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Currently Reading: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

MIA | Missing in Action?

You read that title right - I've been missing in action. At least, I have been on here.

As we close in on March, I figured I was due for at least a brief update. I've been keeping myself busy, which is why I haven't been around here much - both on my website, and the Twitter updates. I'm hoping that come March, you will see a bit of a difference on both fronts. I'm a bit more organized, now that I have my million-and-one things sorted to a manageable level, and will be taking care of business, so to speak.

In January, I had a match against D'Arcy Dixon, which resulted in me winning by DQ. But I'll take it... even though the referee (NoMercy) was copping a bit of an attitude the entire time, even after I tried to help her. I also had my first match ever against Jennifer Blaze at GOUGE - she's a fierce competitor. Admittedly, I fell to her. She was a better competitor than I gave her credit for. I will better-prepare in the future.

This was followed up by a BARELY win over Devyn Nicole at the beginning of February - because once again NoMercy seemed to be calling things at a bit of an unfair advantage. This was followed up by a strap match against D'Arcy Dixon the following weekend, which I had every confidence in winning. But between NoMercy reffing a bit unfairly again, and interference my Lei D'Tapa... I lost.

I shouldn't have lost. I know it. D'Arcy knows it. The fans know it. So I petitioned the office in Canada for a rematch - whatever it takes. So this coming Saturday - March 1st - I will be squaring off against D'Arcy once again... there's a contract on a pole involved. Whoever gets it stays at Ring Wars Carolina. RWC has been my home since 2008 - and I plan to keep it that way.

Later in March I'll be returning to MLW for the first time in over a year. The lineup is looking good that weekend - I can't wait to see who I get to face. Be sure to place your orders early, as there are limited slots available!

Roller Derby
I'm still really enjoying roller derby with the Rogue Rollergirls. I've really missed being a part of this team, and it feels great to be back. I've taken on a lot of responsibility with the team recently - which is part of why I haven't been around here as much. But now that things are getting settled, as I said before, you'll see a bit more of me.

If you haven't liked my team on Facebook yet - you should. Because we do awesome things, help people, and post awesome stuff. So OBVIOUSLY you should go like the Facebook page. You'll even catch a glimpse of me from time to time. True story.

Our season starts in May. I'm REALLY excited. BIG things on the horizon for Rogue this year.

I resume filming on Daniella's Surprise in March. So I'm pretty excited about moving forward with this project. The premiere for They Came From the Ether was postponed, due to severely bad weather in North Carolina. It is now scheduled for March 13th. I haven't started any new projects, as my schedule has been fairly hectic, and I've had a lot of adjusting to do. But hopefully that will change soon.

Everything Else
My car got beat up this month... Which is another reason I've been off the grid for a bit... I was sans-car for a little over two weeks this month. But now I have it back, so that is definitely good news!

I really can't complain. Life is pretty good right now. I miss my family, but I'm hoping to plan a visit for sometime this summer.  I really don't have any complaints right now. Being super-busy isn't a bad thing, by any means. 

My goal is to update this more regularly again. So I'll definitely try to get better at that. In the meantime - back to the grind.

Monday, January 6, 2014

BOOK REVIEW | Celestra series by Addison Moore

When adding books to my Amazon Wishlist, I was given several recommendations based on previously added books. One was a book entitled Ethereal by New York Times Bestselling Author Addison Moore. Upon reading the description, I thought that yes - this DOES sound like something I would like. So I added it to the list... and then realized that it was the first in a series... so proceeded to add the entire series to my Wishlist. One day, Ethereal ended up on the "free" list... so I went ahead and purchased it (if you can call it that when you're getting something for free...?). And now, I have finally gotten around to reading it.

As previously mentioned, the first book in the series is called Ethereal. This book (as I'm sure all will) follows sixteen year-old Skyla Messenger. She has a special ability to read minds through touch - just like her father. But upon his death, her mother remarries and the entire family moves to Paragon Island.

The house they move into is rumored to be haunted. And the girl who once slept in Skyla's new bedroom was murdered. Skyla quickly befriends next-door-neighbor Brielle... who introduces her to cousins Logan and Gage Oliver.

Logan is a mind-reader, like Skyla... which catches them both off guard. But Gage isn't without his abilities either. In fact - all three of them (among others) are descended from angels. However Skyla's bloodlines are among the purest and most powerful angelic beings... which makes her more of a target. There's an entire faction of earthbound angels that want her dead.

