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Jealous Hater Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 11 “The Devil” or “Readers’ Digest Condensed Boring Parts”

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All has been quiet on the Actual Las Vegas Former Olympian front. Let’s keep it that way, dear, now that you know that Trout Nation can smell your pathetic lies from seven miles below the bowels of hell.

Speaking of hell, even though this chapter is titled “The Devil,” Sofiaie is not included in it. There is, however, mention of the sexual and physical abuse in Fifty Shades Of Grey in this recap, so heads up.

We begin with a time jump:

Several weeks flew by and I was in my dressing room getting ready for the show. I still hadn’t quite made a decision in regards to my personal life.

Of course you haven’t. We’re only at 51% of the first book in a five book series whose only plot at this point seems to be which dude you’re gonna bang. It would be like if Harry Potter defeated Voldemort at his first Quidditch match.

If I had known time was going to hop around so much in this book, I would have kept better track. Even if I had, though, it would still be incredibly difficult to tell how long these events have been going on for. It’s always “a few weeks” or “several weeks.” There have been no holidays or even a suggestion of what season it is, aside from the rainy season thing, which would put us in the fall when Larvae went on her bike ride with Mac. At this point, the nearest I can guess at how long Zindar The Pathetic has been in Las Vegas is something like six months, and I when I say “guess” I mean literally I’m guessing because I don’t care enough to go back and reread to find out because this book is terrible and even having a consistent sense of how much time has passed won’t fix that.

Every time I would start to lean in one direction something would pull me in the opposite.

Yeah, that’s your author’s lack of ideas doing that.

The cards had become quite infuriating because they refused to give me an answer, which was something I’d never experienced before.

Except for in the last chapter, when you said this exact same thing about this thing that has never happened before happening.

The only thing I could think was that this was the cards’ way of insisting that I needed to learn a lesson about making my own decisions. I had learned over the years that sometimes the cards insist you learn lessons, that is what each of our lives is about, learning lessons to become a better being–your soul can’t evolve until you’ve learned whatever life lesson it is you need to learn.

The lesson you need to learn is how to make decisions on your god damn own, Lavatory. This is, again, crushed-velvet-Pagan bullshit, wherein someone’s life is ruled by teh majihiks in cases where common shitting sense is what is required. You choose the guy you like the most, the guy you get along with most, maybe, just maybe, the guy you both actually think about and talk to. This isn’t the universe trying to teach you a life lesson to evolve your soul. It’s the universe saying, “Maybe try doing the thing that isn’t as interesting and mystical and mysterious and just sit down and handle your own shit.” Sure, that could be a lesson, but it’s really only a lesson if you learn something. I intensely doubt that’s going to happen in this case.

I sank into the director’s chair in front of my mirror and played with my hair and make-up a little, more futzing than actually doing anything. The show had supplied me with any and all of the make-up, skin, and hair products I wanted, and so for the very first time I had a plethora to choose from. I was even given every color of OPI gel ail polish that I wanted. Now every week my nails can be a different color instead of the normal black I always do. I had asked for every kind of Benefit brand make-up that existed and then extra fun eye-shadow from Too Faced in every color they make, and lipstick as well. It was more make-up than I could ever use, but I loved having it around. I was enjoying mixing the color palettes together to see what worked and what didn’t. I also alternated betwee the four different kinds of Sedu curlers, because I had fun playing with the different-sized curls it produced and then randomly put different moisturizers on from my Kiehl’s skin products, just to see what felt nice. All of it was just a place to put my nervous energy to use.

*Cracks knuckles*

It’s petty time.

150 OPI Infinite Shine gel polishes, at $12.50 each = $1875.00 (Sally Beauty)
“Every kind of Benefit brand make-up that existed”  = $5702.00 (Benefit website)
Too-Faced eyeshadow and lipstick, every shade = $4505.30 (Too-Faced website)
Sedu Curler = $195.00 (Neiman Marcus)

TOTAL BEFORE SALES TAX COST OF FANTASY-SAREM’S MAKEUP NOT INCLUDING KIEHL’S MOISTURIZERS THAT WE KNOW IS TOTALLY A REALISTIC EXPENSE FOR A GUEST PERFORMER IN A SHOW BECAUSE SHE’S A REAL LAS VEGAS OLYMPIAN AND THERE IS MORE TRUTH IN THIS BOOK THAN WE NON-GLAMOROUS PLEBS COULD POSSIBLY KNOW: $12277.30

A non-headling performer asked for and was granted twelve thousand dollars worth of makeup and hair shit that she doesn’t necessarily need but just likes having around.

On top of that, if you asked me, “Jenny, which prestige brands have the most boring, least wild party times edgy makeup you can think of?” I’m probably going to say Benefit and Too-Faced. I mean, I like both brands, but…Urban Decay? Mac? Illamasqua?

Wait, don’t buy that last one, they’re racist.

But still. Come on.

I finally stopped and sat back away from my vanity.

Oh, how I long to back away from your vanity.

I sat like that for a long time, anxiety washing over me, and decided I would try to focus on my breathing–a kind of meditation, if you will. I’d heard people say that it helped them, so although it had never helped me much I figured I’d give it another shot.

If meditation doesn’t help, why don’t you magick yourself calm? I love these parts of the book, where the author basically holds up a sign saying, “Hi reader, I think you’re an ignorant jackass.” People know what meditation is and that it involves breathing. You don’t need to explain it to them. Or maybe the point here is that when Zipper focuses on her breathing as a meditation, it’s a super special kind of meditation that’s different and unique and better than the stuff other people do.

So, while she’s trying to breathe through her anxiety about which guy she wants to date, one of them comes in. It’s Jackson, and he’s just stopped by for six whole lines of dialogue. They’re all fascinating, of course, like when he says “knock knock,” entering the room and “My band’s playing a late show tonight after work.” Liver can’t go, though, because it would require her to be in a scene with the guy she’s obviously not going to end up with and therefore the author can’t be fucked to give him a personality besides sparkling eyes and playing guitar. Oh, and because she has to do some work with Charles on a new illusion. So, obviously, Jackson is disappointed.

He rose to leave, but he bent down to run a thumb from the back of my jaw to my chin and kiss me on the forehead. I could feel myself blushing beneath his touch. He knew how to be so charming when he wanted to be, that expression about leaving someone weak in the knees, he knew how to do that in spades. He just oozed charm and charisma like no one I had ever met.

I know when I’m trying to describe someone as being knock-down, panty-dropping sexy, I choose the word oozed. Also, it would have been nice if the author would have oozed some of the charm and charisma onto the page so that we’d have some kind of proof of it besides our narrator going, “Oh yeah, he’s like totally hot, trust me.”

Jackson leaves and forgets his sunglasses, so The Zegend Of Lelda runs after him. Instead of finding him, she sees Charles and Zeb in the hallway arguing.

I always jump to the conclusion that something is about me and so that’s where my mind went first.

You don’t fucking say.

“It’s not good, that much I can tell you. I just don’t know how bad and what it all means”. I heard Zeb say, sounding worried.

Charles responded in an equally grievous tone, “You know we have to let some things take their own course, you must let it go for now.”

First of all, Charles talks like he just got transplanted from one of those Regency novels where the author thinks contractions weren’t invented until the 1980s. Second, “You know we have to let some things take their own course,” should be its own sentence, as should “you must let it go for now.” Third, you mean “grave”, not “grievous.” Grievous means causing grief. You know, like how mischievous means causing mischief. Fourth, if we find out what this horrible, no good, very bad thing is before the end of the book, I’ll be fucking shocked.

They both notice Zart standing there.

“Hello, Zade. Is everything okay, dear?”

You’re her boss. Profesh as fuck, Spellman.

Zardoz asks what’s up with the dire.

Charles smiled and nodded. “Oh yes, everything is fine. Just silly magician troubles. Zeb, let’s go back to my office, shall we? See you later, Zade.”

Just magician stuff. That should make you feel better, what with being in a show that recently had a major malfunction that caused a performer to fall sixty feet and clinically die. Don’t worry about it.

The weird part of that phrasing is that he like, hired Zephora to be a magician in his show. So, “silly magician troubles” tossed out as though she wouldn’t understand doesn’t really work here. It would be like if asked another writer what’s wrong and they were like, “Just silly author troubles,” to patronize me.

Larvae decides that this is something she should look into. Obviously, that’s not what happens. More important stuff is happening, like stretching her leg provocatively against the wall, giving Cam a chance to comment on how flexible she is. Then Mac strolls up.

I bit my lip as worry spread across my face.

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

I still hadn’t told him I couldn’t go camping.

Do you have any idea what a relief it is to write about someone biting their lip with worry about a camping trip cancellation and not, you know, my husband is going to sexually punish me against my wishes if I make him mad because he love, love, loves to hit me? It feels so good to know that’s not going to happen in this book.

“I forgot to tell you earlier today, but I can’t go.” I said it with disappointment in my voice, because I really was disappointed that I couldn’t go, but I had a good reason at least.

Mac is annoyed because it was London’s idea for everyone to go camping again, but she has to work on an illusion with Charles. See, it has to be ready in time for the show’s anniversary, a big event that’s coming up that we haven’t heard about until right now and which according to Kindle’s search function is never mentioned again. Just like the premiere that was mentioned in the infamous Carrot Top scene. Mentioned as a big giant deal, never heard from again despite being far more interesting than whatever the hell else is going on.

“So, you’re going to spend your only two days off rehearsing with Charles while everyone else is camping?” Mac asked in a grumpy tone.

Now, I know that the point here is that Mac is going to get jealous of Charles and assume something is going on between him and LARP but I’ve got bigger questions. One of those questions is…how the fuck are they going to rehearse a show without anyone running the lights, sound, automated set pieces, monitors, fly rail, no stage manager or ASM, nobody there for safety checks or anything like that? They’re not rehearsing a one-act in a black box theater. This is a major show.

When will I stop asking too much of this book and just sink into the warm, bubbling septic tank of its contents until analytical brain death renders me unable to resist five-starring it on Goodreads?

Zenobia tells Mac that he of all people should understand how hectic and weird their schedules can be (despite being told that their days off are sacred in an earlier chapter, but whatever, consistency), and I’m wondering how Mac, Mr. Safety, isn’t asking the same question I am. No wonder he’s suspicious. But he agrees to get together with her for dinner when he gets back.

Just wait until you hear about the big new illusion Zack is working on with Charles. It’s going to blow your mind. Are you ready?

So am I, but it doesn’t happen. You should know that by now. Come on. Are you new here?

Instead, we skip ahead directly to when Mac and everyone gets back from camping.

I was about to walk over to the door and answer it when I had a thought. Things seemed…normal. Mac, whom I really liked, had just come back from camping, and there I was at home, listening to music and making dinner for the two of us. Wow. Normal. Weird.  I glided across the room feeling happy about the normal little life I had made for myself.

Nancy from The Craft, gliding across the room with her toes barely touching the floor because, you know. Magic.
I glided across the room.

Ah yes, your normal little life of performing in a major magic show on the Strip where your employer provides you with $12k of makeup just so you can play with it for funsies and being desired by every man in Nevada and reviled by every woman on Earth. So normal. We’re real proud of you, Lindsay.

