Review: The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

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 received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

The First Girl Child will be available August 20, 2019. 

I hardly know where to begin with this review. I’m going with a trusty list.

*The the book is set in a fantasy world within a Norse mythology framework. I will show my ignorance on the subject and admit I thought Thor was just a comic book character. But he and Loki and several others are mentioned throughout this story, though they aren’t main characters or anything.

*I found the synopsis just a little misleading. While Bayr and Alba are definitely main characters, they feel like supporting characters until the last quarter of the book. The story follows them from birth to adulthood, with much of book taking place while they are still children. I don’t want to diminish their importance, but I just expected for them to play much bigger roles. Dagmar and Ghost felt a lot more like lead characters and they aren’t even mentioned in the synopsis.

*There is some fabulous character development. Harmon takes her time telling the story and really focuses in on the characters and she did a good job of it. I definitely felt a connection to many of them. I loved sweet Bayr and tragic, tragic Dagmar.

*Though there was great characterization, I felt like it was a little at the expense of the pace. Though I was enjoying the story, I felt like it took me a lot longer to get through the book than it normally would a book of a similar size. Harmon’s writing is as beautiful as ever, but it also felt a little exhausting at times. I felt like it could have been edited down a bit more.

*I liked the slight parallel between Bayr and Moses from the Bible. Speaking of the Bible, though, it is mentioned that a leader from Saylok’s past spent some time among Christians and liked them so much he decided to make Jesus one of the gods they worship in Saylok. Which kind of defies the point of Christianity.

Overall, I enjoyed The First Girl Child. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but that turned out to be ok. Though it was a little longer and slower than it needed to be, I loved the characters a lot, especially Dagmar and Bayr. I think fans of Harmon’s other fantasy novels will really enjoy this one.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: July 2019

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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Bred by Ginger Scott. Read July 6-8. 3.5 Stars.

I mostly enjoyed this book, though not a lot really seemed to happen. I thought Lily was a likable main character and I shipped the romance. There were several characters, though, that I wished we got more development on. Henry and Elena, particularly. I expected Elena to be a little more horrible than what she has. She has a reason for her behavior, but she was never much more than a caricature of a villain. I also would have liked to see Lily’s relationship with her guardians explored a little more. I also didn’t really love the end. It felt kind of anticlimactic and I expected a bigger payout. Maybe if the epilogue was set several years in the future instead? I must admit that I am a bad book worm and have never read Great Expectations, the story this book is inspired by, so I can’t say how close it is to the source material. I’m giving it an extra half star, though, because it was a pretty addictive read, even if slow paced.

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The Friend Zone by Sariah Wilson. Read June 30 – July 13. 3 Stars. 

Kind of cheesy, but sweet and cute. The characters were likable enough. Another book that was decent for a KU pick, but one I’m glad I didn’t spend money on.

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The Stories You Tell (Roxane Weary #3) by Kristen Lepionka. Read July 12-13. 4 Stars. 

I can always count on this series to deliver some addictive entertainment. I enjoyed this a lot, but after reading a few 5-star rave reviews, I hyped myself up for it a lot and was left a tiny bit disappointed. It was still very enjoyable, just not quite as amazing as I was hoping for. Anyways, the mystery was well done, even if the story telling felt a little unfocused at times. I didn’t really guess the ending, so that’s always fun. Some of the characters that were involved in the mystery of the last book show up, but since it’s been a long time since I read it, I couldn’t really remember who they were and there wasn’t really any recap info to remind me. Catherine is still the literal worst and I am Team Tom all the way. The romance aspect definitely took a backseat in this installment, though, and that was fine with me. I also always have to mention that this series is set in Columbus, which makes it extra fun, since I’m from Ohio.

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Maybe This Time by Kasie West. Read July 14. 4 Stars. 

This was probably more like 3.5 stars, but I’m bumping it up to 4 because it was a fast, easy read I finished in a day and it got a lot better for me towards the end. Sophie was really rude for the majority of the book and I had a hard time always liking her. I wish she would’ve become a little more self aware sooner. I liked how the story was broken up by major events throughout the year, but I don’t think it was always used very effectively. I felt like it was kind of just the same thing over and over again each time with Sophie and Andrew sniping at each other to hide their attraction and very little forward motion. I feel like their relationship should have progressed a little more each time, but it took about halfway through the book for the plot to advance at all. I felt like a lot more should’ve happened in the story for how long it was. However, once things started to develop a little more in their relationship and Sophie started to become more aware of herself and those around her, I really enjoyed it. I just wish more of the book was like that. I also could’ve used an epilogue. But, overall, it was another enjoyable Kasie West book and I look forward to her next one.

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The Prenup by Lauren Layne. Read July 19-20. 4 Stars.

