Spook Street

by Mick Herron
2017 Soho Press

Method of selection: Potentially racist titles
First sentence: Heat rises, as is commonly known, but not always without effort.
A good sentence: They were both uplit and downlit, these plastic springtime celebrants, and a piano tinkled melodious background nonsense for their pleasure…
Also good, even though I have no idea what it means: In its almanac of images, on a page already turned, the new year had been represented by sledges and scarves and friendly robins, but reality made few compromises, and life this side of the windows bore little resemblance to that enjoyed by the mannequins.

Did you know British people have their own slang words which they didn’t steal from America? It’s true! To learn more, I looked up “Britia” in the encyclopedia, since that’s where British people logically come from. Well actually the VERY FIRST thing I did was figure out what an encyclopedia is. Turns out it’s just Wikipedia that someone printed out and glued together for people in shitty countries that can’t afford a Samsung Galaxy S12k Championship Edition in White Gold. They should get more money.

According to the encyclopedia, there is no such place as Britia, but there is a place called British Columbia, so logically that’s where most of the people must speak British, while the rest speak Columbian. I’m very logical. See?

As it turns out, the word “spook” means a different thing in British English than it does in American English. In American English, the word “spook” is racist. It’s not the most racist word we have, maybe a 4 or 5 out of 10 on the Helms Scale, but it should be avoided while writing municipal regulations or testifying before a grand jury (unless you’re testifying about hauntings). In British English, it means a government intelligence agent. I guess intelligent agents are spooky and haunted? When I picked this book off the shelf I naturally assumed it was written by a white supremacist and the library where I found it was also run by white supremacists. Unfortunately Cambridge, Massachusetts just isn’t that interesting. All the racism here is bland and institutional instead of exciting and in-your-face with fire and stuff.

Instead, this book is about terrorism in England. It’s not about the street where all the black people live. Darn.

Here’s another fun fact: this book is not shitty. In fact it’s so not shitty it even tricked me into reading a prologue, and I wasn’t even upset when I realized it was a prologue. I don’t know why Mick Herron insists on such stupid titles. He’s written a lot of books with shitty titles, including Real Tigers, which is about fake tigers, and Why We Die, which about real tigers. He also wrote a novella, which is just a fancy way of saying, “I ran out of ideas before I finished my novel”. But that’s okay he’s still a good writer.

So buy this one, or pick it up from the library. But don’t let the white supremacists see you with it, or they might think you’re one of them. (Unless you want them to think you’re one of them, in which case, make sure they see it. Don’t worry, though, they can’t read, so you can tell them it’s about whatever you want. I told one of them it’s a book about white tigers, and he thought that was cool.)

The Good Daughter

by Karin Slaughter
2017 Harper Collins

Method of selection: Titles that rhyme with the author’s name (other possibilities include Edgar Allen Poe’s Go Dog Go, and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Grande Poopery)
First sentence: Samantha Quinn felt the stinging of a thousand hornets inside her legs as she ran down the long, forlorn driveway toward the farmhouse.
Worst sentence: She moved more slowly toward the house on rubbery legs, because she wasn’t the moron who couldn’t reach back and wait for a baton to be slapped into her hand.

Karin Slaughter likes adjectives. And metaphor. In fact she asphyxiates her stories with them like a baby choking on its own spittle (which is a simile). The driveway is “forlorn”. There were “a thousand hornets inside her legs” and she had “skin as pale as an envelope”. “The hornets moved into her lungs” before sweat “turned her ponytail into a thick rope” and her “tendons sent out a high-pitched wail”.

Metaphors and adjectives are the special sauces shitty book writers use to dress up their shitty storytelling burgers, which are mostly lettuce and contain neither meat nor bun. They are the shitty icing on the cake of a big floury cakeformed nothingness that is shitty icing top to bottom and also you keep finding tiny bugs in the icing and the bugs are anti-Semitic. These authors use metaphors and adjectives like a man at the county fair runs the ferris wheel a little too fast to cover up that he has genital warts. And I realize I’m using metaphors and adjectives (very deftly) to make this point. However, if you removed all the gratuitous adjectives and metaphors from this book, all that would be left is a tiny pamphlet, its corners and edges worn, given to you perhaps by the young misguided shaven follower of a weird culty Hindu sect you’ve never heard of but which has been around for like 300 years. But, way less interesting than that.

