Wizard of the Grove, by Tanya Huff – This is actually an omnibus edition of two different books, Child of the Grove and The Last Wizard. I had quite enjoyed Huff’s first two Keeper Chronicles books, so I looked into more of her fantasy work. I liked these, but they didn’t grab me the way the Keeper ones did. There was some interesting world-building, and I liked the character of Crystal, the titular wizard. I guess it’s no wonder Lord Death fell in love with her. I felt they were just okay plot-wise, though.
Sing the Four Quarters, by Tanya Huff – The start of another fantasy series by Huff, this one focuses on the bard Annice, who is not-so-secretly the sister of the King of Shkoder. Her powerful bardic magic can summon elemental spirits known as kigh. As the story begins, she turns out to be pregnant from a one-night stand with the Duc Pjerin, whom she also has to save from being executed as a traitor. They never become a couple, though, just eventually work out how to both be parents. Annice is openly bisexual without the narrative ever making a big deal out of it, nor is she shamed for having multiple partners, her only real concern being that she swore to her brother upon entering bardic school that she wouldn’t have any children. She suspects the King wouldn’t punish her, but she’s not entirely sure. It was a good story, but I did have a little trouble keeping track of the intricacies of the plot against the Duc.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West, by Dee Brown – I have to say the subject matter is an area in which I’m not all that knowledgeable. I have my bachelor’s in history, but I didn’t particularly focus on American history. I do remember learning bits of trivia about various tribes back in grade school, but it still generally took a back seat to the stuff about European colonization. The general narrative here is one of the Native population repeatedly having their land stolen despite initial agreements otherwise, and propaganda portraying them as violent, despite the fact that violence done by Native Americans against white settlers was usually in retaliation. Obviously it’s not entirely that simple, and the book covers a lot of ground and many significant people.
Sal & Gabi Break the Universe, by Carlos Hernandez – I believe this is the first book from the Rick Riordan Presents label that doesn’t deal with gods or magical beings, although there is plenty of magic in it. Salvador Vidon, a Cuban-American boy who lives with his physicist father and his stepmother, is practicing to be a magician. This mostly means sleight-of-hand, but he’s somehow also learned to pull people and objects out of alternate universes, which he started doing after his mother died. It’s gotten him in trouble at his arts high school, particularly when he transports a chicken into the locker of a kid who’s bullying him. He befriends Gabi Real, an intelligent, ambitious girl who’s student council president and writes for the school paper, and also has a lot of dads, some of whom are women and one is a robot. At least Gabi insists she’s a robot, and Sal starts to believe it. Anyway, while Sal initially has problems getting along with his classmates, the general theme is one not of competition but of trying to identify with them. It’s a pretty good read, if a bit unexpected for this imprint.