Melissa Ratcliff’s March 2017 TBR: Jessica Shattuck, Amanda Bouchet and More

melissa ratcliff march 2017 tbr amanda bouchet breath of firePaperback Paris

Last month’s TBR list was rough. With a total of six books, all between 300 and 600 pages, along with the leftovers from January (which included re-reading a 1,000-page novel), I didn’t have enough time to finish everything. Not only did I forget how short February is, I ended up dealing with a few setbacks, including a really bad cold that lasted more than two weeks.

Despite the setbacks, though, the end of February proved very productive. I got through three books on my TBR, finishing a total of four books for the month while making progress on a few others. As a result, this month’s TBR is going to be a little shorter. I am leaving room to catch up on books from last month, while allowing room for more this month that I haven’t quite decided on yet.

For March, I will be reading my first advance reader edition of a highly anticipated sequel; a novel by one of my all-time favorite authors, and Vaginal Fantasy’s pick for the month.

In hopes of finally catching up on my backlog, here are the four books I plan on reading this month:

The Women in the Castle, Jessica Shattuck

melissa ratcliff march 2017 tbr list paperback paris
William Morrow / Jessica Shattuck

Synopsis: Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding.

Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resistor murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.

First, Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naïve Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resistor’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.

As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.

Thoughts: The first book on my list this month is The Women in the Castle. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to win a giveaway from Goodreads for an advance reading edition of this novel. As this was the first ARE that I have ever received, I can’t tell you how excited I was to receive the package in the mail. Set to come out on March 28, I am lucky to have received this novel. I am really looking forward to reading it, despite the fact that I know it is going to be a difficult journey – almost everything related to World War II is.

I have recently seen a lot about this novel on social media, which only heightens my anticipation. From the synopsis, it seems like Jessica Shattuck is taking a different approach on the horrors of World War II and I am actually really excited for it. I am really looking forward to (and dreading, because I know that it is going to be heart-breaking) reading about these women and how the war affected their lives. It also looks as though we will be presented with a very different interpretation of World War II. As someone who appreciates history and culture, I can’t wait to take a look at this novel.

Breath of Fire, Amanda Bouchet

melissa ratcliff march 2017 tbr list paperback paris
Sourcebooks Casablanca / Richard Beban

Synopsis: “Cat” Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat’s tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what’s a girl to do when she knows it’s her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.

Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin must embrace their fate together. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom…or not at all.

Thoughts: Last month, I devoured the first book in this series, A Promise of Fire. I absolutely loved it. In fact, as soon as I finished it, I immediately purchased Breath of Fire.

Amanda Bouchet knows how to write fantasy romance. She does it so well, in fact, that A Promise of Fire is honestly my favorite book in that category, and I’ve read a lot of them. As much as I hate to say that I have high expectations for this novel, I do.

I can’t wait to dive deeper into Cat’s past. There is so much that we don’t know and the suspense is killing me. As much as I wanted to read Breath of Fire as soon as it arrived in the mail, I stopped myself in order to read two other books from my TBR. While I certainly don’t regret that decision, because I was introduced to a new author that I enjoy (Deanna Raybourn), I couldn’t help but think about what this sequel had in store. In all honesty, I am having a hard time not thinking about it. Here’s to hoping that this novel is as good as its predecessor, especially in the romance department.

Pets in Space, S.E. Smith

pets in space s.e. smith book review
S.E. Smith

Synopsis: Join the adventure as nine pet loving sci-fi romance authors take you out of this world and pull you into their action-packed stories filled with suspense, laughter, and romance. The alien pets have an agenda that will capture the hearts of those they touch. Follow along as they work side by side to help stop a genetically engineered creature from destroying the Earth to finding a lost dragon; life is never the same after their pets decide to get involved. Can the animals win the day or will the stars shine just a little less brightly?

Thoughts: To be completely honest, I was a little iffy about Pets in Space. Chosen by poll as the final hiatus pick for Vaginal Fantasy before Felicia Day and the other moderators return to choosing the club picks for the month, this short story collection seemed a little out-of-place.

The title definitely screams sci-fi. I love space and pets, so it was immediately appealing. In fact, given that the collection is also tagged with romance, it might fall more into the set category that Vaginal Fantasy usually follows when choosing books than I initially thought. More than anything, I guess I was just thrown off by the fact that it’s a collection of nine stories, something that is definitely different from the book club norm.

Regardless, I am definitely excited to pick this one up. I have no idea what I’m getting into, but there’s nothing wrong with sci-fi pets, right? Besides, the fact that I will be reading works by nine different authors is exciting enough as it is.

Sputnik Sweetheart, Haruki Murakami

melissa ratcliff march 2017 tbr list paperback paris
Vintage / Haruki Murakami

Synopsis: Sumire is in love with a woman seventeen years her senior. But whereas Miu is glamorous and successful, Sumire is an aspiring writer who dresses in an oversized second-hand coat and heavy boots like a character in a Kerouac novel.

Sumire spends hours on the phone talking to her best friend K about the big questions in life: what is sexual desire, and should she ever tell Miu how she feels for her? Meanwhile, K wonders whether he should confess his own unrequited love for Sumire.

Then, a desperate Miu calls from a small Greek island: Sumire has mysteriously vanished…

Thoughts: Haruki Murakami is one of my favorite authors. I love his style. In my opinion, you can never go wrong with one of Murakami’s novels. He writes about contemporary Japanese culture in a way that I have never experienced before with other Japanese authors. Furthermore, there’s a love triangle in this novel and it’s no secret that I love romance.

So, in addition to finishing last month’s Kafka on the Shore (a novel I only put off because I really wanted to get through past Vaginal Fantasy picks), I will be reading this as well. I’m hoping to get through every Murakami novel that I haven’t read this year, with one each month.

Have you read any of the books on this list?!

Tell us which books you’re most looking forward to reading in the comments below!
Be sure to keep up with the Paperback Paris Team’s monthly TBRs!

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Melissa Ratcliff
the authorMelissa Ratcliff
Senior Staff Writer

Reader, Writer & Translator. Cats, books and video games are my life.