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On a Book Bender

Dark Witch by Nora Roberts {Jenna’s Review}Dark Witch by Nora Roberts
Series: The Cousins O'Dwyer #1
Published by Penguin
Genres: Fiction, General, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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First in the all-new Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy From #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts comes a trilogy about the land we’re drawn to, the family we learn to cherish, and the people we long to love... With indifferent parents, Iona Sheehan grew up craving devotion and acceptance. From her maternal grandmother, she learned where to find both: a land of lush forests, dazzling lakes, and centuries-old legends. Ireland. County Mayo, to be exact. Where her ancestors’ blood and magic have flowed through generations—and where her destiny awaits. Iona arrives in Ireland with nothing but her Nan’s directions, an unfailingly optimistic attitude, and an innate talent with horses. Not far from the luxurious castle where she is spending a week, she finds her cousins, Branna and Connor O’Dwyer. And since family is family, they invite her into their home and their lives. When Iona lands a job at the local stables, she meets the owner, Boyle McGrath. Cowboy, pirate, wild tribal horsemen, he’s three of her biggest fantasy weaknesses all in one big, bold package. Iona realizes that here she can make a home for herself—and live her life as she wants, even if that means falling head over heels for Boyle. But nothing is as it seems. An ancient evil has wound its way around Iona’s family tree and must be defeated. Family and friends will fight with each other and for each other to keep the promise of hope—and love—alive... Don’t miss the next two books in the Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy Shadow Spell and Blood Magick This Book Is Bound with

Captivating, clever, and well-rounded romantic fantasy

 My Thoughts

On a recent visit to the library, I noticed the audio books for both this book, Dark Witch, and Shadow Spell, the second book in the Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy by Nora Roberts, on the shelf. Knowing the series was on my to-read list, I snatched the cases up and checked them out. And then I started looking at reviews from other readers on Goodreads.


I got nervous and worried if I’d like the series after all. Several reviews were rather negative and spoke about the story being difficult to get into and hard to hold interest to. But, still, the synopsis sounded intriguing to me, so I started listening.

I’ll be honest: I was lukewarm at first. The first few chapters are set in the far past and focus on the Dark Witch, Sorcha, and her three children. Sorcha is a powerful witch and Cabhan, a dark, dangerous, and evil sorcerer, wants her power. He’s willing to try anything to get it – seduction, persuasion, threats, and, finally, murder. I was getting a little antsy with the historical telling and, just when I was ready to abort my reading mission, the time shifted to the present. And then I really started to enjoy the story more and more.

As the chapters carry on, I grew to appreciate the historical perspective provided in the first few chapters and saw how everything was woven together. The importance and significance of the three children of Sorcha and the three cousins – Branna, Connor, and Iona – the animal guides that each have and, later, the connections that are forged to form the magical circle. Each character is rich in detail and well-developed; however, Dark Witch is really Iona’s story. The narration focuses most clearly on her; how she came to Ireland, her past, her power, and her love story with Boyle.

The setting of the book – Ireland, County Mayo – was another source of enjoyment for me. I’ve long had a fascination with all things Irish and would love to visit the country someday. The village setting feels cozy and charming and makes me long to live among the fictional characters that Nora Roberts has created. The story arc was captivating and I can foresee that the coming books – Shadow Spell and Blood Magick – will focus on other pairings in the group of six main characters. I was curious as to how the action of the first book would be resolved, because it felt as though Nora Roberts was leading me to a firm conclusion, but the construction of the thread of continuity was nicely spun; I was quite happy to have the next book to begin listening to right away.

I think one of the best things about Dark Witch was narrator Katherine Kellgren. She was lively and animated, dramatic and spellbinding in her own right. Her reading really enhanced my enjoyment of the story. (So much so that I found myself rather taken aback when I began listening to Shadow Spell and heard a different – and male! – voice reading. I’m still not sure how I feel about him!)


