Read in March 2023

For March, I initially had big reading plans. I wanted to continue or even finish a number of series I’m in the middle of and I had more or less committed myself to starting a new series as a buddy read. However, I quickly had to admit that I bit off more than I could chew.
The series I wanted to continue are mostly grand epic fantasy series, and although this is one of my favorite genres, I usually try not to read too many at the same time, since this can be overwhelming and intense. So I pretty soon had to curtail my plans and instead resolved to focus on one epic series and focus my finishing urge on a YA series that I had finally received the sequel to. Unfortunately, my second experience with this YA book turned out to be very disappointing and I almost ended up in a reading slump, which was fortunately averted by continuing to read the one epic fantasy I had chosen.

In the end, I finished 7 books in March, good for 3101 pages. This is the least in both books and pages in a month so far this year, but if I add in the pages I read for the one book I didn’t finish, then the stats are almost equally divided between January-February-March.

Taking into account only the books I finished, then the average March book comes to 443 pages/book, which is the highest compared to the earlier months of 2023.

The average number of stars for March is lower, with only 2.9 stars for the average March book.
The 7 finished books mainly fluctuated between 2 and 3 stars, but one also received – not entirely unexpectedly – the maximum of 5 stars.

In terms of target group, I varied between 1 youth book, 2 Young Adult books (of which 1 DNF) and 5 adult books.

Also for the way of reading, I varied between all options, with 2 ebooks, 2 audiobooks and 4 physically owned books (1 of which DNF).

For the genres, I switched between 4 genres, namely other (1), sci-fi (1), mystery (1) and fantasy (4+1).

For the language I only read in English.

Below is the list of the books I read in March and my rating in stars.
Click the link to jump to the blurb and my review! As always, be aware that both blurb and review may contain spoilers, especially if they are sequels in a series!

  1. Gibson, S.T. – A Dowry of Blood ★★★
  2. Deonn, Tracy – Legendborn (Legendborn #1) ★★
  3. Deonn, Tracy – Bloodmarked (Legendborn #2) DNF
  4. Sanderson, Brandon – Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) ★★★★★
  5. Stroud, Jonathan – The Dagger in the Desk (Lockwood & Co #1,5) ★★
  6. Ware, Ruth – The It Girl 🎧 ★★★
  7. Reid, Taylor Jenkins – Daisy Jones and the Six 🎧 ★★
  8. Wells, Martha – All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) ★★★

Gibson, S.T. – A Dowry of Blood ★★★

Genre: Fantasy (Gothic)

A lyrical and dreamy reimagining of Dracula’s brides, A DOWRY OF BLOOD is a story of desire, obsession, and emancipation.

Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king. But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things. Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husband’s dark secrets.

With the lives of everyone she loves on the line, Constanta will have to choose between her own freedom and her love for her husband. But bonds forged by blood can only be broken by death.

All in all an OK book that didn’t really blow me away. You could already read my review of this here.

Deonn, Tracy – Legendborn (Legendborn #1) ★★

Genre: Fantasy (YA)

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.

And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.

She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.

I decided to reread this one, to be completely up to speed in order to be able to dive into the sequel. Against all my expectations, this turned out to be a rather disappointing reread.
In my memories this was a very compelling, explosive and unique story, but while rereading I really had to drag myself through it. It wasn’t compelling at all, because on every page I was painfully aware that I was reading. I couldn’t get immersed and I struggled to tell all the characters apart because there wasn’t much that brought them to live. They were just a bunch of names on a page and not flesh-and-blood people.

I still see the huge potential of the world and the story, but it totally failed to convince me this time around, so I do feel that I have to revise my original rating. This doesn’t really bode well for the sequel …

Deonn, Tracy – Bloodmarked (Legendborn #2) DNF

Genre: Fantasy (YA)

The shadows have risen, and the line is law.

All Bree wanted was to uncover the truth behind her mother’s death. So she infiltrated the Legendborn Order, a secret society descended from King Arthur’s knights—only to discover her own ancestral power. Now, Bree has become someone new:

A Medium. A Bloodcrafter. A Scion.

But the ancient war between demons and the Order is rising to a deadly peak. And Nick, the Legendborn boy Bree fell in love with, has been kidnapped.

Bree wants to fight, but the Regents who rule the Order won’t let her. To them, she is an unknown girl with unheard-of power, and as the living anchor for the spell that preserves the Legendborn cycle, she must be protected.

When the Regents reveal they will do whatever it takes to hide the war, Bree and her friends must go on the run to rescue Nick themselves. But enemies are everywhere, Bree’s powers are unpredictable and dangerous, and she can’t escape her growing attraction to Selwyn, the mage sworn to protect Nick until death.

If Bree has any hope of saving herself and the people she loves, she must learn to control her powers from the ancestors who wielded them first—without losing herself in the process.

DNF on page 294 (±52%).

That I would DNF this book, was not something I had initially anticipated.
After my somewhat lukewarm experience re-reading Legendborn, I did get a sad premonition, which unfortunately became reality.
I held on longer than I would for any other book, I think, because I did read over 50% before I eventually gave up.

The writing style felt really, really wooden. The dialogues were so unnatural and certain characters apparently only exist to interact with the main character and give her information.
In addition, all new information is brought to the reader in the most boring, wikipedia-encyclopedia-like way that it became a real chore to read through and it really took me out of the story.

I was also annoyed by the behaviour of our main character.
Yes, I know, it’s a teenager and as an adult you can be annoyed by that, but I just couldn’t see past it. Every time she opened her mouth, thought something, or did something, it somehow disturbed and annoyed me, and since she’s our main character, this was almost on every page of this book.
The story also felt sloppy and wanted to be too much.

