Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Sunday Salon November 22, 2009

The Sunday

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare was the only book that I finished this week. I enjoyed it but part way through I recognized some similarities to the Harry Potter books and then I couldn't stop finding them. I think I would have liked the book even more if I could have just read it without analyzing it as I was reading. I do plan to continue with the series to see if it gets better.

I also started reading The Whole-Food Guide to Strong Bones: A Holistic Approach by Annemarie Colbin and Dhampir (Noble Dead)by Barb & J.C. Hendee. Dhampir will finish off the 1st in a Series Challenge for 2009. One thing that I have discovered about my reading this year is that once I start a series I just want to keep reading that series until I am caught up. Switching series after the first or second book just is not working for me.

I found two places having Kindle give aways for the holidays. Fill out a simple form at Noobie and subscribe to the newsletter at Bibliofreak to enter each of the give aways. My husband and I have been talking about going electronic with our books in the future and winning a Kindle would be an awesome way to get started!

Plans for this week include very little reading or blogging time. Tomorrow I'm taking my daughter to get her second round of flu shots and my husband is working late so I have a feeling we are going to have a very long day. Then Wednesday we will be traveling to see the family for Thanksgiving and won't be home until sometime on the weekend. As a result, other than maybe getting one post up tomorrow if my daughter takes a nap, I will be participating in Blogger Unplugged.

I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving! I think this may be my favorite holiday because it is the best meal ever! Although our soup, salad, and dessert large family Christmas definitely runs a close second.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Earn Gift Cards & More with Swagbucks

Search & Win

Some days I feel like I am totally behind the times. Maybe most of you already know about Swagbucks but I thought I'd post about it in case you had missed it like me. Swagbucks is a search engine that allows you to win points (or bucks) that can then be redeemed for great gift cards or other items. I know I will be using my bucks for and Starbucks gift cards, although there are loads of other to choose from.

You won't win Swagbucks with every search but if you use their search, either from their homepage or toolbar, each time you search you are bound to get bucks sometimes. There are some other ways to gain bucks as well through shopping, free codes, and referring friends. There are some aspects of Swagbucks that are a bit confusing to me but as long as I just stick with the searching, it seems simple enough.

I'm hoping that over the course of this coming year I can win enough Swagbucks to use on gift cards to do a lot of the holiday shopping for next year. The Starbucks gift cards will be just for me! Free books and free coffee, what could be better than that?

Do you use Swagbucks already? What has been your experience with the program?

Note: The Swagbucks and links above are referral links and I do earn a minimal amount if you join Swagbucks or shop on through those links.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Title: City of Bones (Mortal Instruments)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: March 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover, 485 pages
Age Group: Young Adult
Series: Mortal Instruments (Book 1)

What would you do if you witnessed a murder committed by kids no one else could see and the body simply vanishes? Clary Fray has just discovered a world within our own that she didn't know existed. Now she must learn all she can about this world and her place in it, especially since her mother is now missing.

I started out really enjoying City of Bones. Unfortunately, when I was about halfway through I realized how similar the storyline and characters are to some of the Harry Potter books. Once I noticed this similarity I could not help but compare the two series and that resulted in my picking apart City of Bones much more than I normally would have.

Here are just a few of the similarities I noticed:

Main character Clary Fray knows nothing of demons, Shadowhunters, werewolves, vampires or any other fairy creature, although they apparently live alongside us hidden by a glamor. Harry Potter knows nothing of the magical, wizarding world of Hogwarts even though it exists alongside us hidden by a glamor. Both characters also have difficult family histories that they do not fully understand and learning about their family is central to the story lines of the books.

In City of Bones the bad guy, Valentine, has loyal followers, the Circle, and is presumed dead. In the Harry Potter books, Voldemort has loyal followers, the Deatheaters, and is presumed dead.

Even some of the character names in City of Bones reminded me of names in the Harry Potter books. Of course, both series also revolve around children facing dangers and truths that the adults are not willing to face.

I think that I would have enjoyed City of Bones much more if I'd not read the Harry Potter books because then I wouldn't have been constantly comparing them after I first started picking out the similarities. However, I also feel that Cassandra Clare tried to pack a bit too much information into this first book in the series. There were too many subplots and it was easy to get distracted by them.

With all of that said, I do plan to read the next book in the series to see if Clare can take the series in its own direction and tighten up her writing.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Sunday Salon November 15, 2009

The Sunday

With all the company we had over last weekend, I didn't have a chance to get a Sunday Salon post up. It wouldn't have been a very interesting post anyway since I really didn't get much reading done either.

