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Handbook for Mortals

Handbook for Mortals

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Zade Holder has always been a free-spirited young woman, from a long dynasty of tarot-card readers, fortunetellers, and practitioners of magick. Growing up in a small town and never quite fitting in, Zade is determined to forge her own path. She leaves her home in Tennessee to break free from her overprotective mother Dela, the local resident spellcaster and fortuneteller.

Zade travels to Las Vegas and uses supernatural powers to become part of a premiere magic show led by the infamous magician Charles Spellman. Zade fits right in with his troupe of artists and misfits. After all, when everyone is slightly eccentric, appearing "normal" is much less important.

Behind the scenes of this multimillion-dollar production, Zade finds herself caught in a love triangle with Mac, the show's good-looking but rough-around-the-edges technical director and Jackson, the tall, dark, handsome and charming bandleader.

448 pages, Hardcover

First published August 15, 2017

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About the author

Lani Sarem

1 book147 followers
Lani Sarem basically grew up in the entertainment industry. She began acting at age three and continued to act and perform through her early years. Lani began writing scripts when she was eleven. Over the years she has become a jack-of-all-trades in the entertainment business. She became a rock n’ roll gypsy at fifteen and started touring with bands and working on festivals. She’s toured with everyone from Ryan Adams to Gnarls Barkley. She also became one of the youngest female managers in the business and managed bands like the Plain White T's, 100 Monkeys and Blues Traveler. Lani has appeared in films like Mall Cop 2, Jason Bourne, and Trailer Park Shark. Handbook for Mortals is a debut novel of a series of books, which are also being made into feature films. You can follow Lani on her social networks to keep up with her many adventures and look out for her at a Wizard World Comic Con near you. Facebook: Facebook.com/LaniSarem Facebook.com/HandbookforMortals Twitter: @RockanRollGypsy @Handbookseries Instagram: Laniers @HandbookforMortals

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 397 reviews
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.7k followers
February 27, 2018
the drama surrounding this book is more interesting than the book itself

Profile Image for Mari.
708 reviews5,596 followers
September 28, 2017
Thoughts while reading here: #snarkformortals

Video review with lots of spoilers and feelings about why this is the worst.

I'm only giving this 1 star because I give everything at least one star. This was without a doubt one of the worst things I've ever read. To give you context, it's less harmful than Fifty Shades, but probably worse in terms of writing. I hated Bella more than Zade, but this has even less plot than Twilight, if you can imagine.

That said, apart from anything you've heard about Lani Sarem and the release of this book, Handbook for Mortals is unquestioningly awful. There is no plot, it's terribly written, I refuse to believe an editor even looked at it, and I would go so far as to say that some parts read like even Sarem never read them back to herself.

It's obvious stand-in fic and of the bad kind, because the entire plot really and truly is, "everyone tells the author stand-in how beautiful she is." The rest of the "plot" is the set-up with no payoff. The rest of the plot is in the damn blurb because it's that light. It's also terribly transparent, from how the MC is described (exactly like Sarem), to the inclusion of "celebrities" or references to the same. I mean, the author stand-in is caught in a love triangle with a man named Jackson (as in Rathbone because twilight 4 eva) and a man named Clark Kent. I wish I were making that up.

Add to all of that the author's behavior, as if people owe her or her story anything, and hot damn. She gamed her way to #1 with a book that could be easily bested by the fanfiction you wrote in middle school. Hate it.

I thought I would add more to this review, but there's little else to say, though here is a list of the best worst things that happened:
- On a windy day, Zade wishes there were a photographer around to capture her hotness.
- Everyone grinds their teeth when they are mad.
- The author prints the lyrics to Dixie Chick's Wide Open Spaces and then tells us why they perfectly apply to the scene. Yes.
- The magician's name is Charles Spellman.
- Before someone knocked on a door, she described how he made a fist.
- After saving someone from drowning, Zade decides to grab a guitar and play outside while sitting on a curb, soaking wet.
- Seriously, the main love interest's name is CLARK KENT.
- The other love interest is in the Plain White Ts as in the actual real life band and all the members are name dropped but there is no Jackson in the band but now there is.
- The MC randomly runs into Carrot Top and Wayne Newton at the mall?
- The MC uses her magic against a teenager working at Hot Dog on a Stick.
- She prints emojis in like 72 point font in a scene like a cool person.
- "Make out with tongue."
- David Copperfield-esque character is the MC's dad because that's not creepy.
- The MC tells us about stuff that happened while she was in a coma (or whatever) by magically stealing memories from people.
- The book ends with "And they lived happily ever after. OR DO THEY?"
- The author quotes Stephenie Meyer at the beginning of the book and thanks her at the end, and spells her name incorrectly both times.
Profile Image for Beth Cato.
Author 113 books563 followers
September 24, 2017
I received this ebook through the publisher via Netgalley. As a published author myself, I am well aware of the way that author Lani Sarem and her team manipulated the New York Times list. I also know that the Goodreads ratings for the book consist of mostly one-star ratings due to the book's reputation and the sample available on Amazon.

