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!

 

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.

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!!

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – Review

Cover- Strange the Dreamer

Published: March 28, 2017

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Series: Strange the Dreamer #1

Pages: 544 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Synopsis:

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.


“He read while he walked. He read while he ate. The other librarians suspected he somehow read while he slept, or perhaps didn’t sleep at all.”

Strange the Dreamer was my introduction to Laini Taylor’s writing and storytelling skills and boy, what a stellar first impression! I was hooked by the first chapter- the idea of a lost city with a lost name is such an enticing concept. I’ll admit, I turned into a starry-eyed dreamer myself for awhile there.

When people blather about authors having “lyrical prose” I typically call BS and go on with my life. HOWEVER, Laini Taylor really does have prose that practically sings to you- it’s enchanting! I would place Strange the Dreamer in the top tiers with my favorite fantasy novels despite it being categorized as a Young Adult novel because it’s definitely of a higher caliber than the usual YA fantasy. The world as a whole is somewhat underdeveloped, but the city of Weep and its culture are well-defined. The whole world is enchanting and promises new discoveries around every corner, but the real treat here are the characters.

Lazlo Strange was orphaned as a young child and grew up in the care of first monks and then librarians. You may consider him an expert on the city lost in the sands of a distant desert that is now called Weep, though Lazlo recalls when it had a different name. How is it that a name could simply disappear? His quest for knowledge and his kindheartedness has led him to become an integral part in the stories of others, but Lazlo has a chance to be present in his own story when a man leading the Taizakain warriors of Weep arrives and requests help with an unnamed problem. The second perspective is that of Sarai, a Mesarthim girl of terrible power that is trapped along with four other children in the Citadel with only ghost for company. Each of them has command of a unique power, but none of their powers are enough to allow them to escape their lonely prison and even if they did, they would be slaughtered on sight, for their sires enslaved the people of Weep for two centuries. Sarai and Lazlo end up having one of the most beautiful relationships I’ve ever encountered in literature, perhaps because 95% of it occurs in Lazlo’s dreams. Yes, dreams. Sarai can enter into dreams and meddle with the visions therein, but is never seen… that is, until Lazlo sees her.

I could literally blather on for several more paragraphs and give you an entire in-depth summary of the story, but honestly that takes all the fun out of reading the story in the first place. Trust me when I say that this is the best thing to happen to YA fantasy in years and it absolutely floored me with its depth, the blurred lines between good and evil, victim and victimized. Laini Taylor crushed my heart at the end of this book but at the same time I was also cheering. When you get to that point, I think you’ll understand exactly what I mean. Strange the Dreamer will be going in my top ten favorite books of the year (unless 2017 astounds me with masterpieces). If her other series is half this good, I’ll be reading it ASAP.

Waiting on Wednesday: Blackwing by Ed McDonald

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- Blackwing

OH MAN. First of all, Blackwing has been receiving a fair amount of buzz among my fellow fantasy readers (especially the Grimdark people) and because of that I decided to give it some further attention. I had given a cursory sort of acknowledgement, but decided to actually read the synopsis and… here we are. They synopsis makes it out to be a post-apocalyptic fantasy with magic and swords and maybe some mercenaries. I’m excited enough to feature it here and I also sent in that NetGalley request *crosses fingers*. Blackwing will be released in July 2017 for UK readers and October 2017 for US readers.

Also, as I typed this I was listening to Hurt by Johnny Cash (from the Logan movie), which seems to be an appropriate accompaniment to Blackwing. Kind of like a wine and cheese pairing, but for a book.

The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis – Review

Cover- The Guns Above

Published: May 2, 2017

Publisher: Tor Books

Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk

Pages: 336 (Hardcover)

Series: Signal Airship #1

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

The nation of Garnia has been at war for as long as Auxiliary Lieutenant Josette Dupris can remember – this time against neighboring Vinzhalia. Garnia’s Air Signal Corp stands out as the favored martial child of the King. But though it’s co-ed, women on-board are only allowed “auxiliary” crew positions and are banned from combat. In extenuating circumstances, Josette saves her airship in the heat of battle. She is rewarded with the Mistral, becoming Garnia’s first female captain.

She wants the job – just not the political flak attached. On top of patrolling the front lines, she must also contend with a crew who doubts her expertise, a new airship that is an untested deathtrap, and the foppish aristocrat Lord Bernat – a gambler and shameless flirt with the military know-how of a thimble. He’s also been assigned to her ship to catalog her every moment of weakness and indecision. When the Vins make an unprecedented military move that could turn the tide of the war, can Josette deal with Bernat, rally her crew, and survive long enough to prove herself to the top brass?


The Guns Above is the debut novel of Robyn Bennis and somehow I didn’t know about it until Tor emailed me about a review! Such a large volume of SFF books are released every year that I always miss an astounding number of good books. I’m glad I didn’t miss out on this sort of Napoleonic-war era steampunk fantasy!

The characters were what really made this book stand out. Josette Dupre is the first female airship captain in Garnian history and as such, she’s under enormous pressure to succeed. Lord Bernat is under orders from his uncle General Fieran to make certain that Dupre looks like a failure in the public eye, no matter how successful she is. The two are at odds from the very beginning – Josette would truly like to throw Bernat overboard, but ballast is valuable and not to be wasted even if it does cause trouble. Bernat’s (or Bernie) observations of Josette’s decisions are slanderously inaccurate I found myself affronted on her behalf for the first quarter of the novel. Eventually things settle down between the two and Bernie is a crack shot with a rifle, which makes him useful as more than just ballast.

