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Jealous Haters Book Club: Handbook For Mortals, Chapter 8 The Star (part 1) or “If you’re in love, show me! Show me!”

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I apologize for not having a recap last week, but as you’ll see, there’s so much to deal with in this chapter that it’s required double the time to write it.

If you’re looking for a few eye rolls today, check out this interview with Lani Sarem at Mike Mauthor’s blog, wherein she plays coy about her possible “cameo” in the film, says she believes that acting gives her extra insight into writing (I’m sure her experience as an uncredited extra in Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 more than qualifies her to be an author), and changes her story about the New York Times debacle yet again:

Well, I’m the only person that’s ever had that happen to them…people jumped to a lot of conclusions without all the facts and then started saying things that weren’t even close to being true…I hope people will take the time to understand what really happened and enjoy the book for what it is….

In case you’re getting liar whiplash, the story so far has gone:

  • I didn’t cheat, we sold this book at conventions based on Thomas Ian Nicholas’s star power
  • I didn’t cheat, I did things the way we do them in the music industry
  • I didn’t cheat, YA authors are just jealous of me
  • Okay, maybe I cheated, but isn’t it the publishing industry’s fault for not being as smart as me?
  • Tee hee, I cheated, might as well use it in my marketing

And now we’ve arrived at:

  • I didn’t cheat, people just jumped to conclusions without all the facts and then lied about me

The thing is, you can’t really say that people jumped to conclusions without facts when it was their dogged pursuit of the facts that got you found out in the first place. This is probably the most well-documented YA scandal in recent memory. The facts are there. A better strategy might be to discourage people from checking into them.

But it’s not all gaslighting and self-aggrandizement, dear readers. No, no. There is so, so much more for me to share with you today.

There’s a book trailer.

 

Note how the lush, verdant forest calls to mind the book’s gritty, Las Vegas Strip setting. Wonder at the clips lifted from copyrighted sources (such as Disney’s Enchanted and Cirque du Soleil). Marvel at how clunky and weird it is to announce a guest appearance by the Plain White T’s in your novel.

This is why I don’t have book trailers, guys. Well, this and the fact that they’re so freaking expensive.

Let’s get recapping the first part of this monster chapter.

Chapter eight opens with Zima standing outside the bar where the band is playing.

I had so many things to think about that my head was starting to hurt. I probably should have worried more about the girl in the parking garage but I just wasn’t ready to deal with her yet.

“I probably should have worried more about the girl in the parking garage, but my author hadn’t quite figured out where that was going, yet.”

Zazu does a lot of thinking about thinking. She should be thinking about something, but she’ll think about it later. I don’t know if there’s a name for this tragic phenomenon, but I’m naming this “Procrastinating Protagonist.” This chapter has an astounding amount of it.

I just wanted to make sure one last time that I looked good. Maggie was right, I had chosen the right dress. I was just the right amount of dressed up.

Just, just,right, right, dress, dressed. My god. It’s a move we’ve never seen in competition before. The Triple Repetition.

But let’s not lose our focus here. She’s hot, and it’s important that we know that.

The night before, after we had made it safely back to town, Mac had invited me back to his place–but I told him I thought it would be best to save that for another night.

So, cautious, never-breaks-the-rules, doesn’t-date-performers-because-an-evil-bitch-broke-his-heart Mac kissed her in the rain and was like, “What the hell, let’s do the sexin’ because that’s exactly how I got emotionally rolled over in the first place.”

Checks out.

Spending time with Mac under that awning was probably the most romantic thing that had happened to me in my small amount of dating experience, and I decided that perfect rain kisses were a great place to leave the “to be continued.”

I feel like (and this could just be my forgetful brain dropping “important” bits of the story) Zod has told us in the past that she never got to date in her hometown because people didn’t like her, but she’s also mentioned she’s kissed guys and has dating experience. I think this is one of those things where, if you’re writing a book with romance in it, you need to be clear with the reader where your heroine is coming from. Consistency in past romantic experience is a big part of what shapes a romance in a story, even if it’s never dwelled on in depth.

Since I hadn’t talked to him all day, I made up my mind that I woudln’t act like anything had happened–unless he did.

In other words, all of the romantic conflict with Mac is going to be lack of communication. At first, the romantic conflict there seemed to ride on his personal rules, but those went out the window the second there was a chance to write a kissing scene. Now that he’s broken the rule, there would have to be an intensely realistic reason for that to come back on the board. But Sarem seems to be falling on the lazy trick of characters just not talking about the one thing they should talk about in order to sustain ~*TEH DRAMAZ*~.

Truth be told, I was kind of hoping he wouldn’t either. After all, Mac was fully aware that Jackson had invited me in a somewhat “date-like” manner.

The strategy, then, is to just never talk about it ever?

I sorta wondered to myself how I got into such messes as this.

See above for answer.

Also, read that last line a la Justin Roiland improvising dialogue on Rick And Morty. You can hear it, can’t you?

Lindsay finally enters the bar, stopping to give the incredulous bouncer her ID:

My baby face always made them double check and usually bouncers would look at me the way he did–they never looked like they believed I was actually old enough to be in a bar.

There are two possible jokes to make here and I’m so torn between them. On the one hand, I could make a crack about how Sarem’s surely written herself out of the starring role now since she couldn’t pass for early-twenties in the first place. On the other hand, I could make a joke about the author’s wishul thinking or blatant insistence that she does, indeed, look young. This is one of those moments in a recap where I’m cursed with too many possibilities.

Despite looking like a fetus, iZarlie somehow gets in and thinks about how she wants to get at least a little time to spend with Mac while she’s there. But then she sees Mac and Tad and Riley standing by the bar and:

I pretended not to have noticed them and looked towards the bartender as if my focus was on getting him to come over.

She’s hoping she’ll get to see Mac, but when she sees him, she pretends not to. I’m not going to say that nobody in the history of ever has pulled this dumb move, but the evidence that Zippy operates like a character in a bad soap opera or a CW teen drama is mounting.

I didn’t have a lot of experience being in a bar, but I tried to be patient and act like I was relaxed and comfortable.

A gif of a scene from The IT Crowd, in which Jen tells Moss, Roy, and Richmond to "Relax!" at a dinner party and they strike ridiculous, stilted poses.

Also, if you don’t have a lot of experience in bars, how do you know how bouncers “usually” look at you?

She finally stops playing coy and looks over at Mac, but someone interrupts their eye contact:

It was Tim, Jackson’s bandmate in our show–and in the Plain White T’s as well; he gave me a quick hug and sweetly remarked, “Good to see you, Zade.”

We know that Tim is in the show band with Jackson and in the Plain White T’s because you already said that in the last chapter. Because I’m not a fucking idiot and I’ve been writing professionally for, oh, something like fifteen years, I already knew that this book didn’t see a single editor. I’m starting to suspect the author herself never read through the book once it was done, or she did and there were long gaps between reading chapters. On the other hand, she probably could have read the entire book cover to cover every day and still not seen how repetitive she is.

I hugged him back before making eye contact with Jackson, who was standing right next to him.

Again, we have an example of Lizzie McZuire seeing people backward. Tim touched her back and got her attention, but when she turned around, the first person she would notice would be Jackson, because he’s been on her mind more and he’s the person she’s come to see. He needed to be mentioned before the Tim hug.

Of course, there’s a Jackson hug to follow:

He startled me just a little bit when, as he started to release me from his hug, he kissed me lightly on the lips. It was one of those kisses that a friend might give you and it would not mean anything–

Whoa, hang on. None of my friends have ever kissed me on the lips, and if they did, I would sure assume it meant something. I mean, if not romantic love, at least very passionate friend love with somewhat misplaced boundaries.

