Friday, October 24, 2014

The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet by Alona Pulde

From the creators of the groundbreaking documentary (and bestselling book) Forks Over Knives comes a four-week plan, showing anyone how to transition to a delicious whole-food, plant-based diet.

The trailblazing film Forks Over Knives exposed an entirely new generation to the whole-food, plant-based nutrition revolution and inspired thousands to want to transform their diets, and their lives. With so many people looking for change, the outstanding question became, “How can we put these dietary ideas into practice?” That’s what authors Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman reveal inThe Forks Over Knives Plan: The 4-Week Guide to Whole-Food, Plant-Based Health—a clear, easy-to-follow plan that outlines the steps to take each week to transform your diet by cutting out animal-based and processed foods.

Forks Over Knives is a leading authority in the “food as medicine” movement, showing how simple dietary changes are proven to prevent, and even reverse, chronic disease such as type-2 diabetes and heart disease and improve your overall health. This is no fad diet; the Forks Over Knives program is backed by original research and has received rave reviews from physicians like Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Mehmet Oz, to athletes like pro football star Arian Foster and pro basketball player Steve Nash, to healthy lifestyle pioneers like Alicia Silverstone, to name a few. Whether you’re already a convert and just want a dietary reboot, or you are trying a plant-based diet for the first time, The Forks Over Knives Plan makes it easier than ever to transition into this new way of eating.

This book is great for anyone who is ready to or even thinking about changing to a whole-food, plant-based diet.  This is a life-changing process with superb results, as evidenced by the many testimonials placed throughout the pages. 

 As a believer in this lifestyle already, I was excited to read this and learn even more about it.  This informative book is well-written and easy to understand.  It explains everything from the basics (what a whole-food, plant-based diet is) to what to eat, what not to eat, the health benefits, and the consequences of following what the authors refer to as the Standard American Diet.  One of the best things about this book, in my opinion, is that they take the time to give you useful tips to make this transition easier. 

 The tips include how to dine out and make smart, healthy choices; how to stock your freezer, fridge, and pantry; how to eat while traveling away from home; and how to handle social situations.  The recipes that are included are easy to follow and gives the reader healthy options to add some variety to their new menu.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants finally make that life-altering decision to get healthy. 

No More Eating for Single Nutrients . . . Focus on the "Package" and the Foods You Enjoy
By Alona Pulde, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD,
Author of The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet
The idea of eating a particular food for one nutrient is pervasive in our culture. We have been led to believe we should eat meat for protein, dairy for calcium, fish for omega-3 fatty acids, and even tomatoes for lycopene, among many others. This sort of thinking is misguided and has caused grave harm to human health. The quest for protein, for example, has steered us toward meat consumption. In this quest, we not only consume protein in excess of our needs, but also many harmful substances like dietary cholesterol that are only present in animal foods.
No food is a single nutrient, and we should never think of foods in that way. Any given food has countless nutrients. What matters most is the overall nutrient profile, i.e., the whole package. Whole, plant-based foods contain all the essential nutrients (with the exception of vitamin B12*), and in proportions that are more consistent with human needs than animal-based or processed foods. So our question is really this: Why waste any of what we eat on inferior packages? As long as -- over time -- we choose a variety of whole, plant-based foods, we will easily meet all of our nutritional needs.
Whole, Plant-Based Food Will Provide the Best "Package" of nutrients
When eating fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes to comfortable satiation, you will get superior nutrition without also getting all the unhealthy elements present in animal-based and highly processed foods. Among other things, you will effortlessly consume:
  • A nutrient profile consistent with human needs. All whole foods contain carbohydrates, protein, and fat. These are the macronutrients, which are the source of virtually all calories, or energy. Different foods, how- ever, contain each of these in different proportions. The foods you eat on a whole-food, plant-based diet will most easily get you to a healthy carbohydrate, protein, and fat ratio, which lies somewhere in the range of 80/10/10. We discuss each macronutrient in the chapters that follow.
  • Lower-calorie-density foods that will leave you neither underweight nor overweight. Whole, plant-based foods in general are significantly lower in calories per pound (calorie density) than animal products and processed food. Higher-calorie-density foods lead to excessive calorie consumption and overweight bodies. Many chronic diseases are caused by the same foods that result in being overweight or obese. (We explain calorie density and how it affects body weight on page 30.)
  • A sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals. Every vitamin or mineral you need to thrive is present in a whole-food, plant-based diet in amounts and proportions consistent with our needs. The only exceptions are vitamin B12 and vitamin D, which we discuss on page 37.
  • Dietary fiber. Fiber plays a key role in signaling to our brain that we have eaten enough and is also an essential part of digestion, normal colon function, and binding and removing toxins that would otherwise be re-absorbed into the body. Animal foods do not contain any dietary fiber, so we must get it from whole plant foods.
  • No cholesterol. We do not need to consume cholesterol in our diets because our bodies can make all that we need. Avoiding dietary cholesterol is a great way to decrease our risk of developing heart disease. Excess cholesterol is involved in the thickening and hardening of arteries, or atherosclerosis, which leads to serious problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. Animal foods, even the low-fat varieties, contain cholesterol.
The above is an excerpt from the book The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet by Alona Pulde, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy and references. 
Copyright © 2014 Alona Pulde, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD, authors of The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Sunshine

