Excuse my dust while I do a little remodeling!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: Batter Up by Robyn Neeley


22569080She mixes more than flour and sugar into her cake batter, and he’s about to find out if a little bit of magic is to his taste

Bakeshop owner Emma Stevens has a secret — a delicious, slightly unorthodox secret. Each Monday, she mixes up a premonition to share with the bachelors of Buttermilk Falls, and sets one lucky man on the path to true love.

When reporter Jason Levine finds himself mixed up in a Las Vegas bachelorette party, he hears the strangest rumour: the marriage is happening thanks to magic cake batter. Seriously sceptical, and sick of frauds, Jason journeys to the backwater town of Buttermilk Falls to expose the baker and release the townspeople from her evil clutches.

But when Jason meets Emma, tempers flare and sparks fly. Will Jason cling to his logic at the expense of a future, or will he let himself fall under Emma’s spell?

Goodreads | Source: Purchased

Review:

Batter Up is super sweet – almost toooo sweet at times. For some reason I had a hard time with all the pink clothes and Buttermilk Falls, Buttermilk Tavern etc, – everything is just so gosh darn cute! but this is a really nice story and romance.

Gently mix a friendly small town, a cautious couple, with a dash of (minimal) drama – top with a dollop of magic and you have Batter Up!

I’m hoping this is a series and we get to see some of the other “batter predicted” romances.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis


16067008Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

Goodreads | Source: ARC provided by Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review

Review:
I think the initial response is going to be to compare Stitching Snow to Cinder/The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. It’s not totally unfounded. There are similarities. A mechanic, hidden princess, heroine and a few other bits that I don’t want to spoil. But the writing style is completely different. For one there’s only one pov. That could be a plus or minus depending on your own preferences but for me it was welcome. The one thing I don’t like about Meyer’s Lunar Chronicle series is how much it spins out of control with all the different pov’s. It also can be read as a stand alone. I have no idea if Lewis plans on writing another retelling but Stitching Snow is a complete stand alone story.

So now onto the actual retelling part. I liked but didn’t love it. Essie has escaped her home planet and spends her days working by coding & repairing (stitching) the seven drones that help workers in the coal mines. On her off time she fights the men in cage matches to earn money for spare parts. Essie is pretty kick ass and I liked her a lot but this book plunges you right into the world without any preamble. It took me about 70+ pages to get a handle on what was going on and the slang.

The seven drones are supposed to be the seven dwarfs but they are drones – therefore lacking in the personality department. They do add some humor and they do have a certain loyalty to Essie but they feel more like – oh we need seven of something to be like the seven dwarfs in the book. Fun idea, but they don’t ever feel like true friends, and we only find out the name and personalities of a few. Kind of a let down.

The romance is enemies to friends which I enjoyed. Dane is kind of an ass at first but has really good reason to be. It’s slow brewing and cute but then rushes to “I love you” and I felt like I missed a step. The story takes a modernized retelling route for most of the book then tacks on a throwback, rushed fairytale ending. I believed in it but it seemed forced.

Now there’s one thing that really bothered me about this book and I’m not sure how to deal with it without spoiling. Snow has to deal with her father and evil step mother. This takes a turn into something rather serious and sinister that is merely hinted at a few times before the big battle. It was so subtle that I had to go back and re-read to see if what I thought happened really happened. Then when I thought back to earlier in the book & things that happened to Essie it angered me even more. More on that below under the spoiler button. To be fair – most people on Goodreads don’t even mention it and only two were upset so maybe I am (once again) being over sensitive. Wouldn’t be the first time.


So overall – I LOVED Essie. The romance was sweet, a little rushed, but cute in a fairytale kind of way. I didn’t think it did a great job incorporating the Snow White elements from the original but the world Lewis created was interesting anyway. The villains are mostly off page and so damn evil that it deserved more page time. That is some seriously f*cked up sh*t and shouldn’t just be glossed over imo. But I also had friends that didn’t even notice anything happened or weren’t bothered so everyone reads a book differently. Ya know?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

DVD review: Yoga Therapy for Back Pain and Stress Relief with Kanta Barrios


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amazon – Free if you have Amazon Prime, $1.99 rent | $14.99 to purchase

I’ve suffered from lower back pain for over a year. I’ve been to Dr.’s, massage therapy, swimming, physical therapy exercises, pain meds and nothing helped. Or it was just a temporary fix.

If you have Amazon Prime you also have Amazon Instant Video (free streaming of certain videos). I knew there were movies/TV shows of course but I hadn’t realized there were exercise/yoga videos available. So I set out to try a few. For the most part they are older, cheesetastic workout videos that I could barely get through but I found this yoga DVD that helped my back after just one session so I thought I would share it with you guys.

It’s long (1 hour) and Barrios tends to hold the stretches for longer than the usual (& there's the typical flowers and zen background music). I mention this for people who struggle with patience doing yoga but I also believe it’s the reason why this routine worked for me when so many others didn’t. Trying to force my body (& back) into positions it wasn’t ready for did more harm than good – even when the advice came from professionals. The simplest of stretches would still hurt my back because I wasn't getting to the source of the problem.

What I like about this video is that she pays attention to form and easing into a stretch rather than going straight for the deepest stretch right away. She also starts at the legs/quads/hips before getting into the lower back stretches so your body is properly warmed up and more limber. Even though your lower back may be where all your pain is located – it could be another tight area of your body that’s actually causing the problem. In my case it’s tight quads and psoas muscles.

Barrios starts with a warm up (@9 minutes)  then hip openers (@12 minutes), thigh and hamstring stretches (@12 minutes), moving on to more intense lower back work like down dog, cobra, chair pose, forward bends (19.5 minutes), then a few restorative poses like child’s pose.

I try to do the full routine once a week but once you do it a few times you can perform portions of it as needed. I find the hip opener routine to be especially helpful and do it after every regular aerobic workout.

Bonus: For more intense workouts Jillian Michaels has quite a few of her DVD’s available for free on Prime. Like I said most of what I found was old and cheesy but she has a good selection and variety – and FREE. So yeah – if you can handle her yelling at you go for it. I found the 6 Week Six-Pack and No More Trouble Zones to be particularly good.

Amazon – The first 5 on the list are free with Amazon Prime

If you want  to try a ballet style workout give Ballet Beautiful Body Blast a try I found this one to be insanely boring but man if my arms and legs weren’t killing me at the end! It was deceptively tough. lol