I answered the door and smiled at Mac, who looked just a little bit dressed up in his dark denim Levi’s jeans and a nice maroon and brown patterened button-up shirt with his coordinating brown suit jacket. His sterling silver cufflinks peeking out just past the end of the jacket sleeves.

When I think “just a little bit dressed up,” I think sterling silver cufflinks. And when I think “sentence fragments,” I think Handbook For Mortals.

He looked handsome and I immediately felt underdressed in black leggings, a grey see-through shirt, and black boots.

Honestly, I’m shocked that the sheerness of her shirt isn’t mentioned. In an “OMG I THINK HE LOOKED AT MY BOOBIES” way. But it’s not, because suddenly Mac notices proof of Zaffodil’s unfaithfulness!

I saw Mac eye was was on the table currently: show tickets from David Copperfield’s show–Charles had taken me there the night before–and a picture of Charles and me at dinner at Table 10, the four-star restaurant where we had eaten after the show.

I will never not get a little thrill of glee every time I’m reminded that this book takes place in a world where David Copperfield exists alongside a thoroughly undisguised and somehow more successful Great Value version of himself.

“You went to dinner and a show? I thought you said you were going to be working the whole time,” he said, sounding brash and accusatory.

“A girl’s gotta eat, doesn’t she?” I shrugged, not sure what he was getting at and why he looked so upset. I smiled and batted my eyes as I said it to try to lighten the mood.

Smiling and batting your eyes to be funny while explaining why you went out to dinner and a show with your boss (who promotes performers he bangs) isn’t going to defuse the situation, especially when the dude you’re explaining yourself to also knows you’re dating one other guy. Even though there’s nothing set in stone between Mac and Linda, it still looks like she lied. If this were any other book, Mac would have pointed out that rehearsing without the crew would be impossible, but that’s not an issue because it was the only way the author could set up a flimsy excuse for Mac to be suspicious and nobody in this book knows how to do their job in the first place.

“And the photo?” His voice was still monotone as he asked his questions.

“Oh. Um, the camera girl who came around to our table was really cute. I think he was trying to hit on her, so he bought photos from her.”

I’m shocked that this wasn’t an opportunity to slam Sofeieio with something about her boyfriend’s wandering eyes and how unsatisfied he must be at home.

“What are you trying to imply?” I finally retorted. If he was getting at something, then I wanted him to just tell me. I didn’t like the odd vibe he was giving off.

How on this entire polluted and dying Earth do you not understand why he’s interrogating you? Do they not have soap operas in Donkey Juice, Alabama or wherever the fuck you’re from?

Mac tells her it’s nothing and then pulls her close to tell her that the food smells amazing. And that’s it. That’s the end of the entire chapter. Yet another god damn chapter wherein the only parts we’re shown are the boring, shit parts, while other stuff that would make for a better story happens off the page. At least this one is blessedly short.

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157 Comments

  1. Michael
    Michael

    The entire part you quoted about how “your soul can’t evolve until you’ve learned whatever life lesson it is you need to learn” is the kind of faux-deep thing that sounds “wise” to the kind of person who thinks quotes on refrigerator magnets are the highest form of wisdom.

    Y’all know what I mean, right? Things like “The true path for your life and soul to take is not a path that everybody is suited to wander.” That’s just another way of saying “Different people have different needs,” but since I included the words “true path,” “life” and “soul” it sounds wise. In other words: Obvious things do not become great wisdom just because you phrase them nicely.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • cat
      cat

      Lani is a 14 year old girl who just discovered magnetic poetry kits.

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        I use those to write dirty limericks.

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          I think that’s what most sane people use them for. Or just random silliness. 😉

          January 3, 2018
          |Reply
      • Ali
        Ali

        I read this as “magnetic poetry cats” at first and was like THAT SOUNDS AWESOME ACTUALLY, TAKE THAT BACK.

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Magnetic Poetry Cats needs to be a thing. 😀

          January 4, 2018
          |Reply
  2. Sushi
    Sushi

    12 thousand dollars of makeup just to play with. But other women who like to use makeup are vain, fickle, shallow harlots, of course.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • Frankly
      Frankly

      These are my favorite brands of clothes and makeup… but I HATE shopping and DON’T YOU FORGET IT!!!

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • falalala
        falalala

        The lack of self-awareness and anything resembling consistency from Zazu is, as always, pretty hilarious. “Ugh, I can’t possibly be expected to pay attention when other women are talking about boring, shallow GIRL things like fashion and shopping. Also, I want to buy ALL the makeup and hair products from this list of my favorite brands, because playing with my hair and makeup is so much fun!”

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
      • Glitterboy
        Glitterboy

        Omg yes thank you for mentioning that. I can’t get over her hating on the other women for talking about stores and the mall, while she constantly spews brandnames for everything she owns.

        There’s so many more that she mentions in the book that aren’t covered in Jenny’s recaps. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much product placement. I can only assume that she thought that this would mean these brands would happily give her free products for the movie.

        January 4, 2018
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          When I see product placement in books, usually it’s stuff like mcdonalds, pepsi, or general store names like walmart. When things get special recognition, it’s because the character covets it, like wanting to eat at fancy restaurant after they make it big or Halrold and Kumar go to White Castle. When there’s an emphasis on product placement, it’s often a huge part of the plot, a personal goal, and it feels so sweet when we see the character get it. Like it’s been years since I last saw Harold and Kumar and I still want to eat at White Castle. (it’s not available where i live)

          This is just lani naming stuff for the sake of naming stuff. Once again, this is YA; what teenager is going to know these damn brandnames, let alone have the MONEY to buy them? I’m a grown-ass adult and I buy my stuff from Target.

          January 4, 2018
          |Reply
          • MamaLich
            MamaLich

            Absolutely good point: And a lot of those brands have also been around a long time, and they’ve sense accumulated a ‘character’ of their own which has an effect on what a certain place looks like, what kind of person is the Main Character for going there, and what were their likes/dislikes.

            Like, if I write about a grizzled old man with a beard hanging out at a Long John Silver’s–it’s going to cause the reader to view him a lot differently than if I plonked him at a Taco Bell drive-in at 3 am (same goes for noir novels, there’s a reason why the detective’s always at a bar or at an Edward Hopper-esque diner setting).

            January 5, 2018
        • Dove
          Dove

          Maybe that was her scheme all along: fame and free products via brand placement in her crappy movie. I guess she assumed if she added enough of them at least one company would fall for the bait.

          January 4, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            You are almost certainly correct about this.
            Betting Kiehl’s would shudder to have their products featured in her low-rent movie. Reese’s Pieces only got that prime plot point in “E.T.” because M&Ms wouldn’t give permission–something they surely regretted, but if they’re going to be picky about Spielberg, why would anyone be eager to feature in “Handjob for PorkRolls”?

            January 4, 2018
  3. Mel
    Mel

    I don’t understand why the conflict had to come from a misunderstanding about Zaat seeing Charles. She already has a relationship with Jackson established. If the author was smarter, she could have had Mac get upset that she’s getting closer to Jackson and ask Zordon to finally make a choice and get upset when she inevitably can’t (won’t).

    But Laaaanie Sarem isn’t a skilled writer and instead of improving her story, or getting into her characters, she went “eh, I already wrote the story with the ending going this way so fuck it, it stays. Let’s forget about Jackson who was clearly added afterwards for now.”

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
  4. Rebecca
    Rebecca

    Sometimes when I’m bored sitting on the toilet (no, bear with me, seriously) I like to read the back of my skin care products to see how many times they repeat a word. Burt’s Bees Radiance body lotion uses the word nature or natural 8 times on the packaging, 4 in the two sentence product description on the back, as well as two non-product-name descriptions involving radiant or radiance.

    In that nightmare of a paragraph, ScheheraLaniZade uses ‘learn’ and its derivations 6 times, and ‘lesson’ and its derivations 4 times. Did a thesaurus harm her at some point? Like, has she got synonym PTSD*?

    *Poking fun of PTSD only as a sufferer myself, no offense at all meant to other sufferers.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      I like Burt’s Bees products. Very helpful to my eczema, which gets pretty bad during the winter. And they usually smell sooooo good.

      Hadn’t thought about it ti I read your comment, but they would make better reading than this Crapsterpiece. In the loo or out of it.

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • Rebecca
        Rebecca

        Apropos, I’m quite happy with the Radiance lotion–it’s shimmery and smells like…maybe a bit almond-y/apricot-y. And I’m almost out. *heads to the website…*

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
    • There is no way three editors saw that paragraph and said ‘yep, this is perfect. There are no mistakes here.’

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • Rebecca
        Rebecca

        Right?

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
    • Saint_Sithney
      Saint_Sithney

      Well, I guess if you’ve got to crib your writing style from the labels of personal hygiene products, Burt’s Bees is better than Dr. Bronner’s….

      January 4, 2018
      |Reply
      • Rebecca
        Rebecca

        *falling over laughing*

        January 4, 2018
        |Reply
  5. Stormy
    Stormy

    He was hitting on the camera girl, so he bought the photos…then gave them to Lani…who then displayed them in her dressing room where everyone can see them. On one hand, Lani can have dinner with whomever she wants, including her boss, and this shouldn’t be anything inherently threatening. On the other hand, displaying the photo AND the tickets in a public place sure seems like she wants people to notice/comment on them.

    And why on earth did the story skip her dinner with Spellman?! What did they talk about? Was he a creepy old man toward her, or more paternal and nurturing? We the readers barely know anything about him and that should have been a pretty major scene for his character! The interplay between him flirting with a stranger when Lani knows that he has a long-term girlfriend would have been interesting. Perhaps he flirted with Lani and she liked it only to realize that she doesn’t mean as much to him as she thought. Or perhaps he reveals that he knows a lot more about her than she realized and he obliquely references her mother/her powers/etc. BUT WE DON’T KNOW BECAUSE SHE SKIPPED IT. She only threw it in so that there could be ~tension~ with Mac. WHAT THE HELL.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Handbook for Bad Authors. I wonder if there is ANY opportunity for an exciting scene that Lan-e-i-e-i-o didn’t carefully avoid lest it take attention away from her Special Pseudo-Self.

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • We don’t know what happened in the “several weeks” that the story skips. We don’t know how Jackson “oozed” charm except being hot and existing. We don’t see the rehearsal or the dinner with Spellman.
        But we have a huge paragraph full of makeup and hair products that she had her boss order just for kicks. Every product is named and described in minute detail, but she skips the actual story.
        How is this possible? How is this real?

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Describing products in a matter of fact way and vaguely imagining that she owns them is easier than using her imagination. It also shows how pseudo-important she is when we all know Shart-face isn’t even the star. ;P

          Actually, when I first heard about that scene it went over my head because I didn’t care enough to research it, nor do I think about makeup enough for it to sink in that maybe she wasn’t exaggerating about owning all of it or she didn’t get a bunch of samples to try out first… Because even though I rarely use makeup, I know that not all makeup will look good on every person so why the fuck would you buy a crap ton of everything? Inevitably that means at least half of those products look terrible on her and would completely go to waste. Plus, some of the wilder colors she might not even like. Not everyone wants lime green lipstick or nail polish, so why get it just because? Did she also buy lime green foundation and blush, if it existed? Or bright yellow or purple or dark brown?