For comparison, if you removed all the gratuitous adjectives and metaphors from my reviews, you would just be left with my sadness.

Here’s a tip for aspiring writers: when writing a frantic or suspenseful opening sequence, refrain, as much as possible, from using the word “bongoed”. It kind of wrecks the ambiance of the thing. Unless it is the story of the world’s greatest bongo artist, murdered mid-bongo while taking a car ride just days before his upcoming wedding.

Also “higgledy-piggledy” is a word unfunny people use in an attempt to be funny. It’s okay if you’re not a funny person. Nobody hates you for it. I mean nobody is ever going to love you but by using “higgledy-piggeledy” you also ensure nobody will ever touch your naked body either.

The only thing I liked about this book was the puff quote from James Patterson on the back of the dust cover: “The Good Daughter is Karin Slaughter’s most ambitious, most emotional, and best novel. So far, anyway.” That is funny both for how backhanded his compliment is, and also because our best evidence indicates that James Patterson doesn’t know how to read. It’s possible his puff quote had a less well-known co-author.

The Horse Dancer

by Jojo Moyes
2009 Penguin Books

First sentence: The six forty-seven to Liverpool Street was heaving.
Number of books I have reviewed so far for this site that were about horses and the women who love them: 3
Of those, number that were not shitty: 0
New Shitty Books rule: Horses guarantee shittiness.

Other reviews of this book: Rhapsody in Books, Equestrian Ink, Riding the Unicorn

Remember a few weeks ago when I said I could identify a shitty book not just in three pages, but in three clauses? Jojo Moyes has raised the bar. By which I mean lowered the bar. By which I mean she buried it. In the Earth’s mantle, which is over 900°C and 136 gigapascals. So the bar is probably made of some new tungsten-carbonfiber-nanotube-Batman-jism-hyperfuture alloy thing invented by Raytheon. It has to be that fancy. And deadly. That’s how shitty this book is.

The six forty-seven…

Those are the first three words of this book (not counting the 15 page prologue which I ignored). I’m convinced writers are so desperate to pad their page count they will write numbers as words just for that tiny little extra bump. Here’s what would have been better:

The 6:47…

Doesn’t that look nicer? It’s tidy. And also, that’s how train times are displayed. No train station I know writes their numbers out as words. Here’s the rest of the sentence:

The six forty-seven to Liverpool Street was heaving.

After taking Zithromax from my bronchitis, the only thing that bothered https://zithromaxnow.com about this little dizziness, but I must say that I take a spray from asthma three times a day and think it's more of its fault. But I'm not sure. In conclusion ... just take it.

How does a train heave? I looked up the definition of heave, and I ran out of attention span by the fourth definition, but I think she means the train was swelling or bulging maybe? But that’s impossible, because trains are made of metal! (I checked.) Unless it’s a hyperfuture Batman-jism Raytheon nanotube train. Maybe British trains heave more than American trains? Do the British make their trains out of a super-stretchy hyperfuture latex-nanotube-Harry Potter-jism-alloy? Is that how they heave so much?

Maybe heave is just a universal verb or something in British English, like the words “go” and “get”. For example, perhaps I might say, “I heaved my waffles this morning before heaving to work, at which point I heaved my boss in the balls and spine, heaving him to the hospital, where doctors performed emergency heaving surgery but he died. The CEO of the company heaved him too so instead of being heaved he commended me with the Silver Cross Medal of Heaving. My mom heaved all over the place.”

Reading Jojo Moyes makes me think a lot about heaving, as you can see. Speaking of Jojo Moyes, we should heave back to the book review.

The main character in this book is really stressed out. Presumably a horse is going to save her or something but I didn’t get that far before I heaved this book into the furnace. She’s a lawyer working on child custody cases in divorces. That sounds stressful!

They say to “write what you know” but what if all you know is a boring, anxiety-ridden, heaving existence of trains and lists and pantsuits and binge-watching Netflix? If that’s the case, at least give the book a better title, like “The Pantsuit Anxiety” or “To Heave a Train” or “The Six Forty-Seven”. Or, even less than that at least, don’t write a shitty book at all. Just fix your life. I’M WORRIED ABOUT YOU, JOJO.

(I’m just pretending to be worried. I actually don’t care about Jojo at all.)

