Monthly Wrap-Up – March 2023
Hello my friends and welcome to my monthly wrap-up for March 2023! I hope you have had a good reading month as I have!
This month was a little bit of a bizarre experience, because it seemed to start off quite slowly. Then again, I did start with quite a large book. By the time I worked my way through that one, the pages seemed to fly! In my monthly TBR for March, I set myself my typical TBR, but also included a stretch goal. That goal was to start one further book before the end of the month. And, I achieved that goal!
Normally, I tend to read books on my fixed reading list first in the month, and then revert to my mood reads. However, it didn’t really happen this month. Instead, I’m going to share the books I read in March in chronological order.
As of my last monthly wrap-up post, I was at 68% through Africa Risen and hoping to finish this early in March. I definitely pushed my way through this one.
It was an interesting book as it is written in a format I don’t read very often – an anthology. It made a change to read a collection of shorter stories and feature new perspectives, as opposed to those traditionally seen in westernised fantasy.
However, I didn’t love this book. I definitely prefer longer and more established narratives rather than collections of short stories. I like to get stuck in with a plot and engage with it in detail rather than check in with it superficially. These types of books do have good sides though. The main advantage of this shorter format was that I got to explore multiple different characters and perspectives.
As with all books, there were some elements/stories I wasn’t fussed on at all. There was some I did like. I’ve taken away what I wanted from them, but I will probably stick to predominantly non-anthologies in future.
A Game of Thrones
As I’ve heard on the grapevine that we can expect the sixth book in the series out in the not too distant future, I decided to start a re-read of the series. It’s going to take me some time to get through. Even this first book is approaching 800 pages long. Some of the books are so long that they are split into two. With that in mind, I wanted to make an early start, so I wasn’t having to rush through the books in order to be able to read the sixth one when it comes out.
As expected, I really enjoyed this re-read. This is the fourth time I have picked up A Game of Thrones. It is one of those books that I can pick up again and again and I will love just as much with every re-read.
As I mentioned in my introduction above, it did seem a little bit slow going at the beginning of the month. A 780 odd page book isn’t something to be devoured in a matter of days. I spent approximately half the month getting through this book alone! That said, it was great to go back to the beginning of the series, and I’m looking forward to picking up more books throughout the year.
The Book Eaters
Disappointingly, The Book Eaters didn’t live up to the expectation that the title led me to anticipate. Obviously, there is an element of book eating in the storyline. However, it wasn’t unique or pivotal enough for me to think it mattered. Ultimately, the main characters could have been substituted for any other minority group, and it would be the same.
The Book Eaters was a strange read in that I didn’t really enjoy it overall, there was enough intrigue in the plot to make me want to finish it. This book is also relatively short read at under 300 pages. By the time I made my mind up, I was a third of the way in. I decided to just crack on with it and give it a chance to redeem itself.
Sadly, I did end up disappointed with this book, and it achieved a rare rating from me – just two stars.
Feet of Clay
Looking for a bit of a pick me up, I then decided to read a firm favourite author – Terry Pratchett.
I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit how long it has been since I last picked up a Discworld novel. I like these books because they have a wide, overarching setting but with different sets of characters.
If I’m entirely honest, Feet of Clay wasn’t quite the pick me up I was hoping. It was still a decent read. However, the humour didn’t quite work for me in this particular book. I enjoy the city watch series in general, so I’ll still read the future books. But, it wasn’t my favourite either. Feet of Clay has some interesting messages and themes in the story, which I did appreciate.
Next, I picked up Soul Identity by Dennis Batchelder. This is a completely different genre and setting to the books I picked up so far in my March TBR. The best way I can describe Soul Identity is a scientific take on concepts like reincarnation.
Naturally, there is an element of religion and belief that comes into this narrative. I quite enjoyed how these concepts were explored both separately and together.
I didn’t overly love the main character, Scott, and I wasn’t a fan of the budding relationship between him and computer geek, Val. The author also has a terrible habit of describing female characters physically before going onto any other redeeming attributes. Although well noted for her intelligence, even Val falls victim to becoming most significant in the narrative because she’s pretty.
The relationship that forms between them didn’t really add much to the story, which I was hoping it would. It’s almost like it was added in there to give the narrative a bit more mainstream appeal and to make the subject matter a little bit more readable. I didn’t really do that for me, but that’s certainly the impression I get.
It was still a decent read, and I wouldn’t let it put me off picking up other books in the series.
Death of Kings
Death of Kings is where I really started to see some improvement in my reading experience! Death of Kings is the sixth book in the Saxon stories series, better known as The Last Kingdom.
I really enjoy the perspective we get in the use of books. Our protagonist Uhtred was born as a Saxon, but his settlement was raided and he was raised by Danes from a very young age. As a result, he has this ongoing conflict between these two factions and ways of life. He is a fierce warrior and ally to the king of Wessex, King Alfred. However, he also has ties to the Danes and in particular, their values in life and take on religion.
In this book, Uhtred stirs up a fair bit of trouble. I enjoy reading this mischievous side of him, and how he interject himself between these two rival sides. It undoubtedly gives him an edge, but also we experience the ups and downs of the conflict and his internal conflict throughout.
It is also been a little while since I last picked up a book from the series. I’m glad to say that I’m now back into it, and in line with my goal of reading more sequels this year, I’m hoping to continue with this one.
The Mad Ship
My stretch goal for March, after reading the books above, was to make a start on The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb.
I knew that I wasn’t going to get through this book in the slightest. On its own, this book is just over 900 pages long! My aim was to just get myself introduced to the characters and pick up from where we left off in the previous book. If I would put a figure on it, I was hoping to maybe get through the first 50-100 pages.
By the end of the month, I just exceed that goal in reading 120 pages. Even though I’ve already read that much, there are still characters we are getting reacquainted with. There are a lot of contributors in this narrative, and as each chapter is a reasonable length, I daresay I’ll be spending the first 200 odd pages picking back up where we left off!
Given that I read the first book fairly recently, there’s been less of an adjustment period compared to picking up the first book. That narrative was quite different from the first trilogy I read, so took some getting into. However, I’ve already read that book and invested in the storyline and characters. Starting this book was a breeze!
In all, I read close to 3000 pages in March… which is the most this year so far! If you’re till with me, thanks for taking the time to read this monthly wrap-up post.
Have you read any of the books I’ve featured today? Are they on your reading list?