August 18, 2015

SVU Thriller, Don’t Answer the Phone: Sweet Valley Is Still the Murder Capital of the World

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 8:15 pm by Jenn

I thought Enid decided against plastic surgery at that death spa

I thought Enid decided against plastic surgery at that death spa

Summary: Good news, people who have been dying for an Alex book – your day has come. Alex is still dating Noah, though things aren’t going very well for them. She has a habit of being late to meet him, and he blames her tendency to spend too much time with her sorority. He doesn’t like the person she’s become. Alex, however, likes who she is. She hated herself as Enid, but in college, she’s been able to reinvent herself. She’s the person she always wanted to be, especially since she’s quit drinking.

Alex still works at the SVU substance-abuse helpline, which is how she met Noah. She’s able to use her own experience abusing alcohol to connect with the callers. She takes a call from a guy calling himself Rodin, after the sculptor, and helps him stay strong while he tries to lay off the booze. Then she meets Rodin face-to-face in art class. He’s a guy named Luke who’s in love with her, even though they’ve never spoken.

After another big fight with Noah, Alex goes to the helpline hoping to put in some extra hours. She meets Fred, the new supervisor, who’s a huge jerk. He wants to schedule everyone’s time (even though they’re all volunteers) and dictate how they speak to callers. Alex talks back to him, which is partly awesome and partly dumb, because you don’t want to tick off someone who has that much power over you. But I guess it’s just another example of the kind of person Alex is now compared to who she was as timid, always-follows-the-rules Enid.

Alex takes a call from someone she thinks is pulling a frat prank. He guesses what she’s wearing and calls her “baby” and is generally someone you wouldn’t want to talk to. She tries to brush off the incident. However, she can’t brush off Fred, who’s mad that she’s listed as Enid in his files but uses the name Alexandra. Apparently this is a big deal to people, which I don’t get. It’s like using a nickname.

Another call comes from the creepy guy, who tells Alex that she’s supposed to be his. She’s still not sure this isn’t a prank, but she’s definitely freaked out, as she should be. As he calls more frequently (and accidentally IDs himself as Travis, though it’s not clear if that’s his real name), Alex considers calling the police, but she’s incredibly mistaken about the helpline’s confidentiality policy. She’s been told that under no circumstances is she allowed to tell anyone what someone has told her on the phone. Alex, dear, this doesn’t count. A guy threatening you is no longer subject to confidentiality. Your personal safety is not more important than his anonymity.

Here’s where things really start going off the rails. The caller goes to the sorority house and murders someone he thinks is Jessica. It’s actually a pledge named Susan, Alex’s “little sister,” who had borrowed Jessica’s sweater. She was also wearing a pair of Lila’s earrings, which the killer rips out of her ears (ow) and later puts in Alex’s room. Alex thinks the killer is targeting her friends, so she breaks up with Noah to protect him. She should really break up with him because he’s a jerk and thinks she’s psychologically screwed up because she has two personalities, Enid and Alex. Shut it, Noah.

Alex decides to sculpt a limestone memorial for Susan (just go with it), and the extra hours in the art classroom have her getting to know Luke better. They have a lot in common, between their love of art and their experiences with drinking. Alex is late to her next shift at the helpline, where Fred is upset that a girl who used to have a drinking problem is now giving advice to people with substance-abuse issues. Apparently Fred doesn’t know that tons of recovering addicts work in these kinds of positions. Fred asks Alex out, which is really weird, but she tells him off.

Not long after, Alex gets a call from Travis and starts thinking he’s Fred. She finally decides to call the police. She has to make the call from her dorm, since the phones at the helpline don’t make outgoing calls (what?), but in her room, she finds Fred’s body. Minutes later, Noah arrives, claiming he found Alex’s keys (which went missing days earlier). Alex now thinks Noah’s the killer. After all, he’s been showing his temper more and more, he’s been verging on violence, and he had access to Alex’s room to leave the earrings and Fred’s body.

Alex tries to distract herself by working on the memorial sculpture and hanging out with Luke. The two of them kiss, and Alex thinks she’s made a great new love connection. After she leaves the classroom, Travis calls a nearby pay phone (sure, of course). He announces that he’s behind her and grabs her. He’s wearing a ski mask, so Alex can’t see his face. She asks if he’s Noah, then Luke. But Travis has already kidnapped Noah, tying him to a chair, and there’s what looks like a body in the classroom, which Travis says is Luke. With Fred dead, Alex has no other suspects.

Travis decides that he’ll give Noah one chance to save his own life. If he can correctly answer a question, he’ll be allowed to live. The question is: If Enid had a sorority party the same night she needed to study for a test, what would she do? Noah says that she would put in an appearance at the party, then go home and study. Alex is thrilled because that’s exactly what she would do – her boyfriend knows her after all! But Travis says that’s the wrong answer. He wanted to know what Enid would do, not Alex. Semantics!

