Jun 29, 2012

Blog Hops: Creative Chaos & Cup of Bead Soup

I love jewelry blog hops as they nudge me to expand my range.  I don't however usually end up with two on one day.  I struggled with just how I was going to show off them both and finally decided to do just one post and to put them in the order that I signed up for them.  So warning, this is going to be a longer post.

Creative Chaos Design Challenge

This was a fun challenge where Skye of Creative Chaos sent out four little bags of goodies to four of us to use in a design.  Here is a pic of what she sent us.

The goal was to use something from each bag and to use as much as you could of the goodies.  I didn't quite succeed as I turned a good friend's wonderfully creative thirteen year old loose with the goodies.  She came up with a necklace that I absolutely love.  All good there except she then left to stay with her father for three months and I can't find the rest of the goodies which I planned on making a couple more pieces with.  Anyways without further babble, let me show you what Alanna came up with,

Now be sure to check out what everyone else came up with.

Cup of Bead Soup

Now this one was my surprise hop.  Lori Anderson of Pretty Things has a blog challenge that occurs a few times a year where she stretches her wings by working with designers of some wonderful handmade beads and invites a few of us to take the journey with her.  The designer of the gorgeous lampwork focal bead is Lea Avroch and I will be sharing her various sites where you can see more of her work down below.

This is the fabulous bead that I started out with.  And I had plans on making it into a necklace and so I did.  But once I had to together, I found that it was just too fussy and didn't highlight this treasure.  So I changed plans and actually finished it up a couple days ago.  I decided that I wanted to make a bracelet so that I could actually see and admire the bead.  I ended up with two bracelets that can be worn together and apart.

Along with the focal from Lea, I also used sapphires and faceted blue topaz.  It only seems fitting to use a precious gemstone with this treasure.  I picked up the sapphires at Magpie Gemstones which I highly recommend.  The clasp on the second bracelet is from AZ Lampwork Beads.

Now be sure to check out what the other participants came up with.

Lori of Pretty Things

To be able to see more of Lea's work please visit her sites.

And for more information on upcoming Cup Of Bead Soup hops and to check out the past ones, click here.

Book Review: Pride & Passion

Lucy Ashton had long ago given up her quest for true love. In the rarified society of Victorian England, Lucy plays the game; flirting, dancing and dabbling in the newly fashionable spiritualism. Even marrying when and who she's supposed to. If the stuffy Duke of Sussex cannot spark the passion she craves, he can at least give her a family, a home of her own, and a place to belong. But when her polite marriage reveals a caring and sensual man, Lucy begins to wonder if she can indeed have it all.

But Lord Sussex is not the man the London ton has come to admire. And Lucy has some ghosts of her own, as well. Thus, when a blackmail scheme turns to threats of danger, the newfound peace of the Sussex marriage is cast upon the rocks. Passion has a price, Lucy learns. And not all ghosts stay buried.

* * * * *

I have read a few books by Ms Featherstone and have enjoyed them all.  PRIDE & PASSION continues  on with the elements that I really enjoy such as heroines that that are strong women who aren't bound by convention and heroes that are strong enough for such women.  Also the erotic threads that weave thru the story is also livens up the tales quite nicely.

PRIDE & PASSION is a book that I really didn't want to put down but it did have its issues that threw me out of the story a few times.  One that comes to mind immediately was wondering just how a man can loom over a much smaller woman when his head is between her breasts.  One was why Lucy swallowed a seed hoping to see her lover on the other side when she has already discovered that he was still alive.  Or how someone can be as still as a statue when it had already been stated that they were squirming and mewling.  Now mind you, they didn't pull me from the story from long but still I feel that they should have been caught in the editing process.

I do recommend PRIDE & PASSION despite those instances noted above because it is a darn good story.  So now that you are warned, I recommend this book from lovers of historical romance with a lot of spice added in.

I rate this book a 3.25.

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

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Jun 27, 2012

Summer Time Drinks

Summer is on it's way or at least I am hoping so.  You really can't tell by the weather here lately in the Pacific Northwest.  As it gets warmer though the drinks of choice tend to change.  I have a couple favorites depending on whether I am home or out running about.  If I am home I tend to go for iced tea.  I have a lot of various fruity teas that I brew up and ice.  If I am about it is either an Arnold Palmer or a sweet tea depending on where I stop to pick it up at. 

