Thoughtful Thursday: Best book you read in March 2013

fantasy and science fiction book reviews

It’s the first Thursday of the month, which means it’s time to report!

What is the best book you read in March 2013 and why did you love it? It doesn’t have to be a newly published book, or even SFF. We just want to share some great reading material. Feel free to post a full review of the book here, or a link to the review on your blog, or just write a few sentences about why you thought it was awesome.

(And don’t forget that we always have plenty more reading recommendations on our Fanlit Faves page and our 5-Star SFF page.)

As always, one commenter will choose a book from our stacks.


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RYAN SKARDAL, with us since September 2010, is an English teacher who reads widely but always makes time for SFF.

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24 comments

  1. Charles de Lint’s THE CATS OF TANGLEWOOD FOREST. Hands down the best book last month.

    • April /

      That one’s been on my TBR list for quite some time. Good to hear that it doesn’t disappoint.

  2. Melanie Goldmund /

    I didn’t do an awful lot of actual reading this month because I recently discovered Blake’s 7, a British sci fi series from 1978. Big Finish has recently started making new audio adventures for this show, featuring the original actors, and I was so intrigued I had to watch every episode, sometimes more than once. And listen to the new stories. My favourite is The Liberator Chronicles Volume 3: The Armageddon Storm, and I’m eagerly looking forward to Volume 4, which will come out in May.

    Big Finish also does excellent Doctor Who adventures with the remaining “old” Doctor Who actors: Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, and (my favourite) Paul McGann.

    But audio adventures don’t really count as books, do they?

    In print, however, I also read The Dead of Veridon, by Tim Akers. I love the character of Jacob Burn. Wilson the anansi is very cool, and the idea of the Fehn is very creepy.

  3. April /

    I always have a hard time just picking one so here are the four best reads for me for March:
    StarCrossed by Elizabeth Bunce – I liked this because it is very much different than usual fantasies of this type. The main is clever but not infallible and the plot is very interesting and twisty.
    Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1) – another one that is different, with main characters that are interesting to follow around.
    Cold Days (The Dresden Files, #14) – I don’t think I need to comment on this one ;-)
    Shadow Unit 1 by several authors was a collaborative online effort that ended in these short stories about a law enforcement unit that handles the odd cases but is mostly a character study of each of the people in the unit and was quite enjoyable to read though I’m not a huge fan of short fiction.

  4. Wait, what if I can’t pick just ONE???

    AWESOME:

    Demon Hunter and Baby by Anna Elliot –this is one really enjoyable UF. Too bad the cover stinks. Here’s my review:

    http://www.bearmountainbooks.com/favorite-reads/bargain-reads/review-demon-hunter-and-baby/

  5. Joel /

    I read a few that I enjoyed, but the tops was probably The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan. Very different take on a ghost story. Hope it does well at the Nebulas.

    Runner-up is a classic: A Canticle for Leibowitz, read for my book club. Liked it a lot but found the last section dragged.

  6. No contest–River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay. See me when you ask for best book of 2013 as well; it’ll be on the short list.

    Marion, I put Cats on my Amazon wish list after your earlier review. Seeing this makes me think it’ll soon come off the list. Thought “Wish List” is usually better translated as the

    “what to add to my cart when I already have free shipping” list or the

    “what to add to my cart so I get free shipping list” or the

    “how to remind myself to add enough of these to my cart when they become paperbacks so I get free shipping” or the

    “stuff I have to put on here for at least five days so I don’t feel overly indulgent by buying them immediately”

    • April /

      Ha! Your definition of your ‘wish list’ is similar to mine!

  7. sandyg265 /

    A Turn of Light by Julie Czerneda. This is a huge book – over 800 pages which made it hard to hold. But it’s one of the best comming of age fantasy stories I’ve read in a long time.

  8. The “why did you love it” part is a bit presumptuous. I had an off month and didn’t like most of the things I read. The best one was easily Opal Fire by Barbra Annino, and I’d say it was a light amusing tale, but not one I loved.

  9. My favourite all round book for March, though it’s not a science fiction and fantasy book (and I did read quite a few good ones there too) was ‘May We Be Forgiven’ by A M Holmes.
    I was engrossed from the start of the book and unless I’d read it previously in the reviews, I would never have noticed there were no chapters, in fact I would have stayed up all night reading if my eyes hadn’t starting blurring over.
    There were some great little moments in the book that had me giggling out loud, much to my husband’s annoyance, he just didn’t get it and got sick of me quoting my favourite lines to him after a while!
    It was an adventure for me, following Harry as his life changed completely, and I thoroughly recommend it to everyone!

    My favourite science fiction and fantasy book was ‘Shatter Me’ by Tahereh Mafi.
    I adored the way the book was written, how Juliette spoke/wrote, the concept of the world she lives in and the fact that she didn’t just ‘get better’ at the end, as life and post traumatic stress is just not that easy to ‘get over’. It was a wonderful book and I can’t wait until I some have free time to read the next book in the series.

  10. RedEyedGhost /

    March wasn’t the best month for me in both quality and quantity, and while it’s one of the weaker books in the series, Diplomatic Immunity by Bujold was my top read.

  11. Ferran /

    every day by David Leviathan
    great idea and well written am now working on a book trailer for it.

  12. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn…believe the hype, it’s really good!

  13. BuffaloCharlie /

    Jo Walton’s Among Others – Loved it!

    Dan Simmon’s Hard As Nails – the final installment in his Joe Kurtz series, hard-boiled ex-con/private eye – Solid!

    The first two books in Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber series.