This book is very gripping. I, quite literally, couldn't put it down until I was finished. I have a feeling this book will be very love/hate for some people - you'll feel either one way or the other... there really is no middle ground.

Personally, I think Skyla needs a bit more development. I mean, she's an angst-y teenage girl... I get that. But I'm also not in agreement with some of the choices she makes. She has eyes for Logan... and they're good together... except that he's a bit of a player when it suits him, and he could really ultimately be her death. I think Gage is a likeable character... but perhaps a bit too self-sacrificing. The love-triangle between the two cousins and Skyla is sure to carry on throughout the books... and there really are several turns it could possibly take. So I am, admittedly, looking forward to seeing where it goes... and if Skyla can evade the fate that the evil faction have in store for her.

If you like fantasy young-adult books, I would definitely recommend it.

Next up... Tremble.

It's confirmed that this series definitely follows Skyla. As for Tremble... well, I really enjoyed it. But I also found it frustrating.

In this book, Skyla spends an obscene amount of time trying to change the past so her father doesn't die. And on the one hand - I get it. But at the same time... you would think after each failure - and each alternative worse than the prior - she would finally stop trying. It was very upsetting, to be honest.

Also in this book, the entire faction of evil angels is gunning for her blood. And there's a Sector trying to make her his bride. Yes - that's right. As if it wasn't enough having the cousins Gage and Logan fighting over her... now there's Marshall joining in for the fun. The only difference is that Marshall is actually a bit creepy - but it works for him. Skyla is in love with Logan... and starting to fall for Gage as well... and can't help but be attracted to Marshall. On the one hand, it's amusing - but on the other hand, it's annoying.

Oh, I also found out the evil faction are called Counts (for short)... and three of her friends actually belong to it. Only not all of them realize who or what she is. Really, the story is getting good, and I'm looking forward to starting the next book, which is called Burn.

 After reading Burn I'm still hooked. This book involved a LOT of plot building, conflict, etc. Skyla is armed with Chloe's diary, and trying to figure out how to change the future of an impending civil war between the angel factions. Only, instead she accidentally ends up causing it to happen.

Now Skyla's in a HUGE amount of danger. Creepy Sector Marshall offers to give her a glimpse of the future for certain... trades... and she does. Only she attempts to alter the outcome of the future prophesies.

We still have four boys vying for her... Logan and Gage and Marshall - and also Ellis, though not quite as epically as the others. She's now with Gage. And trying to get over Logan. And trying to avoid Marshall. And Ellis is just kind of there. More angels, ghosts, and Fems are attacking her. She almost dies on several occasions. It's all quite... action-packed, really.

I will say this... the ending TOTALLY threw me for a loop. I didn't see it coming. At all. In a way, I'm really pissed off. But in another way, I'm excited to keep reading. Because SURELY this can't REALLY be how it turns out... right?

The madness ensues in the fourth book, Wicked. I really don't even know where to begin... We start where the previous book left off... with Skyla and Gage's birthday party. Only now there's a whole new group of Counts that Skyla is aware of... and Chloe is back. Whoa.

Let me just say - Chloe is a complete pain in the rear. She's in love with Gage, and will stop at nothing to keep him from Skyla. So this book is basically a series of manipulative attacks that Chloe takes against Skyla. She's taking her boyfriend, her friends... and possibly even winning over her family.

Skyla thinks she finds a loophole... but it doesn't work. Unfortunately, one of her previous forays into the past comes back to haunt her, because she divulged information that she wasn't supposed to. Now it's likely to cost Skyla her relationship with Gage.

This is going to be a partial spoiler... but this book ends with Skyla on the chopping block. I have no idea where things are going from here. But I know I have to keep reading to find out. Admittedly, I haven't been this engrossed in a series in a while...

The fifth Celestra novel is entitled Vex. The first chapter starts at the end of book four so that you can get back "in the moment." So intense! (Not quite a) SPOILER ALERT: Skyla makes it out of harm's way. Really, it's not a spoiler. If she died, there would be no more books. And since this is the fifth book of an 8-book series, it was pretty much a given. BUT - it was interesting to see how she managed to safe herself from being sacrificed. Oh, and we got to know a bit more about Ezrina, which was pretty cool.

