Review: Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon


A beautiful story about life and love on the Oregon Trail.

Now, I’m not usually one to stay up too late reading. My eyes wanna close around 10:30. But when I read Where the Lost Wander, I couldn’t stop reading. I stayed up til almost 1 am anxiously flipping pages and trying to keep my tears from dropping onto them. I don’t remember the last time I read a book with so much overwhelming obstacles that had me glued to each word.

Life in a wagon train is brutal, both the land and people. But the May family set out with a train for a better life. With everything they own they are determined to make a better life from the one they are leaving behind. They knew it would be hard but they didn’t expect this.

Naomi May is a 19 yr old recent widow who is ready for a new life. She wants a family of her own so she sets out with her parents, and four brothers, for what will be a new beginning. She had no idea that traveling on this trail would change her forever. Nothing could prepare her for all the hardship and death she would surrounded by. But among that was also love.

“I worry sometimes that you will get tired of carrying all of us, John.”

“I would carry you to the ends of the earth.”

John Lowry is a man from two worlds. He’s a half Pawnee and half white man trying to balance between them both. But he had no idea when he was signing up for the trail how his life would change forever.

This story was harrowing and heartbreaking and yet so very inspiring. There were parts that had tears pouring down my face and some wishing I could reach in and hug Naomi. Honestly, the suffering was unfathomable. I don’t think I could’ve been as strong as she was. No matter what what thrown at her, she fought, even when she felt like giving up. If you read From Sand and Ash then this is right up your alley. Another story based on real people. These are types of stories I wish more writers would write. Amy Harmon will always be one of my favorites and I will always recommend her books.

~Melpomene

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Review: Stokehurst series by Lisa Kleypas

In my quest to read as many historical romances as I can, I stumbled upon these two books this week. I’ve never heard of them before so I was excited to have zero preconceived ideas about them. I like finding hidden gems such as these.

The first book, Midnight Angel was interesting. I’m not a fan of huge age gap romances, even though they happen a lot in historicals, so that took a bit to work through, but the heroine was quite old in spirit. Her past definitely aged her, so she wasn’t the typical young person that’s a bit flighty and immature. After faking her death she escapes to England under the cover of a governess to a child not much younger than she is. And you can guess what happens next. The father ends up falling for her despite not wanting to grow close to another woman after his wife died.

If you can get past the age thing, which I obviously did, this was a very intriguing story. There’s a bit of magic swirling around, which again, intriguing. I enjoyed watching this timid, yet fierce woman take charge of her life and find her own happy ending.

And that brings us to the next book, Prince of Dreams, which takes place 7 years later. This one is about the daughter and I think this one was my favorite of the two. You kinda knew who it was going to be about at the end of the previous book, so part of me hoped that it would be done in a matter that wouldn’t be too gross. Age gap is one thing, but under age is another. Thankfully it wasn’t like that.

This book had a definite magical feel to it. In fact, dreams were often a glimpse into the past and I was riveted. I couldn’t read fast enough. And by the time I was done, tears was streaming down my face. I can’t explain without spoiling, but this reaction is how I felt when I read books based on real people. Knowing they were real people, had real losses just gets me. This was how Nikolas’ dreams were.

Now about Nikolas. He was definitely NOT perfect. He made horrible choices that I probably wouldn’t forgive, but after those dreams, I can see why he acted the way he did. It’s fiction, so I must move on from it.

This story had a few twists that made it all the more enjoyable and magical. In fact, they were so unexpected I think that’s why I cried a lot. Angst to the max!!

If you’re looking for something different in your historical romances, then I highly recommend you grab these two books. Oldies but goodies.

~Melpomene

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Quick preview: Romanov by Nadine Brandes

I remember watching Anastasia when I was younger and totally getting sucked in. Heck, I watched it last year and still remembered all the songs. The idea of a princess surviving, when her family didn’t, gave me chills. The strength she would have to have. WOW. So when I heard that Nadine Brandes was wrote a story about Anastasia, I HAD to read it. And yet I knew it would be hard to read. I always get choked up at the idea of her family’s assassination. I can’t even imagine how terrified she must’ve been. Ugh.