Anyway, back to the excerpt. And by the way, the em dash where I stopped before is in the text.

or I could have taken it in a much more romantic way. I wasn’t sure how to take it, and of course, I wondered what Mac thought since I was sure he had seen Jackson kiss me.

I feel like so much of this book could have just been a romance novel set at a magic show. It didn’t need to be Urban Fantasy because the “magick” element is hardly there at all. We’ve had one scene of supernatural intrigue and some vague backstory on how her mom apparently used magic to trap her in their town, but every other page is, “Tee hee, two boys fighting over me.”

Now it’s time for another round of “person way more famous and successful than Lani Sarem isn’t recognized by but is eager to meet Lani Sarem Zade”:

Standing next to Jackson was another guy who looked familiar enough to me that I knew he must work at the show in some regards. I noticed that he was looking at me like he was waiting to meet me. Jackson noticed as well and quickly introduced us. “Oh, sorry, I don’t think you’ve officially met. Zade, this is one of our other guitarists, Dave. Dave, this is Zade.”

One of the most boring parts of a book (and the least fun to write) are scenes were people meet other people. We know how introductions are supposed to go, and we suffer through them. But they’re especially bland when written like this:

“Nice to meet you, Zade.”

“Nice to meet you too, Dave.”

I just passed out from extreme boredom. Like 15% of this book is people meeting Zade and us having to see the introductions. And this is absolutely infuriating for reasons I will explain later.

The band has to go on stage, but Lani tells Jackson:

“Sure, sounds great. I’ll be…right here waiting for you.”

Jackson laughed as he caught my reference to his own joke from the day he gave me my tour.

Ah, yes. Another timely and current reference to Richard Marx, whom all the groovy kids are digging these days. Far out.

Mac, Tad, Cam, and Riley approach her, and Mac hugs her so he can whisper in her ear.

“Looks like Tad was right, again. Jackson definitely is hitting on you.”

I started to pull away and just as our faces were directly in front of each other I softly and quietly said–so only he could hear: “Jealous?” I asked, and I raised my eyebrow.

Nobody can say she doesn’t thoroughly tag dialogue. There are two here for a single spoken word.

We have to hear about her greeting and hugging each of the guys, who refer to her as “Sweets” and “Pretty Girl,” because we’ve gone almost twenty minutes without someone reminding us that Zani Larem is so super beautiful.

Zarno explains how the band is about to take the stage and the entire bar is packed.

“They are pretty popular in town and rumor has it they may get a record deal soon. They really are amazing.” He seemed to be genuinely proud of his friends.

Gosh, Lani, it’s awfully nice of you to give the Plain White T’s a shot at the big time.

I noticed an older man walk on to the side of the stage. He was tall and only slightly overweight.

I don’t understand this description. It makes it sound like all middle-aged men are overweight or expected to be.

Lizneyland notes that the crowd goes wild for the guy, so I’m not sure if this is supposed to be some wink wink nudge nudge clever cameo like the woman with the Yorkies in Fifty Shades Darker or something. But speaking of the crowd, there are women in it and they’re all terrible.

Most of the crowd pushing and shoving at the front were female and by the way they reacted you would have thought they had just found out Justin Beiber was coming on to the stage.

Lanzar is way too cool to like Justin Beiber, obviously. Only the other females do that. And she’s Not Like Other Girls™.

I got why they all pushed and shoved their way up, but I chose to hang back. It wasn’t because that’s what Mac, Riley, Cam and Tad were doing–though had they gone up front I would have joined them.

See, she’s not a poser follower like the rest of the people there. She makes up her own mind. Until her friends do something different. But she’s totally not doing stuff just because they are. Even when she is.

Zarni would rather just watch the crowd and let her toxic internalized misogyny leak out like fluids from a damaged mausoleum:

Some of the girls were looking over at the guys with googly eyes and bemused expressions on their faces. Some looked like they were giving the guys their smoldering “come hither” stares. Lastly, there were the girls who were pretending to ignore them as if they weren’t there; when it was even more obvious they were trying hardest to get the boys’ attention. I laughed at how funny the whole thing was.

You know what’s really funny, Zingo? The fact that you constantly talk about not trying too hard, but you tried on something like eight dresses to pick just the perfect outfit for the evening, then you walked into the bar and pretended to ignore one of the guys you’re interested in…kind of like how the girls in the crowd appear to be ignoring the guys in the band. Oh, and remember how after all that, you said you were trying to look like you belonged in the bar? But yeah, women are so stupid and pathetic because they try too hard. Not you, though. You’re Not Like Other Girls™.

PS. to this recent spate of authors using the word incorrectly: bemused means puzzled or confused. It doesn’t mean wryly amused or lusty or dreamy. It means confused.

People-watching was one of my favorite pastimes, and I’m pretty sure I was witnessing people-watching at its finest.

No, you’re witnessing people at their finest. Unless you have a really high opinion of your people-watching skills. Which you might. This is you we’re talking about.

The guys take the stage and the women become even more insufferable to Lozo.

The crowd screamed so loudly and the high pitch of some of the girls was enough to make my ears hurt; I’m fairly positive that I lost a few decibels from my hearing range.

Besides her friends, the middle-aged guy who introduced the band, and the bartender, the only people in this club seem to be women Zendar can’t stand. I wonder why that is…

Time for another pop culture reference the kiddies will go wild over!

I had to yell over the crowd pretty loudly to be heard at all. “Wow, it’s like they’re *NSYNC and they got the band back together or something!” I shouted–to Riley, mainly, though I’m sure Mac, Cam, and Tad heard me too.

Keeping in mind that whether or not this book qualifies as YA, it was marketed as YA and this reference is fifteen years old. And I know this because my son is about to turn fifteen (and is, therefore, the age of a YA reader), and he was born the year *NSYNC “went on hiatus”. Now, obviously, there are going to be teenagers who’ve heard of, are peripherally aware of, or hell, might even be fans of the group. And I don’t have an issue with people making references to things before their intended audience was born, as long as those references make some kind of sense. I wasn’t born when Sonny and Cher had a television show, but it was such a cultural phenomenon that I instantly know who you mean if you say Sonny and Cher. But this was a reference inserted specifically to name drop someone famous that Sarem knows: her cousin, JC Chasez, who is listed in the epic acknowledgment section.

Zando asks Riley about the names of the guys in the band and where they work at the show because twenty percent of the dialogue in this book is wasted on throwing an impossible number of generic male names at the reader. Dave, Tim, Tom, Mike, Cam, Riley, Tad, Trig, Tripp, Track, Bristol, Piper…

I got off track at some point. Anyway, De’Mar Hamilton, the real-life drummer from Plain White T’s, is mentioned by name but doesn’t meet Larnda or fawn over how amazing she is anywhere in this scene. I wonder why…

De'Mar Hamilton, the drummer for the Plain White T's, pictured sitting casually at a table beside a glass of whine. He's a black guy.
It’s because he’s a drummer, right?

And though his name is written “De’Mar” in any article I could find, Miss “everyone has a hard time saying my name and oh my god it’s the worst thing ever get it right!” styles it as, “De’mar.”

It’s okay, though, because Zumba is apparently mystified by names. Riley refers to the band on stage, the band that has been called Plain White T’s by name in multiple chapters now, as “the T’s,” and she’s all:

I gathered from Riley’s comment that “the T’s” must be a shortened version of the band’s name.

Thank you, Sherlock Holmes, for your expert analysis there. Way to go, Basil of Baker Street, for clearing up that mystery.

This is another problem with this book: the author thinks the readers are stupid. Hence the over-explaining of everything. Trust your readers to realize that Riley isn’t suddenly talking about another, similarly named band.