Now I know that everyone has their preferences on summer drinks.  Today however I wanted to share some recipes that I have come across.  Who knows, maybe you will find a new cold beverage of choice.

Raspberry Slush   This one you have to make ahead of time but it sounds so wonderful.
Gingered Lemonade  Sounds so refreshing!
Mojito Italian Ices  Having friends over.  Sip on one of these while the guys mess with the BBQ
Ginger Ale  Here is a recipe to make your own so that you can adjust the amount of ginger.
Apple Grape Drink  This one sounds so yummy and refreshing
Fizzy Fruit-O-Rama  Perfect drink for the young ones.
Mint Mocha Frapachino  Now I don't do coffee but I know a lot of folks do.
Good Ol' Alabama Sweet Tea  It wouldn't do to not have a sweet tea recipe.

So here are recipes to get you started.  Hope that you enjoy them and perhaps find a new favorite.

Oh and by the way, what is your favorite cold drink?  Do you have any recipes that you would like to share?

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Jun 25, 2012

Introducing my BSBP partner

I am so exited and utterly amazed how Lori of Pretty Things manages to always partner up people with such different styles.  I love it as it really pushes me to grow as an artist.

My partner for the Bead Soup Blog Party VI is Maria Rosa Sharrow  does some amazing work that she sells for far too little in her etsy shop WillowStreet Gifts.  I loved wandering through her shop.  Here are some of my favorites.

I can hardly wait until I get off work to go put together her soup.  I know which clasps I use...Oh and maybe that focal.

Book Review: Measure of Darkness

Here are the facts

 For the parents whose children have been taken, for the broken lives we piece back together one relentless investigation at a time, our town house is a sanctuary.My name is Alice Crane. I'm just one of a talented team working for Naomi Nantz, the brilliant and very private detective.Today that sanctuary was violated. The famous kid-finder Randall Shane was taken away by unknown assailants, possibly government agents. Shane's client is dead, and a boy known as "the keyboard kid" is missing. What is the boy's connection to a top secret physics lab? Unknown—for now. But under Naomi's lead, we will infiltrate every illicit boardroom and bedroom and war room. We'll find that little boy or die trying.The only thing guaranteed in this life is that Naomi Nantz won't give up. Not now, not ever.

* * * * *

MEASURE OF DARKNESS has to be one of the more unique suspense/thrillers that I have ever ran across.  It is written in a narrative style that reminds of the hard hitting detective stories from the fifties.  Heck, one the team, Jack Delancey, could even pass for one of those detectives with his sense of style and his turn of phrases.

It took me a little bit to actually get into this book as I am not that familiar with this style of writing but once I did, I wasn't able to put it down.  Even though the tension is distanced, it is most definitely there and grows steadily throughout the book. And Naomi Nantz's team members are all rather unique, most not what I would consider team players yet when they are directed by Naomi they become a force to be reckoned with.

 MEASURE OF DARKNESS appears to the first book in what I hope grows into a series.   Mr. Chris Jordan, which is actually the pen name for author Rodman Philbrick, has a very distinct voice that I am looking forward to enjoying time and time again.

I recommend this book to adult readers, due to some of the graphic scenes of violence, who are looking for an unusual detective story.

I rate this book a 4.5.

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

Jun 24, 2012

Beautiful Things

It is supposed to be summer here in the Pacific Northwest though there are times when that comes into question, at least in my mind.  Yesterday was a prime example.  It would have been a typical fall day here, cold and rainy.  Today however we got some sun though it did start to get cold as the clouds moved back in.  My picture today is one that I took at Wright Park here in Tacoma.

  • My new camera is a thing of wonder to me.  Finally I am able to get some good pics which just proves to me that a lot of my blah shots from before was the camera's fault.  The picture above was one that I cropped but that was all the editing that I did on it.
  • To be working from home.  Yesterday was horrible weatherwise yet I was able to go work in my studio and do some OT without leaving the house.
  • The peacefulness of having the house to myself.  Gives me time to recharge my batteries.

