Book Review

ARC Book Review: Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 348 pages
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: April 28th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this epic and haunting love story set on the Oregon Trail, a family and their unlikely protector find their way through peril, uncertainty, and loss.

The Overland Trail, 1853: Naomi May never expected to be widowed at twenty. Eager to leave her grief behind, she sets off with her family for a life out West. On the trail, she forms an instant connection with John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man straddling two worlds and a stranger in both.

But life in a wagon train is fraught with hardship, fear, and death. Even as John and Naomi are drawn to each other, the trials of the journey and their disparate pasts work to keep them apart. John’s heritage gains them safe passage through hostile territory only to come between them as they seek to build a life together.

When a horrific tragedy strikes, decimating Naomi’s family and separating her from John, the promises they made are all they have left. Ripped apart, they can’t turn back, they can’t go on, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make terrible sacrifices to find each other, save each other, and eventually…make peace with who they are.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC. All opinions are my own!

LOVE ON THE TRAIL.

I am in awe of Harmon’s writing and how amazing this love story was. And on the Oregon Trail! What a unique setting y’all. I was incredibly impressed with the flow and build of this book. The writing is beautiful and well-paced. I am reminded with each of her books how much I love this author.

This romance comes off a bit more fast paced than I typically love, but the historical setting and writing really made me fall in love with Naomi and John as they fell in love. Naomi is strong, brave and a widow at 20. Her singular goal is helping her family cross the nation to a hopefully brighter future in California. I enjoyed her personality and mindset. She knew exactly what she wanted and made those wishes known. John was stoic and quiet. The perfect contrast to Naomi. He was searching for a place to belong and found his home with her.

While this is mostly a romance I was enthralled by everything else happening around them. My heart continually leaped and panicked throughout this book because Harmon doesn’t shy away from history. She has clearly well researched this time period to bring this story to life. Naomi and John (+Naomi’s family) definitely do not have it easy and it was hard to pull out all the good things that did happen to them. This was a hard read, especially when you stop to appreciate all the travelers and Native Americans went through as their world began to change through exploration.

It’s difficult to fully express my love for Harmon’s writing and her ability to weave together an ending that always makes me tear up. There’s learning moments, powerful connections, undeniable bonds and a faith in the characters that you can deeply feel. Where the Lost Wander isn’t a sugarcoated romantic tale. It’s raw, poignant, and utterly wonderful in all of its lows and its highs.

I also took a chance to read the Author’s Note at the end and loved it as well. I like to read these (especially for historical fiction) to see what artistic choices the author chose as well as what inspired the story. This one in particular was inspired by some of Harmon’s husband’s ancestors. It really brought home how deeply she felt for these characters (some being based on real people) and how much she wanted to write a story involving them.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, make outs, a few very little detail fade out scenes
  • Violence: physical, guns, arrows
  • Trigger warnings: some racist remarks about Native Americans, sexual assault, rape (ch. 17 – a few paragraphs with little detail)

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: My Auto-Buy Authors

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

Lots of authors to choose from today! I love seeing everyone’s answers because they’re SO MANY AUTHORS out there. It’s great to look into new authors and support as many as possible. I’m also counting authors I read from the library because I know that sometimes that is a version of “auto-buy” and it’s how I can read more too. Requesting a purchase from your library is a great option!

These are a handful of some of my favorite authors (with a book or two I love by them):

Sarah J. Maas


Amy Harmon


Brandon Sanderson


Leigh Bardugo


Danielle L. Jensen


Colleen Hoover


Tahereh Mafi


Tricia Levenseller


Mary E. Pearson


Brené Brown   

Are any of these authors on your auto-buy list? What’s an author not on mine that’s on yours? Lets talk in the comments!

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Characters from 2019

This week for Top Ten Tuesday is a Character Freebie!

I wanted to highlight my favorite characters from this year! My only rule is that is has to be new characters. I will only choose characters that are new to me in 2019 (so no series that I am continuing). I hope to highlight some new books you may not have read yet!

Though as I made this list I realized I loved too many from one book so I did combine as necessary. WHOOPS.

I will link as many reviews as I have!

SpensaSkyward (Skyward #1) by Brandon Sanderson

If could name all of the things I love about Spensa we would be here all day. She is strong, tenacious, unwilling to back down, but is also fiercely loyal and loving to those around her. This book was AMAZING and I literally have no chill about reading Starsight this fall.


Alyssa ana’Raisa – Shattered Realms Series by Cinda Williams Chima

Flamecaster || Shadowcaster || Stormcaster || Deathcaster

When Lyssa walked onto the scene in book two of this fabulous series I was DONE. I love a warrior heart that I want to cheer on through every facet of a book.


Persephone, Suri, Brin, Moya & Arion – The Legends of the First Empire Series by Michael J. Sullivan

Age of Myth || Age of Swords (RTC – 5 stars)

I am obsessed with these ladies y’all. I’ve only read the first two books (Age of Myth & Age of Swords) because I’m waiting for my library copy of Age of War (book three of six). And I am loving this so much. These women hold their own and are bright and cunning. If you’re a fantasy love (especially like Sanderson) check out these!


Alex & Sage – The Traitor’s Circle by Erin Beaty

The Traitor’s Kiss || The Traitor’s Ruin || The Traitor’s Kingdom (releases TODAY!!)

