Dec 30, 2016

Goals for 2017




I will be the first to admit that I am horrible about setting goals.  And when I do set them, I tend to forget about them.  I did forget about the ones I made for 2016 so I pulled them back up and wanted to report on how I have done.

  1. Take at least three classes this year. They will probably be online though I am going to see what I can take through work also.  I blew this one.  I started one class through Craftsy but didn't finish it.
  2. Host a blog hop. Still thinking about the theme though. A total fail
  3. Read at least a 100 books. (This one should be a snap because as you all know, I am an avid reader) This one was a snap.  I read 178 books as of 12/28
  4. Try a new International food. I tried Polynesian and loved it.
  5. Participate in more blog hops. There weren't really many blog hops but I did join into the ones that I found.
  6. Be more active in keeping up with the blogs I follow (Not sure how to track that one).  This one does in spurts.
  7. Finish the spare room. Thinking about setting it up as a bedroom/office/photo room.  I never got this room set up which is probably a good thing since my stepson is moving here in February.
  8. Work on selling more jewelry.  I haven't really sold more but I did open up a second shop for my more extravagant art jewelry.
  9. Post more!  I really fell out of the habit since I am on my tablet more then my laptop. In fact, I am writing this on my iPad but I can't seem to add pics to my posts except from my computer. Rather sucks since I have the pics on my phone/tablet. I have found a way to post from my tablet so that is a win.
 I guess that over all I am happy with what I accomplished though I do need to really work more one my jewelry.  So time for some more goals for 2017.

  1. Get a puppy and train it.
  2. Do more promotion on my jewelry.
  3. Become more active in the Red Hat Society.
  4. Take at least one jewelry class this year.
  5. Take part in the Year of Jewelry Project and actually complete all the weeks.  I also plan on posting the jewelry that I am complete here.
  6. Take part in all the monthly Art Bead Scene monthly challenges.  
  7. Read or listen at least 125 books .
  8. Organize and paint my bedroom.
Dec 28, 2016

Ramblings



  • There are times when I feel that the universe is trying to tell me something.  It's pretty slow at work today so I am reading a book.  Actually I finished one and started another.  One is an urban fantasy and the other is a cozy mystery.  They both mentioned the same movie however. Rear Window starring Jimmy Stewart.  Maybe I should watch it.
  • I am very sad about the passing of George Michaels.  He and Prince provided the soundtrack of one part of my youth.  They were both far too young to leave us.  I am so done with 2016.

  •  I have been busy and cleaning up my bedroom.  Trying to get organized and get rid of the clothing that I haven't worn in years.  My favorite part?  I found a way to corral my boots by hanging them.  I can finally found which pair I want without digging through boxes.  My only regret with those hangers is that I only picked up one pack instead of the two I am going to end up needing.
  • Why is it so difficult to find a place to eat on Christmas?  It used to be that you could find a good Chinese restaurant but when we went looking this year the only thing we could find was Denny's with a 45 minute wait..

  • My muse actually came back to visit me on Christmas Eve.  I made up a couple pairs of earrings to donate and the necklace that I made for the ABS Challenge. Now to just get caught up with the rest.
Dec 27, 2016

Art Bead Scene December Challenge


America Windows, 1977, By Marc Chagall, Art Institute of Chicago


Time to finish up 2016 and the monthly Art Bead Scene's challenges.  I am totally in love with the inspiration that was chosen.  Those rich blues and all the elegant lines of the stained glass.  So very rich.



For some reason, this piece has an Art Noveau feel to it so I ran with that.  I was lucky enough to pick up an artisan brass focal from Leslie Watt of Thea Elements. 



With this beautiful focal, I decided to go simple on the design of the necklace so it would have the opportunity to really shine.  I added some etched brass chain and some sodalite that has incredible color to it.  

This necklace is currently for sale at Alchemee Designs and remember that with each purchase, money is donated to Old Dog Haven
Dec 26, 2016

Book Review: A Killer Location




As this captivating cozy mystery series featuring real estate agent Sam Turner continues, a dream home turns into a crime scene when murder intrudes on an open house.

Thanks to a few sales and a self-help book on becoming a super-agent, Sam Turner is well on her way to becoming real estate royalty in Arlinda, her eccentric hometown on the Northern California coast. And after settling into her new house with her teenage son, she’s finally a homeowner, too. Sure, things aren’t perfect—for example, her sister still doesn’t know that Sam is dating her ex, police chief Bernie Aguilar—but perfect is boring. And Sam’s life is never boring.

When Sam’s boss, Everett Sweet, assigns her an open house in Arlinda’s most exclusive neighborhood, she brushes up on her super-agent tips, hoping to wow potential buyers. But there’s nothing in the manual about stumbling upon the owner’s dead body halfway through the tour. When suspicion falls on her boss, Sam and her co-workers are suddenly out of work, their real estate licenses suspended. Now, with her job on the line and a mortgage to pay, Sam will need every trick in the book to clear Everett’s name.


* * * * *

I do have to say that Ms.Hobart has turned me into a lover of cozy mysteries.  The main character, Sam Turner, could be my next door neighbor as she struggles to pay her bills and raise her teenage son on her own. Unfortunately, Sam has a habit of finding dead bodies or at least pieces of them.  

The pacing on this book was spot on, the dialogue is witty and sometimes funny, and the question of who is killing who will keep you glued to the pages until you discover the surprising answer.   A KILLER LOCATION is the perfect book to read while curling up with a hot cup of tea.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
Dec 24, 2016

Book Review: Boy Meets Witch




Harper Adams is a witch on the run--from her past as a faith healer turned accidental arsonist, and from the power she's kept locked away her whole life. She thinks she's finally found a place she can settle down and call home in the picturesque town of Cold Creek, Vermont, but a mysterious white cat who may or may not be bent on taking the curvaceous witch's soul has other plans. Harper's compassion gets the best of her and earns her an unwanted reputation as the town miracle worker as well as the ire of sexy veterinarian and militant atheist, Darren St. Clair.