  14. Sandy Ferber /

    For me, it was Robert Silverberg’s “The World Inside.” Here’s why:
    In Robert Silverberg’s 1970 novel “Tower of Glass,” obsessed business magnate Simeon Krug builds a 1,500-meter-high structure to enable him to communicate with the stars, and since 1,500 meters is roughly equal to 4,500 feet, or more than three Empire State Buildings, the reader is suitably impressed. But the following year, in his novel “The World Inside,” Silverberg wrote of a group of buildings that make Krug’s structure look like a pip-squeak. This was just one of four major sci-fi novels released by Silverberg in 1971, the others being “The Second Trip,” “Son of Man” and “A Time of Changes.” “The World Inside” AND “A Time of Changes” were nominated for the Hugo award in 1972, ultimately “losing” to Larry Niven’s “Ringworld.” (“A Time of Changes” DID go on to win a Nebula award.) This was Silverberg’s 45th sci-fi novel since his first, “Revolt on Alpha C,” in 1954; his 21st since his more mature and literate “second career” began in 1967.

    In the book, which takes place in the year 2381, Earth’s population has reached the staggering figure of 75 billion! The bulk of mankind resides in three-kilometer-high (3,000 meters is almost 9,000 feet…twice the height of Krug’s tower!), 1,000-story buildings called “urbmons” (short for “urban monads”), each urbmon being but a single unit in a “constellation” of 50 or so, and each containing around 800,000+ people! Urbmon residents spend their entire lives inside their building and never leave it (hence the book’s title), their food needs being taken care of by the farming communes nearby. “The World Inside” introduces us to several dozen residents of Urbmon 116 in the Chipitts constellation, which the reader quickly deduces lies in the 400-mile stretch between CHIcago and PITTSburgh. We meet a “sociocomputator” in Chapter 1 who introduces a visitor from Venus–as well as the reader–to the wonders of the urbmon (this first chapter was initially a short story entitled “A Happy Day in 2381”); a young couple that worries about being evicted from 116 and placed into the brand-new Urbmon 158, due to their bad luck of being childless; a young musician from the city of San Francisco (Urbmon 116 is divided into 25 “cities” of 40 floors each); a historian who is obsessed with looking at tapes of the way those savages lived during the 20th century; a young go-getter who will seemingly, someday, attain to the uppermost city of Louisville, home of the urbmon’s administrators; and a computer maintenance man who, in perhaps the novel’s most exciting segment, goes “flippo,” escapes from the building, and explores the outside world….

    Although many of Silverberg’s works after 1967 featured a hearty leavening of sex, “The World Inside” is absolutely replete with sexual situations, and for good reason. One of the hallmarks of urbmon society happens to be “nightwalking,” during which any male can open the door of any apartment and engage in coitus with any adult occupant, no questions asked, be it male or female; even incest is okeydokey in this society…anything to reduce societal friction! So while this is a novel of social, extrapolative science fiction, “The World Inside” also turns out to be a bit of a sexual fantasy, as well. I mean, imagine having sex with anyone you desired! (It seems that the book’s title just might have another, more lascivious meaning!) This unlimited sexual access almost makes urbmon life seem like a very desirable thing. And Silverberg, in some typically uberintelligent passages, has his characters discuss the pros and cons of 24th century existence, and the arguments for the vertical, indoor lifestyle almost start to make sense. But ultimately, after no less than three major characters go flippo (one is brainwashed back to “normalcy,” one is put to death, another commits suicide), in addition to several others, the reader is left with little doubt on which side the author stands. Though some of the novel’s characters defend the urbmon lifestyle, the reader knows better. The book, then, is ultimately a very sad one, almost hauntingly so, and its opening and closing sentences regarding another “happy day” become tinged with bitter irony. We come to care for all the major characters in this book, and Silverberg really allows us inside their heads. How wonderful it is when their paths cross in the humongous building during the course of the novel, a novel that, despite its comparative brevity, succeeds in making many significant points. Reveling in his new freedoms as a writer, Silverberg also rails against both the sexual puritanism of the 20th century and its silly ban on certain words in literature; our historian acquaintance in the novel cannot even believe such taboos ever existed! And neither, it seems, can Silverberg (a writer who penned his own fair share of sex novels in the early to mid-’60s)!

    The bottom line, then, is that “The World Inside” is still another superb piece of work from this sci-fi great. It is supremely well written, involving, unputdownable, with a remarkable amount of detail and invention on every page (just get a load of that 24th century concert given by our musician friend’s “cosmos group”!). Silverberg’s book here is nearly perfect, aside from a very occasional gaffe (such as when he tells us that when our young go-getter was with Louisville’s upper echelon, he was “a cherub among the archangels”; since cherubim are much higher in the celestial hierarchy than archangels, shouldn’t that be the other way around?). And if I may cough up one more quibble, it would be the dearth of any older characters in this novel; just about everyone we encounter seems to be under 25, and it might have been interesting to see how 24th century urbmon life affects the more senior folk. Still, this remains another stunning accomplishment in Silverberg’s 1967-’76 streak. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try to open the door of the hot blonde’s apartment on the third floor of my building, slide into her bed, and see if she’ll have sex with me. What could possibly go wrong?

  15. River of Stars all the way.

  16. CTGT /

    Best non-sci/fi fantasy book was a crime title The Hard Bounce

    Best fantasy was The Riddle-master of Hed

  17. Alan Braeley /

    For me it was Joe Haldemon’s The Forever War. I’m not a huge fan of war novels, and this is my first excursion into the more hard science fiction, but I was astounded by all sides of this book!

  18. Wow Kat, you’re all about the love! :)

  19. Joel, if you live in the USA, you have a book of your choice from our stacks.

    Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading!

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