One of my latest OTP’s (I have many). I love these two even when their lack of communication in book two had me anxious and shouting at my book. STILL LOVE. I am so excited to finish out this series Tuesday! I especially love that Alex doesn’t hinder Sage. He trusts and believes she can and will do what she says. Nobody holding her back.


Squad 312 – The Aurora Cycle by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Aurora Rising

I LOVE EVERY MEMBER OF THIS TEAM (especially Kal, of course) . This book was absolutely amazing and I love this writing duo.


Jackaby – Jackaby Series by William Ritter

Jackaby || Beastly Bones (RTC – 4 stars)

Jackaby is so clever! His antics actually make me laugh out loud. I love his dynamic with his work partner Abigail Rook. I need to finish this series stat.


Lara & Aren – The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

MY NEW FAVORITE NEW ADULT FANTASY ROMANCE.

Take note and look for my review on July 15th. I loved every single piece of this book and can gush for hours. I need more people to read this to discuss!


Bayr – The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon

I love anything Amy Harmon writes, this was no exception and I absolutely fell in love with Bayr. You watch him grow up in the book and UGH if it doesn’t pull at all the heart strings. All I wanted while reading was for him to get his happy ending.


Vhalla & Aldrik – Air Awakens by Elise Kova

RTC – 4 stars

I’ve only read the first book (and part of the second), but you know when you read a book and know in your bookish soul that you will love these characters? This is how I feel about them.


Percy & Annabeth – Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief (RTC – 5 stars) || The Sea of Monsters (RTC – 4 stars)

Another series I’ve only started (and am only getting to now – I KNOW I KNOW), but I am loving these two! I feel like I’ve seen some spoiler-y stuff that they’re endgame? I SURE HOPE SO. But I also love where their friendship is and how much they care and respect one another.

Have you read any of these books? What is on of your favorite new to you characters of 2019? Lets talk in the comments!

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Adult fantasy romance
Length: 391 pages
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: 47North
Expected Release Date: August 20th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From ​the New York Times bestselling author comes a breathtaking fantasy of a cursed kingdom, warring clans, and unexpected salvation.

Bayr of Saylok, bastard son of a powerful and jealous chieftain, is haunted by the curse once leveled by his dying mother. Bartered, abandoned, and rarely loved, she plagued the land with her words: From this day forward, there will be no daughters in Saylok.

Raised among the Keepers at Temple Hill, Bayr is gifted with inhuman strength. But he’s also blessed with an all-too-human heart that beats with one purpose: to protect Alba, the first girl child born in nearly two decades and the salvation for a country at risk.

Now the fate of Saylok lies with Alba and Bayr, whose bond grows deeper with every whisper of coming chaos. Charged with battling the enemies of their people, both within and without, Bayr is fueled further by the love of a girl who has defied the scourge of Saylok.

What Bayr and Alba don’t know is that they each threaten the king, a greedy man who built his throne on lies, murder, and betrayal. There is only one way to defend their land from the corruption that has overtaken it. By breaking the curse, they could defeat the king…but they could also destroy themselves.

I’M STILL STUNNED.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, 47North, for the e-ARC and opportunity or read The First Girl Child. All opinions are my own.

I’m sitting here trying to write this review, but I’m not even sure where to start. I absolutely love everything Amy Harmon writes. And this was no exception. TFGC was different from her usual books (generally contemporary, she does have 2 that are fantasy). It only goes to show she can write, regardless of the genre. AND I AM HERE FOR ALL OF IT.

One of the big themes I noticed was about mother’s. And all different types too. Ones who were unloved and unwanted, had their babies taken from them, ached to have a child, and more. This personally resonated with me (because I am a Mom) and struck chord after chord of the fierce love and protection mother’s have for their babes.

A lot was also focused on the true need and affect women have on the world. We are all so unique and divinely inspired and have immense amounts of talent to give to the world in various forms. It was interesting to feel what it would be like if girls did stop being born. And what an awful place that would be.

BAYR. I so deeply love this character. This book is around 400 pages and it felt long because of the intense connection that was built watching Bayr from birth to growing into a man. As he learns to speak it’s noticed that he has a stutter. The way Harmon uses his weakness as a strength was everything. There were some allegories woven in that were stunning. I cheered Bayr on in every way possible. Watching his relationship with Alba had me staring at my book contemplating what gods I was going to have to pray to for them to get a happy ending. This was a relationship built out of pure childhood love. It was so achingly sweet and precious and beautiful.

I loved so many of these side characters too. Dagmar, Ivo, Ghost, The Keepers, Dred, seriously, everyone. Dagmar was the best POV to watch Bayr grow up and his heart-shattering relationship with Ghost will bring you to your knees. It was tender and built on so many things they both needed. I loved Dred (Dagmar’s Dad, Bay’s Grandfather) because his immediate acceptance of his grandson has me feelings all the feels. I enjoyed every connection I built with these characters.

Amy Harmon is one of my favorite authors for a reason. Her ability to bring out these characters to life and create magnificent worlds filled with heartbreak and hope always leave me breathless.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult fantasy romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses to make-outs, mentions of wanting to lie with another, some vague mentions of having done so, but not descriptive
  • Violence: knives, murder, battle
  • Trigger warnings: childbirth resulting in mother’s death, suicidal thoughts, someone with a disability being referred to as an idiot and bullied

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