Arizona Adventures!

Hey everyone!
Today’s post is at least 3 months overdue – sorry! I’ve been having some technical issues with iMovie that’s causing delays on my Vlogs so stay posted as there’s a lot to come!

This vlog is a little disjointed as you’re seeing what was meant to be part of an ongoing series about shenanigans to get into in Arizona because I was living there & attempting to get into shenanigans – followed immediately by footage of me moving back home.
If you’re confused about when I lived in Arizona, don’t worry – you’re not alone! I was going to film a big announcement & create several videos discussing the move, however, circumstances changed quickly & creating an ongoing series seemed pointless.
Long story short, I moved to Arizona in December 2015 for a new job in an attempt to expand my Resume, broaden my horizons by living in a new state, & live closer to several friends/family members, including my godchildren. Unfortunately, my grandma was diagnosed with cancer very shortly after that & I moved back to NorCal in July 2016 to help my family & spend time with her.

Please enjoy this small snippet of my time in Arizona featuring Danny from Savage Squad, click here to see their channel! Please FOLLOW MissAl-Leigh.com to stay updated with future shenanigans, SUBSCRIBE to the YouTube channel for more vlogs, SHARE, LIKE, & COMMMENT! Thank you 🙂

Beauty Deals 2.0

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Music Monday! Pop vs. Metal – Music Sound Off

Another Music Monday, another vlog featuring my BFF Danny!
Today, Danny & I test our friendship by making each other listen to music the other likes.
This vlog is LONG overdue so the Top 40 list is a bit outdated – sorry!
Click the video below to watch the shenanigans unfold! If you haven’t already, please Subscribe to my YouTube channel for first access to my videos!
Also, if you’re a fan of Danny, Subscribe to his YouTube channel here – Savage Squad!

Thanks so much for watching! Please remember to Subscribe to my YouTube channel, Like, Share, & Comment on the video! Please also Follow me here on MissAl-Leigh.com, Like, Share, & Comment on this post too!!

Sunday Book Club! The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

Today’s Sunday Book Club Review is “The Reflections of Queen Snow White” by David Meredith. The exciting announcement I mentioned last Sunday is that I was asked by the author to read & review this book! Yay – my first Sunday Book Club Collaboration! Disclaimer: I did receive this book for free, but that in no way influences my Review.

Initial Thoughts:
When David first emailed me & offered me the chance to review his book, I was surprised, extremely flattered, & excited. I love this Genre of Fairy Tale retellings or examination from a modern authors point of view, as you’ve probably noticed with my past Book Reviews such as Beastly, Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale, The Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, & others coming up on my Books to Read List. I’ve never read an E-Book, which is the only way this novel is currently available, so I was a little nervous about how I’d feel using “new technology”, haha! I was also nervous because of the collaborative spirit of this Sunday Book Club. It’s tough to be fair when you know the author will most likely read your Review, but I believe I was unbiased. Keep reading & let me know in the Comments if you feel I was being too easy, fair, or too harsh!

Plot:
As the title implies, this story is of course, about Snow White. Meredith continues forward from the tale we know & starts his story with an older Snow White who is not the cheerful, upbeat Disney princess many know & love. She is now bitter, sad, & lonely because Prince Charming has passed away. Snow’s depression & grief have caused a rift in her relationship with her daughter Raven to the point that she is not even involved in the planning of her upcoming wedding. One day while wandering the castle in a state of despondency, Snow stumbles upon the Evil Queen’s old chambers. She finds the Magic Mirror has been stored there & embarks on a magical journey into her past to try & find some peace in this new chapter of her life. I will leave it at that to prevent any Spoilers.

Characters:
– Erfruet – It took way too long for me to piece together that Snow’s “right hand man” is one of THE dwarves. You know….one of the seven! I thought this character was used as a clever & cute way to pay homage to the original story & show how the Dwarves’ relationship with Snow continued after her marriage, connecting the old & new story.
– It seemed like all of the characters had some type of accent & foreign name, except Snow White & Prince Charming. I thought perhaps this was an homage to the Grimm Brother’s & their German heritage, but the accents didn’t seem German so I’m not certain.