I loved this. It did take me a little while to get into it, though. The story is told completely from Charlotte’s first person POV and I was expecting (hoping) to also get Colin’s point of view. However, once the story hooked me, I didn’t want to put it down and I completely got on board the sole POV. Both Charlotte and Colin were likable and I shipped them hard. A big thanks to Deanna for lending me her copy to read!

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The First Mistake by Sandie Jones. Read July 25-27. 3 Stars.

Pretty entertaining at times, but a little underwhelming overall. The twists and turns weren’t hard to figure out and it was a little frustrating how long it took Alice to put things together. Speaking of Alice, she reminded me a lot of the main character from this author’s previous book and that is not a favorable comparison. I was so annoyed by how she reacted to things. I didn’t care for the other characters, either. Part 2 of the book, from Beth’s POV, was very slow and I skimmed a lot. However, the first part and then towards the end was faster paced and much more entertaining. I think people who don’t read a lot of this genre might enjoy this, but it will be a little ho-hum for those that are more familiar with this type of story.

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Shamed (Kate Burkholder #11) by Linda Castillo. Read July 27-28. 4 Stars. 

Another great installment in the Kate Burkholder series. I thought the mystery was well done and the story was really well paced. I liked seeing Tomasetti play a bigger part in the case than he has been in the last few books, though I will always want to see more of him. I love this series and can’t wait for the next book!

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Once and for All by Sarah Dessen. Read July 28-30. 3.5 Stars. 

This was my first Dessen book. I wasn’t exactly blown away like I expected, but I did enjoy it. I thought the character development was really well done. I liked pretty much all the characters, with the exception of Jilly who never really lived up to the Great Friend raving Louna often said about her. Some of Ambrose’s actions annoyed me, but overall I liked him and I shipped him with Louna. I liked the wedding planning backdrop, as well. 

Where the book really didn’t work for me was with Ethan. SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS* So it doesn’t take long to figure out that Ethan died and how he died. Because of that, I never got that invested his and Louna’s story. I also thought their relationship was ridiculous. They have “one epic night” together and then the rest of their short relationship is phone calls and texts. On the night that they meet Louna loses her virginity and before they say goodbye they declare their love for each other. *Insert eye roll emoji here* What made this even more ridiculous is that Jilly ends up having “one epic night” of her own with a new guy and while Louna is happy for her, she mentions several times that it happened really fast. You think, Louna?

*****Re-Read*****

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Let’s Get Textual by Teagan Hunter. I enjoyed this just as much the second time around.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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Where Do I Begin? by Elvia Duran – 4 Stars

Love on Lexington Avenue (Central Park Pact #2) by Lauren Layne – 4 Stars

The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon – 4 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Standalone Books That Need a Sequel

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Standalone Books That Need a Sequel.

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1. This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills. I love the friend group in this so much and would love to see more of them.

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2. Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. I felt the ending to this was kind of abrupt and left things open for a sequel, but I haven’t heard anything about there being one.

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3. Making Faces by Amy Harmon. I would love to check in with Ambrose and Fern.

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4. P.S. I Like You by Kasie West. I would love sequels to most of West’s books, but this one is probably my favorite of hers.

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5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. This is one of my all-time favorite books and I could definitely see there being more stories for these characters.

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6. Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer. I really felt the ending left things open enough for a sequel. I even felt like Kemmerer hinted there could be more books, but nothing ever happened.

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7. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I loved this book and would love to see more of Levi and Cath. The small cameo in Landline was not enough.

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8. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I was trying to stick to only one book per author on here, but old school Rainbow Rowell wrote some of my favorite books. I absolutely adore Attachments and have been hoping for years that there would be a sequel.

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9. Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg. I love this book and these characters so much and would love to see Ethan and Emme all grown up. I will never understand how this book doesn’t have a bigger following.

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10. My Lady Jane by The Lady Janies. Technically, this is the first book in a series about famous Janes, but I would love to see another book with the characters from this story instead.

What standalones would you like a sequel to?

Reviewing the Unreviewed: February 2019

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne. Read February 1-2. 3 Stars. 

After reading a lot of mixed reviews, I went into this one cautiously and I think that helped. I mostly enjoyed it, but I did have some issues with it. I felt like Thorne tried just a little too hard to make Darcy the complete opposite of nice, people-pleasing Lucy from The Hating Game. She was a little too much sometimes. I did like the general storyline of the romance between childhood friends and Darcy’s relationship with her twin brother. I just felt like so much of the story was overtaken with Darcy’s pervy thoughts about Tom. I thought it really cheapened the love story. Overall, I liked the beginning and the end, but most of the middle I just kind of got through. I have to say, though, my favorite part of the whole thing was that there was bonus content that included an epilogue for The Hating Game. This may not be one I would want to read again, but I’d still be interested in more from Thorne in the future.