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Jun 23, 2012

Odd Sports

English: Two players compete for the puck at t...
. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
With the Olympics coming up this year I just felt that I needed to do an ode sometime to sports.  Now I am not one of follow sports as I can't stand football.  Heck I will disappear if there is a game anywhere in my vicinity.  But just to prove that I am American, I do enjoy baseball.  I won't do search out a game but if there is one on, I will watch it.  But now onto the wacky sports I have uncovered.

  • Bog Snorkeling  This occurs in Wales and is just how it sounds.  Almost.  The competitors can only swim using their flippers.
  • Octopush  This is an underwater hockey game without all the injuries.  In fact this is a non-contact sport.
  • Extreme Ironing  Now this one to me is really strange.  I don't like to iron anywhere let alone in locations no sane woman would find herself such as hanging off the side of a cliff.
  • Sepak Takraw  This is volleyball played with the feet.  It is popular in some Asian countries.
  • Fierljeppen  In this sport competitors jump over a canal using a really long pole.
Hmmm..  Maybe football isn't that strange of sports.
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Jun 22, 2012

Stirring stirring stirring.

I have the roux finished and the chicken deboned.  Now I am just waiting for that final ingredient to be able to put it all together.

I just had to share one ingredient that I found at AZ Lampwork Beads.  Isn't it just perfect!  Linda, the owner, has some beautiful handmade clasps as well as some to die for lampwork beads.

And let's not forget this gorgeous focal from Lea at LA Jewelry Designs.  If you think that this picture shows its good side, then you have to see it in person.  The colors are so rich and multidimensional that you really have to admire it in person.  I know that when I finally make it to B&B I will be wearing my Cup of Soup.

Jun 21, 2012


There is a thread going on right now discussing various storage solutions for our beads and our studios so I went and took my pictures.  If there was one thing that I would change about it is the overhead lighting.  What I have is bleak so I use a lot of task lighting.

This is my photography section though I have to get a better table for it.  Oh and also my library.

This is just a shelve where I have some beads on.  I love that cabinet and I don't even have it full yet.

This is where I keep most of my gemmies.

Here is my actual work table.  The boxes and other containers here contain lampwork.  Oh and those beads are going into my Cup of Bead Soup.

And this is my studio mascot!  It came with the studio though all the other walls were a dingy gray.  Not good for a room with no light.

Under her you can see just a dab of the sideboard that I have there.  And yes it is full of beads also.
Jun 20, 2012

It's a baby!

I just placed an order for silk strings thru Wired Up Beads as they are having a sale on silk ribbons right now. And as a free gift they gave me a pair of baby Wubbers!  They are so cute and will be rather useful as I am going to be doing to wrapping on tiny things.

Oh and I have officially decided that I LOVE my new camera. These pics are unedited.   I just knew that all issues with pictures had something to do with the camera.

June is Iced Tea Month!!

Now anyone that has known me or heck even reads this book knows that I am an tea addict.  And I will happily drink hot tea year around but I have a special fondness for iced tea when it is warm or when I am out to eat.   When I am out I am stuck with whatever iced tea the restaurant or fast food place serves so of course I try to make up for it when I am at home.

I tend to go with mainly with a black tea with fruit flavors.  I brew them up, sweeten it slightly and I am ready to go.  There is one vendor that I have found who seems to excel in ice tea blends.  Of course that does make sense as White August Tea Company is based in Arizona.  A good place to be drinking a lot of ice drinks year around. 

They have two blends that I keep reordering because they just that good.  The Plum Proud has french plums, cranberries and raspberries.  The Passionate Ice has passion fruit and mixed berries.  They are both really refreshing.  And right now to celebrate Ice Tea Month, there is a sale going on where you can order any of their iced tea blends and save 20%.

Oh and I thought that I better let everyone know that this is not a paid endorsement.  I just love their iced teas and wanted to share.
Jun 18, 2012

Book Review: 1,000 Places To See Before You Die

Patricia Shultz’s bestselling 1,000 Places to See Before You Die has recently been re-released in the form of a full-color second edition. The book, which has spawned a number of knock-offs, is so much more than just a simple travel guide. Each entry not only tells the reader why the place should be visited but also the pertinent information such as websites, phone numbers and the best time to place a visit. Plus, this new version includes 200 additional pages covering 28 new countries. The book covers everything from the Great Mosque in Mali to the Denali National Park in Alaska.

