Blood of Dragons (Rain Wilds #4)
by Robin Hobb
This is a great conclusion to a great series. (If you haven't read the first three books, start here. And then read book two. And so on.) Lives are saved, lives are taken, and people learn to stand up for themselves, as well as for each other. I loved watching the characters grow and change and become themselves throughout this series. Blood of Dragons has fewer cliffhanger chapter endings and slightly less (non-graphic) sexual content than the previous three books, but it is still there. I highly recommend The Rain Wilds Chronicles!
Breed of Giants
by Joyce Stranger
Despite my small stature, I am hopelessly attracted to large things--books, trees, horses. . . . So there was no question when I found this small (ironically) novel about the largest horse breed as to whether I would buy it. It exceeded my expectations. Breed of Giants is a beautiful tribute to Shire horses and the people who keep this draft breed alive even in modern times. This clean, romance-free horse story for adults (yes, you read that right--feel free to do a happy dance) includes animal perspectives, such as that of Brock the badger, without anthropomorphizing, and the human characters are colorful yet realistic.
Castle Waiting (Volume I)
by Linda Medley
This serendipitous library find is perhaps the first graphic novel I've ever read. An omnibus, it attracted me with its immense size, green spine, and intriguing title. Inside, it contains a fun fantasy with nods to classic fairy tales, and yet the story itself is entirely unique. The equally unique characters are easy to empathize with--I can hardly begin to pick a favorite. Though I wouldn't categorize this book as religious fiction, Peace, being a nun, has a Christian theme to her tale. This squeaky-clean graphic novel does have a few mature scenes that might go over the heads of younger readers.
by Jhumpa Lahiri
I enjoyed reading about the (fictional) experience of an Indian immigrant in the U.S.--the cultural contrasts, the very real emotions, the methods of coping in a place that is not home, the themes of family and loneliness. Ashima's story drew me into this novel, her unique perspective dominating the beginning. However, the book quickly switches to her son's point-of-view and remains there for most of the book, and I found his character bland and almost boring. I enjoyed the overarching story, and the ending was very good, but I just didn't click with the main protagonist.
Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2)
by Rachel Hartman
This second book in the Seraphina duology about humans, dragons, and half-dragons, and their struggle to coexist--or not---is brilliantly and artfully woven together. Pieces fell into place as part of schemes I couldn't have imagined, though it all made perfect sense. There were also many grey areas; I found myself asking, Is the antagonist was really a villain, or a tragic victim of circumstance? Although I didn't at all like how the love-triangle was "solved," the ending of this novel was simultaneously heartbreaking and hopeful.