Sunday, May 13, 2018

GIVEAWAY + Review: Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis @stephanieburgis

Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis
Pages: 300
Publisher: Pyr
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Source: Copy provided for review
The year is 1779, and Carlo Morelli, the most renowned castrato singer in Europe, has been invited as an honored guest to Eszterháza Palace. With Carlo in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy's carriage, ride a Prussian spy and one of the most notorious alchemists in the Habsburg Empire. Already at Eszterháza is Charlotte von Steinbeck, the very proper sister of Prince Nikolaus's mistress. Charlotte has retreated to the countryside to mourn her husband's death. Now, she must overcome the ingrained rules of her society in order to uncover the dangerous secrets lurking within the palace's golden walls. Music, magic, and blackmail mingle in a plot to assassinate the Habsburg Emperor and Empress--a plot that can only be stopped if Carlo and Charlotte can see through the masks worn by everyone they meet.
Review

I am quite possibly the world's largest fan of The Phantom of the Opera, so when I received Masks and Shadows a couple years ago from PYR for review, I was ecstatic. A novel set in a true historical setting, revolving around an opera singer and a Baroness who must shuck the constraints of "proper" society off to be happy–oh, and there's a darker undertone of evil alchemists who are threatening the safety of everyone in the palace. What's not to love?

Now that I've finished reading Masks and Shadows, I admit that I'm not quite as satisfied as I'd hoped I would be. The idea for this novel never came together in the way it could have. I'll break down my thoughts my section:

The Plot
Masks and Shadows really had so much potential to be a seat-gripping historical fantasy. Instead, it felt pulled in too many directions to find its rhythm. The beginning is slow going, with lots of the "historical" scenes of court life and meaningless chatter with royals, etc... And while the tone of intrigue is set early in the novel with vague snippets of a mysterious "Brotherhood" being shown through several points of view, I never felt the urgency in the plot that should have accompanied the revelation of a secret Brotherhood looking to unseat the monarchy.

Perhaps the reason for that lack of urgency was the constant POV change. We get to see into the minds of multiple characters in the novel: the main heroine Charlotte, the main hero Carlo, Charlotte's maid-turned-actress Anna, an actor named Franz, a soldier named Friedrich, a spy, etc... After several switches within the same chapter, the narrative loses the sense of tight coherency, and becomes the reader working to keep the strings of story tethered together.

The Characters
I really would've loved more romance. Also as a result of the constant POV change, I felt the two MCs didn't receive the in depth treatment they could have. I really did like their romance, and an exploration of those feelings together was what I was missing to really immerse myself into it.

In terms of the villains, I love the idea of an evil alchemist society that wants to usurp the government, but it felt very small scale. The villainy honestly left me a little disappointed.

I feel as though I've highlighted too many of the things that didn't work for me, and not enough of the things that did. So, here goes the things I really enjoyed:

The Writing
Burgis' writing style was crisp and perfectly descriptive, and to her absolute credit she was able to differentiate the many POVs she created so that the voices did not blend into one. The prose were fluid and matched the time period well, helping the world-building feel incredibly real and vivid.

Charlotte and Carlo
My two favs of the novel, which is good because they're the mains! Charlotte was a character I was cheering on from the start. She's a widow, her late husband having been decades older than her and sickly for their entire marriage. As a young woman, she never really got to enjoy herself which I sympathized with. After meeting Carlo, she begins to imagine what it would be like if she ignored the expectations placed on her by her family and by society, and did things that made her genuinely happy. Carlo is a societal outcast in that he's seen as a "freak", since he's a castrato–but he's the most famous singer in Europe, so he still gets to rub elbows with royalty and the aristocracy, in a precarious understanding that he's not on their level, but his artistry is loved. He feels disillusioned with that charade, and wants to settle down in life. I really loved their slow burning romance.

Overall, Masks and Shadows was a good read, and certainly helped me pass the time on the subway rides to work every morning. If I had to give it a star rating, I'd rate it 3 out of 5. If this is a genre you're very interested in, I do recommend you give it a shot!

You can purchase Masks and Shadows on Amazon, $9.99 for the Kindle version, and $17 for the paperback.

