March flew by almost faster than February! However I had a few extra days so I read more than my nine challenge books, so that was good. At least as far as the TBR is concerned.

Unfortunately, the challenge for March had me struggling. With it I gained more books to read than I planned for. EEEK. I think in May when I post about April… I might update my TBR status. See how many books I have on the TBR shelf compared to the beginning of 2009.

If I complete April’s challenge I will cross the 50 book mark for the year. It’s been a heavy reading cycle, but the boys have enjoyed their high load of reading as much as little ol’ me!

For March, my “9 in 2009” challenge centered around the PEARL awards. I had no idea there was such an award! PEARL stands for Paranormal Excellence Award for Romantic Literature.

I read that and groaned. I suppose that technically I read a lot of paranormal romance because most books have some sort of a “romance” in them. However, I’m not specifically out there hitting up the romance section of the book stores. How hard was this going to be?

As I found out, I read a lot of books this award highlights. So does my husband. I need to tell you, looking at my husband reading the last Harry Dresden book and telling him he’s been reading award nominated paranormal romance books on the VRE to and from work? Priceless! Someone, where’s the romance in Dresden? Is it between Harry and his trusty ghostly skull? Yikes!

I had several books up for the award or winners of the award sitting on my TBR. I tried to make my list based off of those books.

The PEARLs cover several topics in PNR. So in other words, books that fall into several popular genres that also have a splash of romance – or no splash of romance. The topics are as follows:

New Author
Overall Paranormal
Shape Shifter
Short Story/Novella
Time Travel

The woman that sets up our challenges gave us groups based off of the PEARL groups. I wanted to read nine PEARL nominated books, but I didn’t have enough.

Without further ado, here’s my reading for March 2009:

Challenge Books:
1. Anthology: Blood Lite (Winner 2008 PEARL)
2. Fantasy/Magical Romance: Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (Technically not a Pearl but others in the series are, so I’m claiming it a pearl.)
3. Futuristic Romance: Heroes Arise
4. ShapeShifter Romance: Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs(Honorable Mention 2007 PEARL)
5. Time-Travel: In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker
6. Vampire Romance: Dead Sexy by Tate Hallaway
7. Romantic Fantasy: Wait Till Your Vampire Gets Home by Michelle Bardsley (Honorable Mention 2008 PEARL)
8. Romantic Science Fiction/Futuristic Fantasy: Your Planet or Mine by Susan Grant (Honourable Mention 2006 PEARL)
9. Romantic Urban Fantasy: Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs(Pearl Nominated)

I also read:

Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (Pearl Nominated Anthology)
Maximum Ride – The Angel Experiment by James Patterson

I also read half of another anthology that was also on the PEARL list. I’ll save posting about it until I finish it.

In the end that turned out to be eleven books in March, seven of which were PEARL books. I completed the challenge and that makes me happy!

Now for the Reviews!

Anthology – Blood Lite: Some of the stories were great. My personal favourite was by Charlaine Harris. None of these had any sort of romance, so I’m not real sure how this even was up for a romance award of any sort. A couple of stories were gross. If you get it, skip the Bear one. Ick. Overall though, a great group of short stories.

Fantasy/Magical Romance – Fool Moon by Jim Butcher: This is the second of the Dresden Files. I bought this book in 2001. I purchased it with book 1 and book 3 and the first was so painful that I couldn’t bear the thought of reading the other two. This one was absolutely fantastic. Shows an obvious recovery from “First book” combined with “First book of a series” syndrome of Storm Front. Read Dresden, but skip the first one. I love Harry the wizard PI of Chicago! What a great character! Once more, low on romance. Also, this book did not technically get nominated, as the year it came out the PEARL awards were still far too new. Several of the later books in the series WERE nominated, so I counted it as a PEARL.

Futuristic Romance – Heroes Arise: OK, this one I had to read. This was a gift from an author for interviewing her. My last year was so nightmarish that we don’t want to discuss what happened to my plans to read the book. I am glad to read and review this books, though as she’s a new author. This was a debut novel and I love to highlight it. She really created quite the alien society with all sorts of traditions and religious beliefs and whatnot. It shows a very well thought out story with intricate characters that were very believable and three-dimensional. She also got a very talented artist to add to the book, which was very delightful. I want to recommend this one, especially to the young adult crowd. The main character is seeking to regain his honour after a thief and well, terrorist sort, kills his wife. If he regains his honour and gets his past wife’s spirit to give the OK, he can remarry. He leaves on an arduous and dangerous journey and learns a lot about himself as well as honour. I decided it could count as romance since the main character wanted to remarry, though honestly romance was nonexistent in this one.

Shapeshifter – Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs: This is the second book in the Mercy series. I read the first one in February and loved it. Working in book two made me happy. This book gets Mercy wrapped up in some vampire mystery. She learns a lot about the complexities of the vampire society. It shows just how much Briggs has put into this universe. Excellent read. And once more, low on romance unless you want to count the fact she’s got guys she can’t decide between. Nothing really happens so… take that as you wish.