Quotes:
– Acknowledgements: “To anyone who has ever known loss, wrestled with grief, & struggled to find themselves again”
This is really what the story is about & I admire Meredith for taking on such a difficult topic & trying to make it more relatable by involving a beloved Fairy Tale character. It’s an interesting topic for this Genre, one that’s not too often explored because most readers don’t want to think about the reality that comes after “happily ever after”. I will touch more on this idea below in the “Overall” section.
– Magic Mirror: “What happens, happens. The past is the past and your past is ever a part of you! Only by facing it can you truly leave it behind. Otherwise, it will ever intrude upon your present”…She felt as if she stood alone on the edge of a precipitous gorge, filled with despair at the impossibility of her predicament, but knowing that her only choice was to descend into its shadowy depths, cross the unseen rocky path at its bottom, and pull herself out once more on the other side.”
The beginning of this passage is really so true, not just about grief, but anything that plagues us from the past. The second half of the Quote seemed like a subtle, or perhaps not so subtle, metaphor for the process of grieving.

Overall:
I could definitely see this becoming a film. While I enjoy Fantasy stories, I sometimes take issue with how unnecessarily lengthy they can be. I know I’ve complained on here a few times about endless pages of scenery. I enjoyed Meredith’s extremely descriptive but mostly concise style of writing. However, it’s worth mentioning that there are scenes of abuse & sexual content that made me rather uncomfortable. Meredith has a knack for creating an intriguing story & providing resolution. There were several times I found myself wondering about a “plot hole”, but later receiving a full explanation. Overall I enjoyed the theme of the story & the unique idea of this stereotypical happy go lucky Princess dealing with grief. I think Meredith was trying to touch on an important point about loss & love. He presents the reader with the idea that throughout our lives we have way more than one chapter, way more than one “happily ever after”. Just because one type of love has left our lives doesn’t mean all love is gone & there’s nothing to live for, it just means our idea of happily ever after has to change. SPOILER! I also appreciated the Feminist angle of the story. The Magic Mirror is trying to make Snow see that although Charming helped her, she played a huge role in her own destiny. She saved herself, but gave the Prince all the credit & after his passing, felt she was lost without him because she did not see her own value.

Rating: B-
Unfortunately, my rating was influenced a bit by the production value. Any book I catch typos in automatically gets knocked down a peg. While I did enjoy the overall theme & message of the book & find them to be important topics to tackle, I can’t support the sex scenes & some of the discussions the characters have about sex/body fluids. I can very well see the interactions taking place, especially in that time period, but that doesn’t mean I want to read about them. That’s the beauty of reading, I’m supposed to be able to use my imagination, haha! Some of those scenes were too descriptive for me & I would imagine other readers may feel the same. While those scenes were not too frequent, they did weigh heavily enough on me that it was almost a distraction from the book as a whole. I would say it’s 50/50 – Great topic/message but some really uncomfortable character interaction!

What do you think? Will you be heading to Amazon to download your own copy of “Reflections”? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments below! Big thank you to David Meredith for asking me to do this Review – I congratulate you on all of your well deserved success.
If you’re an author or PR team looking for Reviews, please reach out to me – MissAl.Leigh@gmail.com

The next Sunday Book Club is July 10th & the book is “The Fates Will Find Their Way” by Hannah Pittard. Stay tuned & thanks for reading!

Food Friday! Combos Sweet & Salty Pretzels

Hello again! Welcome to Food Friday!
This is another bi-weekly/monthly series I’d like to kick off but may take some time to get off the ground as I currently do not have access to a kitchen! That’s a story for another time though. I think this will be a fun series for y’all to watch because I’m a MESS in the kitchen, I can barely make toast. However, I really like food (obviously) & enjoy the imagination & creative process behind beautiful chocolate dipped strawberries, cupcakes, etc, so I’d like to try some of the recipes I’ve found on Pinterest.
For now, we’re starting with something easy, a Review of pre-made, packaged food, haha! These snacks were sent to me to Review by Influenster.com on behalf of Combos – thank you to both companies! I have a familiar face alongside me for this Review, my best friend Danny. While these snacks were sent for free, you’ll see our Review is completely unbiased!

