blog · ocoee river · tennessee

Travel | White Water Rafting 2007

Possibly one of my favorite pictures

My “summer cleaning” for this year appears to be mostly digital, lol. I’m basically just going through old files and folders, deleting things I no longer want or need, and sharing fond memories.

This particular memory is from all the way back in 2007, when I went on a white water rafting trip with the young adult group from church (not youth group, we were all adults at the time).

I’m particularly proud of how this picture turned out ❤ ❤ ❤

I don’t remember exactly where we went, but some research leads me to believe it was the Ocoee River in East Tennessee, pretty much nestled right into the southern part of the Appalachian Mountains. My camera, at the time, was not waterproof so I don’t have any pictures of the actual rafting, but I did take lots of nature pictures from around the cabin and the woods.

Our cabin was right on a little river and I could have spent hours sitting on the porch, listening to the water and the wind and the birds.

If I could live the rest of my days in the mountains, I would do so in a heartbeat! It’s not often that you can go someplace and not hear traffic or sirens or just the sound of other people, but it was so indescribably peaceful on this trip that I can’t even say.

I’ll have to see if I can get some of my girlfriends together for a trip like this in the future!

No streetlights or telephone poles in sight
The view from my bedroom was so peaceful

Have you ever been white water rafting?
If not, would you want to go?

blog · book review · review · two book tuesday

Two Book Tuesday

I’m sitting here, enjoying the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, waiting for my coffee to finish brewing and thinking about the books for today. It’s the kind of morning where you could easily have slept in, or pulled yourself from that comfy place under the covers and enjoy the sun coming up on a new day.

Tuesday just might be my favorite day of the week.

But you’re not here to listen to me go on and on about days of the week, lol, you’re here for the books! Rather than including a book I’m reading and one I’m about to read, this Two Book Tuesday is about two books that I am reading. They’re a little behind from their original TBR month, but life has conspired to keep me from my ‘4 books a month’ goal, lol.

I hope you enjoy my rambling about two really good books!

Now that I have a computer again, I can spend money during the Steam Summer Sales, lol. One of the games I purchased was the Windows version of one of my favorite PS4 games, Final Fantasy XV.

Between fighting zombies in 7 Days to Die and the Covenant in Halo: Reach, I started a brand new game in Final Fantasy XV and it felt a little like coming home, which is the best way to tell if the game was good for you. 🙂

The Dawn of the Future begins near the end of the game, but before the final battle and epilogue.

We get to see Ardyn as the healer king and his tense relationship with his brother Somnus, learn more about Niflheim and it’s people, and we get to see Luna in her wedding dress, yay!

I’ve really only taken a nibble of this book, but I’m already hoping for a happy ending.

Oh, and the artwork is absolutely breathtaking! There are images of characters both known and unknown, illustrations of events past and future, and towards the back of the book a collection of promotional pictures.

I’m half-listening and half-reading Undetected by Dee Henderson, lol.

Purchased as a title from Kindle, I decided to try out the Audible Whispersync function. Basically, you get to listen to someone reading you the book while it follows along by highlighting the words being spoken.

So far, it’s a pretty fun book.

I really enjoy the camaraderie the captain and crew of the USS Nevada have for each other and the rivalry they have with the blue crew, with whom they share joint custody of the submarine.

It’s fun and believable and really helps to show the family that these crews become to one another whilst aboard their ship.

This bit made me laugh out loud when I read it…

We’re going to snuggle with the Seawolf. Let’s remind them who’s the better boat.

Mark Bishop captains the USS Nevada, spending months at sea before coming ashore to watch another captain take the submarine out before he gets to return to her. Mark desperately wants to find a wife that he can build a relationship with, honor as God requires, and love for the rest of his days. But he’s still not 100% over the death of his first wife and it’s made him skittish to try his hand at dating again. He’s looking for serious and isn’t sure he’s going to find it.

