Almost Healed

“I’d like a helping of the flu with a side of bronchitis, please.” Said no one. Ever.

Although I didn’t want it, I still managed to get stuck with it. Ten days later, I’m back to 90%. I haven’t done much of late as the sickness sucked the energy right out of me. The one thing I did do to pass the time: read.

What did I read? Well, I re-read the first four books in the Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill. I’d forgotten how much of an arrogant pain Ethan was early on. A healthy dose of Merit snark helped my mood. Plus, how can you not love some Mallory and Catcher?

Deciding I was in the mood for more vampires, I re-read some of the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward. Dark Lover, the initial book that was Beth and Wrath’s story, is one of my all time favorites. Of course, I had to delve into that one again. I’d recently finished re-reading Rhage’s book so I skipped his went straight to Butch’s. After finishing Butch and Marissa’s story, I moved to Manny and Payne’s. Theirs is one of the books I haven’t read over and over. Not sure why as I liked their story a lot, especially when the figured out Manny’s bloodline. I think I might have been tired of the V drama (I had forgotten about that in this book), which is why it isn’t one of my top favorites. Last but not least, I re-read Blood Fury because I just love me some Saxton. He waited a while for his HEA, and I’m so glad that he got it.

If you’re not familiar with Blood Fury, it’s part of the BDB Legacy series. The main couple in the book are Peyton and Novo. Here’s the blurb:

A vampire aristocrat, Peyton is well aware of his duty to his bloodline: mate with an appropriate female of his class and carry on his family’s traditions. And he thoug

ht he’d found his perfect match—until she fell in love with someone else. Yet when his split-second decision in a battle with the enemy endangers the life of another trainee, Peyton has to face the idea that his future, and his heart, actually lie with another.

Novo, as a female in the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training program, feels like she has to prove herself to everybody—and she has no interest in being distracted by falling in love. But when Peyton proves to be so much more than a rich playboy, she is forced to confront the tragedy that has broken her soul and closed her off from love.

As the two grapple with Novo’s past and Peyton’s present, another couple must contend with a connection that is unparalleled—and potentially scandalous. Saxton, who has had his heart broken, discovers in himself a deep-seated attraction to Ruhn, a new member of the household. But will the other male explore the connection? Or will he close his mind and his heart to what could be true love . . . and cost Saxton everything?

With any luck, as my energy comes back, I will get back to writing and exercising. I’m already thinking about upcoming day trips and vacations. I’ve got to get back to Iceland!! But, that’s another story…

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Easter Weekend Wrap

Well, the holiday is nearly over, and I finally have time to take a breath – and sit down at the computer! It has been a busy but beautiful weekend!

I’m going to set-up this post like the previous “Wrap” posts. I hope you enjoy catching up on me (and taking a break from the book reviews).

Word to describe the weekend: I’m going with gorgeous because of the sunny, mostly mild days we had. Granted, they started off chilly, but the afternoons were very pleasant. It made for nice traveling weather.

Books: I just finished reading Chloe Neill’s book, Wild Things (Chicagoland Vampires #9). I have to say I really enjoyed it – even gave it 5 stars. Now, I can get started on J.R. Ward’s The King. Yay!! I’m so looking forward to that one!

Exercise: It is harder and harder to get to the gym. With Spring finally here, I want to be outside. I did go for a run Friday morning on the Rail Trail. I did about 3 miles in 27:44. My goal is to run a 5K in 27 flat. I’m not a fast runner (never have been), but since my knees won’t let me run half marathons anymore, I’m going to work on my 5K time. I did squeeze in a quick workout at Planet Fitness with my cousin on Saturday. I just love the ab coaster! I know, I’m weird. It works so well that I wish my gym would invest in one.

TV/ Movies: I’m still watching Arrow. Since I don’t get the CW, I watch it on Thursday on my iPad. It is a nice almost-end-of-the-week treat.Burn_Notice_Season1 In this past week’s episode, Felicity had some awesome lines – you go, girl!! My current Netflix obsession is Burn Notice. I just love Michael and Fiona. Sam cracks me up, and Maddie is a force all on her own!! I like the addition of Jesse to the cast. My one wish is that Michael and Fiona would be a couple again. They are so perfect for each other! Oh, and have I mentioned how much I like Michael’s sunglasses?? Doesn’t hurt that he’s always eating yogurt either.

