COVER REVEAL: The Queen and the Cure by Amy Harmon

This story is one of my most anticipated reads of 2017! Not only am I in love with this cover (props to Hang Le!), but the blurb as well. I cannot wait for more from this brilliant world and author.

The Bird and the Sword Chronicles Book Two

Release Date: May 9, 2017

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♦BLURB♦

There will be a battle, and you will need to protect your heart.

Kjell of Jeru had always known who he was. He’d never envied his brother or wanted to be king. He was the bastard son of the late King Zoltev and a servant girl, and the ignominy of his birth had never bothered him.

But there is more to a man than his parentage. More to a man than his blade, his size, or his skills, and all that Kjell once knew has shifted and changed. He is no longer simply Kjell of Jeru, a warrior defending the crown. Now he is a healer, one of the Gifted, and a man completely at odds with his power.

Called upon to rid the country of the last vestiges of the Volgar, Kjell stumbles upon a woman who has troubling glimpses of the future and no memory of the past. Armed with his unwanted gift and haunted by regret, Kjell becomes a reluctant savior, beset by old enemies and new expectations. With the woman by his side, Kjell embarks upon a journey where the greatest test may be finding the man she believes him to be.

 

♦SERIES♦

One of my Top Favorites of 2016

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The Bird and the Sword Chronicles Book One

Purchase: Kindle | Paperback

My 6-Star Review

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

Amy Harmon is a Wall Street JournalUSA Today, and New York Times Bestselling author. Amy knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Her books are now being published in fifteen different languages, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Levan, Utah.

Amy Harmon has written eleven novels — the USA Today Bestsellers, The Bird and The Sword, Making Faces and Running Barefoot, as well as From Sand and Ash, The Law of Moses, The Song of David, Infinity + One, and the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue. Her recent release, The Bird and the Sword, is a Goodreads Best Fantasy of 2016 finalist.

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♦FULL JACKET♦

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FAVORITES OF 2016

2016Fave Banner

What a year 2016 was, right? So many good books by both authors we love and new-to-us authors. I had previously given my half-year report, but I’ll go ahead and put them first and add on my new ones after. These are in no particular order (imagine the horror of ranking that?!):

12 - Love in the LightLove in the Light is the second book in the Hearts in Darkness Duet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read Hearts in Darkness, and when I heard that Laura was going to give Caden and Makenna another book I was jumping up and down. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. I cried so many times while reading it, and it literally felt like there hadn’t been years between the first book being published and this book being released. It’s an incredibly emotional journey for both characters, what with Caden suffering from PTSD, and I absolutely loved it. Also, hats off to Laura for portraying PTSD so well. This was not a gratuitous story (in order to resurrect an old book) but one where more to their story needed to be told.
My Review
•Love in the Light: Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | Kobo | B&N
•Hearts in Darkness: Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | Kobo | Nook

12 - Make Me SinMake Me Sin is the second, interconnected standalone in J.T. Geissinger’s Bad Habit series. Let me preface this by saying that you will both love and hate me while reading this book. I sobbed and raged while I read it. I begged my best friend to read it and received so many angry texts from her (which made me gleeful, I’ll admit). Make Me Sin is incredibly angst-y, emotional, and sexy. AJ…well, AJ is everything. He’s a scarred, broody drummer for Bad Habit, and he and Chloe HATE each other. But you know what’s directly under hate? Lust. There is so much hateful lust in this story that I choked on it. It was amazing in every way. It is filled with so many elements that will rock your world. Seriously. Read it.
My Review
•Make Me Sin: Amazon
•Sweet as Sin (Bk 1): Amazon