Lazi thinks about how great it is that this struggling little band is making good and getting a record contract, that Pete (“Trig”) can never get to a social event on time, what the songs sound like, and how she’s surprised at how packed the venue is:

By my best guess, there actually were close to four hundred people–if not more–who all seemed to know all the words to the band’s original songs and would sing along, scream, and dance. They were true fans of this band. This was a real concert and the band was really good.

She’s told us a few times that the band is good, to the point that it’s starting to sound condescending.

They play “Stay,” a real song that she describes as “sassy”. I braced myself for a list of lyrics, but she must not have been given permission to use them. You can see them here. They are beyond obvious.

Time for a writing tip:

I felt Mac lean into me and I could feel his breath on my neck and ear.

“Mac leaned into me and his breath skated over my neck and ear.” You can you use whatever verb you like for his breath to do. I just pulled that one off the top of my head. The point is, “I felt this happen,” as opposed to “this happens” takes readers a step back from the action, which is what you don’t want to do.

Mac warns Zerg that Jackson is a good guy, but he’s so busy with the band and work that he won’t have much time for romance, and Lipizzan thinks about the kiss in the rain:

Had it been just a one-time thing? Did Mac think we were dating?

Hey, do you know what could clear this up? Asking him, since he’s standing right next to you. But if she did that, the romantic tension would be resolved and she would have to work on the actual magickkkkkkkkkkk subplot. Mac is more direct and asks her if she likes Jackson.

“I don’t know. I don’t really know him. But I always keep my word, so I’m going to have a drink with him. I don’t plan to do anything further.” I paused and looked Mac directly in the eye before adding, “He did technically ask me out before anything happened with us, though.” I felt my right eyebrow rise as I looked into his eye and my eyelashes bat unconciously.

Nothing gets me more revved up than when two characters express attraction to each other in exactly the same way as Disney animals. And note that while Zimba spent most of the last chapter agonizing over how she feels torn between Mac and Jackson, she’s now saying she doesn’t know Jackson at all. She’s torn between the love of two men, one who she has spent time with and had these supposedly deep conversations. She’s kissed him dramatically in the rain. And Jackson…well, he plays guitar and calls her pretty. Such a tough choice.

I had come to enjoy the fact that Mac and I always seemed to have frank and honest conversations. Maybe our conversations were so open because our first interactions had started with both of us being very bold and straightforward and telling each other what was on our minds–typically with as much passion as we could muster.

Yeah, the only things you can’t talk about in these frank and honest discussions is shit like, “are we dating?” and “what was that kiss about?” If we’re meant to believe that she and Mac have this truly amazing connection that can’t be denied, they should be able to simply ask these questions of each other.

But then, after much wangst over how she needs answers but she can’t talk to him/hopes they won’t talk about it, they talk about the kiss. She asks Mac if he only kissed her because Jackson hit on her, and he says he doesn’t know. He only asked her to go riding because Jackson hit on her, though.

I already felt anxious about being in the middle between Jackson and Mac. I had never been in that kind of position, and I could tell that it was going to make my life much more complicated.

I thought it was important to include that excerpt so that we’re all aware that she’s torn between two men and she’s confused and everything is really complicated and interesting I SWEAR IT’S INTERESTING PLEASE KEEP READING.

Seriously, you can’t just keep telling your reader, “Don’t worry, the plot is on the way, I swear. No, seriously, any time now, something is going to happen.” You want me to see how complicated Lobot’s life is? Show me. Don’t tell me. Show me.

Audrey Hepburn in the movie My Fair Lady, singing "Is that all you blighters can do?" from the song "Show Me"
Drama club gets it.

Obviously, these complications don’t arise right now. Because it’s much easier to put them off until later:

All I could think at the time was that I needed to do some card readings on all of it, but that wasn’t going to happen in the bar. I was going to have to go home and start looking at the possibilities before I took anything too much further.

Further than…kissing a guy and going to a show at a bar? You have to consult your cards over little shit like that? Look, I’m not putting down anyone who does a lot of card readings. I’ve done them for over twenty years now (and this summer I started doing them on Fiverr, so if you ever want your Lenormand or Tarot done on the cheap, hit me up) and when I started out, of course, I did them for everything I could think of. Because I was a teenager. Life is scary and uncertain when you’re a teenager and you need answers to questions like, “Does Bianca like girls?” or risk accidentally outing yourself. But Zindy is an adult, working with other adults, two of whom have expressed direct interest in her. Step one is talking to them to figure out if a reading is actually necessary. Because she might sit down for her drink with Jackson and go, “You know, no reading required here, nothing is clicking.” That won’t be how things go down, obviously, because she’s majjikkkkhaaaal or whatever and clearly when you’re majjjikkkkhaaaaal you don’t need to do anything as mundane as talking to people.

In any case, the “I have to consult the mhystykal forces” thing is only in here at this point as an excuse for not furthering the plot at all.

For the moment I just had to wonder what to do like everyone else. Maybe I didn’t like this “normal” thing so much, after all.

Yeah, those poor mundies, forced to live their lives as norms, totally closed off from teh mhajikks. I’m starting to get a real strong sense that Linda has a lot in common with those obnoxious, crushed-velvet witches who say patronizing things about anyone who isn’t part of some Pagan tradition. And don’t hop in the comments like, “RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION AGAINST WITCHES IS REAL HOW DARE YOU!” because a) religious persecution against anyone not-Christian is present throughout the entire freaking western world and neo-pagans are fairly low on the list when people start gearing up for religious genocide, and b) people executed for witchcraft in other parts of the world aren’t being executed because they held a Mabon ritual in their backyard. Here, you’re more likely to lose your job because you wore a pentacle to work (which is still not okay) but it’s not ZOMG YE OLDE BURNING TYMES. Believe me, I’ve gotten my fair share of “you’re in league with Satan” and “LOL Wiccans” over my on-again-off-again paganism, but sixty-eight percent of the persecution witches face in America is people making fun them for exactly this kind of “I’m not like everyone else and it’s too bad you’re not special and touched by ~*majik*~ like I am,” behavior. And at least ten percent of that is coming from other pagans.

Wow, I’ve had that rant in me a minute, haven’t I? #MyCovenFuckedMeUp

Moving on, how, oh how, oh how how how can we possibly get through a scene where a self-insert goes to see a concert without the obligatory “he’s singing to me” scene?

Towards the end of their set the band launched into another ballad. A slow-grooved rock song with a pretty sparkly pop hook called “Someday You’re Gonna Love Me.” I couldn’t be quite sure, but it almost felt like this song was directed at me. The lyrics said something about allowing the girl time to go have fun cause the guy was going to just wait around because, well, “someday you’re gonna love me.” It was a super sweet, romantic thought. The chorus felt like it was being sung just for me, and Jackson’s eyes were definitely looking directly at mine while he sang.

Jackson was looking directly at her over the heads of four hundred people in a crowded bar. Also, Harry Styles can pick one girl out of the crowded arena and instantly fall in love with her.

At least it sure felt like he was, or maybe I’m just that girl who think she’s being sung to at a concert and really isn’t. Maybe from the stage, with the lights in his eyes, Jackson couldn’t even see me and was just looking at the random faces in the crowd.

Oh, she referenced the trope, so clearly she didn’t just engage in it.

I glanced over toward where Mac was standing, hoping to find him still engulfed in a conversation. I found myself wishes he hadn’t even noticed what I thought had just happened. Instead he was staring right at me and he had clearly witnessed the possible profession from Jackson. I only allowed myself to catch his gaze for a second before looking away and pretending that I hadn’t even seen him staring. I suddenly felt overwhelmed at the possibility of something that may not have even actually happened.

