Category Archives: Books and reviews

Covers of books I’ve read and reviewed on my Goodreads site.

Forks Over Knives

I got into a discussion about food recently and why it’s not good for you.  Hmmm.  I like food.  I think the basic food groups are chocolate, chocolate, chocolate and coffee.  Works for me.  Or rather, it did.  I had been lamenting the fact that I just didn’t feel good anymore.  My joints hurt, I had indigestion, food just didn’t taste like it should any more and don’t even get me started on how much it costs just for a simple burger meal at a fast food restaurant.  On top of that, I had gained a LOT of weight in the five years since I retired and I wasn’t liking it one bit.  I live at the beach and I wouldn’t be caught dead in a swimsuit right now.  Talk about the proverbial beached whale.

So, I’m talking with a friend and she tells me about a video she thinks I should watch –  “Forks Over Knives”.  She gave me  a few highlights from the video and so intrigued me that last week, I requested the DVD from my library.  I’m cautiously glad I did.  On Friday night, my husband and I sat through the video and then proceeded to have a huge discussion about food.  The definition as I see it for FOK is to eat only a whole-food, plant-based diet.  No meat.  Ever.  Further, the claim is made “that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.”  (Before we go any further, here’s the website: http://www.forksoverknives.com. There’s a link to the synopsis of the video that explains in detail the “personal journeys of a pair of pioneering yet under-appreciated researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn”. The video was shot in the United States, Canada and China.)

It’s not that we don’t believe in the premise of FOK, but we do like meat.  So, we may be doing some tweaking to the meal plans.  I don’t mind giving up beef, but I do love poultry and some fish, occasionally.  Still, one of the best lines of the video was this (I have to paraphrase here:) If it walks, squawks, swims, has eyes and a mommy and daddy, don’t eat it.  Well, that takes care of beef, pork, poultry and fish.  Hmmm.  The filmmakers did on-the-street surveys, asking people questions such as why do people eat meat or drink milk.  Without exception (at least in the video), the answers were “protein” and “calcium”.  But the argument is that a whole-food, plant-based diet will give you everything your body needs to nourish and sustain it. 

According to the website, there is a book and a cookbook that go along with the video.  There’s also a book written by Dr. Campbell titled: The China study : the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and the startling implications for diet, weight loss and long-term health.  Dr. Campbell worked at length with the Chinese to identify areas in China that had exploded with degenerative diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers never heard of before in that area and the implications based on the western-style diet the Chinese had adopted.  I’ve requested that book from my library as well.

My husband and I haven’t signed on to do anything, we’re not supporting anyone or anything, and we haven’t been compensated in any way for this little essay. But after watching the video and hearing some of the statements and statistics presented, we’re willing to venture forth into this diet, a little at a time. Our next step is to research the whole-food, plant-based diet in more detail for foods that we can fix and that are readily available for us in our area of the US. I like market research, especially if I get to eat the research. So, I’ll keep a short diary of what we’re eating and get back to you on that.  I should also mention that to go along with this new life-style eating change, my husband and I have joined the local YMCA so we can ramp up that exercising everyone says is so necessary – but that’s another topic for another day.

As an end note, I want to thank those who have emailed me and called me about my dad’s recent stroke.  Thank you.  He’s home now under good care and doing far better than any of us had thought he would.  He has no physical ailments other than tiredness but he has lost some of his short-term memory.  That can happen with a thalamic stroke.  He’s doing mental exercises, working and using cheat sheets.  When I spoke with him yesterday, he said he could be talking to someone and forget why they were talking.  I told him he was describing me.  I’m so very grateful he’s alive.

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Filed under Books and reviews, Cooking, diets, DVD, exercise, family, food, health, Life in general, research, studies, video

Grateful

Even though Thanksgiving Day is still a few weeks away, I am so very grateful right now.  My dad was hospitalized this weekend with a thalamic stroke that confuses me.  He had just celebrated a birthday on Wednesday when he started feeling poorly.  By Friday evening, my stepmother had grown increasingly concerned with his erratic behavior and distracted talking, so she called his doctor and got him admitted.    He’s still in hospital, and for now, I’ll rely on my sister who lives in his area to help me stay informed, rather than make the long trip.  If she asks, though, I’ll be in my car before my husband can shut the door.  I’m grateful, so very grateful he’s still alive. I’m even more grateful that my stepmother, who is going through her own special health scare with a three-weeks-removed mastectomy, was on the phone with the doctor and getting him admitted before anything else could happen.  Thank you, Connie.

