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Jealous Haters Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 14 Wheel of Fortune or, “Fifty Shades of Mac”

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Hello, everybody! Things are still hectic over here at the Trout House, but I’ve been stealing bits of time here and there to work on my true passion, which is, surprisingly, not calling and canceling accounts for a deceased person. Who could have guessed? No, I’m talking about my passion for ripping bad books to shreds. It soothes me.

Before I go too far, I want to thank everyone who has donated money to us in the wake of this unexpected death. I won’t go further than that because Mr. Jen wants to thank you guys directly via video (when he’s able to do it without choking up) and I don’t want to steal his thunder. But you guys have really saved a huge chunk of our asses. Disposing of someone’s body and material life is expensive, even when you go super basic.

As of right now, posts here are going to be thin on the ground. I’ve got two novels I’m trying to get out while also doing death-related responsibility. But I’m so glad to at least give you guys this, and thanks for sticking around!

Okay, so, in Lani Sarem news, someone was very, very busy. Or, the people someone hired on Fiverr to write five-star reviews for Handbook For Mortals. From February 12 to February 14, over fifty unverified reviews flooded into Amazon for Handbook, all proclaiming it a wonderful book, a great read, that it should be made into a movie, or, in one case, just “A,” which fifteen Amazon customers found helpful. These reviews are being called out and roundly mocked on social media (and in the comments on my previous recap), as they’re clearly purchased. Next time, Sarem should consider writing a better book and getting good reviews that way.

But what do I know?

Over at Switzy Thoughts, Amanda J. Surowitz describes her experience in Sarem’s “How I Navigated The New York Times List” session at the Agile Writer’s conference in Virginia earlier this year. Sarem apparently spared some time to slam Phil Stamper, one of the key figures in uncovering Sarem’s scam, and continued to insist that because the world of publishing isn’t run like the far superior music industry, it’s broken.

With that, let’s go see what Shitbook For Shortles has in store for us this time.

We had just finished our final rehearsal of the newly revamped show, including the new illusion we had kept under tight wraps.

Wow. Imagine. An illusion that’s really super secret.

Everyone had had to sign agreements stating that they wouldn’t share what they knew and that meant that they couldn’t even talk about it with any of the other cast and crew.

I don’t know if this is being used to set up just how secret and important the illusion is, but it’s not unusual for professional magicians to make their crew sign NDAs.

That clause also kept me from having to answer questions that I really couldn’t answer, because no one was allowed to ask me.

Which is sort of implied by the part where nobody’s allowed to talk about it. I’m wondering, though, if Zarf is including herself among these plebs who have been sworn to secrecy.

One of the things that’s difficult to tell with this book is when the author is making way too big a deal out of something simple. Okay, back up. There are obviously times when it’s very easy to tell. But there are times like this when, due to the author’s braggadocio regarding her real-life show business career and privileged knowledge no reader could ever be party to, that I just can’t tell if something is being included for extra detail or to further glorify her avatar. Am I reading about how unusually secret this illusion is, or am I reading about how secret illusions are in general? Is this supposed to impress me or just inform me?

Zib describes what the work schedule has been like and how everyone needs rest and stuff, and Charles offers to take everyone out for dinner in a pre-celebration. Charles Spellman is an impressive billionaire illusionist who we have already established is definitely not David Copperfield with his new Lego piece hairdo, so he can do things like that. They go to The Peppermill Lounge, which from what I understand from everyone who insisted I eat there for breakfast (I never did), is the kind of place I could afford, so that seems a bit anticlimactic considering how rich this dude is.

Hey, you know what we haven’t heard about in a while? Show blacks.

The crew showed up all in show blacks,

Oh, thank god. The withdrawal was making my eyes sweat.

while the cast was mostly still in full hair and makeup above our street clothes, as we had all come from the theater to here.

So, remember: Linda looks really hot.

The restaurant hostess tells them that they have “the left side” of the restaurant to themselves. I put that in quotes because I want to make sure you’re all good and confused by the numerous directions given in this chapter.

“Right this way,” she gleamed.

That is not a dialogue tag. You can’t gleam a word. Unless you’re using flashlight signals or something.

As Charles pulled out his chair, Sofia instinctively took the only seat beside him.

I like how it’s some sort of primal, involuntary instinct that makes her sit in the chair next to her boyfriend. Like she wouldn’t just assume that he would want to sit next to her. Who else should have taken that seat?

Oh…that’s right. We’re reading Handbook For Mortals.

Charles leaned toward Sofia, likely trying to be subtle, but I happened to be standing close enough to hear what he said to her.

Take a moment to try and guess what he’s saying. There is absolutely no way you’re going to get this wrong.

“Sofie, darling,” he said softly. “I need Zade to sit next to me. Can you and Mac find seats somewhere else?”

So, Charles Spellman is a total dick. He treats his girlfriend like she’s nothing but arm candy. He hurts her over and over, first by taking away her illusion to give it to a random magician who just wandered in off the street, then by lavishing that random magician with thousands of dollars of makeup and trinkets. The reader is supposed to see Zade as pure and good and Sofia as evil and unreasonable, but when we consider the situation from Sofia’s side, Zade has shown up, taken her job, and now seems to be stealing her boyfriend. He’s taking Zade out to dinner and having secret, closed rehearsals, and now he’s like, don’t sit by me, I want to sit by this other woman. Sofia has the right to be hurt. She’s being humiliated in front of her coworkers and pushed out of her own life by this person everyone unconditionally worships. Charles could have easily taken a seat so there would be room on either side of him, but he didn’t do that because he’s thoughtless. Sofia is a fucking victim in this story and I’m furious on her behalf watching someone slide in to steal her life without a single person stepping up to defend her.

I may have issues attached.

But of course, in Handbook For Mortals, she’s just a slutty bitch and a bitchy slut:

“What?” Sofia hissed, shooting a look at me that could have killed.

Me:

An animation of Disney's Cinderella with birds tying the bow on her apron. The words "No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true," at the bottom.

 

“Don’t make a deal about this,” Charles warned, fixing Sofia with a stare that made it clear this was not up for discussion.

“Don’t make a big deal about the fact that I’m deliberately choosing another woman over you in front of everyone we work with.”

So, nobody was standing close enough to hear them except for Zurd. But then:

She crossed around to where Mac and I were standing. Mac, who had not overheard the conversation, looked confused.

Mac didn’t overhear it, but he’s standing with Zoof, who was close enough to hear everything over the sounds made by a cast and crew of like two-hundred people entering a restaurant and figuring out seat logistics all at once? Okay.

Charles reiterates to Mac that he “needs” Loofah to sit next to him, so Mac is like, sure, whatever and goes off with Sofia.

Sofia, stormed off to the very other end of the room, the only place at this point with open seats.

First of all, that comma doesn’t go there. Second of all, remember what I said about directional confusion? This is where it’s coming in, hard. We have no sense of how the room is set up, other than booths that are briefly mentioned, and there’s no real indication of the size of the room, other than it can hold everyone, so it has to be pretty big. So, Sofia has “stormed off” to the other side of what has to be a decent sized room.

As Mac caught up with Sofia, I heard him remark, “That was kinda weird, right?”

If Sofe-i-e-i-o is already way over there, how did Zade hear this? How close are they if we’ve already been told that they space they’re occupying is the whole left side of the restaurant?

I hadn’t expected this at all, and I didn’t know why I needed to sit next to Charles–or what we needed to go over. I had glanced over to Mac to give him an “I’m sorry look” when Jackson, who happened to be in the seat that had been next to Sofia, nudged me.

He happened to be there. Also, those are misplaced quotation marks. She’s saying something with the look, so “I’m sorry” is the description. “Look” is the noun it applies to and therefore should be outside of the quotation marks.

“Oh, good!” Charles said. “Jackson, my bandleader, I wanted you to be with us as well. Zade and I want to discuss intro music.”

Charles Spellman is a shitty boss. First of all, he’s like, “Let me treat you all to dinner,” and takes them to a place with like, fifteen dollar burgers instead of a place they can’t already afford, despite being a billionaire and obviously writing this off as a deduction. Second, he’s like, “Let me treat you all to dinner…which I will turn into a fucking business meeting so I don’t have to pay you for your time.” The most telling part of this is that LARP had no idea that she wanted to talk to Jackson about the music, so Chavid Spopperfield isn’t just scamming his employees into doing uncompensated labor; he’s also enlisting one of them to be complicit in his scheme.

And I wanna know why Charles didn’t just ask Jackson to move, then put Sofia on one side of him and Zint Loller on the other.

Charles had remained standing through all of this, and now lifted his water glass and tapped it with a spoon to get everyone’s attention.

I bet you can’t guess what he needs their attention for.

“I wanted to thank you all for all your hard work these past few months, revamping and–in my humble opinion–revitalizing the show with me,” he began. “I’m very excited for the premier, I hope you enjoy the next two days off before the big night. Your hard work is much appreciated and I am grateful and honored to have such a wonderful cast and crew. So…food and drinks are on me! And cheers to you all!”

Phew. I thought he was going to launch into a long thing about how geat Zlip-n-zlide is. Glad we avoided–

He paused, lifting his water glass higher in the air, and the cast and crew cheered loudly.

Wayne, from Wayne's World, saying "Oh, Jesus, God, no," as he finds his girlfriend is marrying someone else.

 

When the noise had died down, he continued. “Most importantly, I would like to thank Zade for coming to join our little family. She has made our show that much better and has elevated us all. She helped kick the dust off and brought in some new and much-needed blood. My little starlet.” He winked at me.

Me, stetching my face out in an expression of horror not unlike that of Edvard Munch's "The Cry".

Everyone cheered again.

A scene from one of the Star Trek movies, I don't know which one because I'm not a Star Trek watcher, where Kirk and Spock are on a bus and everyone is clapping for some reason. The important part of the joke is that everyone on the bus is clapping. Now that I've explained it, I've probably ruined it.
And then the whole bus clapped.

So, Charles’s full speech is basically, “Thanks everyone for working hard, but Zurk is the most important and she did the most,” and everyone is like, “yay, she fully did!”

Except, you know. For a couple specific people:

I then glanced back down to the far end of our group where Mac and Sofia were seated. Sofia was saying something to Mac, and Icould see that they were both frowning. Mac looked frustrated and upset. I was pretty sure that he wasn’t upset that I wasn’t seated next to him–after all, at work, things were still very much on the down low, so we couldn’t make a show of wanting to sit together–but I was sure he was less than thrilled to be seated next to Sofia.

Yes, I’m sure that’s it. I’m sure he’s not mad that the girl he’s been seeing for months now without any hint of even a casual commitment is sitting next to her boss, whom she has been spending long hours and private dinners with and who has a habit of dating the star performer of his show and who has just praised her, called her his “little starlet” and winked at her in front of everyone. Nope. Mac’s mad that he has to sit next to the bitchy slut who sluttily and bitchily hates Zippo for no reason.

Checks out.

On the other hand, I was also sure that Mac wasn’t thrilled that I was sitting with Jackson, who had already put his arm around me.

Shit at this point, I’m not even looking at Jackson as a competitor for Leslie’s luuuuuurve. This is down to Mac and Charles by this point, in Mac’s eyes.

Even though they’re in the same room and she can see him from where she’s sitting, Load decides she needs to text Mac to defuse the situation:

I finally picked a really sad looking emoji, [emoji], and sent it.

Yes. The emoji is in the book:

A screenshot of the text on my Kindle. It says "a really sad-looking emoji," followed by a little picture of the crying a single tear emoji.

A close up on that screenshot of the emoji.

 

A huge, distorted picture way too zoomed in on the sad emoji.
(Wake me up) WAKE ME UP INSIDE (I can’t wake up) WAKE ME UP INSIDE

There is… a lot to deal with here. Let’s get the small stuff out of the way, first. For example, the fact that emojis are actually copyright protected. Maybe this is considered fair use? Another tiny quibble? She says in the text that she’s going to send him an “iMessage”, but this is clearly an Android emoji. And while we could debate whether or not using an emoji in prose is stylistically acceptable or the downfall of English as we know it, I’d like to focus more on the fact that this is supposed to be the saddest emoji? There’s one that has parallel columns of water streaming from its eyes.

Now, let’s talk about what really matters. And that’s the shitty story.

Like I just mentioned, Zut is in the same room as Mac. And yes, Jackson has his arm around her, but why would that prevent her from getting up and going to talk to Mac? Charles’s toast is over. Everyone is there socially, so she probably wouldn’t be the only person getting up and visiting with other tables. But she chooses to text Mac from across the room, watch him receive the text and:

I then saw him text something back. I anxiously waited for my phone to go off and opened it to the iMessage. It was a slightly different emoji with no tet to help me undertand what he was feeling.

A screenshot of my kindle. It says "Zade:" followed by the single tear emoji, and on the next line it says "Mac:" followed by the side-eye emoji.

How dare he respond with just an emoji to your text that was just an emoji? Doesn’t he know you deserve a full explanation of what he’s thinking and feeling? And PS. That’s the side-eye emoji. He’s saying he’s giving you the side-eye, aka he doesn’t trust you and is, according to Miriam-Webster, looking at you with “contempt.”

In other words, Mac is not buying the bullshit you are selling him from your seat between two rivals for your heart. And he probably would tell you that if you got up and went over and just talked to him, rather than playing emoji games. As I read this book, more and more I get the feeling that Sarem thought this book fit in the YA category because her characters are more immature than most of the teen protagonists in YA books. But here’s the thing: teens are supposed to be somewhat immature. Adults are not. No, not even in a “YA novel”.

We time jump ahead:

The next few days were a blur for me, full of press, interviews, and no actual time off leading up to the big night. Charles and I had been working on an all-new show and most importantly a brand new and impressive illusion for the last several months.

George Costanza on Seinfeld shouting, "I am aware!"

We have been hearing about nothing but this brand new show and illusion for the past thousand chapters. You started off this chapter with this information. The lukewarm romantic drama is centered around the fact that you’ve been working on the illusion. THERE WAS A TOAST TO IT TWO PAGES AGO.

Let’s talk about the timeline of this book again. The other day on twitter, Dan Olson broke down the timeline of the Fifty Shades Of Grey series and pointed out that Ana meets Christian in May in book one, is married to Christian in August, and the last chapter before the epilogue in the third book takes place in September, making the plot of series move along improbably fast. This book has the opposite problem. Zade had already been in Las Vegas for months by the time she and Charles began working on the new illusion in the last chapter. Now, it’s been months that they’ve been working on it. Meaning that for either a year or close to it, Zade has been deciding between Mac and Jackson and both of them have been content to be strung along. No wonder Mac is suspicious about Charles because to Mac it’s probably been looking like she’s waiting for something better to come along for a while.

In the midst of it all, I did realize–and I’m not sure why it hadn’t dawned on me before, that Zeb might have had an issue with me because usually only he and Charles worked on illusions.

This is only occurring to her now? Of course, Zeb has a problem with you because you waltzed in, got thousands of dollars of goodies, are treating the show like a Tindr LARP, and, like you did with Sofia, stole his job.

The cast had just walked the red carpet for the premiere of the revamped show. I had talked to so many reporters on the carpet, and I could feel the anxious energy in my blood.

Yet again, we are reading Lani Sarem’s desperation for fame and not a fictional story. How has Zontar become an ultra-famous magician that the press is clamoring for in like, a year? The actual press in real life doesn’t give this big a shit about the real David Copperfield.

She goes to Charles’s office:

I pushed the door closed but I didn’t notice whether it had closed all the way because my attention quickly turned to Charles.

“By the way, reader, keep this in mind. I’m pointing it out for a reason.”

Chavid Spopperfield is nervous about the show, specifically LOL’s illusion. But don’t worry, she’s there to calm his opening night jitters. She’s like, it’s going to go fine and Mac is going to make sure it goes fine and you know how perfect and magical and good I am, so good news, again, it’ll all go fine.

He’s the professional stage magician with a decades-long career but she’s helping him work through his nerves.

Never has a Sue more Mary-ed.

Charles put his hand on my face and rubbed the side of my check before slowly moving his hand to my shoulder.

That’s a weird way for your boss to pay you, but whatever.

We were standing very close together and I realized that I loved the close attention.

To paraphrase the great Keanu Reeves in his legendary and career-defining role of Ted “Theodore” Logan…That’s your dad, dude.

I know that we haven’t had the big reveal yet, but this makes me feel gross in the same way the beginning of The Bird Cage made me feel gross when I first saw it. Like, the part where the son comes home but one of the dads thinks that the other dad is cheating, so it looks like the son is the possibly-cheating dad’s date? And then you find out ha ha, no, it was just the son and you thought it was romantic and it was like, excuse me, but that was a weird audience misdirect that seems very uncomfortable after the reveal? You know the part I’m talking about?

Anyway, it’s gross.

Chuds Spurdman gives Lana Del Zey a hug, and we cut to one of those astrological triple goddess signs and…

Again, if you think you know what’s about to happen, you are 100% right.

Mac walked up to the door to Charles’s office and watched Zade and Charles through a slight gap in the open door.

