Cover Image: A Feast for Starving Stone

A Feast for Starving Stone

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Member Reviews

Beth Cato can write excellent and compelling story and this is a good one. Lovely and entertaining.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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Thank you to Netgally, the publishers, and Beth Cato

When I requested this book I was unaware that it was apart of a series, one that requires you to read the previous books for this one to make sense. I am unable to read all the previous books along with this one before the publish date. Therefore, I will rate this a fair 3/5 stars and will adjust the rating and review when I am able to read all the books in the series along with this one.

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Beth Cato concludes her tale of a world with five gods where chefs really cook with magic. The second half of the tale is A Feast for Starving Stone (paper from 47North) The first half was a fight with the gods that ended with Princess Solenn losing her tongue. Now she has to be a diplomat to find allies against a conquering emperor using lots of magical food. Her birth mother Ada Garland who has to rescue her ex-husband before he is executed. Great ending.

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A Feast for Starving Stone is the concluding book to the Chefs to the Five Gods Duology. It picks up three weeks after the events in A Thousand Recipes for Revenge with PoVs from the same two characters of Solenn and her birth mother Adamantine or Ada. We are able to see the story through their eyes, the young Princess who sacrificed her something very large so she could not manipulated by one of the five gods and the mother who desperately wants to help her daughter and the country that protected her growing up.

Solenn, Princess of Braize is thought to have murdered the Prince of Verdania. She escaped, just barely and at huge personal cost, when the true poisoner of the prince was really Albion, who wants to take over the small kingdom of Braize. Solenn must figure out a way to make alliances to protect her beloved country from the war that is coming. As ambassador she travels to the land of the kindred, the land of the the magical creatures that are used in the special ingredients known as Epicurea. Unknown to everyone for so long these ingredients are in fact made from magical creatures cursed to live in the mortal realm half of the year where they are in danger of becoming food. Solenn needs their help and they are more at risk if Albion takes over, as Albion is known for the harvesting of all Epicurea they can find and use it liberally. With the help of these creatures and some other creative negotiating with both gods and other creatures, her precious Braize will stand a chance in the upcoming war.

Ada on the other hand is travelling into Verdania in hopes of saving Solenn's father, the love of her life being held captive in Solenn's stead. They have been apart for most of Solenn's life as Ada is a rogue chef in hiding. She would not work for Verdania's king anymore with her Chef talents and is therefore a wanted person who will be punished if caught by the removal of her tongue, her conduit to the god Gist that all chefs have. With the assistance a few kin she heads into enemy territory to find the love of her life, hopefully before he is executed so they can return to Braize and help their daughter.

It took me a little time to get into this story. It could be because I tried to start it before the holidays and that was a crazy time. I put the ebook down and swapped to an audio arc provided to me. The story went much better then and I was carried away in this magic world. The thing I liked about Solenn is she isn't all powerful special. She is a young woman with an impossible task dealing with some PTSD from Gist's take over of her body. She has fears because of this that hinder a few of the tasks in front of her. She has lost her tongue and that is not glossed over, it hinders her speech and the ability to eat. She is struggling with both and we walk through her journey with that and how she shifts and overcomes. I also liked that she was able to lean on others for help and learns it cannot just be her in this war, she needs to depend on those around her if they are all going to survive.

There are some interesting reveals in this about the gods and Solenn that were good twists to the story and at least one of these I was a bit surprised by, even if there were some clues along the way I didn't see. This book is very light on romance as a side note. There is the long lost love of Ada and Erwan separated by fate almost 20 years ago but Solenn is too busy with her duties to pine for anyone and I think that is so different than most YA novels I think it worth noting. She has friends but no love interest.

Overall, a satisfying conclusion to the duology.

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Thank you net gallery for the advanced copy of this book. This is the second book in the series, and I liked it better than the first, there was growth in the characters and the princess was more likeable. Good world building, I would definitely recommend.

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Beth Cato's A Feast for Starving Stone is the second installment in the authors Chefs of the Five Gods series. Key Characters: Princess Solenn of Braiz and Adamantine Garland. This story picks up 3 weeks after Solenn removed her own tongue to prevent herself from becoming a meat puppet of the God Gyst who she is still having nightmares about. Even though she struggles to speak, and needs to write things down, she has become the only human ambassador to ever exist between the world and the parallel magical realm known as Arcady.

