Tag Archives: CBR4

Cannonball #6

I am not ashamed to say that I am a Jodi Picoult fan. Apparently, I enjoy formula and even more than that I enjoy not taxing my brain too much. Heather Gudenkauf’s The Weight Of Silence promises a Picoult-like premise: Toni Clark’s young daughter Calli and her friend Petra go missing. Complicating matters further are Toni’s relationship with her abusive husband, and the history she shares with a local cop – as well as the fact that Calli is a selective mute. Calli has not spoken a word since an incident involving her parents years ago.

Gudenkauf attempts the multiple-narrators style, and in all honesty, it doesn’t work that well for her. She writes wonderfully for Toni. She then writes everyone else like Toni, and when ‘everyone else’ includes her teenage son Ben, her ex boyfriend (now deputy sheriff) Louis, and Calli herself, it has a jarring effect on the story. Possibly the only character who stands out from Toni is Martin, the father of Petra; however, they are shallow differences. That’s really the whole problem with ‘Silence’: it’s shallow. The characters are typical, without depth, and therefore you don’t really care about them or how things work out for them. After awhile, they blend into one, and the story takes on a ‘check the boxes’ feeling. Young girl with unexplained medical mystery? Check. Alcoholic father? Check. Mother with murky romantic past? Check. Red herrings thrown in to keep the mystery alive? You betcha.

By the time the story gains some momentum (and it takes awhile), I found I was reading merely to find out why Calli didn’t speak. It was a strong enough hook to keep me reading until the end, but unfortunately I was disappointed by the reasoning behind Calli’s muteness. There’s also a fairly unnecessary epilogue that undoes any of the goodwill Gudenkauf may have built over the course of her story. The resolution of the central mystery is also unsatisfying – you’ll work it out fairly quickly for yourself. Stick to the Picoult if this is your kind of thing.

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I just finished two books, officially making me three books behind.



Cannonball rima.

Warning: sort of spoilers to be had if you haven’t read The Declaration.

I had the sequel to Gemma Malley’s The Declaration on standby and was intrigued enough by that first book to carry on with the second soon after I’d put it down. The Resistance switches its focus to Peter, Anna’s Surplus friend (now boyfriend) from The Declaration. They’ve set up house together with Anna’s baby brother Ben and are slowly trying to work with the Underground to get to the heart of Pincent Pharma, the company responsible for Longevity.

The events of the last book are recapped succintly, and it’s on with the action fairly quickly as Peter finds himself working at Pincent Pharma, under his grandfather, Richard. Richard has plans for Peter and Anna; as Peter attempts covert operations at the company, Richard is busy working in details to snare our heroes. There’s also some focus placed on Jude, Peter’s half brother, and Sheila, Anna’s acquaintance from Grange Hall. At first this appeared to detract from the story, but as it progresses and Malley begins to pull her knots tighter, having these different perspectives becomes a strength.

In saying that, it takes awhile to learn what happened to Mrs. Pincent, something I thought would be quite major – however, the information is given in a couple of throwaway lines. An interesting choice, but perhaps the right one, given that what happens near the end of the book is a clustertruck of awful. I don’t mean awful as in unreadable, but awful as in ‘ohmygoodnessohmygoodnessthat’sHORRIFYING’. The Resistance’s big bang shock is a good one, and I admit I gasped when I read it. It seems dark for a book like this, which reads like it’s geared to the younger set; but really, The Resistance is altogether more grown up than The Declaration. The characters have been through a lot and, if the ending is anything to go by, have a lot more left to do. The dialogue is much less stilted here; the characters more fully fleshed out, and despite some implausibility regarding an escape, it’s fun to switch off and see what happens. I think I’ll be picking up the next book (The Legacy) but it’s not a rush-out-and-read-er.

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Cannonball wha.

Everyone knows death is inevitable. The Declaration explores what would happen if it suddenly was off the table – if, with the simple use of a pill, we could in fact live forever. But it wants to go deeper than that – what does an eternal existence cost?

The world Malley presents in The Declaration is set in 2140, yet in all honesty it does not seem much different from our own time, but with one crucial difference: the use of Longevity, a drug designed to make the user stop aging. However, in exchange for the privilege of using Longevity, one must sign a declaration promising never to have children. This is in order to preserve the world’s dwindling resources. With so many adults – or Legals – choosing Longevity, the strain on resources is enormous, and there are massive penalties for having a child after signing the Declaration. Such children are called ‘Surpluses’, and it’s through a Surplus teenager named Anna that we discover more about this strange and rather bleak future.

The Declaration is definitely in the ‘young’ camp of young adult, or at least for those with a high tolerance for some shoddy prose and basic dialogue. That’s not to say that it’s not enjoyable – though Anna herself is a bit of a blank, her male counterpart Peter is more interesting, and the villains are suitably malevolent. The story checks all the requisite YA boxes and more often than not does so very well. Again, the writing is not the best, yet something keeps you reading until you finish; I’d put this down to the author’s understanding of a good winding mystery. The twists towards the end were surprising and solid enough so that I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time on an inferior book.

