? Tristan decides that Jess is really good at analyzing art, though her observations seem pretty basic to me. But I majored in English, so what do I know?

Though the tutoring session goes well, Tristan doesn’t make a move to initiate anything beyond a tutor/tutee relationship. Jessica complains to Alejandro, who points out that he’s probably not allowed to, being Jessica’s TA. Jessica decides that it’s not against the rules for her to ask Tristan out, so she comes up with an excuse to talk to him, then starts kissing him. Well, that was quick.

The new couple goes to an art gallery for their first date, and Tristan shows off a painting he has displayed there. Jessica wants to go to a club, but Tristan thinks they should keep their relationship discreet. Jess finds this romantic, of course. After some sneaking around, Jessica talks to Alejandro again about her clandestine relationship. Her professor overhears and tells her that Tristan is under scrutiny for sexual harassment – he’s pursued six other girls. SIX. Jess, get out of this relationship right now!

Jessica’s professor says that Tristan would threaten to fail the girls if they didn’t date him. As #7, Jess would be a valuable witness at his upcoming hearing. She argues that she was the one who initiated the relationship, and Tristan has never mentioned grades or anything that would give her the idea that there’s a power imbalance there. Her professor points out that, if they were to break up, Tristan could get revenge by failing Jess, and the professor would never know why.

Jess quickly questions Tristan, who claims he dated the six girls but never threatened them. Still, though, he’s going to quit his TA job and leave town. Before the hearing? What a coincidence! So Jess is suddenly single again. And it’s only, like, two weeks into the semester!

Elizabeth is having trouble adjusting to having Sam in the house. He’s really inconsiderate of his housemates, blasting his music, eating everyone else’s food, and taking over the living room. His beer-can collection is still there. Elizabeth cuts her hand on the cans, so Neil takes her to the hospital to get stitches. There, Liz meets med student Finn Robinson and is immediately smitten. Before she leaves, he asks for her phone number so he can check up on her later. Totally normal med-student behavior!

Finn is as smitten as Liz, and as soon as he calls to “check up on her,” he asks her to dinner. He’s from New Orleans, so they go to a Cajun restaurant. Elizabeth thinks this is sophisticated and adult. They run into someone named Stephanie who Finn apparently broke up with not long ago. She’s upset that he’s brought his new girlfriend to the restaurant they liked to go to together. Elizabeth doesn’t think there’s anything weird going on, but if I were her and my new guy had a crazy ex, I might think twice about this new relationship.

Sam is totally jealous of Elizabeth’s new crush but is trying to hide it. Chloe provides a welcome distraction when she starts hanging around the duplex. It starts when her roommate busts her on her fake relationship with Tom. He calls to leave Chloe a message saying he doesn’t want to go on any more dates…and he calls her Cody. Ouch. Chloe zeroes in on Jessica as a potential new friend – she uses Lila as an in, asks for Jessica’s art history notes, and lies that she’s dying to become a Theta. Jess takes the bait and lets Chloe follow her home like a puppy.

As soon as Sam meets Chloe, they hit it off. Liz and Chloe, not so much. She doesn’t like Chloe being around so much and eating the housemates’ food (though Chloe also brings over food, so just eat that, Liz). Even when Jessica’s not around, Chloe starts dropping by to hang out with Sam. She has her sights on him as her new boyfriend, so she can get over the humiliation of the Tom situation. Seems like she could do a lot better.

Todd and Dana have the annoying C-plot. Turns out living on your own in college and having to pay for everything yourself when you don’t have money isn’t as fun as you’d think! And on top of that, Dana’s struggling in her music classes for the first time. She’s being shown up by a freshman! The horror! Everyone knows freshmen are supposed to be failures at everything. So Dana’s classes are rough, money’s tight at home, they keep eating macaroni and cheese because they can’t afford anything else, and Todd won’t cancel the cable so they can save money. Todd must have his ESPN!

But Todd is also smarter than we give him credit for, as he realizes that money can pay for goods and services like his precious sports network and food that doesn’t come in a box. He gets a job at a bar so he can provide for his woman. No, seriously, he feels it’s his responsibility to provide for Dana, like it’s the 1950s and she can’t get a job of her own to help out with the bills. Never mind that Todd’s family is rich, so he could just spend his savings. He doesn’t want to rely on his parents for money. Todd, sweetie, in about five years, you’re going to be wishing you’d taken your parents’ money when you had the chance.