Here’s our confirmation that yes, Jackson was singing directly to Leslie. Another person noticed it. All this does, by the way, is ramp up the internal drama. So far, there’s been barely any external conflict in this passionate, confusing, all-consuming love triangle.

The next three songs are “upbeat,” so dancers from the magic show all run over to get down with Lalan Zalda. After the concert is over and the guys have greeted their fans, it’s time for the long-awaited date with Jackson. I can’t wait to see them engage in witty back and forth to establish the connection between them.

I was quickly learning that he was very easy to talk to and was actually very funny. Although I hadn’t planned it, I found myself flirting with him. His smile was hard to resist and the more time I spent with him, the more I could swear his eyes would sparkle on cue. We talked a lot about music. He suggested that I should come up sometime and play a song with them during a show. I joked that I wasn’t sure he could afford me, but agreed it would be fun and said I would–sometime.

And that’s it. There’s no dialogue at all between Jackson and Zarius Laesar on their date.

Do you know how I can tell that Jackson isn’t really a love interest? Because the author is more interested in writing long, painful introduction scenes with dialogue like, “It’s nice to meet you,” and “It’s nice to meet you, too,” than showing us any meaningful interaction between the protagonist and this guy she’s apparently caught in an anguished dilemma over. Rather than showing us any of the important action, she tells us about the action that happened, only to immediately move on to a long sequence of every other character that has been mentioned so far saying goodbye to each other. 

And the thing is, she’s not even listening to Jackson through much of their conversation. To sum up what happens after just a couple of paragraphs of Lini talking to Jackson (including a part where she notices Mac watching her and they share a secret smile…sorry, Jackson), we see:

  • Tad asking Mac if he wants to leave
  • Riley being too drunk to walk out of the bar
  • All three of them having a conversation together that Larno observes while presumably ignoring Jackson
  • The conversation includes working out how Tad and Mac are going to get Riley and his car home
  • Tad hugging everyone and coming over to tell Zader that Jackson was hitting on her
  • Mac and Zindar sharing a lingering glance
  • Zeb and Cam working out who’s giving who a ride
  • Tim and Tom talking about speakers

Despite the fact that Zelicity is so torn and confused over her complicated love triangle, nearly every minor character in this concert scene has more dialogue than Jackson, even when we reach this highly anticipated and totally confusing and emotional date that is the entire point of the chapter, and all of that dialogue is inconsequential nonsense.

Even after Mac (who is clearly the only love interest here, but for some reason, Sarem felt she absolutely had to have a love triangle in the book) leaves, this is all we get:

It was nearly four in the morning when I finally made it home. I’d stayed at the bar with Jackson for a while after everyone else had left, and found that it was much easier to relax around him once Mac was gone.

That’s it. That’s all. Just “it was much easier to relax around him.” Let me reiterate:

THERE IS NOT A SINGLE LINE OF DIALOGUE ON THEIR WHOLE ENTIRE DATE.

This is bad writing, in case you haven’t figure that out.

Well, that’s it for this recap. Next week I’m going to probably do things a little bit differently, because of the grossly inaccurate and stupidly written tarot reading in the next section. I’m thinking of making a video (which I will caption), because it will be difficult to explain it as described in book, and I’d like to rant in real time.

89 Comments

  1. Laina
    Laina

    Oh god I just tried to raise an eyebrow and batt my lashes at the same time and I think I pulled a muscle in my face. I’m not even joking I think I hurt myself

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
    • Lani B Goode
      Lani B Goode

      I tried it too and it just looks like I got something in my eye.

      November 7, 2017
      |Reply
    • Indigo
      Indigo

      I managed to wink and raise an eyebrow without too much difficulty, and it still looked like I had some kind of nervous twitch.

      November 8, 2017
      |Reply
      • Mimi
        Mimi

        I just tried this in the mirror and it looks so ridiculous that I can’t stop laughing.

        November 8, 2017
        |Reply
  2. RodeoBob
    RodeoBob

    OK, so I am not a professional writer. I have never even attempted romance writing. But I think I can sketch out this scene and it’s intentions better than NYT-less-than-24-hour Bestseller Lani. Let’s try.

    The scene is a bar where a band is playing. There will be a section before the band plays, then the concert, then something afterwards. If we want a little mini 3-act thing, we have it. Our middle act can’t have dialogue, because the band is playing, but there’s lots of action we can describe.

    Zamphier has already kissed Mac. Jackson doesn’t know this, so him flirting with her is innocent on his part, but how will Mac react? Will he be jealous? Will he leave early? Will he be confident that Jackson won’t succeed?

    Our third act, after the band is done playing, is a great opportunity for drama. Jackson give a flirty hello to Zorastro in act 1, Mac did some grinding on the dance floor in act 2, so that in act 3, the boys can fight over the girl, or puff out their chests, or something.

    Oh, right, this book includes “mag-ick”. So let’s see… our untrained-but-incredibly-powerful-mag-ick-user is at a bar, drinking alcohol (yay! Lowered inhibitions! And magic!) when strange things start happening. Zamboni has a few drinks, and starts to dance. Mac comes over and starts dancing with her. While that’s happening, she makes eye contact with Jackson, who seems to be singing suggestive lyrics right at her. But then Jackson notices Mac, and Mac notices Jackson, and the next song is played fast and angry, and the crowd dancing around our protagonist seems more on edge. Halfway through the song, a fight breaks out on the floor, two guys throwing punches over a girl. The bouncers pull them apart, Zales is shocked, and that’s when mystery Lamborghini girl appears out of nowhere and pulls Miss Z out of the club into a back alley. “No drinking for you girl! You lose control, and start affecting others around you. Drunk, horny witches can make great orgies, or terrible bar brawls, and you don’t look like the type to enjoy either!”

    And hey! As a bonus, we’ve introduced a seed of doubt: maybe *neither* guy actually likes her, but her mag-ick is affecting them!

    I’m barely trying, have zero experience in the genre, and it feels like I’m putting more effort and consideration into this than the author did.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
    • Lily
      Lily

      And you’ve done so much better!

      November 7, 2017
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      You have put more effort in and that’s all the difference needed. Also I’d totally read that scene. 😀

      November 7, 2017
      |Reply
    • Athena
      Athena

      I wish I could like this with a heart. You did really good.

      November 8, 2017
      |Reply
    • Erin C
      Erin C

      Well now I want to read the rest of that. But yeah, thats way better than anything in the book. It adds to the magic plot, has some actual conflict, things happened.

      November 8, 2017
      |Reply
    • Gretel
      Gretel

      So, ugh, would you mind writing a fanfiction about this book with this scene in it and send me the link, dear? That’d be fantastic. <3

      In other words: I love this scene and would read a book crafted with this much skill. 😀

      November 8, 2017
      |Reply
  3. Sandra
    Sandra

    I wish there was a character named Dat so we could have a reference to “Mac, Cam, Tad and Dat”.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
  4. I couldn’t be bothered to look for the song “Stay” on youtube, but the lyrics suggest that it is not “sassy”. Zebedee should invest in a dictionary.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
  5. Chapter eight opens with Zima standing outside the bar where the band is playing.

    I miss Zima. I used to love it with a splash of Chambord.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
  6. mydogspa
    mydogspa

    Dang! When I first read it, I thought “wangst” was a reference to an angst-filled wank, but alas, when I Googled it, it was referenced more to a ‘whiny’ angst. Still, the only action Zooty Zoot-Suit is getting so far is in the wank department, so I’ll not eliminate the possibility entirely.