Cold Creek's residents have a few supernatural secrets of their own, and Harper will have to face the destiny that led her to the last place a witch in hiding needs to be--that is, if Darren doesn't have her chased out of town with a pitchfork-wielding mob before she gets the chance.


* * * * *

BOY MEETS WITCH is an enjoyable and quick read that introduces the reader to the town of Cold Creek and its inhabitants.  We also get the opportunity to meet Harper who is running from her past and definitely doesn't want to be known as the town witch.  Oh and let's not forget Locke who is after Harper's soul.

This was a fun book but I didn't find the ending very satisfying.  I found that I was left with more questions than answers.  It's a good way to convince a reader to stick with a series but I much prefer that each book stands on its own while following the story arc.  

I think that some of my readers might enjoy BOY MEETS WITCH especially if they are looking for a quick paranormal to read.  Let me know if what you think if you do try out this book.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.

 

Dec 23, 2016

Book Review: Suddenly Dating





If only Lola Dunne had the time—and the courage—she’d write her novel, and maybe even start dating again. When her friend offers the use of her summer home overlooking Lake Haven, Lola sees the chance to focus on herself for a change, and she eagerly accepts.
Engineer Harry Westbrook is waiting for his ship to come in. But it’s not happening soon enough for his girlfriend, who’s left him for good…again. To nurse Harry’s heartache, his pal extends an invite to his lake house in East Beach.

When it turns out that Harry’s and Lola’s friends are a divorcing, not-on-speaking-terms couple sparring over the same house, the strangers find themselves accidental (and reluctant) roommates for the summer. They agree to make the best of it, even posing as a couple to mingle among East Beach’s well-heeled crowd. But the ruse is starting to feel real—and romantic. Are they brave enough to reveal their feelings before the summer nights turn cold?

                                                                   * * * * *

One of my pet peeves about the contemporary romance genre is that usually the heroine is fresh and never been kissed.  Just how realistic is that when most women have been kissed at least once by the time they make it out of their teenage years.  That goodness Lola has already been married and has a lot more experience then kissing.

In fact, I really appreciated the fact that both of the main characters are in their thirty's and come complete with the baggage from their past experiences.  Lola has always put everyone else's needs before her own and needs to learn that to be happy, she needs to put herself first.  Harry knows what he wants but it seems as though his family is against him starting his own company.  And his girlfriend left him because he doesn't want a 9 to 5 job and a steady paycheck.

I really like SUDDENLY DATING because circumstances allow Harry and Lola to become friends long before they add the benefits into the package.  I had to chuckle at Lola's clumsiness during intimate encounters because who hasn't had to deal with that.  I sympathized with Harry as he wonders if he is going to be able to keep sinking money into his new business.  Both characters felt as though they were old friends that I was rooting for.

I do recommend SUDDENLY DATING to any of my readers who enjoy contemporary romances that are real.  There are some sex scenes but nothing explicit.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.







Dec 21, 2016

Ramblings



  • My imp is back. I have a wireless mouse set up on my work computer and I was in the process of using it when all of a sudden it went dead.  I assumed that the batteries had died so I replaced them and still nothing.  So I started to investigate and the little receiver that you plug into the computer was gone.  Now I have NO idea how it just up and disappeared when I was using it.  Thanks Imp.
  • I hope that everyone has a Blessed Yule.  I am going to going out to dinner with some friends and their daughter who I haven't seen in a couple years since she is attending college in Hawaii.
  • When I reviewed a prequel to the Jack Stratton series,  I ended up falling in love with the characters.  To get the rest of the series, it would be $9.99 or I could get them free with a 30 day free trial of Kindle Unlimited.  I bet that you can guess which way I went.  So now I get to read that series and figure out if the $9.99 a month is worthwhile to me with all the books I already get to review.  We shall see.

 
  • One of the Christmas traditions that we have always had is to go to a movie.  We had plans to go see the new Harry Potter movie, Fantastic Beasts but for some reason, it is only showing for a week in my area.  Not sure why as I would think that this would be a movie that parents would want to take their kids too when they are out on winter break.   And now I am going to have to wait until it hits cable.  Not too happy about that.
  • I love my purple purse.  Heck I have fallen in love with the color purple since I joined the Red Hatters.  Anyways,  I finally decided that I needed a black one too.  Yeah me who has never been a big purse person.  I have always only had one since I hate switching them out.  I now have two. Hmmm... what else is going to change.  Am I am going to start wearing shoes..  Um no way! 
  • I am definitely getting antisocial in my old age.  Went to a Christmas party hosted by work on Saturday and all I wanted to do is find a quiet corner to read a book.  Not that great of a party.  I ended up heading out at 10 since I had to work the next day and they still hadn't put out the deserts.
  • There are times that I love living in Washington. I stopped to take a pic of Commencement Bay when I headed out to get some of Boo's paperwork.  And there were seals!  I wasn't able to get any good pics of them with my phone but the sound of them brought a huge smile to my face. 
Dec 16, 2016

Book Review: A Night of Forever





Arend Aubury trusts no one besides his fellow Libertine Scholars. After his family escaped from France, penniless and persecuted, only the Scholars took him in. So when the stepdaughter of the villainess who has been plotting against them approaches Arend with allegations against their enemy, he suspects a double cross. Yet Isobel is a tantalizing prize, with lips as sweet as champagne and skin as creamy as Camembert. Is she a feast for the senses—or a bitter trap?

Lady Isobel Thompson dreams of marrying an honorable gentleman with a spotless reputation, a trait that Arend seems to lack completely. But Isobel believes that her stepmother is responsible for her father’s death, and only Arend has the skills to uncover the truth. As a cover, Arend suggests a fake betrothal—and soon Isobel finds herself forgetting that their courtship is a ploy. He’s so different from the man of her fantasies, and yet he’s so terribly handsome, so dangerously intoxicating—and all Isobel wants is more.


* * * * *

What better way to relax from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season then to read about a love that happened centuries ago.  Or could have happened.  A NIGHT OF FOREVER was the perfect remedy to all those not yet wrapped presents.

