Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Reading A-Z Challenge: H-N

Time for another update on my self-imposed A-Z reading challenge. (Part 1 is here.) The rules: Going A-Z by title, it has to be a book I already own on my Kindle (if I don't have a book for a particular letter, if I have a sample for one I can buy that), indie authors preferred. DNFs don't count; if I can't finish a book, I find another one from the the same letter. (Links go to Goodreads.)
The Hawk and His Boy (The Tormay Trilogy #1), Christopher Bunn
Really lovely fantasy, set in a world filled with ancient magic both wondrous and terrible, written in beautiful prose. The story is in part about a young thief boy, Jute, who stumbles across a magnificent and terrifying destiny in the course of a thieving job, and is befriended by a mysterious hawk. Full review here.

I liked The Hawk and His Boy so much that I went off track and read the rest of the trilogy right away. The Shadow at the Gate and The Wicked Day are both also excellent.

Iron Flower (The Legend of the Iron Flower #2), Billy Wong
The further adventures of Rose Agen, powerhouse female warrior. There's more magic in this book than in the first, as Rose, her lover Finn, and their scholar friend Derrick find themselves involved in the return of magic to the world. It reads more like three installments of a serial rather than a continuous novel. But it's lots of fun and the fights and the newly-rediscovered magic are exciting.

The Jongurian Mission (The Jongurian Trilogy #1), Greg Strandburg
Young Bryn thinks he's going to spend the rest of his life moving rocks on his uncle's farm. Then his other uncle, an Adjurian trade official, shows up saying it's time Bryn saw the world. Bryn goes with his uncle to an important trade conference in the capital city, then on a trade mission to one-time enemy Jonguria, where things turn far more dangerous and deadly than you would expect from a simple trade mission. The worldbuilding, history, and political/economic aspects are very detailed and well-thought-out, and readers who appreciate fantasy with a heavy emphasis on those things will find this book interesting. Full review here.

Keepers of Arden: The Brothers, Volume 1,  L.K. Evans
I really enjoyed this fantasy tale of two brothers - Wilhelm, big, handsome, good-natured, popular with the ladies, and Salvarias, dark and strange, gifted with magical powers beyond his years and terrified of the evil within him. We follow the two from the terrible conception and birth of Salvarias, Wilhelm's much-longed-for baby brother, through their childhood and teenage years and into early adulthood, as the two become part of a battle between forces of light and darkness to conquer Arden. Full review here.

Lady Falls (Black Rose Trilogy #1), Renee Bernard
Interesting concept, an orphan is adopted and groomed to be her guardian's means of revenge against someone who wronged him, but it kind of fell apart in the execution. The revenge ploy turned out to not nearly live up to the potential of how cool and devastating it could have been. I was also put off by the very explicit sex scenes involving the 17-year-old heroine. Otherwise, this could have been lots of fun. The subplot with the abused wife of one of the house party guests was much more interesting and well carried out.

A Mail-Order Bride for Jim Liley!, Raymond Cook
Jim Liley is a young man growing up in a Colorado quarrying town in the late 1800s. When he's blinded in one eye in a quarry accident, he's afraid no woman will ever want to marry him. Kristy Greenfield's hometown in Illinois is becoming depleted of marriageable men as they all head west seeking their fortunes; will she end up growing old alone? Then Jim places a wife-wanted ad in the newspaper, beginning a sweet long-distance courtship with Kristy which leads to her making the momentous decision to head out west to marry him. The story of Jim and Kristy's courtship is engaging (no pun intended!) and the tale of Kristy's trip west is full of excitement and danger, and a large amount of work and research clearly went into this heartfelt book. Full review here.

Picture Necromancer Awakening (The Mukhtaar Chronicles #1), Nat Russo
Necromancer Awakening is an interesting and original fantasy novel with a very different kind of magic that also makes some profound reflections on topics such as faith, redemption, priesthood, and the relationship between life and death. Nicolas, an archaeology student in Texas, is plagued by horrifying visions whenever he's in the presence of death - and especially in the wake of his adoptive father's funeral. The visions lead to him being swept from Texas to another world, where he discovers the reasons for his visions - he's a necromancer, a wizard-priest who uses the power of death to purify the dead. Full review here.

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