What is up with this creepy fucker lurking at every keyhole in the damn place? This is like the second or third time he’s just happened by a door and thought to himself, hey, I think I should spy on whomever happens to be in there.

He was about to knock when he noticed their long and loving hug.

Remember this when we find out Sperdzmerds is her father. Remember that someone once saw the two of them hugging and it was immediately interpretable as sexual.

And then go wash your hands like I’m about to.

Instead of knocking, he decided to take a moment to see what was going on with them, since he had been noticing something a bit strange between them ever since he’d found those David Copperfield tickets and thought he might beable to answer his questions that way.

With the David Copperfield tickets?

Anyway, all of a sudden Mac starts thinking about David Copperfield and how it’s weird that he’s never actually seen Spellman and Copperfeld in the same place at the same time and also how it’s weird that Spellman always wears a pair of glasses that don’t have any lenses–

Not really. But that would be a much better twist.

“It’s going to be the most amazing illusion the world has ever seen,” Zade exclaimed happily.

Lunk praising herself is a refreshing change from everyone else praising her, to be honest.

Charles pulled back and looked her right in the eye, his arms still around her.

Didn’t I mention “right in the eye” in the last recap? I should have started a counter or something. Or just jammed something sharp “right in” my eye.

“I’m just being an old man, I guess. I love you more than life itself. It would kill me if something happened to you.”

Zade was smiling as she put her hands on his face. “I love you, too.” She leaned in to kiss him, her face beaming.

Mac was disgusted and devastated. How could Zade betray him likee that? After everything they had together? Hadn’t he put up with enough with the whole Jackson situation? Angry and frustrated, he coudln’t bare to watch her kiss him.

It’s “bear” not “bare”. But I’m with Mac on having put up with a lot. We’re talking at least eight months here that he’s been seeing Zerg and she’s still not sure she wants to date him exclusively. I mean, move at your own pace, but asking that of a partner who wants an answer is ridiculous.

Had he only watched just a moment or two longer he would have seen Zade kiss Charles–innocently on the cheek. Mac didn’t see that, though, because he looked away before he saw the truth and therefore in his head he had turned aound right before he saw them make out with tongue.

I love how it’s almost constant head hopping in these, until we get a scene where it’s just Mac and then BOOM! Omniscient third, out of nowhere.

He needed to think before he did anything that he would regret.

Now, remember that line as we finish out this chapter. Because after a return to Limbo’s POV, she’s way up in the catwalks getting strapped into her harness and thinking about how cool Riley the rigger is when:

I pushed my hips out to make it easier for him to put the clips on me but, just as he started to grab the ring on the harness, his hand dropped and he started to back away. Without seeing him move away, I instantly could feel something was wrong. I looked up at his face and looked like someone was going to shoot him in the head. I turned around to see what had struck the fear of God into him to see Mac walking up with anger radiating from his core. He was furious. On his face he had the look guys get when they are somewhere between crying and punching someone.

“Before I launch into this description of the love interest as being so furious it seemed like he would shoot someone in the head or punch them, allow me to point out that I have to pose suggestively in front of this other desirable guy.”

Riley is afraid Mac is mad at him, but Mac is mad at Zani and sends Riley down to the fly-rail.

Because moments before curtain up, you for sure want to move things around.

What really gets me is that the show hasn’t started, Mac isn’t in position to do his job, and he’s sending Riley to the fly-rail to…what? What’s happening at the fly-rail before the show even starts? Even if it’s just “pull up the curtain,” that can’t happen until Mac is where he needs to be.

I could tell that Riley was unsure if Mac was telling the truth, so he looked again at Mac, who was staing at me with the most intense glare. Mac was breathing hard and his nostrils were flaring, but he was not looking at Riley, who finally concluded it really must not have been about him and started to leave.

“So, this guy is really mad, to the point that I’m afraid of him, and I think he might be lying to me when he tells me I need to leave…but I’ll leave him here with this performer, sixty feet above the stage with not another soul around.” Riley, you’re useless.

Lid tries to smile Mac’s anger away, but she fails.

He gritted his teeth at me for a few moments as if he was thinking about what he was going to actually say to me. He grabbed my harness and pulled hard, jerking me along with it.

“Have you got anything you want to tell me?” he finally said in the coldest monotone voice he’d ever used with me.

Yeah, Anastasia, do you want to explain to Christian why you haven’t changed your name on your work email yet? Oh, shit, sorry, wrong book with an abusive love interest. This suddenly felt so natural and just right that I thought I was recapping Fifty Shades Of Grey again. Which is actually one of my reoccurring nightmares, but you get where I’m going with this.

I ran through in my head any scenarios that might tell me what the hell he was talking about but came up with little to nothing that seemed to make any sense.

Much like the pose, plot, and sentence structure contained within this book. Little to nothing seems to make any sense.

He locked his jaw and angry tears welled in his eyes.

Mac needs a nightguard, but like…during the day, too.

He gabbed my arms with both his hands and was almost shaking me. He was too angry for us to be safe so high off the ground.

So now our heroine is afraid of the love interest to the point that she doesn’t feel safe standing with him at a great height. And he’s shaking her. She yells at him that she doesn’t know why he’s mad, and he’s like, I have a right to know if you’re in love with someone else. She thinks he’s talking about Jackson.

Mac cut me off and interjected, “So you haven’t told anyone today that you’re in love with him?”

I started to answer without really thinking about it. “That sounds like a pretty ridicu– Oh.” I sighed. Everything had finally clicked and I knew exactly what he was talking about. I shook my head. I wasn’t sure how, but he must have heard me talking to Charles. I dropped my head slightly. What could I tell him about what was going on? I didn’t know if I should tell him everything or not. I knew I needed to say something, because I had just acknowledged that something had been said that I knew what he had been referring to.

Aaaand now we’ve established that Zorp knows Spellman is her father and The Big Reveal™ is being kept from the reader in first person POV. And the lengths she goes to, the lengths, dear reader, to protect The Big Reveal™:

“Yes. I told someone I loved him. Not that I was in love with him. It’s two totally different things.”

Yeah, so, let’s go ahead and argue semantics with the pissed off guy you’re afraid will get violent with you. You’re doing great, Lampshade!

The stage manager warns that they’re starting the show in two minutes, but hold your horses, paying audience, because there is a really boring Big Misunderstanding™ happening in the rafters. Mac tells Lucy that she’s just like the girl who fucked around on him before:

“You’re just like Clara. Maybe worse. At least she had the decency to come clean when I confonted her.”

I swear to god, I had this flashback of the time I thought I was getting back together with an ex and I went to spring break in Ft. Myers and when I got back he’d eloped with one of my friends and when I asked him why, he said it was because he believed I cheated on him but he knew she had cheated on him and she had more integrity because she admitted to it.

I hadn’t cheated on him, but he’d cheated on me like, constantly.

Yeah, Josh. I know you fucked that chick that lived in the upstairs apartment when we lived on Rose street. There’s your integrity.

Where was I before I revisted a twenty-year-old grudge? OH! Yeah. I was recapping this alleged “book.”

I tried to calm the situation–and him–down as I spoke in a more subdued tone, “Sometimes relationships aren’t black and white, Mac. And sometimes what you see isn’t what’s really there. How about you let me do the show, then we can talk about this?” Hopefully he would hear reason. We both had a job to do and we both needed to concentrate on that and do it.

Right. In like, two minutes. This is kind of a long interaction going on here.

“So I can give you a chance to construct your story about why needed to sleep your way to the top? I’m such an idiot. We haven’t even slept together, yet.”

Well, I guess you weren’t important enough, then.

I was shocked and horrified that he actually thought I would ever do that.

I know she means the part about sleeping her way to the top, but this immediately follows him complaining that she hasn’t fulfilled her sexual obligation to him yet. So it’s like, “You haven’t slept with me yet!” “I am shocked and horrified that you think I would!”

Lump is like, if you think I would do that, you don’t know me very well, and Mac is like, yeah, I guess I don’t. Because Lani Sarem can’t write original dialogue to save herself from public ridicule.

Mac didn’t say anything but he grabbed the harness and clipped me in quickly, not doing a safety check like Riley normally would have.

Wait, wait. So, Mr. Safety, Mr. I-don’t-like-you-because-you-won’t-tell-me-your-illusion-secret-so-I-can-keep-you-safe is just like, yeah, I know we had a performer fall to her clinical but not permanent death earlier this year, but I’m pissed so this bitch can eat stage for all I care?

He jerked me around some more while holding the harness; it hurt a bit but I refused to show him it caused even an ounce of pain.

Literally, he’s assaulted her. He’s causing her pain on purpose because he’s angry. You can’t even make a wan excuse about it being BDSM or his troubled childhood that makes it okay. He’s just putting her in an unsafe situation and hurting her while he’s doing it because she made him feel sad.

Mac gets in Lizard’s face and tells her she’s like everyone else, and as he storms away, she yells after him that he needs to get over Clara, and she tries to get her emotions under control to perform. We flip back into Mac’s all-italics POV and he’s all pissed off as he heads to the automation control boad.

Mac paced around the board for a minute, but realized he was not emotionaly together enough to run it for the show. And why should he? He was only doing it because Zade wanted him to for reasons he wasn’t actually sure about. She had asked and he had just said okay, but he wasn’t even in automation–he was the technical director. Screw that, he thought. Running the main board meant many performers’ lives would be in his hands–one wrong move and someone could get seriously hurt, or worse.

This is the type of shit you think about before it’s less than two minutes to curtain, Mac. And you didn’t care about someone getting seriously hurt when you were hurting Lando on purpose and not doing safety checks.

Mac radios to Cam and tells him to get to the main board, and like…this is the longest two minutes in the history of minutes.

Mac looked up and glared at him, hard. “You’re runnin’ main tonight.”

“I don’t know the cues for the new illusion. Heck, I haven’t worked in automation in over a year. I can’t–” Cam tried to argue.

“Run it on the fly,” Mac yelled as he stomped off, wrapped up in a flurry of emotion.

Uh…

In the very beginning of the chapter we were told that the new illusion is so complex and secretive that information was on a need-to-know basis. Charles is worried because it’s so super dangerous and anything could go wrong. And Mac is like, yeah, whatever I’ve already acknowledged that performers could die if someone fucks this up, but I’m going to leave and let everyone wing it. Because I’M MR. SAFETY.

The side-eye emoji from earlier in the book, but blow up to the point of distortion.

And that’s what he does, Reader. He leaves, and we flip into Cam’s POV and he’s sweating and freaking out and just starts praying and pushing buttons and the chapter ends.

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The cover for Nightmare Born shows the silhouette of two teens facing each other, holding hands in front of a night sky. There's a scary dracula-looking castle on a hill in the background and a full moon in the clouds. The title and two logos for the Google Play and Apple App store show beneath my name.

211 Comments

  1. SofiaThatB*tch
    SofiaThatB*tch

    The whole Mac thing was sooo uncomfortable. I even felt a sliver of compassion for Zork-a-dork. For like a second … Btw, is that Fiverr thing legit?

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I keep debating if she’s telling the truth. Normally I’d give anyone the benefit of the doubt, and it’s somewhat consistent, but this is Zani. Unreliable narrator and she’s evil.

      February 21, 2018
      |Reply
      • SofiaThatB*tch
        SofiaThatB*tch

        Telling the truth on what? What did I miss?

        February 22, 2018
        |Reply
        • Anon
          Anon

          I think they were referring to the Fiverr reviews.

          February 22, 2018
          |Reply
          • SofiaThatB*tch
            SofiaThatB*tch

            Yeah that was my original question true. Has it been proven she just bought those Amazon reviews on Fiverr? Haven’t got that far on my sleuthing lol

            February 22, 2018
    • Dove
      Dove

      I didn’t mean Fiverr but in retrospect, god only knows about that. It’s not impossible that Sarem paid people, but I think the most likely explanation is that Sarem rounded up her usual suspects and anyone in the various writer’s Facebook groups who were willing to help her out. One of the people who gave a 5-star review has the same name as one of the acknowledgments at the end of the novel and that person also gave THUG a one-word one-star review. XD

      I was referring to Zade lying about Mac’s actions. I explained it further in other comments which is why I was initially terse here.

      Zade seems to be an unreliable narrator. We know she’s lied about Sofie repeatedly, for example. She also never portrays anything as her fault or puts herself in a bad light, ever. But furthermore, no one else acts normally around her. Just a few chapters ago, Mac didn’t once look over his shoulder at the screaming cyclist and instead focused on the tarot cards. While this could be seen as a simple omission that she didn’t consider important, Zade seemed sort of concerned that he might notice… Then there’s the simple that fact she ATTACKED a man who accidentally bumped into her in a park but while being man-handled she just stood there and said, “My name is Kunta Kinte.”

      Sure. I believe you, Zoot Suit Riot. I also believe Mac just imagined your pervy actions with your daddy. He gave you that sideways glance emoji for a reason.

      Furthermore, Zade is explicitly setting Mac up for a guilt-trip in the very near future. Even though it won’t be a technical issue directly related to his job and he is the fucking safety inspector, Mac leaving because he was angry is going to be the reason Zade gets injured and he will find out that he’s to blame. Also, she never once told him “Don’t leave the theatre.” She could have avoided the accident entirely if she used her father instead of Mac for her chaos magic. While this can be argued as innocence because Mac would have to believe in magic for him to take any warning like that seriously, and in most cases, it would be a simple dumb accident on Zade’s end with her blaming him out of embarrassment and irritation, the implication the novel gives us is that it’s entirely Mac’s fault. Note that Zade is making certain everyone knows she’s innocent at every step and then it begins to look like he got set-up. This seems even more definite when you realize her mother is the one explaining things to Mac (she isn’t impartial) and that Mac having to save Zade is what saves their relationship and Zade’s life (yet there’s a long delay before Zade can be saved, giving Mac a lot of time to stew over his “terrible mistake” in thinking that she was screwing around on him.)

      Also, the 3rd person POVs aren’t omniscient, they’re Zade’s narration for scenes that she saw in someone else’s mind… She got permission to see Mac and Sofie interacting earlier in the novel at the bar for example (or else Mac didn’t understand how deep she was delving when he agreed to that, which is the most likely option) and so every single one of those scenes is actually filtered through her first person POV. We can’t trust them to be 100% accurate when Zade’s own narration is sketchy and it’s worse when you understand that she didn’t explain the filter early on.

      It’s actually Lani Sarem being terrible at covering her authorial tracks (and the novel’s origins as a script) because she just doesn’t give a shit at any point but it looks as if Mac and the readers are being gaslit by Zade. To be honest, I’m not even certain where the incompetence begins and the gaslighting ends. It’s that badly put together. The best example being the reason for Sofie’s accident which is chalked up to pure coincidence and never explained further but could easily be Zade using her magic to fuck with Sofie and glorify herself in the process. I mean, she fucking told Mac there would be an accident and he simply disbelieved her when anyone with sense would at least become suspicious of her advanced knowledge in the aftermath, instead of being critical of Sofie, especially when Zade is technically her showtime rival.

      It’s very easy to build a case where Zade has been lying to the readers this entire time and later on there’s a scene of damning evidence that also portrays Lani Sarem’s personal philosophy about tricking people. It’s not even spoken directly by Zade; it’s something Charles constantly does and Mac supposedly admires! 😛

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
      • SofiaThatB*tch
        SofiaThatB*tch

        Oooh okay. As far as the reviews go, haven’t found an actual post on Facebook. But she might have done it through pm or through a closed group. Oh well. I still don’t believe a stitch of it.

        As for Zandar, I’ve never believed a thing she said after the whole retcon of Sofia’s reaction to her when she saved her. She’s a lying narrator from the get go.

        February 22, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          But she might have done it through pm or through a closed group.
          Yeah, I have no proof, I simply suspect that was her main reason for garnering support there, beyond stroking her ego. Gotta put those connections to work, amirite? She could’ve summoned her flying monkeys from anywhere though. I doubt she’s low on “support” at any given time.

          As for Zandar, I’ve never believed a thing she said after the whole retcon of Sofia’s reaction to her when she saved her. She’s a lying narrator from the get go.

          True that. It’s the first major hiccup that grabs your attention if you weren’t already lulled into slumber beforehand. Haha, and I figured you’d picked up on this issue, given your username, which is another reason why I was dumb and got vague in my first reply. I’m sorry I was condescending in the follow-up but I overcompensated with my need to be understood. XD

          February 23, 2018
          |Reply
          • SofiaThatB*tch
            SofiaThatB*tch

            Oh yeah, Sofia’s my hero in this story, lol. And I didn’t feel like your reply was condescending at all. I appreciate the thought and effort you put into that haha

            February 23, 2018
        • Agent_Z
          Agent_Z

          Sorry but what was the retcon? I forgot

          February 24, 2018
          |Reply
          • Alex Silvers
            Alex Silvers

            Oh man I can’t remember what chapter this is in so I can’t go back and check without a lot of digging, but… it was something along the lines of Sophia shoving Loopy away after the CPR magically worked. I think? Anyway, it was definitely changing what we had been told before. I thought it was just Sarem being bad at editing and missing something that huge, but I like it being part of an unreliable narration a lot better.

            Which kind of makes me angry because now I like something about this book.

