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Jealous Haters Book Club: Handbook For Mortals Chapter 15 The Tower or, “The first time the card in the chapter title was actually applicable to what happens in the plot” (Part One)

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I’m cutting this chapter into installments, as the recaps will be long. Because there is…a lot.

When we last met, Lani Sarem had just clearly purchased five-star reviews on Amazon and GoodReads in some kind of weird bid to…I don’t know. I have no idea what she felt a hundred or so five-star reviews were going to do for her clumsy scam six months after the fact, but she did it.

At least one of those five-star reviews was real, though, and author Heidi Heilig (The Girl From Everywhere, The Ship Beyond Time) happened to notice something…interesting about two books that were reviewed by the same account:

A screenshot of two Amazon reviews. The first is for Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give, with one star and "depressing" as the full review. The second is for Handbook For Mortals, fives stars, with a bunch of glowing text I'll cover in its entirety below. Both are from Lisa Hendricks.

Since you can’t read the entire glowing review from the screencap, this is what Hendricks has to say about Handbook For Mortals:

I loved this book! It’s such a fun read. The characters are well written and the story is unique. I don’t want to give anything away but I love how the magician is tied to story. She’s a strong female protagonist and I love that about it but it’s just a cool story. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next book and I’m also stoked for the movie. The chapters being based off of tarot cards is also fun and if you are into tarot and magick this is your kind of book. It’s cool that it’s set in modern day. I like fantasies but get overloaded with complicated lands and names and I really don’t like dystopian. I know there was also this hubub about if it is or isn’t YA…seriously? who cares…It’s clearly meant for girls who are teenagers to read and have someone to look up to and if you are older you can still relate…I think it’s weird the only ones that care about that seem to be actual adults who aren’t “YA” either if we are saying that’s 13-18 year olds…I think this is a great book and if you are into THIS kind of thing you will love it…if you aren’t then of course you might not love it but stop hating on those that do.

So what. Lisa Hendricks has bad taste, right? That’s nothing to do with Lani Sarem. After all, they are two very different books and not everyone is going to like every single thing, right?

Except, you may remember from, oh, this entire fucking time that Lani Sarem has had it out for Angie Thomas ever since Handbook For Mortals was removed from the New York Times bestseller list and The Hate U Give was returned to its rightful spot. From the legendary “It’s not my fault that Angie is black!” comment to the fact that she has continually alleged that forces behind The Hate U Give have sabotaged Handbook For Mortals out of jealousy, Lani Sarem cannot stand to see Angie Thomas authentically achieving something that Sarem feels should have been handed to her just because she wanted it.

Still, how is Lisa Hendricks connected to all this?

She’s thanked in the gargantuan and self-congratulatory acknowledgments section of Handbook For Mortals:

To Lisa Hendricks for being my second mom, and for more things than I could ever write into words. Some girls need more than one mom, and lots of guidance, and I would probably be curled up on the side of the road somewhere if it weren’t for you. Thank you for letting me make your home mine, for being the voice of reason, for just being awesome, and for showing me who I should always strive to become.

Lisa Hendricks one-starred a book about a black teenager who sees her best friend shot by the police as “depressing” and it just happens to be the book that was knocked out of and later returned to the coveted #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list during this fiasco, and she’s the person who shows Lani who she should strive to become? Checks out. Your work here is done, Lisa.

In case you remain unconvinced that this is a personal strike on Sarem’s behalf, Hendricks has only reviewed three things on Amazon: The Hate U Give and Handbook For Mortals on February 14, 2018, and then a camera tripod four years ago.

Though Sarem didn’t offer an explanation as to why these reviews suddenly started popping up (and she didn’t disavow a relationship with Hendricks, which to be perfectly honest, I thought she would do despite the overwhelming evidence that she does know her), she did make it very clear that Heidi Heilig’s grasp on reality would not be tolerated:

A tweet from Lani Sarem to Heidi Heilig that reads, "Completely untrue and you literally made this up. That is slander. You should take this tweet down or I'll contact my attorney. Making things up to get tweets is really bad."

