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On a Book Bender

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas {Amanda’s Review}Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Also in this series: Throne of Glass
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie...and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

*sobs that Celaena’s story isn’t over*

Thoughts on Crown of Midnight

Crown of Midnight is the kind of book that makes me realize how much my historical romance bender has affected my reading preferences.

It’s not that I prefer a heavy focus on the romance — I rather like (and it makes me laugh a little at myself to say this, because I never used to be this way) Celaena and how she approaches love. Provided she even understands it.

No, it’s that I like the neatness of knowing that everything’s going to be okay (or heading in that direction) at the end of the book. Series, like Throne of Glass, don’t have that luxury. And that’s okay!

Because it’s a series. And bad things have to happen for the series to continue. I get that. But now, more than ever, it’s slightly frustrating for me. Because things happens. And more things happen. And I wanted a resolution to those things that’s impossible to have at this stage of the series.

Did I like this book? Yes. Do I like this series? Definitely. But I may have to revisit the way I read series like this and wait until they’re finished before diving in, so I can read the series the way I’d read a single, standalone book.

Vengeance Born by Kylie Griffin {Tara’s Review}Vengeance Born by Kylie Griffin
Series: The Light Blade #1
Published by Penguin
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, General, Romance
Pages: 336
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There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not purebred is virtually powerless. Until an unlikely champion is born… Annika, half-blood daughter of the Na’Reish leader, longs for more than her tormented life among her father’s people. Conceived in hatred and bred as a tool of retribution, she’s gifted with a special talent that can heal as well as destroy… Kalan is a Light Blade warrior who knows the future of humankind depends on him alone. Incursions into human territory and raids for blood-slaves by the Na’Reish horde have increased. As Chosen, leader of his people, he faces the task of stopping the demons. When Annika learns Kalan is a prisoner in her father’s dungeon, she agrees to free him in exchange for his protection. Now, marked for death for helping him, Annika must learn to trust Kalan as they journey to the border and discover a shocking truth that could throw the human race into a civil war…

Easy HEA romance with enticing world.

Thoughts on [Vengeance Born]

I used to be a no interruptions reader. I “needed” to read a book front to back to really enjoy it. I needed quiet or lyric-less music. I miss the luxury of requiring such standards. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a newish mom. My daughter will be one year old in two weeks. I’ve also moved to a new city in which I have twice the commute. All in all, no time to read a book front to back.

Reading in short bursts of an hour or less wasn’t an issue as far as connecting to this story. It was, however, very hard for me to put the book down.

I wondered while I read this book if it wasn’t written for me. Fantasy landscape with medieval tones. Strong alpha male that admires an equally strong woman. Religious back story without being preachy. Magic mixed with a touch of paranormal. All leading up to a HEA that flows perfectly into the next couple’s story. The only reason this doesn’t have a higher rating is because I liked the next two books even more.

The author did a fantastic job of slowly building the characters through conversation and switching POVs without losing me as the reader. I wasn’t fond of the third POV, however, I appreciated it more once I started the next in the series.

The landscape was detailed enough for me to have an understanding of how everything was laid out without it being over the top. I’m always a sucker for walled off cities surrounded by forests.

Prior to picking up the book, I read somewhere that a reader didn’t like all of the She and The Lady talk. Honestly, it didn’t bother me. I loved the mix between magic, religion and race.

If you give this book a try and think it’s all going to be them quietly traveling, DON’T GIVE UP! Things pick up in the second half.

Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts {Jenna’s Review}Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts
Series: Cousins O'Dwyer #2
Also in this series: Dark Witch
Published by Penguin Group US
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Romance
Pages: 250
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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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... Book Two of The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy Shadow Spell With the legends and lore of Ireland running through his blood, falconer Connor O'Dwyer is proud to call County Mayo home. It's where his sister, Branna, lives and works, where his cousin, Iona, has found true love, and where his childhood friends form a circle that can't be broken... A circle that is about to be stretched out of shape—by a long-awaited kiss. Meara Quinn is Branna's best friend, a sister in all but blood. Her and Connor's paths cross almost daily, as Connor takes tourists on hawk walks and Meara guides them on horseback across the lush countryside. She has the eyes of a gypsy and the body of a goddess...things Connor has always taken for granted—until his brush with...

Romance with a touch of magic

My Thoughts

The story started in Nora Roberts’s Dark Witch flows seamlessly into Shadow Spell, simply with a different narrator. As with the first book, I wasn’t thrilled with the beginning chapters; something about the perspective or the voice of the original three – Sorcha’s children – doesn’t capture me in the same way that the modern day story does. More than in Dark Witch, the far distant past intersects with present day, a plot device that I didn’t mind.

As Dark Witch was the story of Iona and Boyle, Shadow Spell is the story of Connor and Meara, lifelong friends who never allowed themselves to acknowledge the attraction between them. Predictable? Yes. But also quite romantic, endearing, and enjoyable. It’s easy to root for the characters; they are all so fleshed out and well-rounded. As a reader, you want to – and do – like them all. You want to be a part of the circle and be their friend.

The circle of six have a mission: to defeat an evil sorcerer who has been a deadly enemy to Sorcha, her children, and all who came from them for generations. The plans that the group plot, plan, and piece together seem so completed, and I always fully expect light to win over dark. And it does . . . sort of. Like Sorcha’s original attack, the defeats are never quite complete. Which has been the perfect set-up for the next book in both Dark Witch and Shadow Spell.

The final book in the trilogy, Blood Magick will be Branna and Fin’s story, as well as, I suspect, the end of Cabhan. I have some other guesses and suspicions as to what else may happen, but I’ll keep those to myself for now, so as to not ruin anything for other readers! I’m really enjoying the series and stories, and am eager to listen to the final book – as soon as I can get it from the library!

Girl with Book Lungs


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.

The stunning conclusion to Bound by Lies…

Caden and I on the run. Together. But he still won’t let me touch him and I know he is still keeping things from me. I am determined to uncover everything – at any cost. Even if it tears us apart.

Jacob is back. He’s back and he knows about her. Now, everything that binds the three of us together are twisting and tightening, pulling us all together. I can feel the inevitable coming…
I don’t know how this will end… all I know is, there will be blood.

Adult romantic suspense. +18 years.
-from Goodreads

Bedding Lord Ned by Sally MacKenzie {Amanda’s Review}Bedding Lord Ned by Sally MacKenzie
Series: Duchess of Love #1
Also in this series: Surprising Lord Jack
Genres: Historical, Regency, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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Pleasure Is On Her Dance Card

Determined to find a husband, Miss Eleanor "Ellie" Bowman attends a ball put on by the Duchess of Greycliffe, fondly referred to as the Duchess of Love. But she roundly dismisses the suitors the matchmaking hostess has invited on her behalf. For it's the duchess' dashing son, Ned, Lord Edward, who long ago captured Ellie's heart—and roused her desire. All it takes is a pair of conveniently misplaced silky red bloomers to set the handsome widower's gaze on this unusual girl who is clearly more than meets the eye.

After four years of mourning, Ned must find a wife. At first glance, the birthday ball his mother has thrown in his honor is decidedly lacking in suitable mistresses. But he senses something unexpectedly alluring beneath the veil of Ellie's plain exterior—and suddenly she's invading his dreams in a decidedly scandalous manner.

I wanted more Ned and Ellie.

Thoughts on Bedding Lord Ned

This book made me feel like a crotchety old woman yelling, “Get off my lawn, you little cretins!” Except instead of kids on my lawn, it’s old people fornicating in my book.

(Pause a second. I have no issue with old people having sex. Sometimes you have to say things for effect.)

A few scenes — a few sexy scenes are not of Ned and Ellie, our protagonists. No, they’re of the Duke and Duchess of Love. Who already have an established relationship and their own novella.

(Which I read twice. Accidentally. Which I didn’t think could happen, but apparently it can.)

And you know what? Those scenes didn’t do anything to add to Ned and Ellie’s story. I wanted more Ned and Ellie. Because it was one of those stories where I didn’t quite get enough of either character to fully get attached to either. Ned was dense, both about his first wife and Ellie. Ellie was… I don’t know. No idea why she’d loved Ned for so long.

THAT SAID. I admit it was a cute story, and I like the meddling duchess. I’m kind of curious about what happens with Ned’s brothers. But also the meddling duchess. Minus the meddling duchess’s sex scenes. Not because old people sex is gross, but because it’s gotta matter to the story.

Through the Veil by Christi Snow {Kelly’s Review}Through the Veil by Christi Snow
Series: Though the Veil #1
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 296
Format: eARC
Source: Author
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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.

KindleBuy the Paperback
58 years ago a gorge opened up from Mobile, AL to Quebec City, Canada to split the United States into the Western States (WS) and the Eastern States (ES). 40 years later, a fog rolled in on the WS that they called the Veil. Within twelve hours it formed an impenetrable wall between the two sides. It’s been 18 years since anyone has known what’s happening on the other side of the Veil. Now, Lori, an Other, in a desperate attempt at escape from the ES’s torture and experimentation, has crossed the Veil and found a world beyond belief. Marcus is a Warrior, but when Lori collapses at his feet wounded and exhausted, he knows he has to protect her. But seeing that she’s the first person he’s seen in 18 years without wings, he’s worried about what her appearance means for his people and the world they’ve created since the Veil fell. Two new societies: one built on a respect for the natural order of nature and the world, the other built on mistrust and corruption. Can they learn to co-exist once again?

Fantastic beginning to new paranormal world!

Thoughts on Through the Veil

Christi Snow’s delving into new (for her) territory with this series and I’m terribly excited. Winged beings, wicked experiments, and a world on the verge of something more made this an engaging read from beginning to end. I love the division between the ES and the WS — not just the physical division the veil provided, but the way the two societies moved forward from the point they became divided.

Lori’s world is one of corruption and fear. The experiments and torture done to her because of her ability were horrible. Falling into Marcus’s world was a shock to the system in more ways than one. From the inhabitants’ wings to their way of life, Lori has to readjust her entire way of thinking. Finding them so accepting of her abilities — the very abilities that had made her an outcast on her side of the veil — took some getting used to.

Meanwhile, Marcus’s reaction to Lori is a punch to the gut. The poor guy had resigned himself to being alone after losing his mate years earlier and his reaction to her takes him by surprise. Lori’s presence also heralds a shift in the natural order of things on his side of the veil. Whether her arrival started it or the timing was coincidental, everyone has to learn to adapt to the changes taking place.

I love the worldbuilding and the hints of what’s to come. From the weather shifts to the odd behavior of the Predators to Lori’s questioning of who and what they might be, it all made me giddy for book 2. This was a solid start to what looks to be an action-packed series.

Kelly Loves Books... and you!


Get Bound, 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.

Our love is on his terms. He contacts me only through notes − unpredictable and untraceable. When we meet, he can touch me, but I’m not allowed to touch him. When we make love, it’s only after I have been bound and blindfolded. It’s the only time I truly feel alive. Which is why I play along with it. For now.

Caden Thaine is the most sinfully beautiful man I have ever seen. But more than that, his touch sets me on fire. And dear God, do I ache for him. I don’t know where he lives or even what he does. But this doesn’t scare me. My only fear is that one day his messages will stop.

I know he’s hiding something. But that’s okay. I am hiding things too. Like my real name and… who I really am. But the deeper I fall for him, the stronger my curiosity becomes.

I could never have imagined just how much our lives are bound. And that pulling at his tangled web of secrets would cause my own dark past to come back to try and reclaim me. Will we survive? Will our love?

Adult romantic suspense. +18 years.
-from Goodreads

On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn {Amanda’s Review}On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn
Series: The Bridgertons #8
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, To Sir Phillip, With Love, When He Was Wicked
Genres: Historical, Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 384
Source: Library
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A funny thing happened...