I don't rate or review any book unless I finish it. I wanted to judge Handbook with as much fairness as I could, even knowing its history, so I endeavored to read the entire thing. I finished it.

If this had been any other book, I would have declared it Did Not Finish (DNF) in the first few pages.

Handbook reminds me of my first novel efforts, the ones I trunked and will forever more keep trunked. Because of that, I sympathize with the author to a degree. I wish she had had other experienced authors around her to offer honest feedback--or maybe she did, and she ignored their feedback to stay true to her vision. I did that with my first novel attempts, too.

The book reads like a non-reader's mistaken assumptions of what YA is, though this book is not YA (the heroine is about twenty-five). For a proclaimed fantasy book, magic is barely present (and very little of it actually done by the heroine), and doesn't make sense. It's... kind of like a romance, but with no chemistry. The entire middle of the book consists of dating scenes interspersed with clothes shopping.

The first few pages show an ignorance of novels and how they are formatted at a basic level, as it actually has a foreword introducing the author. An intro like this is included for anthologies or collections, not for a debut book. I don't know who the author is and her movie fandom creds aren't relevant. The book needs to sell itself.

As Handbook begins at chapter 0, we meet Zade as she argues with her mother and departs Tennessee for her new job in Las Vegas. The narrative is overwritten--again, a common flaw in early novels efforts and rough drafts, period--and the paragraphs are dense, with the dialogue often buried. Zade's actions here are the only time in the book that she shows agency.

Agency means the character instigates the plot. She/he makes the decisions and carries the book, rather than doing what author-god decrees. Agency within a plot is a tricky thing to master; honestly, my agent and editor still ding me on this during revision stages.

But this point of criticism leads to another issue: there is no plot in Handbook. She goes to Vegas and joins an illusionist's show, and starts going on a lot of dates with Mac and Jackson, though all men find her to be incredibly hot and almost all women loathe her. This is explained at one point as a side effect of Zade's immense magical power. At one point, some other magic user attacks her, and makes an odd cameo appearance later; the ending implies a second book is supposed to explain this person, but it has zero bearing on anything in this book.

This book is about dating. And shopping. But for a book that tries to play up the love triangle angle, ala Twilight, there is no triangle. Mac has all of the emphasis and character development--actually, he's the only character who has an arc and develops in any way, and he's the only one who acts at the climax. He has many of his own scenes shown in italics (though the use of italics is inconsistent and confusing, as some other characters' POVs are seen through it sometimes). The other character, Jackson, is a musician and good-looking, and has the perk of actually believing in the abilities of tarot readings (one of Zade's skills), but it's pretty clear he has no chance with Zade.

As for the romantic dialogue, it's... George Lucas-esque. That goes back to that matter of agency. As all men love and want Zade, she doesn't need to make any effort to win over Mac or Jackson.

Zade had potential to be an interesting character. The book only expresses vague ideas of what her magic is actually like and there is zero growth in her abilities--the kind of thing an actual fantasy book needs. Zade is perfect in every way, a cliché Mary Sue (again, a new author trait). Everyone thinks she's hot. Compliments on her hair are a regular theme (it reads like a Sally Beauty Supply ad at a few points, quite literally). She can also play guitar and sing, and she loves "crotch rockets" just like Mac. And as the ending of the book shows, she is morally bankrupt.

I suppose I should get to the ending.

Most books use an ending to show how the hero/heroine has grown throughout the book. It's an opportunity for a grand show of powers, a confrontation with a villain, etc. But this book has no character growth, and while it has a few unpleasant people, there is no villain.

Instead, Zade tries to pull off a grand illusion during the Vegas show that utilizes "dangerous magic." She uses Mac as her anchor for this magic, but he's mad at her, so he steps outside to smoke. (Yes, there are several points like this that make no sense--he could step out for a phone call, or be sick, or go on vacation, etc). Cue her magic going awry. The show ends, and she goes off stage, falls unconscious, and starts bleeding everywhere. At the hospital, the doctor says Zade is internally bleeding and will quickly die.