Not too long ago, Solenn’s marriage into royalty should have unified the continental neighbors of Verdania and Solenn’s homeland of Braiz against a common enemy: the country of Albion. But thanks to Albion’s cunning sabotage, Verdania is now Braiz’s lethal rival thanks to her intended being poisoned. And the dead Braizian sailors washing ashore near Solenn’s château are just the beginning of a major war that could end with the surrender of Braiz.

Solenn’s main mission though has its own challenges as the ingredients known as Epicurea are in fact made out of magical creatures. If she can get the Queen of Arcady to come to her aid, it will mean making sure that nobody in her country can every have access to Epicurea that gives humans super strength. On a strange whim, Solenn may have an answer. What if she calls one of the most powerful Gods to life in order to help save her people, and defeat the invading Albion army and navy?

Adamantine “Ada” Garland has an empathic connection to food and wine, a magical perception of aromas, flavors, and ingredients. Invaluable property of the royal court, Ada was in service to the Five Gods and to the Gods-ordained rulers of Verdania—until she had enough of injustice and bloodshed and deserted, seeking to chart her own destiny. She also left her own daughter behind at the court of Braiz to be raised as a Princess. Ada is desperate to reunite with her daughter, Solenn but this is dangerous times.

Not only has open war begun with Albion; it’s become dishearteningly personal. Ada’s long-lost, beloved Braizian musketeer, Captain Erwan Corre (who is also Solenn's biological father), is being held in a Verdanian prison, with execution imminent because Solenn has been accused of murdering the Verdanian Prince she was supposed to marry. And her daughter has been tasked with the near-doomed responsibility of uniting violently adversarial countries in peace.

Can Solenn and Ada, coming together, stop their land from descending into all-out war? What must Solenn become, what more will she sacrifice, to do it? As ambassador between two worlds—one of humans, one of magic—Solenn must now draw from both to prevent the worst of things to come. With Gods making mischief and taking sides perhaps only Solenn is brave enough to try to not just communicate but actually release true danger back into their world. Although you really should read A Thousand Recipes For Revenge first, Cato does a good job covering all of the main aspects of that book and who the main characters are.

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In the second novel to The Chef of the Gods series, Beth Cato brings the series to a stunning conclusion as she weaves together both Ada and Solenn’s narrative in an evocative and dynamic story. What is especially engaging is that each woman must find a way to fight the battle before them in their own unique way. They may have assistance but each must find the strength within themselves to rise to the challenge.
I love that this is written from the female perspective. I also like that despite Solenn cutting out her tongue, it does not limit her. She finds ways to have her voice, to pursue diplomacy and navigate war in her own fashion, rising to unexpected heights as she embraces her power.
The story is incredibly engaging as it deals with intrigue and war, including the capture of Erwan and Ada’s quest to free him from captivity. I love the kin and how each has their own special abilities, especially the Camargo and the dragon Queen. I also love how the cats have their own place in the story. It is a tiny element but they bring delight to the story.
If you loved the first book, “A Thousand Recipes for Revenge”, you will love A Feast for Starving Stone. It deals with the Gods in unusual ways and with unexpected mercies. The characters are incredible and the story brings us a stunning conclusion to the series.

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I liked book 1 better but the second ok is ok. I think I preferred the focus on the food magic in book one as I enjoy cooking and found it an interesting magic system. I also wasn’t quite feeling as much interest in the young princess Solenn as I did with Ada in the first book. In the whole though it was an enjoyable series.

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In the brilliant follow-up book to A Thousand Recipes For Revenge, Princess Solenn is now an ambassador between the human and magical worlds, while her birth mother, Ada Garland, rogue Chef to the Gods, is working tirelessly to free Ada’s long-lost, beloved Braizian musketeer, Captain Erwan Corre. Once she can do that, then Ada and Erwan, reunited at last, can go in search of their daughter, and try to stop the war that is raging.

