Seeker by Veronica Rossi – Review

Cover- Seeker

Published: May 16, 2017

Publisher: Tor Teen

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Series: Riders #2

Pages: 352 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 2.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

When Daryn claimed she was seeing visions during her sophomore year of high school, no one believed the truth.

She wasn’t losing her mind; she was gaining the Sight—the ability to see the future. Daryn embraced her role as a Seeker. The work she did was important. She saved lives.

Until Sebastian.

Sebastian was her first—and worst—mistake.

Since the moment she inadvertently sealed him in a dark dimension with Samrael, the last surviving demon of the Kindred, guilt has plagued her. Daryn knows Sebastian is alive and waiting for help. It’s up to her to rescue him. But now that she needs the Sight more than ever to guide her, the visions have stopped.

Daryn must rely on instincts, intelligence, and blind faith to lead the riders who are counting on her in search of Sebastian. As they delve into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems and where Samrael is steadily amassing power, Daryn faces the ultimate test. Will she have to become evil to destroy evil?

The very fate of humankind may rest in the answer.


When presented with the chance to read a book featuring the teenage embodiments of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, I jumped at the chance. Riders was a good start to the duology, and I expected Seeker to be just as interesting. This, however, didn’t turn out the way I had hoped.

Seeker was a story that focused much more on Daryn (the Seeker) rather than the guys. This was alright because I liked her as a POV character and we still got POV from Gideon. What I didn’t like was the storyline- this was 352 pages of underwhelming plot. It was so boring! Sure, there was action, monstrous creatures, and a few harrowing moments but I honestly think the first book should have been lengthened by 100 pages, wrapped up the loose ends, and been left as a standalone.

Unfortunately, I feel like the characters lost much of what initially made me like them in the first place. Gideon and Daryn continued to have their awkward relationship and outbursts of emotion, but the other guys were barely present at all. They were scenery and Sebastian didn’t even show up until the end of the book, because if you remember, he went missing in another dimension with the mediocre bad guy from the first book. Did I mention Sebastian developed Stockholm syndrome too? Yeah, he definitely became friends with the bad guy.

Shame on me for putting it so bluntly, but Seeker was wasted reading time. I should have skipped this and had my fond (if vague) memories of Riders left untainted. The four horseman of the apocalypse had much more potential than how they were used in this book and I would love recommendations for other books where they play a major role!

The Summer Dragon by Todd Lockwood – Review

Cover- The Summer Dragon

Published: May 3, 2016

Publisher DAW

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Evertide #1

Pages: 496 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

The debut novel from the acclaimed illustrator—a high fantasy adventure featuring dragons and deadly politics.

Maia and her family raise dragons for the political war machine. As she comes of age, she anticipates a dragon of her own to add to the stable of breeding parents. Her peaceful life is shattered when the Summer Dragon—one of the rare and mythical High Dragons—makes an appearance in her quiet valley. Political factions vie for control of the implied message, threatening her aspirations, her aerie, her entire way of life.

The bond between dragons and their riders is deep and life-long, and Maia’s desire for a dragon of her own to train, ride, fly, and love drives her to take a risk that puts her life at stake. She is swept into an adventure that pits her against the deathless Horrors, thralls of the enemy, and a faceless creature drawn from her fear. In her fight to preserve everything she knows and loves, she exposes a conspiracy, unearths an ancient civilization, and challenges her understanding of her world—and of herself.


The Summer Dragon is the first foray into novel writing by acclaimed illustrator/artist Todd Lockwood. You may have seen his work gracing the covers of Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent series as well as Magic: The Gathering cards and even art for World of Warcraft to name just a few things. With The Summer Dragon you not only get to enjoy Todd’s beautiful cover art, but illustrations scattered throughout the interior AND his fantastic storytelling and world building skills.

I missed out on The Summer Dragon when it was released in 2016, but the paperback release came around this year and I jumped at the chance to check it out. I’m VERY glad I did because this was an awesome book. Maia is the daughter of Broodmaster Magha, the man responsible for breeding their province’s dragon pairs each year to provide qits for the military (Dragonry). This year is more important than most because of a continuing war with the Harodhi- a pale people that use dark arts to create arcane horrors that ravage and devour everything in sight. The Harodhi have just destroyed the Cuuloda aerie and the Dragonry has suffered losses. This utterly dashes Maia’s hopes for receiving a dragon qit of her own this year and possibly for many years to follow… until she catches sight of the harbinger of change – Getig, the Summer Dragon who hasn’t been seen for countless years.