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Filed under dads, family, health, moms, sisters

Windows and Books

When I was a child, we used to do this thing called “taking a Sunday drive”.  I remember riding in the back seat, looking out the car windows and into the windows of houses we’d pass by.  I would wonder about the people in the houses – who were they, what kind of lives did they lead, where did they go when they weren’t home.  And if I saw the people through the windows, I’d wonder if they saw us.  Driving was kind of invisible – like the lives inside the windows of the houses.  Now, I’m all grown up and guess what – I still wonder about those houses and the people in them.  We don’t do the “Sunday drive” any more – it’s more the “get there and back as quick as you can” thing.  Unless we’re going to the beach.  Then I enjoy the drive.

But here’s the analogy between books and windows.  Windows keep me guessing.  Books give me knowledge.  I actually get to know the people in the “book windows” – their names, their families, their lives.  Sometimes with serials, I’m permitted a longer perusal – I get a little more involved, like hearing their thoughts and seeing the consequences of their actions and their reactions to the same.  It happens whether the characters want it or not.  Books are my windows into the lives of strangers – safer and much more informative. 

Happy Monday!

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Filed under Books and reviews, family, Life in general

Actors, Movies and Books

I don’t know anything about his personal life nor do I know, without Internet searching, what movies he’s made throughout his life, but when I saw Liam Neeson for the first time in Schindler’s List, I told myself he would be someone to watch over the years.  Yesterday, my DH took me to see Taken 2, and I knew I had been right.  The guy’s a great actor.  I don’t care that it’s a sequel – because I hadn’t seen the first, I enjoyed the sequel all by itself.  I didn’t recognize Neeson’s role, Bryan Mills, from any books I had read, even though the storyline seems to be culled from a myriad of other “clandestine-spy-operative-covert-war-mercenary” stories out there in novel-land.  After all, that’s how James Bond got started 50 years ago in the movies.  (Sean Connery – be still my heart – he still has the moves even now.)  So, if anyone out there in bloggerland knows the books this movie was “taken” from, please let me know.  I’m not gonna search for Bryan Mills through the bazillion novels with the title of Taken.  I’ll just say I enjoyed the movie.

So.  While we’re waiting for the feature to start, we get a glimpse of new movies rapidly approaching.  My husband and I rate the trailers ourselves – “must-miss”, “must-watch”, “maybe”.  Most of what we saw in the trailers were “must-miss”.  Ouch.  I know the trailers are usually themed along with the feature and in this case, most of them were of the “spy-vs-spy” category.  I didn’t see anything that I wanted to put on my “looking-forward-to” list.  At least not right now.  But that doesn’t mean there’s not a good movie to watch.  After dinner last night, we watched Brigadoon.  That’s a wonderful musical love story with Cyd Charisse, Gene Kelly and Van Johnson.  And yes, my husband watched it with me.  Payback.  I pick the Netflix movies, he picks the theatre runs.

Finally, one last actor – Tom Cruise.  I have absolutely enjoyed Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels.  In my mind, Reacher is a rugged 6-5, 250 pounds, so it’s a stretch for me to see Cruise as Reacher, no matter how pretty he is.  However, One Shot is one of Child’s best Reacher stories IMHO, so I’ll reserve judgment until I see the film.  Trailers just don’t do enough except tease the imagination.  And I do like Cruise as an actor.  Enjoy the movies!

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Filed under Books and reviews, cinema, internet, Life in general

NASCAR, Books and Everything Else

It’s Monday already.  What happened to the weekend???  Gorgeous weather here on the Gulf.  Husband out for daily walk in a sweatshirt of all things, and I’m doing the laundry.  So.  What happened this weekend?  A huge crash at NASCAR, here at Talladega, several books read, fun with cards and kids at the library, and church.  My glasses came in so I picked them up.  They feel odd.  It’s been 2 years since my eye surgery, so wearing them’s gonna take some getting used to on my part.  Still, those fuzzy objects in the background are a little sharper.  Going to the movies will be fun again – I was seeing movies in 3D without the 3D.  Painful.  I can still read my beloved books without the glasses so that’s a plus from the surgery.  YAY!   

Books.  I read several – did I mention that already?  Karen Kingsbury’s prequel to The Bridge (already preordered) was offered on Amazon so I snapped that and read it; Davis Bunn’s All Through the Night (awesome read!); Randy Wayne White’s Dead of Night and Dark Light; started Anna Quindlen’s Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, and White’s Hunter’s Moon.  I’ve requested the last four Doc Ford novels from my local library and then I’m done with that series.  I enjoyed those books, even with the ecology and environment preaching by White.  Since I’m not a scientist, some of the facts went over my head, but they were good conversation starters with a friend at the local library who’s a great advocate for the same causes.  There are so many good books out there that I sometimes wish I could just read by osmosis.  Then I could do several at the same time.  But what fun would that be?