About the Author
Stephanie Burgis grew up in East Lansing, Michigan, but now lives in Wales with her husband and two sons, surrounded by mountains, castles and coffee shops. She is the author of four MG fantasy adventures, including The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart (Bloomsbury 2017) and the Kat, Incorrigible trilogy (published in the UK as The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson). She has also published two historical fantasy novels for adults, Masks and Shadows and Congress of Secrets (Pyr Books 2016) and nearly forty short stories for adults and teens in various magazines and anthologies. Her first book, A Most Improper Magick (a.k.a. Kat, Incorrigible in the US), won the 2011 Waverton Good Read Children’s Award for the Best Début Children’s Novel by a British Author.
Website | Twitter | Facebook

GIVEAWAY
As part of my bookshelf clean out, I'm passing along my paperback copy of Masks and Shadows to a lucky reader in the US! 
Must be 18 or older. 
US only. 



This review copy was provided for free in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed above are solely my own.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

GIVEAWAY + Review: Allegiance by Cayla Kluver @CaylaKL

Allegiance 
Pages: 494
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Historical Fantasy
#2 in Series
Source: Publisher
Only I saw Narian for who he truly was: a young man with courage and an independent mind, and made to pay for what was outside his control. He couldn't help his past any more than he could help the way those intense, deep-blue eyes pierced me and held me captive.

An eighteen-year-old queen in love with the enemy as their countries pass the point of no return...

Bound to a man she cannot love, Queen Alera of Hytanica must forget Narian, the young man who holds her heart. For Narian is destined to conquer Hytanica at the behest of his master, the powerful magic-user known as the Overlord. Alera doesn't truly believe Narian will fight against Hytanica-until Cokyrian troops attack with Narian commanding the charge.

Faced with the greatest betrayal a heart can know, Alera must set aside personal feelings and lead her kingdom through its darkest time. And when all hope, will and courage seem lost, she must find strength and remember that even the blackest night must have a dawn....
Review

Wow. This review has been a VERY long time coming. I originally received Allegiance as an ARC for review back in 2011. Yeah. 7 whole years of this book sitting on my shelf unread. I finally picked it up and gave it a go, so here are my thoughts.

I originally read the self-published version of Legacy, the first book in this series, which I thought was verbose and needed polishing. I think that working with a publisher helped a lot of those writing issues, but the story was still a little slower than I would have liked. A solid 100 pages could have been edited out of Allegiance, and it wouldn't have suffered.

I appreciate Cayla Kluver's worldbuilding ability. The kingdom of Hytanica is incredibly extensive and interesting to read about, and I am certainly onboard to see what's to come. I really had two issues with Allegiance--Alera and Narian. Without giving too much away, I personally started falling far out of love with Narian, and I felt Alera's feelings for him stopped making sense very quickly. That brings me to Alera: I needed more from her. I felt really disappointed in her at times, but was glad she started coming into her own by the end.


You can purchase Allegiance on Amazon for $6.25 as a Paperback, and $7.99 as a Kindle copy.

About the Author
Cayla Kluver is the author of the Legacy Series (LEGACY, 2011; ALLEGIANCE, 2012; SACRIFICE, 2012). Her new book THE QUEEN'S CHOICE will be published by HarlequinTEEN in winter 2013/spring 2014.

Cayla spends her free time singing, reading, dancing, and horseback riding. Her office is filled with twinkly lights. She travels frequently to speak at middle and high schools, libraries, and book conventions. New York City is one of her favorite places on the planet. Website | Twitter
This review copy was provided for free in exchange for an honest review. All views expressed above are solely my own.

I'm clearing out my bookshelves, so I'm giving away my ARC copy of Allegiance! It's got a few scuff marks, but other than that, it's good to go! 
Open to the US only.
<a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 15, 2017

Review: Wolves at the Door by Veronica Blade @VeronicaBlade

Wolves at the Door 
Pages: 395
Publisher: Crush Publishing
Genre: Paranormal Romance YA
#2 in Series
Source: Purchased
Autumn’s just learned she’s a shape-shifter — something her parents should’ve told her long ago. Unless they adopted her and didn’t know she wasn’t human. Either way, learning the truth has the same outcome: her parents lied. Zack is the only one she can count on, but he’s a werewolf and the king’s decree forbids contact between the species, let alone love. Zack’s planning to leave after graduation, but letting him go isn’t an option. He’s becoming more a part of her every day, a part she would fight for, give up everything for — even kill for. If she’s not killed first.