Let me start off by giving the author kudos.  This is actually the sixth book in the series but it did manage to stand alone.  This is huge for me as there is nothing that I hate more then a book where I feel lost because I didn't read the earlier books.  

I really liked the character of Isobel.  She is an old soul and doesn't tend to allow herself to become too concerned with the small stuff.  She knows that someone killed her father and she knows that Arend is consumed with something that happened in the past.  And she is determined to resolve both issues.

Arend is a tortured man.  He feels that the only good thing in his life is his friendship with Libertine Scholars and that events in his past have made him worthless otherwise.  Both his angst and his sensuality made for an interesting character.

I did enjoy the story line as it contained danger, friendship, love and hot sex.  The pacing was fast and the dialogue was witty.  I did find a couple content editing errors that pulled me out of the story but hopefully those where found in the final edit.

I do recommend this book to my readers who enjoy historical romance.  It does have some explicit sex scenes so be warned if there are any younger readers interested.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.

Dec 15, 2016

Book Review: Her Last Breath





Mari Gill wakes to horror in a strange apartment next to a murdered man, and can't remember the night before. Accused of murder, she feels torn between her husband, a successful defense attorney, and a mysterious, kind man who wants to help. Can she trust either of them - or even her friends? Detective Kerri Blasco battles her police bosses believing Mari is innocent...but is she?

                                                                       * * * * *

Talk about chilling.  Imagine waking up next do a dead man covered in his blood and then have trouble finding your inhaler.  Once you are able to breath again, you realize that you can't remember anything about the night before.  It's enough to send shivers down my spine.

Thank goodness for Mari, Detective Blasco has a 'feeling' that you are not guilty of killing him and will do everything in her power to discover just who the real killer is.  If I was to ever find myself falsely accused, I can only hope that I would have such a cop on the case

HER LAST BREATH has everything that you would want to find in a psychological thriller.  A circumstance that is all too real, tight pacing, and characters that the reader can care about.  It's another one of those books that you won't want to set aside for any reason.  It is the second book of the series but it is so complete in itself that you won't feel that you are missing anything if you haven't read the first one.


I highly recommend this book to my readers who enjoy horror, thrillers and police procedurals.  I am off to pick up the first book in this series.
Dec 14, 2016

Ramblings





  • It's official. I am running behind. It's almost Yule and I have just gotten my first gift laid out. And I haven't even started on thinking about what I am making for Dorothy, my massage therapist. Time to start having a melt down. 
  • Thank the Goddess for good friends especially ones share my husbands interest in movies based on the comics. My DH got to go see Dr. Strange and I didn't have to be bored for hours. 
 
  • Won some gorgeous beads from Andrew Thornton of Allegory Gallery. I just love his porcelain beads. 
  • I think my muse has officially gone on vacation which really sucks. I love the inspiration that Art Bead Scene has put up for this month's challenge but nothing is coming to mind. Oh and there is that dragon hop. Come on Ms Muse. 
Dec 12, 2016

Book Review: Black Diamond




For some people, the untamed beauty of the bayou is a place to hide. For Louisiana wildlife agent Jena Sinclair, it’s a place of refuge—one where she can almost forget the tragedy that scarred both her skin and her soul. But when the remains of yet another fisherman turn up, Jena realizes that Bayou Pointe-aux-Chenes is not safe for her…or anyone else.

The mysterious deaths aren’t her only problem. A dangerous drug known as Black Diamond is circulating through Terrebonne Parish, turning addicts into unpredictable sociopaths. Jena’s investigation leads her to Cole Ryan—a handsome, wary recluse struggling with his own troubled history—who knows more than he’s willing to admit. If they want to stop the killer, Jena and Cole must step out of the shadows of their pasts and learn to help each other…before the evils lurking in the bayou consume them both.


* * * * *

There are just some books that are so good, where you get so involved with the characters, that you just are unable to set them aside.  BLACK DIAMOND was one of those books.  My plan was to read a little over breakfast and then go get the rest of my errands done for the day.  Well let's just say that my errands did get done but a few hours late.

While I did enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the bayou, what really grabbed and held me were the characters.  Jenna is such a flawed individual who is unsure of herself but determined to regain the ground she had lost after the shooting.  Cole's answer to the darkness of our society was to retreat completely but meeting Jena is causing him to rethink that decision.  I also really liked Mac, who was Jena's partner and a secondary character,  he tends to be a chatterbox and a flirt so people tend to underestimate him.

The pacing on this book was perfect with a lot of tension that builds towards a satisfying conclusion.  I really appreciated the bits of humor that gives the reader a chance to catch their breath.

I do recommend BLACK DIAMOND to any of my readers who enjoy a well written romantic suspense.  This series is on now on my radar and I can't wait for the next book to come out.
Dec 11, 2016

Book Review: My Seductive Highlander




Though part of a legacy of time-traveling sisters, Lilia Sinclair is planted firmly in twenty-first-century Edinburgh. Her granny’s matchmaking with thirteenth-century Highlanders isn’t about to lure her into the past, especially as ancient Scotland enters troubled times. After all, Lilia is blessed—or cursed—with dire prophetic visions. To protect herself, she’s put up an icy emotional wall no man could cross—until a pair of gorgeous, rippling arms breaks right through.

Graham MacTavish is pure trouble. Once the dragon bound to Loch Ness, he’s transformed into a philanderer of the first order. In fact, because of his dalliances with other men’s wives, a rival clan wants his head on a pike. Before he provokes an all-out war, Graham is banished to the twenty-first century, where he must win Lilia’s hand—or return to die. But after meeting a lass as fierce as any Highland warrior, Graham knows one thing: life with Lilia, in any century, is a fate to embrace.


* * * * *

One of my major pet peeves with series is when a book isn't able to stand on its own merits.  And I am running into that more and more lately.  Thank goodness that MY SEDUCTIVE HIGHLANDER isn't one of those books. I haven't had the pleasure of reading the first three books in this series yet but I so enjoyed this last one that I will be picking up this author's back list.