          I think we don’t get to know Charles because Zipper never knew her actual father and she also didn’t have the ability to come up with a personality for one. She imagines that kind of relationship as well as she imagines owning a bunch of makeup that she’ll never really use: barely distinctive and only surface deep.

          January 3, 2018
          |Reply
          • falalala
            falalala

            Yeah, I kind of like playing with makeup…so I bought a $15 palette with 150 shades of cheap, low-quality eye shadow and lipstick so I could both discover color combinations that actually look good on me (and then potentially buy nicer versions of them later) and fool around with ones that look very silly at home just for my own amusement. Spending TWELVE THOUSAND DOLLARS on something you can do for fifteen bucks is both exceedingly wasteful and very definitely not something any theatre of any kind is going to do for a newbie performer who just wants to play with makeup for shits and giggles.

            (And, of course, it is very, very unlikely that any professional production would be cool with a brand-new performer who has no previous experience with how various colors will look under stage lighting using totally different makeup from one performance to the next in the first place. They MIGHT not care if she wore different nail polish if her magic trick didn’t involve the audience focusing on her hands at all (and even then, they’d almost certainly either require or forbid glittery polishes and would probably restrict her to a limited set of reasonably similar shades), but they would very definitely want her face to look pretty much the same every night so that she could be lit properly. “Professional shows are totally okay with performers wearing dark blue eye shadow and pale pink lipstick one night and then sparkly gold eye shadow and dark orange lipstick the next” isn’t as egregiously stupid as “Professional shows have nearly fatal accidents all the time and it’s not a big deal,” but it’s still pretty darn stupid.)

            January 3, 2018
        • Mydog'sPA
          Mydog'sPA

          It was kinda obvious that when we first met Spellman in chapter 1 or 2 that he was Zama-Lama-Ding-Dong’s Dad. So, yeah, he’s going to spoil Zitty Zit Zit. So I’ll roll with it for now.

          January 3, 2018
          |Reply
      • SofiaThatB*tch
        SofiaThatB*tch

        Yes! Lol someone should make a book about all the things Zani didn’t show

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
  6. Anon
    Anon

    I had never heard of Kiehl’s before today and this is the SECOND mention of it in the last couple hours …

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • Alicia
      Alicia

      Ah, good ol’ Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
  7. I had learned over the years that sometimes the cards insist you learn lessons, that is what each of our lives is about, learning lessons to become a better being–your soul can’t evolve until you’ve learned whatever life lesson it is you need to learn.

    Possibly the life lesson you need to learn is how to edit your sentences better.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      The tarot deck has no mouth and it must scream when it sees her writing. XD

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
    • SJ
      SJ

      my eyes glazed over about half way through that sentence.

      January 12, 2018
      |Reply
  8. Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (but not Jenny Trout)

    Why does she want every color? I’m sure everyone – reguardless of what color they are – doesn’t look good in everything. I sure don’t. So. Fucking. Ridiculous. If I’d been handed 12k of makeup, most of which I can’t/won’t wear, would make me super uncomfortable and I’d try to return it or share it or something.

    Plus, shouldn’t she be wearing stage makeup so it won’t sweat or more importantly wash off when she goes in the tank? I was on a Rocky Horror shadow cast for a while and wearing regular makeup was the worst and we didn’t dive into a tank.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • Frankly
      Frankly

      In a real show, she’d be using stuff like Kryolan, Ben Nye or Graftobian that she either had to purchase herself or use the stash that EVERYBODY shared. Or maybe the major headlining show in Vegas has its own makeup team?

      But nooo, she has to have her own kit of Benefit Gimme Brows and Too Faced Better than Sex mascaras for 23 bucks a tube because SO EDGY, SO COOL.

      But what do I know? I’m just a pleb who’s never worked in a major Las Vegas theater. 😛

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • Mike
        Mike

        “Or maybe the major headlining show in Vegas has its own makeup team? ”

        This. In a show of this scale with a budget as big as it seems, there would be a dedicated makeup team and they would NOT be using these brands for the exact reasons you guys mention. When you’re dealing with something like this, with an audience, you want the makeup to be as ‘loud’ as possible so it can be SEEN. It’s not like you want someone to have a ‘natural look’ when you need to be seen by the cheap seats. Also everything would have to be coordinated. Your makeup and outfit would need to match, and it would need to be consistent between shows, hence the dedicated makeup artists.

        You do your own makeup in low budget affairs, or where the makeup doesn’t need to be flashy. But even most low budget productions have a proper makeup artist who understands what looks good from a distance/on camera/with the lighting/with the outfit/that will work with everyone who needs to have a similar look if there are backup dancers/etc. She would not be doing her own makeup, and they DEFINITELY wouldn’t let her just ‘play with it’ and just ‘have it around’ to feel important.

        It IS possible that she could be given a sponsorship by some of these companies to wear their brands outside the show in promotional affairs or on Instagram or what have you. But Sarem doesn’t care about logic, this is her personal fantasy, and reality has no place in it.

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
        • Arlene
          Arlene

          My only experience with theater was in college (I was a theater minor in a very small, liberal arts university in Oklahoma) and there was ALWAYS a dedicated makeup person whose job it was to design each performer’s makeup. For shows with more “natural” looks, actors were often taught beforehand how to do their own makeup, especially if it was a large cast. Even then, the “natural” look was not the kind of thing most people would wear on the street (we used Ben Nye, as someone mentioned earlier, which is generally pretty thick) as it had to look good under the lights and be visible to the audience in the back. If it was anything more complicated or fantastical, the makeup person would usually have an assistant and they would ALWAYS do the actors’ makeup for them. Either way, it was always the same, for every performance as it had to fit the character, coordinate with the costumes, and look good under the lights. And this was just college theater. I can’t imagine it would be any less rigid and systematic in a professional, ongoing show.

          My other thought about her list of makeup and nail polish brands was that it struck me as the kind of fantasy one might share over coffee with a friend, as in, “Sigh, wouldn’t it be so amazing if you had access to all the makeup and nail polish in all these amazing brands and you could just PLAY with it?” And that’s as far as the fantasy would go and, apparently, that’s about as far as Zani got in her fantasy and STILL thought it was important enough to write down and KEEP in the story. I mean, I understand having specific fantasies about getting to use things that are generally out of one’s reach but those types of fantasies don’t generally make good stories or even add anything to an existing story.

          This truly is the worst book ever published and I read the Apolonia and 50 Shades recaps.

          January 4, 2018
          |Reply
        • Crystal M
          Crystal M

          Yep. I used to do dance recitals, and we had to wear loud flashy colors like gold lipstick to be seen. But we wouldn’t pick it ourselves. We were told what colors to get so we all matched, and our make-up and nails had to pass inspection.

          January 4, 2018
          |Reply
      • Artemis
        Artemis

        THANK YOU.

        I basically paused in reading the post to look at the comments and see if anyone had already pointed out that stage makeup exists.

        I mean, I’m just a burlesquer who takes her clothes off in dark bars, so clearly I’m not on the same level as an Actual Vegas Performer (and also I have that oh-so-useful theatre degree), and I know Zabbadabbadoo here is supposed to know nothing about makeup because only shallow sluts care about stuff like that, but…street makeup and stage makeup are, like, profoundly not the same thing.

        I like Too Faced mascara as much as the next girl, but jeez.

        Also, if she’s so clueless about makeup, is she supposed to be doing her own nails (gel manicures, in particular, have a heck of a learning curve)? Is she taking her OPI gel polishes to the salon with her? I can’t come up with a scenario where this nail polish stash makes any sense beyond name-drop wish-fulfillment.

        January 7, 2018
        |Reply
    • Mydog'sPA
      Mydog'sPA

      Why does she want every color?

      Look at it from another perspective: Zygodactyl-Lips has 6 major options:

      1) She picks Jackson
      2) She picks Mac
      3) She picks neither Mac or Jackson or anybody
      4) She picks neither Mac or Jackson but picks someone else (Sophie, as mentioned above)
      5) She Mag-ecchs Mac and Jackson to get them to bone her at the same time (But Mac and Jackson don’t get it on with each other)
      6) Same as #5) but Mac and Jackson bone each other, too in a 3-way male bi-frenzy.

      Each option needs a different nail color combination! She has to be prepared for any eventuality!

      There are no clearly defined stakes here–if she chooses any option (or neither) the world doesn’t end, the show goes on (or not) with or without her. Donkey Juice, Alabama remains the same. Vegas remains the same.

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        In all the photos I’ve seen of Lani, she always wears very fair makeup, nothing too dark or flashy. So even if Lani had those products in real life, I doubt she would even use them because it doesn’t match her own personal aesthetic.

        So anything darker than light pink would never get used, making this fantasy… into more of a fantasy…? (Who creates a fantasy where they don’t even get to use the stuff they got????)

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
      • Indigo
        Indigo

        YES. That is literally exactly what was running through my head. What are the stakes here? What is important? What MATTERS? Why should I give a shit about any of this?
        Meanwhile the voices of my undergrad writing and film profs are screaming in my brain. Mostly just single words, like “tension”, “conflict”, and “action”. As in, where the fuck are any of these?!

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
        • She has the worst case of telling, not showing I have ever seen. Unless it’s mundane stuff like putting on makeup or going to the mall, we don’t see it. She actively avoids showing conflict or tension. Everything interesting gets brushed off.

          January 3, 2018
          |Reply
    • Heck I stopped doing Ipsy after I could only find about 2 things out of every bag that worked.

      This is just plain damn wasteful. And some of the worst Product Placement ™ I’ve ever seen.

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Even for low-rent things like LA Look, if there are only 2 shades out of 12 that look right with my complexion, it doesn’t make sense to buy the whole pallette. The dollar won’t break me, but I’d rather buy a duo of the two shades that I know I’m going to use. Anyhow, I don’t need more clutter in my purse.

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
    • MamaLich
      MamaLich

      The author also forgot that there’s the whole matter of skin types vs. makeup texture/ingredients. There’s no ‘one product fits all’ thing in any brand, especially for different women (and sometimes, a brand creates a kind of lipstick or eyeshadow which isn’t as awesome as all their other stuff).

      January 5, 2018
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        There are no poc in this book, so in this world, darker shades of foundation/makeup probably don’t exist.

        January 5, 2018
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Thus ignoring the reality that B.L. (Before Lani: you know, when those shows like Cats, Phantom, and Les Miz had to get by without modern tech and had to run on WINDMILLS), makeup artists often used Posner and Shades of You for contouring, because colors designed for Caucasians usually had a warm undertone, and even pale-skinned folks sometimes have a cool undertone, so the Posner worked better.

          Now, of course, even Family Dollar sells contouring pallettes. Probably the influence of the K-dashes.