As with every second YA book out there, The Declaration is the first in a series (a trilogy, I believe), and Malley is clearly setting up a card house to play with in the coming books. It’s an easy read that won’t tax anyone (the preteen set included), so I’d recommend it if you’re after something interesting and quick!

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Genesis and Cannonball #4-5.

Can’t read the start of Genesis without getting this stuck in my head.

Thanks, Ned Flanders. Hey, have a good day with that cycling through your brain, too!
To Cannonball news – recently I finished CBR4 book 4, ‘The Declaration’, by Gemma Malley…review will be up soon. I’m working afternoons this week, so I’m trying to cram as much stuff in before 12.30 as possible. I just started the second book in the series, ‘The Resistance’; these are fairly quick, easy reads so I feel as though I’ll need to push myself for my next CBR4 pick (unless I just review the whole bible?)

And, eep, starting the popular couch to 5k programme in about ten minutes. Got the podcast. Got some shoes. Got no motivation. But we’ll see how we go.

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It’s been awhile, I have been reading, I swear. I just keep picking up books and stopping and restarting. I’m reading World War Z, and it’s great, but I haven’t had the best week so I went back to my happy place – chick lit. I know, I know. It’s the guiltiest of pleasures. I try to hide my Marian Keyes behind my other, better books (who am I kidding, better books?) but y’know, I guess I’m out and proud as a chick lit reader.

Yeah. Anyway, book #3 in the cannonball was pretty fantab.
After the disappointment of this, I found myself wanting something just a tad more cerebral. I’d had about all the ‘satire’ I could take. I don’t know if you could call Gillian Flynn’s ‘Dark Places’ cerebral, but it certainly kept my brain switched on for its 345 pages. This is roughly the 345th time I’ve sat down to write my review, but I intend it to be the last.

Gillian Flynn sets you up to expect the worst throughout her second novel, Dark Places. Considering the depths main character Libby Day sinks to (at least in her thoughts), it’s clear Flynn is an author not afraid to go there. At least, until the end, which is awesome and yet somehow…not.

Libby Day’s mother and two older sisters were brutally murdered when she was seven years old. Her brother, Ben, is in prison for the murders. But when an adult Libby hooks up with a group calling themselves the Kill Club, she finds herself mired in a murky world, where strangers hold court on her history. They do their best to convince Libby that what she remembers is not what happened at all – and Libby, despite herself, begins to doubt. Throughout Libby’s current story are flashbacks from the past, in the voices of her dead mother and imprisoned brother; it’s in these that the story of what went on at the Day farm becomes clearer.

Flynn weaves an interesting mystery – the story is all twisty, as you would expect for a book of this ilk, and even single character seems to have an agenda, including Libby herself. For her, it’s mainly money: how she can get it and live off it without having to work. While she understandably is deeply changed by the murders, some of her reactions reveal a black persona. It’s right there in the book’s opening line: “I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.” Libby desires money and nothing else, until she finds herself drawn into the Kill Club’s theories and goes on a chase for the truth. The story hits its stride here. Uncomfortable as it was, with hints of paedophilia and satanism, it’s never less than engrossing – take Libby’s meeting with female fans of Ben. It’s a perfectly-written segment, conveying some of the bug-eyed craziness of serial-killer fans; but it also manages to show there may be some method to their madness. Of course, they also tell Libby they ‘forgive you for your part in this fiasco’ while blaming Ben’s imprisonment on her – balancing out any sanity they try to present.

It’s an enjoyable tale for sure; particularly with brother Ben and mother Patty’s last-day stories mixed in – but at the same time the narrative begins to suffer a little, as Flynn starts to tie them up just a touch too neatly. It’s a small complaint for a really good read, and if you like books were everything is wrapped up neatly in a bow, then Dark Places will do it for you.

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Basically, Goodreads is 4chan for readers. ?!!


I’m a new user to Goodreads, but one of the main ways I decide whether or not to add a book to my ‘to read’ shelf is by reading the reviews left by other users. The post above gives a little detail about some authors ‘attacking’ these reviewers…when they’re negative.

I don’t feel like I got the whole picture from the post,  but from what I can glean, it’s disgusting. It’s also made me think a little bit about my own reviews. My previous post was about Isaac Marion’s “Warm Bodies”, which I loved, but now I’m thinking – was I slightly too effusive in my praise? I have some style-hangover from writing reviews for Penguin; I believed reviews just had to be positive and at no time could I write about the bad points in the books I was reading (which of course, they all had). So I worry that my Marion review was just a touch too cheesy and therefore dishonest, in a way.

Wahwahwah, in short, I will be watching myself carefully when I review my next book, “Beauty Queens” by Libba Bray.

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