Writing: The writing front is stalled. The zombie story was rocking; now, I just need time to get back to it. I reworked the beginning to up the tension, and I think it ties in better with the ending. One of these days…

I think that about covers it! Back to laundry for me. Then, I will be cracking open The King. Enjoy!

 

Bites from Wild Things

wildthings_2-398x600So I’ve neglected everything “artsy”-related the past couple of weeks. Moving will do that to a person. I’m happy to report that I am once again a homeowner. As a side note, I will have a rant coming in the near future dealing with my rental folks. Oh, have I got a tale to tell…

I don’t want to get sidetracked now. My copy of Chloe Neill’s Wild Things (Chicagoland Vampires #9) has been sitting on my nightstand, hoping for me to read it. I started it, and I really like what’ve I read so far. The issue is time and not content.

Ethan and Merit are their typical selves. I love the banter and snark. Plus, the Pack – including Gabriel and a sexy newcomer – are a large part of this story.

My first favorite conversation between Ethan and Merit starts on page 86 and continues onto 87. Check this out:

“I love you,” he murmured, mouth slipping to my cheek, an electric chill running the length of my body.

I closed my eyes for a moment, letting myself linger against him. “I love you, too.”

He kissed me again and released me. “And Sentinel?”

I glanced up at him, fairly drunk from the kiss.

“For the sake of peace between shifters and vampires, do try to avoid staring at Damien Garza.” With that advice and a sly smile, he slipped back into the room, just in time to avoid catching the blush on my cheeks.

I hadn’t stared.

I’d admired. There was a difference.

***

I wanted to share another of my favorite passages thus far. It starts on page 96 (see, I’m not very far along). Merit, Jeff, and the sexy Damien are investigating (well, more like trying to find leads while staying out of trouble).

Let’s begin:

“What about the cat?” I asked. “If she’s gone to Alaska, we shouldn’t leave it here alone.”

Damien disappeared for a moment, reappeared a minute later, the kitten blinking drowsily in the crook of his arm. “I’ll take him.”

Tall, dark, and handsome was hot. Tall, dark, and handsome with nestled kitten? Atomic.

I have to say I absolutely love that last line. Can’t wait to read more in this story.

***

So given that it is quickly approaching my bedtime, I’m going to hop off of here so I can read, read, read. I promise not to watch Burn Notice on Netflix tonight. *wink* Regardless, Monday morning will be here way too quickly for my liking. *sigh*

Crazy Life

Well, since I’ve been back to work, my free time has been very limited, and I haven’t had a whole lot of energy to make the most of the time I do have. I joke that my days consist of work, the gym, dinner, lots of peeing (drinking lots of water and protein shakes), and sleep. Every now and again I practice the piano. Sounds exciting, right? Yeah…

I never realized the energy or the protein required to start building muscle. I’ve been lifting at the gym, trying to bulk up. My goal isn’t body builder, vein popping size, but I want muscles and definition. It has certainly been a challenge, considering I’m a vegetarian. 

Sadly, I haven’t been writing. Although, I am still reading. Right now I’m working on Dark Soul Vol. 5 by Aleksandr Voinov and Biting Bad (Chicagoland Vampires #8) by Chloe Neill. I’m really sad that this is the last book in the Dark Soul series. I’ve come to love Silvio Spadaro and will definitely miss him! 

This morning was a biking morning. Nicole and I hit the rail trail shortly after 9 am. Yep, no sleeping in for me today! We rode 26.3 miles and treated ourselves to apple pie a la mode and coffee afterward. Yum! It was a gorgeous day, and the start wasn’t as cool as we anticipated. Nothing like trying to rush fall into getting here!

