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Jealous Hater Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 3 The Hierophant or, “Nothing Happened.”

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It’s the Handbook For Mortals Twitter Round Up, y’all! YEEEEE-HAW!

Twitter user @TheSubliminator actually went to Lani Sarem and Paul Ian Nicholas Thomas Eric John James or whoever’s author event. Highlights include Sarem declaring “It’s not MY fault Angie is a black writer,” in regards to fraudulently knocking Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give from its #1 spot, and straight up plagiarizing Roald Dahl when she signs the damn book. Check out #23HourBS for details.

Why that hashtag name? Well, because Ms. Sarem and Mr. John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt are now advertising this book as a #1 New York Times Bestseller for twenty-three hours. Author L.L. McKinney made a Twitter moment about it.

If all of that wasn’t pathetic and enraging enough for you, definitely check out this thread by Jeremy West, in which he calls out another laughably bad attempt by Sarem and the Rookie Of The Year to make the book appear successful. Yes, they are absolutely still trying to claim that this book is a pop culture phenomenon.

If you need something to get the god awful taste of all of this out of your mouth, Snarksquad member and BookTuber @MyNameIsMarines is reading the book on the hashtag #SnarkForMortals. I highly encourage you to check her out.

Meanwhile, I apologize that this recap was delayed. Computer troubles. Namely, me absentmindedly drenching my keyboard with Windex while I tried to clean my desk. Thank you big time to everyone who donated via Kofi in the wake of this senseless tragedy.

All right! When last we met, Lani was about to tell Charles Spellman how she really performs her illusion. I have been on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what her explanation is. Is she going to admit to having real magic? Will it be revealed that Charles Spellman is her father and that he too has real magic? Man, oh man, I cannot wait for this!

Just kidding. We don’t see any of that. Chapter two ended on a hook that felt as though it would lead into the next scene. Charles asked how she did the trick, it seems like we’ll turn the page and see her doing some fast thinking, maybe confessing to having actual magic. But no. We skip ahead to paperwork and living arrangements. Because honestly, who wants to read all that icky plot?

Chapter three opens with Lani explaining the human resources process at the casino. She had to do paperwork and a background check, but in the meantime, she just hangs out in the good graces of Charles Spellman.

It worked out well for me, though, since I had to find an apartment (luckily, the first week I was allowed to stay at the hotel, courtesy of Mr. Wynn and Mr. Spellman).

I like how none of this makes Lani suspicious that maybe she’s getting special treatment of some kind. On the one hand, she could be thinking, well my illusion was so great, obviously, I’m going to be allowed to stay at the hotel rent-free. On the other hand, maybe she knows C.S. is her father, but we’re not supposed to know she knows because it would ruin the twist.

I’m betting it’s a third hand: She knows that Spellman is somehow connected to her family, but isn’t mentioning it to the reader because it will ruin the twist, which is incredibly predictable. When she inevitably finds out that he’s her father, she will be rocked to her very core, and it will lead to the beginning of a tense confrontation scene that won’t carry into the next chapter or ever be mentioned again.

On her first day, Lani has an appointment with wardrobe:

We all have a dressing room area that’s inside a really big room. They are sectioned off smaller rooms — kinda like in a changing room at a clothing store — but the show also has a large wardrobe room where we go for fittings, costumer fixes, etc.

I love the use of “etc.” after listing two things. I wouldn’t normally call it out because etc. is a perfectly acceptable abbreviation, but she could have just written the sentence, “the show also has a large wardrobe room where we go for fittings and costumer fixes.” Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, Lani.

They also keep certain costumes there (like the ones with intricate beading that constantly has to be repaired) and lots of the performers get dressed there because they need assistance with their complex and much more elaborate costumes, which would be impossible to put on by yourself.

No, it would be impossible to put on by themselves. They don’t need assistance putting on the reader’s costume. Although, if anyone wants to imagine me wearing an intricately beaded costume while I do these recaps, I’m okay with that.

The wardrobe department made and maintained the costumes — a huge undertaking for the small group of women who work in the department.

I feel like this is implied when you say, “wardrobe,” but I don’t know. This might be a time when repetitive exposition is necessary. I just assumed that everyone would know that the wardrobe department where the costumes are would be where the costumes are maintained and created. This one, I could genuinely be wrong. Either way, I felt like it was super repetitive to describe the wardrobe department and then describe the wardrobe department again.

Lani goes on to say that the seamstresses make side money selling Halloween costumes, and Lani thinks about how she wants one when the holiday comes. So, of course, this is the perfect time for a sidebar about…IDK. Halloween and how Lani feels about playing dress-up? Because why the fuck not?

Though I never know what to be, I always want a completely recognizable costume that is something so unique that no one else has it.

I bet the costumers can’t wait to fill that order.

It dawned on me they could make incredible costumes for the Renaissance faires that I loved going to, which made my new job and life that much more awesome, since I heard Las Vegas had a pretty decent faire that happened yearly in town.

Thank God she mentioned this. I would’ve had absolutely no frame of reference or context for this entire story if I didn’t know about the Renaissance faire in Las Vegas, or the fact that Lani loves to go to them.

Yes, having your very own costume designer is a must for any girl.

Gosh, I hope she tells the entire costume department that they are now her own personal costume designers. They will so super appreciate that.

So, on her first day, Lani is standing in wardrobe in her underwear, being measured by a “wardrobe girl” named Lil.

Her full name was Lillianne, but she had told me in her first breath to call her Lil, and that only her mom and great aunt Anne called her by her full name. She talked a lot, and fast, while smacking her gum. She continued on about how she only thought her great aunt called her by her first name because her name was Anne and thought that somehow she was kind of named after her.

Ugh. How annoying. I hate people who are hung up on their names, and the story of their names, and how to pronounce their names, and they just go on and on and on multiple times about their names and then have their author frenemy write a foreword to their book to explain how to pronounce their name. That is so obnoxious.

Isn’t it, Zaaaaaaade? Don’t you find that annoying, Zaaaaaaaaaaade?

I quickly learned more about Lil than I know about most people I’ve known for half my life.

Jesus Christ, I know the feeling.

She looked like the stereotypical Goth: black hair, black nails, and more than her fair share of tattoos.

She took more than her fair share of tattoos? So, you’re telling me that some people won’t get tattoos now? God, greedy much, Lil?

I’m pretty sure that if you saw her on the street the last thing you would think is that she make clothes for a living.

That would be in my top five guesses if someone asked me what I thought a person that looked like that did for a living. Number one, in a band. Number two, artist. Number three, professional tattoo artist or piercer. Number four, theater costumer. Number five, works at Hot Topic.

Okay, number five would actually be number one. I’m not hating on Hot Topic. I buy stuff there all the time, and the employees are always lovely. I just feel like any place that sends out an email with the subject line, “Welcome to Gilead,” to publicize their officially licensed Handmaid’s Tale cloaks can’t be taken super seriously.

She continued to ramble on in her fast, chatty way, and pretty soon I tuned out the random gossip and focused on my reflection in the mirror.

This is a scene in which the heroine of the novel ignores someone who is talking to her to look in a mirror and admire herself. Someone wrote this scene with complete sincerity.

The fluorescent lights showed off every angle of me as I stood there staring at myself and all I could think was how white I looked,

Well, we knew this was going to happen eventually. I even said, in the very first recap, “Definitely caucasian and almost guaranteed to lament her pale skin later […]”. This is one of the most basic components of a Mary Sue. From Merry Gentry’s skin that “glows like [she] swallowed the moon,” to Bella Swan not tanning in the desert, one of the most important characteristics for a white girl’s idealized self-insert is porcelain pale skin.

and I wished some parts of my body were different.

See? She’s not self-obsessed. Unlike other girls, when Lani looks in a mirror, she notices her flaws, no matter how often everyone tells her she’s gorgeous. I bet you can identify with this, reader. You do the same thing Lani does, and Lani is a magical girl, so you’re a magical girl, too. All fiction tends to have some variation on this. Authors want their characters to seem relatable, and readers want a relatable character. However, other writers tend to not make this manipulative trick so obvious.

Finally, Lil’s voice cut through my distraction when she mentioned something about Mac. Unfortunately I only caught the tail end of what she had said. Not wanting to admit that I had not heard her at all, I quickly changed the subject even though I genuinely wanted to know the gossip she had spilled about the brooding technical director and the question I did ask came only from minor curiosity.

I feel like this book once had the commas all in the right place but then somebody shook it up like a snow globe and they went absolutely everywhere. That’s the only explanation for why some places have commas where they shouldn’t be, and other places have no commas where a comma is desperately needed.

Every time I think that this heroine couldn’t get more unlikable, I am proved frustratingly, tragically wrong. After spending chapters telling us every inane detail of her life that have nothing to do with the overall story, here’s Lani complaining about someone else doing exactly that, tuning out so she can stare in a mirror at herself, and only bothering to listen to the other human being in the conversation when the topic is the dude that will be part of the love triangle later.

So, what was the question that Lani asked from “minor curiosity?” She wants to know if Lil will be her wardrobe person all the time. Now, Lani said she feels important knowing that she has a costumer assigned to herself, but I choose to interpret this as Lani asking, “ugh. You’re not going to be my costume person all the time, are you? Because I try to make it all about me, and right now, you’re making it very difficult to do that.”

Unfortunately, that’s not how it goes. Instead, Lil complements Lani’s hair and asks if she goes to a salon.

“Oh no, I just go to Sally Beauty Supply and get the colors and do it myself. In the little town I’m from we have one hair salon, and they aren’t exactly willing to do anything — in their words —‘ crazy.’ So I had to start coloring it myself plus it’s so much cheaper.” I put up air quotes as I stressed “crazy.”

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to visualize the small town Lani comes from. It’s so small she can’t even get her hair done but there is a Sally Beauty Supply she can go to? I suppose they don’t have any restaurants, either, so she just has to run down to the local Williams-Sonoma and make do, right?

Lil is so impressed with Lani’s hair that she asks if Lani will color hers sometime. Because apparently, there are no salons in Las Vegas, and definitely a super Goth costumer would have no idea where or how to color her own hair.