          January 7, 2018
          |Reply
  9. Laina
    Laina

    Yes, everyone uses daily makeup for stage because stage makeup and daily-type makeup are EXACTLY the same. Wow, okay, now I’m irked.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      I’ve used regular makeup (applied more heavily to show under the lights) for some shows, but for children’s theatre with any fantasy element, we’d use greasepaint. Getting it out of your pores was a nightmare, despite liberal use of Albolene–I even tried Crisco after reading that Mama Rose used it on Baby June and Louise. You’d think you had it off, then you’d get to street level, the light would hit your face, and it still had a faint tinge of whatever color you’d used. The guy who played the Tin Man in “Oz” stayed mildly silver-tinged for days during the run, no matter what he did.

      This was for a fairly small house. For an arena-sized Vegas show, obviously the makeup would have to be emphasized even more to read under the lights. In addition, this kind of show uses different lighting effects for different segments, and you’d have to gear your makeup to that. I’m pretty sure anything this high-profile would have a makeup artist working with the lighting designer to decide which colors would work best with which costume in each segment. They might let you experiment during rehearsals, but once the show opens, you do whatever they worked out.

      I suppose a “star” would have more freedom, but stars usually consult the lighting and makeup people to find out if it doesn’t read from the back of the house, or it looks too exaggerated from the front row, etc. That’s why you have your tech people.

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        When Christopher Reeves played superman for the first time, he was only paid $20,000 because he was an unknown actor while Marlon Brando, who was only in the movie for about ten minutes, was paid something like, $3,000,000.

        Even if Zani is ‘the star’ of the show, this is her first show, she shouldn’t be getting this much special treatment. I would say this is genius on Lani’s part, showing us how Spellman is favoring Zade by indulging her every whim, letting her buy whatever she wants even if it’s not practical or necessary. But we know that’s not true.

        (As someone else pointed out, Spellman has the habit of dating performers, so the implication that this nasty old man buying the new young pretty girl expensive gifts, taking her out to dinner, while actively ignoring his current girlfriend is soooooo uncomfortable.)

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
  10. Amy
    Amy

    I’m a girl, so I like dress porn as much as any other girl. But there’s a difference between Cinderalla going to the ball dress porn, and… this. This does make me sigh in girlish fantasies of twirling around in a foofy dress and wearing sparkling jewlery. I’m watching some boring girl admiring random colored bottles and smiling to herself.

    In the movie, I can imagine ONE scene of a makeup montage where the camera pans over the various glittery costumes and fancy makeup Zalh will use, but not multiple times because it’ll get redundant. So much of this book is going to be cut out from the movie.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      There’s no performing arts porn here, either. I grew up reading Streatfeild’s “Shoe” books, and I WANT that opening night, I WANT that costume change for the second act, the debate over what to wear to the audition and what to sing or recite, the moment the horrible child star finally gets that long-deserved comeuppance (and it has to be long-deserved to be truly satisfying). NONE of that is in here.

      As for costume porn, makeup, clothing, and jewelry point to “Forever” Amber St. Clair’s transformation from village girl to actress to royal courtesan. We can even cheer for her when she caps her surviving the Plague by resuming her dress and makeup, commenting, “I’d almost forgotten what I look like.”

      To go into this more deeply, probably the most famous costume porn of all time is Scarlett deciding on her barbecue dress, and it tells the reader more about her: she doesn’t want to wear this one because it makes her look too young, that one makes her look too old, Melanie might notice the stain on this one (and Scarlett figures she “might be catty enough to mention it” because she projects her own competitive nature on everyone else.

      The final choice of the low-cut green-sprigged dress tells the reader that Scarlett isn’t above dressing slutty (for the time) although at that point, she would never act on it, not even with Ashley, whom she still expects to marry. It tells us that she still hasn’t worked out whether she wants to be a Good Girl or a Bad Girl, and won’t have matured much by the time Rhett gives her the green bonnet and she wonders whether she ought to let him take a “small” liberty just so she can keep it.

      Later, there will be details of all the wonderful things Rhett buys her on their honeymoon, but they only point up how Scarlett still doesn’t appreciate him.

      In short, costume details show Scarlett is someone who has learned a great deal about enticing men, but doesn’t understand her own desires, which her society has taught her to repress.

      What does all this makeup tell us about Zuiderzee?

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • Mike
        Mike

        Honestly chapters like this one really highlights that Sarem doesn’t care about being an actress or a writer, or an anything except famous. It’s so obvious it hurts.

        If her real dream was to make it as a star the moments you talk about would be the focus, but they’re completely cut out in favour of an entire scene where she gushes over all the free shit she gets to play with because of how great her show is going. Instead of describing the feeling of the premier, the nerves, the anticipation, the stands full of people all staring at her through the glare of the lights as she gets ready to take her dive… we get a scene of her chatting with celebs and inviting them to the event. Instead of getting scenes of her fussing over how to come up with a new act that will look good and won’t raise too many alarm bells about her being real magic, we get multiple scenes where she complains her cards aren’t telling her who to fuck.

        Sarem’s fantasy is to never have to work but get given everything she wants. It’s to have men fawn over her without her having to work on her appearance or personality or even do anything at all to impress them, it’s to have a career handed to her on a plate that comes with fame and fortune and free shit and involves exactly nothing she doesn’t want it to, ever. It’s to have celebs recognize her in the streets, and everyone to gush over her multi-coloured hair. She wants an Instagram lifestyle without having to do anything to get it. …Are we sure she’s 35, not 15?

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          In the most recent podcast for HFM, http://handbookpodcast.libsyn.com/, the speakers refer to an interview with Lani. When asked what’s the difference between Lani and Zade, Lani said, “Zade gets everything she wants.”

          now I’ll admit, my heart did go out for Lani there. It sounds like she had some hard times and due to certain circumstances, was unable to achieve her goals. (note: the speakers didn’t go into deeper detail beyond that)

          But in the words of Dr. Kelso, “Nothing in life worth having is going to be easy.”

          And considering what we know about Lani, a woman who makes NO effort to get what she wants, her failure is because she’s LAZY in the areas that really matter. The fact she’s willing to make more of an effort to keep up appearances of, “wahhh, the YA people are being mean to me!” than improving her craft is telling.

          January 3, 2018
          |Reply
          • Maril
            Maril

            THERE’S A PODCAST FOR THIS BOOK?!

            I have a flatmate who doesn’t understand why things don’t go her way all the time. She tried to be a model, got a few small jobs, but never really got any big gigs. She didn’t like it when I tried to explain to her that it would help if she would stop being an hour late to the set all the time, and wouldn’t argue with the makeup artist. She tried to start a fashion company, got some great feedback on her designs, gathered some interest from people, declared she would hold a fashion show to try and drum up enough interest to either sell some designs outright for some cash influx or attract an investor. Set 5 different dates for it but just kept not making any samples to actually SHOW at the fashion show, and doesn’t understand why people are no longer excited about it. She’s approached investors looking for money to get professional samples made because she’s decided she can’t make them herself, and doesn’t understand why when she shouts at them for not trusting that she can run a company when all they asked was how she intended to spend the investment to get a return, that tends to make them not want to invest.

            When I hear Lani talk about how all the other girls got picked in auditions over her, and how the publishing industry is just punishing her for doing things differently, all I hear is my flatmate arguing with investors that they should just believe in her and let her do things her way. And while young, naive me would have genuinely felt for Lani with that quote about not getting what she wants, old, bitter, cranky me who’s about to move back in with her parents and put in 100 hours a week or more, doing things that make me uncomfortable (learning to do public speaking… *shudder*) to work towards my goal, just wants to tell her to stuff her entitlement up her ass.

            January 3, 2018
      • Acton
        Acton

        THE SHOES BOOKS. Those were the greatest performing arts porn of all.

        I don’t remember the specifics, but I remember being really excited about the comeuppance of a character called Dulcie. (I kept trying to remember her name and was only coming up with Gussie and Etsy, so even getting this far feels like a victory.)

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Dulcie was in “Dancing Shoes” (UK title “Mrs. Wintle’s Little Wonders”–they renamed all the books for U.S. publication with “Shoe” titles because “Ballet Shoes” went over so well). There was also an obnoxious boy in “Movie Shoes” (UK “The Painted Garden”) who begrudges any glod scene his co-star has, and a conceited cousin in “Theatre Shoes” (UK “Curtain Up”) who is even more irritating because she’s actually quite talented.

          If there was one thing Streatfeild knew how to do (among the many things she did so well), it was create a nemesis worthy of resentment. Streatfeild’s spoiled brats all SEEM to be succeeding, for a while, before they finally get the smackdowns they had coming. Along with the lead characters, we can wonder if they’ll continue to get away with it forever, and hope for the day when it all comes back to bite them.

          Even Pauline in “Ballet Shoes,” who is comparatively likeable, suffers a temporary swelled head after an early success. In her case, however, the smackdown makes her realize how unprofessional she’s been, and her disgrace and regret win back our sympathy.

          January 3, 2018
          |Reply
      • EmmaG
        EmmaG

        Don’t get me wrong, the makeup sequence is terrible as it stands, but I can kinda see a character moment here. There is something very naive and oblivious about how Zade brags about her makeup. “I want one in EVERY colour!” is something a child, rather than a 25-year old, would say. If we read competent makeup use as a stand-in for womanhood/adulthood, it could tell the reader that she is in over her heard, that she is not as mature, experienced and smart as she think she is. It would fit a story about a small-town girl with a secret going to Vegas.

        We’re also shown that Zade isn’t particularly fazed by receiving a lot of expensive gifts, so it could also set her up for suffering losses later on, forcing her to make do with what she has – like Scarlett sewing a dress out of curtains.

        Of course none of that happens. There has been a bit of dicussion about how Sarem unintetionally created an unreliable narrator, and I think that could actually work in the hands of a much better author. Maybe that would also explain why the love triangle is so lacklustre – she’s delusional and the guys aren’t actually that invested in a relationship with her, which is why they’re okay with waiting around.

        January 5, 2018
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          It could also work if one of her traumatic flashbacks to middle school in Donkey Puke involved never being able to afford good makeup and getting teased over her penchant for Urban Decay colors rather than the pinky-beige crap all the local trailer-trash Barbies favored.

          But she never wants anything bad to happen to her Doppelganger, so we don’t build up enough sympathy to hope good things will happen.

          Again, Cinderella without a wicked stepfamily or any grunt work.

          January 5, 2018
          |Reply
        • Artemis
          Artemis

          It would fit a story about a small-town girl with a secret going to Vegas.

          This is Zade’s “Versayce” dress moment.

          January 7, 2018
          |Reply
  11. Zohn Zoe
    Zohn Zoe

    Jenny, I love what you’re doing here, but it is hypocritical to criticize someone for bad writing when you yourself type out selections such as “life is ruled by teh majihiks.”

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • Mel
      Mel

      Lani? Is that you…again?

      It’s pretty obvious that Jenny is being sarcastic and jokey when writing out lines like that, you know, to make fun of your horrible writing?

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • Michael
        Michael

        Yeah, writing that kind of thing as an example of bad writing (like Jenny does) isn’t the same as writing it as a serious attempt at good writing (like Lani does).