Apparently, Skyla has been missing from the "real world" for a couple of weeks. So everybody is excited for her to return. Well, almost everybody. Rumor has it Skyla is pregnant (but she's not - this we know because Gage has been a perfect gentleman). But her parents won't let it go. So they insist on a doctor's appointment. And they learn the truth the hard way (which is explained why it's the "hard way" if you read it), but really it serves them right for not believing Skyla in the first place.

Skyla and Gage are still really happy, except that Chloe is still trying to get in between them. So now Skyla needs to find some dirt on Chloe in order to get her to back off. Logan is... potentially dangerous. And has to earn Skyla's trust back... IF he can, after what he did to her. He's still being evasive and "it's for your own safety," but it all comes across pretty shady. He's hard to trust.

Tad Langdon (Skyla's step-dad and jerk, extraordinaire) has a bit of a surprise when Chloe mysteriously shows up with his long-missing son Ethan. Who was supposed to be dead... and he was... except now he's actually not Ethan. He's possessed by the ghost of Holden. And causes a LOT of problems within Skyla's world... he's pretty much a first class jerk.

The school goes on a field trip... skiing. Emily (not a new character, but seldom-referenced one) can paint the future. She has visions. She does life chart type things for some of the girls on the trip. And Skyla's ends up covering her entire body with a REALLY long story of how things are going to play out. I really wish they had included a picture because it's described beautifully, and I think it would just be awesome to see. But anyway - Skyla's is long, and includes keys to battles, etc. Skyla almost dies, because she doesn't know how to ski. Instead she gets to meet her real mother. And learns more about where she came from and her purpose. Marshall attempts to seduce her once again. In the process he upsets Gage and Logan, and results in one of them attempting to kill him. Which, really, since he can't die by their hand just serves to piss him off, so the retaliation is deadly. Literally. Oh, and yet another student dies... this time as an accident, only it was orchestrated via Marshall... so it was just a bit of happenstance of how it played out, even though it was an inevitability. (I know - this probably isn't making a WHOLE lot of sense.) 

There's also a dance involved... though I don't remember which. It might be the Winter Formal, but I could be wrong. Anyway, this is where all the really intense stuff happens at the end. Skyla practically gives herself to Marshall in order to save everyone else... but then she backs out on the deal. And because Logan and Gage tried to kill him, it's time for retaliation. At the end of this book, it seems like death is knocking on everyone's door...

I just finished reading the sixth book in the series, Expel. Wow. Just... wow. My mind is completely blown.

This book starts off with death, continued from the previous one. Although Skyla is not directly responsible for this one, she does her best to remedy the situation. Instead she unknowingly makes a binding deal with Ezrina. And almost loses her virtue in the process.

Skyla disappears. Reappears. Saves Gage. And tries to save Logan. But we get more of Holden, instead. Chloe seems like she's going to change her tune... but instead ends up destroying the bond between Skyla and Gage. Ouch. But then they're engaged. Then they aren't. Then she's going to prom with Logan, well, kind of. It's all just very flip-floppy in a very strategic manner.

We see three rounds of the faction war happen... and the Celestra lose all three rounds so far... so the Counts are ahead. Marshall is kind enough to gift Skyla with an enchanted prom dress which may help her get Logan back. Skyla is now firmly torn between the love of all three guys, realizing she has true feelings for all of them... Gage, Logan, and Marshall. And now even Ellis is starting to find a place by her side - but moreso in the friend zone. But one of these guys is destined to betray her...

And when he did? Oh. Em. Gee. Seriously. I didn't see the whole thing playing out like it did. Just like the other books, we're at a cliffhanger. So I have to immediately dive into the next installment to see what happens next!

The seventh book is actually broken into two parts (though I'm as of yet unsure why... perhaps after I read part two all will be understood...?). I just finished reading Toxic (part one) and I have to say... I'm only mildly disappointed.

That's not to say that this isn't a good book. It is. But I just feel... I'm not sure, really. Agitated, perhaps? So much seems to happen, and yet nothing at all. Skyla is now a capture of the Counts. Which is apparently a painful and sometimes lethal experience. The book title comes, I believe, from the fact that Skyla practically has to die after each usage by the Counts (via a lethal injection created by Marshall) in order to save her life. Every time. It's a bit upsetting.