I got curious and ran a search on Lil’s name. She appears in just one other scene in this book, and that appearance is very brief. And no, it’s not a scene where they dye her hair. This entire conversation about how Lani dyes her hair is, like so many other things in this book, just there.

Lil asks Lani if she’s excited about joining the show:

“That was a pretty awesome illusion,” she said, tentatively. “I can see why C.S. had, like, a special edition just for you. I’ve never seen them do that for anyone, but you sure brought it.”

We’re still all trying to figure out how she got the audition, too, Lil. I mean, does Zade know that Charles Spellman is her father? Is that how she knew to come here to get the job? It’s not like she was this world-renowned magician asking for an audition. She is, by her own admission, nobody. So, how did any of this happen?

I’m not good with compliments. Some girls are. I’ve always admired those who know what to say and accept them graciously.

“Thank you.” That’s what you say. I mean, that’s what you say if you’re like other girls. But this is Lani. She’s Not Like Other Girls™. She laments the fact that she doesn’t know Lil well enough to say anything nice about her in return and ends up just saying “thanks” anyway, and it’s super awkward.

What do I say? “You measured me well?” That’s not exactly something you compliment someone on. I could say “you talk faster than anyone I’ve ever met.” That also seemed like a less-than-stellar compliment.

This wouldn’t be so awkward if Lani didn’t just assume that other people are fishing for compliments when they give them.

Lil asks Zade how she came up with her illusion, which is a little weird, considering the fact that she works on a magic show and has probably signed a nondisclosure agreement. Like, the people that work on this show should probably understand the importance of secrecy in magic. But Lani is sure that Lil is going to pry, so she changes the subject to talk about a dress.

The one closest to us was a beautiful black dress, decked out in ruffled tulle underskirts of different colors and varying lengths. The top had an incredible angular collar that stood up and away from the body. I’d never seen anything like it. It was amazing, but probably difficult to wear — and almost definitely uncomfortable.

Mia Sara in Legend, wearing her Dark Lily costume. It's black, with a really tall collar that goes way up above her head like the back of a chair or something. The neckline is super low, and her makeup is all dark and dramatic.

This is either a ballerina version of Mia Sara’s dress after she succumbs to evil in Legend, or the latest from the Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way fashion collection. Which, by the way, I really think Hot Topic should look into licensing. Now that we all know who the author of My Immortal is, it should be no problem kicking a little money her way.

As nervous as I was, I probably would have raved about it dishcloth if that had been my only option, but I really did love the dress.

Zade clearly went to the school of backhanded compliments.

Lil asks her where she’s from, and Zani tells her she’s from Tennessee. Then, there is a little triple moon astrology looking thing that serves as a section break? Please note, I am using text-to-speech to write this recap since I accidentally sprayed Windex over my keyboard and ruined it, and literally, every sentence I write from here on out should be read aloud as though there is a question mark at the end, no matter how the actual punctuation reads. Like, I’m so incredulous in this next section, so disturbed this might have actually seen an editor and that editor said, “this is all fine,” and then that editor got paid for doing that, that my voice is stuck on a permanent Valley Girl upward tilt. Because after the little astrology thing, we’re in Mac’s POV. Or, something that appears to be Mac’s POV, indicated by all of the text being italicized.

I’m not kidding.

As you can probably guess, Mac just happened to wander past wardrobe, where the door was open just a crack:

Mac could see Zade standing in nothing but her lace underwear and bra as Lil pulled a measuring tape around her narrow waist. Both pieces were black and nude with lace trim and the panties, which were a high-waisted cut, framed Zade’s body nicely and showed off her curves and small waist.

In case you are wondering, Zade’s waist is small. We know this because it was mentioned twice. I’m actually really disappointed that he didn’t describe her as having “curves in all the right places,” as is the vernacular associated with terrible fiction.

“But Jenny,” I hear you ask, “what about her skin? Her pale, pale Caucasian skin?”

Under the bright lights, Zade’s skin looked porcelain white. She was beautiful. She wasn’t supermodel hot but there was something about her that just made her stand out.

How to make your male main character sound like a dick in five words: “she wasn’t supermodel hot but…” Seriously, way to make it sound like Mac is making a pained exception for her.

Also, this is another case of Not Like Other Girls™. If Lani looked like a supermodel, we couldn’t root for her. Because the beauty of supermodels is so valued as the standard to which all women are held, there’s this resentment toward women who do share any supermodel-like qualities. We see beautiful women in fiction turned into monsters, while average-looking women are the characters to cheer for. But there’s no such thing as an average-looking heroine in a self-insert fic. Instead, we’ll get a list of all the desirable physical qualities the heroine has, while being told that somehow, only on her, these qualities aren’t attractive. I’m truly shocked that we didn’t see her measurements in print; I was kinda looking forward to seeing that she had a 22″ chest, 18″ waist, and a 20″ hip, followed by her cursing her lush, plus-sized body.

He tried to push the thoughts out of his head; he didn’t want to like her. He couldn’t like her. Zade was the enemy. He tried to repeat that to himself.

Be a little more dramatic, Mac.

Mac stares at her and thinks about how just looking at her makes him forget everything. It also apparently makes the author forget how POV works:

Tad walked up and stopped right behind Mac. Mac was so distracted by Zade and his own internal dialogue that he didn’t even notice Tad approaching. Tad looked through the crack in the door, looked at Mac, cracked a wide grin, and crossed his arms. Tad waited for a few moments to see if Mac was going to notice him or even just stop staring at the mostly naked girl on the other side of the door.

Since Tad can’t possibly know that Mac was distracted by his internal dialogue, that sentence would be Mac’s POV. But the rest of this is Tad. In other words, this whole section is written in omniscient third POV. And it’s not written in omniscient third very well. Why? Why is this section written this way? This is not A Christmas Carol. This is not Oliver Twist. This is not David Copper– Oh.

Startled, Mac whipped around and quickly looks to secret just caught him. He didn’t say anything or show it but, secretly, he was relieved that it was his best friend and not someone else that had caught him watching.

Yeah, lucky thing because peeping on performers changing is probably a fireable offense.

The rest of this long paragraph describes silent communication between the two before they walk off somewhere to have a discussion that won’t be overheard. Tad asks why Mac was spying on Lani.

Mac looked Tad dead in the eye and moved his tongue around his gums.

A gif of Gaston from the animated Beauty and The Beast. He's licking his teeth clean in a mirror.

 

“Contemplating how to kill her and dispose of the body without getting caught. […]”

Nothing builds romantic tension like the hero talking about murdering the heroine. I know this is supposed to be cute and funny and an indication that he really likes her. After all, aren’t boys supposed to be mean to the girls they like? I mean, that’s what we tell children all the time. In a country where the third highest cause of death for women ages fifteen to twenty-four is homicide, having the hero of what is advertised as a young adult novel (regardless of whether or not it fits in that category) is just fine.

The gist of this section with Mac and Tad is that people are noticing that Zani makes Mac feel some different ways, something that could only have been accomplished with a weird, italicized section in which the point of view bounces around like a god damn Plinko disk.

Fret not, for the attention cannot be long removed from Zani. After another of those little star-map-triple-goddess-combo page ornaments, we’re back in her POV:

I’m pretty sure every inch of me had been measured–

That is 100% the point of measuring someone. If you missed a few inches, you didn’t measure very well.

and I knew Lil’s entire life story. I could practically tell you anything about, including what she had eaten for breakfast–and, no, I’m not even joking about that one. (She had had scrambled eggs with cheese, turkey bacon, whole-grain toast, and some homemade mango jelly. She had gotten all the ingredients fresh from a local farmer’s market–which she recommended I go and try.)

a blurry photo of me clawing my face off.

WHY? WHY DID WE HAVE TO HEAR ABOUT IT? I KNOW THAT ZAAAAAADE HAD TO HEAR ABOUT IT, BUT WHY DID WE HAVE TO HEAR ABOUT IT? WHY IS THERE SO MUCH DETAIL ABOUT THINGS THAT WE ABSOLUTELY NEED NO DETAIL ABOUT? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? I’M A GOOD PERSON! I’M A GOOD PERSON!

With my mind on other things and still excited about my first day, I waltzed out of wardrobe not paying any attention to where I was walking. I still had my head turned, saying goodbye to Lil, when I collided into what one would most certainly call tall, dark, and handsome. He was exactly my type, if I ever had one. I had crashed into him so hard that I started to tumble to the ground. Luckily, he apparently had catlike reflexes and caught me in his arms.

If a Young Adult/New Adult heroine never fell down again, both genres would still be defined by the fact that the heroines can’t stay upright. In the years 2013-2016, I DNFed more books than I finished because I had a rule about not reading any more books where the heroine meets the hero by falling down in front of him. And this is so straight out of Twilight/Fifty Shades of Grey that I can’t even. I can’t even even.

He held me there for a moment, just long enough for me to look into his deep, sparkling eyes. I’m pretty sure I turned every shade of red imaginable, as I was already embarrassed by my clumsiness–

A flaw-that-isn’t-a-flaw.

and then just in awe of his handsome radiance. He pulled me up slowly and gingerly even slightly tighter into him before he placed me upright and back on solid ground.

Oh my god, just leave her on the floor and wait for Mac to murder her.

What was wrong with me?

That didn’t need to be italicized, but you did it, anyway.

I had just turned into a silly fourteen-year-old girl.

Hey, let me give you a tip, Lani Sarem the author and not Lani Sarem the character in this shitty, horrible, half-assed scam of a “novel”: if you’re writing a YA, don’t insult the audience you’re trying to sell your shitty, horrible, half-assed scam of a “novel” to.

The hot hero dream guy (who has a guitar strapped to his back) already knows who Lani is:

“I know who you are. I actually came up and talked to you right after your audition. I was one of the many fawning over you. I’m Jackson Milsap,” he said, smiling broadly. His grin revealed two rows of perfect, white teeth. All I processed was “Jackson.”

Yeah, that’s where I’m getting hung up, too. Because in the foreword, Lani’s inappropriately self-promoting author frenemy mentions that she and Lani met through a Jackson Rathbone fansite while Lani was managing Jackson Rathbone’s former band, 100 Monkeys, who are thanked in the acknowledgements at the end. And the physical description of tall, dark, and handsome musician fits:

Dude has dark brown hair, brown eyes, and a dark goatee in this picture.

