We can cover the facts first. My name is Sally and I’m 27 years old. I was born in Egypt and lived there until I was about 6 years old. My parents then immigrated to the United States where we set up home in Jersey City, NJ. I lived in Jersey City until it was time for me to go to college. I left and attended Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. I graduated from Rutgers with a mechanical engineering degree with a concentration in alternative energy studies. I started working the summer I graduated and moved out to Kansas City, MO where I lived for a little over a year. I was then relocated back to NJ by work for a year and then relocated once more to Burlington, VT.
I currently still live in Burlington and have been here for a almost 2 years. Throughout these past few years I have come across many things that I was not prepared for by school or my parents. That was my motivation to start this blog. This is a lifestyle blog as well as a way for me to help ease the growing pains of adult life for others. This blog will likely shape shift as I grow into myself some more. I love to read so there is a portion of this blog that will be dedicated to reviews of the books I have read. I am extremely passionate about fitness so I will post about my journey.
I want this blog to help motivate, inspire and create dialogue. So please, join me on this journey to figuring out my twenties!
A quick call out before I start: This series is not yet concluded as of the time I am writing this review. So, I am writing based on the first three books only. There are also some light spoilers in this review.
An Ember in The Ashes By Sabaa Tahir follows a young girl named Laia whose family and her people, the Scholars, have been torn apart at the hands of The Empire. The Empire is an oppressive regime that has taken over the land and enslaved or imprisoned almost all of the Scholars. Laia suddenly finds herself apart from her brother, the only family she has left, who was imprisoned by The Empire because of knowledge he possesses that can be critical to the rebellion against The Empire. In her quest to find and free her brother, Darin, Laia crosses paths with Elias.
Elias Veturius is finishing his final year at Blackliff Academy which breeds Masks. The Masks are the most terrifying and lethal soldiers in The Empire and will stop at nothing to carry out the orders they are given. But Elias is different. he does not embrace the side of him that Blackliff has created, he is gentle and kind and wishes to leave The Empire all together. But he is trapped in this world he was forced into.
When Laia and Elias meet, they are two very similar people, who are living two very different lived. Both Laia and Elias feel oppressed and stuck in a world they did not ask for. But Elias has power and Laia feels helpless. As the series goes on, they find they will play very important roles in each others’ journey to freedom from their oppressors.
The very interesting thing about this series is the world that Tahir creates. I listened to a podcast that she was hosted on and she spoke about her background, her family is from Pakistan. She spoke about how she modeled The Empire oppressors after the political strife she came to know within her culture. Laia struggles with this so much throughout the series, the notion of “Why is it always my people who suffer”. That struck me because, doesn’t everyone feel like that sometimes? Whether they are right or wrong or the severity of the oppression varies, we have all found ourselves in some kind of situation where we have asked “Why me” or “Why us”. I think that makes this story relatable to so many readers on so many different levels.
Aside from that, I personally do not enjoy Laia and Elias as characters. Elias is loyal to a fault and finds himself denying so much of what he wants and who he is because of who he thinks he has to be for everyone around him. It gets repetitive and sometimes irritating. In Book 3, I think he started to explore this more and I hope that in Ember #4 he will finally realize what he wants and what he needs to do to get it. Laia falls a bit flat to me but I believe this is written on purpose. Her character development occurs to an extent throughout the books but I think she is still lost in her world trying to figure out what the role she plays really is. And aren’t we all doing the same on some level?
My FAVORITE character is Helene Aquilla. Oh, Helene. Her character development is downright amazing to follow, in my humble opinion. Helene is Elias’s best friend and she has to face so many horrifying things because she is trying to protect Elias from himself. I can’t say much about what she goes through without giving the central plot away but I can say that she is an amazing pillar of strength. And her love for Elias makes her so accessible, especially when it is not reciprocated in the way she desires. Her loyalty digs her into some deep pits that she has to climb out of. But, I am most excited to read about what becomes of her in Ember #4.