Zade is rushed back to Tennessee to her mother's advanced magical care, where, as Zade is bleeding to death, her estranged parents reunite and casually tell Mac the story of how they met. There is zero tension throughout this long section. Zade's loved ones are literally at the kitchen table, drinking tea, and reminiscing about the late 1970s as Zade bleeds out in the next room.

How do we know this? That goes to the morally bankrupt part: Zade has ripped memories of all these events from her parents, Mac, and everyone who witnessed her collapse in Vegas. The very end of the book has some vague mention of her getting permission from those closest to her, but she obviously couldn't get this from everyone, as her magical skills are a big secret.

So yeah. She thieved memories from almost everyone she knows, and also rifled through her parents thoughts when they were young and horny, which has another level of violation and squick. There is absolutely no moral consideration of these actions.

Also note that Zade falls unconscious at 67% through the ebook. She wakes up at 91%. The climax, such as it is, consists of Mac plunging a dagger-that's-really-like-an-EpiPen (that's how the book explains it) into her heart.

She recovers, returns to Vegas where everyone greets her with a surprise party (the proper welcome for someone who nearly died), and her estranged parents remarry. The book ends with the promise (threat?) of a sequel to come that will explain the weird magical girl who tried to blast Zade at the mall.

I wanted Handbook to be worthwhile of the fuss and effort that went into getting it on the NYT list. It's not.
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
680 reviews3,951 followers
August 29, 2017
if I ever die in suspicious circumstances, please get YA book twitter to investigate because they cracked the case concerning this book (IT BOUGHT ITS WAY ONTO THE NYT BEST SELLER LIST LMFAAOO) in under an hour and thats the kind of investigation I deserve

everyone talking about the author & this book

Profile Image for Estance Veyrac.
928 reviews15 followers
February 2, 2023
[I've amended this review in early 2023 as I keep get notifications for it so I want to be sure to be as accurate as possible & give context because it's been a long time now, so people coming across my review might benefit from a quick explanation]

I didn't read this book, I only read the few extracts that were circulating around the time this book was released & immediately became a scandal. Upon its release, the book took the n°1 spot of the NYT YA bestseller's list which was previously held (& continued to be held thereafter for many more months) by Angie Thomas's The Hate You Give.
Taking over the n°1 spot of the NYT bestseller's list gathers attention & no one had ever heard of the book or its author, so something had to have happened, a loophole must have allowed a book to "steal" the spot (a scheme of fake massive pre-orders that weren't fulfilled or something like this, I don't remember well). That loophole was closed, rules around the bestsellers lists were tightened & the n°1 spot was taken away from the author.

Because of this scandal, the book received attention it would never have been given under normal circonstances. And had the book not been this appauling, it wouldn't have stirred such a controversy. The most point being the white author chose to describe her character as of a Roma (Rrom). I choose to write a review for a book I didn't read to give context on that, as it wasn't much talked about by people at the time.

In France, the Rrom community is the most persecuted, overtly hated & discriminated against. In the past, after centuries of persecutions, Rroms were targeted by the Third Reich & thousands of them died in an orchestred genocide. Lately, the dormant racism faced by Rroms has picked up, in part due to a written police ordonnance asking cops to specifically target Rroms which led to thousands of Rroms been deported. The life expectancy of Rroms girls is the lowest of all in the whole of Europe.
If you don't know much about this, you can look up "Roma + life expectancy" & you'll find many official reports from the EU & other reputable international organization. Here is an article about the situation of Roma/Rrom people: https://www.gmfus.org/news/place-roma...)

It's not okay to appropriate an ethnic origin & a culture, it's never okay. Attributing a mysticism & giving "magic powers" to Rroms is incredibly dangerous. It aggravates a context already filled with biais against Rroms. Prejudice against Rroms is not a thing of the past, in 2022, baseless accusations & rumors of Roma women abducting children once again circulated widely in France.

(I didn't really edit the rest of the review I made back then because I don't remember if it's pertinent or not)

- White-slim-pretty-privileged-cis-heterosexual-woman describing herself as "different"? This is not different, this is the same, this is not special, this is what we are told over & over we should conform into. This is not different, this is boring.

