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Jealous Hater Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 13, The High Priestess or “The Big Skew”

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How is it possible to have more Handbook For Mortal news when the book isn’t even like…a thing? Well, I don’t know, but this is where we are.

Jeremy West brought it to the attention of Twitter that Lani is using “#1 New York Times Bestseller” stickers on copies of Handbook For Mortals:

A photo of someone (possibly Sarem) holding a copy of Handbook For Mortals with a big gray sticker on it proudly declaring it a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. The sticker uses the logos of both newspapers.

If you notice, the logos of both publications are reproduced exactly. I’ve reached out to the New York Times for comment, but they’re presumably out of the office on a nation-wide hunt for the three remaining Trump voters they haven’t profiled yet.

Sarem also told author Claribel Ortega that the film version of Handbook For Mortals will be out this year. If you’re familiar at all with big budget, effects-heavy fantasy movies you will know that is not enough time to accomplish a good one, even if the movie released on December 31 because the project is still “in development” according to IMDB.

Now, let’s go to the recap. Oh, and again, warning for just an unsettling amount of racism. Just, a staggering amount of it.

More weeks flew by. My life had become pretty comfortable and happy.

I actually just checked to make sure I was starting on the right chapter because so many of them begin with weeks going by and how great things are going.

I should have known that things had been almost “too normal” for too long. Something was bound to break. I just didn’t expect what was coming, that’s for sure.

Wow, I bet whatever’s coming is so super exciting and has to do a lot with the exciting mahjicks of colored sparks coming out of her hands just like Sarem ripped off from The Magicians.

The show is in a rehearsal, and Mac and Zack are up on the catwalks for yet another part of the show where Zendaya–no. I’m sorry. I cannot bring Zendaya into this. Where Zerbert descends from the ceiling.

We were standing very close together and pretty much alone in that part of the theater–or at least that’s what we thought.

The POV and tense skews throughout this chapter are plentiful, my friends. Strap in.

Speaking of strapping in, Zumba is trying to adjust her safety harness so it’s extra super safe, which requires her to move into all sorts of sexy positions in front of Mac:

Twisting back and forth, I was eentually bent all the way over trying to make sure the harness felt right regardless of what position I was in.

“You know how hot you look in that harness?” Mac asked.

Tee hee, she bent over and he looked at her butt. Every time there’s any mild sexual banter, I remember that line from the Vulture article about dubious thrills from light petting and making small talk with Carrot Top or something like that.

I wrote a romance novel in middle school about a passionate romance going on between the leads in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and I wish I still had it so I could compare it to Handbook For Mortals. I honestly believe they were written at the same skill level. I mean, this exchange right here could have absolutely been something I wrote when I was twelve and thought it was the height of erotically charged banter.

She doesn’t take the fucking compliment, so Mac says:

“No, seriously!” Mac retorted and as he grabbed part of my harness and pulled me closer to him.

And as he grabbed part of your harness and pulled me closer to him…what? How does that non-sentence end? How did “three editors” miss this?

Due to the humidity and temperature in the theater we both instantly felt sweaty as his skin touched mine.

On the first page of the chapter, Zex Zuthor thinks about how the inside of the theater is humid because of all the water and how it reminds her of home. I want to hear from some tech people on this because if it’s really so humid that their skin instantly sweats when it touches, that can’t be good for like…a lot of the equipment.

Also…why is their skin touching? Presumably, Mac is in his “show blacks” and is therefore clothed. This makes it sound like he pulled her up against his bare chest. And what is Leanne wearing? Vegas showgirl costumes expose a lot of skin, but we don’t know what Xenomorph is even wearing. Which, by the way, shocks the hell out of me. I can’t imagine Sarem missing the opportunity to describe how great her avatar looks in her amazing and intricate costume that isn’t as slutty as the other performers’ but is just the right amount of sexy to make all the men instantly want her.

“You’d look amazing in anything,” he said with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. “And even better in nothing,” he added as he rubbed his hand over the small of my back.

Better in nothing means naked. Get it? This is sexy and not cliche at all.

Mac helps Zaw III up onto the floating bed thing she’s going to ride down.

He pulled me in for a kiss. I kissed him back quickly before grabbing the bar hanging by my head and pulling myself on top of the set peice where I was supposed to start.

So, I need you all to keep in mind that it’s now been months, even being generous and assuming “a few” and “several” and “more” means three weeks and not longer, since she’s been in town dating Jackson and Mac. That she and Mac are “keeping it quiet” at work, except for when they’re up there grinding on the catwalk. Just keep that in mind for like, the rest of this section and all of the next.

At that exact moment I noticed Charles standing farther down the catwalk.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “This had better not be the normalcy-shattering moment that was foreshadowed by the first paragraph, well, I hate to tell you. This is it. This is the huge conflict. Chavid Spopperfield has noticed her snogging the crew.

I pretended not to notice him, thinking that maybe even if he had seen us together maybe he hadn’t really seen what happened–or maybe he’d pretended I didn’t see him. That was a lot of pretending, even for a magic show.

This might be the one thing I like in this whole book because it’s genuinely funny.

Then it gets ruined with a block paragraph that’s nearly a page long, detailing why Charles is up on the catwalk and not rehearsing the show. Zeb stands in for Charles at rehearsals so that Charles can watch the show and see what’s going on. Okay, got it. That’s where it should end, but no, we have to also know that Charles has never missed a show, that Zeb is a “Magi” and so is Rene, so Rene fills in for Zeb when he’s being Charles’s stand-in and how that whole thing works out. Stuff we will never, ever need to know, weren’t curious about, and which drags the story straight down to the bottom of a well.

Hey, didn’t she say “Magi” was an insult in the magic community in an earlier chapter? Like, there was a stigma to it, that it was demeaning? Why yes, yes she did, and here she is using it to describe other people.

How unlike her to be so hypocritical.

We get one of those triple goddess star map ornaments and head straight into italics town, where the fun begins. Charles has come to find Mac, and that’s why he’s up on the catwalks. Mac knows Charles has seen him kissing Zupa Loscana, so there’s another long, block paragraph about how unintimidated Mac is by Charles Spellman, internationally famous magician and oh, yeah, his boss.

Mac didn’t get worked up because someone was famous or powerful. It doesn’t hurt that Mac is a perfectionist when it comes to his job and he is also a hard worker, always on time and never calls out. He is also really good at his job and knows how to fix anything, make anything, and solve any problem, faster and quicker than anyone else.

So we went from third person omniscient past tense to third person omniscient present tense…

Charles also knew how valuable and rare a guy like Mac was and how much of a big deal he was to the show.

And right back into third person omniscient.

Mac knew that Charles was well aware of this and knew he didn’t have much to fear when it came to work or the one person in the theater who was really considered Mac’s boss, Charles.

That comma should be a colon, but it wouldn’t save this sentence or this section or this book from being so clunky.

“Mind following me to my office? I would like to speak to you about something in private. It won’t take but a few minutes of your time,” Charles asked politely.

It won’t take but a few minutes of your time in the middle of a rehearsal while you’ve got a performer literally dangling in the air. You can step away for a minute, right?

But Mac goes with Charles.

Charles slipped his key out of his pocket and waved it in front of the door. It was a magnetic lock–like on a hotel door–and you could hear the grinding of the door unlocking.

Could I? I don’t remember hearing it. Hey, wait, how do you know what I was hearing?

A scene from The Force Awakens in which Rey is being tortured by Kylo Ren. She is saying, "Get out of my head."

I believe I may be in the minority here but a generalized “you” in a first person POV scene doesn’t strike me as a POV skew when I read it. I just assume that it’s the narrator speaking informally in their own head or they’re a self-aware narrator addressing the audience directly. But in third person omniscient, that generalized “you” seems to more definitively switch the sentence into the second person, and second person omniscient past tense, even for a moment, is super jarring. Also, this is the third time POV and tense have jumped the tracks in this section alone.

And I’m not sure why we need to know about the locks on the door, but I’ve given up on ever receiving any actually important details from this book.

Charles tells Mac he wants to have a “man to man talk” and I’m going to omit a lot of the scene because so much of it is filler. For example, explaining where Charles sits when they have a normal meeting and how those meetings usually go. This leads to Mac believing he’s going to have to fire someone like he had to in the past.

The guy wasn’t a bad lighting guy and actually did an alright job, but Charles just hadn’t liked him.

The guy hadn’t been and had actually done an alright job. What should have been past perfect tense is for some reason past tense right up until the last few words of the sentence.

Mac technically gets the say in that matter of any crew, but he wasn’t too attached to the lighting guy at the time so it wasn’t a big deal.

And now we’ve once again gone from past tense to present tense to past tense.

He hoped this time it wasn’t someone that he really like and was attached to, like Riley, who happened to be out sick today which is why Mac was even in the grid with Zade.

This is what I mean about details we don’t need. We didn’t need to know and weren’t interested in Zeb standing in for Charles and Renee standing in for Zeb. We didn’t need to know and weren’t interested in the lock on the door or what a normal business meeting with Charles is like. We don’t need to know that Riley is out sick. At least, not here, when the time to explain what Mac was doing on the catwalk instead of Riley has passed. That’s an explanation we needed while he was on the catwalk, but the author was so set on getting to the kissing, she skipped it.

“May I be Frank with you, Mac?”

Mac, who loved being the smart-ass and typically would try to make light of things if he could, jovially responded with a laugh. “Sure. You are the boss. You can be Bob or Bill, too, if you want.”

Charles looked puzzled before responding with a deadpan, “Oh. Humor.”

First of all, the “may I be frank?” joke has been used in so many movies and television shows over the years, it doesn’t feel original here. It also strikes me as odd that, because of the aforementioned over-use of the pun, Charles doesn’t understand that it was a joke.

But most perplexing about this paragraph is the description of Mac as a smart ass who makes a habit of joking around. We have seen absolutely no evidence of him joking around and taking things lightly at work. In fact, it was his seriousness and lack of humor that made him clash with Zade in the first place. We’ve even seen other people comment on how serious and not-fun he is at work.

Oprah, saying "So what is the truth?"

Charles has noticed the relationship Mac has with Zithromax even before the kiss he witnessed, and that’s why he wants to talk. Mac tells him that he and Zoloft are just friends.

Charles smiled, finding it funny that Mac had tried to say they were just friends.

But I thought they were keeping it super secret at work? And now this guy who is barely even there unless he’s on stage, does nothing with his employees socially, and uses a stand-in at rehearsals knows what’s going on? How discreet are they actually being?

Charles asks Mac what his intentions toward Zart are, and Mac subtly points out that it’s not really any of Charles’s business because Charles is himself dating a performer. Charles says:

“Yes, of course. It’s what happens in this business. Well–you both are very important to me. Professionally. I know my show would struggle without you. And she–well, you see how special and important she has become to us. She brings something extremely unique. Wouldn’t want anything to cause issues.”

My favorite thing about all of this is how important and extremely unique Zorro is, when all we’ve seen her do is shoot sparks out of her hands (which, by the way, again, is ripped off from The Magicians, which I just started watching and in the first episode there’s a fight scene where a guy uses magic to pin a girl to a wall and she fights back by shooting multi-colored light and sparks from her hands just like what happens earlier in this book) and do a high dive illusion. We’ve had absolutely no evidence of how important and unique she is, just assurances from other characters that she is. But Mac backs it up by thinking about how every single performer is expendable except for Zed.

Mac paused, trying to gather his thoughts. It certainly seemed reasonable for Charles to be concerned. Mac had seen the show lose someone here or there when a romance had soured.

Uh…yeah. Like…his. He had a romance sour, resulting in the performer leaving. But it’s not mentioned at all in this scene. Why wouldn’t that be on Mac’s mind? Why wouldn’t Charles point it out?

Then Mac says:

“Well, I have grown to care for her. We are friends. We haven’t labeled it, beyond that, though.”

Again, we’re at almost 60% in the book and nearly every section or chapter starts with a few weeks going by. And they have yet to define their relationship. So, we’ve got two guys pursuing Lanzi and giving her all this room to make up her mind between them for months because she’s so unique and special and this magical prize.

Cersei Lannister rolling her eyes with a "you've got to be fucking kidding me" expression.

“Do you love her?” Charles’s eyes narrowed as he looked directly at Mac.

Let me pause here and address something that has been chaffing my magnificent ass for a while. Everyone is always looking directly at someone or looking someone straight in the eye when the reader would already kind of assume that’s happening. Mac and Charles are the only people in the room and they’re having a pages-long, serious conversation. Neither of them have ever been described as seeming uncomfortable looking people in the eyes or having difficulty talking to people while looking at them. I would give it a pass (and recognize the importance of the gesture) if they’d been described that way, but it seems like every character at one point or another is said to “look directly at” another character in situations where you’d assume they already were.

Mac sighed, feeling very put on the spot with such a loaded question. He and Zade hadn’t even said what they were doing was dating–much less something way beyond that involving something as strong as love.

It. Has. Been. Months. Of. Dating. And. They. Don’t. Know. If. They’re. Dating. If you are going on dates all the time with a person, for months, you’re dating. Maybe not exclusively, since Jackson Rathbone is around as an option. But going on dates over and over again with the same person for literally months is dating.

“Well, I…I think she’s amazing. I…” Mac stumbled over his words, unsure what to say. As he sat in the office, he had to admit to himself that he also didn’t know the full extent of what was going on with Zade and Jackson, which was something else they didn’t talk about. It was dawning on him that for two pretty open and honest people–who were especially open and honest with each other–they sure had a decent amount of things they just didn’t talk about.

The last time we saw them, she had never talked to him about anything to do with her past. The only time we’ve actually seen this intense, open honesty, they were talking about Red Vines and Aimee Mann.

He thought about all the reasons that he shouldn’t be in love with Zade. Then he thought about what else he knew. He had learned that the funny thing about love is that love doesn’t care if you’ve labeled it or not–and it also doesn’t care if there might be another person vying for the person you love. Jealousy might, but not love.

That’s pretty much all romantic jealousy is about. It’s not a might, here, pal.

You can love someone who doesn’t even know you really exist.

No, that’s infatuation.

Love really knows no boundaries and sometimes it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. You can wish it away all you want but just like Cupid’s arrow, once you’ve been hit, you’ve been hit.

I’m starting to get the feeling that Sarem really doesn’t think anyone reading this book has ever heard of love before, and she’s the one who has to break this news.

Mac realized that was not the response to give Charles. He decided to give him the most open and honest answer he could: “Well, it has possibility.”

 

Is the “it” here Zud? Because “Do you love her,” and “Well, it has possibility” makes her the “it.” If the answer had been, “It’s a possibility,” he would be saying that the whole concept of him loving her would be possible. Otherwise, he’s saying “it” (Zanzi) is possibly lovable.

Charles tells Mac that he won’t bother him about the relationship thing anymore, and they shake hands on it. Then there’s a long paragraph about how Charles never lived a normal life and how he’d grown up touring with a circus before becoming famous because again, this is all detail we were aching for in this particular scene. Charles asks Mac not to tell Lubyanka about the conversation, and because Mac is always so open and honest with her, he’s like, yeah, sure, it’s totally appropriate to not tell her that her boss is poking around in her personal life. Before he leaves the office, Mac thinks about how Charles might be faking his awkwardness just because he wants to be weird for attention, and Mac isn’t going to think of Charles as eccentric because that’s some bourgeoisie nonsense.

After another triple goddess symbol to indicate a section and POV change, we get this:

It was a long time before I knew about the conversation that took place that day, but I could feel the weird nervous energy that Mac was projecting the next time I saw him. He seemed “off” for the rest of the night, and I couldn’t place my finger on why.

The next day, Mac and I found ourselves walking through a park, talking about nothing in particular.

Look. If Zipper doesn’t know about the conversation, she doesn’t know about the conversation. This whole thing about opening a chapter or paragraph with something that’s going to happen in the future is an unnecessary device that separates the reader from any sense of urgency when the reveals happen. There’s no reason that she can recognize Mac’s nervous energy while they’re talking about nothing.

Because any truly fucking terrible book wouldn’t be complete without it:

I was still trying to figure out what was going on in Mac’s head when a bicyclist clipped me, causing me to drop my purse.

You must, must, must get hit by or almost hit by a bicycle to truly clinch that bestseller status these days.

It wasn’t a big deal, but something felt weird about the collision. The cyclist was on a thin, fast racing bike with drop-down handlebars and was wearing bright yellow and pink cycle spandex. All of that meant, to me, that he was an avid biker who knew what he was doing–not a clumsy teenager who had simply misjudged the crowds on the park paths.

A biker rides a motorcycle. He was an avid cyclist. If you want to avoid word rep (and honestly, why start now?), “biker” isn’t a substitute that works here. But I’m not sure why it feels “weird” due to the information given. When I read, “something felt weird,” I assumed it had to do with something supernatural.

Because I’m a chump. Nothing actually supernatural is going to happen in this book about mahajahick.

I wasn’t too worried about the contents of my purse, except that I usually carry a deck of my tarot cards in my purse among other “normal” things like my wallet and chapstick. The velvet bag that held them must not have been closed all the way because when my purse flew all the contents of my bag spilled out and the cards went everywhere.

Mac yells at the guy and starts picking up the tarot cards and looking at them.

My pulse was racing and all I could think was that the biker.

Three editors.

Zarpo thinks about how the “biker” needs better manners and that he could have really hurt a little kid or an old person and how he’d been rude by not stopping and saying sorry.

Before I even thought about what I was doing, I balled my fists quickly and squeezed.

The biker flipped upside down as if he’d hit a massive pothole that came out of nowhere, or at least to anyone else it probably looked like that. He landed pretty hard on his back, and made a few loud sounds of shrieking pain as the bike crashed into a bench, sending a few pieces going in different places.

I was fairly certain he wasn’t permanently injured, but he also wasn’t going to be riding anymore today; that was for sure. Mac’s back was to the biker, so he didn’t even see what happened, and was too pre-occupied with examining the cards to even notice what I’d done. I hoped what I’d done to the biker might teach him a karma-related lesson.

He landed flat on his back on pavement and is shrieking in pain, but as long as Zadist is “fairly” certain he’s not permanently injured, that makes it all right. I mean, the fact that she’s the heroine makes it all right. We have to like her no matter what, because she’s special and majhik and unique and beautiful in an alternative, multi-hued way and not like other girls, so it’s obviously okay that, because someone knocked her purse out of her hands and spilled it, she physically harms that person. Oh, and as long as the love interest didn’t see her do it, so her secret is safe. That’s really the most important part. Overlook the fact that she’s only “fairly” certain she didn’t paralyze him or something. It’s okay that she did that because he spilled her purse and could have hypothetically hurt someone. He needed to learn a “karma-related” lesson, and Zim is apparently an authorized agent of karma, even though karma itself doesn’t work like that.

And she’s still calling him a fucking biker! It’s not like she’s avoiding word rep by not over-using cyclist! She just picked a different, wrong word to use over and over and over again!

Even though there’s a dude screaming in pain and broken bike parts flying everywhere, Mac is more concerned with the tarot cards:

“What are these?” Mac inquired as he helped me pick up some more of my cards. When I looked up at him, he had a look of disdain on his face; he was holding up a few of them in his hands, the Devil card sitting out and most prominent.

Because of course, it was.

Mac looked deeply perturbed. “You don’t really believe in that stuff, do you?”

I could hear the disapproval in his voice. I thought for a moment about what I should say back. I studied his face, and then realized that if I lied to him it would just become more complicated later. This was very much a part of my life and who I was–and it would always be that way. If Mac was going to also be a part of my life then he was going to have to accept this as well. Sooner or later we were going to have to have this conversation. I would not have picked that day for it, but I might as well get it out of the way and see how it takes it.

Past tense to present tense, and as a bonus, Lava is now referring to Mac as “it.” Turnabout is fair play, I guess?

“Yeah. I do. I mean, my mom does readings for a living. I kind of grew up around it; my family are Gypsies and practice it. It’s fun. It’s not a big deal.” I downplayed it, thinking that if he accepted it at all he could slowly work up to getting used to it. I didn’t have to shove it down his throat all at once.

Okay, let’s talk about how fucking disgusting it is to write a character who is Romani and have them present that as something they should be ashamed of, hide, or ease people into knowing when the author herself is not of that same ethnicity. Like, let’s just really stress this. This is an author who blithely uses the g-word, both in her book and in her descriptions of herself and defends her right to use it despite the fact that she is not Romani. Then she writes a character who is Romani but makes that character nervous and reluctant to reveal her heritage, which is presented in the most watered-down and stereotypical way possible. Then she has the gall to claim on social media that Romani readers appreciate the representation this book gives them. If this were a book written by a Romani author about a character trying to hide their heritage or being ashamed of it due to outside social pressures and prejudices, it wouldn’t be this outrageously offensive. Instead, the character’s heritage is played up for magic powers and tarot cards and now is being depicted as something that should be hidden so a guy will love her. Again, this could be an effective plot of a book written by a Romani author. Written by someone who isn’t Romani, it’s just racist as all fucking get out.

At first he said nothing. Then he looked somewhat confused again, and asked, “I thought you were Jewish.”

I smiled softly, trying to ease Mac into the conversation. I almost found this a funny question for him to ask and smirked a little before clarifying. “I am. We, my family and I, are. One is not exclusive of the other.”

Wait. Wait. Zeppelin grew up in a small, close-minded Southern town in a state that has, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, thirty-eight hate groups in current operation, including skinheads, neo-nazis, white nationalists, neo-confederates and ten distinct chapters of the Ku Klux Klan, among other notably antisemitic groups and she and her mother were persecuted for reading tarot cards?

Not. Buying. It.

We haven’t heard about Zark being Jewish until right now (again, 60% into the book) and by all accounts, it should have been a major part of her backstory and reason for wanting to escape her birthplace. It would have strengthened her leaving so much, and explain more of the resentment toward her mom for keeping her there. Instead, it just gets dropped in like, “Oh yeah, I’m Jewish and used to live in Tennessee and nothing ever really happened with that, it was really all about how mahjickkal I am because I can read tarot cards that you can buy at fucking Barnes & Noble because tarot cards aren’t actually that special and mysterious.”

“That stuff is hogwash,” he growled. “You’re too smart to believe in stuff like that. You shouldn’t believe something just because your parents do–or your family does.”

Um…that’s kind of what being raised in a religion is. If there’s no problem with her being Jewish, then why is there a problem with her believing something else her family does?

I also want to know where the fuck this family is. For the entire book so far, the picture we’ve been given is of Zorb being raised by a single mother in an isolated situation. It’s always been made to sound like they had nothing but each other. In fact, at the beginning of the book, it sounds like that’s the reason her mom wanted her to stay.

I didn’t like his reaction, but it wasn’t like it was the first time I’d heard words like his–or far worse–once someone found out that my mom does readings. I’d been called things I won’t repeat here but I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Yeah, I bet you got called the g-word, which you throw around freely. What did they call you when they found out you were Jewish? I mean, since that was absolutely not a factor in the abuse you received in any way.

“I don’t just believe in it because of my mom and my family. I believe it because…well…because I believe it.” I decided to try to appeal to his sense of curiosity. “Have you ever taken the time to learn anything about the tarot?”

She’s not at all concerned with the fact that he’s insulting her heritage. She’s concerned about him insulting tarot cards. This character is a member of two historically persecuted ethnic groups who have faced rampant discrimination and centuries of genocide, but it’s the tarot cards that the author is choosing to focus on.

What really confuses me here is that Lani Sarem is Jewish. I’m not going to try to tell anyone how they should be Jewish or how to feel about their experiences as a Jewish person, but I’m not sure where the disconnect comes in that it’s okay to stereotype an entire culture that has been subject to some of the very same atrocities as your own, especially when people doing that has historically harmed you, as well. It comes off as though oppression of Romani people is more exotic and mystical and romantic or something and therefore is more interesting and totally available for Sarem to play with as she pleases.

“No. You know I base what I know off of logic. What’s logical about telling someone’s future based off of a fancy deck of playing cards? All that voodoo stuff is bullshit.”

Mac turned away from me for a moment. I knew him well enough to know that sometimes he had a gut reaction that didn’t always stick once he had calmed down. I had learned that sometimes I just had to let him breathe for a moment and process.

You need to learn that if someone flies into a rage because they’ve discovered that you belong to a marginalized group (and here I’m talking about Romani people, since I’m not going to completely disconnect fortune telling from Romani heritage for reasons that are easily google-able if anyone wants to educate themselves further on the subject), that person is not safe. Whether or not all of Zerd’s majikhal heritage is stereotypical bullshit, it is her heritage, and the love interest is “growling” at her about how unacceptable he finds it. This isn’t the behavior of a hero. It’s the behavior of a bigot.

“Is it okay that I feel that way? Or did I just insult your way of life–and your mother?” he asked.

