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 August 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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16 comments

  1. The best book I read was Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher. One of my top 2 of the year! This book just blew me away. I think everyone needs to know about this book and author! My review can be found here: https://mightythorjrs.wordpress.com/2015/08/27/book-review-beyond-redemption-by-michael-r-fletcher/

  2. Ren Bedell /

    Best book I read last month was Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. It was absolutely amazing. His writing is so well done that he made technical information exciting and not detracting from the story. The characters were all great with a perfect blend of seriousness, passion, and comedy.

  3. Damn, August was a good month. The Dragon Engine (Andy Remic) was everything I was hoping for; Twelve Kings in Sharakhai (Bradley P. Beaulieu) was a great opening volume in a new epic saga; and King of the Bastards (Brian Keene & Steven L. Shrewsbury) was pulp fun.

    My pick for best read of the month, though, goes to The Fifth House of the Heart (Ben Tripp). It adeptly blended genres and mythologies while being terrifying, humorous, adventurous, and charming all at once. Just a marvelous read.

  4. I only read 1 1/2 books in August, I am ashamed.

    I finished Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone. It was good, but I didn’t like it as much as Three Parts Dead. I still like the premise and the world, but the story in this one felt a little flat.

    I’m over halfway through Grace of Kings by Ken Liu though and it’s a breath of fresh air. After only reading two books all summer, this whipped me back into reading mode. It’s also on sale for $1.99 on amazon right now, so I really can’t recommend it highly enough.

  5. I’ve been starting but not finishing new books, so I backed off, and went on a re-reading kick instead. For some reason, I decided I wanted to read The Moor by Laurie R. King. It’s not my favorite of the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series and I’ve only read it…this was probably the third, maybe fourth time. That’s in comparison with Justice Hall which I’ve probably read 8 or 9 times!

    Prompted by John Scalzi showing a picture of it on Whatever, I managed to find a [expensive] ARC of Diane Duane’s new Young Wizards book, Games Wizards Play. It’s not out until next February!

  6. The best book I read in August of 2015? Well that can be easily answered. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Patroclus is an exiled prince sent to live in a different kingdom with others who have also been orphaned. He forms a friendship with the Prince Achilles and the two become companions through everything (and I do mean everything). But the time comes for Achilles to be a hero and fight in war. Patroclus will follow him anywhere, despite the continuos attempts to stop him. It may not have been science fiction fantasy but it was still very memorable. It isn’t very often that I come across a book about ancient Greece that strays from the usual hero falls for maiden. I actually stumbled upon it through a ship tag (a romantic pairing)on tumblr. I didn’t exactly know what it was but I could see that the ship (Patroclus and Achilles) was absolutely adorable and I had to know what all these crying fans were on about. So I read it, and now I too am a crying fan trying to cope with the fact that it’s over. Madeline Miller was able to destroy my feelings and put them back together before I even got past chapter 8. The story is beautifully written and I simply loved the way Miller portrayed Achilles as the sweet, trusting, mischievous prince.
    (ps. Screw you Deidameia)
    -Andy

  7. RedEyedGhost /

    That’s easy this month, Cold Iron by Stina Leicht. It’s my favorite book this year. I keep hoping someone (several someones) will review it here, but alas, no luck so far. We’ll see if the review I wrote for it elsewhere will post of if it’s too long…

    As I’ve said in the reading thread, this is my favorite book I’ve read so far this year. I’m also a big fan of her other two books, as she really writes characters that I enjoy.

    This one is quite different from her first two. They were urban fantasy set in Ireland during the Troubles, with a fae twist. This one is secondary world epic fantasy with a flintlock technology level. The book has three point of view characters, and they’re all part of the Kingdom of Eledore – a very important part. Suvi and Nels are the twin princess and prince, and Ilta is the granddaughter, and expected successor, of the Silmaillia who is the strongest magic user in the kingdom.

