denesteak’s CBR5 Review #5,6,7,8: The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn

The Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St. Aubyn go by incredibly quickly. The first four of the series – there are five total – all have titles that sound like exclamations of exasperation. Never Mind, the first novel, displays the home life of five-year-old Patrick Melrose, the son of an English aristocrat and an American heiress; Bad News follow’s 21-year-old Patrick, who’s now a heroin addict, and his drug-fuelled days in New York City when he goes to bury his father; Some Hope features him as an older, though not much wiser, man trying to come to terms with his past; and Mother’s Milk charts the summers that he and his family spend in the family’s home in France, and the declining health of his inattentive mother.

Click here to read the rest of my reviews! And please, please read the books — they are amazing.

denesteak’s CBR5 #4: A Storm of Swords (Part 2) by George R.R. Martin

For the longest time, I didn’t realize that the third book for A Song of Ice and Fire was divided into two parts. I finished Part 1 last year, began watching the third season of Game of Thrones, and was just completely perplexed about why the plot seemed so different from what I read.

Anyway, I wised up and quickly finished Part 2 in the middle of the third season. Since the books hew pretty close to the HBO series, anyone who is not up with the books and wish not to be spoiled should probably avoid this review — which, admittedly, is going to be pretty brief.

Where to start, where to start…

Read the rest of my review here!

denesteak’s CBR5 #3: World War Z by Max Brooks

I love zombie movies — I think they are fun and weirdly campy in its horror, and the statement zombie movies are often trying to make is always so hit-you-over-the-head obvious that I enjoy the effort put into trying to diversify the message. But I’ve never read a zombie book. And World War Z is a pretty awesome beginning, I’d say, to changing the way I can appreciate how the zombie genre has evolved.

It’s essentially a series of oral accounts, put together by a government chronicler, to map out the zombie war that ate the Earth raw for about 10 years. It begins with how the zombie pandemic may have started — in China, of course — through the eyes of a Chinese doctor who saw how a young patient had been transformed after he was bitten and had to be tied down with rope to prevent him from hurting others. And then Brooks’ chronicler goes into accounts of how it could have spread — first by the Chinese government’s refusal to tell other governments about the zombie pandemic, and then with the governments’ ineptitude to secure its borders to the flood of fleeing non-bitten, and sometimes already-bitten humans. There was also a organ trade that could have spread the pandemic further. Scientists’ recommendations on how to contain the infestation are ignored, making the problem worse.

Read more at my blog.

denestake’s CBR5 #2: Cinderella’s Secret Diary: Lost

We often dismiss the young adult genre as being filled with a lot of trash and cliches, but I believe that being able to write a good YA novel is an underappreciated art. Some of the books that I call my Favorites of All Time are from this genre. If it’s written well, and is able to posit some great ideas, these books can go on to shape young people’s minds. The Golden Compass (and the entire Dark Material trilogy, for that matter) was an eye-opening experience that made me realize that adults might not always have your best interests at heart, or they think they do, but they really don’t know what they are doing. 

Of course, we can’t hold Phillip Pullman’s masterpiece up as a yardstick for every YA novel, because if we do, then everything else basically pales in comparison. But there are other enjoyable and important YA novels of a much smaller scale that I hold dear to my heart. The Giver by Lois Lowry, everything Roald Dahl has written (The Witches scared the shit out of me as a kid), The Girl with Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts (This one is not amazing and not a classic, but as a kid, it really spoke to me). 
And herein I arrive at my point: One does not have to aim for the stars to be a great YA writer but one should not condescend to your young readers either. 
And for Ron Vitale’s Cinderella’s Secret Diary: Lost, the mark was missed on several counts. This was provided to CBR5 readers as a free e-read, which I am so appreciative for. I can only imagine what it’s like to be writer — it actually gives me a bit of a panic attack to think about putting my work out there in to the masses to judge and criticize… gah, panic attack. (Yes, I am a reporter for a daily newspaper, but that’s totally different.) But we’re encouraged to blog about these free e-reads, and also told to write how we really feel so… here goes. 

denesteak’s CBR5 #1: Ghostwritten by David Mitchell


The writing for Ghostwritten is amazing — which is to be expected for David Mitchell. The plot is interesting, and I was invested enough to keep checking through the previous chapters for connections/links. Characters were developed and sympathetic, even the ones who were crazy or supposed to be villains.

All that said, I did not like Ghostwritten as much as I thought I should have. I think part of the reason is because this is the fourth Mitchell book that I’ve read, and so many of his other novels are so absurdly ambitious that it’s hard to not feel like I’m getting short-changed by the time I got to Ghostwritten. This was his first published book — his first! And it’s so good and so well-done, but perhaps because it is his first, he might have dialed down a little on how far he could soar. If you take Mitchell’s ouevre, it’s plain to see how Ghostwritten is just a stepping stone to Cloud Atlas, to the Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.

Check out my blog for the rest of the review! Happy 1st CBR5 to me and Happy New Year to all!