            February 24, 2018
  2. Phoebe
    Phoebe

    As a former stage manager, everything here makes me horrified. And also cringe. There is so much no here, I don’t even know where to start.

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • As an actual Vegas Stage Manager, I can assure you that Stage Managers assault performers in a jealous rage all the time. A lot of us have Olympic medals in Stage Managing. You have never worked at a Vegas show yet you INSIST that’s not how this works.

      (/s, just in case)

      February 21, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        I feel so much better now I know this.

        February 21, 2018
        |Reply
      • Phoebe
        Phoebe

        A month late back to the party, but worth noteing that I just spat out my tea from laughing, so thank you

        March 31, 2018
        |Reply
  3. Oh god, the “Wake me up” caption on the emoji killed me. I think this is legitimately one of the worst chapters in the novel because of the plot fuckery (where Zani has to keep Charles=Daddy a secret just because), the incessant self-aggrandizement, and then the actual physical assault that Mac does. At least it’s not more Inconsequential Lemonade Adventures, though.

    Oh, and fun fact: Lani Sarem did an interview with some internet radio show( here’s the link ) and said some dumb things, if you want to waste time listening.

    Apparently the movie is really happening for real, and she and Rookie of the Year are in talks with three female directors, one of whom is not a nobody (YeahOkSure.gif)

    Also, the Plain White T’s were originally 100 Monkeys and Jackson was originally literally Jackson Rathbone. So make of that what you will.

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Commented below that your link didn’t show, but I didn’t realize you had to click on it… ‍♀️

      February 21, 2018
      |Reply
    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      …did…did C and Z ever confirm their relationship to each other in the book, before we, the readers, get the news? Because…just having it telegraphed to hell and back isn’t really enough, is it?

      February 23, 2018
      |Reply
      • The scene where they probably reunited (after Zade’s audition) is not shown, and the book tries *really hard* to make you think they’re fucking.

        This “big reveal,” along with the stupid third-person italics and convoluted and ethically questionable “memory pulling” really make me wonder why the fuck it wasn’t all written in third-person. Plus, while The parts that are written in third person are still shit, they’re less shitty than the first-person narration, mostly because Zade is so insufferable.

        February 23, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          I honestly think the only reason she chose first-person is that she assumes all YA does that. Or maybe she got really drunk before banging out the novel? I could believe she wrote it in about a week on a neverending buzz. 😛 🙂

          Or maybe the Troll Queen told Lani it’d be a good idea? Pffft.

          February 23, 2018
          |Reply
        • Rebecca
          Rebecca

          Uggggggh, thank you.

          February 23, 2018
          |Reply
        • Jane Eyre
          Jane Eyre

          Yep, like this scene for example. She puts her both hands on his face, that does seem from outside like she’s trying to kiss him on the lips. Because at least in the movies that’s how it happens. So I kind of don’t blame people for assuming she’s sleeping with Charles in the books or that she sllept her way to the top. I mean let’s look at how things go:
          1.She’s a total stranger, walking in from the street basically and gets the main part in the show
          2. She gets to spend time alone with the boss on ‘special sessions’
          3.she goes to dinners with that boss
          4.She gets special treatment, like cosmetics and other expensive things other performers don’t get
          5.He just told his girlfriend to sit somewhere else, while he sits with this new girl
          6.He gives her all the credit and winks at her
          7. HE IS KNOWN FOR SLEEPING WITH MAIN ROLE PERFORMERS AND WITH WOMEN WHO WRE MUCH YOUNGER THAN HIM

          I mean wouldn’t it smell at least A BIT fishy to YOU? Not to be anti-feminist but with all the evidence and without knowing they’re related…it is not out of realm of possibility to assume things like this.

          February 24, 2018
          |Reply
          • Rebecca
            Rebecca

            Perfectly logical assumption on the available evidence.

            February 24, 2018
        • I figured that it was originally written in third-person, but then somebody commented on how the more popular books in this genre are all first-person, so she hastily re-wrote the story. But didn’t want to leave out any of her ‘Wonderful’ plot, especially the Big Reveal (TM).

          February 25, 2018
          |Reply
          • Amy
            Amy

            Yeah, I guess Lani never realized books based off of movies are generally REALLY terrible! I don’t know what the process is like, if they force the author to keep details to the minimum and never allow them to really exercise their creative muscle…. or if the studios just choose really shite authors. I’ve read my share of movie-based books and every single one was boring and trite.

            The worst offender was the Aliens book, in which one of the most iconic line in movie history, “Get away from her, you bitch!” was CHANGED.

            February 25, 2018
          • Nah, the worst offender was probably the Star Trek 2 Comic Adaptation.
            They reduced “KHAAAAAN!” to a single panel shot, which wasn’t even focused on Kirk.

            March 1, 2018
          • Athena
            Athena

            Considering this book is wish fulfillment self-insertion (and possibly a real person fan fic adapted into an “original work”) I’m leaning towards it was always written in first person. Sarem is just a bad writer who either didn’t realize how stupid it was to have a first person narrative where the main character is keeping something from the readers, or didn’t think about it until time for the reveal and was too lazy to rewrite when it came up.

            It’s even worse when you think that having the readers know that Charles is her father would make Zani the sympathetic char that Sarem wants her to be. If the readers knew from the beginning who he was they would be more likely to feel bad when Mac accuses her of cheating. I mean, it would be easy enough to say that they didn’t tell anyone because they didn’t want it to look like Charles was showing favoritism to his daughter, but that in turn bites them in the ass because everyone thinks he’s showing favoritism to his new piece of tail.

            March 4, 2018
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Athena:

            A lot of YA books have a twist towards the end. In “13 Reasons Why,” it’s what relation Clay has to Hannah’s reasons; in “We Were Liars,” it’s what actually happened during the summer Cadence can’t remember. I suspect this was supposed to be HfM’s shock reveal.

            March 4, 2018
  4. Zia
    Zia

    Oh god, the Android emojis. Of all the emojis out there, the Android blob is the type I just can’t take seriously. It’s too cute! And I know that emojis are inherently comical but the Android blob takes it to another level in that it doesn’t even try to resemble a (circular) face.

    Also I wonder why Zani bothered to specify that she sent Mac an “iMessage” (dubious quotes for obvious reasons). She could have just wrote that Zamboni sent a quick text to Mac. Honestly, I don’t even recall any other YA book using iMessage specifically. Then again, YA books don’t use emojis either. Emoticons are the way to go.

    Anyway, it’s good to see you back Jenny!

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • SofiaThatB*tch
      SofiaThatB*tch

      I was wondering if I was the only one who saw that lol

      February 21, 2018
      |Reply
  5. Megan M.
    Megan M.

    Jenny, this book is SO TEDIOUS. How have you managed to not tear all your hair out?

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
  6. “Zade was smiling as she put her hands on his face. “I love you, too.” She leaned in to kiss him, her face beaming.”

    When we did this chapter on the podcast, my cohost pointed out that for an “innocent kiss” she makes sure to put her hands on his face first and make it super look not innocent. We then tried to figure out how this work? Where do you put your hands on a person’s face if you are going to kiss them?

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      That’s a good point. I was already skeptical (she’s trying to have her cake and eat it too by throwing in a terrible twist) but I forgot about that. One hand is strange but maybe innocent if she’s trying to get him to lean over or something. But both hands? That’s just weird. She can’t kiss his cheeks very well, which leaves his forehead or his chin. Both are strange although the forehead is the most innocent of those two. Oh wait, she could kiss his nose but that gets even weirder. I’m calling forehead.

      Okay, best scenario I can envision is actually her kissing the top of his head. That could be super sweet and adorable if he was a humble, bashful, little man who was shorter than she was, kind of like Snow White kissing the seven dwarves, but that totally doesn’t work for David-fucking-Copperfield-via-Harrison-Ford. Not to mention, I’m pretty sure the only reason Zani grabs his face is to give the illicit impression and thus it doesn’t work as anything innocent.

      February 21, 2018
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        Who holds their father’s face like that? It was established that Zade “doesn’t know much about father-daughter relationships” so she didn’t have this type of affectionate interaction for the majority of her life, which makes the closeness even more cringey.

        And who talks to their daughter like that?? “It’ll kill me if anything happens to you” FORESHADOWING MUCH? I keep thinking of that scene from Hot Shots where the character Deadmeat breaks a mirror, walks under a ladder, a black cat walks past him…. you get the point.

        February 21, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Who holds their father’s face like that? It was established that Zade “doesn’t know much about father-daughter relationships” so she didn’t have this type of affectionate interaction for the majority of her life, which makes the closeness even more cringey.

          You’re forgetting how she followed that sentence up with “but even I knew daughters didn’t hang onto their fathers like that.” Zade knows /exactly/ what this would look or sound like. It’s another case of the Man Behind the Curtain being visible but at no point does Lani Sarem even bother to say “Don’t look!” She never once gave a damn about covering up her authorial tracks, the events leading up to Sofie’s accident are the perfect example, so I can freely state that there’s incest and quite frankly it’s hard to deny it. She tries to handwave her crappy narration later on by having Mac bring it up and Charles “allay” Mac’s concerns, but this is while Zitty is out cold and since she’s clearly relaying this to us, after the fact, we can only take her word for it, which I refuse to do because it amuses me more to think they were fucking. ;P

          Seriously, if Zani is gonna portray herself as so embarrassed over Sofie mentioning Cowgirl with Charles without stating that she at least thinks of him like a father and it’s because she’s so fresh and so pure, pure (which she tries to repeat when Mac laments the lack of sex between them), then I call bullshit. Sarem can’t characterize worth a damn which frankly works against her when I’m substituting my own reality. There’s so little that I have to explain away it’s almost laughable.

          February 21, 2018
          |Reply
          • Don’t forget how much Dela wanted to keep Zade from meeting her dad. Interestingly, the only way to sort-of morally justify Dela’s behavior is if Zade’s dad was a total creep and she wanted to keep her daughter safe at all costs.

            February 22, 2018
          • We’ve had uncomfortably long talks about if Zade is a virgin or just an alien. Chapter 15 does confirm alien at least.

            February 22, 2018
          • Amy
            Amy

            Yes, by trying to add the “twist” in here, by trying to hide it from a first narrative perspective, Lani intentionally made it very incestuous. On the movie screen it’ll probably be better… but I doubt it. Even without the ‘cupping face’ scene, there are dozens of scenes that feed into the incest narrative. It’s not a twist if the author is PURPOSELY making us believe their relationship is sexual. Hell, in Star Wars people are still laughing about the Leia/Luke kiss, and that movie is over 40 years, so the Spellman/Zade thing isn’t going to be let go so easily.

            February 22, 2018
  7. Jo
    Jo

    I did not think this book could get any worse. I have been proven thoroughly wrong.

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
  8. Thanks for the mention, Jenny! And thank you for taking the time to read through the book. I only got through the first chapter before I had to set it aside. I thought I might try picking it back up again, but your excellent commentary reminds me why I put it down in the first place.

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
  9. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    At last, I have the chance to test a common comparative expression. I’m going to have my very first root canal tomorrow.
    I will let you all know if it’s worse than this book.

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • GS
      GS

      How did it go? 🙂

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Postponed, after conversation about pricing and prognosis of options took too long.
        Thx for asking.
        At least I can say I experienced more suspense than there is in this book.

        February 22, 2018
        |Reply
        • Rebecca
          Rebecca

          I just ugly-laughed. I’m glad I wasn’t drinking coffee. Good luck with your pain-in-the-face; may it be better resolved than Lazyzani’s plot points.

          February 23, 2018
          |Reply
  10. Dove
    Dove

    Mac’s reaction is terrible and NOT okay, but I sort of feel bad for him, given the gaslighting in his immediate future (SOOOO much gaslighting.) Cam, Zeb, and Sofie are the true victims, of course. In particular, we suspect that Jackson was originally Zeb in the movie script, which makes it clearer that the dumbass fuss over the overly complicated seating position involves the non-disclosure agreement. But then Mac shits all over that by ruining Cam’s evening so… Eh? Hey, Sarem, what was that about having backups for every single position? But don’t worry! Cam won’t be the reason she starts bleeding from every single hole in her head.

    God, I wish this book was actually about father-adult daughter incest. Haha, I mean it IS in there but Sarem sucks all the interest out. Zogert kisses a teenage homunculus(?) of her daddy and Charles has an interesting reaction to Mac’s accusations. And Zod looks exactly like Dela, whom Charles is still deeply in love with. Also, why else does Zazzle keep their biological relationship a secret? Because Charles is totally boning her and the Ziggler is clearly an unreliable narrator. Even Jenny pointed out that it sounds like Zani is rejecting Mac and not Charles… XD

    Remember how Zani knew immediately that Sofie was dating her dad? Yet Mac somehow only imagines french kissing? I’d never rule it out entirely, but if he’s truly shocked and angry, why the hell would he look away? This isn’t a sudden gorefest for the squeamish; it’s not even him catching them naked in bed together! And why in the hell would he wait until she’s on the catwalk to confront her if he is supposedly not afraid of his boss? I guess Mac was ruminating over all the emotional crap that Clara and Zade put him through by stringing him along but he’s an idiot for giving ZhaZha Zhoom so much space without addressing his needs before it got out of hand. I mean, yeah, tough conversation but come on. Did Mac even truly ask her to pick a guy? Can we confirm that beyond Zuul mentioning it? I remember him basically treating Zlato like a prize that could be won when he spoke to Jackson about her, which could be taken as light-hearted if it wasn’t creepy, but that’s about it. Given his general asshole-nature, it’s plausible that Clara was in the right and Mac never set his parameters for their relationship. Yeah, maybe she was a bitch, but Sofie certainly isn’t so I’m inclined to believe Clara was unfairly impugned as well.

    Lani Not-Sarem pointed out a bunch of this stuff already but I couldn’t resist mentioning it now since the plot has FINALLY kicked in… That’s right! This is the plot you’ve all been waiting for. Good luck enjoying it.

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
  11. Mylissa
    Mylissa

    Afte every chapter I am more confused over the jobs these people do. It’s like she’s googled a few theatrical terms and is mixing and matching them without thinking that people who work in this field might come across her book? Show blacks! Fly-rail! Catwalk! Ta-da I made a theatre!

    Our performance yesterday where our entire audience was a half hour late (school matinees, bus trouble) and we decided to do everything faster to get out by a certain time and managed to cut 10 minutes out of a 58 min show has more intrigue then this bullshit.

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      I have better theatre stories about Pellinore’s dogs than anything in this book, and I’ve never even DONE Camelot.
      But of course, Llanarch wouldn’t want to listen to actual performers talk about their experiences.

      February 21, 2018
      |Reply
    • Indigo
      Indigo

      Hell, I’ve got better stories where the entire premise is “an actor dropped a line”.

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        And then there was the time an actor in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” was suffering from gas….

        February 22, 2018
        |Reply
  12. Amy
    Amy

    I love Spellman’s speech at the restaurant. “So I want to give thanks to my daughter, who is only here because of nepotism! Yes, let’s give praise to my daughter, someone who never had any experience in showbusiness before I handed over Sofia’s position to her. So much praise! Hooray for nepotism! An especially ‘go fuck yourself’ to everyone who worked off their asses to get where they are… fuck you, Sofie. Fuck you.”

    Like, there is no good outcome here. We, the audience and characters, are MEANT to believe they’re sleeping with each other. So the only reason Zade is getting special treatment is because they’re fucking. And then once it’s revealed they’re related, then the special treatment is because of nepotism. Either way, Spellman is a shite boss and Zade deserves nothing but contempt.

    In the other comment section, someone quoted Twain’s criticism of a novel, going, “If there isn’t a twig for character to step on alerting others to his presence, he’ll find a twig to step on!” The same damn thing applies here. If there isn’t a door ajar for someone to peek through, then the character will make a door, open it slightly, then peek through it. Literally nobody here keep their fucking door closed, just like nobody here can interact with a new person without running into them.

    “You’re just like Clara.” First of all you pompous a-hole, YOU were the one who got hung up on Clara. YOU were the one who wanted/thought the relationship was serious, YOU were the one who got his damn heart broken because YOU were incapable of asking a simple question like, “Want to go steady?” YOU SHOULD HAVE LEARNED FROM YOUR MISTAKES. But instead of asking Zade MONTHS ago if she wanted to go steady, if she wanted to be exclusive, you decided to pull the *exact* same shit you did with Clara. It’s not Zade’s fault you put all your eggs in a basket. Hell, tell me why Zade should go with you? When you get upset, you are incapable of controlling your anger.

    Because let’s say Zade was fucking Spellman. Then what? What would’ve happened if Zade went, “Yes, I slept with Spellman.” What would’ve Mac have done? Push Zade off that platform? Hit her? Cry like a little bitch baby? D) All of the above?

    Hell, maybe clue into the fact that it’s been months now and Zade still hasn’t slept with you should’ve been a huge fucking clue she’s not that into you, you wanker.