The sad thing is that Jojo Moyes writes at least well enough to potentially complete an inexpensive two-year master’s program in creative writing. It’s just that it’s clear she doesn’t have a lot to say. Or perhaps she does but she’s being held captive by the Haqqani Network (who are the parent company to Penguin Books, I checked), and they are forcing her against her will to publish book after book to fund their mafia-style reign of terror over Afghanistan, and in silent protest she only writes shitty books. Once she is liberated by Navy Seals, the President will give her a Silver Cross Medal of Heaving.



Norse Mythology

by Neil Gaiman
2017 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

First Sentence
: Before the beginning there was nothing—no earth, no heavens, no stars, no sky: only the mist world, formless and shapeless, and the fire world, always burning.
Phrase Neil Gaiman lifted from his own high school creative writing class diary when he got stuck for real ideas: the murky mist that cloaked everything hung heavily
Book in reality he probably stole that line from: Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem
#1 Reason why this book is superior to Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem: better for your young son to stand on when learning to potty big-boy-style
The most fascinating part of this book: contains custom-designed em dashes.

Do you know how many fucks I give about Neil Gaiman? There is a number, the square root of negative f, which has been proposed by mathematicians, but it is purely theoretical. Mathematicians have debated for decades whether it should even be classified as a NUMBER, it’s so arcane and unfathomable. That’s how many fucks.

But other people keep bringing him into my life, forcing me to pay attention. Neil Gaiman is the type of author that people read because he makes them feel smart, because he talks about mythology and funny brainy thinky metaphysic-y stuff. Well I have some good news: you know he else wrote a great book like that?


I cannot fathom why Neil Gaiman is even famous. He wrote a mediocre comic book series thirty years ago called The Sandman and a pile of shit novel called American Gods which is, at best, a bad fantasy novel. If 9/11 hadn’t happened the same year it was published, that book would have been America’s 9/11. Can you think of anything else he’s written? Oh, that ONE episode of Doctor Who you keep having a fucking orgasm over?

Do the math. He wrote one comic book series thirty years ago that was influential thanks to a lot of clever moody artwork that carried his mediocre writing, and he’s been coasting on that shit and his shitty British accent ever since, because Americans are morons and think British people are smarter than us, when all along the British are the people, remember, who invented Americans. You want to know why there’s never been a Sandman movie? Because no scriptwriter wants to beach his career on the shores of New Shitania, which is the continent where Neil Gaiman’s writing ability went to die.

NOW, Norse Mythology. What a piece of shit.

First, instead of the traditional prologue, which is like a skid mark in the soiled diaper that is every shitty book, he has an introduction that is mostly about him and his boyhood fascination with Norse gods, and how very sad he is that there is not a better record of these rich ancient legends. Remember the square root of negative f? That divided by the Sun is this section.

Then he introduces “The Players”, which is 4½ pages about the Norse gods Odin, Thor, and Loki. I kid you not, the written-by-the-whole-internet Wikipedia pages for these gods were more exciting AND more informative. So, to give you sense of scale, if the Wikipedia entry for “Norse mythology” was an 8/10, this section was irritable bowel syndrome.

So finally, 29 pages and three power naps later, the story finally begins. Except, not really. First we have to learn about the void world, Ginnungagap, and the fire world, Muspell. We learn about the dark world, Niflheim (which is “colder than cold” wow!). Then we learn about the living seas, the world of motion, Exxon’s Universe of Energy, and Journey Into the Imagination.

No wait, I’m thinking of EPCOT.

Next it’s on to the Norse legends of Surtr and Buri and Bor and the three sons Odin, Vili, and Ve, who kill Ymir and use his flesh to make the earth (can we PLEASE start the story now?). Gaiman didn’t make any of this stuff up. He just took what we know of old Norse legends and filled in the gaps. It’s like a reverse Cliffs Notes of pre-literate history. The chapters aren’t very long either, and they don’t seem to tell any kind of linear story, but rather a “narrative arc”, which is a term writers use when they can’t think of a story. The chapters, from what I can tell, always seem to be setting the stage for a story that never comes. Slowly it dawned on me what was happening: this book is 100% prologues. This is something I predicted would happen last year in the review for James Patterson’s Truth or Die. I knew it would happen, but I’m just shocked it happened so soon. I thought we had another few years.

