Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Week 3 2017: The Struggle is Real

I'm a little late with this post.  Already, we are into week 4 and I am just now getting to how my week 3 went.  This week started out with more travel.  This time, instead of heading to New Orleans, I was headed to Woodland, California.  I serve on a technical committee that reviews research proposals for produce food safety research.  Whoo hoo!! That sounds really exciting, doesn't it?!?  Well, for the nerdy, scientific side of myself, I do find it pretty interesting.

Monday was spent flying out to Sacramento.  Woodland is only 15 minutes from the airport and I was able to get a hotel shuttle to take me to the hotel, where our meeting would be.  I had dinner out and then was off to bed.  The time change wasn't too bad, but I did wind up sleeping like a rock.

Tuesday I spent from 8:00am - 8:00pm in the meeting.  This year we had a record number of research proposals and it took all day.  Then off to bed, because I had to be up at 4:00am to catch my flight home.

I thought Wednesday would never end.  My flight out that morning was delayed.  And wouldn't you know it, it wasn't until the plane was fully boarded that a warning light came on in the cockpit.  Lucky us!  We got to sit on the plane for an hour before we were given the thumbs up to hit the sky.  I missed my connecting flight home.  The nice thing is that when I landed in Dallas, my missed connection had already been assigned to another flight.  I was only delayed by a few hours and I didn't have to do anything, other than show up.  I made it back to my house after 9:00pm and everyone was in bed already!! So much for rushing to get home to see everyone.

I had book club on Thursday.  Lilly had chosen And Then She Was Gone by Christopher Greyson.  This was a prequel to the Jack Stratton series.  The book is about Jack when he is still a teenager before he enlists in the army.  I haven't ever read this author before.  I enjoyed the story.  It was short and fast-paced.  However, it did seem a little unbelievable some of the decisions that Jack would make.  He was very impulsive and it was a theme throughout the story.  I did like his character, though and wouldn't mind reading some of the other books in the series.  Most of the others in book club felt similarly about the book.  There were a few who hadn't finished it, so we tried not to talk about the ending too much.  Didn't want to give away spoilers!

I also received my ipsy bag this week.  I received these five products:

Manna Kadar Cosmetics: Paradise Blush - This blush is really too dark for my skin tone.  I tried and bam - I thought I looked like a Lady of the Night, or a clown.  Not a good look for me.

H2O + Beauty Oasis Ultra Hydrating Cream - This is a nice thick hydrating cream, just like the name says.  It doesn't have any scent attached to it and if you have dry skin, especially in the winter time, this cream is nice.  I'll be using it when I am in dry climates.

Trust Fund Beauty: Lip Gloss in Blame Game - Hand down, my favorite product so far, from my ipsy bags.  I love the color of this lip gloss.  It's not very dark, and has just enough color to tint your lips for a nice natural look for daytime.  You can add layers to darken the color.  The consistency is creamy and has a good amount of shine.  Love it!  The only complaint I have is that when applying it, there is a chemical smell.  You don't smell it when wearing it - only on application.

Naked Cosmetics: Mica Pigment in Desert Sunset #2 - I wasn't even sure what this product was, so I headed to the website to find out how to use it.  Wow.  I was surprised at all the things you can do with it.  You can mix the pigment with lip balm and make a lip gloss or eyeshadow with it.  You can mix it with face cream and make a sparkly highlight for your cheeks.  Or you can mix it with body lotion and create a shimmer for your body.  They even showed how you could mix it with clear nail polish to create a sparkly, tinted polish.  Very versatile.  I haven't tried any of it yet, but I look forward to experimenting with it.

5. Caite London: Gelology Top Coat - This is just a clear nail polish.  I haven't experimented with it yet.  I'll let you know how it goes.

My weekend was spent trying to relax and catch up on housework I wasn't able to do because of traveling.  I did see the movie Split with DH and DD.  This is an M. Night Shyamalan movie about a guy with a multiple personality disorder who kidnaps a group of girls.  It was pretty good.  James McAvoy plays the kidnapper and he does a phenomenal job with all the different characters.  I enjoyed it, but there is a brief cameo at the end with a character from another Shyamalan movie and I didn't get the reference.  I am not sure if this was sequel bating or not.

I am really disappointed that I was not able to get any exercise in this week.  Not a single run or yoga class was attended. Ugh!  The struggle is real.  On the plus side, my eating choices were a little better than normal.  It would be nice if I could manage do both at the same time. Well...there is always next week!

