Cavallaro's Cavalcade of Carnage
This month was a fun experiment: How many books can I read in a month without the restrictions of my normally busy life (band rehearsals, drum lessons, gigs, etc).

The answer is about one book every two days (btw, I'm still working 40 hours, so imagine how many I could read if I didn't have to do that!). I also had a lot of luck with my selections, because I read SIX A's, which I'm sure is a record for me.

1: DCeased by Tom Taylor (graphic novel). DC's belated answer to Marvel Zombies. highly recommended. Grade: A
2: End of the Road by Brian Keene. Keene definitely has a knack for non-fiction. Grade: B
3: Recursion by Blake Crouch. Challenging read, but worth it. Grade: A
4: Blood Sugar by Daniel Kraus. If he keeps this up, he will be my favorite author. Grade: A
5: Gwendy's Magic Feather by Richard Chizmar. Worthy sequel. Grade: A
6: Fearful Symmetries by Tom Monteleone. Consistent quality in here. Grade: B
7: The Dark by James Herbert. Maybe Herbert just isn't for me. Grade: D
8: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. Absolutely beautiful. Grade: A
9: The Terrible Thing That Happens by Carlton Mellick. Mellick never disappoints. Grade: B
10: It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken by Seth (graphic novel). Reminded me of Blankets, very good. Grade: B
11: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. Good plot, but writing style turned me off. Grade: D
12: Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker (graphic novel). Fun, wholesome story. Grade: B
13: The Hunger by Whitley Streiber. Is it weird that I liked Communion more than this? Grade: C
14: Deerskin by Robin McKinley. fantasy; I usually love it or hate it. This was the rare average one. Grade: C
15: Unwind by Neal Shusterman. Wow, this guy really nails YA doesn't he? Grade: A
16: Burmese Days by George Orwell. A book about conversations; not for me. Grade: D

WORST: Burmese Days by George Orwell

This was a three-way race with Bardugo's Ninth House and Herbert's The Dark. Conceptually, Ninth House was terrific but something about the writing itself was off-putting. As for The Dark, I enjoyed it until around the halfway mark. At that point, I'd tired of the concept and was beginning to wish it were a novella instead. So what can I say about Burmese Days, without contributing to the opinion that I'm a heathen with my opinions on classic literature? Firstly, no character is likable in this book. Secondly, as I've stated before, it's a book about conversations. No action. It seems the book was a vehicle for Orwell to express his feelings about nationalism, racism, and politics. There is no harm in that. I just wish he could've done it in a more interesting way.

BEST: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Although DCeased, Recursion, and Gwendy's Magic Feather all received A's, this was really a contest between A Prayer for Owen Meany, Shusterman's Unwind, and Kraus's Blood Sugar. Unwind is even better than last year's hit, Dry. Shusterman has proven himself to be an absolute master of young adult stories and I'm convinced that Daniel Kraus is just showing off in Blood Sugar. I've never read a book so relentlessly humorous, yet deadly serious, and even shocking. Either one of these would've been the best of the month on any other month... if not for Irving's masterpiece. At around 600 pages, it's hard to believe how consistently well paced it is. Irving inserts big questions about the narrative early in the story, and strings you along for the revelations later in the book. There is enough of a slow leak of information, and the characters are so vivid that the reader has no qualms about waiting around for the conclusion of the story, which is both epic and satisfying. I find myself thinking of Owen often.

Reviews by Jason Cavallaro
Twitter: @pinheadspawn

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