NO! No, it is not okay for you to feel that Zut’s Romani heritage is bullshit! Even if it’s badly represented in this story, it’s not okay.

“No. You didn’t insult anything. I’m used to that reaction.” I shrugged as I answered him and followed it with another sigh.

Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids saying "Are you FUCKING kidding me?"

LANI SAREM IS NOT ROMANI. SHE DOES NOT GET TO WRITE A ROMANI CHARACTER SHRUGGING OFF PREJUDICE LIKE IT’S NO BIG DEAL. SHE IS NOT ALLOWED TO DOWNPLAY THIS AGGRESSIVE ACT OF BIGOTRY THROUGH HER AVATAR AS “IT’S OKAY BECAUSE EVERYONE DOES IT.”

Authors need to stop writing marginalized characters giving white/cis/straight/male characters a pass on being racist/transphobic/homophobic/misogynistic. What that tells readers is that reasonable, likable marginalized people will let you fuck up as badly as you want and still welcome you with open arms. That it’s their duty to be understanding of your inability to respect them as a person and to apologetically ease you into accepting that they are, in fact, human. We see this all the time with concentration camp romances, with slavery romances, interracial and LGBTQA+ romances written by white people and straight cis people. It’s this fantasy of being forgiven or something and it’s such bullshit.

As much as I wanted him to be different from all the rest who had learned about my tarot cards–which were a small part of a much bigger portion of my life–the disappointment of him not understanding was starting to get to me.

At least here she acknowledges that it’s not just about the god damn cards.

Mac gives her an “I’m sorry, but” kind of non-apology in which he reiterates that he feels strongly about how all of this is stupid but he didn’t mean to hurt her feelings.

At least he doesn’t think I’m the devil now, I guess. I wasn’t sure I could cound that as a win. I hung my head. I could feel the beginning of tears springing to my eyes.

Mac cupped my chin with his hand. “Chin up, princess, or the crown slips,” he said.

I really want the bicycle guy to come back and stab Mac to death in the goriest and most violent fashion possible. I mean, just keep stabbing until all that’s left is ground meat. Long after he’s already dead. I mean, I want the jurors at the trial to throw up right there in their chairs. I want the press to omit details on the attack because they’re too gruesome. I want the judge in the case to resign. I want nothing but bad, horrible, terrible, painful things for Mac. Because here he is, telling her he’s sorry that his tirade hurt her feelings, but he’s not sorry about still feeling all the feelings he expressed in that tirade, and then when she’s visibly upset he throws out a trite saying from a mug someone gives as a fortieth birthday gift to an office coworker they don’t know well but who prides herself on being sassy and independent. And he tells her this not to make her feel better, but because he wants her to pretend to feel better so that he doesn’t feel bad anymore.

But of course, she laughs and thinks that at least he’s “appeased” and how she hopes someday he’ll come around. Then there’s kissing.

We move on to a few days later, and Lubzi is on a date with Jackson.

Of course he chose the latest action superhero flick starring Ryan Reynolds.

Just say Deadpool. It’s so weird that she’ll write out the lyrics to whole songs and invent scenes for actual, real-life people to participate in, but she won’t use the title of a movie and just hints around at it.

Ryan Reynolds is just really good at being clever and funny in almost any role and he made the film exciting and fun.

“Please, Mr. Reynolds, be in my movie.”

“Thanks for humoring me and not making me take you to a chick flick. I mean…it’s not that there is anything wrong with them, I’ve just really been wanting to see that movie since I saw the first preview months ago.”

Why would she make you go to a chick flick, Jackson Rathbone? She’s Not Like Other Girls™.

He makes a joke about doing a love spell on her and asks her if she wants to visit an instrument shop, but along the way, they walk past a tarot card reading place and he tells her they should go inside and get a reading. He assures her that he thinks stuff like that is fun and asks her if she believes in it.

I let out a deep breath. “I actually believe in it more than most people. My mom reads cards for a living.” I paused. “I’m just used to everyone saying it’s stupid.” I looked away, thinking about how seldom my beliefs and lifestyle had been met with real acceptance–and how much it continued to hurt for people to be cruel just because they didn’t understand. Even more so, it hurt how little anyone tried to understand or learn more about it before passing judgment.

I can’t believe we’re still going on with how oppressed she is for owning tarot cards, while she belongs to two actually marginalized groups. Owning tarot cards is not an oppression. There’s plenty of material in Lugnut’s backstory to draw on that would make far more sense than, “I better hide the fact that I use tarot cards or no one will accept me!”

Jackson gently lifted my chin with his hand, bringing his eyes to meet mine. “I’m not everyone,” he said quietly.

I smiled a little. “you’re right,” I said. “You’re so different from anyone I’ve ever met.” His reaction was so different than Mac’s–or that of any guy I had ever known.

A part of me wants to be like, “Then pick Jackson. Stop going out with Mac.” Another part of me is wondering, from what we know about Jackson, if he’s talked to Mac and heard about the tarot card incident and now he’s using it to gain the advantage.

With that he kissed me passionately while bending me back like they do in the movies until my knee popped, which anyone who’s ever seen any romantic movie would know, is a very good thing.

Until her knee popped? Is he a chiropractor? And I love being told that I have to find something romantic because it’s romantic in other media. I mean, what’s the use of actually writing something so it seems passionate if you can just be like, “if you thought it was romantic in movies, you have to think it’s romantic here.”

God, this book is so fucking terrible.

313 Comments

    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      Wait, I guess *we* have seen her magical powers, but we’ve only seen the spark thing in performances. We know she can spill lemonade with her dark powers.

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
    • SofiaThatB*tch
      SofiaThatB*tch

      She also has the power to make glass explode and hit only one teenage girl, and hospitalize a random man by flipping him on his back. Tee-hee, isn’t Zardo amazing?

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
      • Katie
        Katie

        Seriously. In any other novel, this character Would.Be.The.Villain.

        I’m starting to imagine a much, much better book where Lambo Girl is the hero.

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
        • CI-B
          CI-B

          Yep. If she actually seemed at all bothered by the fact that her anger + her magic = destruction and harm, she could be a protag. But she consistently is like “yeah everyone’s fine, mostly, and what they got they deserved.”

          Criminy, this fucking book.

          January 27, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            She’s like that about everything. I wouldn’t leave several guys hanging on over a period of months as an adult: either you tell all of them you’re not interested in settling down yet, so they can find someone else if they want to get serious, or you pick one so the other one(s) can find someone else if they want to get serious. I don’t like being used, I don’t like using people, and I don’t like people who use people!

            Sarem should read Fitzgerald’s “Winter Dreams” or “Last of the Belles” (the second has a great video made in the ’70s that tells what was going on in his marriage when he wrote the story). It was natural for Southern Belles to milk every second of their brief glory, because once they married, their lives were pretty much over, and this was the last power they would ever wield. But when they tried to extend that glory past its natural limit, they became ridiculous and pathetic.

            Come to that, she ought to read/view “Mr. Skeffington.” Betty Davis is AWESOME as a former belle who just can’t let it go.

            January 28, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            She’s like that about everything. I wouldn’t leave several guys hanging on over a period of months as an adult: either you tell all of them you’re not interested in settling down yet, so they can find someone else if they want to get serious, or you pick one so the other one(s) can find someone else if they want to get serious. I don’t like being used, I don’t like using people, and I don’t like people who use people!

            Yeah, it’d be different if it was clearly an open relationship and everyone’s limits had been set. The only problem is Mac probably wouldn’t go for that, so I could see some debate if Zani really liked him, but she didn’t want to close herself off from the dating scene. But after a certain point, she’d have to accept that it just won’t work if neither of them is willing to budge on their relationship requirements. And of course, this isn’t what we got. There was no maturity involved. It was just her having some trinkets to hang onto so Zani can feel desirable, but she kept moaning about it to seem like she cared.

            I mean, let’s be honest… If she supposedly uses her Tarot cards for everything and her explanation for the reading that she got doesn’t really match up with the results, as others have explained it in a few different ways (especially Jenny’s), then Zoot Suit Riot probably lied about them refusing to give her an answer. I bet she only did it once, didn’t like the results, and decided to lie about it in the narrative. Then she gave lip service to being indecisive.

            To be honest, given Mac’s overall terribleness and Jackson only wanting to bed her, if Zani wanted anything more out of her relationship, then she’d be better off dumping both of them. It can’t be that hard to find a date outside of her co-workers when every man is practically salivating at the sight of her walking by. 😛

            January 28, 2018
  1. Laina
    Laina

    …foot. It’s supposed to be your foot. If you’re gonna rip off Princess Diaries at least as least get it right.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • Remi
      Remi

      Also, it sounds like he’s dipping her to kiss her – in which case your foot doesn’t even pop because you’re already leaning back. Popping your foot just means you’re abruptly leaving the guy to hold your full weight, which is a quick way to get dropped. I wish I could be shocked that the author of what seems to be trying to be a romance novel doesn’t even know how to write a kiss, but hell she can’t write any other part of the romance either. After a certain point the shock wears off.

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        I don’t think I’ve seen the popping the foot move since I was a kid, both in real life and in media.

        I also love how Lani, instead of describing how great the kiss is, basically compares it to a movie, going, “See? If it’s done in romance movies, then it’s romantic! No build up or description needed!”

        January 24, 2018
        |Reply
        • I do it sometimes, when my husband kisses me, mostly to be funny. I don’t know if anyone does it for real.

          January 25, 2018
          |Reply
          • Jamoche
            Jamoche

            I didn’t think it was a real thing until the time I was hugging a very tall friend and realized that when I went up on my toes, one foot just came up without me intending it.

            January 28, 2018
        • KC
          KC

          I mean, they made fun of it in Naked Gun, which came out in 1988, so it was considered a played-out trope back then. I guess Laneee has dictated it is now quaint and cute again, and everything has finally come full circle.

          January 25, 2018
          |Reply
          • Amy
            Amy

            Naked Gun is always what i think of first when I see the foot pop. XD

            The first time I saw in real life, I was a little kid on the bus, and we stopped near a high school. A couple was right out in front, kissing, and the girl lifted her foot. While all the other kids were going, “OoooooOOOOoooohhhh!” I was going, “Wait, people do that in real life??????”

            When I drink something, I often stick out my pinky. I don’t know if this is something I’m just emulating after years of seeing in cartoons or if it’s a natural reflex.

            January 26, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            I was going, “Wait, people do that in real life??????”

            While investigating, this interesting article turned up. They point out that there’s very little scientific investigation done on the topic, so it could be a social influence thing, but the anecdotal evidence (further down) suggests there could be more to it. Who knows? 🙂

            https://www.salon.com/2016/02/14/the_science_of_swooning_we_dont_really_know_why_some_kisses_lead_to_back_kicks_toe_curls_and_weak_knees/

            Incidentally, the pinky thing is also an etiquette thing, but I’ve also previously found a webpage that insisted that’s not what the upper class does, so I really don’t know. It is something that’s taught (long ago when I took a driving class in high school, the instructor said women should do that when adjusting their mirror lol.) But you might’ve picked it up on your own.

            January 26, 2018
          • Xebi
            Xebi

            Amy: I believe the pinky finger thing originates from when the upper classes would use china so fine that the heat from the tea would burn you unless you lifted that finger so it didn’t touch the cup.

            Middle class people apparently started to emulate this to make it look like like their own china was super posh, and/or simply because rich people did it and it was therefore stylish.

            January 27, 2018
    • River
      River

      All I could think about was how horribly painful it is when your knee pops when bent at an awkward angle. Which is what I got from her description. I’m pretty sure he just blew out her knee while kissing her.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
    • Athena
      Athena

      I have a feeling she deliberately used knee so as to try and not glaringly rip off Princess Diaries. I don’t know if Princess Diaries can copyright calling that move a foot pop, but they might. It’s kinda funny though that with all the possible copyright infringement going on in this book, Sarem worried over that.

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
  2. Ilex
    Ilex

    Aside from all the other issues with this awful chapter and book, being bent backwards “until my knee popped” would probably kill any romantic mood I was feeling, because that made me go “ow!” just before Zani insisted it was a good thing.

    How many more chapters of this are left?

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • Ange
      Ange

      My knee popped once, it took surgery and a year of rehab to get right again. It was SAAAAHHHH ROMANTIC though.

      (not really, it was softball related)

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
    • Suzy
      Suzy

      Yes! I have stretched tendons in one of my knees and the knee cap enjoys popping out at awkward times. It’s not romantic. Especially when it stays popped out and is on the side of my leg and I have to pop it back.

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Dislocation is what all the kids are into these days, right? 😉

        (But seriously, that sounds frustrating to deal with. I hate having my hair on my neck at certain times, I can’t even imagine having to pop my knee-cap back in frequently.)

        January 24, 2018
        |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      How many more chapters of this are left?

      We have 8 chapters left.

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Saints preserve us.

        I hope Sarem never publishes the rest of this “series,” or if she does, that Jenny doesn’t do recraps on it. I’d feel obliged to read them, because I learn so much about how NOT to write, and of course Jenny’s skewering is priceless, but this is making my brain hurt.

        January 26, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Well, she technically has the first chapter of the second book (or part of it anyway) and it starts in media res from the ending! Very amusing. No idea if she’ll actually write more though.

          February 1, 2018
          |Reply
      • Sushi
        Sushi

        I’m going to guess that each chapter will start with another couple of weeks passing and by the end of it, she’ll STILL be dangling these poor guys.

        February 1, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Sort of. We’ve reached the point where Zani is about to stop stalling. There might be one or two more chapters with time passage but it’s about to ramp up into a full two or three days of boring occurrences told after the fact! Whoo! Such excitement.

          And yeah, technically Jackson is still hanging by a thread at the end, but Mac meets the parents, attends a wedding with Zani, and is in on the loop about her magical mystery so it’s pretty obvious that he’s the winner. If she writes more, I’m sure Zani will continue milking Jackson, unless she finally gets bored of that. The sneak peak after the end hints that Zani will become a proper Magical Girl for the sequel but this is Ladenum we’re talking about here…

          February 1, 2018
          |Reply
  3. Acton
    Acton

    Anyone else feel really icky about Mac thinking about how he has nothing to worry about because he’s un-fireable? In light of #metoo, it hits an especially sour note to read someone thinking that about their romantic relationship with a coworker.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • Agent_Z
      Agent_Z

      A lot the behavior of the men in this book sounds like something out of a woman’s nightmare. Sofia almost drowns and no one cares. Then we got the scene of the guys showing unsettling interest in their female co-workers’ sex lives. The last chapter has Sofia describe an incedent which can be interpreted as Charles turning hostile or maybe even violent for calling him a simple nick name. Mac’s attitude doesn’t surprise given the type of work place environment Charles has created.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Yeah. Also, I think Zani was projecting/applying her fantasy onto Mac, based on how many times bands have fired her and how Mac was thinking Zani couldn’t be fired either.

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
  4. Oh god, I just remembered that RITA nominated (winning? Can’t remember. Still angry.) SS officer/Jewish woman “romance” that ends in her converting to Christianity.

    If I could insert gifs, it would be that “flames!” one from Clue.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • JaneDoe
      JaneDoe

      Is that the one that bastardizes the Book of Esther?

      I have seen many a spork of horrible horrible books, but that was the most infuriating one of all. (And the spork in question didn’t even get halfway through yet, IIRC). Disgusting pile of trash.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
  5. MayaB
    MayaB

    I’m usually a silent reader, but there are two-three things which motivated me to participate in the discussion this time. (English is not my mother tongue, so please bear with me if I make any mistakes… or too long sentences.)

    First, the whole thing where everyone says how irreplaceable Zaylord is without explaining why reminds me a lot of the scenes in Twilight, in which Edward calls Bella funny. As a teen I was quite into this books (please don’t judge me – I didn’t know better), but even then I was trying to remember where all these moments were, where Bella showed herself as funny or smart. At some point I decided that they must have happened “out of shot”. It occurred to me much later that it was just bad writing.

    Second, the part where Mac things about what love is reminds me of the over-used Bible verse from the Corinthians: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast…” Not as much the content, but the phrasing made me think of it.

    Third, I feel really bad for the poor cyclist. Her description of his bike and that pieces of it scattered around tells me that he’ll have to pay a lot of money to fix it. And that’s on top of the most probably pretty serious injury he’ll have to take care of in the next months. But, hey, the important thing is that he’s not going to bike anymore today… and that Mac didn’t see it.

    The rest of the (really long) chapter is a disaster by itself, but since I’m not so familiar with the topic, I’ll just leave it to the others to discuss it. But, boy, the book is bad!

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • Kathryn
      Kathryn

      I kept thinking about that, too, Maya – that bike (which Lolo destroyed) was probably really expensive. I bet the brush by her was really an accident; something slipped, or he got distracted for a second, and Ladi’s course of action is to almost maim him and destroy his property. Sure, that’s a totally reasonable reaction. Ugh.

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
      • Indigo
        Indigo

        My partner is blind in his left eye, and every so often he’ll bump into someone if they’re in his blind spot. Of course he apologizes when this happens, but some people have been known to take it badly. Good thing none of them have been vindictive magic users who would have thrown him into traffic or something. (On the other hand, it’s kind of funny when someone says, “Watch it!” and his response is, “I wish I could!”)

        January 24, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          See, that’s actually interesting and amusing, plus it reminds us that some people are differently abled. Also, I suspect the story about why he’s blind in one eye is more interesting than anything in this book, even if it’s simply that he was born that way. XD

          January 24, 2018
          |Reply
          • Indigo
            Indigo

            I won’t say much about it besides “childhood accident”, but he did once reenact the story for a theatre class. He counts that particular sketch as one of his great narrative successes.

            January 25, 2018
        • Kathryn
          Kathryn

          This is such an odd coincidence, but my partner is also blind in his left eye. So weird. He is also apologetic about bumping into people, but I can think of the choice words he would have for Lozar if she were who he’d bumped into.

          January 24, 2018
          |Reply
      • Your comment reminded me of something else bugging me about that bit. Why did Zani make such a big deal about the cyclist hitting her intentionally? What reason would he have to do it? Is he just a troll who likes to run people down with his bike for funsies? Did Lambo girl send him to take Zani out? I’m having trouble understanding what the whole point of that incident was, but then I have to ask why I’m expecting anything to have a point in this book.

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
        • Xebi
          Xebi

          She had to make a big deal of it, because it will be important later. That’s my guess anyway.

          January 26, 2018
          |Reply
          • Melissa
            Melissa

            Yeah, I was expecting him to be some kind of agent who was tagging her or part of a gangstalking that would raise the stakes. Unfortunately the turn was to Mac’s being disgusting and not a plot.

            January 27, 2018
    • Dove
      Dove

      Yeah, I definitely felt bad for the cyclist. How can Zani know what was or wasn’t an accident? She just assumes that it was intentional or at least uncaring and then labels her retribution as “for the sake of others” (although she almost sounds as if she has no control over her own magic which is bullshit… if she can’t contain herself, then she’s a hazard to others.) And it’s not as if the cyclist even injured her, or Mac wouldn’t have been more focused on the purse than on his date! (Hopefully…) Zani also would’ve done far more damage if she accidentally clipped someone while riding around on her expensive motorcycle and she would be livid if someone magically broke it into pieces. 😛

      Also, kind of amazed that Zani didn’t use that Bible Verse as a quote since she loves those so much. Probably because it was Mac’s POV and I think he’s an atheist (although anyone can quote the bible.)

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        So when I was twenty-five, I was playing with my dog when suddenly she knocked my legs out from underneath me, and I fell on back ala’ the same way the cyclist fell on his. I was “not hurt too badly” because I had no broken bones, nor did I bruise.

        But I was in the worse pain of my life.

        I was in horrible pain for months. I couldn’t even stretch without a sudden spike of pain shooting through my back. My sister said she knew when I was awake because I would groan when I got up in the morning. This was seven years ago, and I am still in pain to this day. I could spend up to two hours a day doing exercises and other physical therapy just to MANAGE the pain. So the thought of Zade forcing this stranger live through the same pain I did is horrendous, malicious, and cruel.

        Now let’s say for the cyclist, it really wasn’t that bad. Let’s say it was just a flash of pain and he’s fine. That still doesn’t make it better. If you purposely cause pain, especially enough to make someone cry out, you are a bad person. You are an abuser.

        I also like how Zade played Sherlock Holmes here to determine if the cyclist was worth her wrath. As everyone pointed out here, professional bikes are not found at Walmart for $80. Those bikes can easily cost up to a thousand dollars.

        No professional is going to risk his thousand dollar transport to embarrass you. You are not worth it, Zade.

        And lastly, even though my dog caused me years of pain, I have never punished her, because I understood it was an ACCIDENT. Do you know what that word means, Zade? Instead of brushing off the incident as an accident, instead of forgiving someone for a dumb move, you decided physically assault someone, hurting them greatly in the process, destroyed their property because he didn’t say, “I’m sorry” I treat my dog better than you treat your fellow man.

        Fuck you Zade.

        January 24, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Amen, sister! Also, ouch… It’s worth remembering even minor injuries can have lasting effects. Zani is the worst. 🙁

          January 24, 2018
          |Reply
        • Vix
          Vix

          This x1000! And I can tell from the fact that this was supposed to be LOLZ that Lani has never had a cycling accident. I have. I was travelling at a moderate speed when I came off but I still had some road rash and a broken elbow. The physical stuff wasn’t lasting – it all healed up after a few months.

          You know what DID last? Being scared of cycling. At first even getting on the bicycle would induce a panic attack. Now, 8 years later, I occasionally cycle with friends to get some exercise, and I spend the entire time with a low-grade anxiety buzz. How would Zade know enough to judge if she was going to ruin someone’s favourite pastime for them for the rest of their lives? And would she even care?

          Fuck you again, Zany.

          January 25, 2018
          |Reply
          • Xebi
            Xebi

            My husband used to cycle everywhere. He commuted by bike, he worked out on his bike, he took trips for fun on his bike. He cycled the entire 2010 Tour de France route PLUS the infamous Mont Ventoux, which people have died trying to cycle over, because he’s always wanted to climb it but it wasn’t on that year’s Tour itinerary. He did all of this completely alone.

            About 3 years later he had what seemed like a very minor accident. We were picking gravel out of his elbows and knees for weeks but he wasn’t seriously hurt.

            It’s been another 3 or 4 years and he still hasn’t been back on his bike. As you say, the psychological damage can be much greater than the physical.

            January 26, 2018
          • Kim
            Kim

            Yup. The last bicycle I rode was the one I fell off of/crashed. Borrowed bike; unfamiliar, scary hill. That was almost 25 years ago. How’s that for unprocessed trauma?!

            January 27, 2018
          • Vix
            Vix

            Xebi, I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s accident and Kim, I’m sorry to hear about yours!

            The only way I was able to get back on was by telling friends that I wanted to (I’d really love to do a triathlon some day!), and my friends supporting me, sometimes literally. As in, holding my bike while I hovered over the saddle crying and explaining that I both wanted to do this and I absolutely did not want to do this at the same time.

            If I hadn’t had that support and my little peloton to keep me (feeling) safe on our rides, it definitely would not have happened.

            January 27, 2018
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Once again, Ms. Actual Olympic Athlete doesn’t seem to be familiar with a basic facet of any kind of training:
            avoiding getting permanently spooked when something goes wrong by the whole “getting-right-back-on-the-horse” routine. We’ve all had to do it. One of our All-Arounds told me to get back on the beam, after I had a minor fall (once she had made sure I wasn’t injured), and said to stay there for at least 15 minutes, even if all I did was walk forwards and backwards, and throw in a few pivots. The main thing is not to develop a phobia.

            A friend of mine who shows horses has literally had to “get right back on the horse” many times. She had her worst phobia, however, after being involved in a car accident (the other driver’s fault). She was TERRIFIED to drive again. When I reminded her about “getting back on the horse,” she said her horses had good common sense, but she could never be so sure about other drivers.

            So having Lydia Languish’s sock-puppet shrug off an injury that could traumatize that cyclist emotionally, if not physically, is another example of her tone-deafness to whatever craft she’s writing about.

            BTW, I once got knocked DOWN by a bike messenger on 7th Ave. I don’t have telekinesis, so I just flagged down a cop.

            January 28, 2018
        • Aislinn
          Aislinn

          And the actual workers of magic/ritual I know are careful not to cause harm as it will come back on the worker 3 times.

          January 27, 2018
          |Reply
      • Agent_Z
        Agent_Z

        This is the third person this book has treated like a villain despite being a minor inconvenience to Zappod at worst. Sofia nearly drowns and this is shrugged off because she’s a sexual and career rival. A girl who thinks Looney is hitting on her boyfriend gets attacked with lemonade and glass. Now this guy gets possibly crippled or killed for accidentally knocking her purse out of her hand.