Alex tries steering into the crazy, as I call it – telling Travis she wants to be with him, and that she’s Enid and not Alex anymore. Travis still wants to kill Noah, so Alex begs him to just let Noah go. Noah promises to leave them alone and let them ride off into the sunset together. Fortunately, Travis is so far gone that he falls for it, and Alex manages to overpower him. The memorial statue falls on him, and just before he dies, he seems to become sane again. Alex unmasks him and realizes that he’s Luke; there’s no body in the classroom. So I guess he had multiple personalities? I don’t know. Alex and Noah are back together and everything’s good again. No one mentions the irony of a person being killed by a memorial.

Thoughts: Noah calls Alex’s sorority house a “Victorian house of ill manners.” Shut up, Noah.

I think Trina’s supposed to be annoying, but I like her. She’s the smartest person in the book.

How does Luke know random pay phone numbers? I mean, I know that’s a strange thing for me to fixate on, but I still want to know the answer.

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October 28, 2014

SVU #26, The Trial of Jessica Wakefield: “The Grand Jury Hearing of Jessica Wakefield” Doesn’t Have the Same Ring to It

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:25 pm by Jenn

I have no idea who these people are supposed to be

I have no idea who these people are supposed to be

Summary: Jessica has been arrested, and things aren’t looking good. Because of the amount of cocaine she was found with, the police – including Nick – think she’s a drug dealer. Meanwhile, a suspicious Jordan delivers Celine what she thinks is her money, but what’s actually Lila’s hat. Jordan realizes what was really going on, and Celine warns him not to tell the police, since he’d be arrested, too. The guys she got the drugs from give her five days to get them their money.

Ned and Alice are out of the country, which leaves Steven as the default “grown-up” in the family. He’s barely in the book, though, and does nothing useful, like hire her a lawyer. Jessica struggles in jail, as you can imagine, and I would laugh at her but I know that if it were me, I’d cry the whole time. I actually feel sorry for Jess. Anyway, She tries to convince Nick that she didn’t do anything wrong and didn’t even know drugs would be involved. She just wanted to find out what he was keeping from her. The problem is that no one saw Jordan at the exchange, so it looks like Jessica was just hanging around with a bunch of coke.

Jessica and her public defender end up in front of a judge who’s determined to rid the world of drug crimes. He schedules a grand jury hearing to determine whether there’s enough evidence against Jessica to send her to trial. (This is how the book can get away with the legal proceedings moving so quickly. Otherwise, Jessica would be in jail for months.) No one can afford Jessica’s bail, so she goes back to lockup.

Nick has started to doubt that Jessica’s a drug dealer, and decides that he can’t testify against her. He’s suspended from his job, which just gives him more time to investigate the case on his own. This involves some deducing and other detective stuff that’s not really interesting to read about. Elizabeth is actually the better detective, as she gets Jessica to remember that Jordan was wearing an engineering sweatshirt, which could help them narrow down who he is.

Speaking of Jordan, his guilty conscience makes him call the drug hotline, where Alex happens to take his call. He confesses that his girlfriend got him mixed up in a drug deal, but he got a hatbox instead of money, and now mobsters might be after him. (Ahh, college was crazy for all of us, wasn’t it?) He tells her he’s going to hide out in his hometown.

There’s a Theta gathering, and Celine stupidly wears the hat Jordan gave her. Lila recognizes it and says that Jessica was supposed to pick it up for her. Alex figures out that Celine and Jordan were involved in Jessica’s “drug deal,” and she and Noah head off to try to find Nick. They first encounter Elizabeth, who tells them about Jordan’s engineering shirt. Alex finds Nick at the Theta house, looking for evidence that could clear Jessica, and tells him about the shirt and the call from Jordan.

Celine is next to sneak into the Theta house, looking for things she can steal for money. She comes across Lila’s bank card, which Lila lost a while ago and Isabella returned (but didn’t give back to her in person – good job, Isabella). Celine uses the card to pay off her debts and go on a shopping spree. Then she goes to withdraw money and gets busted by Lila’s own father, causing her to flee (still wearing that stupid hat).

Meanwhile, Nick does some more detectiving, which mainly involves driving all over California to find Jordan. He eventually does, and convinces Jordan to come to Jessica’s hearing. He arrives just in time to get everything sorted out and reveal that Celine was behind the deal. The judge is all, “Sorry, Ms. Wakefield. Your boyfriend is a good cop, though.” Jess is off the hook and back with Nick. Celine and Jordan are allowed to make deals in exchange for ratting out the actual drug dealers, so once again, Celine gets away with a crime. Sigh. At least Lila gets her hat.

The only substantial B-plot: Elizabeth and Tom are through, as he believes his father’s side of the story that he never hit on Elizabeth. Tom is a jerk through the whole book, which is really all you need to know. Liz tries to take her mind off of him and Jessica’s trial by going to a party. She accidentally gets drunk on spiked punch, and a guy who’s been bugging her comes close to raping her. Todd swoops in to save the day. The next morning, Elizabeth wakes up in Todd’s bed and freaks out, thinking they slept together. They didn’t, so Liz is still a lily-white virgin, but now her interest in Todd has been rekindled. So sorry, spending-the-semester-abroad Gin-Yung.