Sarem makes sure to reiterate that so many people were fawning over Zani and how amaaaaaaaazing she was, she couldn’t possibly have remembered even the smolderingest of smolderers. Zade blushes and stammers and can’t form complete sentences.

Jackson smiled again and his cheeks dimpled. He ran his fingers through his perfectly tousled dark chestnut hair, and I realized that I was going weak in the knees whenever he smiled.

During the recap of Apolonia, I talked about how certain phrases and sentence structures remove the reader from the action. This is a good example of that. “I realized that I was going” puts what amounts to a tape delay between the reader and the character. If this were an unconscious physical process (“I realized that I was picking the skin beside my thumbnail and immediately stopped myself,” “I realized that I was holding my breath as I waited for their answer,”), it would be slightly more forgivable (although I hate when I notice that in my own writing). In this case, the action is something so uncommon that you wouldn’t momentarily forget it was happening. You wouldn’t realize that your knees went weak. Your knees would just go weak. It would be impossible to ignore, especially if you were a heroine in a badly written YA/NA novel. It would happen so much, it would be all you could think about. You’d probably see a doctor.

What I’m saying is, “My knees went weak whenever he smiled,” would have been just fine.

“So what do you do around here?” Hopefully I would come up with something better while he was answering me. Even worse, I had a pretty good idea what he did, considering he had an electric guitar strapped to his back.

He’s a janitor.

I bit my lower lip and waited for him to respond as if he was about to tell me the meaning of life.

Dakota Johnson as Ana Steele, biting her lip in the beginning of 50 Shades of Grey

Jackson is the bandleader, singer, and guitar player for the show’s band. Honestly, the way this section is written is so bad, I can’t figure out how to properly critique it. Lani first thinks that he must be in the house band, because of the guitar. Then, after she asks him what he does and he says he’s in the house band, she chastises herself mentally for not just asking if he was in the house band, because of the guitar. Then she says the guitar gave it away. It’s so needlessly repetitive, with exactly the same words used in exactly the same way over and over.

Look, I’m gonna say it right now: if you are a writer, and you were thinking of submitting to the publishing arm of GeekNation, don’t. They do not edit their books, and if they do, the editors who work for them are not qualified to edit a phone book, let alone a novel. This is their flagship title, and it’s indicative of the quality of work they’re capable of. Your book deserves better.

Lani tells Jackson Rathbone that she also plays guitar, because of course she does.

“Sweet. A girl that can play, that’s hot for sure. I think you get bonus points for that.” The comment could have come off jerkish, but the way he said it sounded kind of sweet.

If you wanted him to sound sweet maybe you should have written him actually saying something sweet, Ms. Sarem. Lots of women play guitars, so this comment comes off as super misogynistic. You just included it to make it sound like your self-insert is so special and Not Like Other Girls™, which fails when the thing that makes her Not Like Other Girls™ is incredibly common. Playing guitar isn’t one of those traditionally masculine, gender exclusionary things. I read a statistic one time that said something like thirteen percent of people in the United States play guitar, and while men did outnumber women, it was only slightly. And a lot of the information was pulled from a Guitar Center poll. I speak on behalf of a lot of women when I say that being female and going to Guitar Center is about as enjoyable as being female and going to a convention panel made up entirely of male literary fiction authors, so the number of women playing is likely higher.

Anyway, Lani says they should jam together sometime, even though she knows she isn’t up to his level. He tells her that aside from his gig with David Copperfield, he has his own band, in which he sings and plays guitar, keyboard, and sometimes drums. If you check out the 100 Monkeys Wikipedia entry, you’ll find that Jackson Rathbone also played the guitar, keyboard, and drums in his own band.

A gif of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock, with the words "What do we say about coincidence? The universe is rarely so lazy."
Authors, on the other hand…

Look, writers use real people for character inspiration all the time. I think I even gave the advice recently in a Big Damn Writer Advice Column that casting characters like movie roles in your head kept them from all sounding the same. I stick by that. But wow, is it ever hamfisted when the character is not only named after their real-life inspiration, but the real-life inspiration is mentioned in both the foreword and the acknowledgments.

“That’s awesome. Actually, if it’s not too forward–would you mind if I borrowed a guitar sometime?” I asked sweetly. I could have probably said something more profound about how cool it was, him being able to play multiple instruments, and my head started to flood with all the other questions I could have asked about his original band.

I love that she’s describing, “It’s cool that you play multiple instruments,” as a “profound” statement.

Jackson says he keeps a spare guitar in his dressing room, and she should feel free to borrow it. Then he explains that he’s been sent to give her a tour of the theater. Because who better to do so than…a member of the house band? We know there’s a stage manager. We know there are human resources people. But the band leader is going to show her around? I mean, I guess? Weirder things have happened, but it just seems like a really horrible excuse for this meet-cute.

“Yeah, I was sent here to grab you. I volunteered to give the pretty new girl the nickel tour and introduce you to everyone.”

I was doing somersaults in my head. He thought I was pretty.

And nothing says “somersaults in my head” like an exclamation– oh. You’re going with a period there? Okay. I mean, I can see why she wouldn’t be excited about being called pretty since she just came from a town where everyone constantly told her she was pretty.

He put out his arm like guys do on dates sometimes when they want to be sweet. It’s a weakness for me when a guy does it; it makes me feel special somehow.

How? Because people telling you you’re beautiful, fawning over your illusion, giving you an audition and a job out of thin fucking air, none of that has made you feel special?

Lani remembers that she forgot her phone in wardrobe and tells him she’ll be right back.

“Sure. I’ll be right here…waiting for you.” He emphasized the words “right here” and “waiting for you.” I giggled like a schoolgirl. At least I got his reference and joke. Gotta be cool points for that.

I made sure to say, “Thanks, Richard Marx,” before darting back into wardrobe. Unfortunately, that meant that I had that song stuck in my head and it made me wonder if that comment meant he was actually a fan of Richard Marx.

Two things.

  1. Richard Marx is amazing. I went to one of his concerts with my friend Gloria for her sixtieth birthday and I was kind of like, oh man, this is going to be so sad and cheesy. Guess what? It was actually really awesome and one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to, even though I didn’t really know his music that well.
  2. This was marketed as a Young Adult novel. My fourteen-year old’s response when I asked, “Do you know who Richard Marx is?” was complete silence.

Lani goes and gets her phone and heads back to Jackson, thinking:

I had been so scared about my decision to leave home and move to Las Vegas, up until that very moment.

No the fuck you weren’t. We were there Lani. You were listening to The Dixie Chicks and thinking about how you knew exactly what you needed to do with your life. Also, after you got the job, you didn’t even need to consult your tarot cards because you knew you had what you wanted. You don’t get to change your mind now because you met a hot guy and you need to make him seem more important in the story.

Anyway, Jackson takes Lani off on the tour, and the chapter ends. WOW I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS ON THE TOUR IN THE NEXT CHAPTER.

123 Comments

  1. Tania
    Tania

    I remember in one of the Anita Blake novels, Anita mentioned her weight as being 110lbs, and a few chapters later saying anyone below a size eight wasn’t a woman, it was a boy with breasts, and 1. Transphobic much? And 2. At the same height and weight, I was barely fitting into a size 2 and was a certified member of the itty bitty titty committee. Such a weird thing – both hating on thin women, and writing her character with the weight of one.

    September 20, 2017
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    • CptPJs
      CptPJs

      I mean, I am a freak of nature and I look like Jessica Rabbit, but I’m 110lb and a double FF cup, so… It is plausible, if unlikely.

      September 21, 2017
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      • My sister is built like that too. Me, I was 105 and built like a Pringles can. Now I’m 150 and … still built like a cylinder.

        September 21, 2017
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      • Tania
        Tania

        Sorry, I should have specified – she was talking about her pants! Although she also had huge boobs. While I have zero doubt you can be small and have ginormous boobs, the weight has to fall out in other places – small limbs, or small hips, or whatever. Somehow Anita was larger than a size eight all over and muscular, but also only 110lbs.

        September 26, 2017
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    • For more amusement Anita in later books she goes to 106lbs. Still 5′ 3″ with high muscle tone (and muscle ways more than fat) and adds “curvy” and EEE breasts.

      September 21, 2017
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      • Amy
        Amy

        Goodness. For the majority of my life I was easily 105 pounds and very small breasted. I was literally a size zero. I didn’t start gaining weight till I was 30. So nice to know I was “a boy with breasts”.

        While I do enjoy some of Laurell K. Hamilton’s works, several of her characters have the tendency to not only be skinny, but large breasted, hippy, but still skinny. Y’know, like, “not hot-girl skinny”

        =/

        September 23, 2017
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    • Athena
      Athena

      I clearly remember Anita stating she was a six because she was too chesty for a five back in like the third book. Richard was asking her out to a reenactment of some sort. And of course, since it’s Anita, she’s never gained more than those “pesky” five pounds she blamed on Jean-Claude wanting to taste food through her later in the series.

      September 27, 2017
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  2. Jo
    Jo

    I think my brain is melting just from the secondhand contact with this book. :I

    September 20, 2017
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  3. Andrea Cranford
    Andrea Cranford

    Is this seriously the text of this book? Jenny, you aren’t just,making it up, are you?Are we sure this isn’t a parody novel? Maybe the whole purpose of writing this book is to get people to rage read it.

    September 20, 2017
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    • Dove
      Dove

      Sadly, it’s no joke. This book just gets worse, even when it gets slightly better. There are multiple people sporking/reviewing this. I’ve been following Blandbook for Chortles, which is up to half of chapter 15 already.

      As far as I can tell, Lani Sarem just didn’t give a shit. She padded the hell out of her script with the love triangle and more filler than you can shake a stick at (including Lamborghini Girl.) But mostly it’s just her very own NaNoWriMo, so of course it’s piss poor. I’m pretty certain Sarem never revised her book, before submitting it to GeekNation, who definitely didn’t edit it either.

      If Sarem wanted people to rage at her book, then she did a very good job.

      I really hope Jenny Trout leaves a concise review on Amazon about why this book is so awful. I’m hoping she can express it much better than I can. 😛 🙂

      September 21, 2017
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  4. kitryan
    kitryan

    It’s very unlikely that the same people who do the costume build also run wardrobe. Some people have the skills for both jobs, but they are two separate categories of job, usually separate unions too.