        Compare to how people with far worse conducted have been treated. Charles has inappropriate relationships with a female employee and acts hostile towards her during sex over an inoffensive nickname. Mac turns out to be a bigot. And we’ve yet to see any payoff to the woman who accosted Loopy in the parking lot. None of these people has had any comeuppance for their conduct whatsoever thus far.

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
      • Alicee
        Alicee

        It does sound at first like she doesn’t control her magic here and that would have been sooo much more interesting! A character who injures someone else by accident, because her quick anger make her lost control. And than seeing her beeing scared of that because she realizes she can be dangerous. Even if the guy had been injured far less this could still work in scaring her and having her having to question her magical potential and what it means etc.

        January 26, 2018
        |Reply
        • CI-B
          CI-B

          My thoughts exactly!

          January 27, 2018
          |Reply
      • Jane Eyre
        Jane Eyre

        This just shows how self-absorbed this character is, she cannot understand things being NOT about her. She will NEVER see anything as accident because of course EVERYONE even strangers hate her, and they somehow sense she’s maghijck or tarot read or whatever and therefore do everything out of spite towards her.

        January 27, 2018
        |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      My daughter was a teen when Twilight came out and she loved the series. I was thrilled she was reading. I had to sit through the first two movies for her. lol

      Regardless, there are a lot of books I loved as a kid and teen that I now realize were terrible. So no need to be embarrassed or apologize. And, heck, there are some terrible books and movies that are just fun and that’s OK, too!

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
    • Athena
      Athena

      A lot of this book feels like Twilight, from what I read of it. A girl who grew up with her mother moves to live with her father, falls for a handsome man who at first acts like he hates her but that’s just because of his issues, and then there’s this other guy who likes her but honestly never stood a chance at winning her over. On top of it all, the girl is gorgeous in every way but tries to pull off being humble about her appearance. And the writing skips over weeks and months of the main character’s life nearly every chapter just to get to the “good bits”.

      I didn’t finish Twilight, so I don’t really remember Edward calling Bella funny. What I do remember was Bella’s constant, unceasing mentioning of how clumsy she was. But again, we never saw it except for once or twice when it was convenient to the plot. I mean, I wouldn’t want to see Bella tripping over her own feet every scene, but give us something.

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
    • Mimi
      Mimi

      I have a (distant) relative who died from falling off a moving bike (while wearing a helmet). You don’t have to hit a car for bike injuries to be serious. Zalificent could have straight up murdered this guy all because he spilled her purse.

      That is not the action of a heroine.

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
  6. Ilex
    Ilex

    Yes to feeling bad for the cyclist! That punishment seems far beyond anything he deserved. I felt really bad about the bike getting busted up. Is the reader really supposed to be cheering for Zani after a scene like this?

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Lambo Girl is nicer than Zani… she picked on someone her own size. Incidentally, even more annoyed to find out the few vaguely interesting visuals are stolen from something else. Never heard of the Magicians, I don’t think… Not at all surprised though. 😛

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
  7. Dove
    Dove

    *applauds Jenny’s criticisms regarding Lazy Saddles*

    When Zart started talking about tarot oppression and mentioned being Jewish this far into the book, with only the barest of hints later (the Kabbalah), I personally gave up on thinking Zade is Rroma; she just says her family are gypsies for attention. And the Rroma can be of any faith, but normally a marginalized group won’t double-down on something that will make them even more persecuted unless it’s already deeply ingrained in their culture. It’s easier for the Rroma to be accepted in secrecy if they pick the most common religion where they settle down, and considering the Holocaust (which murdered both groups), I think they’d be even more leery of picking Judaism after that.

    Zani Larem could have made her character a Rroma and a Jew for maximum prejudice, but I’m pretty sure she’s your standard White Girl with any and all numbers sanded off her ethnicity so Zani won’t have to bring up historic injustices or even current cultural injustices so all of the White people will feel happy while reading her piss-poor story, hence the stupid bullshit regarding the fortune-telling and “MahGee” as the only bit of conflict, which gets glossed over a bit less than being a Jew does. Zade is just being stigmatized for her Hot Topic inclinations and nothing more, given how we never see his initial reaction to her being Jewish and he doesn’t seem to care about that (or maybe with how little she tells him and how she keeps lying, Mac was getting sick of it and starting to question how she was bullshitting him this time. It could go all sorts of horrible ways. She’s an unreliable narrator and I just can’t imagine anyone completely ignoring screaming behind him, without even turning around once, and saying the Mug Quote so… yeah.)

    She still sounds like an absolute Narcissist while attacking the Cyclist and of course Mac responding the way she would have… No one has any true fucking empathy except a few of the side characters by accident. Then again, supposedly this world exists within Cartoon Physics land so… meh.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      For the record, I am white so I guess I’m White Knighting there… Er and Judaism doesn’t really get touched on for any source of conflict, it just kind of comes up out of nowhere and is barely touched on again. I’m sorry my comment conflated people of the Jewish faith with BS. That was terrible phrasing on my part. I meant to express that Zani doesn’t do that ethnic group any justice either but I screwed up. 🙁

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
      • Xebi
        Xebi

        It’s pretty obvious that Zither being Jewish is not part of the story at all and is just awkwardly shoehorned in because Sarem is Jewish.

        January 26, 2018
        |Reply
        • MyDog'sPA
          MyDog'sPA

          Sarem only writes what she knows, as we all know she doesn’t bother with research.

          So we’re 60% into the book and this is the first time ZuZu mentions she’s Jewish? Nothing on Yom Kippur? Rosh Hashonnah?

          Chanukah– come on! She’s never mentioned how she feels about receiving ”’Christmas” presents, or even light a menorah? Let alone even have one? Latkes? Come on, she should miss those!!!

          Passover? Does she get the cheap matzoh or the good stuff? Purim? Sukkot? Anything? Sit Shiva for anyone?

          Any yiddish words? Even one? Is anyone ever a schmuck? A putz? (Gaah, this book is giving me shpilkes!) Lox and bagels with cream cheese–never a mention?!?!? How yummy creamed herring is as she watches the goys gag at the sight and smell of it?

          Oy.

          Because from what all Jenny has mentioned in the recaps, ZaZuZzyzx comes across as a total Shiksa.

          Sarem, I don’t have to tell you, but:

          January 26, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Just more cognitive dissonance from this book.

            I had a friend (Italian Catholic) who used more Yiddish than anyone practicing Judaism I ever met. Why? Because she grew up in an area of Long Island where she was surrounded by that culture. So we’d all go into a deli and she’d order matzoh ball soup; meanwhile, some of the folks in the group raised Jewish would be ordering bowtie pasta with pesto, because they grew up in Bensonhurst.

            Meanwhile, I had a relative whose idea of a traditional Friday night Sabbath meal was Arroz con Pollo.

            So if Zexy Zadie Married Lady had remembered BBQs because her family was more MagicK than Kosher, or remembered BBQs she wasn’t allowed to go to because of the pork, or remembered BBQs she wasn’t allowed to go to but did anyway because she was rebelling, you’d have a story and also some insight into her character.

            January 26, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            I’m not sure if she avoided discussing anything Jewish because she’s not practicing the faith and distances herself from the culture, so she can be more generic, or if she just didn’t want to touch on Jewish history. That whole “mortal” versus maybe immortal angle becomes problematic when you consider the latter.

            It would’ve been amazing if she’d gone into any details, but the only non-English in the book is a single spell that might be Google translate Croatian or Serbian.

            January 26, 2018
          • MyDog'sPA
            MyDog'sPA

            Dove and Violetta,

            Then why bother with “Mag-ecchhh” when she could have just as easily used the yiddish “Kishef” to denote the ‘magickkkkk?’

            Farkakt goyim.

            January 26, 2018
    • Tez Miller
      Tez Miller

      Zade is just being stigmatized for her Hot Topic inclinations and nothing more

      *cue South Park scene wherein the Goth Kids burn down Hot Topic*

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
  8. Mel
    Mel

    At least she finally gave a date scene to her and Jackson? Still not an even love triangle and this will be forgotten soon anyway.

    Mac was over the top cruel about Tarot cards. Are they really that big a deal anymore? Like I get people saying that they’re silly but to get that viscerally mad about someone liking them or believing in them is just weird to me. Also off putting so, not really selling me on your romantic hero Zani Larzem.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      Why did she bring the tarot cards with her? Mac could’ve easily seen them in her home during dinner, but no, we had to get this convoluted scene of Zade physically assaulting someone just so the cards could get knocked into view.

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
      • Athena
        Athena

        This is just more evidence that this book never saw an editor. The whole Lemonade scene should have been in place of the Carrot Top/Wayne Newton cameo. It could have put Zade in Lambo Girl’s sights. Mac finding the tarot cards on her coffee table at her place would have made a lot more sense. Zade mentioning her necklace at any point before now would have been good. All of this, and much more, smacks of train of thought writing that never even got a cursory cleanup.

        Though, in all honestly, Zade strikes me as someone who would ask the cards what to have for lunch, so she probably does need to keep them on her at all times.

        January 27, 2018
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          I think of that scene from the first Ghost Rider movie, where the date is sitting at the restaurant, and then she brings out a magic eight ball and uses it. It was supposed to be “funny” but the 8 ball never comes up again, you don’t even know why she has it, what was her question/answer was, and she was supposed to be an experienced 30-something journalist. Why is she bringing a TOY to a first date? It came off as more cringy than funny.

          Now to Zade, the tarot are not toys, but it’s treated like one in the book. They only physically come up twice, and the only reason she uses it is to ask which boytoy she should fuck. It’s literally no different if she used an ouiji board to ask, “Who am I going to marry? Oohhhhhhhh!!!”

          January 27, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Amy:

            January 27, 2018
    • Indigo
      Indigo

      I was pondering this myself. Because, I’m an atheist and was active in that community for quite a while, and I know that the world contains no shortage of assholes (particularly young white male assholes) who will berate someone for their religion or spiritual beliefs being “stupid” and “illogical”. So people like that do exist, though they tend more towards contempt than anger per se.
      But, while such jerkwads are legion, I wouldn’t consider them the majority of humanity. And I especially wouldn’t expect them to be prevalent in small-town Tennessee. That’s where I’d expect more of the assholery to be of the “you consort with demonic powers!!” flavour.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
    • Athena
      Athena

      I was once told I was teaching my younger cousins Satanism because we were playing Harry Potter Uno, by another cousin. So, yeah, I could see someone having that kind of reaction to tarot cards if they were raised in a very conservative, religious household. But I don’t feel like someone who was that ingrained in a conservative religion would be working for a magic act in Las Vegas.

      I feel like I should apologize for how hateful Tennessee is. I had no idea it was that bad. Until recently, the most hateful people I knew of here were, sadly, members of my own family, and the older members at that. So I wrote it off to “they grew up in a different time.” It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized I was the minority, not the majority.

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
      • Courtney
        Courtney

        When I was 12 or 13 a friend’s aunt sent me a long email detailing exactly how and why I’d burn in Hell for enjoying Harry Potter. I’d never met this woman in my life, she got my email address from a forward my friend sent to both of us. Aunt saw my HP email signature and flipped.

        Like, you are an ADULT talking to a CHILD that you don’t even know. Have some fuckin class!

        January 26, 2018
        |Reply
        • Athena
          Athena

          I am so sorry that happened to you. My grandmother told me that I could go to Hell if I wanted, but it would break her heart when I wore a Harry Potter scarf that I had crocheted. Both happened when I was an adult, and they hurt. I have no idea what that kind of attack would have felt like at 13 from a stranger.

          January 27, 2018
          |Reply
        • CI-B
          CI-B

          I have a cousin who babysat some kids who liked to play Harry Potter, around the time the first movie was released. Same kids were scared of monsters being in their room at night, so of course, she theorized, it could be because of those imaginary spells they pretended to cast!

          It was Thanksgiving so I didn’t bother arguing…

          January 27, 2018
          |Reply
    • goddesstio
      goddesstio

      She obviously brought them with in case there was something she needed to make a decision about, seeing as how earlier she made it clear that she doesn’t dare use her head or her heart for any sort of important choices. It’s all about the cards…

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        She obviously brought them so Whatsis could accidentally see them. There is NO real logic to this book.

        January 26, 2018
        |Reply
  9. The CRB
    The CRB

    After what she’s done to the Lemonade girl and now the cyclist ( probably someone else too but I’m forgetful ) , I wouldn’t be surprised if Zade actually murders a person in the second book .

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      There’s just Lemonade Girl and the Cyclist, but Zani vaguely fought back against Lambo Girl and there was the guy in the bar that she kind of lead into danger without any real attempt to diffuse the situation before he got hurt (not her fault other than the writer forcing the poor guy into a bad slapstick gag, which Zani sort of sympathized with.) Also, it’s easy to assume that Zade concocted Sofia’s accident since we’re never given a decent in-universe reason for why it happened (random chaos isn’t good enough), Zade knew it would happen before it did even though Mac wouldn’t listen, and the author’s fingerprints are all over that scene.

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
      • Kathryn
        Kathryn

        Is it terrible that I literally forgot about the lemonade stand thing. Like, it feels like it happened in a different book. This book and time feels like time in the real world (at least since the election): interminably long and full of terribleness.

        January 24, 2018
        |Reply
  10. Heather
    Heather

    Hmmm…a theater-in-the round with a water tank featuring aerial water stunts/dives AND a floating bed–even a frikkin rose toss (close enough to rose petals if you ask me). Is Zarem planning on ripping off the ENTIRETY of Le Reve for her fake show?

    Le Reve is amazing and it deserves better (also all her weird, seemingly nonsensical stage descriptions make more sense now that I have the Wynn’s theater in mind).

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
  11. To be fair, the whole tarot-persecution thing is definitely possible depending on the flavor of the local hate groups. I am a POC, grew up in Tennessee, and practiced paganism as a teenager. I definitely heard more about the paganism than about being a POC (at least to my face), but that’s because the community was religiously conservative and that’s the way the prejudice presented itself.

    Prejudice against Romani people is high in the South and the stereotypes do include associates with the mystical/occult, so there’s that.
    Also, I get the feeling that people think this group is an “acceptable” target of prejudice. Most people (even in Tennessee) don’t want to think of themselves as being explicitly racist or anti-semitic but, throwing around a slur like gy**y is no big deal. I’ve had to correct several people about who the Romani are.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • *a form of paganism as there is a huge variety.

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      That’s a very good point. I think the bigger issue is how it’s presented. Zani doesn’t explain that it’s indicative of something deeper (nor does she explain the slur), plus she created her own sanitized slur to focus on instead at one point (Magi), so it’s hard to take her seriously when she brings up the IRL stuff like this.

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
    • Athena
      Athena

      I think the reason being prejudiced against paganism and things associated with it is considered ok is because that can be “fixed.” All my life I heard that we were shepherds to bring the lost into the flock. It was our duty as Christians to help the fallen find God again. As I got older and started to question this, among other things I was taught, I realized that this way of thinking made the only “good” people either us or the people we “saved.” It disgusted me that the same church that preached to love everyone could vilify anyone who didn’t think like we did.

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
  12. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    “Sarem also told author Claribel Ortega that the film version of Handbook For Mortals will be out this year. If you’re familiar at all with big budget, effects-heavy fantasy movies you will know that is not enough time to accomplish a good one, even if the movie released on December 31 because the project is still “in development” according to IMDB.”
    **********************
    I haven’t even got to the recap proper, but I can tell you that that is not enough time to put out a thoughtful little indie with no SFX or a straight-to-video cheapo-crappo exploitation vid. I’ve done extra work for both, and it can take about two years to reach the public.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
  13. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    “I wrote a romance novel in middle school about a passionate romance going on between the leads in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and I wish I still had it so I could compare it to Handbook For Mortals. I honestly believe they were written at the same skill level. ”
    ***********************************************
    I don’t, Jenny. You were a TALENTED 12-year-old.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • Elyssa
      Elyssa

      She’s hinted at this romance a few times now AND I WANT IT. Because 12 year old me would have been SO into that.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        We did “Dreamcoat” at my school when I was 11. And I DID have a crush on our Joseph, although I was just singing in the chorus and hardly interacted with him. :-(.

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
  14. Nanani
    Nanani

    Another point on the racism bingo: Voodoo is a distinct practice that has roots in African folklore as practiced by enslaved people and their descendents in Haiti and the American bayou. It is pretty offensive to lump it in with the other things the character practices like that!

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      There are different varieties of voodoo (Louisiana) or Vodu (Haiti), just for a start. Which tradition does Zum-Zum follow?

      For another thing:
      *************************************
      “I thought you were Jewish.”

      “I am. ….One is not exclusive of the other.”
      *************************************
      Didn’t major in theology, but I know that most major religions are against divination of any kind. Although nominally Catholic people in New Orleans (and the smaller number of Protestants and Jews) consulted Marie Laveau, it was frowned on by religious leaders. In contemporary Judaism, it depends on how religious the family is; obviously, not everybody lives like the ultra-Orthodox guys in parts of Brooklyn. (Kabbalah, however, is considered a superstitious cult by many mainstream Jewish congregations.)

      Again, there could have been really interesting story here.

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
      • Athena
        Athena

        Didn’t major in theology, but I know that most major religions are against divination of any kind.

        Which is weird considering how many prophets there were in the Bible Literally people who had the gift of prophecy, seeing the future. This and other contradictions were what started me questioning and in the end leaving the church.

        January 26, 2018
        |Reply
    • Kim
      Kim

      Right?! He also casually threw ”voodoo stuff is hogwash,’ into his racism stew back there. So this young, sexy, funny, very self-assured guy who’s in [sorta, possibly, we haven’t definedt] love with Zaaney (ok, that is fun) sounds like the worst parts of my late grandma?! And then she very deliberately talks herself down by reframing his bigotry as, ‘Oh well, my man just massively overreacts sometimes, that’s just him! If I wait it out, he’ll say the right thing later’ As if that textbook abuse shit is better!

      January 27, 2018
      |Reply
  15. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    “He landed pretty hard on his back, and made a few loud sounds of shrieking pain as the bike crashed into a bench, sending a few pieces going in different places.

    “‘I was fairly certain he wasn’t permanently injured….’

    He landed flat on his back on pavement and is shrieking in pain, but as long as Zadist is “fairly” certain he’s not permanently injured, that makes it all right.’

    *************************

    Long ago in a galaxy far away, I did gymnastics. Landing flat on your back hurts like a sonofabitch even if it’s on a tumbling mat. Do it on the pavement, and you could end up paralyzed for life, the extent depending upon the level of impact and which vertebrae and areas of the spinal cord were damaged.

    Inflicting this, even in imagination, on someone who sideswiped your purse is beyond petty. She could have just given him a flat, or even had the seams of his bright yellow and pink spandex leggings publically split right up his plumber’s crack.

    This woman is SICK.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      It lends so much credence to the theory that Zani was the reason the set platform malfunctioned while Sofia wasn’t wearing her harness. Zani’s ability to see the future and going to Mac about it could have been a lie she concocted to make herself seem innocent (while creating some suspicion.) I mean, we never see her future sight again and Zani herself has conflicting details about how Sofia reacted so….

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
    • Sup, fellow former gymnast!

      I’ve fallen on my back on the floor mat and I damn near blacked out. Zani is a sociopath.

      Seriously, she could just use her mahjicks to make a pigeon shit on his head or something

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
      • small jar of fireflies
        small jar of fireflies

        The absolute simplest solution would have been to put a spell on his bike to make it harder to pedal. He’s forced to slow down. While he’s paying attention to why it’s suddenly harder to go fast, he has to focus more on the things around him. That habit will stick with him for a while. And the next day, the spell’s worn off, everything’s back to normal, no harm done.

        Instead, she just sent him to the hospital, at least, for a checkup. If he’s serious about exercise, he’s probably going to end up with a full-body x-ray to find hairline fractures, so he knows if he can bike again or not. People around just got surprised by shrieks of agony, so I hope nobody’s a vet, or there aren’t small children. The cyclist doesn’t even know what caused his accident, so he’s either going to never cycle again, because reality attacked him for it, or keep doing what he’s doing.

        This is why I’ve been so keen on discussing what it would actually do to people to undergo the things that have been written about. Because Zod just fucking destroyed this guy. She flung him into a solid object with his full momentum (possibly whatever was added by the spell.) And she did it… because he bumped a person.

        We’ve seen people bounce skull-first off metal poles and the ground. We’ve seen people fall 40 feet. They’re back at work, no problem. We’ve seen people stand next to exploding glass and be a-ok. A cyclist bumping people does not rate as a threat. He’d have to be deliberately plowing into people with his bike, and that still wouldn’t be too bad. Because he’s gonna be fine.

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        To quote Dilbert: “I like the way you stink.”
        Seagulls are even better. They really nail people.

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
  16. Laura Teague
    Laura Teague

    I like how the obvious don’t-call-me-Shirley joke sails right over Charles’s head, then two seconds later he’s VERY AMUSED by the word “friend.” A real wit, this guy.

    Probably off-topic, but the part about Ryan Reynolds being “just really good at being clever and funny in almost any role” jumped out at me (and this isn’t the first time I’ve come across it) because I’ve been completely unable to watch him in ANYTHING since “Buried.” Magnificent performance that has utterly destroyed my ability to see him do anything else.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • I can’t watch Christian Bale in anything after seeing “American Psycho”. That chainsaw sequence ruined him for me forever.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      The “don’t call me Shirley” joke is a classic and still get a chuckle out of people if done right. It’s so mind-boggling that Lani can screw up a joke practically handwrapped for her.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
    • Megan M.
      Megan M.

      OMG, “Buried.” That movie still haunts me.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
  17. Im not defending you zani
    Im not defending you zani

    Anyone else feel Jenny’s ethnic rant was kind of unnecessary here? I mean, Mac was talking about how stupid it is to believe in tarot card type magic and then asking if he insulted her family by saying tarot cards are stupid, not claiming her religion or ethnicity were bullshit. At least that’s how I read it. And of course Zerp focuses on the cards, since that’s what they’re talking about. It’s also fine to focus on them ‘cos if a guy can’t accept little card magic, how could he accept stuff like that as a lifestyle, not to mention real magic (not that there is any in this book).

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      But he already knows her mom was the local tarot reader. So he’s aware he was not only insulting Zade’s religion, but her family’s main source of income, her background, her childhood, her MOM, and Zade just casually goes, “I’m used to it”???

      I’m used to having dumb asian stereotypes shoved down my throat, but just because I’m used to is doesn’t make it okay.

      But if Mac didn’t know about Zade and her tarot reading job, then what the hell have they been talking about for last couple of months???

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
      • Tez Miller
        Tez Miller

        But if Mac didn’t know about Zade and her tarot reading job, then what the hell have they been talking about for last couple of months???

        *cue Ralph Wiggum* “So…do you like…stuff?”

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Ralph Wiggum is SWEET. He is at peace with himself, even if nobody around him is.

          January 25, 2018
          |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Mmmm… Mac could have been pretty typical in the hands of a better author. Most people don’t think that highly of Tarot. That’s how I presumed his reaction went the first time I found out about this scene. But even then, it’s worth bringing up the fact that this isn’t some generic fantasy archetype like a vampire or a wizard (even though the gypsy fortuneteller is a cliche), and I don’t think Zani confirmed that she’s actually supposed to be an ethnic minority until this scene. A Jewish Rroma who tells fortunes without some serious character building and actual development of the idea is a missed opportunity. We’re talking about three distinct cultures here (Jewish, Rroma, and Magickal) as well as playing with tropes involving all three…

      It’s a bit like writing about a Buddhist Rapper who focuses on Zen-inspired lyrics and has true occult powers influenced by her religion. There has to be at least one such person, if not more, with all the people in the world, but if the character is also a blonde woman, it requires some effort to make the idea work and Zani didn’t go through any effort, so it’s just downright weird, especially since she’s absolutely not using it to remotely talk about any of these things. It’s just a backdrop because her imagination is kind of limited.

      Like, if we suddenly found out that Zani was an immortal unicorn turned into a human, it’d be less irritating for a real-life minority to deal with, but it’d be horrible story-telling all the same. Quite frankly Mac’s reaction would make a little more sense if she was a unicorn, although even then, more often people simply respond with wide-eyed disbelief when hearing something they consider ridiculous. He did sort of, but he quickly became argumentative, like he suspected a lie. That doesn’t bode well for their relationship.

      But really, replace his reaction to anything else she might do instead, and it’s still hurtful, I think.
      —-

      “What are these?” Mac helped me pick up some of my Magic the Gathering cards, but he had a look of disdain on his face; he was holding up a few of them in his hands, my old Black Lotus card most prominent among them.

      Mac looked deeply perturbed. “You don’t really waste money on these, do you?”

      “Yeah. I do. I mean, my mom plays tournaments for a living. I kind of grew up around it; my family are gamers and I practice playing. It’s fun. It’s not a big deal.”