We played around with taking photos at the one sunny spot on the trail. I think my self-portrait turned out pretty well! Lol

The ride kicked my butt so I’ve spent the remainder of the day reading and playing the piano. I’ve definitely enjoyed relaxing! I’m looking forward to getting back in the gym on Monday as I’m starting a new workout. Time to throw my body a curve! I think it was getting used to the old workout. Not good!

Now it is time for a protein milkshake and a movie…of maybe just some more Teen Wolf! I’m so addicted to that show!

Hope everyone has a safe Saturday night!

House Rules

While I was away, one of the books I read was House Rules (book #7 in the Chicagoland Vampires series) by Chloe Neill. Ethan and Merit were the perfect addition to a beach vacation! (Cause ya know I love me some Ethan and picture him as David Beckham *sigh*) Please be careful reading this post if you haven’t read the book and intend to – don’t want to accidentally spoil anything.

House_Rules

So this book moved along nicely and had more tension than I would have liked – darn Lacey and her scheming to get Ethan back!! Then, the mess with leaving the GP and the fairies being completely unloyal. Sheesh!!

Poor Ethan had to learn Merit was sworn into the Red Guard and had Jonah for a partner. That went over like the proverbial lead balloon. I’m proud of Merit for sticking to her guns. It sure helped that Jonah was able to provide valuable information in a couple of instances.

 

I liked that Jeff and the gang were involved. Was totally awesome when Jeff shifted. And speaking of shifted, Gabriel was there. Woot woot! He provided Merit with some cryptic wisdom! Other than that, not too much out of the pack in this book.

Ethan totally cracked me up in this one. The guy gets some of the greatest lines. Poor thing – wrecked Mercedes and tries out a Bentley. Must be nice!

On page 3, Ethan and Merit are packing up the GP’s books in the library. Ethan says, “I find mixing business with pleasure makes both more interesting.” He continued a bit later with, “Being a vampire isn’t always about getting what you want, Sentinel. Although I’ll concede I can imagine more enjoyable ways of spending our time.” As part of the conversation, Merit talks about the GP and Cadogan no longer being a part of the club. “I know. We voted to break up with them before they could break up with us.” Go Merit!! Needless to say, despite the seriousness of the situation, they soon get distracted. Leave it to Luc to break them apart!

So maybe that isn’t the best passage to illustrate the banter between Merit and Ethan, but I failed to take a highlighter on vacation. I’m sure you do get the idea, though.

I really, really enjoyed this book and can’t wait for the next. 4.5 out of 5 stars!

 

Biting Cold

Instead of me writing a start to a story for my Sample Sunday post, I’m taking a different path today. I’m going to share some of my favorite lines from a recent read.

Not too long ago, I finished Biting Cold, book six in the Chicagoland Vampires series, by Chloe Neill. Merit and Ethan fans, please don’t kill me after you read my next sentence. While I enjoyed Biting Cold, it wasn’t everything I hoped for and more. I’ve been trying to figure out why I feel this way but haven’t come up with a reason yet.

I liked the beginning – it was fast-paced and action-filled. Most of my favorite lines are found in this part of the book. The second portion of the book – meh. Instead of Merit and Ethan celebrating his coming back from being dead, there was worry and distance. A happy reunion was nowhere to be found…until much later. The last part of the book rocked!!

The story telling in the book was amazing – with the two Seth Tates and the explanation behind fallen angels. I really like how Merit and Paige (and yes, Cadogan’s librarian) research and find answers. To me everything made sense, there were no surprises that she pulled out of thin air, and Seth/ Dominic was dealt with in the end – no, I’m not sharing the particulars of what happened!

I’m going to work backwards (sort of) on my favorite lines. Only one came from the latter part of the book. This one is from Malik to Merit (see pages 309-10):

“Not pressure to win,” he said. “Pressure to try. Pressure to push through pain and fear and to do the thing even if you don’t want to do it. He did not trust you with this task because you guarantee him a victory; he trusts you with this task because he believes you will give everything you have to the effort. It is the heart, Merit, not the sword, that rules the day. Remember that, and good luck.”