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
      • JennyTrout
        JennyTrout

        This isn’t Lani leaving that comment. I assumed this was a dry sarcastic remark in itself. But if it’s not, I can see where someone might not get that misspelling “the” and “magic” is a joke if they haven’t run into “teh [word here]” as a humorous put-down before.

        However, if it was a serious criticism, I have to say that I’m always amused when I’m told that a blog post I write for free and without an editor is subject to the same standards as a published novel someone is asking money for.

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
    • Maggie
      Maggie

      Lani, should I really be surprised that you can’t tell the difference between “bad writing” and “intentional misspelling to mock both bad writing and pretentious twittery”?

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      It’s unironically spelled magick, with a k, in this novel. I think Jenny is taking that to a logical conclusion. 😉

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
    • anon
      anon

      Is this a joke? woooosh~

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      I would imagine the use of lolspeak was meant to be satirical/comedic given the overall tone of this entry and series, rather than an example of bad writing on Jenny’s part.

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
  12. Perlite
    Perlite

    I bet Lava Cake can’t take a shit without consulting teh majiks. “Toilet paper or fallen leaves? Squatting or standing position? There’s just too many choices!”

    I’m so glad that Zorg-Hole’s internalized misogyny doesn’t extend to her own make up station. Let’s be real, if this were Sophia’s layout we would get a paragraph about how her table was “littered with thousands of dollars worth of name-brand make up products and kits that she barely touched, save for the most expensive ones. She would spends hours of time on her makeup before deciding she didn’t like it, then start the process all over again.”

    How did chapter manage to have even less going on than the last ones?! It’s just: Zade can’t decide (again), doesn’t go camping. That’s it!

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      And that would make Sophia more interesting, even as a negative character–and we can’t have that.
      This is *Zenyatta Mondatta’s* universe.

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Good point! It’d make Sophia look like a very picky perfectionist. A vain and materialistic one, with a doting boyfriend who focuses on pampering her by buying her things, but it’d definitely add more character, especially if she was still always punctual with her cues and she was very professional about her performance in general. She just wants to look her best and always gets criticism from the tech gurus (as others noted.) Maybe she doesn’t use the regular makeup in the act but she just likes keeping most of her makeup at the show since it’s easier to doll herself up at her vanity there.

        On the other hand, we all know that Zorori just wants this makeup because in her fantasy she can has ALL THE MAKEUP.

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          “I want to be the girl with the most (pan)cake….”

          January 3, 2018
          |Reply
  13. Alicia
    Alicia

    Ugh, how was I surprised that the build-up to the scene where she rehearsed something with Charles didn’t result in a real scene?! It’s like I keep expecting this “””story””” to progress with something resembling a coherent narrative… Silly me!

    Also, I fucking exploded with laughter at this part:

    How on this entire polluted and dying Earth do you not understand why he’s interrogating you? Do they not have soap operas in Donkey Juice, Alabama or wherever the fuck you’re from?

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • Perlite
      Perlite

      Any opportunity to get out of Zade’s headspace is conveniently shoved aside for the important things, like makeup she barely uses and “Do I really like these two boys? I can’t choose!!”. I’m not really sure how these people are keeping up the “totes not magic” pretense if absolutely NO STAGE CREW or PRODUCTION TEAM is there to help with rigging, props, or whatever the fuck. Like, can Lani not see how suspicious this seems to outside observers?

      “Donkey Juice, Alabama” is one of the most hilarious descriptors I have ever read.

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      I’m pretty sure the nice people in Donkey Juice, Alabama would be deeply offended at the idea that Lama-Zama-Ding-Dong was ever a resident.

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
  14. Helen
    Helen

    This might be the worst thing I’ve never read. And that includes everything you’ve previously reviewed.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • Agreed. I was not prepared for this chapter.

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
  15. River
    River

    Nitpick. But. I can not get behind the description of his outfit “dark denim Levi’s jeans and a nice maroon and brown patterened button-up shirt with his coordinating brown suit jacket. His sterling silver cufflinks peeking out just past the end of the jacket sleeves.” Maroon and brown? Brown suit jacket? Silver cufflinks? Honestly my Grandpa left that brown polyester jacket in my parents garage years ago…. He wants it back now. But the real issue is Zumpo’s fake inability to chose between two men coupled with a boring monolog on make-up. Books that contain actual struggles are pretty fun to read when they get to the “payoff” scenes. Like where the protagonist fights through battle after battle and we all know they are bone weary and filthy and just need a bath? Then they get it and the description of the warm water and luxurious soaps makes your heart sing for them. But only after the struggle and hardship has built that need for you. I don’t give a care about Zeezee finally getting every make-up under the sun because she doesn’t struggle through anything to get there. And it is so boring because it reads like a piece stolen from Vogue or something… “this list is comprised off all the make-up used in this issue. Twenty nine models and one dog were used in this shoot.” But somehow Zerdaferd gets all that make-up because she is special. Gag.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Maybe she’s been watching the Brady Bunch or something, because his outfit sounds like something a guy might wear to a middle-school dance in the early ’70s.

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • River
        River

        Exactly. Her fashion choices seem so odd and tone deaf.

        January 4, 2018
        |Reply
    • cat
      cat

      Is she not spending much time with either Mac or Jackson in the weeks that are skipped? How long does it take you to know who you like more? She has zero connection with Jackson and one smoldering kiss with Mac. And she’s what, 24 in this book? Get it together Zade.

      In a better book, she would be hemming and hawing OUT LOUD to the two dudes whilst banging Sophia, too afraid to come out due to her rigid upbringing in Donkey Juice, Alabama.

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        cat: Her upbringing in Donkey Juice the town or Donkey Juice the substance?

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
        • cat
          cat

          In the town with small minded individuals. This could have played out as social commentary. The non-magical people being stand-ins for bigots and the romantic triangle being about the protagonist’s love, self-acceptance, and fear or persecution.

          But you know, $12K in makeup and a cameo by Carrot Top makes this narcissistic venture much more interesting.

          January 4, 2018
          |Reply
          • cat
            cat

            Ugh, new keyboard so typos.

            The protagonist’s love (Sophia), self-acceptance, and fear OF persecution.

            January 4, 2018
      • Dove
        Dove

        Oh man and that’s another idea that’s so much better than what we got! Zade/Sofia(Sophia?) but afraid to explain that she’s a lesbian. I dig it… not with the way it’s written now, it’d need a whole rewrite, but she DID rescue her and they could sneak peaks more easily and Sofia could be bisexual (and clearly unhappy with Charles’ roaming eye.) XD

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
        • small jar of fireflies
          small jar of fireflies

          Another alternate novel start: Zade is putting off an arranged marriage to increase the Immortal population, and then Sofia catches her eye. Zade has to work around Immortal society, and the barriers that her magic puts between her and a Mortal woman, in order to enjoy a happy lifetime with the woman she loves.

          January 3, 2018
          |Reply
          • Pepper
            Pepper

            That sounds amazing! How can such a terrible book have so many avenues for good stories?!

            January 4, 2018
          • MamaLich
            MamaLich

            I absolutely love this! It would be absolutely great to show Zade’s conflict of having to leave the Immortal society to arriving to someplace gritty like Vegas (and I got a sense that Sofia would have a no-nonsense, street-smart attitude underneath her primadonna exterior–so Sofia could be the one guiding Zade through living in the city (and in show biz)).

            January 5, 2018
  16. Mylissa
    Mylissa

    Mac even gives professional discounts for performers so like what the f***?

    Also big show like this, I’d be super surprised if there wasn’t a makeup person who designed it down to very particular specifications and only that would be bought – she’d have a never ending supply of that but not whatever she pleased just because.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • small jar of fireflies
      small jar of fireflies

      Nail color would just need to stay on for the performance and require a couple of layers anyway… It’s not like the audience is going to come up one at a time, study her hands, and then dis her for not wearing OPI. She only stands on stage for the end of the trick, so why would she need every shade?

      I can just imagine a string of makeup artists quitting because they only get a quarter of Zade’s makeup budget. And it makes Sofia’s being muscled aside by magic even crueler if she had this kind of treatment before the diving illusion came along.

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Right?! Sofia worked hard and she fucked a guy to get where she was, then she actually stuck with him in spite of it not being ideal. Zade just had to show up and explain how her mother fucked him years ago and bam! Everything and more. Is it any wonder that Sofia got pissed off? I’m kind of amazed we don’t hear about Sofia’s relationship with Charles rupturing from this kind of treatment, but after she was shoved aside she’d lost all significance so she was able to slink out of this “franchise” altogether, I hope. Sofia certainly disappears after Zade’s coma anyway. ;P

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
  17. RodeoBob
    RodeoBob

    So there’s a Vonnegut quote about how each sentence should “reveal character or advance action”, and I’ve read some pretty strong and compelling rebuttals to it by seasoned authors telling complex stories. But that falls into the category of “masters learn when to break the rules”, so for someone’s first novel, it’s probably a good idea to stick to that guideline: your writing should advance the action, or reveal character.

    This chapter appears to do neither. We get words spilled about a “new illusion”, but there’s no real attention paid, no effort invested, so why should we care about this new illusion? The heroine can’t choose who to date, and openly laments how she can’t choose, and keeps not choosing, all of which is the opposite of “advance the action”.

    There’s a brief moment, when Mac sees the photos and the tickets, that could have met this standard.

    “You could have spent the weekend with me, and with our friends, camping. We could have stared at the stars, and been close, and maybe finally come out to our friends that we’re dating instead of sneaking around! But instead you blew me off to have dinner and a show with our boss… who is still dating another member of the crew as far as I know, and has a bad history of dating performers whose careers he can control. Is that who you want to be? Is that what you’re really after?” Mac stared, his face a mix of anger and hurt and confusion.

    Hey, look at that! Tension increased! A real sense of conflict! Maybe rumors can start about Mac looking to work for another show. Maybe as Mac storms out of the room, he can bump into, say, Sophia who may or may not have been eavesdropping. With just a little bit of effort, we could cast doubt not only on Lani-Sue’s romantic prospects, but maybe even her continued employment with the show!

    But like Parker Lewis, Lani Sarem’s author avatar just can’t lose… or be in danger of losing… or face any struggle that can’t be immediately overcome or hand-waved away.

    This book may drive me to writing.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • Mike
      Mike

      “This book may drive me to writing.”

      Honestly that’s how I felt about 50 Shades. I encourage you to give in to that feeling.

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • “Honestly that’s how I felt about 50 Shades. I encourage you to give in to that feeling.”

        That’s how I started writing genre romance specifically, in fact.

        January 6, 2018
        |Reply
    • Drea C
      Drea C

      I’m editing my first book now. Reading these recaps and comments give me things to watch out for. 😉

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
  18. Mike
    Mike

    Even as a screenplay this story would be poorly structured. Yes, in a screenplay you could jump around in time and place a fair amount, but she’s skipping all the visually impressive scenes to go with the least interesting, most repetitive scenes. This is a story about a real magician working in a magic show trying to hide her magic abilities while also using them to boost her act, and yet we miss her having to work with a normal person on an illusion without him learning her secret?! Why would you cut that scene?! That could be a focal goddamn scene! You could insert hints that he already knows her secret and he’s trying to get her to mess up to find the right moment to bring it up, you could have her stressing the fuck out trying to hide it, you could have her trying to do an illusion without her tricks and doing a shit job because she’s used to her magic being a crutch!