Girl with Book Lungs

1 comment

It’s Axel, Top Off Tuesday

in Top Off Tuesday

It’s that time again — Tuesday! — which means I attempt to brighten your day with half-naked men. Read on at your own risk.  Top Off Tuesdays was started by FeliciaChristi and me.  It is where we (and you!) share the book covers that make us swoon.  Head over to Felicia’s blog to share your Top Off Tuesday link or to see what everyone has posted.

Fate hasn’t always been friends with Isabelle West. In fact, fate has been a downright bitch.

Isabelle has learned the hard way how hard life can be when fate isn’t by your side. It can hand you dreams on silver platters, but it can snatch them right back and hand you nightmares. One thing Isabelle knew for sure fate was consistent with was taking away everything she ever loved.

For the last two years Isabelle has been slowly clearing the clouds of her past. Happiness is finally on the horizon. She has a thriving business, great friends, and her life back. All she has to do is jump over the last hurdle…her ex-husband.
When problems start causing her to fear her new life, and memories that are better left forgotten start rushing to the surface the last thing she needs is a ghost from her past to come knocking on her door.

Axel never thought he would look into the eyes of Isabelle West again, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to now. He’s carried his anger for so long he isn’t sure he can just turn it off, but when he is faced with protecting her and an unexpected desire to have her again, life gets a little more complicated.

How will Axel and Isabelle deal when all their cards are put on the table and everything they thought was true blows up in their faces?
-from Goodreads

When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn {Amanda’s Review}When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn
Series: The Bridgertons #6
Also in this series: It's In His Kiss, The Duke And I, The Viscount Who Loved Me, An Offer From a Gentleman, Romancing Mister Bridgerton
Genres: Historical, Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Add to Goodreads
In every life there is a turning point.

A moment so tremendous, so sharp and breathtaking, that one knows one's life will never be the same. For Michael Stirling, London's most infamous rake, that moment came the first time he laid eyes on Francesca Bridgerton.

After a lifetime of chasing women, of smiling slyly as they chased him, of allowing himself to be caught but never permitting his heart to become engaged, he took one look at Francesca Bridgerton and fell so fast and hard into love it was a wonder he managed to remain standing. Unfortunately for Michael, however, Francesca's surname was to remain Bridgerton for only a mere thirty-six hours longer -- the occasion of their meeting was, lamentably, a supper celebrating her imminent wedding to his cousin.

But that was then . . .

Now Michael is the earl and Francesca is free, but still she thinks of him as nothing other than her dear friend and confidant. Michael dares not speak to her of his love . . . until one dangerous night, when she steps innocently into his arms, and passion proves stronger than even the most wicked of secrets . . .

A darker Bridgerton novel—still good.

Thoughts on When He Was Wicked

When He Was Wicked lacks the lighthearted fun of other Julia Quinn novels, but at the same time, it’s to be expected. This is the story of Francesca, how she’s widowed, and how she falls back in love. It deserves a certain amount of gravity, and Julia Quinn delivers.

And when I say “how she’s widowed,” I meant exactly that—the book begins with Francesca married to Michael’s cousin. It’s an odd, uncomfortable situation (as I’m sure it’s meant to be) that I haven’t experienced before in a romance novel.

But at the same time, we get to see John, Francesca’s first husband, and who he is and how he’s important not just to Francesca, but to Michael, too. And that’s important, later on, when both are dealing with a new relationship.

And then there’s the “Michael’s always been in love with Francesca” twist too. Not gonna lie, he spends a good portion of the book loving her from afar that it’s surreal almost when they finally get together. Buuuut. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. More that this book has situations I’m not used to in my romance novels.

Different can be good. And seriously. It’s Julia Quinn. How can you not love Julia Quinn? I’m a little sad my time with the Bridgertons is almost over. Who’s up for a Julia Quinn month?


Blind Date with a Book

in Blind Date with a Book


Here’s a frequent scene at my house:

Me, sitting (or standing) in front of the shelf of books that I have to read. Or, perhaps it’s me staring at the computer screen of my Goodreads to-read page, scrolling aimlessly up and down the 200+ titles. I pick up one book (or click on one title). Interesting, but not what I’m in the mood for right now. I select another . . . eh, too heavy. I want something lighter.