Wow! What a quote (not that I doubted Malik had that kind of wisdom)! Ethan and Merit shared some amusing conversations at the beginning of the book. I’m looking for the best one to share. Ok, this one is an example of why I liked the beginning so much (see pages 2-3). They are in Ethan’s Mercedes on the way to Nebraska:

Ethan chuckled. “And are you aware you keep looking over here like you’re nervous I’m going to disappear?”

“It’s because your devastatingly handsome.”

He grinned slyly. “I wasn’t questioning your good taste.”

Hee hee. Oh, no, Ethan doesn’t think too highly of himself or anything!! Ok, one more… At the beginning of Chapter 4 (pp. 40-41). Ethan has been sure to remind Merit several times over that he took a stake for her. I’ll pick up with Ethan talking:

“Really, the stake was only worth it for the points it got me. For saving your life twice,” he added, in case I hadn’t remembered that he’d made me a vampire and jumped in front of a stake to save me. As if either was something I could easily forget.

I rolled my eyes. “I’m giving you one week to use the stake against me, and then you’re done.”

He smiled smugly. “It won’t take me one week, Sentinel.”

I didn’t bother to ask what he was trying to accomplish.

“But for now there’s business at hand, and I prefer to have you undistracted when the time comes.”

His eyes flashed silver before falling back to emerald green again. A bolt of desire shot through my body, raising goose bumps on my arms and magic in the air.

Despite my hesitations with this book, the series is amazing, and I highly recommend it.

4 out of 5 stars

Lover Reborn

   Last night I finished Lover Reborn, book number 10 in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. This was Tohr’s book. I’m not going to do a “typical” review because there is so much to cover and because I don’t want to risk spoiling anything for those that have yet to read it.
   I do confess that I let this book sit on my to-be-read pile for a bit. I would never want the author to rush through writing one of these books, but only one new book a year is difficult! As a reader, I obviously want more!!
   After spending my whole night reading (nope, nothing else got done at my house – my cat as my witness!), I finally finished around 10:15 PM. The last two hundred pages of the book were action-packed and emotion-filled. I confess that I rarely sob while reading a novel. (The last one where that happened was the book in the Chicagoland Vampires’ series where Ethan gave his own life for Merit’s.) Last night, however, me and the Kleenex box were best buds. As I thought about the emotions the book evoked, I found I had nothing but praise for Ward. As a writer, to be able to craft such an intense story (and one that was 572 pages long) that sucks the reader in so thoroughly, what an impressive feat! It should be every writer’s goal to have the reader so enthralled in the characters and the plot that the reader feels every emotion. Not only was I unable to put the book down, I felt the love and loss. The overwhelming grief. The yearning. I could go on and on . . . I hope that as a writer I am able to connect my characters with the reader in such a strong way.
   Caldwell, New York, despite being a fictional place, is somewhere I can visualize in my mind. The seedy downtown with the bars and clubs, the suburbs with the nice lots containing even nicer homes, and then the forested area of the mountain that houses the Brotherhood’s mansion (once you get through the mhis, of course).
   One other thing I noticed towards the end of the book was how much I felt for the Band of Bastards – particularly Throe and later Xcor. The bad guys (outside of the lessers) sometimes seemed . . . not so bad. My heart broke for Xcor as he punished himself for the way he hurt Throe. My heart broke even further at Throe’s desire to recover his sister’s ashes and see to it that she made it to the Fade. These antagonists weren’t all bad and evil – at some points I couldn’t help but want better for them, for them to see the error of their ways. Heck, for them to beg forgiveness of the Brotherhood and assist them in the battle against the Omega. I can’t wait to read what happens to them in the next book. Again, I would say this is something every writer should strive to achieve – bringing qualities to the “bad guys” to make them seem more life-like and even more likable – that classic struggle between good and evil.
   Of course, towards the end of the book we were given a picture of the emotional triangle between Saxton, Blay, and Qhuinn. I can’t wait to read Blay and Qhuinn’s story. Qhuinn grew so much in Lover Reborn. He became a male of worth, of loyalty and honor. Next spring seems so far away, yet I have no doubt we will be rewarded with another masterpiece.
5 of 5 stars