* * * * * 

When I was given the chance to review this book I jumped on it for a couple reasons.  The first was that I am able to give away some copies to my loyal followers. The second was that I am taking vacation at the end of June and wanted some good ideas on where to go and what to see. And now that the book has arrived I have a third reason in that it contains some gorgeous photography.

I have to admit that I am rather impressed overall.  It is small enough to toss in a backpack yet is chock full of information.  It is divided up by regions such as Europe, Africa, Asia and five others.  Once you decide on a region and country, you are then shown available locations in the specific area you have chosen.  What I really appreciate is the fact along with the sights to see the reader is also given URLs for further information, various hotels and restaurants at the locations and various costs associated with them.  

I live in Washington state and one of the things to see is the San Juan Islands.  I found out tidbits about the various islands, the best time for various activities, recommended Inns and cafes along with their phone numbers and costs.   This information was very helpful in planning out a very nice two day excursion for myself and husband especially as June thru September is the best time for sighting Orcas.

I recommend this book for anyone that is planning a vacation or simply wanting to add to their 'bucket list'.  I have looked at various travel books and while this book won't replace one dedicated to a specific location, it does a fantastic job of compiling a lot of information about a lot of places.  Also  1,000 Places to See Before You Die is available as an Apple app or as an e-book to save even more space while traveling.

I rate this book a 4.5.

***I was provided a copy of this book so that I could give a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own and no monies have or will exchange hands.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is part of Fashionista Events, coordinated by The Chief Blonde of Still Blonde After All These Years and Katy Rose of ModlyChic. 
Jun 17, 2012

Beautiful Things

Overall it has been a good week even though I had to mess up my sleep schedule for a training class that lasted 2 days.  Actually it was supposed to last 3 days but we blew thru the training.  Now onto things that made me smile.

  • I got to sleep in my bed again!  I have been sleeping on the couch lately because it was softer then the bed and my fibro demanded it.  So this payday I ordered a new memory foam pad and slept on it last night.  It was sooo nice be to able to stretch out.
  • My animals last night were very amusing as they were trying to figure out the new/old sleeping arrangements.  And poor Boo.  The pad was mint scented and far to strong for her to sleep under the covers with.
  • I made it through all my OT.  There was times when I really wondered if I was going to make it as my body really does demand the down time that it wasn't getting.

Jun 16, 2012

Book Review: A Smudge of Gray

Detective Brian Boise is about to embark on the biggest case of his career. After being thrust into law enforcement on the footsteps of his father, Detective Boise finds himself on the trail of a murder suspect he could never have imagined, the mysterious businessman, Trevor Malloy. Trevor is an irresistible hitman with everything going for him, while Detective Boise is a cutthroat detective going against the grain. These two men, both breadwinners and keystones of their families, play a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. They are a contrast of each other and as their game progresses, their worlds contort and the line between black and white blurs.

* * * * *

Before I put my name in the hat for this book, I did read a few reviews to see if this was a book that I could do justice too.  And most readers gave it high marks.  I am only sorry that I don't agree fully with them.

This book is all about connections.  The connections between the police detective and the killer and where the lives of their family intersect.  I found this part of the story to very interesting.  The strange ways that lives interweave even without our knowledge.

There were a few things that I really didn't care for however.  The one of least importance is the overblown descriptions.  I want to be able to build a scene in my mind not be told all the details insignificant or not.  I could have overlooked this however if I felt that the book had no heart.  Even when there were scenes of a personal nature, I got the feeling of coldness.  There was no one to relate too.  

I feel that this author has been touched by greatness but needs refining.  I would definitely read his next book and I am sure that a lot of my readers will absolutely love this book but I just couldn't get behind this book.  For a book to be great,it has to effect me emotionally and this book didn't.

I rate this book a 2.5.

I received this book at no charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.  No monies have or will exchange hands.
Jun 15, 2012

Coupon Policies for Craft Stores

I just ran across a great article on polices at the the big craft stores and wanted to share it with everyone.  I know that I ended up spending too much on my hobbies and well if I can find a way to save money...