I especially enjoyed the characters. Graham's confusion with today's world was worth more then one chuckle while Lilia reminded me of a warrior princess.  And we can't forget her best friends, Vivienne and Alberti always have her back.  Angus is a bumbler but definitely goodhearted.

I do recommend MY SEDUCTIVE HIGHLANDER to my readers who enjoy men in kilts and time travel romances even if you are like me and end up reading the last book first.  It makes for an enjoyable escape for the issues of the day.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
Dec 9, 2016

Book Review: The Immortal's Hunger






It was only a matter of time before Gareth Brennan had to die. Before he made that ultimate sacrifice, the assassin wanted to know warmth once again. His recent experiences had destroyed his ability to create fire, yet sexy bartender Ashley Clement was now igniting one within him.

As a Phoenix, Ashley had limited time herself; soon a male Phoenix would claim her. Unless she could find a lover. Gareth was the perfect man for the job. Except he was no human, and their union might draw even more danger. But to deny their fiery attraction...that was a truly impossible task.


* * * * *

When I wander away from a genre for a while and then find my way back, I always wonder just what took me so long.  Paranormal romances have been a long time favorite of mine as I enjoy meeting the different supernatural races.  THE IMMORTAL'S HUNGER is the first time that I have enjoyed the pleasure of meeting a Phoenix.  I have to say that I wasn't that impressed by the culture but I loved meeting Ashley who rebelled against that culture.

I wasn't too sure that I was going to care for Gareth as he was all dark and gloomy.  He does tend to grow on you as the book continues and really became human when one of his fears popped up.  Ashley is a fiercely independent woman who is determined not to need anyone except when her breeding cycle occurs.  She flat out refuses to care for anyone.

THE IMMORTAL'S HUNGER has a nice pacing complete with danger from angry Goddesses and horny male Phoenixes.  It's an easy read and one that I can recommend to my readers who enjoy paranormal romance.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.

Dec 8, 2016

Book Review: Her Last Breath




Mari Gill wakes to horror in a strange apartment next to a murdered man, and can't remember the night before. Accused of murder, she feels torn between her husband, a successful defense attorney, and a mysterious, kind man who wants to help. Can she trust either of them - or even her friends? Detective Kerri Blasco battles her police bosses believing Mari is innocent...but is she?

* * * * *

Talk about chilling.  Imagine waking up next do a dead man covered in his blood and then have trouble finding your inhaler.  Once you are able to breath again, you realize that you can't remember anything about the night before.  It's enough to send shivers down my spine.

Thank goodness for Mari, Detective Blasco has a 'feeling' that you are not guilty of killing him and will do everything in her power to discover just who the real killer is.  If I was to ever find myself falsely accused, I can only hope that I would have such a cop on the case.

HER LAST BREATH has everything that you would want to find in a psychological thriller.  A circumstance that is all too real, tight pacing, and characters that the reader can care about.  It's another one of those books that you won't want to set aside for any reason.  It is the second book of the series but it is so complete in itself that you won't feel that you are missing anything if you haven't read the first one.

I highly recommend this book to my readers who enjoy horror, thrillers and police procedurals.  I am off to pick up the first book in this series. 
Dec 7, 2016

Ramblings


 

  • Well it's official. I do have a new shift with weekends off. That will be nice since I won't have to worry about not being able to attend Red Hat events. My only concern is the fact that I will be working five days a week. Last time I tried that, my fibro objected.  Fiercely. 
  • I have been updating my new shop, Alchemee Designs  and will keep adding a few pieces every week. This shop is truly a labor of love since 25% of each sale is donated to Old Dog Haven  They are a wonderful nonprofit dog rescue which maintains a network of foster homes for senior dogs that are not healthy enough to be adopted. 
  • I was woken this morning by the dogs going off. When I answered the dog, my father-in-law was standing there. I haven't seen him in six years since my husband and his father don't get along. I think he has finally been struck by his mortality and wants to mend burnt bridges. 
  • I won a couple Amazon gift cards from work. As much as I shop there, these are as good as cash. 
Dec 5, 2016

Book Review: Church of the Spilled Blood





Jack Salvo teaches philosophy one night a week at a local community college, but he pays his bills by working as a Los Angeles private detective.

When a group of world-class Russian ballet dancers visits L.A., he signs on as a bodyguard. It's a piece of cake. All he has to do is hang out with beautiful women. Then one of his charges is kidnapped from under his nose. In pursuing the kidnappers, he evades the FBI, finds bullet-riddled bodies near the Hollywood Sign, and dodges bullets.

Drawn into a web of deceit and maniacal revenge, he finds himself in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Now he's a fish-out-of-water--an L.A. private eye in a strange land. The most popular historical site in town is called The Church of Our Savior Built on Spilled Blood. When Salvo tries to save the life of a ballerina with whom he has developed a close personal relationship, the church lives up to its name.


* * * * *

I have really been in the mood for a hard hitting PI book after the last couple books that I have read and I do have to say that CHURCH OF THE SPILLED BLOOD hits it out of the park on all accounts.  This is a book that will keep you engrossed from the very first page.

I really like Jack Salvo.  He's a different type of PI who just happens to teach philosophy in his spare time.  Now that doesn't mean that he is a pushover but just the way that he thinks tends to be different from most of the PIs that I have ran across in books.  He can certainly dish out the blood and guts but he is a nice guy.
 
CHURCH OF THE SPILLED BLOOD is actually the second book in the Jack Salvo story and it stands really well on its own though there are some questions that come up such as how he can afford to bribe everyone with hundred dollar bills when he is on a case for himself.  I am going to definitely grab the first book in the series to see if I get some answers and because I want more of this PI.

I do recommend this book to any of my readers who enjoy mysteries and Private Investigators.  I am sure that you will enjoy it as much as I did.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
Dec 4, 2016

Book Review: Born Mobster





Seven-year-old Tony Bruno is an outcast among his peers. Bullied by his classmates and rejected by his father, Tony is lonely and desperate. Tired of being bullied, Tony strikes back. In one act of blind courage, he shifts the balance of power. When Tony becomes a teenager, a new kid named Salvatore Morano transfers to his school and becomes the object of ridicule. Tony feels compelled to help the new kid. He has no idea who Salvatore is and what it means to be his friend. 