Last week, I was finally able to finish The Elves of Cintra by Terry Brooks. Although the storyline in The Genesis of Shannara series is dark and depressing, I am enjoying reading about the beginnings of Shannara. Brooks has packed this series full of action.

A wonderful surprise book that I received this week is cooking with the Chef's Academy: Perform like a chef with recipes & lessons from the classroom to your kitchen. My husband is lucky enough to work with the chefs who created this book each day. Although I haven't cooked from the book yet, I know the recipes will be fantastic as I have gotten so sample the food created by the authors on occasion. I posted more about this book in my weekend cooking post.

Next up on my reading agenda is City of Bones (Mortal Instruments). Although it is halfway through November, I am still really hoping to complete the 1st in a Series Challenge this year. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare will be my second to last book in completing this challenge. It will also count for the 2009 Support Your Local Library Challenge but since I need three more books to complete that challenge I am not sure I'll be able to pull that one off. Heading into the holiday season, I know I will have even less reading time if that is possible!

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Weekend Cooking: The Chef's Academy Cookbook

Weekend Cooking
is a meme hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads. The only requirement for the post is that it be something food related whether that is a cookbook review, review of a foodie novel, recipes, food related quotes, or even movie reviews. If it has to do with food, it counts! Check out Beth's Saturday morning posts for a Mr. Linky and have fun reading and commenting about food :-)

My husband is lucky to work with some fantastic chefs at The Chef's Academy in Indianapolis. Although he is not a chef himself, we have both benefited from his employment there as the chefs and students often have food to share.

Some of the instructors have recently released a cookbook titled cooking with the Chef's Academy: Perform like a chef with recipes & lessons from the classroom to your kitchen. Although I have not gotten a chance to cook from this cookbook yet, as my husband just brought home our copy last night, I have no doubt that the recipes are going to be fabulous. I was especially excited to see Chef Mejia's recipe for rock shrimp with tarragon cream sauce since I was lucky enough to sample this dish when I toured the school and it is probably the best shrimp I've ever eaten.

Sections of the book include: Appetizers, Salads, Soups, Vegetables & Seafood, Poultry & Pork, Lamb & Beef, Desserts, and Breads. There are also small bios for all the chefs who contributed recipes for the book. Some of the recipes also have technique boxes on the page with helpful tips. I absolutely love that all of the photographs in this book are in color. Cookbooks with out photos of the recipes just don't do it for me.

The book is listed on but I think they must have some older information from before the book was actually finished because both the title and cover are slightly different from the book that I received. It is listed there as Chef's Academy: Chef Instructors' Recipes, Tips and Techniques for Home Cooks. I'm guessing you could also call The Chef's Academy at 1-800-919-2500 to find out how to get a copy.

If you know anyone who is interested in becoming a chef or working in the food industry, The Chef's Academy is a great school. They have placed their students in wonderful restaurants in Indianapolis and also around the country. They even have some students doing internships at Disney World in Florida.

Full Disclosure: My husband was given 2 copies of this cookbook because of his employment at The Chef's Academy. However, no one at the school even knows I have a book blog so there was no expectation of a review. All employees were given copies of the book for personal use or to give away as they see fit. The link is an affiliate link, however as they currently do not have any copies of the book in stock, it would probably be easier to inquire with the school directly regarding purchasing.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

The Elves of Cintra by Terry Brooks

Title: The Elves of Cintra
Author: Terry Brooks
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: August 2007
Format: Hardcover, 379 pages
Age Group: Adult
Series: The Genesis of Shannara (Book 2)

Spoiler Alert: The Elves of Cintra picks up immediately where Armageddon's Children ends. If you have not read that book, please do not continue with this review. I reviewed Armageddon's Children in October.


Terry Brooks continues the story of the end of the world, started in Armageddon's Children, in The Elves of Cintra. Hawk and Tessa have been separated from the Ghosts and Logan Tom, neither group knowing if the other survived the attack on Seattle. Angel Perez found the elves, along with more demon trouble. The Elves must recover lost knowledge of their history and magic in order to survive the chaos but they are being guided in their quest by an enemy.

The Genesis of Shannara series is dark and depressing. Humans continue to fight each other as well as the demons and once men and the humans are clearly losing the battle. The elves have internal political workings that could cost them their chance at survival as well. It seems the fate of both the humans and elves lie in the hands of two Knights of the Word and the children they protect. One magical creature, disguised as a human teenager, must gather the survivors and lead them into their next world.

