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Jealous Haters Book Club: Handbook for Mortals Chapter 1 “The Magician” or “That’s not how any of this works.”

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Before we get to the recap proper, I want to warn some readers about potentially sensitive content. That is, I want to warn you that if you’ve ever worked in the theater in any capacity, you will be fully outraged through this entire chapter, to the point that you might want to throw your phone or laptop or tablet or however else you’re reading this. So, read this only a soft surface to prevent damage to your device, and try not to fling it too hard.

In other news, Kayleigh Donaldson’s piece at Pajiba has been updated to include a response from Gill de Mace’s agent about the cover art controversy, as well as what might be the most bizarre aspect of this entire drama: the author of the infamous My Immortal has spoken. You can read her full statement at Pajiba, but this is the highlight:

Because I’ve received several messages asking this, and predict I may receive more, I’ll answer it here. No, I am not Lani Sarem. Really bad fiction simply tends to read the same.

Imagine if the writer of My Immortal, the most notoriously horrible fanfic of all time, called your work “bad fiction”? How could you ever possibly recover from that? You’d have to change your identity and start fresh with a new life. I mean, really, imagine that the author of My Immortal wanted to distance herself from your work.

A scene from Bob's Burgers, in which Tina says, "If you need me, I'll be down here on the floor, dying."

Another rumor I’ve seen going around is that Handbook For Mortals: Book 1 Of The Series sold 7,000 ebook copies in the week following the controversy. I’m calling bullshit until someone can offer definitive proof. The only platform the book seems to be available on is Amazon, and even there it hasn’t broken the top 1,000 sales rank. During that week, when I was keeping occasional tabs on it, I never saw it rise above 10,000 in overall Kindle sales. In short: this claim of astronomical e-book sales is just as believable as the book’s claim to the #1 New York Times spot.

And in catty gossip news, an industry acquaintance on Facebook staunchly defended Lani Sarem, to which I responded in my usual Trout way, and Lani Sarem responded. I do not have screenshots, as I care so little about what a con-artist has to say that I didn’t bother reading the replies and muted the thread altogether. That’s not important news, but I know for a fact some of you will like hearing that story.

So, let’s get to the dirty business.

We open on Lani Zade stepping into the lobby of a casino theater, which is packed with the cast and crew of the resident show.

I quickly tried to assess this large group who had been waiting on me.

Fired. Early is on time, on time is late, late is fired. You don’t make people wait. But don’t worry, the inaccuracies and improbabilities don’t stop there. Zani goes on to explain that she can instantly pick out the techies in the group because they’re wearing all black, then explains why they’re wearing all black, how different shows have different dress codes for “show blacks” and:

I have to admit that I’ve always found something handsome about a man in show blacks. Perhaps it’s the artsy answer to a man in uniform, or maybe I’m just odd.

Not Like Other Girls™

Either way, I noticed that several guys in their show blacks were handsome; one in particular caught my eye for some reason.

Because you were noticing people? Just off the top of my head, if you’re looking at all these people and specifically picking out the guys, obviously they are who will catch your eye.

He wasn’t the most traditionally handsome one out of the bunch, but there was just something really striking about him. If I hadn’t been so nervous I would have probably paid more attention to him.

Don’t worry, dear readers. This entire chapter is going to be an endless parade of tech guys Zani notices and describes, all with varying levels of handsomeness. The most handsome among them will, of course, want to instantly be her friend.

Zani thinks about how you can tell someone’s personality from the way they walk, and how this hot guy walks with confidence, but he also seems guarded. She goes on to describe how people look ready for the show, some of them in costumes, or half-costumed. Hey, guess where they wouldn’t be allowed to hang out? That’s right! In the lobby of the freaking theater.

Most of the performers looked bored. No one seemed to have noticed that I had opened the door and was standing in front of them all.

So, they were waiting for her, and they’ve been waiting while they’re apparently preparing for a show if people are in the middle of getting dressed, but they don’t notice that the person who kept them waiting is on the scene?

I cleared my throat and softly said, “Thank you for waiting. I’m ready.” I smiled nervously and pushed the door open even wider to welcome them back into their theater.

Important to note: everyone associated with the show, from tech to performers to management, were waiting in the lobby. Meaning, no one was in the house or backstage while Zani was setting up what follows. I’m just preparing you, theater people, for the massive explosion of angry disbelief that’s coming.

The crowd hushed and seemed to part a little. A tall man with dark hair walked toward the door. That man was the infamous magician to whom the theater basically belonged, Charles Spellman.

Sabrina The Teenage Witch's Aunt Hilda, holding up and dropping cue cards that read NO.

Charles was older, but still a very handsome man. I would describe him in a similar way that one might describe Harrison Ford.

Except, she doesn’t describe him as one might describe Harrison Ford. She describes him as someone you’re probably going to recognize:

Charles was one of the most well-respected magicians in history; he’d been famous since he was in his twenties. He’d had TV specials and won countless industry awards, and his shows consistently sold out arenas when he was on tour all over the world. A few years ago, The Wynn Casino in Las Vegas made him an offer to have a show on the strip.

So, just in case you didn’t pick up on it, Charles Spellman is David Copperfield. How do I know? Besides the fact that she describes him as being super confident and always dressed in black, he’s thanked in her acknowledgments, and he has a Las Vegas residency at the MGM Grand, in his own theatre. Thanks for the unsubtle clues, Lani. This took 100% no detective work on my part, which worried me a little bit that I know this much about David Copperfield. In my defense, he was my super favorite when I was kid. I freaking lived for his TV specials. I still even have his autograph from when I met him when I was eleven. It’s in my nightstand. Don’t start with me.

The comparison to Harrison Ford is something I keep stumbling over. If I was going to try to compare anyone to looking like David Copperfield, it would probably be the dude who plays the not-so-bright dad on Modern Family.

A photo of David Copperfield, who looks nothing like Harrison Ford. A photo of Ty Burrel, who looks just like David Copperfield.

I’ve actually been meaning to bring this up for a while. If they’re going to ever do a David Copperfield biopic, they need to check on Ty Burrell’s availability, first.

The theater is “in the round” as it’s called, meaning the seats circle the whole stage (that is also round) and the seats closest to the stage are basically level with the stage.

I’m glad she cleared up what “in the round” means. I would have never guessed that it meant the seats go around the theater.

In any case, I can’t imagine that an illusionist could actually do a full show “in the round”. Not even David Copperfield. Maybe Criss Angel does. Somebody check on Criss Angel. I would, but my mind is too freaked.

Standing next to Charles was a much younger woman who could have easily passed for his daughter, had she not been so tightly coiled around his arm.

Fun fact: David Copperfield’s partner, Chloe, is twenty-eight years younger than him.

She was undeniably beautiful, but she also looked extremely stuck-up, and looked to be around my age. I can’t stand stuck-up people. You can’t judge her yet, I kept telling myself.

But you will, Zani.

She was obviously a performer as well, and I got the vibe instantly that she wasn’t even one bit happy that I was there. She looked right at me and didn’t even bother to fake a smile; she just gave me the look of death instead.

Ah, yes. The bitchy, insecure, evil woman whose sole purpose in the story is to be bitchy, insecure, and evil to our you-don’t-know-you’re-beautiful-that’s-what-makes-you-beautiful heroine.

A woman using one of those viewer binocular things they put on tall buildings to look out over a city.
Me, spotting this bullshit from a mile away.

David Charleserfieldman tells Zade that he’s glad she’s there and he looks forward to seeing her illusion, and she gets all twitterpated:

I paused, flustered, before blurting out nervously, “You’re one of the greatest magicians of all time. It’s like you, David Copperfield, and then everyone else.”

“It’s like you, David Copperfield–WHO YOU ARE TOTALLY NOT THE DIRECT AVATAR OF–and other magicians I don’t mention because they’re not important in getting across that you’re not at all based on David Copperfield, whom I thank in my acknowledgments.”

To my relief, Charles chuckled. “Don’t tell David that and, please, call me Charles.” At this, the beautiful woman next to him cleared her throat as if to remind him she should be introduced; I had actually forgotten she was there.

The cut direct, madame!

“This is Sofia Austin. She’s one of our lead performers.”

“Hi, nice to meet you,” I said, thrusting my hand out awkwardly. She took it, but only grasped it for a moment before loosing her grip and dropping my hand, like I’d burned her.

“And his girlfriend,” Sophia said coldly, and mean even, placing emphasis on the last word.

It’s important for us to know that the girlfriend of the most successful magician of all time is super threatened by the heroine of this novel, in part because when speaking to the heroine of this novel, the most successful magician of all time forgets that his girlfriend is, in fact, his girlfriend.

Hey, wanna know something else? When David Copperfield and Claudia Schiffer were engaged, she worked on his show.

Everyone starts going into the theater:

I stood there and watched them walk past me, each seeming to give me a once over; I’m sure most of them judging me in their own way as they made their way past me and into the theater. Suddenly I realized that while I was mentally making notes of their behavior I was doing the same exact thing, I didn’t want them to do. I was judging them as well, so I couldn’t really hold it against them.

Here’s the difference between you and them, Zani: you’re there on an audition. They’re supposed to be judging you. If they didn’t judge you, it wouldn’t be an audition.

That said, I’m not sure why the audition is taking place a) apparently right before a show, since performers are already in costume, and b) in front of the entire cast and crew.

Walking closely with Charles and Sophia was the handsome tech who had caught my eye earlier. Probably in his late 20s, he was also wearing show blacks, and frowning. His sandy-blondish brown hair framed his face perfectly, and his hazel eyes seemed to sparkle. He was slender and tall, definitely six feet if not an inch or so more, with just the right amount of muscle in his arms.

Based on the physical description and the fact that Lani Sarem used to manage his band, one might assume that this character (whose name is revealed to be Mac) is Jackson Rathbone. But I think one would be wrong, as I will point out later in our reading.

Other characters are introduced, all of them men. Besides Mac, there’s a red-headed guy and someone name “Trig” which I am almost 100% certain is the name of one of Sarah Palin’s kids.

Everyone was so caught up in themselves that they didn’t notice me staring at them. They certainly didn’t realize I could hear them. I’m not sure that–if they had realized–they would have cared anyway.

Zade is the reason they are all there. Why are they ignoring her? Becasue she’s just so gosh golly average, not beautiful, and unremarkable. That’s the lure of this type of character, and it appeals to readers who are a) conditioned by society to believe that if a woman acknowledges her talents and strengths, she’s arrogant, and b) are intimidated by and resentful toward these “arrogant” women. As Zade is a self-insert character, Sarem is making her as beautiful, smart, incredible, etc. as she possibly can, but if Zade recognizes any of these traits, she–and by extension, Sarem–becomes an unbearably arrogant bitch and wholly unappealing to the readership who choose their heroines based on their own barometer for internalized misogyny.

Who, not for nothing, are the readers who hate Fifty Shades of Grey‘s Katherine Kavanaugh because she’s too arrogant and outspoken, but whose panties are dripping for Christian Grey because he’s arrogant.

Charles introduces her to Mac, who is the technical director of the show, and Zeb, who’s also some kind of technician:

I had done enough research before reaching Vegas to know that Zeb had designed or helped design a lot of Charles’s illusions and was well known in the magic community himself. Yet everything about him was a mysterious and–even in the magic community–very little seemed to be known about him.