Thanks to Danny for helping me out with this Review. You can Subscribe to his YouTube Channel by clicking here – Savage Squad. Please also Subscribe to MY YouTube Channel & this blog! Please Share, Like, & Comment if you’d like to see more Food Friday videos 🙂

Movie Review! Central Intelligence

Looking for something to do this weekend?! Today’s post, a mix of a Collaboration, Event Recap, & Movie Review, will definitely provide an awesome idea!
On Monday, I was offered the chance to get a sneak peek of “Central Intelligence” – a new movie starring Dwayne Johnson & Kevin Hart that comes out THIS FRIDAY, June 17th! Thank you FabulousArizona.com for this awesome opportunity! The Event was a lot of fun, way more than just a basic Movie viewing. Radio stations Power 98.3 & 101.9 were there giving away a ton of free branded merchandise, as you’ll see below, & playing some great music. I was genuinely surprised no one started a dance party, especially when they started playing “The Wobble”! I posted a video of the theater filling up on my Twitter, go check it out & Follow me: @MissAl_Leigh. Keep scrolling to watch the trailer for “Central Intelligence” & read my Review – I’ll try to keep SPOILERS to a minimum!

As you can see from the trailer, the basic plot is that Hart’s character, Calvin, & Johnson’s character, Robby are high school classmates with very different social standing. Calvin is Prom King & basically Captain of every sport, voted Most Likely to Succeed & dating the prettiest girl in school. Robby is an overweight goofball that’s a social outcast, an easy target for bullies. Flash forward 20 years & Calvin definitely doesn’t have the amazing successful life he imagined. He married his high school sweetheart & now works as an accountant. The day before their 20 year High School Reunion, Calvin is reunited with Robby – now Bob Stone. Bob Stone is, of course, in way better shape, but the same lovable, if a tad bit annoying, goofball – & he’s also a human weapon employed by the CIA. Bob involves Calvin in his latest mission which twists & turns until Calvin has no idea who to trust! Underneath the huge muscles, is Bob still that misfit from High School, who now needs his help to save the world? Or is he really a dirty CIA Agent hell bent on killing whoever gets in his way? Calvin & Bob must overcome many obstacles on the road to clearing their names in this Action Comedy that has a really sweet message about friendship & learning to love who you are.

Rating: B
Usually I split my Movie Reviews into Likes & Dislikes, but there wasn’t anything I DISLIKED about “Central Intelligence”. I just didn’t really connect with it enough or find it hilarious enough to give it an A rating. It’s definitely funny & there were quite a few moments that had the whole audience laughing out loud. However, if you’re not a fan of Kevin Hart, you most likely won’t enjoy this film. He’s a “big” actor, but I have the same sense of humor/style of comedic acting, so I guess I’m biased! The writing is clever, pay close attention for a few lines that reference other characters the cast has played. For example, a line about Bob looking like Hercules – a character Johnson has played. Also, there are some awesome cameos for fans of “Breaking Bad”, “Arrested Development”, & “Bridesmaids”. This film was relatively tame in terms of language & violence which I was kind of surprised by. Plot wise, the details of the CIA storyline hardly matter. The real story is the developing friendship & character growth that occurs between Calvin & Bob. The end is predictable & slightly cheesy, but was nice to see in a mostly male cast action/comedy/buddy film. Character-wise, I liked that Calvin is honestly a good guy. I appreciate that he wasn’t some bad boy jock getting his comeuppance by becoming a paper pusher. I think more people can sympathize with a nice character that had a bright future ahead of him – & just turned out to be average. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I think many of us can identify with having big dreams, only to wake up to a reality that’s much different. All in all, I would definitely recommend this film for anyone looking for a movie that’s fun but also has a lot of heart – no pun intended!

For a chance to win a Sneak Peek of your own for an upcoming film & to check out all sorts of cool restaurants, local spots, spas, donut shops, etc, in Arizona, please Follow Fabulous Arizona on their website, Instagram, & Twitter!

While you’re at it, please Follow me here on MissAl-Leigh.com, Instagram, & Twitter! Let me know if you plan on going to see “Central Intelligence” or once you’ve seen it, Comment below what you thought! What other movies are you planning on seeing this summer?! Thanks for reading 🙂

#EventRecap – @Macys #ChandlerFashionSquare supports @GotYourSix & @TAPSorg

How would you like the opportunity to donate to some really amazing Military Charities AND get 25% off this weekend at Macy’s!? Interested? Keep reading…

Right now Macy’s is partnering with a Military Charity called “Got Your Six“. I have spoken about this group in a previous post, but briefly, GY6 is a group that works with Military Non Profits (like TAPS) & the Media/Entertainment Industry to work towards bridging the military-civilian divide & portraying our military in a more positive, realistic manner. Their partnership with Macy’s will 100% support TAPS & other military groups through a promotion going on this week! If you donate $3, Macy’s will give you a 25% discount pass to use this weekend, May 13th-15th! 3 days of discounts for only $3 plus the satisfaction of helping a worthy cause!

I was honored to be given the opportunity to go to my local Macy’s & speak on behalf of TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. Again, this is a group I have blogged about & volunteered with before, but I will give a brief explanation. TAPS was founded about 20 years ago by a woman named Bonnie Carroll after her husband, Brigadier General Tom Carroll, was tragically killed in an aviation accident along with 7 other soldiers. She has since received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her efforts with TAPS. What I love about TAPS is they provide support to anyone that knew the Military member that has passed away, no matter their connection with them or how they passed away. I appreciate that TAPS recognizes that grief hits all of us differently & it doesn’t matter how close you are to the person. Sometimes just knowing that someone you used to see on a daily basis is gone, can really shake you & you deserve to have your feelings heard & your heart healed. My “mission” at Macy’s was to connect with employees, tell them a bit about GY6, TAPS, & how I connected to the group. By giving them this information, we hoped that when the time came for them to encourage Guests to donate, they would remember me & my story, & know that people in their neighborhood care about this, so maybe their Guest does too.

Here’s a bit of my story, as I’m sure you can tell, this post is basically what I said at Macy’s.
I became involved with TAPS somewhat because of my romantic relationship with someone in the Military. Seeing his struggles with PTSD & re-integrating into civilian life made me want to become involved with an organization that could help him and those like him, so I started volunteering with the Wounded Warrior Project. I was more than willing to help him fight his demons, but the relationship eventually became dangerous. After our breakup I was filled with an intense rage & grief. It was like he had died, & in a way he has, because the man I loved is gone. The person that remains is a stranger filled with hate & disrespect. If you watched Vlog #2, just by chance, I discovered TAPS. It appealed to me because it was easy for me to identify with survivors not only because of this painful breakup, but because I have been through the grieving process with the loss of my dad when I was a child, & the more recent loss of both my grandparents on my mom’s side.
Volunteering with TAPS is extremely rewarding. After my Macy’s talk, a woman thanked me for being there & said, “People just don’t understand, especially people your age. My husband was in Vietnam & he still struggles with PTSD. At first you think it’s just part of their personality, just how they are…” & I said, “Then you realize, they’ve seen & done things that have made them this way.” “Yes”, she said, “You’re exactly right. I’m so sorry for everything you’ve been through, & I’m so sorry your ex, someone so young, will probably struggle the rest of his life.” My ex wouldn’t want her to feel sorry for him, but I think he’s missing the point. Someone out there, a complete stranger, wishes for him to have a full, beautiful life, void of hardships & ugliness. I wish the same thing for him & all of us, so it’s comforting to find similar values in people. In moments where I think darkness will win, I remember people like the woman I spoke to today, I will remember there are others like me that want to help. Not everyone lets the demons win. I want to be someone that lets light in, & volunteering with groups like the WWP, GY6, & TAPS, among others, allows me the chance to do just that.

I’m hoping this Event Recap will help spread the word of this wonderful opportunity. Even if you don’t/can’t donate, hopefully this information will encourage you become involved in these groups somehow, or any Volunteer work you find valuable!

I have included links throughout this post, but here’s the information again.
Please click on these links to get more information, Donate, or become a Volunteer!
Got Your 6
TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
Wounded Warrior Project
If you’d like to read posts where I mention GY6/TAPS/WWP, please click these links.
Veteran’s Day: Shirts to show your Support!
Vlog #2 – Melrose Ave Adventures Part 2
Event Recap – Charity! TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors at the Disney 1/2 Marathon

20 Questions – Best Friend Edition Part 2

So here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for….Part 2 of my 20 Questions video with my best friend Danny!! I hope you enjoy our shenanigans! Click here to watch Part 1 of the series!
Please FOLLOW this blog, SUBSCRIBE to the YouTube channel, SHARE, COMMENT, & LIKE!