I’m so happy with my reading in March! After a lackluster Feb dominated by work, I was actually able to read a ton this month, and loved a great deal of it. I read 3 books in the 5-star range, and also participated in 2 readathons: the Trans Rights Readathon and Tordotcomathon, both over on Bookstagram.
Total books read: 12
2023 releases: 6
Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett (5 stars) – Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Faeries was a delightful 5-star read for me; I loved the themes of folklore and myth and empathized with the main character’s constant struggle to get her work done while interacting with people as little as possible. Emily is brilliant, pragmatic (even ruthless), and fascinating as a viewpoint character; the book is written as her journal entries while doing fieldwork in Scandinavia to help complete her encyclopaedia. I wasn’t expecting a romance in this one, but it’s really well done; Emily’s colleague/rival Brambleby is a cheerful, whimsical foil to her seriousness and also an enigma that serves the story. I’d recommend this one to fantasy, romance, and romantasy readers alike, and am anxiously awaiting its sequel.
A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows (4.5 stars) -Speaking of having a great reading month in March, I also discovered this fantastically written fantasy/romance from a new-to-me author. A Strange and Stubborn Endurance is not an easy read emotionally (check content warnings! it does contain sexual assault, PTSD, attempted suicide, and murders) but it’s a beautiful portrait of healing and discovering the freedom to be yourself. It’s fairly romance-centric, but the plot doesn’t suffer for it. Vel is a gay nobleman forced to hide his sexuality due to his repressive country’s laws and social stigmas, so he’s not exactly thrilled when his father arranges a marriage for him to a noblewoman from a neighboring country. After undergoing a trauma, however, his secret is revealed, and the ambassador proposes an alternative: Vel can instead marry Cae, his original fiance’s brother. Vel and Cae’s romance develops slowly and is very sweet, but the two are also forced to contend with mysterious factions working against them. This was a 4.5 star read for me and I highly recommend it to romantasy fans. The sequel is out later this year and is already on my wish list.
I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai (4.5 stars) – I’d describe this one as sort of a literary mystery that explores the nature of memory, the impacts of true crime media, and society’s more widespread current reckoning with the virulent racism and misogyny in our culture. I wasn’t really expecting to be as impressed with this book as I was, but the writing is extremely strong and the plot and concepts evoked both kept me hooked. I think this will be a book I will recommend widely, to all kinds of readers.
Something Wild and Wonderful by Anita Kelly (4 stars) – Anita Kelly was one of my favorite new authors I discovered in 2022, so their new 2023 release was instantly added to my TBR. Something Wild & Wonderful is about two men at crossroads in their lives who individually decide to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (which I mainly knew due to Cheryl Strayed’s Wild) but meet up and begin to hike together while mutually developing romantic feelings. Like other Anita Kelly books I’ve read, Something Wild is at its core big-hearted and centered around people trying to work through their emotions and find their paths in life. The trail setting added a unique component to the romance, presenting obstacles that the main characters had to work through together while simultaneously building up their relationship from friendship to something more. I didn’t love this one quite as much as Love & Other Disasters (which was one of my favorite books of 2022) but I found it a sweet and well-written romance that I’d absolutely recommend. I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Finna by Nino Cipri (4 stars) – A fun science fiction novella taking place inside an Ikea-esque store whose newest employees are forced to enter a wormhole to rescue a missing customer. Unfortunately, the employees are also recent exes, and the wormhole isn’t exactly safe. This was a great quick audiobook, and I’m likely to pick up its sequel as well.
Behind the Scenes by Karelia Stetz-Waters (4 stars) – A sweet contemporary Sapphic romance with themes of healing from physical and emotional trauma and embracing your creative side. The central romance is between Ash, a washed-up director, and Rose, a savvy businesswoman/secret ASMRtist, who come together to help create and pitch a new queer film. I especially enjoyed Ash’s found family of coworkers and Rose’s sisters as side characters, but the central romance was strong as well. I think ultimately I do prefer Stetz-Waters’s first book, Satisfaction Guaranteed, to this one, but I still really enjoyed Behind the Scenes as well. I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham (4 stars) – For the first time in my life, I went to a book club meeting this month! I joined at a bit of short notice, so I ended up listening to this audiobook over the course of 12 hours, and, not typical for me, listened at much faster than average speed. I don’t always have success with mystery/thrillers, but I thought this one was well-written, well-narrated, and definitely delivered on the twists.
Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk (3.5 stars) – This was my second read from Polk, and I gave it the same rating as I did The Midnight Bargain. Their premises are interesting, but something just feels lacking to me in execution, and this one also was much more religious-themed than I’d expected.
The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz (3.5 stars) – This book was both better-written and twistier than I was expecting; it was also way more violent. A young writer goes to an exclusive retreat hosted by her favorite author, where she finds several other writers than include her frenemy, with whom she’s had a very complicated relationship. There’s an added incentive to write during this retreat–a winner will be chosen to actually publish their book and be ushered onto the literary scene by the famous author. Unfortunately, there are missing people and murder to contend with in addition to the writer’s block. Would I recommend this? I’m honestly not sure.
Best Served Hot by Amanda Elliot (3.5 stars) – This contemporary romance with food critic love interests sounded up my alley, especially since I loved last year’s Sadie on a Plate. I ended up frustrated somewhat with its main character and wanting more dimension from the love interest.
Signs of Cupidity by Raven Kennedy (3.5 stars) – I started this fantasy romance trilogy on a whim after seeing it on someone’s bookstagram, and found its first installment a very fun read with a silly, irreverent protagonist who’s a cupid out of water.
Bonds of Cupidity by Raven Kennedy (3 stars) – Unfortunately, I didn’t love the second installment quite as much as the first, and I won’t be continuing in the series. I’m not mad I picked these up, because they kept me from reading slumping, and I’d probably check out other books from this author in future.