How. How can he be well-known in the magic community, but they don’t know anything about him? HOW. Are you trying to say that his work is well-known? THEN SAY THAT BECAUSE WORDS MEAN THINGS.

He looked at me and stared hard directly at me till I felt uncomfortable before he finally stuck out his hand rigidly.

Man, I’m glad you cleared up that he was staring at you while he was looking at you. Otherwise, I would have thought he was staring at you while looking at something else entirely.

He didn’t seem to be happy about me being there and yet at the same time there was something odd about his coldness.

“And yet” implies “but at the same time,” as though there are two opposite conditions or sentiments involved that are coexisting despite their differences. “I was on time to my appointment, yet I had to wait two hours.” “I loved brownies, yet hated chocolate.” The only way “and yet” would work here is if he actually did seem happy about her being there, yet at the same time, there was something odd and cold about him. As it stands right now, she’s saying he’s being cold, but at the same time, being cold.

So, Zeb doesn’t care for her, Sofia doesn’t care for her, and apparently, she had some kind of bad impression with Mac, who literally only told her how long he’d worked for Spellman, so IDK how she ends up arriving at the conclusion that she’s never going to fit in. Two, maybe three people out of two hundred don’t appear to like her, so she’s obviously doomed to be ostracized.

Anyway, now it’s time to meet Trig.

“C.S. says it’s a go. Can I get all the stage crew in place, and then I’ll give Zade the clear.” He turned to me and pushed his mic off of his face and introduced himself. “Zade, hi. I’m Peter Trigger, but some people call me Trig. I’ll answer to Pete or Trig just not Mr. Trigger cause that’s my dad and it sounds like a dead horse. I’m the head stage manager, and I call the show. You know what that means, right?”

I am including this because it’s important that a) I’m not the only person who had to read a run-on sentence about a side character’s name and b) because Zade is about to perform an illusion in a state-of-the-art Las Vegas theater and this is the first time she’s met the stage manager.

Theater people, you may now start gnashing your teeth.

Have you noticed that besides the Evil Bitch™ character, there are no other women who seem to be working on this show? In a handful of pages, we’ve met Charles, Tad, Trig, Mac, and Zeb, but no women. I wonder why in a book with a heroine who is transparently based on the writer (who is also cast as the character in the film adaption of the book) there are no other women getting any page time? I’m sure there’s some reason totally unrelated to the author’s aversion to potentially sharing screen time with other women.

Pete asks Zade how to pronounce her name:

“Yep, like ‘aide’ but add a Z.” I grinned; I appreciated it immensely when people took the time to learn how to say my name properly. I hated it when people called me “Zaad” or something like that, which sounded more like a car or a super villain than an actual person.

General Zod, from Superman II

Hey. Supervillains are people, too. That hurts.

The obsession with getting what should be a straightforward name right is hilarious coming on the heels of the book’s foreword, in which we were schooled carefully in the pronunciation of “Lani”. Especially considering that “Zade,” while being unusual, follows standard English pronunciation of words with an “e” at the end.

“Are we really going to let her do this?” I heard Mac ask Charles. I tsounded much more lik ea statement than a question especially because he didn’t pause for an answer before continuing. “I haven’t been able to do any safety checks on her equipment. I don’t even know what’s been put in!”

Again, feel free to seeth, theater folks. Because we know that there is no way on Zod’s green earth that a major professional theater is going to allow someone to waltz in and set up their own equipment without speaking to anyone on the production staff first, and that no theater would forego safety checks, which are required by insurance companies, unions, OSHA…

Plus, where did she get her equipment? The last time we saw her, she was packing her belongings into her car to drive off into her destiny. Was she hauling a semi-trailer that she never bothered to mention, full of lights and shit?

Now that I’m thinking of it, how did she even get this audition in the first place? She’d never met Charles Spellman before. How did Zod McGee manage to roll up into Las Vegas and not just get an audition with the most successful act in town, but get an audition that requires the participation of everyone in the entire production and her own private use of the theater, no questions asked? This is so beyond the realm of possibility that I can no longer suspend disbelief. I have sprained my disbelief. I will have to have surgery to repair the tendons in my disbelief. My disbelief is going to require extensive physical therapy. While I’m convalescing from this catastrophic injury to my disbelief, I’ll end up writing a New Adult novel about a twenty-something trying to break into Vegas showbiz, and then it will be adapted into a screenplay and everyone will be like, “Isn’t this just Showgirls?” and I’ll be like, “Shut up! I have blue hair and an IMDB profile!”

Where were we? I totally lost my place in this book because of the pain from my disbelief injury, which rendered me unconscious for a little bit there.

Oh, yeah. General Zade is about to perform. So, she sees that Mac is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to Charles:

A strong will was an admirable quality to me and I had been taught to see that as something to appreciate about someone. Really stubborn and thickheaded, though, usually goes hand-in-hand with strong willed and is something to always keep in mind.

It’s possible that the reason that “stubborn” and “thickheaded” go hand-in-hand with “strong willed” is that they mean the same thing. But keep that in mind. That’s free advice she’s giving you.

Charles tells Mac that everything is cool, Zade signed a waiver. Zeb doesn’t want Zade to do the illusion, either, but Charles is in charge here.

I did that on purpose. Applaud me.

Mac turned back around, crossed his arms in a huff, and slid farther down into the seat with his legs completely stretched out.

Is Mac thirteen?

Okay guys, are you ready to meet the person who is obviously going to be a love interest for Zade? Brace yourself.

He was pretty, too pretty, beautiful, even.

I bet everyone in town tells him he’s pretty, beautiful even, and he doesn’t believe them.

I don’t think I could ever date a guy that was prettier than me.

Because they don’t exist, or because you haven’t even talked to this guy yet?

That does sound selfish,

“Insecure” or “egomaniacal” is what I would have gone with.

but I just would rather be the “at least slightly prettier” one in any relationship–

AnyLike, you couldn’t have friends who are prettier than you? Plus, we already know that Zade doesn’t think she’s attractive all. Who, exactly, does she think is in her dating pool?

Joseph Merrick, the "Elephant Man".

and he was just too perfect: the chiseled jaw, not a hair out of place, and a bright, white smile. I never thought a guy could be that perfect looking.

That’s it? That’s the requirement for being “perfect”? Having white teeth, a good jawline, and knowledge of hair products?

This guy’s name is Cam, because it’s not confusing to have a Mac, Zeb, Trig, Tad, and Cam introduced in the same chapter.

I shook Cam’s hand and he cracked an even larger smile. His eyes were as kind as they were beautiful. I couldn’t but gush a little–

Archer, from "Archer", with the words "Um, phrasing" across the bottom of the picture.

I might not want to date him but I did like him immediately.

Good news! He didn’t ask you out on a date. Yet. We all know it’s going to happen and you’re going to revise that opinion, but whatever.

So, remember way up above where Charles tells Mac that Zade signed a waiver? Well, Sofia just caught up:

I heard Sofia’s voice as I walked away. I strained to hear her saying to Charles, “You remembered her name. You never remember names.”

Sofia, sweetheart, I have some real bad news to break to you. Zade is the most important person in your world. There’s no way that Charles isn’t going to end up dumping you for Zade, or at least making a pass at Zade, or at the very, very least, liking Zade more than he likes you. Everyone is going to like her more than they like you. Just go limp and wait for the misogyny to lose interest in batting you around.

I turned my eyes toward them and caught Charles’s reply,

You hear with your eyes?

“Most people’s names aren’t worth remembering.”

See, Sofia? Zade is more important than “most people.” I mean, she’s more important than ALL people, let’s keep that in perspective.

Next to Charles, I noticed a younger, mousy woman with glasses who looked to be an assistant of some kind. She looked focused and anxious. She had a note pad and seemed to be writing down everything Charles uttered.

“See, Jenny,” you might be saying. “It isn’t a case of internalized misogyny. There’s another woman, right there. The fact that she’s described as being mousy and wearing glasses and therefore will not be a threat to Zani in the reader’s mind is unimportant.”

Just kidding. I know you would never say that.

Charles starts talking about how he wants Zani’s illusion to be included in his show before she even performs it. So now, Lani has not only somehow gone from small town nobody to having an audition with the most famous magician of all time in the space of one chapter break, but the audition sounds like more of a formality than anything. Cam takes Zani up to the catwalks:

Heights make some people nervous, but not me. I love the feeling of being off the ground and as high up as possible.

Not. Like. Other. Girls.

I quickly realized I needed to check on where the prop I’d requested was.

You’re supposed to check your props before you go to places. Also, she was able to bring her own equipment, but not a rose? They had to supply that?

But don’t worry, Cam already set her prop for her.

The only thing that was running through my head was how any girl could ever date him, because he was prettier than all of us put together.

In case you weren’t picking up on how “pretty” Cam is, Zani is reminding you while she’s standing on a catwalk fifty feet above the stage, moments before performing a dangerous illusion. I’m expecting to hear about how focused she is, next. Oh, hey, look:

My mind drifted about in a way where it focused on everything and nothing at the same time while I waited for the cue from Cam to drop the rose to the ground.

That’s not focus. Your mind drifting and thinking about everything and nothing at the same time is the opposite of focus. That’s called distraction. Also, how is she “thinking of everything and nothing at the same time” while “the only thing” running through her head is how pretty Cam is?

Too pretty for his own good–and mine, I thought. Trying to focus on what I was doing, I climbed onto the top bar of the catwalk and turned around on my toes.

With no safety equipment. Totally cool to be doing that in a professional theater, nobody’s going to object.

Anyway, Cam gives her the go-ahead, and she throws the rose onto the stage, explaining that it’s meant to show the audience that the stage is solid.

A single rose.

In a theater that seats two-thousand people.

Yeah, that’s going to read.

Join me now in this glorious description of Zade’s illusion:

I took a deep breath and leaned slowly back over the bar, bending backward until I had flipped myself over the edge. Once my body had inverted into mid-air, I began to “fall” toward the stage, like a high diver would.

Except high divers don’t “fall”. They just fall.

I stretched and tensed so that my body was completely vertical as I flew toward the ground. I was falling fast, and there was nothing below me to break my fall.

That must be a typo. Let me fix it: I was “falling” fast, and there was nothing below me to break my “fall”.

The audience of cast and crew gasped. A regular audience might think “trapdoor” but this group knew better because they knew the theater so well.

As I plummeted toward the stage, brightly colored sparks began to shoot from my outstretched hands. The sparks fell and hit the ground ahead of me, becoming a roaring fire directly beneath me. The fire burned a brilliant red, spreading and glowing below me. As the fire burned, it changed color from bright red to a vibrant blue. I could hear the audience murmuring again, but I couldn’t get cocky yet. I was near the ground and still falling fast.

Obviously, not that fast, because this description is taking forever.

The ground beneath the flames seemed to pool as if it had become liquid, and the fire melted into waves that started to lap the stage, as if a pond had formed where the stage had been just a moment before.

Here’s a theme I’m picking up on. Zade describes things as they “seem” quite often, even when they’re actually happening. If I drive my car to the store, I don’t “seem” to be driving my car to the store. I’m just driving my car to the store. The flames don’t “seem” to pool as if they had become liquid. It actually does so right after the comma in that sentence.