Romanov was a magical twist of the story of an exiled princess. It tugged at my heart numerous times and it gave me hope. I think I loved it even more because it wasn’t all real, there was a bit a magic woven into the story. I was not expecting that at all. But I’m honestly happy it was there. If this was a 100% true account, I would’ve been crying the whole time.

While the story was a retelling, some parts were very real and mildly graphic. If giving this to a younger teen, give them a little heads up about what really happened. I know my stomach dropped while reading. I was prepared, and yet I wasn’t, for the firing squad scene.

This retelling is now one of my favorites. I look forward to what Nadine gives us next.

You definitely should add Romanov to your TBR!
Release date: May 7, 2019

~Melpomene

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Quick review and giveaway: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Can I just say that I fell in love with the cover before I even read the book? I had no idea what the book was even about when I started reading. I was pleasantly surprised.

Beatriz Perez and her family were forced to leave their country in order to survive. But Beatriz wants nothing more than to bring down Castro and go back home. So she joins the CIA to infiltrate Castro’s inner circle to find a way. She never thought she’d find romance along the way. But she must choose between her heart and her home.

My heart was practically in my stomach the entire time. Many of her decisions could’ve gotten her or her family killed. I was stressing. And I do believe at a point or two, I cried. Not just from emotions, but from the stress as well. She was willing to risk her life and love for her country. I never read Next Year in Havana, so these characters were new to me, but in no way did I enjoy the book any less.

I have quite a few friends who will be receiving this book as a gift this year. Books rich in history like this are some of my favorites. I am definitely bumping up Havana in my TBR and I look forward to reading whatever Chanel brings to us.

~Melpomene

Buy When We Left Cuba https://amzn.to/2D14bGj

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway HERE

Review: The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

Vivid, magical and EPIC!! That was the best way to end this most amazing trilogy. My heart was racing all throughout this entire book.

Vasya is determined to save her country by uniting them and showing them that there is way to be together and allow everyone their own religious freedoms. When we thought she was strong in the previous books, this is nothing compared to those.

She lives up to the prophecy. She makes allies with those who wouldn’t normally work together. As it’s said in the book, she’s a bridge between men and chyerti. The magic is failing as those stop believing in spirits. I loved watching her. She has the power to change things and she does.

No spoilers but this book was probably 10 times as exciting as the first two books. I couldn’t put it down. As I type this out, I’m awaiting Urania’s excited reactions. It’s her influence that gave me the nudge to dive into these books. I owe her.

There is a smidgen more of romance in this one but it’s very much on the back burner. I actually find myself not even looking for it. It’s just a bonus. But love, familial or romantic, is definitely a strong motivator to get things accomplished. But I will say that I’ve had my eye on Morozko since the first book and I’m happy to see him live up to my expectations.

“Love is for those who know the griefs of time, for it goes hand in hand with loss. An eternity, so burdened, would be a torment.”

Let the book hangover begin…

~Melpomene
Buy The Winter of the Witch https://amzn.to/2QksNlT

Quick Review(again): The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Magical, enchanting and fantastical!

I’ve heard lots of people talking about this book since it released last year, especially Urania. And I know it’s already been reviewed, but I just had to shout it’s praises for myself. To be honest, The Bear and the Nightingale didn’t seem like something I’d like, since I mostly read romance, but it was always in the back of my mind. When I decided to start a book club, this book was one of the books I was hoping we’d get to read this winter. So for our December book we chose this. I just finished reading it and I can’t believe I waited so long. Seriously.

“All my life, I have been told to ‘go’ and ‘come’. I am told how I will live, and I am told how I must die. I must be a man’s servant and a mare for his pleasure, or I must hide myself behind walls and surrender my flesh to a cold, silent god. I would walk into the jaws of hell itself, if it were a path of my own choosing. I would rather die tomorrow in the forest than live a hundred years of the life appointed to me.”

That quote pretty much sums up the reason I loved Vasya. She is done waiting and sets out to do something for herself.

I can’t put my finger on why I loved this book. Perhaps it’s the Russian folklore aspect. Or maybe the odd characters. Or it may be that I can tell that there’s more epicness coming and that’s what made it such a page turner. Not sure, but this is definitely in my top 10 of this year. I can’t recommend it enough.

And now I need to read book two. I need to know what happens next!!

~Melpomene

Buy The Bear and the Nightingale https://amzn.to/2L6qBbL