Todd really likes his new job, but Dana isn’t happy about it. He works late hours (no kidding – it’s a bar) and sometimes goes out with his new co-workers after. Dana wants Todd home with her so she can whine about how badly her life is going. Remember that Dana has no friends. This book proves why. The freshman from her music class tried to be nice to her, but Dana was rude, so she’s burning bridges she hasn’t even built yet.

Dana starts thinking of dropping out of school, since the cello was her one true love and now they’re breaking up, or whatever. Todd says she just needs to find a new one true love. After all, he found something he enjoys doing, and now he’s happier. Dana’s like, “Nah, better to just quit altogether.” I hope she at least gets a job. Once Dana’s made up her mind to drop out, she’s suddenly happy, and she goes to Todd’s bar for a visit. She sees him goofing off with a hot bartender and gets jealous. Todd would probably be smart to try to hook up with the bartender. She can’t be as annoying as Dana is.

Nina’s plot in this book is so weak that it’s not even a D-plot. It’s an H-plot. She hates her roommate, who has moved on from trashing the room to trying to perform magic or voodoo or something on her ex-boyfriend’s karma. Nina tries to get a new room, but there’s nothing available. Finally, Elizabeth realizes that there’s room for Nina in the basement of the duplex. I say banish Sam to the basement so the normal people can use the rest of the house, and Liz doesn’t have to see Chloe all the time. Whatever, this should have happened two books ago.

Thoughts: How can Dana and Todd’s utility provider charge for the next month? You can’t charge for something that hasn’t been used yet. Sounds like a scam to me.

Dana complains that no one helps her get her cello out of her car. Hey, princess, if you want to play a big instrument, you’re responsible for it. Either take up the flute or shut up. (I seriously have no patience left for this girl.)

“Not that Chloe’s flaky – she’s just young.” She’s only a year younger than you, Jess. Tone down the condescension.

February 16, 2016

SVU #51, Living Together: Sophomore Slump

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 8:17 pm by Jenn

This is pretty cute, actually

This is pretty cute, actually

Summary: As was briefly mentioned in Loving the Enemy, Jessica and Elizabeth, now sophomores at SVU, are going to be living with Neil. They’ve found a duplex with four bedrooms, though they didn’t take a look inside before signing a lease, so they’re surprised to see how run-down it is. Also, they got a place with four bedrooms despite not having a fourth roommate or being able to afford the place without a fourth roommate. Great planning, guys. I trust you to live on your own and take care of yourselves.

The roomies start interviewing people to take the fourth room, but as anyone could predict, all of the options are horrible fits. There’s the pierced punk who loves loud music. There’s the smoker who doesn’t even last ten seconds, jetting as soon as she learns that the duplex is non-smoking. There’s the nerd who probably won’t appreciate living with college students who like to party. Yeah, but at least he’s probably neat and would pay his rent on time.

While Neil and Elizabeth suffer through unending, unpromising interviews, Jessica has a catastrophe to deal with on campus. She’s learned that, despite paying her tuition, she’s not enrolled at SVU. She has to run all over the place to fix this, barely making it to the bursar’s office by the end of the day. No worries, though – some idiot credited her tuition check to Elizabeth instead of Jess. How did that person not see that Liz had paid twice? Maybe that person should cut back on his or her hours and attend more classes. Anyway, Jess is set to go, and now has a new friend in the office, a guy named Alejandro.

Sam happens to be in Sweet Valley, looking for a place to live. He couldn’t get housing at his school, so he’s checking out flyers for rooms to rent when he runs into Liz, who’s putting up an ad for the duplex. Of course, he’s going to end up moving in with the twins and Neil, but right now we have to pretend it’s not a sure thing. Which is reasonable, because Elizabeth is justified in not wanting to live with the guy who treated her so badly over the summer.

Neil meets with his new advisor, who’s surprised that he’s transferring to SVU from Stanford. Neil admits that his financial aid didn’t come through, which isn’t true: His parents cut him off after he came out. I just want to give Neil a big hug and bake him cookies and binge-watch trashy reality shows with him. Unlike the twins, whose parents are paying their rent and tuition, Neil has to fend for himself financially. He doesn’t want anyone to know.

Eventually, as anyone could predict, Sam mentions to Neil that he needs a place to live, so Neil immediately invites him to move in. He loves the idea of living with someone the group already knows. Sam’s jerky friend Floyd helps him move in. Sam’s a jerk, too, insisiting on setting up his beer can collection in the living room. Everyone fights, though things would probably be a lot tamer if Floyd weren’t there.