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      And Sarem never really explains that it’s nepotism. The closest she gets is that conversation with Sofie where Zani Non-Apologizes. In a better novel, I’d take that as showing instead of telling except that stupid excuse is meant to pass for Zani defending herself and it doesn’t get mentioned again after the “big reveal” about who daddy is. So, it’s true but she thinks that she tricked the readers into believing it isn’t nepotism? *rolls eyes*

      Hell, tell me why Zade should go with you? When you get upset, you are incapable of controlling your anger.

      To be honest, I wonder if he actually did any of this. This whole chapter is meant to make Mac look bad and show how innocent Zade is, that way he can get guilt-tripped into… fuck, I don’t even know. Forgiving her for taking forever? This is the worst Mac gets and Zade is explicitly injured for a reason that she DID NOT TELL MAC ABOUT. On the one hand, Mac should’ve had a competent person take over, but Zade was counting on Mac doing something without explaining the ramifications behind him leaving the building. So, he literally goes out for a smoke and Zade falls over bleeding and comatose at the end of the show. At no point is she held accountable for anything and the entire situation could have been averted if she chose her father for her magical needs instead of Mac.

      Again, his reaction is terrible and abusive, but his reactions are unbelievable and we find out later that every Mac POV is something that she saw in his mind. It’d be one thing if it was a truly omniscient 3rd person but it’s limited 3rd person and filtered through a first-person narrator. People can make the same mistakes if they don’t learn from them but the whole thing puts a bad taste in my mouth because I can’t even be certain that this actually happened the way it’s depicted.

      I mean… supposedly Mac never once looked to see who the fuck was screaming in agony behind him during the tarot card conversation and he gave her that bullshit “chin-up” comment. Mac could be abusive, but since Zade is actually a sadistic bitch (who attacked some innocent bystanders) it makes me wonder if this is a case of the abuser claiming that their victim is abusive. Her about-face involving Justin in the bar is the only time she’s shown sympathy too so I’m pretty sure she was absolutely flirting with him and then blamed Mac and Justin for fighting over her even though Justin was clearly being affected by her magickal effects on men and it’s plausible the same applies to Mac… who never actually hit Justin. Hell, Mac’s attempt to rescue Zade is portrayed as something that she didn’t want, which is annoying if it’s true, but then Justin is shown to be unreasonable shortly after… Guh. Then she basically gives Mac the cold shoulder and effectively mentally blames him for Justin’s cartoony head-lump by focusing on that. Just everything in retrospect is suspicious.

      I’m thinking way too hard about this. I’m sorry.

      Point is, Mac is a horrible, creepy idiot but what if Zade is lying through her teeth? Seriously, why the fuck would she date Mac if he’s this bad, she’s not that interested, she can get anything that she wants and every other man wants her? *shakes head*

      February 21, 2018
      |Reply
      • Mike
        Mike

        I’m glad someone else brought this up because I was thinking the same thing. The entire situation feels massively unrealistic, and not just because Sarem is a terrible writer (though she totally is).

        When we’re in Mac’s POV (sort of…) he thinks about how he needs to walk away to calm down to allow cooler heads to prevail. This shows that he is clearly capable of understanding that this is not the time or place to let his upset get the better of him, and that he has a decent amount of control over his anger. Then the very next scene from her perspective is that he’s so angry Riley is worried he’s going to get shot, and he physically and emotionally assaults her. That alone doesn’t add up.

        But that’s without the context. WITH the context you add in that she has control over his emotions to at least some degree, as we know she can influence his affection for her and anger in women. First off, who’s to say she can’t influence anger in men as well? But beyond that, there’s significant evidence that she is intentionally fucking with him. There’s absolutely no reason to hide that Spellman is her father. She doesn’t seem mortified by the implication that she’d be sleeping with him, so she clearly doesn’t care if people think she’s getting to the top by means other than her own skill, and he’s not part of her magic community so she’s not protecting her secrets by keeping her parentage to herself. The only reasons to do that that I can see are she’s worried about looking like she’s only there because of nepotism, which there’s no evidence she cares about, that Charles asked her to keep it a secret, but to my knowledge he doesn’t seem all that worried about that, that she actually IS sleeping with him, which again there’s no evidence for, or that she WANTS to upset Mac. Which there IS evidence for.

        She very clearly does want to be with him. She refuses to break up with him after MONTHS of being unwilling to commit, and these instances of him being a dick to her. She at least wants to be with him enough to keep him on the hook, to have him over to her apt for very personal and intimate dates, to use him for her magic, etc. She also seems to want to keep him walking on eggshells about their relationship status though. Refusing to talk to him about it under even the most tense circumstances, leaving him hanging every time he looks to her to confirm their relationship status either way, giving no answer at all, not just a ‘we’re not a couple’. She does flirt with that guy in the bar, leaves Mac out to dry when he asks her to confirm whether or not they’re dating, and then gets mad at him for getting upset, while then going out on a date with Jackson. Sending a very clear message to him that she’s not just going to keep dating Jackson, but she also considers herself still on the market to everyone else too. BUT she has the advantage of knowing he CAN’T leave her of his own volition because of her magic over him. Something she never shows any concern over whatsoever. Never acknowledging that she is for all intents and purposes magically drugging these people into being her lapdogs. And based on what we learn about Mac in the first few chapters, he would not be with her without that influence, so he’s in this relationship against his will.

        She also continues to flirt with Jackson in front of him, the picture of her with Charles just so happens to be out where he can see it when she knew he would be coming over, and she continues to refuse to acknowledge their relationship for months and months, not even acknowledging that they’re DATING let alone being willing to commit to him exclusively, which she knows full well he wants from her, but also refusing to let him go so he can find a relationship that would genuinely make him happy. AND we know that she’s perfectly happy to hurt anyone who offends her in any way. And Mac insulted her tarot cards. If she’s willing to potentially cripple a random stranger for mildly bumping her, I can TOTALLY see her intentionally trying to hurt him this way.

        And in both the incidences we KNOW she intentionally hurt people she didn’t like, we see her try and twist it around like it was that persons fault. Like they had done something truly horrible. Not to mention the suspected event we all think she had a hand in, Sofia’s fall. Whether she did that or it was a legitimate accident (which wouldn’t add up as the equipment just so happened to move by itself right when Sofia was up there without her harness? Sure.) we do see her twist it around to make it sound like it was completely Sofia’s own fault, and that Sofia had been an ungrateful bitch about it, despite that we never actually see Sofia being an ungrateful bitch. So we know she has no problem twisting the facts to suit her personal narrative. Though in that instance we do see what ACTUALLY happened and how it didn’t fit what she says later, so it may just be that she is trying to intentionally fuck with Mac, but then he DID actually become a dickbag as a result.

        And if his behaviour is legit and completely his own, not because of her magic, he is 100% a dickbag who should be dumped, blacklisted from the industry, and potentially even arrested for assault and reckless endangerment.

        February 25, 2018
        |Reply
        • Mydog'sPA
          Mydog'sPA

          Yeah, Zuke is so immature I have no idea why she’d even like Mac after the crap he pulls on her and puts her life in direct danger by foisting all the safety procedures on the untrained Cam-bot.

          Don’t forget, too, that she can ‘read memories’ of other people as part of her magickal powers. But as we’ll see later on, she ‘gets permission’ from the victim, er, person. But we’ve seen her inability to control her magickal powers, so what has stopped her from using them on anyone before this time? She’d know Sperm-man was her daddy the minute she met him (hell, even I did!!)

          The rules of this universe are woefully inconsistent. With all the powers she has in 1) reading minds and 2) having all men fawn over her the instant they see her she could be running the oval office via marionette strings in less than 2 years. But all we get is trying to decide who she’s gonna go out to dinner with?!?!?!? WTF???????????

          February 25, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            “untrained Cam-bot”?

            Are you suggesting he’d have had better results with Tom Servo or Crow?

            February 26, 2018
          • MyDog'sPA
            MyDog'sPA

            Ah, ViolettaD, the force is strong with this one . . . .

            😉

            (glad someone caught it. . . .)

            February 26, 2018
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Mydogspa: Sadly, I do not believe that any film they manage to make from this will be salvageable, even with riffing from ‘bots. I think we might be looking at another “Red Zone to Cuba” or “Castle of Fu Manchu.”

            February 26, 2018
    • Jane Eyre
      Jane Eyre

      and mind you this is character we’re supposed to be rooting for but she’s OK with this nepotism. I mean she’d be more likable if she was uncomfortable with it, but nope. She’s FINE with it, and heck she even thinks IT’S DUE to her. Usually in YA/Teen media it’s the Bad Mean Girl Rival who has this sort of thing going, with rich daddy pampering her or using his influence to settle things. In other media for more general audience it’s true too. Like look at Malfoy in Harry Potter, he’s the rival and antagonist for our main hero and he gets away with things because of his father’s money and high position and he gets his way because of that too like with Buckbeak, he antagonised a wild creature despite the expert on creatures telling him not to, and got hurt. However his father pulls some strings and the poor animal gets put down, despite it being Malfoy’s fault. This book would be so much better if we found out in the end that this is from POV of the atagonist of YA novel, it would be very clever because I’m sure that this is how those atagonists see things. People who work harder are stealing from them, they themselves are owed special treatment, it’s never their fault, they are the good guys and the victims ect…

      February 25, 2018
      |Reply
      • Athena
        Athena

        To be fair, Harry reaped the benefits of nepotism too. He got to have his own, personal broom in first year, he didn’t get expelled for the flying car incident in second year, he didn’t get in trouble for blowing up his aunt and the letter of a convicted felon gets him Hogsmeade rights third year, all because of he was The Boy Who Lived, which isn’t even something he really did himself. He’s called out on each of these things, but he still gets the preferential treatment and is glad for it, most of the time he even feels that he’s due it because it’s a special circumstance/accident/really just the fair thing to do.

        Don’t get me wrong, I love the Harry Potter series, but Harry wasn’t innocent of taking advantage of his fame. The main difference is he didn’t ask for the preferential treatment, he just got it and justified it after the fact.

        March 4, 2018
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          He paid for some privilege in advance with his sufferings from living with his aunt. Had Sarem given her heroine more of a Cinderella upbringing, we’d be rooting for her to get some perqs too.

          March 4, 2018
          |Reply
          • What you mean being supposedly shunned by the townfolk, who also found her pretty (beautiful even) and sweet and kind wasn’t enough? 😀

            March 4, 2018
        • Dove
          Dove

          Don’t get me wrong, I love the Harry Potter series, but Harry wasn’t innocent of taking advantage of his fame. The main difference is he didn’t ask for the preferential treatment, he just got it and justified it after the fact.

          Harry got on my nerves later on, for other reasons mostly, but I agree. He was an example of nepotism done well. He started buying into his fame in a believable way, and as ViolettaD said, he got it by losing the chance to have a normal life with his loving parents, something decided for him and against his wishes. And really, it would be kind of weird if Harry didn’t get some preferential treatment by the wizarding world and didn’t try to justify it to himself later. People’s reactions to him make sense and so did his, most of the time.

          I read recently how certain cultures can actually inspire widespread forms of nepotism in a way that seems perfectly natural to them. In Croatia, the government and other proper parameters are infernally slow or nigh broken and families and friends help their own. People mostly use word of mouth for everything. It’s like a system of favors being passed around and that’s something you’d actually find in a lot of communities that are just trying to take care of themselves in a different way.

          But I guess you could even say that Charles traded fame and fortune for a chance to get back the love of his life. The real issue is that Lani Sarem doesn’t properly acknowledge this. I’m not sure if it’s hindered by her inexperience, laziness, or lack of concern. Regardless, if handled correctly, I don’t think anyone would really care about the nepotism. It’s written as if presents just drop into Zade’s lap, whether she wants them or not, and then she oh so graciously accepts them, and she never gives anything back. I wouldn’t even care about this, per se, except she doesn’t do anything with that idea either. It’s an empty plot detail that she sort of handwaves, something that Lani also expects IRL, and that’s why people are irked by it.

          Having the personality of a slice of wet bread doesn’t help either. Lani is more interesting than Zade and it takes some fucking effort when your imaginary self is more goddamn boring than you are. I don’t really want her to succeed when she doesn’t deserve it, she didn’t put in the right kind of effort, but if she somehow claws her way to the top by sheer force of will and every worst idea imaginable, I’ll at least be entertained by it. I’m not intrigued or amused by what Zade does.

          Nepotism isn’t just some random plot device, damn it. Sloth isn’t a plot device. Hell, malice isn’t a plot device. But everything in the story is handled like a random contrivance because that’s the only way she knows how to write them or she doesn’t want to expose her flaws by making it more realistic, I guess. It’s like trying to photoshop everything clean and hitting the uncanny valley, only worse?

          March 10, 2018
          |Reply
          • Amy
            Amy

            When I started working at the library, it was my sister who got my foot in the door. So while technically that was nepotism, all she did was drop my name. I was the one who went to the interview, who started at the bottom, worked my way to where I am now, and made my imprint upon the library.

            If Zade had started as a stage hand, as a background actor, someone who wasn’t in the limelight, maybe I wouldn’t be so hard on her. But no, she walks in and suddenly she’s *the* star of the show, worthy of thousands of dollars worth of makeup, advertising, and celebrity status.

            Harry Potter was a child, an abused child. This kid was pleasantly surprised when his relatives were guilt-tripped into buying him a cheap popsicle. Harry deserved some happiness. And while he was a prodigy in a lot of areas, it also came with a shitload of consequences… like having a dark lord wanting you dead. Zade doesn’t have to face such consequences. She faces no consequences for her achievements. Even when she gets hurt, she loses nothing in the process.

            Pixar’s rules for storytelling #1) You admire a character for trying more than for their success. Zade never tries, she only succeeds.

            March 10, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            Pixar’s rules for storytelling #1) You admire a character for trying more than for their success. Zade never tries, she only succeeds.

            Yes, exactly right to everything you’ve said, but especially this, Amy. It’s the struggle that endears us and stirs up our excitement. Zade doesn’t need to suffer the way Harry did, she just needs to grapple with something first. Fussing over dating two men isn’t satisfying because in this case there’s no conclusion, there’s no actual turmoil, she could take or leave either one, and all she’s really doing is being indecisive, not trying to succeed at something. She doesn’t have to work to create or maintain either relationship. She doesn’t even struggle with Mac over the misconception; that gets handled while she’s in a coma. And that’s the closest she comes to anything like that.

            We’d be okay with other people helping her out, including her dad; she could start out with a little boost, but it doesn’t matter unless Zade puts in some effort to get what she wants. I think Lani Sarem was aware of this fact, at least one editor poked her with this flaw, and that’s why Zeb has that one scene where he calls Zade out for not taking shit seriously but it amounts to nothing in the end. Zade still didn’t put in any effort, not really, and neither did Lani Sarem. The difference between the two is that the author didn’t get what she wanted, which is why she’s still trying and fucking up so hard, and it’s why we’re still paying attention to her now. Zade is an afterthought, just a little stinky fart of contempt.

            March 10, 2018
  13. An Olympic Athlete for ~~realz~~
    An Olympic Athlete for ~~realz~~

    Jenny, you truly missed out on the Peppermill experience. I suggest anyone who hasn’t been there to look up pictures, but even reviews don’t do it justice. When I’ve blanked on the name in the past I have called it “the Prince-on-acid diner.” So much purple, so much neon lighting, so much kitch, and the food is pure hangover fare. Truly, it is a place worthy of Chud Spoopyfield’s billions.

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
  14. Crystal M
    Crystal M

    #1. What the fuck. I feel so sorry for Sofia.

    #2. I don’t understand why it’s a big fucking secret that Spellman is Zuzu’s dad. This is the most poorly thought-out “plot twist” I’ve ever read.

    #3. It’s obvious that that Zuzu is going to almost die during the illusion like Sofia did. Then Mac will feel sorry that he was so mean to her! So immature. I fucking hate this book.

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
  15. Alicia
    Alicia

    I’m SO GLAD that you have a passion for ripping bad books to shreds and sharing these hilarious posts with us (even during such a difficult time)! A TINDR LARP! *kissing fingers like a chef*

    I fucking lost it at the emojis. Incidentally, “a really sad-looking emoji” is essentially how I feel about this “story.”

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
  16. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    Twain’s rule 10, from “Literary Offenses of James Fenimore Cooper”
    ********************
    10. They require that the author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and in their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones. But the reader of the “Deerslayer” tale dislikes the good people in it, is indifferent to the others, and wishes they would all get drowned together.
    ********************
    Now just replace “Deerslayer” with HfM….

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
      • falalala
        falalala

        And just for fun, here’s his second essay on the subject: http://strangebeautiful.com/other-texts/twain-coopers-prose-style.pdf

        (Twain eviscerating Cooper has utterly delighted me since the first time I encountered those essays as a kid. I’ve worked as a freelance editor, and my shorthand for “this word, phrase, or passage can be removed without losing anything of value” is “#Twain,” largely in honor of my everlasting love for his opinion on the phrase “those hands which she had raised” in the second essay.)

        February 22, 2018
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          I never knew he had done more than the one essay on JFC. Thank you for this blissful reading experience.

          February 22, 2018
          |Reply
    • katiedidwhat
      katiedidwhat

      I love that essay, and I’ve still never read a single word of Cooper’s.