      At first he said nothing. Then he looked somewhat confused again, and asked, “I thought you were Jewish?”

      I smiled. “I am. We are. One is not exclusive of the other.”

      “That collectible stuff is pointless,” he growled. “You’re too smart to spend your money and your time like that. You shouldn’t do something just because your family does.”

      “I don’t just play because of my family. I enjoy it because… well… because I enjoy it.” I decided to appeal to his sense of curiosity. “Have you ever taken the time to learn about deck-building?”

      “No. You know I base my hobbies off of logic. What’s logical about spending a small fortune just to stay in the meta? All that Yugioh stuff is bullshit.”
      —-

      So, this guy is just condemning her and then she’s okay with it… and he gets a pass because he becomes mildly self-aware of that but doesn’t really soothe her or apologize. Replace the deck of cards with anything else, a handgun, a vibrator, a small Quran (maybe a dual-religious household), or a My Little Pony figurine, and it still seems awkward because we have no idea what she told him already or at what point of acquaintanceship they’re even at. She mentioned off-screen that she’s Jewish but not about most of her past like he was asking about a few chapters ago. This doesn’t lend itself to a fleshed out relationship between the two characters and it also leaves the reader wondering what else Zani failed to mention as the narrator. And while this scene could be a good character-building conflict, it’s too little, too late, and really badly written at that. You could have the same reveal about Zani being Jewish, with Mac mentioning it out of surprise, and it’d be fine if it happened about ten chapters ago. We’re on chapter 13 (technically 14 since the first chapter is numbered 0) and there are only 8 left.

      The plot is about to kick in and this will essentially be dropped by the wayside, although technically it’ll just be resolved by Mac finding out Zani is real magicks. But more importantly, in a few chapters, Mac is going to think Zani is two-timing him with Charles, get upset, and walk-out in the middle of the act. Zani will fall into a coma and even though it’s not really Mac’s fault (ha ha ha ha ha, it sounds insane to say that since he’s the safety director but it’s TRUE), it’s ostensibly going to be blamed on Mac. We should’ve already seen this issue about the tarot and had it resolved prior to such events.

      So it’s a non-issue that makes Mac look controlling and then Zani is unsympathetic anyhow because she LITERALLY JUST HARMED A MAN and neither of them give a fuck about that cyclist. Remember, Mac is having this conversation instead of looking over his shoulder and seeing why some guy is screaming at him… the tarot is so reviled by Mac that he can’t focus on anything else. This entire chapter is a huge mess of raw tonal shifts, narcissistic personalities, and poorly handled drama. I think every single criticism that can be mentioned might as well be.

      The ethnic appropriation issue is just the tip of the iceberg. It might seem irrelevant to the tarot discussion directly, but when the entire thing gets unpacked, none of it works. Just none of it. This entire chapter should’ve ground Zani’s three editors to a halt and been covered with notes.

      The only thing I can thank Zani for is not suggesting that Lade was stolen as a child, but that’s bare bones gratitude. I doubt she was even thinking of anything besides Bohemian this entire time, rather than Rroma stereotypes (and the only non-English line of dialog in the entire book uses a Slavic language.) This is why words matter, Zani.

      /end rant

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
      • Im not defending you zani
        Im not defending you zani

        I haven’t read this book (I mean why would I?), so based on what you said I agree this conversation should have taken place much earlier. It could’ve been used to naturally make Zupzup lean more towards Jackson, and Mac would’ve been forced to take tarot cards more seriously to get back to her good grades once jealousy kicked in hard enough.

        I loved the deck-building swap, and I agree, it’s hurtful no matter what he was calling stupid. My point was exactly that it was hurtful, not racist and whatever else.

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Sorry, what I was trying to say in my own rambling way is that the author is most definitely racist and even if it’s not inherently a part of Mac’s tirade, the bigger issue is that it exists in the narrative. For example, Zade forgot De’Mar Hamilton’s name in the narrative and I think Riley or Tad reminded her, but she explicitly made certain that the readers knew she’d forgotten or didn’t know his name… and he’s the only African American in Jackson’s band. You could call it a realistic coincidence but this never happens again. Either they’re never named or Zade as narrator just cuts to the chase and tells you who they are.

          It’s kind of hard to say that Jenny isn’t wrong when it’s clear that this whole story is Zani’s fantasy and she wants to be right about using the term gypsy and how she’s the bigger woman because oppression isn’t a big deal even when it targets her. Remember, she’s Not Like Other Girls so she’s also Not Like Other Magicians and Not Like Other Ethnic People. Even if the conversation is as downplayed as it could have been, Mac kept bringing up Zani’s family so he is insulting her family indirectly by saying what they believe is stupid and implying that Zani is being a sheep. If he’d made that comment about her being Jewish, it would’ve been all three…

          But yeah, that was my opinion. If you disagree, that’s fine. 🙂

          January 26, 2018
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            Sorry, I was in a rush last night with that comment, trying to get to bed. I didn’t end up disagreeing with what you said at all Not Defending… I kept running around the point that Jenny explained much better. x.x;

            January 26, 2018
        • Jenny Trout
          Jenny Trout

          The thing is, she’s tying tarot cards and fortune telling and magic *directly* to an actual ethnicity. She’s not saying, “I read tarot cards AND my family are Romani,” she’s saying, “I read tarot cards BECAUSE my family are Romani,” as though that’s a default. Meaning that Mac’s tirade against the cards is a tirade against the culture as Lani is representing it. So, she’s using cultural stereotypes to build her main character and she’s allowing that main character to excuse the prejudice actual living people face as a result of those stereotypes. If the entire thing about tarot and Mac’s objection to it was totally divorced from any ethnic background at all, it wouldn’t be an issue.

          January 26, 2018
          |Reply
      • MayaB
        MayaB

        I’m amused and annoyed at the same that you use MTG as an example. It definitely helped me understand better the issue, though. But, please, no one carries a Black Lotus just like that in her purse. 😀

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          This is Zani Larem. She’d totally have a first edition Black Lotus in a super protective sleeve for good luck. It would only make her angrier at that cyclist. 😉

          January 26, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            I knew a guy who worked at a gaming shop. Instead of the usual wooden pendant on the key to the customer bathroom, he had attached a Black Lotus card, with, of course, 2 ginormous segments cut out of it to hold the chain attachment. He enjoyed driving gamers crazy.

            January 26, 2018
      • Dove
        Dove

        He enjoyed driving gamers crazy.

        I don’t even play Magic anymore (I never got that into it and these days LCGs work better for me), but that would still drive me crazy too. 😛

        January 26, 2018
        |Reply
    • SofiaThatB*tch
      SofiaThatB*tch

      Weirdly, I never read it like that. Mac just came off so in-your-face about the fact that he thinks it’s bullshit. I don’t even like Zani, Mac, or Jackson but I’m still wondering why she doesn’t pick the guy who’s not shitting on this big aspect of her culture/life.

      And I get where Jenny, and a lot of others who’s seen Zani’s appropriation (or misuse) of the Romani culture and term, is coming from. She’s been so self righteous about her defense of herself in that aspect that to see her not even write about it, use it, or defend it in her book properly is galling.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        Guys like Mac don’t give up their views overnight, not even for the girl they like. Tarot is one of *the* most defining aspecting of Zade’s life, so having your boyfriend practically vomit all over it should’ve been a huge clue that this rat bastard is not for you. Do you think he’ll change, Zade? Do you think the power of love will make him see that light?

        *whispers* they don’t, they just become less vocal about it

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
        • SofiaThatB*tch
          SofiaThatB*tch

          Nope, there are no character developments there. They stay the shit characters they are BUT Zani will write some dialogue or scenes SAYING they’ve changed but doesn’t show anything actually happening.

          So yeah, spot on there

          January 25, 2018
          |Reply
  18. Dorothy
    Dorothy

    Why is Zani telling us about romance movie tropes? We were just told that she’s Better Than Chick Flick Viewers…

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
  19. Jade
    Jade

    Hey! I saw you mentioned you’ve just started watching The Magicians and I just wanted to give a heads up in case you don’t know as a trigger warning: there’s a rape scene early on in season 2 and a lot of flashbacks in subsequent episodes. It is really graphic and jarring so I just wanted to warn.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • Jenny Trout
      Jenny Trout

      Thank you! Yes, everyone has warned me, but I got really nervous in the first episode with the bathroom scene in the club. I was like, “I thought this happened in season two…”

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
  20. yamikuronue
    yamikuronue

    The knee popping thing is from Princess Diaries. From the references it sounds like Sarem is roughly my age, since she hits all the same pop culture references I think of and discard when I’m writing as not accessible enough. Fancy that.

    I’m trying to remember if the crown/chin line is from PD too, but I don’t think it is.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Old Hollywood movies from the 30s and 40s will often use the knee pop on a First Kiss scene, usually on the girl’s porch. Then the teenage girl goes inside, closes the door, leans against it, and sighs ecstatically

      Film critics have cited this as a socially acceptable method of indicating physical attraction, with the knee being code for an erection. And no, I’m not joking.

      Its use in Princess Bride, as in a few sitcoms, is meant to be a humorous reference to an outdated Hayes Code convention.

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        *princess Diaries. Brain on tired.

        January 24, 2018
        |Reply
  21. Rebecca
    Rebecca

    Because of the relative anonymity here, I will tell you what this reminds me of: I am a juror for a modestly sized grant for sci-fi/fantasy writers. One year I read a submission that was Nazi/Jew slash-fic. I had to find, oh my god you guys, I HAD to find constructive criticism, because that’s what we’re meant to do. Instead of, you know, saying “this does not belong here, or anywhere, not even your head, definitely not my head, please excuse me while I find the brain bleach.”

    The only Olympics Lani Sarem has participated in are the Mary-Sue-oppression-Olympics in this book.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      But if it wasn’t fantasy or sci-fi, then you could’ve said it didn’t belong in your slush pile, right? The author needed to submit it to a romance grant maybe… (I mean anything with Nazis is basically taboo so it’s really more likely to be porn or just… poorly understood humanity. Many of them were normal people, but that kind of depressing, horrifying life or death situation is gonna be really hard to build a romance around and then there’s the issue of dubious consent depending on how they meet. God, why am I considering the parameters… Point being, you’re right and I don’t envy your situation then.)

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        They had relationships like that in “Seven Beauties” and “The Night Porter,” but they were SUPPOSED to be sick.

        In an actual case, Edith Hahn Beer wrote about her marriage in “The Nazi Officer’s Wife.” Apparently, there was real affection between them, but the marriage fell apart a few years after the war ended.

        The story is fascinating and sad, but there’s nothing kinky about it. Just another example of the ways that ugly episode in history damaged lives, when it didn’t end them altogether.

        January 24, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Well, yes, but if it’s slash, then they can’t hide it by marriage. It could definitely be about genuine affection between gay and/or bisexual men, but Rebecca’s reaction leads me to believe that the author in question erred on the side of enjoying the costumes and the BDSM way more than: “Hey, this gay guy used a time machine that he built. Let’s see if he can kill Hitler! Oops, he got discovered! Will this be the end of our hero, or will he cleverly escape with the help of an amorous Nazi officer turned defector?”

          And well… it’s just a tricky relationship to write without the potential power imbalance being uncomfortable. 😛

          January 24, 2018
          |Reply
          • MamaLich
            MamaLich

            Yup, it’s also rather difficult to write a slash pairing when you make a lead character ‘comfortable’ around atrocities and prejudice (like, even if the officer was going to be defecting—what the hell was he doing (or will be doing) the whole time when his Nazi buddies were hunting down gay people and sending them off to dangerous work camps/literal death camps? I’m not gay (or a guy) by any means—but I’d honestly feel uncomfortable with a boyfriend who’d say he loves me, but would do minimal effort to help if people like me (and people from many, many, MANY other groups) were getting killed by his leaders).

            January 25, 2018
          • Rebecca
            Rebecca

            I don’t want to say too much more, because I do love my position on the grant, but it was ‘fantasy’ as it was set in an alternative Earth universe, but it was just so very blatantly clear that it was a white supremacist writing same-sex holocaust torture/savior porn, that I was completely nauseated through the whole thing. There are things you don’t slash, yo.

            January 25, 2018
  22. Amy
    Amy

    Charles, Zade is a twenty-five year old woman. She’s not a child, and she doesn’t need you to act like her white knight and interrogate her boyfriends. You know she has magick powers and foresight, so I’m pretty sure if Mac broke her heart, she has the ability to break his head. She can take care of herself.

    And considering you’re openly sleeping with Sofia, office romance is not banned, so your conversation with Mac is unwanted, unprompted, and possibly illegal. You do not have the authority as an employer or as a father to do this. Back off, you creepy old man.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
  23. falalala
    falalala

    My jaw dropped at the cyclist scene. The lemonade was bad enough, but “A guy bumped into me and made me drop my purse, so I’ll magically cause him to have a serious accident that leaves him screaming in agony! Tee hee, it’s karma!” How does anyone write that scene and think “the character doing this is a lovable heroine” and not “the character doing this is a terrifying sociopath”? If she’d just, like, magically put a big ugly scratch on his fancy bike, I’d think Zaphod Feeblebrain was being a petty jerk, but I could still potentially sympathize with and root for a character who was occasionally kind of a petty jerk. I have no idea how anyone is supposed to root for someone who thinks “I’ll destroy his bike and injure him in a way that will definitely cause him immense physical pain and could very easily leave him concussed, paralyzed, or freaking DEAD” is a reasonable response to “he made me drop my tarot cards.”

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      “But think of the children!” Zaphod Feeblebrain cried. “And the old people!”

      “Don’t worry.” Lambo Girl smirked. “I’m keeping them all far, far away from you.”

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
  24. Crystal M
    Crystal M

    The scene with the cyclist was extra disturbing because it reminds me of the time I stepped into the local pagan community…and then quickly ran away. There were a lot of girls like Zilzo who could cast spells like that, cruel and sadistic spells for petty shit like being bumped into. Luckily, real life doesn’t work like a book and nothing would happen. But these girls believed that they had the right to cause horrible things to other people. One of them said, it’s okay because the cops can’t prove it was magic and arrest me.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • Elyssa
      Elyssa

      Girl congratulations on getting out of a real-life version of The Craft. *shudder*

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
  25. katiedidwhat
    katiedidwhat

    Humidity in a theatre space. Dang. For starters, anyone who has ever been to a live theatre event *indoors,* sat in the audience and felt uncomfortably warm, either the AC was broken that day, or you are a liar. If you’re in the audience feeling warm and sticky, multiply that by 1000 and that’s what the performers on stage are feeling. This is not typically allowed to occur. I knew a stage manager who told about running a show where she actually had to call cues for adjusting the heat and a/c in order to keep the stage at a reasonable level for the performers. (Reasonable can still mean sweating through your suit lapels. Yes, lapels. I have seen that. That was definitely an actor problem, but not a weight or lifestyle problem, he just sweated that much.)

    But, OK, let’s say Zebedee’s three stories up in the catwalk of a modern Las Vegas theatre with working air conditioning and… I still don’t buy that it’s that humid up there. Any theatre grid I’ve ever been in is a dry heat- like an attic in July.
    Since Vegas is basically the definition of a dry heat (Remember how she boringly explained it’s a mythical 124 degrees?), I dunno why it would suddenly be humid indoors. How big is that freaking pool of water anyway that it made the entire space into a sauna? Not buying it.

    But, OK, to Jen’s question re: equipment and moisture. ETC (the best known theatrical lighting company in the US) makes only one water resistant fixture. It was designed specifically to sit outside year-round in, I am not kidding you, temperate South Africa. Apart from that, they don’t even address weather resistance in their specs. I know I’ve seen ETCs in outdoor applications. I’m pretty sure the Delacorte Theater (where Shakespeare in the Park is held in NYC) uses ETCs and more than just a single instrument type (so, even if they had some of that model that I know is water resistant, they use ones that definitely aren’t, too). Now, maybe they do strike the entire thing between shows; they’re a union house and they have the money to do it if they wanted to. But I’m thinking that it may not be that big a deal, honestly. …Anybody worked at Oregon Shakespeare Festival who could speak to their set-up? I mean, that’s a temperate rainforest, so if they don’t require special equipment, pretty much nobody does.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • A. Noyd
      A. Noyd

      Oregon’s Shakespeare Festival is in Ashland, which sits in a rain shadow right at the California border, so it’s pretty dry there.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
  26. Our heroine sends shards of glass all around a teenager at a lemonade stand and sends a bicyclist flat on his back on concrete – howling in pain.

    THIS is who we’re supposed to root for?

    I would say bite me Zade. Except that she probably *would*.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      I’m rooting for Sofia, the girl who keeps getting knocked down. Her boyfriend treats her like dirt. She works her ass off to become the top performer, only to lose it to this country bumpkin who has never set foot in Las Vegas before today. She sat in her hospital room, all alone with no flowers, cards or visitors. All of the men in her acting troupe thinks she’s just a slut and is worth nothing more.

      How many times has Sofia physically assault someone? Zero.

      Sofia is our hero, she’s the straight man in this world of plot holes and bad grammar.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
  27. HerImperialMaj
    HerImperialMaj

    Alright, so to be clear, is Zyzyvva sleeping with Bigot or Furniture at this point? Because it’s been months, so I see only two scenarios:

    1. She is not having sex with either one of them. Despite being the sort of Casual Cool Girl who can have no-labels relationships with two men who know each other, she is also the Virtuous Heroine who will only ever give her maidenhead to her One True Love.

    2. She is having casual sex with both of them. Git ‘er done.

    I call bullshit on both scenarios. To be clear, I think either is fully acceptable in real life with actual goddamn adults. But this is Landmine’s world, where she is perfect and men are absolutely obsessed with her. So if she’s not sleeping with either, they will go insane because they are denied her perfect, magical cooch. They would each get suspicious that she is sleeping with the other guy but not them. (Do they know about each other? I think yes, but I just can’t bear to look back through this tripe.) But she can’t possibly be sleeping with both, because that would make her a dirty dirty slut slut, like Sofia. /s

    Clearly Long John Zilver is so determined not to advance the plot at all that she has forgotten sex is a thing. God, she’s the worst.

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
    • Fer
      Fer

      Is because he said she looks better in nothing meanning naked?

      Yeah, I think in that too but in chapter 5 or 6 she was in the dressroom trying some of her outfits and he sees part of it because the door was open. So Mac has seen Zani almost naked and likes it, therefore the comment, but aparently Larva is virgin.

      As for if Mac and Jackson know about the other yes they know, but why they`re cool with it I do not know. Most scince Mac begins to be jealouse of Charles for being overfriendly with her and gossip if he is in love of Larva and for the fact that he has a sour relationship with a woman named Clara.

      I think because she hasn`t made it official with any of them that is why they doesn`t bother too much with the other. But again Mac is jealous of Charles so…

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      I wonder if Lani has hesitated writing sex scenes because it would mean SHE would be acting in them? I know if I was writing a book with the knowledge I would act these scenes out, I too would hesitate.

      Acutally, I take that back. I wouldn’t hesitate, but I would be like, “ohhhh mahhh gwaaaad what am I doing????”

      But no, I agree with you that lack of sex is more likely due to the bullshit whore/madonna dichotomy. But wait, why is Mac acting jealous of Spellman when it’s obvious the person he should be slutshaming over is Jackson?

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
      • Can you imagine the atrocity of a scene that would be? Written by Lani? We should be grateful. I feel like a sex scene from her would open some sort of hellmouth.

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          Judging from the kissing scenes, it could go a few ways:

          -It’s filled with such flowery, over the top descriptions, the reader wouldn’t even know what was happening. Arms and legs would be all over the place, you wouldn’t know who was on top or in what direction, and the descriptions of the dick would only be “shaft” and “hard member”. The pussy would be described as “flower” or “precious cave”. Semen or vaginal secretion would never be described or hinted at. And condoms and birth control will be never be considered. It’ll be extremely vanilla, not even oral would happen. And then Zade will end up pregnant because drama

          – It’s very mechanical, ‘slot A into B’ written style. Foreplay is barely described, orgasm is achieved within seconds, and Zade would use magick to prevent pregnancy, but still get pregnant somehow due to prophecy.

          -because this is a movie script, it’ll fade out to black and we get nothing.

          January 25, 2018
          |Reply
          • KC
            KC

            Sarem always cuts out the interesting stuff and leaves in the boring bits. So it would be some hacky trash like:

            I whirled around to see Mac standing there with a grin. “Oh, you surprised me, I almost jumped out of my skin!” My heart was pounding because I was so surprised and startled.

            “Speaking of jumping” Mac grinned slyly and moved in closer to get closer to me…

            Several hours later, Mac was fixing his Panasonic DVD player. He bought it at discount at Sam’s Club when he was hanging out with Dan Wilson from Semisonic, who he went to high school with. The DVD player was always spitting out DVDs, and Mac was endlessly fighting it, trying to convince it to play our favorite DVD of “The Godfather”. I know the movie “The Godfather” is not a typical movie for a girl to like, but I just loved all the great Italian culture in the movie.

            January 25, 2018
          • Amy
            Amy

            @kc

            I legit laughed. XD

            January 25, 2018
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            KC:. Holy Guacamole, you’ve NAILED it.

            You made me laugh snot all over my phone!

            January 25, 2018
          • falalala
            falalala

            @KC

            Ha! Brilliant.

            I was especially delighted by how perfectly you imitated Zerg’s irritating habit of repeating the same information over and over, often using the exact same words multiple times in close succession in order to redundantly restate information that the reader already had because Zerg told us that information already. While I find Zerg’s habit of repeating herself like that to be pretty irritating, you imitated it perfectly, which delighted me. 😉

            January 26, 2018
          • KC
            KC

            Haha, thank you! It took some work to get it to be as awful as Sarem’s writing, but editing your writing to be terrible is a lot of fun, as it turns out!

            As an aside, if you also love purposely terrible writing, check out the Bulwer-Litton contest sometimes. I laugh myself into tears every time I read the entries.

            January 26, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            KC, I love you! And the DVD player paragraph is probably more interesting than most of the random boring drivel in the book. It even ties into Mac’s supposed personality and namesake since he can “fix anything.” XD

            January 26, 2018
      • Dove
        Dove

        But wait, why is Mac acting jealous of Spellman when it’s obvious the person he should be slut-shaming over is Jackson?

        Jackson didn’t exist in the movie script. Some of Spellman’s earlier scenes were given to Jackson (and I think in this upcoming chapter, exactly one scene is taken from Zeb.) For example, I’m pretty positive that Spellman was originally on the camping trip since Jackson mentions knowing Zeb for a long time and in general all of his interactions make more sense if they’re Spellman (including that creepy “she’s prettier than you” jab made at Sofia at the end, although that could’ve been new.) Mac also seemed more jealous of Jackson during that scene, although he never directly talked to the guy, and he’s more open about discussing the casual dating with Jackson than he is with Spellman, for obvious reasons… Zani says he’s not afraid of his boss, but even if he is fearless, that’s still not the kind of thing you dive into unless you’re sure.

        I mean, if it were better written, having both Jackson and the insinuation about Spellman could work. Jackson gives more legitimacy to Zani playing the field. Maybe Mac was trying to be more open-minded and not let his past get in the way of a good thing, maybe he thought that he needed to lighten up, but suddenly just when he admits that he’s fallen in love, then his suspicions seem confirmed about Spellman being a hidden contender, and that’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back (although veering too far into heartbreak territory and he might just stay there, if he’s not still deeply desperate to keep Zani, so it’d need a good writer.) As it currently is the whole thing just doesn’t make sense given his hangups and it’s not really addressed fully until he loses his cool over Spellman, I think.

        But yeah, the original triangle had Mac uncertain about Spellman’s position and Spellman clearly wasn’t banging his daughter… Except he might’ve been, the implications are kinda grossly strong since Mac’s concerns need to be credible, but that’s one of the reasons that Zani is so pure and Madonna and why Jackson is such window-dressing… Zani was too lazy to write any significant new material for the additional triangle, other than the concert I guess, especially when she could be ogling her makeup sets instead!

        Btw, a little repetition can help important scenes sink in. I find it amusing that she only repeats inane shit and doesn’t make call-backs to relevant stuff, like Mac’s ex-girlfriend, for instance. (Hell, even Carrot Top, since they’re supposedly friends, although I’m sure he doesn’t have time for too many scenes in a movie lol.) Even Lambo wouldn’t have returned, but I think one editor insisted on something, so there’s a token upcoming bit and nothing else.

        January 26, 2018
        |Reply
  28. Mike
    Mike

    “Sarem also told author Claribel Ortega that the film version of Handbook For Mortals will be out this year.”

    …Okay. Let’s be REALLY generous to this and say the screenplay is already more or less finalized, the director is chosen, the movie is story boarded, the funding is in place, the casting calls have begun, and the locations already scouted. And that’s being REALLY. FUCKING. GENEROUS. They would still need to finalize casting, order costumes, build sets, hire crew, do read throughs, plan out how to ACCOMPLISH the shots, get the music rights (which can take foreeeever if you’re particularly set on specific songs. Guardians of the Galaxy started gathering the rights to its soundtrack songs three years prior to filming), film (I’d guess about 6 weeks of shooting for this, mostly because of the in-theatre scenes and bar scenes. The more people in a scene the longer it tends to take to shoot for a lot of reasons), edit (which takes a bare minimum of three times as long as filming for the absolute simplest of edits), any reshoots necessary after the first pass edits are done, add the VFX (several months on its own even with the low level of anything at all happening in this movie) get the distribution plan in place, start advertising…

    It IS possible to make a full length movie in one year. But it’s INCREDIBLY difficult, it requires a lot of pre-planning (which this doesn’t seem to have since mere months ago she was claiming she would be the lead) no-name actors (to avoid any scheduling conflicts that may put back shooting schedules) and either an amazing post-production team or a shit pile of corner cutting.

    The humidity + equipment thing would be a huge problem, yes. If those catwalks got slick and someone slipped there’d be lawsuits a plenty. Not to mention the chances of getting electrocuted, shorting equipment, odds of heat stroke for the performers is stronger in humidity than dry heat, little problems like things fogging up and just generally looking bad… Not to mention that if it’s humid and sticky while there’s no audience, as soon as all those people piled in it would get way worse and suddenly, again, heat stroke is a potential problem and the audience is uncomfortable, unhappy, and will tell everyone the show was like sitting in a sauna having to smell strangers BO. They would have AC and dehumidifiers if the pool was somehow big enough to cause serious humidity (which is unlikely)

    This is now the second time Sarem has explicitly stated that Zade lost control of her powers over mild annoyances with strangers and hurt them (and risked hurting innocent bystanders in the process for both incidents I might add). She states that she hadn’t meant to break the lemonade stand and throw broken glass and lemonade in that girls face, and now she says she did this unintentionally as well. And yet there’s no shock or guilt over either incidence. No worry about her lack of control over her potentially deadly powers. Not so much as a second thought as to whether they deserved it or if it was ‘too much’. So Zade has no control over her destructive and harmful abilities when she’s MILDLY ANNOYED, let alone angry, and no qualms about hurting people as long as it’s not bad enough to send them to the hospital and the guy she likes doesn’t notice. Sarem wrote Zade, who is very clearly herself, as a legitimate sociopath… What the fuck… What. The actual. Fuck.

    Not just that but she has this emotionally important scene taking place while a man is in severe pain right behind her boyfriend, the guy’s in her field of vision THE ENTIRE SCENE, and she doesn’t even CONSIDER going over to check on him?! To make sure he’s actually okay?! WHAT THE FUCK!?! I have to make sure someone is okay if I just stepped on their toe! What if he has a concussion?! Or severe whiplash?! Or a fucking CRACKED SKULL OR SPINE?! She THINKS he’s not PERMANENTLY injured so he doesn’t need any help?! This is JUSTICE for KNOCKING OVER YOUR PURSE?! Jesus fucking Christ…

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
    • HerImperialMaj
      HerImperialMaj

      You know, that’s a good point. Most of the comments are acting like she did it intentionally, which would be pure evil. But this was an accident. In the hands of a mildly competent author, this could be a compelling plot point about how the magic character’s bad temper and worst impulses overtake her magic and lead to unintentionally hurting others, and how she hates herself for it and seeks ways to either isolate herself or improve her self-control. Nope! Tra-la-la, she’s the main character, so that cyclist deserved a spinal injury and that chubby teenager deserved glass shards in her face!

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      I wonder if the movie deal is just an elaborate plan to steal the supposed millions of dollars from investors. Lani has already stolen other ideas, art, and time, so I wouldn’t put it pass her to take advanatge of some loophole that’ll allow her to make bank ala Uwe Boll style.

      And I’m surprised Lani is still pushing the “best seller” for her book. It’s been months now, and having that sticker is not going to make a sudden jump in sales when you still cannot find the damn book in stores. There’s no fucking way you’re making back all that money at selling cons.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Amy:
        ********************
        Step one, we find the worst play ever written
        Step two, we hire the worst director in town
        Step three, I raise two million dollars

        Two? Yes, one for me, one for you
        There’s a lot of little old ladies out there
        Step four, we hire the worst actors in New York
        And open on Broadway and before you can say, Step five
        We close on Broadway, take our two million and go to Rio

        Read more: The Producers – We Can Do It Lyrics | MetroLyrics

        ********************
        Except Leo is an accountant, and knows how the numbers SHOULD work. With all the books she herself is buying, can Laminated ever make back her investment?

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          There’s probably some loophole she knows of and just needs to hit a certain point to exploit it. 18,000 copies, at nearly $25 each means Lani sunk in nearly HALF A MILLION DOLLARS for this scam. I double-checked Amazon and her book price had dropped dramatically down to $11 for a hard copy and $7 for ebook.

          January 25, 2018
          |Reply
          • Mike
            Mike

            The Uwe Boll loophole was closed, that’s why he’s not still making a new piece of garbage every year. But there are a ton of funding loopholes with film. Tax incentives and grants mostly. But honestly as much as this would make a lot of sense I really get the feeling that Sarem is doing this because of vanity not money. Or at least not JUST money. She seems to want to be able to say she made a movie the way she wanted to be able to say she wrote a bestseller. She wants to be able to point to all the people who’ve ever gotten something she wanted and say she did something better than they did. They just STARRED in that movie she’d auditioned in, she made her own!

            January 25, 2018
          • K
            K

            There’s apparently some question whether enough copies of the book were even printed to fulfill those preorders. If they weren’t, the orders would have been cancelled at no cost to the buyer (aka Lani).

            January 26, 2018
        • Dove
          Dove

          She never paid for those 15,000 books. The orders were made without any money up-front and I’m sure that most of them were never picked up since she’d get a discount if she bought them directly from the publisher. Also, most of those books didn’t physically exist at the time, so that little publisher had to go through printing, which means a lot of them became backorders and some people might have canceled the order if they saw the internet uncovering her scam (or if they tried to call back and confirm that they were still wanted when it became clear there was going to be a huge wait, even if the initial call included “it doesn’t matter when they arrive.”) There are probably 5,000 hard copies at best.

          January 26, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Dove:
            Every now and then, I start to feel sorry for this woman. Desperate for admiration, doing all the wrong things to get it; hiding any real vulnerability but milking synthetic pity, then wondering why no one sympathizes with her; trying to act like she knows what she’s doing and making it painfully obvious that she doesn’t–hey, that’s ME in Jr High! Hey, that’s EVERYBODY in Jr High!

            Then I learn something like this. Which isn’t just immature, because Jr High is long over for her, but dishonest. And harmful. How many bookstores got their budgets hopelessly screwed because of her shenanigans?

            January 26, 2018
    • MayaB
      MayaB

      @Mike from the second part of this sentence: “Before I even thought about what I was doing, I balled my fists quickly and squeezed.” I had the impression that she did it on purpose. Now when I scrolled up to check it again, I see it was supposed to be “by accident”.
      You know what her actions remind me of? The beginning of “Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban”. Harry is very angry at his aunt and tries to control his anger by closing his eyes and squeezing his fists. As a result his aunt becomes bigger and bigger (as a balloon) and starts floating around… No one is hurt in this case. But here’s one more thing which isn’t originally made up from Sarem.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        And yet the scene of Harry losing his temper is still better than Zade’s

        -Harry is a child and would have natural mood swings. Zade is a grown woman and should have better control over temper.
        -Harry is going to school to learn how to control his abilities. Zade apparently already has a good grasp on her magick.
        – There were several pages describing Harry’s mental and emotional abuse done by his aunt before he lost control. Zade has never met the cyclist before in her life.
        – Harry actually tried to keep calm before losing it. Zade didn’t even try.
        -This scene develops the plot and Harry as a character. Zade’s scene added nothing to plot or character.

        So in conclusion… Zade has the emotional stability of a child much younger than 14.

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
      • Mike
        Mike

        I completely understand why everyone thinks she did this on purpose. It certainly looks like she did, and her reaction to it happening makes it sound like it was what she meant to do, but yeah, in both this case and with the lemonade girl she states that it happened before she could actually think about it. She didn’t consciously choose to do these things. Likely because Sarem knew it would look way worse if she’d thought about it first and then did it.

        It is actually very reminiscent of that scene, you’re right. But as Amy pointed out, JK Rowling is a much better author and it’s much more reasonable there. He was responding to years of abuse and someone who was personally, intentionally, attacking him and his family. He was a child who had limited experience and control over his powers. He understood the consequences of what he did, and while he didn’t feel bad about it, he did accept that he would have to face those consequences and was prepared to unlike Zade who just thinks about how much the cyclist deserved it and hopes her boyfriend doesn’t notice so nothing bad can happen to her. So Sarem did do something else unoriginal in her book and once again failed to live up to the quality of what she was ripping off.

        It would be great if she practiced a version of magic that had consequences for the spells. If you performed magic that helped people, good things would happen to you (you could even have this explain some of the good luck she’s had, have her helping people discretely and then something good would happen to her afterwards) but if you hurt people with your magic, bad things would happen to you (perhaps this could explain Mac’s severe reaction to the cards, his feelings of ‘this is a bit silly…’ were amplified significantly by her magic because she’d just hurt someone). Some people would still do bad magic, in a ‘cut off your nose to spite your face’ way, but in general the magic community tries to do good things for obvious reasons, and she’s fighting against these negative impulses that take over faster than she can stop them. She tries to make up for it by doing small good deeds where ever she goes but she keeps doing these things that fuck up her own progress through life and has to contend with it.

        My god why is there so much wasted potential in this concept?!

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
        • EmmaG
          EmmaG

          Acting on an impulse isn’t the same as doing something unintetionally, though. Personally, I read those actions as completely deliberate on her part, because she knows what she is capable of, she loooks at the damage she caused and goes ‘you deserved what I did to you’. In the case of the cyclist, she even states to herself (and the reader) that she felt good about teaching him a lesson.

          January 26, 2018
          |Reply
        • small jar of fireflies
          small jar of fireflies

          Honestly, there’s unexplored doors in every novel, but at its best, the novel itself is so good that you’re more interested and satisfied with what’s in front of you.

          And there’s always promise in things that catch the imagination, especially if you’re bored.

          This is like watching someone cook by getting out ingredients, and then agonizing while they consistently choose the most boring one. “What are you making? I see baguettes, onion bread, whole wheat bagels, flavored oat cakes… oh, you wanted the white bread. Okay. you’re getting cheese. I see some of the nice ones you need to let breathe at room temperature, a block of parmesan, swiss… oh, you wanted those things packaged as “American Slices” because they’re not even cheese. Well then. Oh, condiments time! You know, with that pesto and these baguettes and a crumble of that cheese — ooh, there’s guacamole! Hand me the oat cakes and I’ll make you — oh. You want mayonnaise. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SALSA??”

          She’s going to sit there and eat her processed slices/mayo/white bread sandwich, while you gaze at the pesto and dream.

          January 26, 2018
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            That’s such a perfect description! I’d add that she also does it very sloppily, leaves a mess, and then doesn’t clean up or wash the dishes… and you aren’t allowed to take care of it, so you’re forced to stare at the mayo glob after she’s done. XD

            January 26, 2018
  29. Khristle
    Khristle

    I am a wimpy Californian who can’t stand any levels of humidity, so if the theatre really was humid enough to make people break out in a sweat, I would probably turn around and get my money back. Circus Circus is bad enough, and the entire place smelled like mildew the last time I was there, I’ll pass on seeing a magic show in that sort of arena. I know Landinum is a real Vegas performer and everything, but does she really expect anyone to sit in a mildew-ey dank ass theatre for hours watching Not David Copperfield.

    Why doesnt Charlie Spelldouche rehearse with everyone else again? Because it really seems like things could fuck up real fast if he’s never practiced anything with his performers, and just relied on Zeb.

    Also there’s no way that cyclist is only lightly injured. Especially not if he flipped while he was going any kind of speed.

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Why doesnt Charlie Spelldouche rehearse with everyone else again? Because it really seems like things could fuck up real fast if he’s never practiced anything with his performers, and just relied on Zeb.

      Yeah, that part makes no sense unless he practices and rehearses it first to get the movements down, then asks Zeb to step in a few times so he can see how it looks. But honestly, Charles could just perform the illusion and ask Rene to fill in for Zeb while Zeb gets an eyeful from the seats. I think it’s either something Zani borrowed or something she just made up to look formidable/cool/whatever, without any understanding. More importantly, I think it’s Zani’s mentality of “I don’t need criticism; I’m the best at editing my own work” on display. While taking a step back and being able to view your writing with fresh eyes will help you catch a lot of errors, there are things you might never think of and do need an outside opinion for. Or maybe she really doesn’t understand how fine-tuning works. Either way, it makes more sense if he does it and gets a second opinion or alternatively, uses a camera to watch himself, since he can also pause and fast forward to check specifics.

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
  30. Mouse
    Mouse

    Though, I gotta agree with Mac on one thing -Zani looks great in nothing. Of course, I’m thinking the nothingness of space…

    honestly- she reads like the villain. If someone were to wright about Lambo girl being in a sect of Magi- maybe that’s why it’s a no no title- they’re magical witches that control other witches to prevent a new “burning” time or something, but are hated by the sect of witches that Zod the destroyer belongs to. I dunno. It’d make it more interesting to read about Lambo. Maybe warring with herself internally- giving Zod a warning to see if she’d fly strait and become a better member of society away from the control of her mother- but failing to see that happen. Now Lambo has to figure out what to do, etc. But as it stands this is a gawdawful book

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
  31. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    If their acts involve any kind of acrobatics, they definitely DON’T want to sweat. Notice how much chalk gymnasts put on their hands before unevens?

    I did one show where it got so hot under the lights (especially if you were cursed with a synthetic costume) that nobody bothered putting on foundation makeup: it would just roll down your face in little rivers of sweat. Lipstick, a little powder blush, and mascara were all most of us could manage. But of course, Laburnum wouldn’t get to use her millions and billions and trillions of makeup shades under those circumstances.

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
  32. Fer
    Fer

    Ok, I put in order my ideas before write them so this is how they came:

    1. I KNEW IT, MAC IS ANA. Bouth selfish who manages to think so high and so low of themselfs at the same time, whose people think something better that they are and whose feelings are the ones that matter even if they hurtful to someone.

    2. If that`s the way he sees love, no wonder why Clara left him. And if she saw even more than Sofia and Larva about the company behaivior, no wonder why she left the show either, even if she never slept with Charles.

    3. Where she said the karma thing reminds me a lot about a woman who shows up in the comments of the first chapter saying that the karma for being bad with larva will come up and she read her future and was bright and famous so, or tha Jace woman was again Larva herself or she was one of the 3 editors wich would explain the fucked up with the book.

    4. Great, once more she droop a small detail that could improve this crap and once again she cares for the most stupid one. Her heritage (bouth of them) explaines way better why she feels so bad in the town and why she has to leave. But no, the cards are what people hate about her. (Yeah, some probably do hate the cards thing, but that`s not the worst thing about her)

    5. While not given my vote to Jackson on the love front, Mac was so ass whit her that I doubt that any woman with self respect (Clara) choose him.

    6. Sometimes when I read or see somthing, I made some guess if a thing is going to occure. I knew from the moment she tell Ana about the cards that Jackson would be different and there she goes. But just feel so empty that I couldn`t care less.

    7. Now and forever while reading the recaps Larva is It and Mac is Ana.

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      6) You picked up on that too, huh? Yeah, it felt like Jackson was just being nice to Zade so he can get more brownie points. “If I’m nice to her, she’ll sleep with me!”

      …that’s exactly the vibe I’m getting from Jackson. He’s “the nice guy”. Oh wow, I feel satisfied now that I have finally put a name to the feeling I got whenever Jackson was around. hoo!

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
      • Fer
        Fer

        It was so obvious and yet… no that it dissapoint me but somehow I expect it create little tension or something, not just “Jackson is better than Mac but not competition for him” unesessary feeling.

        January 26, 2018
        |Reply
    • Fer
      Fer

      Ok, I`m overthinking this but something was bother me and while is obvious this book is a disaster beyond fix, I found more points so here I go:

      8. I can see why the cyclist incident is seen like she lose control and conected to the final and therefore been see as foreshadow, but some others have point out that she looks more like the villian in the story. And that is the thing, I don`t believe that she lose control over her powers because she wanted to hurt him and does it. Larva knows she can do curses and does it, totally consent of her actions and the posible consequenses.

      9. When Mac told her that he though she was smarter than that, maybe it explains why he isn`t jealous of Jackson. It sounds like he sees her superior to Clara, because Clara “feel in temptation” (instead of thinking that she doesn`t want a relationship with him and just a one night stand). Larva is “pure” so she only dates Jackson for pity, but when Mac told her the 3 words, she leaves all that and come to him. But now he knows about the cards and without undestand that is part of who she is he saw this as a bimbo hobbie, and now not only she could choose Jackson but also fall for Charles charms. Maybe Mac don`t hate the tarot although do not like it, but is more a thing it ruins Zade in his eyes. (Like the BDSM ruinning Chedward in Ana`s eyes)

      10. Is obvious just something that Sarem never gonna touch again, but maybe the reason why Larva believes that is the fortuneteller thing the reason everybody in the town hates her is because her mother keeps her ignorant of the anti semitism. She is not uncomfortable with people thinking of her being jewish, so maybe she didn`t suffer bigotry mostly because of her mom use a memory spell to make her forget those incidents or she also curse people so Larva never saw any incident like that. I know Sarem sucks writting but is odd that she didn`t use that to marysue more her avatar.

      Again, maybe I`m just reading too much into it and is only Larva lack of writting skills that make me imagine that is more in this shit.

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
  33. Desolace
    Desolace

    Man, the part where she almost kills the poor cyclist reminds me SO MUCH of House Of Night, do you know that series? The “”””heroine”””” straight up kills two guys, and it’s never mentioned again! Terrible books D:

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
    • Zia
      Zia

      Oh god, the House of Night series. That brings back such terrible memories from high school. Back then, people ragged on Twilight for being problematic but House of Night was ten times worse. The slut-shaming. The shitty characters. The thinly veiled racism. I shudder to think about them again. I read up to book 5, I think, mostly because it was all just so bad I had to know how it could possibly get worse.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
      • Jenny Trout
        Jenny Trout

        And the constant use of the r-word because “kids really talk that way!”

        January 26, 2018
        |Reply
  34. SofiaThatB*tch
    SofiaThatB*tch

    Man, if you hate Mac now, I can’t wait for the next chapter

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
  35. Alex
    Alex

    “The guy wasn’t a bad lighting guy and actually did an alright job, but Charles just hadn’t liked him.”

    OK, so I work in theatre and know that the industry can have a lot of personality problems. But it’s still very difficult (and illegal) to fire someone for no reason. If he was doing his job to the appropriate standard, he should have taken this place to court for firing him. As a technician he would absolutely be in a union, and they would have rinsed Spellman for doing that.

    That said, I’m a Brit. Is this an American thing? Can you jure fire someone for no reason other than “Yeah, the boss doesn’t like you”?

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      No, it is %100 illegal in America to fire someone without a just cause. That employee could easily turn around and sue Charles for unlawful termination. But Charles is a rich white man, so I’ve no doubt he probably found a “reason” to rid an employee.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
      • Rebecca
        Rebecca

        Sorry, I must disagree. In many, many states, absent union protections or an ironclad contract, it’s perfectly legal to fire anyone for any reason so long as that reason doesn’t violate a ‘protected status’ category (prior military service, gender discrimination, disease or disability, age discrimination to name all the ones I can think of right now). If you’re not being fired for one of those things, American employers can fire you because they don’t like your hair cut, because they take offense at how often your shoes come untied, because they’re tired of looking at you and want someone else in the position…

        January 26, 2018
        |Reply
    • palmedfire
      palmedfire

      In a lot of jobs, in a lot of the US, yes. We have these lovely misnamed “Right to Work” laws that basically mean an employer can fire you at any time for any (or no) reason.

      HOWEVER

      The theatre industry is one of the few that’s still very unionized, especially at the high professional level, so no, an electrician (which is the term Mac *should* be using) wouldn’t be able to be fired just because of personality conflicts, unless those conflicts were affecting his job performance. And even then, there would be a challenge and review by the union.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        What palmedfire said. A show that size would definitely be all-union.

        In addition, would a director even interact much with the techies after the show opens? Director tell the tech crew “the set has to look like this,” or “I need exits here and here, and the light cue for this scene is,” etc. There’ll be heavy interaction during the cue-to-cue, a necessary but tiresome ritual, but once the show opens, the Stage Manager goes after anyone who missed a sound cue or used the wrong lighting effects.
        It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: how did this woman escape knowing things any Community or church basement theatre group would know? It’s not even the fact that she’s more film-oriented; she seemed oblivious to the turn-around time involved in post-production.

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
    • Kim
      Kim

      In many states, yes. I live in an At Will state (Illinois) and can get fired for no reason. For ‘unskilled’ work a lot of companies have managed to block unions out completely, so no protection there.

      February 21, 2018
      |Reply
  36. EmmaG
    EmmaG

    So Zade assaults the cyclist explicitly in order to teach him a lesson. She thinks causing pain, possibly injury is an appropiate form of justice for clipping somebody.

    I’m actually pretty amazed by this. We all know the stories, where the hero and the antagonist both have some special abilities, and what sets them apart and creates a lot of the conflict, is that the latter believe they have the right to dole out justice/punishment without accountability. You know: “Zorek used to fight for the beliefs of our noble order, but then he became convinced that people with our kind of power must use that to purge the evil in the world. But what he is doing is wrong, he must be stopped!”. It’s often *the thing* that informs the audience that somebody is the antagonist.

    It’s also the least dramatic thing you could punish people for. The stakes are truly not very high here.

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
  37. Michael
    Michael

    That phrasing is just awful. He “made a few loud sounds of shrieking pain.” Really? You’re writing that he made a few sounds of pain? You couldn’t just write that he cried out in pain, or shrieked in pain, but have to go for that awkward phrasing, saying that he made sounds of pain that was shrieking?

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
  38. Anon
    Anon

    “Sarem also told author Claribel Ortega that the film version of Handbook For Mortals will be out this year.”

    LOL They started filming the last GOT season in October 2017 and won’t be releasing it until probably spring or summer 2019 because it takes THAT LONG to film and edit.

    “… if it’s really so humid that their skin instantly sweats when it touches, that can’t be good for like…a lot of the equipment.”

    Or the audience.

    “And I’m not sure why we need to know about the locks on the door, but I’ve given up on ever receiving any actually important details from this book.”

    Also, he could have slipped in a throwaway, quick, “Charles swiped his keycard in front of the lock to open the door,” and it would slip quietly into the narrative, giving the description without making it sound like THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.

    The cyclist/biker clipping her thing? Yeah … We have a huge cycling community here and they think they own shared trails and some (NOT ALL) of them are incredibly arrogant assholes and they WILL ride super close to anyone not on a bike and at least risk hitting them if not actually hitting them. It’s happened to me a few times. She clearly knows nothing about cyclists. Except of course she is probably also an Olympic cyclist.

    Why is Mac so angry about Tarot? I don’t understand this reaction. Did his parents beat him with Tarot cards? Do we EVER learn what was “strange” about the cyclist? Can this book be any more boring? I think I’d rather read a short story about what you’re eating for lunch today. There would be more action.

    Ugh to “chick flick.” A movie is either good or it’s not and if you’re a man and won’t watch a movie because it has strong female roles but is a great movie, you’re an asshole. And dismissing them as “chick flicks” is trite and boring and stupid.

    OK, now I understand Mac’s reaction. She just HAD to contrast the two love interests …

    How does a knee pop from being bent backwards like that? The knees are bending the correct way and only the back should be bending … Add anatomy to something else she doesn’t get. Or maybe she’s secretly a reptilian overlord alien (there is a conspiracy theory out there that says Jews are this thing …) and her knees bend backwards. And popping knees HURT. This is not a good thing!

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      When I was a young writer, I used to overwrite someone opening doors. “David walked to the door, he grabbed the handle, turned it to the right, opened the door, walked through, and then closed the door behind him.”

      At the time even I was aware this was stupidly overdone and needed to be edited, but because I was inexperienced, I didn’t know how. Lani had three editors and she still writes like my 13 year old self.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
      • Ilex
        Ilex

        Doors seem to frequently trip writers up.

