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The Best and Worst Books of Cannonball Read 8

By Mswas Sawsm | Books | December 28, 2016 |

By Mswas Sawsm | Books | December 28, 2016 |

Readers participating in Cannonball Read 8 know how important a recommendation of a good book can be, and they definitely know what books to tell you to stay away from. They’ve compiled this list of recommendations, good and bad.

CBR8 been a banner year so far. On top of more than 3,900 reviews, we’ve had four book club discussions, plenty of tweets and comments from authors, and most importantly, so far this year we’ve raised $675 for the American Cancer Society in AlabamaPink’s name.

Registration for the ninth annual, memorial Cannonball Read is open now, and it’s getting ready to kick off on New Year’s Day. Take a look at the list of Cannonballers’ choices of the one worst and three best books below. If you you agree or disagree, especially if you disagree, consider joining the CBR9 gang as we stick it to cancer, one book at a time. Happy New Year!




The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother by Rachel Cusk


The Changeling by Joy Williams




A Promise of Fire - Amanda Bouchet - great smolder, loads of fun
Terrier - The Legend of Beka Cooper - Tamora Pierce - a fresh mystery fantasy novel with fantastic worldbuilding and an engaging, introverted protagonist
The Viscount Who Loved Me - Julia Quinn - there is a reason this is considered a classic


Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas - There is only so much YA wish-fullfilment special snowflakeness one can swallow before choking.




The Captive Prince Trilogy (in particular, the second, Prince’s Gambit) by C.S. Pacat. It’s kind of mind-blowing that I didn’t rate these at 5 stars, since in hindsight they are the books I thought of immediately when picking my favorites. Maybe I’m the most harsh on the ones I love? Looks like it’s time for a re-read.
A Woman Entangled by Cecilia Grant. Rule-breaking romance that comments on a lot of insidious attitudes that persist today.
Kulti by Mariana Zapata. Everything I look for in a slow-burn romance. Bonus points for seemingly accurate portrayals of the intensity and dedication of professional athletes.


The worst was pretty easy — almost too easy. There wasn’t a book I eviscerated worse than Stranded with a Billionaire by Jessica Clare, but the surprise hatred of a book that’s almost universally praised — Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas — deserves mention.




Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell


The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells



Best: non-fiction: Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… and Why by Sady Doyle
Best: horror (narrowly beating out Head Full of Ghosts and Bird Box): The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
Best: fiction (sorry Liane Moriarty): Reamde by Neal Stephenson


And worst of the worst of the worst (this was slightly easier): The Hilliker Curse: My Pursuit of Women by James Ellroy


baxlala (a special shout out to baxlala, she titled all 52 reviews this year after Hamilton lyrics. Personal favorite: "Angelica tried to take a bite of me," a review of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson — Mswas)

Three Best: (This was so hard!)

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

SO WORST: The Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard


Beth Ellen

My top three for the year are:

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Kulti by Mariana Zapata
Miss Grimsley’s Oxford Career by Carla Kelly

And my most hated and rage inducing…

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean


Blingle Bells

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty
A Head Full of Ghosts - Paul Tremblay


Assholes Finish First by Tucker Max




The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
The Stand by Stephen King (very intensely close runnerup Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman)


The Salaryman’s Wife by Sujata Massey



The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
Unmentionable by Therese Oneill




Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates — more relevant than ever.
Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie Chang — it challenged my pre-conceived notions about factory workers in China.
How May We Hate You? by Anna Drezen and Todd Dakotah Briscoe — this was just a super fun read. I love scathing stories from service industry people (hotel, in this case) and the take-home message for this one was just Don’t Be a Dick.


The White Castle by Orhan Pamuk — confusing and bewildering.




Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge
Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks (Author actually posted a comment on my review on the CBR site!)


Outline by Rachel Cusk




The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Kulti by Mariana Zapata
Sweet Disorder by Rose Lerner


Arm Candy by Jo Leigh




Destiny of the Republic by Candice Mallard
Losing Our Way by Bob Herbert
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

My 1 worst from 2016: Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld




Hold Me by Courtney Milan - A beautifully contemporary and feminist romance. I hope to see more reviews next year.
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov - If I were reviewing it now, I’d talk about how it portrays life in post-truth Moscow.
The Perdition Score by Richard Kadrey - I will keep telling You People to pick up the Sandman Slim series as long as I have breath.

There are so many kinds of worst, so I’m going to go with the book I think sent the worst message. Don’t talk to the police without an attorney. Just don’t. Nora Roberts, Whiskey Beach




The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
The Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell
Act Like It by Lucy Parker

(short non-fiction honorable mention We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)


The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev



The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Kindred by Octavia Butler (with a special shout-out to everything by Rainbow Rowell, because she made my life better)


Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (this wasn’t even a difficult choice)


Jenny S


The Sun is Also a Star by Nicole Yoon
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
Half a Life by Darin Strauss


Three Truths and a Lie by Brent Hartinger



The Run of His Life: The People vs. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Seven for a Secret by Lindsey Faye


A Gambler’s Anatomy by Jonathan Lethem



Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J Maas

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas

Sounds Like Me by Sara Bareilles


The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen …tied with Abomination by Gary Whitta




The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
Black Widow: The Finely Woven Thread by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto


My Billionaire Triceratops Craves Gay Ass by Chuck Tingle


Lisa Bee

John Dies at the End by David Wong
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur , vol. 1, BFF by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare and Natacha Bustos
The Half Bad Trilogy by Sally Green


Damned by Chuck Palahniuk




When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
All Fun and No Joy by Jennifer Senior
Shrill by Lindy West


Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson (Close runner up: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes)



The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne


The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger




The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie (I’m kind of cheating, it’s three books in one review but the entire series is fantastic)
And lastly - The Fifth Season By N.K. Jemisin

Worst is easy - Written in Red by Anne Bishop


Mrs. Julien


The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Kulti by Marina Zapata
Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase

Can I give a shout out to the Best: title of the year and possibly ever? Lili Valente’s Magnificent Bastard


"A New Adult Sports Romance" Play by Holly Roberts




The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
(And I’m sneaking in a novella, The Awakened Kingdom by N.K. Jemisin)


booooo A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara




Readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May
Results May Vary by Bethany Chase

And the WORST (by so much it wasn’t even a question):

The Diabetic and The Dietician by Ellen and Allen Albertson - a sexist pile of garbage. That the publisher decided to come into the comments and justify. And was DELICIOUSLY, blandly, shot down by the fabulous melanir.




Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
Stiletto by Daniel OMalley
Super Happy Magic Forest by Matty Long


The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson




The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley


Darkness by Karen Robards




Misadventures of awkward black girl by Issa Rae
Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison
Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews


Iced by Karen Moening


The Mama


I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb - Long, involved, heartbreaking, heartwarming, and sob-inducing. And an very unflinching look at mental illness and how it affects everything in its path.
Crazy in Alabama by Mark Childress - Easily one of the Best: books I’ve read in a long time, and sneaky about it, too. Don’t let the movie put you off; the book is amazing.
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy - Fantastic YA book, with bonus Dolly Parton and drag queens. You can’t go wrong with that.


Lucky! Texas by Sandra Brown - This was the worst worst worst worst worst ever. Like, by a landslide. By a thousand landslides. Easily the worst book of all the years. Ever.



11/22/63 by Stephen King
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

My Worst Read of 2016 was a three-way tie: Cross Country, by James Patterson, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling, and John Tiffany, and The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah - all equally awful.




Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
The Trespasser by Tana French (not yet reviewed)


The Cartel by Don Winslow