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith

Her life would be marked by scandal and suspicion, worship and adoration…
At the tender age of fourteen, Livia Drusilla overhears her father and fellow aristocrats plotting the assassination of Julius Caesar. Proving herself an astute confidante, she becomes her father’s chief political asset—and reluctantly enters into an advantageous marriage to a prominent military officer. Her mother tells her, “It is possible for a woman to influence public affairs,” reminding Livia that—while she possesses a keen sense for the machinations of the Roman senate—she must also remain patient and practical.
But patience and practicality disappear from Livia’s mind when she meets Caesar’s heir, Octavianus. At only eighteen, he displays both power and modesty. A young wife by that point, Livia finds herself drawn to the golden-haired boy. In time, his fortunes will rise as Livia’s family faces terrible danger. But her sharp intellect—and her heart—will lead Livia to make an unbelievable choice: one that will give her greater sway over Rome than she could have ever foreseen.

I am Livia is a new look on a woman that time has made into a villainous.  Livia tells her story from the time of Julius Caesar’s murder to when Mark Anthony and Cleopatra committed suicide.

As a girl Livia was a pawn in a man’s world.  But from that she grew into a woman who wanted to make a difference for others.  History has painted her as a domineering wife and mother; but I think that was done by men who feared her power and all the good she did for the Roman people.

Her father gives her to Tiberius Nero as a gift for fighting on the side of Brutus against Caesar.  When Mark Anthony starts fighting against Octavian for Rome she faces many hardships and almost loses her life.  Once a truce is made, Octavian falls in love with her and even though she is pregnant by her husband, he marries her.

 Together they have a very passionate and supportive relationship.  History talks mostly about Cleopatra and Anthony as the main romantic couple of that era, but I think this story shows that through everything Octavian and Livia are the stronger couple.
The pace of this book is great.  I couldn’t put it down.  I took this book on vacation and whenever I could I would pick it up.  It was one of those books that you want to continue reading but are sad when it ends. At a time when women were subservient and were not allowed into politics Octavian listened to his wife and allowed her to be his equal. 

I love how Phyllis T. Smith shows historical figures as real people.  You get a sense of how they really lived and it opens a window on a time you have probably read in history class and were totally bored by.  I got a new perspective on a story I thought I knew and am now interested in finding out more about.

Phyllis T. Smith’s writing brings Rome back to life.  I felt like I was part of the story while I was reading and I wanted to go to the Forum, The Senate and to all of Rome in its heyday!

I got this book on Amazon for free when I saw the cover.  It intrigued me.  It didn’t disappoint.  I loved it!!! I would definitely recommend this book!  I say go and pick it up you will love it!!!!

Phyllis T. Smith was born and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. After obtaining a bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College and a master's degree from New York University, Phyllis pursued a practical career in computer applications training, yet found herself drawn to literature and art of the ancient world. I Am Livia is her first novel. She has another novel set in ancient Rome in the works.

*I purchased a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Stephanie

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Remake by Ilima Todd & Giveaway!

Nine is the ninth female born in her batch of ten females and ten males. By design, her life in Freedom Province is without complications or consequences. However, such freedom comes with a price. The Prime Maker is determined to keep that price a secret from the new batches of citizens that are born, nurtured, and raised androgynously.

