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, ’cause we do this on the first Thursday of every month! Time to report!

What is the best book you read in October 2018 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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18 comments

  1. October was light on reading for me, primarily because one book still hasn’t captured my attention enough to finish. So, only two other books completed, both recommended. “Camouflage” by Joe Haldeman and Andy Duncan’s upcoming collection “An Agent of Utopia.”

  2. Bobby V. Berry, Jr. /

    I read the Truthwitch by Susan Dennard. It was a fun read. I have the next ones in the series that I am looking forward to reading.

  3. Noneofyourbusiness /

    Doom Patrol #69, I liked the resolution with the Identity Addict becoming the False Memory

  4. I read Jirel of Joiry, the compilation of all of C.L. Moore’s Jirel shorts, and loved it. It stands the test of time in my opinion.

    I also really enjoyed City of Brass, it was a great blend of mythology and history.

  5. Ren Bedasbad /

    Started reading the Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin. I quickly got through the first 2 books and started the last book. The story and characters are great, but the writing is fantastic. I can see why this series won so many awards!

  6. The Distinguished Professor /

    The first Seventh Tower book, The Fall, by Garth Nix. Brilliant start to another of his imaginative series.

  7. Lady Morar /

    My friends recommended it to me, and I enjoyed the blend of history and drama in Amor Towles’s “A Gentleman in Moscow”.

  8. King of Assassins by RJ Barker. Absolutely perfect conclusion to a truly wonderful trilogy.

  9. “Exit Strategy” by Martha Wells! I cannot wait for the “Murderbot” novel to be released in 2020!

  10. Mary Henaghen /

    I finally read Good Omens. I have no words. It should required reading for humanity!!

  11. My best read was non-fiction:
    21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari. Even when I don’t agree with everything he says, Harari is definitely thought-provoking.

  12. Paul Connelly /

    Best read: Grey Sister, Mark Lawrence’s follow-up to Red Sister, continues the story of our now more definitely adolescent heroine, Nona, as her education at the Convent of Sweet Mercy gets increasingly hemmed in by the Inquisition. Demons play a more prominent role in this one. About half the story is taken up by Nona’s attempt to recapture the stolen shipheart, while Abbess Glass plays a long game to thwart a plot by the emperor’s sister to seize control of the focus moon. This is guaranteed to keep you up reading until much too late at night, although the frame story that seemed so cool at the start of Red Sister is getting more contradictory the farther along we go. Also, the dialogue between Nona and her friends is very plot-focused, meaning we don’t get a strong sense of their inner, emotional lives. So they remain more action heroes than fully realized characters (but great action heroes).

    Rogue Protocol is our third helping of Murderbot from Martha Wells, and it’s still very entertaining. In this one Murderbot is trying to collect evidence against the evil GrayCris corporation at a failed terraforming platform, while unsuccessfully resisting the humanizing influence of a dumb “pet” bot that human engineers have brought with them to the station. One more novella to go.

    I had high expectations for Robert Jackson Bennett’s Foundryside, based on how much I loved his Divine Cities trilogy, but it was a little harder to warm up to than I had hoped. Mostly this was due to pacing issues, with an overly hectic beginning, some stretches in the middle that just seemed too slow, and a few character developments that were hurriedly telegraphed when the motives behind them could have been built up more gradually. But the basic story was quite good and the characters mostly believable, if not always likable. The last hundred pages really flew by, so Bennett had the pacing under control by then.

    Apocalypse Nyx collects two novellas and three novelettes set in the same world as Kameron Hurley’s Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy (which I haven’t read). Not sure if this is technically grimdark, but it’s about as grim and dark as I can withstand (but quite good). Nyx is an ex-soldier reconstructed with other people’s body parts after extreme combat injuries, after which she worked as a bel dame (the ruler’s personal assassins/secret police, basically) and did a stint in jail after losing that job. Now she and her team hunt down wanted people for low pay, with high levels of bloodshed. Between contracts (or sometimes during) she gets drunk as often as she can and tries not to care about the men and women she has sex with. In spite of this, Nyx doesn’t come across as a totally horrible person, just a horribly damaged one, on a planet where centuries long religious wars leave multitudes of psychologically wrecked survivors. The technology and/or magic is based on insects, and biological warfare is as common as bullets and bayonets. You could call this “ex-military” SF…no Hornblower clones on the bridge of the starship, just grunts down in the blood and filth and desert sand.

    Clockwork Witch by Michelle Sonnier has a somewhat familiar “ugly duckling” premise…a girl born into a magical family who is devoid of magical talent. But we pretty much know she will find it, and in this case her magic does not derive from nature but from nascent industrial technology. The setting is an England where witches have openly used their powers to aid those in need, accruing great prestige as a result. Now, early in Queen Victoria’s reign, they are coming into conflict with industrialists. An odd but interesting book–pretty much seems like YA, with a teen-age heroine whose clothes are described in minute detail, but it’s lighter on romance and darker in it portrayal of social ills.

    Had heard good things about Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning, but that turned out to be another odd and only intermittently interesting book, in spite of the original setting and mythology, one which veered too much into paranormal romance (angsty, not explicit) for me. The heroine is a monster-slayer, but her superhuman and bloodthirsty effectiveness makes her feel like a monster herself, especially after being abandoned by her godlike monster-slaying mentor. A medicine man’s nephew with mysterious healing powers is out to make her forget the previous object of her desire (the mentor), and they dance around each other as she tries to resist his movie-star, boy-band good looks, interrupted by random episodes of gory monster violence. I don’t think I’m the target audience for this type of tale, but if the sequel looks like it’s going in a different direction I might give it a try.

  13. John Smith /

    I very much enjoyed “The Wonderling,” which is sort of an Oliver Twist-style story about a rabbit-human creature in a Victorian-style world where there are many hybrids, and a cruel elite.

  14. Melita /

    When Murderbot: Exit Strategy was released, I tore through books 2-4. I also can’t wait for the novel! Meanwhile Wells is still releasing Raksura snippets on her Patreon.

    I also reread the Starfarers tetralogy by Vonda McIntyre. A research expedition flees military takeover. Meanwhile 3 members of the alien contact team are still struggling after the loss of their family partnerships 4th member several months ago. And there is a saboteur aboard. I dearly love this series and wish there were more stories.

    That seemed to be enough rereading and I picked up Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone. I did like it a lot, particularly how twisty it was. I’ll be reading the rest of the series but wasn’t bowled over by it.

  15. Sethia /

    I really enjoyed Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas. It is the final book in The Throne of Glass series and tied up everything nicely as you would expect from a YA novel.

  16. SandyG /

    Night of Silence by Seanan McGuire

  17. I’ve had a tough time finding books I’m in the mood to read lately so I’ve done a heaping load of re-reads of some of my favorites and I won’t list them here as they are all well known and well liked. New to me books that hit the four or five star mark in October were:

    Dragon’s Egg by Maria E. Schneider, the fourth book in her Dragons of Wendal series. This one is my favorite I think, though Fairy Bite (#3) is second. Good story, characters and well seasoned with chuckles.

    Confluence by SK Dunstall is the third in the Linesman series and it didn’t disappoint. The addition of a new POV was an extra special bonus.

  18. Peter McLean, 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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