    But Zeph-erdomaius (Greek God of west passing wind) is at least confirming my hypothesis, to wit: The skills as demonstrated by this character that are needed to start a relationship are the exact opposite of what is actually needed to maintain the relationship.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
    • RodeoBob
      RodeoBob

      (Greek God of west passing wind)

      My brain originally parsed that as the Greek God of wet “passing wind”, (because those ancient Greeks loved a good fart joke as much as anyone!) and thought it fit perfectly well.

      It just bugs me how lazy the writing and plotting is. Don’t want ZuZu and Mac to talk and figure things out too soon in the story? Hey, what if Mac showed up to the show just as the band was starting? Then, the characters couldn’t have a romantic discussion in the noisy bar! After the show is over, Zither gets a backstage pass, but the bouncer says Mac can’t go backstage, so no talking after the show. (plus, was the lack of a backstage pass for Mac an attempt to block him from ruining the date? Intrigue! Mystery! Tension and potential conflict!)

      But the author just doesn’t seem to have the imagination or the problem-solving skills to set up a halfway decent scene, or introduce plausible complications. So instead, our protagonist just holds onto the Idiot Ball.

      November 7, 2017
      |Reply
  7. Megan M.
    Megan M.

    I cannot get over how weird it is that Zarsparilla is putting the Plain White T’s in her song fic and acting like they’re not famous yet but also referencing Justin Bieber. Pretty sure Hey There Delilah had its heyday before the Biebs came on the scene.

    Also, again, I have never laughed so hard at a book that isn’t funny.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
    • I also feel like the Plain White T’s maybe just had that one song? I remember when it came out (I was in college), and hating the song with a fiery passion, but then I don’t remember much else from them.

      November 7, 2017
      |Reply
      • Jo
        Jo

        I can only think of two others: Rhythm of Love (which I discovered when I first heard the song by someone else doing a cover) and Hate (I Really Don’t Like You) (which I mainly know because it was in Saints Row 2)

        November 7, 2017
        |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      May i also add, the members of the Plain White Ts are almost FORTY. So that means dear old zoo-zoo is having a romance with someone in their late thirties. No problem except this is supposed to be YA. Because that’s what kids want! Romances with middle-aged guys!!! But i guess not-Jackson Rathborn is in his twenties.

      November 7, 2017
      |Reply
      • Jane Eyre
        Jane Eyre

        I bet he is, still, 20’s (Zippididudda’s age)is a bit old for YA. I mean this would be ok as a New Adult or simply…adult love story then go ahead you can have a romance between two people one is 25 and the other 37. Though I think the mistake in all this comes like a lot of the references in the book from the fact she’s 35 herself so these guys are just couple of years older than her, and this IS self-insert story, and while she made herself younger it’s still HER fantasy and she obviously puts in people SHE would like to be noticed by, people she knows and those people naturally are closer to her age.

        November 7, 2017
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          That makes a lot of sense, but that just shows even more how Lani did not consider her audience if something as simple as AGE was not part of her thinking process. The kids have the internet, they can google Plain White Ts and see what their ages are. Zoopgoop has an iPhone, so it’s not like this story takes place ten years ago when Lani really was 25.

          November 7, 2017
          |Reply
          • Xebi
            Xebi

            Well there *were* iPhones ten years ago but they were a pretty new thing and I can’t see someone like her having one.

            November 8, 2017
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            When I was in high school, I read a book about a teenager in the ’50s. I wasn’t familiar with a lot of the music (besides Elvis, of course), but the author’s minute descriptions of songs on the radio, fads from little bucket purses to curling your ponytail over the radiator (no blow-dryers) before a date brought the era to life. Moreover, the author perfectly captured her heroine’s anxiety about keeping her grades up but not scaring off the boys, being so embarrassed by her parents that she doesn’t even want to mention them in front of other teens (no special reason; they’re boring and conventional, or maybe that is the reason), and how far to go on each date (could you do this base when you weren’t even going steady yet?). I could totally identify with the girl even though I hadn’t lived through the era and the standards for “fitting in” were so different from anything I had ever known. That world was built so seamlessly that I could wonder what I would be like had I grown up in it.

            Lani Sauron can’t or won’t pick a time period or create a world. It isn’t a memory piece but it isn’t contemporary either. Had she wanted it to be current, she could have looked at music charts or actual fan blogs to see what people are listening to. Or invented groups and Vegas headliners, and if real performers want to play them for movie cameos (if this clunker ever gets made), then Carrot-Top could be famed comedian “Pumpkin Head,” and so on.

            November 8, 2017
    • JaneDoe
      JaneDoe

      Plain White T’s is the perpetrator of Hey There Delilah? Well there’s a reason to hate Zani right off the bat!

      November 14, 2017
      |Reply
  8. Sara L.
    Sara L.

    “Some of the girls were looking over at the guys with googly eyes and bemused expressions on their faces.” Thank you for mentioning that appalling use of “bemused.” I am picturing the Coyote moments after braining himself on a painted mural of a train tunnel.

    These recaps are gold. I love them so much. I will actually be sad when there is no more of this book for you to rip to shreds.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      no worries. the second book comes out next year.

      November 7, 2017
      |Reply
  9. Katy
    Katy

    I’m glad you explained the misuse of ‘bemused’, I haven’t seen that mistake before and was bemused by their bemusement.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
  10. Pernille
    Pernille

    So wait… is Jackson in Plain White T’s in this book? She’s literally just been shoving famous people in there, so why is he suddenly in a different band? I’m so confused.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
    • Atrista
      Atrista

      I’m confused about this too! Jackson has a real band, why is he fronting a different one?

      I mean, if her goal is to push cameos this is the wrong way to go about it. No singer is going to be happy to be written into a book as the singer of a different real-life band.

      November 8, 2017
      |Reply
  11. “People-watching was one of my favorite pastimes, and I’m pretty sure I was witnessing people-watching at its finest.”

    Was she watching herself in a hand mirror?

    Weird.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
  12. 1. I love all the variations on Zade that happen with her name. I occasionally LOL.

    2. I’m fighting with myself about buying a cheap Handbook and reading all the bits you have to leave out because I’m gleefully spiteful that way.

    3. CANNOT wait for the tarot takedown.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      You’re a braver man than I am, Gunga Din. I have to force myself just to read the excerpts, and only so Jenny’s snark will make sense.

      I remember VCR/DVD combo manuals that made for easier reading than this book.

      November 7, 2017
      |Reply
  13. Lily
    Lily

    There’s a place on Reddit for I’m Not Like Other Girls…you know, individual and unique girls who play computer games and don’t wear makeup but do wear cartoon character shirts! Rare and unique girls! Like Zeda!

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
  14. Xebi
    Xebi

    Well I read the interview with L.S. and this is my favourite bit:

    “Could you explain the situation about your novel and its removal from the New York Times best-seller list?

    Well, I’m only person that’s ever had that happen to them…people jumped to a lot of conclusions without all the facts and then started saying things that weren’t even close to being true…I hope people will take the time to understand what really happened and enjoy the book for what it is…”

    Yup. Perfect answer to that question. Totally cleared that up. Brilliant explanation.

    Also the bit where she thinks printing money is a supernatural power.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
  15. We need to change that video to an Honest Trailer

    *NON-STOP TEDIOUS BOREDOM!
    *TENT MAGICK!
    *SHOPPING!
    *CRINGE WORTHY DIALOGUE!
    *CARROT TOP!

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
    • Jane Eyre
      Jane Eyre

      “Wait what? what is he doing here”

      November 7, 2017
      |Reply
  16. small jar of fireflies
    small jar of fireflies

    Maybe I’m too much a nerdy horror buff, but every time I read that “here, waiting for you” line I just hear the electric guitars kick in and Mary Elizabeth McGuinn start us off.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
  17. RodeoBob
    RodeoBob

    Holy crap that interview…

    Could you give a brief summary about the first book to Handbook for Mortals series?