But Nine isn't like every other batcher. She harbors indecision 
and worries about her upcoming Remake Day -- her seventeenth birthday, the age when batchers fly to the Remake facility and have the freedom to choose who and what they'll be.

When Nine discovers the truth about life outside of Freedom 
Province, including the secret plan of the Prime Maker, she is 
pulled between two worlds and two lives. Her decisions will test 
her courage, her heart, and her beliefs. Who can she trust? Who does she love? And most importantly, who will she decide to be?

I loved Remake! I am a big fan of dystopian fiction, and this reminded me a bit of that splashed generously with science fiction.  In a society where procreation is heavily moderated, and if you disobey, you could be killed.  The babies are born monthly, ten males and ten females.  They have no names until they pick their own on their seventeenth birthday.  They choose their name, their gender, how they want to look and what trade they would like.  Until that date, they are raised together with shaven heads and neutrality.  

Nine still hasn't decided on her name or gender, but she knows she wants to be a maker.  Curses with red hair and freckles, she has been an outsider all of her life.  She wants to ensure that it won't happen to anyone else if she is the maker, making the decisions on genes for new batches.  However, once she makes her wishes known, the Prime Maker lets Nine know that she will never be a Maker and it leaves Nine confused more than ever.

On the eve of their remake, Nine and her fellow batchers are in a plane to their destination when it crashes into the ocean.  Nine wakes up on an island, with people who talk differently, have families and are basically the opposit of everything she has ever known.  It will be months before she can get back to Freedom so she tries to make the best of the situation.  But overtime, she finds herself with a choice.  Which life does she really want to live? And what is she willing to sacrifice to get it?

Like I said, I loved Remake! The world building, the characters, the plot twists, everything.  The only thing I disliked was that the book ended.  I wanted to know more about Nine and her world, what her choices meant for her.  If you enjoy dystopian science fiction, pick up Remake! I'll definitely be looking for more work from this gifted author!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Wendy

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Children of the Revolution (Inspector Banks #21) by Peter Robinson

A disgraced college lecturer is found murdered with £5,000 in his pocket on a disused railway line near his home. Since being dismissed from his job for sexual misconduct four years previously, he has been living a poverty-stricken and hermit-like existence in this isolated spot.

The suspects range from several individuals at the college where he used to teach to a woman who knew the victim back in the early '70s at Essex University, then a hotbed of political activism. When Banks receives a warning to step away from the case, he realises there is much more to the mystery than meets the eye - for there are plenty more skeletons to come out of the closet . . 

Children of the Revolution is book 21 in the Inspector Banks Series of Mystery Novels.  Unfortunately it is a very boring and predictable book.  As someone who has not read this series I found myself confused over the personal lives of the main characters.  Peter Robinson is a good writer who weaves what could be a great story, but to those who are new to the series it is just confusing. 

I found the murder mystery to be very predictable.  The main detective goes to investigate a murder.  Has his team talk to all the victims’ family, friends and colleagues.  Comes to the wrong conclusion at first and then finally figures out the truth.   To me this book was very slow.  I actually found myself not wanting to continue, but I slowly plodded along and was actually relieved when I finished. 

To me this is not the best book.  But if you are a fan of the Inspector Banks Series go ahead and read.  But if you have never read this series you may want to go back to the beginning. 

Peter Robinson's award-winning novels have been named a Best-Book-of-the-Year by Publishers Weekly, a Notable Book by the New York Times, and a Page-Turner-of-the-Week by People magazine. Robinson was born and raised in Yorkshire but has lived in North America for over twenty-five years. He now divides his time between North America and the U.K. 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Stephanie

Monday, October 13, 2014

Destruction (The December People #1) by Sharon Bayliss

David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice.

Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without. 

Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David's wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children. 

Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first.  The magic.  It wasn't poorly written or even poorly researched.  Everything seemed to be pretty sound.  The problem I had was that it's overdone and I really wish it had been a bit more original.  It takes up such a huge part of the story and there are just so many things that could have been done with it, that I felt like it was just tossed in there instead of being the true meat of the story it could have been.

Actually, this was a pretty fascinating 'what if' story.  What if you had an affair and children and then they disappeared and suddenly reappeared years later?  What if you didn't have the courage to tell your wife, but you still needed to be there for your children?  Not just from Dave's perspective, but from the entire family's,  not to mention the poor children.  Not only did Bayliss run the gamut of possibilities, but she did so while exposing some pretty serious character studies.

