taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #31: Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman

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Cannonball Read V: Book #31/52
Published: 2011
Pages: 444
Genre: Nonfiction

I’m officially burned out on Scientology books. I actually bought this one before Going Clear, but figured since I already bought it, I might as well read it to. I figured it would be pretty redundant since Going Clear was so thorough, but I was surprised to find some new stuff in Janet Reitman’s book.

I’m just going to say this again: Scientology is scary. I don’t really care what religion people want to believe in, but when a religion refuses to allow people to leave that’s when it starts crossing the line over into cult territory (at least for me). Although Scientology constantly is refuting the claims of abuse from ex-members, I’m finding it really hard to believe it’s not true with all the first-hand accounts. And those are just from the people they haven’t scared or paid off to keep quiet.

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taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #30: The Shift Omnibus by Hugh Howey

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Cannonball Read V: Book #30/52
Published: 2013
Pages: 608
Genre: Dystopian

Wool is one of my favorite books that I’ve read so far this year. Shift is a prequel of sorts to Wool that explains why people were living in underground silos with almost no knowledge about the world outside. It’s hard to explain too much about it without giving too much away, but the book starts before the silos were even built. A politician with an architect background is commissioned to work on a top secret project and from there the story switches back and forth between his life before the silos and his life afterwards. Because of deep freezing technology, we can follow the same people over hundreds of years. Simply put them in deep freeze and wake them up a century later! I have to say, that is a pretty interesting way to move the story forward to the far future without having to introduce totally new characters.

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taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #29: Under the Dome by Stephen King

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Cannonball Read V: Book #29/52
Published: 2009
Pages: 1092
Genre: Science Fiction

Under the Dome is a monster of a novel, clocking in at almost 1100 pages. I’m kind of a sucker for long, epic novels, so I decided to tackle this book for a second time. I read this book when it was first released in 2009 and loved it. I wanted to re-read it before I watched the TV show that just came out based on it.

The basic premise is pretty simple: An impenetrable dome falls over the town of Chester’s Mill, Maine. No one knows what it is or where it came from. The outside world is just as baffled as the people inside the dome.

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taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #28: Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill

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Cannonball Read V: Book #28/52
Published: 2013
Pages: 416
Genre: Memoir/Nonfiction
Before reading this book, I thought for some reason that Jenna Miscavige Hill was Scientology leader David Miscavige’s daughter. She’s actually his niece, but still very much part of a high profile Scientology family. She was born into the religion in 1984 (make her only a year older than myself) before her uncle took over. Both of her parents were devout followers of L. Ron Hubbard’s odd religion and were a part of the Sea Org, which is basically Scientology slave labor that they sign billion year contracts for (no, that is not an exaggeration).
Jenna was devout herself growing up, despite her less than ideal childhood. Her parents pretty much left on her on a Scientology ranch and she only got to see them a few times a year. The ranch provided a place to stay and food to a handful of kids and they also got some schooling, although most of it was church curriculum. That was probably the most interesting part of the book. As a child, I cannot imagine going through all of the “tests” they had to take. Basically everything is done or repeated over and over and over again until is ingrained into these kid’s heads. The repetitiveness is enough to drive most people mad. Then they had the constant auditing sessions where an e-meter was used to clear their thoughts and force them to confess anything they might be witholding. If that last sentence didn’t make any sense to you, you’ll catch on to the Scientology lingo pretty quickly while reading the book.

taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #27: Bowie by Marc Spitz

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Cannonball Read V: Book #27/52
Published: 2009
Pages: 429
Genre: Biography

If you ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you I’m a huge David Bowie fan. I was browsing my local library and saw this book and just had to pick it up. The only Bowie biography I had previously read was his ex-wife’s book about their history together called Backstage Passes. It was a pretty good read with a lot of Bowie’s history, but it was (obviously) very biased.

Marc Spitz’s biography is an incredibly detailed story of David Bowie’s life all the way from how his parents met up until his quiet life in the late 2000’s. Of course Bowie released his first album in a decade just this spring, so he’s not quite finished with his career yet, even at 66 years old! Even if you’re not a fan, you have do admit the man has had quite the career, almost completely reinventing himself every decade.

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taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #26: The Woman by Jack Ketchum & Lucky McKee

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Cannonball Read V: Book #26/52
Published: 2011
Pages: 208
Genre: Horror

I picked up this book because I really like Jack Ketchum for the most part (The Girl Next Door is one of my favorite horror novels) and I really enjoyed the first two books in this particular series (Off Season and Offspring). I didn’t even know there was a third book until recently.

