Thursday, March 31, 2016

Cook Healthier Foods

I happen to be one of the millions of Americans who teeter on the verge of cholesterol numbers that concern my doctor. The American Heart Association's Healthy Fats, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook arrived just in time for my final round of "please let me try diet and exercise" rather than medication plea to my doctor.

I am so thrilled with this cookbook, I cannot tell you!

The subtitle, Delicious Recipes To Help Reduce Bad Fats and Lower Your Cholesterol is spot on. These are some delicious recipes! We had already lowered the amount of red meats in our diet a couple of years ago, so I was very happy to have new poultry and fish/seafood recipes to try. One key, it seems to me, that runs throughout the book is the addition of spices that you might not have used or considered before which take away any and all sense of "missing out" where the fat content has been reduced or eliminated. For example, the recipe for Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken adds a bit of ginger along with the paprika when seasoning your meat. (p. 144) This is brilliant and we both enjoyed this little addition immensely.

You are going to find recipes for any and all times of day, types of foods, and diets. Yes, there are vegetarian dishes included. There are also breads, breakfast, and desserts!

What I found myself turning to and really using were the Appendixes at the back of the book. These include helpful tips and strategies for healthy shopping, healthy cooking, healthy dining out, and the science behind all recommendations. There are even sections of risk factors for heart disease and warning signs of heart attacks and stroke. This could potentially be some life saving information!!

I have had the wonderful opportunity to review many cookbooks. I love cookbooks, cooking, and eating! Healthy Fats, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook will be my main go-to cookbook for the foreseeable future. (Even when using others, I will have it open to the tips on making other recipes healthier and more heart friendly!) Thank you to Blogging For Books for the review copy I received in exchange for this honest review. You have helped to change our lives for the better!

From the Publisher . . .

The classic cookbook for achieving heart health and wellbeing through a diet that is low in cholesterol and saturated fat--updated and revised with 200 recipes (including 50 new to this edition)

Lose the bad fats, but not the flavor.

Now in its fifth edition, American Heart Association Healthy Fats, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook provides the most up-to-date information on heart health and nutrition. Good-for-you food should also be satisfying, and the American Heart Association reveals how easy it is to replace the bad fats in your diet with healthier ones. This classic cookbook offers more than 200 tempting dishes, 50 of which are new, including:

· Fresh Basil and Kalamata Hummus · Triple-Pepper and White Bean Soup with Rotini · Taco Salad · Hearty Fish Chowder · Chicken Pot Pie with Mashed Potato Topping · Balsamic Braised Beef with Exotic Mushrooms · Grilled Pizza with Grilled Vegetables · Stovetop Scalloped Tomatoes · Puffed Pancake with Apple-Cranberry Sauce · Mango Brûlée with Pine Nuts

The perfect companion for today’s healthy cook, this indispensable collection of recipes proves you can eat deliciously and nutritiously.

About the Author . . .

The AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION is the nation’s premier authority on heart health. Its bestselling library of cookbooks and guides includes American Heart Association Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook, Fourth Edition; The New American Heart Association Cookbook, Seventh Edition; American Heart Association No-Fad Diet; American Heart Association Low-Salt Cookbook, Third Edition; American Heart Association Meals in Minutes Cookbook; American Heart Association Low-Calorie Cookbook; and American Heart Association Quick & Easy Cookbook.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Discover What Happens After the Woods

I enjoy reading YA material from time to time. Kim Savage's debut novel, After the Woods, is a YA thriller about two high school aged girls who met with a psychopath one day as they ran through the local forest preserve on a routine training practice for their track team. Julia threw herself in harms way to protect her best friend, Liv who managed to escape her would-be abductor. Liv ran away to safety, leaving Julia to face the worst on her own.

The bulk of the story is Julia's recovery from the trauma she endured in the woods as she pieces together exactly what happened during the hours she was held captive and escaped only to be hunted by her captor. In the process, Julia gains new insight into her herself, and more importantly into best friend, Liv. Julia gains a bigger vision of the events that conspired to bring them to this point in their lives.

I enjoyed the story! It was a quick read for me as the narrative compelled me to keep reading to discover the puzzle pieces and put them together along with Julia. I felt the characters were believable and easy to relate to, even those a bit more on the periphery. There is just enough tension throughout the various levels of the story to make a reader want to know more.

Issues of how victims and survivors react to trauma were enlightened with a variety of examples from Julia to Liv and their respective mothers as well. Questions of how to best assist the girls to get them to redefine "normal life" and how to best get them back into the swing of "normal life" are at the heart of the story. The role of the media and the public's right to information that is in the interest of public safety and the sensitivities (or lack thereof) add another layer to the story as well. It was interesting to see how therapists, the church, friends, the police and the local reporter who is counting on the case to keep her career afloat are all interwoven into the heart of the story.

I will be looking forward to more from this author! And my thanks to the publisher for the ARC I received in exchange for this honest review!

From the Publisher . . .

"Statistically speaking, girls like me don't come back when guys like Donald Jessup take us."

Julia knows she beat the odds. She escaped the kidnapper who hunted her in the woods for two terrifying nights that she can't fully remember. Now it's one year later, and a dead girl turns up in those same woods. The terrible memories resurface, leaving Julia in a stupor at awkward moments-in front of gorgeous Kellan MacDougall, for example.