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
    • River
      River

      I have never met anyone else who has read that particular pan of Twain’s. Thank you for posting that! After being up most the night attempting to document an abusive relationship that people won’t believe me happened… This made my day.

      February 26, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        After being up most the night attempting to document an abusive relationship that people won’t believe me happened… This made my day.

        Best of luck and good wishes regarding that! (I’m pretty sure you commented on the Cathy posts, where a lot of people offered advice.) Hopefully, you can get the ball rolling soon and move on to a better situation. *crosses fingers* 🙂

        February 26, 2018
        |Reply
        • River
          River

          Thank you. It was documenting for my sister who was in the relationship. I just saw a lot of it and recognized what the guy was doing. Thankfully he is out of her life and this is just mop up! Yeah!

          February 27, 2018
          |Reply
  17. Chris
    Chris

    Yea! Star Trek A Voyage Home clip! That was my favorite if the original Star Trek movies!

    Also love the recap! LOL

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
  18. Usually Just Lurking
    Usually Just Lurking

    While show blacks were mentioned again, they were not described again, so I had no way of knowing what they were. Are they black leather jackets they all wear like in a gang? Are they a type of bird they all have on their shoulders to communicate with each other while on stage? Without the tedious description, there is just no way to know.

    Also, in a logical world Mac gets fired immediately for putting performers in danger and the show in jeopardy because he got into a rage.

    And that father-daughter kiss was uncomfortable. That is NOT how I interact with my father.

    February 21, 2018
    |Reply
    • GS
      GS

      Yup. I’ve been mistaken for my dad’s wife a couple times, but that’s because of the incessant, sarcastic bickering (and because we were trying out mattresses at IKEA together 😀 for me and my fiancé ), not because of extremely uncomfortable face-holding kisses. Ew. Just EW!!!

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
  19. Rachel O'Riley
    Rachel O'Riley

    You’re back! Huzzah!!

    February 22, 2018
    |Reply
  20. Perlite
    Perlite

    “Mac didn’t see that, though, because he looked away before he saw the truth and therefore in his head he had turned around right before he saw them make out with tongue.” What prepubescent stepped in to write this sentence? And what kind of “innocent kiss on the cheek” starts with someone cupping the other person’s face? (And I guess her father’s face???)

    I take back what I said about Zani being the one to orchestrate Sophia’s “accident”. Mac definitely had a hand in it if his immediate reaction to being upset is to not only jeopardize opening night, but also her life.

    February 22, 2018
    |Reply
    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      Okay, seriously, I teach freshmen on occasion, and they can’t remember not to use contractions in academic writing, but they could write better sentences than that one.

      February 23, 2018
      |Reply
    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      I mean, I kind of think I remember the press being gaga over David Copperfield in the late ’80s? When he was still with Claudia Schiffer? But yeah, he’s totally not relevant anymore.

      February 23, 2018
      |Reply
      • Rebecca
        Rebecca

        This was not meant to go here, because website screw up.

        February 23, 2018
        |Reply
  21. Gretel
    Gretel

    “I don’t understand with this man (my father) gives me so much praise and so many presents! He takes care of me! How weird that this stranger (whom I know to be my father) looks after me! So incredibly weird how my boss (who’s my father) wants me to sit next to him! WHY WOULD HE (MY FATHER) WANT THAT?! IT’S SO WEIRD HOW HE (MY FATHER) GIVES ME SO MUCH ATTENTION! WHY SOULD I SIT NEXT TO MY FATH- I MEAN MY BOSS?!!! I DON’T UNDERSTAND HIM (MY FATHER)!!!”

    Yeah, it makes no fucking sense. She knew the whole time or at least for half the book that Spellmann is her father, yet her POV shows she’s confused, clueless, and irritated when he gives her anything, from luxurious presents to attention and care.
    The big reveal is – apart from being obvious garbage – horridly executed and makes negative sense.

    Also way to write the “I kiss my daddy” scene creepy and incestuous. If she’d just given him a peck on the cheek, it wouldn’t have come off as sexual. Also him touching her neck and shoulders is super gross and not fatherly, it’s sexual and romantic in nature.
    No daughter would put her hands on the cheek of her father while sharing an intimate embrace after saying “I love you, too” and then go in for a kiss. That just seems weird because it emphasizes it so hard. Like, holding your pranents face to kiss them is unusual, something you would do when they’re sick and dying because it’s coded romantic in our culture. And then you’d usually kiss them on the forehead.
    Sarem intentionally wrote the kissing scene with romantic and sexual (thus incestuous) tones and gestures so Mac could missunderstand the situation. It’s so fucking cheap.
    I mean, just imagine one of your friends doing this scene with her father: him touching her and caressing her neck and shoulders, embracing, sharing loving glances, saying “I love you”, then her putting her hands on his cheek to go in for a kiss…you don’t think of father/daughter love and a daughterly kiss on the cheek, you’d think they’re gonna have some tongue action and later fuck.

    Jesus that scene sucked.

    February 22, 2018
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      “I don’t understand with this man (my father) gives me so much praise and so many presents! He takes care of me! How weird that this stranger (whom I know to be my father) looks after me! So incredibly weird how my boss (who’s my father) wants me to sit next to him! WHY WOULD HE (MY FATHER) WANT THAT?! IT’S SO WEIRD HOW HE (MY FATHER) GIVES ME SO MUCH ATTENTION! WHY SHOULD I SIT NEXT TO MY FATH- I MEAN MY BOSS?!!! I DON’T UNDERSTAND HIM (MY FATHER)!!!”

      Perhaps because Sarem/Zit-Tze Fly is waiting for Spellman to loom over her when she’s obviously fallen to the stage with many broken bones and bleeding wounds and tell her in a deep sinister voice:

      “I am your father, Zuke!”

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        “No. No. That’s not true. That’s impossible!”

        February 22, 2018
        |Reply
        • MyDog'sPA
          MyDog'sPA

          Come with me, Zuke! It’s the only way!”

          “Nooooooo!”

          February 22, 2018
          |Reply
          • MyDog'sPA
            MyDog'sPA

            Dang, that left out the line where, barely alive, Zucchini opens a trap door on the stage with her mag-ick and falls through.

            February 22, 2018
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            You also left out:

            “Search your feelings, you *know* it to be true!”

            February 22, 2018
          • Gretel
            Gretel

            Emperor: “Yes, let the hatred flow through you, young Zamboni!”

            February 26, 2018
  22. Nocturnal Queen
    Nocturnal Queen

    Charles is a horrible employer! He just randomly shuffles people’s positions about, he has business conversations with the workers on what is supposed to be their free time, he has sexual and romantic relationships with people who are dependent on him, in a previous chapter it’s mentioned that he fired a guy who was good at his job because Charles simply — for some vague reason — didn’t like him and he gives preferential treatment to one of the workers. I hope the employees are all unionized!

    February 22, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      And I hope they’re all AGVA, because I’ve heard AEA is totally useless for this kind of thing.

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
      • Nocturnal Queen
        Nocturnal Queen

        But it would probably never happen because in this universe Charles is the best boss ever and just a bit eccentric.

        In a better novel, we could see Zade struggling with being treated better than the other workers but feeling awkward about saying anything in fear of damaging her new relationship with her dad. We could also be shown how this causes a rift between her and her co-workers without it being shrugged off as just jealous, bitter haters who hasn’t seen how awesome Zade is. Her wanting to keep the nature of her relationship with Charles a secret and be treated just as any other employee as she wants to succeed on her own merit would be a much more compelling story.

        February 22, 2018
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          This reminds me of an old Archie comic, in which Coach Clayton doesn’t want to be seen favoring his son, Chuck. As a result, he pushes Chuck harder than the other students, overdoing it. It ends with Archie going, “It’s not fair you treat Chuck so harshly just so you can prove you’re no favoring him!” It ends with the Coach going, “You’re right. I’ll treat everyone equally. I was going have Chuck run a mile while the rest of you run half… but now you can run the entire mile with him!!!”Cue shennanigans.

          February 22, 2018
          |Reply
    • Agent_Z
      Agent_Z

      Seriously, I think Jack from 30 Rock is a better boos than this. Even the Pointy-Haired Boss from Dilbert seems less ridiculous.

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
    • katiedidwhat
      katiedidwhat

      Maybe Sophia’s the cast Equity Deputy and Charles won’t let her report the numerous, numerous violations, including how very fired Mac should be for at least half a dozen things in this recap.

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
      • Nocturnal Queen
        Nocturnal Queen

        He fired a good worker because of some super vague dislike but Mac gets to stay even though he disregards several of the other workers’ safety! Perhaps Charles and Mac made the platform or whatever it was malfunction to stop Sophia from telling anyone about all the crap that goes on. I’ve seen businesses owned by criminals being more considerate about their employees than Charles is!

        February 24, 2018
        |Reply
  23. I am reminded of all these Harry Potter fanfics where either the Mary Sue exchange student who is half Veela, half Elf and one-third demon pops up or where Harry turns out to be actually half Veela and related to Voldemort, the Hogwarts-founders and Lucifer and then “plot” happens that is really just an excuse for Harry Stu/Mary Sue to show their awesomeness and the plot-twists are telegraphed so far in advance that you could see them from space…and I had sort of thought that once the authors of these fics grew up they realized how riddiculous that is and that a proper story needs more but apparently not…

    February 22, 2018
    |Reply
    • So, basically My Immortal?

      The comparisons were apt. Except My Immortal was a troll.

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
      • Honestly: there is enough bad (HP) fanfic out there that isn’t My Immortal…and there’s so much that it can’t all be done by trolls…

        February 23, 2018
        |Reply
  24. Anon
    Anon

    What, exactly, was the point of the restaurant scene? Did anything even happen there? SOs were brushed aside, Charles “had to” sit with Zongo, some emojis were exchanged and then … ?

    “… before he saw them make out with tongue.”

    HOW OLD is Sarem? Five? Who talks like this??

    Also, this is now starting to read like Every Rom-Com that Ever Was. Or possible Three’s Company, but not actually funny or entertaining.

    “He gritted his teeth at me for a few moments …”

    That’s a really long time.

    But … if Zorfa fell to her death, maybe the book would be over and we could move on with life?

    February 22, 2018
    |Reply
    • Lily
      Lily

      Three’s Company had better dialogue and stunts.

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
      • The Ropers had a healthier relationship than Mac and Zade. With better chemistry.

        February 24, 2018
        |Reply
    • sexiersadie
      sexiersadie

      “He gritted his teeth at me for a few moments …”

      That’s a really long time.

      YES! And how you you grit your teeth AT someone? I pictured his entire jaw dislocating and jutting out just so he could grit his teeth AT someone. And is it omnidirectional? If someone came up behind them, could he then grit his teeth at THEM?

      February 23, 2018
      |Reply
  25. Agent_Z
    Agent_Z

    So why isn’t Mac turned into mince meat in this chapter? He is clearly hostile and a danger to Lulu’s life yet he suffers no physical retribution. A girl who thinks Zebra is hitting on her boyfriend gets nearly shredded by glass. A cyclist whose only crime is knocking her cards out of her hands gets crippled when at most he deserves a “watch where you’re going” yelled at him.

    Abusive boyfriend who is shouting at and deliberately hurting her? Nothing.

    February 22, 2018
    |Reply
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      Recall, though, that because of Zit-Tze-Fly’s magickkk, all men are attracted to her, so he has no free will and is drawn to her like a magnet. She, however, (as far as I can tell) has no core reason to be attracted to him.

      Spellman (her father) left her when she was a child, so (for a real person, at least) her subconscious would seek out men that would abandon her. Mac has shown no propensity to do so. Then would she even be attracted to him?

      This is why people who are abused as kids go out and find bad people that will abuse them and ignore the good people that will treat them well, thereby perpetuating the abuse cycle.

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Spellman (her father) left her when she was a child, so (for a real person, at least) her subconscious would seek out men that would abandon her.

        Crap, that’s a perfect excuse for why Flygirl wouldn’t wanna bang her dad! Ignoring the Westermarck Effect (since he left when she was a baby or somewhere thereabouts), Spellman has been showering her with gifts, attention, and a refusal to ever leave her again. That would explain why she’s annoyed with him for giving her everything and wanting to sit beside her! XD

        But that said, Dela left Spellman, not the other way around, and not only was Zin able to get in touch with Charles very easily (even if Dela somehow hid his info using magic) but she never had a replacement for him in her life so… I dunno? I mean, we have that chapter ending at the very beginning where Charles says “Tell me everything” but that can’t have been about her life story; more likely about her magick since that’s the implication before it’s confirmed they’re related. Not that dialog is remotely natural in this book but it was clearly done to set-up a hook and imply there are secrets between them except it’s nonsensical when you really think about it. Charles knew she existed and even if he wasn’t getting any photos or news from Dela, he probably had some guess his kid was magic and he would’ve tried bonding with her off-stage over all those months we saw. (Strongest theory is that most of Jackson’s scenes were originally written with Charles instead, but you could also imply that Charles was simply glamoured and pretended to be some non-existent guy named Jackson to bang his daughter discreetly/in secret.)

        … Eh. As per usual, I’m putting more thought into this than Sarem did.

        Mac has shown no propensity to do so. Then would she even be attracted to him?

        Maybe that’s why she likes Jackson at all? She can tell from his unconscious body language that he wants to bang her and then dump her.

        February 22, 2018
        |Reply
        • MyDog'sPA
          MyDog'sPA

          Yeah, don’t over-think it too much. Zurg will (in reality) repeat her life cycle. For example:

          My wife worked with a woman who’s Dad was a musician. He was on the road a lot, and would only come home for a week a month, if that when she was a girl.

          Now that she’s grown up, the only men she’s attracted to are the ones who 1) look like her Dad (full head of hair) and 2) live more than 5000 miles away. Every relationship she’s had for the last 25 years follows this pattern: She starts a relationship with someone far away and gets bummed when she discovers ‘it can’t work’ and then she goes and finds another one just as remote. Regular as clockwork, her subconscious finds them and latches on.

          (Really sometimes one has to learn to tell their own subconscious to “f**k off.” Those who don’t learn repeat the cycle over and over.)

          So Zit-Tze Fly should be following the same pattern, and Mac is NOT that pattern, so it’s yet another thing that’s ‘off’ in this book.

          February 22, 2018
          |Reply
      • Agent_Z
        Agent_Z

        “Recall, though, that because of Zit-Tze-Fly’s magickkk, all men are attracted to her, so he has no free will and is drawn to her like a magnet. She, however, (as far as I can tell) has no core reason to be attracted to him.”

        Oh God this just hit me with an ugly theory. What if this spell is also affecting Charlie? Like, he isn’t attracted to Lead Zeplin (Thank God) but he is acting very weird, neglecting his girlfriend, handing this random girl who waltzed of the street a job and very expensive gifts and very clearly showing special treatment to her despite her very lack of experience. The spell may not necessarily make it so that every man who spends more than a few minutes Zoolander falls in love with her but it does make them become irrationally attached to her.

        February 23, 2018
        |Reply
        • MyDog'sPA
          MyDog'sPA

          “Oh God this just hit me with an ugly theory. What if this spell is also affecting Charlie?”

          That would actually be a more interesting story and give Zuke some actual agency in getting revenge on her Dad for leaving her when she was young. That motive would actually make sense: Make Daddy regret (by actions she takes) abandoning her and Dela to a life of poverty in Donkey Juice while he gets rich off of their mag-ickkkkk. So if that happens in this book at all it will be as a result of an accident rather than by any design from our main character.

          But, nah, this is Lani Sarem we’re talking about here, so agency, we don’t need no steenking agency.

          February 23, 2018
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            That would actually be a more interesting story and give Zuke some actual agency in getting revenge on her Dad for leaving her when she was young. That motive would actually make sense: Make Daddy regret (by actions she takes) abandoning her and Dela to a life of poverty in Donkey Juice while he gets rich off of their mag-ickkkkk. So if that happens in this book at all it will be as a result of an accident rather than by any design from our main character.

            Don’t worry, we’re all safe from that happening, even by accident! Mom left Dad, waiting for him to get clean or whatever. I forgot what the exact BS reason was but it at least made some sense. But no one really has hurt feelings, for some reason, and Zukie is definitely suckling offa dat fat daddy teet now because it’s not like she’ll become rich and famous on her own anywhere else. I seriously believe if the man wasn’t in show business, Zade would’ve never left home. She wouldn’t even fake bang him to get a guy to realize how much he loves her… Eww, wait. That sounds weirder than Zade just sleeping with dad straight up.

            Dude, I have never wanted incest this badly before. Like good-fucking-god, at least give me some actual sleaze to go along with your pointless implications. It’s on the same level as the illusions, the magic, the romance, and pretty much everything else: almost non-existent, so you end up yearning for it since it got dangled in your face.

            Worst of all is how childish it seems. It’s like she’s shoving a tiny hors d’oeuvre sausage into a doughnut hole repeatedly and snickering when I glare at her for playing with her food, then she pushes the plate away after she gets bored and doesn’t eat either one. And she’s a grown-ass woman. That’s what this novel is.