I know probably 90% of you who read this review are overwhelmed by the urge to shove a darning needle into my pee-hole, but I only have this to say in reply: have you ever stopped to wonder why you have to keep telling all your friends how great that Doctor Who episode was, but none of them want to watch it with you?

Razor Girl

by Carl Hiaasen
Alfred A. Knopf (Penguin Random House) 2016

Method of selection: my horoscope said I would find a shitty book today
First sentence: see below. I couldn’t bear write it twice.
Things I wanted to burn after reading three pages of this shitty book: other copies of Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen while still in the readers’ hands, the readers of Razor Girl, their girlfriends and mothers, some hefty ash tree logs for a campfire so I can make s’mores while roasting all those people. It’s a LOT of people.

Other reviews (all positive): Robert McGrath’s Blog, Curtis Brown, The Grandstander

I read a review somewhere that calls Carl Hiassen’s writing “black humor”. That is an insult to black people. And even though the term “black humor” has nothing to do with black people, it’s still insulting. It might even be racist. This book is so shitty it’s a Nazi.

My goal at ShittyBooks.com is to only read the first three pages of a book and then review the whole thing—the philosophy being that the first few pages are the most important part of a book, and that a good writer is good from the very beginning, and a shitty writer is always shitty.

Sometimes, I don’t need to read three pages to make up my mind. Sometimes it only takes three sentences. Sometimes, three clauses. Please observe the opening of this book:

On the first day of February, sunny but cold as a frog’s balls, a man named Lane Coolman stepped off a flight at Miami International, rented a mainstream Buick, and headed south to meet a man in Key West.

Mr. Hiaasen, delirious and drowning in shitty book money, thought he could coin a quaint colloquial southernism without asking my permission. And I don’t care if he wrote the book that they turned into the movie Striptease (the book ruined Elizabeth Berkley’s career before the movie did). I don’t care that he wrote some songs for Warren Zevon (Warren Zevon wrote TWO songs???). Zora Neale Hurston sure as hell never used “cold as a frog’s balls” and neither did Faulkner. And by the way, nobody in Florida ever said that. I’m from Florida and that’s not a thing we say. We say things like, “da gaiduhr godduhm!” and, “I gots tha HONGRY!” and, “I will gladly trade you some bathsalts Tuesday for one Fentanyl today.”

Also, did you catch the protagonist’s name? Or were you too shocked by the zaniness of frog balls? It was LANE COOLMAN (emphasis added). Lane Coolman falls in love with Deb Hotchick and is then robbed by Bradley Snarldude while driving his Buick Fastcar. He carries a Smith & Wesson .38 Killgun and contracts a bad case of oozing dickburn after sleeping with Sally Mudslut. I made those last six up. It was easy. But Hiaasen made up Lane Coolman. Or maybe his 11-year-old son made it up and dad thought including it in this book would be easier than spending time with him.

Like all modern novels that take place in Florida, everything is wild and crazy all the time and the wildness and craziness is nonstop and never-ending and it’s also off-the-wall and zany. Did I say nutso and bonkers and wacky? It’s all those thing too. Just get a thesaurus and type in “unpredictable”. For example, a lady is shaving her pubic hair while driving a Firebird when she rear-ends Lane Coolman in his Buick. THAT IS SO ZANY I GOT A FUCKING BRAIN TUMOR AND DIED. THEN THE PARAMEDIC RAPED MY CORPSE AND A NURSE RAPED THE PARAMEDIC AND THE CORONER RAPED US ALL AND DIED. What other crazy thing will happen next, Carl? Ooh something with alligators, maybe? Anything can happen in Florida!

This book starts with a car ride, which is one-third of the Tripartite Shitty Book Triumvirate (car rides, upcoming weddings, murders). Starting a book with a car ride is so common to shitty books I’m beginning to suspect all shitty book authors must be composing the beginnings of their books while sitting in traffic, possibly on the way to their publisher, after blowing their $50,000 advance on donor eggs for their feral mudsluts, and having written nothing by their first deadline thanks to side effects from all the Fentanyl, scrawling whatever bullshit they can think of on the highway while waiting in I-95 traffic, dipping their broken pen in bloody cum stuck to their pant legs because they were masturbating in their car to relieve a bad case of oozing dickburn, which they blamed on the mudsluts but they actually got it while rafting in Canada.