        I’m constantly mentally editing sentences where someone “pushed open the door” or “pulled open the door.” Just say they “opened the door.” I don’t care which direction it went, unless, say, you’re making the point that it’s not properly installed as a fire door, and that turns out to be important later.

        (Also, I grew up saying “They pulled the door open,” so the “pulled open the door” construction sounds extra-awkward to my ears. I think grammar software has trained everyone under the age of 40 to write that way?)

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          I remember reading somewhere that doors naturally act as a mental barrier, and this is why when you walk into a room, you forget why you came in there for. It’s a psychology thing.

          January 25, 2018
          |Reply
          • Ilex
            Ilex

            I read that, too! It made me feel much better about my own forgetfulness.

            January 25, 2018
  39. candy apple
    candy apple

    Don’t judge a book by its cover…except for this one. It’s okay to be prejudiced against the atrocious cover art, because what’s inside doesn’t redeem it in the slightest.

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
    • Goddesstio
      Goddesstio

      The cover art is actually plagiarized, so……

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
    • Anna T.
      Anna T.

      In my opinion, the plagiarized cover art is the best thing about this shitty book.

      January 29, 2018
      |Reply
  40. Queen of the harpies
    Queen of the harpies

    Since I don’t believe Zardi to be a reliable narrator, my current headcannon is that the accident was her fault – that she suddenly swerved into the cyclist’s path or was walking in the designated bike lane rather than the walking lane – and retaliated against him for something that was his fault.

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
  41. Megan M.
    Megan M.

    This fucking book, I swear to God. Maybe I’m just romanticizing Apolonia now that we’re not actively criticizing it, but at least that book had sort of a plot. Things happened in it, didn’t they? NOTHING FUCKING HAPPENS IN THIS BOOK, and then when something does, it’s mind-bogglingly awful. She seriously injures a cyclist for bumping into her and then they just … ignore him shrieking in pain to argue about Tarot cards. Okay.

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
  42. Jean
    Jean

    The cyclist scene reminds me so much of my narcissistic ex. If anyone sped past him or cut him off while driving, he’d immediately race in front of them to brake-check them. When I asked him why, he said they needed to be punished for their bad driving.

    One day I said, “What if that person is on their way to a loved one who is dying in the hospital? Or what if they’ve been offered a last-minute interview after months of unemployment? What if their bad driving is unintentional or a one-time thing?” He thought about it for a few minutes, slowed down the car… and then continued the practice the next day.

    I know she’s a book character, but Zoobles scares me. She’s a self-insert, which means Loobles is capable of some seriously shitty stuff.

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
    • Ilex
      Ilex

      @ Jean, totally off-topic:

      I’m married to a man like your ex (wow, that attitude of saying people “need to be punished,” and thinking he’s the one who needs to do the punishing, is scarily familiar).

      How did your divorce go? (You’re here posting now, which seems hopeful.)

      I’ve been trying for a few years now to figure out how to divorce my husband without “insulting” him and finding myself in the line of punishment, but I’m realizing there’s probably no way to initiate a breakup without stirring up his anger and spite, no matter how much I kowtow and blame myself for the failure of the marriage (in front of him, anyway. I don’t really blame myself that much).

      Any encouragement you can offer me would be greatly appreciated.

      (And I have Jenny’s recaps of Fifty Shades to thank for making me start identifying what kind of problem I had with my controlling husband.)

      Sorry to bring up such a heavy topic in the middle of a discussion about poor writing and lack of plotting, but your reminiscence really struck a nerve for me.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
      • Megan M.
        Megan M.

        @Ilex, I don’t have personal experience leaving a long-term relationship with someone like you soon-to-be-ex, but I have some advice I’d like to throw out there for you. I’ve seen the books “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft and “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker recommended multiple times for women dealing with this kind of situation. Also have you ever read the advice site Captain Awkward? Her archives have some great questions and advice about how to end a relationship and what strategies you can take to protect yourself.

        IDK if there’s a possibility that your husband will turn his anger on you in a physical way or try to harm you, but if so, try reaching out to a local domestic violence hotline or women’s shelter for assistance. Sometimes you can also request a police presence while you move out of a residence, if you choose to do that. Also, enlist and friends and family you can to help you. Odds are that they recognize that your husband is a jerk and would be thrilled to help you get away from him. Good luck!

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          The only advice I can give is, document fucking everything. Every little insult, every time he’s made you feel unworthy, unsafe, unvalued. Time and date that shit. Also write down how you feel during these moments. That way when the time comes, you have documented proof of every event.

          My mother is a court commisioner who has to issue restraining orders. Hopefully you won’t have to get to that point.

          January 25, 2018
          |Reply
          • Ilex
            Ilex

            Thanks, Amy. I’m hoping not to have to get a restraining order, but we’ll see how things go.

            My husband will either say, “Okay, if you want me to go, I’m gone,” OR make things as ugly as possible. The unpredictability of his response is one of the things that keeps me hesitating.

            January 25, 2018
        • Ilex
          Ilex

          Thank you, Megan!

          I keep meaning to read The Gift of Fear and not doing it, so I’ll move it up my list.

          I’ve never heard of Captain Awkward, but it looks very helpful — wow, the advice there is so long and in-depth.

          January 25, 2018
          |Reply
          • Megan M.
            Megan M.

            @Ilex – I hope it’s helpful to you. I forgot to mention, the “Darth Vader Boyfriend” tag on Captain Awkward will probably bring up the most helpful questions and advice for your particular situation. Again, good luck – I’m rooting for you!

            January 25, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            I’m not sure the Gift of Fear would help as much though. It’s more about training yourself to catch the warning signs of violence. Basically, just accept that any red flags are red flags, believe your subconscious when you feel worried, and look online for which red flags are the most dangerous. Don’t try making excuses for him and rationalizing it; just take them at face value. I mean, maybe I’m over-generalizing because I haven’t read the book in full but that seemed to be the main thrust of it. Check out the parts you can read on Amazon and see what you think.

            I think that before you make any strong move towards the divorce, you should double-check who is on your side already and make certain that they know your situation well. If he does react badly, he’ll probably smear your name to everyone you know so he can try and turn you into the bad guy. You’ll just have to deal with the people who enable him, you’ll probably never sway them, but having people in your corner will make things more bearable and give more credence to your claims. Maybe also have any friends and family who can help start time-stamping bad behavior that they catch, if he reveals himself in front of them and they’re willing to document it.

            January 26, 2018
      • Mike
        Mike

        My sister has an abusive husband she was afraid to leave (and still hasn’t for reasons the rest of the family can’t quite wrap our heads around, but it is her life) and after much prompting she spoke to a local women’s shelter and they had someone come to her home while he was at work to go over her options with her. They were willing to help her find legal help, give her counseling, take her in if it got to that… They weren’t just there to provide a place to stay, they were interested in helping her avoid getting to that point in the first place.

        Perhaps this would be something worth looking into for you? They didn’t try and force her into anything, just went over her options and how they could help, even down to what to do with the pets. If your local shelter does something like that I would encourage you to at least have a chat with them. No one should have to live in fear of their own spouse.

        I hope whatever you end up doing it goes well and that you’re soon free to be on your own or find someone who makes you feel safe and loved, whichever you feel you need/want most.

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
        • Ilex
          Ilex

          Thank you, Mike.

          I am actually in touch with a local support group for abused women (I’m lucky to live in an area that has one), and it is helpful. Sometimes I feel bad because my husband is “just” emotionally abusive, while some of the other women have been through much worse. But emotionally abusive people are still scary, so having the support is really helpful.

          January 25, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Emotional abuse can be insidious, because it isn’t cut and dried. Others will doubt it’s that bad, he gaslights you, you begin to doubt yourself, you can’t prove it was the tone and not the words.

            With a black eye or a bruised throat, they can try to convince you it’s your fault, but they can’t claim it didn’t happen.

            January 25, 2018
          • falalala
            falalala

            Without going into any details that might be triggering to people, I just wanted to say that as someone who’s experienced pretty much every kind of abuse you can think of, I wholeheartedly believe that what you’re dealing with is real, you deserve support, and you really and truly shouldn’t ever feel bad for seeking and receiving that support. I wish you the best of luck in getting away from your abuser and finding awesome people who will treat you with love and kindness.

            January 26, 2018
          • Lily
            Lily

            Emotional and verbal abuse can shift into physical quickly. My ex-husband shifted. Lawyer up, move your money into an account he can’t get at (leave his alone or split 50/50 if you’re a SAHM), move any irreplaceable docs you need into a safety deposit box or other safe location, have an escape plan that includes pets if you have them. Be as cool as possible. If you think he’ll shift, have trusted people near when you tell him.

            January 26, 2018
          • Owls know
            Owls know

            I have worked professionally as a lawyer with abused women. Emtional abuse is not in any way lesser than actual assault. Iwil nevet forget one client who said it was a relief when he hit her, compared to the emtional abuse.

            Do whatever you need to to get out as soon as possible. Document everything. Leave the proof with family or at work.

            After you leave, don’t engage with him, at leadt for a while. Get an experienced divorce lawyer on board to help you plan to leave and to tell you what assets you can take and what financial support you are entitled to.

            These mrn are usually narcissists. They cannot relate except through the lens of how anyghing makes THEM feel. I have been advised by psychologists to treat abusers (or worse, clients who are abusers) like small children.i.e.set firm limits about appropriate pist separation interaction and don’t tolerate them exceeding them.

            There is a way out. Stay safe.

            January 27, 2018
      • Jenny Trout
        Jenny Trout

        So, I have no good practical advice in this area, but I want you to know that I’m thinking of you and that there are a lot of people here who have gone through the same type of stuff. We’ve all got your back.

        January 26, 2018
        |Reply
      • Xebi
        Xebi

        Seconding document everything.

        I’d also say you need an escape plan. It may sound overly dramatic but better safe than sorry – you don’t know how he will react and you do NOT deserve “punishment” for wanting to leave the relationship.

        Before you do anything else, get together all your important documents. ID, social security, bank stuff, whatever you need. Give them to a trusted friend or family member for safekeeping.

        If you and your husband have joint bank accounts, make sure you have enough in a personal account to cover you for however long you need. This may mean transferring your share of money from joint accounts.

        Try and find somewhere to stay for the short or long term. Will you be leaving your marital home permanently? Then think about finding a new home, even if it’s a temporary one like a friend’s spare room or a shelter. Even if your husband needs to be the one who leaves you may need to go temporarily so he has time to move out.

        Speak to a lawyer asap. You can initiate a divorce via a lawyer rather than speaking to husband about it directly. This might seem underhand but it is NOT if you are thinking of your own safety, which you must.

        January 26, 2018
        |Reply
        • Xebi
          Xebi

          Sorry, posted too soon. I meant to say good luck and send good wishes.

          January 26, 2018
          |Reply
        • Owls know
          Owls know

          All of this.

          January 27, 2018
          |Reply
      • SandorClegane13
        SandorClegane13

        Everyone pretty much covered all the advice I could think of, so I just want to add that I hope you get to a safer, happier place soon. You deserve so much better. Good luck!

        January 28, 2018
        |Reply
      • Jean
        Jean

        Sorry it took me so long to respond; I just saw this. I’m not going to lie to you: leaving my ex was one of the most difficult processes I have ever been through. If I could do it differently, here’s how I would do it.

        1) Document, document, document! And then send those documents to a trusted friend or family member who is in no way in contact with your husband. My ex got on my computer when I was drunk after a party and deleted all my evidence. I managed to convince him I had multiple copies or I would have never gotten my restraining order. The added benefit of this document is that if you ever feel like going back to him, out of love or out of desire to make the harassment stop, you can look at this list and remind you to stay away.

        2) Prep your family and friends, but ONLY the ones you trust. Drop little hints about your husband’s behavior; if you hit them with the truth in one big swing, they won’t believe you. That’s what happened to me; I hid everything out of embarrassment and when I left, my own parents didn’t believe me and pushed me to go back to him. You are going to need them for protection and emotional support, so you want to know who you can and can’t trust. Pretty much assume all your shared friends will go to him when you leave, so be extra cautious with them.

        3) Take pictures of EVERYTHING in your house, inside and outside. If YOU leave, the likelihood of you ever getting back in is small (and the only way you’re getting him out is with an EPO because he will NOT leave on his own). In fact, if you can, leave with your half of the stuff; if your husband is out of town, grab a truck and some friends, get your things, and hide them in a storage unit that you pay for in cash; if you can, ask if the storage people will let you use a false name for your records. Same for any apartments; ideally you can stay with friends and family for awhile to avoid having a physical address. Your husband probably will claim you “emptied the house” or will trash the place and claim you did it. Having these pictures, as well as a document with everything you took from the house, will help protect you from this. If you can’t move everything, get anything and everything out of the house that you cannot replace: prescription medicines, pets, photo albums, and illegal paraphernalia (or things that COULD be used that way, like prescription drugs that your husband could give to other people, then claim you have been dealing, things like that). Be ridiculously paranoid and try to think of the most outlandish things a person could come up with.

        4) Go no-contact and stick with it. He will be livid and he will do everything he can to get in contact with you, but your lawyer will charge you a small fortune to communicate back-and-forth and keep you from having to read the abusive messages. It is worth it, I promise. If you can’t get a restraining order ASAP, then see if your ex will do a mutual civil protective order, ie basically a voluntary restraining order on both of your ends, but without the permanent record that comes with an EPO. If not, you’re probably going to have an opportunity to get one later if he continues to harass you.

        5) Create an LLC for any purchases you make, ie cars, houses, etc. Your husband can use legal and illegal means to get your name off of deeds, registrations, etc (my ex married his divorce attorney and she’s been sending him any copies of official documents I submit so he can continue to stalk me. They were truly made for each other), but if you make an LLC, it’s anonymous. My ex started contacting me at a brand-new, unpublished address TWO YEARS after we got divorced and he has broken our EPO to shoulder-bump me four years after the fact, so this WON’T stop right away and may never stop. It sucks, but disappearing off the grid until he loses interest is about the best way to protect yourself.

        6) Get a therapist. One that tells you all of this behavior is NOT normal and not okay. Another expense related to getting away, but it’s worth it. This is a costly process, unfortunately. It will also help when he acts so sweet and wonderful right after the split, then turns as soon as he realizes you’re serious. It’s terrifying to see someone who said they love you turn into a monster like that and it can make you question your reality.

        7) Purchase the book, “Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder,” for more ideas what to expect, as well as ways to prepare.

        8) Stay strong and know that it will get better. I remember waking up every morning and steeling myself for the day by thinking, “Okay, this is the best it’s going to get and I can handle that. If this is the rest of my life and the happiest I’ll be, then I can take it.” Now I wake up happy every morning, feeling lucky to be me and to have my life. I am constantly shocked just what I was willing to put up with out of fear of thinking that my life was in any way “normal.” I met a wonderful man during this process and we got married this NYE; I didn’t think I’d ever get married again after that nightmare, but this is so different and so full of love and life. Even without my relationship, I have a beautiful house, a new convertible, a great job, great pets, and a full social calendar; my ex told me I couldn’t make it without him, but I’m thriving and everything I have now, I EARNED for myself. Don’t let your husband make you think you can’t do this; you are stronger than you’ll ever know and you are a capable woman. We grow the most as people during difficult times and you will come out of this on the other side even better than the already amazing person you are now. I wish you the absolute best of luck and if there’s any way for us to share emails, I’m happy to be a resource and source of encouragement.

        January 29, 2018
        |Reply
        • Jean
          Jean

          Sorry, one last thing after that long diatribe: you will make some sort of mistakes during this process, there will be things you forget. Just remember that this is hopefully something you will only do once; you’re not experienced in this and it’s not something you can practice. You are doing awesome, no matter what the process looks like, and you are in the right. Don’t punish yourself and don’t let him punish you for trying your best during a unique situation.

          January 29, 2018
          |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          I’d like to add… This is something my grandmother did for my aunts when they got married. She gave them each $300 to hide away. She told them, “That way, if the bastard ever hits you, you take this money and you run and you don’t look back.”

          Back then $300 was a lot of money. Today, not so much. Still, keep a hidden stache of money somewhere, so if the day ever comes that you just need to flit off into the night, you can just grab the money and get the fuck out of there. I suggest hiding it in your pads or in a box of tampons, someplace he’ll be too squick to bother checking. (NOT your underwear drawer though.)

          January 29, 2018
          |Reply
          • Jean
            Jean

            This is tougher these days because banking is so transparent and most people do direct deposit. I did all the finances, but my ex watched me like a hawk because he thought I was somehow “stiffing him” and he didn’t get why he didn’t get to spend more of “his money” (um… I had to pay the bills for his lavish lifestyle?). Doing cashback while shopping is a good way to hide withdrawals.

            January 29, 2018
  43. Christina Kalel
    Christina Kalel

    I just had to add to the cyclist comments that I bike halfway to work, on a pretty nice (used) bike, and I ride as fast as I can. Just reading about the accident made me cringe with the ridiculous cruelty. I’ve been in SLOW accidents on a bike, and that was bad enough!

    (Also, just…you don’t get to hurt someone because they inconvenienced you slightly. That’s what villains usually do to prove they’re super evil.)

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
  44. MamaLich
    MamaLich

    ‘Wait. Wait. Zeppelin grew up in a small, close-minded Southern town in a state that has, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, thirty-eight hate groups in current operation, including skinheads, neo-nazis, white nationalists, neo-confederates and ten distinct chapters of the Ku Klux Klan, among other notably antisemitic groups and she and her mother were persecuted for reading tarot cards?’

    I admit, I’ve NEVER lived in the south (last time I resided in American Soil was 1992, and since then I was an army brat living overseas). But the stupid magicka hangup could make sense if people thought Ziplock’s mom was a Satanist (and if Zears had a goth/Korn phase in high school, maybe people would’ve treated her like a future school-shooter (or a vampire-wannabe slasher, like in Australia)). Besides that, I can’t think of tarot card reading being such a stigma compared to being Jewish or Romani (I don’t know how the Romani are regarded in the US. I just live in England and I already know that it sucks to be a Romani/Traveller in England).

    Something tells me that Lani doesn’t realise that people don’t look at Travellers/ Romani like they’re all Stevie Nicks. I got badgered enough for being American during high school, so I can honestly imagine what would’ve happened to Teenage! Zadie if she ever told somebody that she was a magic-practicing Romani (probably getting shot with constant doubting looks, or people asking if she’s just ashamed of being called trailer trash, being blamed if something goes missing, or having someone harass her with constant requests for palm-reading even if she doesn’t know how to do it). Hell, the reality show ‘My Big Fat G_psy Wedding’ came out in 2010—that must’ve had a serious impact on her teenage years (would anyone call her tacky, even if she wore regular clothes to school? Would anyone approach her and say that they saw the show, and thought her people were ‘fugly’? Hell, since she’s ‘so damn hot’—did she ever have some guy try to grab and kiss her (and then shrug it off because, “That’s what g_psy guys do, right*?”). Man, high school prom must’ve sucked for her—because everyone would’ve expected her to just slap on some orange fake tan and put on a ‘slutty’ lycra dress for the event, just like in the show.

    *So, I pretty much followed the ‘documentaries’ on Traveller weddings when I was back in college (no idea why, maybe it’s because it’s something I’ve never seen before). In one documentary, there was a wedding going on and this teenage douchebag famously grabbed a girl by the face and kissed her full in the mouth—and then made a claim to the camera that it’s ‘a g_psy tradition’ (it’s not. A lot of Travellers came forward online and called bullshit on this (there was even a Guardian article written by a Traveller social worker, who wrote about how and why the Channel 4 show was giving off harmful stereotypes on Traveller culture (especially since, according to her: the weddings were only outrageous looking and expensive because the camera crew were following only the richest (or probably mafia-related) families) but unfortunately everyone across the pond believed it. I even remember picking up my Mental Floss magazine six years AFTER the show, and it described the ‘grabbing tradition’ of Irish Traveller weddings). Still, the shows DID reinforce the old ‘g_psy guys kidnap girls/yank them around and forcefully kiss them’ stereotype, and I can only imagine how many Romani/Traveller girls were sexually harassed just because someone thought that it’s ‘normal’ and acceptable for those ‘g_psies’.

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
    • Anon
      Anon

      The South is a pretty shitty place if you aren’t a WASP. Really.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
    • As far as most conservative people in the South are concerned, any kind of occultism is Satanism.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
  45. Helen
    Helen

    I will almost forgive this book if there’s a sudden twist and it turns out Zoobie is a delusional narcissistic sociopath. All the sections from another POV are in her imagination, she’s not dating either man, she has no powers at all, Mac merely commented that he didn’t personally believe in tarot, she’s not a performer, etc. The last third of the book is a thriller where the other characters figure out what’s going on with this seemingly quiet superfan who works as a cleaner in the theatre. They confront her and all hell breaks loose.

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      “the other characters figure out what’s going on with this seemingly quiet superfan who works as a cleaner in the theatre.”

      ““The guy wasn’t a bad lighting guy and actually did an alright job, but Charles just hadn’t liked him.”

      Oh, I can hear it now….
      *****************************
      She did a good job cleaning up the place
      But her bosses didn’t like her so they shot her into space….

      “Today’s experiment will be ‘The Castle of Fu Manchu,’ Zamzam–Sheriff–Phillips! That’s right, the one movie that makes less sense than YOURS does!
      *****************************

      Of course, it wouldn’t last. After Crow spilled lemonade on her and Servo clipped her with his bike, she destroyed both of them, so no dialogue is possible.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
  46. Can we have Ryan Reynolds comment, as Deadpool or himself (since Ryan is pretty hilarious on his own), about what its like to be used like this? I feel like it would be a very Deadpool thing to do.

    “Oh a New York Times Best Selling Young Adult Novel mentioned me in a roundabout way! Yippee Kids I must have made it big now! Take that Wolverine – I’m obviously cooler than you!”

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
    • There is no greater way to date your book than mention actual movies/actors that your characters are going to see. Watching a classic movie on TV – fine. Going to see that “new” film? Not so much.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
  47. Crystal M
    Crystal M

    I have lived in the South all my life, and yes, people go into angry screaming mode over things like tarot cards. They think it’s “of the devil” and the cards “work” by automatically summoning demons. Someone who walked around loudly talking about tarot cards could have their house burned down, or get death threats in the mail, or worse.

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      Now THAT would be something interesting to add to the book. Not, “us witches were burned at the stake but people called me pretty, beautiful even, all the time.”

      Religious intolerance is a universal concept, so drawing upon real-life situations would’ve given this book more agency. Instead Lani makes up bullshit, trying to make it sound like having ultimate cosmic powers was a terrible burden.

      And if Zade is willing to hurt a cyclist for merely clipping her, what would’ve she done to those intolerant townsfolk who threatened to “burn the witch”? (btw, witches were never burned, they were hanged. Protestants were burned. Do your research, Lani)

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
    • Jenny Trout
      Jenny Trout

      I’m sure this is the case, but I find it difficult to believe that being Jewish never factored into the persecution of her family in a Klan-heavy state.

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
      • MyDog'sPA
        MyDog'sPA

        Bubbeleh, ZaZuZzyzx comes across in physical description and actions as way more Shiksa than mishpakhe or yenta.

        See my rant above.

        January 26, 2018
        |Reply
      • The Klan is very anti-Semitic (and anti-Catholic) but they don’t focus on attacking these groups as much as they do people of different races UNLESS someone from one of these groups defends people of different races or says something liberal or anti-confederate.

        January 26, 2018
        |Reply
      • Crystal M
        Crystal M

        Oh, she would have gotten so much hate for being Jewish. I remember that when I was a little kid, I was forced to sit through many sermons describing how God was going to torture and kill Jews in the “end times” for denying Jesus. They really hate Jews here.

        January 26, 2018
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          She probably DOES have some interesting stories to tell, but she backs away from anything painful. You can’t write or act if you won’t give up that extra layer of skin. My “acting” wasn’t worth a damn when I specialized in drawing room comedies like “Charlie’s Aunt” or Oscar Wilde. I even had an acting teacher bawl me out for the way I tried to hide behind funny, eccentric characters. She made me go through an acting exercise where I was supposed to turn down an invitation from my mother (who disapproved of my doing theatre) because I had got a part I wanted. By the end of the imagined phone call, I was picking calluses and dead skin off my feet with my nails.

          It wasn’t until I played a character where I not only had to accept but also embrace my childhood weirdness that I got to be any good.

          This is may well be part of why Sarem had trouble getting cast. I have no idea how much hidden talent she might have, but I know her need to seem perfect will strangle it.

          January 26, 2018
          |Reply
  48. RodeoBob
    RodeoBob

    One big underlying problem in this book, that continues to warp and distort the plot, characters, and storytelling, remains that black hole of storytelling: The Mary Sue.

