Monday, November 12, 2012

Healthy Breakfast Smoothies

Having PCOS makes it so that I have to avoid so many foods and I have to eat a lot of vegetables daily... Probably just the recommended amount. But it is very important that I squish these veggies into every meal daily if I can. So I've started trying out green shakes for breakfast. It is a great way to get in a full serving of veggies, fruits, carbs, and protein... Depending on what you put in your shake.
Nut Butter Green Smoothie
source: Russell
  • 1/4 c oats
  • 1-2 c fresh spinach
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 4-6 ice cubes
  • 1 c milk (coconut is my favorite!)
  • 1 T peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1/2 plain Greek yogurt + 1 tsp vanilla (optional)
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender. Blend until all ingredients are well mixed together.
Applesauce Green Smoothie
source: ??
  • 2 c spinach
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 apple
  • 4-6 ice cubes
  • 1 c milk
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cinammon
  1. Put all ingredients in blender. Blend until all ingredients are well mixed together.

The Maze Runner Trilogy

The Maze Runner ***1/2
by James Dashner
Book Type: Dystopia, YA, Sci-Fi
Summary: When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.
Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.
Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.
Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

summary found on goodreads
My Review: I thought that the concept behind this book was great. The book starts with a young kid with no memories of his life. He is a blank slate. He finds himself surrounded by a bunch of other boys who also have no memories of their past. They are trapped in a maze with no direction and no past. Why are they there? How did they get there? What now? This book reminded me of Lord of the Flies when it first opened. A bunch of boys all living together with no adult supervision... Thankfully the story turned out to be nothing like Lord of the Flies. It is more like Incarceron in the end. A young boy with no memory of his past learns he is a key character in the world outside of the maze they're trapped in. They have to work with those around them to solve the problems that surround them. This book takes place in a horrifically deteriorating dystopic world, it is fun to follow along and try to figure out what's currently going on and what will happen next.

The Scorch Trials ****
by James Dashner
Book Type: Dystopia, YA, Sci-Fi
Summary: Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to.
In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago.
Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal.
The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.
Thomas can only wonder—does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?

summary found on goodreads  
My Review: This was my favorite book in the series. This book begins to give you some background information while still developing the plot from the previous book. You learn a little bit more about what is going on. Who the boys are, where they come from, why they were trapped in a maze.... You meet new characters. You learn more about the characters that were in the previous novel. And you start to discover the truth behind the dystopic society that surrounds these boys. The people who are affected by the scorch are honestly creepy. They slowly degenerate physically and mentally until they are little more than zombies. This book is very interesting and well developed.

The Death Cure ***
by James Dashner
Book Type: Dystopia, YA, Sci-Fi
Summary: Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.
What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says.
The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.
Will anyone survive the Death Cure?

summary found on goodreads
My Review: Final book in the series. Wraps up the whole story and pulls everything together. You never find out everything, things are still left open ended. But the important details that have been kept away from you are finally revealed. Characters that are important in the first two novels are killed off and several minor characters get promoted to the front line of the story. I was disappointed with the end of this story. I have conflicted feelings about Theresa the entire story and I didn't feel satisfied by her role in the story at the end. As the story ended I felt a bit disappointed but I thought that overall the series was very fun.

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows **
I was supremely disappointed by this movie!! I LOVE Johnny Depp so I was looking forward to seeing him in this role. Unfortunately the film did not meet my expectations. There wasn't really much of a point or plot. There was some inappropriate material.... And really it just didn't have anything going for it. We were very disappointed by everything in this movie. It had a great cast with Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer, who act superbly as usual... But they didn't have much to go with on this film. I would highly suggest NOT trying out this flick. It just isn't worth the two hours it will suck out of your day.

Unwind Trilogy

Unwholly ***1/2
by Neal Shusterman
**Sequel to Unwind**
Book Type: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopia
Summary: Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa—and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp—people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simltaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished.
Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself.

summary found on goodreads
My Review: I loved the first book in this series; Unwind. It is a fabulous, new, fresh story. It takes place in a dystopic society where abortion has been outlawed and a parent can have their trouble child unwound into little pieces rather than deal with them. This story is the second chapter in the soon to be trilogy. This part of the story follows the same characters- Risa, Conner, and Lev- but there is also a new main character- Cam. Cam is basically the new aged Frankenstein. He is made up of a million little pieces from who knows how many unwinds. This story is as interesting and engaging as the first book in many ways. However, Shusterman has a too many character voices which muddles the story on occasion. Yet, overall, I thought the story was fun, but not quite as good as the first book. ALTHOUGH, I am looking forward to book 3, Unsouled


Stardust ***
by Neil Gaiman
Book Type: Fantasy
Summary: Hopelessly crossed in love, a boy of half-fairy parentage leaves his mundane Victorian-English village on a quest for a fallen star in the magical realm. The star proves to be an attractive woman with a hot temper, who plunges with our hero into adventures featuring witches, the lion and the unicorn, plotting elf-lords, ships that sail the sky, magical transformations, curses whose effects rebound, binding conditions with hidden loopholes and all the rest.
summary found on goodreads
My Review: Have you seen the movie Stardust? Russ and I LOVE that movie! So we decided to read the book it is based on. And the verdict is out. I like the movie better. The book and movie are very much a like but there were a few subtle differences. The book explains a few details that are merely touched upon in the book, which was one benefit of reading the story. Outside of these few details I felt that watching the movie left you feeling more satisfied than reading the book did. I liked the characters in the movie better and I thought the ending was much happier and more satisfying. Basically the book is fun, the movie is better. If you didn't like the movie DON'T read the book. If you enjoyed the movie but didn't love it, don't read the book. If you LOVED the movie and would like to get some more insight and details about the world in stardust, read the book. It is a fun story, if not a wonderful one!

Herbed Quinoa Salad

First I was on the Elimination Diet, then I was on the Fodmaps diet, all to try and figure out what causing my stomach irritation. Have I figured it out after all this? No. I have not. But I did have the chance to experiment with my food again and again. So we branched out in our choices of carbs. I would say my favorite so far is probably quinoa. So we tried making this quinoa salad and it was absolutely delicious. We made it twice in one week. This salad is healthy, yummy, and worth trying out. Oh yummy.
Herbed Quinoa Salad
source: Recipe Land
  • 1 1/2 c peas
  • 3 c quinoa, cooked and cooled
  • 4 oz. feta or goat cheese
  • 1/3 c fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 c fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 1/3 c chives or green onions, chopped
  • 1/3 c lemon juice
  • 1 T olive oil
  1. To cook the quinoa: bring 2 cups of water or chicken stock to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Add 1 cup of quinoa. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until tender but not mushy. Drain off any remaining liquid. Fluff with a fork to separate the grains. Allow to cool before combining in salad.
  2. In a 2-quart saucepan over high heat, bring one quart water to a boil. Add the peas. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until tender; do not overcook. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  3. Place the quinoa in a large bowl. Add the peas, cheese, parsley, tarragon and chives. Toss lightly.
  4. In a cup, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Pour over the salad.

Spindle's End

Spindle's End ***
by Robin McKinley
Book Type: Fantasy, Fairy Tale
Summary: All the creatures of the forest and field and riverbank knew the infant was special. She was the princess, spirited away from the evil fairy Pernicia on her name-day. But the curse was cast: Rosie was fated to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a poisoned sleep-a slumber from which no one would be able to rouse her. 
summary found on goodreads
My Review: I loved Robin McKinley's book Beauty so I decided to give this book a shot. I have to say that I was supremely disappointed by this story. The young girl that is sleeping beauty is nothing like I picture her being. She is supposed to be beautiful, poised, and talented whereas this girl is basically none of the above. The story started out well and then went downhill. The focus of the story takes place during Rosie's (sleeping  beauty's) childhood and teenage years. It was a very different story from any other sleeping beauty story I've ever read. But it was fine until the end. The ending had absolutely nothing to do with the classic story or any semblance of the story at all. I guess if you don't care for the sleeping beauty story you could enjoy this book. Just don't think of it as the same story at all. If you think of it as a different story it's written well and it is fairly interesting... But really, you can't have any attachment to the classic story of sleeping beauty.

Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman ***
Hmmm well.... This movie was disappointing. Charlize Theron was insane. Totally crazy. A perfect evil witch. She played her part very well. Chris Hemsworth did a great job as the huntsman. Kristin Stewart was.... Kristin Stewart. Even with the good acting jobs I thought the movie was a bit disappointing. There really wasn't anything GREAT about this movie. It was dark and depressing and it had a supremely lame ending. Basically I felt that this film was lacking in almost every way. There was very little worth rejoicing over. They took this movie an interesting direction and I was over it by the time we got to the end. I will say that the dwarves were pretty funny and the creepy woods was pretty cool, in a dark, dreary way.

The Game

The Game ***
by Diana Wynne Jones
Book Type: Child, Fantasy
Summary: Hayley’s parents disappeared when she was a baby. Since then, she has been raised and homeschooled by her grandparents. Grandad is overworked and travels a lot; Grandma is much too strict and never lets her meet any children her own age. When Hayley does something wrong—she is not quite sure what—they pack her off to her aunts in Ireland. To Hayley’s shock, her family is much bigger than she thought; to her delight, the children all play what they call the game, where they visit a place called the mythosphere. And while she plays the game, Hayley learns more about her own place in the world than she had ever expected. This original novella by Diana Wynne Jones is sharply funny, fast-paced, and surprising until its very end—like all of this acclaimed author’s work.
summary found on goodreads
My Review: I LOVE Diana Wynne Jones. Usually. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Howell's Moving Castle and I enjoyed the Chrestomanci series, but this book was kind of disappointing. It is supposed to be some sort of twist on Greek mythology. I love Greek mythology and this book was just not up to par for me. It fell flat. The concept behind it was very strange and I didn't quite understand where Jones was going with it. The Greek mythology employed in the story was very strange, I recognized only a few of the names and the ones I did recognized were done very poorly. Greek mythology is not pretty, it is not nice. This book is happy and frilly and nice. This is a fun children's book, I suppose. But I didn't exactly love the way that Jones developed the characters or the plot. Such a bummer. I still love Diana Wynne Jones. And I will happily try out most of her other books. But this one was a major disappointment for me!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower **1/2
by Stephen Chbosky
Book Type: YA, Fiction, Epistolary Novel
Summary: Standing on the fringes of life... offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
It is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where all you need is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

My Review: If you look into this book you'll find that it has rave reviews up the wazoo! I personally did not enjoy it that much. Let's explore the many reasons why shall we? Charlie is supposed to be a 15 year old boy but I felt like I reading a story from the perspective of a 7 year old. He expresses him as a child would with a childish understanding of the world. He is an awkward and limp character. He is so bland and detached as he discusses these dramatic events that occur. You feel no connection to any of the characters because of the style of writing employed. It feels as though Charlie has no connection to his friends or family so it is difficult to care when bad things happen to people. Charlie cries. A LOT. What 15 year old boy finds himself crying about everything all the time? It seems as though they have two emotions in this story. Sad and crying or unfeeling and blank. His private world is as boring and unimportant as his dealings with other people, he has zero social skills or understanding of the world around him, and still everybody just thinks he's great and talented and special. All he needs, they say, is to just 'participate' more or not be afraid to 'do things'. Basically it is supposed to be a big dramatic story with lots of drama but all I felt was bored. AND the book is full of sex, drugs, and alcohol. These kids are doped up the entire story. I don't know if this story is sharing a typical high school experience or an unique one... But if this is average and ordinary I had a strange high school experience. I didn't ever feel like I had to drink or do drugs to fit in. I know most people at least experimented a bit with those things, but was everyone deeply involved in them all of high school? I don't know. Basically this story was dull and unaffecting and stock full of sexual exploits and more details than I ever needed to read. I don't know why this book did so well. It is not well developed or executed.
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