March Reads

Books I read during March – copied over from Goodreads.

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Breaking the Rules (Troubleshooters, #16)Breaking the Rules by Suzanne Brockmann (romantic suspense)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

BREAKING THE RULES is the last full-length novel in the long-running Troubleshooters series, and while I’ll miss these books, I would agree it is possibly time to wrap up this series.

BREAKING THE RULES probably isn’t one for new readers, as the romance angle is focused on two longer-running relationships. The storyline isn’t as addictive as previous books (on the other hand, what could beat the Alyssa/Sam romance?), but the book’s still jam-packed with action and romance, though I found a few of the sex scenes slightly superfluous. And oh, the angst. If you’re not a fan of angst, you may find this book slightly painful – me, I liked it 😉

I have to mention topical issues as well – Suzanne Brockmann is definitely an “issue” author, and in BREAKING THE RULES, she packed quite a few in; we had gay rights, domestic abuse, alcoholism, child sex trafficking… and I probably missed some. It’s something I expect when I pick up a Brockmann book, so the preaching didn’t bother me massively, but it certainly isn’t a subtle thing.

This was a very long book – twice the length of my other recent reads, according to my Kindle – and while it isn’t amongst my favourite Troubleshooter books, I still finished it in one go. I’m curious to see what Suzanne Brockmann tackles next.

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Late Eclipses (October Daye #4)Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire (urban fantasy)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVED. The series just gets better and better with each book.

Having said that, this is not the book to start the series with, and if you didn’t like the previous books, I don’t think this would change your mind about the series.

I really liked finding out more about Toby’s heritage, and mystery-wise, I thought the plotting was tighter – even though a new character with the right skillset appeared rather conveniently to help with the reveal. And we got more Tybalt…

I will say that considering some rather devastating events happened in this book, I didn’t feel as emotionally raw as I thought I would.

But all in all, an excellent installment and I cannot wait for One Salt Sea.

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Anna and the French KissAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (YA contemporary romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So much hype around this book… and yeah, totally well-deserved.

It’s a feel-good book that avoids being too fairytale-like, because the characters are just, well, real. I liked how both Anna and St Clair had had flaws, and I think that made the story more believable – things aren’t always black-and-white in real life either.

I thought the voice and the setting was spot-on – it very much reminded me of my college/university days (though sadly without a St Clair). So that was a bonus, as I obviously identified with Anna’s fish-out-of-water feelings and rooted for her as she settled into her new life.

I have to say St Clair’s “sexy” British accent threw me, as I couldn’t quite place it and it kept on taking me out of the story. And the British swearwords – umm, they verged on the rude side! I’m sure the equivalent American swearwords were not used. I think.

But moving on… there was some excellent chemistry between Anna and St Clair, and the falling-in-love part was done beautifully.

Oh, and the ending? Perfect.

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A Secret Affair (Huxtable Series)A Secret Affair by Mary Balogh (historical romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This caught my eye when I was browsing the New Releases shelves in the library – and I decided to borrow it when I found myself still standing in front of the shelves and two chapters into the book.

This was my first Balogh (I know, where have I been…) and I was pleasantly surprised. Possibly too much introspection on the part of the characters – I admit I skimmed some passages – and the falling-in-love part happened a bit too quickly for me, but I liked the interaction and interplay between the heroine and hero. I do think I would have found this book more satisfying had I read previous books in the series (there was definitely some backstory that I missed out on), but it worked pretty well as a standalone.

I loved the ending, and I definitely would pick up more books by Balogh.

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River Marked (Mercedes Thompson #6)River Marked by Patricia Briggs (urban fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All the Mercy Thompson books have been consistently good, and RIVER MARKED was no exception.

RIVER MARKED reminded me of why I love reading series that focus on a single couple – you get to see their relationship grow and change over time, and I enjoyed seeing Mercy and Adam grow more comfortable in their relationship and, well, *learn* each other.

This time around, Patricia Briggs gave us a fascinating take on Native American legends, which I really liked, especially with Mercy learning more about her own heritage.

Oh, and the last page reduced me to tears (in a good way, I hasten to add).

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With Abandon (With or Without Series, #4)With Abandon by J.L. Langley (m/m paranormal romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Quick read, but the romance didn’t quite work for me.

The relationship didn’t feel consistent with the world-building or the characters. It came across as though the romance was being told independently of who the characters were – for instance, we had Aubrey falling in love, and while we were told he was the alpha of the pack, I didn’t *believe* he was. And the “fated mates” plotline happens to be one of my least favourite tropes, so, oh well.

Good writing and I did want to know how the story would ended, but ultimately not a winner.

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Gunshy (Jennifer Pierce Maine Mystery #2)Gunshy by Sharon Lee (mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m still loving the “retro-ness” of this mystery series.