Thoughts: Yeah, like Jessica was really going to go to prison for a drug crime. I mean…middle-class white girl. Come on.

Celine buys turquoise velvet couches. Ick.

Danny declines an invitation to a Rams game so he can go to Jessica’s trial, and Tom thinks, “I finally get a chance to see the Rams play and something Wakefield related ruins it.” So now I definitely hate Tom.

Celine calls fake jewelry “paste.” I learned that term from an SVT book. The circle is complete!

Nick goes to the engineering department and gets hassled by a bunch of nerds. “‘I say he needs a reboot,’ the wiry guy cackled. Nick tensed. A reboot? That sounded threatening. He jumped back from the group and then swung around to face them. No one was going to give him a boot.” Nick, sweetie, you’re embarrassing yourself.

October 14, 2014

SVU #25, Busted!: I Would Like to Exchange a Hat

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:28 pm by Jenn

Nick is actually with the fashion police

Nick is actually with the fashion police

Summary: Still thinking that Nick is a spy, Jessica replaces him at a meeting he’s supposed to go to and pretends she’s a government agent. The person she meets gets spooked, then runs off when Jessica reveals that she doesn’t have any money for him. I’m not sure what would have happened if she’d been asked for information or given nuclear codes or something. She would be a terrible spy, but we already knew that.

On their way to breakfast the next morning, Nick spots someone who could blow his cover, and he has Jessica engage in a car chase to get away from them. Jessica’s like, “All right! Now we’re really getting into spy stuff!” Nick tells her the guys are from his former neighborhood, which was full of bad people. Later, Nick tells his boss that he was spotted by the brother of a drug dealer he put away. His boss is more concerned with the fact that Nick missed his meeting (the one Jessica went to) with a contact who could have been really helpful and might be difficult to get in touch with again. Nick decides to turn to Celine, who’s hinted that she has drug connections.

Celine is busy trying to figure out how she’s going to carry out her plan to get into the Thetas. She told them her grandmother would pay to renovate the sorority’s living room, which is a lie, so now Celine needs some money. She settles on the most ridiculous plan possible to accomplish her goals. First, she singles out a dorky freshman named Jordan who’s so flattered to have her attention that you just know he’ll do anything she wants. Thanks to Alison, Celine is vote into the Thetas, so as long as she can get the money she needs, she’s golden.

Nick shows off some more spy-type skills, like disarming a guy who tries to rob a movie theater while he and Jessica are there. Then he asks the manager to keep his name out of the police report, kind of glossing over the details with Jess. She really just continues to think he’s a spy and keeps spending time with him, because what’s more exciting than a boyfriend who risks his life every day?

Meanwhile, Celine puts the next step of her plan into motion: She tells Jordan that Nick is an environmentalist looking into animal testing at the pharmaceutical company where her (fictional) brother works. Celine’s brother wants to arrange a secret meeting with Nick to pass along some information on his company’s illegal actions. He wants to stay anonymous, so Celine has agreed to get someone else to deliver the information. That someone else is Jordan. Jordan is reluctant to get involved but can’t say no to Celine.

Jessica gets the information about Nick’s meeting with Jordan, so now there are three parties involved who all think something different is going on: Jess thinks state secrets will be exchanged, Nick thinks it’s a drug deal, and Jordan thinks he’s helping a whistleblower. Celine, the only one who knows what’s really happening, buys drugs from some guys who make it clear that she won’t get by on just her charm and pretty face if she doesn’t get them their money. Also, they know her name and where she lives, even though she tried to keep her identity a secret. Celine is a moron. She’s arranging a drug deal so she can pay for a renovation.

As the “deal” draws closer, Nick is pretty casual about the whole thing, thinking it’s a goof and Jordan isn’t serious about it. Jordan gets nervous and asks Celine for details, and she assures him there are no drugs involved. Jessica has to pick up a hat for Lila (don’t ask – she never shuts up about it) and is worried she’ll miss the meet-up.

Jessica arrives in time to meet Jordan, who gives her the package of what he thinks is information on animal testing, but which is actually cocaine. Jessica thinks he’s handing over information on Nick. She doesn’t have any money, and she’s worried that Jordan will hurt her if she doesn’t give him something in return, so she hands over the only thing she has with her: Lila’s hat. Jordan leaves, and Jessica, who has officially bought drugs, gets busted…by Nick.

In the other main plot, Tom is very happy to have family he never knew about, and is spending a lot of time with his long-lost father, George. George takes Tom and Elizabeth to dinner, and starts getting creepy and inappropriate with Liz, touching her more than her boyfriend’s father should. While Tom’s away from the table, George tells Elizabeth how pretty she is and how she should wear diamonds. Elizabeth is uncomfortable and unsure how to react. She decides not to tell Tom anything, instead confiding in Nina, who also isn’t sure what she should do.

