Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi - A book review

I am finally catching up on so many different series lately, and reading the third and final books in trilogies, I am absolutely loving all my spring reading!  For those who have read my blog a while, you know I loved Shatter Me.  It took my by surprise, it was so original and totally great amazing.

NOTE: I do not write spoilers, however if you haven't already read the first two books in this series, then this review may provide to be a spoiler for the other two.

I have been waiting so long to finally hear how it ends, and made sure I sat down with a good solid afternoon so I wouldn't have to stop in the middle of this one.
A few days before reading it, I was talking to a friend who had just read it and she told me I was going to hate it.  Well, because I knew where her feelings were on it, and I knew where mine were that didn't ruin it for me.  I guessed and hoped that Tahereh Mafi would take it in the direction she did.  When I found out ahead of time that she went the way I hoped, I think that helped me love it even more.

However, because I know others may have their own opinions on this, and I do not want to ruin the ending or what happens for anyone.  I am going to write this review and be a bit more evasive as not to spoil it or ruin it for anyone else.

Ignite Me starts off right where Unravel Me left off.  Juliette had just been shot, and saved by Warner.  But what had happened to all of her friends, all of the others?  You find out right in the first chapter, and the trilogy finally takes off and shoots right into the direction I personally had been hoping it would right from the beginning.

Let's talk about the love triangle.  I know there are Adam fans, and their are Warner fans.  Seemingly good versus bad, and seemingly bad versus good.  Two guys, one girl and we just found out in book two that they are also brothers, but only Adam knows.

This is where I get evasive a little.  Mafi left what I took as several hints in Unravel Me at the direction things were going to go.  Maybe some of you were like me, and loved it.  Others, were hoping she was not really going that way, and would switch. 
One of the things I absolutely love about Ignite Me, is Juliette finally becomes this kick butt girl.  I wanted her to be that from the beginning, but as we know she had to work through a few things first.  I don't think I am giving anything away with this, because you pretty much know that from the cover.

Mafi, wrote Shatter Me with a lot of crossed out words.  Which was an absolutely unique writing style.  You were able to read a story, but still know what was going on in Juliette's mind.  We only got a tad bit of that in book two.  My theory is, Juliette was growing and changing.  Therefore Mafi decided to use less and less of the things going on inside Juliette's mind.  Which by Ignite Me, she is strong and independent, and a force to be reckoned with.  We don't need to know what is going on in her head, because she does/says exactly what she means to.

I really don't want to give too much away, so I am hesitant to give too many more details.  But I will say, Juliette takes her powers and decides exactly what she wants to do with them.  She becomes the leader we always knew she would.  She also makes the tough decisions that are not easy, but also right for her and for humanity.
The love triangle takes an interesting spin for some, and for others goes exactly where we always hoped it would be.  (Yes, I loved the way this part went!)
The romance in this book is quite a bit more than in all other books in this series.  There is an amazing take or give build (which I loved).  There is still the trust factors and slow and passionate romance build.  But everything Juliette knew, even the things we as readers thought we understood are thrown for a fascinating spin, and I just loved it!

This again was one of those trilogies that I finished and actually felt great about it.  I wasn't disappointed or left to wonder what would happen next and things weren't really left to my imagination.  Mafi ended this series, with what I say was, fabulously.  Fan's of the other part of the love triangle, may disagree.  But that is half the fun with a great book, you get to be surprised!
If you love a great romance, lots of action and great writing.  You'll love the Shatter Me series!!!


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Travel Tuesay - Denali National Park, Alaska


This week I'd like to take you on another Alaskan adventure in Denali National Park.  If you ever get the chance to visit the great and beautiful state of Alaska, you'll want to make time in your schedule to spend a few days in Denali.


This is one part of Alaska, that you get a bit of everything.  When you first enter the park you'll be surrounded by tree's, mostly pines.  Then as you get up into the middle area's you'll get to see lots and lots of Tundra and pretty much no tree's.  The higher elevations are glaciers, rocky mountains and of course snow.

A mother and her 2 cubs taking a nap

It's also home to a lot of wildlife.  I say a lot because it's over 6 million acres of wilderness.  I saw over 22 bears in one day alone.  Although they do have black bear, I only saw Grizzly's.
I also saw hundred's of Carabu, lots of mountain goats, moose to name a few.