Overall, Tahir creates an awesome story that is extremely difficult to put down. There are currently teasers going around about the cover art of Ember #4 and I am already so excited to read it. This is a must read to jump into a world of political strife, love, pain, jealousy and almost everything else in between. You are guaranteed to find a favorite character within this crew.
Let me know what you all thought about this series and how much are anticipating Ember #4!
I know what you’re thinking. What in all of the hell could that title possibly mean? I know, I know. What’s crazy about the story I am about to share is that it happened almost 5 back and I just finally picked the lesson out of it 2 weeks ago. Isn’t it insane how our minds work? What I actually mean is, isn’t it insane how our minds work once we learn to reflect?
Here’s how it all went down:
My first job out of college was in a factory, as a production supervisor overseeing all of the employees who run the lines. It was a hard role for a few reasons.
- I had no idea how to manage people, what motivated them, what they hated, how to read the team, etc. (5 years later and the only thing I have learned about managing a team is that it is difficult)
- The factory was in commissioning which means that the lines were brand new and we were just learning how to run them.
- I was literally just months out of college and I didn’t even know who I was let alone how to conduct myself properly to get the outcome I wanted (Still working on this by the way)
Just picture this: 22 year old who barely knows how to keep the peace leading a team of approx 40 people who are still unfamiliar with the lines they are trying to work. Overall, it was just a recipe for a bad time and saying morale was low was probably the understatement of the decade. In an effort to combat the low morale and increase productivity, our manager put out a challenge. The challenge basically boiled down to whichever shift can hit a specific line efficiency percentage would get a steak dinner for everyone on the shift.
Weeks went by and no one even got close. Until one night, things were actually going right for us. I remember being extremely on edge and suspicious of what was happening because I had never seen all the lines run at the same time. There was always at least 1 line down at any given point in the night. But, the team did it. They somehow managed to pull 40% efficiency out of their butt and they were all so happy. I had never seen them so fired up! They were walking off the shift stopping by my office to let me know how excited they were for the steak dinner, it was so awesome.
The next day for our team meeting with the department manager I said “We can’t wait for that steak dinner” when he asked for other business for the meeting agenda. He simply replied back “Yeah, no, that’s not going to happen”. I honestly had no idea what was happening and ended up replying back “What do you mean? that’s bullshit!” Again – remember I was 22 and just could not conduct myself properly but it really was bullshit. Now, I can’t stress enough how inappropriate his reply back to me was and if this ever happens to you guys at work, you should take a serious stand and this should be escalated. He said “I can’t believe you’re this f***king stupid”. I LOST it. Partially because I did not take well to the way he talked to me but mostly because I was SO disappointed for my team and I knew this was just the wrong move if we truly wanted to raise morale. But, he wasn’t budging and I just ended up feeling like absolute garbage. The worst part was, I had to look at my team and tell them it just wasn’t going to happen and I had no explanation for them.
I imagined the team being so disappointed in me for not being able to get this secured for them and I carried the burden of how much that would backslide all the progress we had made. Instead, the team was thanking me for standing up for them. I was so confused how they even found out what happened during the meeting. Turns out one of the team members that were in the room relayed it to the shift lead who worked with me and it spread from there. I was still so disappointed in the fact that they didn’t get the steak dinner that I missed the whole lesson here.
Courage does not feel good. Not always, at least. In this case I left the meeting defeated, disappointed and honestly enraged and frustrated. But, my team recognized my courage and appreciated me as a leader for it. I always thought that whenever I acted in a courageous way, it would feel amazing. I would have light coming out of me or a spotlight on me or something grand and heroic. But I felt like crap. Until I reflected on the situation and really thought about the fact that even though I didn’t recognize it at the time, this was a turning point for my team and I. This was when they started to trust me, this was when they truly felt like I was going to go to bat for them when I believed it was right.