The amazing thing about this book is that, after three shitty pages, I kept reading. But not because it was compelling. It was so shitty it needed to be investigated—carefully scraped from the pages word-by-word with a tiny word trowel like it was shitty book archaeology. I threw the whole thing in formaldehyde and the formaldehyde exploded and died.

Honky Tonk Samurai

Honky Tonk Samuraiby Joe R. Lansdale
Mulholland Books (Little Brown & Co) 2016

Method of selection: Required textbook at my local honky-tonk samurai class. I’m trying to earn my Shitty Belt
First sentence
: I don’t think we ask for trouble, me and Leonard.
Worst sentence: In less than a half an hour, about noon, my butt crack would be completely filled with sweat and breathing air would be like swallowing fishhooks.
Awards Joe R. Lansdale has won for his writing: Edgar Award, eleven Bram Stoker Awards, American Mystery Award, British Fantasy Award, Grinzane Cavour Prize for Literature, World Horror Convention Grand Master Award, the Sugarprize, Raymond Chandler Lifetime Achievement Award, Spur Award.
Martial Arts Halls of Fame he is a member of: United States, International

Before I start my review, watch this:

That’s the author, Joe R. Lansdale, teaching a martial art he made up called Shen Chuan, which is Chinese for “Shitty Book”. I’m not saying he couldn’t kick my ass, all I’m saying is that Joe R. Lansdale invented a martial art to beat up anyone who calls him out for writing shitty books. The student he’s abusing here gave him two stars on Amazon.

Honky Tonk Samurai is crap. Like, it’s not just shitty. It’s also just lousy. It’s a barnstorm of lousiness. And I don’t feel bad saying that because Joe R. Lansdale has written something like 40 novels, some of which have won prestigious awards, such as the Grinzane Cavour Prize, which no longer exists but when it did, the award was handed out in an Italian Castle, possibly haunted by shitty ghosts. And you don’t get bigger than that unless it’s an award handed out in a bigger castle.

This book doesn’t start with a car ride or an upcoming wedding or a murder like most shitty books but it does start with two guys in a truck and an unhappy marriage. Lansdale tries to make his writing funny

holding a whitebread fart out of courtesy

and he tries to make it edgy

a messy mass of jagged parts and twisted metal and wads of bleeding human flesh

and he tries to make it meaningful

By the time you’re fifty you start to realize just how much of your time on earth you’ve wasted.

He tries to make it quaint and lowbrow, in a shit-kicking southwestern kind of way, but he doesn’t manage to kick the shittiness out of his own writing. Yet, it must have impressed somebody somewhere, perhaps an Italian ghost with a lot of that Old Ghost Money to burn because Sundance has been making a show out of it. The acting has been described as “shit-kicking” and overall the show has been reviewed as “Wednesdays on Sundance.”

You can usually tell how shitty a book is by how overblown and impossible the puff quotes are. Like the Austin Chronicle, which calls Joe R. Lansdale

…the new Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner gone madder, and the last surviving splatterpunk…

The New York Times Book Review says Joe R. Lansdale has

…a folklorist’s eye for telling detail and a front-porch raconteur’s sense of pace.

What the fuck is a front-porch raconteur? Have you even met one? Does he work in the New York Times Book Review office? weaving tales of bygone shitty books through his missing front teeth and corncob pipe while eating pone and tack whatever pone and tack are?

I wonder if all those awards Joe R. Lansdale has received were really for the books he DIDN’T write. Like, “thanks for not shitting in our pool this year, Joe. The world of novels is better off. Here’s your trophy, sir. Please don’t Shen Chuan my puppy.”

Other reviews: Battered, Tattered, Yellowed, and Creased, Milo’s Rambles, Written By Sime

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

Career of Evil


by Robert Galbraith
2015 Mulholland Books (Little, Brown)

Method of selection: Wanted to pick on a MALE author for a change. It backfired.
First sentence
: He had not managed to scrub off all her blood.

When you put “evil” in the title of a book, it makes it instantly shitty. It is the fastest 0-shitty track time possible. And the library had a lot of copies of this book. There will be a lot of opioid addicts trying to pawn this book so they need a lot of copies. Obviously shitty, right?