Although the action slowed a bit in The Elves of Cintra, Brooks keeps the stakes high as each group must fight for their own survival and to accomplish the task they have been sent to do. Doubts creep in for many and the way is nearly lost yet somehow most keep going.

Anyone who has read the Shannara books already knows where the Genesis of Shannara story must end but Brooks has captured my attention in taking us there. The only reason the second book took me so much longer to complete than the first was simply a lack of reading time and an increase in interruptions. I am eager to read the final installment in the trilogy, The Gypsy Morph, but unfortunately I have a few other books that need reading before I will be able to get back to Shannara.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Article by author Annemarie Colbin

The Best Foods for Strong Bones
by Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D.,
Author of The Whole-Food Guide to Strong Bones: A Holistic Approach

Let me make very clear what the best foods are for the bones -- in this order:

1. Vegetables, especially leafy greens, and also roots and stalks (for the iron and calcium, and for vitamins K and C, which, together with protein, help deposit the collagen matrix)

2. Protein, such as animal foods, beans, and soy foods (for the collagen matrix)

3. Stock (for the minerals)

4. Whole grains (for the magnesium)

5. Foods rich in trace minerals, such as seaweeds, nuts, and seeds

6. Edible bones (for the calcium and other minerals)

7. Healthy fats (for the fat-soluble vitamins needed for the bones, such as vitamins K and D)

To underscore the approach of eating for bone health, the recipes in part 3 are generally arranged in the above order, although in most cases the fats are included in the recipes, not featured as a separate food. Every section, then, relates to bone health in a specific way. Let's take a closer look at these categories and review how each relates to bone health.


Calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and other minerals are found abundantly in the vegetable kingdom, especially in produce that's organically grown. Of particular value for bone health are all the leafy green vegetables, such as kale, collard greens, mustard greens, arugula, bok choy, parsley, watercress, and mesclun, the only exceptions being spinach and Swiss chard, as explained below. Other vegetables especially helpful to the bones include broccoli, cabbage, carrots, zucchini, and acorn or butternut squash. In fact, the food that provides the most calcium per calorie is bok choy, at 790 mg per 100 calories when cooked. Other vegetables with a high calcium content include cooked mustard greens, with 495 mg calcium per 100 calories; raw celery, with 250 mg calcium per 100 calories; and steamed broccoli, with 164 mg calcium per 100 calories. For comparison, skim milk provides 351 mg of calcium per 100 calories, so the veggies are quite within the ballpark.

Some vegetables, most notably spinach and Swiss chard, contain a relative abundance of calcium but also contain oxalates, substances that may interfere with calcium absorption in some cases. However, people on low calcium diets (300 to 400 mg per day) are more efficient at overriding the effect of oxalates and absorbing calcium than people on diets high in calcium-rich dairy products.

Protein Foods

As explained earlier, protein is essential for giving bones the flexibility that helps prevent fractures. There is controversy as to whether protein from animal or vegetable sources is better. For quite some time, the popular assumption was that a diet high in animal protein could contribute to osteoporosis. This assumption has been shown to be incorrect. Some people object to the consumption of animal foods for a variety of reasons. My viewpoint has always been that the choice to be vegetarian or not is a very personal one, and that either can be very healthful as long as the diet is balanced and the foods consumed are fresh, natural, and unrefined -- and hopefully organic.

Cooking with Stock

Cooking with stock is a very traditional way of increasing the nutritional value of dishes made with added liquid, such as soups, stews, grains, beans, and sauces. By cooking bones and vegetables for a long time over low heat, many of the minerals are leached out into the cooking water, making the stock highly nutritious and also alkalizing, especially if something sour has been added such as vinegar or wine.

Whole Grains

In modern times, the primary grains that most cultures rely on for sustenance -- rice and wheat -- are usually stripped of their bran and germ and thereby made deficient in nutrients. Whole grains, such as brown rice, whole wheat, barley, oats, rye, millet, cornmeal, amaranth, quinoa, teff, and buckwheat, are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and B vitamins, and they're very satisfying to boot. Consuming sufficient amounts of whole grains (about a handful of cooked whole grain per meal) also means you need to consume less animal protein due to a concept known as protein sparing. When grains (or fats) provide more calories, this diminishes the body's need to metabolize proteins for energy. This conserves muscle tissue, and whatever is good for the muscles is good for the bones. In addition, whole grains are a good source of magnesium, which helps increase absorption of calcium from the blood into the bones.

