Fantasy & Beyond

A Book Forum for Speculative Fiction

Discuss SFF books and authors here.
By Elfy
#1082
I'll kick this off, because living in the future, we're already into April down here.

This isn't a contest, some people read lots, others not so many.
We're just interested in what you read and how you felt about it.
By Elfy
#1083
Continuing on with the theme of this year, I my monthly tally was in doubt figures again.

The Road to Neverwinter by Raleigh Johnson. If the title doesn't give it away this is another prequel to the Dungeons and Dragons film Honor Among Thieves. These are fairly disposable, but it was interesting to go a bit more in depth into how the team came together and their relationships.

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah. I picked this up on a recommendation from @ScarletBea . It was Arabian Nights in theme, so that's got me right there. Mostly quite fun, although it kind of took a while to really get going. It ended on a bit of a cliff, so I hope there is a sequel.

Emily Wilde's Map of the Otherlands by Heather Fawcett. I had been eagerly awaiting the further adventures of Emily, Wendell and Emily's 'dog' Shadow since the first of these came out. This didn't disappoint, if you liked the first one, you'll like this. She seems to favour the winter climes, too. The majority of the original cast return, and there are some new fun additions. I do like her vision of faerie, and the way it fits into our world so mundanely. I'm also a big Wendell fan.

Going Postal and Thud by Terry Pratchett. I've never been a big Moist Lipwig fan, and Going Postal is his introduction. It is, however, fun to see the way Pratchett introduces a part of our world and reality into Discworld. Thud was great, because it's a Vimes book, and as much as I do like reading about Times, the highlight of this for me was the pub crawl undertaken by Angua, Cheery Littlebottom and a new member of the Watch, Sally; a vampire. Honestly, it's the start of a joke: a werewolf, a dwarf and a vampire walk into a bar...

The Golden Gate by Amy Chua. A fascinating mystery set in San Francisco towards the end of WWII and concerning the murder of a politician. Very illuminating look for me, at a history of a place and a nation really. The author claims to be a big fan of Christie, but the setting and the tone of this brought to mind Chandler.

Mislaid in Parts Half-Known by Seanan McGuire. McGuire just does not miss with her Wayward Children novellas. These are largely standalone, but this one intersects closely with earlier editions, so I wouldn't recommend jumping in here. You need to have read the 8th instalment Lost in the Moment and Found to fully appreciate what's going on here, although there are characters who have appeared in a number of the earlier instalments. There's something heartbreaking about these books filled with broken characters who can never be where they really belong.

Troy by Stephen Fry. This is a retelling of the famous legend. It's quite complete and deals with the gods more than previous versions I've read of the story. There are no genuine heroes in this, they're all pretty awful people on a number of levels, especially the irredeemable Agamemnon. Having said that I do want to see him complete The Iliad with The Odyssey.

What Feasts at Night by T. Kingfisher. This is one of Kingfishers horror books, I don't like them as much as her others, and it's a sequel to What Moves the Dead which was a reworking of Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher. That never had a sequel, this is the second book in Kingfisher's Sworn Soldier series. I have to confess for a Kingfisher this one left me a little flat.

Artificial Condition by Martha Wells. I've read two of the Murderbot books and this is as far as I'll go. I just can't get interested in them or buy into any of the characters, most specifically the bot itself.

Elizabeth & Margaret by Andrew Morton. A biography about the relationship between Queen Elizabeth II and her younger sister Princess Margaret. Interesting read, but then again the unreal life the Royals are forced to lead does interest me.
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By lejays17
#1087
I missed one in Feb :scream:

Emily Wildes Map of the Otherland - Heather Fawcett. Sequel to Encyclopaedia of Fauries. Enjoyed this one a lot, like Elfy did. :happy:

Onto March now

Sword Heart - T Kingfisher. Set in the same world as the Clocktaur & Paladin books, but set in between them. Now some of the character interactions in the Paladin books make much more sense! I really enjoy reading about her not-traditional heroes & heroines, and this one didn’t disappoint me at all.