Maia’s sighting of Getig sets off a cascade of events that takes things far out of her control. I won’t go into great detail, but needless to say, Getig brought about much change. Maia proves her bravery and worth time and again, but religious interpretation, politics, and the lingering ‘curse’ from her mother continue to weigh her down and cause strife both internal and external. The exploration of her relationship with her family, several townspeople, and the visitors from the Dragonry is well done and believable. Maia is a solid character and her singular perspective in the narrative was adequate, though I think a second POV would have made the Dragonry/religious group’s motives somewhat clearer to the reader. I thought the reason behind their defamation of Maia made sense in a superficial way, but things were vague and didn’t get explained until the end.

Overall, I thought this book was great – my few quibbles were minor and probably just me. A sequel is in the works, though I haven’t been able to find a set release date as of yet. Here’s to hoping that I don’t have to wait as long for this sequel as I have for a few other favorite fantasy series! The Summer Dragon is something I would highly recommend to fans of dragon-centric fantasy like Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent series and Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series. Todd Lockwood is a fantasy author that I’ll be keeping my eye on in years to come thanks to this memorable novel.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin – Review

Cover- The Fifth Season

Published: August 24, 2015

Publisher: Orbit

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Broken Earth #1

Pages: 468 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

Synopsis:

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS. FOR THE LAST TIME.

A season of endings has begun. It starts with the great red rift across the heart of the world’s sole continent, from which enough ash spews to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

It starts with death, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.

It starts with betrayal, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

And it ends with you. You are the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where orogenes wield the power of the earth as a weapon and are feared far more than the long cold night. And you will have no mercy.


The Fifth Season is one of those books that throws you right into the middle of a new world, with new terms, concepts, and cultures and lets you figure it out as you. This is pretty overwhelming and I almost put it down twice as I progressed, but decided otherwise. I’m glad I finished it because by the middle of the book things start to make much more sense and the enjoyment factor increases considerably.

The book begins with a massive earthquake, a mother grieving her murdered child, and a secret revealed. Sounds interesting right? IT is, but at this point in the book so many foreign terms are thrown around that nothing makes sense and the way the book is written (as if you’re the character) is confusing. Now introduce a few more character POVs. More confusion. Just keep on going, because eventually things do start to become clear!

In this world, magic is connected to sensing rock, changing temperatures, and moving the earth. Those who possess this skill are feared and, if not found soon enough, are often killed by neighbors, family, or anyone else who finds out. The world is in constant upheaval and the orogens can keep the quakes and eruptions minimized, or they can exacerbate them and cause a ‘season’. Seasons are periods of time where the sun is blocked, water is contaminated, or a number of other catastrophes occur and life is threatened. They can last for months or years or centuries. The latest quake was a world ender. This basic, bare-bones summary of the worldbuilding gives you an idea but know that the whole story is so much more complex.

I thought The Fifth Season was a really unique book and despite the initial complications I was impressed. I don’t think I’ll continue on with the series simply because I didn’t LOVE it. I listened to the audio version, which had great narration!

 

Life Update!

Thought I’d forewarn my readers that my posts might be a little sporadic/crazy in the coming months. I recently got engaged and I’m planning my wedding, which is taking up A LOT of time that I would normally dedicate to reading and working on my blog. Never fear, I’ll still be posting but I might not do quite as many per week. And I might skip things, like the Waiting on Wednesday post that this is taking the place of (hehe woops).

Me N Colb

Yes, we’re on the side of a mountain.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas – Review

cover-a-court-of-wings-and-ruin

Published: May 2, 2017

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3

Pages: 705 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:

A nightmare, I’d told Tamlin. I was the nightmare.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places.


“Remember that you are a wolf. And you cannot be caged.”
Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Wings and Ruin

Well everyone, as far as I’m concerned the main part of this series is now complete. I think there a couple novellas in the works, but thank goodness I don’t think this will be transforming into some ridiculous 5+ book travesty like some other series. If you think it’s already a travesty or a blight upon the literary world, you just keep that to yourself and don’t ruin my fun… just keep reading, you may find the following mini-rant entertaining. I think SJMaas writes really fun books and it’s a fact that they’re tremendously popular amongst those that read YA SFF, but that certainly doesn’t mean the books are perfect.