    September 21, 2017
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    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      For a production that size, definitely. In addition, performers requiring help with costumes that would be “impossible to put on by yourself” get it from the DRESSER(S), not the costume builders or wardrobe maintenance folks.
      Union rules aside, I think we had more Specialization in the tech departments than she’s describing when my 6th grade class put on “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

      September 21, 2017
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      • kitryan
        kitryan

        Yep. Since we know that she’s probably familiar with band tours ( which are not something I’ve worked on) and I can’t imagine that blues traveler has a lot of elaborate Vegas style beaded and befethered costumes (of the kind you’d see in a magician in residence’s Vegas show), she may be envisioning a larger version of what she’s used to-which I’m guessing is a single crew that styles the band (though even here I doubt the primary stylist/designer is touring), maintains the clothes, assists with changes, and sources replacement items as they travel. This would be totally feasible for a touring band without an elaborate stage show, but it doesn’t work for stuff like Cirque du Soleil, b’way, regional theater, ice shows, Ringling Bros., etc.
        In all the above, build would happen before the run starts and involves specialists-drapers, painters, dyers, costume crafts… and then during tech those folks start moving on to the next build for another show and hand off the show to Wardrobe, which usually has a couple/a few dressers who set up for each show, run the show, and clean up post show. There’s also often a daywork person(s) who does the bulk of the laundry and repairs.
        I also don’t find the layout she describes or how this whole measurement process is playing out makes much sense but it’s so poorly described I can’t tell if it’s wrong in its details or just badly written.

        September 21, 2017
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    • I’ve worked in a tiny tiny theater where two of us were costume design, wardrobe, and dressers. We’re talking a cast of 20-30, all on a volunteer basis. I even had to buy stockings out of my own pocket once for a last-minute cast change.

      Everyone doing 3-4 jobs is certainly NOT how a professional theater runs. It’s how Smalltown USA community productions work.

      September 21, 2017
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      • kitryan
        kitryan

        Yes, exactly- small, community or low budget shows- that can totally be how it works. You can even do serious theater with minimal crew – if it’s a one person show and they wear street clothes, only one or two outfits (requiring only laundry/iron levels of maintenance), you *could* have a broadway show with a single designer and a single wardrobe person/dresser. No problem. But no way no how a Vegas residency magic spectacular. No no no.
        Oh, also, when doing measurments, even when I was measuring for a high school show I designed, I always always, if there is any way at all to kidnap a friend or bribe them with lunch, bring someone to scribe for me. It is a giant pain in the ass to measure *and* write down your measurments single handedly, since in order to ‘measure every inch’ you measure center back to shoulder, shoulder to elbow, elbow to wrist, and shoulder to wrist – as one example- and it’s a pain to do each measurments and then write it and then go back to the same spot and take the next measurement- or to try to remember the series and write it down all at once. Especially if I’m carrying on an animated one side conversation at the same time.

        September 21, 2017
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        • Artemis
          Artemis

          This thread makes me so happy. I haven’t worked in costuming in an actual theatre since I did my time in summer stock ten years ago, but this chapter was so full of wrong that it took me three tries to read it. Ugh.

          I’m, like, doubly annoyed because I am also definitely a goth. Of course goth chicks work in the costume shop/wardrobe department. Where else would we be, if not building/taking care of pretty clothes?

          September 29, 2017
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  5. Emerald
    Emerald

    I am 31 and I don’t know who Richard Marx is…

    September 21, 2017
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    • Perlite
      Perlite

      I’m ashamed that I only know him because I once illegally downloaded the Anastasia soundtrack. “At the Beginning” is a good song, dammit!

      September 21, 2017
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      • Kylie
        Kylie

        Omg that is who that is? I was born in 88 and I had no idea lol.

        September 21, 2017
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  6. Catty
    Catty

    That costume designer is 100% Abby from NCIS. I’d be willing to put money on them wanting her for he role.

    September 21, 2017
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    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Would an actress with her resume want to do an under-five in this thing? As Jenny pointed out, the character shows up twice, and the extensive details serve no purpose.

      September 21, 2017
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  7. Oh god, I just realized that Lani had Zade leave her cell phone in the fitting room for the sole purpose of the Richard Marx joke.

    That being said, I have read this book and there are many times at which it pings my troll-dar (the same way My Immortal did back in 2008) because of how ironic certain moments are. But Lani Sarem isn’t trolling. It just gets worse as the book goes on to the point where I think it ranks up there with The Room and Birdemic: Shock and Terror in terms of hilarious artistic failure.

    September 21, 2017
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  8. JordieBelle
    JordieBelle

    The sentence: “Mac looked Tad dead in the eye and moved his tongue around his gums.” made me feel faintly nauseous.

    September 21, 2017
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  9. sexiersadie
    sexiersadie

    I love (hate) how she goes on and on about the layout of the costume shop/fitting rooms. It’s like she’s saying, “I am a super special snowflake who has actually been in the costume shop before and I am inserting all of this detail so that you know just how CONNECTED I am. Because I have TOTALLY been in a costume shop.

    Gah.

    September 21, 2017
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  10. I rolled my eyes so hard at that “wow a girl who plays guitar” line that I felt like I sprained something.

    Also – Jackson Milsap. First off, not even trying to pretend that isn’t Jackson Rathbone. And then Milsap? Wow, what a sexy name (apparently this is a real surname because I just googled it). One result says that it may derive from the Middle English word “milksop” (“a piece of bread soaked in milk”) which was also a “nickname for a ‘spiritless’ man.” https://www.houseofnames.com/millsap-history

    Hot.

    Even Rackson Jathbone would have been a better choice. He’s one of the handful of people in this mess without a one syllable first name… unless she starts calling him Jax or Jack, that is.

    September 21, 2017
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    • mydogspa
      mydogspa

      Milsap obviously comes from Ronnie Milsap, who’s career pretty much stalled in the ’90’s and hasn’t had much airplay since. So Zadie-girl is saying her love interest is named after a has-been?

      September 21, 2017
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      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Are you SURE she’s not trolling us?

        September 21, 2017
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      • My roommate just mentioned that. Apparently he was a favorite of roommate’s mom.

        Man, Lani’s great keeping her musical references up to date. Kids will really appreciate the nods to 80s singers.

        September 21, 2017
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  11. Perlite
    Perlite

    “I feel like this is implied when you say, ‘wardrobe,’ but I don’t know. This might be a time when repetitive exposition is necessary”
    Nah, Jenny. This aside was there to disparage any claims that’s few women in this cast of colorful characters! Look, right there, a whole small group!

    I’m so glad that “super ordinary and humble” Zade got used to the stardom life so quickly! I’d say to the point of being an entitled shit.

    Why does every single named character need a nickname and a whole backstory for it? I would’ve accepted something along, “Lil was my wardrobe girl. She looked like your stereotypical goth, and she loved to talk.” She’s barely even in the rest of the story, what’s the point?
    If you hated hearing her talk as much the reader is supposed to, what makes you think we want you to relay everything Lil has said, Zade?

    I’m so sick of hearing how “not like other girls” Zade is! Like, oh my GOD! Next she’ll be like “You’re like a mix between Frodo Baggins and Batman.” And a dude will be like, “Whoa. A woman who knows her fantasy and superheroes. Hawt.”

    September 21, 2017
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    • Dove
      Dove

      Nah, all of the comic book references go under the male radar in the book, mostly as personal asides to the reader (but Zade makes a lot of them.) She isn’t even interested in watching Deadpool, until Jackson convinces her to go see it. I get the feeling Lani Sarem didn’t get the memo that it’s okay for women to love superheroes and that geeky girls are also cool now.

      Btw, you’ll love the origin of Mac’s nickname and real name. It’s a special kind of hell, where he really should’ve gotten the tongue-in-cheek nickname Supes or Super, and then decided to own it, for reasons you’ll find out later. But instead he has the nickname Mac for even dumber reasons and I highly doubt the YA audience will know who that is. :p

      September 21, 2017
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      • Perlite
        Perlite

        If his name is Clark Kent, I’m gonna FLIP (probably not, because how the hell would you go from “Clark” to “Mac”?)

        September 21, 2017
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        • Not confirming anything, but his last name *is* Kent. . .

          September 21, 2017
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          • Perlite
            Perlite

            NOOOO. Is his mom’s name Martha? Is Jackson’s mom’s name Martha? Will these two fight over Zade, but then find solidarity over their identical names?

            Also, I just realized that Jackson is the second leg of the love triangle. Is it creepy shipping your self-insert with a slightly tweaked version of someone you know in real life? I think it’s pretty creepy. Unless they’re dating in real life. But that just throws all tension of the love triangle out the window!

            And that would be just terrible.

            September 22, 2017
        • Dove
          Dove

          Haha because Sarem loves her dated references and her dumb names. 😛

          As for Jackson Rathbone, they’re definitely not dating IRL. If I’m not mistaken, I don’t think he likes her that much.

          September 22, 2017
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  12. A. Noyd
    A. Noyd

    “Luckily, he apparently had catlike reflexes and caught me in his arms.”

    Someday I want to read a story where the character’s “catlike reflexes” cause them to react just as dramatically when startled as a real cat. And that’s all.

    “‘[…] I’m Jackson Milsap,’ he said, smiling broadly. […] All I processed was ‘Jackson.'”

    How can she tell us his last name if she didn’t process it?

    September 21, 2017
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    • GS
      GS

      It’s a little bit scary, actually. A friend of mine has extremely good reflexes due to a lot of self-defense training and some very bad experiences. On her first day of teaching, one of the kids thought it would be fun to pretend to hit her over the head with a clipboard from behind. She got startled, jumped up, and very nearly had her hand in his face to defend herself when she realized what was actually going on and stopped herself. Seeing a bunch of usually very rowdy, very disrespectful thirteen-year-olds taking VERY great care not to startle their teacher again for the next year and a half was a lot of fun, though 😉

      September 21, 2017
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    • small jar of fireflies
      small jar of fireflies

      “I fell off the arm of the couch. With catlike reflexes, I got up and walked off like nothing happened.”

      September 21, 2017
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      • Erin C
        Erin C

        I sat down and with catlike reflexes, I knocked over both wine glasses that were sitting on the table with my tail.

        September 21, 2017
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      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        “And gave my human a dirty look when she laughed.”

        September 21, 2017
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  13. GS
    GS

    All that running into each other stuff is sooooo unrealistic. And why does nobody ever get hurt when they bump into each other? If it’s hard enough to make someone fall, it’s definitely hard enough to give someone a bruise, or knock out a tooth. Good times! And if you don’t want to go down that road… you could have soooo much fun with those clumsy heroines and them meeting the hero by running into him. Like… heroine has a good stance, hero gets caught unawares and falls. Or… heroine remembers her self-defense training, takes a perfect roll backwards and lands on her feet. Stuff like that!

    September 21, 2017
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    • Alyssa
      Alyssa

      I’ll never understand why the bump into someone and fall in love trope is so common. When people run into me, I think “ouch! wtf! what an asshole!” not “omg this person is so hot!”

      September 21, 2017
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      • Jane Eyre
        Jane Eyre

        Because she’s supposed to be cute and cluzty girl, to be relatable, bc she tries to rip off Twilight and becme another phenomena teen girls will gobble up because they identify themselves with cltuzy socially awkard character, who people find cute for being like this. and while I’m not saying that meeting a hot musician would spoil my day but like, I still roll my eyes, mostly because of Zade being apparently clumsy but still like going to a frigging magic show where she jumps down and walks several feet above the ground. I don’t find it believable. I for example move gracefully(or so I’m told idk because obviously I can’t see myself move from the sidelines) and I’m not falling or tripping a lot but I don’t have good sense of balance either like I don’t do well on narrow and small spaces where I have to make small steps, and therefore cannot see how I would do well in a Las Vegas magic show doing some acrobatic illusions(and that is ignoring the fact that I additionally have huge fear of hights where my body goes into lockdown mode pretty early). It’s like “you’re either prone to falling and have poor balance or you’re doing magis shows with hights and acrobatics and whatnot

        September 22, 2017
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        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Jane:. That I actually can believe, because ballet dancers and gymnasts are notoriously clumsy outside of practice. It’s like they’ve used up all their concentration and coordination and now there’s nothing to keep them from crashing into people and furniture.

          But I doubt Lani has planted this detail as a bit of realism. It’s probabky just more manic pixie dreamgirl adorkableness.

          September 22, 2017
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          • A. Noyd
            A. Noyd

            Can confirm. My BFF in middle school did ballet and was so clumsy she once managed to shut her nose in her locker. And that brings up a another point: If you’re going to write a clumsy character, make their clumsiness interesting, FFS.

            September 22, 2017
      • Amy
        Amy

        remember that Miss Lani takes inspiration from Twilight and FSG, which both feature a clumsy girl

        my cousin is a clumsy girl. she falls down the stairs at least once a week. (its hilarious, her parents dont even react anymore to the sound of her tumbling down the steps)

        September 25, 2017
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        • Athena
          Athena

          Honestly, I don’t think we can blame it all on Twilight/FSG. Anime has been doing it for decades. Serena/Usagi from Sailor Moon is the first that comes to mind. At least there it’s played for laughs.

          September 27, 2017
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  14. Fer
    Fer

    I knew it! Jackson is the nice one.

    Oh god, she doesn`t even know how first or third person works. Or how to write.

    For what I see, are two ways this thing could end:

    1) After her “I was not expected to be” father sacrifice himself and save her to beat the greates evil of all, no matter if is Cam or Tad or Sophia, Jackson would let her go with Mac because nothings says more “I love you” like wish your death, but by then Mac would be Mr. Darcy so happly ever after for you all.

    2) Jackson is evil, wants revenge CS and sees that Zani is so powerful that tries to turn her evil, but Mac and his “oh so pure love” for her stops that, she beats Jackson and again happly ever after Made. (Because I`m sure Lani has a name for her couple)

    September 21, 2017
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    • Dove
      Dove

      It’s actually something crazier… *SPOILERS*

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      3) Jackson shows up frequently, but has no real bearing on the story at all. Later on, Mac thinks Zade is in a romantic relationship with Charles, her father, in a manipulated misunderstanding moment, and that’s what sparks the actual conflict in the plot. I shit you not.

      There is a tinfoil theory presented by Lani Not-Sarem that Jackson was an illusion placed on Charles or Zeb in various scenes.

      September 21, 2017
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    • Dove
      Dove

      Or wait, I guess that probably is 1) but I don’t know the exact end just yet. Sorry! I made my comment based on what I’ve seen so far in other sporks. XD

      Mac only becomes sympathetic in my mind because Zade is worse if you consider her an unreliable narrator. :p

      September 21, 2017
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    • Dove
      Dove

      Sorry for the spam. I finally checked out the Something Awful Forum thread, which covers the entire book, including the preview for book two (hahaha there’s no way that’ll get published.)

      The plot results in number three. You will never suspect how it ends. I just… wow. ಠ_ಠ

      Sofia remains a good person, by the way.

      September 21, 2017
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      • Fer
        Fer

        I`m glad to hear about Sofia, she seems awful but in a nice way.

        So it was how I first think, Jackson is only a character to make Mac jealous. That isn`t a love triangle, specially because Mac doubts about someone else, good is the dumbest way to make a couple work. He is in his 30s, she is 25, why don`t just date? To dull? But here I am, wanting plot in something that clearly is Lani`s fantasy that Jackson loves her.

        Why I have the feeling that Jackson have more spotlight in the second (she wish and we hope never) book? Twilight too much? At this point, and only because that Joffrey joke, I`m thinking is going to have incest in it. Good, prove me wrong I beg you.

        September 22, 2017
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        • Jane Eyre
          Jane Eyre

          Oh god, she literally created a version of her celeb crush not to end up with them but to have them have a crush on her just so she has that fantasy of him fancing her real. This…I…I don’t wanna say it but 50 Shades wasn’t that fucking desperate with it. also this reeks of the silly cliche of “Person A being jelous of Person B, but then it turns out B is C’s cousin/sister/brother or other family”. Like sometimes it can be funny, but…it’s still truly silly and doesn’t really fit here? As Lani is trying to make it into action’/adventure and have this Mystery whatnot going on. I mean if you have your character keep secrets then those secrets are enough to create tension. Because whole everyone is entitled to privacy, lying to someone and obviously being evasive does create tension and issues and this could be the wall, or if we’re adding stuff live saving the world then saving the world too. There is this secret world Love Interest doens’t know about or doesn’t believe and they know they’re being kept in the dark and while they try to reason with it and fight it, it is in the back of ther minds and then the reveal comes in and the LI feels hurt because their partner haven’t told them about this Big Thing that HAS potential of affecting them too(magic, secret world ect is that kind of thing like even without bad guys), and they feel like their partner doesn’t trust them enough to be comfortable with them, their paertner a DOESN’T TRUST THEM ENOUGH TO BE THEMSELVES AROUND THEM. This would be so easy to make here? leave the whole dream of all boys falling for her left and right, just have Mac and the magic and create tension out of keeping him in the dark out of fear. It would make both character relatable because we’d understand why Mac feels hurt because he is being kept in the dark and is lied to and ulitmetely feels like he’s not being trusted by someone he loves; but we’d also understand Zade for doing this, like sure we’d see(if he was better written as love interest) he’s not going to call her a freak but we understand that she’s careful now because of how most of people reacted. But that would take a good writer who actually cares about the story and characters and not just uses them as a bounce-off to money and fame.

          September 22, 2017
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  15. Sushi
    Sushi

    “The wardrobe department made and maintained the costumes — a huge undertaking for the small group of women who work in the department.”

    OK, maybe this is me just not knowing anything about theatre, but it seems a little unlikely to me that there are no men in the wardrobe department at all and I can’t help wondering if that’s because Zani subconsciously buys into the belief that sewing clothes is women’s work.

    September 21, 2017
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    • kitryan
      kitryan

      It’s not terribly implausible – Costumes is one of the few departments that is female dominated (there was a recent survey on this that I saw) however costume design is closer to 50/50 as it’s more ‘prestigious’ – think cook vs chef. Most shops I’ve worked in were about 80% women. Examples from my life – a shop of about 50 people might have 6 men, one of 12 might have 2 men.

      September 21, 2017
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  16. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    The “weird, italicized section in which the point of view bounces around like a god damn Plinko disk.”
    She got that from one of the “50 Shades” books, when suddenly we’re getting the POV of the Evil Boss. It’s the kind of error in construction a 12-year-old wouldn’t make: either you alternate POVS throughout the work, whether through an omniscient narrator or through 1st-person account: letters in “Clarissa” and “Dangerous Liaisons”; diaries in “The Collector”; the omniscient narrator for “East of Eden’s” Trasks alternating with the 1st-person narrator for the Hamiltons. And mind you, not everyone was convinced Steinbeck pulled off that last approach seamlessly.
    If she’s taking “50 Shades” as her literary as well as business model, it would explain a great deal.

    September 21, 2017
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    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Erg! Unfinished sentence (too many clauses?): Either you alternate POVS, or you stick with one. You don’t suddenly plop in a different POV for no apparent reason.

      Speaking of reasons, “13 Reasons Why” (like “Wuthering Heights”), incorporates various POVs in the account given by a central narrator. As does “Canterbury Tales,” come to that.

      September 21, 2017
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    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      I don’t remember that happening in the 50 Shades books. I must have blacked out from my rage when I was reading them. I do remember the weird POV sections of Christian’s childhood bracketing the third book (I think it was). There is so much of that nonsense that I’ve thankfully wiped from my mind.

      September 21, 2017
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  17. Laina
    Laina

    I find it very hard to believe any hair salon doesn’t do fun colours in this day and age. I live in a town of 1400 people, and both ours do them, plus the (multiple) people who do hair out of their homes. We don’t, however, have a beauty supply store. If you can’t get it at pharmasave, you’re ordering it off the internet.

    I am twenty four and I don’t know who Richard Marx is.

    September 21, 2017
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    • Yeah I go to a “normal” salon with clients ranging from kids to seniors, and my stylist was perfectly happy to dye my hair purple and blue on one occasion.