Cooking the books - Kerry Greenwood. 6th of the Corinna Chapman mysteries. This one set on a tv reality show in the height of summer. Being a resident of the city it’s set in means I sometimes get pulled out of the story when there are obvious differences to where things are in relation to other things. But she also does state tha her Melbourne is partially a fictional place to explain that away. I’ve only got one more of this series to go, and am saving it for a gloomy weekend,

Mislaid in Parts Half-Known - Seanan McGuire. See @Elfy review above. We feel the same way about the series.

The Waking of Angantyr - Marie Brennan. A retelling/adaptation of a Norse poem/saga. While reading this I was interested in the (lack of) character development of pretty much anyone who wasn’t the main character. Then i realised while reading the authors note of the inspiration, that irs just like a podcast I listen to reviewing Icelandic sagas. There’s not a lot of personal development in them either, but a lot of magic / gods / battles. And that’s what this is. Looking back, I can see the same beats happening in this book.
I enjoyed it a lot, it was a secondary world, but very based on Nordic culture.
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By cupiscent
#1090
March was a bit of a mess of a reading month for me because for much of it I was getting final edits done.
  • Starless by Jacqueline Carey - I enjoyed so much of this one, and then the final third made me shake my fist at clouds. I think I ranted in the currently-reading thread.
  • Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis - Delightful alterni-regency faerie-touched romance novella.
  • How the Wallflower was Won by Eva Leigh - Less delightful but very spicy straight-up historical romance.
  • And I also read two novels by Davinia Evans, whose stuff I must say is very much to my taste... :lol:
My non-fic read for March was The Regency Revolution by Robert Morrison, which was a fascinating overview of all the ways in which this period really launched so much of what we consider "modern".
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By DrNefario
#1092
Six for me in March (and zero purchases!):

Home from the Sea (Elemental Masters #7) - Mercedes Lackey - Attempting to finish the reddit Bingo, I grabbed the earliest book I could get in this series from my library, and it wasn't really a great place to start. Not really the kind of elemental magic I was expecting, either - this is more about dealing with fairy-type elemental creatures. Low jeopardy. Not that interested in reading more.

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories - Angela Carter - Collection of fairy/folk-tale interpretations. As with most collections, some good, some bad. Bingo clear-up continues.

The Rook (Chequy Files #1) - Daniel O'Malley - Secret government agency of people with special powers to fight supernatural threats. Good fun. Another Bingo book.

The Thief (Queen's Thief #1) - Megan Whalen Turner - Bingo complete, this was just a recent purchase of something I'd been after for a while. It was OK.

Round the Bend - Nevil Shute - Getting some non-spec-fic in now I'm done with the Bingo. Shute is always super-readable although a bit dated. Trying to be anti-racist but still coming across a bit racist. I inherited my dad's collection and try to read at least one a year.

The Siege of Skyhold (Mage Errant #5) - John Bierce - Another recent purchase, continuing a self-published series I enjoy.
By ultamentkiller
#1095
Still reading The Wandering Inn volume 8. I'm on chapter 8.47h, so I think I'm around halfway through this 2 million word volume. There are some chapters where the narrative stumbles, but overall, this volume has been everything I've wanted so far. It feels like book 11 in Wheel of Time. We're not close to concluding the story, but there are a lot of amazing payoffs.
By Peat
#1099
Fantasy

The Hawk Eternal by David Gemmell - Thoughtful, stirring, good fun

Last Song Before Night by Ilana C Myer - I may have never been more frustrated at how a book does so many things perfectly and then completely goofs it through bad choices. Unreal.

Imaro by Charles R Saunders - Kind of fun, mythic-ish sword and sorcery, nice to have finally read it

Non-Fantasy

The Accusers by Lindsey Davis - Not enough plot for the pages

Call for the Dead by John le Carre - The perfect amount of plot for the pages

Indemnity Only by Sara Paretsky - Didn't really connect with me, story wasn't deep enough and too much of it was people being angry with each other
By Carter
#1106
Here are mine for the month:

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers - I know I'm late to this particular party, but I got to it in the end (I blame it on not reading a whole lot of sci-fi). I really enjoyed this gentle, episodic journey through Chambers' universe. Each character within it was given moments to shine and reveal their own complexities without it seeming trivial, which is no mean feat in something as short as this. At times, I did find that some of the overall narrative arcs got lost, at times it veered to being info-dumping territory that meant I could see the joins a bit too much, but it never got to the point where it took me away from what I enjoyed.