Beautiful vantage points as you go through the park.  I should mention you can only go through a short portion of the park on your own, in your own vehicle.  After that you'll either have to sign up for a bus tour, or take the hop on, hop off National Park buses.


The great thing about this area, you can get out and hike until your heart is content.  Hike for an hour or backpack in for a few days or weeks.


Because Denali is home to Mt. McKinley (tallest mountain in the United States).  McKinley has it's own weather pattern.  Because of that, what you can see on any given day changes when looking over the McKinley mountain range.


Most of the tundra is green, and it is a very vast place, like in the picture above.


Their are a few lakes and rivers, in the area.  At the end of the park, I went into another area called Kantishna.  It is basically a lodge, and even a hotel.  There in Moose Creek (the hot spot of the gold rush in the early 1900's) I got to pan for gold.  If you are wondering if I found any gold.  Yes, I did find a tiny, tiny gold rock.  A bit larger than a spec, but still I can say I found gold in Alaska:)


If you glance up at the large bare rock mountains, it's a pretty much a guarantee you'll see lots of mountain goats.  I say its a guarantee, but you will have to look and don't confuse them wish snow patches:)


There is a view tower, near the top, where you can look out and check out some of the panorama views of the area.  If you're lucky, you might be part of the 30%.  Only 30% of the people who take a vacation to Alaska ever get to see Mt. McKinley.  The day's I was in Denali, I have to say I did not see Mt. McKinley.  It's funny because it's so huge you would think you couldn't miss it.  But yes it's possible.  I did see it on my trip though.  (You can read about my glacial landing and air tour of McKinley HERE.)  I saw the big mountain on one of my first day's in Alaska near Ankorage.  Then again on one of my last days from Talakeenta, and of course I got very up close and personal with it:)

Three more grizzly bears - Keep your eyes peeled when out or hiking they might
be right around the corner, or down a bank:) You never know:)

I have talked to a lot of people who visited Alaska (or even live there) and even those who have been to Denali and they say they never saw any bears.  First, some people have no idea what to look for to spot bears, it's not their fault no one has taught them.  They might of had some bears 50 feet away, and still may have missed if if they didn't know what to look for.
A tip, keep your eyes peeled, and watch for furry rock:)  Yes, I am serious!!!  


I mentioned there are lots and lots of Caribou, and yes there is!  This is another animal, that their are so many herds of in Denali, you are pretty much guaranteed to see them, if you are watching!


When you are out hiking on foot, you might even get to see some smaller wildlife.


Growing in the tundra and rocks, are also beautiful and unusual wildflowers.  Denali is one of those places, that there is a different kind of beauty everywhere, you just have to keep your eyes open to see it.


Although I wouldn't drink the glacial water in this area, it's traveled too far to be safe by here.  (Yes, I did drink glacial water, but I actually took some from an actual glacier right at the source.  I figured it may be old water, but at least it was likely safe.  But I didn't do this in Denali, I did this in another area of Alaska:)

That's my dad:)

Although you can see a lot from the windows of the bus.  I highly recommend getting out and doing some hiking!  If you are going to Alaska, you have to want to go hiking, right?


This is the cabin I rented for while we were there.    So cute, right in the mountains, and although I was afraid that it might not be clean, it was very clean and nice inside!
We also had an amazing view of this big river (pictured below) as we looked out from the balcony of the cabin.  Too bad I didn't have my fishing pole with me!
If you've ever wondered how dark it gets in the middle of June in Alaska.  Well the cabin picture and the river picture below.  Where both taken around midnight, so yes this is the darkest it gets that time of year:)




IF YOU GO:

*  There are lots of places to stay, hotels, cabins or camping in the area.  Just make reservations ahead of time.
*  In the summer you have the midnight sun, so you can explore at any hour of the day or night, and you won't have to worry about carrying a flashlight.
*  There is a park entrance fee.
*  You can take tours or the park buses.  I took a tour one day, but it was 11 hours and cost $99.  It was worth it once, but I wouldn't do it a 2nd time.  It's more fun to be able to get out and see things at your own pace, and stop and photograph the animals.
*  Take your own water and food with you.  Unless you are going up to the lodge at the other end, there aren't many other opportunities to grab any water or food.



Monday, May 26, 2014

Life is meant to be explored

Have you all been having a fun Memorial Weekend?  Hope you all remembered to take a minute and reflect on those who have served or who have lost their lives while in the service of our great country.