Soon Tony is sought out by Salvatore's father, Johnny Morano, the godfather of the Philadelphia Mafia, to help protect his son. Tony, who has admired the Italian mob from a distance, has always been fascinated by the Mafia's power. He quickly learns that with power comes sacrifice. Tony will be forced to draw upon strength from deep within to survive his new, unwanted life. 

From the dark corners of his new world, Tony is driven to emerge from the fires of hell to find happiness. Born Mobster is a haunting story of one bullied child who is deprived of love and taunted by corrupt individuals along his journey. Follow Tony through his rite of passage and experience the brutalities, murders, love, and honor that finally force Tony to become the man he was born to be.

* * * * *

I don't know about being a BORN MOBSTER but life has certainly forced Tony down that path.  From a young child, Tony faced bullying at school and abuse at home.  Even so, he was still a child that could experience love.  It wasn't until he went to Juvie to save a friend that he experienced the true depravity that adults can drop too.  

Even after reading this story, I can't say whether or not I enjoyed it.  It kept me reading but it is far from a comfortable story.  Tony is a strong individual and I wish that I could say that his experiences were unusual but they really weren't.  Life can be hell for some children and it amazes me that we don't have more BORN MOBSTERs among us.  

I wasn't really happy about the ending as it pretty much concludes Tony's story and then tells the reader that another book about Tony is coming out.  I do think that my readers who enjoy reading biography style books might enjoy Tony's story.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.

Nov 27, 2016

Book Review: Follow Me




Brilliant, quirky twenty-three-year-old China Mack is totally satisfied with her carefully ordered, data-driven life. A computer prodigy who landed a coveted programming job at the cutting-edge tech company Cysnet before even graduating from MIT, China is happiest when following her routine: shower before coffee, pizza only on Mondays, bedtime at ten thirty sharp.

But then things start to get a little…unpredictable.

First Jackson Cooper—Cysnet’s rich, gorgeous, genius CEO—assigns China to a dangerous and highly classified project for a government defense contractor. Her sixteen-year-old runaway niece suddenly arrives in town, begging to move in with China. And then there’s her sexy but oddly unsettling new neighbor, Clark…

Quickly the Cysnet assignment becomes disconcerting—and then downright scary—as key staffers turn up dead. China suspects she’s being followed and isn’t sure whom she can trust. For the first time ever, she’ll have to follow her instincts, rather than logic, if she’s going to survive.


* * * * *

 FOLLOW ME was a quick read because it was one of those books that the pacing was so spot on that I couldn't bear to set the book aside.  It has a lot of yummy men, hot cars, deaths that are easy explained and poor China Mack.

I really like China Mack.  She is brilliant but ranks really low on social skills.  I am sure that she would show up on the autism scale but I feel that a good part of her social ineptness is the fact that she just isn't sure how to communicate with 'normal' people.  Actually she reminds me of friends and people I have met at various cons.  Luckily she has her niece Mia to help her navigate the world of dating.

The characters in this book are all well developed.  Both Clark and Jackson are men that I wouldn't have minded meeting when I was single.  Oh and much younger.  Still I get the chance to know them thru Ms. Snow's deft touch with her characters.

I do recommend FOLLOW ME to any of my readers who enjoy a well written romantic suspense set in the world of corporations, governments and terrorists.  I am really crossing my fingers that this is only the first book in China's story. 

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
Nov 26, 2016

Book Review: The Return of Sir Percival





Seven years after the death of Arthur Pendragon, Sir Percival, the last surviving knight of the Round Table, returns to Albion after a long and futile quest for the Holy Grail. The peaceful and prosperous home that he left a decade earlier is no more. Camelot has fallen, and much of the Pendragon’s kingdom has been subjugated by the evil Morgana and the Norse invaders who once served under her banner.

Although the knight desires only to return to his ancestral lands and to live in peace, he vows to pursue one last quest before he rests—to find Guinevere, the Queen of the Britons. This journey will force the knight to travel the length and breadth of Albion, to overcome the most fearsome and cunning of enemies, and to embrace a past that is both painful and magnificent.

The Return of Sir Percival is the tale of a knight who seeks peace, but finds only war, of a Queen who has borne sorrow and defeat, but who will not yield, and of a valiant people determined to cast of the yoke of their oppressors. It is also a tale of tragedy and triumph, and of romance lost and then found.

The unique vision of the Arthurian world brought to life in S. Alexander O’Keefe’s The Return of Sir Percival takes readers on a journey that is as enthralling as it is memorable.


* * * * *

I have always loved the tales of King Arthur and the Round Table and have read many different variations.  This book however is the first time I have been able to see what happened after that final battle.  

THE RETURN OF SIR PERCIVAL has a slower pace then most of the ones that I read but it allows the reader to fully immerse themselves in the story.   At no time does the story seem to lag or stall.  It's all beautifully paced and as it is told from the viewpoints of  the different characters, the reader really gets a chance to know all of them.

This really is a beautiful story filled with all the joy and the pain of the time.  It is also one that I highly recommend to any of my readers who also enjoy the Arthurian legends.  I am glad to see that this is only the first book and can hardly wait for the next one to show up on my radar.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
Nov 25, 2016

Alchemee of Black Friday




Now I normally avoid Black Friday like a plaque ever since a little old senior citizen ran me down with a shopping cart.  Of course the growing ease of shopping online has definitely helped out there.  After all, who wants to get up in the middle of the night to camp out in from a store when you can do your shopping online?



If you are taking the time to read my post you either feel the same or you are done with that madness so I wanted to bring you a little eye candy.  I haven't been posting a lot of jewelry lately so I wanted to play a bit of catch up and introduce my readers to my new store Alchemee Designs.