      September 21, 2017
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  18. small jar of fireflies
    small jar of fireflies

    Ok. So Mac and Tad both come up to an open door. On the other side is a woman in her underwear who thinks the door is shut. And they both stand there looking at her? Neither one grabs the knob and eases the door shut?

    They both come off as pretty gross here. A similar effect might have worked if Mac had walked up, seen her, shut the door, and then thought for a while about how hypnotic that glimpse had been. Which us still frankly odd in an adult male and raises the question of how he functions at the beach, surrounded by women in bikinis.

    Peeping toms, cothing, and a guitarist still don’t make it feel like the story has started.

    September 21, 2017
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    • mydogspa
      mydogspa

      That’s not quite totally creepy on the peeping tom/nice guy scale. They didn’t actively open the door or gain access, it was open when they walked by. They didn’t go in or violate the threshold to put in any recording devices in the room to view the scene (that’s creepy) Because the women left the door open it’s the equivalent of someone in their own room expecting privacy when they leave their curtains open.

      Then again, the writing is so bad we don’t know who left the door open. But the men didn’t and they were in a ‘public’ area in the theater. So I’ll argue that it’s a ‘freebie’ for the guys because they only walked by and saw the opportunity. But I’d think the same rules apply here as out on public streets, namely, if you don’t like someone using a photon-collection device (either eyeball or camera) in a public area, then make sure you don’t emit the photons into the public area that you didn’t want them to collect.

      But yeah, they could have shut the door or turned their heads and knocked gently to remind the women they weren’t in a private environment.

      September 21, 2017
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      • In the theaters I’ve worked in, mostly we don’t care all that much about privacy. You’re changing clothes, often just offstage in front of 20 people, sometimes. But you also don’t ogle. It’s like a clothing-optional resort; no one really cares how much clothing you’re not wearing, and you also don’t spend 10 minutes staring right at someone’s genitals.

        So in my experience, having the door half-open wouldn’t be weird. Mac even popping in the room to grab something while the fitting was happening wouldn’t be weird. Mac standing there for 5 minutes staring … weird.

        September 21, 2017
        |Reply
        • mydogspa
          mydogspa

          Or the Gropenfuhrer walking in while everyone is naked. . . weird.

          September 21, 2017
          |Reply
        • kitryan
          kitryan

          Agreed. Most of the time you have better things to do during a show or during pre show than to ogle your *coworkers*.
          Also, crappy wardrobe (or whatever) person not making sure the door is closed especially for a new person. We were always very careful to not make assumptions with people we hadn’t worked with before. Some people are more private than others and in my experience and my personal work, this is always accommodated to the degree possible to do the show. Obviously if you have a insta-change, there may not be much that can be done, but you would make sure that the costume’s underwear was as opaque and modest as was feasible for the costumes and that the area selected for the change was clear of people who had no reason to be there and as screened as possible. And most people who are shy or modest relax pretty quickly when they realize that everyone’s focus is on their own job and no one is focusing on their body except for their team – who is doing so with the focus and goal of getting them changed as fast as possible and making sure they look right.
          Creeper starers don’t last long.

          September 21, 2017
          |Reply
          • kitryan
            kitryan

            Sorry, prev. comment was in agreement with many bells down – I didn’t realize that all ‘replies’ were kind of all in one. Also, there are so few depictions of actual costuming that this is super frustrating.

            September 21, 2017
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          @many bells:. That was my first thought. Some shows you have to change in the wings. In one production of “Gypsy,” Electra’s fuses kept malfunctioning, and if they shorted out right before the “Gimmick” number, the tech guess had to work on the costume with her still in it. Awkward, because you can guess where the three main light clusters were–think string bikini. But everyone tried to stay professional, and just made enough wisecracks to ease the tension.

          In a Vegas show, there is NO way Mac hadn’t seen plenty of chorus girls in various states of undress before. And if he openly gawped like that, even other het males would consider him a creep.

          September 21, 2017
          |Reply
          • Jane Eyre
            Jane Eyre

            ViolettaD
            don’t wanna spoil you but in this instance it doesn’t seem to be hos fault because wait for it…ZADE IS MAGIC. Like really there is an actually piece of dialouge in this book that says all men are attracted to Zade/love her/can’t take their eyes of her because her magic is just so powerful they cannot help themselves. Kind like siren call or a nymph/elf in mythology…making people(men) unable to look away even when they want to because they’re so enchanting.

            September 22, 2017
      • small jar of fireflies
        small jar of fireflies

        True. I was picturing it as a stiff door, or with bad hinges, since it’s specified as a “crack,” which can happen in an old building without people noticing.

        Still, when you have two people on the other side gawking and making faces, someone should just shut the door.

        September 21, 2017
        |Reply
  19. candy apple
    candy apple

    This novel is just agonizingly horrible, even through the filter of your excellent commentary. I mean, tell me that, in spite of the NYT #1 scam, in spite of hyping something so crappy, when the novel has to stand on its own merits, people will see it for what it is, right?

    I thought that would happen for Fifty Shades and the 2016 election, yet here we are, so who the fuck knows. I would like to think that cream rises to the top and true quality will be valued over something trying to shoehorn its way to fame, but here we are, in this shitty present timeline.

    September 21, 2017
    |Reply
    • sorcha
      sorcha

      The truth is that in life the scum, as well as the cream, rises to the top.

      October 22, 2017
      |Reply
  20. Cody Cromarty
    Cody Cromarty

    Speaking of commas, in the post-finale thanks section (which itself is as long as a chapter) Lani thanks her editor specifically for making sure she knows where to put a comma.

    The aforementioned thanks section includes at least one instance where she forgot a space after a comma.

    September 21, 2017
    |Reply
    • Did you notice the excessive number of emdashes and semicolons that would have worked better as commas? And the endless word repetition, and redundant statements?

      I would love to talk to the editor of this thing.

      September 21, 2017
      |Reply
  21. “Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way fashion collection. Which, by the way, I really think Hot Topic should look into licensing.”

    Considering Ebony bought all her stuff from there in the first place, this is excellently meta and I love it.

    September 21, 2017
    |Reply
  22. Norah
    Norah

    I do know who Richard Marx is. I’ll be 40 next week.
    Good Lord, this book is terrible.

    September 21, 2017
    |Reply
    • Neurite
      Neurite

      Yeah, I just hopped over the 4-0 line myself, and I cried my eyes out to Richard Marx over my teenage crushes back in the day. This is a really, really dusty reference. I don’t expect most people under 35 to get it.

      September 23, 2017
      |Reply
  23. Stormy
    Stormy

    Yikes. The lack of self-awareness all around from both author and character is astounding. She really thinks this is some ground-breaking addition to literature when in reality, you can set your watch by the predictable tropes.

    I’ll admit to unconsciously using a lot of similar names in my work (e.g., five people with names that begin with J and, at one point, two unrelated characters with the EXACT SAME NAME) but when I catch it, I, y’know, fix it. There are so many three-letter names floating around that my eyes are starting to glaze over and I automatically skip right over them to preserve my processing faculties.

    September 21, 2017
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I agree. Not to mention, many of them could have slightly longer names, for a little bit of variety. Lillianne could be Lily, Tad could be… Thom? Or Thomas. I forget what his full name was. Mac could be Clark, Supes, or Super. Or maybe Bats, to tease his brooding. Zade really should’ve been Melusine/Melusina, so Mel could have a different name (not that it would matter much, since she also barely appears.) Unless that’s Lamborghini Girl’s name… If Lani Sarem writes a sequel, we might find out.

      Also, I wanted to add that if the two unrelated characters with the EXACT SAME NAME had a story surrounding them, that would be a good reason to keep them that way. You’d still have to distinguish them somehow, so it’d only be worth it if one was the protagonist and the other was the antagonist or foil who was intentionally or unintentionally getting the protagonist into trouble. XD

      That’s a super rare circumstance though.

      September 21, 2017
      |Reply
  24. Erin C
    Erin C

    There are a couple times where I started thinking, “This HAS to be a parody. No one could be that oblivious about how the character sounds, right? She has to realize how self absorbed and shitty this girl sounds.” But no.

    It bugs the hell out of me after the whole song and dance about her stupid name and how to pronounce it that she IS saying it wrong, and everyone who calls her Zod is right. The z-a-d-e in Scheherazade is said like zod and not like zade.

    Real person fanfic skeeves me out generally, so including the actor as her love interest is gross and creepy.

    The level of detail we get about random extras or things that don’t matter at all is mystifying. In anything else if she had to go back and get her phone it would lead to something. She would walk in on something happening, or overhear a conversation. Sure things like forgetting your phone happen all the time in real life, but in fiction we usually get to skip that stuff.

    September 21, 2017
    |Reply
    • Lani Not-Sarem
      Lani Not-Sarem

      I said this upthread a bit, but I’m pretty sure The reason Zade forgot her phone was so that Jackson could make the shitty Richard Marx joke.

      September 21, 2017
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      There are a couple times where I started thinking, “This HAS to be a parody. No one could be that oblivious about how the character sounds, right? She has to realize how self absorbed and shitty this girl sounds.” But no.

      This book would be so much better if Zade was an unreliable narrator, with some kind of payoff that she’s been making herself sound better than she is this whole time. It’s the only excuse she has for leaving the reader in the dark for so long about various subjects, other than most of the middle is pure padding and Zade has absolutely no self-awareness.

      Real person fanfic skeeves me out generally, so including the actor as her love interest is gross and creepy.

      I’m with you, in that regard. To me, it’s just weird to treat real people like they’re also characters who are open to interpretation (while they’re still alive… historical fiction is a grey area for me.) This gets grosser and creepier later on, when we finally get sprinkles of Charles… I honestly forgot he was David Copperfield expy until just now, which gives it a whole new level of weirdness. I… need to go wash my hands again. Ugh. >_<;

      Ironically, Zade greeting Carrot Top and Wayne Newton at the mall is one of the highlights of the book. Almost as good as Lamborghini Girl.

      September 21, 2017
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        Becuase that’s what teenagers are into these days: C-list comedians from the 90s!

        hell, i was around when Carrot Top was at the peak of his popularity and *I* barely know who he is.