If Zack’s experience with his own kind has taught him anything, it’s that werewolves can’t be trusted. He’d rather die free than live in a pack under the rule of the werewolf king. So, instead of preparing for college like any other senior, he’s planning to go on the run after graduation. Escaping won’t be easy with the werewolves guarding him. But until that day comes, Zack knows he’s endangering Autumn every moment he’s around her. If it’s this difficult staying away from her now, how hard will it be to leave her behind in just a few weeks?
Review

I'll admit, I'm at a bit of an impasse with myself about this book. When I was in the height of my blogging a few years back, I was obsessed with Veronica's books. Couldn't put them down! In fact, Veronica herself sent me her entire published works, signed, at one point because I was just such a fan. Fast forward quite a few years, and I'm no longer the young high school girl--I've graduated college and have been "adulting" for quite some time. These last few years, I haven't read any YA, so I knew jumping back into it might be jarring. Reading about teenagers felt right because I was a teenager--I wondered if it would be so different now as an adult? (Not that I even feel like an adult, but I digress.)

I figured if I started with an author I knew I loved, I couldn't go wrong, right? I was partially right. I'll explain.

Wolves at the Door was good. It wasn't as earth-shatteringly great as my younger-self thought Blade's other books were, but I wasn't unhappy with it. I thought the writing was unique, as always, and I really enjoy the further exploration of the werewolf/shapeshifter mythology in this book. There were certainly some steamy moments, yet nothing over a PG-13 rating, if you get my meaning.

I just felt like the book was so long, and it could have been edited down to be more concise. In terms of the plot, there was a lot of circling around that didn't need to happen. Characters went to the same places, did the same things, spoke basically the same dialogue at least a few times in the novel, and it got repetitive. While I understand that Veronica's books are focused primarily on the romance, I felt even that aspect suffered from the repetition. There's only so many times I can read make-out scenes that always have the exact same ending before they lose their tingle-enducing charm.

I wish I loved this book, because I know my teenage self would've been over the moon with it, but I do have to be honest and say it didn't wow me. I'm still intrigued about what will happen next, and do plan on finishing the series, but it's not a priority at the moment. Still, I'm glad I read it. I think you should certainly read it and decide for yourself if you feel more enthusiastic about it than I do.

Wolves at the Door is available on Amazon for $3.99 for the Kindle version, and $14.60 for the paperback version.

About the Author
Brain candy. Cleansing your reading palate one book at a time.

Veronica Blade lives in Southern California with her husband and children. By day she runs the family business, but each night she slips away to spin her tales. She writes stories about young adults to relive her own childhood and to live vicariously through her characters. Except her heroes and heroines lead far more interesting lives — and they are always way hotter.
Website | Twitter | Facebook
This book was purchased with my own money for personal consumption. All views expressed above are solely my own.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

#GIVEAWAY + Review: To Win a Demon's Love by Nadine Mutas @nadinemutas

To Win a Demon's Love 
Pages: 326
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
#2 in Series
Source: Purchased
He'll show her that the dark side has more to offer than just cookies...
An attack with mysterious dark magic turns young witch Lily Murray into the very being she’s been fighting all her life--a demon. While struggling with her new dark instincts--and desperately trying not to kill her loved ones--she unwittingly earns the protection of a male of her demon species. He’s more than happy to help her out and show her the ropes. He’s also decidedly too gorgeous to handle.

Alek Kuznetsov has finally found the perfect mate: beautiful, smart, funny, and of course a pranagraha demon like him. The only problem: She wants to become a witch again, and if she does, they can’t mate. Solution: While he offers her help in finding the reversion spell, he in fact sets out to convince her that staying on the dark side has more perks than just cookies.
Review

After reading and reviewing To Seduce a Witch's Heart, I immediately downloaded To Win a Demon's Love and set to work devouring it whole. I lost sleep reading this book because I just couldn't put it down. As much as I loved To Seduce a Witch's Heart, I loved To Win a Demon's Love even more.

It's serious people. I literally just became aware of Nadine Mutas and her exceptional urban fantasy romance novels and I'm already obsessed. Full disclosure: at the time of writing this review, I've actually read every book she's released so far.... because I read them all one after the other back to back. Yeah.

This book was steamy and sexy, so enjoyable to read and entirely engrossing. One thing I admit I was a bit apprehensive about was the possibility of Lily and Alek following to closely in the footsteps of Merle and Rhun in terms of plot and personality. However, very quickly those fears were put to rest. In Lily we have a smart and powerful protagonist who is unafraid to go for what she wants and do what needs to be done--similar to Merle, of course--but the nuances of who she was were wholly unique to her. I, of course, have absolutely no issue with a book series that populated with an ensemble of kick ass, intelligent women, but it's also really nice to see each protagonist grace their own stories with different personalities.

Alek was just.... mmmm. Smoking hot. I think I honestly loved the chemistry between him and Lily more than I liked the chemistry between Merle and Rhun (and that's saying  a lot). He was a delightfully complex character as well, which is one of my favorite things so far about Mutas' writing style--her male protagonists are not just panty-dropping sexy, they have substance and are actually enjoyable to read even when there's nothing sexual happening. I've found that to be quite rare in most romance novels, honestly, and it's so refreshing to read not once, but twice in Mutas' novels.

I will say that it's not entirely necessary to have read the first book to dive into this one, as I think the story can stand alone even without the context of the first novel. Although, I heartily recommend you read everything Nadine Mutas has written, because  you'll thank yourself for it. For real.

Because I freaking loved this book so much, I'm giving away a Kindle copy! You can find details on that below. But, if you don't want to try your luck with a giveaway and want to be sure you have this deliciousness to read immediately, you can find To Win a Demon's Love on Amazon--Kindle edition is $3.99 and the paperback is $11.99!

About the Author
Polyglot Nadine Mutas has always loved tangling with words, whether in her native tongue German or in any of the other languages she’s acquired over the years. The more challenging, the better, she thought, and thus she studied the languages of South Asia and Japan. She worked at a translation agency for a short while, putting to use her knowledge of English, French, Spanish, Japanese, and Hindi.
Before long, though, her lifelong passion for books and words eventually drove her to give voice to those story ideas floating around in her brain (which have kept her up at night and absent-minded at inopportune times). She now writes paranormal romances with wickedly sensual heroes and the fiery heroines who tame them. Her debut novel, Blood, Pain, and Pleasure, has won several awards for excellence in unpublished romance, and she’s furiously working on the next installments in the Tales of Blood and Magic series.
She currently resides in Oregon with her college sweetheart, beloved little demon spawn, and two black cats hellbent on cuddling her to death (Clarification: Both her husband and kid prefer her alive. The cats, she’s not so sure about.).

Website | Twitter | Facebook
This book was purchased by me with my own money for personal use. All views expressed above are solely my own.

GIVEAWAY
No purchase necessary!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 4, 2017

Fitness Review: Women's Best BCAAs in Strawberry Kiwi @womensbest

Women's Best BCAAs in Strawberry Kiwi 

Are you curious what would give your muscles that extra kick? Try it with a BCAA the next time you hit the gym! Well known as BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) stands in summary for the amino acids leucine, valine and isoleucine. Being a special part of proteins, they are involved directly in building muscle mass. They are extremely important for great results after workout. They belong to the essential amino acids, which the human body is unable to produce itself. So they must be in our diet – or directly in our BCAA powder!

Make the most of your sit-ups, squats & co. and support your body with BCAA1 Thanks to the easy powder texture, our supplement is a super-flexible fitness companion: One scoop mixed with water is enough for a delicious shake. Our BCAA is available in four lovely flavors: You like coke or ice tea taste? No problem! You can get our shake as Cola Lime or Ice Tea Peach flavor! If you’re looking for a fruity fresh taste go with Green Apple or Strawberry Kiwi

Extra tip: Use your BCAA drink as a thirst quencher while working out! That way you deliver your working muscles valuable amino acids and can enjoy at the same time! AND: Our BCAA is completely vegan!
Review

I recently reviewed the Women's Best Whey Protein Isolate, which I really liked, and wanted to share my thoughts on the Women's Best BCAAs that I had purchased along with the protein. I purchased the BCAAs in the flavor Strawberry Kiwi, because I feel like that's a safe flavor choice to go with--supplements in general are notorious for tasting weird, so I always go with flavors that seem "fail proof." A lot of the hype around Women's Best lies in the fact that their products actually taste good, which is part of what drew me to the brand.

Pros:
My order came in record time, in three days after I had placed my order. Keep in mind, I live in the US and Women's Best products ship from Germany. So I give major points to the company for their quick and efficient service. I personally love the packaging for the Women's Best products, but I may be biased because I love pink. But they do add a bright spot to my kitchen, shining beside the dark, plain containers of my other fitness supplements that aren't aimed at women.

As for the actual supplement, and its quality. First and foremost, the taste it great. It honestly tastes like kiwi strawberry juice, and is very easy to mix with water. No clumps. In that regard, I'm incredibly happy with these BCAAs, because I could drink them all the time, or if I wanted to drink something sweet they satisfied my cravings.

It has the 2:1:1 ratio that's commonly recommended as the best configuration for amino acid absorption, so no issues there. It does what it should do--supply you with amino acids to stimulate protein synthesis. It's had a good effect with lessening the severity of my DOMS, and giving me energy boosts for my workouts and recovery. I'm happy with its performance and effects on my body.

Not Really a Con, just me nitpicking:
It's not really a bad thing, because at the end of the day it's a BCAA product, and it provides what it says it will nutritionally. With each serving, you get a proper dose of a 2:1:1
ratio of BCAAs, which is really what we're asking for when we buy a BCAA product, right? However, that's the bare bones on a BCAA, and there are plenty of BCAA products out there that offer more supplemental value--such as adding extra ingredients like glutamine, creatine, various vitamins, and other supplements that could be beneficial. And while $21.99 isn't an outrageous price point for a BCAA product--it's right around average, and a good value for the size of this product--there are other supplements at that price that offer more in terms of actual supplementation.

However, I think as a BCAA product, it's a good basic product to have in your supplement collection. If I had to rate it on a star scale, I'd give it 4 out of 5.

If you'd like to purchase the Women's Best BCAA's, you can find them here for $21.99!

Nutritional Value

Ingredients:
Amino Acids (L-Leucine, L-Valine, L-Isoleucine) Inuline, Acidifiers (Malic Acid, Citric Acid) Flavoring Agents, Sodiumbicarbonate, Sweeteners (Sucralose, Acesulfam-K) Colorant (Beet Root Powder);

Nutritional value per 100g:
Energy: 1129 kJ / 270 kcal
Fat: 0g
- of which are saturated fats: 0.1 g
Carbohydrate: 3.9 g
- of which is sugar: 0g
Dietary fiber: 0.4 g
Protein: 52 g
Salt: 0.3g
 BCAA 2:1:1 (Leucin, Valin, Isoleucin) 52g


This product was purchased by me with my own money for personal use. I was not compensated in any way nor am I affiliated with Women's Best. All views expressed above are solely my own.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Book Review: To Seduce a Witch's Heart by Nadine Mutas @NadineMutas

To Seduce a Witch's Heart by Nadine Mutas 
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
#1 in Series
Source: Purchased on Amazon
When seduction weaves a spell more powerful than magic...
Desperate to save her demon-abducted sister, witch Merle MacKenna breaks the law of her Elders. As a last resort to track down the kidnapper, she unleashes another demon, Rhun, from the magical prison of the Shadows. Determined to bind him again after he helps her, Merle vows to keep him tightly controlled. Easier said than done when her own personal demon is hellbent on charming his way into her pants – and her heart.

After twenty years in the Shadows, bound for a crime he didn’t commit, Rhun is past caring about anyone but himself. The plan: Seduce the sexy witch, steal her powers, break the magical leash to her, and then be on his merry way. But when a heinous betrayal in the ranks of the witches forces Merle and Rhun to work even closer together, Rhun’s plan backfires – and the witch he meant to play gets under his skin. With his unbidden feelings for Merle vying with his need for freedom, he struggles with a bitter realization: Being a selfish bastard is a lot harder when love is involved.

Warning: Includes lots of witty banter and snarky humor, as well as a charmingly disrespectful demon hero who's hot enough to melt panties with a look.
Review

It's actually been a few years since I forayed into adult paranormal romance, and I'm incredibly glad that To Seduce a Witch's Heart was my first reintroduction to the genre. I happened upon the book by chance through an ad on Facebook, and since I now have a 45 minute train ride commute to and from work, I figured it would be something good to occupy my time. However, my plan backfired... I read the entire book within two hours of downloading it.

Where to begin? I suppose we'll start with the obvious--the romance. Now, I'll be honest and say that the trope I really never liked in romance novels was insta-love; actually knowing the time and effort it takes to truly fall in love with someone makes me want to yell "NO YOU DON'T" when the characters undoubtedly say they love each other after a couple days of knowing each other. However, I can honestly say that I didn't have this issue with To Seduce a Witch's Heart--even though there was some slight insta-love. I think it stems from the fact that Mutas is one hell of a romance writer, and from the start created some of the best character chemistry I've ever read. I believed in Rhun and Merle's love because of its intensity and the masterful way Mutas crafts her stories to create such a deep relationship even in a short amount of time. I count that as an incredible win for this book, because I truly enjoyed every minute of Merle and Rhun's steamy interactions, and I was so invested in their romance as those feelings developed.

One thing I'm a total sucker for is good lore in an urban fantasy novel. While I don't think Mutas was able to really flesh out the magical aspect of her book's reality, and instead opted for fleshing out the romance more, I was definitely impressed by the groundwork laid and am looking forward to the hopeful expansion of the urban magical world in the future books in the series.

I love love loved Mutas' writing style. It was witty and very descriptive without ever venturing into the territory of "purple prose", and the characters she created were all very fun to read. When it comes to sex scenes, there's a way to do them well and a way to do them completely cringe-worthy. I am so happy to report that Nadine Mutas is a master at writing steamy scenes that will definitely having you feeling some good tingles. No awkward sex scenes to be found here.

Do I recommend this book? To that I respond with a resounding heck yeah. If you're 18+ in age, snap this book up!

Amazon: Paperback | Kindle

About the Author
Polyglot Nadine Mutas has always loved tangling with words, whether in her native tongue German or in any of the other languages she’s acquired over the years. The more challenging, the better, she thought, and thus she studied the languages of South Asia and Japan. She worked at a translation agency for a short while, putting to use her knowledge of English, French, Spanish, Japanese, and Hindi.
Before long, though, her lifelong passion for books and words eventually drove her to give voice to those story ideas floating around in her brain (which have kept her up at night and absent-minded at inopportune times). She now writes paranormal romances with wickedly sensual heroes and the fiery heroines who tame them. Her debut novel, Blood, Pain, and Pleasure, has won several awards for excellence in unpublished romance, and she’s furiously working on the next installments in the Tales of Blood and Magic series.
She currently resides in Oregon with her college sweetheart, beloved little demon spawn, and two black cats hellbent on cuddling her to death (Clarification: Both her husband and kid prefer her alive. The cats, she’s not so sure about.).

Website | Twitter | Facebook
This book was purchased by me with my own money for personal use. All views expressed above are solely my own.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Fitness Review: BPI Sports Best Aminos BCAAs in Fruit Punch @bpi_sports

BPI Sports Best Aminos BCAA + Glutamine

Best BCAA is a branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement that utilizes Oligopeptide-Enzymatic Technology. This is a bonded chain of three key amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine, which may act as a better transport vehicle for optimal absorption. Best BCAA supports lean muscle growth, recovery and helps prevent muscle catabolism. Take one scoop before your workout to help improve performance, one scoop during your workout to help burn fat and preserve muscle, and/or one scoop after your workout to accelerate recovery. If the benefits aren’t enough to convince you, Best BCAA has also received the ChromaDex Quality Verified Seal, an easy-to-spot emblem on the label that signifies the rigorous, third-party testing each bottle goes through to ensure it is of the highest quality possible.
Review

I stumbled on BPI Sports Best Aminos BCAAs with Glutamine truly by chance one day. It was on sale at my local Walgreens, and I was running low on my other BCAAs, so I thought I might as well grab it and give it a shot. It's been about a month of me drinking these BCAAs daily, and I've used it all but maybe a scoop or two, so I think I've tested it thoroughly to give a good review.


Pros:

A look at the nutritional breakdown of the Best Aminos BCAAs shows the three essential branched chain amino acids in a 2-1-1 ratio, which is commonly recommended as the optimum ration of absorption and protein synthesis in the body. So, seeing those on the supplement label is no surprise, as that's what we're paying for, right?


I did some research on the benefits of the other ingredients in the CLA Matrix, and here's a quick breakdown:
So overall, it's looking like BPI Sports packed some pretty good energy boosters and supplementary ingredients for their consumers. Of course, do your own research and if for any reason you have an allergy to a listed ingredient it's important you fully inspect the ingredient list.


I take my BCAAs first thing in the morning to help me wake up, because I can't stand coffee and I've found that in general, BCAAs do give me a nice energy boost. Most people take BCAAs as an intra-workout, or post-workout, but it's always worked best taking them first thing in the morning for me. I do think that BPI's Best Aminos helped give me energy in the morning, and on days after lifting, it helped eliminated DOMS. The purpose of BCAAs is to encourage protein synthesis, and I certainly feel that my muscles have been growing efficiently and easily--however, I've been taking protein supplements are other things like creatine, so while I can't quite give these BCAAs the credit, I can say that they've worked well together with the other supplements in my arsenal to keep these gains coming fast.


    Cons:
    Here's the tough part of this review. These Best Aminos aren't quite the "best" at everything. One thing that I truly had trouble with the flavor. I opted for Fruit Punch because that's usually safe flavor for me, and I just really love fruit punch in general. However, there's a very strong chemical taste to this product, it tastes almost like cough syrup to me. I played around with different levels of dilution with water, adding more, using less, and the result was always the same. It was this very strong artificially sweet flavor. And here's the thing--my dad was a candy salesman almost my entire life--I can handle sweetness. But this flavor wasn't a good kind. I suspect the culprit is one of the artificial sweetners, possibly the Acesulfame-K. Now, for me, this flavor wasn't absolutely unbearable, but it did make me have to chug my BCAAs rather quickly and get them down in just a few gulps. Normally, I like to sip on these in the morning while I get settled in at work, but I really couldn't do that with these.


    Another small gripe I had with these was a slight clumpiness. I tried both methods of putting the powder into a cup already filled with water, and then conversely putting the water into a cup already filled with the BCAA powder. Both methods lead to little powder clumps that float around and even with vigorous shaking of my blender bottle, I'd sometimes have to grab a spoon and press the clumps out.


    Last last issue I had was more of a personal nitpick, but I really hate FD&C Red No. 40 dye. Firstly, I don't quite understand its purpose in this particular product because I don't think it needs to be any certain color. I get it, red makes you think of fruit punch so it's a color coordination thing. But there are other, better ways to get red color as well. If I could make a formula change, I'd immediately eliminate the Red No. 40.


    Final Verdict: I'm not unhappy with the BPI Sports Best Aminos BCAAs, but I wasn't too impressed either. I'm open to trying their other flavors, but I will heavily research and make sure the tastes of the other flavors isn't so chemical-y.


    If you'd like to give this product a try and see how you like it for yourself, you can purchase BPI Sports Best Aminos BCAAs with Glutamine here on Amazon for $15.92!



    Ingredients
    Oligopeptide-Enzymatic Technology (Potassium Hydroxide, Stearic Acid, Carboxymethyl Cellulose Sodium, Crospovidone, Natural Waxes, Carboxylic Acids, Polyethylene Glycol, Dicalcium Phosphate), Maltodextrin, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Malic Acid, Silica, Fiber Blend (Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum, Carrageenan Gum), Sucralose, Acesulfame-K, And FD&C Red No. 40


    Directions
    Take one (1) serving (1 scoop) blended into 8oz of ice cold water, either before, during, or after workout, or as directed by a qualified healthcare practitioner. On non-training days, take one (1) serving (1 scoop) first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, or as directed by a qualified healthcare practitioner.


    I purchased this product with my own money for personal use. I was not compensated in any way nor am I affiliated with BPI sports. I do receive a small commission if you purchase something with the Amazon referral link posted in this article.

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