Did anyone get away for a fun trip or race over the long weekend?

I actually am writing this post late Sunday night, because Monday I am going to go and play:)
Taking a niece and two nephews up to the mountains for a picnic and a little light hiking:)

I say light hiking, with an emphasis on the light, as I am still with a bit of pain with the foot fracture.

I'm hoping that along with my short Monday hiking.  By later this week I'll be able to get some additional walking in.  Because I signed up to participate in Fairytales and Fitness Summer Run Scavenger Hunt.   If I can get out a bit later this week, I think I have a good chance at finding all of them except for the tree bearing fruit or berries:)  It's a bit too early in the season for that here in Utah.  We have fruit tree's here, but they still have flowers on them.  I also think the Disney lawn ornament will be a struggle, as I don't think I have ever seen anyone with something like this:)  But the rest, I will have fun watching out for!!!

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One good thing about taking it a tad easier and trying to stay off of my new injury is I had a lot more time to play catch up on a few things.  I'd been wanting to get a month ahead on my Travel Tuesday posts, and my Wedding or Book review Wednesday posts for a while, and I am happy to say I am finally scheduled out through the first week in June with those posts, YAY!!!

I've also had a little reading time, which has me catching up on a few sequels and trilogies I have been wanting to read.  I think I will stay up late to finish Dreams of God's & Monsters tonight:)  I have The One waiting for me at the library, and can I just say I have been waiting for this final book for years, I hope the ending is as good as I imagine it could be!  I seriously LOVE this series, and know I won't be able to put it down after I start reading the first word on the first page:)  In other words, The One, has a lot to live up to in my reading world:)  But sometimes you can just tell an author will do a trilogy justice, and I have the up most confidence that Kiera Cass can make me love the ending:)



Additionally, I have finally had a little time to start writing again.  (In case you didn't know, I have dreams of becoming a published author someday:)  I bought a new laptop a few weeks ago (thanks to Window XP becoming obsolete in my previous laptop).  So I have finally started on my second novel.

My first novel is finished, and I do have plans to start getting it out to a few more publishers.  But that process can be long and drawn out.  So I want to start on my next project while I go through the waiting game process on the first one.  FYI, my first novel is a historical romance during the Vietnam War.  This time I am going a completely different direction, and I think I'd like to try my hand at a Young Adult Dystopian. Maybe I'll share with you more on that when I dive full into the writing process.  I have never done this before, but possibly I'll even post the first chapter when I get the first rough draft done, and get some feeders on what people think.
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So what places did you explore this weekend?  Or what did you do?



I've had too many weddings lately I haven't been able to take off and enjoy seeing some local Utah sights lately.  Instead I just decided to throw up a picture I took a while back, an area I never get bored exploring. I love our canyon country here in Utah.  The views from above are breathtaking, and the views from when you climb down in them, are amazing and different at every turn:)
If you ever have plans to come to Utah, hit me up.  I can suggest some of the best places in the state to sight see and hike!

The good news is, I don't have a wedding this week.  Which means, I can play and I'm starting that playing today!  Cheer's my friends - Hope you are all having good times and finding lots of time to play!!!

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Also, the Shape up for Summer Giveaway Winner will be announced on the giveaway page as soon as I get home from the mountains tonight:)
Additionally, if your a blogger and you enjoyed linking up for our Giveaway Blog Hop, you can sign up and join us for the June hop - You can find the click-thru image top right corner of my side bar.

Oh, and great news:)  It's Memorial Day, we can now break out our whites again and enjoy our summer clothes:)  

Friday, May 23, 2014

Take a Runcation without a race


With memorial weekend coming up, a friend of mine was saying she wasn't sure what to do for the holiday.  She wanted to get away, but she is training for an upcoming race and she didn't want to loose out on her training.  But she still wanted to getaway and see some new sights.  So I suggested she take a "Runcation" without a race.

Living in Utah, we have a vast amount of sightseeing opportunities.  Although as I have traveled around the country and ran through the different states, I can say the same for most of them.
I suggested she hop in the car, and drive to a new destination each day and go for a run somewhere that she never would train or run a race in otherwise.  We talked about a few options, and she'll be taking off later today to go vacation running in a few new places for the next 5 days.

Sometimes a change of scenery can be refreshing, you never know what you might discover if you take the road less traveled and set out to explore on foot.



