Tuesday, May 31, 2016

About my Book Reviews...

So I love to read and I love a good story, that being said, I am NOT very picky unless sheer idiocracy and terrible writing get in the way. I can forgive some grammatical errors, especially if self-published. I am all about people with good stories getting out there by any means possible. I can forgive some character stupidity, if the stupidity matches the their ARC, and it works. I can forgive stories by separate authors that are very similar, again, as long as the stories are compelling.
What I cannot forgive is sheer stupidity by a character that is completely out of character for them. Why WHY WHY did they do that??. If the author cannot somehow explain why a beloved character is so stupid, then I cannot forgive the author (Veronica Roth). I cannot forgive bad writing (this does not include grammatical errors or some misspellings), this includes lack of diversity in words/descriptions and poorly written scenes (E.L. James - pick of a thesaurus), lack of character development or repeated stupidity (Stephanie Meyer), or book series that just need to end, even though I loved them (Janet Evanovich). Oh and FUCKING LOVE TRIANGLES! Here is actually a link to a great blog (Love is Not a Triangle) that describes the severity of love triangles in many YA books. I have turned to her for many a book review. Now, I can do a small love triangle, if - in my heart - there really is no question who the right pair is, and the 3rd person is thrown in there to just slightly annoy us or because they are imperative to the story (Jennifer Armentrout and the Covenant Series was ok, because the 3rd in the Triangle was very important to the story, and he ended up getting his own book series anyway, and the best pairing ended up together).

Upon writing this, I know it sounds like I am pickier than I am, but I assure you, I am not. Most books do not fall into the criteria listed above (maybe that’s actually because I never ended up finishing them?...Hmmmm, I should look into that)

Let me get back to you actually, maybe I am pickier than I thought. ;)

But in the end, I just like a good story. If I feel like I cannot put the book down, chances are I think its great!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Book Review - Half-Blood (Covenant #1)

Author: Jennifer Armentrout
Date Published: October 18, 2011
Date Read: June 27, 2012
Amazon Link: Half-Blood (Covenant)

Covenant Series: This is one of my favorite book series of all times. I am not going to lie, it has a lot of similarities with Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy. Guess what? I love BOTH series! Similar or not, both authors have great writing style, different characters, and the books start to drift apart in similarities after book 1 anyway. So if you love one, then you will probably love the other.

Jennifer Armentrout, in my opinion, dominates both the YA and adult book series circuit. Her critically acclaimed Lux series seems to be a fan favorite, but I don't know what it is about the Covenant series that puts it ahead of the game just a bit for me. Maybe it's the Greek mythology tie in, maybe it’s the sassy female lead with a rebellious attitude, maybe it’s the male lead who is rule-abiding enough to not quite be an ALPHA male, but still be a total badass, and maybe it’s the “I’m-going-to-string-you-along-with-a-kind-of-love-triangle-but-in-your-heart-you-know-it’s-not-a-real-love-triangle” aspect.

Either way, this is a book series that I will keep re-reading, over and over again, when I find myself in need of something fun, swoony, adventurous, and a wee-bit torturous.

Summary from Goodreads:
"The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi pure bloods have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals--well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.

Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden. Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is.

If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck."

Alexandria (Alex) is a half-blood Hematoi, who are descendants of the gods. A half blood occurs when a pure blood Hematoi and a human pair up and reproduce. Hematoi are basically the rulers of their society (which are assimilated with human society, but tend to live in separate areas), whereas the half-bloods only have 2 choices: to live in servitude of the Hematoi (no thanks), or to become trained bad-ass Sentinels and fight/kill daimons. Daimons are Pures who have tasted the aether that runs through the veins of other Pures, become addicted and basically turn into “vampires,” letting the cravings for aether turn them into killing machines. Luckily, half-bloods have this nifty sense where they can see though the glamour that daimons have, glamour that can fool pure bloods to lure them in. Because, with any superior race, there needs to be some kinds of checks and balances (Right Stephanie Meyer, with your perfect vampires with no real flaws or known enemies to hold them back, yet somehow still decide to live in secret from the humans, who they could easily take over with their only risk being sparkling them to squintyness??….but I digress...). In addition, not only do half-bloods have to fight daimons or serve pure-bloods, they're also forbidden from having relationships with pure-bloods.

Any who...Alex is a free spirit, who happens to live in a society dictated by ancient rules, and she generally goes beyond stupidity to break these rules. In fact, she's sometimes frustrating in her attempts to break rules but she's also endearing so I kind of forgive her. Aiden is a smexy, bad-ass, rule abiding pure-blood, who also happens to be training as a Sentinel. He is burdened with the duty of catching Alex up with her training, after she returns to the safety of the Covenant, from 2 years living on the outside with her mother. She and her mother escaped the covenant together (for reasons which you will discover when you read the book!), but when daimons attack, killing her mother, Alex has no choice but to return the Covenant.

This is where our story begins. Follow the beginning of Alex’s journey, as she struggles to catch up with her former classmates (I mean, she used to be better than them, but egos and hiatus don’t mix!), battles with her increasing feelings towards Aiden (and his inner conflict to stay good in the face of ultimate temptation), discovering that she is more than just a lowly half-blood, and learning there is far more at work in her society then she previously knew.