This was an excellent ending to this epic tale. I admit, I had forgotten a few of the finer points of the first book, but the author did an excellent recap that was very thorough. Although you really should read A Thousand Recipes For Revenge first, she did such a good job covering all of the main aspects of that book, that you really would not be lost if you hadn't read it. However, that book was amazing as well, so I highly recommend reading them both. Even though this was almost four hundred pages, it felt like the time flew by. There was so much action and suspense, so many different moving parts that it kept my attention throughout. If you are a fan of fantasy fiction, then you should definitely check these books out!

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This series is just amazing!

Book 2 picks up right after book 1, and you're going to need to read that one first. This one is a direct continuation.
The worldbuilding is impressive and the main characters, as well as the secondary, are well formed and engaging. The story kept me reading at a fast pace, eager to see what was next.

Highly recommend!

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley and this is my honest opinion.

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Read the first book, and loved this one just as much! The inventive magic system is incredibly engaging, as are the characters, and it's just a seriously fun read! Thank you to NetGalley and 47North for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review!

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I really enjoyed the first book in this series but I found this one to be lackluster in comparison. Much of the beginning involves excruciating details of Solenn’s difficulties without her tongue which is obviously hard to read. Then much of the rest is preparing for or actually in battle. I really enjoyed the characters and the uniqueness of the world building in the first book but the tone of this book is very different. It does open with a detailed reminder of the events of the first book which is appreciated but turn annoyingly throughout the beginning there were more of the same repeated reminders. I found myself confused about Solenn’s family as we were not given explanations of who was who. There was also a lot less of the food elements which I’d found so well done in the first book. I don’t know if the author intends to continue this series but personally I’m done with it.

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A Thousand Recipes for Revenge introduced us to a world where Chefs are ‘God-Touched’, able to sense the properties of food including magical ‘epicurea’. As well as political assassinations, burgeoning war between neighbouring nations, and magical creatures hiding from humans, we also discover that the five gods are more meddlesome than helpful. Now we’re back with rogue Chef and ex-soldier, Ada, as well as the Braizian princess, Solenn, as the ongoing diplomatic crises reach boiling point.

I wasn’t entirely enamoured of the first book, but I put that down to setting up a new world and everything involved with that. I was willing to give the second volume a chance to smooth out the rough bits and generally improve. Alas, I was wrong.

The good bits: there is nothing awful about the book, and the writing is very well handled – the author is clearly someone with skill. But I fear the story here just doesn’t do that justice at all.

My main issue would be how much I disliked the main character, Solenn. She is just such a ‘Mary Sue’ – that is, everything is just so ‘perfect’ even when the flaws are painted in thick strokes to make it seem otherwise. But I absolutely cannot stand the trope of a 16 year old suddenly being handed far, far too much responsibility and held in the most fawning esteem by everyone around her – including her grandparents, the actual King and Queen? There is just nothing relatable or believable in Solenn’s spectacular abilities to fix absolutely everything, practically by herself.

As I said, she does have flaws – but of the kind that are “Oh, she’s so strong and brave to overcome…” kind, and they are laid on more than a little thickly.

Ada was a much better character, but she’s pushed into the background for Solenn’s big mission. She fairs a very little better than the two-dimensionality of absolutely everyone else, who seem only to serve to fawn at Solenn’s feet. This includes royalty, nobles, and freakin’ dragons so no – not at all plausible. Several characters are set up as antagonistic, only to have a sudden “Oh, Solenn, I see now how wise and noble you are, let me do a complete 180 and thus make your weak efforts even more successful!”. Urgh.

It’s a real shame, as there are interesting bits to the story that could have been so, so much better if presented in a different way. But I simply could not get past my utter distaste (pun intended) for the teenage ‘saviour’ trope and how annoying that was.

If the rest had been stronger, that might have been more forgivable, but there is nothing that felt well developed in the world building (very derivative of real-world England/France, etc), the character arcs (non-existent, really), or the magic system. Just… bland, frankly.

One for a fully YA audience, perhaps, who’d love the teenage lead getting all the glory, but definitely not for me. I won’t be picking up any further instalments.

