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. Time to report!

What is the best book you read in February 2020 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.) And please don’t miss our favorite books of 2019 and the 2020 books we can’t wait for.

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


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18 comments

  1. I read and completed both “A Broken Queen” by Sarah Kolzoff and “The Shadow Saint” by Gareth Hanrahan. While the former is an epic fantasy and the latter is a grimdark novel, both novels are the next in the series in which the protagonists are dealing with PTSD from recent and past events. All of the characters learn the truth about how they ended up where they are currently; and, what they have to do in order to surpass the trauma and become resilient and do what needs to be done. I’m awaiting the next books (one of them is the last book) in the series, eagerly!

  2. Kevin S. /

    Best: Knight’s Shadow (Greatcoats, #2) by Sebastien de Castell

    Runner-ups: Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey and Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

  3. The Distinguished Professor /

    I very much enjoyed “The Hedge Knight” in George Martin’s “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” compilation of Dunk and Egg tales, which I have now that the book’s in paperback. I’d been missing reading new ASoIaF content.

    • We’re to expect 3 more “Dunk & Egg” novellas by George R.R. Martin…after “A Song of Ice and Fire” is completed…whenever that may be.

  4. Noneofyourbusiness /

    The excerpt of “Moomin and the Brigands” I read in the Colorful Monsters Free Comic Book Day special really made me interested in reading more of this series.

  5. John Smith /

    I enjoyed Marie Lu’s “The Kingdom Of Back.” It was annoying that the author / narrator /editors didn’t know when to say “and me” instead of “and I” at one point, but I enjoyed the relationship between Mozart and Mozart’s sister. The fantasy element didn’t make a ton of sense, I thought, and in the end it seems to have been purely metaphorical, but having it be purely metaphorical makes even less sense. But it was definitely well-written.

    • Noneofyourbusiness /

      I hate grammatical errors. It’s so easy. You use the same pronoun that you would if there were no “and”. If you want to test whether it sounds right, break it down. “To you and I” would become “to you” and “to I”, which is clearly wrong.

  6. SandyG /

    Monster Mash. It’s about the monster craze in America that ran from the late 50s to the early 70s

  7. Paul Connelly /

    Best read for February was Kameron Hurley’s The Broken Heavens, concluding volume in a trilogy about people in a series of dying parallel worlds that are trying to get into the one world that looks likely to survive. The catch is that you can’t go into a world where your counterpart is alive, so there are different groups infiltrating, assassinating enough targets to gain a foothold, and then carrying out genocidal purges. The complexity of the world and variety of social systems is impressive, and the astronomy of the suns and star-like “satellites” governs the use of magic. Hurley tries for a more hopeful ending, more like her recent The Light Brigade than some earlier works, but time travel is required to set things right (in both books). A few places in the novel looked like they deserved closer attention from an editor (she’s riding a bear, but wait, she was riding a dog just the page before, etc.) But after the year plus delay, I’m glad this finally was published.

    The Plotters (Un-Su Kim), the tale of an alienated assassin for hire in South Korea, has no overtly SFnal elements, but it has the feel of a cross between Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly and something like The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. Our antiheroic protagonist Reseng was abandoned in a garbage can as a baby and adopted by Old Raccoon, nominally a librarian but actually an arranger of violent deaths. Behind the scenes of South Korean society, the titular plotters book orders from within the government or corporations when someone has to be eliminated. Reseng’s strange upbringing has contorted his life to fit the role of an efficient killer, knowing full well that he himself will be on the list of victims one day. But his growing derangement from his own life is matched by that of one of the plotters, who wants to bring the whole corrupt system down, even at the cost of her own life, and who snares Reseng in her plot. Paranoid and violent, but leavened with enough black humor to keep the story zipping cynically along.

    The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher is a riff on Arthur Machen’s The White People transposed to the backwoods of North Carolina in the 21st century, which I guess makes it kind of an updated Manly Wade Wellman type story. The narrator is asked by her ailing father to clean out her late grandmother’s house so they can sell it. So she and her pretty dumb dog head down to North Carolina. But it turns out grandmother was a hoarder. And, even worse, the woods near the house are full of uncanny creatures. The horrors in this one were somehow attenuated because the narrator put her reactions to what was going on in the foreground at each step of the way, which paradoxically lessened the immediacy of the telling. I mean, when you’re scared stiff you aren’t thinking to yourself, “I was scared stiff!” Your mind just locks up from fright. So this was more like being told a long scary yarn, but it being a yarn about something now past means it’s not TOO scary. It did make me want to go back and re-read the Machen story though.

    Another dumb dog shows up as the sidekick of the tame crow narrator of Hollow Kingdom (Kira Jane Buxton), a zombie apocalypse focused on the animals trying to readjust as humans go extinct. It’s sort of a mash-up of Stephen King’s Cell with an imaginary National Lampoon’s Wild Kingdom and some mystical environmentalism–so, part gruesome, part slapstick and part gauzily sentimental. The crow and bloodhound have to leave the human who raised them (and is now a zombie) and venture out into the violent streets of Seattle, where the destruction of various notable landmarks is described with glee. This is like an extended gag that goes on too long and gets mawkish toward the end, but parts of it are very funny and cute. Although the crow does seem to have to use at least one obscenity per paragraph, which I guess is either its or the author’s idea of how young humans talk. Could be. If you live in Seattle and catch all the local references, this may be even more rewarding.

  8. Lady Morar /

    Josh Flagg’s A Simple Girl, about his grandmother, a Romanian girl named Edith who fled to Holland and joined the Dutch Underground during WWII, immigrated to Palestine and then America and became a leading fashion designer.

  9. Katharine Ott /

    I’m a sucker for a good swashbuckler, and “Traitor’s Blade” by Sebastien de Castell filled the bill this month. Very similar in tone and action to the Musketeers stories, it was just plain fun.

  10. Sethia /

    I enjoyed The Institute by Steven King and for a fun quick read I enjoyed Daughter of the Pirate King and Daughter of the Siren Queen.

  11. A BROKEN QUEEN (THE NINE REALNS #3) by Sarah Kozloff was my favorite book of February. It releases in March. This is the third release in the series, and the story keeps getting better and better. Book 4 is the conclusion, and I am reading it soon. Cannot wait to see how it ends.

  12. Sethia, 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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