George then takes Elizabeth and Tom to a concert on campus, and just as Liz is starting to think she overreacted to George’s previous behavior, he starts getting creepy again. They’re left alone together afterward, and George gives her a diamond necklace and declares his love for her. Elizabeth is able to get away from him before he can kiss her, but she still doesn’t tell Tom what’s going on.

Nina advises Elizabeth to talk to George, so Liz goes to see him at his place. BAD MOVE. Always meet creepsters in public, if you have to meet them at all. George pretends that he knows he was in the wrong and asks if they can make things okay. Then he tries to kiss Elizabeth again. She runs off to cry in the library, where she encounters Todd and tells him everything. He encourages her to talk to Tom. When she does, Tom accuses her of being jealous of his relationship with George and making up his creepiness (which…when has Elizabeth ever done anything like that)? Elizabeth smartly tells him they’re done.

Alex is still struggling with her sobriety, so she decides to volunteer at the campus drug/alcohol abuse hotline. At first she’s just doing things like stuffing envelopes, but then she’s allowed to shadow a guy who takes calls. He lets her take a call of her own and she impresses both of them with her ability to talk to people about drinking and drugs. Making things even better for Alex, she and Noah make up.

The only really interesting thing with this plotline is that Jordan calls the hotline to confide that he thinks Celine got him involved in a drug deal. Alex can’t report anything because it’s all confidential. Then when the “deal” goes down, she and Noah see Jordan running across campus with a hat box, which is a pretty great visual. It’s even funnier when you realize that Celine thinks she’s going to get a stack of money but is really just getting Lila’s hat.

Thoughts: They mention Nina’s haircut again. Seriously, why is that so important?

Tom doesn’t seem upset that his parents lied to him his whole life about who his biological father was.

“On the one hand, it was so like Elizabeth to one-up her without even trying.” And it’s so like Jessica to think that Elizabeth is every trying to one-up her.

It’s funny that Elizabeth thinks Nick is weird because he’s always on his phone when nowadays you’re weird if you don’t do that.

September 30, 2014

SVU #24, His Secret Past: More Like THEIR Secret Pasts

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

I don't think Nick ever learned how to hug

I don’t think Nick ever learned how to hug

Summary: Forget about Ben, Josh, and all of Jessica’s other recent love interests: It’s Nick Fox’s time to shine. Jessica meets him on campus when he sees her ad selling her and Elizabeth’s TV, and Jess immediately falls in luuuuuuuuuv. Nick seems nice but it also a little shady. For example, he pulls out some self-defense moves when someone taps him on the shoulder. What Jessica doesn’t know is that Nick is using her for some mysterious reason. He knows he’s falling in luuuuuuuuv with her, and he has to remind himself that he’s hanging out with her for “business.”

Jessica spots a gun in Nick’s glove compartment and starts to wonder what his deal is. She thinks he could be a spy, which gets her really excited. She overhears him on the phone, arranging a delivery, and tries to get him to tell her what’s going on. He won’t, only saying that he carries a gun for protection after a mugging. His mysterious deliveries, weapon, and pager add up to drug dealer for Lila, who is smarter than anyone gives her credit for.

Nick goes to a party with Jessica, asking if she and her friends will be doing any drugs. Jess assures him that they won’t. Nick realizes he’s not going to get anywhere in his “business” with this group, but he likes hanging out with Jessica, so he doesn’t want to move on just yet. In other news, Celine is back and wants to become a Theta and steal Nick from Jessica. Alison has befriended her, which means Jessica has extra interest in keeping Celine out of the sorority. Celine flirts with Nick, promising him a good time, and he realizes that she’s the one who can get him access to drugs at SVU.

Jess is ticked over Nick’s interest in Celine, but since he insists it’s platonic, she shifts her focus to whatever he’s keeping from her. She answers his cell phone (which is another reason she thinks he’s a spy – in 1996, who other than spies had a cell phone?) and hears about a delivery taking place at 2 a.m. She decides she’ll show up and see what Nick’s up to. Brilliant plan, Jess.

Elizabeth has her own mystery man to deal with: She meets a guy named George Conroy who’s on campus in hopes of finding his son. He’s never actually met his son, as Conroy and his wife split up when the boy was a baby (thanks to Conroy’s cheating), and he thinks his wife let her second husband give the baby his last name. He has little information to go on, except his son’s birth month and the possibility that he goes to school in California. That’s so little to go on that even a professional PI would probably be hesitant to take the case.

But Elizabeth never gives up! She will find this man’s son! She thinks Conroy’s story would make a great piece for the TV station. Who knew she was so opportunistic? She doesn’t seem to care that she has so many other responsibilities, like school and the TV station and the care and feeding of Tom. She’s also planning a big surprise 21st birthday for him.

Oh, did I mention that Tom’s birthday is this month? Elizabeth wants to cheer him up since, you know, his whole family is dead. It doesn’t help that he’s been working on a family-tree project for one of his classes. Isn’t that more of an elementary-school thing? Thanks to all the time Elizabeth’s spending helping Conroy and planning the party, Tom thinks there’s something wrong. Elizabeth is trying extra-hard not to let Tom find out about the party, and she’s not a great actress.

