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There are TWO posts today...Sorry about that :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review: The Sea of Monsters and The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

Sea of Monsters click for synopsis from Goodreads

Titan's Curse click for synopsis from Goodreads

This is a double review because these books all follow the same basic pattern: Percy is at his latest school, gets kicked out, ends up at Camp Half-Blood, Percy rejoins his friends and they all set out on a quest to thwart whatever the evil Kronos has done this time to take over the world.  This may sound like I don't like these books but I do.  Very much so.  It's just that there isn't a whole lot to them because they are written for a younger audience, but that doesn't diminish them.  Oh no, I read these suckers non stop back to back.

While these books may not have enough meat for an adult brain, the adventure, the snark is adorable.  Seeing all the threads of the story as an adult makes me realize how deficit my ancient mythology knowledge is.  Also, Riordan does throw crafty things in there that me stop and say, "No way" or "That's a cool idea."  The bottom line is these are fun books, and should make children get excited about reading.
These books also have subtle lessons in them, like not picking on others who are different.  All in all these books are fun, adventurous reads, for kids of all ages.

My Ratings for both: 90/100

Both books were borrowed from the library.

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fitness Friday: Nutrition

Today’s topic is Nutrition!

Last Friday I had my first appointment with a nutritionist, and it was quite interesting.  When someone else asks you what you eat, it’s kind of like baring your soul.  You realize, “Hey, I eat pretty crappy.”  After this mutual non-judgmental discussion, we decide I eat too many carbs.  So I am on a low carb diet, like a modified diabetic diet.  After five days I must admit I feel pretty good. 

Right now, the goal is to keep my carbs within the following parameters:
  • Breakfast 30-50 grams
  • Lunch and dinner  45-55 grams (I think that’s each, not total for both)
  • Snacks 20-30 grams

Stay away from tropical fruits, so eat more apples, pears, berries, cantaloupe.  Eggs are wonderful and apparently you can have them every day.  So I made an egg frittata over the weekend, and bring some to work every day for breakfast.  I have to plan my meals or else I will eat crappy food.  

Two other good tips I want to share are the following:
  • 10 minutes before you eat, drink an ice cold glass of water with some lemon or lime in it.  This gets the stomach juices going, signaling the brain that you are eating, thus when you eat you feel full faster.  Also the cold water starts your metabolism because your body needs to  heat the water up.
  • Psyllium husk fiber. I picked mine up at Whole Foods.  Two tablespoons contains 8 grams of soluble fiber.  We need at least 25 grams of fiber daily, and Americans only consume about 10 grams.  Right now I’m only doing 1 TBS in the am and 1 TBS at lunch.  Next week I may increase it.

Tracking is also important.  When you write things down, it becomes real and accountable.  The one tool that has helped the most has been using My Plate on  You can use this to track everything, water consumption, fitness, all your food.  Seeing the numbers associated with my meals has been a real eye opener. 

Overall I enjoyed my visit with the Nutritionist.  She was friendly and helpful; didn't make me feel bad or anything.  As part of my health benefits, I receive 6 free visits with her, so visit number two will be more focused.   This first one was about getting started, becoming acquainted with one another, and seeing what works for me and what doesn't.  So check into your benefits, and see what they cover.  I didn't even realize I had this option until I poked around Blue Cross.  If you don’t have this option, I will be more than happy to share what I learn.  I am all about helping others and doing sharesies J

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review: The Way by Kristen Wolf

From the Author's website: 
Anna is a fiery tomboy living in ancient Palestine whose androgynous appearance provokes ridicule from the people around her and doubt within her own heart. When tragedy strikes her family, and Anna’s father disguising her as a boy sells her to a band of shepherds, she is captured by a mystical and secret society of women hiding in the desert. At first Anna is tempted to escape, but she soon finds that the sisterhood’s teachings and healing abilities, wrapped in an ancient philosophy they call “The Way,” have unleashed an unexpected power within her.
When danger befalls the caves in which the sisters have made their home, Anna embarks on a hazardous mission to preserve the wisdom of her mentors by proclaiming it among ordinary people. Her daring quest and newfound destiny reveal, at last, the full truth of her identity a shocking revelation that will spark as much controversy as it does celebration.
Anna’s story is one of transformation, betrayal, love, loss, deception, and above all, redemption. Readers will cheer for this unforgettable protagonist and for debut novelist Kristen Wolf, whose beautifully written book both provokes and inspires. A compelling mix of history, myth, and fantasy, The Way is a fascinating exploration of the foundations and possibilities of human spirituality.
My Thoughts:

What if Jesus had been a girl?  Forget what you know or believe in for a short time and just accept this statement at face value.  Then think about what the true story of Jesus could have been like.  This is the essence of the Way.

