Archive for the 'Health & Fitness' Category

April 1st 2011

March’s Reads

With the completion of the entire ST:TNG series last month, I spent more time reading this month.  Not that much more time, because this month The Offspring and I started a House marathon.

The Vegan Family Cookbook by Chef Brian P. McCarthy: This is a small book filled with lots of recipes.  Most of them appear to be very simple with not too many ingredients (right up my alley, right?), I only found about a dozen that really appealed to me.  I guess that’s no too bad… there have been cookbooks with more recipes and fewer that I’d actually try to make.

You Won’t Believe It’s Vegan! by Lacey Sher and Gail Doherty: This book has about 200 recipes in it, and I found only two that weren’t too onerous for my lazy cooking ways.  That said, if you like to spend time in the kitchen, there are a lot of recipes in here that look pretty yummy.

The New Vegan Cookbook by Lorna Sass: Again, another book with lots of yummy-looking recipes, but only two that look easy enough for the lazy cook.

Vegan Cooking for Everyone by Leah Leneman:  There are some really delicious things in this book, but again… I’m too lazy to spend the time to make most of them.  I did grab one recipe, but the rest were just overwhelming.  The thing that annoyed me the most about this book was the font the publisher used for the titles… really, really hard to read.  Who does crap like that?

Raven’s Strike by Patricia Briggs: The second book in the Raven duology, this story follows Seraph the Raven and her family’s adventure to rid the world of The Shadowed.  Fabulous fantasy story, and if you like high fantasy, you need to read this (and the preceding) book!

Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue: This is definitely one of the strangest books I’ve read in a long time.  So as not to be all spoilery, I’m just going to quote from the book jacket.  “To five-year-old Jack, Room is the world.  It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn.  There are endless wonders that let loose Jack’s imagination — the snake under Bed that he constructs out of eggshells, the imaginary world projected through the TV, the coziness of Wardrobe below Ma’s clothes, where she tucks him in safely at night in case Old Nick comes.  Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it’s the prison where she has been held since she was nineteen — for seven years.  Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in that eleven-by-eleven-foot space.  But Jack’s curiosity is building alongside her own desperation — and she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.  Told in the poignant and funny voice of Jack, Room is a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.  It is a shocking, and riveting novel — but always deeply human and always moving.  Room is a place you will never forget.”  It was a tough read in the beginning, but worth the perseverance.  Definitely give this one a try!

200 Projects to Strengthen Your Art Skills by Valerie Colston: This is another of those very handy-to-have books for an artist type.  I tried a couple of the exercises, scanned through the entire book, and immediately placed it on my Amazon wish list.  If you are an artist, or want to practice honing or skills, this is a good book for you!

Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson:  This book is hysterically funny… providing you like Star Trek and have ever been to a Trek convention.  It’s still pretty funny, I think, even if you have just been to any sort of convention or conference.  Since I am a huge Trekkie and have been to many Star Trek conventions in my time, adding zombies to the mix just turns an ordinary run-of-the-mill (to me) weekend into wacky-crazy-fun!  Obviously, if you like Star Trek and/or Zombies, read this book!

Classic Vegetarian Recipes by Jo-Ann Cox (editor): The Spousal Unit brought this book home from work the other day (they were having a book exchange or something) saying, “I was thinking of you!” Bless his little heart, as they say in Texas.  After being married for 12 and a half years, he still can’t remember I hate to cook.  But it is an extremely beautiful book, with mouthwatering pictures.  Sadly, all the recipes either have too many ingredients or would take too much time and effort.  But for someone who enjoys cooking… oh, man!  This book is for you!

The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferris:  My friend Ian recommended this book.  I suspect if I didn’t hurt 24/7 from the fibromyalgia, and if the mere thought of eating food first thing in the morning didn’t make me gag, I would actually give this program a try.  But trying to eat 30 grams of protein (as a vegan!) within an hour of getting up is making me a little queasy just thinking about it.  I can manage 10 grams of protein in my morning smoothie… oh but wait!  No fruit either.  NO FRUIT?  Ok, ok, it’s just for a few weeks.  And I already know the exercises (very mild ones) that the author suggests will make me need more drugs, as I’ve tried them.  Well, not the squats because I’d fall over and break my face, but the wall-pushups.  I’d say if your problems are caused by being overweight, or your weight (either over or under) is the only problem you have, have a chat with your doctor about this program and check it out.  It’s not for me, but it could certainly work for other people.