But there’s no time to worry about that! Elizabeth needs to reunite a family! She and Conroy visit a bunch of banks, trying to find out if his son has an account anywhere. Of course, no bank will release confidential information to them. This is really a difficult search, since Conroy doesn’t know if his son is using his stepfather’s last name or his mother’s maiden name, Antoniani. There also doesn’t seem to be any confirmation that the son is a) in California or b) in college. I can’t imagine Conroy has done all this searching in multiple other towns.

Just before the party, Elizabeth goes to get Tom for what she’s told him is a romantic birthday dinner. She sees his family-tree project and learns that his mother’s maiden name is Antoniani. Finally, what’s been clear to readers the whole book clicks into place for Elizabeth: Tom is Conroy’s son. This means his entire family isn’t dead after all. She quickly calls Conroy and has him come to the surprise party. Happy birthday, Tom! Your parents lied to you about your paternity!

Alex is having a bad month. She’s doing poorly in her classes, she’s not happy with her appearance, and she doesn’t like that Noah isn’t good at cheering her up. Basically, Alex is Elizabeth at the beginning of freshman year. (Except it’s still freshman year, so I’m not really sure how long these people have been at SVU.) She’s been sober for a while but is struggling to stay on the wagon. Alex sees Noah hanging out with another girl, and of course she misinterprets the whole thing. Despite being so popular earlier in the series, she apparently doesn’t have any friends now, so she spends the book moping.

Things finally fall apart when Noah tells Alex that, basically, she’s not at a weak enough point to ruin her sobriety, and all she wants is pity. Yeah, dump him, Alex. She goes to Tom’s party, despite feeling mopey, and is harassed by a couple of drunk guys. Nick gets them to leave her alone, then reveals to Alex what he’s been keeping from everyone else, including Jessica: He’s an undercover cop. To! Be! Continued

Thoughts: “Tom had a bad case of the blues, but she had the cure.” Liz, he doesn’t have a “case of the blues.” He’s sad beacuse his ENTIRE FAMILY IS DEAD. A party isn’t going to make that better.

Nick claims that the mob rigs carnival games. Why would they? There’s no money in that.

Jessica: “He’s too smooth and good looking to be into drugs.” Lila: “Do you think you have to pass an ugly test before they let you sell drugs?” Hee.

If Nick is telling strangers who he really is and trusting they’ll just keep their mouths shut, I think it’s fair to say he’s not very good at his job.

Why is it a plot point that Nina got a haircut? Is this going to come back later? Should I remember it? Guys, remember that nina got a haircut in this book, in case it’s important later.

March 11, 2014

SVH #14, Shipboard Wedding: Sink or Swim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 25, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 11, 2014

SVU #112, College Cruise: Ship of Fools

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

Look at the pecs on Jessica's mystery admirer!

Look at the pecs on Jessica’s mystery admirer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winston eats four lobsters in one sitting. NOT POSSIBLE.

January 28, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Awesome.

January 14, 2014

SVU #11, Take Back the Night: Lila + Bruce 4EVA!!!!!!1!1

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:31 pm by Jenn

Doesn't Jessica look like Charisma Carpenter?

Doesn’t Jessica look like Charisma Carpenter?

Summary: It’s the morning after James attacked Jessica, and Elizabeth wants her sister to report the assault. Jess just wants to move on. James calls her and asks to meet with her, so she heads off to yell at him for his behavior. Elizabeth tells Maia about the assault, and Maia feels guilty for not turning James in when he raped her, since it might have prevented him from hurting anyone else. However, when Liz asks her to talk to Jessica, Maia refuses.

Jess meets with James, who of course doesn’t think he did anything wrong. I mean, she was dressed like a whore, so obviously he was going to try to nail her. If she didn’t want to sleep with him, she should have said something. When Jess and Elizabeth meet up back at their dorm room, Liz tells her that James raped Maia. Then she goes over to see Steven and Billie, planning to tell them about Jessica’s assault. Uh, mind your own business, Liz.

But no, Elizabeth’s business will not be minded! She goes to Sigma House and confronts James, because the best place to have a private conversation with a rapist is in a house full of people who hate you. Liz thinks James is sending her notes, since she stopped him from raping Jessica (and also messed up his car). She calls him out, but he just wants an apology for his wrecked car.

Jessica learns that a Theta named Mariela has a date with James, and tries to convince her to call it off. Mariela thinks she’s just jealous. While talking things over with Tom, Elizabeth comes up with the idea to organize a Take Back the Night rally to get people talking about date rape. Maia thinks it’s a good idea but doesn’t want to attend. Jessica’s leaning towards going, and makes up her mind when Isabella convinces her to use the opportunity to brand James a rapist.

So while they’re at the rally, Jessica gets herself on WSVU and says that she was assaulted. Though she doesn’t name James specifically, she gives enough details that anyone would know who she’s talking about. Maia realizes that James also attacked Jess. Back at her dorm room, Jessica gets another anonymous note (the nice one, not the weird ones Liz has been getting) and a whistle she can keep with her for protection.

