Monday, January 4, 2021

Where have I been?

Wow. It's been since the beginning of June 2020 since I've done a post. I did not mean to be away this long. And, unfortunately, with the holidays it's been a little longer. I've not even gotten a chance to get use to this Blogger setup. lol.

So what have I been doing? Um... I don't know?

I got a second puppy during the layoff from work for COVID. She's wonderful! Zeba is a German Shepherd. I needed another German Shepherd in my life after losing Sheba in October 2019. Zeba has fit the hole I was feeling. Yes, her name is very close to Sheba's. I did not name her, the people I got her from already named her. When I heard it, I started to cry and knew she was coming home with me. I've been doing lots of training with her over the last few months. She's earned her Good Canine Citizen award and passed classes.

Zeba is great with Arrow. She's taught Arrow things and he's taught her many things. Mainly, Zeba has helped Arrow deal with his water issues (that was a whole process in getting him straightened out with medicine as he grows). We were busy with Arrow when he was neutered, twice. Yes, twice. He had a testicle that never dropped and was way up in a spot that our vet didn't feel comfortable cutting into. So, a second surgery was needed as it could turn into cancer in the future. Try keeping an overly hyper dog calm when he has stitches, for two weeks.... We had to put him on sedatives and that didn't help. Ugh! So we couldn't do anything for those weeks after both surgeries trying to keep him from busting a stitch.

Here they are infront of the fireplace. I love them so.

Arrow has so much energy it's insane! So I've started walking them early in the morning. Yes, early. Lol

I've been back to work at my day job, it's a small business and there's only 3 of us in the office, distanced for our safety. 

I've been busy starting businesses too!!

The first business, which I've mentioned here, is Spellbound in a Flash. I sell artwork and do photos of people and dogs and many other things as requested. The pandemic made it hard for so many, so it did set my new photography business back a little bit with art exhibits and clients, but I'm getting through. I've been taking photos and putting them up for sale on my Facebook page along with selling on Fine Art America where you can have them printed in many different fashions. Fine Art America is a great place for ordering artwork, masks, puzzles, blankets, throw pillows, and more with my art on them!

The second business...I've become a Sipologist! I'm a consultant for Sipology Tea. I've been drinking their loose leaf tea for a time now and I'm in love. I don't dive into direct sales, but I felt the draw to this one. With the pandemic, we are doing Facebook parties so if you are wanting to host a party, let me know! I'll gladly schedule a party with you. (Sipology Tea does deliver to USA and Canada, they are Canada based company.)

In between all this we've had some stumbles. I lost my father in October. Then my father-in-law in November. We've lost a dear friend and my husband lost an Uncle. One of my dearest friend from middle school found out she had breast cancer and had surgery and started chemo about the time COVID started. My mom found out she had Colon cancer during COVID lock down, having surgery and doing her first round of chemo. She had surgery to remove two sections of her liver where the cancer had been, and is currently recovering from that before starting her second round of chemo. We found out just a few weeks ago a dear friend, same age as me (no I'm not that old) had a stroke.

I know I'm not alone. There are many that have dealt with far harder hardships than I. My heart goes out to those people. Even though I'm listing those things that happened, It's all okay. We are moving forward still. We will get through and be stronger.

It's just been a haul this year. I was listening to audiobooks as that's all I had time for and could digest, but that's even stopped the last few months with the weight of all that's currently happening and getting through the holidays.

I'm here. I'm doing well. I'm not sick. And I'm moving forward as one needs to do. I am okay. Really.

So, I appreciate your patience with me here at My words and pages. It's been a hell of a year at sea and I'm looking to the future, hoping for calmer waters.

Here's to calmer waters for us all.

Here's to a better 2021 for everyone to heal.

If you would like to see my artwork, you can find it at a few places.

    There's a Facebook page: Spellbound in a Flash

    You can purchase at Fine Art America (what I post, and if you see something you'd like to purchase there and it's not up, let me know. I'll add it!)

    Website: Spellbound in a Flash

If you are up for purchasing loose leaf tea, you can find me at Sipology.

    Or you can join my Facebook VIP group: Melissa's Marvelous Mugs of Tea

Thank you for all your support! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Audio Book Review: Sellsword's Oath

Sellsword's Oath

By:  Gail Z. Martin

Publish Date:  January 20, 2020, Audiobook Release January 20, 2020

Format:  Audiobook - 5 hrs 59 mins
Narrated By:  Samuel Roukin

Genre:  Fantasy

Series:  2nd in Assassins of Landria series; 1st Book ~ Assassin's Honor

Impression:  Interesting assassin team.

Wandering mystic Yefim Makary, known to his followers as the ‘Witch Lord’, disappeared before he could be accused of inciting dissent against King Kristoph. His supporters among the disenchanted aristocrats who weren’t arrested have fled or died by their own hand. The king is happy to put the matter behind him. Yet Burke, the commander of the elite King’s Shadows, doesn’t believe the threat is over, and he assigns his two most troublesome, rule-breaking—and successful—assassins to ferret out the real threat and put a stop to Makary’s plots.

Joel “Ridge” Breckinridge and Garrett “Rett” Kennard rose through the ranks of the Landrian army together, from teenaged conscripts to seasoned fighters. Together, they became the most feared team of assassins in Landria, surviving longer that most in their profession by virtue of excellent fighting skills, legendary bravado, peerless strategy, and an uncanny synchronicity.

As the threads of a new plot come together revealing disloyalty among the priests and generals, Ridge and Rett once again find themselves on the run, hoping they and their allies can figure out the Witch Lord’s latest scheme before it costs them their lives—and the king his throne.

First Sentence:
The trick, when setting off gunpowder, was to be far enough away.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles 


My Thoughts and Summary:
*I was given this free review copy of this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Samuel narrated the first book and I'm glad he returned for the next! His voice and personality that he gives to Rett and Ridge feels to be them for me. The audio is clean and clear for listening pleasure.

Rett and Ridge are sent on a mission to go after the counterfeiters and destroy their forge. If they hear or see anything regarding Yefin Makary, or the Witch Lord as he is called, who got away in the first book they are to report directly to Burke. Rett and Ridge are sure he's going to cause trouble in the future. The deeper they dig into the counterfeiting, the more they find that Makary is involved and has more going on than meets the eye.

I enjoy Rett and Ridge as a team. They are great brothers, though not by blood but from growing up together in the orphanage as children. They have each other's back and work well together. They also have a touch of the sight, which is frowned on by others so they keep it hidden. There are a few that learn of their abilities and it comes in handy with their mission, again. 

I love how these two also help captured children get to a safe place. There are children out there with abilities as well, and with the help of one they saved in the first book, they find more of these children who've been taken from their families or put in terrible situations. This shows there is a heart in these assassins. 

I enjoyed the missions as we got to see what was happening while Rett and Ridge are in disguise then the fight that will come. We get closer and closer to what's happening and how things are connected as we follow Rett and Ridge on a few missions.

We get more ghosts in this one. I found I had very similar thoughts on assassin ghosts. lol. Cool idea.

The series is well worth a read or listen. I enjoy the fantasy story and setting in a shorter length. I get all I enjoy in fantasy from magic to fights and more. I know listening is limited these days, so to have the shorter length is a nice bonus.

****If you found my thoughts helpful, please click Yes at Amazon. Thank you!

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Audio Book Review: Hook: Dead Wrong

Hook: Dead Wrong

By:  Melissa Snark

Publish Date:  August 1, 2019, Audiobook Release September 26, 2019

Format:  Audiobook - 8 hrs 33 mins
Narrated By:  Natalie Naudus

Genre:  Urban Fantasy

Series:  2nd in Captain Hook and the Pirates of Neverland series; Book 1 ~ Dead to Rights

Impression:  Closer view at Hook and what she faces personally.

People who complicate my life earn the business end of my hook.
Funny how that never seems to stop them.

Think I’m exaggerating? I stand accused of colluding with Fomorian raiders who are abducting young mermaids… And one of the Lost Boys I rescued from Neverland is being terrorized by a Faerie nightmare… A dark menace connects the two things. With the help of my pixie companion, I must solve the mystery while evading the interference of my meddlesome ex-lover.

