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

fantasy and science fiction book reviews

It’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 November 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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17 comments

  1. Sethia /

    The Burning White by Brent Weeks was a great ending to an amazing series!

  2. SandyG /

    Dark Matter by Blake Crouch was an interesting look at the idea of parallel universes.

  3. Mary Henaghen /

    I am currently working thru the wheel of time series , and finished both The Great Hunt, and The Dragon Reborn. I’m am very intrigued by the story, and is going placed I didn’t expect. I can’t wait to finish each book, and start the next one. They a really griping, and holding my attention.

    • Noneofyourbusiness /

      It’s a great series; have fun! Some of the later books by Robert Jordan infamously drag, but the last three written by Brandon Sanderson from Jordan’s notes after he died are widely considered to be a worthy end to the series as well as picking the pace back up. In fact, it might pick back up a bit before that.

  4. Noneofyourbusiness /

    This time it’s the *illustrated* version of Neil Gaiman’s “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains”! Eddie Campbell’s illustrations really add a lot, especially on some pages where the prose becomes comic-like panels. Ironic that he’s a Campbell when the protagonist deal with some troublesome Campbells. The Campbells’ massacre of the MacDonalds at Glencoe was an inspiration for the Red Wedding.

  5. This is how you Lose the Time War is the only book I finished in November. I found the epistolary format very effective for (what I think was) the objective. This seems to be a love it or hate it book for most readers, but I had neither extreme reaction. I liked it.

  6. The Distinguished Professor /

    The Poldark saga of Cornwall continues in a book named for those antagonists we love to hate, “Warleggan”.

  7. The best new to me books I read in November:
    Wolfsong by TJ Klune
    Werewolf politics/romance

    Changeling by Molly Harper
    Surprise magic, pretending to be what you’re not, dealing well with bullies.

    Minimum Wage Magic by Rachel Aaron
    Fun forensic magic mystery

  8. Lady Morar /

    Kate Quinn’s second Vatican novel “The Lion and the Rose”, sequel to “The Serpent and the Pearl”. As always, her prose is excellent, and the history of the Borgias is fascinating.

  9. John Smith /

    I enjoyed “The Darkest Star” by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I thought the aliens and their powers were pretty interesting! It’s basically a romance novel, with a bit of crime procedural.

  10. “Realm of Ash” by Tasha Suri. It’s a beautiful and poignant followup to “Empire of Sand.” We learn more about the world the author created and the characters we love!

  11. Paul Connelly /

    Best read was Ed McDonald’s Crowfall, finishing volume in his Raven’s Mark trilogy. The trilogy started off with resemblances to the Black Company and ends more like that series’ spiritual successor, The Malazan Book of the Fallen. Each novel has been an improvement over the preceding one, and in this one hero Ryhalt Galharrow has made himself a creature of the Misery, the wasteland blasted into the continent by his patron, the Nameless god Crowfoot. Crowfoot and the other Nameless have been defeated in their bid to stop the Deep Kings from awakening the Sleeper, a vast Cthulhu-like entity banished to the bottom of the ocean. But the Nameless are betting everything on one last strike at the Deep Kings that may also wipe humans off the continent. Meanwhile Galharrow and Maldon, the mad sorcerer trapped in a blind child’s body, have their own plot that serves neither the Nameless nor the Deep Kings. Everyone is out to double-cross everyone else and no one gets what they wanted in the end, but it’s a satisfying conclusion to the series.

    Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead (Olga Tokarczuk) is not fantasy or SF, and not really a mystery either, although it is about a series of crimes. But who the murderers are and who the victims are may depend on your viewpoint about how we treat animals, including hunting and the “farming” of (for example) foxes and mink. Annie Proulx praises this book on the back cover, and the eccentric (or would “deranged” be more appropriate?) narrator is akin to a Proulx character, but smarter and funnier (although some of the humor is very sardonic). You will have to decide if the small mountain village in Poland brings the crime wave upon itself or not.

    Ivory Apples is the most recent novel from Lisa Goldstein. Four sisters are being brought up by their widowed father, but an evil stepmother inserts herself into their lives. The deceased mother was niece of the author of a much-loved children’s book, and the family has taken extreme pains to keep the author’s true identity and location secret. The author, an elderly and rather frail woman, was inspired by a supernatural entity that she calls a “sprite” or a “muse”, and the evil stepmother is trying to acquire one of these creatures to inspire her to greatness. The oldest sister, our narrator, has been possessed by a trickster-like sprite that leads her to run away from home and get in some very bad situations. It seems to me that there have been several books recently that describe the protagonist as a younger generation relative of a famous children’s book author. What is making this motif suddenly popular? I couldn’t understand the narrator’s ambivalent attitude toward the hateful stepmother, or how the family managed to keep the author’s identity secret for so long. But overall this was an interesting if somewhat odd tale.