The Woman would read fine as a stand alone book, but if you’ve read Off Season and Offspring, you have more of a background on who the Woman is and where she came from. After the massacre at the end ofOffspring, she is wandering the woods on her own and is found by a guy named Christopher Cleek. For some reason that I’m not entirely sure of (just insane, I guess?) he decides to take the Woman and lock her up in his cellar then try and bring his wife and kids in on the fun of trying to “domesticate” her. Turns out Chris is a pretty sick guy (and so is his pervert son) and there’s lots of blood and rape.

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taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #25: Beyond the Deep by William Stone & Barbara am Ende

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Cannonball Read V: Book #25/52
Published: 2003
Pages: 352
Genre: Memoir/Nonfiction

Apparently I’m on a cave kick right now (after recently reading The Deep Zone and Blind Descent) but I think I’m starting to get burnt out. Beyond the Deep is written by Bill Stone, who was one of the men featured in Blind Descent. His journey through the Huautla cave in Mexico was a large part of Blind Descent, but this is a much more in depth account of that journey.

Bill and his then-girlfriend, Barbara, are leading a team to try and extend the depth of Huautla. Bill believes that it has the potential to be the world’s deepest cave after some non-toxic dye was placed in the river at the mouth of the cave and it exited in a river miles away – he just has to find a way through. However, Bill isn’t the best leader. He’s gruff and focused more on the goal than the people who are helping him get there. He seems to be more suited to solo caving expeditions, but he really can’t do one of this caliber without a lot of help. After the death of a well-liked team member, most of the crew is hesitant to continue, so he and Barbara end up doing the last leg of the descent alone.

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taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #24: Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky

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Cannonball Read V: Book #24/52
Published: 2012
Pages: 256
Genre: Memoir

I love reading memoirs from people who work in seemingly mundane customer service jobs such as waiting tablesworking on a cruise ship or, in this case, working the front desk of a hotel. I’ve worked several customer service jobs myself and it seems that no matter what type of CS job you may have, the customers are all pretty much the same.

Jacob Tomsky (although he goes by “Tom” for most of the book) started out as a valet worker when a new high class hotel opened in New Orleans. He quickly moved up the ranks to the front desk and then to a housekeeping management job before he moved to New York. He tried to change careers, but his degree in philosophy wasn’t really getting him anywhere so he started working the front desk of a five star hotel in New York City.

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taralovesbooks’ #CBR5 Review #22: Blind Descent by James M. Tabor

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Cannonball Read V: Book #22/52
Published: 2010
Pages: 286
Genre: Nonfiction

I decided to pick up this book after reading and enjoying James Tabor’s first try at adventure fiction with The Deep Zone. Blind Descent is a non-fiction book that follows two main cave explorers as they try and find the deepest cave on earth.

Bill Stone is convinced that the Cheve cave in Mexico will win the title of the deepest cave if he can overcome some pretty major obstacles and explore a little deeper. This isn’t an easy task either – Stone literally spent decades and hundreds of thousands of dollars on trying to prove that his theory about Cheve was correct. When he wasn’t exploring the cave, he was trying to invent a new type of rebreather to be used for deep cave exploration. Rebreathers are sort of like scuba tanks, but much more efficient because they recirculate the air allowing for hours of underwater time.

On the other side of the world, Alexander Klimchouk has been leading teams into a freezing cold pit in the Republic of Georgia called Krubera. He believes that he can prove Krubera is the deepest cave on earth.

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taralovesbooks’ #CBR4 Review #21: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & The Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

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Cannonball Read V: Book #21/52
Published: 2013
Pages: 430
Genre: Nonfiction

Besides the random Xenu and/or Tom Cruise joke here and there, I didn’t really know that much about Scientology before reading this book. I knew science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard was somewhere involved, but that was it. This book is a really solid history of the religion as well as the man who invented it.

L. Ron Hubbard was a bizarre man who created an equally bizarre “religion” (it’s been under fire many times for not actually being a religion as they do not   have a deity or any sort of worship or prayer like most religions). This book follows Scientology from Hubbard’s beginnings, through the impact it had on Hollywood stars (most famously being John Travolta and Tom Cruise), and through the current leadership under David Miscavige.

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