How was your week?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Review: Bloodspell

Title: Bloodspell
Author: Amalie Howard
Publishing Date: 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Rating: C-
Sensuality: Kisses
Book Disclosure: I received this book for free at the RT Convention 2016.

Bloodspell is the first book in the Cruentus Curse series.  Victoria Warrick has experienced some very strange happenings within her own body around the time of her seventeenth birthday.  On her birthday, she receives a music box from her late Grandmother, that help to provide answers as to why these strange experiences have been happening to her.  She comes from a long line of witches, as she happens to be a direct descendent from one of the most powerful.  Victoria moves to a new school and meets Christian Devereux.  There is something unusual about him that Victoria can't help but be drawn to. But because of Victoria's power, other supernatural beings are after her and she is in danger.

I really struggled with this book.  It took me over a week to read it and it just couldn't hold my attention.  I think some of it was because of the plot.  It just felt all over the map, with the world building.  Establishing the witch and vampire lore for this storyline took up some space and it just wasn't all that interesting.  It was also hard to like the main characters.  Victoria is not a warm and fuzzy heroine.  She is darn right prickly and standoffish.  It was hard to feel empathy for her and the same with Christian.  Then some of the adversary characters felt like comic book bad guys.  Also, I felt the romance with Christian and Victoria was not very believable.  First, Christian and Victoria had such a difference between their ages, that it was hard to believe that a romance would be possible.  Also, they spent quite a bit of the book pushing each other away.  And then the piece de resistance, when Victoria is in grave danger he realizes his true feelings. 

The saving grace for this book would be the action packed ending.  The last quarter of the book, boy do things really pick up and I enjoyed the battle at the end.  But other than that, there wasn't much that I would recommend.  I most likely won't be continuing on with the other books in this series.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Week 2 2017: Travel Screws up my Routines!

This week sort of kicked my butt.  After returning home from Savannah on Sunday last week, I didn't have much time to get things in order before I was traveling again. 

My week started out fine on Monday, with me heading into the office for a meeting.  I was out of there by noon, so that I could take my daughter and I to the dentist.  I managed to get in a run that night before dinner.  But then things got a little crazy. 

I had to rise super early on Tuesday morning in order to catch a flight to New Orleans for a meeting that day.  That means the alarm went off at 3:25 am!! Ugh!  I knew this was going to be a long day.  And it was. I had hoped to get a yoga routine in and that did not happen.

A couple good things, though.  One, on my way to New Orleans, the flight had TVs on the back of each seat and they had free movies you could watch.  I watched Bad Moms and I thought it was hilarious.  I was laughing out loud while watching it and the gentleman sitting next to me would lean over to see what I was laughing at.  I am sure I was annoying him.  If you want a funny, girly/friendship movie, watch it.  I'm telling you, it had me in stitches. 

Two, I got to eat at Deanie's that night.  I have been to New Orleans before and eaten at Deanie's.  It's very well known and been around forever.  It was on Man vs Food, I think, or one of those travel channel shows.  If you ever get the chance you have to try Deanie's.  They are known for their barbeque shrimp dish, where the shrimp have their heads on and they are swimming in this delicious barbeque sauce.  It's really messy, so I didn't get it this time and instead ordered the crawfish etouffee and it was delicious!! 

Wednesday is was back up at the crack of dawn to head back home.  I didn't make it back home until the evening.  I was supposed to run and all I wanted to do was relax on the couch.  So that's what I did.

Thursday I had to head back to the work office for a training.  I did manage to get in yoga that night.  We had a new teacher and I liked her routine.  It was different from what I was used to doing and it felt great. 

Friday was a work from home day.  I finally managed to catch up on my emails and take care of some things that were burning out of control.  I also managed to get a run in at the end of the day before we headed out to eat and darn it if I didn't order chicken wings.  Once again, I did not do very good this week, diet wise. 

Saturday I spent the evening with a couple of girlfriends catching up over dinner and drinks.  It was nice to catch up with them as it had been a month since I had seen them last.

Today I managed to get in a yoga workout and a run.  As far as my reading goes, I wasn't able to get much read this week.  I am reading Bloodspell by Amalie Howard.  I have to confess that it isn't holding my attention.  It has taken me over a week to get halfway through it.  I am debating whether or not to continue.  I have book club next Thursday and need to start that book.  Ugh! 