- It's plain bad writing. This is the writing on the first draft you've ever written at 12 that you end up scraping entirely because you can't believe how badly your writing was when you first started. It okay to write this. It's not okay not to question yourself, maybe ask around for opinions & amend your work in order to make it better.

- If you annonce in the summary on the back cover that your book has a love triangle, what I hear is, the life of the character is so easy, what with them being white, allocishet people with money who don't really have much to complain about, that you made up some fake emotional storyline so the book isn't just a bad description of the dream life you made up for yourself in your head.

- Everything is political. Stumping on The Hate U Give, a well-written, deep, riveting, smart & complex book about racism written by a black woman, by using influence & money your white privilege gives you access to is disgusting. The book whose place you stole isn't just any book & it matters that THUG is the book whose place you stole.
Profile Image for Bentley ★ Bookbastion.net.
242 reviews558 followers
Shelved as 'lost-interest'
August 25, 2017

How did this author seriously think no one would notice her quietly buy her way onto the NYT bestseller's list when no one has actually read the book - if it even exists and isn't a clever plot on her part to jumpstart a career in filmmaking in Hollywood. Shady practices as a creator earns a no way from me, which is unfortunate because the plot might have actually interested me, once upon a time.

Twitter thread here: https://twitter.com/stampepk/status/9... for those out of the loop.
Profile Image for S.K. Gregory.
Author 139 books201 followers
August 25, 2017
I have read a lot about this book in the last few days, but I'm going to ignore it and base my review on the book itself. I was given a free copy for an honest review. The idea of someone with magic, working on a magic show seemed like an interesting story.
There are many issues with this book. Over looking the issue of copyright infringement through the use of several song lyrics, the main character is quite unremarkable. In fact she seems quite conceited at times, but because she stammers when nervous she is supposed to be relatable.
The love triangle doesn't hold up well. Obviously drawing from other books, the author tries to create tension between Mac and Zade, but it is completely unfounded. He becomes angry and rude for no reason. There is no chemistry between them. Then there is the 'nice guy' Jackson. It doesn't hold up.
The book is repetitive to the point of being condescending to the audience. It states a point, then again, and then a third time in a couple of sentences. Along the lines of - he was short. I couldn't believe how short he was. Looking down on him, because of his height... It made it very tiresome to read.
A dramatic event such as one of the performers needing CPR from Zade is poorly handled. Zade starts CPR, then it jumps to Mac arguing with another guy. Then the woman is being taking away by paramedics!! No description of what is happening, of she revived her or anything.
I tried to give this book a chance but two thirds of it could easily be removed as repetition and still have a story. Not recommended.
Profile Image for Melanie Gillman.
Author 36 books264 followers
August 24, 2017
Zero stars for trying to cheat Angie Thomas out of her #1 spot on the NYT bestseller list.
Profile Image for Tanya Tate.
228 reviews116 followers
February 28, 2018
Edit 4: The fact it is now 50 plus new 5 star fake reviews on this book which we as a community squash the drama of it like 6 months ago is mind blogging. Lani dear LET IT GO!! I hope these people are being paying good to do a fake 5 star reviews..

Edit 3: When the author of "My Immortal" comes out of hiding to clear up the rumors that wrote the book and denounce what Lani did , you know you fucked up! http://knowyourmeme.com/news/my-immor...

Edit 2: So I read a couple pages to it thanks to Amazon having the first three chapters available on the sneak peak. Honestly I couldn't even finish reading it cause it like a big wall of text that didn't make any sense. So there! I read a little bit of it so my review will stay in the GR guidelines.

Edit 1: I'm just hearing about this but what the everlasting fuck??
You can't buy your way to the best seller list!
I'm breaking my " don't rate a book unless you read it" rule for this!
Profile Image for Rachel.
84 reviews
August 25, 2017
Edit: I took the time to read some available excerpts of the book and JEEZ. Can I have that time back?
It reads like a first draft. As a YA budding author myself, I recognize the signs of the rough draft where every thought got barfed up onto the page in the heat of artistic pursuit. BUT this thing went straight to print without some very necessary editing. I'm going to try to be optimistic and say that there might be a reasonably okay book buried in there somewhere... but probably not.

