Jan 31, 2017

Year of Jewelry Project




I actually can't post the design that I made up for the Year of Jewelry Project since it is part of a blog hop for this Saturday but I wanted to show off a couple other things I made in the last week.  I an still fighting with my muse being on vacation or hibernation but the subscriptions and the challenges that I take part in help.




These were both made from the goodies that I picked up through my monthly Bargain Bead Box subscription.  As you can see from the pic above, they send all kinds of gorgeous beads, focals and findings.  I decided to concentrate the the lovely rose beads and added a few onyx from my stash.










Don't forget to stop by on Saturday for the Color Hop!  That is when I will also be showing off my necklace made for last weeks Year of Jewelry Project.
Jan 30, 2017

Art Bead Scene Montly Challenge



 Field of Flowers
Egon Schiele
1910
Chalk on Paper


I seem to be running behind lately on my challenges.  This one I actually had completed a week ago but had to wait until I could get some pics while it was still light.

What really struck me about this picture is the combination of the flowers and the color orange.  Normally when I think of orange, I think of fall and the beautiful leaves.  So I decided to change  my thinking to bring in the flowers.



The  focal I made has brass flowers as well as an artisan polymer connector from Staci Louise and a vintage glass bead. 




I really wanted to play up the color orange so I used an orange silk string to suspend the focal.  I also make it adjustable so that it can do with a variety of necklines.  This is a fun casual necklace that due to the color can be worn in the fall and in the summer due to the flowers.

I want to thank Art Bead Scene blog for their monthly inspiration challenges.  For more information and to join in on the fun just click here.

Book Review: Stalked




If you're reading this, I'm already dead…

That's the note seventeen-year-old Haley Cooke leaves behind when she disappears from inside her high school. FBI profiler Evelyn Baine is called in to figure out who had reason to hurt her. On the surface, the popular cheerleader has no enemies, but as Evelyn digs deeper, she discovers that everyone close to Haley has something to hide. Everyone from estranged parents, to an older boyfriend with questionable connections, to a best friend who envies Haley's life.

Secrets can be deadly…

One of those secrets may have gotten Haley killed. If she's still alive, Evelyn knows that the more the investigation ramps up, the more pressure they could be putting on Haley's kidnapper to make her disappear for good. It's also possible the teenager isn't in danger at all, but has skillfully manipulated everyone and staged her own disappearance. Only one thing is certain: uncovering Haley's fate could be dangerous—even deadly—to Evelyn herself.


* * * * *

The only thing that I regret about reading this book is that I didn't discover this series earlier.  STALKED does a wonderful job of standing on its own but I would enjoy reading even more of Evelyn & Kyle's back story. 

This book offers an in-depth look at just what a profiler does when they are invited in by a police department.   In this case, Evelyn is invited in when a teenage girl is kidnapped and nothing seems to add up.  In the course of this investigation, Evelyn also has to deal with some remaining issues from her childhood especially when her estranged mother suddenly appears.

STALKED has a tight plot with a good deal of tension as everyone is hoping to be able to get Haley back alive. There is also a good deal of growth among the well developed characters.    This is a book to sink your teeth into.

I do recommend STALKED to any of my readers who enjoy a well written police procedural with a kick-ass heroine.  You might want to grab the whole series if you haven't read it up to now.

*** 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: Wild Wicked Scot




Born into riches and groomed in English luxury, Margot Armstrong didn't belong in a Scottish chieftain's devil-may-care world. Three years ago she fled their marriage of convenience and hasn't looked back—except to relive the moments spent in wild, rugged Arran McKenzie's passionate embrace. But as their respective countries' fragile unity threatens to unravel, Margot must return to her husband to uncover his role in the treachery before her family can be accused of it.

Red-haired, green-eyed Margot was Arran's beautiful bride. Her loss has haunted him, but her return threatens everything he has gained. As the Highland mists carry whispers of an English plot to seize McKenzie territory, he must outmaneuver her in games of espionage…and seduction. But even as their secrets tangle together, there's nothing to prevent love from capturing them both and leading them straight into danger.


* * * * *

If you are looking to be swept away to the Scottish Highlands and the beginning of the issues facing the Jacobites and the Scots thought to be of that camp than look no further.   WILD WICKED SCOT brings the readers into a Scottish clan and the lives of its laird and lady.

Arran has no interest in the Jacobite cause but being suspected of such might bring an end to all he has worked so hard for.  And knowing that his English wife might be one of the people working against him is just another cross to bear.  

Margot has returned to her husband to find proof that her family are not traitors but she instead finds that she just might have misjudged the man that she ran away from years ago.   Now she is just looking for proof of what she isn't quite sure.