In full Olympic-diving position with my fingers and toes pointed, I dove straight into what looked somewhat like “water”.

No, it doesn’t look somewhat like “water”, it looks somewhat like water. If you “dove straight into the ‘water’,” the quotation marks would be necessary. But they aren’t. And here I am, having to say this about a published novel.

It splashed as I made impact, but as the droplets of liquid came back down toward the Earth to meet the ground, the stage had become solid once again. The rose and I had disappeared within the lapping water.

God damnit, Lani! We talked about this! This is where you use the quotation marks around “water”. THIS IS WHERE YOU DO THAT! NOT UP THERE!

About twenty feet away fromt he site of my impact was an open area where there was actual, real water–basically a pool, which was used in several other illusions. I popped my head out of the water and pumped my left fist victoriously in the air as I used my right arm to grab onto the edge of the pool–the rose safely clenched between my teeth.

I guess this explains why she doesn’t have equipment for them to inspect.

As for her illusion, she dove off a catwalk, into a pool of fire that turned into water…right behind an already existing pool of water? This is her brilliant illusion? Because from our vantage point, and from the vantage point of the crew who knows the workings of the stage, it’s impressive. If you’re in the audience at one of the shows, you just assume the pool extends further under the stage. This illusion only works if the audience has a fucking schematic of the theater.

But that doesn’t matter to the cast and crew, who are stunned into silence.

My smile started to fade and I was beginning to panic when they all applauded thunderously, and the whole cast rose to their feet.

And the whole train applauded.

I grabbed the rose from my mouth and tossed it to Sofia, winking at her. I laughed as I said, “For the pretty lady.” Sofia glared in response and smiled with the fakest smile I had ever seen. She wasn’t amused–nor did she find me funny, in the least.

“She wasn’t hungry–nor did she want food in the least.”

“She wasn’t cold–nor did she find it freezing in the least.”

“She wasn’t angry–nor was she happy, in the least.”

“That was perfect! Just as I expected,” I overheard Charles say excitedly.

How did he expect it to be perfect? He just met her. I’m so fucking confused as to why anyone on the show offered her the audition, let alone had high expectations for it. She has been living in a small town, reading tarot cards her entire life. Does she have some reputation for being a world-class illusionist? NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY SENSE.

“Beth, let’s have her sign that contract. That goes into the show right away. Wait until Copperfield sees this one! […]”

Yo, he just did.

But of course, despite the fact that her illusion won’t look impressive or mystifying to anyone in the audience, Zade is now a part of the biggest show in Vegas. Someone should have told Elizabeth Berkley she didn’t have to grind on all of those dudes to get a job on the Strip. It would have saved us all two painful hours in the ’90s.

Now, if you remember correctly, Thomas Ian Nicholas from American Pie is attached to star in the movie version of this book, as “Tad.” This is Tad:

Tad was slightly stocker with dark brown wavy hair and brown jovial eyes. I woudl soon learn that Tad was Mac’s best friend, an all-around good guy who worked well with everyone. In theory, Mac was Tad’s boss, but they had been working together for a long time and had been friends for much longer. Tad was the kind of guy to always tell it like it is. He never believed in sugarcoating anything. He’d always tell us that his motto was, “Why take anything seriously? No one gets out alive anyway.” He said it often, and meant it. Very little got him worked up. He was the epitome of easy going. Tad was also one of those people who was naturally good at most of the things he tried. I often wonder if a lot of it had to do with his attitude. Iv’e condluded that it must be that, and being born under a lucky star. I’d probably envy him if I didn’t adore him so much.

The only characters who’ve had this much intense description devoted to them are Tad and Charles Spellman. My hunch here is that every character who receives this kind of attention to detail is someone that Lani Sarem knows in real life.

“Jesus! That was quite the magic trick,” Tad agreed. “Holy moly! No wonder C.S. gave her free rein of the theater. Mac, how in hell did she do that?”

WTF do you mean, “no wonder?” Help me out, because I’m still wondering my ass off over here. Charles had never met Zade before, she has no background as a professional, big time illusionist, he never saw her perform the trick, so yes! There are wonders! I have so many wonders!

Look, just having a character say that something makes sense doesn’t mean it actually makes sense. I went through this already with Fifty Shades of Grey and I am damn sure not letting this slide now.

Mac can’t figure out how the illusion was performed, and it troubles him to the point of aggressive staring.

It wouldn’t have made logical sense no matter how hard they tried to figure it out because it was beyond anything a mortal could do. Tarot cards weren’t the only unique skill that my mom had taught me–or that ran in the family. And for the first time, I was starting to realize that it was going to be harder to keep our secret from everyone. They were going to want to know, I was going to have to keep dodging questions. This was a problem I was going to have to work out when I had more time to think about it.

I don’t want to tell you how to live your life, but it’s a question you should have worked out before you arrived to an audition at a Las Vegas theater and performed a death-defying illusion without bringing any equipment with you. Do you expect to continue to do the illusion without any stage hands or technicians noticing that you have no equipment and really, no illusion? And if it’s imperative that you keep your family’s secret under wraps, why would you use that secret on stage every night in front of sold out crowds of two-thousand people? Why not just use your magic to win a bunch of money at the casinos like normal witches do in Vegas?

Oh, but we don’t know that she’s a witch yet. I forgot. Keep your surprised faces stowed under the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartments.

Tad Fletcher, head of automation, rocked back on his heels as he talked. Calm, collected, sweet, kind and confident cascaded out of his being. I would slowly learn that Tad was all of those things through and through, which was why he was so well liked.

Why are we being reintroduced to Tad, as though we haven’t already met him just a page ago? And why does she keep talking about people like she’s Daniel Stern narrating The Wonder Years?

Tad introduces Lani to Riley, another male member of the crew who instantly likes her and tells her they should be friends, because of course. One thing I have to say for this book, it is definitely keeping me on my toes trying to guess which of these guys end up in the love triangle with Zani.

Zade notices that Mac is still staring angrily at her and she doesn’t know why.

I would have to look into that later, I decided, because I didn’t have time to concentrate on it at the moment.

Why is that italicized? Why is Zade walking around thinking in past perfect tense?

And why is Zade so busy? Because Beth (apparently this is the mousy glasses-wearer from before, though it’s not specified) has to talk to Zade about the contract:

She also basically told me what Charles was willing to offer me with regards to the show. It was quite generous and even Beth commented that while I should retain an attorney to look my contract over she doubted an attorney would find issue with anything it said. Beth even confided in me it was the best offer she had ever seen Charles make to anyone.

To recap: Zani has now received an audition with the cast and crew of a major Las Vegas production on the strength of her magic skills (which no one has ever seen before because they have to be a secret) and is getting handed heaps of money and a place in the show, despite the fact that her amazing illusion is only impressive if you know how it’s done.

I wasn’t really concerned with it that much. I already had what I wanted; I had made myself a new life.

somewhat normal life.

That’s right. It’s perfectly normal to appear in the biggest show in Las Vegas every night after getting an audition based on the strength of skills no one has ever seen before. Just your average, every day, ho hum, normal life.

Ouch. My disbelief.

115 Comments

  1. Katy Newton
    Katy Newton

    “…had she not been so tightly coiled around his arm.”

    I had a corn snake that used to coil itself tightly around my arm when we were watching TV. It was nice.

    September 4, 2017
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  2. Trig is absolutely the name of Sarah Palin’s youngest. Surprisingly for her, though, this is not short for “Trigger” in his case.

    Is it more or less irritating for a heroine to scream at us about how ordinary she is before becoming the most special specially specialest girl on Earth? Because Zade is already the most special specially specialest girl on Earth, and I hate her more than I hated Bella when I first read about hr.

    September 4, 2017
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  3. Bon
    Bon

    Wow, that was painful… The recap was hilarious but wow, that’s some bad writing right there.

    September 4, 2017
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  4. You’d think that knowing what words mean would be a pretty basic requirement if you wished to become a writer, wouldn’t you? But what do I know?

    September 4, 2017
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  5. Jane
    Jane

    I doubt that she sold jack, but I do think she pulled the same stunt a second week with the fuax orders to trick reporting. USA Today put her at #34 on the list on her second week so it appears that it was dumb enough to buy that scam a second week running when NY Times, ABA, and Publisher’s Weekly are all wise to it.

    I’ve seen people calling this “Showgirls” meets “Beautiful Creatures” (the YA witch book) and I can’t say they’re wrong.

    Also, I do *not* get how she decided to be normal by being in a flashy show and using her magick to do it. I mean isn’t that just painting a target on your back? It’s sooooo dumb.

    Finally, I cannot believe writers/people in publishing are defending her. That’s so nuts.

    September 4, 2017
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    • Jane Eyre
      Jane Eyre

      I thought the same thing! Like if she wants your normal normal life that normal people live shouldn’t she apply for a desk job? Or a job at starbucks or behind the counter of some shop in a bigger city? Like the first job is actually my job I work at whole-sale jewellery making company and I like I have a batch of cilentes I take care of and I pick up phones and redirect them to correct people that take care of the thing/person. This is your regular weekday job in the regular hours with regular pay. You sometimes get frustrated and sometimes you have busier months when a lot of people call and order stuff but it’s still your normal mundane job. I’d expect someone who wants to escape from strange and extraordinary to pick this kind of thing. Las Vegas and show-biz is exact opposite. I’d expect more a girl who wants to run away FROM MUNDANE LIFE to go for such a thing.

      September 4, 2017
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      • Jemmy
        Jemmy

        I can’t remember where I read it, but it was something along the lines the children of clowns run away and join an accounting firm. People who come from quirky lives strive for the mundane.

        Terry Pratchett used that concept slightly in ‘Making Money’.

        September 5, 2017
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        • Lynette
          Lynette

          The premise of Neil Gaiman’s MirrorMask was a young girl born to a circus performers, who wanted to run away and join a normal family. (And then things got weird because Gaiman.)

          September 5, 2017
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          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Theodore Sturgeon’s “Dreaming Jewels” involved a boy with unusual powers who found a safe hideout in a traveling freak show. It’s the “hide-in-plain-sight” ploy, but I won’t accuse Lani of attempting it. We are seeking logic where logic is not.

            September 5, 2017
      • Indigo
        Indigo

        I suppose maybe she wants to be rich? But there’s plenty of people who are wealthy and not in the public eye. Even if her sole magic power is “can fall safely from great heights”, there are jobs that pay well just because there’s a non-zero chance you’ll plunge to your death.

        September 5, 2017
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    • This reminds me of “Beautiful Creatures” also… With elements of FSOG (the contract) and “Twilight” (inexplicably angry potential love interest) thrown in for good measure.

      September 4, 2017
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  6. DreaRaine
    DreaRaine

    For a second I thought Beth was trying to scam Zade with the whole “I’m not supposed to tell you this but this is the best contract I’ve ever seen, no need to involve lawyers” bit? She’s an unknown with no experience, she’d be so easy to trick.