The plot is also quite good, though without the quality characters and dry humour, I think it would have felt a little stale. The Garnians are in the midst of a war with a neighboring kingdom and the airships are a valuable commodity. Dupre’s ship Mistral is a new design and as the crew runs it through the standard battery of tests, they end up on the front lines of the second front of the war (which isn’t supposed to happen). Enemy engagement, terrifying aerial maneuvers, and a few subplots keep things interesting for much of the book.

Overall, this was good debut and I hope the rest of the series (however long that may be) will be equally good, if not better. I didn’t feel a strong connection to the characters until the latter part of the book which was somewhat disappointing, but by the end I was cheering for the Mistral and her crew. I think the improvement in characterization and story pacing as the book progressed speaks to the potential Robyn Bennis has as a writer and The Guns Above was a debut to be proud of.

City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett – Review

Cover- City of Miracles

Published: May 2, 2017

Publisher: Broadway Books

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Divine Cities #3

Pages: 464 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

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

Synopsis:

Revenge. It’s something Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is very, very good at. Maybe the only thing.

So when he learns that his oldest friend and ally, former Prime Minister Shara Komayd, has been assassinated, he knows exactly what to do and that no mortal force can stop him from meting out the suffering Shara’s killers deserve.

Yet as Sigrud pursues his quarry with his customary terrifying efficiency, he begins to fear that this battle is an unwinnable one. Because discovering the truth behind Shara’s death will require him to take up arms in a secret, decades-long war, face down an angry young god, and unravel the last mysteries of Bulikov, the city of miracles itself. And perhaps most daunting of all finally face the truth about his own cursed existence.


RJB man, this book made me SO SAD. City of Miracles was a very strong installment in the Divine Cities series and I was so happy to finally have a book largely about Sigrud. I wasn’t really expecting what I got from this book and in no way do I mean that negatively. I didn’t have anything specific in mind… but what I read was surprisingly introspective.

Sigrud je Harkvaldsson has been through much in his life. From a painful stint in the worst of prisons to the loss of his daughter and everything in between, Sigrud had begun to feel that he deserves the punishment he has endured and that he would remain in exile the remainder of his life. When news that Ashara Komayd, his former partner and friend, has been assassinated, Sigrud chooses to leave his exile and avenge her death. This is a simple enough task, but it is of course complicated by the fact that a new god seems to be rising in Bulikov and threatens the existence of the only two people Sigrud cares about in this world- Tatyana Komayd and Ivanya, her adopted aunt.

City of Miracles had a good storyline and I thought it was a much more personal story than perhaps the first two simply because there seemed to more of a focus on Sigrud, Tatyana, and Ivanya. There were some emotionally charged scenes and RJB had my eyes welling up with tears on a few occasions throughout. The plot and the new divine villain were done well as expected, though it felt somewhat more shallow than the plot of City of Stairs and City of Blades.

Overall, I thought City of Miracles was a fine installment and think it makes for a nice conclusion to the series (I haven’t been able to find definitive answer on whether this is the final book, but it felt like a conclusion). I would also like to mention that I read this in print/ebook format whereas I had the audio format of the first two books. For me, it worked just as well in print as in audio except now I have a better grasp of how all the names and locations are spelled! I’m pretty pleased with how things turned out and I wholeheartedly recommend this series to anyone who hasn’t had the good fortune to pick it up yet!

RoadFood by Jane and Michael Stern – Review

Cover- Roadfood

Published: March 7, 2017

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Genre: Travel

Pages: 480

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

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

Synopsis:

First published in 1977, the original Roadfood became an instant classic. James Beard said, “This is a book that you should carry with you, no matter where you are going in these United States. It’s a treasure house of information.”

Now this indispensable guide is back, in an even bigger and better edition, covering 500 of the country’s best local eateries from Maine to California. With more than 250 completely new listings and thorough updates of old favorites, the new Roadfood offers an extended tour of the most affordable, most enjoyable dining options along America’s highways and back roads.

Filled with enticing alternatives for chain-weary-travelers, Roadfood provides descriptions of and directions to (complete with regional maps) the best lobster shacks on the East Coast; the ultimate barbecue joints down South; the most indulgent steak houses in the Midwest; and dozens of top-notch diners, hotdog stands, ice-cream parlors, and uniquely regional finds in between. Each entry delves into the folkways of a restaurant’s locale as well as the dining experience itself, and each is written in the Sterns’ entertaining and colorful style. A cornucopia for road warriors and armchair epicures alike, Roadfood is a road map to some of the tastiest treasures in the United States.


This is more of a featurette than review, but here goes. Roadfood is a nice tome of cool restaurants ranging from roadside eateries to more upscale locals around the country. I read through a significant portion of the book, which succeeded in making me ravenously hungry for lobster rolls and tex-mex from the source. Each entry has a neat little description of what’s worthwhile, along with hours, price range, website, and other contact info. If you’re into roadtrips and eating, you might want to check this out, though it’s a bit large for toting around in the car, especially if you’re short on space. I do wish it had some picture of the restaurants and signature dishes, even if they were just scattered around. A few states (especially Nevada) and some areas of states (Virginia and North Carolina) were lacking in options. Overall, this was a neat book and at the very least it gave me some dish ideas.