SebringSebring is the finale to Kristen Ashley’s Unfinished Heroes series and features Nick Sebring, the somewhat ‘villian’ from the first four books. He’s the ‘bad’ Sebring brother. And if anyone can redeem a darker character, it’s KA. I knew that she’d take me on a ride that I wouldn’t be able to stop, and I was not wrong. She redeemed him in the absolute best way. And Olivia…KA created a robust female character that straddled that same line between good and bad that Nick did. PLUS, that epilogue, man. KA always gets me on the damn epilogues and this one had me sobbing for the loss of letting these characters go, and for the beauty and love of Nick and Olivia. This is a kinkier, darker series from KA, and I loved each one.
My Review
•Sebring: Amazon
Knight – Creed – Raid – Deacon

collared-williams-ebook-2Collared was a uniquely captivating story that broke my heart. This is more than a childhood love story. This is a story about pain, past, healing, strength, and heart. It’s about a girl named Jade, who was kidnapped and held captive for 10 years, and the pain and suffering she experiences trying to somehow re-acclimate to who she’s supposed to be and somehow meld that into who she is now because of what she’s suffered. It’s painful but it’s also really beautiful. Nicole pens it so masterfully that I was awed beyond belief while reading; feeling as if I were her, and wanting so desperately for her to be happy. The love story is the tasty icing and it will make your heart swell.
My Review
•Collared: Amazon US ⊥ Amazon UK ⊥ Amazon CA ⊥ B&N ⊥ iBooks ⊥ Kobo
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18 - BountyBounty is the sixth interconnected standalone in Kristen Ashley’s Colorado Mountain series. The love story between Justice and Deke was poetically beautiful. It had incredible heart and a slow, soft burn between the two leads. KA has always been genius at choosing songs to incorporate with her tales, but because Justice is a song writer/singer, it took the musical elements to another level. The love between Deke and Justice was some of the best-feeling love I’ve read. And getting to see the other couples in the series and how they wrap their arms around everyone they can, involving Justice and making her feel like she’s home was also amazing. I still don’t really have words (as I did in my official review) to explain why this book was so bountiful (←see what I did there ha).
My Review
•Bounty: Amazon
Series

10 - The Midnight SeaThe Midnight Sea by Kat Ross is the first in her Fourth Element series. I have been raving about this fantastical adventure story since I read it. I’m normally pretty skeptical about trying new authors sometimes, but the beautiful cover drew me in right away. Then the blurb fascinated me. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I’m only a page or two in and I’m LOVING it. It’s an epic fantasy of a young girl named Nazafareen who joined the empirical Water Dogs, warriors who battle the evil demons called Druj, after the loss of her sister. There she trains and years later when she reaches the culmination of said training she finally receives her daeva, Darius, who is a demon brought up in the light to battle the Druj. It’s young adult but don’t let that turn you away from this story. It’s romantic, the bond she forms with her daeva, and the journey she takes is filled with harrowing landscapes, and deathly battles, and through it all Nazafareen and Darius grow closer. I have been on pins and needles waiting for the next installment and you will too.
My Review
•The Midnight Sea:  Kindle | Paperback

17 - Too Hot to HandleToo Hot to Handle is the first book in the Romancing the Clarksons series. I love everything Tessa Bailey writes, that’s for sure, but this book held such an amazing cast of characters that I loved it even more. Rita and Jasper come to life so vividly, and the Clarkson family is such a ragtag group of siblings. It was a story of finding onself, where Rita and her siblings were on a journey to come to grips with their pasts and to also find ways to accept themselves. It was incredibly erotic, in the best way, and well written like always. Jasper had such a rawness to him that he will flip anybody’s switch. What was emotional, for me, was the love and hate between the siblings. They were all incredibly poignant and strong characters, and I felt like I knew them all, so now I’m desperate for their books in a very addict-like way. Each Bailey book brings something different, and the element of family and acceptance in this story was strong. I loved it so very much, and like I said, I need the other books now!
My Review
•Purchase: Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | GooglePlay

