taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #45: The Dark Half by Stephen King

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Cannonball Read V: Book #45/52
Published: 1989
Pages: 469

Genre: Crime/Horror

Thad is a writer who didn’t have much success until he wrote a series under a pseudonym, George Stark. After his success with the George Stark books, Thad decided to “kill” Stark and try his luck once again under his own name. Then people connected to Thad start getting murdered by someone who looks and acts suspiciously like the fictional George Stark. Is Stark a real person or just a figment of Thad’s imagination?

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taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #44: Call Me Cockroach by Leigh Byrne

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Cannonball Read V: Book #44/52
Published: 2013
Pages: 236

Genre: Memoir

This book is a follow-up of the excellent memoir, Call Me Tuesday by Leigh Byrne. She grew up in a very abusive home and her childhood was chronicled in her first book. The only thing I didn’t like about Call Me Tuesday was the sort of abrupt ending. I wanted to know what happened to “Tuesday” (or Leigh)and how her childhood abuse effected her late teens and adult life.

Call Me Cockroach follows her life after she leaves her home to live with her aunt. However, Tuesday ends up back in an abusive relationship by marrying a guy she barely knows at a very young age. She’s also still dealing with her mother, who seems to brush all of the past abuse behind her. Her mother also only abused Tuesday and not her brothers and she never did really get answers as to why. I was also heartbroken to learn that she has little to no relationships with any of her brothers. I can’t imagine how painful it would be to have your entire family basically refuse to acknowledge what she went through as a child nor offer any explanation.

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taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #43: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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Cannonball Read V: Book #43/52
Published: 2012
Pages: 390

Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

Cinder is a cyborg – part human, part robot. She lives with her evil step-mother and two stepsisters (this is a re-imagined Cinderella after all) in New Beijing which is on the verge of a war with the Lunar people (who live on the moon). Cinder is a mechanic and she meets the prince when he asks her to fix one of his old robots. They strike up a friendship as Cinder tries both to hide and figure out who she really is.
This story really could have went either way, but I thought it was actually pretty good. It was interesting and never got boring. The romance was never too sappy and I felt like Cinder was a strong female character on her own (i.e. didn’t need a man to define her character). I also liked that she had other relationships that were focused on, such as with her dying step-sister (the nice one of the two) and her friendship with the house robot.

taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #42: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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Cannonball Read V: Book #42/52
Published: 2005
Pages: 576
Genre: Young Adult

Liesel Meminger is dropped off at a foster home by her mother at the onset of World War II in Germany. Her younger brother has just died and she is now dealing with her new home and new parents. Her foster father (“Papa”) is a kind man who teaches Liesel to read (she’s far behind the other kids in school) after she steals her first book – The Gravedigger’s Handbook.

This book was hard to get into. First, it is narrated by Death. Which is…weird. It’s hard to grasp and I mostly wondered why Death cared so much about Liesel’s story. It’s tragic, but I’m sure Death sees thousands of tragic stories every day. It was also sort of slow and I wasn’t sure where the story was heading at all. But the writing is poetic and beautiful, so I kept going.

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taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #41: Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff

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Cannonball Read V: Book #41/52
Published: 2011
Pages: 384
Genre: Nonfiction/History

Lost in Shangri-la is a non-fiction account of a group of soldiers stationed in New Guinea during World War II. In the middle of the island was a flat valley that was home to thousands of native tribes that had never seen the outside world. During a scenic tour over the valley, an American plane crashed into a mountainside, killing most of the passengers. One of the survivors was a member of the WOC (Women’s Army Corps) named Margaret Hastings. She, along with the two other survivors, John McCollum (who lost his twin brother in the crash) and Kenneth Decker, have to survive in the jungle amidst possibly hostile native tribes until they can be rescued. On top of everything, they are doing all of this with horrific burns and injuries from the crash.

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taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #40: Dust by Jacqueline Druga

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Cannonball Read V: Book #40/52
Published: 2002
Pages: 288
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic

Dust follows a group of people in the aftermath of a nuclear war. Jo has been preparing for this most of her life by stockpiling supplies into her basement and encouraging her friends to do the same. Still, she never actually expected it to happen. When the bombs hit, she takes her teenage son and her young nephew she is babysitting into the basement cellar. Her daughter, Matty, is at the school a few miles away. While waiting out the initial few weeks until she can safely go upstairs, Jo makes a list of her close friends and family and it becomes her goal to try and find them.

This book was unique in that it wasn’t a YA book. I can’t remember the last time I read a post-apocalyptic book that wasn’t teenage based. I like YA, but this was refreshing. I also thought it was unique that it followed a woman who had prepared for this scenario. Most of the book took place in her basement or within a few blocks of her home — no traveling across the countryside or anything. The characters were great. I liked that there was a pretty wide variety of people’s reactions to the bombs. Some went psychotic, some stopped talking, some pretended nothing happened, and some simply used sarcasm to make it through the day.

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taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #39: Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales by Marni Mann

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Cannonball Read V: Book #39/52
Published: 2011
Pages: 256
Genre: Fiction

First of all, this book is not an actual memoir, contrary to the title. It’s the fictional account of a young girl’s descent into drug addiction. Nicole was sexually assaulted her freshman year of college and decides to flee her home in Maine and make a new start in Boston with her friend Eric. They both experiment with other drugs before eventually becoming hardcore heroin addicts.

This book is dark and ugly. If you’ve ever read anything by Ellen Hopkins, this book is very similar to her books (minus being written in verse form). It’s just one horrible thing happening to these people after another. It’s also beautifully written and you can tell the author did her homework. It was very hard to distinguish between this novel and an actual memoir.

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