Thoughtful Thursday: What’s the best book you read last month?

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsIt’s the first Thursday of the month. You know what that means. Time to report!

What is the best book you read in July 2015 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. And we’ve also got a constantly updating list of new and forthcoming releases.)

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

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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14 comments

  1. Michael Voss /

    It’s difficult to choose this month between two books that are each part of a series. On one hand, Django Wexler’s THE PRICE OF VALOR does a wonderful job of continuing the saga of The Shadow Campaigns. At three books out of five, the story is shaping up and some new thoughts occur to the reader in regards to where things might end up – and it’s not necessarily where you’d expect after books one and two! Characters gather even more complexity and ambiguity, and protracted separation of some characters that spent time together earlier offers revelations about each.

    Then there’s Matthew Woodring Stover’s HEROES DIE, the first in a series that introduces a frustrating dystopian future tied to an exciting and innovative take on an alternate universe. As one might expect, most of the characters in the alternate world are far more interesting than those in the dystopian “real world”, who are somewhat necessarily, for the most part, less richly drawn. But even characters spanning both universes come off better in the alternate reality, a world they are sent to as “actors” fighting battles that are all too real in that other world as “virtual reality”-like technology allows viewers on the Earth they’ve left behind to experience what the actors do at differing levels of perception, from movie-like viewing to full sensory feedback. If you’re rich enough to afford it, you can experience an actor’s death as if it were your own. A relatively rare event, but no less sought after and hoped for in this decadent future.

    So ultimately it’s a tie for me between these two in July. Honorable mentions to Lois McMaster Bujold’s 5 Gods novella “Penric’s Demon” which is classic Bujold; Delilah S Dawson’s quirkily satirical dystopia on debt collection, HIT; and Ernie Cline’s Earth-against-the-aliens adventure game – er, book – ARMADA. No clinkers this month, all good stuff!

  2. Margo /

    I finished reading Kameron Hurley’s Mirror Empire and then plunged right into the ARC of Empire Ascendant. The worldbuilding in these books is nothing short of amazing, and the characters continue to reveal themselves …or die …or both. Some plot twists surprised me, but I’m loath to say anything spoiler-y here because EA won’t be published until October. If you haven’t read ME, you have time to catch up!

    • RedEyedGhost /

      Is this a planned trilogy? I purchased Mirror Empire right when it came out, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I absolutely loved her Bel Dame Apocrypha.

  3. I didn’t get a lot of reading done last month, and much of it was from my WTF escapism shelves, but one book stands out – Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb.

    I am a huge fan of Fitz, Fool, and Chade, so I was excited when Fool’s Assassin came out last year. Unfortunately, it ended up being one of my most disappointing reads of the year. As such, I went into Fool’s Quest with no little trepidation, only to be completely blown away. The pacing is perfect, the characters ring true, the world building continues in some delightfully surprising ways and the agonizing cliffhanger is one of her best.

    • That is good to hear, Bob! I just loaded it into my phone and will start it later today, I hope. So excited now!!

  4. susan emans /

    I don’t have a single favorite. Colleen Vanderlinden’s Betrayer is very good, as is Grace Draven’s The Brush of Black Wings. The Diamond Conspiracy by Ballantine and Morris was a wonderful continuation of the adventures of Books and Braun. If I have to pick one, I would pick RJ Blain’s Blood Diamond. Her books have a lot of action, but they are very character driven, and I love the male protagonist in this book. Blood Diamond is the third book in her Witch and Wolf series, and I love all of them (Disclosure: I beta and proofread Blood Diamond, but I did so to decrease production costs, so Blain would be able to continue writing about these characters.I buy my copies of her books.)

  5. Melanie Goldmund /

    Goodness, I hardly got anything read last month because I was too busy with fanfic about my latest obsession. But I did read Crashing Heaven, by Al Robertson, and liked it a lot. I was a bit hesitant to get into cyberpunk, but I needn’t have worried — this was great!

    I also liked The Death House, by Sarah Pinborough, and though it was very well written, I didn’t love it, partly because it was sad and I am just not in the mood lately for sad, and partly because it featured teen romance and I’m getting too old for teen romance.

    I also really enjoyed Radiant, by Karina Sumner-Smith, which was both fast-paced and fascinating.

    Those are pretty much all the traditionally published books that I read in July, and I can recommend all of them.

  6. It’s a tie between The Wastelands and Wizard And Glass by Stephen King. Both very different books in the Dark Tower series, but I can’t pick between ’em!

  7. RedEyedGhost /

    My best SFF read last month was Hidden Cities by Daniel Fox. Great end to a great trilogy. I think I might have liked The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy more than Hidden Cities, but it’s really close.

    I do already know what my favorite book for this month will be, and I’m not even finished with it yet! Cold Iron by Stina Leicht. It’s amazing! Buy this book now.

  8. Izzy A. /

    The best book i read last month is Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch. I love the Gentleman Bastard series and this book kept it going with wanting me to read more and never put it down. The ending, of course, made me pick up the next book as quick as possible to see what happens. I am almost complete with The Republic of Thieves and cant wait for The Thorn of Emberlain!

  9. April /

    July wasn’t a month filled with five star books for me. I read quite a few really good ones, especially in the cozy mystery and romance sections. For the genre titles, here are the top three standouts:

    A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Lawrence Yep – this is a middle grade book with humor and heart, told from the perspective of a dragon with a pet human. Like cats, dragons consider themselves the boss in any relationship. Fun!

    Daring by Elliott James – the second book in the Pax Arcana series. This is a wonderful urban fantasy much in line, at least in tone, with Butcher’s Dresden Files except the main is half werewolf. You’ll have to read to find out how someone can be half werewolf in this world. Very happy that book three is out this month.

    Like Michael Voss above, I read and thoroughly enjoyed Django Wexler’s The Price of Valor. Very much anticipating the next to find out what is going to happen!

  10. wbogacz /

    I’m kind of late to the party, but I started last year, as a post-50 adult, reading the Harry Potter series. It’s weird the looks you get from other adults when they see you carrying them. Last month I finished the Goblet of Fire, and liked it for the climactic battle scene between Harry and Voldemort. Plenty here to read that would be above a child reader’s head. Started right away with the next – Order of the Phoenix; won’t stop until the end.

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