            February 23, 2018
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Freud has been thoroughly discredited, but for once I’ll guess Lani never got over being unable to steal Daddy from Mommy, and has been sulking about it ever since. Thus her need to upstage and be superior to every woman her self-insert encounters and have all the GUYS stand around slut-shaming her potential competition the way the Twelve Oaks girls slut-shamed Scarlett:

            February 25, 2018
      • Mike
        Mike

        “Spellman (her father) left her when she was a child, so (for a real person, at least) her subconscious would seek out men that would abandon her. Mac has shown no propensity to do so. Then would she even be attracted to him?”

        You could argue that because Mac wouldn’t be with her without her magical influence over him, it’s having that power over someone who otherwise WOULD leave that attracts her to him. He doesn’t date performers and he doesn’t want an open, non-committed relationship, both are rules of his that being with her violates. Plus they honestly just don’t get along. So the fact that he would walk away from her but CAN’T is what’s making him attractive under this theory. Having the power to keep the male in her life salves the wound of her own father being pushed out of her life.

        Or Sarem is just a terrible writer who believes that getting violently angry is how a man shows his feelings are true and passionate instead of abusive and horrible. Probably that one. That and the wish fulfillment of getting to change him. Every single belief Mac holds dear is changed by her. At the start he’s all about safety and rules, and she comes in and fucks that up for him. He won’t date performers, and she magically makes him break that rule for her. He wants a committed relationship and she magically makes him settle for the least committed relationship ever. He is clearly an athiest who doesn’t believe in anything magical or spiritual and she makes him have to believe in magic. And all those changes are because of her. Which to an individual who doesn’t understand what a healthy relationship looks like, there’s a romantic attraction to changing someone in a relationship. That they would change for you makes you special! I suppose this is probably a remnant of a time when your options for relationships were severely limited if you had a choice at all, so the idea that someone would adapt to be more attractive to you WOULD have been a romantic gesture at some point…

        Mac was clearly written to represent every old trope about ‘romance’ that Sarem could subconsciously stuff in there. He’s the stuffy rule abiding square jawed masculine figure who shows a lighter side (sharing her taste in music) to her, who changes to conform to her ideals, who gets passionately, violently angry over the thought of losing her, and who saves her through the power of love. Because all of this is Sarem’s deepest, most unfiltered, terrible fantasies. All the hatred and jealousy she’s ever felt laid bare on page for all to read. All her desires for vengeance and superiority, for fame and glory, for love she doesn’t have to work for… all right there in the thinnest veil imaginable. This book is so blatant a fantasy it almost feels too personal to read, like you stole someone’s dream journal and you’re reading about how they fantasized about fucking their teacher.

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

          “You could argue that because Mac wouldn’t be with her without her magical influence over him, it’s having that power over someone who otherwise WOULD leave that attracts her to him.

          Sarem’s writing is so shallow there’s no way she’d have even imagined this, so, no I”d say that’s not up for consideration.

          The problem with the world as shown herein is that it’s inconsistent: Zuke has magickal powers that all men are attracted to her and all women despise her (i.e., she has a superpower) and the rules of the universe change to fit the narrative when the author needs it.

          Keep this in mind when she tells you after the upcoming stage accident that she ‘read’ other peoples memories after the fact just so Sarem could continue the narrative in first person even though the character was unconscious through it all. Oh, 2/3 of the way through the book she tells us she can read minds, now? Why the f**k didn’t she tell us she could do that before????

          February 26, 2018
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            Sarem’s writing is so shallow there’s no way she’d have even imagined this, so, no I”d say that’s not up for consideration.

            Don’t be so hasty. Lani Sarem might not understand her own inclinations but she can still expose them by accident to other people. All of the filters are gone, so what you get is what you get. This is a revenge fantasy as well as wish-fulfillment. I’m pretty sure Lani is getting back at the boyfriend(s) who dumped her through Mac. Also, Lani did lose her father IRL so this is tapping deep but I think she wrote Charles Spellman as another romantic lead because she didn’t know how to write an actual father-daughter relationship (and maybe a little bit of Freud in there, who knows. I wouldn’t be surprised if she enjoys incest fantasies; that’s not me chastising her, we all have our kinks, I’m just sayin’ it seems plausible to me and it’s a pretty common fantasy.)

            Oh, 2/3 of the way through the book she tells us she can read minds, now? Why the f**k didn’t she tell us she could do that before????

            She does that shit all the time, never mentioning stuff when it’s most appropriate. It’s either laziness in editing, inexperience with writing, hamfistedly coming up with a solution, or she thinks it’s some kind of twist. Maybe all of the above. To be quite honest, I think Lani gets off on tricking people, so gaslighting her audience may have been intentional. The seams are a big part of it but consider how much she lies IRL and it seems legit to me. I believe she thinks that she’s clever.

            February 26, 2018
    • Dove
      Dove

      Abusive boyfriend who is shouting at and deliberately hurting her? Nothing.

      This is what makes me wonder. Even though it’s possible for Zani to be so childish and passive that she just doesn’t know what to do when faced with a threat, she did actually fight back against Lambo Girl (for a few seconds) even when she was startled and although it’s possible she just loves Mac so much she doesn’t realize he’s being abusive or comprehend that he could be (which would make more sense if her dad acted that way maybe), we see Zani taking her vengeance out on random people “without even thinking about it” so why didn’t Zani protect herself and harm him without meaning to?

      I think this is a case of Zani being abusive and portraying Mac as the abusive one. Even though she hasn’t said it yet, the 3rd person sections are being filtered through Zade’s 1rst person narration. Given that she lied about Sofie’s reaction and Sofia’s overall personality and reasons for hating her guts, I’m inclined to think that Mac might be a dick but Zade is lying through her teeth.

      But the truth is, making a man abusive was the only way Lani Sarem could imagine adding conflict to the story because it puts Zade in the clear. After all, Zade hasn’t done anything wrong, supposedly, and she was quick to tell us that Mac’s memory of the inciting event was fabricated… Hrmmm.

      Did I mention that Zade has mental magic? Because she does. 😛

      It’s extremely suspicious.

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
      • Agent_Z
        Agent_Z

        That’s a possibility. I mentioned in one of the previous recaps that since this is all being told from Zit’s perspective maybe the characters we’re supposed to see as villains or just unpleasant people aren’t all that bad. Like maybe Lambo Girl was simply trying to offer some advice to a fellow witch about dealing with uncontrollable power and Lollipop took that as a threat instead.

        February 23, 2018
        |Reply
    • sexiersadie
      sexiersadie

      I don’t think the writer recognizes that Mac is abusive. I think she legitimately believes that this is a rational way for a man to behave when he is desperately in love with a woman. His behavior reminds me of the behavior of the alpha males in the romance novels I used to read. The more angry, violent, and irrational they were, the TWuer the love.

      February 23, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        I doubt Lani Sarem ever read a romance novel. Those are for girls! 😉

        Probably the closest she’s ever come is Rom-Coms which still have somewhat questionable behavior. So, yeah. You’re probably right.

        This also proves that Jackson doesn’t love her? Hrmmm. (Or that he doesn’t exist hurhur.)

        February 23, 2018
        |Reply
  26. Lara
    Lara

    This was mentioned by my bestie, Renae, who also follows these recaps. Why is called “Handbook for Mortals”? Because she is mortal, right? Just like the rest of the people in the book. Or is she immortal and just not mentioning it? And if this is the handbook for someone to follow to “pass for mortal”, yikes. Because this is some shifty advice for how to pretend to be mortal. Is she thinking that the opposite of mortal is magical? But she has basically 1 minute total of magic in this shitty book. So that doesn’t really make sense either. Not that anything in this drivel makes sense. Just a point that bothers me more with every chapter.

    February 22, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      You’ll find out why it’s titled that in the last page of the book. And no, it doesn’t make any sense.

      OR WILL IT???

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Mortal is a holdover from Twilight, I’m sure. Also, it’s basically this book’s word for Muggle except that it makes a lot less sense. But yeah, the implication might be that the witches are long-lived if they aren’t actually immortal, and that’s how they distinguish themselves from the mundanes.

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
  27. Oh, man, the asshole brought the Peppermill into this?! Did she even mention the round firepit when she was banging on about directions and space, because that is a huge factor in the different sides of the restaurant. And did the “show blacks” get canceled out by the servers’ long polyester black cocktail gowns? Someone bring me a brandy Alexander….

    February 22, 2018
    |Reply
  28. candy apple
    candy apple

    The crew showed up all in show blacks

    Word repetition is kind of a pet peeve of mine, and Sarum does this a lot. Why not just say the crew arrived in show blacks? Just a tip, Lani, for your next best seller.

    February 22, 2018
    |Reply
  29. Jamoche
    Jamoche

    Wow, the guy justifying inviting Lani to the conference just does not get it:
    “The reason I invited Lani was because she disrupted the publishing world. She took a different approach to marketing her book. She broke no laws or ethical standards. She only made sure that every sale counted.”

    February 22, 2018
    |Reply
    • Drea
      Drea

      To claim that Sarem broke no ethical standards shows a very lax view of ethics on the part of the executive director of Agile Writers. Even if you assume she did sell all the books she ordered (despite ample reason to believe she didn’t) she purposely circumvented the process of the NYT list. The list isn’t just about sales, it’s about general popularity and helping booksellers know when to highlight and stock fast-selling books. The NYT best-sellers lists are far from perfect, but they do a decent job of taking the pulse of the bookstore-going nation. (Amazon and e-books are a different story.)

      Making a book ‘count’ only meant Sarem tried to trick the NYT into thinking an available-only-at-cons niche book was wildly popular with the general population. This is about as ethical as an athlete on steroids.

      She could have sold at cons, built up a following and then (assuming the book was likable, which it isn’t) her book could have gained the necessary popularity. If we’re going to compare apples and oranges like Sarem does, this would have been like what the movie industry does with unproven properties–give it a limited release and then, if it’s popular, give it wide release later.

      But no, she couldn’t wait to see if her book would do well on it’s own merit. She wanted instant recognition before she sold a single copy. On top of all this, her tactic didn’t work. After that one week, the book didn’t make it’s way back onto any list. It’s ranked 300,000+ on Amazon. She failed. So, why is anyone letting her teach her failed strategy to innocent writers?

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
  30. Manda
    Manda

    Okay. I really want to bring up the amazon reviews. I went through and checked close to thirty of them (I was weirdly bored). I find most YA readers to be female (not saying there aren’t male readers or reviewers) and I found it odd most of her 5 star reviews were male. Added to the weirdness is that I checked to see what else these people reviewed, and while there were some that had several reviews, most had only just reviewed this book.

    In regards to the actual story, I friggin hate this fake forced drama crap. It is like my problem with Moulin Rouge. Half these problems could be avoided by (normal) communication. A simple sentence of “look, he’s my father. We’ll talk about it after the show” would have spent less time drawing it out than a weird forced speech sbout love being complicated. Most people would just get blunt, but Lemon Zaid likes the attention of complicating things. It is like she is purposely making things more muddled because she gets off on the chaos it causes.

    February 22, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      I find most YA readers to be female (not saying there aren’t male readers or reviewers) and I found it odd most of her 5 star reviews were male.

      That doesn’t surprise me at all. There’s a little feature Amazon has and I don’t know if you noticed but it gives these great statistics.

      Rated by customers interested in:

      Sports Books:
      3.1 out of 5 stars

      Romance Novels:
      2.1 out of 5 stars

      Fantasy Books:
      1.9 out of 5 stars

      The regular audience for a fantasy romance hates it but people into sports love it! XD

      It is like she is purposely making things more muddled because she gets off on the chaos it causes.

      OH SHIT! *dies a million laughing deaths* I think we just found out how chaos magic works! 😀

      No, I’m serious! She explicitly uses chaos magic in the show, which is what almost kills her, but it’s never explained how this differs from regular magic other than it’s harder to control or some bullshit excuse like that. Plus things go awry because Mac was her focal point so… Yeah. I think you nailed it.

      God damn this book could have been amazing if an ounce of thought had been put into it. That’s Lani Sarem’s only consistent quality… She always chooses the least interesting path and her blatant mistakes are more informative and engrossing than any description or detail that she gives us.

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
      • Manda
        Manda

        I didn’t know that! That is a handy little feature! You are absolutely correct about her choosing the least interesting path.

        February 22, 2018
        |Reply
    • River
      River

      And honestly if you DON’T want to discuss very important life matters with the dude you’re dating… Maybe you shouldn’t be with him? So yeah either just fill him in and communicate or break up!

      March 1, 2018
      |Reply
  31. RodeoBob
    RodeoBob

    >Everyone had had to sign agreements stating that they wouldn’t share what they knew and that meant that they couldn’t even talk about it with any of the other cast and crew.

    Conveniently, it also means the author can’t talk about it with the readers!

    You know what I’m missing from this book right now? (No, no, I mean other than plot, characters, dialogue, correct punctuation, and good writing) Jargon!

    Jargon is a great way for an author to talk *around* a plot point. Harry Potter gave us all kinds of rules and concepts for magic that set up plot points, but also helped us feel like Hogwarts was an actual school with history and stuff.

    Magic shows must have a **ton** of jargon. What’s the term for the magician’s assistant? Is ‘box-jumper’ still used, or is it something else? There have got to be broad, generic terms for different kinds of stage illusions, like, I dunno, Cabinet Vanishes or Silk Transports or something. I don’t know those terms, but if I was reading a book about a stage magic show in Vegas, I’d kind of expect to see them there. Even something as simple as ‘the new illusion was a stage dive combined with a pyro effect’ would give us, the readers a feeling of being part of the behind-the-scenes work.

    February 22, 2018
    |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Silly Bob! Tricks are for magicians. 😀

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      Oops. In my attempt to be pithy, I forgot to add that supposedly a magician’s assistant is called a magi (instead of a magus or mage lol) and it offends Zade, for some reason, but I don’t believe Sarem did any research so I doubt that’s true. Wait, you aren’t satisfied with her repeating the term show blacks constantly? Did you forget her “in the round” at the beginning? Do you really need more jargon than that?

      (Answer: Yes, of course, but Sarem doesn’t give a crap about stage magic and never actually writes about it. I’ve done more fucking research than she did, wherein I learned that patter is important and you need to practice your entire magic routine as well as the individual tricks to get your timing down. I also suspect you researched more than me, since I never looked up the jargon.)

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
      • RodeoBob
        RodeoBob

        Sarem doesn’t give a crap about stage magic and never actually writes about it.

        Yeah… this is just one of those cases where the story I thought I would be reading about is not the story that Sarem wanted to write. I thought we’d have a story about witch-y magicks, or maybe a story about Las Vegas stage magic. Sarem wanted to write (and did write) an author-insert fantasy-fulfillment fic. That’s why we have name drops for motorcycles and make-up, but nothing more descriptive than “brand new illusion for the show”.

        I think it’s also why Mac can be super-hostile and threatening and somehow not get bonked by Zazzoo’s magic: the fantasy-fulfillment here is that Mac is ‘all wrong about everything’ and thus his comeuppance will show up after Zordon gets injured and the truth comes out and she’s totally vindicated forever and ever !!!1!

        Sure, Mac being hostile and not getting magick’d violates only of the only conventions this book has bothered to set up, but that’s because the only real rule for this story is “does it fit in the author’s power fantasy?” Zod can be yelled at, scared, hell even abused without magicking her abuser as long as the abuser gets a public comeuppance and looks stupid in front of others.

        It’s one more reason why these kinds of fics are bad writing: reading them tells you things about the author that you didn’t really want to learn.

        February 22, 2018
        |Reply
        • Dove
          Dove

          Amen, my brother.

          I think it’s also why Mac can be super-hostile and threatening and somehow not get bonked by Zazzoo’s magic: the fantasy-fulfillment here is that Mac is ‘all wrong about everything’ and thus his comeuppance will show up after Zordon gets injured and the truth comes out and she’s totally vindicated forever and ever !!!1!

          Right. It plays into her victim complex and allows her to milk sympathy. Oh, look. He’s such a jerk, but I’m too upset and justified to explain anything and I never hurt him once. Oh, woe is me, for I’m too virginal to repair him with my magic box. Guess he’ll have to stab me some other way…

          Ironically, the fantasy fulfillment angle here could be plaid straight and still work. Women love being right and we love the idea of fixing a bad boy. It’s silly and cliche but it’s just one of those things that, while not exactly great, will get eaten up like candy. (Men have their own culturally inspired sexual cliches, I’m sure.) The trick is deploying the trope without making it too sleazy or laughable and unfortunately, as you noted, Lani Sarem tips her hat too much, exposing her inner workings as she carelessly writes about nothing at all. It goes beyond the norm since this seems to be her vengeance fantasy against everyone and everything. I could even go along with that if it wasn’t so devoid of effort and imagination. The sheer emptiness is what makes me want to rebel and, like everyone else, point out the Empress has no clothes. 😛

          February 22, 2018
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            *kicks self* That should really be:

            Everyone loves being right and women love the idea of fixing a bad boy.