At least Julia's not alone. Her best friend, Liv, was in the woods, too. When Julia got caught, Liv ran away. Is Liv's guilt over leaving Julia the reason she's starving herself? Is hooking up with Shane Cuthbert, an addict with an explosive temper, Liv's way of punishing herself for not having Julia's back? As the devastating truth about Liv becomes clear, Julia realizes the one person she thinks she knows best-Liv-is the person she knows least of all. And that after the woods was just the beginning.

About the Author . . .

Kim Savage was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, and received her degree in English from Stonehill College. She lives with her husband and three children north of Boston, Massachusetts. After the Woods is her debut novel.

On her website, Savage writes:

I was born and raised in Massachusetts, on the South Shore, which sounds beachy, even luxe. Think Winnebagos and chicken coops. My three brothers, 16, 10, and 8 years older, were teens by the time I became a person. Happiest around adults, who often forgot I was there, I spent days eavesdropping on gossipy moms in lawn chairs and nights listening under the table during tipsy Scrabble parties.

My dad read to me nightly. Eventually and early, I read to myself, everywhere. On top of an enormous freezer chest stuffed with meat. On drives until I grew nauseous. In bed until my eyes gave out. I read anything I could get my hands on. V.C. Andrews and Dickens. Black Beauty and the Bible. The Economist. Madeline L’Engle and Margaret Atwood. National Geographic.

I got a bachelor’s degree in English from Stonehill College and a Master’s in Journalism from Northeastern University. For a while, I worked as a business journalist. Instead of waiting for the Federal Reserve to release the Beige Book, I pitched story ideas along the lines of “Stigmatized Properties: When Murder Kills Property Values”. You see where things were headed.

Today, I live with my family northwest of Boston in a town a lot like Shiverton, near the real Fells reservation of AFTER THE WOODS. Born with dysgeographica—I’m directionally challenged—the fear of getting lost in that lovely, dark forest lives close to my skin.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Meet Lucy Barton

I have read two of Elizabeth Strout’s other novels. I value the depth of her characters. Her newest book, My Name Is Lucy Barton, did not disappoint!

The thing I most enjoy about reading Strout’s work is the amount of story you find by reading between the lines and listening to the silent spaces. It’s there that my soul and heart connect to these characters and their experiences, as I imagine is true for the vast majority of Strout’s readers—giving each of us the opportunity to be, on some small, yet meaningful way, co-creators with her in the weaving of the story.

Lucy Barton is the teller of this tale, which is an exercise in piecing together the moments and memories that make a life. The story reminded me of my own moments of nostalgia and flashback to the instances that have led me to this precise moment on my own life’s journey--poignant recollections of the people, places, and events that shape a person.

There is rich fodder here for book club discussions. Anyone who enjoys reading novels focused on character studies must read My Name Is Lucy Barton. This book left me pondering the nature of familial relationships, the lasting and generational effects that poverty, neglect, and abuse have on people, the bond between mothers and daughters, and the meaning of “home” to name just a few. This book will linger with me, as did Strout’s others.

From the Publisher . . .

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout is cause for celebration. Her bestselling novels, including Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys, have illuminated our most tender relationships. Now, in My Name Is Lucy Barton, this extraordinary writer shows how a simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the most tender relationship of all—the one between mother and daughter.

Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.

About the Author . . .

Elizabeth Strout is the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Olive Kitteridge, as well as The Burgess Boys, a New York Times bestseller; Abide with Me, a national bestseller; and Amy and Isabelle, which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in England. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker and O: The Oprah Magazine. Elizabeth Strout lives in New York City.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Getting Your Collage On

Being an avid journal keeper and scrapbooker, I am thrilled to have received a copy of Eleanor Shakespeare’s Collage This Journal. It is a great tool to help you collect and record the moments in life you’d like to hold onto and pass on to others for posterity.

What I love about this journal are the wide variety of prompts to spark your creativity. "Redesign the cover of your favorite book(s). How did you see the world as a child? How do you see it now?" The idea is to respond with a collage of items, though sketching and writing are encouraged as well.

The page size is plenty to allow for some fun. It is also great because you could easily tuck it in your bag and work on it while on the go. (This would have been a great way to fill some time on my 18 hour Astral ride!) The color scheme on the pages is mostly neutral, allowing you to take the prompt in any direction you like.

Seasoned collage artists may find the journal restrictive only in that the pages and binding realistically only allow for flat items to be included in the collage. You’re not likely to find it handy to incorporate bulky items like tiles, beads, flora, stones, etc. (Not a problem for me.) I am carrying the journal with me and looking at all kinds of paper ephemera (printed napkins, advertising flyers, even cereal boxes!) in new ways!

Many thanks to Blogging For Books for the review copy I received in exchange for this honest review.

From the Publisher . . .

This irrisistibly iteractive journal is filled with dozens of clever ideas for recording your life, such as “Make balloons out of photos from special and happy occasions” or ”Fill the genie’s lamp with wishes.” The author/illustrator’s wonderfully layered photo-illustration montages invite readers to mix media, too, and make this keepsake truly their own.

About the Author . . .

ELEANOR SHAKESPEARE is an illustrator and designer based in London known for her photomontage imagery. She combines found ephemera with hand-lettering and texture with color to create unique illustrations. She has illustrated for The Telegraph Magazine, Therapy Today, Times Higher Education, The Baffler, BoneshakerMagazine, and Noble Rot Magazine.