Jenster's Musings

Sunday, April 01, 2007

March Reading

I read 104 books during the month of March.

APRIL FOOLS!!

Now that I have the April 1st charade requirements fulfilled I shall tell you what I read in March. And there were only five books so this shouldn't take too long.

Dream Hunter - Sherrilyn Kenyon (Paranormal Romance)

This is somewhere around the bajillionth book in the Dark Hunter series. I know some die hard DH fans were disappointed in this one, but I liked it. I've always been enamored with mythology and this book was chock full of it. It did take me until the very end of the book to realize that it took place before the first book in the series, though. Regardless, I was entertained and that's the whole point. Isn't it?

The Virgin's Lover - Philippa Gregory (Historical Fiction)

Queen Elizabeth is in love with Sir Robert Dudley, but Sir Robert is married to Lady Amy Dudley. The Queen has the power to dissolve the marriage, just as her father dissolved his legal marriage to Queen Katherine so he could marry Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth's mother. But we all know how that turned out.

Philippa Gregory has an incredible talent for weaving an intricate story with well known history, bringing the dull facts of a history book to colorful life. With this book she tackles the mystery of Amy Dudley's death. Did Sir Robert kill his wife? Did Elizabeth have her murdered? Did she die of natural causes? Or maybe William Cecil, Elizabeth's highest advisor planned her demise?

I could never decide from this book if Robert truly loved Elizabeth or if he just wanted the power of being King - maybe a little bit of both. He came from a power-hungry family, which got his father killed for treason and very nearly got himself executed as well. You'd think he'd learn.

Anyway, as with the previous Tudor books of Ms. Gregory's, this was an excellent read. I'm looking forward to the next one - The Constant Princess - which goes back to Henry VIII's first wife, Queen Katherine of Aragon, Queen Mary's mother.

Slow Burn - Julie Garwood (Contemporary Romantic Suspense)

I typically prefer historicals - romantic or not - with a few paranormals thrown in for good measure, but I'm terribly loyal and I've read all of Julie Garwood's other books. This book had a pretty good mystery, though I had a feeling about the villain from very early on. Some of the writing seemed forced to me, but I enjoyed the story nonetheless.

To Wed a Scandalous Spy - Celeste Bradley (Regency Romance)

I read and enjoyed all of CB's Liar's Club books - a series of spies in Regency England. The Royal Four are the four men who rule them - spies in their own right. This was the first book of the Royal Four and a highly entertaining read. Fast paced, funny, a little mysterious, and a delightful romance. What's not to like??

A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray (Young Adult - Gothic)

This is one of those books that I kept seeing, picking up, reading the back, putting it down, on and on ad infinitum, but I hadn't heard anything about it so I was leery of buying it. Dance Chica wrote about the book at her blog, Insomnomania, and when I mentioned I'd been thinking about reading it she sent it to me. How sweet is that?

I finished it this afternoon, so I suppose technically it's not a March read. But I'm putting it in here anyway.

The book is written in first person present which threw me at first. I have to say that's probably my least favorite style. However, the story itself was so good that I quickly forgot about my dislike of her writing. This is a critique I found that said it so much better than I could:

Despite having argued long and hard to be allowed to go to London, the Gemma Doyle that arrives on the doorstep of the city's fashionable Spence Academy is not the discontented teenager from Bombay who had her hopes set on the big city. Mourning the tragic death of her mother, she is unable tell anyone the truth. Saddened by her father's retreat into laudanum and her oh-so-proper brother's insistence that she be the prim Victorian miss that she is not, Gemma despairs of fitting in. Her role as an outsider seems assured when beautiful Pippa and sophisticated Felicity lump her with her roommate, Ann, a scholarship student. To top it off, one of the mysterious men present when her mother died seems to be following her. Her bleak prospects change when she is led to the diary of Mary Dowd, a former Spence girl who penetrated the secrets of The Realm that now link Gemma, her mother, Felicity, Ann, and Pippa with a life and death struggle. This classic boarding school drama with Gothic tones deals with real issues—a woman's place, the question of self-determinism, the impact on young lives of a lack of parental love and attention—within an excitingly supernatural framework. Plot, setting, and characterization are all strong. Questions of life, love, maturity, responsibility, and the harrowing nature of choices are seamlessly worked into a compulsively readable story, open ended enough to hint at the possibility of a sequel.

And yes. There is a sequel. Rebel Angels takes up shortly after Great leaves off. And yes. I will be reading it at some point.

There you have it. The five books I read in March.

Todd's brother and sister-in-law, Tim and Rachel, are flying in from California tomorrow so my appearances will be sparse. But what stories and pictures I'll have when I come back!

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