SPOILERS AHEAD FOR ALL BOOKS!!!!

ACOWAR picks up immediately following the events of A Court of Mist and Fury, meaning Feyre is now actively infiltrating the Spring Court to gather information on the standing of Hybernian forces and strategies. This, fortunately, is a short portion of the book since I really didn’t want to carry on for 300 pages without Rhys and company because without them the book really shouldn’t bother existing at all. Feyre, Rhys and Co. are basically trying to save the entire continent of Prythian by themselves (a little ridiculous, no?), there is some cooing about how much they love/miss one another, Feyre is at odds with her newly fey sister Nesta, and everybody is in love with someone that’s oblivious to that fact or doesn’t reciprocate. There was some small amount of character development for Feyre and the important secondary characters, but mostly they’ve remained unchanged from how they were presented in ACOMAF.

I loved this book- it makes your emotions topsy-turvy like you wouldn’t believe- but it has flaws that cannot be overlooked. The biggest one in my opinion was the abruptness and convenience of certain events that points towards what I call “lazy writing” or “the quick wrap-up”. In the final battle our characters are certainly doomed- they are outnumbered a bajillion to one, their magic is waning, and OH SNAP, THE KING OF HYBERN HAS THAT MAGIC CAULDRON THAT MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE CREATED THE WORLD N HE ‘BOUT TO USE IT. Yah, well, all of a sudden all those allies that were hoped for, or quested for, or whatever suddenly show up with their downy-soft angel wings, a cursed flaming fire bird queen named Vassa (gee, where’d you pull that from I wonder?), and an armada from good ol’ daddy Archeron who was useless and invisible for every other part of the series. AGHHHHHHH WHY!!!!? This was SO painful to read- how absurdly convenient, now our beloved heroes won’t die because our troop numbers have swelled three fold. Did I mention how turd bagels like Tamlin and J-name human general all of a sudden have redeeming qualities? *Barf* Also, characters can’t just disappear on quests without some description of their quest even if it’s just “he rode a horse until he got saddle-sores, ate moldy cheese for 3 weeks, and lo’ there was the magic fire-bird that then agreed to help his cause after he said please”. Did I mention that SJMaas decided to throw in some slap-dash diversity in the last 200 or so pages and made the bargains with powerful, menacing beings/objects way too simple? This type of thing makes me SO mad because the author has just cheapened their book by making things easy!

Anyways, enough of that rather cathartic rant. Aside from my serious frustrations, I enjoyed ACOWAR quite a lot. It was a really fun book with a cutesy ending that made my heart go all fuzzy and it blessedly had more plot than the previous books that had Feyre + Tamlin Rhys Forever vibes on every other page. Feyre at least developed into a strong, capable character even if she did have a temper that needed to be kept on a shorter leash. SJMaas’s female MC’s tend to lean towards crazed rage-machines with fire shooting from their hands/eyes/orifices. There are some obvious parallels between series and I’d kinda like to see a crossover throw down between the characters. I’ve given this a star rating, but more accurate would be liked it, but with some reservations.

Currently Reading: 5/15/17

Cover- Seeker

Seeker by Veronica Rossi

I’m not very far into this book, but once I remember what happened in the previous one, I think I’ll enjoy it! The Four Horsemen is a subject I find fascinating and it hasn’t yet been overdone in SFF books. Seeker will be released 5/16, so expect a review soon!

 

Cover- Days of Blood and Starlight

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

I’m so in love with this series!! Laini Taylor writes YA fantasy with such compelling plots and the romantic aspect doesn’t overshadow what the book is really about. Did I mention that Karou is awesome?

Stacking the Shelves: 5/13/17

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


Received for Review:

Seeker by Veronica Rossi

I  remember enjoying Riders last year (THE FOUR HORSEMEN!!!) and decided to continue on with the series. Huge thanks to Tor Teen for sending over a copy of this my way.

City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett

This was a fantastic book and I jumped at the chance to get a physical copy. My thanks to Broadway Books. Check out my review HERE

Soul of the World by David Mealing

I am SO very excited to start reading Soul of the World. Fantasy debut = good times. Thanks to Orbit and NetGalley for the eGalley.

Purchased Books:

The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodard

An interesting piece of non-fiction that I caught on sale. The audiobook narration is well done, though not nearly as interesting as fiction. I won’t be finishing this any time soon- it’s a filler book.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

I love my junk food books! This was a super fun read and the cover art is my favorite yet.  An review will be forthcoming soon-ish.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

How can I have neglected this series for so long!? I decided to begin this series in audio format and it’s really awesome so far. A review of this book will be forthcoming.