OP: I just want to know what the HECK is going on with this book?? I'll gladly read it and change my review later on, but there's way too many red flags here for me to have easy feelings about this.
Here's the link where I discovered the issues: HERE

So, someone explain this to me - and see below for the DUPLICATE 5-star reviews..... uhhhmmm, what?
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,195 followers
Shelved as 'will-never-ever-read'
March 5, 2019
I have never seen a lower rating. What's the deal with this book? Someone spill the tea
Profile Image for robbie .
138 reviews69 followers
Shelved as 'the-tea'
August 15, 2021

MY FAVORITE BOOK! BEST OF 2017! No one paid me to say this but don't look at my bank account.
Profile Image for marisa..
90 reviews16 followers
Shelved as 'no'
November 20, 2021
I love drama.

So the tldr is that the rating of this book dropped in literally two days because the publisher and/or author obviously bought their way onto the NYT bestseller list. Now a lot of crap ends up on the NYT imo but even though the author denies it, there was clearly some shenanigans going on.

Before getting into that, I just want you all to take a look at this quote from the article:

In an interview with THR, Sarem, an occasional actress (uncredited roles in Jason Bourne and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2)...

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. After looking up her IMBD, I'm disappointed by the fact that THR forgot her bit role in Trailer Park Shark, which I only caught glimpses of on Syfy, but I am sure it's as incredible as Toxic Shark was when I watched it drunk.

(As a note: Handbook was originally written as a screenplay, and I'm positive that the endgame had always been for film. I can't see it because it's in development, but apparently she is slated to play the lead in the movie of this book.)

That's not the best part, though. The best part is that her IMDB says she's JC Chasez from NSYNC's cousin. And all I can say is how dare you put JC's good name to shame like this.

The author believes people are jealous and also blames social media for being removed from the NYT bestsellers. She's also pretending that her book "outsold everything" through a comparison to Fifty Shades of Grey which...I didn't think this situation could get anymore hilarious but it has.

Since the author believes she deserved the spot, even though I hadn't seen many reviews or hype or anything about this book before The Drama, let's take a look at the Amazon sample.

The Mortal Handbook starts off with a weird foreword, where some rando is talking about how to pronounce the author's name. Not kidding.

I've known Lani; that's Lani Sarem for a few years now. It is Laannee or as she would say Annie with an L, just in case you were also wondering. At first, I wasn't even sure of the pronunciation of her name... Was it Lae-nee or Lan-ee?

In the same paragraph, they drop a slur in order to convey just how cool this author is. Apparently this rando and the author met on a Twilight Facebook page (they don't explicitly say Twilight but it is definitely Twilight.) So that explains a lot.

I have no idea why this warranted a foreword, or who the hell Skye Turner is, and I want the 5 minutes it took to read that overly long foreword back.

So now we have chapter 0. Not chapter 1. Apparently the foreword just wasn't enough for pointless explanation of things no one cares about.

Chapter 0 is written in first person POV, so we're stuck in the head of the most inane, boring character ever put to paper. The MC is not normal, and spends quite a lot of time telling us about how not normal she is. She dyes her hair! She likes thunder storms! You need to know this, of course, for the rest of the story to make sense.

And let me tell you, this character, oh man. She wears converse high tops and dyes her hair all kinds of colors. So you know, she's like, totally alternative.

This is literally how she describes herself:

The dialogue is pretty awkward and boring. She fights with her mother about a show or whatever. The classic, "I'm not you, Dad/Mom/Parent" deal. There's a huge wall of text that should have split into at least two paragraphs. The descriptions are...weird, to put it lightly.

At the end of the chapter there's a few stanzas of a Dixie Chicks song, because it's the MC's anthem so we need to include the Genius annotated lyrics. Oh, and don't worry, the narrative explains why it's the perfect song for the moment in case you didn't get it from the lyrics.

The narrative likes to do that a lot apparently. Just look at this gem:

"...The line to say hello to you after your performance resembled an autograph signing by a boy band. I don't really know what the latest one is, but Backstreet, Five Directions, One Second of Winter, 98 Celsius, O-city, NSYNC Boys or Old Kids on a Curb or something like that."

I laughed hard at his combo of wrong boy band names and his clear indication that he knew all the boy bands; he purposely had made the small wrong switches in their names. What perhaps made it funnier was the fact that he was pretty enough to be in any of those bands.

Get it? Do you get it? The boy band names are wrong. You know how it's One Direction? Well, he said Five Directions! Just making sure you got the joke. Are you laughing yet?

We even get explanations on nicknames:

"Your name I remember. How could I forget, Cam? Is it short for Cameron?"