    But then you’ve got the fact that this is the second chapter in a row that’s a ‘several weeks later’ jump and she’s still dating both guys and yet neither of them are starting to pressure her to make a decision?! I’m sorry but that’s bullshit. If they actually really like her, she’d have to be some goddamn special to put up with that for that long when it’s clear everyone involved wants monogamy. Especially since in this chapter she also shrugs both of them off in favour of Charles, but the only tension that causes is mild disappointment and a raised eyebrow? Really?! Where the hell is the damn drama in this love triangle?! I don’t even like that kind of crap but at least it would be SOMETHING! These guys need to see a therapist for low self-esteem if they’re willing to put up with this for this long.

    The ‘real Vegas performer’ doesn’t know how makeup works in a big budget stage show. What a shock.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • small jar of fireflies
      small jar of fireflies

      You could even have a scene where she tries to help someone she likes by adding more color and sparkle to their act… which freaks them out. They might worry who’s been messing with their equipment, or wonder if someone was trying to get them to burn themselves by beefing up their pyrotechnics. The added suspicion and scrutiny would help with the tension of the book. That kind of pressure could also make it more likely she’d mess up a spellcasting on stage. Add some tension and some stakes.

      It kind of hurts me, as someone who loves creating written works, to see so many opportunities wasted. The length of a book, in which to do all kinds of stuff!

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • Mike
        Mike

        I can think of a MILLION different things she could have done to make this story so much more engaging. It’s like she couldn’t stand the idea of ANY tension AT ALL. It all has to be absolutely PERFECT all the time, and 100% focused on her. I mean, she even SAYS so in the goddamn chapter, how she always assumes it’s about her when she hears people talking! She’s so self absorbed that on a show THAT big the OWNER AND LEAD *must* be talking about HER.

        This whole book doesn’t work because it’s a fantasy that ONLY applies to Sarem. You can’t slot yourself into the character, she doesn’t spend any time on the world around her so you can’t even imagine yourself in that world. It’s all Zade, all the time. She must be the center of attention at all times. She must get everything she wants. She must not be negatively compared to other women. She must never have anything go wrong with her act. She must never have anyone question her. She must get away with everything with minimal effort and no negative consequences.

        I know there are people to whom this really would be a fantasy. But MOST people who would want to read about a real magician in a fake magic show would want to hear about the SHOW. Their fantasy would be the rush of the fans screaming as you pull off your act, the satisfaction you’d get after it all went perfectly, the nervous energy as you dive into the water, the tension building as the safety techs start to question how you did your act, the confusion and suspicion as to why the owner never does, the fear of who Lambo girl is, the EMOTION of the story dammit! There’s no emotional build up or pay off in this story! It’s just ‘I got exactly what I wanted, but aw man, BOTH these guys are hot, I don’t want to have to CHOOSE! Oh, but they’re not even making me? Oh, but choices are haaaaaaaaaard, and they’re not making me, so I’ll just continue to whine that choices are haaaaaaaaaaaaaard!’

        Grow the fuck up Sarem. You’re a goddamn adult, act like it. Jesus fucking christ there’s no stakes to this story. There’s no STORY in this story! What’s the PLOT?! The romance should be the B plot that sometimes distracts her from the REAL story, but it’s not even the A plot, it’s just THERE! The characters are just THERE! Everything is just THERE! That’s it! Gah, this story is so badly structured! It’s not even a story!

        This story is insulting to me as a filmmaker and writer. This story is the crap you write in your spare time to get out your frustrations when you just want to imagine a life where everything is going your way when everything is really not going your way. This is not the shit you actually publish.

        January 3, 2018
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          I don’t even fantasize like this in my spare time. I DESERVE to have bodice-busting sex with the wicked but irresistible Sir Seduce-a-slut because I just escaped from the Hell-Fire Club after a death-defying crawl across the rooftops and climb down a conveniently-placed tree to leave a taunting inscription from Dante on Sir Francis Dashwood’s fence, and since in the process I got muddy and scratched, I’ll want a nice hot scented bath BEFORE the costume porn and the bodice-busting sex.

          I’ve EARNED this.

          January 3, 2018
          |Reply
          • Mike
            Mike

            I’ll admit I’ve had times that EVERYTHING I tried, even small things, were going so horribly wrong that my dream was just to have a day where I came home and I had the right food in my cupboards to make a good meal, that I cooked everything without anything getting baked into the pan so it was easy to clean, I finished up at just the right time to watch a show I liked, and I went to bed without incident. But, for me at least, that kind of fantasy is only satisfying after I’ve been beaten down so much by life that my dreams are just to not get beaten down any further. It’s the fantasy life I have when I’m REALLY depressed.

            I’ve written a book (not released, but someday I do want to do something with it) with a scene that reflects that level of depression. It’s ABOUT depression though, so when the main character dreams about bettering his life, and he’s all motivated and is going to start by eating REAL food for a change, he starts with something that’s supposed to be fool proof and it goes horribly wrong anyway and he’s absolutely CRUSHED. All he wanted from life was a goddamn plate of spaghetti but he’s such a failure he couldn’t even pull THAT off. It made my beta readers cry. I am quite proud of that scene.

            But this book isn’t that kind of catharsis. It’s not about someone who is severely depressed who is finally having things go right for her. It’s about someone who doesn’t seem to have ever struggled very much, continuing to not have to struggle, written by someone who seems to believe she shouldn’t have to work hard or have talent to get ahead.

            January 3, 2018
          • Amy
            Amy

            It was established in chapter one… er, zero, that Zani uses name brand clothes and other accessories. She already got the cool clothes and the great makeup and enough money for a motorcycle. So this isn’t a scene of someone thinking to themselves, “I can’t believe I’m here, I earned this with my own two hands”

            this is, “imma rich girl and I just got richer”.

            I think of those movies where the husband complains about not getting anything in life despite having a nice house, a loving family, and usually a hot smoking wife. What the usual story goes is he LOSES those things to make him appreciate what he’s got, to make him realize the things he wants are not that important.

            Zade does not lose, not once. That’s not interesting. That’s boring. If we know Zldij is going to get everything without trying, then what’s the point of reading?

            January 3, 2018
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Mike: Basically, Lansing wants to write a Cinderella story, but without the abusive Stepfamily part.

            In which case, why should we care if she gets her Prince or not? Why should we even care if she just wants one night out at the ball as a break from her bleak existence, and the Prince is an unexpected bonus?

            January 3, 2018
  19. small jar of fireflies
    small jar of fireflies

    At first I just rolled my eyes at this, but then after a while, it hit me.

    She’s not dealing with her nerves like most performers. She’s not practicing her act over and over again, up to the final walk and bow, or going around the house as someone else performs to see what she’ll look like to different seats. She’s not looking over her costume. She’s not chatting with the others, finding out how they deal with their nerves, if they’ve recovered if their acts went a little wrong, finding out their horror stories and encouraging them. She’s not using her magic to make the theatre a better place to work — enchanting Sofia’s safety harness to make it cozy as a goosedown snuggie and light as a cobweb. Putting a spell on the seats so that babies’ cries will seem quieter to the surrounding rows. Whatever.

    And because she’s too cool to be actually doing this series of makeovers to look hotter than anyone else, or be insecure, it’s because she’s got “nervous energy.” But due to earlier scenes, her appearance is… well, meaningless. She knows the men in her life will still adore her if she didn’t shower for a week and came straight from alligator wrestling lessons. The women in the audience will be too far away to care much about her eyeshadow color choices, or will automatically hate her.

    The end result comes across a bit like reading about a dragon rolling around in its hoard. It admires coins it has no way to spend, and gems that are only valuable because others do not have them. And the world goes on outside, working as if it doesn’t exist.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      There’s a trope in the comic book world called, “Dr. Fantastic is a Jerk”. Basically it refers to a character who has awesome and wonderful abilities and yet uses them for crap reasons. Dr. Fantastic is a genius and has the ability to cure cancer… but doesn’t.

      So here’s Zade, who can literally tell the goddamn future, but she’s not stopping crime or saving lives. She uses them to CHEAT her way into stardom. Now, understandably not every character is going to follow the “with great power comes with great responsibility” or otherwise every story would be the same.

      But everything Zade does in this book is for her, just for her. Nothing she does has been for the benefit of others. Even when she saves Sofia, the whole point is to show Zade off, for her to be praised and admired.

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
      • Michael
        Michael

        That’s “Mr. Fantastic,” not “Dr.” But yeah, these are the most under-used supernatural powers I’ve ever seen.

        January 4, 2018
        |Reply
  20. Cris
    Cris

    You know another thing that bothers me about this slog? Inane character ticks/quirks. In this particular case the lip biting. Zubway’s done it in this “novel” a lot, mostly to appear sexy, which is such a trite way of depicting a flirtatious attitude. The truth is, if you have a habit of biting your lip, not only it’s probably a sign of anxiety but your lower lip is perpetually chapped with indentation marks. So yeah, super attractive. Of course a more realistic portrayal of a common tick, or anything close to reality, is anathema to everything this snoozefest of a turd stands for.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      “…a sign of anxiety…” Yup. I nearly got squashed by a Brinks truck in Paris last summer, spent a few weeks going out of my entire mind with wanting to be home, and only noticed on the plane back that I had basically gnawed a hole in my bottom lip from anxiety bites.

      January 4, 2018
      |Reply
  21. falalala
    falalala

    So, the internet has been delighting in the editorial comments on the unpublished manuscript of a certain bigoted troll (who doesn’t deserve to be named), and reading this recap, I just keep thinking that the already-famous comment “DELETE UGH” would be an appropriate response to just about everything in this book. Nothing freaking happens. There is no character development. There is no plot. There is no ANYTHING. It’s just endless “I dithered over which boy I like. Then I dithered over which boy I like. Then I played with my favorite brands of makeup, which I will spend an entire paragraph listing for no good reason. Then I dithered over which boy I like. Then people talked about how wonderful and beautiful I am. Then I dithered over which boy I like. Then there were vague hints that something might actually advance the plot in some way, but I promptly forgot about that in order to dither over which boy I like. Then I saw Carrot Top at a mall. Then people talked about how wonderful and beautiful I am some more. Then I dithered over which boy I like.” You could fit the entire plot of the past eleven freaking chapters on a Post-It note and still have room to spare. I have read math textbooks with more compelling storylines and characters. It’s maddening.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • Sam
      Sam

      “Unclear, unfunny, delete” is the one that gets my vote. XD

      January 3, 2018
      |Reply
    • Aurelia
      Aurelia

      See … this sounds almost like you’re knocking Maths textbooks … but we all know that academic authors actually put a lot of work, research, and effort into their publications (unlike certain Lanes which we have unfortunately come to know) 🙂

      This novel is just pointless in the extreme. It’s so entirely static that it makes my brain bleed! I’ve written better fan-fiction than this (and my fan-fiction is so bad that it remains unpublished – even on AO3).

