Tag Archives: fantasy

Reviews of The Blacksmith Queen AND The Princess Knight

I received a copy of G.A. Aiken‘s The Princess Knight through Bookish First. However, I didn’t initially realize that it is book two in The Scarred Earth Saga. So, I borrowed book one (The Blacksmith Queen) from the library before reading it. Here are both of my reviews.

Description of The Blacksmith Queen:

When a prophesy brings war to the Land of the Black Hills, Keeley Smythe must join forces with a clan of mountain warriors who are really centaurs in a thrilling new fantasy romance series from New York Times bestselling author G.A. Aiken. 

The Old King Is Dead
With the demise of the Old King, there’s a prophesy that a queen will ascend to the throne of the Black Hills. Bad news for the king’s sons, who are prepared to defend their birthright against all comers. But for blacksmith Keeley Smythe, war is great for business. Until it looks like the chosen queen will be Beatrix, her younger sister. Now it’s all Keeley can do to protect her family from the enraged royals.

Luckily, Keeley doesn’t have to fight alone. Because thundering to her aid comes a clan of kilt-wearing mountain warriors called the Amichai. Not the most socially adept group, but soldiers have never bothered Keeley, and rough, gruff Caid, actually seems to respect her. A good thing because the fierce warrior will be by her side for a much longer ride than any prophesy ever envisioned …


To my utter and complete surprise, I loved this. I did quibble a little with the running fat joke, but I appreciated that Keeley didn’t match the beauty ideals of society and was still shown as confident and desired, worthy of love. And I laughed a lot. The book is hilarious, utterly ridiculous, but in a good way.

I did think some of the cursing felt anachronistic at times. Don’t get me wrong. Fuck is my favorite curse word and I utter WTF, probably, an average of once a day. So, I don’t have any problem with the cursing itself. It’s just that on occasion you’d be in a fantasy realm with two moon, centaurs, elves, and dwarfs, and then some thoroughly modern-world curse or phrase would drop like a clanger.

All in all, however, I have book two and I absolutely can’t wait to start it.

Description of The Princess Knight:


Gemma Smythe dedicated her life to the glory of battle. With her fellow War Monks, she worshipped the war gods, rained destruction on her enemies, and raised the dead when the fancy took her. Until her sister Keeley became the prophesied Blacksmith Queen, and Gemma broke faith with her order to journey to the Amichai Mountain and fight by Keeley’s side.

The Amichai warriors are an unruly, never-to-be-tamed lot, especially their leader-in-waiting, Quinn. But when the War Monks declare support for Gemma’s ruthless younger sister Beatrix, the immaturity of her key ally is the least of Gemma’s problems. She has to get to the grand masters, dispel their grudge against her, and persuade them to fight for Keeley and justice. If her conviction can’t sway them, perhaps Quinn’s irritating, irreverent, clearly unhinged, ferocity will win the day . . .


I really enjoyed this. Admittedly, not quite as much as I did the first one. I think it sometimes took its slapstick ridiculousness a tad too far. But overall it was a real winner. I like that there wasn’t really any angst in the romantic subplot, the underlying theme of acceptance, and the humor. But mostly I just love the varieties of crazy in all of the characters and how they all come together as a whole in the end.

Death is treated awfully lightly though. Some of the main characters, ones that the reader is meant to sympathize with, slaughter others fairly indiscriminately, and one is to understand innocents are among those caught in the fray. I found that a little hard to overlook.

All in all, however, I’ll be eagerly awaiting a third book. There is going to be another, isn’t there? And maybe a fourth and fifth and sixth? A girl can hope.


Review of It’s All Fun and Games, by Dave Barrett

I won a paperback copy of Dave Barrett‘s It’s All Fun and Games through Goodreads

Description from Goodreads:
When Allison’s best friend, TJ, convinces her to come along for an epic game of LARP (live-action role-playing), she reluctantly agrees despite her reservations about the geeky pastime. TJ’s weekends are filled with powerful wizardry, mystical creatures, and intense battles with his LARP group. Each adventure is full of surprises, but the goal is always the same: to defeat the monsters and find the treasure.

Not long after their quest begins, the friends discover that something has gone wrong. The fantasy world they’ve built has transformed, and the battle they’re in the midst of is no longer make-believe.
Now they must fight for survival against brigands, kobolds, and other deadly mythical creatures that come to life. Fortunately, the group’s once-fictional magical powers have also become real – including Allison’s newly acquired gifts as a healer. They’ll need everything in their arsenal if they hope to make it home alive.

Meh, It was ok. I thought the pacing was inconsistent and the overly dramatic ‘fantasy speak’ tiresome. But I also acknowledge that the whole book is a parody of a DnD game. And in my limited experience, inconsistent pacing, as side quest drag on interminably, and over-wrought dialogue are par for the course. So, it is what it is and that’s ok. But I only somewhat enjoyed it.

Review of The Good Luck Girls, by Charlotte Nicole Davis

I purchased a copy of Charlotte Nicole DavisThe Good Luck Girls.

Description from Goodreads:

Aster, the protector
Violet, the favorite
Tansy, the medic
Mallow, the fighter
Clementine, the catalyst


The country of Arketta calls them Good Luck Girls–they know their luck is anything but. Sold to a “welcome house” as children and branded with cursed markings. Trapped in a life they would never have chosen.

When Clementine accidentally murders a man, the girls risk a dangerous escape and harrowing journey to find freedom, justice, and revenge in a country that wants them to have none of those things. Pursued by Arketta’s most vicious and powerful forces, both human and inhuman, their only hope lies in a bedtime story passed from one Good Luck Girl to another, a story that only the youngest or most desperate would ever believe.

It’s going to take more than luck for them all to survive.


I should not have read this book. It’s good. The writing is imminently readable. The characters are distinct and meaningful. The editing is clean. Just look at that cover; it’s to die for. The use of having/not having a shadow as a metaphor for racism based on skin color works effectively. The world is interesting. This is a good book.

But the main characters are teenaged girls indentured for life to a brothel (starting in young childhood) and a large part of the plot is the effects of their trauma and PTSD. (There basically aren’t ANY non-victimized females in the book. Only Good Luck Girls, evil men, and a very few decent men.) And while I understand intersectionality and how important it is to face the realities of abuse in people’s lives I assiduously avoid it in the books I read for entertainment. (It’s just become a little too triggering for me in recent years.) So, despite how much I could appreciate about this book (and there is so much), I had to grit my teeth and force myself to keep reading because the subject matter is one I try not to touch in fun books. (I guess I need the distance of academia because I do read about such things to educate myself.)

My biggest critique would be that meeting up with Zee, who seems overly knowledgeable and capable, and doggedly loyal, seemed a little too convenient for the plot. And the lack of women in the world was notable. This is a book about women as victims and men as perpetrators (and about racism) but the lack of other women to flesh it all out both made it feel unreal and, I thought, showed a male lens that is too common in literature. Women exist to be victims and don’t seem to exist outside that role. Almost none were seen passing on the street, or in a saloon, through a show window, etc. The world was basically all men and the Good Luck Girls. That’s it.

All in all, I’m torn. I recognize it’s a good book but I did not enjoy reading it.