TIPS FOR TAKING A RUNNING VACATION

* If you have a few days, try traveling to a new spot or area each day of your trip.
* Don't go alone.  Maybe bring the husband, your kids or a friend(s) with you, throw them on bikes and have them carry your water if they aren't runners.
* I think some of my best exploration trips have been the unplanned ones, but just in case it can be helpful to bring a good map with you.
* Even in new and unfamiliar surroundings it is best to remain aware of them.  If it looks like it may rain, and your in the desert near runoff area's, make sure you don't find yourself caught in flash flood situations.
*  Wouldn't hurt to carry pepperspray/tear gas sprays with you.
*  Bring water with you.  If you are going to be out a while, wouldn't hurt to pack a little toilet paper, just in case you have to take a break and squat with nature:)
*  Most importantly, just be safe so you can have a fun time seeing new places via running shoes:)



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Let Me Introduce Lauren Today's Runner Spotlight


Today is Spotlight Thursday 
Each Thursday I spotlight a different runner from around the world.

This week I'd like to introduce Lauren.
I asked Lauren, to tell part of her story and introduce you all to her.  So sit back and enjoy and gain some inspiration!





Tell me what first got you interested in running? 

It was a long process that led me to running. I lived in Australia for 6 months in 2010 and gained about 30-35 pounds in that time span. It was easy to ignore whilst having fun adventures in a new country, but when I came home at Christmas that year, I realized how much I really gained. I half-heartedly tried losing that added weight throughout 2011, but was not successful. Then, in November 2011, my husband and I got engaged at Walt Disney World, thus sparking a huge desire to start exercising. I REALLY wanted to look and feel beautiful on our wedding day! So in January 2012 I started running to jump start my weight loss. Eventually strength training and diet came into play as well. Running really stuck with me though, and then that spring I discovered that Disney held races where you could run through the parks! Without a second thought I decided that the 2013 Disney Princess Half Marathon would be my first long distance race and the desire to run for something bigger than just weight loss was born. Since then, I have become very passionate about running and the effort it takes to achieve my goals!  

How long have you been running? 

I have been running for over 2 years now, since January 2012. I hope to be able to run until my last day here on earth. 

What distances do you like to run?  Which is your favorite distance to run? 

Every distance has its perks. So far though, my favorite distance is the half marathon. Training does not take so much time out of my schedule like training for a full marathon, and that feeling of accomplishment and runners’ high is still amazing! 

Do you run races? Which types? 

I love to race (the clock that is)! I have done races of the 5K distance all the way to the full marathon distance, and have also done a sprint triathlon. I love them all, and would really like to do more of everything, even a half ironman someday! 

If you run races, do you have a favorite race ever?  Tell us why it is so memorable to you. 

This is a big toss-up between the Disney Princess Half Marathon and the Woodlands Marathon (my first 26.2). If I had to choose, then the Princess Half would win – it was my first half marathon and runDisney race! There is NOTHING like running through Cinderella’s castle and crossing the finish line while at the most magical place on earth! 
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You love Disney.  Tell us who is your favorite princess? 

Another tough question to just pick one! I really love Rapunzel and Tiana because I relate them the most. Rapunzel represents my adventurist side and love for travel, while Tiana represents my intense drive and desire to work hard to accomplish my goals in life! 

On your blog you talk about a pair of running shoes that changed your life forever.  Tell us a little bit more about that. 

I bought my first pair of real running shoes in January 2011. The first time I ran in them I could not go a mile without being out of breath. Each day I ran I just had to tell myself I was still getting stronger. They were the tangible key to an improved life – because of those shoes, I am a happier, healthier me. I like to think of them as an analogy to Cinderella’s glass slipper. When the Fairy Godmother gave her those shoes, she had no idea that they would change her life so drastically, and neither did I when I bought my first pair. 

Have you ever raced in costume?  Would you? 

Absolutely!! Every single Disney race I will ALWAYS be in costume! So far I have run in a Tiara (Rapunzel costume), inflatable wings (Buzz Lightyear costume), and even a wig (Merida costume)! 

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What goes through your mind as you cross the finish line? 

The moment I cross is always pride immediately followed by humility. I am SO proud of myself for the feat I have just accomplished, but I am always grateful that I am able to do this because I know not everyone can! 