This is a YA book, that is a part of a 5 book series, so don’t expect anything conclusive to happen for at least the first 3 or 4 books. Jennifer Armentrout is the queen of stringing you along (Will they? Won’t they?) but her writing style is the kind that make you blush with a simple eye contact, or innocent finger brush. You know it’s good writing when a YA book with limited SEX can still make you swoon and get all the feels. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good hot scene every now and then, but it’s a testament to a true writer who can make you feel stuff without all that. I swear, some of these scenes turn me on more than blatantly written scenes of a more amorous and obvious nature (EHEM, 50 Shades of Grey).

Anyway, if you like fantasy, YA, action, a teeny bit of love-triangle, and fun, then the Covenant series if definitely for you!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Redefining goals: Too many? Not enough focus?

Have you ever wanted to do everything, be everything, know everything, and been so overwhelmed that you just shut down and play video games all day instead?

Not going to lie, my time management SUCKS

Have you ever put off your goals, not because you don't have any, but because you have too many? Too many professional goals, too many personal goals, too many family goals, too many improvement goals, and therefor you get nothing done, because you work 10% effort at each goal?

This is where I feel like I have been the last few years. I have no clear path, no set goals. I like so many things (personal training, fitness, competition, strength, functional fitness, nerdy stuff, video game stuff, books, cosplay, music, furniture refurbishing, comics, ) and I have all these great ideas on how to expand on them, and I want to create a brand, but I cant seem to narrow down and focus. 

I am going to start with the easy thing: Fitness. I have been an athlete (gymnast/cheerleader) and am very functional. I train Marines and I can do pretty much everything they do, at least for 3 reps. I have competed in figure, and I did pretty well there. But now I am just a jack of all trades, neither really aesthetic, not athletic. I have no defined goals there either....I am not planning on defining goals here, but just outlining what I love. I want to do it all! I am on a journey to be both aesthetic and athletic. Stop the laziness and get my drive back! I have spent the last 2 years yo-yoing in limbo between goals.  

But guess what? I am also full-time employed,, with an awesome job with the Marine Corps! I am a mother and my son and raising him right is pretty much top priority. (I'm sorry but we do not need another generation of lazy millennials!) I am a wife and my husband is my best friend, and hes not a huge gym guy! I love doing family things. I need balance.


 I understand that competitions and bodybuilding isn't about balance. I have nothing but respect for that industry, and I will probably go back one day! I love being on stage! However, bodybuilders are superheros, and they do not get balance. They give 110% to themselves and their sport, and their clients. I am just not able to give 100% of myself right now, when I have other big priorities consuming me. And to be honest, I don't have the money. Trying to give my son and my family a great life with fun experiences (not toys/things, but experiences), and save for my future. I live in SoCal, cost of living is stupid, so I need to plan wisely. 

So how am I going to do this? I have my Masters in Kinesiology, my CSCS, and I have trained many successful people, so its about time I train myself right!

What I WONT do: 
* Obsess over every calorie/carb/fat/protein (I want an idea, but I will not obsess)
* Feel endless guilt and torture if I skip a workout - sometimes the body needs rest
* Feel endless guilt and torture if I skip a workout to hang out with my family and be lazy - We like video games, and everything in moderation right? As long as its not a crazy habit, I will liberate myself from that guilt!
* Do endless long slow cardio for weight loss.
* Obsess over the scale - in fact, I don't even think I will take my weight for a while. LIBERATE!!
* Cut all carbs
* Feel guilty if I have a bad meal - Lets face it, I love pizza and Five guys and beer - everything in moderation.
* Endless hip/glute extensions to "build a booty"

What I WILL do: 
* Track progress with pics, body fat, and fitness assessments (power/speed/agility/endurance/1RM)
* Sign up for physical challenges that push me beyond my comfort zone, give me a date for goals, and promote teamwork and family. (I hate running, but love obstacles, so I am thinking a Tough Mudder or Spartan Race)
* Do high intensity cardio for health and performance improvement
* Do slower cardio for endurance and heart health
* Mix up my weight training - Olympic lifts, sports training, grip training, gymnastics, FUN.
* Mix up my fitness and involve family- Outdoor training, park, hiking, rock climbing, walking my dog more, stop driving places that I can walk/bike too.
* Focus more on natural nutrition, eat to nourish my body, build muscle, eat carbs to re-energize, fuel my workouts.
* Stop making excuses
* Stretch more

The ultimate outcome goal? Be a physical badass that looks fantastic in a bikini year round and dresses up in costumes! :)

My professional goals/other personal goals will shortly follow, but first, I need to get back to blogging, rediscover myself, and get social again ;)

I will follow up with my stats: bodyfat, pics, and fitness assessments measurements will be provided next week!

Are you interested in joining me to be your best you? I do online/in-person training. Email me gymgirl105@gmail.com. And NO I do not do cookie cutter meal plans that tell you to eat chicken and veggies, rather I educate you in nutrition and how to fuel yourself properly for your workouts and your life.