I really enjoyed WILD WICKED SCOT with its beautiful scenery and well developed characters who learn and change as the story goes on.  There are times when I want to slap Arran along the back the head and others when I want to shake Margot until she opens her eyes to what's really around her. 

I highly recommend this book to any of my readers who enjoy historical romance.  It is well written and very enjoyable.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
Jan 27, 2017

Book Review: Bearly in Control





For vet and animal whisperer Charli Avers, talking to bears is all in a day’s work. But when she finds a man—a very sexy, very alpha man—where a bear ought to be, the wild comes close to home. Charli is drawn to this mysterious stranger. She wants to help him piece together the past he can’t remember—even if that means shedding her human misgivings and embracing her more carnal desires.

After shifting from bear to man, Barry believes he’s finally found his mate. Now he just needs to find himself. He doesn’t know much about the animal within him, but his human heart aches for Charli. She ignites his instincts to protect her from all danger—including their electric attraction.

The stakes climb as Charli investigates the mystery behind Barry’s memory loss and how it may relate to strange sightings and thefts in this little corner of Oregon. Without answers, she may lose Barry—and herself—to the wild side forever.


* * * * *

Technically I found BEARLY IN CONTROL  to be well written and well edited.  I didn't enjoy the book however because the characters just weren't realistic mainly the secondary characters.  Charli is part of a shifter detective unit however the detectives seem be busier either moping or looking for their mates then actually solving crimes.  It almost reminded me of an Abbott and Costello skit which really killed the book for me.

I do want to give the author kudos however for how well she points out that 'curvy girls' can be extremely sexy.  And the sex itself is hot and well done.  I just demand more from the plot and the other characters.

This is a paranormal romance that I would recommend my readers give a pass too though this is my own opinion.  If you do check out this book and feel differently, please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
Jan 25, 2017

Ramblings




  • I have found that things come in threes which has me concerned since I lost a friend to a heart attack on Friday the 13th and the next day, I learn that my brother-in-law has cancer.  What is going to be the next bit of news I have to deal with?
  • I feel like I am running backwards this week.  I should have had my Year of Jewelry Project up yesterday but as you can see, that was a no go.  And it isn't like I haven't finished it.  The weather just changed and I haven't been able to get a good pic of it.  And I need to do so rather quickly because it is also the piece that I made for the Art Bead Scene's monthly challenge and that month is almost over.
  • After years of my employer cutting back on our commissions, they finally decided to raise them a bit.  Still nowhere close to where they used to be but it a step in the right direction!
Jan 20, 2017

Book Review: Force of Temptation





Harley Vincent is resigned to life in the human world. Sure, being a margay shifter is half her nature, but life among humans gives her the freedom to roam and do as she pleases. That is, until anti-shifter extremists target her, putting her life in immediate danger.

When an old acquaintance and onetime fling, Jesse Dalton, shows up to offer the protection of his pack, Harley hesitates. She may have feelings for Jesse that go beyond their one-night stand, but life among shifters means giving over her independence to the needs of pack. Plus Mercury Pack has its own threat to face: a rich half-shifter is determined to claim their territory at any cost.

Jesse, who lost his true mate as a child, has wanted Harley since their night together, and he’s not letting her go again. They may not be destined for each other, but he knows she belongs to him and with his pack. Even if he can convince her to join him now, can he convince her to stay?


* * * * * 

I just didn't just step back into the world of the Mercury Pack but dove in with both feet.  It's a world like we know with the edition of the magic of the shifters.  It is complete with good people who reach out to help others and evil people who try to destroy all that they don't and won't understand.   

Harley is a dominant margay shifter who is accustomed to going her own way.  She has made the decision to live in the human world because her experiences in the shifter world were nothing to write home about. That is until an extremist group decides to target her.

Jesse decided years ago that Harley would be his but he was willing to give her the time to come to him until her life was in danger.  Now his protective instincts come to the fore and he brings her to his home.  

I really enjoyed this book and the characters that make it real.  The dialogue between Jesse and Harley, who are both dominant shifters, was amusing at times and poignant at others.  The relationships between them and the rest of the pack deepen the story and provide humor at times.  

Shifters are sexual beings and there is a lot of hot sex in this book which is really hot so I don't recommend this book to younger readers but I feel that any of my readers who like a good paranormal romance should add the FORCE OF TEMPTATION  to their library.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own. 
Jan 19, 2017

Book Review: The Falcon Tattoo





A violent attacker is on the loose. His calling card: a tattoo on his victims’ skin. With no witnesses and no evidence left at the crime scenes, it will take all of the National Crime Agency’s resources to track him down.