      In the interests of making the world a better place, I’d just like to recommend The 3 Body Problem to everyone here as a great read (even though in many places it is actually a mathematical/astronomical treatise). It’s certainly a palate cleanser after this (delete an expletive) dross!

      January 4, 2018
      |Reply
      • Jamoche
        Jamoche

        Even the most fascinating math textbooks tend to be lacking in story and character, though 🙂

        January 6, 2018
        |Reply
  22. Is it just me or is Zuppa becoming more and more like Patrick Bateman from American Psycho? The co-worker rivalry, the brand fixation, the need to show off the fancy restaurants she goes to–it all fits. Zuppa is a serial killer.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
    • Kate
      Kate

      I wish Zwieback were more like Patrick Bateman. She would at least have amusing one-liners.

      January 4, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Patrick’s brand obsession makes sense when you realize there is no one inside. He’s a collection of brand names and designer outfits with a hollow core. Ellis INTENDED him to be that way, but of course, Ellis is a highly skilled writer who knew exactly what effect he wanted to create.

        January 4, 2018
        |Reply
        • “when you realize there is no one inside.”
          “Ellis INTENDED him to be that way”

          Exactly. LS created a psychopath without even meaning to. This is what she thinks is a likable character! It really makes me wonder what she is like in her everyday life.

          January 4, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            “There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman; some kind of abstraction. But there is no real me: only an entity, something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable… I simply am not there.”

            Patrick KNOWS what he is. Neither Lani not her Self-insert has such self-awareness.

            The bands she’s (mis)managed have made it pretty clear what she’s like in her everyday life. Now I’m wondering how many of those jobs she got by misrepresenting her experience and/or knowledge.

            January 4, 2018
  23. Sam
    Sam

    But it’s eaaaasy to write meandering dialogue and lists of things! Action, conflict, tension, description, research–those are all haaaard.

    Also my only boss who ever called me “dear” was 62, British, and my friend outside of work. If you’re not my sweet British work mom, get OUTTA here.

    January 3, 2018
    |Reply
  24. EmmaG
    EmmaG

    It’s already pretty strange that Sarem made her heroine have all these nasty, condescending thoughts about horrible girls that like bars and shopping, while hanging out in a bar wearing an outfit she bought specifically for going to bars. But this is just getting beyond ridiculous, I don’t even know what’s going on anymore.

    When a character lists all this excess of stuff they have, and wich they came to without any real effort, that’s usually a sign that the character isn’t particularly sympathetic. Or maybe they are, but they have to overcome their selfishness/bratiness. On its own, it’s not excactly endearing to the reader.

    January 4, 2018
    |Reply
  25. Melissa
    Melissa

    Every once in a while I’ll be reading and come across an outfit description like Mac’s and my brain rejects it completely. I go “what? the fuck?
    is this person wearing?” And rush to google images and look for similar outfits for some kind of frame of reference.
    I think it’s that the description is so much of a list, because the last I remember looking for pics, it was the same way.

    (Aside: When describing outfits, also describe the person’s body. I feel like that’s a good time to get in their appearance, especially body shape and skin color. How the colors contrast or harmonize with their skin, hair, eyes etc., or what the fit highlights about their figure are good ones. The condition of the clothes might say something about the person wearing them. Touch, sound, and smell can be part of clothing, too. I love clothes and my writing is full of costume porn)

    Or maybe it’s “ridiculous outfit” + “they looked normal and great”. Emphasis on normal. I can’t say nobody can look good in Mac’s outfit, but I feel like if he does it has to be in a deliberately, eclectic way. (And that would make Mac a style conscious fashun boi, which would honestly be really cool. Too bad.)

    If I could make one change to the whole thing, I’d either toss the blazer, and deal with the cufflinks (how the fuck did he find a regular day shirt that you can put cufflinks in? My headcanon is he took out the buttons and cut in an extra hole himself.)
    Or add a big showy belt buckle and make it all fun-ridiculous.
    Zimminy Cricket’s outfit just bores me. 😛

    January 4, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I go “what? the fuck? is this person wearing?”

      My brain rejected it the minute she combined jeans, a suit jacket, and cufflinks. That’s not a little bit dressed up… That’s “I couldn’t find my slacks.” And she doesn’t even describe the pattern so I’m forced to assume it’s some variant of stripes or checks since those are pretty common for men’s shirts. I’m suspecting plaid given his last outfit description… but what if it’s paisley?!

      (how the fuck did he find a regular day shirt that you can put cufflinks in? My headcanon is he took out the buttons and cut in an extra hole himself.)

      I didn’t even think about that; I forgot cufflinks are an add-on item. It’d be cool if Mac modified it but I think she just mentioned cufflinks because she knows those are fancy. Pretty positive she tossed words together at random and then patted herself on the back because Zunami-chan almost never does her research and I doubt she’s knowledgeable about clothes. I’m not exactly fashion-forward and the only reason I know anything is that I’ve done various light research whenever I dabble in writing that requires coming up with an outfit for a character.

      More importantly, why was Mac sort of dressed-up? She never asks him or guesses, unless Jenny left that part out (most likely because it would be boring and without any personality, knowing Zazzle.)

      As for me, I’d keep the blazer and drop the cufflinks. That seems more “little bit dressy” although the cufflinks do add more personality. I think Mac is supposed to be pretty drab and standard, so that’s why I would’ve gone for the blazer instead. I agree that him being fashion-forward would be a pretty cool trait though. 🙂

      (Aside: When describing outfits, also describe the person’s body. I feel like that’s a good time to get in their appearance, especially body shape and skin color. How the colors contrast or harmonize with their skin, hair, eyes etc., or what the fit highlights about their figure are good ones. The condition of the clothes might say something about the person wearing them. Touch, sound, and smell can be part of clothing, too. I love clothes and my writing is full of costume porn)

      Yeah, plus timing matters too. You can get away with a very light description in their introduction and describe new or glossed over elements when focusing on some specifics later on, depending on what matters. Change of clothes or anything else about their person or direct interaction makes it more organic and visceral, especially if they include the other senses that you noted.

      I’m not enthusiastic or good enough for costume porn, but IRL texture is really important to me when it comes to what I wear. If I don’t like the feel of it, that’s an immediate no-go for me when I’m browsing clothes. It’s important to consider how these things can affect the reaction to the POV person too, especially if they love touching that one particular shirt their lover has, so they love it when he/she wears that. And of course, if it’s a period piece, it pays to know what the hell most people would be wearing and what would be unusual. With all of the current synthetics available, we tend to take that for granted. (And of course, climate, time of year, and weather make a difference too…)

      Btw, not sure if it’s just because the reviewers glossed over it but I don’t think she ever describes food or drinks either. Ziti seems to be mostly averse to taste and smell too. :p

      January 4, 2018
      |Reply
      • River
        River

        When I read the description of the shirt I literally could only picture a splotchy “cow print”….. Like a Holstein cow that is living on the edge by dyeing its hide. Just picture that with those cuff links and dark Levi’s and it’s quite hilarious. Like maybe someone who is attempting to dress the way they think westerns dress…but failing.

        January 6, 2018
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          I always imagined Mac more of the cowboy type, so I totally accept he would wear a dress shirt with jeans.

          The silver cufflinks description strikes me as odd. First of all, who cares? Why focus more on such a little detail that literally nobody would notice unless you were a werewolf? I’d prefer a description if Mac was clean shaven, if he put on nice-smelling cologne, if he brought dessert. (he didn’t bring dessert? rat bastard) If Mac had like, dramatcially tugged on his sleevs, bringing attention to the cufflinks, I wouldn’t have been so bothered about it.

          Zade is supposed to be from a very small town, a place so small they still have witch mania, so I doubt this hillbilly place would hold many dances or parties so fancy it would require silver cufflinks-type of attire. The fact Zade notices this above all else still affirms Zade’s materialistic personality.

          Seriously Lani, this isn’t me running the book with a fine tooth comb, this is basic writing 101. What I know of Zade could fill a small post-it note. If it was mentioned she had previously worked at a beauty salon or jewlery store, then it would make more sense why brandnames would stick out to her. But the only thing we can go on is, she’s a witch, and she’s so beautiful that’s all people can talk about.

          January 6, 2018
          |Reply
          • River
            River

            Well what I want to know is where is his bolero!? That is the finishing touch she left out.

            January 7, 2018
    • Dove
      Dove

      Whoops, sorry. I don’t think my attempt at quotes worked this time around. But yeah…

      January 4, 2018
      |Reply
  26. Dove
    Dove

    The bands she’s (mis)managed have made it pretty clear what she’s like in her everyday life. Now I’m wondering how many of those jobs she got by misrepresenting her experience and/or knowledge.

    Given all that, I’m pretty sure Lani knows what she is. She’s just very dishonest about it. Remember, the narrative is heavily skewed and unreliable. In particular, everyone admires a good liar in this novel… even the inconsistent dumbass Mac. If this is her core, then the I Love Zani Show is simply her being disingenuous and congratulating herself for not only getting what she wants but pulling one over on the people who annoyed her and her dumb readers. That’d be my best guess. If she had the imagination, gumption, and charm for it, we’d see her swimming around in her money bin, but Scrooge McDuck is more fully realized and more sympathetic overall. :p

    January 4, 2018
    |Reply
    • River
      River

      Awww I love Scrooge McDuck!

      January 7, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        You’re not the only one! Scrooge has a life story that’s far more interesting than Zazu’s, but then Carl Barks and Don Rosa are/were more passionate and skillful. Disney also rebooted Duck Tales recently. I haven’t seen anything besides the pilot and some teasers for future developments but it’s looking good! I’m pretty optimistic. 🙂

        January 12, 2018
        |Reply
  27. Lily
    Lily

    You know who was good at giving the reader details? Charles fucking Dickens, that’s who. He’d tell you more about a Goddam dog in the street in one paragraph than Zalenia there has in all the pages of this fucking dumb ass book. Why, if I had never heard of Carrot Top, I would have no idea of why he’s important enough for Zeladneya to even fucking mention. And you know who was good at pulling emotions out of the reader? That demented bastard, E. A. Poe. In just a few pages he would have the reader’s skin trying to crawl off and run away.

    But no. This Bitch learns to type and thinks she wrote a fucking book.

    January 4, 2018
    |Reply
    • MamaLich
      MamaLich

      EXACTLY. Dickens and Poe’s work are just full of characters that seem to live and breathe through the pages (and their stories are full of riveting plots that are always full of stand-out events and themes, which makes their work great for theater and filming).

      But compared to Zani’s work? THERE’S BARELY ANYTHING HAPPENING. There’s literally nothing about entire chapter which can be applied onto the silver screen without boring the audience (we got…what? We have Lade staring at her giant collection of cosmetics, then she overhears stuff and doesn’t even try to investigate what the hell Zeb and Spellman had been talking about, she acts distant around Mac, and then suddenly she’s in her room before getting into (another) tiff with Mac). There’s nothing iconic about any of the scenes here, and we got Laminator acting flippantly towards Mac that it instantly makes her character look terrible to the reader (and again, there’s really nothing about all this which makes it a decent story).