There are B-plots galore. First: Todd also doesn’t have a place to live, so he’s been staying at Dana’s. Dana’s three roommates aren’t happy about that. They think he hogs the phone, the hot water, and their food. They gang up on him and Dana, announcing that it’s time for him to leave. Totally reasonable. But Dana makes things worse by siding with him, telling her roommates that if they kick him out, she’s leaving, too. They call her bluff and show her the door.

Dana and Todd crash in a motel room since they have nowhere else to go. Here, I have to quote the recapper at 1BRUCE1: “Apparently she’s been lying there, crying for hours on end. Here’s the thing, though — I’m not sure if it’s from the housemates-kicking-her-out thing, or the motel room’s decor of ‘paintings of sad-eyed children in clown suits.’ WHAT?! Did Todd ask for the nightmare suite? That is, quite frankly, terrifying. Nobody has ever taken a woman to a motel room adorned with sad clown babies with any other intention but to face-stab her. Dana is going to get stabbed in the face here.”

Todd goes looking for a place to live (and yes, he does briefly consider the duplex, but he’s smart enough to know that’s a horrible idea), quickly realizing that since Dana needs a home, too, they might as well just get a place together. He rents an apartment and surprises Dana, who isn’t that thrilled that he didn’t talk to her about it first, especially since moving in together is a pretty big relationship step. She starts to warm up to the idea, even if it means they can barely afford food. Everyone in this book needs to get a job. Things are tense, but when Dana plays her cello, Todd realizes how much he loves her, and vice versa. If music be the food of love, etc., etc.

Chloe is now a freshman at SVU and, like Neil, is keeping a secret: She’s super-rich. So I guess not everyone in this book needs to get a job. She wants her classmates to like her for who she is and not think she’s a snob, so she tries to ditch all her expensive clothes and slum it in the dorms like a common townie. This despite her mother offering to rent her a penthouse apartment. Chloe, dignity is overrated. Go for the penthouse.

Chloe’s roommate, Moira, is really annoying and immediately pegs her as rich. Chloe hangs out with her anyway. She tries to make friends with some other girls in her dorm, but she’s too quiet to get into their conversations. To make the girls think she’s more awesome than she actually is, Chloe tells them she has a boyfriend at SVU, a popular senior who adores her. His name? Tom Watts.

Tom himself is still struggling to move on from Elizabeth. He meets up with a friend from his football days and gets back into the groove of being obsessed with sports and being called Wildman Watts. Tom decides to ditch his journalism major and the TV station so he can go back to being a jock. In fact, he’s considering going back to the football team. I’m sure his years away haven’t hurt his skills at all.

Chloe learns where Tom lives (from Winston, in his sole appearance in the book – hi, Winston!) and stakes out his dorm so she can pretend to run into him. Even though Tom seemed to really like her after their first date, he now is pretty indifferent to her. But since she seems to have a crush, he decides to humor her and ask her out. This is just what Chloe wanted: Her new friends get to see her being picked up for a date by the guy she claims is her boyfriend. She even makes out with him in front of the other girls. Slow it down, Chloe. He’s not that great.

The final B-plot, which is more of a C-plot, involves Nina being lonely because she’s finally broken up with Bryan (yay!). She has a new roommate, a girl named Shondra who won’t stop talking about her boyfriend. Then she has a long, dramatic phone conversation with said boyfriend and trashes the room. Seems to me that Nina would make a much better roommate at the duplex than Sam, but she wants to be more independent or something. I’m sure she regrets that decision now.

Thoughts: Whoever wrote the back-cover blurb gave away that Sam would be the fourth roommate. Boo!

Always be suspicious of a rental you don’t get to see ahead of time. It’s not going to be the Ritz.

“Chloe didn’t fit anywhere at SVU.” You haven’t even been there 24 hours. Chill.

“Sometimes I think I should play it safe and do something a little more academic, like English or art history.” First of all, English is “safe”? And second, the idea of Jessica as an English major is the funniest thing I’ve heard all month. Just imagine her having to write a 15-page paper about, like, Chaucer.

Neil bought orange crushed-velvet drapes. Wow. Hideous.

November 10, 2015

SVU #45, Don’t Let Go: “Jessica Wakefield Is Checking Out”

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , at 5:23 pm by Jenn

This picture has nothing to do with the book

This picture has nothing to do with the book. Way to phone it in, cover illustrator

Summary: Nick = dead. Jessica = sad. Actually, Jessica is more than sad – she’s a combination of devastated and traumatized. All she can think about is Nick, and when she’s not thinking about Nick, she’s paranoid that his killer is going to come after her. Elizabeth is either in denial or a complete idiot (possibly a little of both), because she thinks Jessica just needs to be distracted. She also thinks Jessica needs to keep up with her schoolwork. Jessica’s so far gone that she barely registers that she’s even at school.