    Zataran’s background could be an interesting character element. It could even be written so Lazy Lani wouldn’t have to do any research at all:

    “I remember as a little girl, we’d have big parties. Lots of aunts and uncles and cousins, though I don’t know if we were actually related by blood or not. Lots of singing, like there was a big holiday every other week. I remember thinking the adults were acting funny, but now I wonder if it was because they’d gotten into the wine a little bit. I remember music, and laughter, and happiness. But then Momma moved us out to the sticks, to that backwater little town, where there weren’t any aunts or uncles or cousins. I don’t really remember which holidays were when. I might remember the sound of the songs, but I never knew the words, and would probably get it all wrong. So I guess I’m a Rroma, but I don’t really know much of what that means, beyond what I know from Momma.”

    Of course, that kind of thing can’t happen in this book, because it makes our author-insert seem flawed, or unsure. The protagonist is a Mary Sue, an uber-idealized author-insert, and so they can’t have a sad or bittersweet past that continues to affect them in the present.

    Likewise, the cyclist-flip scene can’t *really* read like an accidental “I can’t control my powers, what did I do?” moment, because that too violates one of the laws of the Mary Sue: our protagonist already has perfect control of her magical powers and has no need to practice or study or be taught how to control or use them.

    I mean, that’s the interesting story hook: Zordon is a naturally talented Magick Person, but is untrained. Women hate her, men lust for her, and astonishingly good things keep happening to her because she’s unintentionally “magciking” these things up from time to time. The cyclist accidentally clips her, and her bag just happens to fall, and the cloth pouch holding her tarot cards coincidentally wasn’t tied tight, and a gust of wind inexplicably blows at just the right moment so her prospective suitor discovers this thing she was being secretive about, that she was afraid he might judge her for.

    Hell, that’s the story I’m writing in my head. Zazoo doesn’t do magic teleportation on her first day in Vegas; she’s just the pretty girl doing a diving illusion someone else worked out. She’s a ‘box jumper’, not a headliner. There’s your tension: act 1 has amazing things happening to our protagonist, and yet awful things also happening around them. Act 1 ends and Act 2 stars with the “Yer a wizard, Harry” reveal, where Zork has to re-evaluate their life in terms of what she “magicked” up versus happening on its own, and consider that if “what you really desire will happen” suggests a nasty converse about what’s going on in her life saying some ugly things about her deep desires. And as I said in a previous comment, Act 3 is Zuul’s attempt to buy the biggest turkey in the window for the Cratchet family.

    TL;dr version: Mary Sues ruin everything in a story.

    January 26, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Monica Furlong’s “Wise Child” series had the Wise Woman and her young apprentice clashing with the local priest in an early medieval Christian village. The way the conflict builds up, as even people herbalist Juniper has helped with diseases or difficult childbirths gradually turn against her–or at least are afraid to speak in her defense–is both fabulous storytelling and a view of how the transition to Christianity in Celtic regions affected people on an individual level.

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
    • RodeoBob
      RodeoBob

      Actually, let me walk one thing back:

      Having a plot device of “this character has a supernatural ability that causes wildly improbable or outright impossible things to occur as long as they are in the service of the story” feels like total hackwork.

      And in a plot-driven story, (i.e. murder mystery, chosen-one-fulfilling-destiny) it would be cheap hack writing. The tension in the story comes from the uncertainty of the plot’s resolution, so once it becomes obvious to the reader that the protagonist can ass-pull whatever they need, the stakes are gone.

      But in a character-driven story, in a story where “what they did” is there to service “who they are” and “who they might become”, it feels more like hackwork in the service of the narrative.

      So, I can forgive, from a writing perspective, the ‘random cyclist happens to clip the protagonist, whose purse happens to fall open, and whose potentially-embarrassing item just happens to fall all over the place where the love interest can see it, because the whole point of the scene is interaction between these two characters, having their characters develop.

      However, I’m less thrilled by the attempted parallelism in the subsequent scene with the other love interest, where again, the potentially embarrassing element just happens to show up (Zork and her date just happen to talk past a Tarot reading shop) and it’s the alternate love-interest who brings it up while the alleged protagonist passively looks on.

      I mean, if Magjiicka Zimbardo really WAS trying to decide between these two dudes rather than stringing them both along, then after ONE of them reacted so negatively to her tarot cards, if she was out on a date with the other one and had a chance to indirectly bring up the subject, you’d think SHE would be the one to talk about it.

      We walked out of the theater and started walking down the street. We didn’t have any plan for what to do next, but liked wandering around in each other’s company. I spotted a Tarot Reader shop down the street, and remembered how Mac had reacted to seeing my cards.

      “Hey Jackson, wanna get your fortune told?” I said lightly, pointing to the store…

      Instead, Zork is oddly passive about the whole thing.

      January 27, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Instead, Zork is oddly passive about the whole thing.

        That’s the other issue. Zani never exerts agency, except when she man-handles people. (Hell, we don’t even know for sure if she called her dad or he called her first… even if the narrative said as much, do we trust that she took the initiative?) She’s pretty much Breaking Bad, but she’s far less interesting than Walter White because he was a dorky pushover and she gets handed everything by the universe so that she never needs to do anything. That could be interesting in the right hands, maybe she’s frustrated by how boring it becomes, but here it’s empty wish-fulfillment and her makeover from an inactive douche to the active villain is never complete.

        Even when she gets magickal backlash during the upcoming show that knocks her into a coma, it doesn’t really happen because of anything that she did (other than not telling Mac that Spellman is her father or just telling him to STAY IN THE DAMN THEATER I NEED YOU THERE. Again, it’s because of something that she didn’t do.)

        She’s not written as a protagonist because she never moves the story forward except by accident. I mean, for example, Zani asking Sofia to sing in the show makes no difference to anything other than to indicate some weird shit (and her eminent break-up with Charles.) Zani’s not even a good damsel in distress; she’s unconscious so all she does is narrate events after the fact and further insinuate how horrible she is (by deciding that she should eventually learn how to break into people’s minds to read their thoughts so she doesn’t need permission… yay, you’re such a hero, Zani.)

        But yeah, your revision works wonders. Why fall back on coincidence when your protagonist can make these things happen? It’s much easier to accept and it’s more interesting because they’re trying to achieve something that they want instead of waiting for it to happen.

        I mean, hell… What if Zani was the one who made the platform malfunction, but as Sofia was falling, she felt an immediate sense of regret for letting her temper get the better of her, and Zani dived in to rescue her out of guilt? It makes more sense, it allows Zani to make mistakes and do bad things, but eventually, she turns herself around, contains her urges, and goes on to protect people? Other comments have suggested that general idea, but here’s a scene where that works perfectly! (Forgive me if someone also suggested this precisely. I’ve been reading through a bunch of comments all at once, and haven’t always had the time to respond, but have had the discussion on my mind, and so I may have inadvertantly repeated another person’s statement. If I did, then I whole-heartedly agree with you.)

        January 27, 2018
        |Reply
    • Kim
      Kim

      So somewhere between Teen Witch and Love Potion #9? Both of which had protagonists who were much easier to identify with than this narcissist who claims to have her powers under control, but also possibly paralyzed a guy who hit her purse with a bicycle and went all Carrie with some glass shards at a lemonade stand rather than walk away from a fight WITH AN ANGRY CHILD!

      February 21, 2018
      |Reply
  49. River
    River

    Does anyone else find the chapter names weird and not appropriate for what is happening in the chapter? They are simply yet another boring installment in a long line of sameness. It feels like we are in Ground Hogs Day without the humor. Lani attempts to make us feel like the first big twist is coming and yet it literally is super normal and boring. If my boss found me snogging a coworker at work he’d probably call both of us into his office and be like “hey, don’t snog on shift ok? That is not what I’m paying you to do. Thanks, have fun off shift.” So honestly it doesn’t surprise me that the boss would not be enthralled with their actions. However he should have talked to both of them. Mac’s reaction to the cards is beyond weird, you’d expect some past experience that makes him react this way. As in “my sister used them to terrorize me growing up. Predicting dire and horrible futures for me. It terrified me and I can’t stand the cards now.” Or I can understand from the perspective if the person I was dating-not-dating told me they believed in the flat earth theory I would be really disturbed (maybe this is a bad example but the only one I could think off.) And the bike incident. Lordy. She could have been really hurt when clipped by the cyclist. But she wasn’t. I’d probably have screamed after him because who likes getting hit by someone? But the excessive actions she takes are bizarre, especially for someone with powers that she knows she needs to control. But it also highlights again how boring Lani is as an author, Zurmiturf could have rescued anyone, prevented any number of crimes and been a wish-fulfillment badass. But no. She knocks someone off their bike. In such a way that he could (was) seriously injured not to mention the bike shrapnel which may harm bystanders. Zzzzz isn’t the hero she is the bad guy!

    January 26, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Or I can understand from the perspective if the person I was dating-not-dating told me they believed in the flat earth theory I would be really disturbed (maybe this is a bad example but the only one I could think off.)

      Come to think of it, ignoring Mac’s reaction being over the top and the implications that the tarot ties deeply into her heritage, the other major problem is that Zani’s wacky beliefs will be proven 100% true by the end of the story and Mac’s justifiable skepticism will be deemed wrong. He’s practically a strawman and it’s weird because IRL he’d have more ground to stand on.

      That’s like if Mac told her the world is round, Zani said her family always believed it was flat, and low-and-behold, they’re on Discworld! Except there’s no humor or interest involved in having this bizarre idea proven correct. Mac just converts to their way of thinking during a crisis where they’re about to fall off the edge and he has to paddle their canoe to save them but there’s no rush because Zani tells us that Mac had a whole day or two to get them to safety and of course they made it but here let her give you those boring rowing details with an entire stroke by stroke replay of their ordeal, even though she was napping under an umbrella while it happened. It’s mind-boggling.

      January 27, 2018
      |Reply
      • River
        River

        You’re correct I think, Mac is merely a strawman put there to point to how aaahhhmmmaazzziiinnggg Zunk is in bearing up under sceptical disbelief of the cards. Nor does she actually give any explanation or foundation to why she thinks the cards are real. I understand that she is “supposed” to be hiding her magic (I can NOT write that with a K) but in that case she could just lie and be like “dude, it’s part of my schtik, I don’t think they’re for real. Pish that’s so silly.” Because sometimes the best way to hide something is to put it in the open. But she doesn’t do that, she tries to do the whole “oh they’re real tee hee, you have just yet to see young master but you will, oh you will!” While simultaneously wringing her hands about the possibility that someone will find out about her magical abilities.

        She isn’t even giving Mac a fair shake at being convinced the world is flat because she’s telling him ” yeah, my family believes this” while at the same time denying that the world is flat. I find this angrifying because poor Mac is the dumb schmuck that doesn’t believe in magic but no one actually told/attempted to convince him magic existed.

        It’s like I can get behind the triumph of Harry when people are confronted by the return of you-know-who because he spent chapters telling them he was back. But if he’d never told them and then at the end was like “oh yeah, so Voldy is totes back y’all” I’d have been very unimpressed….Harry! Really there is no tension unless you stand up for your beliefs! Oh wait he DID so we have tension and victory

        In short (or long) I can’t stand her writing because I JUST REALIZED EVERYONE IN THIS BOOK IS A STRAWMAN TO HER MARY SUE.

        January 28, 2018
        |Reply
        • Mydog'sPA
          Mydog'sPA

          Sarem is certainly propagating the high school mentality paradox that I like to sum up as “The skills necessary to start a relationship are the exact opposite of what’s needed to maintain one.” And in this book she’s not even starting one! Some help she is to YA readers!

          She’s just potschke-ing around waiting to decide if she likes Kirk or Picard better. (Gaah! Pick one!!!!!!)

          My biggest fear is that she’ll be in the booth right next to ours at San Diego Comic Con next summer (My wife has a small press table for her steampunk comic). I keep thinking of things to ask her, like “Why is ZaZuZzyzx even interested in Mac after he clearlyshows us in this chapter that he doesn’t even respect her?!?!?! (Respect is the skill needed to maintain a relationship, as mentioned above.) His lack of respect for her is a recipe for disaster later on in the relationship. So why even start with him now, even if he’s a good lay (well, in Zunk’s case only a good kisser. And much easier to cut it off now than later.)

          If she does show up at ComicCon next to our booth, are there any other questions you’d like me to ask her?

          January 28, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            No questions, but you could just arrange for her to meet–accidentally of course, no formal introductions–Roberta Gregory (Bitchy-Bitch) and/or Dame Darcy (MeatCake), either of whom could eat her for breakfast….

            January 28, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            Just tell her that Bohemian is the word she’s been looking for, to describe herself, and hand her a tiny dictionary with that specific meaning highlighted in bright yellow or pink. Or a small slip of paper if that’s too expensive. Note that Boho is a cute nickname for it. Rock’n’RollBoho might look a bit weird but it rolls off the tongue.

            January 28, 2018
          • Amy
            Amy

            Just be sure not to engage her. Lani is an attention seeker, she will begin conversation with YOU first. That way at least you can say you weren’t seeking her out. And she looks on twitter religiously apparently, so watch your tags, she’s following them!

            Be nice, and don’t reveal what/how much you know. Let’s see how much she tries to goad you into buying her book, to get you on her side. Ask her innocent questions, get her to reveal things. Is Sofia modeled after someone? How did the Plain White Ts react to being in her book? I really like the cover, it is inspired by someone?

            If you’re willing to do this, be prepared for the greatest act you’ll ever do… or at least better than anything Lani has done. XD

            January 28, 2018
          • Amy
            Amy

            Ohh ohhh! Even if you’re not next to each other, try to take note how many copies of HFM she actually sells, how much it is, who/howmany actually goes to her booth. Because that’s what people want when they go to San Diego comic con- a $25 YA novel!

            Just be careful otherwise Lani will tweet out, “people are harrassing me at comic con! see, the YA community are after me!” Be a casual watcher. If you’re next to her, don’t engage. Let her engage you. She will watch twitter, so keep an eye on what tags you use.

            January 28, 2018
          • MyDog'sPA
            MyDog'sPA

            Yeah, I think not engaging is the best thing to do. We’ll be so busy anyway just managing the con itself. Just getting lunch is a nightmare. Plus I may have my panel to worry about, probably again on Sunday, so I have to get mentally ready for that.

            Good thing I’m not on Twitter, then? But I’ll make a mental note how busy her booth is if she’s there.

            January 29, 2018
          • Amy
            Amy

            One more thing! If Lani wants to buy any of your artwork, DON’T let her. Remember, she’s a filthy little art thief and if she’s willing to steal from a high profile artist like Gill deMace, she’s willing to take steal from the indie crowd. Don’t let her take any free postcards, don’t let her take pictures, don’t offer her your domain name. Warn all your other friends who may be attending.

            January 31, 2018
          • Amanda
            Amanda

            Steampunk comic? I need to know more about this. What’s it called, if I may ask?

            February 20, 2018
        • Dove
          Dove

          Yeah, it’s not as if Zoozle put in the effort. That might be understandable in this specific scene because she just magically injured a man, but if she’d spent time earlier in the book trying to ease Mac into this concept, maybe just ask to read his fortune for fun or something, or show him any magic at all, it could be better. Instead, he freaks out, then she vaguely suggests it and backs down quickly… And it’s sort of forgotten about. Very soon she’ll just fall into a gross, bloody coma and Mac will be forced to believe it or she’ll die. There’s no tension, no glory, and no effort on her part. Zani didn’t once talk to him about it… DELA convinced the unbeliever but frankly, Mac never even argued on the plane or at the house once he realized Charles just dragged his daughter home instead of to a true medical specialist. Or well, been awhile since I read the other recaps but almost positive Mac doesn’t put up enough of a fuss and call them insane.

          Once again, Zani has no agency. Might as well have Mac fall in love with Dela and continue the triangle between him and Spellman with Dela in the middle instead. Let Zani die off in the background and switch protags to pretty much any of those characters. It wouldn’t really change that much… I mean, superficially. Dela’s a copy of Zani visually so she’s a perfect stand-in lol. Dela’s also pretty inactive but at least she talked about her past with Mac immediately and got him comfy with magic. She also was pro-active in leaving Spellman, although there are some iffy details involving that whole deal (if they got back together so quick, maybe they could’ve just talked it out in the past and stayed together… Charles was on a spiral but I think that mostly happened after she left.)

          But yeah… it’s a world of straw!

          January 28, 2018
          |Reply
    • Jamoche
      Jamoche

      Since it began life as a screenplay, the chapter titles are an afterthought – she put as little thought into picking them as she did everything else.

      January 28, 2018
      |Reply
  50. Erin C
    Erin C

    I still don’t get the totally conflicting views of the town. It was simultaneously full of hateful bigots who wanted to burn her and her mother for witches. However, it was also a place where everyone liked her and were constantly telling her how beautiful and nice she was.

    January 26, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      If she wasn’t working with generalizations, it could make sense. There might have been some people who liked her anyway, but without names or faces to apply those positive experiences to it just becomes an inconsistent and dream-like fantasy.

      January 27, 2018
      |Reply
    • Drea
      Drea

      Basically Zani is the dollar store version of Belle from Beauty and the Beast. EVERYONE in town knows who she is and thinks she’s beautiful, but strange. So, she wants ‘more than this provincial life.’ TBH if Lani Boggs had followed the plot of Beauty and the Beast more closely, the story would have been 1000% better.

      Imagine if Spellman had been a tyrant and strict at first, determined to keep his theater in check. The other cast members could always have been on edge and ready to quit, but they know if the do, Spellman will make sure the won’t be able to work with any other show.
      Zani comes out to Las Vegas because she’s looking for her father. She did a spell to track him and it lead to Vegas, but now something’s blocking her from getting any closer. At her beloved mall, Zani has to do some magic to fight off Lambo girl and Spellman sees her. He blackmails her into performing in his show.

      Back at the theater, Zani meets the cast and becomes friend with them and maybe even more with Mac. She and Spellman become closer and have a lot in common. They create a new show with Zani’s skills. He seems to know a lot about magic for a mortal.

      After the big performance Spellman reveals he is her father. She’s shocked and betrayed. She leaves the theater and, because he realizes he’s been an ass, lets her go
      Zani realizes through tarot that something bad is happening to her mother back in Tennessee. She goes back, but it’s a trap. Towns folk are going to put her mother away, burn down her house, etc. They’ve been riled up with magic by the witch council that doesn’t like that Zani is using magic in a show or that she’s half mortal.

      Zani tries to protect her mother, but end up in a fight with Lambo girl. She’s almost defended when…Spellman and company come. They unite, save the day, but the council is still plotting against them and Spellman still has more secrets…

      It’s cliche, but it’s an actual plot.

      February 21, 2018
      |Reply
  51. RE: the bikyler.

    When she’s hit she’s like, “No big deal.”

    And “There’s nothing in my purse except chapstick even though I have $12,000 worth of fancy makeup at my disposal but I kiss a lot of dudes so I gotta be ready.”

    Then there’s some fiddle-faddling with the purse contents and THEN she’s like “MY BLOODS A’BOILIN AN’ IMMA KILL THAT SUMBITCH WHAT TUMPED OVER MY POCKETBOOK AND SPILT MY SPIRIT CARDS!”

    Doesn’t it seem like the cyclist would be like…a mile away? So I imagine there’s a Wilhelm scream and then does anybody go check on Tour de Fracas as he’s shrieking?

    So. many. questions.

    Also, WHAT HAPPENS IN THE INSTRUMENT SHOP???

    January 26, 2018
    |Reply
  52. “You’d look amazing in anything,” he said with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. “And even better in nothing,” he added as he rubbed his hand over the small of my back.

    “You’d look amazing in anything.” With a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, he rubbed a hand over the small of my back. “And even better in nothing.”

    Sorry, I had to fix it. Unnecessary dialogue tags make me crazy in the first place, but back-to-back sentences with dialogue tags in the same paragraph make me utterly stabby.

    January 26, 2018
    |Reply
    • River
      River

      Yes, thank you! It is completely weird and gross when you consider Zurp is Lani, so she telling us she looks really good nekked! It just feels really icky when put in that context.

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
    • Also worth mentioning that only ONE eye was twinkling in the original, before you edited with “eyes.” Maybe this moment in the story is the first we’ve heard about Romantic Interest only having one eye.

      January 27, 2018
      |Reply
  53. L
    L

    Ugh, I forgot concentration camp romances were a thing, thanks for the reminder… but honestly now, regardless of how shitty this book is, the part about her being jewish not coming up earlier is not that unbelievable… I mean, I’m technically jewish but I’m extremely not religious so some people in my life don’t even know that about me…most of the time I don’t feel marginalized at all and I almost never think about the holocaust in my everyday life, so… but then again, I don’t live in the US, maybe things are different there 🙂

    January 26, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      If Zade explained that she’s not that religious or any other details to go with Mac bringing it up at random, that would be fine, but it’s such a weird topic for her to gloss over considering how Zani practically brags about mundane things. It’s also an unusual combination of Tarot + Rroma + Jewish, so if she were only Jewish and that was it, then it wouldn’t bear much commentary. But she’s a magical girl who claims to be some fortune teller stereotype and she’s Jewish but it apparently wasn’t worth mentioning to the reader before mentioning it to Mac off-screen. She doesn’t give us any further details about how she feels about it or if it’s even a topic that matters at all to her, especially after saying “these things aren’t exclusive.” So, it’s important enough to be confirmed, but not described? I doubt she’s super orthodox, but any amount of relevant character development is better than none.

      It’s like the lack of details with Jackson… we wouldn’t even need them, but supposedly she’s waffling over dating him so why the hell didn’t he get more depth? Because Zani was lazy and just didn’t care. Also, I get the feeling she ignored it because she didn’t think it was glamorous enough. It’s how she reacts to most things in this book. Being Jewish doesn’t make her feel special so it only comes up for a short quip and then it disappears forever. It’s like, why bother bringing it up if you weren’t going to use it for anything else? No one cares what her religion is unless it has some impact on her personality, her relationships, or her magical power source… anything relevant to the plot. She could have edited that out entirely.

      It’s really a nitpick but there are so many that they’ve piled up sky high at this point. It’s harder to ignore any new ones, especially when she’s such an unreliable narrator who enjoys lying to make herself look better. For all we know, she’s beaten up some Rabbis in the past for condemning her fortune telling, and that would be terrible, but a lot more interesting than the poor cyclist bumping into her by accident. It could have ramifications… But nothing does and it’s infuriating.

      Hell, how did Zani being Jewish come up the first time? Did Mac discuss religion? What was that like, given his supposedly super-logical nature? Ugh… It’s just another missed opportunity no matter how you slice it. At the very least, she could just say “I’m practically agnostic but I was raised Jewish” and Mac could explain how he ended up as an Atheist because of logic, but we could find out if he’s an asshole about it or just leaves other people alone about their religion while feeling superior or whatever. I suspect that’s how it went down, but it’d be nice to have it confirmed and it’d build character and the relationship rapport between them.

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
  54. So I am far too lazy to do this (and don’t have a copy, I’m “reading” vicariously), but am wondering if someone who owns this book can do a skim to find any time “A few weeks went by.” I’ve read an awful lot of re-caps, and have no idea of how long things are going on. It sounds like we’re up to maybe six months at this point. At least. Possibly more.

    Is it an assumption to guess that Zardification is asexual?

    If that’s intended, why haven’t either Mister Z or Twilight asked her point blank? “You’re in your late twenties, we’ve been seeing each other for months, but no one is talking about further development of sexual relayshuns-shipping. There’ve been some chaste kisses, and that’s as far as it seems like things will go. Which is cool. But it’s confusing, and everyone needs to make some choices about what works. Can we have a conversation about it?”

    This is not to say, these “relationships” (or unfunny bantering, not sure at this point what’s going on) are invalid if sex isn’t involved. It’s not even a sex thing. There is no romantic energy. No ping. No zing. I honest-to-goodness don’t understand the point of a “love triangle” when there’s no chemistry between characters.

    If I were in my mid-twenties, and “kind of dating someone,” when we were nearly half a year in of playing cat-n-mouse and only kissed….I would want to know why. I would want to know if kissing was as far as things would ever go, and then decide whether or not a sexless relationship was one I wanted to be a part of.

    Somehow, Zebadoh and Mac? Zack? Hack? are JUST beginning to talk about who their families are. Also, Jackson. Who just kind of leans against trees in tight pants, tilting his head and stuff.

    So confused.

    And since it seems these non-connections with “romantic leads” are an integral part of the story, SOMEHOW the junior high spin-the-bottle is worth a discussion.

    Undoubtedly, my question will offend someone, and I apologize in advance if that’s the case.

    January 27, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      For a lot of asexual people, they don’t know they’re asexual because they don’t have a word for it, they’ve been told all their lives somethings “wrong” with them, and some are in a sexual relationship and don’t believe they “fit” into that description.