      January 5, 2018
      |Reply
  28. Jenny: “The lesson you need to learn is….”

    Me: Grammar! Punctuation! How to use a thesaurus!

    January 4, 2018
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    • mydog'sPA
      mydog'sPA

      The lesson she needs to really learn is: Repetitive repetition of repeating repetitious words written repeatedly worsen her wordsmithing.

      January 9, 2018
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  29. Crystal M
    Crystal M

    “Zenobia.”

    “Scythe of Time” reference?

    January 4, 2018
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  30. “When will I stop asking too much of this book and just sink into the warm, bubbling septic tank of its contents until analytical brain death renders me unable to resist five-starring it on Goodreads?”

    Jenny, that may be the single best paragraph you’ve ever written in your JHBC reviews. Like ever.

    Also, I think Lethargic should have mixed things up with some Clinique, Philosophy or Bare Minerals make up. You know, really pushed the envelope.

    January 5, 2018
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  31. OwnsWayTooMuchNailPolish
    OwnsWayTooMuchNailPolish

    The make-up section is so much condensed cringe.

    I like OPI as much as any other former nail blogger swept up in the nail polish mania of 2012 (and now stuck with literally hundreds of bottles slowly congealing in IKEA drawers), but it’s not a brand I’d go out of my way to name drop. It’s a bit like the Target of nail polish: moderately priced high fashion dupes just a season or two delayed. I love Target and I feel like an idiot for dropping $27 on Chanel Peridot instead of waiting for the OPI dupe but serious side-eye here.

    Also, straight up laughed at owning all the Too Faced palettes considering how much Too Faced likes to repackage old palettes and shades under new names (they’ve also really been phoning it in lately with formulation). She must have at least TWELVE unique colors! Wowwwwww.

    January 6, 2018
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  32. Nocturnal Queen
    Nocturnal Queen

    I’m glad she didn’t use makeup from Mac because then we would have to suffer through her making boring jokes and double entendres about how she put Mac on her face.

    January 6, 2018
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  33. Jamoche
    Jamoche

    What hit me is just how much space she’d need for all that makeup. My Hollywood-influenced impression is that dressing rooms don’t leave a lot of room for fripperies. She may think she’s saying “look at me, I have all the things!” but anyone looking at it would be going “are we on an episode of Hoarders?”

    January 6, 2018
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    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      I have hoarding issues at home, but I still wouldn’t have my dressing room like that. It would be too easy to grab the wrong bottle or tube when you’re in a hurry between scenes. I’ve even made OCD lists of every makeup layer/ prop/ costume item I need for each scene, taoed them to the mirror, and arranged everything in the order I need it. It’s essential for shows where you’re playing multiple characters or your character has to undergo a transformation (Cinderella, Rosalind in As You Like It, Emily in Our Town, etc.). I am HORRIBLY disorganized by nature, and this is the only way I can manage. Anything I’m not using goes in a drawer or a corner so it doesn’t get me mixed up.

      January 6, 2018
      |Reply
  34. mydog'sPA
    mydog'sPA

    ???? since when is Table 10 a 4- star restaurant? I mean, it wasn’t bad, but I’d never rank it with a Michelin 2-star, let alone a Michelin 3-star (Top tier Michelin restaurants are 3 star. I’ve been to a couple 3-star in my life, and Table 10 never came up to that standard)

    Opentable.com describes it as:
    Table 10 is the junction between casual dining and world-class food, offering a fresh and modern approach to classic New Orleans flavor.

    It is (or already has) shut down as the escalators from the Pallazzo’s casino level were removed and it used to dump a lot of foot traffic right into the restaurant’s entrance. Now that foot traffic is down, so was business.

    We stopped going years ago when they changed their fries from battered to plain when the gluten-free craze swept the land. The fries were really really good, then they just got plain. And the other food wasn’t worth a special trip even when we stayed at the Venetian/Pallazzo.

    I mean, I can see why Sarem thinks it’s a “4 star” because she doesn’t know any different, but to us that do, it’s no 4 star.

    January 8, 2018
    |Reply
    • River
      River

      A little research showed me Table 10 has closed its doors as of last year. Which is rather ironic, Lani mentions it in her “book” and it closes down…. Hmmm. It is mind blowing that she consistently is off when she name drops stuff. It appears this place was a basic 20 to 30 doll hairs a plate for entrée. It had 3 1\2 stars on Yelp and many of those reviewers stated it was mediocre at best. If you are going for jaw dropping when you name a restaurant why not throw down Joël Robuchon which has 3 Michelin stars, and the chef Joel Robuchon has received 30 Michelin stars over his career. Making him the most awarded Michelin chef…. EVER. Or go with the 2-star rated places, Guy Savoy or Picasso. The Savoy is supposed to be THE most romantic restaurant in Vegas so if she was really looking to make Mac suspicious it’s all right there. But here she goes, name dropping a “chain” restaurant in Emeril’s stable. She didn’t choose the Michelin stars that she had at her disposal! She could have said Spellman knew Robuchon and was treated to the table reserved for important guests….or heck that she said she wanted to sit in the kitchen and watch and they were given the Chef’s table! So many places to take this and she took it to the Target of restaurants.

      January 8, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Maybe the Internet is among the recent technologies that didn’t exist when she was trowelling together this book. Like stage tech.

        January 8, 2018
        |Reply
        • River
          River

          You must be right, she didn’t know about the internet. Because that research took me five minutes and I didn’t even get out of bed to do it so there is no way Lani knew to use it. She probably was writing on a typewriter as well and just couldn’t handle having to go back and make corrections to her mistakes, so that is why there are so many. It isn’t her fault really.

          January 8, 2018
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    • Amy
      Amy

      I wonder if it’s because Lani has never eaten at these fancy restaurants because they were too expensive. (unlikely- if she has enough money to buy 18,000 copies of her own book, she can afford an $30 meal. Most likely she was too lazy to make reservations.)

      Once again I’m going to repeat myself: this is a YA novel, why put in restaurants if said teenagers’ palettes mostly consist of mcdonalds and pizza hut? You need to tell us why these restaurants are special instead of just name dropping.

      January 8, 2018
      |Reply
      • River
        River

        You’re right she may not have eaten there but then that is the point of food, dress or make-up porn right? It is what the reader or writer can’t have because of the expense. Lani misses out on wowing us with a sumptuous description of the evening by boring it down to “meh” when she could have gone overboard with the dream dinner. But you are so right since this is a YA novel it is a bit weird that she keeps introducing adult aged name drops. However I can’t help but think of the show Gossip Girl, geared towards YA and chock full of rich people doing fancy stuff. I think if she’d taken time to actually describe it The Youth would be impressed by what was happening. But we’re back around to what a terrible author she is. Surprise!

        January 9, 2018
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          If Lani wants the reader to vicariously live through Zade, she needs to tell us why these restaurants are awesome or why these clothes should be valued over anything I buy at walmart. Compare and contrast, tell me how back in Tennessee the only fancy restaurant they had was olive garden, and now in las vegas she’s eating filet mignon. Tell me how her cheap clothes would tear only after a month of wear, while her brandnames stuff lasts much longer.

          Gossip girl has the advantage of being a visual medium and can show us how glittery everything is. In HFM, Lani would spend entire paragraphs over explaining a joke, but doesn’t even take a sentence to tell us how this young woman, who is out on her own for the first time, how much bigger the world is.

          And that’s yet another great opportunity Lani totally ignored in favor of the romance: growing up. Because of today’s economy, a lot of adult children are still living with their parents because even with three jobs, it’s still stupidly hard to get an apartment and not die of starvation. Zade could’ve shown us how she feels, being someone in their twenties and struggling to find out where the laundromat is, or how scared she is being in a large city all alone. But no, instead Lani glosses over the contract, going, “the contract is great, there’s no need to go into further detail!” and a sentence talking about being adult is hard.

          January 9, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            From GWTW:
            “Best of all things in New Orleans was the food. Remembering the bitter hungry days at Tara and her more recent penury, Scarlett felt that she could never eat enough of these rich dishes. Gumboes and shrimp Creole, doves in wine and oysters in crumbly patties full of creamy sauce, mushrooms and sweetbreads and turkey livers, fish baked cunningly in oiled paper and limes. Her appetite never dulled, for whenever she remembered the everlasting goobers and dried peas and sweet potatoes at Tara, she felt an urge to gorge herself anew on Creole dishes.”

            Now THAT is food porn.

            January 9, 2018
          • Amy
            Amy

            ohhhh mahhhh gwaaaddd…. and this food porn makes sense because we were on the journey with scarlett, we saw how she nearly starved and what food means to her. In The Hunger Games, food porn was everywhere because Katniss was always one step away from dying. When I was back in college, the stress tanked my appetite. Eating became a chore for me, something I only did to keep from fainting. Once college was over, I would gorge myself on food because I’d forgotten what having an appetite felt like.

            Now I’m not saying Zade should starve in order to appreciate food. However appreication comes from getting somethkng you never had. Zade, who lives in the land of mcdonalds and microwave burritos, would be astonished by eating rich tiramisu and drinking wine that didn’t come from a box.

            January 9, 2018
  35. Goddesstio
    Goddesstio

    Seriously, there are so many opportunities to engage plot and characterization in this book that Lani purposefully sidesteps, it’s like she’s Neo in the Matrix, dodging bullets of good writing.

    January 8, 2018
    |Reply
  36. Jaycie
    Jaycie

    Has it occurred to anyone else that Zyzzyx is the textbook definition of an eenie-meenie-miney-mo lover?

    Nope? Just me?

    January 8, 2018
    |Reply
  37. Alex D
    Alex D

    If a book I was reading ground to a halt to talk about makeup brands for a whole fucking paragraph I’d throw it across the room. And–correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am–neither Too Faced nor Benefit make STAGE MAKEUP, the kind you’d use if you were, say, diving into a pool of water every night as part of your act. Like Ben Nye and Kryolan are intended for theatrical and stage use, not Benefit and Too Faced. Jesus Christ.

    Every time I think this book can’t find new ways to upset me, it does. It’s not even funny the way 50 Shades was, because there’s not nearly enough content to laugh about, and what’s there is just poorly researched to the point of ineptitude, but info dumped with the confidence of Neil deGrasse Tyson telling you that your dog doesn’t actually love you.

    Handbook for Morals is the literary equivalent of a refrigerator box filled 80% with packing peanuts and 20% with dog turds, trying to market itself as a Frigidaire.

    I. Cannot.

    January 26, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Did he say dogs don’t love us?

      Even my neighbors dogs love me, and I’ve never fed them. (I do skritch their rears for them sometimes.)

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
  38. Bex
    Bex

    I’m wondering how Mac, Mr. Safety, isn’t asking the same question I am.

    Until I read this line, I had completely forgotten that Mac was meant to be the safety officer, because I’m pretty sure we never see him doing his job.

    May 18, 2018
    |Reply

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