What surprised me with this book is that the mystery sneaks up on you, unlike the first one Barnburner, where the resolution snuck up on me.

I would really like more in this series – I would totally love to see the relationship between Jennifer and Fox develop. There is so much potential there…

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Five Flavors of DumbFive Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (YA)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A really satisfying read – my attention was first caught by the fact it had a deaf protagonist, and the first chapter reeled me in.

I’m doing a buddy review with Nath for Breezing Through for this one.

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Just Patty and When Patty Went to College  by Jean Webster

My rating:  4 of 5 stars and 3 of 5 stars respectively – I posted about these books when I read them back in March.

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Gale Force (Weather Warden #7)Gale Force by Rachel Caine (urban fantasy)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really liked the Weather Wardens series way back when, but stopped reading because of the [insert adjective of choice here] cliffhanger endings, which I completely detest. Now that Rachel Caine’s finished writing the series though, I decided to borrow GALE FORCE from the library and see whether I wanted to continue reading the books.

GALE FORCE was a quick read, but nothing out of the ordinary IMO. I like how Joanne and David’s strong relationship was portrayed, but the story-telling itself wasn’t engrossing enough – I admit to skimming in parts. The overall atmosphere was all doom-and-gloom as well, with nothing ever going right for Jo. The “what’s the worst thing that can happen to XYZ” kind of plotting usually makes for great stories, but here it was just rather depressing.

And yes, there was a cliffhanger ending. Gah. I’m not invested enough to get the final two books in the series.

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12 thoughts on “March Reads

  1. I listened to Rachel Caine speak the other week, and she talked about those cliffhanger endings. I got the impression that she wasn’t necessarily that fond of them either. I will finish the Weather Warden series because I can’t possible read 9 books in a series and not finish it.

    • Oh, interesting – did she expand on why she uses them then? I’ve read her Morganville Vampires books and it is very much in the same style (yes, I stopped after the first few as well).

      I read that Kelley Armstrong used a cliffhanger ending in her latest Otherworld book (the first Savannah POV) to indicate to readers that the series wouldn’t end there (probably paraphrasing rather badly) – which is not a good idea, IMO. It comes across as a (frustrating) tactic to get readers to buy your next book.

      • Sigh. It probably works in most instances, hence the continued usage, but I’ve definitely stopped reading series because of cliffhangers (Caine’s books being just one example).

  2. Looks like March was a good month, Li! 🙂

    I’ve only recently started reading Mary Balogh books and I’m enjoying them 🙂 The Huxtables series have been getting mixed reviews, but since I haven’t read much of them, I don’t have any basis to compare. Personally, while they’re not wowzers, they are enjoyable. I’m hoping to pick up A Secret Affair very soon 🙂

    I promise, I’m getting the review for Five Flavors of Dumb this week! Blood oath, LOL.

    I enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss, but it also reminded me why I don’t read more contemporary YA ^_^;

    • I need to pick up more Balogh, methinks.

      No rush about getting the Dumb review up – as I said, I am not one for getting reviews up promptly either 😉

      Anna hit all the right buttons for me, I am all excited about the next one! I haven’t read that many contemp YAs this year yet – have been meaning to get the latest Echols and Dessen, but have to be in the right mood for them.

  3. When I commented on Sharon Lee’s LJ a few weeks ago, I told her that her website didn’t have links to those Fictionwise editions and for the sake of completeness (and sales ) that might be a good idea.

    She thanked me in one of the later entries and I said “you’re welcome” but that it was self-interest in making her interested in writing more if they sell well. So she answered that she always wanted to make these mysteries a trilogy, but didn’t find time to do so.

    So I’m hoping they will sell well enough that she can justify spending the time to write the third mystery.

    • A trilogy! Oh yes please… *crosses fingers*

      It’s a marketing thing, IMO – I think they have a die-hard Liaden fanbase, but the non-Liaden books don’t get talked about very much.

  4. Totally agree on the endings to both ANNA and RIVER MARKED. Loved them.

    I’ve been curious about FIVE FLAVORS OF DUMB. Will have to check out your joint review.

    • Oh, I have a feeling Dumb is your sort of book. A diverse set of characters, some rather complicated family dynamics, a hint of romance, and massively satisfying character growth from a girl who doesn’t let her deafness get in her way.

      And the heroine’s name is Piper 😉

  5. I’ll keep my eye out for your Dumb review with nath. LOLOL! 😆 I plan on reading the book at some point, maybe you two can convince me to read it sooner rather than later. 😉

    I HAVE to read the Toby series. .. so many of the book bloggers whom I trust really love this one. Gah! I need more hours …

    • The first Toby Daye sat unread on my TBR pile for so long… I could have kicked myself. I pretty much ran out and bought the second book as soon as finished the first.

      And yes, Dumb was a good YA – definitely worth hunting down. I suspect our review will be filled with spoilers though…

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