He’s sinfully distracting, but the fun must wait.

All those delectable sirens need rescuing.

First Sentence:
The towering peak of Old Crack-A-Toe, a long dormant volcano, thrust from the center of Rackham's Cay's South Island.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles 


My Thoughts and Summary:
*I was given this free review copy of this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Natalie returns to continue voicing Hook and her adventures. I'm pleased to hear Natalie again. I enjoy her accent for Hook and the many voices she's given to additional characters. The many voices makes the book feel like a full cast in audio. The audio is cut clean and clear for listening.

Hook's ship, Revenge, limps along on the waters after the battle with Peter Pan. They lost crew and the ship is on the verge of sinking. They then cross paths with Admiral William Kidd, who's determined to kill Hook. Then, we move on to a month later. Hook is chased from a married woman's bed and home.

This book has more going on behind the scenes as we listen to the story. We get the connections as the story progresses but earlier in the book we don't know how it's going to connect.

We get to see Hook use her siren song early in this book. It's nice to see she uses it when in need of help. Which we see that using her siren song could have consequences, which Hook is concerned about.

Hook is captain of her ship and she has to act the part, though Hook does care even if she appears hard in the face of her crew. She only wants the best for her crew and to keep them safe, especially from Peter Pan. I get a kick out of Hook and her camaraderie with Buzz, a pixie. They are fun together and Buzz makes me smile with some of his off hand comments.

We see Hook alone and a deeper look into who Hook is. We also get to see Hook with crew and friends on a one on one bases. The story feels to be a character developing one for us with the feelings we see flow through Hook here.

I think, in the end, Hook has a new appreciation for her crew and those she keeps near. She sees they are more to her, and she to them, than she originally leads on. Will this change the way she commands? I hope not. To me, she's always had care in her barked orders, it seems now she knows her crew and friends care for her too.

We get to see Hook with Captain Rackham. I do enjoy the way these two banter. Rackham and Hook seem so good at getting at the other with remarks, and they both take it in stride. There is a history here, and maybe a future? I'd love to see these two interact more in the future. Hook even makes a new friend in the water as well. It's always interesting to see Hook's connection to the mermaids. I wonder if this will come up again in the future.

A fun read that has me looking forward to future installments with Hook and all around her.

****If you found my thoughts helpful, please click Yes at Amazon and/or Audible. Thank you!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Audio Book Review: Flux


By:  Jeremy Robinson

Publish Date:  May 14, 2019, Audiobook Release May 31, 2019

Format:  Audiobook - 10 hrs 55 mins
Narrated By:  Jeffrey Kafer

Genre:  Urban Fantasy

Series:  Stand alone

Impression:  An adventure through time with action and growth.

For Owen McCoy, a typical day on the job as head of security for Synergy, a research company conducting mysterious experiments, is boring at best. And that's the way he likes it. Patrolling the Appalachian mountainside, where his now deceased father taught him how to hunt, is relaxing and connects him to the past.

But today is not a typical day on the job. It begins with asking a thief to join him for breakfast. Seeking to set the young man on a better path, Owen invites him to walk the perimeter with him and consider a more honest living. Before their patrol can begin, they discover evidence that the facility has been breached. When Owen's truck explodes, he's confused, but ready for whatever might come his way.

At least, he thinks he is.

A wave of light-bending energy--the Flux--rolls down the mountainside, transporting Owen, and everyone in the nearby town of Black Creek, to October 14, 1985, the day before his father died. Two hours later, the second Flux hits, and then a third, and a fourth, each time collecting Black Creek residents from various times. They're carried through eras filled with wild animals, monsters of myth, and ancient beasts...and then beyond.

Joined by a ragtag group of temporal stowaways, including family members, Owen fights to restore order, stop the Flux, and return home, facing off against futuristic tech, primal killers, and the fear of losing his father...again.