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The Foxe & the Hound by R.S. Grey. Read January 31 – February 4. 3 Stars

This one was just ok for me. I thought it was going to be a fake relationship story, but that plot line only lasts about a chapter, which was disappointing to me. I liked the characters and the dog and there were some funny moments, but overall I don’t think this is one that will leave any kind of lasting impression for me.

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Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West. Read February 5-6. 4 Stars. 

Another enjoyable Kasie West book. I liked the movie set atmosphere and the characters and the romance was cute. The movie scenes left a little to be desired for me, though. If you like West’s other books, you’ll like this one, too.

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Text Me Baby One More Time (Text #4) by Teagan Hunter. Read February 10-11. 3.5 Stars. 

Another enjoyable book in the Text series. Hunter’s writing is really addictive which makes these pretty fast reads. When the main characters of this book appeared in previous books I didn’t really care for either of them at all, so I was happy that I did like them here. I liked their texting past and the whole hate-to-love thing. This series is a little more full-on Romance Novel then I usually read and I feel like as the series goes on they keep getting more explicit, which I don’t love, but it was still a fun read overall.

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King of the Friend Zone (Power of the Matchmaker) by Sheralyn Pratt. Read February 17-20. 3 Stars. 

This was just ok for me. Esme kind of infuriated me about half the time. I liked Hunter a little more, but he was a bit of a hothead, so I didn’t love him as much I had hoped for. The whole magic cookie lady thing was a bit odd. This book has been on my TBR for quite a while, so I’m glad I read it, but it’s not one I would be interested in reading again.

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Dizzy by Nyrae Dawn and Jolene Perry. Read February 20-23. 3 Stars.

Parts of this were cute, but for the most part a whole lot of nothing happened. I also found the whole plot surrounding the couple getting married odd. They’re in college (sophomores or juniors, I can’t remember) and get engaged and then decide to take a semester off to plan the wedding and get married. And all the parents are just fine with it. And there’s no talk about where they’ll live or how they’ll support themselves – although the guy’s family is super rich, so I guess he has a trust fund to take care of them? It just seemed really irresponsible to me. I think it would have made more sense if they had just graduated college. Anyways, this was another book that’s been on my TBR for a long time and I’m glad to get it off the list. 

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A Curse so Dark and Lonely (A Curse so Dark and Lonely #1) by Brigid Kemmerer. Read February 25-27. 3.5 Stars

I enjoyed this one. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairytales, so I’m always up for a good re-telling and I thought this did a decent job of that. There were times it felt really reminiscent of A court of Thorns and Roses, but I ultimately thought this one was better written. I liked Rhen and Grey a lot. I completely despised Harper for about the first half of the book, though. I really have a hard time connecting with characters that are so antagonistic and needlessly reckless. She eventually got a little better for me. I did like the romance, though it wasn’t as prevalent as I would have expected. I also didn’t realize this is a series and am kind of disappointed by that. With just a couple of small changes, this could have very easily been a standalone and I would have been happy with it. I’ll read the next book, but it’s not going to make my “most anticipated” list or anything.

*****Re-Reads*****

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Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. I could not concentrate on anything, so I decided to re-read something so I could skim through it, but then I got invested and there was no skimming and I basically read this book in one sitting. Loved it just as much as the first time around.

*****DNF*****

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What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon. DNF-ed at 47%. Though I have definitely enjoyed both from time to time, I’m not currently much of a fan of Historical Fiction or Fantasy. I have never really cared for time-traveling plots in particular. However, I’m a big fan of Amy Harmon and that’s why I picked up this book. Unfortunately, it was not enough for me to love it. I had a really hard time getting into the story and I decided to set it down for awhile and I read a couple of other books. I finally tried picking this up again and still couldn’t get into it. It was at 47% that I decided to stop reading and then I just kind of skimmed to the end. I didn’t really find the end very satisfying (mostly due to my time-traveling plotline feelings) so I’m glad I decided to call it when I did. However, everyone else I know has loved it and I wish Harmon nothing but the best. I’ll still definitely be picking up more books from her in the future.

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Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner. DNF at 23%. I just couldn’t get into this book at all. I think it will have a very specific audience that will love it, but I am not that audience. I found it kind of depressing and quirky and other than the very pretty cover, I don’t really have anything positive to say about it and I really couldn’t make myself read anymore. I found Sam incredibly off-putting. I found the writing in her chapters especially were just not my style.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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Passion on Park Avenue (Central Park Pact #1) by Lauren Layne – 3 Stars

Fumbled (Playbook #2) by Alexa Martin – 4 Stars

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin – 3 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2019

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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Slow Dance in Purgatory (Purgatory #1) by Amy Harmon. Read December 29 – January 2. 3 Stars.