    It’s about a young woman to goes to Las Vegas to work for a magic show…but she can do REAL magick. Her mom reads tarot cards and her wish is to just get to have a somewhat normal life. There’s also some danger and love triangle.There’s also some danger and love triangle.

    “Her mom reads tarot cards and her wish is to just get to have…”

    So in half of one sentence, we’ve already lost track of the subject (who is doing the wishing, the mom or the daughter? Who do we wish for a normal life, the mom or the daughter?) and we’ve got bad writing in “her wish is to just get to have…” versus the more succinct “her wish is for…”

    “There’s also some danger and love triangle” has that lovely “I love lamp” quality. Go ahead, say it out loud!

    I’d feel bad for picking on this, but this is a person claiming to be a professional writer.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
  18. I got confused for a moment because the trailer is a trailer for her yet-to-be-funded movie version. So, I went over to their account, which has the fake movie trailer with a fake MPAA trailer rating, stolen copyrighted clips and her production company logo, and the book trailer that has all of the same things minus the movie stuff at the top.

    Do book trailers really make that huge of an impact? I am genuinely curious if any authors have seen a difference in sales because of them. I’ve seen a few on TV from James Patterson (who doesn’t need the help, honestly).

    Also gonna take a stab here and assume that her production company is probably just her and maybe that actor guy. There’s also a vlog entitled “I Smell Sheep” from 2 months back. I didn’t subject myself to that one.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      I saw it. It had nothing of interest to really speak of. For two people who have so much experience in movies and tv, their video had low quality, poor sound, and it was so goddamn boring. Some people wrote comments, the majority of them bad, and lani deleted the, leaving only the nice comments. (and they also left the one comment suggesting she should write about her experiences of rigging the nyt times… i dunno what that implies…)

      but just to emphasize, a video made by a nyt times best seller only has a couple hundred views since its debut back in august. The REVIEW for HFM only out up less than a month ago has over 5,000. i think that says enough.

      November 7, 2017
      |Reply
  19. Amy
    Amy

    So despite the fact Zanzu has a huge obvious lady-boner for the plain white ts, not-jackson rathborn, edward cullen, and christian grey, watching young women go ga-ga over their favourite band members are considered “silly”.

    It also doesn’t make sense that zamboni acts like this. Why does she think getting star-struck is below her? Ive seen other celebrities get star-struck. Lin Miranda Manuel got star-struck by Weird Al. Benedict Cumberbatch got star-struck by Harrison Ford. If *I* saw my favorite band play right in front of me, hell yeah Im getting close and having fun.

    it would make MORE sense if zippedoda was star struck. She comes from a small town, she barely knows anything of the outside world, she’s experiencing it all for the first time. Meeting her idol and acting shy and silly would be expected. Celebrities have seen their fans get flustered around them, they’re used to it.

    but no, zippidyday can’t be overcome with womanly emotions. she’s not like other girls.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
    • Indigo
      Indigo

      I’m horrible at meeting people whose work I admire, I never know what to say beyond “Me fan! You make thing good! Take picture? Sign thing? Hugs maybe if is cool?” (Okay, maybe a little more coherently than that. That’s just what I feel like comes out of my mouth.)

      November 8, 2017
      |Reply
      • Erin C
        Erin C

        I’m pretty sure I would be way less articulate than that if I ever met Gillian Anderson or Connie Willis.

        November 8, 2017
        |Reply
      • I’ve met Ray Bradbury *four times* and each time I never managed more than a mumbled “omgthankyousomuch”.

        November 8, 2017
        |Reply
    • MamaLich
      MamaLich

      I’m just not sure if Zagnut was really taking a stab at the ‘groupies’ of the band (or the kind of girls who’d take their shirts off during a gig–which used to weird me out when I was younger until I just learned to ignore it and enjoy the damn music). As someone who does like rock and metal music, there’s so much worse things than female fans (we’ve got pervs who’d try to creepily touch or film girls (especially female musicians on the stage), we’ve got fans who get drunk and throw beer and bottles around, and even fans who shove at each other and try to dominate the dance floor just to look cool (and we also have pick-pockets that’d try to ‘discreetly’ dig into your backpockets for your wallet/phone (you think that those metalhead guys carry around those chain-clip wallets just because they look cool? WRONG. There’s a reason why they got invented and it’s because of those a-hole PICK-POCKETS)). But yeah, SOMETIMES you do get a groupie-wannabe that’s desperate to become the next Yoko Ono, but they are rare and they’re way less irritating than all the other people you do sometimes get during a gig. Because in 2016, everyone knows that you’re more likely to become internet famous for making reviews/comics/videos than by hooking up with a musician.

      Still, I do agree that the lead heroine should definitely be more star-struck (or at least look around and feel thrilled for being in someplace that has so much that’s happening than in her small town). I travelled a lot, but as a teenager I stayed in a small town where–thanks to the economic slump, there wasn’t anything exciting or cool to do. So you bet that I was definitely thrilled when I wound up in a party city during my college years!

      November 8, 2017
      |Reply
  20. ironchef
    ironchef

    Oh, thank you so much for that hilarious trailer! The high speed through the forest, the high camera shot up a hill of pine and the over saturated light in the “forest meadow”! Eat your heart out EL, this is how real Twilight ripoffs are done!

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
  21. Michael
    Michael

    I still can’t get over the meaningless Carrot Top appearance. They put him in the book because he was promised a cameo in the movie? Okay, but…

    1. He c a n have a movie cameo without being in the book. I promise.

    2. A meaningless book appearance will seem equally meaningless in a movie.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
  22. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    Jenny, how do you STAND it?

    I’m not even halfway through this recrap, and I need a break.

    It’s not even funny in that “Eye of Argon” way where someone’s trying to mimic a bunch of literary tropes he’s seen in a particular genre without really understanding how to use them.

    She’s just…VAPID.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
  23. Fer
    Fer

    Once I read a mental breakdown that a girl had because she saw porn. Ok, the book was in the 80`s and she was 14, but back then I think that was a little foolish.

    I`m going to apologize that book because this is the most stupid scene EVER.

    As for the bar behaivior, I`m not a bar person but is either that difficult to fit in. Choose a place, get a drink and enjoy the show. Get in the crowd if you want, filrt with somebody, enjoy the night with your friends or be alone in a corner thinking about love. The only thing that could be strange in one of those places is if you sudenly start praying, but drunk enough even that is normal. If she really wanted to create tension about never being on a bar before, why not her worries are for the bar and if the music is going to be of her taste or not? There is time to worry for the love triangle, like in the song, but if that`s all that she thinks, I don`t know if the second book is going to be different from the first one

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
  24. Saya
    Saya

    At first I was thinking maybe the book was set before Plain White T’s made it big, which would kind of make all the old music references at least a little more forgivable.

    But no, Justin Bieber references kill your timeline and enhance the whole “terrible fanfiction” vibe.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
  25. River
    River

    I wish she’d stop pretending C. S. Lewis is her favorite author or that she loves Narnia. This can not be the case because no one who truly loves him would write such drivel. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea but he was a wordsmith….and she is not. Plus he has a essay in which he describes just such a women as our dear Lani and he was not complimentary; so I highly doubt she would enjoy conversing with him. Oh the disrespectful description of “screaming women” what the actual is going on in this scene? I just went to a GRiZ concert, I’m not a major-I-know-all-the-lyrics fan but that didn’t stop me from screaming and jumping around. It’s a concert, unless it’s opera or a symphony typically this is what happens. Although I did a lot of swooning at the Vol Beat concert I can tell you. Zinnamon has a lot to answer for by treating people in such a shallow nasty way. How are we supposed to like her when she hates on the very things that most people enjoy? How does this draw us to her? Why do we care what happens to her pathetic love life? Oh. I don’t. Because I’m not like other girls and care nothing for romance and magic. That is so 90s. Actually I want to slap her over her tepid flirtation with these men.