    K. V. Johnasen’s Blackdog is the start of a series, but the main story feels pretty complete in this volume. This is not quite epic fantasy, with evil demon-wizards, less than all-powerful gods and goddesses, and heroic commoners. The cast is fairly large, although only a handful are viewpoint characters, and the story, which covers a period of 7+ years, proceeds very…deliberately. So the 546 pages did not go by in a rush–basically it took me a week to finish it, occasionally pushing myself. The writing was well-crafted and there were high points of frantic action, but I’ll probably wait until I have a bigger chunk of time free before trying the second volume.

  12. Kevin S. /

    The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker

  13. Katharine Ott /

    The most entertaining was “A Gravity of Birds” by Tracy Guzeman – a nice mixture of art life, the birding world and some mystery. I also enjoyed “The Silver Bowl” by Diane Stanley – love anything she does, this one a middle grade fantasy; “Out of the Shoebox” by Yaron Reshef, a search for Polish roots; “The Calculating Stars” by Mary Robinette Kowal, a very readable alternate story of US’s space exploration; “The Silver Witch” by Paula Brackston, a Welsh love story/fantasy that was fun; and “The Chalk Circle Man” by Fred Vargas, first in a series of a French detective. No real standouts here, but all worthy reads.

  14. I read several shorter pieces in November–two ebooks about Cormac and Amelia by Carrie Vaughn called Dark Divide and Badlands Witch. The first takes place in Donner Pass while the second one is in the Dakotas. Cormac is an sort-of ex-paranormal human hunter. He’s now a ex-felon so can’t carry firearms any more. Amelia is a ghost witch who’s taken up residency in Cormac…somehow.

    (Lifted from my blog)
    A while ago, I read a ton of Regency Romance books (set in the early 1800s). I generally stuck to the G/PG-rated ones AKA maybe a few kisses or slightly risque language or situations. Anyway, a few authors became favorites and I’ve kept copies. Because these books were often seen as disposable, reprints were unlikely. I now read almost solely on my phone, so I always check for ebook versions. There was very little online about this author so I didn’t have much hope. Last week I did another search and found that one of her books had been released as an ebook! Amelia’s Intrigue by Judith A. Lansdowne sets up Amelia Mapleton, a 22-year-old on her come-out season meeting Tony Talbot, the heir to the earl of Rutlidge. The Earl hasn’t been seen for over 15 years while Tony appears to handle the estate and his affairs. We soon learn that the earl had rescued Tony from a carriage mishap when they were boys, but the earl ended up with brain damage. Amelia is sure Tony is keeping his brother out of the limelight against his will, Tony has other secrets he’s been keeping as does Amelia’s father, etc. The earl himself, Geordan/Geordie is delightful and even he has secrets. We also get to meet multiple family members and servants, learn about the deframers, and pretty much everyone gets a happy ending. Lovely and fun! I’m so pleased that it looks like her books may come back into print. Unfortunately, I also found out that Lansdowne had died about a month ago.

    A.J. Demas released a snippet set after One Night in Boukos called “Turquoise”In the earlier story, Bedar, a visitor to Boukos and member of the Zash’s ambassador’s household, and Pheres, a young male prostitute, met while Bedar was chasing after the ambassador. Bedar paid off Pheres’s bond and invited him to accompany him home to Zash. The snippet is about the journey and Pheres’s trying to adapt to a very different culture.

    I then wasn’t really in much of a reading mood because I was sick. Instead I pulled all the Astreiant snippets/stories from Melissa Scott’s Patreon into a Word document and put them on my phone so I could easily read the whole set whenever I want to. They include missing scenes, worldbuilding, etc. Lots of fun. I decided to reread Fairs’ Point which is set later in the series, after Rathe and Eslingen have moved into together and are acknowledged lemen? lemans? Eslingen has accepted a captain’s commission in the new City Guard by the end of the book while Rathe continues moving around between the different stations. Some background–Astreiant is modeled after a low country city–strong trading center, Renaissance-level technology with the addition of working magistry and astrology. A person’s stars matter, and can affect someone’s profession and daily life. Terrific worldbuilding and wonderful characters.

  15. SandyG, 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!

  16. Thanksgiving. I sent you an email

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