He nodded. "Yeah, it is. Most of us get our names shortened or get nicknames around here. See? You're good then. Well, maybe you should know Charles's name too. Then you're definitely good."

First of all, "around here." ??? People are nicknamed literally everywhere, this is not some new thing inherent to Vegas magicians. And why is this dialogue? Who the hell cares?

Thank god that's where the sample ends. I didn't even talk about chapter 1 because I honestly skimmed. Apparently the MC made it to Vegas, did some kind of magic trick, and now she's super popular.

I do remember that there's a point where the MC explains how her name is pronounced because it's really complicated and we're just dying to know. Just like in the foreword where some rando explained to us that it's pronounced "Laannee." Thanks, that question was just burning in the back of my mind.

I'm not sure how NYT did not investigate beforehand, and only after the backlash did they remove it. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that maybe the plan all along was to drum up interest with the controversy because people definitely weren't talking about this book before.

Probably because Handbook is actually boring and the only thing interesting about it is the scandal.
Profile Image for Jerecho.
390 reviews46 followers
October 22, 2019
I never finish the book and never will.

The first part is a foreword about Lani (pronounce Annie with an L) as if quite literally I can't pronounce it correctly....

Then chapter zero with the Fool...

And then I realized my time is more worthwhile to move on to another book with much more good plot or have a plot in order to have a satisfactory story. Not to mention, grammatical errors...

It's more of the headache it cause rather than the did not finish, so I'm giving it a 1star rating. If you are not convince try the preview or read the reviews.
Profile Image for J.A. Ironside.
Author 57 books328 followers
September 19, 2017
DNF at 10%


You know a book is bad when you can't even finish the free sample. Should I then be writing a review about it? Ordinarily I wouldn't but the author/ publisher of this book decided to pull this ; http://www.vulture.com/2017/08/handbo...  so that makes it fair game as far as I'm concerned.


"Handbook for Mortals is in development as a motion picture set to debut in 2018."  For reference fellow bibliophiles, ANYONE can say their book is in development as a motion picture. Literally anyone. It does not mean that it is being made into a motion picture, or that a movie deal is in the works or that the rights have even been optioned. What it means is that the author would like the book to generate a spin off movie and she thinks that using the words 'in development' will help drum up interest. YA author Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen) did the same thing. I doubt we will ever see a movie of this book, let alone soon.


So to the book. Well you might be forgiven for thinking the author wrote her own foreword - one which humblebrags to the skies about what a wonderful friend she is, how talented in so many different arenas of the arts - but apparently Skye Turner is a real person, although one without much apparent judgement when it comes to literature. Actually if you can stand it, the foreword is highly entertaining despite being painfully badly written.


From the 10% of this book that I managed to drag myself through, this is full of the tropiest of YA troped that ever dreamt of buying their way onto a bestseller list. Now let's be clear a trope in and of itself isn't a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with giving your target audience more of what they want after all. However as a writer you MUST deliver the old desired tropes in a new and engaging way, not just rip off and squash together tropes done successfully by other authors. So here we have the pretty-plain girl with whimsically coloured hair to show what a free spirit she is, a reluctant hero longing for a normal life who has never had a normal day in her life so gods alone know what she is basing her definition of normal on and a love triangle. An actual love triangle where it's two hot guys panting over one incredibly mundane girl. Who has magic. I'm not completely unforgiving to love triangles where it's clear that it's an exploration of character arc, but this would appear to literally be pandering to the fantasy of being desired. The problem with equating desirability with personal value, especially in YA books, has been thoroughly canvassed but in short if this is literally all a character has to offer then they are not complete in and of themselves and that is an increasingly toxic message to be sending out to YA readers. There are other issues here too - basically if anyone cared enough to really read this, I think parts of it would justifiably be called out as problematic.


I understand the author has ambitions in the directions of screen writing. I think first she needs to learn how to write dialogue. Or actually just study how to write full stop. 'Brevity is the soul of wit' - so we don't need to hear about a character's hair four times in five paragraphs for example. All in all this is excrement. I'm not surprised underhand measures were taken in an attempt to acquire future sales.


Do not recommend.
August 24, 2017
I couldn't help myself, I read the free preview on Amazon.

I don't even know what I just read. How did this trash pile make it to publication? As somebody on twitter said, this sounds like a book you wrote when you were fifteen, hid it from the world, and wrote something better.

This should have stayed hidden from the world.

