Tag Archives: 1 Star

The Blackmail Club by David Bishop

The Blackmail Club by David Bishop

The Blackmail Club is one of the worst books I have ever read. The author has a weird obsession with butts denting in when someone leans on a table, seeing bra straps (always black, white, or flesh colored), and women’s breasts being pushed up every time they cross their arms exciting male characters because they saw some extra cleavage. The writing is so bad. Here are some examples:

  • Her lips twitched, as if she were receiving a coded message through her dark amalgam dental fillings. The message must have told her to keep talking because she did.
  • To the extent a woman’s appearance was currency, Nora’s scoop-necked dress flashed a healthy portion of her bankroll.
  • Jack watched the automated door close over the space where he had last seen Nora.
  • “Go on now. I’ll get started as soon as I watch your fanny get inside your front door. It may be the last thing I ever see, so swing it girl.”
  • She was an attractive woman with a body whose forward thrust had not yet been pulled off course by gravity.
  • The skimpy food-service outfit she wore put more in front of Jack than just the burger he had ordered.

There are way too many characters and side storylines that weren’t truly totally pulled into or explained in the wrap up. The wrap up itself was so boring. When the PIs were interviewing the minion blackmailer they caught, it was just this happened and then this and that. Nothing exciting. At the big reveal of who the real blackmailer was it was even less exciting. The PI pretty much pulled out of left field who that mastermind was probably because the author thought it would be fun to make it almost impossible to guess which character it was. It’s completely unsatisfying where there are no clues at all leading to the bad guy. There are also quite a few typos and other mistakes, but the author doesn’t care. In fact, he thinks readers imagine those things and he doesn’t want to hear about them. In the author’s note he wrote:

“As for any errors you might imagine in spelling or punctuation or capitalization, please let me rest in peace. There are many conventions and styles with regard to these matters, and I often have characters speak incorrectly intentionally, for that is how I envision that character would speak.”

While he is correct that characters speaking incorrectly (such as his absolutely terrible approximation of an Irish guy) is fine, he probably should care that he misspelled his own characters’ names a time or two. I most definitely do not recommend The Blackmail Club at all. It’s just so incredibly awful. Don’t waste your time.

1 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 40
Pages Read in 2022: 14,616
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Mystery, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: We Be Book'N

The First Round Table by Ben Gillman

The First Round Table by Ben Gillman

This book is horrible. The author apparently missed that you should show not tell. All he did was tell. Pretty much the whole thing was paragraphs explaining that this happened and then this happened and then this happened. It was quite dreadful and it made even the action scenes so boring. Reading it I kind of felt like it would work as a movie script with a lot of action and mostly ad libbed dialogue. As it turns out, the author mostly write scripts so I guess that makes sense. The problem is, the ability to write a good script apparently doesn’t always translate to the ability to write a good novel. Additionally, it really needs a good copy editor. There were so many spelling and punctuation mistakes. I found that very distracting and annoying. The First Round Table is the first in a series about King Arthur, but I will definitely not be continuing on. I do not recommend wasting your time with this book, especially since there are so many other excellent Arthurian books out there.

1 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 25
Pages Read in 2022: 8824
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: We Be Book'N, Young Adult

Bringing Up Girls in Bohemia by Michal Viewegh

Bringing Up Girls in Bohemia by Michal Viewegh

This book is just plain terrible. It’s fiction written as a memoir. There’s a lot of stream of consciousness drivel with random quotes thrown in that usually have no discernable purpose but to pad out the rather short book to make it longer. The book is mostly about an older, married teacher having an affair with a 20-year-old. He never feels remorse, never finds it inappropriate. He’s only upset when she ends it. This is definitely one to skip.

1 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 7
Pages Read in 2022: 2336

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Filed under Realistic Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: We Be Book'N

Foster and Adoptive Parenting by Kenneth A. Camp

Foster and Adoptive Parenting by Kenneth A. Camp

It is absolutely impossible to take this author seriously or as any sort of authority on fostering or adopting from foster care. He and his wife had exactly one placement, a baby that came to them at 8 months old and they adopted before the child turned 2 and was only 5 at the time the book was written. They do not have any biological children. He makes himself sound like a terrible, selfish father who only chose to foster/adopt for Savior status (he actually says in it that they expected any children they fostered/adopted to be grateful for the better life they gave the child… cringe). It wouldn’t have been so bad if he had included lots of stories from more seasoned foster/adoptive parents, but there were only two or three brief ones. He presented himself as the expert, which he is definitely not. He has very little experience with small children, adopted or not, and it shows. He falls into the trap of thinking every behavior is foster/adoption related. The thing is, even kids who are or were in foster care are still kids and will have behaviors that any child regardless of if they are in their original home or not have. Much of what he describes and attributes completely to his son having been placed in foster care and subsequently adopted are simply kid behaviors, particularly with a father who doesn’t really know how to parent (reading a lot of books and taking a lot of training does not make you good at parenting). I felt like the book was mostly an ad for his blog and Podcast. There were many links to those encouraging readers to go there to learn more. The writing was pretty poor, on a very basic level and not very good at actually getting his points across. The only good part about the book is extensive quotes from actual experts. Save your time and skip this book and go straight to the books he quoted from.