At the head of the investigation, codenamed Operation Juniper, Senior Investigator Joanne Stuart knows that the clock is ticking. The time between abductions is decreasing and the perpetrator grows ever more brazen. She fears it won’t be long before his assaults turn deadly.

As the hunt closes in, Jo’s already troubled personal life is put under further pressure. With danger closer than she thinks, just how far will Jo go to solve the case—and at what cost?


* * * * *

This the second book in the National Crime Agency series and the readers are able to learn more about their favorite characters in the NCA.  Who knew just what Ram's opinions on marriage? And of course, we get to learn more about Jo and her relationship issues as well as her past.

This book was a wild ride from the very first when the NCA is invited in to assist the local officers in tracking down a serial rapist who likes to tattoo his victims.   It appears that he is always at least one step in from of the law. 

I also really enjoyed the fact that the NCA is based in England.  I had a blast trying to figure out just what a raincheater actually is.  Oh and there are wonderful phrases like 'raining stair rods'.

I do really think that my readers who enjoy a good thriller or police procedural will love THE FALCON TATTOO.  Great characters, witty dialogue and a distinct lack of sex means that this is a book that all can enjoy. 

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own. 
Jan 18, 2017

Ramblings






  • I have to admit that I am rather worried about the rest of this month as they say that everything comes in threes.  On Friday, a good friend of mine died of a massive heart attack.  It was totally unexpected as she was rather young.  Then on Sunday, I found out that my brother-in-law has cancer and it's expected to last out the week.  Just what is coming next?
  • I had an absolute blast going to the MaST aquarium on Saturday with my Red Hat sisters.  It was just what I needed to remind me of the circle of life.  I was able to get a lot of good pics of the aquarium inhabits, just click here to see them.
  • I have decided that getting a biweekly massage is a medical necessity for me.  Not only does it keep the pain down from my fibro but it also really helps my circulation.  I looked down on my feet Sunday evening and noticed that my toes were purple.
Jan 17, 2017

Year of Jewelry Project Week 3



The project for last week was weaving and braiding wire.  Well that is not my style and I am sure that my hands would go on strike if I even tried.  So I feel back onto the secondary purpose of the group which is to make at least one design a week.  Now that I succeeded in as I made seven for the Muffin Tin Challenge. 

I didn't want to put them all up again in this post so just look here to see them all.
Jan 15, 2017

Muffin Tin Challenge Blog Hop


 


 

I do have to say that Heather of Humblebeads know how to start the year out right with her Muffin Tin Challenge !  The idea is to gather the beginnings of some jewelry designs & then sit down to put them together.   I started out with six pieces all put together in a tin and took a picture last Sunday. Then I continued cleaning up enough that I could work and ended up with all twelve filled. 

 

Okay I can do this as I still had a week left to work on baking everything especially as I had four pieces done on Sunday. 

 

And I even managed to use the Muffin Tin Method to help me design a couple of necklaces for other challenges. 

 

I felt like had managed to really optimize my time. 

 

But then my fibromyalgia decided to remind me that I really need my biweekly massages unless I want a nasty flare up. 

 

I am still happy that I managed to make seven pieces over this last week. 

 

These last three designs are some earrings that I will be donating to Ears To You.

 

There were several that took part in the challenge. To check out what everyone has made, just click here and scroll down to the bottom of this post. 


Celebrating Life



 

We are known for our rain and gray skies during the winter but this has been an unusual one so far. Beautiful blue skies and rather cold. Still it is worth a few shivers to get a chance to stay dry while visiting MaST Aquarium with friends and fellow Red Hatters. 

 

Just think, they grow up to be my favorite type of fish. 

 

Meet the only poisonous octopus. And native to the Puget Sound. 

 

I have always loved starfish. They come in so many colors and sizes. 

 

This little guy is so tiny and ugly that he is adorable. 

 

Waving gently in the current...

 

And just to prove the skies aren't gray, here is pic from the window of Salty's where we had lunch and warmed back up. I really needed the reminder of friendship, life & nature's beauty as I had found out as I was heading to this event that a friend has died. I will miss her but it really suited her style to exit on Friday the 13th. 
Jan 12, 2017

Book Review: How Will I Know You?





On a cold December day in northern upstate New York, the body of high school senior Joy Enright is discovered in the woods at the edge of a pond. She had been presumed drowned, but an autopsy shows that she was, in fact, strangled. As the investigation unfolds, four characters tell the story from widely divergent perspectives: Susanne, Joy's mother and a professor at the local art college; Martin, a black graduate student suspected of the murder; Harper, Joy's best friend and a potential eyewitness; and Tom, a rescue diver and son-in-law of the town's police chief. As a web of small-town secrets comes to light, a dramatic conclusion reveals the truth about Joy's death.