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I want to start by saying that I didn’t finish this book. While I really loved the first book in the series, this one felt too different. The things I loved about book number one was the focus on older and more mature protagonists along the fast pacing and sense of urgency and interesting world building. In this book, the overall plot feels slower, more focused on macro events like war which changes the pacing. There is also a switch in POV and the story focuses much more on the teenage princess Solenn. I also felt that the world building was a bit less polished in this book. All things put together this book reads a lot more like a YA fantasy which is a genre I have grown out of, and I can’t muster up the interest to continue. There is nothing wrong with the story, it’s a case of not being the right book for me.

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Ebook received for free through NetGalley

Like her previous book in this series it didn’t disappoint. I especially love the recap of the previous story before this begun so I was able to remembered better and jump in quicker. A great read that was tough to put down and enjoyable while it lasted. Love this world.

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DNF. Unfortunately, I wasn't aware that this was a sequel when I requested it, and while the beginning of this story does give a background for the previous book, I found difficulty getting to know these characters without having actually read the first. I would be willing to return to this book once I've read the first book in this series, but as of now I cannot continue reading it to be able to fairly review.

I've given this story 4 stars here so as to not affect the overall rating, as I did not finish this book nor had any issues reading what I was able to finish.

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A Feast for Starving Stone is book 2 in the Chefs of the Five Gods series by Beth Cato.
An intriguing fantasy story. The magic system here is both fascinating and very well done.
I thought characters were interesting and their journey kept my attention and had me eager to see how it would unfold.
The book moved along at a fast and very interesting pace.

Thank You NetGalley and 47North for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!

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This is the second book in the Chefs of the Five Gods series.
Full disclosure: I had the opportunity to read the ARC before publication.
Unfortunately, I have not read the first book in the series, A Thousand Recipes for Revenge. Luckily, a brief summary is provided in the beginning of the book, so thank you for that! Even if you’ve read the first book, a refresher is always nice to have.
Now, let’s start with what I liked about the book.
The book is told in the POVs of Solenn and her mother, Ada. Because they were not always together, we saw more of the world and the plot unfold through the dual POV, which I liked. Also, following two characters that are quite different in age was nice, seeing their different paths and thoughts, but also similarities. In general, the characters in the book were quite diverse in age, which was refreshing.
The magic system is based on food. I’ve never read a book with a magic system based on food and cooking, so this was new! I liked the concept of the magic system and I think there’s a lot that can be done with it! Sometimes, I would’ve liked more explanation and depth, though this could just be because I have not had a thorough introduction in the first book.
I had one main issue with the book- I couldn’t get into it. I can’t put my finger on why exactly, but I did not find myself immersed in the story and did not connect with the characters.
Because I cannot really put my finger on why I struggled with the book, I cannot provide feedback on how to amend that. It’s probably a thing of preference. So, I’d really encourage you to just read the book and try for yourself!
I’d like to thank NetGalley, the publisher and Beth Cato, the author, for providing me with the ARC of “A Feast for Starving Stone”.

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I was so happy I had the second book ready to go, I was very ready to jump straight back into this world.

There is a lot happening in this one, but it all flows well, it didn't come across as forced.

I really enjoyed the different perspectives granted on the gods in this book. Being that we now perceive them as truly human.

Loved seeing more of our girl Solenns family, and seeing Ada go on more adventures. And I still adore Erwan.

Really enjoyed the maturing of Hester... Which seems odd to say about a being so old.... Perhaps learning is the better word. And I also really liked some of our characters understanding her better as an individual as well.

Yet again really liked that our core characters varied widely in age.

And finally I loved the concept of the Kraken and the way they perceived and understood the world around them, life and death, good and bad, and everything in between. It was pure and rather beautiful.

Really enjoyed it!!
I give this 4 stars

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I couldn't finish this book because of one of the most defining traits of the main character, Princess Solenn is the fact that she deliberately cut out her tongue to cut off her connection to the Gods, and yet is saying fully comprehendable sentences. In fact, in the first 16% of the book, she converses intelligibly with others 11 times. She even says the sentence "I lost my tongue, not my throat," when in fact, the most of those consonant sounds can't actually be made without a tongue. While the story had good pacing and the characters were engaging, the author is being really disrespectful to this disability and it just ruins the immersion of the whole story.

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