I did not know who Robert Galbraith was when I picked it up, but I quickly noticed the absence of any prologue, and dropped my opioid-taking device right there in the library among the other addicts. The publisher may have been jerking off while on opioids the day he was supposed to read it. Or someone tore all the prologues out to pawn them for opioids. But I checked all 1,100 copies on the shelf. No prologue (and someone stole my opioid-taking device while I wasn’t looking). Which means the author and the publisher both decided this book was good enough to start with the first chapter. Confused, and a little high, I turned to the first page, and to my complete surprise, it’s well-written, and that’s not just the opioids talking.

My confusion turned into insanity turned into cancer and they prescribed me more opioids. This is how addiction begins, and also how not shitty books should begin.

Every shitty book begins with a murder, an upcoming wedding, or a car ride. This book begins with a murder, an upcoming wedding, and a bus ride. Nearly a hat trick of shittiness. But the writing doesn’t fit. It’s good. So I looked up the author.

And…it’s JK Rowling, in case you didn’t already know. Talent can’t hide behind a shitty title and a shitty sexism-apologist pen name. And Rowling tried hard to make it shitty and failed. So in a way, it’s a failure, but in another way, it’s not shitty.

In my previous review, I wrote about the preparation Voltaren emulgel, which helped my eerily aching knee. And now I want to tell you about Voltaren tablets, which I applied together with gel for external use, in order to ease my pain.

But why hide behind the pen name? Harry Potter fans are by now all in their 50’s, and they’ve experienced dozens of cancelled weddings and murders (often for similar reasons). Most of them have stalked people on a bus before (in hopes of interrupting their wedding and stealing their opioids). I think the fans can handle it (even if they can’t handle their opioids).

I’m still not going to read it. But if I saw you reading it on a bus I would not try to murder you and stop your wedding.

Other reviews: Helena Halme, Booking Mama, The Natterbox, Mugglenet

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

Peril By Ponytail

Peril By Ponytail

A Bad Hair Day Mystery
by Nancy J. Cohen
2015 Five Star Publishing

Method of selection: ran into a burning building, but everyone was reading James Patterson novels. I saved the one person who wasn’t, and stole her shitty book, then lit her on fire.
First sentence: “How can everyone be dead?” Marla Vail asked from the rear seat of the car.
Rejected titles for this novel: Horror By Hooves, Wipeout By Whiskers, The Opossum Opanic, Risk of Rat Butt, The Fetlock Exigency

Other reviews: Christa Reads and Writes, Mudpies and Magnolias, I Wish I Lived In a Library, Socrates’ Book Reviews

There are a few unspoken, though often broken, rules of this site. One is that I don’t review books from the genre sections (mystery, sci-fi, romance, etc) because I worry my comments would be more about the genre, and its small but clownish class of devoted followers, than about the shitty writing. Another is that I don’t review books that are above the #1,000,000 ranking on Amazon, as that’s like pushing a hurt child into traffic. It’s not his fault he fell off his bicycle. He’s not incompetent, he’s just a simpleton. All I’m saying is that genre fiction doesn’t have any pubic hair and needs to stay off the fucking sidewalk, bitch.

But this book, despite breaking those rules (mystery section; Amazon #1,475,476), won me over with its shittiness, which makes it squarely Shitty But Charming, putting it in the company of Patricia Simpson’s classic time-travel romance novel Spellbound.

First of all, the title. It has one. Titles are a common device used by shitty book authors. Second is the first sentence of the book: “How can everyone be dead?”. So brilliantly shitty. Third, there is a typo on the first page. I want to repeat that to make sure it sinks in: there is a TYPO on the FIRST PAGE. Now, typos happen even at high levels of publishing. William Golding’s classic Lord of the Flies was supposed to be called Kids On An Island, but the publisher (who mostly printed books on freshwater fishing) mixed up the titles. But a typo on the first page? Did anyone even read this book? The typo is:

…invited them to say…

Fourth, the book opens with a Cast of Characters, including a missing ghost town worker and a “wrangler” at a dude ranch, like this is Dostoevsky and anyone is paying attention to who says what. Fifth, the puff quotes on the back of the book are for a DIFFERENT BOOK by Nancy J. Cohen. They were in such a hurry to publish this that nobody even had time to read it and write a bullshit puff quote. Sixth, the publisher, Five Star Publishing, is a tiny operation in Arizona that seems to mostly print children’s books and, judging by their website, appears to employ only a single person. *

Now, with all that said, the writing is NOT THAT BAD. It’s simple, clear, and free of cliches. It’s certainly better writing than a James Patterson novel, which occupy the top 1,000 spots on Amazon’s rankings. It’s also vaguely humorous without being cheeky, at least to the point of understanding its own shittiness. And according to the synopsis, there’s a ghost town, a dude ranch, horseback riding, environmental activists, saguaro poachers, water right proponents, an abandoned copper mine, and a haunted hillside. Nancy J. Cohen packs a lot in to her Bad Hair Day Mysteries!

