Category Archives: Reviews

Tarot Tuesday! Shadowscapes Review

Hey everyone, and Happy Tuesday! Monday is over with, and it’s time to get on with the rest of the week! One of my personal goals for this week is to do a lot of work with my tarot cards, and that includes getting to know my newest deck: Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore.

I was immediately drawn to this deck when I saw it online simply because it’s so beautiful. Eventually I knew I just had to get it, and the beauty I saw in it on a computer screen was nothing compared to real life! Every single card is absolutely stunning.

There’s such incredible detail and movement in these images, and so much care has been put into them that the meanings practically leap to life as soon as I look at them. The silver metallic trim is a nice touch, and even the backs of the cards are just gorgeous.

Beyond the visual pleasure of this deck, I have to talk about the quality and the setup. I opted for the kit with the larger guidebook. The box has that lovely magnetic closure you find on some decks, with the guidebook on top and the cards recessed underneath. I know some people take their cards out of the original box and put them in something different, but I have too many decks to really justify that. This makes the manufacturer’s box important to me, and I love this one.

The guidebook for this deck is also worth talking about. There’s always some general information in the front of any tarot book, but I felt this was just a particularly good introduction to this deck. The book includes a great general overview of tarot as well. All of this front matter is difficult to really explain without going into far more detail than you’d probably want to read here, but trust me when I say it’s good.

The rest of the book goes into the meanings of the cards, of course, but it’s so well written! Each card not only has it’s general meaning but also a fantastic little story. I’m never one to sit down and read a guidebook cover to cover, but this one makes me want to do so!

Every single thing about Shadowscapes Tarot so far is fantastic. I’d highly recommend it whether you’re brand new to tarot or an old hand.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please consider using my links to do your shopping and help me out at no extra cost to you!

Sacred Traveler

Interested in a Tarot Reading?

You’ll receive a photo of the actual cards drawn and a thorough explanation of their meaning. The readings are done through email, so please ensure a valid email address is included with your payment! This is for a generalized reading. If you have a specific question or needs, please feel free to email me at ashley@ashleyomelia.com or come visit me on eBay (see link below) and we can arrange it easily. Thank you!

$10.00

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Dragon’s Napalm – An Ink Review

What do you do when you buy some ink that happens to come with a free pen, and you discover that you’re absolutely in love with said pen?  You buy more ink, of course!

I fell in love with the Charlie pen by Noodler’s that came with my purchase of Heart of Darkness.  These larger bottles with pens were a special edition limited run, but they can still be found out there on Amazon, eBay, and several other sites.

I couldn’t resist an ink named Dragon’s Napalm, and so I’ve now added it to my collection.  As fun as it was to watch black ink slosh around inside the pen, it’s even more fun with Dragon’s Napalm, which is rather bloodlike.  I can sign all my future contracts in blood now, yay!

The ink comes out in a brilliant cherry red, reminiscent of dragons guarding their hordes of gold deep in the mountains of 1960’s fantasy novels.  Like all Noodler’s inks that I have experienced, it flows well and is such a joy to write with.  It’s perfect for proofreading or plotting the death of antagonists.

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Heart of Darkness – An Ink Review

I’m starting to build up a bit of collection of fountain pen ink, and I’ve not been doing my duty in telling you all about it.  Time for that to change!

I admit I’d set my fountain pens aside for a little while.  I hadn’t been keeping them properly clean, and I’d just been so busy that I hadn’t bothered.  But I got a little Christmas money and decided to spend it on something that had been on my wish list for quite some time:  Heart of Darkness by Noodler’s.

Now, I didn’t just go and buy any regular 3 ounce bottle.  No, I sprung for the 4.5 ounce bottle that comes with a free pen!  Yay!

The first thing I noticed when I opened the box is that this is one massive bottle of ink.  I’ll go through an awful lot of character development and plot rearranging before I ever run out.

The second thing I noticed was that the pen had no cartridge converter.  I looked at for a full five minutes, taking it apart and putting it back together again (thinking at first that it was missing some pieces), before I figured it out.  The Charlie pen by Noodler’s does not, in fact, have a cartridge converter nor does it need one.  The ink is allowed to slosh around freely in the pen tube.  A small canal cut into the side of the feed lets the ink flow down to the nib.  This seems very efficient to me, since no ink is wasted inside a converter.  It’s also a lot of fun to tip the pen back and forth and watch the ink when you should be writing.

As for the ink itself, the name does a good job of describing it.  This is a truly black ink, and one that is very satisfying to write with.  There are no delicate color fluctuations to write about this time; it’s simply black.  It’s a great ink for striking out your To Do list.