This was not my favorite Harmon book. I liked the characters and the premise was interesting enough, I just couldn’t really get into it. I’ll read the next book, but I’m not in a bug hurry to do so.

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Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot #10) by Agatha Christie. Read January 3-5. 4 Stars. 

My first Agatha Christie novel and I will definitely need to read more from her. I really enjoyed the writing style. The mystery was good, the characters were fun, and I was not expecting at all how funny it was. It did drag a little bit here and there for me, but I love how all the mundane details ended up being important as everything was revealed at the end.

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Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Read January 6-10. 3 Stars. 

I think I am just not really a fan of these type of books anymore. I really enjoyed reading about the characters in this, but everything else was so “meh” for me. I didn’t really care that much about the magic or the Wood or the fighting or the ENDLESS description. I was going to give this a lower rating, but I’m bumping it up to three stars because I think this is mostly a case of “it’s me, not you.”

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Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus. Read January 10-12. 4 Stars. 

Though I didn’t like this one quite as much as McManus’ previous book, I still really enjoyed it. I liked the characters and the small town setting. While the very first person I suspected did end up being the killer, I did suspect a couple other options throughout the story and there was one unrelated twist that I hadn’t suspected, so I liked that. This was definitely a fun book and I look forward to whatever this author writes next.

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A Killer’s Mind (Zoe Bentley Mystery #1) by Mike Omer. Read January 12-14. 4 Stars. 

I liked this. I thought it was well-plotted, had likable characters, and was sometimes funny. The writing was pretty good, but there were a few parts here and there where the dialogue felt a little off. However, I enjoyed it all enough to give this four stars and would definitely be interested in reading the next book in the series.

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House of Secrets by Lowell Cauffiel. Read January 14-19. 3 Stars.

This was definitely a hard book to read. I’ve heard mention of the Sexton family a lot over the years, as this all happened close to where I live, but I never really knew the details. It is a horrifying story of abuse, incest, murder, and paranoia. I just felt so awful for the poor kids of this family and everything they were subjected to. As for the book itself, it felt a little disjointed and a lot of the details, especially earlier on, didn’t seem necessary. I don’t actually read a lot of true crime, so I’m not sure if the way a lot of this just seemed like conjecture is normal of the genre.

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Hotshot Doc by R.S. Grey. Read January 21-22. 4 Stars.

Despite a few too graphic scenes, I really enjoyed this book. I had kind of decided this author wasn’t for me, but since I currently have Kindle Unlimited I decided to give her another try. I started one book and took a hard pass after the first chapter and decided I would just try out this one before returning them, but then I couldn’t put it down. I really liked both the main characters and how their relationship developed. I also really loved Bailey’s sister, Josie. I thought the end was a little too rushed, but overall it was cute and addictive and really fed my Contemporary craving.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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On Thin Ice (Juniper Falls #3) by Julie Cross – 4 Stars

Romancing His Rival (Accidentally Yours #3) by Jennifer Shirk – 3.5 Stars

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary – 4 Stars

Top 5 Wednesday: ARCs on the Top of My TBR

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday, hosted by the Goodreads group, is: Top of Your TBR. I’ve adapted it a little bit to ARCs on the Top of my TBR.

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1. What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon. After trying to catch up on all of Harmon’s backlist, I’ve discovered a couple of her books are ones that I don’t really care for, so I’m just a little nervous about this since historical fiction isn’t really my thing anymore. But I do have faith that even if it’s not my favorite Harmon book, it will still be good.

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2. Fumbled (Playbook #2) by Alexa Martin. Intercepted was a surprise hit for me, so even though this book has some tropes that are not my favorite, I’m still very excited to read it.

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3. The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. This book just very recently got on my radar and it sounds right up my alley. I love stories that involve notes/texts/e-mails.

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4. Passion on Park Avenue (Central Park Pact #1) by Lauren Layne. I am always excited to read a Lauren Layne book and I have high hopes for this one. I actually read a review that was complaining that the love scenes were not as graphic as other Layne books have been, but that’s a really big plus in my book and made me even more interested in it.

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5. The Escape Room by Megan Goldin. I’ve seen a lot of hype for this one and I’m really hoping it lives up to expectations.

What books are on the top of your TBR?

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019.

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1. Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus. January 8, 2019.

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2. Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills. January 15, 2019.

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3. 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne, January 29, 2019.

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4. King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. January 29, 2019.

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5. Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West. February 5, 2019.

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6. Huge Deal by Lauren Layne. February 12, 2019.

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7. What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon. March 1, 2019.

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8. Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett. April 16, 2019.

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9. The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth. April 23, 2019.

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10. Fumbled my Alexa Martin. April 23, 2019.

What books are you looking forward to this year?