So with pain in my heart, I decided to DNF.
I really wanted to like this, especially since I’ve been looking forward to the sequel for a long time, but it seems like my tastes have changed and time is too precious to spend reading something against my will.
The moment I turned that switch in my head and put the book aside, a weight fell off my shoulders, which indicates to me that I made the right decision. Still really sad though about the potential…

Sanderson, Brandon – Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) ★★★★★

Genre: Fantasy (Epic)

The Knights Radiant must stand again.

The ancient oaths have at last been spoken; the spren return. Men seek what was lost; I fear the quest will destroy them.

It is the nature of the magic. A broken soul has cracks into which something else can be fit. Surgebindings, the power of creation themselves; they can brace a broken soul, but they can also widen its fissures.

The Windrunner is lost in a shattered land, balanced upon the boundary between vengeance and honor. The Lightweaver, slowly being consumed by her past, searches for the lie she must become. The Bondsmith, born in blood and death, now strives to rebuild what was destroyed. The Explorer, straddling the fates of two peoples, is forced to choose between slow death and a terrible betrayal of all she believes.

It is past time for them to awaken, for the Everstorm looms.

And the Assassin has arrived.

Ah, how does one go about reviewing such an epic and amazing book?! I have absolutely no idea, so I’m not even going to try, lol.
Suffice to say that I absolutely loved this second book in the Stormlight Archive, from its characters to its plot, everything is just so DAMN GOOD!
Amazing to read more about the world, to be back with these characters and see them come together. This book had fantastic interactions. It was funny and touching and had heartbreaking action sequences and chilling shock moments

This was definitely Shallan’s book and I find her story – along with Pattern’s – so very fascinating.
Superman Kaladin was a thing. Syl is hilarious and precious.
Wit/Hoid was present again in all his silly glory.
Many new Cosmere connections detected, so exciting!
Ooh, and the Warbreaker link made me grin from ear to ear. WHERE is that going?!

Stroud, Jonathan – The Dagger in the Desk (Lockwood & Co #1,5) ★★

Genre: Fantasy (Jeugd, paranormaal)

In London, a mysterious and potentially deadly ghost is stalking the halls of St Simeon’s Academy for Talented Youngsters. It lurks in the shadows, spreading fear and icy cold – and it carries a sharp and very solid dagger…

The headmaster wastes no time in enlisting the help of ghost-hunters Anthony Lockwood, Lucy Carlyle and George Cubbins.

Can Lockwood & Co. survive the night and save the day?

Fairly straightforward, no embellishment, just one case spelled out from beginning to ending. Doesn’t feel really necessary

🎧 Ware, Ruth – The It Girl ★★★

Genre: Mysterie (hedendaags)

April Coutts-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.

Intriguing and for the most part a propulsive read, but maybe a bit too drawn out.
I really liked the back and forth between present and past chapters, but the fact that our main character had no problem with suddenly suspecting everybody she ever met, apart from the person she initially accused, made it a bit too implausible. Some red herrings were also a bit too obvious or were never properly explained, which went to the detriment of the actual big reveal.
That said, I was largely enthralled by the story and found it hard to put down, wanting to know how it would end. And that’s actually all I want from a thriller really, so mission definitely accomplished.

🎧 Reid, Taylor Jenkins – Daisy Jones and the Six ★★

Genre: Ander (historisch)

For a while, Daisy Jones & The Six were everywhere. Their albums were on every turntable, they sold out arenas from coast to coast, their sound defined an era. And then, on 12 July 1979, they split.
Nobody ever knew why. Until now.

They were lovers and friends and brothers and rivals. They couldn’t believe their luck, until it ran out. This is their story of the early days and the wild nights, but everyone remembers the truth differently.

The only thing they all know for sure is that from the moment Daisy Jones walked barefoot onstage at the Whisky, their lives were irrevocably changed.

Making music is never just about the music. And sometimes it can be hard to tell where the sound stops and the feelings begin.

Highly immersive audiobook with a full cast. The book is written as one long interview, so I personally find that reading it as an audiobook, especially with this talented case, is beneficial to the reading experience.

The story itself, while fictional, is fairly recognizable if you are familiar with some seventies rock bands. Nothing super original and none of the characters managed to grab me emotionally. Most were just immature and selfish.

The writing style did make it captivating though and it was a quick read, although I doubt I would have finished this if I had read it with just my eyes. Ultimately not a book I’ll be remembering for long.

Wells, Martha – All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) ★★★

Genre: Sci-Fi (novelle)

“As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.”

In a corporate-dominated space-faring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. For their own safety, exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids. But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists is conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid–a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, Murderbot wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is, but when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and Murderbot to get to the truth.

I’ve heard nothing but praise about The Murderbot series by Martha Wells, so my expectations were high when diving into this first novella.

Many people are particularly charmed by the character of Murderbot and before reading this book I expected a kind of Marvin, the paranoid android type of character, full of sarcasm and humour.

“but you may have noticed that when I do manage to care, I’m a pessimist.”

Although Murderbot does display a certain level of sarcastic humour, its also with a heavier undertone than the robot from Hitchhicker’s Guide. A robot with social anxiety, that’s uncomfortable to interact with strangers and make eye contact. Yeah, not hard to imagine why bookworms have a soft spot for this character. For me, I definitely see potential for me to develop the same sort of crush on Murderbot, but I’m not quite there yet on the basis of this first novella. The story is too short and superficial for me to fall in love completely

Lots of potential though and am definitely intrigued enough to continue the series and discover more. All in all, this first book was mainly a fun and quick read, an entertaining introduction to the series.