Time Travel – In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker: So this was actually low on time travel but had romance! The story line is about how in the distant future we figure out how to time travel. So the company that owns this technology travels through time and kidnaps those who would otherwise be lost in nothingness and turns them into immortal cyborgs. These cyborgs then blend in with the rest of us to gather up whatever the company wants. In the case of the main character this would be plants that are no longer around in the future. While on her first assignment in Europe in the shadows of Henry the 8th’s regime and the Spanish Inquisition, she falls in love with a mortal human. This was a great window into how things possibly looked at the time, but that’s all I have to say about it. It turned out not as thrilling as I thought.

Vampire Romance – Dead Sexy by Tate Hallaway: I read the first book in this series in February and eagerly grabbed this one for March. Garnet’s life is getting more messed up as the FBI catches up with her after the slaying of some creepy Vatican witchhunters at the hands of the goddess inhabiting Garnet’s body. If that doesn’t sound wacky enough, just check it out. I really enjoy this series. There’s still one more on my shelf!

Romantic Fantasy – Wait till Your Vampire Gets Home by Michelle Bardsley: This is one I picked up specifically for this challenge. I gotta tell you, there’s nothing this woman did not work into this book. Now that is the quickest recipe for disaster I can think of, but maybe it was the crazy main character or the crazy world — it totally worked. Some of the lines in this story were just real zingers! That said, this one really was one I would consider a true romance. Vamp meets girl. Girl gets turned into dragon. Vamp and girl hook up and create fire. And by fire – I mean burn the house down fire.

Romantic Sci-fi/Futuristic Fantasy – Your Planet or Mine by Susan Grant: I see why this one earned Honourable Mention. The main character comes from a long line of politicians and is currently part of state legislation in California with presidential aspirations. She comes across an alien with information that his people plan to relocate all of humanity and take over the Earth for their own purposes. Together they want to try to scare off the alien fleet. I really enjoyed this one.

Romantic Urban Fantasy – Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs: HA! I managed to get in the third Mercy book this month! Score! Leaves me one more… To say I’m devouring these Mercy books would be an understatement. They are fantastic. This one deals with the fae and gets poor Mercy in over her head in a bad way. It is insane how these books keep getting better and better. If you aren’t reading Briggs – get on it! (BTW the half an anthology I read had a short story for the companion series Alpha and Omega. Great!)

Other books:

Wolfsbane and Mistletoe: Another PEARL anthology surrounding werewolves and Christmas. Nothing says holidays like full moons with werewolves! I definitely enjoyed some of the stories. I ended up taking a break halfway through it and reading another book. It wasn’t that it was bad, but I just got a little Christmas’ed out.

Maximum Ride – The Angel Experiment by James Patterson: A friend gave me the four books in the Maximum Ride universe for the boys to read. They devoured the series. I couldn’t get Joram to set the things down! I needed to see what they liked so much about them, so I picked this one up for the tail end of March. I could not put it down, either. (In fact, I read the next one the first day of April!) The series has all the stuff I love. Mutant half avian half human kids? OKies. Top Secret Crazy Scientists? Gotcha. Mystery of the flying kids will save the earth but we don’t know from what or how? Right on! Creepy other kids morphed into canine hybrids bent on eating the bird kids? Nightmarish. What’s going on? Where are the parents? How did they get experimented on and who would be so ghastly? Read the book. Patterson really did a fantastic job with this one – it is NOTHING like his soft and fuzzy books.

There’s my eleven books I read for the month of March! I’m glad I finished the challenge because it was very difficult finding a way to fit books in with these categories.

Below is my list for the Alphabet Challenge. I was able to hit another letter this month! YAY!

The Alphabet Challenge:

(The) Accidental Werewolf
Blueberry Muffin Murder
Circus of the Darned
Dead Over Heels
Fudge Cupcake Murder
I Love You To Death
Lemon Meringue Pie Murder
My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon
Plum Spooky
(Doctor Who: The) Resurrection Casket
(The) Scot, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Tall, Dark, and Dead
(The) Vampire of Venice Beach
Welcome to the Jungle
Your Planet or Mine

Books completed in March: 11
Books completed in 2009: 45
Books for alphabet challenge: 17

April’s challenge is much easier. In fact, I’m already two books down and a third of the way through another. April will see me reaching 50 and that excites me. I’m worried about May. I don’t want to lose my steam, but it’s a busy month! Not that April isn’t. This month I’m working heavy on some costumes and next month I’m gone nearly every weekend.

I hope your reading is going well. I am enjoying tearing through my book case. I am very hopeful that I can build off books on the TBR in the upcoming months and free up some space. If I keep up this reading schedule, can I reach the summit of Mt St Books?

–Lady O