7 - Unbreak My HeartUnbreak My Heart is the first emotional book in the Heart series by Nicole Jacquelyn. It took me daaayyyys to write my review for this book because it TORE. ME. UP. I love Nicole’s effortless writing and the way that she always pushes boundaries. It wouldn’t be a book by Nicole Jacquelyn if it didn’t. She writes the nitty-gritty and the fucked up things, but she does them well, and in a way where I can always love each character despite what they do. And! She always makes me sob. Shane and Kate’s love story is messy in every way, I mean, how can it not be when her best friend dies, and the man she’s always loved is now widowed, and she’s forced to be around him to take care of the kids. You will either love this book or hate it, but I’m betting you’ll love it if you can handle unconventional love stories. It will rip at your heart and you’ll go back and forth between hating and loving the characters, but in the end you will end up hugging your kindle while you sob tears of frustration and joy. And then you’ll buy the paperback just so you can hug that too. I greatly look forward to the next story in the series as I know it’ll be more of the same amazingness.
My Review
•Purchase: Amazon

14 - Into the LightInto the Light is the first book in Aleatha’s Light series. This was my first Aleatha book (no longer a virgin), and I didn’t realize that there was such a thing as being Aleatha’d. Well, now I know. Because, wow. The twists and turns in this pathological mystery were everywhere. And the way it ended! ARGHHH! I need more. Writing my review was incredibly difficult because I wanted to avoid even the littlest spoiler so I can’t even say much here. But it features two different storylines following Stella Montgomery, an investigative journalist, who has lost all caution when it comes to finding answers on what happened to her best friend, and Sara Adams who awakes blind and amnesia’d into a group of people (read: cult) who call themselves The Light. So much fucked-upped-ness, and yeah. Still have no words. Just read it, basically.
My Review
•Purchase: Kindle | Paperback

Moonshot_FrontCover_Final_LoResMoonshot is a standalone second-chance, coming-of-age, forbidden, angst-filled romance with some suspense sprinkled on top. Tyler, the daughter of a baseball player, and Chase, the star baseball player, had an absolutely addicting love story. Alessandra romanticized the sport of baseball too (I know! She made me love it), which was a brilliant secondary character that added such depth to the story. Yes, I just called baseball a character, and you’ll understand why when you read it. Nothing in this story is gratuitous in any way, and it was written so well that I couldn’t come up for air until I had read the last page. It’s still with me, this story and these characters, and I think it will be for a long time. The beauty of the story really falls in the First Love element, and how both Chase and Tyler were incredibly unique people who had no way to stop the magnet pulling them together. It really hurt so good, and I already want to reread it.
My Review
•Purchase: Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CAAmazon AU | B&NiBooks | Kobo | Paperback

19 - Wicked SexyWicked Sexy is the second novel in the Wicked Games series, and an interconnected standalone. Having first met Tabby and Connor in Wicked Beautiful, I knew that their love story was going to be something altogether special. And that’s because Tabby haaaates Connor. It was smartly written, intriguing, and had off-the-charts sexual tension between a strong-minded hacker heroine and the mercenary man she loved to loathe (loathed to love, too). Tabby is a free-spirited woman who has all the power over herself and has no issue with it. But Connor’s protectiveness and strength just gets under her skin. Neither realize that they are both so much alike until the mutual hatred simmers into delicious sexual tension. And oh my god people, the sexual tension in this book about burned me to a crisp. Hot hot hot, and the story was so damn intriguing. I loved every aspect of it, and I never wanted it to end. Still don’t as a matter of fact, and I really hope we get more of their banter in the next book.
My Review
•Purchase: Kindle | Amazon Paperback | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | GooglePlay

retrieval alyRetrieval is the first in the Retrieval Duet that features two intertwined couples, but features one more heavily in this book. And their story is riddled with the kind of second-chance romance feels that a book can when it features a man doing everything he can to get his wife back. The emotions that Martinez was able to dig deep to flush out made this an unputdownable story. The kind where you have to read it all in one sitting. It was also especially painful because they lost their child and the internal battles they each fight to get back to one another is filled with both beauty and sadness. Martinez created a beautiful story but it was genius too; the way she intersected another couple and had them all oddly connected–I mean, wow. Their story doesn’t end in this book, but rather in the second book.
My Review
•Purchase: Amazon USAmazon UK | iBooksKobo
•Book 2: Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | Kobo

black-swan-affairBlack Swan Affair is a standalone romance that deals with a whopper of a conundrum: the heroine’s love for two brothers. Kreig manages to take us on this journey in such a way that even the reader won’t know which brother she wants her to end up with. The story is woven from past to near-present to present which allows us the ability to fall in love with each character and learn them as they come to us rather than being told what to feel. A story with this sort of conflict inflicts the biggest kind of emotions–it was edgy, sexy, heart-ripping, and emotional. Sometimes irony is a real bitch, and life likes to throw us around in the worst ways, and these characters are swirling in it. This is a must read kind of story that hurts so good.
My Review

•Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | B&N | Kobo

4-four-letter-wordFour Letter Word  is the first in the Dirty Deeds series and my first J. Daniels book. The premise of this story is that they meet because she dials the wrong phone number. And so goes a sweet, slow burn of a romance where these two characters build something from phone friends to something more. I loved how Daniels crafted their relationship to where you could feel them growing closer and falling in love in a situation where neither was looking for it. It was fun…fun! It was light and airy and just sexy in the most not-trying way. And the hero? Man. He was something special; his heart alone is worthy of the best things. An author who can really make me feel the things she writes are always the best kind of stories, and I loved this one.
My Review
•Purchase: Kindle | Audible | Barnes & NobleiBooks | Books-A-Million | Kobo | Google Play | Indiebound

6-hit-the-spotHit the Spot is the second novel in the Dirty Deeds series, and an interconnected standalone about a different couple (whom we met in Four Letter Word). J. Daniels wowed me again with Tori and Jamie’s novel. Loser and Legs. I love a book with two main characters who circle each other and have these sort of hate-to-love-you feelings for one another. And these two had that and then some. I’ll tell you, Jamie was everything. Maybe one of my favorite heroes of any book because he was vulnerable but cocky and sweet yet the best kind of dirty talker. And he fought for her, guys. This book gave me the biggest swoons and some of the best belly dips imaginable. And their bet and refusals to give in just made it even more fun and sexy.
My Review
•Purchase: Kindle | Paperback | AudibleB&N | BAM | Google | iBooks | Indiebound | Kobo
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punk-57Penelope Douglas writes the best New Adult novels and she shone again with Punk 57. The incredibly intense hate lust between Misha and Ryen began from the get-go and created a passionate and erotic novel. Both characters are multi-layered and strong-willed. Imagine how Bully felt and triple it. And knowing the ball that was bound to be dropped just from reading the blurb, and how Douglas manages to capture that angst of love from that age, it was expected to create a lot of feels; I wasn’t fully prepared for exactly how well it was going to do that. I mean, I couldn’t put it down and I couldn’t read fast enough. It was beautiful and sexy and filled with everything that makes a novel worth re-reading.
My Review
•Purchase: Kindle | Paperback
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6 - Too Wild to TameToo Wild to Tame is the second novel in the Romancing the Clarksons series and while it’s about a different couple, it’s recommended to read in order since it’s a series that relies heavily on the siblings of this family and their group journey. Tessa Bailey always grabs me with her words, but one area that she’s an ace at is the sexiness she writes. It’s more than just the basic sexy but more of the poetic kind of erotica that she can create just from a simple touch of hands or the whisper of words between her characters. I wasn’t expecting Aaron to grab me like he did because he blended in to the background pretty well in the first book. This book, though, turned me to ash. I literally burst into flames. Aaron and the intense connection he shared with Grace absolutely stunned me. I felt like an addict turning the pages faster than I could read them. And it was only that scorching because there was a legitimate plot and connection between the two that was on a deep, soulful level. I mean, just thinking of it now makes me want to reread it again.
My Review
•Purchase: Kindle | iBooks

tbtsThe Bird and the Sword is a fantasy romance that blew my mind. Fantasy can be a difficult genre to get into as a reader because world-building is a huge key to getting a reader to believe and connect. Harmon has such poetic writing and thinking that she built a unique world with what felt like little effort. Everything about it felt effortless: how the romance easily came to be; how the characters were palpable and lovable; and how the story grew from a seed to a big, beautiful tree. And even though the main character had no use of words, I felt her words in every action she made. It was an incredibly epic and moving story. I’m still thinking about it weeks later and want to shout about it from the rooftops (if I did a thing such as that). Even if you’re not a reader of fantasy, I highly recommend you give this book a try. You won’t be disappointed.
My Review
•Purchase: Kindle | Paperback

