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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.

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.

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134 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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      • Sigyn Wisch
        Sigyn Wisch

        Re: Anita going to 106 lbs with EEE breasts and a curvy, toned body: IT IS TO LAUGH! I’m 5’3 with DD breasts, curvy but not toned (exercise? what’s that?). I’m 200 lbs and will probably be 210 when my viral cold has passed due to all the bread & juice I’m consuming with my soup and vitamins.

        Again, different women have different body types, but I feel like Anita should weigh at least 120-130, 135 being the high end of healthy for her height.

        February 11, 2018
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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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    • Sigyn Wisch
      Sigyn Wisch

      I think I was about 140 lbs when I was a size 10, which would have put me at 120-130 for size 8. Different women have different body types and you know, that comment makes me think of Emilie Autumn’s Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls, wherein she admits to being offended by people saying “Real women have curves” because it implies that naturally thin women with less curvaceous body types are “pretend women”.

      February 11, 2018
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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%