    September 4, 2017
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  7. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    Thanks for the trigger warning. I needed that. I’ve done years of church basement theatre plus the occasional Equity waiver show, AND I paid the bills with publishing jobs, so for me, this woman’s literary and fact-checking offenses rival James Fenimore Cooper’s.
    Why are the techies in black unless this is a performance? Is this a dress rehearsal? Tech rehearsal? Is the audition a last-minute replacement in a show that’s already opened for a cast member who got injured/ left for a national tour with a starring role?
    If it’s the last, they will usually call a) someone they know or b) someone who got a callback but didn’t make the final cut (I’ve got many parts that way, and I don’t care if I wasn’t their first choice as long as they’re happy with the results). And they’d better look at folks from whichever Union they’re in first (AGVA?), even if they’re doing it all through agents, or else, LAWSUIT!
    BTW, most good Stage Managers are fascists. They have to be, because everyone else in the production is barking mad by Hell Week.
    I was gnashing my teeth long before you said it was OK, Jenny.

    September 4, 2017
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  8. Lindsay
    Lindsay

    I think you meant Thomas Ian Nicholas from Rookie of the Year and A Kid in King Arthur’s Court.

    September 4, 2017
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    • Eglantine
      Eglantine

      Clearly we’re just interrogating the scam from the wrong perspective.

      September 4, 2017
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    • Jamoche
      Jamoche

      She replies to reviews?! Ooh, my favorite kind of Author Behaving Badly!

      September 12, 2017
      |Reply
  9. I spent a dozen years in community theater both on and offstage and taught drama at an elementary school (where I was also stage manager, sound design, lighting design, etc etc they basically had no idea why they built this elaborate theater).

    This is so far divorced from reality that I can’t even get mad about it. It’s like someone who never worked in a performance venue wrote it … and then I remember she supposedly did? And I’m just confused?

    September 4, 2017
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  10. Mike
    Mike

    I’m Swedish, so I gotta ask you native English-speakers: Is the sentence “I would describe him in a similar way that one might describe Harrison Ford” grammatically incorrect, or just awkward?

    Also, this book shares a problem with lots of other books–trying and failing to make the exposition about a fictional celebrity’s level of fame sound natural.

    September 4, 2017
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    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      “I would describe him in a similar way TO HOW one might describe Harrison Ford” is correct, but awkward.
      The original is both awkward and incorrect.
      A less wordy version would be “He looked a bit like Harrison Ford,” preferably specifying which movie.

      September 4, 2017
      |Reply
    • And it’s awkward because she’s not actually describing anything. She doesn’t say he LOOKS like Harrison Ford, just that you could describe them the same way. Depending on how you feel about Harrison Ford, this description could be a number of things like “hot”, “rugged”, or “cranky old guy my mom thinks is hot”.

      Basically it tells you nothing about the character and you then make up your own description. It’s super lazy shorthand.

      September 5, 2017
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      • JennyTrout
        JennyTrout

        To be perfectly honest, I thought it was lazy shorthand for “Jewish.” Because that’s about the only thing I can think of that Copperfield and Ford have in common.

        September 5, 2017
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  11. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth

    I actually read it as there was something odd about his coldness. Like he clearly didn’t like her, but maybe it was a show?

    I’m thinking too hard about this, aren’t I?

    September 4, 2017
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    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Or that his coldness exceeded what you might expect for her being late or a pathetic performing arts newbie. Because Heathcliff, Mr. Darcy, and all those other Byronic guys. If they don’t love you against their will, it’s no fun.

      September 4, 2017
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  12. Bookjunk
    Bookjunk

    Gah, this is bad. Despite the million guys introduced in this chapter it isn’t hard to spot the love interest. It’s clearly super-pretty-dude en dude-who-seems-angry-with-her-for-some-reason. Boy o boy, I wonder how this talented (ha) author is going to fuck this up further.

    September 4, 2017
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  13. I know next to nothing about the theatre but even I know that the whole half-costumed hanging around the lobby thing is bemusing. Why… why wouldn’t you visit a theatre? If this is a setting in your book, why wouldn’t you spend maybe a millionth of what was spent on bulk buying books on a theatre ticket?

    Not like other girls + meangirl. A cast full of men, budding love triangle, original name, doesn’t know she’s beautiful: BINGO! I GOT TROPEY YA BINGO!

    Honestly if you’re going to go out of the way to give your author insert a silly Originalnamee like “Zade” you might as well play with the spelling/pronunciation as well to be proper misunderstood. “My name is Makenzie, spelled with 6 ys and 2 ks!” (the parents of my niece’s class mates seem to be having a competition to see who can squeeze the most ks and ys into any name)

    Does said waiver also cover the dodgy electrics on Zade’s shinies shorting out, burning the theatre down and killing everyone within? And magicians code blah blah – but an act that involves FIRE and something hinky with the structural integrity of the stage is so going to need to be explained to the stage managers

    Hey, can I hope for an ethical discussion of whether an actual witch using magical powers to compete with stage magicians may be questionable, exploitative or otherwise unfair?

    September 4, 2017
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    • Carla
      Carla

      Hmmm, that’s a good question. I feel like it might be like Spiderman not participating in competitive sports because he has an unfair physical advantage. But then the other magicians are technically claiming to have real magic, so since Zade actually does have magic, and it’s being used for entertainment value, maybe it’s ok? I guess it depends on whether you appreciate magic because of the spectacle or because of the impressive skills of the people making the illusions.

      September 8, 2017
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    • Lauren
      Lauren

      It’s probably going to be a thing that either Charles or someone else in the show is also a secret real “magick” user (gag).

      September 9, 2017
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  14. Laina
    Laina

    I can’t decide if it’s funnier to picture the magician dude (seriously, Spellman, like Sabrina’s last name????) as David Blaine or Criss Angel.

    September 4, 2017
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    • Keaalu
      Keaalu

      I’m thinking Paul Daniels, personally. (To be fair, I watched every show the guy did, when I was about 7.) You’ll like this… not a lot, but you’ll like it.

      September 4, 2017
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  15. Ange
    Ange

    Reading this made me laugh so hard – thank you Jenny!

    September 4, 2017
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  16. Nanani
    Nanani

    Surely I’m not the only one who hears about a rose dropping to the ground and imagines it as a Tuxedo Mask THWAP rose? The kind that jabs itself into walls/floors/monsters losing only one dramatic petal?

    September 4, 2017
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    • Artemis
      Artemis

      You are definitely not. First thing I pictured.

      September 4, 2017
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  17. Ilex
    Ilex

    I’m loving these recaps, Jenny!

    Wow, this writer is so prolix. Why use one word when you can use three? Why be definite when you can equivocate (and thereby add more words)? I’m about ready to start red-penning the excerpts right on my computer screen.

    A glance at my Goodreads connections shows that while My Immortal is widely considered to be awful, it’s also considered to be both brilliantly and deliberately awful, which seems a far cry from the earnestly bad writing you’re highlighting here. Also, My Immortal is only 76 pages long, not 500 or whatever this is.

    September 4, 2017
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  18. Emerald
    Emerald

    I’ve seen Criss Angels show in vegas, it’s on a regular stage 🙂

    September 4, 2017
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    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      “You’ve heard of theater in the round? You’re looking at the man who invented Theatre in the Square! NOBODY had a good seat!” – “King of Broadway,” The Producers

      September 4, 2017
      |Reply
    • I’ve actually directed for theater in the round, and I have no idea how you’re supposed to make that work with only one or two people on stage. Unless it rotates, I guess. 2/3 of the audience will be looking at your butt, mostly.

      September 5, 2017
      |Reply
  19. Mylissa
    Mylissa

    As a theatre professional I’m not sure if this author has been inside one. None of this would ever happen. You might be able to get away with the safety checks, stage manager not knowing all, hanging out in the lobby if she was auditioning for a low budget black box community theatre – but then there wouldn’t be contracts, or catwalks.

    I’m pretty sure these performances would fall under AGVA and while maybe that union doesn’t have the clout of AEA or SAG-AFTRA, I sincerely doubt they’d allow a show with this trick go on without safety checks. Not to mention their local tech union would probably put them out of business. Never mess with the tech union. (And I’d assume some person who used to roadie for a band would know THAT at least.)

    I will say that on two show days, when I called in delivery to the theatre I might sit around in half a costume. I have done that between matinees and evening shows. But only when it’s comfortable and makes logical sense – if there are layers of tights underneath, I’ve sweat a lot, or it’s fancy on any way, I’ll go down to underwear and a robe or yoga pants leisure.

    September 4, 2017
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    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      You’re not kidding. What she’s written fits neither with the church basement stuff I’ve done nor the B’way stuff I watched from the light booth when I had a friend in the cast. It’s the “fancy costume” part that really made me think. In children’s theatre, where the budgets are usually limited, you’re certainly not going to risk messing up a costume between double matinees by warming up in it, especially if your warm-up involves stretches on the floor. As for Vegas shows, the budget for costumes would much larger, but you’d be under that much more pressure not to mess up an expensive costume. Anybody remember in “Ballet Shoes” where Pauline gets in trouble for not wearing the wrap that’s supposed to protect her costume between scenes?
      BTW, God help you if you offend your costume designer or your dresser–heard plenty of horror stories about what happened to a replacement actress in “City of Angels” and Marla (later 2nd Mrs. Trump) Maples in “Will Rogers.”

      September 4, 2017
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      • Mylissa
        Mylissa

        Yeah, if there are sequins, netting of any variety, feathers, silk, satin, any other fabric that might stain, fabric that could catch on something and rip, lace, multiple layers, crystals or other sparkles, or if it’s vintage, heavy, or doesn’t breathe well, you tend to take it off. I imagine in a illusion show there would be a lot of stuff you wouldn’t hang out in. Costumers are amazing, but no need to push their patience.

        They can’t be getting ready for performance, because they wouldn’t have time for an audition in between call time and performance time. Not to mention, many unions don’t require that long of a call time anyways. During a dress rehearsal, I can’t imagine taking time out for an audition unless there was desperation involved – but that knocks out this being a well known show in Vegas. In between matinee and evening makes the most sense, but why does EVERYONE watch it. That break between shows is sacred. I’m more likely to be napping. If some nobody was like okay I’m going to audition, as a fellow performer I’d be like okay I don’t care – unless it was a close friend. Whatsherface can’t know any of these people.

        This crazy author is supposedly an actor? But even if she’s ONLY done film, she has to know film is different from stage, and only when filming am I ALWAYS IN COSTUME. She’s applying film procedures to a stage?

        September 12, 2017
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    • mydogspa
      mydogspa

      But . . . but . . . the author WANTED it to happen that way! Realism? We don’t need no steenking realism! Reality is for losers! I”m magical and have blue hair (and won’t attract any attention because of it from the gubamint. /s)

      Ooh: I see what’s coming next: She’ll have to run away with Cam/Mac and convert an old radio station to get word out to her daddy on the other side of the solar system more than 120 light minutes away to come and rescue her when she gets into a jam and daddy miraculously shows up 5 minutes after her signal is sent with his FTL spaceship that gets grounded with a few grenades tossed into an open hatch. . . . .

      Uh, wait . . . . where have I seen this before?

      September 7, 2017
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  20. Hedni
    Hedni

    Oh my god this is bad. Really, really bad. Everything about it reminds me of terrible fanfiction written by a 13 year old. Even 50 shades had a better beginning than this drivel. And as a drama teacher I just have one thing to say about this whole setup: No! Just no!