Frugal Crafter: Coupon Tips for the Craft Store Triumvirate

I was very happy to learn that Michaels has recently improved its coupon policies, so I thought I'd review the policies of the Craft Store Triumvirate (Michaels, JoAnn Fabric & Crafts, and Hobby Lobby) and share my findings with y'all! I interviewed managers from three local B&M's ("Brick & Mortar"= physical store).
We need this to understand how you use our service - you can take it out if you like. Cheers, your Blogspire team.
via: dominodebi.typepad.com
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Jun 14, 2012

Book Review: The Lodestone

When twelve year old Jack Paris feels the small jaws of a creature that shouldn't exist clamp down on his leg, life as he knows it in small-town northeast Texas comes to a sudden end. Miss Edna, his foster mom, is forced to take him and his friend Sally to a world she secretly forsook two hundred years before to save his life. There Jack discovers that an evil wizard needs him for unknown purposes and will stop at nothing to capture him. The wizard pursues Jack and Sally through forests and under mountains on the other world, and even across Kansas back on Earth.

With all their hope placed in Miss Edna, she suddenly disappears, leaving Jack and Sally to carry on without her. It soon becomes clear, however, that the events of the present are tied to Miss Edna's past, and the children begin a desperate effort to find her before all hope is lost.

When Jack finally realizes why the wizard needs him, he learns that to live and love, you sometimes have to be willing to die.

* * * * * 

I finished reading this book a couple days ago and had to really ponder my review.  Now I am an adult as you well know however I do enjoy reading young adult.  This book is aimed towards a crowd that is younger then the books I usually enjoy reading.  That being said I did enjoy it though it had its issues.

Let me go thru the strengths first though.  I really enjoyed the character of Edalwin 'Edna' who has been Jack's foster mother for the past four years.  She is a very strong woman and her character shines through.  She also has an interesting history that adds spice to the plotline.  

Jack is also a well written character though there was some instances where his thought really gave me pause such as when he figures out that Sally is a friend even though they have been hanging out for a while.  I also would have liked to have seen more growth out of his character however.

The alternate world created by Mr. Horne is interesting.  He has done a great job of world building and peopling it with characters, both good and evil, that really stand out.  I could only wish that the ranger's magic worked in our world as she really needs the assistance.

And now my kibitzes.   Even after reading the book I am not sure why the Sally was in the book at all.  She shows some strength in the beginning but then turns into an insipid character. Also at the beginning of the book rather then showing the reader what was happening we were told the story.  This leads to a weaker storyline all the way around.

I felt that THE LODESTONE is a good book but with a few changes it has the potential to grow into so much more.  I would recommend it to readers in middle school which is really its target audience.

I rate this book a 3.1.

***I received this book at no charge from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Jun 13, 2012

What would you do...

Hawaii, enroute home from Australia, Nov 1973 - 22
Photo credit: Ed Yourdon)
If you suddenly came into a really large inheritance or even better (since you don't lose anyone) won the lottery?  Isn't this something that everyone has dreamed of at one at one time or another.  I know that I have thought about it a few time and here are some of the things that I would.

  • I would be responsible and pay off my house though I am sure that an accountant would tell me  no as I would need every tax write-off I could get.
  • Donate the money to TERRA so that they could afford to get their non-profit status.  The government has made it so expensive to get set up as a non-profit that the little guys can't afford it anymore but that is a rant for another day.
  • Once TERRA is a non-profit, I would make a large enough donation that it could buy some land and build a permanent structure for meetings, rituals and whatnot.
  • Go back to school!  It would have to be an online school as I would want to travel at least in the beginning.  Eventually I would have to settle down as I would like to get a degree in veterinary medicine and open up a low cost clinic because there are a lot of peeps that just can't afford a lot of care for their animals.
  • Buy a place in Hawaii.  The constant temps would be wonderful for my fibro.
  • Help my stepkids with college.
  •  I am sure that there are a lot of other things but the main thing is to keep my feet on the ground as you hear about so many lottery winners just blowing it.  I would want to have something to show for all that money.

What would you do if you won?
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Jun 10, 2012

Beautiful Things

Today is our Witch's Brew but I wanted to get this post put up before I head out and play Chairman of the Board.

