TBR Challenge March 2016

My TBR challenge reading reflected the craziness of March for me – it, like my life, was all over the place. But I did manage to read something in all four of my categories so here is my March TBR challenge write up.

Hounded by Kevin HearneHounded is my fantasy pick for March and it is the first book in the Iron Druid Chronicles series. I’ve had this on my TBR list for since March 2015 and am glad I read it sooner rather than later. It was a very enjoyable book with a good mix of action and humor. A lot of urban fantasy leans toward the dramatic with moments of humor but Hounded was more humorous with moments of drama. I actually read this during my breaks at jury duty and it was the perfect compliment to the very serious business of a criminal trial. Hearne does an excellent job of creating engaging characters, both with main character Atticus and the various secondary characters such as the villain Angus and Oberon, the dog not the Fae. I also very much enjoyed the blend of 21st century and ancient Druid embodied in the book and in Atticus. I’m looking forward to reading the second book, Hexed, and won’t be waiting a year!

Murder at Longbourn  by Tracy Kiely – I added this literary inspired cozy mystery to my TBR list in 2012 so when I saw it on the shelf at the library, I grabbed it. While peppered with literary allusions – some subtle, some not – it left a great deal to be desired. First, the protagonist, Elizabeth, is just not a great character. She complains about the lack of intelligence in other people but she isn’t particularly smart so the criticism seems unjustifiable. The other characters are hit and miss as well. The murder victim wasn’t even remotely surprising nor was the murderer. I’ve not been having much luck with cozy mysteries lately so I think I might have to go back to historical mysteries for a while despite the sheer volume of cozies on my TBR.

Just before going on jury duty, I had a pretty bad cold and so was home from work for a few days with no energy. My go-to reading when I feel rotten – Romance. So this month I read Beware of Me by Cynthia Eden and When You Dare by Lori Foster, both having been on my TBR pile for quite some time though Foster’s series has definitely been there years longer. Both were solid romantic suspense novels – I expect nothing less from either author – with a wonderful blend of action, drama, and romance.

Beware of Me is a bit of a crossover between Eden’s Dark Obsession series and her Mine series but I don’t think it is necessary to have read all the other books to understand and enjoy this one, though reading the Dark Obsession series in order will allow you to avoid spoilers. I was glad to see Ethan and Carly’s book which is set up in Need Me. The characters are solid, the action is well paced, and the chemistry is hot – a perfect romantic suspense trifecta. Eden’s romantic suspense books tend to be a touch shorter than average but I think this might just be a trend in publishing overall and not necessarily specific to her.

When You Dare is the first book in the Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor series and features Dare Macintosh and his accidental rescue of Molly Alexander from a Mexican human trafficking gang. It’s an excellent set up and I loved the strength of both characters as well as the slow journey to trust and emotional involvement. The secondary characters were hit or miss – some were well rounded and fully realized while others seemed a bit too caricatural. While I enjoyed the book overall and will definitely be reading more in the series, the ending did feel a little rushed and the reveal of the antagonist was a little anticlimactic.

The Tigress of Forli by Elizabeth Lev – My nonfiction read from the TBR pile this month was The Tigress of Forli: Renaissance Italy’s Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de Medici. This has been on my TBR list since 2011 so it was about time I went ahead and read it. Caterina is not a well known historical figure outside the experts in that time and place but I thought she was very interesting. As a woman in a completely male dominated world, she managed to be her own strong, independent person and went head to head with several of the male leaders around her – and often won. The book was well written and gave enough information on the surrounding areas and time period to place Caterina in context but not so much that it overshadowed her as the subject of the book.

The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily by Nancy Goldstone – Since March is Women’s History month, I decided to do a second nonfiction pick from my TBR list and chose The Lady Queen. Having enjoyed Goldstone’s work before, I knew what to expect from this history book written for the general reader. Joanna was not someone I was familiar with and I found her story to be both interesting and enlightening. Despite threats and violence from her own relatives as well as outside kingdoms – although those were sometimes one and the same – as well as famine, plague, and economic collapse, Joanna retained the right to rule as sole monarch and her policies were better for the stability of her subjects than most other rulers at the time.

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