    September 4, 2017
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    • Quelaag
      Quelaag

      It’s almost as if the Twilight rip-offs are trying to outdo each other in sheer badness.

      “My Mary Sue is adored by all the men, and she’s too adorably humble to realize it!”

      “Well my Mary Sue is adored by all the men, plus she’s magic!”

      September 4, 2017
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      • Jane
        Jane

        Ha no basement in Hell. I resent this book for making Twilight and even 50 Shades look less shit by comparison.

        September 5, 2017
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    • Amy
      Amy

      I still hate Fifty Shades by a large margin, but this is a lot more satisfying to read because it’s instant karma.

      September 11, 2017
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  21. So totally confused how you can get someone to write a foreword for something so terrible. I don’t even think I could get my bestest best friend to read this and say YES publish this right now the world must know how awesome you are.

    On a side note, I feel bad that you must read this for our pleasure but I’m glad you do.

    September 4, 2017
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    • Lindsay
      Lindsay

      Any true best friend would be like “oh honey no. NO. Come on, let’s go get the matches and I swear no one will ever know about this.”

      September 5, 2017
      |Reply
  22. Ell
    Ell

    Theory: The love triangle will be between Cam, Mac and Zade, because 1) I can see the shitty “being angry is his way of showing affection” trope for Mac a mile off and 2) “Mac” is “Cam” backwards. But also: Christ, I’m glad you’re hear to suffer through this so I don’t have to.

    September 5, 2017
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  23. Carla
    Carla

    If whatshisname from American Pie is producing the movie wouldn’t he want to play the David Copperfield character instead of Tad the stagehand? I can’t imagine Tad having much of a role since he isn’t even part of the love triangle (had to re-read the book blurb to remember which of the guys were in the love triangle).

    Also, does anyone know how old Lani is? Because if she’s playing a 25 year old you’d assume she was that age, but if she’s spent all of these years managing bands surely she’d be older? The pictures I’ve seen of her vary from looking 16-40.

    September 5, 2017
    |Reply
    • Karen
      Karen

      She’s 36. Her author bio pic had some photoshop magic worked on it (or it was taken 12 years ago). I saw a pic of her from a con last week and she looks like she did some pretty hard partying in her early life, let’s just say that. No Hollywood magic is going to make her look 25 on screen.

      Just imagine… going to all this trouble to play a younger version of yourself on screen. How much validation does someone like that need? How fragile an ego does she have if this was all to see herself looking airbrushed in a movie?

      September 5, 2017
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    • Valiere
      Valiere

      She’s posted pictures of herself on modeling sites, so can I assume she’s incredibly delusional about her appearance and may even believe she can pass for 25. The grayish blond hair in her more recent pics probably isn’t doing her any favors, but she still looks like a hard 36.

      September 15, 2017
      |Reply
  24. falalala
    falalala

    I hope your disbelief recovers from this execrable book’s vicious assault upon it. (Also, that paragraph made me laugh hard enough that my dog had to come check on me to make sure I wasn’t dying, so thank you for that.) This whole chapter is so ludicrously implausible that it goes beyond “the author did no research into how theatrical shows operate” – more like “the author appears to know literally nothing about theatrical shows except that crew members sometimes wear black (although she apparently has no idea WHY they do so, since she thinks they all routinely show up to auditions wearing black).”

    Speaking of which, I love that my comment on the last recap about how the traits that supposedly make Mary Sues super duper unique and amazing are always hilariously ordinary got very thoroughly reinforced in this chapter. At this point, Zani has declared herself to be special because she likes thunderstorms, isn’t afraid of heights, and thinks black is a flattering color, which are definitely crazy, outlandish opinions held by no one else on Earth. Clearly, only the most special and magical of girls could ever do something so outrageous as to like black clothing.

    September 5, 2017
    |Reply
  25. Maggie
    Maggie

    As I read more and more bits from the books, the more it reads like Laurell K. Hamilton’s writing. Why do all authors of Mary Sue insert characters all read the same?

    September 5, 2017
    |Reply
  26. Cam. No relation to the one in the...story
    Cam. No relation to the one in the...story

    ‘The obsession with getting what should be a straightforward name right is hilarious…considering that “Zade,” while being unusual, follows standard English pronunciation of words with an “e” at the end.’

    To be fair, I was head-pronouncing it ‘ZAH-day,’ because I assumed no one would intentionally pick a name as stupid as ‘Z aid’ for their self-insert. I mean I actually looked at it, thought “‘Zayd’? No, no way. It’s got to be either Zah-day like the singer Sade or Zsad like Zsa Zsa Gabor or otherwise something pronounced differently. ‘Zayd’ is just stupid. That’s, like, white suburban mom on her unexpected 6th child. No one would go with ‘Zayd’.”

    I was wrong.

    September 5, 2017
    |Reply
    • Jellyfish
      Jellyfish

      See, I actually kind of like the name Zade. It is the only thing about this book that I like.

      September 7, 2017
      |Reply
    • Lauren
      Lauren

      Yeah I was SURE she was gonna be terrible enough to insist it was pronounced Zah-day like Sade.

      September 9, 2017
      |Reply
      • Tracy
        Tracy

        That’s how I’m pronouncing it in my head. ZAR-day.

        On topic, the writing is execrable.

        September 9, 2017
        |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      It gets worse. I actually read the blurb on Amazon, and noticed that her full name is Scheherazade…

      September 11, 2017
      |Reply
      • Cam (same as above)
        Cam (same as above)

        …Schehera-Zaid? My “nooooope” levels just spiked through the roof and I’m not even sure why.

        September 12, 2017
        |Reply
  27. Fer
    Fer

    She can`t hope that anyone belives that THIS IS NOT A FANFIC. Apart from all that
    Jenny points out and also people in the comments, ther are a few things I notices:

    -All the boys are just generic handsome.

    -Those guys who have a description usually make the reader think on actors who can fit on it. (In my case, Cam`s description made me think on Ian Sommerhalder or Matt Smith)

    -Probably she was thinking in all the actors she likes and that`s why there are so many boys on staff.

    -The love triangle is not. She probably just pick two different looks of Jackson Rathbone, as for the personality the rude one is probably the one she works with and the other one probably will be all prince charming to fullfil 2 things: how she wish he treat her and to make the rude jealous. (Sorry for use “probably” a lot here.)

    -This last thing is JUST what I supouse it could happen, but one of those guys who at first looks like there is no reason for Zade to notices and describes is going to be the real villian. (I don`t see Charles Spellman, son of Sabrina Spellman, like the main villian, even less Sophia) My vote is on Cam or Tad.

    Sorry if there are mistakes, English is not my first language.

    September 5, 2017
    |Reply
    • Fer
      Fer

      Shit, it was Jackson Rapaport XD. My bad, I was watching “Sherlock”, so that` why I get confused.

      September 5, 2017
      |Reply
  28. Chris
    Chris

    Wow. She’s really not subtle about her casting nudges, is she? I have no idea what kind of self-congratulatory bubble you need to live in for this whole scheme to even seem like it was might pan out.

    (also though: Past future tense, not past perfect. Perfect is another term for the composed past, and there’s no have-auxiliary.)

    September 5, 2017
    |Reply
  29. Lani B Goode
    Lani B Goode

    Ughhhhhh she is telling people to pronounce my name wrong, her writing is terrible, and she’s making something that ought to be interesting incredibly dull. Like seriously, that “illusion” should sound pretty freaking awesome, right? But instead it’s just so, so boring.

    September 5, 2017
    |Reply
  30. RodeoBob
    RodeoBob

    You know what sucks about this scene?

    Everything.

    I’ll admit to watching “America’s Got Talent” at some distant point in the past, and they have nice segments where all the auditioning performers are hanging out, waiting for their turn. It’s fun, watching them warm up and seeing them chat. The jugglers do their practice throws, the gymnasts stretch, and if a couple people see that they’re doing the same kind of act, they get together and chat.

    Having Zade show up for an open audition, and interact with other prospective acts could be fun and interesting. We could get a sense of other acts, see other performers that do a really good job, create some *tension* around whether our heroine would get a place in the show or not. Instead of getting the quasi-omniscient first-person narration of the Mary Sue, we would actually get to see characters talk and interact in ways that suggest their personality.

    But OK, that’s not the scene we got. Zade-Sue performs an “impossible” illusion to get her place on the show. You know what would have been so much better than the impossibly-long-mid-falling-description? First, just tell us what the audience saw:

    “From the seats, it looked like I jumped from the catwalk, and as I fell, a column of flame bust from the stage. The phosphor flash was only a split second, but instead of seeing me, crumpled on the stage, I was triumphantly throwing my fist in the air from the water pool… twenty feet behind the catwalk. It was, to the untrained eye, impossible.”

    Next, you have someone from the stage show talk us through the illusion:

    “That’s a pretty good trick, Zade. You have a safety wire attached to the outfit, anchored above the pool. Thin enough that it isn’t easy to see from the seats. As you fall, when the wire over the pool pulls taut, it triggers your flash-bang so no one can see you swing backwards into the pool. You had to have measured the distances pretty closely; there isn’t much slack in the trick between the swing and the timing of the flash. A few inches off, and you slam into the side of the pool, or burn your face off with your pyro. How would you feel about some costume changes? Something fire-safe underneath, and something made of flash paper outside?”

    Then, after all that, you have Zade’s first person description of what really happened:

    “The stage manager was smart. He’d worked out a way to do my trick using practical effects, though he didn’t see me set up any wires or place any pyrotechnics. The truth was that his way was risky, but my stunt was risky in a totally different way. I didn’t use wires to swing into the pool, or a flash-bang to surprise the audience. I used magic, to open a hole in the stage that led into the pool. Maybe I needed to tweak the trick so that mundane explanations like his wouldn’t work anymore…”

    This lets the audience enjoy the trick like, well, the imagined stage audience. Then it lets us enjoy the trick the way the other performers enjoy the trick, and sets them up as smart, professional entertainers. Then it lets us, the readers, in on a secret that makes us feel smarter than either side.

    September 5, 2017
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Your first suggested passage would imply that the author has been to actual auditions. There is no reason to suppose that. You don’t need the entire cast there if they’re just replacing one or two people, and I doubt her Mary Sue could tolerate the long stretches of being ignored typical of an initial cattle call. Also, she’s too perfect to trade horror stories about her day job with other performers.

      As for your second suggested passage, that would require knowing something about writing fiction or even a script, considering the most effective way to set up the points of view.

      I could almost feel sorry for this woman, if she hadn’t tried to gerrymander the ratings.

      September 5, 2017
      |Reply
    • H. Savinien
      H. Savinien

      I nominate you to write the good version of this story.

      September 7, 2017
      |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      Goodness. With only two paragraphs, you knocked off at least five pages of pointless text from the book, AND you closed multiple plotholes!

      September 11, 2017
      |Reply
    • Mimi
      Mimi

      Your text is actually an interesting and cool story. Not like what Jenny had to read.

      September 14, 2017
      |Reply
  31. Lysander
    Lysander

    Does she have mind-control powers like Kilgrave or somesuch? This is the only way this makes sense for me. And her powers don’t work on women for some reason.

    September 5, 2017
    |Reply
  32. That audition stunt as written, with the descriptions and internal musings, took long enough for her to have plummeted from the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Oy.