And how many times did the idiot who wrote the intro have to claim her status as international bestselling romance author? Never heard of her, can't wait to track down some of her stuff and review them honestly. ;)

Avoid this book unless you like bad copies of bad copies of bad copies of bad fan fiction of twilight.
Profile Image for alittlelifeofmel.
888 reviews346 followers
Shelved as 'not-for-me'
August 25, 2017
It's actually ironic that I was talking to one of my best friends Katie the other day and was telling her it made NO SENSE that a book with 9 GR ratings was the #1 NYT bestseller for YA. So I'm a little proud of myself for being the first one to this party.

I won't say I'll never read this, because I don't know who I'll be in the future, but I can say that I don't really have a ton of respect for this "author" and wouldn't actively reach out for anything that has her name attached to it.

Here's the twitter thread if you want to see the person who did all the research I was too lazy to do: https://twitter.com/stampepk/status/9...
Profile Image for samantha  Bookworm-on-rainydays.
278 reviews118 followers
April 10, 2021
So I didn't know all the history of this book before I found it at my favorite used bookstore and read it. I saw the cover and read the back, and it sounded fun and interesting, it was even signed by the author "How awesome!" I thought. Oh, how wrong I was.

This book was none of those things. It wasn't interesting, it wasn't fun, it was the most boring book about the circus I have ever read in my whole 23 years of life. (I've read The Night Circus and The Ladies of the Secret Circus both 100% better than this) There were I few misspellings here and there which I have never seen in a hardcover book before. (Of course, I can't say anything as the queen of misspellings.) But this felt like a first draft. Like it had been written, looked over once, and then someone hit the publish button, that's how it felt, I wonder if an editor even saw this book.

There was nothing for the reader to get hooked on too, the two love interests read like a glass of warm water on a hot day, boring, kinda gross at first, and very empty feeling. Anyone who reads knows that poor Jack has no chance in hell with the main character, Mac was clearly the Edward of this story, and he was just as creepy at times as Edward but he's not a vampire so it’s harder to get away with it. I mean really? you're watching her get undressed from a crack in the doorway? How romantic.

Now on to the main character Zade, the worlds biggest Mary Sue. I have never minded a Mary Sue really, I think it’s good for a first-time writer to feel like they're in the world they're making, it can really help. But Zade is everything I hate in a Mary sue character. She likes to say how she's not pretty but every guy in the world falls over themselves for her and every women or even teenage girls hate her. The way she tries so hard to be NOT LIKE OTHER GIRLS is just gross and weird given she's 25 in the book and the writer is in her 30s. She actually frights with a teenager over her teenage boyfriend. Not to mention she almost kills a biker because he hit her bag out of her hands. Which is not a good way to make the reader like her.

Besides the most boring love triangle in history and a few hints that Zade has magic there was no plot in this 448 page book that should at least be interesting because of the magic right? Nope we see almost no magic at all. When there was something interesting Zade makes sure to skip it or tells you what happened afterwards. She was literally dying at one point in this book but instant of switching point of views to Mac which would have made the most sense Zade tells the reader what happened while she was dying letting us know she lives… After all what's the point of making the reader want to keep reading to find out what happens next. (Eye roll)

The idea that this book got on to the New York bestsellers list even with the cheating is awful not to mention the art being basically stolen makes me happy I got this second hand. (All so there's a weird transphobia at the end of this with a character being called aunt because he dressed in girl clothes as a kid and it’s supposed to be a joke which is just gross)

But the even sadder thing is that 1 this is a great title and 2 It’s a good idea for a story hell a series and movie (Which is what they wanted to make). A witch that joins the circus and has mystery dark magic people after her is interesting, a love triangle can be interesting, this all could have gone different if she had 1. Had more people read this, re-read it herself and re-wrote something's and a good editor piece it together better. 2 Didn't cheat her way on to the bestseller list and didn't copy someone's art so closely. 3. Didn't lie about it when everyone found out about the cheating. You could have said sorry it was wrong, and that you were just new to the book world. But this is what we got in the end, a not very well-written book, a movie that will never happen along with book two and someone who can never come back to the writing world even under another pen-name, and that's probably for the best in the end.

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Profile Image for Autumn B.
26 reviews26 followers
March 2, 2018
Worst writing I've seen in a published book from what I've read(unfortunately I read more than I ever wanted to). And clearly most/all of the 5 star reviews are from fake accounts. Not to mention this trash.... http://www.pajiba.com/book_reviews/di...

*I have read this book, and choose not to rate it*
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