      There’s nothing wrong with asking to take the relationship to the next level, but in case for HFM, it’s highly unlikely it is because Zade is asexual. It’s mostly because, like in a lot of YA stories, virginity is put on a pedestal. It’s because Mac and Jackson are “good” boys who would never ask about having sex with their virgin mary girlfriend. Because Lani wanted to market this book to the YA audience so she can’t put sex in it.

      It’s because talking about the possibility of having an adult conversation about sex is too interesting for a book that keeps avoiding concepts that would change the entire plot.

      January 27, 2018
      |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      I’m deeply offended, Vivacia. Spin-the-bottle was elementary school. By Jr. High, we were making out like dirty animals.

      January 27, 2018
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      To be honest, I don’t think Zani wanted anyone to love or have sex with. She just wanted a trophy showing how desirable she is and how she’s always right. Everything that Zani does is either to get back at someone (like those bands who fired her) or stolen from some inspiration source directly… Frankly, I wonder if Sofia came from Curb Your Enthusiasm… I know that sounds weird and I’ve only seen the first episode, but I couldn’t help wondering. Obviously, she’s included to show up all those girls/women who stole great parts from Zani (and a womanizer like Spellman needs to keep his wand wet), but eh. It was merely a thought I had.

      More importantly, Zani can’t write relationships or characters to save her life, and she wanted to market it as YA. Avoiding it altogether would make both of these things easier, even though it is absolutely an adult-audience novel, but she couldn’t get out of the romance entirely so she half-assed it. Also, it’s possible the movie script was bolder with its implications. I’m pretty positive the bit about Charlie on top of Sofia came from that.

      January 27, 2018
      |Reply
  55. Doedee
    Doedee

    I understand Mac. He doesn’t care if she is a jew or gypsy, but have a problem with tarot cards and superstitions. If I would find tarot cards or a bible in a bag of my date, I would run.

    January 27, 2018
    |Reply
  56. Cris
    Cris

    “Oh. Humor”.

    This broke me. Who says that?! Are you an alien?! A robot?! Not even the most socially inept person would say this shit. Three editors my ass, at most she had three “friends”-yes I do not believe Salame is capable of forming meaningful bonds with people- read her turd of a book and suck up to her about how awesome it is. Good god, how can you so completely fail every time at making your “characters” at least vaguely resemble human beings?

    Also, if you hear someone shrieking from pain you know damn well they are hurt pretty badly, so Leonora can keep her feeble attempts to convince us her self-insert did no wrong. Karma does NOT work like that. The point of karma is that the person gets what they give yes, however it is the universe who is in charge of the punishment, not you, the individual. It would be rich if karma came for missnotliketheothersluts, let me tell you.

    I think this has been pointed out several times before in these comment sections, but Zaccarin is definitely a villain protagonist. Mac is fittingly her total douche canoe of a love interest. And none of them are remotely interesting even as bad guys. You have a huge problem if all your readers wish for your mc is a gruesome death.

    January 27, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      If you keep up with goodreads, nearly every positive review there was obviously made by a bot or a friend. The majority of the reviews were cut/pasted on Amazon, or the reviewer themselves have new/barely used accounts. Even to this day these fake accounts keep putting 5 star reviews on there.

      January 27, 2018
      |Reply
  57. Alyssa
    Alyssa

    In the hands of a good writer, oh could make this a really interesting read without changing any of the major events simply by making Zani the villain.

    Imagine. Zany leaves her dusty hometown with dreams of grandeur. Her entire life she’s had to hide her magic, while still being considered the town freak. Finally, she’s ready to break free- to be able to use her gifts and have a life. She knows Vegas is the perfect place to hide in plain sight. She can be normal, but also big adventures there. Immediately a yellow flag comes up- was her mother magic keeping her trapped? And if so, does Zally even know? We can’t be sure, but we know it’s important.

    Inexplicably, Zad nails an audition with the biggest show in Vegas despite having zero experience. We don’t question it. She nails the audition, and even snags a starring spot on the show, replacing the showrunners own girlfriend. We assume Zoe is mad talented. She’s doing real magic, after all.

    Things are going great for Zod. Star spot on the show, two hot guys who want her. But we start to notice, she lies sometimes. First small lies that are reasonable- she has to protect her secret after all. But they become more frequent and harder to justify. Unnecessary. She can’t keep straight if it’s Sophie/Sophia. She tells different characters different stories about her ethnic and religion background. Different stories about her upbringing. She tells other characters new versions of things we saw to make her look better.

    Then she saves Sofia. At first we see her as a hero! But not long after, we question. She first describes Sofia as grateful for saving her life, but later she misremembers her as being not just resentful, but openly hostile. Not only that, but Zeina is too vague for comfort on the details of HOW Sofia fell. Discomfortingly unconcerned about how she is as well. However, she gleefully absorbs the praise for saving Sofia, and we begin to realize Zobby can’t be trusted.

    Finally, our suspicions are confirmed. Lambo girl attacks Zambia in the parking garage with a revelation: women are magically repulsed by Zorro, while men fall in love by simply being in her presence. That’s right, she magically controls free will. Lambo girl tells her it’s dangerous, she shouldn’t be here, she needs to go home. But as quickly as this revelation occurs Zani puts it out of her mind like it never happened. Did she know the whole time? Does she even care?

    Now that we know the truth, we can see Zalisha’s true colors. She revels in being the star of the show, demanding Charles spend tens of thousands of dollars in the budget just so she can play with makeup she can’t even use for the show. For months on end she drags along the two guys pursuing her, lavishing in the attention of her boy toys. We now know why neither of them puts his foot down and demand she make a choice- they can’t. Her wish is their command. They are her personal love slaves for as long as she desires.

    Not only is she manipulative, but she’s violent. She attacks a teenage girl with shards of glass from a lemonade stand for simply being rude to her. She causes a cyclist to crash, destroying his bike and possibly even paralyzing him. And worst of all, she sees nothing wrong with her actions. She feels no guilt, believes she is justified in doling out punishment, and casually inflicts pain on anyone she perceives as crossing her. Just as easily as she harms others, she forgets it ever happened. She never even thinks of these incidents again. Instead she contents herself to her narcissism, basking in the attention of the spotlight and her male companions. We now know she’s a monster with no conscious, and soon she will kill someone if she hasn’t already…….

    January 27, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Absolutely what is happening here, but more honest (through insinuation and fine details) and way more thrilling, of course! Plus, the ending would be a million times better, because presumably, Lambo Girl has to stop Zackahack. Poor Sofia might die when Zitze fly decides to get her parents back together, at all costs, unless Lambo tricks the punitive beast into knocking herself out. XD

      January 27, 2018
      |Reply
      • SandorClegane13
        SandorClegane13

        I think we have new winner for best alternative name for Zade. Zitze Fly had me in stitches!

        January 28, 2018
        |Reply
    • River
      River

      Wow. Well put and that would have been a fascinating book to read. The heroine who… May not be all that heroic after all but the twisting lies and unstable recounting make it difficult to decided.

      January 28, 2018
      |Reply
    • RodeoBob
      RodeoBob

      It’s a good opening, to be sure. The question is: what kind of a story do we want to tell?

      The Horror Story: Zuul denies that she’s using magic, but keeps using magic to get her way. She keeps succeeding, and people around her quickly realize that it’s a bad idea to get in her way, even if they don’t know why. She gets power-hungry hangers-on, and her alleged bosses are all “It’s a good thing you wished that stage hand into the cornfield, Zuzu!”.

      The Morality Play: (aka “The Monkey’s Paw”) Zork gets everything she asks for, but not necessarily anything she wants. Things go right, then horribly wrong, and each thing she tries to do to fix things only winds up making it worse, until she winds up dead/comatose/losing all her powers in a karmic Rube-Goldberg chain of events.

      The Didactic Morality Play (aka “Scrooge”) Zippo continues magicking along, breaking up relationships and injuring performers and ultimately, the show suffers for it. Someone (Lambo girl or Glenda the Good Witch) shows Zilch how much harm she’s doing, and what the next round of consequences look like. Instead of keeping on, The Zinch’s heart grows three sizes that day, and she tries to set right all the things she’s done wrong.

      I like your take on it. I just want to know where it goes next!

      January 28, 2018
      |Reply
  58. Tania
    Tania

    Wait. *Concentration camp romances*. There’s no way I just read those words in that order in a real sentence, is there????

    January 29, 2018
    |Reply
  59. Alex Silvers
    Alex Silvers

    As someone who very casually reads tarot (ok to be perfectly honest I own many decks because they’ve got pretty art and I mostly play solitaire with them) I am endlessly astonished by how many major arcana cards happen to pop up when anything happens with this woman’s cards. Someone needs to shuffle their deck better.

    January 31, 2018
    |Reply
  60. ‘If there’s no problem with her being Jewish, then why is there a problem with her believing something else her family does?’

    On this one point – and I cannot believe I am about to type these words – I can actually give Lani Sarem a pass. ‘Jewish’ refers to ethnicity as well as religion. There are plenty of non-practicing Jewish people around, and if Mac’s objection is solely to her believing in stuff he doesn’t believe, there’s no reason why he would object to her being a non-practicing Jew.

    This, however:

    ‘Then he looked somewhat confused again, and asked, “I thought you were Jewish.”

    I smiled softly, trying to ease Mac into the conversation. I almost found this a funny question for him to ask and smirked a little before clarifying. “I am. We, my family and I, are. One is not exclusive of the other.’

    Um… surely they are, if she’s talking about a whole family? Jewish and Romany are two completely different ethnicities and cultures, of different origins. I mean, mixed marriages exist, so I could just about see a situation where an individual describes herself as both Jewish and Romany, but a whole family? Am I missing something? How is that supposed to work out?

    January 31, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I mean, mixed marriages exist, so I could just about see a situation where an individual describes herself as both Jewish and Romany, but a whole family? Am I missing something? How is that supposed to work out?

      Yeah, again, she’s using broad generalizations that makes it nonsensical (like the whole town both admiring and despising her, instead of some people admiring her more and some people admiring her less.) I’m assuming it’s a mixed marriage where several Rroma converted to Judaism and so they passed down their Rroma traditions as well as their Jewish ones and at some point, one entire branch just became a combined heritage? Rroma don’t have a specific religion, only a culture, so it could be everyone is a practicing Jew but more ethnically Rroma, except for Zani who is non-practicing. Also, by just saying family, we don’t know who she’s referring to… She may just mean Dela’s immediate family instead of everyone like cousins and such. I guess. But really, it’s pretty unlikely you’d get a bunch of Rroma converting to a marginalized religion. They want more acceptance, not less.

      Like you said, it could work, but she’s too vague and didn’t bother to research. Zani is really just Boho, not Rroma anyway, so Lade doesn’t know or care about any heritage, nor does she try to apply interest or logic here. 😛

      January 31, 2018
      |Reply
      • MyDog'sPA
        MyDog'sPA

        Actually, I’m beginning to think Sarem is an equal-opportunity offender that gets it wrong on every level, not just Romani/religion.

        While waiting for Jen to recover from her travails, I found Dove’s other HFM discussions at Blandbookchortlesblog to get a head start on Chapter 14. Gaaaccchhhh–it gets even worse. Sarem’s hero Mac ‘sees’ Zuzu in a compromising position with someone and gets borderline violent (clearly crossing a physical abuse boundary) and then abandons his post as the technical director just because he’s in a huff and pawns it off on someone unqualified to work the technical gear. And this is the technical director of the show who clearly stated in Chapter 2 he was responsible for every performer’s safety!!!!!!

        This is a colossal insult to every hard-working technical director of a show of this magnitude.

        So my question to Zit-tze Fly: why would she even want Mac? What in her subconscious gravitates toward him? (For example our subconscious’ are sometimes crappy things that steer us to the wrong people, like the person who’s abused goes out and, instead of finding someone who will be good to them, is, in fact, abusive because that’s what their subconscious is used to. It’s a vicious cycle that won’t break until the person can learn to tell their subconscious to “f**k off.” )

        Mac is pulled toward Zit-tse Fly because of her irresistible Mag-eccch, but why does she want someone that will manhandle her like that?

        Bleccchhhh.

        February 8, 2018
        |Reply
    • Another Amy
      Another Amy

      So, here’s my thought. I don’t think this character, Zade, is even Romani, or Irish Traveler, or any of the ethnicities that fall under “gy—.” (Side note: I didn’t know the g-word was a racial slur, but I’m basing that off of the show “my big fat gy— wedding,” which in itself is problematic, stereotypical, and exploitative. Is “gy—” on par with the n-word, in terms of people who are not either Romani or black, should never refer to people who are Romani or black by those terms, but it is okay for people who are Romani or black to refer to themselves by those terms?)

      I think the character is using the term “gy—” as a stand-in for witch. Like “gy—” is the mortal, non magical version of someone who reads tarot, and is the closest thing she can come up with to describe herself and her family and what they do without telling the truth. I’m not sure if this makes it better or worse. I’m thinking worse because she’s appropriating an entire ethnicity, claiming to be a member of that marginalized group, referring to them by a racial slur because she is so ignorant about Romani people even though she is claiming to be one, and then stereotyping them further: “all Romani read Tarot, it’s part of being that ethnicity!” If she were actually Romani though, that would be another good thing to bring up with the whole “we have to marry our own kind.,” thing she brought up once and never mentioned again. Romani people often feel the pressure to marry other Romani people. The fact that she now has these 2 huge things to set up conflict in her relationships (has to marry another magickal person, has to marry another Romani) and doesn’t use either ever is annoying.

      And I’m also a little mad at the being Jewish thing, for the reasons you stated. Jewish is an ethnicity. Her entire family cannot be both Jewish and Romani. And Jewish is something that was never brought up before and appears to not shape her life in anyway. She, and her mother, do not appear to go to temple or practice Judaism the religion, so it’s not like her family has converted to Judaism, which would’ve been a good way to reconcile being both Jewish and Romani. What I think she’s doing here is setting it up for her father (who will be Spellman) to be Jewish, and it makes me mad that OF COURSE the guy in the entertainment industry has to be Jewish.

      February 5, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        I agree; especially since I think you’re right about the term being confusing, stereotypical shorthand rather than actual use of the ethnicity. She could’ve made this complicated idea work but her lack-luster attempt to world-build and refusal to properly add conflict ruins everything.

        What I think she’s doing here is setting it up for her father (who will be Spellman) to be Jewish, and it makes me mad that OF COURSE the guy in the entertainment industry has to be Jewish.

        … Oh man. I hadn’t considered the Jewish side might be all on Spellman’s end. If it is, that would be super annoying, especially since… Did her mother convert? Did she grow up Jewish or latch onto it to bond with daddy? Again it’s not actually put to any real purpose. It’s just some random meaningless info-dump, no matter how tiny and inconsequential it is. And of course it just raises more questions! 😛

        February 19, 2018
        |Reply
  61. Tez Miller
    Tez Miller

    According to this Tweet, the book has received “a succession of 58 five star reviews in the span of three days, made by accounts who’ve made one, two, or no reviews at all.”

    (I’ve read the reviews. Very generic-sounding. “Great!” “I loved it!” “Looking forward to the movie!” Did she go shopping on Fiverr, or do these reviewers not know how fake their reviews seem? CORRECTION: She went on a radio show, so maybe people felt sorry for her and five-starred without reading?)

    February 19, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I’m pretty sure the reviewers and Lani don’t care if it looks fake. She’s more concerned with getting the overall rating up and she finally realized what would work. But yeah, I’m betting Lani said she was getting attacked and these helpful people either bought that line, don’t really care much about ethics in a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” way, or they did it so she’d leave them alone. I’m wondering why they stopped at roughly 3-stars though. Either she had a stroke of enlightenment or she ran out of people/bots to exploit. I’m assuming it’s the latter.

      February 19, 2018
      |Reply
      • Drea
        Drea

        None of these 50+ reviews are even verified purchases. It seems insane that amazon doesn’t have a better vetting process. One of the reviews just said “Great!” three times. Do you think the NYT sticker and this new batch of reviews is her gearing up for the (definitely going to be terrible) movie?

        February 20, 2018
        |Reply
        • Drea
          Drea

          I went through and reported the obviously fake ones for abuse. It is amazing how low this woman will go…

          February 20, 2018
          |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Is there actually going to BE a movie?
          Even Tommy Wiseau might turn up his nose at working on this one

          February 20, 2018
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            Is there actually going to BE a movie?

            I really hope so. XD

            February 20, 2018
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Dove:
            You sadist.
            ;-P

            February 20, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            ViolettaD: I’ll feel bad for the people working with her, but that holds true no matter what she does. Maybe she’ll receive some well-deserved karma… that will promptly be ignored. ;D

            February 21, 2018
        • Amy
          Amy

          There was an article not long ago stating Amazon was going to take down unverified reviews, especially on items that were bombarded with “fake” reviews, such as HFM, Hillary Clinton’s book, and the new Trump book. I’d think Lani would know about this process, especially if she’s the one touting the whole, “Everyone is being mean to me!” rant. Wouldn’t Amazon also take down these fake reviews as well, even if they’re positive?

          Also, someone in response went on goodreads and put up like, 20 new 1-star reviews.

          February 20, 2018
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            Also, someone in response went on goodreads and put up like, 20 new 1-star reviews.

            lol… I would say “Don’t give her fuel” for that victim complex but I think Angela Cutrell might have a clue for us. It seems that Lani Sarem likes handing her books out to people for free. Was she at a convention recently? Maybe the Goodreads reviewers got a free, signed copy of H4M that way and after seeing the Amazon reviews, they decided not to fight her and put their opinions elsewhere.

            February 20, 2018
          • Amy
            Amy

            According to the comments of the review, this happened around the time the controversy first came out, so the free books isn’t a current thing.

            February 20, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            According to the comments of the review, this happened around the time the controversy first came out, so the free books isn’t a current thing.

            Oh, whoops! My mistake. It helps if I pay closer attention.

            I guess someone just noticed her tampering on Amazon and they poked their friends into combatting her propaganda elsewhere. Since the Goodreads crowd are telling the truth, I really can’t be too mad at them. I just hate how Sarem has something to point at for future bullying complaints, but she’d keep lying to anyone extending a sympathetic ear, even if this hadn’t happened, so it changes nothing in the long run. I can only hope that common sense will prevail. 😛

            February 21, 2018
  62. @Drea: Going off on a tangent, but in fairness to Amazon I’m not sure how they could have a better vetting process. If they restrict it to verified purchases, they end up cutting out a lot of potentially very useful reviews from people who’ve got the book from the library/read a friend’s copy/bought it from a secondhand shop. I’m quite happy with looking at actual reviews and figuring out what they tell me, which is much more informative than looking at the star count.

    February 20, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Lani can post as many reviews as she wants. She bought that many copies of her own book!

      February 20, 2018
      |Reply
    • It’s not so much that the purchases are unverified–I’ve done the same thing you mentioned with different items–but that the quality of the reviews is so obviously fake. One of the new reviews is just the letter “A” and it was marked as one of the most helpful comments on the list.(Wasn’t there a character minimum on reviews?)

      There should be some way they can spot and track questionable reviews. For H4M, it’s just a lame book, but other crappy items could be dangerous. Not everyone is savvy enough to recognize a scam when they see one.

      But beyond all that, I was frustrated to see Lani game another system in order to make H4M happen. I just wish someone would hold her accountable.

      February 20, 2018
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        And that’s the strange thing about it; while everything Lani has done is certainly decietful, it is technically not illegal. So the only people who are gonna hold her accountable to her actions are the readers, the reviewers, the book world.

        Though why do these reviews now? Right in the middle of February? It would make more sense during like, December, get and try to appeal to eager Christmas shoppers who are looking to buy a pretty-looking book for their kids. I wonder if this has to do anything with her movie. I heard once again that the movie has been pished back, probably coming out in 2019. Is Lani trying to raise her stats on Amazon to show off to potential contributers that yes, not only is her book a bestseller, but it also has a decent amount of reviews on Amazon?

        February 20, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          I wonder if this has to do anything with her movie.

          Oh, absolutely. Many of the 5-star reviews were hyping up the book and the movie so I’m betting that’s her game. I think she picked now because she didn’t think of pushing ahead in December (or she was sadly optimistic lol) but also she knew that Jenny’s reviews had halted for now. It coincides too neatly. But it’s dumb… She has nothing to fear from Jenny. Lani Sarem needs to fear the people who are going to actually read her book and knock the rating back down by expressing their honest opinions. Alternatively, she needs to fear the disinterest everyone else has. She’s seriously not generating any decent word of mouth and I think most people are beginning to forget about her. She may think that’s good and she’s hoping to cash in on unsuspecting people but without the backlash, she has nothing. The only reason anyone knows H4M exists is due to her sheer gall in promoting it. The book itself isn’t bad or hilarious enough to garner any sort of cult status either. The only reason we’re still following her is that Jenny isn’t done reviewing it. Whenever she stops, either the movie will be out, which might help, or no one will remember H4M.

          February 20, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Nothing to fear from Jenny? She ought to be grateful to Jenny and the other sporkers: without them, nobody would remember her at all. It’s like Mark Twain’s skewering of “The Enemy Conquered; or, Love Triumphant”: a magnificently inept Victorian novelette that would have been forgotten long ago without Twain’s takedown.

            February 20, 2018
          • Amy
            Amy

            They’re hyping up a movie… that still has no lead actors/director/anything attached to it. Like, can it be anymore obvious these are fake reviews?

            Even if the producers want to make the movie using the controversy as its biggest selling point, that’s still a poor reason to produce a movie. Nobody outside of the book world is going to care! Even if its advertised as “The Only Book To Be Kicked Off The NYT’s Best Sellers List!” it’s still not going to garner enough attention to make back all its money. It’ll have to be something big like… Anne Perry big.

            oh god, don’t kill someone to make your movie, Lani!

            February 20, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            It’s like Mark Twain’s skewering of “The Enemy Conquered; or, Love Triumphant”: a magnificently inept Victorian novelette that would have been forgotten long ago without Twain’s takedown.

            First of all, I absolutely agree with you. Second, I definitely need to find that essay (although it’s possible I’ve read it and forgotten about it.) His commentary on Fenimore Cooper’s The Deerslayer was excellent. XD

            February 21, 2018
      • Dove
        Dove

        Ironically, the person who said “A” has a ton of other reviews and most of them are very short, leading me to believe that she’s a very blunt person (and one other review just had the letter A but I don’t remember what it was. Most of them were a sentence long and got right to the point.) I’m sure Lani asked her for a good review since this woman has assessed the quality of other items in more depth and given them appropriately low scores, but if she had just said a bit more then it would’ve seemed realistic enough for me. Her other purchases showed she has a husband, at least one dog, and maybe a kid but I don’t remember seeing very many books. Regardless, I honestly don’t think she had the time or the interest to prop up Lani Sarem’s shitty little novel further. She has her own life to live. XD

        Seriously, looking at this woman’s review history was more entertaining and informative than any description of a character in H4M.

        February 20, 2018
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Dove:. I’m pretty sure the essay is called “A Cure for the Blues” and it’s probably available on Gutenberg in one of the Twain collections, though you might have to look through a few TOCs before you find which one.
          Oh yes, his “Literary Offenses” essay on Fenimore Cooper is sheer bliss, even if you haven’t had any FC. I still remember his sourly commenting that if a character couldn’t find a twig to step on, accidentally alerting others to his presence, he most go and find a twig and PLACE it where he can accidentally step on it.

          February 21, 2018
          |Reply
  63. Drea
    Drea

    Oh, I’m sure there will be a movie…and some kind of scam to go along with it. This woman has the tenacity of a cockroach–a nuclear blast couldn’t kill her ambition.
    We can assume she’s going to try to bribe/already knows some of the lower-level rotten tomato critics. We’ll have to see if any of them take the bait or buys she sad little story. I’m also sure she has bots/fiverr reviews lined up to boost her ‘audience score.’
    None of it matters because the movie will be horrible (unless she total changes the so-called characters, plot, and setting.). Even if she somehow pulls this off and scams her way into a 5-star rating on Amazon and somehow manages to buy her way into a decent score on her movie, it will all be fake. It will just be what her own money bought her. Everyone who actually reads the book/sees the movie will know its crap…She will always be a joke. So, what’s the point?

    February 20, 2018
    |Reply
  64. Sigyn Wisch
    Sigyn Wisch

    If someone told me, “Chin up, princess, or the crown slips” when I was genuinely upset about something, and I had majiqueck, I would probably use it to put them on their ass. And without majiqueck, I would probably punch them.

    I’ve had several exes pull that “Stop having negative emotions because it makes me uncomfortable” bullshit, so the fact that Mac does it tells me that he’s abusive and she needs to break up with him right the fuck now.

    February 28, 2018
    |Reply

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