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

FanLit Readers' Favorites!

It’s the first Thursday of the month. Time to report!

What is the best book you read in April 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.

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

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  1. SandyG /

    I have to go with The Immortal Conquistador by Carrie Vaughn. It’s a book of short stories about Rick who’s one of the characters in her Kitty Norville series

  2. Sethia /

    I’m reading the Harry Potter series to my kids, still a treasure!

  3. I finished, “The Name of All Things” by Jenn Lyons! It’s the 2nd book in the “Chorus of Dragons” series, not a trilogy like I thought originally. There’s supposed to be 5 books in all, and the 3rd book, “The Memory of Souls” will be released this August!

  4. The best book would have to be Network Effect by Martha Wells. It was a reread, as I’d gotten my hands on the ARC back in January or February. It’s so much fun. Here’s my first laugh-out-loud moment:

    Her expression had turned all melty and sentimental. “No hugging.” I warned her. It was in our contract.

    I did read some lighter/shorter works in April as my anxiety eased.

    Based on recs, I read Twelve Days of Faery by W. R. Gingell. It’s a pleasant enough trifle, but I won’t be reading on in the series. The son of the king is cursed. If he falls in love (or lust) with someone, they end up severely injured or dead. A witch arrives to try to remove the curse, shenanigans ensue. Tropes are subverted as the ending isn’t quite what you might expect and the prince isn’t a main character.

    I then read two books by Aster Glenn Gray: The Threefold Tie and Briarley. I’d seen recs for Briarley last year and then more for TTT so I decided to try TTT. It’s set post-US Civil War. Two soldiers become friends and more during the war. They continue the connection afterwards intermittently with one in New York City studying art and the other in a small town as a printer/newpaper publisher. The publisher falls in love with a woman and marries her. The couple later drag the artist out of the city to nurse him back to health. After some mixed signals, they end up in a polyamorous relationship. I liked it enough that I picked up Briarley which is set during WWII. A country vicar loses his way and ends up in a strange mansion that’s surrounded by rose bushes. It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast but in this case the father doesn’t let his daughter take his place. Very nice, but I haven’t felt the need to track down the other books by this author.

    I was getting a lot of recommendations for regency novels so I decided to try a new author to me, Charlotte Louise Dolan, who had good reviews. I picked Three Lords for Lady Anne. Lady Anne is an uncommonly tall young woman and heiress with scapegrace parent and a dead mother. After getting abandoned at a terrible relative’s house, She ends up with another female relative who’s never held with getting married and has had all kinds of adventures. To make her way once she becomes an adult, Anne becomes a governess. The woman who got her set up with Aunt Leticia (the adventuress), now decides that she should marry a man that she knows so she arranges for Anne to become the governess of his wards. Lord Leatham is an adventurer and rarely in England so the boys and the estate are looked after by a Mr Trussell. Lord Leatham thinks Trussell is fleecing the estate but hasn’t caught him yet. A fairly complicated plot ensues. Charming, doubt I’ll move on to her other books.

  5. Kevin S. /

    Nemesis Games (The Expanse, #5) by James S.A. Corey

    Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen, #1) by John Gwynne

  6. Lady Morar /

    I got a blast out of the witty “Cocktail Party Cheat Sheets” from Mental Floss, sure to arm you with fun facts to wow or bore your fellow guests with.

  7. John Smith /

    “The Nemesis Manifesto” by Eric Van Lustbader, a crackerjack thriller!

  8. Noneofyourbusiness /

    The “Yokai of Obebe Lake” excerpt in the Free Comic Book Day “Colorful Monsters” special makes me curious to read more about Kitaro and the Great Tanuki War.

  9. Katharine Ott /

    Best of April was “The Scorpio Races” by Maggie Stiefvater. She takes the Scottish myth of fairy horses who come out of the sea and makes it into a really exciting story. “The water horses are hungry and wicked, vicious and beautiful, hating us and loving us. It is time for the Scorpio Races. I am so, so alive.” I loved her Raven Boys series and look forward to reading some of her other books.

