Sunday, July 08, 2018

REVIEW: Return To Life Through Contrology by Joseph H. Pilates

My Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Return to Life was written by Joseph Pilates back in 1945 when he was 60 years old. Contrology, as he called it back then, became the basis for our modern day Pilates. Many of the principles introduced then have been brought forward into how we practice today, while others were slightly changed, refined, or modernized as we learned more about the various systems of the body.

The style of writing immediately struck me as old fashioned as it was originally written in 1945. While oftentimes a bit wordy in trying to get his point across, the writing was still typical of it's time, whereas today we focus on employing as few words as possible to get our point across. Unfortunately, it sometimes got a bit tedious in the reading, waiting for him to get to the point with all the comparisons and examples, and often taking 500 words to say something that today we could easily get across in 100. But then again, seeing as exercise and fitness was not a common subject of the time, perhaps these people needed it hammered into their head in such a way!

Joseph continually emphasized proper breathing technique, and breathing through the exercises—though we've refined that a bit more today to incorporate what we call 360 degree breathing. Balance is another key concept in his work—balanced muscles, balanced body, balanced mind—and was essential to bring to life your otherwise dormant muscles for optimal balance, health, and better brain functioning. He touches on improved blood circulation and talks about brushing with a stiff brush in the shower, what we refer to today as dry brushing or lymph node brushing. Definitely a pioneer of his time.

A few things that have evolved from his original exercises have more to do with specifics of how they're performed. For example, in many of the exercise descriptions, he says to flatten your spine to the floor, whereas today we often work in a neutral spine for some of these same poses. In addition, when legs are extended, he advises to lock your knees. Perhaps the meaning was different back then, but in today's terminology, locking your knees often leads to hyperextension in many people so we don't really use that term anymore.

Going forward, I'd like to see more men practicing Pilates. It certainly appears that Joseph focused more on men in his original design. Of the men practicing today, at least they seem to understand some of the main principles behind Joseph's work and it's value in overall wellness. As a Pilates Instructor, I hope to help spread that word far and wide, and prove that Pilates is not just for women.

Joseph Pilates was indeed a pioneer of his time, and were he alive today, I'm sure he'd be extremely happy at how his work has progressed while still remaining true to his original vision.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

REVIEW: Lucy Libido Says... There's an Oil for That: A Girlfriend's Guide to Using Essential Oils Between the Sheets by Lucy Libido

My Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★

Awesome awesome awesome!! I picked up this book before I even knew Lucy would be offering her hilariously amusing online Facebook class again. I learned so much about the right oils to use in the bedroom for libido and hormones—how to not stuff a dry turkey, and how to keep his soldier standing at attention! ;)

If you need a little more bow chicka wow wow in your life, then get yourself this book and some Young Living essential oils pronto! (contact me if you need an oil hook-up.) The recipes section is detailed and precise, and you'll be a maven mixer in no time—from Inner Thigh Potions to Love Button Lubes, Soldier Serum to Perky Pellets, this book lays it all out for you. You can thank me later! :*

Friday, February 09, 2018

REVIEW: Fearless: Confidence with Essential Oils in 2 Hours by Sarah Harnisch

My Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

This is a great book for an Essential Oil beginner. While I'm not a newbie to EOs, I wanted to read this before handing it off to one of my new members—as well as being able to reliably recommend it to others down the road, which I certainly will.

Sarah Harnisch presents a no-nonsense hands-on approach to using essential oils by diving right in and doing—while providing guidance and safety information along the way. Challenge action items encourage the reader to step out and try new things while learning interesting tidbits along the way. A fun, light read that for a new user can be used as a guide to help them get the most of all the oils in their starter kit.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

REVIEW: A Perilous Undertaking: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery by Deanna Raybourn

My Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

The second book in the Veronica Speedwell Mysteries is just as much a tour de force as the first. Veronica and Stoker are set upon yet another adventure, attempting to clear a man of murder, someone close to the royal family. Veronica is determined to step up to the challenge and prove herself, Stoker faithfully by her side. But will their meddling put them on the wrong side of the law, or piss off someone else who's trying to cover something up?

I've been really enjoying Veronica's tales. As a lepidopterist (butterfly collector), and of late, amateur detective in Victorian England, Veronica has a lot of spunk, particularly for a woman of her time. She's unconventional, witty, and fearless, a perfect counterpart to Stoker—taxidermist by trade, black sheep of his family, and adventurer in his own right. The two are the perfect alchemy, even if they don't know it yet. Sure, they're best buds, but the sexual tension between them has become quite palatable and though I'm not much of a romanticist, I'm hoping they'll just get it on soon! ;)

I love how the author has been slowly peeling back the layers of our two main characters rather than fully reveal them in the first book. In this second book, we learn even more about Veronica and Stoker, particularly Stoker and his background with his family. Coming to know them in this way is akin to getting to know a friend, a bit at a time, and I'd definitely love to have either or both of these two as friends. They just seem so fun!

I'll definitely be on the lookout for future books in this series as they're published.