How was your week?  Are you keeping to your resolutions or struggling like me?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Week 1 2017: New Year's Resolutions

I have a confession to make.  I am one of those people who love to make new year resolutions.  Yep.  I am very goal oriented... have been pretty much my whole life and I like to plan every thing out.  I am sure for those who have spent any amount of time with me, have probably figured this out.  Therefore, every year, when the first of the new year roles around, I am ready to set some goals and embrace a new me. 

Right now, I am calling her Jilly 2.0.  She is going to be the skinnier, healthier, better blogging, more informed version of Jill 1.0.  Its going to be great!  Fantastic!  Terrific!

What do I have in store for 2017?

1.  Lose some damn weight!! 

Well, I have already begun a running for weight loss program.  Basically, it is an app that you can download for free.  You choose your fitness level and it will map out an 8-week running program for you.  I chose beginner and each week I run 3 days.  If you follow me on Facebook, you have probably seen my updates.

I also am taking a yoga class at my gym twice a week.  The stretching does a body good and they usually throw in some core/stomach exercises.  Now my diet is a whole other issue.  I need to cut back on the wine and fried foods.  Every time I eat out, I somehow seem to zero in on the fattiest, most caloric dish on the menu.  This will be my biggest challenge!!

2.  Post regularly to my blog!!

I managed to make a blogging comeback in 2016.  I started out strong, but the posts quickly seemed to taper off.  Yikes!! That is not a good track record.  I have decided that I need to post at least once a week.  My goal will be to at least write one post on Sunday.  Maybe it will be a recap of the week or a book review.  I am going to try real hard to stay consistent with my blogging.

3.  Read 75 books!!

I have decided to challenge myself to read a little bit more than I did last year.  I managed 60 books last year and I am hoping to move that up to 75 for this year.  That means I need to read about 6 books a month.  So far I have read 1 book for this year.  Can I get the pacing right?!?

On reflecting back on the week.  I started out strong.  I managed to get in two runs and two yoga workouts at the beginning of the week.  But then I had to leave for a work conference in Savannah, Georgia on Thursday.  Things took a serious nose dive when faced with many yummy seafood dishes and glasses of wine.  Good news is that I managed to write this post!  You have to take your victories where you can get them, LOL!

I hope you all have had a great start to your 2017.  How have you fared with your resolutions?

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Year in Review & Best and Worst Reads of 2016

Hi all!  Now that the holidays are over I am back to wrap up the year that was 2016 and my reading statistics.  I love statistics so I am going to recap the books I read last year.  First, lets start with the grand total... I read a grand total of 70 books!!  Whoot, whoot!!  My goal was to read 60 and I am pleased to report I was able to meet that and more!  Now lets break it down even further. 

By Genre
Contemporary: 28
Fantasy: 1
Historical: 12
Historical Paranormal: 1
Mystery: 7
Paranormal: 3
Romantic Suspense: 7
Urban Fantasy: 4
Young Adult: 7

Clearly, I tend to lean towards contemporary romance.  However, I am surprised by how low are my Urban Fantasy/Paranormal numbers.

By Rating
5 Stars: 6
4 Stars: 43
3 Stars: 17
2 Stars: 2
1 Star: 2

This does not surprise me.  I am pretty stingy with my 5 star ratings.  I only give 5 stars if the book is damn near perfect and I would consider reading it again.  Most of the books fall under the 4 star range, because they entertained me and I enjoyed them.

By How I Obtained the Book
Bought: 11
Library: 15
RT Book Convention: 44

Yes!! My goal was to try and whittle down my TBR pile that I have obtained over the years from attending the RT book convention.  I am very happy to see that the majority of the books I read, were the ones I received at RT.  Not to mention that I only bought 11 books.  I feel that this is a SERIOUS VICTORY!!

Best Book I Read

Kiss An Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Loved this one.  Takes place in a circus of all places and had me in absolute stiches.  LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!!  You can read my review here.

Worst Book I Read

Rainfall by Melissa Delport

I read this for book club and was seriously disappointed.  I feel that it was advertised as a romance and a romance it was not.  Beware.... No HEA.  Now you can understand why I was very unhappy with the outcome! I will also mention, the writing was hard to read.  My impression would be that English was not the author's first language, or that maybe they were not American.  There were subtle language nuances that felt strange.   Really though, my big beef was the ending, so I can't go into details without giving spoilers.

How did you all do?  Did you meet your reading goals for 2016?