I have to admit that I didn’t watch the NASCAR race, but my husband did.  When I mentioned that I knew Talladega is here in Alabama, he just looked at me and smiled.  I asked if he wanted to go to a race there, he said sure, someday.  Hmmm.  Christmas present to him – tix?  That got me thinking – Christmas is coming and I haven’t done a lick of shopping for anyone yet.  I’m confident we’ll get the job done, probably in one day.  Books for everyone!!  Wait – if you’re family, and you’re reading this – forget that!

My husband helped me put bookcase number six together for our bedroom and wonder of wonders, he agreed with me that we need a seventh.  HA!  We have a wonderful master bedroom with a huge window that would be perfectly framed by two bookcases.  Can’t wait.  Well, I can, but I don’t want to.  I’m not a patient person, which is surprising.  I always thought once I retired, I’d learn to sit back, relax and let life happen.  Nope.  But I’m learning.  If I can sit still long enough to read a book in one sitting, then something must be happening, right?

Happy Monday, y’all!!

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Filed under Anna Quindlen, Books and reviews, card making, Davis bunn, Randy Wayne White, sports, Talladega

Full Disclosure

I pre-ordered Dee Henderson’s latest novel, “Full Disclosure” from Amazon several weeks ago for my Kindle and promptly forgot about it.  So I was pleasantly surprised to see it on my Kindle yesterday, the day it was released.  Of course, I started it while eating breakfast.  Dee Henderson is a prime example of why I’m a serial reader and why I re-read her novels, not once but several times.  I now have 12 of her novels – all of the O’Malleys and the Uncommon Heroes series and this one.  So it was a delight to see how she tied all of these novels together.  I LOVED it.  A fictional novel of fictional characters who have fictional novels written about their lives!  I liked reading about previous characters and the fringes of their lives, and how they continue to interact with each other.  Six degrees of separation!  It’s a hard thing to finish any book and  realize I’m not privy to how their lives will continue.  I KNOW it’s fiction, but for a short while, they are my neighbors, friends and co-workers, allowing me a brief window into their lives.  It’s a joy to see they live on, somewhere.

Paul Falcon, an FBI agent, and Ann Silver, a cop, who just also happens to be a Midwest Homicide Investigator (and doesn’t THAT just ring my bells!), who get involved professionally and personally over a series of homicides.  Both, it turns out, are believers in Christ, both have very personal relationships with God, and both use that relationship with God to guide them in their lives.

This is a good read, either as part of the two previous series or as a stand-alone novel.  It’s wonderfully told with the message of a personal relationship with God woven throughout.  I’m surprised to find out it’s been several (5?) years since Ms. Henderson’s last piece of work, but I sincerely hope she continues this story with more of the O’Malley and Falcon families.  Now, I find I’ve got to go back and re-read all 12 of them again, in order and soon!

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Filed under Books and reviews, Dee Henderson, family, Life in general, Religion, romance

What’s a good reader to do?

With all the reading I do, my husband wants to know if I have a book “inside of me”.  Heck, no!  I’m a reader, not a writer and I don’t aspire to be one.  Bloggging is hard enough.  So what’s a good reader to do when asked to review a book and comment on it?  Hmmm.  I need a good thesaurus, dictionary and synonym list.  After all, how many ways can a gal say “I liked the book”??  I’ve been accused of giving away part of the plot without warning with a *spoiler alert* and that caused me untold grief.  I hate to spoil anything for anyone.  But, it’s a “catch 22” – darned if you do and darned if you don’t.

So what can I do?   Well, I tried to read other reviews on the books I had read to see if there was a commonality amongst the reviewers.   I love to read their reviews – but I run into the same problem – verbalizing the likes or dislikes of a particular book, and making it interesting enough to catch a potential reader/buyer’s attention.  I didn’t like doing book reports or oral reviews in high school or college and it’s no different here.  I could quote the flyleaf or publisher’s review, but those aren’t my words and paraphrasing is hard work for me.  Why can’t I just say I like the style of writing, I like the characters, I like the storyline.  Or, I didn’t like the style, characters or storyline.  I’d rather say I liked or didn’t like the book, recommend it or not, and move on.  Why is that not enough?

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Filed under blogger, blogging, Books and reviews, internet, Life in general