  10. Paul Connelly /

    Best: The Iron Dragon’s Daughter by Michael Swanwick follows a stolen human child, Jane, enslaved in a munitions factory in Faerie. This is a post-punk, industrial, consumerist Faerie, with a Goddess who may or may not be mythical. After finding a grimoire that’s basically a dragon operating manual, Jane hijacks an advanced military grade dragon and escapes to the exurbs. There she becomes a typical shoplifting Faerie high schooler, then goes on to college, till the dragon comes back into her life with plans for universal destruction. This alternates between funny and horrific, leaning a tad toward the former. The first half is strong but it starts to feel a bit scattered toward the end. Smart, very original for when it was written, and still quite enjoyable.

    I liked Mason & Dixon very much, but my reading of Thomas Pynchon stalled after that. Now, years later, I finally read Against the Day, his 1085 page saga spanning the period from the early 1890s up to the eve of World War I (and a short post-war section), with a large cast of characters and elements of SF, fantasy, horror (non-supernatural) and oddball whimsy, shuffled in among the period history and lush landscape descriptions. Always in the background, and sometimes foregrounded amid flying bullets and dynamite explosions, is the struggle of the labor movement and its anarchist allies against the plutocratic railroad and mine owners. Also important are advances in mathematical theory and the rapid adoption of new technology (David Hilbert and Nikola Tesla appear briefly). The early going is not easy, as we jump among several sets of characters. First it seems we are going to follow Merle Rideout, a traveling photographer bringing up Dally, his wife’s daughter by a (deceased) first husband, after his wife deserts him for a stage magician. Then the story moves on to Webb Traverse, a dynamiter who works in the mines but also secretly for the anarchists. Webb and his wife Mayva have three sons, Frank, Reef and Kit, and a daughter, Lake. There’s also detective Lew Basnight, who tires of the (then) usual detective business of union busting and strike breaking, and ends up in England working for an occult intelligence agency. After the mine owners have Webb murdered, his children go their separate ways: Frank continues the dynamiting trade while looking for revenge on the murdereres, but Lake marries one of her father’s killers, Kit goes to study higher mathematics in England and Germany, and Reef acquires a girlfriend and a son that he abandons to become an itinerant gambler. Also weaving in and out of the narrative are five steampunkish “boy’s own adventure” heroes (and their dog), the Chums of Chance, who travel around the globe and through other dimensions in their balloon. The middle sections of the book are the most enjoyable, as we’ve more or less gotten a grasp on which characters we’re following and what their motives are. But things start to flag in the fourth section (also titled “Against the Day”), where there’s much to-ing and fro-ing across southern Europe and Eurasia and excessive focus on aimless wastrel Reef Traverse and masochistic spy Cyprian Latewood. Yet it also has some of the best stretches of writing–the “Tunguska event” (meteor strike in Siberia) is eerie and fascinating, and Cyprian and Danilo’s trek across the mountains to Salonica is gripping. But there’s too much movement across terrain so Pynchon can provide history lessons and kinky sex in place of character development. Some of this you expect from a Pynchon novel (along with Dickensian character names, silly song lyrics, and half page long lists of things he associates together), but the last 300+ pages were a slog as a result. The only Pynchon novel I ended up disliking was Gravity’s Rainbow, but this one, while very much worth reading, is not among my favorites. (But Happy Birthday, Mr. Pynchon!) Still must read Inherent Vice and Bleeding Edge.

  11. The Distinguished Professor /

    The last Tale of Dunk and Egg (so far) is “The Mystery Knight”, where Duncan enters the tourney without using his real identity.

  12. Susan Whitehead /

    Finder by Suzanne Palmer. Fun characters, fast paced story, the planetoid location of most of the action a little hard to visualize but still pretty intriguing. Looking forward to Book 2 which was just released.

    Howling Dark by Christopher Ruocchio. Book 2 of his Sun Eater series. A complicated story (which I like), very interesting universe and a strong central character. Good pace with some surprising twists.

  13. Distinguished Professor, 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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