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On a Book Bender

Spirited Away by Angela Campbell {Kelly’s Review}Spirited Away by Angela Campbell
Series: The Psychic Detective Series #3
Published by HarperCollins
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, Suspense, Thrillers
Pages: 263
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
four-stars
Add to Goodreads

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

Kindle
Book 3 in the brilliantly witty ‘Psychic Detective’ series from Angela Campbell – perfect for fans of the Sookie Stackhouse & Stephanie Plum books!

Who knew pet-sitting could be so dangerous...or so sexy?!

Socially awkward Emma “Spider” Fisher prefers her laptop to people, so she’s more than happy to oblige her boss when he asks her to pet- and house-sit while he honeymoons in London.

But it doesn’t take long for accident-prone Spider to lose a dog, get locked out of the house, and set off the house alarm!

Thankfully, her hot new neighbor is more than happy to come to her rescue. But Noah West is a mystery to Spider—and one she intends to solve.

Ghosts, mayhem and danger. Oh, yeah.

Thoughts on Spirited Away

As I’ve been known to do, I started this series on a book other than book 1. I’m a rebel. I know. Hardcore. Anyway. Starting mid-series didn’t cause me any moments of confusion (awesome) and the bits of backstory we were given had enough explanation to whet my appetite for more (even more awesome). As an aside, hunky demon slayer/ghost talker dude… I might have to go back and read the book he made an earlier appearance in. Because I do like hunky dudes who can nonchalantly deal with demons and/or ghosts. As one does.

As for this book, ghosts. Lots of ghosts. And some coincidences that made me wonder if the supernatural has a hand in guiding individuals toward answers they wouldn’t have known to ask about if they hadn’t been thrown into certain situations. <–that’s me being vague. *evil laugh*

Right. So. Emma/Spider. I liked how she made a conscious decision to change herself from the person she was before into the person she longed to be. She was intelligent and flighty all at once–something that took a little getting used to–and very determined to show her bosses and co-workers that she has what it takes to get the job done.

And then there’s Noah. Secrets and half-truths abound with him. Not all of them FROM him, either. The poor guy gets a heavy dose of truth dropped on him and deals with it admirably.

A solid mystery with nice elements of the supernatural (and one hunky secondary character who I wouldn’t mind reading more about) and … well, let’s face it, I like ghosts and hot guys. So this book worked for me.

Kelly Loves Books... and you!

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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.

Let’s be honest, friends. You miss the craziness of EC covers. That’s why I was so pleased to find this one—EC-style, but not EC. Also, I wish these covers on Goodreads were larger. I feel like that’s the only way to do these covers justice.

Turn off the lights . . . and turn on your darkest fantasies.

Demon pacts. Ghostly possessions. Monsters lurking in the depths. The things that go bump in the night frighten us, but they also intrigue us. Fascinate us. Even turn us on.

Join us as fan favorites Ally Blue and Kari Gregg bring over-amorous aquatic beasts to life with their mythic twists on the Siren and the monster in the lake. Erotic horror pros Heidi Belleau, Sam Schooler, and Brien Michaels show us just how sexy scary can be with a pair of demon deals destined to curl your toes and set your heart thrashing. And literary masters Laylah Hunter and Peter Hansen weave haunting worlds where ghosts and dead lovers can touch our hearts (and other, naughtier places too . . .) and teach us lessons from beyond the grave.

By turns exciting, evocative, and exquisitely explicit, the stories in Bump in the Night are sure to scratch your sexy paranormal itch. Explore your wildest fantasies with us in this collection of dark erotic tales.

Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes: drug use, dubious consent, explicit violence, non-consent.
-from Goodreads

4 comments
Surprising Lord Jack by Sally MacKenzie {Amanda’s Review}Surprising Lord Jack by Sally MacKenzie
Series: Duchess of Love #2
Also in this series: Bedding Lord Ned
Genres: Historical, Regency, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
three-stars
Add to Goodreads
One naughty little masquerade can't hurt…

Unladylike Behavior

Frances Hadley has managed her family’s estate for years. So why can’t she request her own dowry? She’ll have to go to London herself and knock some sense into the men interfering in her life. With the nonsense she’s dealt with lately, though, there’s no way she’s going as a woman. A pair of breeches and a quick chop of her red curls, and she’ll have much less to worry about…

Jack Valentine, third son of the famous Duchess of Love, is through being pursued by pushy young ladies. One particularly determined miss has run him out of his own house party. Luckily the inn has one bed left—Jack just has to share with a rather entertaining red-headed youth. Perhaps the two of them should ride to London together. It will make a pleasant escape from his mother’s matchmaking melodrama!

More surprising for old people fornicating.

Thoughts on Surprising Lord Jack

Y’all, this is the old people fornicating series. Not surprising, considering that, despite being about the Duchess of Love’s boys, the series title is the Duchess of Love herself. While there’s less fornicating in book 2, it’s hinted at enough to make me think mom and dad are getting it on more than their children.

Which is… well, we all have parents. I won’t say more than that.

Surprising Lord Jack begins almost exactly where Bedding Lord Ned (again, where there’s less bedding of Lord Ned than bedding of his parents) leaves off, though of course from Jack’s (and Frances’s) POV.

Jack, while not cookie cutter historical romance hero material, isn’t outside the realm of what you’d expect a hero to be. He hides his activities (saving women and children from poverty, death, and other unsavory happenings) under a carefully cultivated rakish reputation. Jack worked. He was kind and sweet, and his devotion to Frances was completely in line with his character.

Frances, on the other hand, deals with a lot of upheaval and change — to the point that I had to wonder if she was romance heroine material. Everything she learns about how she grew up throws her into turmoil, making her question who she is and her values.

Can you fall in lasting love when you’re still figuring out who you are? It’s not impossible, of course, but I had my doubts at the end of the book. I don’t like being left to entertain doubts at the end of a book.

Not mentioned in the synopsis is the murders of women of ill-repute that Jack is determined to solve. It’s a rather important plot thread that was surprisingly easy to figure out. But as a long-time mystery reader who also studies how to construct stories, well, it was easy to piece things together.

6 comments

Blind Date with a Book

in Blind Date with a Book

bdwab

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:

  • Science fiction
  • Apocalyptic
  • Narrative

Book #2:

  • Cozy mystery
  • Series opener
  • Outdoors

Book #3:

  • Romance
  • Mystery
  • Suspense

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

1 comment
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen {Jenna’s Review}Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
Published by Coleman publishers Ltd.
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Fantasy, Fiction, Magical Realism
Pages: 122
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
three-stars
Add to Goodreads
From beloved bestselling author Sarah Addison Allen comes her long-awaited new novel, Lost Lake, about heartbroken people finding hope at a magical place in Georgia.

Suley, Georgia, is home to Lost Lake Cottages and not much else. Which is why it's the perfect place for newly-widowed Kate and her eccentric eight-year-old daughter Devin to heal. Kate spent one memorable childhood summer at Lost Lake, had her first almost-kiss at Lost Lake, and met a boy named Wes at Lost Lake. It was a place for dreaming. But Kate doesn't believe in dreams anymore, and her Aunt Eby, Lost Lake's owner, wants to sell the place and move on. Lost Lake's magic is gone. As Kate discovers that time has a way of standing still at Lost Lake can she bring the cottages—and her heart—back to life?

Sometimes lost loves aren't really lost. They're right where you left them, waiting for you to find them again.

A little something sweet and magical

 

My Thoughts

Since Garden Spells, I have been a big fan of Sarah Addison Allen’s particular brand of magical realism. Her stories always feel so personal to me; I slip into the worlds she pictures with an easy grace, led entirely by her. So I was surprised to find myself stutter-stepping into the pages of Lost Lake.