Don’t be courageous because it will make you feel like a good person, or because you think it will end up working out positively for you in the end. Be courageous because it is the right thing to do. When it feels like it is you against the world, be courageous. When it feels like it will never get better, be courageous. When you feel like it will haunt you if you don’t, be courageous.
I want to start by saying that I know that this series is a huge commitment, especially because the final book, Kingdom of Ash, looks more like an encyclopedia than an enjoyable read but just stay with me here and watch me try to explain how I feel about this series without trying to spoil it all for you if you haven’t read it.
I was originally introduced to Sarah J. Maas’s work via the A Court of Thorns and Roses Series, and I’m not going to give too much away here because I will do a separate review on that series, but let’s just say I was legitimately having withdrawals when I finished that series. Anyway, so naturally I went searching for something else to read that made me feel the same way I felt when living through Feyre’s adventures.
Through my research, the Throne of Glass series came up and it turned out I had already read the first book way back when there was ONLY a first book. When I realized the commitment I was signing up for, I shied away and honestly thought “I really don’t have time for this right now”. But a friend of mine was raving about the series so I decided to give it ago and said goodbye to the next few months of free time (I am a serial reader, if you have not caught on yet).
The book Throne of Glass follows a young assassin named Celaena Sardothian who is in a heavily guarded basically death prison. The book starts with an arrogant prince (Dorian) and his puppy dog Captain of the guard (Chaol) who show up to the death prison (Endovier) to release Celaena only so she can be Dorian’s champion in his dad’s competition. The winner of this competition basically becomes the king’s assassin on retainer for the next few years (4 years I think it is). We follow the tale of Celaena through this book as she uncovers some really strange stuff that is going down in the castle as the competition takes place and she figures out her role in all of it.
Long story short, after the first book we are following Celaena basically try to solve a mystery to explain why all this weird stuff is going down and why it keeps happening near her (I want to elaborate but there are no spoilers in this review!).
This series is full of plot twists that actually had me just staring at the last page of some of these books going “I am SO glad I don’t have to wait for the next book to be released”. Most of the time, I bought the book following the one I was reading well before I was done because who even knew where I would be and if I would have access to a bookstore the second I finished the book I was reading. I traveled to Greece with the Queen of Shadows book unread and I finished it just as we got to the airport to get back to the US (thanks to the ferry rides between islands! Greece was amazing, and I think everyone should visit). I was heartbroken because I had to wait 14 hours until I picked up the next book, poor planning on my part. But the story is captivating to say the least. Celaena was such an interesting character and her development throughout the series stays true to who she is and what we love about her in the first book but allows for her growth at the same time. And I love me an arrogant female heroine!
- The 6th book in the series Tower of Dawn felt a bit like Sarah’s editors just wanted to extend the series to make more money. I think the story could have been told simultaneously as the other events of book 5 were taking place. I liked the story and what was happening and some parts were vital to the plot but I would say about 75% of that book was fluff.
- These characters were awesome and I really enjoyed their different personalities but they were heavily resembling the A Court of Thorns and Roses crew with some minor tweaks. Sarah loves her goofballs
All in all I highly recommend this series. It’s so worth the time. I could be a bit biased because of how much I loved the A Court of Thorns and Roses but I can see myself at some point starting up this series again.
What did you guys think?! Let me know in the comments I am dying to discuss this series with anyone!
The BBG 12 week challenge is starting up tomorrow, and I’m really excited about this.
There isn’t much to this challenge really, it’s very much business as usual like any other time you would be using the app. However, Kayla Itsines, the creator of the program, is doing it alongside the millions of people taking up this challenge. The reason this excites me is very simply the motivation aspect of it.
Motivation is a tricky thing, it ebbs and flows. Sometimes it’s there and the next day it’s not. If everyone could just turn on and keep their motivation on, we’d all have accomplished every single goal we’ve ever had in our lives. That’s the challenge; the days where you feel like “If I have to do this, I’m going to lose my damn mind”, how do you get past it? How do you push through and try to just get it done even when it’s the last thing you want to do?