Now this shop is a work in progress as I am much better at making jewelry then uploading it to my website.  I do take pictures of everything and post them through Instagram as Shais3D  so be sure to follow me there also and if you see something that you like, let me know.  There will always be a discount for saving me from uploading the designs to my shop.



Alchemee Designs is an effort to combine two of my loves, designing jewelry and rescuing animals.  I will be donating 25% of the purchase price to Old Dog Haven to help with the medical expenses of the senior dogs that they rescue.



 You would be able to find all of these designs on the website along with others.  I will be adding more every couple days so be sure to check back often.  Also for my readers, I am having a holiday sale.  Enter the code HAPPYHOLIDAYS for a 20% discount.  It will be good until the end of the 2016.



Nov 23, 2016

Ramblings




  • My dog Pooka is seriously a thief.  I have always known that he would steal food if he could get to it but I discovered that he will also steal beads.  I received some beads in when I was down sick with the flu so after I looked at them, I put them back on the box and left them on the bed.  I figured that since they weren't edible that they would be safe.  Not so!  When I went to get them, I discovered that he had taken the bag out of the box and tried to stash them.  I was able to find most of them but the Goddess knows when the rest will reappear.

  •  BeiJing is getting old and finally starting to show it.  She loves to come to work with me but is starting to have trouble making it up the stairs.  I think  that it is time that I start looking for another puppy so that she will have time to train her.  Another younger dog will also keep Pooka occupied.
  • We are undergoing another shift bid at work and I am not a bit happy about the choices.  I have worked 4 10s for years and the only ones they offer this time around don't offer the days off I need.  And I am not that picky.  I just need to be sure that I have a Saturday off so I can host our monthly potluck but it looks like the only way I will be able to get that is if I go back to working Monday thru Friday.  The shorter shifts might work as I am starting to get exhausted after about 8 hours at work but it will make it difficult to manage my and Saje's doctor appointments. Guess it is time that I update my FMLA to also cover my massages and other medical needs.

  • I love Overdrive. I have been getting quite a few audio books through them for free.  Seriously if you like e-books or audio books, it is worth checking out to see if your library has  a membership as they are free and you check them out just like any other library book.
  • I know that you would think that I get enough books through my reviewing but another place that I have found to get some really nice book is Prime Reading.  If you have an Amazon Prime account, this is a free benefit of the membership.

  • I went out and got a perm.  I just wanted to add a bit of curl to my wavy hair but I ended up with almost a spiral perm.  Oh well.  It will relax and make my hair care easy for the next year or so.  I also managed to catch the flu when I got my curls.  Not such a good thing.
Nov 21, 2016

Book Review: The Pick, The Spade and the Crow




When the body of a man is discovered in woodlands outside Manchester, a ten-year missing-persons investigation can finally be filed away. But this was no ordinary death: gagged, bound and buried alive, he was the victim of a sophisticated and sadistic killer. And there is something else that has the National Crime Agency puzzled. A single character carved into a nearby tree.

Newly promoted to the NCA's Behavioural Sciences Unit, Senior Investigator Joanne Stuart is determined to hunt down the perpetrator. Just as Jo's investigation begins to reveal links with other disappearances, there is another murder. This is no longer a cold case; she is dealing with the escalating violence of a chilling serial killer.

Stepping into a sinister world of secrets, symbols and rituals, Jo will have to confront the legacy of her own past and the violent memories that lurk there if she is going to solve this case. But at what cost?


* * * * *

I feel like celebrating because I managed to stumble into an enjoyable crime series at the beginning.  It seems that I always manage to find them after multiple books have been published and then I end up playing catch up.  Not this time around though and it is a definite bonus that this appears to be a series that I will be following.

This series is set in England and seeing the differences between their police department and the one we have here in the States was quite interesting.  You can tell that their focus is more on the keeping the peace while avoiding violence whereas we are seeing more and more cases of police brutality here.  Heck Jo isn't even armed with a handgun while she is on duty.

While there are definite differences, people are people no matter where they live. As a woman, she has to deal with the old guard who don't feel that females can do the job.  And killer exist everywhere.  I really enjoyed getting to know Jo who is a strong woman and a great character.  Just watching her investigation was enough to keep me glued to the pages until the very end.

I also very much enjoyed a peek into the world of the Masons.  Of course it was just a peek since they are such a secretive society as far as their rituals are concerned.

I do recommend this book to any of my readers who enjoy police procedural books as well as anyone who enjoys books set in England.  I can't wait to read the next book in this series.
Nov 20, 2016

Book Review: And Then She Was Gone




What’s done in the dark will be brought to the light…

The silhouette stood at the edge of the woods like a spider watching a fly enter its carefully crafted web. Only a few more steps and she’d be within its grasp.

Stacy Shaw has her whole life ahead of her. New job, new house and now a baby on the way—everything she’s ever hoped for is finally coming true. But on a warm summer night on the way home from work, she vanishes. The police race to find her, but the clues don’t add up. Conflicting facts emerge as her story twists and turns, sending the trail spiraling in all directions.

A hometown hero with a heart of gold, Jack Stratton was raised in a whorehouse by his prostitute mother. Jack seemed destined to become another statistic, but now his life has taken a turn for the better. Determined to escape his past, he's headed for a career in law enforcement. When his foster mother asks him to look into the girl’s disappearance, Jack quickly gets drawn into a baffling mystery. As Jack digs deeper, everyone becomes a suspect—including himself. Caught between the criminals and the cops, can Jack discover the truth in time to save the girl? Or will he become the next victim?

And Then She Was Gone is the prequel of the Detective Jack Stratton Mystery Series.


* * * * * 

I seem to be blessed when it comes to reading prequels.  I usually stumble upon them when the series has a few books out so that if I love them, I can look forward to grabbing the series and binge reading until I am caught up.  And the  Detective Jack Stratton Mystery Series looks like it is going to be one of those series.  

 AND THEN SHE WAS GONE is a wonderful introduction to Jack and his sidekick Chandler.  The book starts out with him stopping a purse snatcher and just keeps getting better from there.  When Stacy Shaw disappears, Jack is positive that the police have gotten the wrong man and he is determined to prove it.  