I’m not suggesting you should really read this book, but that, when the Nazi Mormon Illuminati take over and book-burning returns to your shitty town, you should spare this one so future generations will think more of the 21st century.

* I was contacted by a representative of Five Star Publications that this review linked to their company (now known as Story Monsters) in error, instead of the correct shitty book publisher, Five Star Publishing, which doesn’t appear to have a real website, but I found their Facebook and their presence on a parent company’s website. I mean, you would hide, too, if you published this book?

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

Fancy Dancer

Fancy Dancer

by Fern Michaels (real name Mary Ruth Kuczkir)
2012 Kensington Books

Method of selection: ran over a librarian in my Porsche. Was ordered to read this book for community service. I remain unrepentant.
First sentence: Jake St. Cloud woke up with the queen mother of all hangovers.
Cliches used in the first page: back in the game, burning the candle at both ends, hair of the dog, square one, at the top of his lungs, with every ounce of strength, bone-chilling
Number of butterflies on the cover: 1
Number of butterflies I was able to smoosh with this book: 40 in a 3-day killfest
Net gain: 39 less flying death bugs of the apocolypse to worry about

Other reviews: AJ’s Reading Nook, that’s actually all I could find

I like Fern Michaels. The person. She grew up a coal-miner’s daughter and started writing in the 70’s when her shithead husband told her to get a job, but he was not supportive of her new career. Good for her ditching that bum and getting rich. Since then she’s written around 60 books. She’s put a lot of her money back into the community, funding scholarships, affordable preschools and day-care centers for single mothers, and she buys bulletproof vests for police dogs. Great lady.

But she writes shitty books. Or at least, she wrote this one shitty book. I confess I haven’t read the other 59. Perhaps they are all dynamite.

The main character in this book, Jake St. Cloud, is not a porn star. Or perhaps he is but Fern Michaels doesn’t want to talk about that too much because the geriatrics who read these books don’t know what that is. Jake St. Cloud is a business consultant. The book could have been called The Consultant, but people would have thought John Grisham wrote it. Instead Michaels called it Fancy Dancer. I’ll explain that part later.

In the opening pages of the book, Jake St. Cloud gets out of bed and takes….wait for it…a SHOWER.


No, he tried to wake up first with some cold water. And I already told you he’s not a porn star.


Sorry, no again. No monsters or anything. He turned the water to hot.


Yo, what’s with all the erect penis stuff? And why are you yelling?

“I just think they’re really interesting is all. So anyway, this is just a normal shower…”

Yup. He soaped up and everything.

“So…he showered.”

That’s right. And it felt good and he wanted to stay in the shower forever.

“That’s not very interesting.”


“Dude now you’re the one yelling about erect penises.”

I admit they are interesting.


An opportunity missed, I suppose.

Yes, the opening scene of this book is a guy taking a shower, and even for that the description is bland. This is another trick shitty book authors use, which I’ve addressed before, where they attempt to make a very mundane scene seem dramatic, and fail to do so.

I checked the summary in the dust jacket for where this shitty book might be going. I found out that Fancy is a young girl, named Fancy. She is the daughter of Angelica Dancer. Fancy Dancer. They should have named this book Fancy Title but John Grisham took that too.

Jake St. Cloud crashes his porsche and almost kills a mother and child in the other car, and instead of jail gets community service (because he’s rich and white) and is ordered to help a young child (named FANCY!!! ARRGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!1409092sbc,.pui 984 drliu9f/aibsa,.k4pbsa3 4k/d3a54id.i5rsde;ipsr8fo;ipe iugrcoi/0fa,.p4dr8ca.ib8rad-!!!!)

Excuse me….my hand slipped.

…named Fancy, who was training to be a ballet dancer but whose “career” was cut short by a terrible accident, possibly involving many erect penises but I didn’t get that far ’cause this is a shitty book.