* * * * *

I had a lot of trouble reading this book mainly because I found it hard to relate to any of the characters.  This book jumps around as far as whose viewpoint the story is being told from.   This style does give the reader a chance to really get to know everyone but in my eyes, it just didn't work out well.  Too often I had issues trying to figure out just whose eyes I was looking through.
I also found the pacing to be too slow to really hold my interest and it was a struggle to continue to the last third of the book which was great.  And the ending was worth all the struggle.
I am not sure I would recommend this book even though the ending was so strong simply because of the struggle to get there.  For my readers who prefer an in-depth knowledge of the different characters before the action begins, this might very well be the book for you. 
*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
Jan 11, 2017

Ramblings





  • I swear people are becoming more entitled since Trump was elected.  I have a man from Texas call me a stupid black bitch because he wasn't able to get a phone number for a non-existent call center in New Mexico.  Now I wouldn't have minded giving him the number but the way he tried to bully me into it just makes me want to set in my heels and not want to help him out at all.   
  • Say what you will about climate warming but I am definitely noticing a change.  It's down in the teens here and our winter temps normally huddle around the 40s.  I am not liking this new trend at all.  
  • Well I finally made an appointment to get my eyes checked.  I am going in next Monday and will hopefully get a new prescription which will help with my headaches.  I am also concerned about the fact that I am starting to lose my night vision in my left eye. Not too sure how serious it really is since my loss of vision puts me about par with everyone else because I have always been able to see better in the dark then anyone I know.
Jan 10, 2017

Year of Jewelry Project Week 2




Or inspiration this week was Monet's Water Lilly paintings.  There are quite a few as he devoted the last thirty years of his life painting them.



I did have some issues this week with my damned migraines but I didn't want to fall behind so I went simple.



I had a gorgeous focal bead from HumbleBeads and decided to really play it up with some silver chain and crystals.

Next week the inspiration is Braids and Weaves.  Still pondering on what to make for it.
Jan 9, 2017

Book Review: The Falconer




Edinburgh, 1844. Beautiful Aileana Kameron only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. In fact, she's spent the year since her mother died developing her ability to sense the presence of s├Čthichean, a faery race bent on slaughtering humans. She has a secret mission: to destroy the faery who murdered her mother. But when she learns she's a Falconer, the last in a line of female warriors and the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity, her quest for revenge gets a whole lot more complicated. 

* * * * *

THE FALCONER is a beautiful blend of steampunk and fantasy!  Aileana was like any other young lady of the upper classes until she sees her mother being murdered by one of the sithichean.  Now her goal is to kill as many of them as she possibly can while still playing at being a lady.

This book quickly swept me back to the 1800s but an 1800s with a couple of twists.  Aileana.or Kam as she is sometimes called, is easy to emphasize with and she will keep the readers on their toes.   The secondary characters be they her human or fairy friends add much to the story from needed humor to a touch of wild darkness.  

The writing in this book is tight with excellent pacing, the dialogue witty and the conclusion satisfying while making me anxious to get my hands on the second book in the series.  I do recommend THE FALCONER to any of my readers who enjoy fantasy or streampunk.

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

Jan 6, 2017

Art Elements Dragon Theme Blog Hop




I have always had a love of fantasy worlds & fantastical creatures.  Heck I collected unicorns before they were popular (but that is another story) and I still collect gargoyles. Oh and dragons....

 

Dragons have been known and legends have surrounded them since the beginnings of recorded history.  You can find air, water, fire, earth and spirit dragons. And the legends persist in the modern age. You can find them in books and in video games. What an excellent inspiration for a artisan jewelry challenge. Thank you Art Elements! 


 


Now I mentioned my love of fantasy worlds. I have played in quite a few of those worlds armed with my trusty dice. I can't imagine what turns my life would haven taken if I hadn't had a way to escape. So this necklace is tribute to those many nights and those many friends. 

One of my favorite dragons is the blue dragon which is a creature of the desert who plays with electricity. They tend to be rather orderly creatures so they know exactly, to the penny, how much treasure they have. Oh and they tend to be evil. So having a shield against them is a very good thing. 

 

This talisman necklace features such a shield made by Bead Lovelies protecting the wearer from detection. The handmade bail made with wire from WoolyWire adds to the grounding effects. 

 

The talisman is suspended from stones of hematite and vintage brass. And for comfort and further insulation from lightening, cotton against the back of the neck. Can't be too safe in dragon territory.

Now that you have seen my interpretation  of a dragon, let see how the other designers relate to this magnificent creature.



Guests

AJE Team