            February 22, 2018
        • Amy
          Amy

          That’s another thing you pointed out here: there’s no actual magic involved byeond Zade’s bullshit magicK. Spellman made a very profitable living doing illusions and such, so where are all the scenes involving card tricks, coin tricks, and slip of a hand? Close-up magic is often more imprssive because it’s one-on-one, there’s audience participation, and it’s much harder to trick one person who is watching your every move. So we have 450 page book where I can count on one hand how many times magicK is performed..

          Let’s see….

          1) Zade’s audition
          2) The camping tent
          3) The wizarding duel
          4) The lemonade girl
          5) The bike guy
          6) Tarot reading
          7) Zade’s vision of Sofia
          8) The actual illusion
          9) The epi pen

          Is… that it? (please add if you remember more) Okay, so not on one hand, but the fact half of these “magickal moments” can be easily omitted becuase it adds nothing to the narrative is very telling.

          February 22, 2018
          |Reply
  32. Tiffany
    Tiffany

    I’m glad you’re back, and hope things go well with your writing and your family.

    I loved this paragraph:

    ‘Mac didn’t see that, though, because he looked away before he saw the truth and therefore in his head he had turned aound right before he saw them make out with tongue.’

    It’s like a written version of your friend badly explaining a confusing part of a movie you’ve just watched. A lot of the storytelling is like this, actually.

    February 22, 2018
    |Reply
    • I’m pretty sure Lani Sarem doesn’t read. I think she watches a lot of 90’s-early 2000’s romantic comedies.

      February 22, 2018
      |Reply
  33. GS
    GS

    So, I know nothing about theaters and stuff, but… the catwalks are above the stage, right? And the show starts in two minutes? Doesn’t that mean that the theater is full of people and they have an audience of a couple hundred people listening to their screaming match? Or am I getting something very wrong here?

    February 22, 2018
    |Reply
    • HerImperialMaj
      HerImperialMaj

      Correct. For a venue that size, they would have to start seating audience members considerably in advance. They might be high enough and speaking at such a volume that they won’t draw everyone’s attention, but if Zimple has a suspicious accident next chapter, all they need is one person who looked up and saw the furious argument beforehand, and Mac’s off to the interrogation room.

      February 23, 2018
      |Reply
      • GS
        GS

        The image of Mac being frogmarched to a police car is warming my heart right now… *sighs dreamily* Even though I know it’s not gonna happen.

        February 24, 2018
        |Reply
  34. Wasn’t someone doing a from-Sophia’s-POV thing? Is that still happening?

    February 23, 2018
    |Reply
    • SofiaThatB*tch
      SofiaThatB*tch

      Claribel Ortega is doing them and they’re awesome!

      February 23, 2018
      |Reply
  35. Kim
    Kim

    So this is the guy who was so confident in his unfireable status that when his boss pulled him into his office his only thought was ‘Do I have to fire someone again, ugh’? Yeah, that’s cool, this guy doesn’t need any oversight….it’s fine

    February 23, 2018
    |Reply
  36. So obviously Sarem is sticking to her “I sold all these books at cons” story – has there been follow up on this? Did those pre-orders to NYT reporting bookstores actually get paid for and filled? Cause every time I hear her “the system is rigged” thing I’m like… but did you even sell any books???

    February 23, 2018
    |Reply
    • Drea
      Drea

      Nah, she didn’t sell them. I don’t have any strong evidence, but the lack of buzz/availability in bookstores is pretty telling. Also there’s no fandom, no one on Goodreads asking questions (other than about the scam).

      The good reviews are fake and most of the bad reviews come from people who (a) won a giveway, (b) received a copy to review, (c) only read the sample or (d) brought the book from Amazon. I haven’t read a single review that said the person got it at a con. 15000 books don’t just get sold and create no imprint…unless they’re sitting in some warehouse.

      February 23, 2018
      |Reply
      • Amy
        Amy

        I’m sure she has sold *some* books at cons. There was that picture a while back on Twitter of some guy at the renaissance faire buying her book. These are good points that alllllllll of the people who supposedly bought books at cons are surprisingly absent from online reviews. Really? You’re telling me that people, age 13-40, who go to comic book conventions DON’T have an online presence? I call shenanigans.

        However, I have been to cons before and bought stuff from indie people, and even if I don’t like the product, I don’t say a word because I understand they’re just starting and still learning their craft. But I also google said people afterwards, wanting to check up on them shortly after.

        You’re right though. There’s no way you sell over 10,000 copies of something and see no results.

        February 23, 2018
        |Reply
        • SofiaThatB*tch
          SofiaThatB*tch

          Yeah that was her excuse. That people who go to consumer are a different kind of people… Lani-speak for con people don’t know how to use social media?

          February 23, 2018
          |Reply
        • Drea
          Drea

          Yeah, I’m sure she did make some sells, just not nearly that many.
          She’s made some snide comments about not selling her books to the “average” book buying audience (according to one of her online proxies, we are all nerdy, cat-loving spinsters) and going after the “cool” comic-con crowd that likes movies and comic books. According to her THAT’S the reason she doesn’t have any reviews, etc.
          The only problem is that the book-readers and the comic-con crowd are the exact same group. There’s huge overlap between people who go to cons and people who read popular YA books. We’re all nerds here.
          Her lies are just so transparent. How has she gotten so far? She has to be an amazing kind of persuasive irl.

          February 23, 2018
          |Reply
          • Amy
            Amy

            Oh man, every time she opens her mouth, more ridiculous stuff falls out. She honestly tried to sell the idea that “cool” con attendees are somehow ABOVE giving online reviews????

            A coworker asked me recently if I was still following the controversy of this book, and I was like, “Ohhh, gurl, lemme tell what bullcrap Lani pulled THIS week!!!” And they were like, “No way, it’s still going???”

            February 23, 2018
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            I used to work in comic books. Female co-workers ranged from the six-foot-tall goth chick with the tats who dressed in head-to-toe black leather like Tura Santana to the nice married lady (with two kids) who used to write regencies.

            And everything in between.

            Come to think of it, the Goth chick did have a cat. But then so did the married couple who got kicked out of Til Eulenspiegel.

            February 23, 2018
      • Mydog'sPA
        Mydog'sPA

        The good reviews are fake and most of the bad reviews come from people who (a) won a giveway, (b) received a copy to review, (c) only read the sample or (d) brought the book from Amazon.”

        Googling HFM & ‘fake reviews’ actually pulls up a website dedicated to weeding out bad Amazon reviews:

        In https://www.fakespot.com/product/handbook-for-mortals-book-one-of-the-series HFM gets a solid “F”

        February 25, 2018
        |Reply
  37. Terra
    Terra

    I know there are so many things to take this book to task on (full disclosure: I’ve only read recaps and posted passages.) but I can’t get over how distant the point of view in this book feels. And it’s first person! Reading this feels like I’m standing at one end of an aircraft hanger while a toddler stands at the other and tries to tell me about her day.

    February 23, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      A toddler would be less verbose and more coherent.

      February 23, 2018
      |Reply
  38. On the same day (February 14, 2018), Amazon reviewer lisa hendricks posted two reviews, bringing her total number of reviews up to three. The first review was for a camera tripod in 2014. The two new reviews are for Handbook for Mortals (5 stars) and The Hate U Give (one star). I shit you not.

    February 23, 2018
    |Reply
    • SofiaThatB*tch
      SofiaThatB*tch

      Thanks I was looking for which one that was

      February 23, 2018
      |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      Really? They’re gonna give the Hate U Give one star? That’s like scooping a cup of water out of the ocean and declaring the water level had dropped.

      That’s fucking PETTY, Lani.

      February 23, 2018
      |Reply
    • Lisa Hendricks is thanked in HfM’s acknowledgements, FYI

      February 24, 2018
      |Reply
  39. Rhiannon
    Rhiannon

    Glad to see you posting again, Jenny! All the best to you and Mr Jen and the kids. Hope you guys are holding up ok. I lost my Mum in November so I know how not fun that is but at least in my case we knew she was dying so I could say goodbye. I’m so sorry Mr Jen never got that.

    February 24, 2018
    |Reply
  40. Alex Silvers
    Alex Silvers

    Non-disclosure agreement aside, it is a *terrible* idea to not let the cast talk about it and, you know, *practice* this incredibly dangerous illusion on a stage that has already seen a near-death in the last who-knows-how-long. The fact that someone doesn’t know the cues while they’re working with an automated stage is extremely worrisome.

    Mac’s actions also bother me and I will not feel at all sorry for anyone involved when the accident that’s being heavily foreshadowed happens. This is not how you write a good book, Sarem. Making your readers dislike everyone you want them to like and instead making them feel sorry for the person they’re supposed to hate? Yeah, well done.

    February 24, 2018
    |Reply
  41. Oh my god Lani girl, GIVE IT UP. The fake reviews are desperate and the one that simply says “A” with no review after it is 10,000 times more compelling than anything in your book.

    For the love of God, you’re terrible at this. Maybe you should try cost-managerial accounting or some other occupation that doesn’t involve creativity and words.

    February 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Now, now. “She may seem like your typical selfish, back-stabbing slut faced ho-bag, but in reality, she’s so much more than that.”

      February 24, 2018
      |Reply
  42. Eve
    Eve

    Not to give you more war flashbacks, Jenny, but I just had my birthday dinner with Dakota Johnson sitting smack dab in the middle of my line of sight the whole time LOL!!!

    February 25, 2018
    |Reply
  43. Cody Cromarty
    Cody Cromarty

    Oh man, we’re about to get to the best part of the book.

    February 25, 2018
    |Reply
  44. Amy
    Amy

    Oop, looks like the fake reviewers are hitting up goodreads. Already three have been posted within minutes of each other.

    February 25, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      It has hit over thirty now. She’s really determined!

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

        “Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool than to Speak and Remove All Doubt

        So? Let Lani speak. Her work stands for itself. At one point we have to let her stand on her own, lest we continue to pay her the attention she craves. So at one point, she either sinks or swims on her own. Remember when you had to let the toddlers fall when they were learning how to walk? Yeah, it’s a gut grab from a parent’s perspective, but it’s better for the munchkin that they learn on their own.

        Like Erika Leonard (James). Note that Freed is on track to make $14M less (domestic box office) than Darker

        http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=daily&id=fiftyshadesfreed.htm

        vs.

        http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=daily&id=fiftyshadesdarker.htm

        Notice how both are tanking by 55% to 60% every subsequent weekend after the opening.

        What do you think the box office take will be for HFM?

        But if Lani found someone to invest in making this into a feature film, it’s their money. We tried to warn them as best we could, but at one point we have to stand back and let ’em make their own mistakes. . . . .

        February 26, 2018
        |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        I’m amused that it seems like none of them even left a comment? XD

        February 26, 2018
        |Reply
        • Nope. And they all live in Bangladesh. And none of them ever posted anything on Goodreads before.

          February 26, 2018
          |Reply
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Is being a bestseller in Bangladesh kinda like being world-famous in Poland?

            February 26, 2018
  45. RedHanded Jill
    RedHanded Jill

    “Oh, good!” Charles said. “Jackson, my bandleader, I wanted you to be with us as well. Zade and I want to discuss intro music.”

    Who is this exposition for? Jackson knows he’s the bandleader, as does Zade, who is supposedly the only other person within earshot. I’m going to this at my next staff meeting. “Kathy, my accountant, I need to discuss our receivables numbers with you.”

    February 26, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      It gets worse when you realize the “intro music” involves SOPHIA. She’s supposed to sing, but instead of being involved in this conversation, she gets shooed away like a child. (that scene infuriates me like no other. Bad enough he treats his girlfriend like shit, but he talks to her like she’s a little girl who needs to listen to the grownups is demeaning beyond belief)

      Lani: This books is focuses heavily on women!

      Me: HORSESHIIIIIIIIIITTTTT

      February 26, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        It gets worse when you realize the “intro music” involves SOPHIA. She’s supposed to sing, but instead of being involved in this conversation, she gets shooed away like a child. (that scene infuriates me like no other. Bad enough he treats his girlfriend like shit, but he talks to her like she’s a little girl who needs to listen to the grownups is demeaning beyond belief)

        Lani Not-Sarem (Not The Magick!) suspects a lot of Jackson’s scenes were originally written for Charles Spellman with the exception of this incident at the Peppermill. We suspect that Jackson was originally Zeb. It’s still absolutely shitty, but in theory, Spellman would’ve suspiciously indicated that he needed to discuss the New Illusion with Zeb and Zade (excluding everyone who hasn’t practiced it) instead of the Intro Music with Jackson and Zade (which Sophia should know about.) And Mac would explicitly be suspicious of Spellman and Zade’s relationship, instead of the shoe-horned Jackson who barely registers.

        There were times when I was reading this book that I legitimately couldn’t tell if I was reading into subtext that didn’t even exist. It made me feel like I was losing my mind.

        I still prefer your theory that Jackson is just Spellman in a magickal illusionary disguise, created by himself or Zeb, to seduce his own daughter with. XD

        … Maybe the subtext is the only sign that there were three editors involved? They tried so hard to make sense of everything that they left an indelible, gossamer thread behind! And that’s how the author justifies their existence.

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

      “Oh, good! Look, here’s my personal car, that I own, that I will use to drive myself home when we’re done here at work. Then park in the garage. That I own. At the house that is mine. Then close the garage door. And get my mail out of my mailbox that is by the street.Then walk up the walkway and through the front door after I open it with the key in my pocket. Then lock it again when I’m inside. Then walk through the entryway into the kitchen to get a glass of water as I go through my mail, which is typically bills or junk mail. Then walk out of the kitchen to the staircase after I walk by the den and put the mail on my desk. Then go upstairs to my master bedroom. After I turn on the hallway light. And go to my bedroom, which is the master bedroom at the end of the hallway, and open the door where I take my shoes off.”

      February 26, 2018
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Mojo Jojo: Now to catch up on the world’s latest events that have happened that this paper has reported with the words that they wrote

        February 26, 2018
        |Reply
        • Amy
          Amy

          Robot Devil: You can’t just have your characters announce how they feel… that makes me feel ANGRY!

          February 26, 2018
          |Reply
    • I love how Jackson is such an afterthought in this novel that it almost seems intentionally conspicuous. Like, why does the band, The Plain White T’s, look entirely identical to its current-day lineup PLUS a random Jackson Rathbone expy? Why does Jackson so frequently appear out of nowhere, say a few words, and disappear? Why is he always hanging out with Creepy Zeb? Why does he seem so overly perfect, but get so little screen time?

      There were times when I was reading this book that I legitimately couldn’t tell if I was reading into subtext that didn’t even exist. It made me feel like I was losing my mind.

      February 26, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Oh, whoops. Sorry, don’t know why I responded to you above, alongside Amy, instead of separately. I hope you see it anyway. x.x;

        February 26, 2018
        |Reply
        • Whoops, I just tried replying to you but wrote an entirely new comment :p.

          February 26, 2018
          |Reply
  46. No one can convince me that Jackson is not just a glamoured Charles.

    But yeah, having the “Are Zade and Charles fucking?” conflict driving the tension would mean that the “I am her father” reveal would actually make sense. I really don’t think that the screenplay in its original form would have been good, but it can be mapped onto a standard 3 act, 8-sequence structure pretty perfectly, if we omnit Jackson and Lambo Girl. (click HERE for more info on that.

    Sequence 1: Zade has her fight with her mom and leaves Centertown for Las Vegas (chapter 0)

    Sequence 2: Zade auditions and is hired. Sofia gets pissy at Charles, Mac doesn’t like Zade and they have their dumb fight. Mac does his Stalkervision on Zade while she gets fitted (chapters 1-3)

    Sequence 3: Zade has her premonition about Sofia’s fall, tries to prevent it, Mac doesn’t listen. Sofia falls, Mac and Zade bond (chapter 4).

    Sequence 4: Sofia hits on Mac at the bar. Mac invites Zade camping and/or goes to the Plain White T’s show. They flirt, then Sofia and Mel tell Zade about how Mac doesn’t date performers. But then Mac says “fuck the rules” and they have their romantic motorcycle ride (chapter 5-8). Zade’s mom does her card reading that portends doom (dun dun dun!)

    Sequence 5: Charles and Zade start working on their new illusion. Mac notices the David Copperfield tickets and gets a little bit jealous. Zade hears Sofia singing, and asks her to sing in the Big Illusion. Everyone goes to Peppermill, and Charles fawns over Zade (chapters 9-14).

    Sequence 6: Mac sees Zade and Charles not making out, and gets abusive. Zade and Charles do their illusion. Disaster strikes. (chapters 14-15)

    SPOILERS-ish, if anyone cares:

    Sequence 7: Big reveal that Charles = Zade’s dad. He and Mac take Zade home. They save the day with a dagger and some lightning. (chapters 15-18)

    Sequence 8: Everyone lives happily ever after (chapters 19-21)

    It should have just stayed a movie. If she wanted to do a book so badly, then she should not have tried to franchiseify it.

    February 26, 2018
    |Reply
    • Amy
      Amy

      Someone pointed out that the original script was small, and would probably barely make it to the one hour mark. And I believe that. Because by mapping out the most important plot elements, by just harking back to the dialogue and action seen in those chapters, it’s super freakin’ short. The padding of the book primarily comes from Zade’s tedious inner monologue, something that cannot be shown on screen… unless Lani wants to follow Dune’s footsteps in which everyone *whispers* their inner dialogue.