Coyote Rising by Allen Steele:  Just as good as his first one in this series, Steele continues the story of the colonists’ struggle for freedom and independence on the new world of Coyote.  Read the first one, then read this one!

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February 1st 2011

January’s Reads

Back to work in the new year, and that means most of my reading time is at the office while eating lunch… and on the weekends when I don’t schedule every minute away on other things.  Also, I spent more time than I normally do in front of the TV… I blame Star Trek: The Next Generation, of course.

Raven’s Shadow by Patricia Briggs: The first in a new (to me) fantasy series.  Without Briggs’ skill with creating characters, it could have turned into a fairly ordinary sword and sorcery story, but she manages to create interesting characters who aren’t really like anyone else you’ve ever met.  I’m looking forward to the next book!

Total Eclipse by Rachel Caine: This is the ninth book in the Weather Warden series, and probably the first one with a fairly calm ending.  If Caine wanted to end the series here, it would make a very satisfying conclusion.  However, if she wanted to keep going, that would be a-ok with me!  I do enjoy the adventures of the Wardens and Djinn, especially when they’re working together.

Creative Composition & Design by Pat Dews:  I watched one of Dews’ videos on creating underpaintings (or “starts”), and was completely fascinated by the process.  This book appears to be out of print, but I’m happy that the local library system has a copy for me to borrow.  It’s an interesting book, and I’ve tried out some of her techniques.  If I could find a copy at a reasonable price, I’d probably buy it just to refer back to it on a regular basis.

Kiss of Death by Rachel Caine: Here we have the eighth book in the Morganville Vampire series, wherein our heroes do something new and different… they take a trip to Dallas!  Of course the actual Dallas part of the trip is really just the epilogue of the book.  On the way to Dallas, they get to fight (and — gasp! — save) a bunch of crazy, infected vamps in another town.  Here’s the craziest part of the book… I think I’m actually starting to like Oliver.

Encaustic Workshop by Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch:  Holy moly!  I had this book in my Amazon wishlist and got it for Christmas.  I love, love, LOVE this book!  There are dozens of great ideas to add variety to my artwork… not just the encaustics, but mixed media stuff, too.  Woohoo!  Gotta go run to the studio!

The Likeness by Tana French: In this somewhat-sequel to In the Woods, Cassie goes undercover to find a murderer.  But it really isn’t as simple as all that.  French writes incredibly detailed books, and the plot lines are woven together so artfully and tightly that you can’t help but applaud.  The story is fantastic… the writing is some of the best I’ve come across in years.  Also… she makes me want to visit Ireland SO badly.  It’s not often that I’m this impressed with a book (or author) outside the science fiction / fantasy genre.  In other words… go read this book!

The Vegan Scoop by Wheeler Del Torro:  There are times (granted, not often) when I crave a bowl (or half gallon) of really good ice cream.  But since I’m vegan, that’s not easy to find.  Del Torro has been good enough to share some of his experiences and recipes for making gourmet vegan ice cream.  There are a handful that I want right now.  I guess it’s time to replace that old ice cream maker that broke about 15 years ago, huh?  Even if you’re not vegan, these healthier versions of ice cream will get your mouth watering!  If I ate more ice cream than once or twice a year, I’d pick up a copy of this book to have on hand.  As it is, I’ll jot down a few of the ones I know I’d actually make and take the book back to the library.

Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer McCann:  This book contains dozens of recipes that are geared to finicky eaters (i.e., kids) and pack easily in a lunch box for meals on the go.  Don’t let that fool you (as it almost did me)… there are also great breakfast and dinner recipes in here, too.  Though I picked up this book at the library, there are enough recipes in here that are relatively hassle-free that I may pick up a copy for my kitchen.

Vegan Recipes for All Occasions by Tony Weston and Yvonne Bishop: This book was more disappointing than the previous two.  I found only one recipe that I’d probably make more than once… a recipe for baba ganoush (mmmm, I love me some baba ganoush!).  While several of the food items looked really delicious, the recipes were far more complicated than I have patience for.  (I don’t enjoy cooking, so if something takes more than 30 minutes, or makes more than two bowls or pans dirty, it’s too much trouble for me.)  People who actually enjoy cooking would probably be more interested in this book than I was.

TrueBlood and Philosophy by George A. Dunn and Rebecca Housel (editors):  The individual authors in the collection take up the task of explaining various philosophical (classical, ethical, feminist, existential), psychological, sociological and psychological theories in terms of The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlene Harris and the HBO series True Blood.  The book is both entertaining and thought-provoking.  If you’re interested in thinking about the human condition, you’ll enjoy how these authors have tossed vampires, faeries, werewolves and shapeshifters into the mix.

