VonG: Ah it’s that time of year. Spring has sprung and the insects have revived themselves out of whatever pocket dimension of hell they hide in during the winter, to crawl and fly their way into my face at all possible times.
I managed to read 20 books in March (one not pictured because it didn’t have a cover on the e-book I downloaded) and I attribute this enormous bought of reading to my strict avoidance of the sun, now that the great weather of fog and rain has deserted me.
March 2016 was a reading month of robots, murderous fairies, coconut cake, kilts, and disappointing alien romances.
I have to give a shout out to my problematic fav of the month (and probably year), the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning for being my dream kind of urban fantasy with lore that is perfect parts disturbing, richly imaginative, and can’t-put-it-down frustrating. That five day wait to get the final book from the library nearly left me a husk (haha get it? book reference). But it is so, so problematic…
Best of March: Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
The fairies (or fae, which is a way more hip term) had a good month in books between the Fever series and this gem. I am not familiar with Maas’ Throne of Glass series, so this was an introduction to the author and wow, what an introduction. This is the YA Fantasy that you dream of stumbling upon–complex, well-written characters, a plot with intrigue, an freshly imaginative world, a slip of dark themes, and…a lack of dopey teenage love triangles… This is one of the best YA Fantasy books I’ve read, end stop. You’ll find me, come May 3rd, with my face in the sequel. This kind of enthusiasm for books in a series is unusual for me but I am ready to leap back into the world that Maas has crafted.
Worst of March: Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning
After finishing the Fever series, I decided to check out Moning’s other works, including the romance novels she used to write taking place in Scotland: the Early Years (note that this is a sub-genre of romance novels I don’t have any prior experience in. I sort of knew it was a thing?). Putting this as the worst for the month is done with a tender, understanding touch and lack of burning rage because this book happens to be Moning’s first and what makes it bad is not the plot, characters, or actual writing style, but the problems that tend to be inherent with first novels–in this case, the especially poor pacing that is far too rushed in sections to the point of causing confusion and detracting from the progression of the characters’ motivations and character development. But credit to Moning, ya got better girl.
Maggie: In honor of Women’s History Month, I went full-on lady love in March – every book I read was by a female author, many of them authors of color as well. I was a bit nervous initially because so much of what I read – science fiction – is authored by white men and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find anything quite my speed. Lo and behold, it turns out that March was my best reading month by far with only one book scoring below a three in my rating system. There were so many five star books that I’m actually going to have trouble choosing a favorite.
Best of March: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
Though it was like pulling teeth trying to decide on a favorite, I finally chose Kolbert’s book about mass extinction because I not only think it’s an important and relevant issue, but because I also think this is going to remain a trend in the fiction I read as well. Climate fiction (cli-fi) is just coming into its own as a genre, but we’ve already seen some powerhouses tackling it – Maragret Atwood in her MaddAddam trilogy, Cixin Liu who won the Hugo award for his novel The Three-Body Problem, and other greats in the speculative literature field. I think works such as Sixth Extinction are important to have as a foundation when you start to venture into this genre, which is really addressing one of the most believable near-future issues humanity is going to face in the next century. Kolbert does such a good job of weaving her argument into a narrative, providing huge amounts of information without her writing feeling like a data dump. It takes a skillful writer to make nonfiction accessible and I’m impressed with her work here.
Worst of March: Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It by Gina Kolata
Even though it was the worst book I read in March, Kolata’s investigation of the virulent influenza that spread at the tail-end of War World I wasn’t horrible – it was just unpolished and not really what I’ve come to expect from nonfiction. She seemed to have a rather small amount of evidence to support a book well over 300 pages, the notes in the back taking up just twenty or so of the books entirety. She also filled the book with irrelevant detail. I’m not sure if it was her attempt to humanize the story or just an attempt to beef up the page count, but there’s no reason I need to know the childhood stories of the scientists searching for the virus. Tell me where they went to school, tell me what relevant experience they have, and be done with it because in no way does know that one of them enjoyed baseball as a child enhance either the narrative or information for me. Since I was already a bit wary of her credentials and information to begin with, this filler just made me even more cautious of the text. While it read well for the most part and had a strong narrative quality that I appreciate in popular science writing, I just didn’t trust the information she was giving me and that’s a death sentence for a non-fiction book.