Alison and Mariela aren’t as supportive of Jessica’s actions as other people are. They taunt her for being jealous, for trying to humiliate Mariela, and for putting a dent in James’ reputation. Alison also says that everyone’s seen James and Jessica being lovey-dovey together, so no one’s going to believe that he raped her. It’s going to be his word against hers, and he’s a star athlete while she’s a freshman who just got out of a marriage to a loser.

Jessica proceeds with filing charges anyway, which leads to the Sigmas harassing her. James tries to talk to her again, this time coming to her room, but fortunately, this time she won’t give in. Maia tells Elizabeth that she wants to help, but I’m not sure what she plans to do, since she doesn’t want to testify to help Jessica’s case. She also still won’t talk to Jessica about her own assault. She plans to leave SVU if James is found not guilty.

Elizabeth, Steven, and Billie help Jessica get ready for her hearing by asking questions they think she might be asked. They’re all ridiculous questions that no real lawyer would allow to be asked, but the hearing will be in front of a panel of administrators and students, not a real court. Jessica runs into Mike, who wishes her luck (because somehow everyone knows about the charges, though probably not Ned and Alice). Later, Jessica and Elizabeth find a nail in one of their Jeep tires. But then a tow truck arrives and the driver says someone called to let him know they’d broken down. The caller also paid the bill. Weird. I think Mike’s behind all of this.

Anyway, Maia comes to see Jessica just before the hearing, to wish her luck. Jessica reveals that she knows James raped Maia. At the hearing, Jessica testifies about her assault, but no one thinks there’s enough evidence that James intended to hurt her. Jessica wants to tell them that James has raped in the past, but she doesn’t want to bring Maia into it. Even with Elizabeth’s testimony, no one’s convinced that Jessica interpreted the situation correctly. The twins are even accused of creating a publicity stunt for SVU.

When James testifies, he paints himself as completely innocent (of course) and Liz is crazy. He just wanted to have sex with Jessica, but her wacky sister showed up and read the situation wrong. James is cleared, and Jessica is advised to get counseling. But then! Maia shows up, begs to be allowed to testify, and announces that James raped her. For some reason, this destroys him; he didn’t realize he’d hurt her. James isn’t really a bad guy, everyone! He just thinks “no” means “yes”! So that plot’s over.

Lila and Bruce are still stranded, and it turns out that they didn’t really have to be. You know how the first rule of being stranded somewhere is to take inventory of your belongings? (Okay, maybe it’s not the first rule, but it should be.) Yeah, Bruce didn’t do that. They’ve had a map all along and didn’t know it. So now they can get to a ranger station ten miles away. Except they get lost, probably because two rich kids from southern California probably have no idea how to read a map.

Fortunately, Jessica has finally realized that Lila never made it back to school. She calls Mrs. Fowler and reports that Lila’s MIA, so now people are actually looking for Lila and Bruce. The Thetas make arrangements to go looking for them, but they wait too long and never actually go. Instead, there’s just a deus ex machina moment involving a helicopter, and all of a sudden they’re rescued.

Once she’s back in Sweet Valley, Lila can’t stop thinking about Bruce. For various reasons, they don’t see each other while they’re hospitalized, and when Bruce is released without seeing Lila, she worries that they’re not going to pursue a relationship like she wants. But don’t worry, Lila! He just went out to get you flowers! He does want to be with you! It’s just as it always should have been.

I’m still not sure what William’s end game is, but he’s moved from stalking Liz to trying to gaslight her. He steals Elizabeth’s keys and has Celine move her car to make her think she’s crazy, and leave a sonnet behind, I guess to confuse her. Liz keeps seeing William at the library, and he even loans her a book of sonnets. Elizabeth gets a creepy feeling about him but has no concept of following her intuition and avoiding him.

Celine keeps trying to get William to spend time with her so she can make him forget about Liz, but he’s too obsessed to fall for that. Celine and William finally get sick of each other, so William decides to leave Liz notes by himself. After she wakes up from a nightmare in which William is the guy from the library, she finds his latest note, which includes his name. Finally, this is going somewhere!

Time to wrap up Alex’s attempt at having an interesting plot. She’s still talking to T Squared about all her problems while mooning over (and being a klutz around) Noah. She spills some soda around him and calls it fizz, which Noah thinks is awesome. In fact, she’s awesome enough to study with. Wow, way to go, Alex. When she talks to T Squared later, she calls soda “fizz” again, because this is what passes for plot development. Long story short, T Squared is Noah, and he suspects that Enid is Alex.

Alex and Noah go on a date, but she can’t stop thinking about T Squared. She calls him and tells him she wants to meet, which is against the rules of the hotline where he works. It’s also against the rules for the peer counselors to look at the caller ID and find out who they’re talking to, but T Squared/Noah can’t help himself, and he uses it to confirm that he’s been talking to Alex.