Storm Cycle by Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen: This was a fast-paced action-adventure novel, with a bit of Egyptian history tossed in to make it really interesting.  Oh, and there’s some medical mysteries, betrayals and saving-the-world stuff, too.  It’s hard to say much about it without giving away key points.  I certainly enjoyed it!

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January 1st 2011

December’s Reads

December brought 11 extra days off work… not bad.  Of course, it also brought a funeral and visits with out-of-town family, Christmas Eve dinner with in-town family, and the yearly “pig out on a TV show over Christmas break” festival (this year it was Star Trek: The Next Generation).  So not a whole lot of reading got done.

Fade Out by Rachel Caine: This is book eight in the Morganville Vampire series.  Claire and her pals get into — and out of — another scary situation involving vampires.  You can say that about every one of these books, but each one is just as interesting as the last.

Blood of the Demon by Diana Rowland: Here’s what I love about this series… I can get my police procedural fix (I am a Law & Order junkie, after all) and my otherworldly weird things fix all in the same book.  This time, we meet the creepiest vampire ever and some new fae.  Ah, and the walking stick is still following Merry around.

Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs: This is book four in the Mercedes Thompson series; each one just gets better and better.

Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs:  This is a wee little novella that introduces the concept of the Omega werewolf, and the character of Anna.  Oh yes… I’ve got the library looking for the next book.  I never fail to get thrown by Briggs’ description of the Marrok (the alpha of the all the Alphas) as a kid in his early 20s.

A Lick of Frost by Laurell K. Hamilton: This is the sixth book in the Merry Gentry series, and she’s finally pregnant.  And there were only two sex scenes in this book, which meant there was a lot of action.  I like that.  We also got to see just how bat-shit crazy her uncle — the King of the Seelie Court — is.

Swallowing Darkness by Laurell K. Hamilton:  And the seventh book in the Merry Gentry series… again, with less sex and more action, which is the way I prefer them.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the sex… but if that’s all the story is about, then it isn’t terribly interesting.  So many things happen in this book, it’s like Hamilton was making up for the books that were nothing but sex.  There’s even an fairly happy ending.  Of course, since there’s at least one more book after this, there’s bound to be more unrest ahead of Merry.  Her aunt lost the crown of the Unseelie (it seems Fairie thought Merry should have it, but she gave it back to save Frost… aww, isn’t that sweet?), her psychopathic cousin is dead, but her bat-shit crazy uncle is still around.  Stay tuned for book eight.

Divine Misdemeanors by Laurell K. Hamilton:  In the eighth book of the series, Hamilton is back to throwing in a little more sex than is strictly necessary to forward the plot.  However, there was a fairly good plot tracking down a fae serial killer.

Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs: The fifth (and latest) book in the Mercy Thompson series in which Mercy attempts to return that book she borrowed from the old bookshop owner several books back.  The problem is that there are some really nasty fae type trying to find it, and Mercy has to keep it from them.  Also, the unrest in the pack over Mercy’s inclusion comes to a head.  Hell of a fun ride!

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs: The first full novel in the Alpha and Omega series has Charles and Anna off to find a rogue werewolf in the mountains of Montana.  They find something even worse.

Skin Trade by Laurell K. Hamilton: This is the 17th (and latest) book in the Anita Blake series.  In this one, Anita is off to Las Vegas to hunt down a vampire serial killer and teams up with fellow US Marshalls Ted (Edward), Otto (Olaf) and Bernardo.  She also gets into more trouble with men.  What else is new?  Also?  Marmee Noir has a starring role, as well.

The Urban Vegan by Dynise Balcavage:  Despite the fact that I don’t cook much, sometimes a cookbook catches my eye and I just have to have it.  There are a lot of recipes in here that I plan to try out on my chorus mates at our potluck dinners, and even a few I can try on the family.  There are others that I’d like to try, too… but they make a whole lot more food than one person can reasonably eat.

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October 1st 2010

Wrapping up September

Here’s what I finished reading in the last two weeks of the month.  As always, I’ve got several piled around that I’m half or a third or nine-tenths finished reading.

Born in Death by J. D. Robb: one of the earlier ones I’d missed.  Eve Dallas always catches the bad guys, while exchanging amusing banter with her team and having steamy sex with her husband, who is filthy rich.