    The kingdom of Eledore is on a continent with five other powerful dominions and a nation of Waterborn who pretty much live on their ships, both at sea and on the vast lakes that cover the continent. If I recall correctly (I read it extremely quickly because I enjoyed it so much), five of the other nations (Waterborn included) are all inhabited by kainen – a race with elf-like features, as they derogatorily call humans “round-ears” – while the last, the Acrasian Regnum, is inhabited by humans. Throughout the book we learn of the continents past and the history Eledore. It was formed by refugees from the other nations as they battled the Old Ones, demonish creatures that come through “cracks in the world”

    The kainen are magic users that were able to seal the cracks and it’s been more than 200 since they’ve been seen. The humans, are well, human, and have been easily controlled by Eledore because of their “Command” magic (which is exactly what you would think). But of late, and because of scheming in the royal family, they’re getting much more ambitious in acting along the border. This is where the story begins.

    The POV characters:

    Nels – the first POV we encounter – he is the crown prince of Eledore, he’s also terrified that he’s a changeling (a “defective” kainen who has no magical ability) because he has not had any abilities manifest at age 16, and most do by 13. This is what makes him such a fascinating character for me, he has to go about things differently from the rest of the ruling family and the army’s command structure.

    Suvi – Nels twin sister. I really liked her chapters too, especially the encounter with the Waterborn. While Nels has to do things differently from the status quo he still tries to go along with it, Suvi was more influenced by their mother who was “imported” from the Kingdom of Ytlain, and she thinks much more about, and is more interested in created change in Eledore.

    Ilta – she is an extremely powerful healer and seer, whose magic began manifested very early, her first vision was between ages 3 and 4. She was my least favorite character, partly because I’m not a big fan of prophecy in fantasties, and partly because of her clichéd relationship with Nels. I do like that she is a risk taker and is willing to try medical treatments that the lowly humans have developed instead of relying solely on magical ability, and her growth because of that

    While the kainen have magic, it’s not all powerful, and the use of it can be very taxing on the user. The humans in the story are much more advanced in technology (medicine and weapons) and battle techniques, but they are easily controlled by kainen with command magic. I don’t recall if they came to the continent from somewhere else or why they only live in the one little corner of it (or if they live elsewhere on the continent as a servant/slave class and Acrasia is the only area they are free). Possibly we’ll learn more about that as we learn more about the Old Ones. The story itself is supposed to be a “North American” fantasy, and this definitely feels like a settlement of America but from the Native Americans’ view.

    If you can’t already tell, I loved this book, and I think you should read it too. I cannot wait for book two, Blackthorne, to be released, and good news she turned in the first draft of it on June 22. Her blog even has it listed as a 2015 release date.

  8. August was not a great month for reading for me. I had a lot of DNFs. And a couple of meh two stars. The best genre read for me was the one five star; Steam and Sorcery by Cindy Spencer Pape which is basically historical romance with a decent fantasy/steampunk background. Often, books that are romance and do it in a fantasy or scifi setting tend to give short shrift to those settings and trappings that make the fantasy genre fun and interesting. Pape does a much better job of fleshing those out than most romance authors do when crossing genres. I’ve now read the first three of this series (out of order – they’re all completely separate with new mains in each one but in the same world) and they’ve all been excellent if like a bit of fantasy with your romance.

    I’ve no idea why I read so much romance in August – I think it was because they were all humorous and there is a dismal shortage of humor in fantasy and scifi these days. Or rather, I’ve basically read all of the funny ones. I had a desperate need for laughs in August I suppose. Probably the unholy heat and rain turning my brain into mush.

    Do feel free to recommend me some funny fantasy/scifi/steampunk whatever you think I might like.

  9. Easy: FOOL’S QUEST by Robin Hobb.

  10. ditto–Fool’s Quest

  11. David Mitchell’s Slade House.

  12. Conal O'Neill /

    I really enjoyed the audio version of Half a War by Joe Abercrombie. A great finish to an entertaining series. Other books that I enjoyed in August include The Thousand Names by Django Wexler and Corsair by James Cambias.

  13. Liz Hollendonner /

    I spent most of August playing catch up on some older releases (but not too old really). I thoroughly enjoyed the YA fantasy The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows (and need to start on my advance copy of The Mirror King soon!), and I really liked Artemis Awakening by Jane Lindskold, who is a favorite author due to Firekeeper’s Saga. September should see me reading some actual September releases since I’m definitely behind in my reading schedule :)

  14. Andy, if you live in the USA, you win 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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