First Sentence:
"Ain't gonna ask again." The gun in his hand - a rusted piece of junk from a time before his birth - is more likely to explode in his face than put a bullet through mine.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles 


My Thoughts and Summary:
*I was given this free review copy of this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

By now I'm sure you know Jeffrey is one of my favorite narrators. Jeffrey doesn't let me down. Jeffrey narrates with perfection. He fits the voices of all the characters well as they live through their events. Jeffrey adds different tones, accents, and personality to each character as they speak.

Owen's day is far from routine. From speaking to, and helping, his would be robber to his day at the job. Nothing is close to normal. Working as head of security at Synergy, Owen doesn't know what the company is working on. Owen seems to take a long stroll through the past on this day.

It doesn't take Jeremy long before things go sideways in the normal day for his main character, Owen. I enjoyed meeting Levi and how Owen befriends him. I am thrilled Jeremy dives in and throws the world into chaos for Owen immediately. It made me curious and kept my attention on the story.

I love going on adventures in Jeremy's books. He always has an interesting spin in his stories. Every chapter drives the story forward and brings more action and details to play into the story to come. I enjoy the tidbits hinted at and seeing them come to fruit as the story goes.

Our main character, Owen, gets to see how he has changed over the years with what he's lived through. It opens Owen's eyes as to what he's missed out on too. As Owen travels and his group grows in number, he realizes much about himself and starts to open up to the idea of how he lives his life. Owen grows as a character through the book. Owen is also given new chances in this story that help with the growth he makes. Owen's a great character, he just starts out a little closed off due to the losses he's felt and lived through.

For the secondary characters, I was drawn to Levi right away. The young adult had some cool sayings and a bit nervous when we meet him, but he was quick to pick up on things too. I really liked the bond created with Levi and Owen. We come across other characters as well that are mysterious or important to Owen that made an impact on me as well; Minute Man, Cassie, little Owen, Dad, Inola, are a few that stick out for me mind.

In the end we come to a small tie that connects this book to another of Jeremy's, The Others. You do not have to read The Others in order to pick anything up, but it may spark you to want to get The Others as I'm now wanting to listen to it.

As always, Jeremy has lived up to my expectations and beyond. Well done.

****If you found my thoughts helpful, please click Yes at Amazon and/or Audible. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Audio Book Review: The Blood of Kings

The Blood of Kings

By:  Kyle Alexander Romines

Publish Date:  May 1, 2019, Audiobook Release September 16, 2019

Format:  Audiobook - 11 hrs 59 mins
Narrated By:  Matt Addis

Genre:  Fantasy

Series:  2nd in Warden of Fal series; 1st Book ~ The Wrath of Lords

Impression:  Amazing blend of fantasy and mystery.

Being a warden is tough work at the best of times. Keeping the tenuous peace between the five kingdoms of Fál is a difficult business, especially in a land of monsters and magic.

Esben Berengar, the realm’s most feared warden, relies on his wits and his axe to deal with unscrupulous rulers, bloodthirsty outlaws, and the occasional witch.

When the king of Munster is murdered, Berengar is called upon to investigate. Many had cause to want the king dead, and treachery lurks behind every corner.

As tensions between humans and all others threaten to boil over, the warden finds himself reluctantly partnered with Morwen, Munster’s court magician, to solve the murder before the killer strikes at the royal family again.

First Sentence:
It was never a good idea to keep a king waiting--even for a warden.

Purchase At:


My Thoughts and Summary:
*I was given this free review copy of this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Summoned to help King Mor with the simple task of returning the court magician to his castle turns into more when King Mor dies. Now, Berengar is tasked with finding who killed the king and why. King Mor had a feeling there was dark magic in his lands, but what is really going on?

Matt returns to narrate the story for us. I enjoy his accent on words and speech as he breathes life into the characters. I enjoyed listening to Matt voice the cast. His accent and proper sound fits the world for me. Also, he gives different tones to different character's voices. This helps differentiate the characters for me as I listen. Clean and clear as a bell audio.

Berengar. He sure is a special person. People all around are scared of him due to the stories of his strength and deaths he's brought. But I love him for those stories and how he acts. He's just a man who likes to be on his own with his wolfhound. He's cut off a part of himself from the world for what he's been through and what he has to do in his employment.