And Gina Grey? Well, she’s a wicked smart woman who dreams of being married before she’s thirty. After a bad break-up, she moves out west to be with her brother, to work, and hopefully to find the man of her dreams. She’s been praying for the right man to come into her life and maybe, just maybe that man is the one she meets when he’s buying ice cream after returning to shore.

These two are super cute together, their love for God and for each other is refreshing to see and I look forward to reading more of Dee Henderson’s works in the future.


August TBR

Just the one book on my TBR for August.

I’m sorry for the unplanned and entirely unannounced hiatus I took in July… things got tough and I needed a break, but I’m hoping to see improvement and continue to share my thoughts and ideas through this blog.

Anywhos! This one book is about a megalodon, which as you all know is basically a HUGE shark! So, just one book will be alright, I think. 😉

Graphic novel:

Carthago by Christophe Bec

The megalodon, the prehistoric ancestor of the great white shark was the most ferocious predator of the seas, an 80 foot killing machine extinct for millions of years.

But when divers drilling in an underwater cave are attacked by this living fossil, oceanographer Kim Melville discovers that this creature may not only have survived, but thrived, and is reclaiming its place at the top of the food chain.


music review · review

The Cloud Atlas Sextet by Tom Twyker

Sorry, this post is getting out a little later in the day than I usually publish them, been dealing with headaches ALL weekend and just haven’t had the energy to put my thoughts into words.

Now, let’s see if that Ibuprofen helped enough for me to be literate, lol.

The Cloud Atlas Sextet for Orchestra is from the movie Cloud Atlas, based on the novel by the same name. I’ve not yet read the novel, because I remember hearing it’s a doozy to get through (not bad, just sometimes confusing) and I haven’t put in a great effort to get my hands on a copy.

The movie was great fun, if a bit odd. Entertaining and romantic, nerve-wracking and inspiring, and all together unique in the way each story line comes together in the end.

Just very good.

And the soundtrack was perfect for creating the right atmosphere for each story line. My favorite track, The Cloud Atlas Sextet for Orchestra, is absolutely heartbreaking on screen, but grows to be something inspiring and hopeful towards the end. I have a ‘driving playlist’ that consists mainly of orchestral type music and, as soon as I heard the sextet, I knew it was getting added to the playlist!

I’m not very musical, so my descriptions are probably WAY off, but I love how, as the song progresses it waxes and wanes, how you have these moments where a single instrument or section will stand out, and how they all come together in such a beautiful way.

Anywhos, hope you all enjoy this as much as I do. 😀

What’s your favorite song to commute to?


Blog | I’m a Gamer Girl (building her first PC)

I’ve wanted to build my own computer for years, but it wasn’t until this year that I finally decided to do so.

Funny thing is, I get to thank the President of the United States for sending me money to build it, lol. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, many taxpayers received a stimulus check to help with cost of living. A portion of my check went to paying bills (got to be responsible) and another bit went to buying the components I needed to build my first computer.

First things first, we got the case unpacked and opened up. No problems there. Popped in the power supply and it fit like a dream…

And then, things started getting interesting. My motherboard came with the IO shield preinstalled, which gave us some difficulty because it needed to go in before we could put anything else on the dang thing, lol.

But my brother and I were able to work around that and keep going with the build. We popped the motherboard in and secured it with the teeny tiny screws…

Except then we had a problem… no matter how we turned things around or which parts we tried to use, the CPU cooler just would not fit the motherboard! According to Bob, the motherboard has non-standard spacing for the cooler to be mounted and it didn’t fit with the one I’d purchased.

So, after waiting for ALL the parts to arrive, I was putting everything back in the box to wait, while I sent the cooler back and ordered a new one!

Luckily, my cousin back home in Wisconsin was kind enough to send the spare CPU cooler he had and wasn’t using. Not only does it fit perfectly but it is a much higher quality than what I had originally purchased. Best cousin ever!

We had a couple of oops moments where we forgot to plug the hard drive into the motherboard and then couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t recognizing it, lol. The poor little thing was running just fine, hooked up to the power supply as it was, but we never plugged it in to the brain of the computer!

