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, ’cause we do this on the first Thursday of every month! Time to report!

What is the best book you read in March 2018 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. April /

    March was a good reading month for me. I also read quite a few new to me authors.

    Bearly Awake by D.R. Perry is a sweet paranormal YA. It is quick, fun and clever and is about a man who can also shift to a bear having trouble staying awake during college in the winter. Not scientifically rigorous but fun anyways.

    Dragon Thief by S. Andrew Swann is the second in a series where a thief has been put in the princess’ body and the princess now occupies a dragon’s body. You know that princess is having some fun!

    Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs, the latest in the Alpha and Omega series. If you haven’t begun this series, I strongly recommend that you do. They are clever, funny, thought provoking and romantic.

    Into the Fire by Elizabeth Moon, the final (possibly) book in her Vatta scifi series.

    The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson is an Urban Fantasy that uses Jack the Ripper’s murders as a backdrop.

    Behind the Throne and After the Crown by KB Wagers is a science fiction political tale with female characters in the lead roles.

    A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers is the second in her Wayfarers tales but isn’t really about the Wayfarers and is extremely different than the first book, still good but very different in scope.

    • April /

      I forgot to mention that these were all four star reads and I left out the re-reads.

      • I liked Bearly Awake too–fluff, but good.

        I think the best book I’ve read lately is: The Legendary Inge by Kate Stradling. Good fantasy–the magic sneaks up on you, the characters are a lot of fun to read about and it has a nice, satisfactory ending. I did guess the bad guy, but the main wasn’t too far behind.

  2. Leland Eaves /

    Grendel by John Gardner Only book I finished last month (still working on the last Deed of Paksenarrion book). Liked it but didn’t love it. Thought it was a little too navel gazing. But did like the monster perspective. Gives some insight as to why monsters do what they do.

  3. I’m still on a huge re-reading kick. I went through several of the early Amelia Peabody books, then skipped ahead to when her son Ramses is an adult: He Shall Thunder in the Sky, The Falcon at the Portal, Lord of the Silent. I haven’t decided whether I’ll keep reading forward in time, or start to fill in some of the older books. Unfortunately, the last few published novels, which fill in a few of the earlier years, are not quite as good, so I’ll likely skip them.

    I’ve started reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to my 2 six-year-olds. So far they seem to like it, and it makes a nice change from Junie B. Jones, Captain Underpants, and various early readers. We’re about half-way and I was surprised at who just showed up with bells on his sleigh! I had completely forgotten about it. When I originally read and re-read the book, I definitely wanted to try Turkish Delight. It must be so wonderful! Then I finally did. Let’s just say that I’m more of a chocolate-based dessert fan.

    I did read one new book this month as an ARC–Martha Wells’s Murderbot: Artificial Condition, the second novella in the series. Murderbot is a construct made of cloned organic and inorganic parts. It is a security unit assigned to various surveying groups on alien planets. After it ran wild and slaughtered 47 people on an earlier mission, it hacked its governor module and is now a free agent. In the previous book, it was still working for its original company, but in this book it’s heading back to the massacre site to try to figure out what really happened.

    Murderbot only wants to sit in a corner and watch entertainment feeds but feels an unwilling attachments to its clients and will do anything to protect them. The first novella is nominated for a Hugo, and well-deserved!

    • :) I’m currently reading The Magician’s Nephew to my son. We’re going to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe next.

  4. Paul Connelly /

    I didn’t have quite the unalloyed enthusiasm that your reviewers had for Mark Lawrence’s Red Sister. But I did stay up until 2 AM to finish it, so obviously it was doing something right, right enough to make it my best read of the month. This is a “school story” set in a “Dying Earth” type world that has elements of both fantasy and science fiction. Our heroine Nona is a little killing machine in waif’s clothing, saved from hanging by the abbess of a magical convent. Her thus unpunished crime brings the wrath of a rich and powerful family down on the convent school. Nona has only had one friend in her short life, and that one preceded her to the gallows, so much of the story is about her finding new friends among the other novices and learning what the nuns have to teach (unarmed and armed combat, poisoning, etc.)

    Sounds like a great basis for a story, but Lawrence seems to waver on what he wants to do with it, in the sense that he wants to subvert some of the conventions of the genre while following a rough outline of the typical plot. So he adds in a number of clever reversals of the reader’s expectations, but gets too clever for the story’s own good at times. It may be just me being obtuse, but at the end the whole hook that he opened the story with no longer made sense to me–why exactly did Lano Tacsis want to kill Sister Thorn so badly that he hired an army to do it? Why did she choose to meet the army all by herself rather than bring her own allies? I enjoyed the twists and reversals he put in as I encountered each one, but they added up to more overall plot confusion than I wanted at the end. I also felt like he missed opportunities to add more emotional depth to the relationships among Nona and her friends than the standard “school story” provides.

    This is grimdark, not a genre I read much in, so I had to skim over quite a few throats being slashed, eyeballs being gouged out, etc. Apparently Red Sister is not as grim or dark as some of Lawrence’s other works, so I am not in a hurry to read those. In this book he keeps the action moving along, although not at an unreasonably frantic pace, and the characters and world-building were interesting enough to keep me reading. I’m sure I will be getting the sequel, Grey Sister, as soon as it comes out in paperback.

    Also read two decent but not totally rewarding books, The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham and The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia. The former, about an English village where all the women are implanted with alien embryos and have children with sinister mental powers, has the paranoia of the early 1960s (when it was written) down cold, but it also has the tendency of some SF books from that period to have a Wise Old Man character pontificating at length about philosophy, science, etc. (In case you thought Jubal Harshaw was an aberration.) Sedia’s novel was an urban fantasy, and while I loved urban fantasy when it first came on the scene–Charles de Lint’s Moonheart and Jack the Giant Killer, Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks, and even up through Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere–it doesn’t appeal so much now. And two of the three main characters were hard for me to connect with emotionally, so that made it a bit of a chore, in spite of the very different setting and use of Slavic mythology rather than the standard Celtic or Norse variety.

  5. John Smith /

    “Tenements, Towers & Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City,” by Julia Wertz. It’s basically a graphic novel about neat old building and places in New York, how they’ve changed, etc. Her cartooning is pretty rudimentary, but she’s had stuff published in “The New Yorker.” She makes a few mistakes with her language (spelling or meaning of words), but “The New Yorker” must not care about that kind of thing.

    • John Smith /

      “Neat old buildings,” with an “s.” I hate typos.

  6. My best read was nonfiction, but the fiction that I really enjoyed was John Scalzi’s The Ghost Brigades.

  7. Sandy Giden /

    I didn’t read any fantasy or sci-for in March. The best book I read was TheAtomic City Girls. It follows the stories of three people working at the atomic bomb development site in Oak Ridge, TN

  8. The Distinguished Professor /

    The Four Swans by Winston Graham. My wife and son had the bright idea to buy me the whole Poldark series for Christmas, and the books expand even more on the characters and relevant history than the TV series.

  9. I read Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank last month and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since. It’s such a cool science fiction story and I loved seeing how the people continued to survive.

  10. Noneofyourbusiness /

    For me, the best book I read last month was H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine. Although the classism is grating, it’s told in a close first-person perspective and was quite an imaginative premise for a writer of the era, and must have been mind-expanding for the average Victorian reader to think about what would happen to the Earth in the future, not just culturally but geologically.

  11. Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng, which I nominated for a Hugo.

  12. Lady Morar /

    Asterix in Britain, because I got to see more of what the ancient Britons were like.

  13. Sethia /

    I was lucky I enough to read Gray Sister by Mark Lawrence and it was a fantastic follow up to Red Sister.

  14. Mary Henaghen /

    I am still reading Lisa Gardner. I’m still reading The Other Daughter. Great mystery/thriller. I love her

  15. Lady Morar, 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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