For me, I like to keep a few motivational tactics in my back pocket. Having millions of other people pushing through the same workouts that I am trying to at the same time is HUGE. It’s a gigantic community of people who also have days where they don’t feel like doing the workout, but seeing them do it is so inspirational.
Kayla recommended a reflection prior to the start of the challenge. She said to write down how we feel about ourselves currently and how confident we are right this second. Having been through the full 12 weeks of BBG before, I am a testament to the direct correlation between self confidence and the progression of this program. By the time week 12 rolled around, I couldn’t stop looking at my reflection thinking “Holy shit, look how different I look” and I CANNOT wait for that again. So I started the program last week 🙂
If you are thinking of joining the challenge, I highly recommend you jump on it and let’s get through it together and look back 3 months from now thanking our past selves for making this decision!!
Every year, it’s the same old story. We chalk the closing year up to a loss and resolve to make the next year a better one. I don’t think many of us do a very good job at looking back and giving ourselves enough credit for the year past. It’s extremely important to consciously do that or we begin to fixate on the bad.
Last year I made many resolutions, and most I didn’t accomplish 100% but I know that I tried the best that I can. I didn’t save up the amount of money I wanted but I saved money, while managing to visit 3 new countries and 4 states. I didn’t read as much as I wanted to but I read 10 different books, that’s 10 worlds I got lost in! I paid off my car and for the very first time completed a full round of a fitness program!! Looking back and giving myself credit for everything I’ve accomplished is an accomplishment in itself. I’m such an overachiever in every aspect of my life so I constantly feel like I’m failing. But one of the biggest things I learned this past year was the importance of being kind to myself. You are the only person that will be with you constantly for the rest of your life, don’t make an enemy of yourself and don’t make all the time you spend with yourself awful because you aren’t friends with you. Appreciate the good and work on the bad, one cannot exist without the other.
So I continue to set goals for myself. In this new year I want to travel more, I want to learn more, I want to read more and I want to grow more. I want to be healthy and I want to feel good. I’ve set actionable targets for all these goals but I will be sure to appreciate the journey to accomplishing them. You never know what a new year, month, week or day will bring. A wrench will be thrown into your plans for this new year but that’s the beauty of the life we live. It’s so much fun if you just enjoy the ride!
I’ll bottom line it for you guys, I hated this book.
My 2 best friends and I have created our own semi book club. We all live in different states so it’s a good way for us to have something to motivate us to reach out to one another. So, it wasn’t my decision to pick up this book.
The story centers around a celebrated detective who has never been unable to solve a case in his career. He is travelling by train when in the middle of the night, while stuck in a snow bank, one of the travelers is murdered. The book follows the detective as he tries to solve the mystery and understand the killer and their motivation.
But really, I hated it. I’m not a big fan of mystery books to begin with (I HATE being confused the whole book or show or movie). That probably made me a bit biased going into this book. And, to be fair, if you really like that kind of thing, you may be into this book. For me, it lacked depth. It dragged on, the language was tiring; I felt like someone was pulling me through this book kicking and screaming. Honestly, the only reason I got through it was because I just can’t put a book down half finished but trust me, I was not happy about it.
The premise was kind of interesting but the execution, for me, wasn’t impressive. I even watched the movie after finishing the book to see if maybe I was just not enjoying the way it was written. Wasted my time.
The one interesting thing I found in this book was a decision the detective has to make at the end of the book. When the mystery is solved he has to choose between his duty as a detective to tell the authorities what happened, or to be loyal to his morals and turn a blind eye. It’s extremely symbolic of the idea that there are 2 kinds of evil, those who are evil and those who ignore it. But the book plays devil’s advocate and really gets the reader thinking what they would do in this situation.
If you’re extremely intrigued, give it a go you may have a different opinion than I did. If you’re looking for some background noise, watch the movie. If you’re looking for a good page turner, I would recommend you keep moving.