6-going-underGoing Under is the third standalone in the BlackHawk boys series and my favorite of the series so far. I love books that make my heart hurt or my belly dip, and this book did both so well. I loved how Ryan created the dynamic between Sebastian and Alex with more than just a forbidden kind of romance but the kind that created walls. And yet, even with those walls, the pull was incredibly strong and vibrant to the point that the fight wore at them. It made my chest hurt in a multitude of ways. The conflict was so high that it ratcheted up every single emotion and it hurt so, so good.

My Review
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3-rock-chick-awakeningRock Chick Reawakening gave us the story we’ve been waiting years for: Daisy and Marcus. If you’ve read the series, you know how big a part of the gang Daisy is. And her past has always been known but never experienced. The wait for her story was completely worth it. I mean, KA beautifully captured everything that made Daisy who she is and took us on a journey that both hurt and inspired. Tears were shed and the best kind of belly flops were experienced. She managed to intersect it into the Rock Chick series in little genius ways that gave me an incredible kick and boy did it make me smile. The pure beauty and sheer strength of a story she packed into a novella was astounding. But again, it’s KA and that doesn’t surprise me. This story was absolutely everything. (If you haven’t read the series, I don’t really recommend starting here as it does give some spoilers for the Rock Chick series and I think it’ll mean more to the reader to experience Daisy after you’ve loved her from the main series).
My Review
•Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Paperback

There you have it. My top 20 of the year. There are many others I loved so much but had to keep it to a manageable amount so I spent a few weeks hemming and hawing. Tell me your faves of 2016 in the comments below!

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TOP REC & REVIEW: The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

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♦BLURB♦

Swallow, Daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, Daughter. Stay alive.

The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would trade his soul and lose his son to the sky.

My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.

But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?

 

♦6-STAR REVIEW♦

It takes quite a bit for a book to wow me, and THE BIRD AND THE SWORD managed to rip the words straight from me. It is wholly an immersive experience the way that Harmon’s stunning and cajoling writing puts a reader under her spell, and it isn’t something that is experienced often. I haven’t read every Harmon book–yet–but even I can tell when a writer has managed to find their stride and the story that catapults their written word to something more, something spectacular. I hate the word epic but there are situations that warrant it and this one of them; this fantastically epic fantasy is one of the best I’ve ever experienced. And the experience is where it’s centered and I won’t take away from that by giving anything away.

Set in a world with Gifted individuals, who’re both wanted and ridiculed at the same time, our heroine lives a mute life in a land where pawns are an ever-present existence to battle power and greed. Our heroine may be unable to speak, but everything about her is louder than words could ever be. Her strength came from her heart, from her ability to power forward in the most unlikely of situations. Her story is one of pure beauty. I honestly cannot come up with words to fully describe how captivated I was by both her character and the unbelievable story she was given. The world and its players were distinct and profound; each touching the reader as if they were real. Each circling around our heroine, giving her another layer to be discovered. The unlikely but awe-inspiring love story that found her, which consistently warmed me and left me breathless, is something even words cannot describe.

The beauty lies in the romance. Not just of the actual romance (that is something entirely beautiful on its own), but in the words, the world, and the relationships that Harmon wrote so poetically. I didn’t want it to end and yet I couldn’t put it down in order to make it last longer. I could only read faster, more voraciously, because the story was getting richer and more fast-paced with each page turn. THE BIRD AND THE SWORD was an alluring and addictive read that I would recommend to everyone regardless of if fantasy interests them or not. You’ll know in the first page that this is something amazing because that’s all that it took me, and I truly wish I could experience it for the first time again.

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

amy

Amy Harmon is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and New York Times Bestselling author. Amy knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Her books are now being published in thirteen different languages, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Levan, Utah.

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