Ravensong By TJ Klune - the second in the series and at times it felt like it. There was some overlap (in time if not focus) with Wolfsong but not too much to make it awkward. I did feel like there was more attention paid to the developing larger plotline rather than on the characters and interactions between them, which I feel is one of Klune's strengths from previous books I've read, so there was not quite as much of what I usually like. Still, a good read and I've already acquired the next one without having second thoughts about it.

The Shield of Thunder by David Gemmell - the second in his Troy series, this again has a feel of building up to the inevitable events of the next book. It shifts some of the character focus from Lord of the Silver Bow but, as usual, that takes nothing away from Gemmell's usual style and approach. Enjoyable, an easy read, even if I have to ration how often I return to Gemmell's works these days because of how familiar I am with them and some of how I react to certain elements as the years have gone on.

Osmo Unknown and the Eightpenny Woods by Catherynne M Valente - I've been putting off reading this because it means I will have no fresh Valente to read once I did. However, I could not bear putting it off any longer. There are some similarities to draw between this and Valente's Fairyland series but with a new set of characters to enjoy. It also sees the return of Valente's omnipresent narrator, which I found to be its usual delight. As ever it subtly deals with surprisingly large themes without being heavy-handed or obvious. Now I have to wait impatiently for another book (or give in and track down some of her video game tie-ins despite having not played said games).

The Mystery at Dunvegan Castle by T L Huchu - the latest in Huchu's Edinburgh Nights series, this takes the action outside of Edinburgh into a much more restricted environment. Unfortunately, I think it suffers a bit for doing so. Some of what I enjoyed about the series so far felt constrained by the setting without it really feeling necessary to the plot's development. From a wider perspective, I think I can understand why it's been done this way in order to develop a broader story arc but it meant this book has more of a placeholder feel.

lejays17 wrote:
The Waking of Angantyr - Marie Brennan. A retelling/adaptation of a Norse poem/saga. While reading this I was interested in the (lack of) character development of pretty much anyone who wasn’t the main character. Then i realised while reading the authors note of the inspiration, that irs just like a podcast I listen to reviewing Icelandic sagas. There’s not a lot of personal development in them either, but a lot of magic / gods / battles. And that’s what this is. Looking back, I can see the same beats happening in this book.
I enjoyed it a lot, it was a secondary world, but very based on Nordic culture.
I agree. That author's note does a lot to change how you can end up thinking about what came before. I definitely found it improving how much I had enjoyed the whole.
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By Elfy
#1109
Carter wrote: April 3rd, 2024, 20:16
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers - I know I'm late to this particular party, but I got to it in the end (I blame it on not reading a whole lot of sci-fi). I really enjoyed this gentle, episodic journey through Chambers' universe. Each character within it was given moments to shine and reveal their own complexities without it seeming trivial, which is no mean feat in something as short as this. At times, I did find that some of the overall narrative arcs got lost, at times it veered to being info-dumping territory that meant I could see the joins a bit too much, but it never got to the point where it took me away from what I enjoyed.


Osmo Unknown and the Eightpenny Woods by Catherynne M Valente - I've been putting off reading this because it means I will have no fresh Valente to read once I did. However, I could not bear putting it off any longer. There are some similarities to draw between this and Valente's Fairyland series but with a new set of characters to enjoy. It also sees the return of Valente's omnipresent narrator, which I found to be its usual delight. As ever it subtly deals with surprisingly large themes without being heavy-handed or obvious. Now I have to wait impatiently for another book (or give in and track down some of her video game tie-ins despite having not played said games).
Carter, we meet again! I quite liked The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. It was science fiction the way I like it done. No real hard explanations of how things work, but plenty of interaction between characters that seem real and likeable. Chambers has written other works set in and around this same world, you may enjoy them.

We have that Valence, but I haven't yet read it, your review has prompted me to hunt it out and give it a whirl. I may be mistaken, but I thought that Cat wrote it in part for her son Bastian.

I'm not sure when its coming out, but she did say that she was working on a sequel to Space Opera.
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By Lanko
#1115
I only read Paladin of Souls by Bujold and enjoyed it very much. Didn't feel too compelled to go for the third book.

I also started The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle but only really read it at the beginning of this month.