      For example, in the next chapter Zade explains what Chaos magicK is and why it’s important to the plot. This cannot be overlooked otherwise it screws up the third act. But how is it going to be explained? We can’t be shown Zade talking about it to Charles, the only other person who knows her magicK, because that’ll ruin the “twist”. I guess it could come off as a voice over… but can you imagine the hilarity of a 35 year old woman going, “H-E- Double Hockey Sticks” in a serious tone?? XD

      It’s the same with the Zodiac card scene. How is Lani gonna explain the cards to the audience? Maybe Zade will talk to herself, or there’ll be another voice over. If Lani relies on voice overs to narrate her exposition, things are going to get dull so quickly.

      February 26, 2018
      |Reply
      • Mike
        Mike

        Actually given the title of the book/movie, it wouldn’t be terribly difficult to work in narration without it feeling too clunky. You would just have to set up the entire movie as an actual HANDBOOK. Start it off by her writing down the story so you can just naturally stick in some instructional points. As long as it was handled well, and consistently, it could actually add some character to this otherwise dull slog. When something important comes up, have the narrator pop up and explain that ‘for this illusion, I was using something really dangerous, chaos magick.’ and maybe show some flashbacks to her being a kid and her mom teaching her how to do it. It would even be a natural way to pad the run time.

        It would work really well with the tarot bit too. After a little montage of good dates with both guys, show her looking at her cards in her apt. Add in some narration and close in on cards being drawn. Have the narration talk about what readings are useful for, maybe a few minor details about some of the cards popping up in the reading, particularly the negative ones and the ones around love, then when we cut back to a wide shot it’s revealed the reading we were watching was actually Dela predicting Zade’s bad fate. Show her looking at Zade’s number in her phone and wanting to call, but she puts it back down… The narration can then say that sometimes you just have to let fate run its course.

        Doing it this way, you wouldn’t have to change the plot, the title makes more sense, the length could be adjusted accordingly, you still get some of Zade’s inner monologue explaining things, and it’s actually got something resembling a unique selling point. And pisses off the conservative Christians which tends to result in press which is always a plus. Though it definitely does affect the target market. But to be fair, not drastically. And if done well it wouldn’t come off as childish. You would have to be very careful who you cast in the lead role though, as their voice would have to be someone you could take seriously. That would become even more important than their look with this tactic. But with the right casting, script writer, and director, it could be done in a way that wouldn’t come off as childish and/or condescending.

        Whether or not I have faith that anything associated with this book would receive the required care and attention however, is an entirely different story.

        February 26, 2018
        |Reply
      • I actually researched this a while back, and in an interview with a podcast, she said that the original screenplay was 128 pages long. The average screenplay seems to fall around 95-110 pages, so (assuming Sarem was telling the truth) it was actually on the long side. I speculate that the 45-page first draft of the novel was just basically the original script with dialogue tags and action notes serving as descriptive/action prose. I’ve actually written way too much about this on my dumb blog HERE , complete with citations.

        Spoilers, but Dela explains to Mac about how the act works later, so we don’t actually need Zade explaining it.

        If Jackson isn’t a thing in the film, and Zade just does a tarot reading on Mac, she could theoretically just be turning over cards and saying stuff like “he likes me!” and “but it could go all wrong…” or something. Hell, when we transition over to Dela’s tarot reading on Zade, Dela literally says out loud what the cards are supposed to mean.

        I’m really not trying to say that Lani Sarem is a talented writer, but, I mean, she seemed to get positive feedback on her screenplay. If the screenplay was as shitty as the novel, I have no idea why Rookie of the Pie would have signed onto it (although that doesn’t explain why he’s *still* signed onto it. . .)

        But yeah, I kind of feel like Lani Sarem watches a lot of movies and kind of osmosised how they work, and was therefore able to write something that wasn’t disastrously horrible. I highly doubt that she reads much, and that’s probably part of the reason why the book is such utter trash.

        February 26, 2018
        |Reply
        • Jean
          Jean

          This actually makes a lot of sense. Sarem isn’t an experienced author, so she tried to take everyone’s criticism and mash it into the screenplay she’d already written, causing a horrible amalgamation of YA leftovers. She’s desperate for approval (as you can see by her actions with selling the book), so she doesn’t know when to say no or cherry-pick the suggestions she receives.

          So I can see how upset she’d be afterward, when her book is derided as utter trash, after she’s spent that energy trying to make the book what people want to read. It doesn’t excuse her actions now, but it does at least explain why the book is so bad and why she seems so personally insulted by the book’s failure.

          She’s still an absolutely horrible writer, but she’s slightly more human to me now.

          March 1, 2018
          |Reply
          • Dove
            Dove

            While I understand her frustration, I doubt she put a lot of thought into her audience. Not only did she pad the book out tremendously, but her writing makes it clear that she doesn’t think very much of them nor does she care about putting herself in their shoes. She’s the sort of author who must have argued with her editors and her idea of addressing their concerns was to write out her excuses without implementing any or most of their suggestions. Maybe she didn’t know how, but she supposedly had three editors… it can’t take that many people to screw in a light-bulb unless the person standing on the ladder refuses to cooperate.

            Also, it’s a pretty good rule of thumb that anything that bores the author will bore the reader and since this whole novel is incredibly boring, that leads me to believe that she went out of her way to give it a certain feel, rather than trying to entertain herself. Someone previously mentioned spraypainting a turd and that’s how H4M is. This book is over 400 pages and it’d take about 150-200 to tell the same story. It’s not just mashing new ideas in and unfettered additional inspiration.

            I actually take offense at the thought she was inspired at all, given how lackluster Jackson’s insertion was. If he came out of nowhere as a brilliant point of light, then he would’ve taken over and supplanted Mac and Charles. I doubt she would’ve reigned in such a sudden change of plans, even for the ending that she had. The entire middle section would’ve been filled to the brim with passion for the man, instead of dull groans of apathy. For this reason, I also suspect most of the suggestions were very basic or attempts at correcting her mistakes or improving the inaction. Someone probably suggested Lambo Girl but anyone who liked the idea would’ve found a way to make her more prominent even if they never fleshed her out. I’m sure Lani could’ve said no, she strikes me as the one who kept the “twist” about Charles, but she also knew there needed to be some hint for the sequel and there you go. Her methods seem more workman-like and calculated to me than unbridled enthusiasm without enough training.

            I mean, I’ve read some mindbogglingly bad fanfiction from people who only speak English, those were some of the worst I’ve ever read and I’ve also read more entertaining stuff by people who don’t speak English as their first language, Also better stuff from someone doing a rough fan translation of something never published into English. I’ve even had some rare fanfiction that was mediocre but it stabbed me in the fucking gut and made me feel like absolute shit, in a way the author never intended. And that’s not what this novel is. 😛

            Quite frankly, Lani Sarem is throwing a hissy-fit because she knew there was something wrong and she didn’t care enough to wait and improve before selling her work. She’s the only one to blame, yet she wants to insist that she doesn’t need to put in all the hard work that other authors have done to fine-tune their skills. It’s like a painter who gnashes their teeth because they’re stuck with stick-figures and their solution was to splatter paint across the whole thing. They looked at Modern Art and Picasso, assuming their first attempt would get snatched up and placed in a museum when there are so many amazing artists out there who barely get squat for their work. Then the painter acts confused and keeps trying to sell it when of course no one wants it.

            This is perfectly human behavior but I have very little sympathy for her attitude. Even as a teen writing garbage, I knew when something was going wrong, even if I couldn’t pinpoint it, and I didn’t have the help of three professional editors. I agree a lot of the mistakes can be attributed to inexperience, but that’s mostly her lack of skill showing. Lani Sarem isn’t completely ignorant and most of her failings come from not giving a shit. She knows this thing is a mess. I can’t believe that she doesn’t.

            Sorry for the ramble. I just get so flustered thinking about this.

            March 1, 2018
          • MyDog'sPA
            MyDog'sPA

            Dove, let me rephrase this situation in a metaphor: Lani is the equivalent of the person who produces, imports, and drives only Yugos. (remember them?) For some reason Lani’s model received a “car of the year” award from the ‘people’s choice’ review magazine. So she touts her Yugos as “car of the year!!!” in all her advertising and marketing materials and insists its ‘car-of-the-year’ worthy even though everyone else knows it’s 1) a death trap, 2) unreliable as all get-out, 3) ugly, and 4) nothing more than an old out-of-date Fiat that bought the old production tooling at scrap-metal prices.

            I know it’s a Yugo. You know it’s a Yugo. Everyone on this board knows what it is. Lani thinks it’s a Mercedes. We aren’t gonna change that. I think Lani took one of the old ‘sulfa’ drugs that were popular 70 years ago (you know, the ones full of ‘sulfa’-denial)

            Like Elsa says, “Let it Go.”

            March 1, 2018
          • Dove
            Dove

            Lani thinks it’s a Mercedes.

            Haha! I love the Yugo analogy but I think even Lani Sarem knows it’s a Yugo. She knows… *breathes deeply* But yeah, she’ll never admit that and it really doesn’t matter, so there’s no point fussing over it. I just hate feeling sympathy for her, I guess. XD

            March 1, 2018
          • Tez Miller
            Tez Miller

            I keep wanting to shout career advice at her. “Fade into obscurity! Write something different! Publish under a different name, and pretend you don’t know Lani Scammer!”

            March 1, 2018
    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      Hey, wait a sec. If Zazu’s magicK could foretell Sofie’s fall in chapter 4, then why couldn’t it see her own later in chapter 15? Wasn’t this book supposed to be about magicK ??? Fat lot of good it does the protagonist if it’s not very helpful in preventing one’s own injury.

      Pilots have a saying: “A superior pilot is the person who uses their superior training, superior awareness, superior intellect, and superior intuition to avoid situations that would require use of their superior skill.” No sympathy from me if she has magicK but doesn’t use it to foresee her own peril. Pfft.

      February 27, 2018
      |Reply
      • Oh, don’t you remember? Her magicK future vision comes in whenever the plot makes it convienient. Which is to say literally that one time.

        February 27, 2018
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        • MyDog'sPA
          MyDog'sPA

          Or only when she wants to be vindictive to another woman . . .

          Talk about a loser superhero power. With “powers” like that, who needs maturity?

          Oh, wait . . .

          Pffffttttttt . . . . . .

          February 27, 2018
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    • Dove has said this elsewhere, but I think reality TV really is Lani Sarem’s calling. She can’t de-escalate drama to save her life.

      February 28, 2018
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      • Dove
        Dove

        Yep! Also, I noticed in the Twitter link that Sarem said she used to do competitive figure-skating… Maybe that was her Olympic sport? XD

        February 28, 2018
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  47. MyDog'sPA
    MyDog'sPA

    You know, guys, let’s all just stop for a minute. We may be in the middle of history being made. Really. I think we’re seeing the creation of a new verb: Sarem.

    Definition of SAREM \’sa-rim\

    : to bungle a creative work so badly and make the public’s perception even worse by advertising or promoting an obviously inferior work.

    Example of SAREM in a Sentence

    Dimitri bankrupted his company when he Saremed his latest RPG release.

    or

    Paula Saremed her novel when she doctored her own reviews in favor or a more popular title.

    At one point she’s not going to listen to us. We’re trying to warn her not to do this, but she’s charging ahead and trying to pull down THUG even more. It’s obvious she has no experience at marketing yet pursues this inane sales approach. OK, so be it. We tried to warn her, albeit with all our snark. But it was that, a warning. Methinks she’s dug the pit too deep at this point. All we can do is let her sink in it as there’s no way to pull her out any more.

    Sigh.

    February 28, 2018
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    • Dove
      Dove

      I sort of tried to warn her in review comments, the instinct to help is strong, but we really shouldn’t get involved. For starters, it doesn’t actually matter whether she succeeds or not, and even how that happens makes no difference unless she’s willing to admit that she’s fallible. I also don’t think she’s worthy of becoming a verb; Sarem is just a layman-grade schmuck. :p

      February 28, 2018
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    • Dove
      Dove

      Sorry, I meant that to be “but I don’t think” because I was agreeing in the beginning.

      February 28, 2018
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    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      So instead of just artificially jacking up ratings of her book–a technique Jackie Susann’s husband pioneered, although he at least had gloriously readable schlock to work with–she’s attacking Angie Thomas’ ratings, or getting her minions to do it. How does this do her any good?
      She seems desperately needy for approval, but also seems to have a compulsion to do things that will make her the object not just of criticism but also disgust and contempt. If her henchmen didn’t do this WITHOUT her knowledge or approval, she has to be completely socially tone-deaf to think this won’t make her look nasty, instead of just ambitious. Many of my friends are classic Aspie, and my own social skills are somewhere between Seven-of-Nine and Anya from Buffy, but I can see how this could blow up so easily. I really want to BEG her to stop this for her own sake. Why aren’t her so-called friends trying to stop her?

      February 28, 2018
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      • Dove
        Dove

        I suspect Lani Sarem doesn’t listen to other people unless they’re singing her praises. I also doubt that she cares what other people think; she assumes it’s something wrong with them if they don’t worship at her feet. Just a guess.

        March 1, 2018
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  48. Amy
    Amy

    Lani just sold her book to a kid that looks barely 10 years old. I’m sure that scene of Mac spying on Zade while she’s undressing to her bra and panties is kid-appropriate. I foresee no problems there.

    February 28, 2018
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    • Yeah, and 10-year-old kids will SURELY love to read a 25-year-old woman who has to make a choice in her romantic life. What kid wouldn’t love that? Relatable!

      February 28, 2018
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      • Drea
        Drea

        Even a 10-year-old would find this book juvenile.

        February 28, 2018
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      • Dove
        Dove

        Imagine mom or dad reading it as a bedtime story… Princess Bride only shittier? XD

        March 1, 2018
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        • If I had kids, I would make them edit passages from HfM to teach them everything from punctuation to grammar to stylistic stuff.

          March 2, 2018
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          • Dove
            Dove

            It would be a great primer to use alongside Strunk & White or some other guide, but your kids wouldn’t thank you any more than she would. XD

            March 2, 2018
  49. River
    River

    The whole rambling, overblown insistence on NDAs is weird. To request/require your staff not speak about illusions in general seems like a sane business plan. However to make a big deal out of “tee hee they can’t ask me any questions about it or discuss it among themselves”…. is insane. Not only does this mean a complicated act that requires people to know exactly where to be at specific times, doing complex moves happens in a communication vacuum it ALSO removes any tension from the story. Gasp, how am I ever going to hide from the crew the illusion is real? “Oh, there totes is an NDA so they can’t ask me about it? Rock on!”

    Intensity level taken to zero just like it’s supposed to be.

    And Mac. Mac, Mac, Mac. I want to punch Zrrbb in her face, shake Mac till he cries and set him free from the glamor that either brings out the jerk or makes him a jerk. Literally keeping stuff from Mac does nothing other then make him feel more beholden to her when the reveal happens. Then he doesn’t focus on the part where she is abusing her magic (I cannot K that word) by glamoring him but rather feels ashamed he doubted her. Even though any sane person WOULD doubt her actions and intentions at this point.

    Classic abuse and manipulation tactics right there.

    I’m not in a relationship currently. But if my partner told me to go sit somewhere else at a party… I’d have words for them. Or if my partner allowed me to sent away and then sent me a sad emoji and pretend confusion at my reply? Well, I’d next send a break up text because they’d deserve nothing less.

    March 1, 2018
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  50. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    BTW, if anyone wants to read a really good YA novel about a formerly bullied teen who has trouble trusting herself and others, affecting her ability to form relationships, I highly recommend Hubbard’s “Until It Hurts to Stop.” I’m stunned and more than a little ashamed that the assumptions her narrator has to unlearn in high school are things I’m still struggling with decades later.

    March 1, 2018
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  51. River
    River

    Lani Sarem
    Lani Sarem
    @RockanRollGypsy
    ·
    Jan 20
    When you get introduced to @mr_kennethcole while wearing your #sundance2018 jacket and then get asked to show off the awesome jackets he gives everyone. You wish you had photos or videos of it! #sundancememories

    *posts video of self taking off and putting on a jacket and modeling it*

    (Sorry there is probably a real way to link her Tweet but I’m technologicaly impaired)

    Guys. I do not Twitter but sometimes I go read her Twitter feed when someone links it in a comment. Because it is narcissistic gold. And I was not disappointed. Here she is literally living her first chapter fantasy about having someone around to film her wearing her favorite clothing. Blech.

    March 1, 2018
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  52. Ambrea R
    Ambrea R

    Have you ever read the House of Night series? It’s a lot like this except stuff actually happens plot wise.

    Loved it when I was in middle school, but uh, yeah, complete opposite opinion now lol.

    Instead of the bastardized version of magic, we get ~~vamyres~~, fetishism of Native Americans, a random Greek goddess who meddles in the characters’ lives as the plot needs it, and lots of the same old ~witchy~ rituals in repetitive detail.
    Slut shaming, awful writing, and lazy editing all still present.

    March 9, 2018
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