The most fascinating part for me was just how much I despised one of the main characters.  We have bad people and good people and bad people who think they're good and good people who think they're bad.  Those that we know are 'bad', honestly, they sort of faded into the background for me.  It sucked that they weren't nice people, but they didn't really have any impact on me.  Dave, the main character, means well, but he's such a coward that I found myself having a hard time really caring about him either.  His wife, however.  Wow!  My jaw dropped several times at her.  I hate her with a fierce intensity that I worried would set my Kindle aflame.  She is so evil and horrible that I found myself ashamed to be a woman.  

This is the first book in a series and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.  I feel like this one did a great job of putting the 'family' into perspective for future adventures/mysteries.  

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Shawn

Friday, October 10, 2014

Alex (Verhœven Trilogy #2) by Pierre Lemaitre,

Alex Prévost—kidnapped, savagely beaten, suspended from the ceiling of an abandoned warehouse in a tiny wooden cage—is running out of time. Her abductor appears to want only to watch her die. Will hunger, thirst, or the rats get her first?

Apart from a shaky eyewitness report of the abduction, Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven has nothing to go on: no suspect, no leads, and no family or friends anxious to find a missing loved one. The diminutive and brilliant detective knows from bitter experience the urgency of finding the missing woman as quickly as possible—but first he must understand more about her.

As he uncovers the details of the young woman’s singular history, Camille is forced to acknowledge that the person he seeks is no ordinary victim. She is beautiful, yes, but also extremely tough and resourceful. Before long, saving Alex’s life will be the least of Commandant Verhoeven’s considerable challenges.

Wow! What a thrilling ride Lamaitre took me on with Alex! The very first pages grabbed my attention and didn't let go until the final pages were read. It was not only suspenseful, but only emotionally impacting. I empathized with Alex in the beginning, then I despised her and then I empathized with her again. I was shocked with some of her decisions yet I also cheered for her.

Camille, the investigator, was a great character as well. Given a big case after being out of the loop since his wife was murdered was, at first, a conundrum for him. But eventually, it became just what he needed to get closure in that chapter of his life. A very intelligent man who surprised me on many levels.

Alex is not only a thrilling suspense, it also packs a punch with it's gritty writing and no-nonsense characters. The plot pivots many times, taking the reader on a roller-roaster of a ride that leaves one breathless; with fear, shock, hope and more. I will be reading more of this author's work in the near future.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Wendy

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Vampires of Manhattan (The new blue bloods coven #1) by Melissa de la Cruz

 Full disclosure:  I have never read any of the Blue Bloods vampire series that precedes Melissa De La Cruz’s new novel Vampires of Manhattan.  Did it make a difference?  Yes and no.  While I know that I missed out on a lot of the back-story for all of the characters, I was still able to follow along and enjoy this trip to the ritzy side of vampire life.
         From what I understand, there are vampires in New York who battle against the Nephiilim and against Lucifer as well.  Vampires have the option to take a human as a companion (“a familiar”) and they are organized into a coven.  This coven has been celebrating rather a peaceful time since they destroyed a Nephilim “hive”. The vampire leader, Oliver, is so pleased with the reinstatement of the coven that he has decided to throw a Four Hundred Year Ball.  All of the vampires are invited, but there is a bit of a problem.
         Young girls are disappearing and the pentagram symbol is showing up all over town.  Who could be doing this is a mystery that needs to be solved by the crime stoppers of the coven.  But can they find out in time to prevent the ball from being ruined and Oliver’s reign being destroyed?
         I liked Vampires of Manhattan and I think that De La Cruz did an admirable job of introducing the characters in a way that made sense and that enabled me to keep them straight.  Not an easy task, since there are a lot of characters in this one!  In addition, she told me enough about each character that I cared about them and understood where they fit in the dynamics of this world.  The story lines were thrilling—with unexpected hook-ups, twists, and turns.  What De La Cruz does well is write some angst.  Love and all its pain was front and center here.
         I cannot fault the author for me not having read her other books.  However, I know I would have enjoyed this book even more had I known exactly who the Blue Bloods were.  While it is clear that this is not a book for children (mature themes and sexual situations), it would be quite enjoyable for teens that read The Blue Bloods books and are now ready to graduate to more adult themes.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina