Life, Survival, and Death

Hi, it’s me. It has been a while since I have been able to get on here. Most of that is because my heart has been broken and life just never seems to slow down.

For those who don’t know, I was in a bad car accident at the end of January 2017. If you haven’t ready the post – Surviving the Accident – check it out. I’m still recovering and thankful that I am continuing to get better. Since the last time I’ve check in, I have fired my previous vision therapist and hired one who believes I can still get better.

I struggle to fit in all my therapy appointments while working full time and raising two active boys. But I’m doing the best I can.

Life in my family has changed and I am still processing how that looks. Cancer is such an ugly thing. Check out my first post, Life Interrupted, The Family Battle with Cancer., to see the beginning. But my father-in-law passed away a month ago from today. I still don’t have the right words to say and I don’t even know what to say. But my heart is broken and I miss him so much! My family and I have been grieving and trying to get back to life as it is now.

Please understand and be patient during this time. The holidays have been so difficult, everything has been difficult. Finding the time and energy to get on my blog has been near impossible.

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One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3)

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I have been looking forward to reading this book. Usually I Ilona Andrews work is impeccable. But this book fell a little short for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it and would buy the next book. But one thing that is interesting is how there is not one (okay, maybe one but you get the idea) character introduced in this series that doesn’t come back around. There aren’t a lot of books like this and I can see why. In many ways, this series doesn’t appear to have small characters. And because of this, each character is thought out and comes with a complex background. I absolutely love Ilona Andrews work!


 

One Fell SweepAuthor: Ilona Andrews
Published: December 20, 2016
Pages: 257

Stars: 3.5 out of 5

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Where to Buy:
Amazon
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Other books in this Series:
Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1)
Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles, #2)

 

Synopsis:
Gertrude Hunt, the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, is glad to have you. We cater to particular kind of guests, the ones most people don’t know about. The older lady sipping her Mello Yello is called Caldenia, although she prefers Your Grace. She has a sizable bounty on her head, so if you hear kinetic or laser fire, try not to stand close to the target. Our chef is a Quillonian. The claws are a little unsettling, but he is a consummate professional and truly is the best chef in the Galaxy. If you see a dark shadow in the orchard late at night, don’t worry. Someone is patrolling the grounds. Do beware of our dog.

Your safety and comfort is our first priority. The inn and your host, Dina Demille, will defend you at all costs. We ask only that you mind other guests and conduct yourself in a polite manner.

Review:
One Fell Sweep is similar to the previous books in this series with the constant action and detailed description of what everything looks like and what’s happening. I will be honest, there were parts of this book that I skimmed. I never thought I would say this but Ilona Andrews took her descriptions a bit far. At times I fought boredom and just felt like some of it was an overkill. 

Like I said above, this book starts with action and ends with not so much a cliffhanger but something close enough. I’m not going to tell you every action packed detail of what happened through this book. But what I will say is there is heartache, love, death, bad omens, and potential. The ending of this book, possibly the last third of the book, was the most captivating. I couldn’t put the book down even if I wanted to. I needed to figure out what happened next. 

Overall, this isn’t my favorite series by this author and the book isn’t perfect. But it’s still a good series/book. Knowing this, the book is still highly entertaining and a fun read. Ilona Andrews provides a world that is hard to imagine with deadly flowers and different dimensions. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series. 

 

Dirty Sexy Saint (Dirty Sexy, #1)

This book… what can I say, I couldn’t get into it. The characters are unrealistic and the plot doesn’t make sense…


Dirty Sexy Saint

Author: Carly Phillips & Erika Wilde
Published: January 19, 2016
Pages: 268

Stars: 1 out of 5

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Synopsis:
Clay Kincaid knows he’s more a sinner than a saint. Especially when it comes to women. With a rough and damaged past that has left him jaded, he doesn’t do committed relationships. But he does like sex—the hotter and harder, the better. He likes it fast and filthy, which is why he refuses to even touch someone as sweet and guileless as Samantha Jamieson. Until he discovers that she likes it just as down and dirty as he does. Let the sinning begin . . .

Review:
Samantha was groomed to be the perfect Stepford wife. So it comes as no surprise when her farther announces to her boyfriend of 8 months that it is time for them to get married. The way her father handles Samantha is closer to a business deal and this ends up being the deal that breaks her. Leaving everything behind, including her wealth, she escapes her life. 

Clay, known as Saint clay, is supposedly this bad boy who is secretly rich. Expect he helps those close to him, including strangers. Which is exactly how he meets and begins helping Samantha. He lets her stay at his apartment, gives her a waitressing job at his bar, buys her clothes, and then a whole pastry chef ensemble because that is her dream job. But he’s not good enough for her  because he likes kinky sex. So he tries to stays away but as you can imagine that doesn’t work out. Samantha ends up giving Clay a blowjob and they end up having missionary sex in his office. He’s a kink master, folks.

The plot is weak and unrealistic. Samantha’s character is a contradiction and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes over what happens. I’m sorry but this book was not for me. I found myself skimming most of the pages until I eventually put it down. This book is off to the DNF Graveyard..

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Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles, 2)

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I really enjoyed this book. Sweep in Peace is the second installment in the Innkeeper Chronicles Series by Ilona Andrews. I just love the world Andrews created and the characters are deeply developed and so much fun to read!


Sweep in Peace

 

Author: Ilona Andrews
Published: November 13, 2015
Pages: 237

Stars: 4 out of 5

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Where to Buy:
Amazon
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Other Books in this Series:
Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1)

 

Synopsis:
Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina’s door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn…and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it’s all in the day’s work for an Innkeeper…

Review:
Six months later, this book opens with a similar problem as before, the inn Dina runs only has one guest. For her and the inn to grow stronger, they need more guests. If only Dina knew how to attract more guests.. Just as she is trying to solve her dilemma, an arbitrator by the name of George stops by. And as you can imagine, he holds the key to her problem- host 30 magical beings while they try to come to an agreement without killing each other. And although this is highly dangerous, this is just the thing she needs to save her inn. 

Preparations didn’t go as smoothly as Dina would hope and she soon finds herself stretched for time and money. With less than a day and still needing to find a chef, she comes across the perfect solution. Hire a chef who lost his ranking because he was accused of poisoning a guest. But the chef she hires, Orro, is absolutely wonderful! I found myself laughing at his dramatic speeches and just loving his character. 

As you can imagine, other obstacles come up and many things go wrong. And to top all this off, Dina is constantly mourning for Shawn. But honestly, what would this book be without a little drama and sexual angst. Except when Shawn returns, he isn’t himself. The old Shawn seems to be a figment of the past and the new one is haunted by war and death.

I really enjoyed this book. There were parts that seemed to drag and that were full of too much, slightly boring, information. The end of the book almost brought tears, but that’s probably because as a mother my greatest fear is losing my children. Trust me, if you read the book, you will understand the connection. I loved all the characters and am grateful the author decided against a love triangle. I’m not sure where Sean and Dina stand, but I’m sure it will be fun finding out. 

Deadly Descendant (Nikki Glass, #2)

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I didn’t like this book as much as the first. This book had a good dose of Nikki making some stupid choices that make you want to yell at her.. I’m not sure I’m done with the series but I wasn’t as impressed with this book.


Deadly Descendant

Author: Jenna Black
Published: April 24, 2012
Pages: 355

Stars: 3 out of 5

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Other Books in this Series:
Dark Descendant (Nikki Glass, #1)

Synopsis:
As a living descendant of Artemis the Huntress, private investigator Nikki Glass knows how to track someone down. But when an Oracle shows up, warning the Descendants about wild dog attacks in Washington, D.C., Nikki is afraid it might be a trap. The Olympians believe the “dogs” are really jackals, controlled by a blood-crazed descendant of the Egyptian death-god Anubis. Whatever. . . . If Nikki hopes to muzzle Dogboy, she’s got to catch him in the act. But when she stakes out a local cemetery, she ends up face-to-snout with a snarling pack of shadow-jackals whose bite is worse than their bark. These hellhounds are deadly—even for an immortal like Nikki. “Dog” spelled backward may be “god,” but that won’t stop Nikki from teaching these old gods some new tricks. Like playing dead.

Review:
As we know from book one in this series, Nikki is a descendent of Artemis. So in other words, she has perfect accuracy with any weapon and can almost turn anything into a weapon. She is also known for her ability to track down people who don’t want to be or can’t be found. Anderson is one scary guy. A God of destruction and vengeance, he is capable of killing any Liberi. So when he manipulates Nikki into reviewing records to make sure the people he has hidden are truly that, she can’t say no. Unfortunately it isn’t long before the Liberi are tasked with finding one of their own, another Liberi,  and stopping him from killing any more innocent. 

I felt like Nikki was a little harsh with how she felt about Emma. Although Emma has gone through hell, she criticizes every move she makes. There’s a possibility she’s right about Emma manipulating Anderson. But I think some slack is due. Things between Jamaal and Nikki change from him hating her to them finding a commonality, maybe even the beginning of a relationship. But Nikki’s attraction to Jamaal is confusing and complicated. When he surprises her with a kiss, she makes the encounter awkward and refuses to kiss him back. I just don’t get it. She has made numerous comments about how attractive he is and how much she likes him, but then she pushes him away. I guess I just don’t understand the reasoning behind it. As things progress in the book, Nikki’s reaction to Jamaal changes. 

I didn’t like this book as much as the first. There was a lot of repetition of information. And the plot had some noticeable holes. There were things in this book that irritated me – For example, the team is worries about people hearing Nikki’s gun shots when tracking the Jackle. Has no one heard of a silencer? With money not being an issue, I would think getting a high performance, powerful, but silent gun would be no problem. And Nikki’s character is starting to get on my nerves. The saying ‘self fulfilling prophecy’ circled around my mind while reading the book. I’m still going to give the third book in this series a try. Hopefully it’s better 

Dark Descendant (Nikki Glass, #1)

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This book is mystery meets mythology and I loved it! I loved how strong Nikki is and the potential for romance was the perfect mix of attraction and contempt.


Dark Descendant

Author: Jenna Black
Published: April 26, 2011
Pages: 336

Stars: 4 out of 5

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Where to Buy:
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Synopsis:
Nikki Glass can track down any man. But when her latest client turns out to be a true descendant of Hades, Nikki now discovers she can’t die. . . . Crazy as it sounds, Nikki’s manhunting skills are literally god-given. She’s a living, breathing descendant of Artemis who has stepped right into a trap set by the children of the gods. Nikki’s new “friends” include a descendant of Eros, who uses sex as a weapon; a descendant of Loki, whose tricks are no laughing matter; and a half-mad descendant of Kali who thinks she’s a spy.

But most powerful of all are the Olympians, a rival clan of immortals seeking to destroy all Descendants who refuse to bow down to them. In the eternal battle of good god/bad god, Nikki would make a divine weapon. But if they think she’ll surrender without a fight, the gods must be crazy. . . .

Review:
Nikki thinks she is a 25 year old private investigator but she soon finds out she is much more. Being the descendent of Artemis,  Nikki finds herself with a crash course on what it means to be a Liberi and that not all Liberi are good. 

Getting tossed in the middle, Nikki must choose whose side she wants to align herself with. The plus side to all this, is one side really sucks in the evil, kill innocents kind of way. While the other side is an obvious better choice, to say Nikki got off on the wrong foot with them is an understatement. 

Forced to move in with Anderson and those he protects, Nikki discovered not everyone was happy about this. As Nikki gets to know the others, she learns not all their ‘powers’ are fun. In fact, most come with sacrifices. Nikki tries her best to survive the new life she finds herself in and keep those she loves safe. But at every turn, she is faced with violence and those who don’t trust her. But more surprisingly, she uncovers secrets that will get her killed. 

This book is fast moving with a ton of action. Nikki is a strong character but she is also flawed. Her background of moving from one foster home to the next has tainted her. And because of this, she never truly feels like she belongs. I feel for Nikki’s character. I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait for the next one. I’m curious to see if anything happens between Nikki and Jamaal… 

Author Spotlight- Elizabeth McKenna: First Crush, Last Love

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This is one of those books I really wish I could read. If I wasn’t still recovering from a concussion, I would love to read this book. But as it is, this book will be added to my to-read list and I will have to wait until I am healed. 

1) When did you know first discover you wanted to be a writer and why writing?
Like most authors, I have always been a reader. I was a shy child (still am) and book characters were my friends. I did well in English class, which led me to a Journalism major in college. Deep down, I always had the fantasy of being a successful author, but when I graduated college back in 1989, self publishing wasn’t a viable option. There were bills to pay and later, children to raise, so I took the practical route.  I’m a technical writer and editor for a software company, so I write pretty dull stuff during the day. About 10 years ago, I decided I wanted to write fiction. It is a nice escape from the daily world.

2) Tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
FIRST CRUSH, LAST LOVE started out as a fictional memoir. Throughout the various crises I have faced, I often mumbled, “This will make a great book someday.” I wrote this story to exorcise the demons in my head. It took four long years to finish, and there were times that I thought I wouldn’t reach the end, but then a lucky thing happened – the characters took on their own identities and their storylines evolved away from my life. Some scenes are still true to my past, though it is not important which ones. I will tell you that I did obsess over a boy throughout high school. I did move on and marry someone else, which ended in failure. And, just like Jessie, I did marry that high school crush and we are living happily ever after.

3) What message or lasting thought do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
Making mistakes is part of life, but if you can live through the rough times, you will be stronger. And never give up on happiness. You can find your last love.

4) What author and/or what book has had the greatest impact on your life?
Nora Roberts turned me on to romance books. Before I read hers, I kind of looked down on the genre as being so unrealistic. But after I lived several decades, I realized that the world could use more romance books and happily ever afters.

5) Can you offer any advice for beginning writers or those trying to get published
Learn about story structure and find a professional editor for your book. Also, realize that not everyone will like your book. You will need to have tough skin. I have gotten one star and five star reviews on the same day. It’s just part of the job.


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Published: August 1, 2017
Pages: 314

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Book Links:
Ebook: $0.99 (US) at Amazon and Barnes & Noble 
Paperback: $8.99 (US) at CreateSpace and Amazon

Synopsis:
Remember your first crush? How your heart raced and your cheeks flushed whenever you saw him? Jessie Baxter does, and it’s happening again. Ten years ago, despite her best efforts, Lee Archer wanted to be just friends. Now, he wants more, but Jessie’s still recovering from a psycho ex-husband. Can she learn to trust again and make her first crush into her last love?

Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel will have you remembering the angst of high school, the grief of a failed relationship, and the happiness of true love.

Excerpt:
In the main banquet hall of Penbrook’s Restaurant, the band closed their first set with a slow song, and the Class of 1984 and their spouses headed to the dance floor. Jessie hadn’t slow-danced since her wedding reception and her mood turned bitter at the memory. She downed the rest of her drink. Love sucked. That was the bottom line.

She smelled Lee before she saw him. His clean, shower-fresh scent conjured up more memories. Sitting behind him in classes because “Baxter” came after “Archer,” she had breathed in his pheromones as if her life depended on it.

From behind, he nudged her shoulder with his own. “Hi there.”

His European-cut, black suit and steel-gray tie made him look both elegant and handsome. She wished for a blast of cool air to dry the drops of perspiration breaking out across her upper lip.

She swiped at the wetness and gave him a half smile. “Hi back.”

He cleared his throat, and she thought his soft green eyes shifted, but she knew that couldn’t be possible. It had to be a trick of the flickering dance lights, because gods didn’t get nervous.

“You look great. Blue is definitely your color.” His eyes traveled her royal blue silk sheath dress. “Definitely.”

The connection between her brain and mouth broke, rendering her mute.

He didn’t seem to notice her zombie-like state. Looking sheepish, he asked, “Would you like to dance? I think I owe you one.”

The horrible memories kept piling up. Now she had to agonize over the disastrous Spring Fling when they had gone to the dance together, but Lee had alternated between fighting and making out with Tina the whole night.

Her brain started functioning again. This time her smile was tight. “That was a long time ago. I barely remember the night.”

Liar, but she was done giving men the satisfaction of hurting her.

Disappointment clouded his eyes, but then it was gone with a blink and she wasn’t sure what she had seen.

“How about we dance anyway?”

She shook her head. “Thanks, but I was never good at dancing.”

“Come on. It’ll be fun.” He gave her empty glass to a passing waiter and tugged her toward the dance floor.

On the way, she fought confusion, disbelief, panic, excitement, and lust. When he slipped an arm around her waist and pulled her close, lust won. Her lady parts crowed in triumph.

“You . . . you don’t have to do this.” Her head spun as she tried to regulate her breathing. His scent filled her pores, and her knees trembled.

The beautiful mouth that she had studied to the point of knowing every curve and line frowned. “But I want to, Jester. Do you hate me that much?”

“What?” She stopped moving to the music. “I don’t hate you. Why do you think that?”

“Because I treated you like crap in high school and took you for granted. You have every right to hate me.”

“We were kids,” she said with a flick of her fingers. “Kids do stupid things.”

He shook his head. “It doesn’t make it right. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything.”

She pulled out of his grasp. She didn’t need his sympathy or his apology. She didn’t need to remember how awful high school was, and she absolutely didn’t need lust rushing through her body like whitewater rapids.

“You’re forgiven. Thanks for the dance.”

She made it two steps and then his hand captured hers again. Spinning her around, he closed the distance between them and whispered in her ear, “Please, dance with me.”

She drew in a breath and let it out, picturing her yoga master. When her body relaxed, he pulled her tighter against him. The warmth from his hand sent sparks along her spine and outward to the far corners of her body. It was like being electrocuted but in a good way. She didn’t have to die to go to heaven. Paradise was right here in his arms.


Love a book that has a Happily Ever After? Check out my alter ego, Elizabeth McKenna:

Author website / Facebook

My romance novels are available in e-book and paperback format.


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Elizabeth McKenna works as a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. Though her love of books reaches back to her childhood, she had never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene).

She had always wanted to write fiction, so she combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write Cera’s Place and Venice in the Moonlight. Her short story, The Gypsy Casts a Spell, is available for free on her website http://elizabethmckenna.com/. She hopes you will enjoy her first contemporary romance novel, First Crush Last Love, as much as others have enjoyed her historical romances.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn’t writing, working, or being a mom, she’s sleeping.

Author Page     Facebook     Instagram     GoodReads


I really hope you are able to check out Elizabeth’s book. If you have, I would love to know what you think! Till then, Happy Reading 🙂