    November 7, 2017
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      It’s not really 90s either. I saw the Ramones farewell tour in the 90s, and Zarathustra would have got stomped to death if she couldn’t keep up with the pit.

      November 8, 2017
      |Reply
      • River
        River

        If Zuthra had been dispatched in such a manner the world would be a better place. And I can totally see running and trampling at a Ramones concert! I’d have run and trampled along with the best of them.

        November 9, 2017
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          The crowd-surfing was like human popcorn. Security probably wouldn’t let you do it anymore.
          In retrospect, I think getting killed in a Ramones pit is too awesome a way to go for Zuleika. She needs something more pathetic. Choking on her tears while watching the vid for All Saints’ greatest (or only) US hit, with its once-trendy beige-on-beige makeup, tank-tops, and cargo pants?

          November 9, 2017
          |Reply
          • Okay. This is weird. I woke up with that song in my head the other day and had to look it up. I didn’t remember the band. I didn’t remember the year. I remembered I didn’t like it.

            But weird that you posted this now. 🙂

            November 16, 2017
  26. Athena
    Athena

    First off a bit of randomness. Lani-not-Sarem, I meant to post this when you reviewed this chapter, but it got eaten and I forgot to try again. I’ve heard “drunk as a skunk” all over, but never “drunker than a skunk.” I can’t tell if there’s a slight difference depending on the region, or if this is a case of Sarem hearing something and getting it wrong later. I kinda lean towards the latter because drunk as a skunk flows better in my opinion, and it rhymes which helps with the flow.

    Second, I don’t even know where to start with this chapter. It’s trying so hard to establish a ship that’s already been torpedoed. If Sarem had even ended the kiss scene with Mac acting confused or regretful then apologizing and bolting, leaving Zero truly bemused in the rain, then this scene would have something to build on. But instead, why should anyone care that Zero is “torn” between two men when we’ve barely seen her interact with Love Interest #2 the whole book, while Love Interest #1 has already done the big romantic kiss and invited her back to his place?

    Third, I had a random thought about Zero’s name, since we’re all having such fun with it. At the bare bones of the story, Sheherezade and Esther were both women that had to beguile powerful men to protect themselves, and in the end they were only kept around because their men had a use for them. The next bit is **SPOILERS**

    Now, Dela is a woman who only got close to Charles because she did real magic in his magic act, making him famous. And she believes he never loved her because he acted just like the womanizer she already knew him to be. I know I’m probably reaching and oversimplifying. I just thought the names could be a look into Dela’s emotional state after she left Charles because in my mind she did that while pregnant.

    November 8, 2017
    |Reply
    • Khristle
      Khristle

      I’ve heard drunker than a skunk only in retellings of stories, never in a present tense sort of way. That might be a regional thing, though. Its hard to tell out here in California where there’s a lot of dialect mixing.

      November 8, 2017
      |Reply
  27. Alicee
    Alicee

    How does she even manage to see the expressions on the women’s faces in the crowd? Isn’t she behind them? Or does she have some new power that allows her to astral project to see in great detail the whole place?

    Also if you want to describe the fans in such an awful and misogynistic manner, maybe don’t have the band being able to hang out without any trouble in the bar before and after the show?

    ” my eyelashes bat unconciously”
    How can you notice something unconscious? I mean the moment you do, it stops being unconscious, that’s the main point!

    November 8, 2017
    |Reply
  28. Sam
    Sam

    From where is that relax clip? Seems to be just my kind of humour. And is that Winona Ryder?

    November 8, 2017
    |Reply
    • JordieBelle
      JordieBelle

      It’s a British TV show called The IT Crowd. There are some very funny bits but I don’t think it’s aged well in terms of sexism/homophobia/ableism in some episodes.

      November 8, 2017
      |Reply
  29. River
    River

    Ok, I take issue with this section..

    “They are pretty popular in town and rumor has it they may get a record deal soon. They really are amazing.” He seemed to be genuinely proud of his friends.”

    I’m assuming this is Mac speaking but even if it isn’t I still take umbrage with it. When does he “seem” genuinely proud of his friends? Why can’t he just BE proud of his friends? It is really telling that Zimmer is surprised by this, in her world you don’t have friends, you just have people you are jealous and envious of. She can’t believe that Mac can like her and at the same time be proud of a possibly long term friend who *may* be his rival in the love department. She seems to think introducing her baby face to this world instantly shatters all past bonds.

    November 8, 2017
    |Reply
  30. H
    H

    I’m excited for the video Jenny! I’m 21 goddamn years old and it honestly amazes me how a thirty-something year-old woman can write a book about twenty-somethings for young adults and have the characters think and act like such teenagers. It’s embarassing. Why not just set the book in a high school where those behaviours can be attributed to emotional immaturity and therefore make some sense? I guess maybe high school wasn’t the best time for Lani? This is her dream life, after all.

    November 8, 2017
    |Reply
  31. Mike
    Mike

    In regards to her not writing any dialogue between her and Jackson, but writing every greeting with every minor character, I think that’s because Lani just doesn’t know how people talk and wants to avoid any conversation more complicated than small talk. She knows she wants them to have ‘deep’ and meaningful conversation, but has no idea what that would look like so she just tells us they had a great conversation.

    She did this with Mac too. She mentions that they had all these long talks together and they’ve gotten really close, but the most we’ve ever seen between them where the dialogue was actually given instead of described was when the entire conversation was her being surprised they liked some of the same things. Sarem wants this big epic story but can’t write dialogue. She probably doesn’t even have an idea in her head of what they even talked about.

    November 9, 2017
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      I was just thinking of Harry Potter, how the kids are having conversations about HOMEWORK and it’s the most interesting thing in the world. How hard is it to write dialogue between a WITCH and a GOOD-LOOKING BAD ASS????

      It probably doesn’t help that Zoloft doesn’t have any ultimate goals in this book, no roadblocks to overcome, no demons to fight. I mean, so what happens if she does choose between Mac or Jackson? Nothing, except that Zoola gets a boyfriend. Oooh, such drama! She doesn’t lose anything, not her job, reputation, or the friendship of the boy she rejected. This is not an epic romance, this is… your basic dating scene. Because that’s what I want to read in an epic, magickal fantasy book! Moments from my first awkward dates! YAY!

      November 9, 2017
      |Reply
      • Mike
        Mike

        The difference is that in Harry Potter, the characters actually CARE about their homework. It may be a mundane topic, but for them it’s hugely important. Sarem hasn’t written any dialogue that’s hugely important to her own character. She always short hands it by describing that the conversation happened. She has no idea how to write conversations that actually MATTER. Probably because she’s never HAD truly important personal conversations. She talks to people about wanting to be famous, but Zade has already accomplished that, so what else is there?!

        Agreed on this just being the basic dating scene. There’s still no damn story. This chapter should have had her a lot less worried about how she was dicking around Mac and a lot more worried about the woman who came and kicked her ass yesterday. Have her not talking to Mac because she’s stressing out over who that was, why they came for her, what if she comes back?! What did she mean about the love stuff she was talking about?! Etc. That would have made this chapter so much more interesting and would have made her not talking to Mac seem a lot less childish and ridiculous.