  • Almost done with all my overtime.  I just have one day this week where I have to in for additional training.  It has all been worth it though.  .  My word this year is Focus and this last month has been all about focus.  I will be caught back up on my bills and have enough to get my camera!
  • I won a place in the Cup of Bead Soup and received a gorgeous focal.  Now I just need to decide just what I am doing with it.  Be sure to check back on June 31st!
  • Chloe, our newest kidder, has finally decided that she is part of the family and loves to sleep with us.  She is such a tiny little love.
Jun 8, 2012

Office Desires

Oh I bet that I had you wondering about that title.  Anyways as you know I am working back from home again.  My home office was supposed to be remodeled and painted by a prior roommate in exchange for his rent.  Well that didn't work out too well but there are still things that I can do to pretty up my office.  I wanted to share some ideas that I ran across.

Now I don't have windows because my office is in the basement but I really like the idea about putting up some shelves.  Hmmm.. have to paint first but that isn't such a bad idea.

Now I like this to add to the door. Might have to paint the door first also. This house used to a garage believe it of not and some of the door in the basement still have stickers and permanent markers on them. 

Now I really like this idea!  Besides on slow days I can color.

Perfect for those days that I have to go into the actual call center.

And for organizing my desk (you don't want to see my desk).

I found lots more but I didn't want to overwhelm blogger with all the images.  But you get the idea.
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Winner of Black Jewels Necklace

And now the announcement that everyone has been waiting for.  The winner of the necklace is Kim and her winning comment is:

I LOVE Annie Bishop, it was so nice to see someone else that reads her books! She is one of my favorite authors and I can't get enough of her books. I have re-read them multiple times. I love your necklace, the sari silk was great for the jewel colors. My very favorite book would be The Return of the King, the last book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I have so many favorites though.

I have sent her an email to let her know.
Jun 6, 2012

Beaded Chain Oh Ya!!

I love the look of beaded chain but I am a skin flint and just don't want to pay the prices.  And making it...  I just don't have the patience.  But this month Skye over at Creative Chaos is giving away some that she made.  But what she gives you some options!  Just click here to read all about it!
Jun 5, 2012

Book Review: Spellcaster

Finding your eternal soulmate - easy.

Stopping a true-love-hungry evil - not so much…

After breaking a centuries-old romantic curse, Emma Connor is (almost) glad to get back to normal problems. Although...it's not easy dealing with the jealous cliques and gossip that rule her exclusive Upper East Side prep, even for a sixteen-year-old newbie witch. Having the most-wanted boy in school as her eternal soul mate sure helps ease the pain-especially since wealthy, rocker-hot Brendan Salinger is very good at staying irresistibly close....

But something dark and hungry is using Emma and Brendan's deepest fears to reveal damaging secrets and destroy their trust in each other. And Emma's crash course in ├╝ber-spells may not be enough to keep them safe…or to stop an inhuman force bent on making their unsuspected power its own.

* * * * *

I love it when I come across a heroine who is like a breath of fresh air.  Emma has experienced a lot of tragedy in her short life as she has lost her twin to a disease and her mother and stepfather to a car accident.  However rather then being beaten down, it has made her stronger.  She has found her 'true love' which makes her giddy with happiness yet she has not thrown away her common sense and consummated the relationship.  If I had a daughter I would hope that she was like Emma.

I was also impressed by the deft touch Ms. Schultz is with all of her characters.   A boyfriend like Brendan is like a dream come true.  He is tender, loyal and protective of Emma but he does have his weaknesses such as over-protectiveness and a temper.  Her best friend Angelique also has her up and downsides.  It is actually quite amusing to watch her and Brendon go at it.  And we must not forget the other students that Emma runs into.  I recognize quite a few of them from my days in high school.

This book is very much character driven but there is also a lot of action that keeps the reader engrossed in the storyline itself.  The pacing is right on and the dialogue is realistic and down right amusing at times.  I would recommend this book to any reader of the paranormal.  While it is a young adult book, I think that adults would also enjoy reading it.

I rate this book a 3.7.

*** I did receive this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  No money exchanged hands and all opinions are my own.