If Noah were smart, he would just tell Alex who he is, but noooooo, he has to keep acting like Noah and T Squared are two different people. Then he sees Alex talking to Todd and wonders if they’re together. Finally, Noah calls to ask her out again, and reveals that he’s T Squared. Happy endings for these two boring people.

But dull as Alex’s plot is, it’s not as dull as Isabella and Danny’s. It’s their three-month anniversary, and Danny’s determined to show his girlfriend that he’s romantic. At the same time, Isabella wants to show that she’s not just a posh princess. She decides that they’ll go camping. But that same night, Danny arranges a romantic dinner, and they don’t get each other’s messages about where to meet. Eventually Danny goes to Isabella’s room to wait for her, and he falls asleep there while she camps out alone. Ha ha! How very funny! I wish they had more to do, because I like these characters.

Thoughts: “I keep telling you – the only way to get letters is to write them.” Elizabeth, stop taling like my dad.

Liz tells Steven and Billie about Jessica’s assault without asking her first. Not cool, dude.

At the hearing, the dean asks Jessica, “Are you aware that your accusation could have a profound effect on Mr. Montgomery’s reputation?” And that’s when I threw the book across the room.

Bruce tells the Sigmas not to get revenge on Jessica, threatening anyone who does. That made me say, “Awww.” Even though it’s ironic considering his past crimes.

December 30, 2013

SVU #10, No Means No: Elizabeth is More Awesome Than We Were Led to Believe

Posted in books tagged , , , , , , , , , at 3:27 pm by Jenn

Jessica has hot dog legs

Jessica has hot dog legs

Summary: Jessica is nothing if not persistent, as she’s still determined to pledge Theta, even though Alison almost got her arrested. She’s also still trying to get with James the football player, who is slowly becoming creepier and creepier. Now that the charges against her have been dropped and she’s dating someone respectable, Jess thinks she can get in good with Alison. She’s wrong, because Alison is a mean girl. She goes to the Theta house for a party, and when Alison announces that she’s not allowed to repledge, since she didn’t technically complete the challenge to steal the book, Jess outs her for calling the police on her. The Thetas agree to vote on whether Jess can repledge.

Alex overhears Alison and Peter congratulating themselves for calling security on Jessica, which is all the proof anyone needs that Jessica was set up. When the vote is held, half the Theta sisters want Jessica out. Alex to the rescue! She arrives just in time to reveal that Alison set Jessica up. Even though Jessica’s never done anything to help her, and even though she herself is barely still a Theta, Alex leads the charge to allow Jessica to repledge.

Since the Thetas don’t want two sisters who can’t get along, Magda (the president) announces that Jessica gets to decide whether or not Alison can stay in the sorority. Jessica is thrilled to have this kind of power, and I kind of can’t blame her. Of course she wants Alison out, but Isabella and Denise point out that it’s punishment enough just making her wait for the verdict. Eventually Jessica decides that Alison can stay in the sorority, but she has to wait tables in Jessica’s place one night. Not nearly a fair punishment, in my opinion, but whatever.

Back to James. Someone warns Jessica that he turns into a different person when he’s been drinking, but our Jess was never one for noticing red flags. James asks her to dinner at the Mountain Lodge Inn, which is a few miles from SVU, up a winding mountain road. At dinner, he drinks a lot, and Jessica gets more and more turned off.

Through the book, Elizabeth has been working on a class project with a girl named Maia, but they’re not working well together. Elizabeth thinks they should write about how SVU needs a policy on consensual sex. (I’m not sure how such a policy would work – don’t you just tell everyone, “Don’t rape people”? Or would they have to sign a pledge not to rape people?) For a writer, Elizabeth isn’t very observant, as Maia keeps making comments about how she hates athletes and is clearly uncomfortable with the topic of rape, but Liz doesn’t catch on. Not even when Maia sees James, gets spooked, and runs off.

Eventually Maia confides in Elizabeth that she was raped. Elizabeth urges her to talk to someone, but Maia’s worried that she’ll be blamed. Maia even holds off for a while on telling Elizabeth who the rapist is, but when she does, it’s at the worst possible time: It was James, and he’s out with Jessica. They’re even at the same restaurant where he ate with Maia before he raped her. He pulled off at a lookout on their way home and assaulted her.

While Elizabeth tries to get in touch with Tom to drive her to the Mountain Lodge Inn (he knows the roads better than she does, and she thinks it would be safer), Jessica keeps refusing drinks from James. By the way, William is still doing that thing where he sneaks out of the institution, stalks Elizabeth, and – remember, she’s completely unobservant – doesn’t get caught. So he knows she’s looking for Tom, but he doesn’t know why. She takes off, and someone comes to the library to ask if anyone left him a message. He gets the news that Elizabeth wants to meet him at the Mountain Lodge Inn. He says he’s Tom, but William knows he’s not.