Now Logan is clearly back in the picture. Both he and Marshall apparently have their sights on going down the aisle with her one day... and there have been visions of each. Gage claims to have had a vision of the two of them being married. So either divorce is rampant... or somebody (or somebodies) has to be lying. But who? And in addition... toward the end of this book, Ellis has now tossed his hat into the ring as well, and is now officially another suitor.

Oh, and Team Celestra has lost another round (maybe two) of the faction war. If I remember correctly, there are only 13 rounds (but that could be wrong). If that's the case... they've almost lost. Who knows. Maybe part two will shed some more light as to what's going on...

Toxic (part 2) starts off with the last few pages of part one... which obviously makes sense. Skyla and Logan are in their little slice of heaven, so to speak. Logan has decided he is no longer going to sit idly by, and wait for the war to end before vying for Skyla's affection. Rather than wait, the time is now. So once again - the testosterone is blazing between Logan and Gage.

Skyla is still trying to figure out whether or not she can trust Gage. Ultimately, I think she decides that she can. But Chloe is super-evil, and keeps throwing a wrench into things, always giving Skyla reason to doubt. But really... I think Skyla needs to realize that just about everything that spews from Chloe's mouth is a lie, and therefore she shouldn't really give into it.

There are a LOT of things that happen in the second part of this book... I can't even touch on them all. Emerson is back from the dead (but you wouldn't know who she is, really, unless you read the books). It's important because she holds the secrets to blackmail Chloe. But, of course, Chloe kills her... again. But then Skyla manages to convince her Mom to put Giselle in Emerson's body (with Giselle's permission, of course). This whole ordeal is actually a VERY amusing and interesting read. And I'm glad that Giselle gets another shot at life.

Skyla spends a lot of this book with Marshall... which isn't bad. In fact, Marshall is infinitely more helpful in this book than he has been, which I thought was nice. However, he and Skyla ended up in a covenant with each other... one pledging eternal love. I don't think Skyla realized what she was getting into... but nor do I think she'll regret it. The biggest hurdle for her will be learning that she CAN love more than one person - it will just be different kinds of love. But hey - that's my opinion. The book could be going somewhere else entirely!

This book wraps up in the final stages of the faction war. In fact - we're pretty much at the end of the war. Team Celestra finally won a round or two of the war - so yay. But the ultimate victors will be whichever team captures the Master's sword. So there IS that... Now, Gage and Logan are both at death's door... as is Ellis, by Skyla's hand...

... Skyla and Chloe are both at the end of the war, facing off. But which of them is going to get the sword? Skyla is scared of the fire, but then, so is Chloe. But at this point, with all of her apparent loves gone, Skyla doesn't feel she has much left to live for... is love worth dying for? At the end of the 7th book, Skyla has to make the ultimate sacrifice, and give herself over to the flames...

The final book in the series, Elysian, is also a two-part book. BUT - this one was available with both combined into one book, so that's how I'm rolling with the review. Oh, and I'm pausing periodically during my reading to reflect, so I don't miss out on stuff, or forget what's going on. Because that's TOTALLY been happening on the other reviews... there's just so much to take in!

Elysian begins at the end of the faction war. I think. In theory, Skyla won. But at the same time - she didn't actually win. She DID accomplish the goal she was assigned... but apparently the Decision Board or whatever has to make a ruling onto whether or not the Celestra beat the Counts. Which really just served to upset me.

The guys are... different. They all still want Skyla, obviously, and are still vying for her to choose them. Logan is a jerk again, so he might be possessed. Gage is not dead. But could have been. Ellis is dead. Marshall is not. However, Marshall DOES end up getting all of his Sector powers revoked. So I'm a bit unclear (at this point) where this leaves him, pertaining to Skyla. But we'll see what happens. Chloe is still a bitch, and sadly is not dead. I think Giselle's secret is on the cusp of being revealed... but I wanted to update before I forgot about this because it all seems relevant.

Oh, wow, okay... so, Logan wasn't really being a jerk. He was just distancing himself because... wait, I can't say. It's a spoiler. But Oh. Em. Gee. It's insane! 

Chloe MIGHT have a heart... but I still doubt it. She still has part two to potentially redeem herself, but I don't foresee it happening at all.

Apparently the "first" chick Marshall thought he loved was the original incarnate of Chloe. But she had a different name. But she turned out being an 18th century prostitute (fitting, I think). But then when she didn't love him back, he moved on. And realized Skyla was the one for him.

Oh, and Gage is still Gage. He really seems to be the rock, as far as everything is concerned.

At this point, I'm not really sure about Brielle or Giselle or any of that stuff...

Logan is a ghost! Wait, what?! Yeah, seriously.

Ellis had been missing since the faction war, but he's officially been found... he's back alive now. He's just been kicking it with some "love honies" (his phrase) in the Transfer... procrastinating going back to the real world. (I can't blame him.)

So many visions of the future in this one... but which one is real? Surely Skyla can't marry all THREE of the guys...? I almost wonder if Logan is the incarnate of Marshall AFTER he loses his Sector powers? IF he loses his Sector powers... it just seems like maybe they're very similar... if that even makes sense. But at the same time, how could there be two incarnations of the same person on the planet at the same time? It happens when they light-drive... but not quite... It's all very tricky, really. (See - writing down my thoughts WHILE I read is probably way more confusing for those of you who might actually have read this far at this point....)

Side note - three characters keep popping up: Laken, Wesley and Cooper. Wesley looks like Gage, but with different eyes. Cooper like Logan. And Laken apparently similar to Skyla. But they're all from two years in the past... so I can't help but to wonder WTF is going on? Except they turn up during the present-day faction war, and help Skyla. Seriously though... these three have their own story... and it takes place in the Countenance trilogy. So I may have to check those out next (2 of the 3 books are already out - yay!). Because I'm really curious about what's going on there...

There's WAY too much to absorb right now.

So now that I'm done reading, it's just very much like... WOW. I'm gunning for no spoilers here. But I will share that Celestra did win the faction war - hooray for the good guys! The Celestra series has now come to an end.

Honestly, I wasn't sure how the ending would pan out, but it worked in a way that made me happy. I didn't think it would be possible, but Moore managed to come to a nice conclusion. I was content.

Now that the series is finished, it will eventually start back up. Except it will no longer be the Young Adult series entitled "Celestra" ... it will become an Adult series entitled "Celestra Ever After" since the teens are now graduated and will probably either be in or post-college when the new series starts back up.

So... it comes down to this: would I recommend reading this series? Yes, yes I would. It's a lot of reading... but I got through 3,213 pages (over the course of 8 books - two of which were 2-part books) in a little over two weeks. Not too bad, if I do say so myself... But yes, if you like fantastical books about angels and faction wars and some dramatic paranormal romance thrown in - by all means, check out the series!

 BONUS: Apparently the first book in the series was re-written through the perspective of Logan and Gage... and is entitled Ethereal Knights. Well, you've read my review of the first book. This is basically the same. I really enjoyed getting a different perspective, from both of the guys in Skyla's life. It helps you to understand where each of them are coming from. It was a fun read, and enjoyable. I felt like it focused more on Logan and less on Gage... which in a way makes sense, but at the same time I think it would have been good to really dive inside his mind.

Anyway, this book is a lot of banter between the "brothers"... who obviously aren't brothers, but might as well be. It's entertaining watching them from this side of the coin, vying for Skyla's attention. It also allows you to understand why they do what they do in the Ethereal book, when all you want to do is shake them.

Would I recommend this one? Sure, why not. It's a nice little slice of perspective to go alongside the other book. Not a must-read, but definitely enjoyable.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Twenty Fourteen

New year. New goals. New opportunities. New experiences.

I accomplished quite a bit in 2013, so I'm probably going to have to work twice as hard in 2014 to keep up. Once again, I'm hoping to accomplish a lot - not just in wrestling, but in life as well. I shall continue to aspire to always be my best.

I don't know what life has in store for me. But I'm feeling good about it, regardless.

The kickoff to a new year is starting off on a high note: I will spend the first weekend of the year (January 4th) wrestling D'Arcy Dixon. She beat me last time I faced her, but she's one of my favorite competitors and I'm looking forward to seeing what she brings to the table this year.

Once again, I've created a goal list for the year. Well, I say that... it's really the same list as last year. But I really liked the list, and I didn't accomplish everything on it, so I'm sticking to it.

GOALS 2014

  • Wrestle in at least 3 new places
  • Bench press 150 lbs
  • Leg press 500 lbs
  • Successfully implement an online store for merch (LONG overdue!)
  • Accomplish good things in the world
  • Continue to be awesome
I think this list is manageable. There are definitely a couple big-ticket items on here, but I think I can handle it. It's a starting point, anyway.

So... hello, 2014. I'm ready for you. True story.