    Regarding the author’s age: according to her Model Mayhem entry, she’s 35. If you’re at work when you Google it, be careful because there’s some cheesecake.

    September 5, 2017
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      Miss Lani is an attractive woman, but it’s obvious she’s not in her twenties anymore. There’s no way she could pull off looking like a young woman who just left home for the first time in her life.

      September 11, 2017
      |Reply
  33. Perlite
    Perlite

    Several things bug me about the chapter (more than it does in general):
    1. Who is the whole “Zade” pronunciation thing for, if not the readers? Like, if someone verbally told me their name, I think I would have a pretty good handle on how to pronounce their name.
    2. This whole unprofessional entertainment circuit thing reminded me of that “Tiger’s Curse” book. Where the main character got her own glitzy costume even though she’s not a performer. Oh yeah, she also had little to no supervision or training when it came to feeding a dangerous and wild animal, which is basically another OSHA disaster waiting to happen.
    3. If she wanted a low-key life where she’s hiding the fact she’s a witch from even the READERS, why oh why does she want to perform “magik” for this huge Vegas show? She doesn’t even put up a pretense of making these 200-sum people believe this is anything but magik.
    4. These characters are already so shallow and forgettable, but can you put your internalized misogyny goggles away for a sec, Zade? I swear all these terrible novels start out with protagonists who humble-brag about their appearance, make snap-judgements on pretty women, then tell themselves “Oh, look how bitchy and judgey this other woman is, not like little ole ME.”

    And those are the only ones off the top of my head.

    September 5, 2017
    |Reply
    • Elisabeth
      Elisabeth

      “Tiger’s Curse” is one of the few professionally published books I can think of that’s almost as bad as this book. It makes Twilight look good in comparison.

      September 6, 2017
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        Do keep in mind that Tiger’s Curse was a self-published amazon book before it got picked up. TC is your generic YA novel that got popular, but from what I understand, it’s a one trick pony. According to reviews of the author’s new book, it has exactly the same premise but with a different supernatural love interest (a mummy)

        September 11, 2017
        |Reply
    • Carla
      Carla

      Oh, thanks for reminding me about Tiger’s Curse! I never finished reading Nella’s read through of that.

      September 8, 2017
      |Reply
      • Perlite
        Perlite

        It was a sad day when Chez went down. All those lovely comments and snark… lost. Nella’s the reason I found Jenny in the first place! Luckily, the reviews have been archived: https://web.archive.org/web/20170327050103/http://chezapocalypse.com/category/readthrough-tigers-curse/page/2/
        I have to disagree somewhat since I find Kelsey a lot more likable than Zade, and it’s only been two-ish chapters. Although, if Zade starts having prophetic dreams about half Asian and half… Asian tiger princes, I’m leaving.

        September 8, 2017
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Kelsey isn’t that infuriating on her own, since she comes off as more naive than super special. The real anger stems from all of the missed opportunities that come at every turn (plus the icky white man’s burden angle), and the author is a much better writer, even if they’re not great. The food and scenery porn is always a real pleasure, whether it’s poorly researched or not. I can see why some people may genuinely like it. Kinda like Inu-Yasha, honestly. I hope the YA genre gets a better weretiger fairy tale novel. Of course, I’ve always had a soft spot for romance with furries and shapeshifters. It’s painful, because it’s so close and yet so far. (Although I haven’t double-checked the archives; I’m going purely off memory. The Chez site is back up btw, but slowly being rebuilt, and Nella’s blogs aren’t up yet, last I looked. It took forever, so I’ll be patient. She needed a break anyway. Where ever we left off was seriously weighing Nella down.)

          Zade is even more generic than Kelsey, with less character development and barely any world-building. There’s no research, either exposition dumped or completely bastardized. This is just downright painful, headbanging, and confusing overall, with nothing good in sight. I like magical girls and witches, but after reading the sample on Amazon, I’m hard-pressed to see what could have been. RodeoBob’s comment up above was the first time I could see a potential rewrite being viable at all. I’m especially curious to see some of the chapters that happen after the Amazon sample cut-off, because I want to know where the story truly should have started for an in media res version of the opening. I’m of the opinion that the first three chapters are completely pointless. 😛

          September 11, 2017
          |Reply
  34. Lara
    Lara

    Jenny, js your disbelief recovering from injury?! Because I think you’re going to need it if you keep doing chapters.
    PS the “fall” for her stunt was basically the same length as the airplane runway in that Fast and Furious movie. 7?

    September 5, 2017
    |Reply
  35. Kate
    Kate

    So that was bracing. I’ve worked in the business my entire adult life – road houses, opera, dance, theatre – and I have never seen the like. Theatre in the round does not require a round stage. In fact, it’s rarely a perfect circle in an unbroken ring of seats because the sightlines would be ridiculous. Arg.
    Also, there aren’t ever that many attractive young straight male technicians on a single show (IA rules: at least 30% grouchy old farts on house crew). And finally, in twenty years I can count on my fingers the number of times I went to work a theatre by entering through the lobby/house. That’s why Stage Doors exist. Stage Door – it’s in the name!
    Is this how doctors feel watching Grey’s Anatomy?

    September 6, 2017
    |Reply
    • mydogspa
      mydogspa

      “Is this how doctors feel watching Grey’s Anatomy?”

      Think of it as how we rocket scientists watch “Gravity” or “The Martian.” Both I could nitpick ad nauseum, but the latter actually did create a lot of positive interest for NASA so I won’t.

      September 6, 2017
      |Reply
  36. Vivacia K. Ahwen
    Vivacia K. Ahwen

    Hi, ladies (and a handful of gents.) It’s official; I am rather mean sometimes. I went to Laaaaaaaaani’s Twitter page out of morbid curiosity, which is not cool. But I check out Trump’s page, too, just to get my rage on.

    So, yes…Trump: Lani/Zade posted articles/retweeted anti-NYT crap over and over again! I only got partway down the page, and –yes, I counted, which makes me not just mean but petty– SEVEN times. That’s right. She’s going after the “Failing New York Times.”

    Then I stopped reading, since it was getting really gross.

    Plus, I’m a NYT fangirl.

    But the REAL treasure was this: http://www.astrochicks.com/2017/09/04/handbook-for-mortals-lani-sarem-predictions-for-first-time-author-from-a-real-psychic-astrologer/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+astrochicks%2Fsaaw+%28Astrochicks%29

    Skim the first couple paragraphs (they’re just all about how amazingly beautiful she is), then the good/bad stuff kicks in. Some teeny part of me felt bad for her, but not anymore.

    I sent the link to Jenny, but since we aren’t connected on messenger, I had to make sure it got to the JHBC page for you all to see. Because if we don’t have Zade’s horoscope, we won’t have the full scope of the story, amirite?

    September 6, 2017
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      Someone sent me that link and I’ve spent all morning trying to figure out how Geek Nation is connected to Astrochicks.

      September 6, 2017
      |Reply
      • I’m not connected to GeekNation but I do work in the entertainment industry. I have never met Lani, however, I’m intrigued by the nastiness and pure hatred over a YA book. It’s absolutely absurd, and ridiculous.

        As they say, negative publicity can increase sales when a product or company is relatively unknown simply because it stimulates product awareness. In this case, Lani has won the Super Lotto in teen angst over a book about magic.

        Astrochicks has been around since 2006, I have been doing Astrology-Psychic predictions for celebrities, reality shows, etc. on my blog FOREVER. I look at someone’s chart and I write an article about it. I call it celebrity gossip with a cosmic twist. It’s meant to be fun and interesting. Over the years, we have been featured on VH1, ABC, CBS, etc. etc. Yes, I’m a real Astrologer and I come from a long line of psychics.

        I wrote the article about Lani because I was curious what was in her Astrology chart that inspired so much hatred. She didn’t kill anyone, she’s not a racist or related to Trump, hasn’t stolen anyone’s man, she doesn’t write for WikiLeaks, is not a Nazi, hasn’t dissed Beyonce, etc. etc. She is a Scorpio, which astrologically has been known to provoke extreme reactions from others but wow, this is cray cray.

        At the end of the day, Publishers market books for authors, not writers. As a first time author, she has little to zero say in what goes on. GeekNation has a huge following, about 400k in FB followers, etc. etc. If you understand the biz, you would know this.

        I get this is your schtick and you are the JEALOUS HATER BOOK CLUB and your fans enjoy your snarky reviews and your books. As a writer, I would think that you would be less vicious about your comments because it’s bad karma and it just seems like you are jumping on the bandwagon and doesn’t really come across as that original.

        I wrote an article to be fair. I looked at her chart, it wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows. Basically, my advice was to cut loose some people who gave her bad advice and remarket the book. It has a good storyline, it’s fun and interesting, I could easily see it on the CW, Netflix, etc.

        If you watch some of the movies on Netflix and see some of the crap that gets green lighted and made, you would agree there is an audience for everyone.

        I’ve never been a mean girl, and I root for the underdog. I would like to see her be successful and I don’t think Lani should be blamed for how Hollywood or the NYC publishing does biz.

        I’m just curious why everyone is trashing Lani and not questioning the publisher or NYT’s tactics?

        September 7, 2017
        |Reply
        • Fer
          Fer

          So, because she didn`t kill, steals (but who really knows about this one), isn`t racist (however she follows a big one) or a nazi and don`t dislike Beyonce we should be good with her and her crap?

          If she was a mature person she would see this more like a lesson and less than “poor me”.

          This work is shitty and more than be jealouse, Jenny is showing us a what not to do.

          And please don`t try to sell me any crap about karma, I`m living a fucking apocalypse and seeing terrible things for feel bad or sorry for an idiot who just wanna be famous.

          September 8, 2017
          |Reply
          • Cat
            Cat

            I’m sure if you let Jacy Nova do your star chart she can tell you why, astrologically, you are living in the apocalypse.

            September 8, 2017
          • I respect your opinion, and if you dislike the book, great. It’s the vicious venom everyone is spewing on her. The YA category is for 12 to 18-year-olds and all these nasty comments are coming from people in their 20’s and 30’s or older. I don’t know Lani, and there are a lot of bad and good writers in this world but I don’t feel the need to destroy them to make myself feel better. I just find the gleeful cyber nastiness just weird.

            September 8, 2017
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Actually, there may be a kind of theft involved. Worked for Random House back in the day. Learned from Royalties that Trump routinely buys back thousands of his own books. Why? Vanity? Push them up bestseller list? Nope: per his contract, he gets, for example (can’t remember exact numbers), 1.5% royalties per book after 10,000 books sold, 3.0% royalties after 25,000, etc. If no one ever bought his book, he’d lose money, but if enough people do, he gets back his investment plus more, and the pub. co has to pay it.

          September 8, 2017
          |Reply
        • Bookjunk
          Bookjunk

          I do so love it when people tell me what I can and cannot be mad about. This book sucks, it doesn’t belong on any best-selling lists and Sarem’s defense of the tactics used to weasel it onto those lists is bullshit.

          September 8, 2017
          |Reply
        • Jenny Trout
          Jenny Trout

          Handbook For Mortals is not selling as well as claimed.

          Congrats on your impressive resume.

          Don’t call me “cray cray.”

