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

FanLit Readers' Favorites!It’s the first Thursday of the month. You know what that means. Time to report!

What is the best book you read in May 2015 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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  1. Dazrin /

    I found Harry Turtledove’s “The Road Not Taken” online last month and loved it. A very fresh* take on an alien invasion that makes you think about what we as humans do when we learn something new.

    * It seems odd to write that about a story written in 1985 but I hadn’t read it before so it was fresh to me.

  2. E.J. Jones /

    My favorite book of May was Heart’s Blood, a book I actually discovered (and obtained) right here on FanLit! Although I sometimes found the pace a little slow for my liking, I loved how the story seemed to be Beauty and the Beast, Jane Eyre, very Irish, and wholly original all at once. I also liked that this isn’t just a basic romance – it’s a story of healing, on all levels.

  3. Oh, no doubt about it – the best book I read last month (or this year, in fact) was Knight’s Shadow by Sebastien de Castell. I found myself wandering the parking lot at the office all week, reading through lunch and breaks. I kept it on the seat beside me and read pages while waiting in line at the drive through. I even spent an evening following my son around the mall, reading as we walked and he played. It’s the kind of historical fantasy that makes everything else pale in comparison.

  4. The best book I read last month was definitely Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. Now I just need to get the rest of the trilogy.

  5. The best book I read in May was Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp. The best Star Wars book I have read in a while!

  6. Ben /

    The best book I read in May was George Saunders’s collection Tenth of December. It’s more “literary” than “fantasy”, but the stories that contain speculative elements like “The Semplica Girl Diaries” and “Escape from Spiderhead” are fantastic examples of how to use genre to tell incredibly human and grounded stories.

  7. The best book I read last month was Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Loved all the 80s nostalgia. A close second was The Lieutenants by W.E.B. Griffin.

    • Michael Voss /

      Ready Player One was uniquely brilliant (and fun!). His new novel Armada promises to be similarly different.

  8. Michael Voss /

    I read Ryk Spoor’s Polychrome and Phoenix in Shadow, Ian Whates’s Pelquin’s Comet, and Joe Hill’s Locke & Key Vol 1, but my standout read in May was Django Wexler’s The Mad Apprentice, first sequel to The Forbidden Library. In his sequel, Wexler ups the ante on the opening volume, expanding on both plot and worldbuilding for a highly satisfying read. In the first book, the background is set up, magic books that can be entered and can be used to contain dangerous beings, whose own magic can be bound to the Readers who enter those books. The sequel details some of those powers, and the creative manner in which Readers come to wield them. Wexler manages to weave a dandy of a plot through those revelations, and advances the overarching plot introduced in the first book significantly as well. Far from a YA-only read, these stories carry some very adult ideas that fantasy fans young and old can sink their teeth into, and they have staying power too because there’s so much food for thought there.

    • I have these. I’ll move them up my TBR list. Thanks, Michael!

      • Michael Voss /

        If you mean all I listed: All good to great reads, Polychrome falling just a bit flat, but predictably as all I really know of Oz is the movie. All Wexler to date comes highly recommended, and Locke & Key is a very nifty and creative comic. Spoor’s Balanced Sword series is high fantasy by a lover of the genre, very good, as are his SF novels! Enjoy! If instead you just meant Wexler’s Library series, get going, there are more to come!

        • Yes, I meant the Wexler Library books. I have those on audio. Looking forward to them. :)

          • Michael Voss /

            Not a huge audio buff, but I think these stories might be very well-suited to the format!

  9. Best books I read last month were Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, and then Dark Eden by Chris Beckett.

  10. RedEyedGhost /

    Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock – just a magical book. I should have read it many years ago. Anybody read the other books in this world? Are they worth it? I can’t imagine they wouldn’t be worth my time, but I’ve seen many people say that they’re just not nearly as good as this one.

  11. Hyperion by Dan Simmons! So many ideas, and interesting characters.

  12. Day Four by Sarah Lotz – Ghost story set on a broken down cruise ship packed with obnoxious strangers. Creepy as hell and yet so much fun.

  13. April /

    I read NO five star books in May! However, I did have a bumper crop of four star books:
    Charming by Elliott James is an Urban Fantasy that was well put together and thought out with interesting characters.
    The Silvered by Tanya Huff was a terrific werewolf fantasy set in a faux historical setting with lots of interesting world building and wonderful characters (this one came closest to being five star!)
    The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan the final book in the trilogy didn’t let up until the end. Brutal but good.
    The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan also continuing the story of Lady Trent extremely well.
    Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel is a historical YA mystery that I found much more interesting and fun than I thought it would be.
    Balanced on the Blade’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker was a light fantasy romance, full of implausible fluff (and a couple of logical impossibilities) but fun for all of that. The characters were interesting enough to overlook the flaws.
    Clean by Alex Hughes was a very clever urban fantasy with a multifaceted main that was surprising.

    • Michael Voss /

      Agreed on The Silvered, Huff always at least grazes that fifth star, often while employing subject matter I don’t have any inherent interest in, such as werewolves and selkies. I don’t know where my (obviously random and unreasonable) resistance to these – and vampires as well – comes from, but it’s cool when somebody does something well enough to overcome them! The most prominent example being that I became a die-hard Buffy fan from Day One of that series. Since Huff also writes vamps, I’ll be looking at her take on those as well!)One of those writers I inherently trust.

      • April /

        Have you read her Blood Ties series? Good but flawed. I liked the TV series based on the books better.

  14. Margo Hurwicz /

    Knight’s Shadow by Sebastien de Castell was my favorite. A darker follow-up to his first novel, Traitor’s Blade, it moved the story forward with twists & turns & unexpected outcomes. I also read The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, which was an introduction to Chinese SF for me. I liked it too. I think Ken Liu did a great job of translating the culture along with the language.

  15. Simon Ellberger /

    I found “The Hanged Man” by P. N. Elrod, and it wouldn’t leave me even after I finished it. This very excellent novel is set in an unusual ahistorical Victorian London, and I haven’t the foggiest notion as to why there is clearly so much feminism and contemporary values present, but it worked for me (and not just because I consider myself a feminist). It’s urban fantasy, with fantasy here also meaning wishful thinking realized in a fantastical way. And the story! On each page, there is so much going on it’s almost impossible to say anything about the plot without it being a spoiler. It is one of those books that moves well, but still manages depth, with more plot twists than a graveyard full of dead reanimated Chubby Checkers. The world-building creates an intriguing alternate universe, and enables any future books in this series to move forward from a firm, but occult foundation.The fantasy elements are like Baby Bear’s in the Goldilocks story: neither too much, nor too little, but just right. The dialogue is superb, and Elrod’s characters do not lack for dimension; there’s even enough internal dialogue to characterize the novel as psychological realism. Oddly enough… it’s oddly enough! And there is a mystery to be solved by a clever female. Not just in the story: there is also the question as to whether P.N. Elrod can keep up this level of excellence for the next book. The answer will certainly lead to a new novel mystery…

  16. Ren Bedell /

    I finished The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison at the end of last month. It was really good and not at all what I expected. Beautifully written political fantasy.

  17. Liat /

    My favorite book of last month was A Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. It wasn’t a great masterpiece, but it was a lot of fun, and was basically everything I love about YA fantasy. Also, diversity of characters, and a female protagonist who’s not described as “slender”! That was fresh.

  18. I loved my early copy of Ink and Bone from First to read! It is the best book I read recently ! I can not wait for more! Read my full review here:

  19. Michael Voss, 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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