Finally Jess tells Elizabeth to leave her alone, and instead of making sure Jess has someone looking after her and making sure she eats and stuff, Elizabeth ditches her. I don’t know what she thinks will happen, but it doesn’t help. Jessica continues to spiral, even thinking she sees Nick on campus. Lila finds her in the midst of her breakdown and tells her she needs to get over Nick. Wow, Lila. It’s been, like, three days. You took forever to get over Tisiano, so shut it.

Jessica goes to Nick’s grave and lies down during a rainstorm, getting all muddy. She thinks she can feel Nick’s spirit, and she decides she needs to do something with her life that would make him proud. Except when she gets ready the next morning, she proves that she’s really losing it – she tries to wash her hair with hand lotion, and she puts lipstick on her cheeks.

A teacher calls her out for not doing well in class, then assigns her a paper on anarchy and death. Jessica’s mind goes back to a dark place, and she loses the tiny grasp she had on her sanity. She ends up at Theta house, where Alison tells her she’s not representing the sorority well, so she’s out. Geez, I knew Alison was horrible, but this seems like a little much. Jessica spends the evening alone in her room, talking to a teddy bear and deciding she’s not going to survive her grief: “Jessica Wakefield is checking out.” But there’s a guy watching her through the window, and he’s optimistic…

Elizabeth is assigned a story on how students at SVU feel about sex. Yes, this is the perfect story for her! She interviews a guy named Chip who ridiculous her for being a virgin. They get in a fight about how she’s uptight and he’ll nail anything that moves. They’re both awful. While I think it’s perfectly fine for Elizabeth to want to wait, she needs to chill out. She can’t expect everyone else in the world to abstain.

Liz decides to show that she can loosen up by going to a frat party and dancing with random guys. Tom’s there, getting drunk to keep his mind off of his problems with Dana and Elizabeth, and he gets into it with a guy Liz is dancing with. Tom and Elizabeth are both so awful that they kind of deserve each other. I just don’t want to have to read about it.

Todd and Dana are becoming friends, and realizing that they have more in common than they thought. He feels uneasy about moving on from both Gin-Yung and Elizabeth, and she feels uncomfortable in general because people think she’s a whore who only goes after Liz’s rejects. I actually feel sorry for Dana in this book, which I think is a first. Dana’s been struggling with her music recently, but when she plays her cello for Todd, she sounds wonderful. Someone got her groove back!

Elizabeth’s article makes Dana feel like a slut some more, but Todd tells her Liz is wrong – everyone is allowed to make his or her own choices about sex, and having it doesn’t make you a bad person. He notes that he had sex, so it’s not like he’s “pure” or whatever. The two of them go on a date, and it goes really well, and they wind up kissing. I’m not a Dana fan, but I’m almost happy for her.

In case you’ve forgotten (heh), Isabella has amnesia. Her parents want to take her to some special facility in Switzerland where there’s apparently a doctor who specializes in…amnesia. I guess. Hey, can he pop over to General Hospital? Because there’s an amnesia story that’s been going on for more than a year, and we’d all like it to get wrapped up. Also, GH loves Swiss clinics. Anyway, Danny wants Isabella to stay in Sweet Valley, so he keeps trying to come up with things she might find familiar.

At first the Riccis agree, putting Isabella up at some fancy hotel and letting Danny visit. But Amnesiac Isabella is like a frightened little baby bunny, and also kind of a jerk about stuff she doesn’t like. Danny does his best, but Isabella doesn’t remember anything, so ultimately her parents take her to Switzerland.

Tom spends the whole book being a jerk to people at WSVU, calling Dana a parasite (and, for all intents and purposes, a slut), and…what’s the opposite of slut-shaming? Prude-shaming? Whatever it is, he does it to Elizabeth. Shut up, Tom.

In the barely-worth-mentioning plot, Nina thinks Bryan’s cheating on her because she found another girl’s name written on his notes. Elizabeth figures he’s sleeping around. We don’t care what you think, Elizabeth.

Thoughts: So where are Ned and Alice? Do they not care that their daughter just lost her boyfriend? Why does Elizabeth think she can handle school? Why doesn’t she encourage Jess to go home and take the semester off? Nothing here makes sense.

“He thinks he’s all that and seventeen bags of chips.” Ghostwriter, please don’t attempt ’90s slang.

Apparently people were still using the word “sanitarium” in 1999.

Next page