Unlike most men of his acquaintance, Gregory Bridgerton believes in true love. And he is convinced that when he finds the woman of his dreams, he will know in an instant that she is the one. And that is exactly what happened. Except...

She wasn’t the one. In fact, the ravishing Miss Hermione Watson is in love with another. But her best friend, the ever-practical Lady Lucinda Abernathy, wants to save Hermione from a disastrous alliance, so she offers to help Gregory win her over. But in the process, Lucy falls in love. With Gregory! Except...

Lucy is engaged. And her uncle is not inclined to let her back out of the betrothal, even once Gregory comes to his senses and realizes that it is Lucy, with her sharp wit and sunny smile, who makes his heart sing. And now, on the way to the wedding, Gregory must risk everything to ensure that when it comes time to kiss the bride, he is the only man standing at the altar...

This can’t be the Bridgertons end!*
(*I know of the 2nd epilogues**)
(**Because I know that’s your question.)

Thoughts on On the Way to the Wedding

I’m conflicted about On the Way to the Wedding. Because that synopsis—nothing about it says “Amanda will like this book!” And it’s true: there did come a point where I was ready to throw the book in disgust, shouting, “HOW COULD YOU?”

But it’s Julia Quinn. And one scene—with Gregory, Hyacinth, and their mother—had me shaking with silent laughter, then giggling out loud, then snorting because it is absolutely and completely glorious and the exact reason why I love this series so much.

Of course, the “HOW COULD YOU?” moment came a lot later than expected, which is part of why I’m conflicted. I thought it’d be okay, and then BAM, it wasn’t. And I really did want to toss the book aside. But I didn’t. And I’m glad.

Because THE BRIDGERTONS! This will likely never be my favorite Bridgerton book. (Sorry, Gregory and Lucy.) But I adore this series—and family—and On the Way to the Wedding gave me what I adore.

After I get my hands on the second epilogues, there’s going to be a Bridgertons’ reread. Mark my words.

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas {Amanda’s Review}The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Jennifer Graham, Rob Thomas
Series: Veronica Mars #1
Genres: Crime, Fiction, Mystery & Detective, Thrillers, Women Sleuths
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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From Rob Thomas, the creator of the television series and movie phenomenon Veronica Mars, comes the first book in a thrilling mystery series that picks up where the feature film left off.

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case. Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is no simple missing person’s case; the house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined. In Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas has created a groundbreaking female detective who’s part Phillip Marlowe, part Nancy Drew, and all snark. With its sharp plot and clever twists, The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Immediately wanted a Veronica Mars binge.

Thoughts on The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line

There’s no doubt in my mind The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line—and its following books, since it promises to be a series—is written for Veronica Mars fans, and only for Veronica Mars fans. It’s so reminiscent of the TV show (and movie) that you can’t help wanting to start all over again, first day back at Neptune High with Veronica.

But as a long-time mystery reader and regular dissembler of stories, I found that to be the drawback, too: it’s not necessarily written like I expect a mystery to be. With weird quirks like always mentioning the day and time when a new chapter begins (something you could do with the scene in a show) or having characters constantly start their sentences with “So” (not as obvious when it’s spoken, since we forget those).

And some oddly predictable moments within the mystery itself where I’d drawn the right conclusion before Veronica Mars. I’m good at guessing, I’ll admit. But a few pieces seemed so obvious to me that to be ahead of Veronica made me blink. The ending more than made up for it though, because dude, definitely didn’t see that coming.

If you’re a Veronica Mars fan and you like to read, The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line is kinda a no brainer. It’s so, so true to character (and, frankly, the show) that you can see and hear all the gang (no audiobook for me) as you read. It’s a delight. And now I want to binge on Veronica Mars again.

Dark Witch by Nora Roberts {Jenna’s Review}Dark Witch by Nora Roberts
Series: The Cousins O'Dwyer #1
Also in this series: Shadow Spell
Published by Penguin
Genres: Fiction, General, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Add to Goodreads
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

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