Set in Suley, Georgia, Lost Lake is a multi-generational family story, at the heart of which is love and money (or, rather love of money). Eby Pim was one of the lucky ones – marrying a man for love who just so happened to have money, as well. But her family, more specifically the women in her family, have always hungered for fortune – and now want Eby and her husband George to return home from their European honeymoon and toe the line, so to speak.

In present day, the young widow, Kate Pheris (Eby’s great-neice) has discovered a rebellious side of herself after “sleeping” through the first year following her husband’s sudden death. While looking through an old trunk during the preparation for a move, Kate’s daughter, Devin, finds an old postcard to Kate from Eby, sent several years earlier and hidden from Kate for all of that time. Together, they set off to find Lost Lake – the cottage resort that Eby and George own. Forgotten memories of a childhood visit creep back to Kate, who finds that her daughter and she are both blooming in the humid lake air.

Lost Lake has the beautiful lyric voice that I have come to love so much, as well as heart, family, romance, and magic. And yet, I feel as though I didn’t enjoy the story as much as I have enjoyed previous books by Sarah Addison Allen. Still one of my very favorite authors, still a must-read writer, simply a story that didn’t resonate as strongly for this reader.

 

Girl with Book Lungs

4 comments

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.

I’m sad this picture is so small, but I couldn’t resist the flower that seems to be affixed in his crack.

He must find redemption in the most unlikely bedchamber…

In Victorian England vice of every kind can be purchased, and Matthew, the Earl of Wallingford, makes certain he avails himself of every possible pleasure. Bored and jaded, he is as well-known for his coldness as for his licentious affairs with beautiful women.

While these numerous dalliances fulfill Matthew’s every physical need, they secretly leave him numb and emotionally void. Until one night when he finds himself beaten, eyes bandaged and in the care of a nurse with the voice of an angel – and a gentle touch that soothes the darkness in him and makes him yearn for more.

Yet Jane Rankin is a lowly nurse, considered shy and plain by most. There is no place for her amongst the lords and ladies of the aristocracy – despite Matthew’s growing craving for the fire that burns behind her earnest facade. And then there is Matthew’s secret. A secret so humiliating and scandalous is could destroy everyone he loves. A sin, he fears, not even the love of a good woman can take away.
-from Goodreads

12 comments
Seducing Mr. Knightly by Maya Rodale {Amanda’s Review}Seducing Mr. Knightly by Maya Rodale
Series: The Writing Girls #4
Published by HarperCollins
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
four-half-stars
Add to Goodreads
He’s the only man she’s ever loved…

For ages it seems advice columnist Annabelle Swift has loved Derek Knightly, editor-owner of The London Weekly from a distance. Determined to finally attract her employer’s attention, she seeks advice from her loyal readers—who offer Annabelle myriad suggestions…from lower-cut bodices (success!) and sultry gazes (disaster!) to a surprise midnight rendezvous (wicked!).

She’s the only woman he never noticed…

Derek never really took note of his shy, wallflower lady writer. But suddenly she’s exquisite…and he can’t get Annabelle out of his mind! She must be pursuing someone, but who? For some inexplicable reason, the thought of her with another man makes Knightly insanely jealous.

Will Dear Annabelle find her happy ending?

But Knightly’s scandalous periodical has been targeted for destruction by a vengeful Lord Marsden, and the beleaguered editor now faces a devastating choice: either marry Marsden’s sister to save his beloved newspaper…or follow his heart and wed his Writing Girl.

Rodale had me snorting with laughter.

Thoughts on Seducing Mr. Knightly

Ever since I stopped caring about romance series order, I manage to pick up the last in the series. How does that work? Even so, I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything important, which is, actually, quite an achievement.

So. I heard about Maya Rodale a while ago, saw this book at the library, read the synopsis and promptly put it back. It’s not my kind of thing.

I went back recently, determined not to read the synopsis (even though I’d not forgotten the general idea of the book — apparently I thought willfully ignoring the synopsis this time would make it better, I don’t know), and picked it up. Again.