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

Already decided to continue on with the series after finishing DoS&B.

Waiting on Wednesday: An Echo of Things to Come by James Islington

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where bloggers feature a book that we just can’t wait to get our hands on!


Cover- An Echo of Things to Come

At long last, I get to find out what happens next! Though, to be honest, its been so long since I read the first book that I will most certainly need to do a re-read first. The mere mention of assassins, dark forces, and treacherous bargains has me intrigued to say the least. I hope this will be a stand-out sequel and that this series will get some more recognition in the fantasy world… even more than that generated by the release of a physical book by a mainstream publisher! An Echo of Things to Come will be released on August 22, 2017.

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge – Review

Cover- A Face Like Glass

Published: May 9, 2017

Publisher: Amulet Books

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Series: Standalone

Pages: 496 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

In the underground city of Caverna, the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare—wines that remove memories, cheeses that make you hallucinate, and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. On the surface, the people of Caverna seem ordinary, except for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to express (or fake) joy, despair, or fear—at a steep price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. Neverfell’s expressions are as varied and dynamic as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, except hers are entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed . . .


A Face Like Glass is one of those books that turns your expectations upside down in a good way. I obviously read the synopsis, so had some idea of what the story was about (otherwise I wouldn’t have accepted a copy) but the synopsis in no way captures the unique strangeness of this story.

Neverfell must always wear a velvet mask to cover her face when in the presence of others and has never seen her face in a mirror or been let outside the halls of her master, the cheesemaker Grandible. She assumes she is horribly disfigured or terribly ugly and has never been told otherwise. Neverfell is quite normal in appearance, aside from the emotions and expressions that flit across her face as rapidly as a hummingbird between flowers. In Caverna, the great underground city that is home to wonderous alchemical cheese, wine, and countless other delicacies, people are born with blank, expressionless faces and are taught expressions by Facesmiths. As with most things, the rich have more and better quality faces, while the poor laborers only have a few, and those are bland at best. All is well until Neverfell leaves Grandible’s halls on a rabbit chase and her alarmingly open face is exposed – now she’s both dangerous to and desired by the most powerful people in Caverna.

Neverfell was a hopelessly naïve and innocent character and, though at times I found it frustrating, it was a believable portrayal. She had no prior experience living outside of the sheltered world she knew nothing of the political machinations of others. The secondary characters were interesting overall, though some certainly shone brighter than others. The Grand Steward was a particularly memorable character – his dual aspects of Left Eye and Right Eye were really unusual and I liked the idea. The two aspects were basically opposites of each other – one being feeling/intuition and the other being logic/reasoning. The duality was well written and the execution of the Grand Stewards storyline played out nicely. The worldbuilding and descriptions of Caverna, the citizens, and the delicacies made therein really made this book stand out from the crowd. I love the idea of wine that can make you forget bad memories or sharpen other, cheese that can explode or vent acid if not properly tended, and cartographers that can drive a person mad if they listen to their speech for too long.

My biggest (and only) peeve with this book is the abruptness with which the story wrapped up. There was a convenient blank area which spanned months, leaving a gaping hole in terms of plot. As I neared the end, the reasoning behind this missing time period made sense… but I didn’t care for it. The ending felt lazy or like the author suddenly realized they had something more important to do and said “that’s good enough”.

Other than my single complaint I thought A Face Like Glass was a refreshingly different book with a marvelously detailed food culture. The Facesmithing, while a major component of the story, couldn’t beat out the wild culinary artistry as my favorite detail…. But then again, I do love food, so it’s really no surprise. A Face Like Glass has been out for some time in the UK, but is newly released in the US as of 5/9/17. I highly recommend this book and you should consider checking it out!!

Currently Reading: 5/8/17

cover-a-court-of-wings-and-ruin

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

GUYS I’M SO EXCITED TO START THIS ONE. This book is basically a junk food binge for me and I can’t wait. Will probably stay up too late reading ACOWAR.

 

 

 

Cover- Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Prior to reading Strange the Dreamer I had very little interest in reading this series, but, well, now I do!! The reviews seem to be overwhelmingly positive and apparently the writing is just as lyrical and wonderful as in her latest book.