Updates from Cannonball Read
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July 2019

MsWas's Message Corner

Greetings Cannonballers,

Hooray for Bingo! Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, and you all are so wonderfully careful about which squares you are selecting.  We did have two squares where our description wasn’t specific enough, so please see the note below about Classics and Remix.

We also have book club coming up next month, and I must admit that I don’t think I’ve ever read any original Sherlock Holmes stories. It’s hard to believe with all of the mystery series I usually read, so I’m psyched that you all selected A Study in Scarlet as our Classic. What I HAVE read - and highly recommend - is Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series. That starts with The Beekeeper's Apprentice, which was unbelievably published 25 years ago. I’ve seen a lot of great adaptation suggestions and reviews, so I don’t know if I’ll be rereading the Mary Russell series for the retelling discussion (Sept. 20-21) or moving on to a new one. What are you planning for your Holmes retelling?

Recently I also got back into reading science fiction/fantasy. Based on a LOT of wonderful reviews, I plowed through N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, which was just as worth it as you all have said. Now I’m reading the third book in the Wayfarers series, Record of a Spaceborn Few. Becky Chambers is such a great author. I’m really loving this series. Oh and in between, I tore through Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell series. I do love a feisty heroine, and Veronica is sheer perfection. Looks like I need to wait till next year for book five, A Murderous Relation. Come on, authors - write faster! 

I hope you’re reading some great books whether you’re ensconced in front of your AC this summer or you’re reading on the beach.

Take care and Happy Reading!


Q&A with a Cannonballer: Ale


How many times have you participated in CBR? Has it changed the way you read? 

This is my sixth year of cannonball and it's definitely changed how I read. I'm actually a much slower reader now since I'm reading to review instead of just to enjoy, but I was totally more prepared for close-reading during my MFA thanks to CBR. I also read much more widely now and am up for trying a book with a good review even if it's not a genre I'm normally into.

You’re an Adjunct in Creative Writing, which sounds awesome. Which is hardest to write: a one-star review, five-star review, or your own short story? 

Hands down my own short story. :) Reviewing other people's ideas is easy. Coming up with my own is tough!


See what else Ale has to say »


CBR Bingo


Bingo is underway, with reviews rolling in and reviewers desperately digging through their To Be Read piles to find things that fit categories. You've got until October 31 to complete your bingo card!

Note: Some of the categories have caused some confusion, especially about the Classics and Remix bingo squares. Each square's description mentioned the #CannonBookClub Classics and Retellings. However, the Classic square is only for a classic book, and the Remix square is only for a retelling/adaptation.

If you are crossing off these squares in conjunction with the #CannonBookClub Classics and Remix, then A Study in Scarlet would fit the Classic square; and something like Mrs. Sherlock Holmes by Brad Ricca would fill the Remix square.

 If you already started a classic book for the Remix square, feel free to use the Reader's Choice free square. Any problems, drop Mswas a line!

We'll be running check-in posts again this year, to provide encouragement and more clarification if necessary. Look for the first one on August 1.


What counts for Cannonball

We occasionally get questions about 'what counts for Cannonball,' with readers asking about kids books, graphic novels, collections of short stories or essays, etc. If you've read something you want to write about and you're not sure if it's CBR appropriate, you have options:
  • Check the FAQ
  • Post your review and wait to see if we tease you in the comments ("wow, this sounds like a really in-depth cereal box!")
  • Ask MsWas

As a general rule, though, very few things are off limits! If you can read it and you can write at least 250 words about it, we want to hear about it.




The #CannonBookClub will be discussing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet August 16-17, and then an adaptation/retelling of your choice September 20-21. As an added incentive, this introduction to Sherlock Holmes is free on Project Gutenberg. Look for the book club suggested discussion questions post soon, and check in on the book club page if you get antsy. 

Avoiding uncategorized entries


When posting a review, don't forget to select a category. This helps us with stats, and helps other readers find good stuff. How else is anyone supposed to track down a speculative fiction cookbook mystery? 