And I’m glad I did. Because Maya Rodale’s writing had me snorting with laughter. And I do so enjoy reading romances that don’t take themselves completely seriously.

Because I’m not always a fan of the unrequited love trope (um… Miranda Cheever and Michael Stirling, I’m looking at you two, since those are the two recent ones), I wasn’t sure how this would play out. And let’s just say: I liked the way Rodale handled it.

Let’s just say it that while it was often one-sided, it was not always one-sided one-sided. I’ll let you make of that what you will.

Definitely looking forward to picking up more Maya Rodale.

10 comments
Star Crossed Seduction by Jenny Brown {Amanda’s DNF Review}Star Crossed Seduction by Jenny Brown
Series: Astrology #2
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
DNF
Add to Goodreads
A beautiful thief has stolen the heart of the one man in London whose secrets are as dangerous as her own . . .

Shrewd and wily, pickpocket Temperance Smithneeds no man’s favor to survive on London’sunforgiving streets—even when she’s caught red-handedby an officer of the hated dragoons.

On leave from India to find a proper bridein London, Captain Miles Trevelyan is easy prey for aseasoned pickpocket like Temperance. But whenthe dazzling thief steals first his wallet, then his heart,his pursuit throws them into a deadly world oftreason and betrayal that will force them to questioneverything they know about love, loyalty,and desire. For there can be no middle ground for these two stormy-tempered Scorpios entangled in the star-crossed romance that threatens to destroy them both . . .

Eyebrow-raising quotes are just the beginning.

Thoughts on Star Crossed Seduction

“Making love with him would be like embracing an otter.”

That was the point I started tweeting eyebrow-raising quotes on Twitter, not when I stopped reading. That didn’t come until page 276. It was a decision I made not based on anything that had happened in the book, but because at 10:30pm, I had two choices: stay up to finish the book or put it down and go to bed, knowing I’d not pick it up again.

I chose sleep. I’d already begun to skim, and that was a pretty good deciding factor. It’s always a bad sign when I forget I’m in the middle of reading a sex scene because tweeting random quotes is more entertaining.

“…bringing his lips down on hers and sucking hungrily at them, as if he could suck the truth from her.”

Am I the only one who cringed at this? I imagine him trying to inhale her face. Isn’t there a Doctor Who episode like that? But that quote (among others, which I’m sure I’ll share) is representative of the issues I had with this book.

Star Crossed Seduction abounds with euphemisms, from “her most secret place” to “his jutting organ of pleasure” to — and this is a new one for me — “her hungry notch.” It got to the point where I had to check the copyright date in the front of the book because the phrases sounded like my naughty magnetic poetry pack, based on romance books of old. I raised a brow when I saw “2011” staring back at me.

And then there’s the dialogue. It felt inauthentic to me, as though it was used to show character thoughts or further the plot rather than a seamless part of the story. I could point at sentences and think, “The character is saying this to show us X.” Which, honestly, is what you do with dialogue and everything else in the book, but I don’t want to know that as a reader, nor do I want it so obvious that it feels unreal.

The dialogue certainly made me want to skim. The narrative was somewhat repetitious as well, especially when transitioning from one POV to another. The new POV would recap, from the new person’s perspective, what had just happened. As if we didn’t know. (I made a mental note of this, though, because I’m quite sure I’ve done something similar, and it was an important observation to me as a reader/writer.)

The first sex scene, while both partners were willing, made me scrunch my nose. It comes from an emotionally mercenary position, almost forcing-without-physical-force and it was negative. Icky negative, with both characters filled with regret afterward. And not normal romance novel regret that’s integral to the plot, but gross regret that teetered precariously close to rape in an emotional sense. I felt like I was supposed to be okay with it because the characters were so drawn to each other and they both physically wanted it, but the emotions they brought to it (and what Temperance did after it) made the entire experience feel… wrong.