The story line is fast paced yet there is time for the reader to really get to know Jack and his background.   The dialogue is witty and sometimes amusing and the characters are a real treat.  They are so realistic that I can picture some of them popping up for my monthly potluck.

I do recommend this prequel to any of my readers who enjoy reading police procedurals and I tend to search out the rest of the series.   There's no sex in this book but there is violence.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own. 
Nov 18, 2016

Book Review: Tied To His Betrayal





Darius Bennett can’t live without supreme control. A self-made billionaire, he’s rich enough to get anything—and any woman—he wants, yet he’s still haunted by a broken relationship. Five years ago, Darius let Taylor Erikson go because he knew he could never give her what she truly wanted: his heart. But the moment Taylor walks back into his life, bruised and beaten, Darius blames himself. To make good on his betrayal, he vows to help her heal—in and out of the sheets.

Once upon a time, Darius was Taylor’s world. Now his fierce embrace is exactly what she needs to get back on her feet. But Taylor pays a heavy price for her sizzling nights with Darius. As the emotional ties become stronger than ever and the paparazzi hunt her down for their next juicy story, Taylor must face some hard truths. They can’t go back. And to move forward, the key to loving Darius isn’t about keeping his secrets—it’s about exposing them.


* * * * *

I want to say this right up front,  this book is for mature audiences only.  It contains some rather hot and explicit sex scenes so no children allowed.  That is unless their parents approve.

This is a rather fast read with pacing that just flows from one page to the next.  The dialogue is also also snappy and at time rather amusing.  My problem was the characters themselves.   I actually found more connected to one of the secondary characters, Allie, and I am going to have go back and read her story.

I enjoyed TIED TO HIS BETRAYAL but it almost felt as though I was reading a fairy tale where the rich prince comes along, rescues the damsel and they live happily ever after.  The characters just didn't seem that real to me even though Ms. Kennedy tries to take her reader inside of their thoughts and emotions.  There's a lot of passion between them but I just didn't feel that there was enough solid ties to build a relationship on or to pine for five years about a past relationship.


I can recommend this to my readers who enjoy very sensual books just don't expect a lot of emotional depth to the story.  This book does have sexual encounters with Dominant man and also deal with domestic abuse.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.

Book Review: A Moving Screen






On June 16, 2005 the body of a female is discovered in the smoking shell of a house fire in Atlanta, Georgia. Without clues to identify the victim or the person responsible for what is ruled arson and murder, Dennis Cane, lead detective, decides to take one last look at the crime scene. He finds a single black thread. On June 24 another female victim is found in a neighboring county. Through his resourcefulness, Dennis learns that a black thread was found at the site of this crime, but the cases go cold due to lack of evidence and bodies that cannot be identified. Two jurisdictions. Two separate cases. Two brutal and horrifying murders.

Over the next three years, literally clinging to threads, he begins to see a pattern: women are dying twice a year on June 16 and 24 at the hands of a serial killer. A murderer with knowledge of forensics and the foresight to choose a different police jurisdiction for each of his crimes, who is escaping punishment. Only Dennis is paying attention. Waiting for the killer to make a mistake. On June 16, 2008 a woman is discovered in the city limits of Peach Grove, Georgia, where Dennis now works. The woman survives, but is unable to identify her assailant because of heavy sedation as she fights for her life. But Dennis knows that this is the break he’s been waiting for. Racing against time, Dennis joins forces with Merlot Candy, a private investigator and the two set out on a quest that will bring them in contact with more evil than they could have ever imagined.


* * * * *

As I have gotten older, I have become more and more a fan of police procedurals and thrillers.   There is just something about getting the chance to get inside the mind of a killer.  From a safe distance, of course.

A MOVING SCREEN starts out with a great plot and interesting main characters however I didn't find that it lived up to its promise.  It got bogged down with details that were repeated over and over.  There are just so many times that I need to be told just what Merlot is wearing or just what protective equipment the nurse needs to wear when working with a severely burned victim.  

I also found that the dialogue was stilted in places to the extent that the editor in me wanted to highlight it and send it back to the author.  Another thing that slowed down the story was an overabundance of the details on the backgrounds of unimportant secondary characters.

The ending was great as I didn't see it coming which does make reading this book worthwhile in the end though I don't feel right recommending it to my readers without pointing out the issues.  Now mind you that everyone's take on a book differs so always take my opinions with a grain of salt.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
Nov 16, 2016

Ramblings




  • I find it sad that when I complimented a gentleman on his beautiful Jamaican accent that he was surprised and grew defensive until he figured out that I didn't mean anything but that it was a beautiful accent.
Nov 15, 2016

Book Review: The Dollmaker





Dr. Tessa McGowan had never seen anything quite like it. But the mutilated bodies on her exam table tell a stunningly macabre tale: someone with a twisted mind is kidnapping women and altering their faces to resemble real, life-size dolls. As a forensic pathologist, it’s her job to aid the agent leading the case—even if that agent is her estranged husband.

Twelve years ago an unspeakable tragedy destroyed Dakota Sharp’s world. Haunted by the ghosts of his past, he’s devoted himself to capturing killers. His only regret is that it cost him Tessa. Now, as the Dollmaker case brings them together—and raises his suspicions that he’s crossed paths with this deranged psychopath before—they may just have their second chance. But it seems Dakota’s not the only one who wants to make Tessa his own…

She may be the Dollmaker’s next target, but Tessa has no intention of winding up as another toy on his shelf. Can she and Dakota stop this ghastly killer before his next deadly playdate?

                                                                      * * * * *

When Tessa came back she knew that it wouldn't be easy but she is determined to save her marriage.  Last time she had ran away but she had learned that life is much better with Dakota then without and maybe, just maybe, she can help him get to the bottom of his sister's death.  Of course, she might have to catch him between cases as right now all of his energy is being directed to capturing this Dollmaker.