This is the second book of the series, and I've found I very much enjoy the woman characters Kyle writes. They are not weak of mind or spirit. They are strong in their own ways. The one that makes a huge impact in this story is Morwen. She's a magician but she's very strong willed along with brilliant. She's determined to help Berengar, and will do so with no fear of the large scarred man.

I enjoy the tale told here. Berengar is smart and has the brass too. There are many secrets in King Mor's castle that Berengar uncovers as he investigates King Mor's death. The king had many things going on that was kept from others. There are deaths as Berengar comes closer to people who could tell some small sliver to help with the investigation of who killed the king. Berengar keeps track of all that he learns and works with Morwen to put it all together, even if it feels to be separate incidents. It all comes together as Berengar digs too deep for those involved and puts Berengar's life in danger, though Berengar is use to this.

Not only is there a mystery where we get the details, it's set in a fantasy world. I love this blend! We get the action, fights, and magic that can be found in fantasy stories. The world feels as though I'm familiar with it. It's not heavy with rules and magic, it's easy to follow the world and events.

This is book two in the series, but how the books are written I think you could read them out of order. Sure, there are mentions of the first book here but that doesn't heavily sway the mystery in this book. Now we do have an evolution to Berengar that's happening, so reading the first book will give you the beginnings of how Berengar is growing as a character.

I'm totally in for the series! Can't wait for more!

****If you found my thoughts helpful, please click Yes at Amazon and/or Audible. Thank you!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Audio Book Review: The Tesla Legacy

The Tesla Legacy

By:  Rebecca Cantrell

Publish Date:  January 22, 2015, Audiobook Release May 6, 2015

Format:  Audiobook - 6 hrs 41 mins
Narrated By:  Jeffrey Kafer

Genre:  Mystery Thriller

Series:  2nd in Joe Tesla series, 1st Book ~ The World Beneath

Impression:  Paranormal thriller with a grip.

In New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Cantrell's sequel to the award-winning The World Beneath, software genius, Joe Tesla, confronts an equally brilliant and far more powerful foe. Still crippled by agoraphobia and confined to the tunnels under New York City, Joe is haunted by the fact that he cannot even attend his father's funeral. His father's death brings threats to the safety of Joe's underground home: guilt over the broken relationship that can never be healed, a mysterious box of papers inherited from eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla, and a ruthless enemy determined to steal those papers no matter the cost. Mystified by why his inheritance is so valuable, Joe and his service dog, Edison, follow clues left a century ago by Joe's famous ancestor to reveal the power of his family legacy. While Joe must rely on his considerable talents as a hacker, he must also reach out to friends. But whom can he trust as he battles to save his beloved city from . . . The Tesla Legacy?

First Sentence:
Most men would not care about a simple pigeon, but Nikola Tesla was not most men.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles 


My Thoughts and Summary:
*I was given this free review copy of this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

Jeffrey is always a pleasure for me to listen to. He's grown to be one of my favorite narrators. (Yes, there's a list.) Jeffrey doesn't let me down with his vocals as Nikola Tesla again. Jeffrey voices Nikola with the emotion Nikola feels, even in his most stressful moments.

Joe Tesla is struggling with his agoraphobia with his father's funeral. Seeing it through a cell phone lens, Joe learns a secret his father kept. He's not a Tesla descendant. However, there are people out there that want the plans for the Oscillator that Nikola Tesla designed. The real plans, not the adjusted and dysfunctional version that's public. And what his father left him in a suitcase may lead him, and these dangerous people to the true plans.

Joe has a huge obstacle to work around with his agoraphobia. He can't walk outside, and a lot of what happens involves going outside. He has his housing arrangements, groceries, and walking for his dog all taken care of, but the trouble Joe finds himself in could lead to having to leave his underground home. We see Joe react to the outside light with his agoraphobia. We also learn new medical troubles for Joe. When I learned this, I hoped that he will find the person that did this to him and we would get to see that in the books.