          I’m a *legitimately* bestselling author who has been published for eleven years in five different genres, including YA, have worked with traditional, small-press, and self-publishing, have worked as a freelance content editor and was an editor for a small press and have worked as a writer for a film and television development company. So, yes. I “understand the biz.”

          What kind of karma do you get from being passive-agressive to strangers?

          I didn’t jump on the band wagon. I just don’t have respect for con artists.

          You’ve never been the mean girl, but you’ve sure been the passive-agressive Everyone Be Nice To Each Other girl with your condescending little digs in your comment.

          Lacy isn’t New York published.

          Because the NYT didn’t scam itself.

          September 8, 2017
          |Reply
          • Jenny, I wrote the response because you assumed that I was connected with Geek Nation and I am not associated with the company. Other people assume I’m a friend of Lani’s which I have never met her.
            However, I was fascinated from an astrological point of view what aspects in her chart provoked such extreme reactions, and that’s why I wrote the article. Also, the fact that people are going beyond negative reviews and getting personal talking about her looks, etc. Which as a woman, I think is unfair to judge a person by the way they look…it has nothing to do with her writing. I don’t see the point.

            Jenny, I’m not questioning your status as a best-selling author, and it’s obvious you are well loved by your fans and deserve all the accolades you have earned in your life.
            I’m merely stating I think everyone’s extremely negative reaction to Lani Sarem and posting reviews on Amazon when they haven’t even read the book ‘cray, cray.” I was NOT referring to you personally. I’m speaking in general terms of the extreme reaction.

            I don’t want to jump on the bashing bandwagon for her book. What kind of karma do I get from being passive-aggressive to strangers? I’m merely stating my opinion about the situation and I don’t think it’s passive-aggressive. The only reason why I posted a comment on your site was in response to what you wrote. Otherwise, I would not have known it existed.

            My post is not meant to be contentious, I’m just curious about why the extreme negativity and I guess I may have missed the whole point of your site which is the Jealous Hater Book Club.

            September 10, 2017
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Back in the ’80s, when original “Ziegfeld’s Favorite” Cady Huffman left the show, she was replaced by Marla Maples–later to be the second Mrs. Donald Trump.

          An info-tainment show aired, without comment, footage of both performers, back-to-back. Cady did a hip-swiveling jazz walk downstage; Marla took four steps. Cady did a cartwheel, back straight, toes pointed; Marla piked over, bent knees, toes neither pointed nor flexed.

          Then a rumor went around B’way and anyone remotely connected with it: Marka had given ‘tude to the wardrobe people, and they retaliated by embroidering on the crotch of her cartwheel costume the words “The Donald was here.” A dresser would have held out her costume for her to step in it, so she would never have seen it, and it was in floss matching the outfit, so the audience couldn’t see it either, but every member of cast and crew, from the second chorus alternate to the guys in the light booth, knew it was there, and thought about it every time she did her piked-over bent-kneed cartwheels.

          So was Marla the worst performer on B’way, or the nastiest? Probably not.
          But her sugar-daddy had bought her the spot, and everybody knew it. Because of her, people agents had submitted for consideration, union people who’d signed up for an audition slot, and non-union people who rushed over during breaks from their temp or table-waiting jobs to see if they could be seen during a lull, were all shut out. It didn’t hurt Cady, who went on to originate the part of Ulla in “Producers,” but because of Marla, people who pursued this as a craft were lumped together, in the public eye, with someone like Marla.
          People who work in or just appreciate theatre or writing as crafts do not appreciate it when someone advances a career, to the detriment of others, through literal or literary prostitution.

          September 8, 2017
          |Reply
        • Jane
          Jane

          First of all. It’s not even a YA book. It’s a book with a twenty-five year old protagonist that was deliberately marketed to get on the YA list so it could have a better chance of hitting #1. Second of all, this affected other people’s life and work. It kicked a deserving book that actually *sold* copies off the list at #1 (The Hate U Give) and completely kicked Yoon’s Everything, Everyhing off the top ten until this was rectified. It affected or had the chance to affect other people’s career and rankings. Third, it’s disrespectful. She wanted to jump the turnstyle and just go to starring in her own film franchise by manipulating sales, which she *herself* has admitted to at Billboard’s site. Fourth, people spend their whole lives trying to get published and if they do that, struggling to be a #1 NY Times Bestseller. She spat in all of that by cheating. Finally, instead of apologizing when she got caught, she has cried victim, made the YA detectives who found this out bullies or trolls to her fans, and she’s also whined about discrimination against new voices when she literally displaced writers of color with her stunt. Bonus? She has spoken publicly since the Gill De Mace allegations came out and the admission of her own cover artist that “The Knife Thrower” was referenced for Mortals’ cover yet she has not apologized, offered to credit, or made financial restitution to an artist for plagiarizing work. Also, double second bonus, Sarem has nothing but disdain for publishing and for writers in the YA genre. She keeps talking about how cons are another avenue when even George RR Martin as San Diego Comic Con couldn’t move 19,000 copies in preorders and dismissed the idea that convention goers are also in YA fandom and reading. Moreover, by creating such a shoddy, unedited piece of work, she’s basically implied that’s all YA is and all the effort it takes.

          She’s insulting, nasty, ungrateful, rude, and continues to take a page out of the Taylor Swift playbook and act the innocent, put upon victim. That’s why she’s villified. She’s a liar, a thief, a fraud and she has the unmitigated gall to keep crying foul as if she wasn’t a scam artist.

          September 8, 2017
          |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          “I’m just curious why everyone is trashing Lani and not questioning the publisher or NYT’s tactics?”

          Because the world isn’t fair and it never has been. I’d assume two con artists would know this.

          September 11, 2017
          |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          My biggest beef with miss Lani is the fact she sprouts that this YA witch hunt is “keeping out new voices”.

          Tell me, was Miss Lani ever saddened by the fact that her book stole the number one spot from a *legit* writer, from a POC writer? Miss Lani is the one who is keeping “new voices” from being heard when she pulled stunts like this. This is why I am angry above all else. Even now in 2017, it is IMMENSELY hard for POC and LGBT writers to get their books published.

          Miss Lani is NOT the underdog. Underdogs are people who have no chance to rise up, living in a world where it’s easy for them to be knocked back down. Miss Lani is an attractive white woman with already-established connections to celebrities and producers. That’s NOT an underdog.

          Angie Thomas, the author of “The Hate U Give” (y’know, the book miss Lani stole the number one spot from?) is an underdog. Why aren’t you rooting for her? She’s a woman of color, who wrote a book about police brutality while living in a current very racist America. How hard do you think it took for her to write this book? The emotional heartache? The racism thrown her way and FOREVER be thrown her way? Why don’t you write HER horoscope?

          September 12, 2017
          |Reply
        • Evelyn Grant
          Evelyn Grant

          So Jacy … first things first:

          1. You’re “intrigued by the nastiness and pure hatred over a YA book. It’s absolutely absurd, and ridiculous.”
          Why is that? Don’t you believe that our young adults deserve well-paced, decently written, thoughtfully plotted, and engaging stories?
          Do you think that because the book is written for the 12-18 y.o market that it doesn’t need to be critiqued as stringently as a book for adults?
          What in particular makes it ‘absurd, and ridiculous’ to point out the flaws in a YA book (and by extension, it’s author. Because no book comes to life in a vacuum)?

          2. You state that she “(i)s not a racist(sic) or related to Trump, hasn’t stolen anyone’s man, she doesn’t write for WikiLeaks, is not a Nazi, hasn’t dissed Beyonce, etc. etc”, but that the extremely negative reactions to her work are “cray cray”.
          Have you considered that the extremity of the negative reactions are solely and exclusively predicated upon the execrable nature of her work?
          Is it “cray cray” to want better for our YA readers, and to deplore work of this standard finding an international platform, when works of so much greater merit are over-looked and under-sold?
          Is merely not being a totally offensive human being your minimum requirement for allotting an author/producer/director/etc commercial success?

          3. You say “At the end of the day, Publishers market books for authors, not writers.”
          Ummm … authors are writers … are you a little confused? Do you mean READERS, rather than writers? And FYI, publishers market what they think will sell: they look at a synopsis, compare it to current market trends, and decide whether to publish the book … therefore, they couldn’t give a damn about authors/writers, and certainly don’t market books FOR them … they take what they think that the market can bear (for the most part) and sell that.
          Consider that phrase ‘lowest common denominator’, and then apply that to the marketing strategy of most publishing houses.

          4. You really seem to be missing the point of the ‘JEALOUS HATER BOOK CLUB’. This is a blog which critiques books thoroughly, it accepts the appellation ‘Jealous Hater’ which is placed upon it by the fans-who-know-no-better.
          It discusses the entirely problematic elements of popular (but terrible) works of fiction, including: story-telling, character development, and basic grammar!
          Any viciousness has been well earned, because if the story were well: -paced, -plotted, -written, and -conceived, it would not be featured on the blog.

          5. Just because crap shows get the green light on Netflix. this is not an excuse for crap books, and crap movie/TV-adaptations of those crap books. You are using a false syllogism. Please stop.

          6. You are “curious why everyone is trashing Lani and not questioning the publisher or NYT’s tactics”
          Let me explain in words of one syllable: SHE WROTE A BAD BOOK.
          The literary content is nil. The story is a weak. The characters are one-dimensional, and the situations are entirely unbelievable.
          Regardless of a publishing house picking up this steaming turd of an offering (no comment here offered on Lani’s ‘celebrity pull’), she is the one who actually wrote this drivel and offered it for external consumption.

          7. You think “the fact that people are going beyond negative reviews and getting personal talking about her looks, etc. Which as a woman, I think is unfair to judge a person by the way they look”.
          This might not be an issue , if she hadn’t already marketed herself as the obvious choice of casting for the lead in the terrible film/tv adaptation of her terrible book(s)

          8. You state that your comment was “not meant to be contentious”. However you took the opposing view on a blog which was entirely consensual on the merit (or lack thereof) of Ms Sherman’s work.
          I think that you’re looking at the dictionary definition of ‘contentious’ ( Merriam Webster: – 1 :likely to cause disagreement or argument a contentious issue. 2 :exhibiting an often perverse and wearisome tendency to quarrels and disputes)

          September 12, 2017
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Agree with everything you said except “Have you considered that the extremity of the negative reactions are solely and exclusively predicated upon the execrable nature of her work?”
            There are plenty of bad writers churning out inferior crap, and plenty of publishers to disseminate it. Some bad writers self-publish their inferior crap. No one, including those of us in the
            Troutosphere, has time or inclination to rip into it all.

            What released the Kraken onto both Lani Sarem and EL James was the DECEPTION used to market their crap. James ripped off not only Stephenie Meyer, but other fanfic writers. She used and manipulated her blog fans and then discarded them when she didn’t need them anymore. We’ve all heard about Sarem’s NYT buyback tactics. When people go to ANY lengths to call more attention to their work, some of that attention may well be negative, especially if they clearly spent more effort on the attention-getting than on the work.

            There are plenty of lousy actors out there. But if you really want to infuriate people in the performing arts, tell them someone got a part though the casting couch. It degrades the entire industry when someone NOT engaging in prostitution sacrifices a chance at a role. And it degrades fiction, regardless of genre, when writers are judged on their willingness to run con games, and those who don’t lower themselves to that level get elbowed out of the way.

            September 12, 2017
          • I’m sorry but I respectfully disagree. She has several people involved in the book including Thomas Ian Nicholas (American Pie actor) who has signed on as Producer and is touring with her at various Comic-Con’s. Also, he stated in a recent interview he placed the orders for the book at Comic-Con and not Lani.

            I think it’s unfair that a new author is being ripped to shreds for a book people feel is poorly written. Also, her looks are being trashed by various people, etc. I really don’t see the point.

            Why isn’t anyone questioning the business decisions of Geek Nation who published the book and the well-known actor who wants to produce the movie? I have not seen any negative comments or anyone trashing their business decisions.

            I’m entitled to my opinion like everyone else. As I mentioned in my first post, the ONLY reason I came to the website is that there was a question about the article I wrote and whether or not I know her or not. I do not know Lani, Geek Nation, or the actor.

            It was an Astrology blog article about the book and the author. I appreciate that Jenny offers an open forum for everyone to express their opinion. It definitely makes it one lively debate. 🙂

            September 12, 2017
          • I write Astrology blog articles about celebrities, reality shows, politics, books, etc. It’s an entertainment site, and not the Washington Post or New York Times. I would not consider it an opposing view article but a cosmic one. My blog post is based on her Astrology chart and the overall premise of the book.

            September 12, 2017
  37. frolik
    frolik

    I’m annoyed at how this book is implicitly treating the name “Zade” as unique and edgy, when it’s a not-uncommon male Arabic name (though spelled differently). My friend’s cousin is named Zaid.

    September 6, 2017
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  38. Kayla
    Kayla

    I’m so glad you put that picture of Zod in. It was such a nice mid-recap break from this horrible novel, and it meant I could keep scrolling up and imagining Terrence Stamp laser-eyeing all of these characters to death.

    September 7, 2017
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  39. Choco
    Choco

    so if this is how wrong she is about what professional theater performances are like, something ostensibly related to her Actual Literal career as a manager for bands, i actually cannot wait for how wrong she’s gonna be about just, everything to do with the city of las vegas, my home for 24 years. i am filled with petty glee in anticipation.

    September 7, 2017
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  40. Cat
    Cat

    “Yep, like ‘aide’ but add a Z.”

    Because “rhymes with jade” isn’t cumbersome enough for this chick. I’m going to start introducing myself as “Cat, like chat but take out the h”.

    So let’s see, zAIDE states that she’s made herself a somewhat “normal” life seemingly because she got a job. Bitch could have snagged herself a “normal” life by applying at the Piggly Wiggly in her podunk town and saved on the cost of gas at the very least. But I’m not really sure what was so abnormal about her life prior to this gig. Does Lani mean that her character “feels” abnormal? Because I didn’t see anything about zAIDE growing up in a yurt and eating snakes and performing feats of strength in order to be allowed to go to the public high school or anything. There is a big difference between having a life outside the norm and feeling you yourself are outside the norm (beyond being beautiful but thinking you are just cute and average without a thigh gap and perfectly cut bangs).

    So far my favorite character is Sofia because she obviously isn’t buying any of this shit.

    September 7, 2017
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  41. I know I’m a bit tardy to the party, but I have to say a couple things:

    Vis a vis names, first of all there is no way this is the authors real name. It’s like she got it from staring at a Lorem Ipsum paragraph. Also, all the other names in the book are terrible, especially the Mac/Cam thing. WTF?

    I’m not gonna touch the rest of the content, Jenny and the other commenters have said beautiful, amazing things about it already, but I wanna address something that’s sticking in my craw as a struggling actress over 30 in Los Angeles.

    This is a strange way to get your movie made. So, I realized I was close to aging out of a role I wanted to play, so I wrote a short film adaptation and have been working my ass off to produce it. Is it a vanity project? Yes. Am I knocking anyone aside by doing it, or marketing it? Nope.

    Creating content is basically de rigeur in this town if you want to get ahead. You write a short scene for your reel and shoot it with friends (we’re talking under a minute long) so you can flesh out your package and show a type you haven’t been cast as. My project turned into something I’m very passionate about, but a lot of people just want to get their face and skills out there, which is smart. I don’t have an agent, so I have less options than some as far as getting my work out there. Let’s examine what these are:

    She could take that screenplay that she wrote before the book and get a lit agent who would shop it to production companies, or one of her obviously well connected friends could put it in front of a studio/agent/producer/etc. She could produce it herself, make a company with one of these well connected friends, and use her urban fantasy angle (it’s so trendy!) To attract investors. She may have done this already, considering the imdb page that already exists. But here’s where I get stuck: who told her it had to be a book first? Yes, book adaptations are popular, but it it’s such a “GOOD STORY” (per the rando who penned the forward) she shouldn’t need that kind of pre-requisite. No one in Hollywood is sitting here like “Rocky would have made more money if it was a book series first.” This whole project just seems completely ill-conceived from top to bottom, and it’s no wonder the bands she used to manage are disavowing.

    Tl;dr: not only has she no idea how live performance works, she is trying to break into Hollywood all back-asswards. She is like a badly written super villain with an overly complicated evil plan.

    September 9, 2017
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  42. small jar of fireflies
    small jar of fireflies

    The scene is written as if it were a book derived from a movie. I have questions about that pool. How deep was it? It sounds shallow enough to be mobile, but she just swan-dove into it from a jump near the top of a theatre ceiling? How did she practice this kind of magic and diving in her small town home? How long ago was it filled? Because if it’s just tap water, it’s got algae and larvae and possibly a cigarette butt or fifteen in there. This might work better in a movie, where you see “oh, there’s a pool there,” and accept it because it’s a movie set in a theatre, but in a book it raises questions.

    We don’t see how people even find her in the pool, because everyone would be looking at the stage, trying to understand where she went. All she did was stick her head up and gesture, about 20 feet off from where she was expected to be, in the back where the lighting’s different. We moved with her, because we are the camera, but nobody else would.

    I do like picturing the rest of the scene with her squidging around in wet shoes and dripping everywhere, getting the contract all soggy as she tries to sign it, though.

    September 9, 2017
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    • Dove
      Dove

      I didn’t even think about that! Her socks are all wet, unless she magic-dried her clothes and herself, after she climbed out of the pool. You’re right, the shoe squeaking and other irksome side-effects would have gone a long way towards making her more interesting or at least believable (maybe even endearing, since it’s a minor way of suffering for her goal in life.) It’s not much, considering everything else that got left out or terribly warped by unmitigated wish-fulfillment, but it would’ve been a huge improvement over what we got. 😛 🙂

      September 11, 2017
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  43. Anders Starmark
    Anders Starmark

    KNEEL BEFORE ZADE!

    September 11, 2017
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  44. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    This is driving me crazy. I could laugh at the bad writing in 50 because I wasn’t close enough to the BDSM scene to be offended by James’ misrepresentations, although my friends said they were outrageous. The theatre delusions here, however, are driving me up the wall! Even the company sitting around in the house– yes, we’ve done that in small spaces like that gas station converted into a theatre where there wasn’t a green room or any real rehearsal space, not even private cast bathrooms–had to answer the call of nature when it WASN’T intermission, look for segments when you’re not in the scene and sneak around outside to the front, hope no one in the audience got the urge at the same time.

    But in a big Las Vegas venue? Really?

    Maybe this would have worked had she built an entire alternate universe with its own theatre conventions, physics, and union rules. Or had her protagonist be a mind reader so she can legitimately give other characters’ POV. She grew up in the judgey-wudgey podunk town of Gnarf, but always knew she’d be a star if she could just get to the shining metropolis of Unga-Bunga-Bunga, where people would appreciate her perfectly-cut antennae at last.

    September 11, 2017
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  45. Mae
    Mae

    “Zade describes things as they “seem” quite often, even when they’re actually happening.”

    It seems I have an issue with passive voice. It can, at times, make me feel irritated. Somewhat.

    September 12, 2017
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  46. Figgy
    Figgy

    She keeps using the word “basically”. It drives me insane. It’s so lazy, so dismissive or any effort. Ugh.

    September 12, 2017
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  47. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    Consulted a friend of mine who now has his own trans-media company–we worked in comic books in the’90s. He was kind enough to allow me to quote him and use his name, so here’s what he had to say on the subject:
    *****************************************************************************
    “The New York Times bestseller list has been easily gamed for several years now. The reason is that it takes less than nine thousand copies in first week sales to place you there. That’s lunch money for a whole lot of semi-professionals, let alone actual authors. Any CEO interested in gaining a bit of prestige can now have a NYT bestseller without breaking a sweat. There are brokers who can easily do that for you for an equally low fee. That’s sad to me, because it denotes how far down the toilet the book business has really gone. Lani Sarem’s naïve actions raised several red flags at once, so she was easily caught.” – Jeff Gomez, CEO, Starlight Runner
    **********************************************************************************
    I think he’s being too kind with the “naive,” given what Popper of Blues Traveler revealed, but OK.

    September 12, 2017
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  48. Rose
    Rose

    What’s so awful about the entering the theatre part is a quick find-and-replace for foyer with stage door or green room would have fixed a lot. Well, fixed one of several trillion problems.

    Also, I googled “David Copperfield partner Chloe” and she looks like a perfectly nice, normal, friendly woman?

    September 17, 2017
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  49. Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)

    I was on three different Rocky Horror Picture Show casts. Rocky freaking Horror and we could NOT leave the dressing room till is was time to start the show. I call so much bullshit.

    I love My Imortal. Love it. It’s so fucking funny and the author is a genius to write something that bad on purpose. I can only read a chapter at a time because it’s physically hard to read with all of the misspellings, but it’s still way better than this book.

    When I first saw the cover I liked it. Then I saw this –

    https://www.bleedingcool.com/2017/08/26/handbook-for-mortals-knife-thrower/

    Not cool. Anyway. Love the recap. Looking forward to the next one.

    September 17, 2017
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    • Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)
      Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)

      Am such an idiot. I didn’t realize there was a chapter 0. Off to read the recap. Ignor the link. Jenny already covered it. Oops.

      September 18, 2017
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  50. Dani Colman
    Dani Colman

    *waves hand* Magician here! There’s no way a big stage illusionist like Copperfield performs in the round. The bigger an illusion, the harder it is to angle-proof it: you could do card and coin tricks as a circle show, but not levitations, vanishes, transpositions or transportations. I’ve seen a magician try to angle-proof a routine to about 270° for a cruise ship show and that was nearly impossible.

    Also, bullshit a magician at Copperfield’s level lets anyone near his stage with untested equipment or illusions. If he’s the resident artist then that stage is absolutely lousy with trap doors, wires, hidden levers, and so on. Any new illusion – even just for an audition – would have to go through the magician, his designer and at least two techs first to make sure it wouldn’t fuck up an existing act.

    And, in my final bit of rant, there are several magicians who have designed illusions for Copperfield, and if Sarem is trying to throw shade at any of them then fuck her to next Tuesday and back. I suspect she might be alluding to Jim Steinmeyer, in which case fuck her twice: Steinmeyer is a bloody genius and a real gentleman to boot.

    *shuffles sheepishly* Is this your card?

    September 21, 2017
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