Ten to twelve selections later, I heave a heavy sigh, close my eyes, shoot out my hand (or cursor) and grab the first one my fingers (or mouse) touch and hope for the best. After all, I have the book (or have the book marked as “to-read”) so I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, right?

If this is in any way familiar, you, like me, probably want someone to point you in the right direction . . . set you up, as it were. Well, I’m here to help! If you’re looking for a hot new read, a book in a particular category, or just something you haven’t tried before, let me tempt you to your next read!

This month’s bachelor/ette books are:

Book #1:

  • Parody
  • Epistolary
  • Humor

Book #2:

  • Nonfiction
  • Celebrity
  • Advice

Book #3:

  • Cozy mystery
  • Southern
  • Chick lit

Want to go on a reading date with one of these books? Or, think you’ve met one of these eligible catches already and want to guess as the titles? Here’s what you can do:

  • Leave a comment to request a date. Let me know which bachelor/ette you’d like to spend a little time with and I’ll email you back privately with the title of the book and the author. (NOTE: I’ll only respond via email, so don’t came back to this post looking for my response, okay? Okay!)
  • If you want to hazard a guess at the title of one (or more!) of the books, you can leave a comment to do that, as well. Once again, be sure to let me know which bachelor/ette you think you’ve unmasked. Just to be sure we don’t spoil the fun for other readers/dates, I’ll contact you privately to let you know if your right – or wrong!
  • Finally, do you have a book that you know On a Book Bender readers will love? Leave a comment – something along the lines of Date My Book, Jenna! – and I’ll get in touch to see when we can feature your Blind Date With a Book contender!


Girl with Book Lungs

The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan {Kelly’s Review}The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan
Series: Game On #1
Published by Kristen Callihan
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publicist
Add to Goodreads

I received this book for free from Publicist in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The rules: no kissing on the mouth, no staying the night, no telling anyone, and above all… No falling in love

Anna Jones just wants to finish college and figure out her life. Falling for star quarterback Drew Baylor is certainly not on her to do list. Confident and charming, he lives in the limelight and is way too gorgeous for his own good. If only she could ignore his heated stares and stop thinking about doing hot and dirty things with him. Easy right?

Too bad he’s committed to making her break every rule…

Football has been good to Drew. It’s given him recognition, two National Championships, and the Heisman. But what he really craves is sexy yet prickly Anna Jones. Her cutting humor and blatant disregard for his fame turns him on like nothing else. But there’s one problem: she's shut him down. Completely. That is until a chance encounter leads to the hottest sex of their lives, along with the possibility of something great. Unfortunately, Anna wants it to remain a hook up. Now it’s up to Drew to tempt her with more: more sex, more satisfaction, more time with him. Until she’s truly hooked. It's a good thing Drew knows all about winning.

All’s fair in love and football…Game on

Solid, sexy new adult sports romance!

Thoughts on The Hook Up

Thus far, new adult has been one of those hit or miss genres for me. The books are either OUTSTANDING or they leave me with a vague feeling of dissatisfaction. Like when you really want a hamburger but have to settle for a veggie burger because it’s the only thing remotely burger-shaped in the house. So I went into this book with a touch of trepidation.

NO WORRIES, GUYS! This book gave me everything I needed and then some.

Anna and Drew were just so… cute. She’s fighting to stay away from him and he wants her something fierce. Drew was ridiculously sweet. He saw Anna and his world was turned on its ear. The way she isn’t impressed by what he is gets to him. In a good way. And I love seeing a big man fall hard into love.

On Anna’s end, she’s quick to shoot Drew down, but she has a serious jonesin’ for the man. She also might have a trust issue or two. Once things get physical between them, she does her level best to keep things easy and light. It’s just a hook up, right? Ha. Oh, Anna. It’s so not.

Kristen Callihan did an absolutely phenomenal job of capturing the highs and lows of finding love against a backdrop of college life and college football. If more new adult books were like this, I’d be a hardcore convert. As it is, I’ll have to cross my fingers I find something to compare to this one.

Or I could always go for a reread.

Kelly Loves Books... and you!


Throttle Me, Top Off Tuesday

in Top Off Tuesday

It’s that time again — Tuesday! — which means I attempt to brighten your day with half-naked men. Read on at your own risk.  Top Off Tuesdays was started by FeliciaChristi and me.  It is where we (and you!) share the book covers that make us swoon.  Head over to Felicia’s blog to share your Top Off Tuesday link or to see what everyone has posted.

NO, REALLY. It’s the title!

Suzy’s a control freak and has her life mapped out – work hard, find a man with a stable job, and live happily ever after. She’s content with the status quo, but her plan comes to a screeching halt when he enters her life and turns it upside down.

City gave up on love when his heart was crushed in college, preferring to be the typical bachelor. He spends his nights hopping from one bed to another and his days working at his family tattoo shop, Inked. A chance encounter on a dark road makes him question what he had sworn off forever – a relationship.

A night of passion and lust causes them to question everything. Is City the knight in shining armor to the damsel in distress? Can their relationship survive when a fantasy falls apart and a secret comes out that changes everything?
-from Goodreads

To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn {Amanda’s Review}To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn
Series: The Bridgertons #5
Also in this series: It's In His Kiss, The Duke And I, The Viscount Who Loved Me, An Offer From a Gentleman, Romancing Mister Bridgerton
Genres: Historical, Historical Romance, Regency, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
Add to Goodreads
Sir Phillip knew that Eloise Bridgerton was a spinster, and so he'd proposed, figuring that she'd be homely and unassuming, and more than a little desperate for an offer of marriage. Except . . . she wasn't. The beautiful woman on his doorstep was anything but quiet, and when she stopped talking long enough to close her mouth, all he wanted to do was kiss her . . . and more.

Did he think she was mad? Eloise Bridgerton couldn't marry a man she had never met! But then she started thinking . . . and wondering . . . and before she knew it, she was in a hired carriage in the middle of the night, on her way to meet the man she hoped might be her perfect match. Except . . . he wasn't. Her perfect husband wouldn't be so moody and ill-mannered, and while Phillip was certainly handsome, he was a large brute of a man, rough and rugged, and totally unlike the London gentlemen vying for her hand. But when he smiled . . . and when he kissed her . . . the rest of the world simply fell away, and she couldn't help but wonder . . . could this imperfect man be perfect for her?

Nothing’s better than a Bridgerton novel

Thoughts on To Sir Phillip, With Love

Before we get moving on this review, I feel it necessary to confess that I read this on a Friday night while drinking, and I’m quite sure this colored my view of the book because I was, as I recall, quite tipsy for parts of it.

Which may actually be a good thing. I mean, this book follows Romancing Mister Bridgerton, and that book was amazing. I started reading this one and wanted to reread RMB. (And that wasn’t the alcohol talking.) That’s a hard act to follow.

But this one. Eloise’s part of the story here actually begins in Romancing Mister Bridgerton, so I was quite looking forward to picking To Sir Phillip, With Love up. (Also, thanks Daphne for lending it.) And though I found the conflict to be… oh, I don’t know, more on the tame side, I still enjoyed the book. Especially the brothers.

But how could you not love the Bridgerton brothers? That is a big part of why this series is so much fun.

So. Phillip and Eloise. And the children. I loved seeing Eloise interact with them and find a way to bring Sir Phillip and his kids together. That was sweet and not completely angsty (which I find weird saying that I wanted more angst), but again, a big part of the plot.

Oh. But. I adored the awkwardness between Sir Phillip and Eloise when they met for the first time. A lot of parallels to meeting people online. Totally different experience! It was adorable. And now I need the rest of the Bridgerton series.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas {Amanda’s Review}Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 406
Source: Purchased
Add to Goodreads
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Had to get book 2 immediately

Thoughts on Throne of Glass

I picked Throne of Glass up because it was on sale for 99 cents, but then picked up and read The Assassin’s Blade (novella compilation) first because Daphne told me to. And I’m glad I did (Thanks, Daphne!) because I can see where people struggled with Celaena and Throne of Glass without the back story. I would’ve been annoyed without it.