Salvation in Death by J. D. Robb: I swear I read this one before, I just can’t find it in any of my lists.  Bad guys kill a bunch of people, one of them winds up dead and Dallas sends the other off-planet for the rest of whatever.  Snark, humor, sex and good police work build another good story!

Mastering Composition by Ian Roberts:  creating art by just getting my emotions out on the page has worked fairly well for me for years.  But lately I’ve been thinking I might create different art if I paid attention to all the rules one learns in art school.  This is not the book to learn from, though.  It really made me feel stupid.  In all of the “notice how this part of the painting grabs your attention” I got really pissed off because that wasn’t the part of the painting that grabbed my interest.  Maybe this book is meant for someone who paints representational art rather than non-representational art.  I’m glad I borrowed this one from the library rather than buying, because I’m one dissatisfied customer here.

Simply Vegan by Debra Wasserman

Vegan Express by Nava Atlas: I found a total of four recipes from these two cookbooks that I thought I might try.  I probably won’t try them any time soon, as all the recipes involve using either the stove or the oven, and I’m really not in the mood to cook.  Maybe next month.

When Darkness Falls by James Grippano: There are now (apparently) eight Jack Swytek novels by Grippano.  I’ve read four of them… completely out of order.  That sort of thing usually makes me crazy, but Grippano writes his stories tightly and while there are certainly references to previous books, you don’t need to know what went on back then to enjoy the current novel.  And the Jack Swytek series is definitely enjoyable!

Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton:  Honestly, I don’t know why I keep reading cookbooks.  Yes, the pictures of completed dishes look great… but I hate to cook.  I did find another recipe for Green Split Pea Soup that looks pretty good.  I collect recipes for split pea soup.  I just love it.

Eye of the Beholder by David Ellis: Oh, boy… this one is confusing because it bounces back and forth between 1989 and 2005.  And it’s pretty twisty.  I didn’t see that ending coming.  Well, a couple of things… but not the most important one.  Definitely read this one!

Cop Without a Badge by Charles Kipps:  A true-life story of a confidential informant.  It’s not something I would have found to read if The Offspring had not requested that I pick it up for her at the library.  It was worth the read.

The Simple Secret to Better Painting by Greg Albert: Ah, now this one was much more helpful.  The simple secret isn’t all that profound (don’t make any two intervals the same), but the explanation of the “secret” utilizing all the various aspects of a painting was helpful.  And since the author tended to take everything to a very simple abstract level (black and white or greyscale blobby images), it was really much more useful to me as an abstract painter.  I’ve put this one in my Amazon wish list.

BoneMan’s Daughters by Ted Dekker: Oh, very creepy.  And twisty.  If you like creep and twisty, this is one you should read.  On the other hand, if you like rainbows and sunshine, pick something else.

Suite 606 by J. D. Robb: This is a collection of four different novellas.  I only picked it up so I could read J. D. Robb’s Ritual in Death, which was every bit as good as the rest of her stories.  I started reading the others… but lost interest.

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September 12th 2010

Update

Bad, bad, bad.  Look how long it’s been since I’ve updated.  Eleven friggin’ months.  And the books I’ve read since then!  Holy moly!  Here they are (at least the ones I remembered to record), pretty much in the order in which I read them.  I’d say read them all (except for the ones noted as not worth the time)!  Most are mystery or science fiction or urban fantasy, with a few other categories thrown in for variety.  Like spice.

