Fantasy & Beyond

A Book Forum for Speculative Fiction

Discuss SFF books and authors here.
By Peat
Please come and tell us what you read in the last month.
This isn't a competition, some people read just one and others a lot more - we just like to know
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By DrNefario
Six for me in April.

I've just noticed I haven't finished any non-fiction yet this year, which is maybe why other months have been a bit down.

The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga - Booker Prize Winner I started while waiting for the new r/fantasy bingo card. I can relax now I've done my literary quota for the year. Also a very good read.

The Justice of Kings (Wolf Empire #1) - Richard Swan - Didn't really do much for me. A travelling magical judge messes about while the law comes into conflict with politics. I'm not planning to continue the series.

Provenance - Ann Leckie - Space opera culture clash in the same universe as the Radch trilogy. Imaginitive. Great fun. I shouldn't have put it off for so long.

The Spirit Thief (Eli Monpress #1) - Rachel Aaron - Fun caper with a magical thief and the people trying to stop him. I will be continuing with this one.

Tokyo Express - Seicho Matsumoto - Japanese murder mystery from the late 50s, heavily reliant on train timetables. Good, but maybe not great.

The Green Man's Foe (Green Man #2) - Juliet E McKenna - Our half-dryad main character gets involved in more supernatural shenanigans while helping to turn an old stately home into a hotel.
By Peat

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip - A gloriously heady tale of reckoning with power that really captures a sense of old myth.

Winds of Fate by Mercedes Lackey - Good old jolly adventure fare with uneven pacing and a somewhat bizarrely lampshaded take on the chosen one story

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman - I'd kind of forgotten how much fun it is to read Gaiman at his best. Also fascinating to have now consumed this story in three different forms. I think the interiority the novel permits really helps the story come alive. Wonderful worldbuilding too, huge shame he's never returned to the general idea.

Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett - Great idea, great set-up, but doesn't quite fully work for me

Pyramids by Terry Pratchett - I, uh, technically read this in March but forgot to include it in the spreadsheet so it slides over. The more I read this one the more I appreciate it but it still sags a little in the middle.

The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay - A gobsmackingly entertaining, thoughtful, and beautiful read

Winds of Change by Mercedes Lackey - A very dilatory second book for a series with a very high level of convenience.


A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong - Extremely interesting but truncated and left me feeling like there may be some other theories on all this the author isn't addressing at all.
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By cupiscent
  • A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon - much like Priory, in that it was lush, epic, very personal, full of non-belabored diversity, but I felt that the big story didn't hang together as strongly or as compellingly, which made the length of it drag a little for me
  • Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard - sharp and satisfying, but as is often the case for me, I wished for more; I felt that the world and the emotional pacing would have been stronger allowed more space to bloom
  • This is how you lose the time war by El-Mohtar & Gladstone - re-read for the book club here, and I really enjoyed it, even more than the first time I read it.
  • The Will of the Many by James Islington - much more adventure fantasy than I prefer, though I feel still a bit thin in that vein; very YA in many ways (not least the "no one can fix this but a teenager, apparently" premise) but lacking the YA pace and drive)
  • Castles in their Bones by Laura Sebastian - actual YA fantasy with a mildly silly premise that works with strong but simple worldbuilding and vibrant characters
No non-fic finished this month because the biography of Catherine the Great I'm reading is actually longer than her reign.
By Elfy
Slowed down a little this month, with 8 books completed.

Discworld, Wintersmith and Making Money by Terry Pratchett. Wintersmith being a Tiffany Aching book and featuring the Nac Mac Feegle, was as they always are, a funny delight and everything that is good about the disc shaped world. Making Money less so. It's the second Moist Von Lipwig book, and I am just not a Moist fan. He's a con artist, who does everything by the seat of his pants and uses his cleverness to get into and out of things. I should love him and the books he's in, but I just don't. He's very similar to William de Worde, and I didn't like him, either. In trying to develop institutions like the postal service (Going Postal) and the banks (Making Money), they somehow seem to have lost the magic and sense of whimsy that makes Discworld such a joy to visit. I've only got 5 books left in the series, but I'm a bit Pratchetted out, so will take a break before tackling the last few.

A New Hope from a Certain Point of View and The Empire Strikes Back from a Certain Point of View by Various authors. I may have mentioned the first one last month, but I forgot to enter it into my spreadsheet. They're basically stories set in and around the Star Wars films, but about non major characters, so they skirt the periphery. I'm currently reading the 3rd, which is Return of the Jedi. They can be very hit and miss. By and large they tend to spend too long at the beginning of the films. I was wondering if we'd ever get off Tattooine during the first one and we seemed to spend forever on Hoth in the second.