Also, if you hit Save or Preview and don't post your review right away, Wordpress will automatically select "uncategorized." When you go back in and publish your review, make sure that to not only select a category, but remember to DE-select "uncategorized." Don't let your review languish in uncategorized purgatory! Establishing boundaries and categories is a way to show your love - to the book itself and to your CBR compatriots and staff.  

Calling creative Cannonballers


Attention word people who are also visual arts people! CBR is looking for a graphic designer (and volunteer!) to create new T-shirt designs for Cannonball Read. The last T-shirt designs were CBR10-specific for the anniversary, but this time around we're aiming for something a little broader: a design about the love of books/reading that would appeal to our awesome constituency as well as Joe Reader out there on the interwebs. Feel free to 'sign' the piece and put in your portfolio! If you're interested, please let MsWas know

A happy book story

Libraries Without Borders: such a brilliant, simple, excellent concept. Bring the books to where kids are sitting and waiting, and encourage the magic to happen. Book corners are showing up in laundromats and barber shops, and new generations of readers are forming. We just wanted to share a bright spot, and who knows! This could be something to help support or start in your own communities. 

Stuff We're Reading

Sorry Pal, That’s Politics: Jake's review of The Coyotes of Carthage

Feb 27, 2021 02:04 pm
Why is it so hard to write decent political fiction? Can someone answer that question for me, please? There’s a glut of mystery, romance and science fiction novels. Why is it so hard to write about politics? Is it just because we often read for escapism, and politics is part of what we are trying to escape? Perhaps. But given the drama, high stakes, and many opinions contained in stories about politics, I don’t understand why it isn’t a more fertile ground for fiction. Steven […]
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In many ways, this is every bit as important to speculative fiction as The Lord of the Rings: ingres77's review of A Princess of Mars

Feb 27, 2021 11:27 am
Born in 1875, Edgar Rice Burroughs worked a number of odd jobs until, at the age of 35, he decided to pick up writing. Recalling in 1929 that, “if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines, that I could write stories just as rotten.” So, in 1911, he started writing what would go on to become A Princess of Mars, the first book in his Barsoom series. Shortly thereafter, he would go on to create Tarzan – […]
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BOOM and BUST in Dublin: jormis's review of The Commitments

Feb 27, 2021 10:34 am
Like many others I was totally taken by the sheer force of a movie that was The Commitments back in 1991. Maybe it was the story about a band – soul music never sounded so good on a silver screen. Or perhaps due to living in Edinburgh at the time: I was practically almost next door to Dublin where The Commitments was happening. At least, it felt like it, coming from the early 1990s Finland, after the Cold War, after the collapse of Soviet Union, Finland […]
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Urban Blues: Jake's review of Paper Gods, Violent Spring

Feb 26, 2021 09:24 pm
I read two great gritty urban mystery reads this past week. Both uniquely told in their own way but both addressing the politics and social systems of Atlanta and Los Angeles respectively in a way that I found compelling… Paper God (TW and minor spoiler: Book has a trans character in which a threat of violence is implied and a tragic love story is involved. Nothing happens to them but it’s also not the most trans-positive story) I’ve read a lot about Atlanta this past […]
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Like a tumescent Ronald Reagan on the fourth of July: ingres77's review of The Rider of Lost Creek

Feb 26, 2021 07:45 pm
Growing up, my dad had a sizable collection of books written by Louis L’Amour. They were all part of a matching set, with brown leatherette covers (hey, you can still buy them). I always liked the look of them, taking up the bottom shelf of the family bookcase. For a while, in my teens, I blew through them, and remember finding them enjoyable. This time? Not so much. Louis L’Amour published 100 novels and over 250 short stories in his long career, and is as […]
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Amanda Howard (aka "Bothari43")

The Cannonball Read Newsletter Editor
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