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Noodler’s Ink – A Review of Black Swan in Australian Roses

Thanks to the iPen subscription box, I’ve recently become fascinated by fountain pens. I never thought they were a very practical option as opposed to a good old ballpoint, and they’re not when the pen in question is being carried around in the bottom of your purse for months on end. But as a desk pen, and one that is used to create magnificent plots and deep characters, I’ve found they’re excellent.

But of course a fountain pen requires ink, and I recently went shopping for some online. While there are many factors to consider (including how waterproof they are) I was mostly concerned with color and price.  (Enthusiasts are gasping right now. )

On my starving artist budget, I decided to try Noodler’s Ink. It’s pretty cheap ($12.50 for a 3 ounce bottle) and comes in tons of colors.

Passing up Heart of Darkness, Bad Belted Kingfisher,  and Dragon’s Napalm (yes, those are actual color names and they’re awesome!) I settled for Black Swan in Australian Roses.

First, I was delighted with the artwork on the box and the bottle. This doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the ink itself, but it was definitely entertaining! Also,  a 3 ounce bottle is pretty sizable. That’s a lot of ink!

I just love the color of this ink! The name is quite appropriate, as it comes out as a blend of almost-black and a deep wine.

This paper is not made specifically for fountain pens, but it’s a nice smooth paper that works well regardless. Writing on paper that is more textured and absorbent doesn’t create an effect quite as pleasant, since the ink really soaks in.

Black Swan in Australian Roses has been such a pleasure to write with that I’ve already had to refill my pen. Fortunately, I know I’ll be able to do that many times over!

The one downside I’ve noticed is that the ink is rather strong smelling. It’s an odor that reminds me of rubbing alcohol mixed with paint. I’m only really aware of it when I’m doing a lengthy bit of writing and I’m right over the page. I don’t mind the smell, but I think it’s worth mentioning since I haven’t noticed this with other inks.

Overall, I highly recommend this ink. Your results may be different depending on your pen, nib, and paper, but for creative writing by hand it’s lovely.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – A Review

I’ve only had my new computer for a few days.  And I feel like I can’t quite use the term “computer.”  After all, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is basically just a tablet with a keyboard.  So that can’t really be a machine that replaces your laptop, can it?

I’ve been searching for a new laptop for awhile, but I’m a very thrifty person.  I have to ensure that I have the absolute best bang for my buck, as well as something that is truly going to make a difference for me.  Buying a new version of the exact same laptop didn’t really make sense.

What first turned me on to the Surface was the keyboard.  I was at Best Buy in the laptop section, just testing out every single keyboard before I even looked at the processor speed or the RAM.  As a freelance writer, I’m sometimes doing up to 10,000 words per day, so I need something that really feels great under my fingertips.  The suedey feel of the Surface’s keyboard case, plus the fact that it’s small but not cramped, really did it for me.

Next, I was concerned about the memory.  The Surface just doesn’t have it when you compare it to a regular laptop.  But a quick look at my current hard drive, which was mostly full of documents, revealed that I don’t use that much space anyway.  Plus, I always work out of Dropbox so that I’m backed up no matter what.  There’s also a microSD slot on the side that allows you to nearly double the memory if you need to (or swap out different cards for different projects, as I think I will be doing).

For a tablet to replace your laptop, it has to be really….lapable.  I have a beautiful desk that I very much enjoy, but I also really like curling up on the couch or in the recliner while I work.  I was concerned that the kickstand on the back of the Surface in conjunction with a keyboard held on by magnets just wasn’t going to cut it.  I read another review that promised it would, and it turns out that guy was correct.  This computer fits wonderfully on my lap, is not floppy, and of course doesn’t get hot.  Big bonus!

I’ve read in other reviews that some folks don’t like the Surface Connect charging cable because it comes out too easily.  Personally, I love it!  I would much rather the cord pop out than dig in and cause damage when my dog gets tangled up in the charging cable.  (Yes, I’ve had something along these lines happen before, although I might have been the one tangled in the cable.)

There’s a lot that I have yet to learn about the Surface.  I’ve been too busy using it for work to do a lot of tinkering.  But from what I’ve experienced so far, it’s great.  The surface pen is handy.  The device switches easily from tablet mode to keyboard mode.  It’s very light compared to the boat anchor I was using before.  Setup was fast and simple.  The battery life is amazing compared to the two-to-three hours my laptop was capable of.  Also, I’ve been a Windows fan since I was a kid, so having a tablet with a system I’m familiar with is huge for me.

Overall, I’m really crazy about this computer and I would highly recommend it to anyone in a similar computing situation.  If you are a graphic designer or a gamer, then I don’t know what to tell you.  I write, surf the web, and stream Pandora.  For me, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 was worth the investment!

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