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If you could run any race in the entire world, which one would you pick? 

Hardest.Question.Ever. I am really looking forward to crossing a couple bucket list races off the list next year, such as the Dopey Challenge and the Big Sur Marathon. I am also very passionate about our U.S. military and would love to support them by participating in the Marine Corps Marathon and Army Marathon (I did get to run the Wounded Warrior Half Marathon in 2013 which was incredible). For adventure running, I would love to do the original Marathon in Greece, and the Great Wall Marathon in China. Last but definitely not least, the iconic Boston Marathon! 

What are some of your running goals or plans?
 After my knee heals, I want to get a sub-2 hour half marathon, cross the finish line of the Dopey Challenge (no time goals whatsoever), then maybe snag a full marathon PR at Big Sur next year! I would also like to complete a Half Ironman by the time I turn 30!

Do you have a funny running story to share?   

The funniest thing I have seen so far is from last year’s sprint triathlon. While the race officials were making announcements, a golden retriever jumped in the pool and swam around for a minute before his owner helped pull him out of the pool. It was hilarious, and everyone was snickering! 

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What is your favorite running gadget, or must have running item? 

My ASICS shoes and Experia Thorlo socks! They are a magical shoe/sock combo because I have never had a blister or lost a toe nail *knock on wood*. I also need to run with a Bondi Band (headband) because I sweat a lot and it keeps all the sweat out of my eyes! 

Do you enjoy group or solo running? 

Both. Most of the time I do solo running, which I love because I can really clear my mind and figure things out! However, when I was training for my full marathon I really cherished the Saturday’s where I had company for my long run. Logging that much time on that running path every week made me happy to have someone to talk with! 

Favorite time of year you like to run? 

In Texas I really don’t mind running year round. During the summer I don’t run crazy distances or anything because it does get so hot and humid, but honestly, it is rare a day that shows up that isn’t good for running! 

Favorite terrains to run; flat, hills, trails? 

Can I be boring and say I really enjoy flat terrain? However, hills do make me stronger – not down hills though. I hate down hills…they caused my current case of runners’ knee.

Do you listen to music while you run?  If so what are your top two favorites that help you motivate yourself to push harder? 

I used to listen to music more often than I do now. Now I prefer running sans music because I like going through all my thoughts and emotions with each step. It makes me a better and stronger runner! However, the big two songs that help push me are “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins, and “Go the Distance” from Disney’s Hercules. 

What type of hobbies/sports do you enjoy besides running? 

I love to sing! It has always been a huge part of my life – my brother and I recently recorded an acoustic cover of the song “Let it Go” from Disney’s Frozen! 





You’re an adventure seeker.  You love to try thrilling things like skydiving and scuba etc.  What’s been your favorite crazy, yet incredible experiences so far? 

I am always up for an adrenaline rush! So far, my favorite thrilling adventure I have done is skydiving. There is nothing like it…you can’t replicate that kind of nervousness and excitement in anything else!  



What are some of your life’s bucket list items? 

I want to travel, and run races, around the world with my husband. I want to be happy and continue to grow in my career, wherever it may take me. I want to nurture all my greatest relationships and keep them for my whole life – my family and friends mean more to me than anything. I want to do my part in speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves and save as many animal lives as I can. 

You are also a blogger, what is your favorite thing about blogging? 

It is without a doubt the sense of community. Everyone is so encouraging and supportive, and they give me a sense of accountability for which I am very grateful! I am so fortunate to have been able to meet many of my blogging friends in person, and look forward to meeting more of y’all later this year! 


What types of things motivate you and push you toward success? 

I have a very internal drive and motivation, and honestly I always have. If there is something that I want more than anything else, I will NOT stop until I accomplish it. Period. 

Tell me something unique about you? 

My nickname growing up was always Tigger due of my optimism and high levels of energy! 

Are you involved in any charities, or sponsor/ambassador programs that you’d like to give a shout-out to?
 I am actually a sales representative for Bondi Bands. They are a fantastic company that creates various fitness products, such as sweat wicking headbands and hats (with super cute sayings!), compression socks, and arm bands that hold your phone/keys/ID while you run! 
I am also actively involved with Team Red White & Blue (RWB) Houston Chapter. They are an amazing organization that helps to improve the lives of veterans who are transitioning back to civilian life!  
You can find Lauren Blogging at: