Saturday, February 26, 2011

Happy 100th

I have just hit 100 book reviews on this site.  100!  It's kindof hard to believe.  I have to say that writing the reviews has given me more joy than I thought.  It gives me the chance to really think about why I liked a book beyond it was fun/good/amazing.

It took me almost three years to hit this mark.  When I first started, I didn't read much at all.  But I have set a goal to read 50 books this year (6 done) and if I'm on track for that, theoretically, I should be able to hit 200 a year faster than I hit the first hundred.  

While I hope that these reviews have been beneficial to some of you, what I know is that rekindling my affair with books has done more for me than anything.  They have been the mental escape after a long day at work, the opportunity to have an interest in a talent sparked I NEVER would have thought existed, and have provided laughter, tears, intrigue, suspense and thrilling adventures movies never seem to equal.  I know it's strange to some, but I genuinely love books, feel they are often my truest friends and simply can't imagine a life without them. 

So, happy reading.  And as always, if you have any suggestions, let me know or come join me on goodreads.  Afterall, I only have 425 books on my to read list.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Clockwork Angel

This is the first book in the prequel series to the Mortal Instruments series.  Remember those?  City of Bones, City of Ashes and City of Glass - that little (okay big) trilogy that I devoured (really, you need to read them!).  Clare decided to write a prequel series, explaining how the conflicts between all the different species began, the history of the character who had been alive very long, the background.  I'm often quite hesitant of these kinds of books - I liked the originals so much that I wasn't sure that these could be good.

This is the story of a couple primary characters - Tessa, a girl who was born in America but is requested by her brother to visit him in England.  Her arrival does not go at all how she plans and she soon finds herself in the care of a strange group of people, in the company of a cat named Church, and is thrown into a battle that has been ongoing for quite some time, involving creatures both human and not, who each have their own personal agenda.

It took me a little bit to get into this book, but once I hit about 50 pages or so, I was captivated.  There are several elements of mystery in this book that I didn't see coming, that kept me guessing and even surprised me a few times.  I liked meeting some of the characters from the first series, learning more about them, even the minor characters.  I'm a bit torn because there are more books coming out in the Mortal Instruments series and I don't know if I can keep everyone straight jumping back and forth.  It would be like watching Star Wars 4 and 5, then 1 and 2, then 6 and back to 3.  Not sure my brain can handle it.  On the other hand, I really loved the original series and don't know if I can wait years to read all these before finishing all those.  Ah, the great complexities of life...

Friday, February 18, 2011

It's all about the Greeks

Sure, you know that I have a love for all thing Greek - especially when it comes to mythology.  But as I have been making life changes and working out ways to make the food I eat become something I can stand to eat and avoid the Michelin man silhouette, I have become an addicted label reader.  We will hit that more later, but for now, you may be aware of the fact that the new thing in the "healthy food market" is Greek yogurt.  So, I thought I'd share some personal experience with this product that has quickly become my must eat every day.

Why Greek?  Well, the process that is used to make it  basically keeps it in a state that is actually quite good for you.  It maintains LOTS of protein - good to avoid hunger, especially when first cutting calories - and just good for your body. It also has very little fat, another bonus.  But, because it has become so popular, there are MANY Greek yogurt options.  Note, not all Greek yogurts are created equal.

Here's my suggestion.  If you haven't ever had Greek yogurt, I will warn you that it is almost a tart/sour flavor, and if you are used to the dessert yogurts from Yoplait, your palate will wonder what you have done to it.  So start with Yoplait Greek yogurt.    It has several of the benefits of Greek yogurt, but like their other yogurts, they add quite a bit of sugar to enhance the flavor.  However, if you are adjusting your palate, this is a good place to start.  You will notice that it tastes different than the regular Yoplait yogurt, but it is still quite good. I would start with the fruit flavors, transition to honey, and the move to the plain when you have developed a taste for it. The same idea can be incorporated with the Dannon brand Greek yogurts. 

There is also a brand that Lin's (Associate Foods)  carries called Greek Gods Greek Yogurt that is very good.  And if that is as far as you go, you will notice that the transition to these yogurts leaves you satisfied longer and that eventually you like them better than the regular.
Remember the part when I said I read labels?  Yes, I started reading the labels of Greek yogurts and noticed that many still have LOTS of sugar in them. Sure there is lots of protein - 10+grams possible per serving, but in many of these the sugar in a serving is double the protein.  That may not impact some people, but I have very bad reaction to lots of sugar when not accompanied by significant protein - shaking, headaches, dizziness, little invisible worms in my eyesight ( if you have experienced this, you know what I'm talking about).  So my new quest  is to find Greek yogurts that have more protein than sugar.  Here are my two favorite.

Sometimes I'll get them with fruit in the bottom, but I prefer to add my own fresh blueberries or cut up strawberries.  The nice thing about these is they are about 100 calories - I usually have this little treat at about 9:00 in the morning, as I eat breakfast at 6-6:30, post workout, and I need something to keep the body working without many calories or sugar.  I LOVE this now.  These are both available at my Walmart, but I know not all Walmarts are created equal.  
If you are still hesitant to try this, work Greek yogurt into your favorite recipes in place of sour cream, but I promise that once you start down this track, you will really love this treat and not hate the nutritional impact it has on your system when the container is empty.   Give it a try and let me know what you think :)