But I found myself intrigued by Celaena. She’s an interesting character with an interesting background. (Ah, interesting. You’re a versatile word.) Bad ass is apt, I think. But she’s also still a young girl, trying to make the best of a bad situation. And I wanted to cheer for her.

I also wanted more information, both about her past and the world, but I’ll give Throne of Glass a pass on this one, since it’s the first book of the series. Also, I reserved book 2 from the library as soon as I finished Throne of Glass, so I should get that information soon. (If I don’t…)

Though there is romance—and a love triangle of sorts—I wasn’t bothered by it. Celaena isn’t a normal girl, and the way she views men and relationships is… dammit, I’m going to say it again… interesting. Does Celaena understand what love is? She knows lust and wanting, but love—that’s the missing ingredient that made watching her budding relationships so fascinating.

Throne of Glass (and The Assassin’s Blade before it) promises a rich and intriguing world, and yes—I want more.

Death by Didgeridoo by Barbara Venkataraman
Series: Jamie Quinn Mysteries #1
Genres: Mystery & Detective
Format: Audiobook
Source: Author
Add to Goodreads

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, still reeling from the death of her mother, is pulled into a game of deception, jealousy, and vengeance when her cousin, Adam, is wrongfully accused of murder. It's up to Jamie to find the real murderer before it's too late. It doesn't help that the victim is a former rock star with more enemies than friends, or that Adam confessed to a murder he didn't commit.

A short and sweet sleuthing story

Death by Didgeridoo by Barbara Venkataraman

 My Thoughts

The narrative voice in Death by Didgeridoo is a great one. Attorney Jamie Quinn makes for an endearing sleuth. This short mystery is the first in a series and is an enjoyable read – or, in this case, listen.

Barbara Venkataraman’s story unfolds at a brisk pace. Jamie’s mother has recently passed away and the family law attorney has locked herself away in her grief. A panicked phone call from her aunt pulls Jamie back into her life – but not for good news. As it turns out, Jamie’s cousin is suspected of being involved with a murder. Jamie and her aunt both know that Adam – who has Asperger’s Syndrome – couldn’t have been involved. But the police claim circumstantial evidence all points to his guilt.

Death by Didgeridoo is more of a legal procedural than a mystery, but I enjoyed listening to the story regardless. Unfortunately, the audio book’s narrator did nothing to enhance my experience. In fact, her performance was, at time, very distracting. To the point of making me want to stop listening entirely. Nevertheless, I really liked the characters, the style of Venkataraman’s writing, and this introduction to the Jamie Quinn mystery series. I’d love to see a little more heft to the next story – more suspicion and tension before revealing who dunnit. It was a little deflating and anti-climactic to only be told about the capture of the criminal instead of being shown.


Girl with Book Lungs


Get Hooked, Top Off Tuesday

in Top Off Tuesday

It’s that time again — Tuesday! — which means I attempt to brighten your day with half-naked men. Read on at your own risk.  Top Off Tuesdays was started by FeliciaChristi and me.  It is where we (and you!) share the book covers that make us swoon.  Head over to Felicia’s blog to share your Top Off Tuesday link or to see what everyone has posted.

Michael Gallo found his calling in life – he wants to kick ass. He works at Inked as a piercer, but spends his mornings training and dreaming of winning an UFC championship. Michael is the road to achieving his goal when a chance encounter alters his world forever. The title is no longer enough – he must capture the woman of his dreams.

Dr. Mia Greco is dedicated to saving lives and helping those less fortunate. She doesn’t have time to meet Mr. Right with her busy schedule. She buries herself in her work and helping humanity. Fate steps in and sweeps the carpet out from under her. She tries to deny the pull to him, a man that uses his fists for gain, but the universe won’t let her walk away so easy and Michael isn’t one to take no for an answer.

He has a secret that may rip them apart. There are forces bigger than them at work; drawing them in and making their worlds collide – not letting either one of them walk away.
-from Goodreads

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