        November 9, 2017
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Here is how you pretend not to notice another character when it; sall you’re thinking about:
          ********************************************************************
          Rayanne : …. she just annoys me. Her lips are so puffed out it’s
          like she siliconed them.
          Angela : [as Jordan walks by] Really? Do you think she did? Really?
          You think she siliconed her lips, really?
          Rayanne : Angela, he’s gone. You can talk like a normal person.
          Angela : Oh, God.
          – My So-Called Life, episode #2
          ********************************************************************
          Of course those characters WERE in high school, although I’ll admit I’ve done that sort of thing as an adult.
          (Not that obviously, I hope.)

          November 9, 2017
          |Reply
  32. Nasitha DovRenee Blackshire
    Nasitha DovRenee Blackshire

    Be careful ho you spell words. Sarem may somehow find them and take them as her own in this totally original mhystykal world.

    November 9, 2017
    |Reply
  33. Goddesstio
    Goddesstio

    So, how allowed is it for Lani to be name dropping Plain White Ts, legally speaking? Did they actually give her permission to use their name, or is she just tossing it around in the hope they’ll cameo the ‘movie’? because I thought they didn’t part on great terms, so why would they agree to let her use their name in her book?

    November 9, 2017
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      I believe due to celebrity status and parody laws, you can use their names/likeness without copyright breathing down your neck. This is why some characters in books can say things like, “I went to a Micheal Jackson concert, it was great!” or having SouthPark make fun of celebrities without getting sued. I think it’s because of the parody laws is why Lani has yet to get fully sued for stealing the cover. (Now the real question is, who’s willing to do her second book cover? I doubt the current artist wants this BS bringing him down again. The artworld is not forgiving when it comes to thieves)

      BUT this is not just a name drop. She’s actively using the Ts as characters in the book as themselves, not as a parody or exaggerated manner. She’s using their band name, a copyrighted name, as her own, as if they’re fictional characters. If the Ts make a strong case against her, they could sue her for defamation.

      BUT also, bands/celebrities often don’t take part in these cases. Their studio and producers and lawyers are the ones who handle it. Most likely the studio gave Lani permission to use the T’s name, and the Ts had no idea what was going on.

      November 9, 2017
      |Reply
  34. Cara
    Cara

    That “sweet, romantic” song by the Plain White T’s is creepy and gross. Combined with the Scheherazade thing, it seems like Zani has a deeply weird concept of romance. No wonder she won’t have an open conversation with either of her love interests. She’s probably hoping they’ll duel over her or something.

    November 9, 2017
    |Reply
  35. Amber
    Amber

    Thank you for explaining the bemused thing being a mistake. I spent like five minutes trying to understand why half the crowd was confused by a concert.

    November 9, 2017
    |Reply
    • Maybe they were puzzled about why the Plain White Ts had a new front man?

      November 11, 2017
      |Reply
  36. Jamoche
    Jamoche

    I refuse to believe that there was a second person involved in that “interview”. It’s jut Lani talking to herself, imagining what questions the friendliest interviewer in the world might ask.

    November 9, 2017
    |Reply
  37. TayciBear
    TayciBear

    I started watching season 4 of The Last Ship and apparently Jackson Rathbone plays one of the villains. Yeah. He plays a lethario and is just not convincing.

    November 9, 2017
    |Reply
  38. Teresa
    Teresa

    That trailer is the most boring thing I have ever watched. Isn’t a trailer supposed to get you pumped up and excited for the movie? Oh yeah….right…….

    This book is just making my head hurt. And did you know, “Handbook for Mortals” is actually a book written about how to care for those facing a serious illness. Hmmm……the title of this book being “Handbook for Mortals” doesn’t even make any sense? Who am I kidding, none of this book makes sense.

    November 10, 2017
    |Reply
  39. I AM SO HYPED FOR THE JENNY TROUT TAROT ANALYSIS!!!

    Also I am 100% positive Jackson was a complete after-the-fact insert when Lani Sarem wanted to franchiseify her story. Seriously, eliminate every Jackson scene in this book and LITERALLY NOTHING CHANGES (oop if spoilers, but is spoiling a *lack* of significance really spoiling? discuss)

    Honestly, the whole “teehee I’m 25 but look 20” is one of the saddest moments in this novel. Like, is Lani Sarem saying that 25 is (in pathetic internet misogynist nomenclature) “past the wall?” Like is the logic that Zade is attractive so she can’t possibly look old enough to be drinking? If that’s not the case, then why include this factoid? Especially when Lani wants to play Zade in the movie, how is this anything other than really depressing wish fulfillment? Looking old enough to be drinking doesn’t mean you look like an old hag! Looking young isn’t a requirement for being attractive!

    but TAROT READING!!!! WHOOOOO HOOO I’VE BEEN WAITING SO LONG!

    November 11, 2017
    |Reply
  40. Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

    OMFG that trailer! It doesn’t make me want to read the book. And it’s hard to read some of the words on my tablet. The circus stuff in the middle of the woods is weird and the video clips make no sence. The girl is clearly off her rocker if she thinks this is how you promote a book.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for another lovely review!

    November 11, 2017
    |Reply
  41. WS
    WS

    Dude. There’s like…fine print? Idk what to call it, but there are words in the trailer that look like they’re snuck in with other words so as not to make false claims. Like the tiny “some people are” above “MAGICK” and “While others are just the” (what kind of awkward…) above “ILLUSION OF IT.” What even?!

    November 12, 2017
    |Reply
    • Jamoche
      Jamoche

      I think they’re going for “Some people have “real” magic-with-a-k, other people are just stage magicians. Oooh, that isn’t a stage trick, it’s real! Shocker!!

      Is her act still just diving into a tank? That was a cliche when Bugs Bunny made fun of it.

      November 12, 2017
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        “…and I, Bruno, will dive 1000ft into a BLOCK OF CEMENT!”

        November 12, 2017
        |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        once you read the actual act, you’re gonna wish it was diving into a pool of wate. The actual magickal act is the most convoluted, boring, Illusionist-like bullcrap. I think it literally takes like two pages to describe.

        November 12, 2017
        |Reply
    • It’s one of four epigraphs that Lani used. I don’t even think it’s meant to be thematically significant. I think it literally just means that in this book, some people will do real magic and others will do illusions.

      She also quotes the tagline for the movie version of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and attributes it to C.S. Lewis. There are several wrongly-attributed quotes in this novel.

      November 12, 2017
      |Reply
  42. Jess
    Jess

    Every time a new name for Zani comes up I smile, they’re great (I actually can’t remember her real name). I really struggle to believe that someone could either have so little integrity or such an over-inflated view of their abilities as to actually publish this. The list of things that is wrong with the writing not even mentioning the whole stealing artwork, real people, faking her way to the NYT bestsellers number 1 etc.

    I’m glad that you do these recaps because they’re really funny and mean that at least some good can come out of books like this.

    November 12, 2017
    |Reply
  43. Griffin
    Griffin

    Oh my goodness. Some of those excerpts read like my students trying to fluff their essays to hit the word count. If you’re going to say something more than once, at least say it in interesting ways!

    November 13, 2017
    |Reply
  44. Sarah
    Sarah

    I simply cannot believe Lani Sarem thinks Zou Bizou Bizou is interesting enough for four to six more books/movies.

    November 14, 2017
    |Reply
  45. KR
    KR

    “I’m fairly positive that I lost a few decibels from my hearing range.”

    …Hearing range is measured in Hertz (usually kHz, when you’re talking about humans). Not… decibels, which is a measure for the LOUDNESS of music and has nothing to do with your capacity to perceive it.

    Not that I was super expecting her to get it right. But still, it’s such a minor detail.

    November 19, 2017
    |Reply
  46. VeryCleverSheila
    VeryCleverSheila

    I applaud your commitment to never writing the actual character name. I mean, if the author doesn’t care, why the heck should you?

    November 20, 2017
    |Reply

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