1 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2021: 63
Pages Read in 2021: 19,452

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Filed under Reason: LitHub Bingo, Self-Help/Motivation

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Sometimes I really wonder why some books become classics. Frankenstein is supposed to be horror. I don’t deal well with scary things. I don’t watch horror movies because the one I watched years ago scared me way too much. I don’t read horror books because I get too scared. I barely can handle super suspenseful books without getting terrified. Reading this one I just felt… bored. So bored. It was almost completely very long-winded exposition. There was nothing remotely suspenseful about it. Nothing horrifying. Oh, Frankenstein’s Monster strangled some people and threatened Frankenstein a bit, sure. But that’s really it. He even felt guilty about it in the end. I am just not a fan and can’t say I recommend it to anyone.

1 (out of 5) Star
Books Read in 2021: 42
Pages Read in 2021: 12,190

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Filed under Classic, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Bring the Jubilee by Ward Moore

(Warning: Spoilers ahead. As a rule, I do not include spoilers in my book reviews but it is unavoidable this time since what I will spoil is what made the book so bad.) I did not like Bring the Jubilee much at all. The writing is tedious and pretty much dreadful. It is incredibly boring for the most part. There are a couple decent chapters. But the whole premise is what makes it especially terrible. It’s an alternate history book where the South won the Civil War. As a result, for some reason the North is in terrible shape and super backwards as far as technology goes. But, somehow, the narrator ends up in a place where someone invents a time machine and he goes back to the Battle of Gettysburg. He accidentally sets in motion a chain of events that results in a man dying and the South losing Gettysburg (the battle occurring as it actually did, and, so, the North won the war as it actually did). Because the person who died was the ancestor of the person who invented the time machine, she was never born and so could not build the time machine. Meaning the narrator could not go back in time and change history using that time machine, but he still did, somehow. It was so ridiculous that I put the book down before reading the last chapter – when I only had 1% left in the book – and waited until the next day to finish it. It is really just an terribly written, dumb book that requires you to suspend disbelief way more often than is acceptable. I do not recommend it at all.

1 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 30
Pages Read in 2020: 7049
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Filed under Historical Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo

The Appointment by Herta Muller

The Appointment is pretty much just stream of consciousness random drivel. It jumps from one memory to the next with no real unifying theme. I suppose it is realistic in that that’s often how we think about our memories, but reading it in a book it’s just awful. There are no quotation marks. There are a lot of colons setting off what people said, but no quotation marks. It’s really a pointless and rather dumb book. I had to force myself to keep reading, thinking for sure it would get better. Nope. The end was just as bad as the rest. I do not recommend reading this book to anyone.

1 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 119
Pages Read in 2019: 30,677
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Filed under Realistic Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Who Killed My Daughter? by Lois Duncan

Author Lois Duncan’s daughter Kait Arquette was murdered. There is no question the Albuquerque police botched the investigation. But Who Killed My Daughter? is basically a poorly written concoction of what the family assumes happened, mainly because of multiple psychics they consulted. Most of the psychic transcripts included are so vague that it’s kind of funny that they decided the psychics meant certain things because what was said could have meant virtually anything. I’ve read a lot of true crime and this was the dullest I’ve ever read. While the author stated her purpose was to encourage someone who knew what led to Kait’s murder (which is still unsolved today) to come forward, it felt more like a mother wanting to tell the story that she has decided led to her daughter’s murder and happens to have a platform where she could do so. It’s not worth anyone’s time to read this book.

1 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 68
Pages Read in 2019: 18,536
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Filed under Reason: Alphabet Soup Challenge, True Crime

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

I decided to read Where’d You Go, Bernadette after I saw the trailer for the movie and thought it looked like it would be good. After reading the book I no longer have any interest in the movie. It was that bad. There is not a single likable character in the book. Bee was fine for the first 2/3, but then she showed her true colors and turned out to be just as obnoxious and unlikable as her mother. The affair between Bee’s father and his admin, resulting in the admin getting pregnant, is treated as no big deal and almost expected because his wife is a bit nuts. The health and medical claims are often just plain wrong. The actions of the psychiatrist are utterly ridiculous and unprofessional. The writing is mediocre. The author didn’t seem to know how to wrap up the story. The last ten pages rambled on way too long. I do not recommend this book at all.

1 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 49
Pages Read in 2019: 12,578
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Filed under Realistic Fiction, Reason: It sounded interesting, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Black Powder and Moonlight by Melanie Winter

After reading Black Powder and Moonlight together, neither my sons nor I are quite sure what it was about. There was an overly large number of characters to keep straight particularly considering the short length of the book. The “rules” of the world weren’t really explained much and that made it all the more confusing. What the storyline was, well, there were some characters missing and then they were found and that was about it. I do not recommend this book at all.

1 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 46
Pages Read in 2019: 11,759
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Filed under Children, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys