Thursday, February 27, 2014

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew  Smith
Well, I read this book because I had seen fantastic reviews for it. It is - um - quite different. The writing is interesting although I found it a bit too repetitive at times. There are a lot of references to masturbation and sperm. And giant grasshoppers who decapitate people and pizza and a sexually confused teenage boy. And the end of the world as we know it. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

UnSouled (Unwind, #3) by Neal Shusterman

UnSouled by Neal Shusterman
In this third book of the Unwind series, Connor and Lev are on the run, and so is Risa. Cam struggles with his internal community and Starkey leads his Stork Brigade on a wild rampage. We also follow Nelson, a parts pirate who wants to unwind Connor and Lev, and Argent, who has joined him. Argent's sister Grace, however, has joined forces with Connor. We learn the back story of the Reinschilds, who invented the Unwind technology and of a plot more nefarious than most people could imagine. Totally excellent book! I look forward to the next one.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Risked (The Missing #6) by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Risked (The Missing, #6)
Yet another excellent time travelling adventure in this series. This time, Jonah and his sister Katherine, along with their friend Chip, go to 1918 Russia with two of the Romanov children - Anastasia and Alexei. Having been tricked by the evil Gary and Hodge, Gavin/Alexei brought them all into danger. As they struggle to save the Romanov family and themselves, they once again change time and history. Will the changes be too great? Fantastic story in an excellent series!                  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation by Mollie Katzen

The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation
First of all, this is an absolutely gorgeous book! The artwork is beautiful, the layout is great and the photographs are well done. I have had it checked out from the library as many times as I can renew it so I purchased one of my own. Not only is it totally beautiful, but the recipes are great. They are well-written, easy to follow and delicious. I will never ever be able to make any of them look like they do in the photos, but that is ok. I have made the Forbidden Rice with Beluga Lentils and Mushrooms and loved it and I have made the Grilled Mushroom Slices several times now - they are one of my favorites and I could eat them every day. I have gotten good ideas from the cookbook about things that I never would have thought to do, but are really delicious. I am so impressed with this cookbook and I highly recommend it.

The Plan: Lose Weight Fast and Forever by Eating the Right Foods for Your Body by Lyn-Genet Recitas

The Plan: Lose Weight Fast and Forever by Eating the Right Foods for Your Body

Interesting idea, but unscientific, a bit confusing and too restrictive and difficult to follow for most people. I think the idea that each person may have adverse reactions to different foods and that an elimination diet may pinpoint each individual's specific problem foods sounds good. The program outlined in this book, however is too restrictive and offers no options for substitutions and is not presented well so that it can be quite confusing and difficult to follow. For example, the plan relies on eating "flax granola" with coconut or rice milk every day. Her "flax granola" recipe is just flax - soaked overnight with a little water and seasonings - cinnamon etc... and then baked at a low heat. So, it is just flax seeds. In the recipe section, however, it tells you to include "nuts that you have tested" along with raisins and other dried fruits. I think that this can be confusing since for the first three days you have not yet "tested" any foods. Often times, foods are listed that have not yet been "tested" and some items that are listed like rye crackers don't have a recipe or brand listed and if you go to the store and buy rye crackers, you are likely to find that they have other grains mixed in with the rye. The author also leaves no room to substitute any foods in the first part of her plan - so if you don't like flax seeds or are allergic to them - then you don't get any breakfast. I made her flax seed granola. It does not taste as horrid as I thought it would, but it is gritty and the seeds stick to your teeth and I would not want to eat it even one day for breakfast much less the entire time I am on her plan. Her recipes are fairly short and simple, but may not have enough detail for fledgling cooks.
I don't think her plan sounds like a very good one.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky #3) by Veronica Rossi

Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky, #3)
Excellent ending book to the series. It is filled with action, difficult decisions and some unexpected plot twists. Now that Liv is dead, Roar is a mess and Aria and Perry work to help the dwellers to recover and survive as they hope to make it to the Still Blue. Many YA trilogies have disappointing endings, but this one does not. The author manages to keep the series going to the end. I enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.                  

The Virgin Diet Cookbook: 150 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Lose Weight and Feel Better Fast by J.J. Virgin

The Virgin Diet Cookbook: 150 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Lose Weight and Feel Better Fast
The author begins this book with a claim that if you follow her plan and drop the seven foods she lists, you will lose seven pounds in seven days. These foods are: gluten, dairy, peanuts, eggs, corn, soy, and sugar and artificial sweeteners.
She outlines a three cycle plan with Cycle One being to remove these foods for 21 days completely and to drink a vegan protein shake once or twice a day during those days in the place of a meal.
In Cycle Two, you re-introduce 4 of the 7 foods back into your diet - one per week to see if you have an intolerance to that food. She explains the difference in food allergies and intolerances and explains that the 7 removed foods often cause reactions due to the fact that many people have intolerances that cause them to have problems digesting those foods or other symptoms.
In Cycle Three, you maintain the diet including the four additional foods if you are not intolerant of them.
Artificial sweeteners are never to be eaten and she recommends that corn and peanuts stay out of your diet most of the time and sugar be very limited.
The book includes 150 recipes that meet the standards that the author sets.
I found that some of the recipes include ingredients that are difficult to find - like monk fruit - which she recommends to be used as a low calorie sweetener - I could not find it in any store, and Malaysian red palm fruit oil - she states that it must be Malaysian - not any other - and I never did see any red palm fruit oil in any store that listed Malaysia as the country of origin. Some of the recipes are very long with tons of ingredients and very labor intensive with many steps. Others, however are simpler.
I have made several of the recipes from this book and they were very good.
I tried her plan. I did not lose seven pounds in seven days.
I was also unable to find a vegan protein powder that did not taste disgusting - and I tried four different brands. They all had the same underlying flavor - which is that of the vegan protein - which I just find gross. One brand was way more disgusting than the others, but they were all gross. The protein powder is not only awful tasting, but it has a lot of calories - way more than I usually eat for breakfast. In fact, due to drinking the protein powder shakes following her recipes, I actually gained a couple of pounds when I started this "diet". After 6 days I gave up on the horrid protein powder shakes and I lost those two pounds again. I did not, however lose any other weight and certainly not 7 pounds in 7 days as the author promises.
While I don't think her plan delivers what she promises - weight loss, and feeling better without feeling hungry or deprived - I did feel deprived - I do think that her recipes are ok. I like that she includes the nutrient content per serving with her recipes and I think that can be helpful to some people.
Although she claims that calorie counting is not necessary, I think that for most of us, dropping those 7 foods will not lead to losing 7 pounds in 7 days unless you also cut back on the amount of calories that you eat as well. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

I would give this book ten stars on a five star scale if I could. It is just that incredible. Ayaan tells her story of growing up in Somolia, Saudi Arabia and Kenya, of being "excised" - a horrific mutilation of female genitals performed by some Muslims in order to keep them "pure" at age five, and of escaping from an arranged marriage and becoming a member of Parliament in Holland. She fights against the oppression of Muslim women and has been threatened with death. Her story is captivating, sad, horrific and inspiring. It is an eye-opening look at the way Muslim women are treated in most of the world and how Muslim women who are immigrants are usually still treated in the countries that they move to. It is a call to action against those who oppress, beat, mutilate and kill women under the name of religion. I am impressed with Ayaan and her story. I think that everyone should read this book.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Andi Unexpected by Amanda Flower

Andi Unexpected by Amanda Flower
Excellent story for middle school age kids. When Andi and her older sister Bethany move in with their Aunt after their parents pass away, Andi finds a mysterious old trunk in the attic. As she and her new friend, Colin try to find out about Andi's mysterious relative Andora who she was apparently named after, they find that they are not the only people interested in her mysterious relative. Together they investigate and learn more with the help of Mr. Finnigan who runs the county museum and Dr. Girard, a professor at the university and author. I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I highly recommend it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Low-Carb & Gluten-Free Vegetarian simple delicious recipes for a low-carb and gluten-free lifestyle by Celia Brooks

Low-Carb & Gluten-Free Vegetarian simple delicious recipes for a low-carb and gluten-free lifestyle
I received this book free to review from Netgalley. The author states up front that she relies heavily on eggs and soy as her main sources of protein. She also includes lots of dairy. I did find some good ideas and a couple of recipes that I want to try but I am a bit turned off because the measurements are in ml/oz or g/oz - not in cups so that means that you have to have a kitchen scale to follow her recipes. She also includes ingredients that I would not use because they are expensive or hard to find or things I don't want to eat or in one case, I have no idea what it even is. She includes things like quail's eggs - where do you get those and it sounds expensive, saffron threads - expensive, soy flour and vegetarian sausage - ick, and swede - trimmed and peeled and cubed - what is swede? I was thinking that it was a person from Sweden, but the kindle dictionary says it is a rutabaga - and honestly - I don't think I have ever eaten that either. She refers to something called "kitchen paper" - I am not sure what that is - from the context I am thinking it may be paper towels? So, I think the book may be better for people familiar with her terminology and measurements and who likes soy a lot more than I do.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Eating in the Light Making the Switch to Veganism on Your Spiritual Path by Doreen Virtue and Becky Prelitz

Eating in the Light: Making the Switch to Veganism on Your Spiritual Path
I received this book free to review from Netgalley and I really struggled with how to review it. I picked the book because I am interested in Veganism and I think I must have just skipped over the part in the description about the “spiritual vibrational” quality of food. Due to my Judeo/Christian background, when I saw the word "spiritual", I thought "God" - not "God, the Universe, Spirit, the Creator, Allah, Rama...the One - which we are all a part of." Nor did I think the book would be about yin and yang, prayer and life-force energy, guardian angels, angel therapy or the chakra energy system. People need to be aware that this is in the book. I found it a bit distracting, and also entertaining at times. Despite that, the book really does contain very good health and diet information and has great resources listed at the back. I did learn some things from this book that I find very valuable such as the fact that "Americans eat two to four times the amount of protein that they need which can lead to fatigue.", vegans should take B12, it is misleading to classify proteins as incomplete or complete and more. So, if you are ok with stories about someone's guardian angel telling him it is ok to eat a sandwich made by an agitated food server and that praying over the food will keep the fear energy from affecting the food or him (I found that story entertaining if nothing else), then I really do recommend the book because it really does have some good information about health and diet.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Grimm Curse #1 Once Upon A Time Is Now by Stephen Carpenter

Once Upon a Time is Now (The Grimm Curse)
Intriguing story, but very short. It seems more like an intro than an entire book. In this story, Jacob Grimm, a fifteen year old orphan is drawn to his grandfather's house in Woodland when his grandfather dies. He learns that he is the last remaining Grimm, destined to become the Huntsman to control the evil fairy tale characters. He takes on a Gorgon, who, in this book is a witch who eats children, and she has snakes in her hair and other places, but she does not turn people to stone. Jacob learns about his legacy with the help of Madeline, a teenage girl who her grandfather had been training to be his apprentice. I enjoyed the story. I got it for free and it was well worth it. I think I might have been upset if I had paid for it because it really is quite short.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children #2) by Ransom Riggs

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, # 2)Interesting sequel. This book has a lot more photos than the first one and some parts of the story seemed a bit contrived just to be able to use the photos. The story continues Jacob's tale from the first book as he and Emma and the other peculiar children have escaped from the island and are trying to find another ymbryne to help Miss Peregrine to return to her human state. They have many adventures including meeting some gypsies, finding some peculiar animals and killing hollowgasts. I like the progression of Jacob's character and the story is interesting and intriguing. It ends with a huge cliff hanger. I look forward to the next book.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

French Women Don't Get Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style & Attitude by Mireille Guiliano

French Women Don't Get Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style & Attitude
In this book, the author explains the French attitudes on aging well. From fashion to cosmetics and shampoo to food and exercise and more, she explains the basics of keeping acive, dressing well, moisturizing, eating well and more. She explains that diets are addictive, inefficient and counter-productive and that having healthy eating habits is much better. She explains some of the many benefits and uses of honey, shares some yummy sounding recipes and stresses that a positive attitude is very important in how we age. The book is interesting and easy to read and I enjoyed it very much and learned a few new things. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Evertrue (Everneath, #3) by Brodi Ashton

Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
Action, adventure, and love - true love and a fitting ending to the series. In order to save Nikki's life and get her heart back, Jack must work together with Cole. Because she does not want to be Queen of the Everneath or feed on a human, Nikki has realized the only way for her to survive is to destroy the entire Everneath. Together, Nikki, Jack, his brother Will, and Cole, who has lost his memory, attempt to bring down the Everneath. Plot twists abound as they wonder if Cole can really be trusted and if the Everneath can really be destroyed. I enjoyed the ending of this imaginative series.