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

FanLit Readers' Favorites!What is the best book you read in July 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. David Miller /

    Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson is amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series, The Way of Kings, and this second installment continues the high standard of excellence.

  2. Just about finished with an ARC of Chris Wooding’s “The Ember Blade” and it will likely be in the conversation for best of 2018.

  3. Nat Attack /

    Edward W. Robertson’s Cycle of Arawn and the follow-up series of Cycle of Galand! Absolutely amazing imagery paired with sarcastic and witty banter creates a splendid world for readers that I personally can’t get enough of.

  4. Really enjoyed The Tyrant’s Law by Daniel Abraham, the 3rd book of his so-far-great The Dagger And The Coin series.

  5. Noneofyourbusiness /

    Kelly Link’s “Get in Trouble” is a fun collection of stories realized from weird, unique kernels of idea, to varying degrees of success. I particularly enjoyed the first story, “The Summer People”, and the last story, “Light”.

  6. April /

    The best book I read in July was The Privilege of Peace by Tanya Huff, the final installment of the Torin Kerr series.

    There were a multitude of four star reads though so I’ll give you those too:
    Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen – this was an excellent fantasy in an almost like the real world past wild west with monsters. The main is different than your typical mains and is really fun to follow. I just finished book two of the series, Conspiracy of Ravens.

    Knight’s Shadow by Sebastian Castell which is the second book in the Greatcoats series. All sorts of WTH moments going on in this book. Lots of fun trying to find out what will happen next.

    Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews, their latest in the world of Kate Daniels with new protagonist, Hugh d’Ambray. Funny and good, though there is romance too for those who might not like that in their fantasy novels.

  7. Paul Connelly /

    July was a hard month to pick a best book for. Beyond just the fantasy/SF/horror genres, it might be a toss-up between Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest (last of the Millenium novels written by him) and Ian Rankin’s Rather Be the Devil, latest in his series about detectives Rebus (nominally retired), Fox and Clarke.

    But to stick with the genre of the fantastic, Fonda Lee’s Jade City edges out Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace as the best book. Jade City takes place in the capital of a relatively newly independent nation that has a monopoly on jade, but jade in this world is a source of magical power that provides warriors with superhuman abilities. Naturally other countries are not happy with this monopoly, and would prefer to return the upstart nation to exploited colony status. Two of the founding families of the revolutionary generation are at odds on the best way to keep their nation independent and increase its strength, and as the novel begins, they descend into gang warfare against each other. It’s something of a mashup of martial arts movies with The Godfather, including magic and drugs, and I found the characters from the family we’re following just relatable enough to stick with them through some very violent scenes. First book in a planned series.

    Very close behind, Archivist Wasp is a hybrid between post-apocalyptic SF and mythic/fairy tale, where ghosts play a huge part, although the two most important ghosts are former genetically modified super-soldiers, and there’s a long journey to the underworld that’s reminiscent of Margaret St. Clair (as in The Shadow People). Wasp, the Archivist of ghost lore, is trapped in her role by a cruel priest and forced to fight to the death against other girls to keep the position that she doesn’t even want in the first place. So accompanying a ghost to the underworld is only her latest attempt to escape the miserable society she lives in. On some level this felt more like a very long short story than a novel, but it’s mostly interesting and likable. I will get the sequel.

    Another type of fairy tale hybrid with ghosts is Snow City, by G. A. Kathryns. In this case urban fantasy contributes the other half of the hybrid, but it’s an odd, almost slipstream type of urban fantasy. The heroine has lived in a disintegrating hyper-violent future society and spent so much time escaping into fantasies about a perfect, peaceable world, that one day she wakes up in her fantasy world, in a body that doesn’t resemble her familiar one, and with a job that consists of playing a beautiful old violin in an atmospheric nightclub. But in a while, cracks begin appearing in her perfect world, starting when she adopts the ghost of a teenage girl. It’s a very odd tale, in which the narrator herself questions who the real ghost is, and it sidles into a melodramatic subplot with some religious fanatics. Dreamlike and implausible, an imaginary love song (with violins) to imaginary mothers and daughters.

    Provenance by Ann Leckie was an enjoyable but rather light read set in the same milieu as her Ancillary trilogy. The prose was smart and the characters pretty believable, but the plot didn’t add up to a lot. I wasn’t convinced that the presumed culprit for the murder really was guilty, as everyone in the story decided, and it seemed like more could have been done with that subplot.

    The Seagull Drovers by Steve Cockayne completes his Legends of the Land trilogy. After reading all three books, I would say this is an extended fairy tale with some social satire thrown in (the incompetent young king is a typical MBA school know-it-all). The world is a mishmash of almost an Edith Nesbit era England with some neo-Jungian archetypes and dot-com bubble references. Technology is all over the place: horse-drawn vehicles giving way to oddly fueled motor cars; the Signal Engines are a mashup of telegraph and virtual reality internet tech; firearms are stuck in the 18th century; but housing projects and office parks fill the cities. I think the trilogy came out around when New Weird was getting ballyhooed, so that may bear on the strange worldbuilding. My biggest problem with the books was that I didn’t really like most of the characters. Leonardo the magician is not entirely unsympathetic, but he’s a selfish and quite pompous person. Michael Brown, a young man occupying the more traditional hero role, I think I liked even less. Tom Slater is an awful person from an awful childhood. Alice and Laurel, the two women Brown vacillates between when his wife isn’t keeping track of him, never felt very fleshed out as people. In the third book we get to see some chapters from the viewpoint of Brown’s daughter, and she is probably the best character. It’s not really a twee fairy tale, there are murders and other violence, but it’s also far from realistic. A very odd set of books.

    Relics by Tim Lebbon is more of a traditional urban fantasy with horror and crime elements (distantly related to something like Charles de Lint’s The Little Country), The heroine discovers her missing boyfriend has been involved in the trade of “relics”–meaning body parts of various otherworldly creatures (fairy, troll, goblin, etc.)–to rich collectors. I usually like Lebbon, but the characters in this one were hard to feel much sympathy for, especially the boyfriend and the crime lord who employs him, so I don’t feel super motivated to read the sequel.

  8. Melita /

    Record of a Space-born Few was the best thing I read last month although I didn’t like it as much as the previous 2 books.

    I reread Seeing a Large Cat, another entry in the Amelia Peabody series. In the end of the month reread Serpent on the Crown in the same series. It falls very late and I really had to force myself to finish it.

    I also read several issues of Strangers in Paradise XXV by Terry Moore.

  9. Kevin S. /

    I read four really good books in July, and I can narrow them down to two that I would call the best:

    The White Rose (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #3) by Glen Cook

    Old Man’s War (Old Man’s War, #1) by John Scalzi

  10. John Smith /

    “Evil Librarian” by Michelle Knudsen.

  11. The Distinguished Professor /

    “The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary” by Simon Winchester. The story of how the dictionary came to be, but also so much more.

  12. Lady Morar /

    My son gave me “The Elfstones of Shannara”. The physical and personal journey of Amberle, Wil and Eretria, the introduction of the Ellcrys and even the Witch Sisters and Demons make this his single favorite Terry Brooks or Shannara book.

  13. Sethia /

    I enjoyed Starless by Jacqueline Carey. It was definitely different then my normal read.

  14. The best book that I read last month was The Apples of Idunn by Matt Larkin. It was well written, and the characters were well fleshed out. The world-building was fantastic. I definitely loved this book and will be reading the entire series.

  15. Al, 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!


    Nat Attack, 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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