Foods Rich in Trace Minerals

Seaweeds, nuts, and seeds are some of the foods richest in trace minerals. As mentioned in chapter 3, trace minerals play an important role in bone health. Remember, less important than how much calcium you eat is the balance of minerals (and other nutrients). Eating food rich in trace minerals will go a long way toward providing mineral balance.

Seaweeds, which are most commonly used in Japanese cuisine are rich in minerals, making them an excellent addition to healthful cooking. In fact, a study of osteoporosis in Taiwan found that those who include seaweed in their diet two or more times per week showed a slightly higher protection against osteoporosis (Shaw 1993). Seaweeds are also valuable for being especially high in iodine, which is necessary for good thyroid function. As discussed in chapter 3, the thyroid and parathyroid glands play an important role in bone health.

Nuts and seeds have the advantage of also being a great source of bone-healthy essential fatty acids, as well as plant protein. A handful of nuts or seeds a day is a good source of trace minerals, such as iron, boron, selenium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Edible Bones

Perhaps your initial response to the idea of eating bones is "what?!" But bones can be eaten when prepared in certain ways, and if you think about it, what better source of natural minerals for our bones than bones themselves? See the recipes in part 3.

Healthy Fats

Good-quality fats are essential for bone health. As we apply the "three-bears-rule" again, too much is no good, but too little is no good, as well. You need to eat enough of these important nutrients, even if that means unlearning a fat phobia. The average postmenopausal woman needs about 65 grams of fat daily. That means you need approximately 2 or 3 tablespoons of good-quality fat per day in an eating regime based on vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds, or about 1 or 2 tablespoons if your diet also includes animal products. Nutritionist Udo Erasmus cautions against using any one type of fat exclusively because it won't contain a full profile of fatty acids and therefore might create an imbalance (Erasmus 1993). We need both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. However, a diet high in polyunsaturated vegetable oils is skewed too much in favor of the latter.

Shaw, C. K. 1993. An epidemilogic study of osteoporosis in Taiwan. Annals of Epidemiology 3 (3):264-271.

Erasmus, U. 1993. Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill: The Complete Guide to Fats, Oils, Cholesterol, and Human Health. Burnaby, BC: Alive Books.

Reprinted with permission by New Harbinger Publications, Inc. The Whole-Food Guide to Strong Bones: A Holistic Approach by Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D.

The above is an excerpt from the book The Whole-Food Guide to Strong Bones: A Holistic Approach by Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D. 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.

Copyright © 2009 Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D., author of The Whole-Food Guide to Strong Bones: A Holistic Approach

Author Bio

Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D., author of The Whole-Food Guide to Strong Bones: A Holistic Approach, is a health educator and award-winning writer, consultant, and lecturer. She is the founder and CEO of the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York City. She is author of several books including Food and Healing and writes a column, "Food and Your Health," for New York Spirit magazine.

For more information please visit

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Sunday Salon November 1, 2009

The Sunday

I cannot believe that today is November 1. Where did October go?? I hope everyone had a great, safe Halloween yesterday. This was my daughter's second Halloween and we put her in the same pumpkin costume she wore last year. At 2 weeks old, the 3-6 month pumpkin outfit swallowed her up. A year later it actually fit pretty well. Yes, she is a tiny little girl. She was definitely not a fan of dressing up either year but this year I think that had more to do with the lack of naps and teething than the actual costume. So we pretty much got a few pictures and put her to bed. Maybe next year Daddy can take her trick or treating.

Last week was a pretty light reading week for me. I finished and reviewed Benny & Shrimp which I really enjoyed. It was a pretty quick read for me which was nice. Now I'm working on The Elves of Cintra, the second book in The Genesis of Shannara series by Terry Brooks. This one is going to take a bit longer. I highly doubt I will finish it this week and maybe not even next week because we have company coming. So the blog will probably be lacking in book reviews for a bit.

I finally had some time last week to figure out how to use FeedBurner to set up email subscriptions for the blog. There are so many improvements that I would like to make here. It is usually a matter of finding the time to figure out how to do what it is that I want to do. I'm hoping to make little improvements, like adding the email subscription option, so Library Girl Reads will be more user friendly. At the same time, I would like to keep things as uncluttered as possible so I don't want to add too many new gadgets.

Well, that was quite the ramble for today's Sunday Salon. Changing the clocks always seems to mess with my head for a few days so I would love for today to include a nap, some reading, and more tea but more than likely it will be laundry, grocery shopping, and more cleaning before company comes.