        September 25, 2017
        |Reply
  25. Alyssa
    Alyssa

    One thing that bothered me about Apolonia that I couldn’t put my finger on until now is how frustrating bad 1st person POV is. I get these authors HAVE to use first-person because they’re living vicariously through the heroine, but good lord is it annoying to read.

    The book is advertised as a fantasy book, and the back cover tells the entire plot. We pick up the book KNOWING she’s magic. She knows she’s magic. We are in her head. There’s no reason why her using magic has to be this “BIG” reveal to the reader since it’s the world she’s keeping her magic a secret from, not us. I get these books are all just ripping off Twilight and think “is he/isn’t he a vampire?” is obligatory, but it doesn’t work in a context where Bella/Ana/Rory/Zade enters the story knowing Edward/Christian/Rory/Zade is a vampire/sadist/immortal/witch. There’s no need to spend multiple chapters beating around the bush- just get to plot, already.

    Also, when every character keeps telling Zani how exceptional her treatment is, her ignoring the heavy-handed foreshadowing something is adrift doesn’t mean the reader will. It just makes her look clueless and entitled if constantly being told she’s getting special treatment from a stranger doesn’t make her go, “really, why? Was my show THAT good?” and if she’s in on why she’s getting special treatment, when others bring it up she should think about the secret in her head (which we are inside).

    Of course all of this, and the pointless skedaddle of Mac peeping on her, could’ve all been avoided by using 3rd person so the audience could easily know things Zani doesn’t and vice versa, but that would mean this book was written for the benefit of the reader and not so the author could view life through the eyes of a magical version of herself who everyone loved and desired. So. TL;DR Bad book.

    September 21, 2017
    |Reply
  26. Hannah
    Hannah

    As much as I hate to defend anything so poorly written, Zani doing her own hair makes sense to me. Where I grew up (southern U.S.) kids could be suspended from school for “non-natural” hair colors. Several stylists I knew would not do fantasy dye jobs on kids for that reason. Granted, any town big enough to have a Sally’s probably has at least one stylist who’d dye it for you, but I can see how finding one might be more work than just dying it yourself.

    September 21, 2017
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Yeah, but Zade isn’t a kid at this point; she’s in her twenties by the beginning of the book. I think it depends on whether she got used to doing it herself, and simply gave up on stylists, or if it’s a case of mostly lazy writing. Also, Centertown, TN is apparently a real place and it’s incredibly tiny, less than 300 people IRL. Google Maps says the nearest Sally Beauty Supply is in McMinnville, TN and it’s roughly 15 minutes away. XD

      Lani Sarem took some creative liberties, per usual, although I suppose since she can claim this is urban fantasy, her world’s Centertown could’ve expanded further… Although I think the horrible prologue also mentions how tiny it is? I forget.

      September 21, 2017
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Or she could just make up a place and do what she likes with it. It’s pretty well-known that Grover’s Corners is Peterborough and Maycomb is Monroeville, but because Wilder and Lee used fictional names, they could play around with the history and geography of their settings.

        But again, we’re proceeding as if this were a real book by a real writer.

        September 22, 2017
        |Reply
      • Maranda
        Maranda

        The problem is Centertown was never the capitol of Tennessee. The capitols were Knoxville, Kingston (for one day only), back to Knoxville, then Murfreesboro, and finally Nashville. Kingston is the smallest, with about 6,000 people, Murfreesboro has about 132,000, and Knoxville about 186,000. Since she said she was from the “town” that was the capitol before Nashville, that would mean Murfreesboro. I live in “M’boro” and I can say unequivocally that there are 2 Sally Beauty Supply stores here, as well as more than 30 salons that would gladly color her hair any shade of the rainbow.

        It’s fine if she’s writing about a fantasy town, but to give it the specific claim of “the town that was the State capitol before Nashville” tells me she didn’t bother with research. If she had left that qualifier off, I could almost forgive her attitude that the people here all a bunch of unenlightened, judgemental hicks. I moved here from Michigan at age 21, and I was pleasantly surprised that the folks here were very much like folks from there. Some nice, some not so nice, but most of them very accepting of my “Yankee-ness”, well except for my in-laws, but that’s another story.

        September 25, 2017
        |Reply
  27. Thera Pitts
    Thera Pitts

    In my YA book, my main character listens to lots of old music. But this is considered uncommon within the world of the book. I guess there’s a sad case of Not Like Other Girls(TM) going on there, but at least she has a good reason for being well-versed in the classics (her and her father were street musicians). And she doesn’t humblebrag about the speshulness of her oldies preference. Also the most obscure reference she makes is to Carole King, who I believe is more famous than Richard Marx. Anyway, great recap!

    September 21, 2017
    |Reply
    • Erin C
      Erin C

      I listened to older music more often than newer in high school too. It wasn’t common, but “Not Like Other Girls” out there either. As long as she doesn’t look down on every other girl in existence because of her superior taste, thats fine.

      September 22, 2017
      |Reply
      • Thera Pitts
        Thera Pitts

        Well she also compares another girl in the book to Beyonce in a favorable light, and mentions liking Janelle Monae, Awolnation and Steve Lacy (although she’s less kind to Katy Perry and Imagine Dragons). So I think I’m good. Thanks for the reply 🙂

        September 26, 2017
        |Reply
  28. Jamoche
    Jamoche

    I almost wish the movie deal did go through, just for the moment when the professional costume department tells Little Miss Entitled that no, they are not her personal costumers. And no, she can’t take any of it home.

    September 22, 2017
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      I almost wish the deal went through, and the producers made it a condition of the contract that the leads be played by People of Color.

      September 22, 2017
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        You know, because “it’s not her fault that the author of The Hate U Give is black….”

        September 22, 2017
        |Reply
  29. Crystal M
    Crystal M

    This book is the most insipid thing ever. I don’t know how you can bear to read one page.

    September 22, 2017
    |Reply
  30. Erin C
    Erin C

    The thing that keeps striking me over and over is that these people are supposed to be pushing 30 and apart from Zade are established professionals. But all act like they should be in middle school. No wonder a book with adult characters was marketed as YA.

    And of course none of the characters can call out Zade’s ridiculous narcissism and entitlement unless they’re the villain.

    September 22, 2017
    |Reply
  31. BlueSimplicity
    BlueSimplicity

    This is soooooooo looooooooooooooong and boring. Not the flogs, and kudos to you Jenny for getting through this dreck, but the story itself. You’re just posting smaller sections of it, and I have to force myself to get through them, because holy cow, this sh!t is awful. How many more pages/chapters are left in this thing?

    And everyone has their Mary Sue fantasies. In mine, I’m Sailor Pluto and Chris Evans and Jason Mamoa are both hopelessly in love with me. (Shut up!!) But ya know, it’s just a fantasy and something I use to amuse myself when I’m stuck in another long boring meeting at work. And while it may be endlessly entertaining to me, I know it’s of absolutely no interest to anyone else. Never mind trying to charge people for the “privilege” of reading my fantasy. **headdesk** This book, this effing book!!

    September 22, 2017
    |Reply
    • alana skye
      alana skye

      I agree! Mine is that I’m a world famous rock star with a PhD in Physics who’s married to Dave Grohl, but I would never write and publish a book about it, that would be weird!

      September 22, 2017
      |Reply
    • Erin C
      Erin C

      Mine are pretty low key cozy mystery type fantasies. Like I’m a respected medical examiner in a picturesque small new england town. Its always fall there and my sweaters are awesome.

      September 22, 2017
      |Reply
  32. John D.
    John D.

    So her would-be scam involved selling a major Hollywood studio her “best selling” novel, after which she expects they’ll just allow her to star in the film as the main character? Is that right? Does that strike anyone else as being the least bit, oh, insane? Has she even done any professional acting? I’ve certainly never heard of her before.

    September 22, 2017
    |Reply
    • She played “Roxy” in “Trailer Park Shark.” Which I think she might have had a few lines in?

      The amount I want this movie to get made according with Lani Sarem’s vision is that I think it would result it a modern classic of so-bad-it’s-good film.

      September 22, 2017
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        I doubt we’d get a “Plan 9 From Outer Space” or “The Room” out of this. I think we’re talking more like “Red Zone to Cuba” or “The Castle of Fu Manchu”–barely watchable even with MST3K riffing away.

        September 22, 2017
        |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      here’s also the thing: Lani is 35 years old. she looks like she’s 35.

      now i dont wanna seem like im bashing her looks- miss lani is a very attractive woman- but there’s no way she could pull off looking like 25 year old who is leaving home for the first time in their life. and since i read miss lani wants to make “five or seven movies” from her books, she’ll be well into her forties by the time the sequel comes out.

      September 25, 2017
      |Reply
      • John D.
        John D.

        It’s even more bizarre when you consider that the 25 yr. old in question behaves like a petulant spoiled brat teenager. So if this were ever filmed, you’d have a 35 yr. old playing a 25 yr. old who acts like a bloody 15 yr. old, and a particularly stupid, selfish & self-centered one at that.

        In one of the classic Hollywood adaptations of Little Women – either the 30’s or 40’s one, I forget which – they have an adult actress play Jo during her childhood years as well as a young woman, instead of having a child play her as a child and an adult play her as an adult, as the 1990’s remake with Winona Ryder did. The result is…unfortunate. Having a full grown adult portray a kid, especially the scenes where the character’s behaving like a jealous brat, is creepy as hell, and only resulted in making the poor woman look mentally ill. Why am I getting a similar vibe here?

        September 26, 2017
        |Reply
  33. Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

    I spit coffee on my iPad when I read the Lillian has more than her fair share of tattoos. I have two, does that mean I can’t get any more?

    I’m not very knowledgeable about tarot, but shouldn’t the Hierophant reperesent a teacher, beliefs, learning, or a connection between theory and practice? (I don’t have a standard RWS deck, so I might be a little off on that.) I know I’m not reading the entire chapter, but I’m not getting a sense of this card from what’s here of the chapter. And if all he chapter titles are the Major Arcana, why not the fool’s journey?

    I shouldn’t be looking for consistency and logic in this book, but I’m listening to The Raven Boys and the use of Tarot cards in that is fascinating.

    September 23, 2017
    |Reply
  34. Izzy
    Izzy

    Calling it now, the only song Zade knows how to play is Wonderwall.

