Tag Archives: kensington Publishing

the heretic royal banner

Book Review: The Heretic Royal, by G.A. Aiken

It’s been two and a half years since I read the first two books in The Scarred Earth Saga. You can go here to read the reviews. While all of the series’ details weren’t immediately available in my mind, I did remember that I’d really enjoyed The Blacksmith Queen and The Princess Knight, which made winning a copy of The Heretic Royal through Goodreads especially exciting.

the heretic royal cover
Gods save the queen!

Ainsley Farmerson has always planned to break free of the family business—and the family drama. But what was once farming, smithworking, and bickering over the dinner table has turned into open warfare between sisters. Sides have been taken, lives are on the line, and Ainsley has no doubt which sister must be queen. She’ll do whatever is necessary to take down the soulless Beatrix. Even if that means joining forces with angry battle nuns, irritating monks, and overbearing centaurs.

Gruffyn of the Torn Moon Clan has no time for human beings. And yet . . . there is something about the uncontrollable princess that he can’t ignore. Maybe it’s the way her eldest sisters underestimate her. Or her bravery facing down dragons and mad queens from distant lands. Whatever the reason, Gruff is willing to fight by this human’s side. Not only for the entertainment value, but because she’s right. Beatrix must never be queen. So whatever he has to do, whoever he has to destroy, Gruff will battle beside Ainsley. Fast. Hard. And with absolutely no mercy . . .

my review

I don’t use star-rating here on the blog. But I often do when I cross-post to Goodreads. When I look at this series, I see that I gave The Blacksmith Queen a 5* rating, The Princess Knight a 4* rating, and I’ll give The Heretic Royal a 3* rating. I loved book one, but have liked each subsequent book less and less. The reason was especially apparent here in The Heretic Royal.

These books are fun. The characters are zany. The world is full of fantasy creatures. The writing is sharp and witty. But the series has also always been chaotic. That’s part of the fun. But as the series progresses, the balance between utter chaos and substantive plot is faltering. Here in this third book, there is almost no plot progression at all. Aiken leans very heavily on the chaotic good of the characters and brings in a whole host of new crazy characters. And here is where my main problem arises.

All these characters? They’re the characters from her Dragon Kin series. So, here, three books into a series, we suddenly have a series mash-up. These new characters from an old series took up most of this book, and, as a result, the characters from this series were cast in shadow. We the heretic royalgot little more than surface interactions with any of them.

That’s without even considering how it felt to come to this book as someone who has not read Dragon Kin (which I think is 9 books and several novellas long), didn’t know or care about the characters, and didn’t know to expect this sudden influx of new, unrelated characters.

To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I still like the author and am hoping the series balances out because I want to reclaim that feeling from book one.


Other Reviews:

REVIEW: The Heretic Royal by G. A. Aiken

Review: The Heretic Royal by G.A. Aiken

 

one poison pie lynn cahoon

Book Review: One Poison Pie, by Lynn Cahoon

I borrowed a copy of Lynn Cahoon‘s One Poison Pie from the local library.

one poison pie lynn cahoon

What’s a kitchen witch to do when her almost-fiancé leaves her suddenly single and unemployed? For Mia Malone, the answer’s simple: move to her grandmother’s quirky Idaho hometown, where magic is an open secret and witches and warlocks are (mostly) welcome. With a new gourmet dinner delivery business—and a touch of magic in her recipes—Mia’s hopes are high. Even when her ex’s little sister, Christina, arrives looking for a place to stay, Mia takes it in stride.

But her first catering job takes a distasteful turn when her client’s body is found, stabbed and stuffed under the head table. Mia’s shocked to learn that she’s a suspect—and even more so when she realizes she’s next on a killer’s list. With Christina, along with Mia’s meddling grandma, in the mix, she’ll have to find out which of the town’s eccentric residents has an appetite for murder…before this fresh start comes to a sticky end. . .

my review

I think this has a really fun cover and the story is really sweet. But I was super disappointed by how little magic is actually in it (practically none), the romance is basically instant relationship (so no satisfying getting to know one another or romantic tension AT ALL), and turns out you really need to have read the prequel that I didn’t even know existed when I picked the book up at the library. Ok, you don’t need to. I was able to follow the plot, but there was a lot I felt I was missing, having not read it, and that always effects my enjoyment of a book. (I strongly feel book one of a series is where you should be able to pick up a series, without feeling like you’re missing anything. If you can’t the numbering needs to be changed, IMO.) But the writing is clear and editing clean. I’d read another Cahoon book.

one poison pie

 

Book Reviews: 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 …

Review:

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:

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN

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 . . .

Review:

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.