Wolf Hunting by Jane Lindskold
Wolf’s Blood by Jan Lindskold
A Grave Talent by Laurie R. King
125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson (highly recommended)
To Play the Fool by Laurie R. King
Kitty Goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn
The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu
Night Work by Laurie R. King
The Art of Detection by Laurie R. King
Darkness Calls by Marjorie M. Liu
Mermaid’s Madness by Jim C. Hines
Promises in Death by J. D. Robb
Queen of Dragons by Shana Abé
The Dream Thief by Shana Abé
The Godmother by Carrie Adams
But I Trusted You by Ann Rule
Death by Inferior Design by Leslie Caine
Glass Houses by Rachel Caine
Saint City Sinners by Lilith Saintcrow
Power Play by Joseph Finder
Run for Your Life by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
Hand of Evil by J. A. Vance
The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen
The Dead Girls’ Dance by Rachel Caine
Midnight Alley by Rachel Caine
False Premises by Leslie Caine
Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton (highly recommended)
Death by Inferior Design by Leslie Caine
Manor of Death by Leslie Caine
Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child
Killed by Clutter by Leslie Caine
Fatal Feng Shui by Leslie Caine
Creative Paint Workshop by Ann Baldwin
The Last Pope by Luis Miguel Rocha
B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton (as you will see, I’m rereading this series)
Learning to Stand by Claudia Hall Christian (highly recommended, as are her other books)
C is for Corpse by Sue Grafton
D is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton
Justice Denied by J. A. Vance
Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn
Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn
Poisoned by Gilt by Leslie Caine
To Hell and Back by Lilith Saintcrow
Blood Sins by Kay Hooper
Guilty as Sin by Tami Hoag
Feast of Fools by Rachel Caine
Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde
The Creative Edge by Mary Todd Beam
E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton
F is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton
G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton
H is for Homicide by Sue Grafton
I is for Innocent by Sue Grafton
J is for Judgment by Sue Grafton
K is for Killer by Sue Grafton
L is for Lawless by Sue Grafton
M is for Malice by Sue Grafton
N is for Noose by Sue Grafton
O is for Outlaw by Sue Grafton
Mark of the Demon Diana Rowland
Lord of Misrule by Rachel Caine
First Family by David Baldacci
Blood Ties by Kay Hooper
First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
P is for Peril by Sue Grafton
Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton
R is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
S is for Silence by Sue Grafton
T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton
Partnership by Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball
Poison Sleep by T. A. Pratt
The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (if you like True Blood, you should read her books!)
You Slay Me by Katie MacAlister
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
The First 48 by Tim Green
Fire Me Up by Katie MacAlister
Stone Kiss by Faye Kellerman
Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith (American history + vampires = WIN)
Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
Working for the Devil by Lilith Saintcrow
Almost Dead by Lisa Jackson
The Camel Club by David Baldacci
Holy Smokes by Katie MacAlister
Black Blade Blues by J. A. Pitts (excellent!)
Fatal Cure by Robin Cook (don’t bother)
U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton
Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
18 Seconds by George D. Shuman
Lords of Corruption by Kyle Mills (good,  but not as good as his previous books)
The Final Planet by Andrew M. Greeley
Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
Fantasy in Death by J. D. Robb
Intervention by Robin Cook (his worse ever – DO NOT READ)
The Arraignment by Steve Martini

I have this plan to update more regularly.  If I commit to once a month, I might just be able to do it.  I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?

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December 1st 2008

This Year I Will…

When I told One Spirit book club to go ahead and send this one to me, I’m not sure what I thought it was all about.  As it turns out, it’s a nice little motivational book about building new habits.

Most of this is either common sense or I’ve heard it said in slightly different ways by therapists, friends who seem to have their lives put together, other authors, or the multitude of personal growth and development teachers I’ve encountered over the years.  That doesn’t make it a bad thing!  Sometimes you have to hear a thing a thousand times for you can say, “Oh!  I get it!”

The time of year for resolutions is swiftly approaching, and this would be a nice book to pick up if you just can’t stick to your resolutions.

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September 20th 2008

The Edge Effect

Dr. Braverman explains in great detail how the imbalance of four neurotransmitters in your brain (dopamine, acetylcholine, GABA and serotonin) cause pretty much everything that ails you.  He’s got tests you can take to determine your dominant neurotransmitter and what deficiencies you might have.  While he does lay out a plan for righting what’s wrong, it involves two aspects that I find difficult to live with.  The first is getting your doctor on board in case you need a prescription drug of some sort.  The second is a diet plan.

I’m not knocking his research and program; this stuff might work for some people.  But if I have to eat stuff that grosses me out, I’m not going there.  According to his quizzes, I have a GABA deficiency and ought to be eating things like oatmeal, yogurt, liver, dark-meat fowl (and what is THAT??), mushrooms and fish.

As much as I’d like to be the picture of health, if I can’t do it avoiding foods that make me gag, it just isn’t going to happen.

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September 11th 2008

Your Erroneous Zones

Written in 1976, the same year I graduated from high school, this book contains gems of wisdom that have stood the test of time.  Now granted, had I read this book when I was 18 years old, my reaction to it would have been similar to my daughter’s reaction to many things I say to her now…  “Yeah.  WHATever.”

I’m also going to come out of the closet here as a graduate of Landmark Education… mostly because a whole lot of what Dyer is saying in this book is echoed in virtually every seminar and course I take through Landmark.  It all seems like common sense to this 50 year old woman, but I think it should be an essential read for anyone who has any kind of negative feelings about themselves.

Because really…  we’re all beautiful people and completely worthy of a fabulous life.  (Crap.  Do I sound like an aging hippie??)

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