    September 23, 2017
    |Reply
  35. Mylissa
    Mylissa

    I’m not reading this book and I hate this book. It irritates so much, that she claims to be a show biz professional and her writing is like the clueless land of the imaginary. She’s gotten about every part of everything backstage wrong.

    What sort of weird ass dressing room is that? How would dressing room cubicles be useful? I cannot imagine this set up anywhere in any theatre, it’s not even practical.

    It’s also driving me crazy that she’s being measured in her underwear when it’s completely unnecessary and appears to be an excuse for the boy to see her almost naked. In an industry where it’s not unusual to see your co-workers birthday suit naked. What is unusual? Staring.

    Is the twist that the theatre isn’t actually real and she’s magicked it all up poorly?

    But since these people didn’t know what a library was, of course they don’t know anything about theatrical productions either.

    September 23, 2017
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      miss lani did work at/with (?) David cooperfield years ago. maybe that’s how it was done back then….?

      but no, im more inclined to believe miss lani is making assumptions and has done no research on this.

      September 25, 2017
      |Reply
  36. Jessica
    Jessica

    I thought she had experience in the theater; how could she be fucking up descriptions this badly? It has to be intentional, right? It reads like it was written by a troll making fun of all these tropes she’s invoking, but that might actually be amusing.

    Also, I know he’s a David Copperfield avatar, but I keep picturing Charles Spellman as Charles Shaughnessy.

    September 23, 2017
    |Reply
  37. Maril
    Maril

    “Instead, we’ll get a list of all the desirable physical qualities the heroine has, while being told that somehow, only on her, these qualities aren’t attractive.”

    Well, not EXACTLY. These qualities are totally not attractive on her, except, the fact that they’re not attractive on her is exactly why they ARE attractive on her. That’s the key to this trope. It’s the One Direction song where they sing about how you’re super attractive ‘cuz you think you’re ugly. Because you can’t be genuinely beautiful if you know you’re attractive. Confidence isn’t sexy. Remember that young ladies who want people to like them; if you like yourself, you’re hideous and horrible. So know your place and know how much less than you are. Embrace your insecurities! Live in them! Let them completely distort who you are as a person so you never try and do anything above your lowly station out of fear of coming across as believing in yourself!

    I’m sorry, this whole mindset just makes me so bitter and angry. I’m fucking sick of it. Stop glorifying people who think they suck, media! People who hate themselves for no good reason are irritating as all goddamn hell and we do not need more of them! We need people who know what the fuck they’re worth and goddamn well aim for it! >_o Don’t settle for a job that’s beneath you because you don’t think you can do better. Don’t settle for a relationship that doesn’t make you happy because you’re afraid if you don’t you’ll be alone forever. Don’t hide yourself because you think you’re ugly, and for the love of god don’t let other people push you around because you think they’re better than you! Be assertive! Know who you are and what you’re capable of! Look in the mirror and know your hair looks fanfuckingtastic today goddamn it!

    …I may have some personal experience with people who live this trope… possibly… *cough*

    September 23, 2017
    |Reply
  38. Jane Eyre
    Jane Eyre

    Thinking about this whole “guys fall for Zade cuz she magic” thing in the book I’ve mentioned couple of comments ago…I just thought up a much better scenario for this travesty(not too difficult, I know) but like what about having the mixed pov but…separated into two parts in the book? First part is First Person Zade and she is the way she well is described and all that jazz but then second POV/part of the story is in third person and we find out that Zade is actually a siren/sccubbus/evil fairy/witch who uses her magical sexappeal to lure people(mostly men) in and feed of their energy to keep her youth and immortality. (Sorta like Mother Gothel in Tangled with Rupunzel’s hair) but Sophia, The Lemonade Girl and Sophia’s friend whose name escapes me, are immune to her power bc maybe they are like other girls and see nothing wrong with it and they are confident in themselves and comfortable with who they are, especially Sophia who knows her worth, ect. and they are not taken in and they feel something is wrong with this Zade chick and decide to investigate and find out she’s the witch as I mentioned and that she has been around for like 1700’s and they decide to act and team up to save Vegas(and their partners whom they truly love, the jelousy, sluttiness and lust for power is Zade’s manipulation of trying to make them look like the bad guys and to project her own personality on them) the show and people they care about. That IMO would be much more interesting than the actual book, because we open up thiking ‘yet another Mary Sue’ but it turns out she is unreliable narrator who is trying to manipulate us as well as the cast of the show.

    September 23, 2017
    |Reply
    • J
      J

      Ok now I want to write that book. Or something similar.

      September 25, 2017
      |Reply
  39. Okay given that creepy book placement Tweet, I’m terrified that Thomas Ian Nicholas is in trouble and Lanie Sarem is holding his first born child hostage or something. Because let’s face it, a man with a first born child NOT held hostage would have probably given up the ghost on this book by now.

    Thomas – message us, let us know you’re okay. We can help.

    September 23, 2017
    |Reply
  40. Indigo
    Indigo

    I’ve been thinking about the whole “I’m five-nine and it’s a BIG DEAL GUYS” bit, and one reason it bothers me is because it can be better done.
    Consider this section, from Patricia C. Wrede’s book “Dealing with Dragons”, about the heroine Cimorene.
    “And she wouldn’t stop growing. Her parents were quite sure no man would ever want to marry a girl who could look him in the eye instead of gazing becomingly up at him through her lashes.”
    This is not just shorter and far more elegantly written than Sarem’s “let me interrupt the action for a paragraph to ramble about the average height of a North American woman” interlude, but actually serves a function. Cimorene is, indeed, Not Like Other Girls – but specifically, she is not like her *sisters*, who are fairly typical princesses, and Cimorene is therefore a disappointment to her parents. This disappointment in her leads them to try to force her to marry a man she does not care for at all, and her to run away, which launches the events of the plot. It is actually relevant to her personality, her relationships with others, and her subsequent character arc, and Wrede conveys so much of this with her light, ironic tone. (Also it’s in third person, which if you’re trying to get people to like your protagonist, maybe don’t fill the text with sections where the character brags about themselves in their own voice.)

    September 24, 2017
    |Reply
    • Mimi
      Mimi

      I looooveeeee! this! book!!!!
      I read all of them in middle school and they were just delightful!

      September 25, 2017
      |Reply
  41. BitterAlmonds
    BitterAlmonds

    You know, a common criticism of this kind of wish-fulfillment novel is that the protagonist doesn’t have a personality. I wish so, so badly that was the case for this one. Lani/Zade is absolutely insufferable. Smug I can live with, disingenuous–this false fucking modesty really chaps my ass. Every sentence drips with how up her own 5’9″ technicolor hair flawed-in-all-the-right-ways ass she is. Frankly, if Lani and Zade really are the same person, I’m not surprised that the book turned out this way. You can’t be good at writing people if you don’t have a genuine interest in them and their motivations. Look at how she treated Lil–Lil spends that section trying to engage and be friendly with the new girl, and Zani completely ignores it in favor of thinking about how hot-but-not-hot she is. That would have been the perfect opportunity to familiarize the reader with who’s who, as opposed to dropping six names (all three letters long) in a single chapter. Instead the reader has to sit through Zade thinking about how bored she is and that Lil talks too much. Maybe you’d learn about something other than farmer’s markets from her if you had an iota of respect for other people, Zani?
    The more I read the more sure I am that this is how Lani Sarem behaves in real life when she thinks she can get away with it. If that read is correct then I very much hope all of her endeavors crash and burn. I wish nothing but the worst for her and her garbage attitude towards others.

    September 25, 2017
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    • Amy
      Amy

      that’s a very good point you have: here’s someone who is extending a hand of friendship to Zade, and zade doesnt give two hoots.

      i think this was the inspiration lani took from twilight. in twilight, all of bellas female classmates are always inviting her to outings, to their meetups, and all bella can give is a half-assed reaction. for goodness sake, they invite bella out for prom dress shopping, something that a lot of girls LOVE to do, and instead of turning down the invite, bella goes with the her “friends” and spends the entire time complaining how “shallow” the prom is.

      i forgive bella a lot cause she was just a teenager, but zade in in her twenties, darn it. leave your holier-than-thou attitude back home!

      September 25, 2017
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      • Jane Eyre
        Jane Eyre

        also for all complaining Bella kind of cared about her friends? Like she always worried they might get caught in the middle of her vampire secret and get killed? Also, the most bitchy character she met was Rosalie whom she actually tried to befriend…sure there was Jessica but there was no bs like here with such level of hatred. Bella was a bit holier-than-thou with her thinking her shallow but the books never had Jessica nearly dying as far as I remember to make Bella look good. She was only made to look better in the “I’m not interested in gossip and shopping” department which wasn’t really that different or worse from all the other teen dramas that pull it off. Here tho? Not only is protagonist older, but Sophie is made to be almost cartoonish, she hates Zade and is even ungrateful when Zade saves her life and is bitchy and touches a much younger and I dare say childlike employee…I don’t think Mayer tried this hard with the bitchiness of foils.

        September 29, 2017
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        • BitterAlmonds
          BitterAlmonds

          Yes, all of this. Also, I don’t think anyone was ever supposed to understand Bella as Meyer. Bella stands in for the reader. Bella holds herself apart from other women so the reader can feel special in their internalized misogyny–she (and the reader) isn’t like other girls. Zade, on the other hand, is so obviously meant to be Lani. So when the author’s self-insert is purposefully dismissive and dickish to other characters–What the actual fuck? That’s not something to be proud of, Lani. Why are you so self-satisfied about what a dickwad you are to other people? That’s what was really getting my goat as I read.

          October 1, 2017
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  42. I love snark ladies!

    September 26, 2017
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  43. Miimers
    Miimers

    I can’t for the life of me understand how something so poorly written still manages to make the MC such a colossally unlikable wafflebladder. How does one do that when they can’t even string a sentence together that sounds like it’s from the 20th century?

    September 29, 2017
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  44. Anon
    Anon

    Finally getting around to reading these. OMG. All these “YA” books read the same. I think the same person writes all of them. And they’re so incredibly dull.

    When I WAS a “YA,” I read much better books than these. YAs aren’t stupid. Give them better books!

    November 22, 2017
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