Especially when you added phrases like “Her nipple was so hard it gouged his palm” because I imagine this super pointy nipple that draws blood or, at the very least, breaks skin. If nipples can do that, well, it’s beyond my experience.

I also didn’t realize there was such a heavy emphasis on astrology. Obvious now that I’m on Goodreads, so this is completely my fault in how I browse books at the library. It’s odd considering the last book I read had such an emphasis on religion (which, as I said, I’m not normally a fan of), but I actually found myself more put off by the astrology than I was by the religion when I’d expect the opposite.

Star Crossed Seduction didn’t work for me, but that’s the danger — and fun, too, if I’m honest — in picking random books off the library shelf.

4 comments
Trouble in Mudbug by Jana Deleon {Kelly’s Review}Trouble in Mudbug by Jana Deleon
Series: Ghost-in-Law #1
Genres: Contemporary, Cozy, Ghost, Mystery & Detective
Pages: 300
Format: eBook
Source: Freebie
four-stars
Add to Goodreads
KindleBuy the Paperback
Scientist Maryse Robicheaux thought that a lot of her problems had gone away with her mother-in-law’s death. The woman was rude, pushy, manipulative and used her considerable wealth to run herd over the entire town of Mudbug, Louisiana.

Unfortunately, death doesn’t slow down Helena one bit.

DEA Agent Luc LeJeune is wondering what his undercover assignment investigating the sexy scientist has gotten him into – especially as it seems someone wants her dead. Keeping his secrets while protecting Maryse proves to be easier than fighting his attraction for the brainy beauty.

A snarky ghost and decent mystery.

Thoughts on Trouble in Mudbug

Man, I sort of waffled on this book. It was funny and wildly entertaining and yet I had some serious crazy eyes at parts because, OMG!, the things Helena did to Maryse drove me batty! I just… NO. She’ll be lucky if she doesn’t come back as a slug in the middle of a salt marsh with some of the stuff she pulled. However, her shenanigans were entertaining. And in the end, that’s what I want from a book. So… well played, Jana Deleon. Well played.

But this review isn’t about me (lying. It’s totally about me.)… wait. I lost my train of thought. Anyway. This book, it amused me. These characters. They amused me. The snarky ghost who makes some AWFUL fashion choices amused me. Especially since her fashion choices were all over the place. And she couldn’t quite control them. HA. I find that funny. Also, the cat suit. I find that funny.

I liked the sparks between Luc and Maryse. I liked how dedicated Maryse was to her job. I liked how easily she could be swayed to do ridiculous things by the snarky ghost.

Frankly, there was a lot of entertainment to be found all around. *thumbs up*

Kelly Loves Books... and you!

6 comments

It’s Wray, 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.

Is it just me or is that synopsis… long?

Emperor Wray Vasteri is the ruler of the Tornian Empire, his House has ruled the Empire ever since the great infection struck over five hundred years ago and he fears he will be the last. The number of compatible females is dwindling faster than anyone knows and if compatible females aren’t found soon their entire civilization will cease to exist. It’s the reason he agreed to meet with Liron the Emperor of the Kaliszian Empire in Kaliszian space. The only reason they crossed paths with a Ganglian ship leaving Tornian space. The only reason the small female was discovered. Could she be what they’ve been searching for?

Kim Teel has had a hard life, at least she thought she had until her parents were suddenly killed and her sister disappears. At nineteen she realizes she’s been protected from all of life’s hardships, been taken care of her entire life, expecting and accepting it, she’d been terribly spoiled. Determined to change her ways, Kim goes looking for her sister only to be captured by the Ganglians and it is then that she learns what happens to the ‘unprotected’ females of the universe.

Wray finds himself drawn to the small female he finds beaten and abused on the Ganglian ship. She resembles a Tornian female but is much smaller. Could she be what he’s been searching for? Wray and Kim are both doing the same thing, trying to survive. But what they find is that there are more important things then just survival. And once they learn that the universe changes forever.
-from Goodreads

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