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 January 2019 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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15 comments

  1. Mary Henaghen /

    I read the Tawny Man trilogy by Robin Hobb. Awsome epic fantasy that needs a triogly to tell the story. Loved it!!
    It is comprised of Fools Errand, Golden Fool, Fools Fate.

  2. I’m split between “The Winter of the Witch” by Katherine Arden and “In An Absent Dream” by Seanan McGuire. I’ll share my review of “The Winter of the Witch” below; however, I’m going to do a series review “The Wayward Children” (so far) later this year.

    https://mistyaquavenatus.com/2019/01/07/why-you-need-to-read-the-winter-of-the-witch/

    • I loved The Winter of the Witch. I was the first person on my local library’s wait list when they picked up a copy of In an Absent Dream, and they just emailed me today that the copy is now processed in their system and I can pick it up. Yay! Next read!!

  3. Sethia /

    I enjoyed Smoke & Summons(Numina Trilogy #1)by Charlie N. Holmberg. It was different then my ususl read and I can’t wait for book 2!

  4. Conal ONeill /

    I spent some time last month in the Super Powered universe and both Corpies and Super Powered Year 3 by Drew Hayes were a lot of fun. Thin Air by Richard K Morgan could not be really classified as fun but it was a very intriguing read. All recommended as must reads.

  5. January was a good month for my reading. Outside of the re-reads, there were two Five Star reads and four Four Star reads. Starting with the fives:

    The Paladin Caper by Patrick Weekes is the third and final book in the Rogues of the Republic series or ‘how thieves save the world’.

    Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews is a novella in the Hidden Legacy series that stars one of the side characters and is lots of fun, not least for the different view of the mains.

    And the fours:
    There Before the Chaos by KB Wagers is the first in the second arc of her space opera about the empress who was a gunrunner.

    The Death of Dulgath by Michael J. Sullivan is book 3 of the Riyria Chronicles about the thieves who get in over their heads and turn it all around.

    Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo a good story with some very conflicted characters – it is an emotional rollercoaster for sure.

    Wrath of Empire by Brian McClellan is book #2 of the Gods of Blood and Power arc of his powder mages books. The characters in this one go through some serious turmoil.

  6. SandyG /

    In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

  7. Noneofyourbusiness /

    “The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks” by Terry Tempest Williams. An account full of description that keeps your interest and unexpected fascinating information ranging from presidential history to the fact that prairie dogs are a keystone species.

  8. John Smith /

    “The Girl in the Tower” by Katherine Arden. I hadn’t read the first book in the series, but I enjoyed this, and I loved the demons or “spirits” who surround the Russians. I’ll probably want to read the third book in the trilogy.

  9. The Distinguished Professor /

    Michael Connelly’s The Poet. A ride from the first chapter to the last.

  10. Kevin S. /

    Gemina (Book #2) and Obsidio (Book #3)- final two books of The Illuminae Files trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Really, really good YA sci-fi. I gave them both 4 stars on Goodreads.

  11. Paul Connelly /

    There are books that can be described as “compulsively readable”, and then there are books that can be described as “you fall out of your chair in exhaustion before willingly closing this book”. Brian McClellan’s flintlock fantasy, Wrath of Empire, is in the latter category and wins my “best of January” vote. The story picks up right after the finish of Sins of Empire. Recently independent Fatrasta has been overrun by the Dynize invaders, but General Flint and her Adran mercenaries are still in the field trying to locate and destroy the magical godstones before the Dynize can get them. With her for part of the way are Ben Styke and his Mad Lancers, but Ben’s trying to combine military exploits with a more personal revenge quest–and continuing to act as an adoptive father to the little girl who helped spring him from prison. Meanwhile spy Michel Bravis is pretending to work for the enemy, which gets complicated when he finds himself actually admiring some of them. The book follows in parallel chapters the three sets of characters (all of whom feel like real people), and serves up plenty of bloody battles and narrow escapes. I just hope the next volume is coming out SOON.

    The Stone Sky provides a good finish to N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. The middle couple hundred or so pages were slower going, unlike the previous two volumes. Most of that had to do with the origin story of the stone eaters, interspersed as it was with the chapters on Nassun (whose travels also had a few slow spots) and Essun. That story was necessary to the overall plot and for Jemisin’s thematic concerns with exploitation, fear of difference, and greed, but I couldn’t manage any kind of emotional connection with Hoa and the others. So their chapters were a bit of a chore. And while Jemisin takes pains to show that the orogenes can live peacefully among stills, and even risk death to protect them, there’s no mistaking that the powerful orogenes like Alabaster and Essun can just as easily kill huge numbers of stills if they decide that happens to suit their agenda. But the series ended well, more or less as one would have expected.

    Another novel in the occult/psychic espionage subgenre is W. L. Goodwater’s Breach, which has a magical Berlin Wall being built after a World War II partially fought with magic (but still ended by an atom bomb). It is set in what must be the late 1950s or thereabouts, and heroine Karen O’Neil, an advanced practitioner of magic, has to deal with a lot of the out front sexism of the era. When her ex-Nazi mentor sends her to Berlin to help fix a breach in the magical wall, she also has to deal with the less than trustworthy American, British and French spies on “our” side of the wall, plus a feared Soviet agent on “their” side. This is a fast, escapist read that builds up to a big magical battle and doesn’t try too hard to have great character depth or a plot that makes total sense. And apparently there will be sequels. I put this slightly below Kay Kenyon’s At the Table of Wolves (at least Kenyon’s heroine has a female friend, unlike poor Karen), but both are in the middle range in terms of quality and originality, better than some entries in this emerging subgenre, but not quite up to the gonzo of Caitlin Kiernan and Laird Barron, or to the sharp social satire of Charles Stross.

  12. Katharine Ott /

    Five 5-star books in a month is a record for me! “Graceling” by Cashore, “The Universe Versus Alex Woods” by Extence, “The Winter Mantle” by Chadwick, “Nightwoods” by Frazier, and a picture book, “The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum” by Bernheimer. Really enjoyed them all, this one was a surprise though: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2690313699.

  13. Lady Morar /

    Jasper Fforde’s third Thursday Next novel, The Well of Lost Plots, introduced so many great ideas when Thursday was living in the titular Well as a Jurisfiction agent. I can’t recommend this series’ humor enough!

  14. Katharine Ott, 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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