As I had already decided to purchase a regular sized hard drive, we removed the little laptop hard drive out of the computer and I returned it. I also got super lucky, because a local Best Buy had a Western Digital Black 1TB hard drive that I was able to pick up at the store the very next day! Had it plugged in and running by Sunday evening.

All in all, my brother and I spent two weekends building my computer. Here she is, the “Normandy” in all her first-time-build glory!

Just in time for my proctored midterm exam. 😛

Part List

blog · review · video game review

Game Review | Mass Effect (Renegade)

The Mass Effect trilogy of games is, hands down, my favorite video game series of all time. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve played it, either on PC or PS3, and I continue to hope that we will get a remaster or remake sometimes soon. However, in all my play-throughs, I had never played as a Renegade.

Having just completed a Renegade campaign, I can now tell you exactly why that is…

My absolute favorite thing about this trilogy is how the writing makes every play-through feel like coming home to friends and family. Each mission is like visiting a familiar place and each battle feels like you’re making a difference as you fight to protect all that you love.

Playing as Renegade Shepard felt like I’d effectively neutered the trilogy of this experience.

While most of the overarching plot plays out similarly to a Paragon or even a Paragade play-through (choosing between Kaidan or Ashley, working with Cerberus, getting the galaxy to band together), the moments that make the game so memorable to me were gone.

The moments that hit the hardest didn’t exist.

Helping Mordin in his personal quest to make things right for the Krogan and his involvement with the Genophage (a Salarian-made bio weapon that causes stillbirths); fostering Legion’s self-awareness and individuality, agreeing that yes, that darn unit has a soul; being the voice of reason that helps broker peace between the Quarians and the Geth, seeing Tali and her people regain their home world; and supporting Wrex as he unites feuding Krogan clans in the hope of a better future for his people.

All gone.

When you play as a Renegade, these beautiful character moments are all lost in your blind quest to defeat the reapers. Building relationships with the people and races you meet is no longer an option, as you ruthlessly put down any opinion that you don’t agree with, bully those weaker than yourself, and ignore the fact that your actions WILL have consequences.

I was forced to shoot Mordin before he ascended the tower. He knew that I had sabotaged the cure and because he wouldn’t stand for such an atrocity, he dies, dragging himself forward as he tries one last time to cure the Genophage. He fails, dying within an arm’s reach of the console.

I had to watch Tali commit suicide after Shepard allows the Geth to destroy the Quarian’s Migrant Fleet. Immediately after Legion sacrifices himself so that the Geth can know true freedom, Tali throws herself off a cliff, overcome with grief at the loss of her people and their only chance to return home.

And Wrex? Well, I got the distinct displeasure of a fight to the death when he confronted Shepard on the Citadel about the Genophage. Even after I lied about my role in the cure not being viable, he knew something wasn’t right, and so I killed him. He never has children, never gets to see the Krogran start families and rebuild their world. Without him or Eve (who also died), the Krogran have zero chance of surviving long enough to see the Genophage cured.

I’m not going to lie, I cried a lot during this play-through. In real life, I’m generally a nice person and that usually translates over into my style of gaming, so it was really difficult to be an asshole who didn’t give two shits about the people they were hurting.

I made the mistake of saving Ashley on Virmire during my Renegade play through and hated it.

As Renegade Shepard, you don’t really care about your crew or how they are doing. I never connected with Ashley about her family history with the military, her sisters, or even the way her views on alien species change over time.

When she was injured on Mars, I never even visited her in the hospital.

As such, I never re-connected with Thane (who is one of my favorite characters). His final prayer for Shepard felt like a desperate plea for me to see how far I’d fallen and how little I cared about those I claimed to be fighting for.

I really hate this because I had been excited to see Ashley’s growth as a character. Usually, I save Kaidan, because he’s always been more relatable to me, but I wanted to give Ashley the chance for redemption… I just shouldn’t have done it on a Renegade campaign, because you never get the chance to get to know her.

Shepard’s own body begins to show the effects of his actions.