What little girl doesn't play with dolls?  This is something that most grow out of though so being turned into a doll once you are an adult can be truly terrifying.   I think that it is that 'otherness' that allows dolls and clowns to be objects of terror.  I found this book to be particularly chilling especially with the clown scare going on right now as I can see making dolls becoming the next step.

THE DOLLMAKER is actually the second book in the The Forgotten Files series which began with THE SHARK.  Readers will get a chance to catch up with both Riley and Clay which I enjoyed.  It's not necessary to have read the first book to enjoy THE DOLLMAKER though it does add a bit of depth to the story.

I highly recommend this book to my readers who enjoy a well written romantic suspense that will send shivers down your spine.  There is a bit of sex in the book and some violence.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.


Nov 13, 2016

Book Review: Arena





A fast-paced and gripping near-future science fiction debut about the gritty world of competitive gaming...
 
Every week, Kali Ling fights to the death on national TV.
She’s died hundreds of times. And it never gets easier...
 
The RAGE tournaments—the Virtual Gaming League’s elite competition where the best gamers in the world compete in a no-holds-barred fight to the digital death. Every bloody kill is broadcast to millions. Every player is a modern gladiator—leading a life of ultimate fame, responsible only for entertaining the masses.

And though their weapons and armor are digital, the pain is real.

Chosen to be the first female captain in RAGE tournament history, Kali Ling is at the top of the world—until one of her teammates overdoses. Now, she must confront the truth about the tournament. Because it is much more than a game—and even in the real world, not everything is as it seems.

The VGL hides dark secrets. And the only way to change the rules is to fight from the inside..


* * * * *

This book definitely fits into the sci-fi genre with the virtual gaming but to me it is more of a coming of age tale.   To achieve her dreams, Kali has to learn to accept herself and reality.

Kali has always wanted to be a gamer and not happy unless she was in VR.  Unfortunately once she lost one of her teammates to a drug overdose, she started having problems with blackouts and not being able to sleep without drugs.   Another teammate tells her about the Virtual Gaming League's dark little secret of addiction and abuse.  

I really enjoyed ARENA.  I enjoyed watching Kali and her team discover their strengths and how to work as a real team, as a family.  The book goes to show how one person or one team can make a difference in the world.

I highly recommend ARENA to any of my readers who enjoy character based sci-fi or who enjoy gaming.  This book is sure to keep you entranced from the very first page to the very satisfying conclusion.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
Nov 11, 2016

Book Review: Red Death




Every child of Eden fears the Red Death. All those afflicted with the plague die young, their souls stripped away as punishment for ancient sins long forgotten. For centuries, Guardians have protected Eden from the Red Death by killing outsiders who stray too close. They must keep Eden a secret if they are to survive.

Seventeen-year-old Aaliss is a highly-trained and dedicated Guardian, but when her rather odd thirteen-year-old brother discovers a cure to the plague, her world is turned upside down. The discovery is a miracle, yet miracles are dangerous in Eden.

The corrupt, all-powerful High Priest brands Aaliss and her brother Wilky as traitors, forcing them to run. They seek refuge in the last place Aaliss thought she’d ever go—beyond the boundaries of Eden, and into the land of the Soulless. Here they must navigate a medieval world filled with witches, magic, and warrior kingdoms run by Elders who are only a few years older than her.

Aaliss yearns to return home to Eden, but she must protect Wilky at all costs. And when her heart tugs her deeper into the world of the Soulless, she questions everything she once believed, everything the Priests had taught her about those who live outside Eden—they are forever cursed, savage, soulless.

Has her soul been taken? Will she and Wilky fall victim to the Red Death, or might they die sooner in the center of a battle that threatens to tear apart the Soulless world? Or... might Aaliss finally find, against all odds, what her heart has yearned for all along?


* * * * *

My first thought when I read the blurb for this book is that it is either going to be really good or a complete washout.  I am happy to say that it is really good.  The characters just seem to come to life off of the pages.  

I found myself rooting for Aaliss and her brother Wilky almost from the very beginning.  She is so grounded in reality while Wilky is a bit different.  He is brilliant but not too good on communicating.  He reminds me of some autistic kids I have met.  

We also get a chance to meet the people from two different 'Soulless' villages and I am really impressed by how far their culture has grown considering that people tend to die really early from the Red Death.

I did run across some editing errors but they weren't enough to pull me from the story.  I do recommend this book to any of my readers who enjoy reading dystopian storylines.

*** I received this book at no charge from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.

 
Nov 9, 2016

Ramblings




  • Despite all evidence to the contrary, I am still still alive.  Just not a lot going on to post about.  I have been devouring a lot of books though so that is why the reviews are still coming.
  • I can't believe how old BeiJing is.  She was rescue so I don't know exactly when she was born but I have had her over eleven years and she is just now starting to show her age.  She's an excellent reason for getting a primitive breed as most dogs her age wouldn't be as healthy and active as she is.

  • I have been on a quest to find Lifetime's series Blood Ties.  I had assumed that I would be able to find it on Netflix but they have really been letting me down lately.  I have been able to find it at Amazon if I wanted to get the DVDs but I tend to watch everything on my tablet so no DVD drive.  I have started listening to the series in audio but I really want to watch Henry as he happens to be one of the sexiest vampires around.

  • Started working on a necklace for a contest where the deadline is coming up way too fast.  I decided to make a hand-forged chain using 18 gauge wire.and boy did my hands object.  I haven't tried this in a while but I remember the days when I could make multiple chains in a day.
  • I seriously need a marketing guru.  The holidays are coming and I have the new website for my artisan jewelry.  I have a lot of it made but I absolutely hate writing up descriptions and posting my designs.  Wish that my beloved author husband could help out but we tried that and it just didn't work out.  Oh well I need to get on it as my finished designs are starting to overflow.
  • I voted!  Spend Sunday filling out my ballot and it went out on Monday.  I hope that all of my readers also voted as I don't feel that anyone has a right to complain if they don't bother to vote.
  • I finally found my show at YouTube.  Guess that is the sign of my age that I didn't think to look there first but to me, YouTube is where you find short clips and music videos not complete tv episodes. Oh well.  Now I know.