Making things up to get tweets is really bad. Making up sales, reviews, celebrity connections, that’s all totally okay. But taking screenshots that clearly show the truth is really bad.

The Worst Person I’ve Ever Met (Part 8) “The Parting Gifts”

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You may have missed a lot. Part One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier installments, a lot of my issues with Cathy involved my spirituality, which I’m a bit guarded about. As a result, I’m setting this part out on its own. If you’re the type of person who rolls your eyes at hauntings, spells, curses, any of that stuff, this will probably not be a post you’re going to enjoy. If that’s the kind of stuff you’d like to skip, you can do so without missing any big revelations that are crucial to the story overall.

If, on the other hand, you’re the type of person who runs toward stuff like hauntings, spells, and curses, this is going to be right up your alley.

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.

Hiatus After Hiatus After Hiatus…

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I promised I’d be returning this week. I did not realize that my husband would find his mother dead in her apartment on Thursday afternoon. She hadn’t been feeling well, so he’d gone by after work to check on her. She’d died in her sleep the night before. She was only sixty-nine years old.

If you’ve been reading my “Worst Person I’ve Ever Met” series, this may interest you: “Sam’s” father was the medical examiner who showed up. One might have thought that would be the cherry on this shit sundae, but alas, it is a mere sprinkle. The complications that have been left behind are numerous. There is the time, money, physical labor for the monumental task of funeral costs, closing accounts, or cleaning the apartment. Mr. Jen and I have found ourselves the beneficiaries of several new full-time jobs.

The costs associated with even a modest funeral are astronomical. Some of you who heard the news on Twitter sprang into action and raised $600.00 to help us with the cost. We are so incredibly thankful for those contributions, as we are finding ourselves wiped out.

The worst part of all of this seems to be the numb practicality. Of course, my husband is grieving. But I feel nothing. Nothing but irritation and anxiety at the situation and at the number of things that require our urgent attention…later. Because everything waits on offices opening on Monday, death certificates arriving, signatures obtained from uncooperative parties. Hurry up and wait builds a wall between grief and the people who are supposed to be processing it.

I’m not going to promise that I’ll be returning next week. I have no idea if that’s possible. At the moment, we’re sifting through a lifetime of disorganized paperwork–here, a vital record from the retirement office, there a printed-off email joke from 1998–and sorting through useless brick-a-brack we feel guilty disposing of because it was precious to her in life. And the one person who should be allowed to step back and just not have to deal with anything other than his emotions is my husband, who absolutely will not get a chance to do that until all this other stuff is done.

For now, I’ll just say that updates will be sporadic and I’m sorry. Hopefully, it will only be in this immediate aftermath and not for weeks.

The Sickening

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Hey everybody! As many of you are aware, there is a deadly strain of flu picking people off in the U.S. right now because the collapse of our government apparently wasn’t providing enough excitement or something. I’ve been trying to fight something off since a bout of mild food poisoning last week, so I’ve elected to take the rest of this week off and spend it sleeping as much as possible. I’ll be back next week, hopefully not with the flu.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Worst Person I’ve Ever Met (Part 6) “The Red Squirrel”

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Missed past installments? You can find them here: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five

In this installment, I will cover several of Cathy’s claims about diagnoses she’d received from “a doctor”. Having an invisible illness myself, I hate when people try to prove that patients are faking their symptoms. This, however, is Cathy. You’ll have to forgive me and everyone who knew her for doubting. Mea culpa.

There are also mentions of suicide in this post.

Jealous Haters’ Book Club: Handbook For Mortals, Chapter 12 “The Sun” or “Art Imitates Life.”

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Before we begin, I thought I should mention that when I took my hiatus to tech a show, it’s a show directed by someone who actually did work for Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.

And I wear show blacks. Although, technically they’re just black leggings and a black dress because I’m a dresser and not climbing up scaffolding or anything like that.

Still, I thought you would all appreciate that.

Also, for our next selection, it’s gonna be a book about a writer who wins the lottery.

Heads up, there’s a racial slur in this recap and an examination of why Sarem feels she’s special and gets to use it.