The scars on his face are vicious wounds, red from (probably) infection and the rejected cybernetics underneath his skin.

In a nightmarish vision, his eyes begin to glow, visible in the dark and through his face shield in a way that leaves no doubt…

He is no longer a hero.

At the end of the day, Renegade Shepard is a thug and a bully. Does he still defeat the Reapers and save the galaxy? Yes, but for me the cost is too high.

While it was interesting to see how truly loathsome Shepard could be, I probably won’t play as Renegade again and I can’t say this one time was worth it.

The story deserves better. The galaxy deserves better. Shepard deserves better.

blog · book review · review

Book Review | Alphabits Series by Susi Hawke & Crista Crown (part 2)

The Alphabits series, written by Susi Hawke and Crista Crown, is a spin-off of their other series, Team A.L.P.H.A. They are a team comprised mainly of Alphas who have all chosen to specialize in cases dealing with shifter pups.

Here are my thoughts on the last three books in the series…

Book five introduces a minuscule BDSM element into the Alphabits series…

When Patton and Finn go out to meet up with an informant who is looking for help in finding the kids he considers family, Patton never expects to find his mate.

Then again, Axel (former thief, omega, and go-go dancer) only ever thought true-mates were a fairy tale. But neither man is willing to let the other go, not now that they’ve found each other.

I really liked how much Axel cares about the kids he used to run with. This story has all the earmarks of found-family (which I adore) with a little bit of thievery and, of course, an evil gang leader.

One of the other things I enjoyed in Twisted was getting to see Finn settle into his place with the Alphabits. A little bit of hazing, via catnip and laser pointers, and he finally starts to unwind a little. Can’t wait to read his book… something’s going on with this one, I can tell.

Silenced is book six in the series and sadly, my least favorite…

Our big bear shifter, Cyrus, finally meets his omega when Leaf decides to track down the man who’s scent he had smelled all over another alpha while trying to stop his brother from making bad decisions with STAHP… ALPHA’s rival organization.

I enjoyed that Cyrus had decided to take Nate, one of the kids from the last book, under his wing and how he has absolutely NO idea what to do with a teenager!

Leaf is treated as so, terribly fragile in just about every situation… especially after he gets pregnant, which seriously? Super potent alphas, we get it. *eyeroll* He keeps saying he’s stronger than Cyrus thinks, but is never really allowed to show off his own strengths. Cyrus’ family is basically the local chapter of the Russian mob, but nothing really comes of it except for a brief, VERY brief, moment of tension.

It’s not a terrible addition to the series and it was nice to see the Chucky and Morgan were able to be re-united, but it felt like it was just filling space to me.

Finally getting to Finn’s book with number 7 in the series!

Turns out, Finn’s true mate is Antonio Montoya, the leader of STAHP. He’s none too happy to discover this, but it’s hard to turn away from the draw of his true mate… maybe he can influence Antonio’s decisions and get STAHP to stop eating their victims?

I wanted SO BADLY to enjoy this book! I love Finn in every other encounter we get to see him in! But I’m sad that these last three books seem to turn omega’s into simpering messes who just want to be with their mates, pregnant and kept without any agenda of their own.

I would have love, love, loved to see Antonio actually have to work to court Finn and gain his favor. It would have been amazing for Finn to keep his backbone after meeting/mating Antonio. Instead, as soon as they get hot and heavy, he becomes the “perfect omega” ready and willing to bend over and do whatever his alpha needs.

Format: eBooks
Publisher: Hawke & Crown LLC
Source: Amazon Kindle Unlimited
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon || Goodreads

blog · memphis · travel

Blog | Snow in Memphis (2016)

I was going through some truly old files on my computer backup and came across these pretty pictures of a snow storm we got in February 2016.

We were still living in an apartment in Germantown (a suburb of Memphis), but we were on the second floor so we got to see some pretty things all covered in snow from a great vantage point!

Seeing as it is now July 2020, and it is as hot and humid as summer can be in Memphis, I thought it might be a good time to share these ‘cool’ pics…

What’s your favorite time of year?