Empire of the Damned by Jay Kristoff. These are trashy as hell, but I do enjoy them. The setting is a reimagined France during the age of chivalry, but the world has been taken over by vampires. There is a lot of action and violence in these...a lot. They wade through gore. While I do enjoy them, Kristoff has made his characters too unkillable. It's like they've all got Wolverine's healing factor, even the ones that aren't vampires. For that reason death is very much a temporary condition. I believe there's a 3rd one due out next year, and I'll be saddled up for the conclusion.

China by Edward Rutherfurd. I enjoyed Rutherfurd's earlier historical epics, about London and Russia. This was less epic than its length and predecessors suggest. It only spans a hundred years or so beginning with the Opium Wars. I have read about these before, so I didn't learn much and overall his style of writing made it relatively boring.

AC/DC Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be by Mick Wall. Rock biography about the Australian hard rock band AC/DC. The first 2 3rds of the book about the bands formation and the early days with their legendary frontman Bon Scott were highly entertaining. Bon's untimely and tragic death kind of sucked all the air out of the story, so the longer part of their existence wasn't anywhere near as a rollicking a read.

Relight My Fire by C. K. McDonnell. The 4th of The Stranger Times series. If you've liked the others about the exceedingly weird newspaper and the even weirder things that happen to the staff that they don't print, because it just wouldn't be believed, then you'll like this. It is more of the same, but I've grown to love and enjoy the characters. The chapters occasionally have excerpts from the fictional paper in between them and they're quite fun to read. I particularly enjoyed the one about Elon Musk being a sophisticated AI that went rogue.
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By ScarletBea
Wow, last month I only finished 2 books!

This is how you lose the time war by El-Mohtar & Gladstone
For the book club, even though I wasn't that keen on the book, I loved the discussions/posts, and they almost made me want to re-read it...

Red Side Story by Jasper Fforde
The sequel to a superb book was always going to be hard, and I feel he took the plot into a direction I'd rather not see. Still, a super book!
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By lejays17
Well, the site logged me out, so I lost all the words I’d written.

If you want more info on the books & what I thought, let me know.

This Woven Kingdom - Tahereh Mafi
YA first of a trilogy

Starling House -Alix E Harrow

Unnatural Magic - CM Waggoner

In the Garden of Iden - Kage Baker
First in The Company series
Elfy liked this
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By cupiscent
lejays17 wrote: May 3rd, 2024, 07:29 Well, the site logged me out, so I lost all the words I’d written.

If you want more info on the books & what I thought, let me know.
Boooo, how annoying!

I always love to see people reading CM Waggoner, so I'm curious as to your thoughts, mostly because if they're luke-warm, I still want to encourage you to read The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry because it's utterly delightful. :beaming:

Also curious on your thoughts on the Mafi book, as it's floating near the top of my tbr pile but I'm feeling ambivalent on YA fantasy recently.
By Carter
Here are mine for the month:

Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone - continuing my re-reading of the Craft Sequence, this secondary world corporate/financial thriller (for wont of a better subgenre) gripped me from start to finish as Gladstone's books so often do. It brings in a bit more from Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise without being an obvious sequel to either and works well as a standalone for me.

Velvet is the Night by Silvia Moreno Garcia - a '70s Mexican noir that trips along very nicely. Perhaps not as much depth to it as I was hoping for, but perfectly readable and I enjoyed it as I have all of her work to date.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V E Schwab - with the first in the sequel series to these now out, I wanted to reacquaint myself with the world and the style of these books. I like the concept and the characters spring to life. However, I don't think this quite matches with my memories of the first time I read this, although I can't quite put my finger on why. I think some aspects of some of the characters no longer quite works for me.

Unfettered edited by Shawn Speakman - I am torn on what I'm about to say about this. The list of contributors to the anthology creates a level of expectation that this never really met for me. It almost felt as, rather than a collection of short stories, it's more of extra detail, backstory and history from the authors' respective worlds in the form of a short story. There are some exceptions to this, and some more stand-out stories, but they didn't mask my disappointment from the rest. That being said, in many ways, the stories themselves are not the point of this anthology, so I have no issues with spending time reading it.
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By DaveBates
I failed to read anything last month, but I also failed to post for the month of March -- where did April go? :-( -- so I'll do my March one now.

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohter & Max Gladstone -- as previously mentioned by others, for the Book Club, and you can find the riveting discussion on it there.

Stake by Kevin J Anderson -- This was an interesting concept about a murder mystery surrounding a man killing what he believes to be vampires. Is he a vampire slayer, or is he just a crazy man who's a serial killer? It's a fun twist on the vampire genre that I've never seen before.