After dinner, James and Jessica head back down the mountain. This is after Jessica realizes that he’s not doing too well, and tries to call Elizabeth to pick her up. They pull off at a lookout as Elizabeth heads up the mountain, unknowingly followed by William. At the lookout, James tries to rape Jessica, who manages to fight him off. Then things get awesome: Elizabeth spots their car, grabs a wrench from her glove compartment, and smashes James’ window. Then she grabs him by his tie and uses it to pin him to the side of the car while Jessica gets in the twins’ Jeep.

When the twins get back to campus, Elizabeth tries to convince Jessica that the assault wasn’t her fault. However, she decides not to tell her that she knows James has already raped at least one person. She sensed someone else on the mountain with them (mystery library message retriever, not William), but doesn’t know who he was. Then someone leaves Jessica’s purse (which she’d left at the restaurant) outside their door; inside it is a card for a taxi service.

Lila and Bruce? Still stranded in the mountains, with wolves gathering. Also, no food or water. And it’s cold. Basically, the opposite of the ideal situation. Lila shows some awesomeness by fighting off a wolf with a flare gun, and she and Bruce are getting closer to their inevitable future romp in the sack, so there’s that. Also, he’s turned on by looking at her legs. Who knew Bruce was a leg man? Lila claims to know survival skills because she tagged along on a trip with her father and some executives to the Bolivian jungle. (Which I call bull on – I’ve been there, and no way could she last 30 minutes.)

The survivalists hear a helicopter, but when Lila tries to signal it with the flare gun, she discovers that Bruce didn’t reload it, despite having claimed to. They fight. Aww, it’s like they’re married already. Lila refuses to use her Bolivian jungle skills to snare food, claiming that she doesn’t want to kill anyone, so Bruce says he’ll use his mad fishing skills from the times he went fishing in Nova Scotia. Both of them are lying about their abilities, but Bruce’s lies almost get him killed – he tries to fish in some rapids, trips, falls in the water, and almost drowns. Lila has to save him.

Bruce and Lila would probably kill each other for food if he didn’t have a fever. Lila realizes that without medical attention, food, or water, he’s pretty much toast, so she sets aside their rivalry to take care of him. She later decides to try to go for help, but she’s not in great shape herself, and she ends up having a weird daydream about her dead husband and Bruce. Then Bruce shows up, desperate for her to stay with him, so she calls off her trip to find help.

But then things start looking up. Lila finds some stuff on the plane that she can use for a fire and to hold water. She also finds a stream with fish in it, so that takes care of their lack of food and water. The Lila/Bruce part of this book ends with Lila fishing naked, then lying down with Bruce to keep him warm with her body heat. Someday they’ll tell their children this story. No, wait – someday they’ll tell their servants to tell the children this story.

In other news, Elizabeth is still a virgin. She and Tom keep approaching the edge of having sex, but she’s spooked by the thought of getting pregnant or catching an STD, so she keeps putting the brakes on. Tom is annoyed because he claims she sends him mixed signals. They discuss this a couple different times, but Liz pretty much wins the debate with the point that the victim sometimes gets blamed, which isn’t fair.

Alex has turned into a party girl, drinking to the point of passing out all the time and sometimes waking up in bed with someone else (often Todd). She decides to try to get clean. There’s this guy she likes, Noah, and she makes a clumsy fool of herself in front of him, which embarrasses her enough to make her want to drink again.

Alex has no friends, so she calls a campus hotline to talk to a peer counselor. The guy she talks to calls himself T Squared, since he’s on line 22 (22 = twenty-two = two Ts = T Squared). She tells him her name is Enid, since she feels more like that version of herself than like super-hot, sophisticated Alex. T Squared is super-nice and helpful, and they really hit it off. Anyone who doesn’t get right away that T Squared is Noah, you are too young for this book and should stick to Dr. Seuss. Also, Alex decides to ditch Todd, since he’s still a partying mess.

After embarrassing herself in front of Noah again, Alex starts feeling really sorry for herself. She feels like she did in high school when she got rid of her pot and pills and went into withdrawal. Then she realizes that that’s exactly what’s happening now – she’s clumsy and awkward because she’s quitting alcohol cold turkey. Alex calls T Squared to share her revelation and confide that she has a crush on a guy who thinks she’s a dork. He tells her to tell the guy how she feels. But since he clearly has to be Noah, we know she’s technically already told him how she feels.

Thoughts: “I’m the last one to give out fashion advice, but you’ve been wearing a lot of this big and baggy stuff lately. Have you gained ten pounds that nobody knows about?” Wow. Screw you, Elizabeth. Especially since you recently gained at least the freshman 15.

“Sometimes you say no when you mean yes.” Screw you, too, Tom.

There’s a typo calling T Squared “T Square,” which cracks me up.

“It was one thing to get a little tipsy at a fraternity party – but getting drunk in a restaurant seemed utterly gross.” That’s like Cher saying it’s only okay to smoke pot at parties.

Maia thinks she led James on by wearing a backless dress. I don’t…I…just…no words.

Jessica gets in James’ car after he’s been drinking because she’s afraid her reputation would take a hit if she asked someone at the restaurant to arrange a ride for her. Yes, that would definitely be more horrible than you dying in a fiery car crash.