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, March 17, 2017

REVIEW: A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

My Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

A Curious Beginning is the first in an exciting new steampunk mystery adventure series from Deanna Raybourn.

The author brings us back to Victorian London, 1887 to be exact. Veronica Speedwell has just buried her aunt, and now the trouble starts and she's running for her life, no idea why anyone would be after her. Placed into the care of the roguishly handsome Stoker, the pair are determined to get to the bottom of who killed the Baron, and why they would be after her as well. The shocking secrets they discover make for an intriguing tale that kept me on my toes to the very end.

The chemistry between Victoria and Stoker was intense. Why don't they just kiss already? Haha! I'm not a big fan of romance when it's the main premise of the story, but the budding background sexual tension between the two of them served to add another emotional layer to the whole story. I'm definitely looking forward to further adventures between these two, and fortunately I have the next in the series, A Perilous Undertaking, waiting on my Kindle up next. :)

The Kindle edition of this book is only $2.99 right now. Click the link or picture above to get it!

Friday, March 03, 2017

REVIEW: The Haunted Heist (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries, Book 3) by Angie Fox

My Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Verity Long can see and talk to ghosts. Unfortunately, she also seems to always find herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. This time, she's on the scene when the head of The First Bank of Sugarland is killed. No one saw who shot poor Reggie right through the heart, but the calling card left at the scene points to Handsome Henry, an infamous gangster and hit man gunned down and killed back in 1933.

Teaming up with her sort-of boyfriend, deputy sheriff Ellis Wydell, along with her ghostly gangster buddy Frankie, the three search for answers in a haunted mob speakeasy, as well as a spooky cemetery crawling with wailing ghosts. Can Verity use her medium skills to track down the killer before someone else gets popped?

Like the other books in the Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries, The Haunted Heist was a fun, quick, and quirky read. There were several twists I didn't see coming, and I didn't figure out whodunit until the very end. I was also happy to see the relationship between Verity and Ellis blooming quite nicely. As usual, Verity makes a few stupid decisions along the way, and seems a bit more of a pushover this time around, but fortunately nothing that affected the story line too severely. (Unless you count getting locked in a bank vault.)

This book may not have had all the laughs of the previous two but I found it entertaining nonetheless. The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries are a witty, action-packed cozy mystery ride that I'd recommend to any fan of the genre. These books can easily be read standalone, though there are a couple ongoing threads going on in the background, like the burgeoning romance between Verity and Ellis, that make reading them in order much more enjoyable as you get to know the characters better.

Thank you to NetGalley and Season Publishing for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

REVIEW: Ghost of a Chance: A Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries Novella by Angie Fox

My Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

This was a cute little novella, only about 40 pages long, that takes place chronologically between books 2 and 3 of the Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries.

Verity Long can see and talk to ghosts thanks to her resident ghost sidekick Frankie. So when her friend Major Matthew Jackson, long dead since the Civil War, comes to Verity for a favor, she's happy to do what she can to oblige. Matthew would like Verity's help to retrieve an old family heirloom from his family estate. And since it just so happens the Jacksons are holding their annual Christmas party this weekend, Verity straps on her catering hat to help out. But can she save the party, the reputation of her friend's catering business, and fulfill Matthew's request while all the Jackson ghosts are doing their darnedest to to dampen the festivities?

Though I've enjoyed the tales of Verity and the Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries, I feel as if Verity brings many of her problems onto herself—she can be a bit of a ditz at times too. LOL That said, this series is charming, winsome, and witty, great for when you want a light-hearted, amusing read.

REVIEW: Crucible Zero: A House Immortal Novel (Book 3) by Devon Monk

My Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

The final book in the House Immortal trilogy brings things to close with a bang. Like the first two books in the trilogy, House Immortal and Infinity Bell, Crucible Zero picks up right where the previous book left off, so I'd recommend to read them all three together if you can. I myself re-read the first two book quickly before starting this one since it'd been almost 2 years since I was last immersed in this crazy, wonderful world.

An innovating change from the numerous vampire and werewolf tales dominating the genre, Matilda and the other galvanized are a sort of Frankenstein creation—immortal, intensely strong, and stitched together from numerous body parts.

Having just returned from the past, where she met up with her great-great-and-then-some grandfather to convince him to change the calculations of an experiment performed long ago that caused a break in time, Matilda now finds herself in a new reality that is not nearly the same as the one she left behind. But just as her reality is altered, so are the people she once knew. Gone is the heroic, ruggedly handsome Abraham, a galvanized she's got a lot of heat with, and in his place is Abraham the mercenary, killer-for-hire.

Unfortunately, there's yet another thorn in her side: a man named Slater who has followed her through time and will do everything in his immense power to see Matilda and her brother Quinten dead. For Matilda knows everything Slater has done throughout time to achieve the unworldly dominance he now wields in the world, and she'll stop at nothing to bring him down.

Now if she can only convince everyone else what's going on, maybe they'll all make it out alive!

The House Immortal Trilogy is a roller coaster of action and suspense. Science fiction and urban fantasy fans who enjoy great writing, riveting action, and unique world building should definitely check this one out.