As I said, I like Fern Michaels, but she writes shitty books. Because she seems like a good person who merely exploits the Shitty Book New World Order to fund affordable preschools and dog vests I’m going to issue special dispensation and create a new category: Shitty But For A Good Cause.

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)

Truth or Die

James Patterson Truth or Dieby James Patterson but really by Howard Roughan
2015 Little, Brown and Company

Method of selection: There was only one way out of the library…read three whole pages of this shitty book, or DIE.
First sentence: Had it been anyone else, any other woman, the moment might have registered upward of a 7.6 on the Emasculation Scale, or whatever it takes to rattle a man’s self-confidence until he crumbles.
Worst sentence: Claire suddenly grabbed my backside, rolling me like a kayak.
People who read that sentence and are like, “ah yes, kayaking. Say no more.”: white people

Other reviews: Matthew R. Bell’s BookBlogBonanza, The Writer’s Inkwell, 20Something Reads

The prologue has three chapters. THE PROLOGUE HAS THREE CHAPTERS. You know how much I hate prologues. This book has three. In a row. Prologue creep is a real thing, and in another generation James Patterson (who I’m confident will still be alive, still letting other people write shitty books for him), will be creating books that are 100% prologue. The book will just end when the prologue ends, because nothing Patterson wrote was good enough for the real story.

I skipped the whole thing.

A common trick shitty book authors like to use is setting up a big secret — something the characters of the book know about, and talk about, but which you, the reader, don’t understand. But then the author tells you, and it’s stupid. Such is the case for the first pages of this book, when two characters, a couple, are discussing some ridiculous secret thing the man said in bed once that was super funny. Oh the suspense. Please tell me. I have to know. It’s killing me.

“I want to spank you like Santa Claus.”

Oh. That’s the thing? I thought it would be something, you know, interesting, given how much setup it got. But okay, then what? Patterson sets up another big secret:

She then leaned down to my ear and whispered a request that was easily the dirtiest thing I’d ever heard her say. Just filthy. X-rated. Obscene.

Really? So maybe she wants to drive to the Methodone clinic and pay twenty desperate homeless opioid addicts to beat off into her gaping butthole as she swallows ghost chili peppers whole so she can shit it out on your tiny pecker and then you fuck her with the filthy cummy possibly-AIDS-infested burning spicy shit in front of a bunch of little orphans on their only field trip of the year which is a McDonald’s? Is that what she whispered?

Probably not. There is no way James Patterson’s life is that interesting. And after that first secret setup, I’m not entirely confident this second one will be any better. Or maybe you couldn’t think of anything x-rated or obscene, because being spanked by Santa Claus is the best you can do, and you already wasted it on page two. Hell, that one line was probably the basis for the whole book.

But then, the chapter ends, after two and a half pages. I looked at the second chapter, and the story just continues there, as if it was simply going on to the next paragraph. They picked a totally arbitrary place to put a chapter break. So I thumbed through the book and realized it’s all written this way. The chapters are miniscule — never longer than three pages and many as short as one page. And the way the new chapters are indented down so heavily from the top of the page, there’s a lot of white space in this book. So I did some calculations.

There are 383 pages in the main story of this book. But the way it’s broken into tiny chapters, there’s only around 258 pages of actual text. There’s also 7 pages of useless lead-in publisher crapola, 13 pages of an excerpt of another shitty James Patterson novel written by somebody else, and 4 pages listing titles of all the other shit written by James Patterson but really written by somebody else. That makes 407 total pages between the covers in this book. Imagine if you purchased a 407 page book that had 258 pages of story, and 149 BLANK PAGES. I suppose you could use that space to pen James Patterson’s next novel, but you’d probably just be pissed they charged you for all that paper.

Little, Brown and Company suggests charging $28.00 for this piece of shit. And don’t call it a novel. It’s just a ream of shitty paper with some ink spilled on it. It’s also a ream in that it reams out your dignity and reams out your bank account. If you need paper, you can buy 5,000 sheets of higher quality paper from Staples for about the same price.

$28.00. God. The people who buy this book hardcover will have to work three straight hours cleaning up a little brown to pay for it. Hopefully they don’t forget to buy food for their kids. Oh wait, James Patterson is writing young adult fiction too. Kids can live on shitty paper, right?

(Support this site by purchasing this shitty book through one of the links below.)