I find it really cool how the underground railroads and tunnels lead to several of the buildings in the city. This makes it easier for Joe to venture to places, though he's not done so yet. With what he's left by his father, Joe has to brave new tunnels to building to look for something. When he finds it, trouble finds him.

Joe learns a truth about his family, which dredges up old memories of his father making Joe work hard at school work. We also meet Joe's mother, and see her interact with him.

I enjoy seeing Vivian, who Joe has hired to help. She's a body guard sort and can do errands for Joe on the outside world. Even Dirk. We get to see Celeste and Joe interact via phone calls and what Joe does with computers for her.

Joe starts to see the program he created to help find people or criminals in the world is being used in a way he didn't plan. Joe has to figure out what to do with that program, if anything, so no one knows he's been monitoring it and tampering with it to stop them.

There are a few pieces in the story that Joe doesn't know about that another character knows. These items could become a problem in the future that Joe will have to deal with. Also, Joe's health is something he has to keep in mind. I'm curious to see how these continue on in future books.

****If you found my thoughts helpeful, please click Yes at Amazon and/or Audible. Thank you!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Audio Book Review: Dead Before Dying

Dead Before Dying

By:  Kerry Schafer

Publish Date:  February 9, 2016, Audiobook Release October 30, 2019

Format:  Audiobook - 7 hrs 46 mins
Narrated By:  Teri Clark Linden

Genre:  Paranormal, Mystery Thriller

Series:  1st in The Shadow Valley Manor Novel series

Impression:  Paranormal thriller with a grip.

Sidelined by an on the job injury, veteran paranormal investigator Maureen Keslyn reluctantly accepts an assignment at Shadow Valley Manor, an upscale retirement facility where someone—or something—is picking off residents and staff at a grisly clip.

With her resources dwindling one death at a time and unnatural forces on the loose, Maureen’s experience fighting the supernatural provides her only hope to destroy a clever and powerful evil before everybody in the manor—and the town—winds up dead. Together with a ragtag team that includes the local sheriff, the undertaker's daughter, and the facility cook whose knife skills in the kitchen could prove deadly out of it--Maureen is on a mission to bring rest to the weary, and peace to the dead...

First Sentence:
I don't care what his nametag says, the young man standing by my bed can't really be a doctor.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles 


My Thoughts and Summary:
*I was given this free review copy of this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

The book starts with getting a great view into Maureen's personality. I loved it! Kerry's writing and Teri's voice adding the personality makes a perfect fit for Maureen out of the gate. I also can relate to the sound and feel of Maureen at the opening, both writing and vocals make it easy to believe and relate to. Listening to this story, I feel Teri is a perfect match for Maureen's personality. Wow. I never questioned the character tones or personalities as Teri voiced them all. I slipped into the story, listening and ready to learn what I could.

I really enjoyed Kerry's writing as we walk into empty homes and areas of the manor. I feel as though I'm with Maureen and don't know what we'll find, just creeping along taking in the sights with her. I'm drawn into the moment and wondering what we'll find. I love when this happens, as I don't feel as I'm just listening to a story but a part of it with the character and learning things as she does.

I love Maureen! She's got a strong personality and she doesn't fear anything. She speaks of what's on her mind when it comes to Ed and Abel. She's older than your normal main character, but she's got loads of experience to rely on. She's one strong woman who can battle through troubles and make it out the other side.

I felt like the world of paranormal was a huge secret here with how Maureen works and steps around all the questions. There feels to be a big presence that's not a good one in the paranormal world. There also feels to be a huge, dark research group that are hiding in the shadows of the world. So much more to the hushed world of paranormal here. We start to peel back the layers of this onion, slowly so we get to learn what's here and keep the suspense going. By the end, we get our answers on what's happened. However, even though we got answers, there's lots of elements that could be investigated and found.

Okay. I this is a new favorite paranormal series. I love the paranormal present in the book. We have illegal research that's happened and there are creatures out there that are dangerous. I love how the characters match even though they are not trusted by each other. Great blend of everything here! I will totally be watching for more books in this world!

****If you found my thoughts helpful, please click Yes at Amazon and/or Audible. Thank you!