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

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsIt’s the first Thursday of the month. Time to report!

What is the best book you read in November 2021 and why did you love it? It doesn’t have to be a newly published book, or even SFF, or even fiction. 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.

As always, one commenter with a U.S. mailing address will choose a book from our stacks. If you’re outside the U.S., we’ll send you a $5 Amazon gift card.

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10 comments

  1. Kevin S. /

    A Death in Vienna (Gabriel Allon #4)- Daniel Silva

  2. John Smith /

    I enjoyed 2 “Sandman Slim” novels by Richard Kadrey, “Kill the Dead” and “Aloha From Hell.” I love the derring-do and the film-noir feel, but I like it best when it’s set in the real Los Angeles, and not the neo-Los Angeles sort-of-Hell that occupies a lot of “Aloha From Hell.”

    I just wish book 4, “Devil Said Bang,” were available on audio CDs. The series seems to skip from one audio publisher to another, and that book was left orphaned / unloved / unpublished as audio CDs. So my completist druthers are at sea….

    • John Smith /

      I mean Book 5, “Kill City Blues.” I’ve ordered Book 4, “Devil Said Bang,” and Book 6, “The Getaway God.” It’s very confusing….

  3. Katharine Ott /

    “The Warrior Heir” by Cinda Williams Chima was a really fun YA fantasy, a powers-found story of teenager Jack who lives in Ohio! And Cleveland Public Library pulled from their stacks Mary Stewart’s “The Little Broomstick,” a comfortable middle-grade story that I can’t wait to read to the grandchildren (and I read so many of Stewart’s adult novels back in the day). One more, “Sorcery & Cecilia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot” by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer which was an epistolary fantasy written by the authors who became enamored by the Letter Game where one writes an imaginary letter and the other replies, expanding the plot however she wants. And then back and forth. Such a cool concept. This one had some “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” vibes. So it was a good fantasy month!

  4. Mostly the month was filled with student papers, so not a lot of competition for best book. That said, it was The Liar’s Knot by M.A. Carrick, which was a quite good follow up to Mask of Mirrors

  5. Lots more romance novels, including a bunch of Christmas/holiday ones. Some new authors including E.M. Lindsey, Kate Hawthorne, Michaela Grey, and Ariel Bishop (last 2 have hockey-based series). Kaje Harper had an interesting series focusing on an ex-fireman now attending college after a year in hospital and rehab after a bad fire and the head of the grounds, an ex-landscape architect who wanted a quieter life near his children.

    Then I did some rereading, anticipating new books. Charlie Novak’s Summer Kisses, Strawberry Kisses, Cranberry Kisses (short story). All revolve around The Pear Tree, a high-end country pub. The first book focuses on the pastry chef and a high-spirited server. The second book is more angsty and time-skips between London and current day and features the acrimonious relationship between the head chef, Aaron, and the sous chef, Josh. The third is about a contest on who makes the better cranberry sauce and introduces Ianto, a friend of the manager, Ben. Their story is in the latest book–but that’ll be a December book.

    I also reread a series set in Glasgow about various people on a LGBT football (soccer) team and their friends and relations. I’ve got half a book to finish there and then I’ll reread the 2 related books set in the world of…curling.

    I read one fantasy short and a genre-adjacent book this month. The Snails of Dun Nas is by K.L. Noone. A village is being threatened by giant snails and have called in an itinerant swordsman, Aric, who’s known for defeating all kinds of creatures and bad people. He’s accompanied by the non-binary, half-elf Emrys, a magic user.

    The genre-adjacent book is Total Creative Control by Johanna Chambers. “When fanfic writer Aaron Page landed a temp job with the creator of hit TV show, Leeches, it was only meant to last a week. Three years later, Aaron’s still there …” Leeches is a fantasy, mega-hit which is under consideration to have an American version. Aaron works for the creator/writer/producer, Lewis.

    December has fewer new books coming out (according to my forthcoming/pre-ordered list so I’ll hopefully read some of the sf/f that has been shoved aside by my desire for HEA/HFN (happy ever after/happy for now) books!

  6. Paul Connelly /

    Not a great month. Best of the bunch was A Labyrinth of Scions and Sorcery, the second book (with a title as silly as the first one’s) in Curtis Craddock’s Risen Kingdoms trilogy. Piled on tropes (musketeers, vampiric nobles, shapeshifters, illusionists–and more!), likable characters, and a totally bonkers setting (inhabited land masses floating in the clouds). Not great literature, but a very assured, swashbuckling adventure.

    Others: Engines of Oblivion (Karen Osborne) could almost just be the second half of Architects of Memory (and would make little sense unless you’ve read the first novel), except the viewpoint switches from Ash and Kate to ex-soldier Natalie Chan. Continuation of the corporate space wars and first contact gone wrong thriller, with a ending that confused me a bit. The Last Graduate really should not work, much like its predecessor, Naomi Novik’s A Deadly Education. In this series, set in an automated wizard’s school that gets over half of its students killed by the end of graduation day, there is way more telling than showing. Also, a prickly heroine, only a few other characters with distinct personalities, and an abrupt ending. But it manages to be quite readable despite all that. Skyward Inn (Aliya Whiteley) is a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits type of SF tale, where humans have discovered a nearby interstellar gateway that leads them to a seemingly resource-rich planet with a docile humanoid population. A soldier who was on propaganda duty during the human invasion befriends one of the alien Qitans and brings him home to partner with her in setting up the titular inn. But who has really invaded whom? Interesting, but I didn’t care much for the characters and this felt slightly padded. Christopher Buehlman’s Between Two Fires takes place in France during the worst of the Black Death and features demons and angels in a renewed war on earth and in heaven. A young girl inspired by angels conscripts an excommunicated knight and a drunken priest to help her get from Picardy to the papal court at Avignon, to save the world from the forces of Hell. Vividly told, but I was left unsure what the ultimate point of this was. Also, Edith Wharton’s collected Ghost Stories. Sandy did an in depth review here (with which I concur).

  7. It’s Melita!

    Melita,if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks. If your address is outside of the USA, you will get a $5 Amazon gift card.
    Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading!

  8. Last month, finally I read and finished the “Sapphic Trifecta”! For those of you who don’t know, the reading and the bookblogging community dubbed:

    -THE UNBROKEN by C.L. Clark (trilogy; about colonialization),
    -THE JASMINE THRONE by Tasha Suri (trilogy; about gender bias and warring tribes), and
    -SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN by Shelley Parker-Chan (duology; a retelling of the founder of the Ming Dynasty)

    by this name because all 3 books had this in common:

    1) They were released in 2021.
    2) They are in the historical fantasy subgenre, meaning each book is based on a historical moment and/or era.
    3) The female protagonists and MCs identify as lesbian and/or nonbinary.
    4) The dust jackets are yellow.

    Each book has received tremendous fan and critical acclaim. Each book is worth reading, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequels!

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