Anna is an androgynous girl that had to dress like a man in order to survive society at that time.  Circumstances see Anna abandoned by her father, and sent to live among the shepherds, as a boy. Eventually Anna embraces her androgyny and becomes Jesus.  Two of the shepherds, Solomon and Judas, suspect Anna's true nature, but remain silent.  Solomon and Judas are followers of the Way, the maternal based religion prevalent in history until Christianity came along.  Followers of the Way do not judge and accept people, things, and life for what it is.,  They give thanks for being alive and exploring what the world has to offer.

Anna cannot stay with the shepherds forever, and she eventually comes to live with a group of women who keep the Way alive.  These women live in secret because they are persecuted for their beliefs, and they are women.  Women are not allowed to have any power in this society.  Anna learns about the Way and finally is able to make peace with who she is until events force the women to abandon their secret living place.  Forced out into the world, Anna must again take up her "Jesus" persona and see her two companions to safety.  Dressed as a man, Anna was able to move throughout society with freedom and ease, that a woman could never have, especially a woman with a manish mannish features.  Women of the Way of healers, having  knowledge of herbs and healing and along the way the trio begin to treat or "heal" people.  Jesus eventually begins to preach about the Way, and eventually gets herself in to trouble.  I won't give away the rest.  I think I already gave away too much already.

I liked the story for several reasons:

  • The author was quite inventive in taking what we know today about Jesus and transforming these stories into an alternative history;  I especially liked the way people were introduced such as Peter and Judas, and the parables were used as a basis for events in the story
  • The characters were all compelling, and I felt their internal struggles
  • The courage to tell this story and consider the possibilities of of other stories like this.  Taking faith out of the equation, which is hard, how can we really know what happened back then?  There is Jesus and there is the Church.  There is also what we know about history, in terms of how women were treated and how rising religions took over and persecuted those who didn't believe.  Greek and Roman mythology, the Egyptian religion, the Roman Catholic Church, they have all done it.  It's commonly known that the Church throughout history has never seen women as equally, so wouldn't it be ironic if Jesus was really a woman?
This book may offend some, but I enjoyed it for what it really is: a different way of looking at things and considering the possibilities.  Doesn't make you any less of a person or any less spiritual.  Makes you think.

My Rating: 93/100

Publisher: Crown
Genre: Historical fiction, women's fiction
Hardback 359 pages
Book Source: FSB Associates

Kristen Wolf's website:

A link to the book trailer:

Thanks to FSB Associates for my review copy.

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's up Wednesday?

Hi my chickadees!

How are you?  Hope this finds you all well.  It’s been a while since last we chatted.  First up is a knitting project I finally finished:

I LOVE this shawl!  The color, the yarn, the size…it’s my number one favorite knitted thing.  I started this last year on the flight to Hawaii, and just finished it over the weekend.  Other projects got in the way, plus work and reading but now it’s completed.

Next, is a Kona puppy update.  Well Kona is almost 10 months old, and over the past month or so has really come into her own.  She is getting very comfortable around the house, adjusting to our schedules and behavior, and truly becoming one of the pack.  Kona is still a cuddler, so at night she will wake you as she tries to get right up next to you to sleep.  I know that can be a puppy behavior, but I think it’s also because of the events early in her life.  She still destroys every single toy we give her, but hopefully over time that will stop.  Also, Kona is not a fan of bath time.  I had to chase her around the yard during the bathing.  She was a bit tuckered out.

As for reading, things are going well.  I am doing pretty good at just saying to no to ARCs, or at least  most of them.  I recently finished a book from my shelves (yay!) and read a little more of the Michner tome and Middlemarch.  Trish was talking about doing a read-along for The Stand, so I decided I would join her on that.  Saw the television movie years ago and I’ve always heard how the book was fantastic and creepy.  Would you like to join? You know you want to.   I’ll keep you posted.

As for other life things, work is work, and my classes that I’m teaching are almost completed, so I am super happy about that.  Went to a nutritionist last Friday and will share details on this week’s Fitness Friday.  I really want to try and keep that bi-weekly, but things happen and I don’t always have time.  But you all know how that it is.

So what’s up with you lately?  How have things been?  Anything interesting you would like to share?

Happy reading and talk to you soon :)

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Review: A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer duBois

Publisher: Dial Press
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover, 384 pages
Book Source: TLC Book Tours

In Jennifer duBois’s mesmerizing and exquisitely rendered debut novel, a long-lost letter links two disparate characters, each searching for meaning against seemingly insurmountable odds.
In St. Petersburg, Russia, world chess champion Aleksandr Bezetov begins a quixotic quest. With his renowned Cold War–era tournaments behind him, Aleksandr has turned to politics, launching a dissident presidential campaign against Vladimir Putin. He knows he will not win—and that he is risking his life in the process—but a deeper conviction propels him forward. And in the same way that he cannot abandon his aims, he cannot erase the memory of a mysterious woman he loved in his youth.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, thirty-year-old English lecturer Irina Ellison is on an improbable quest of her own. Certain she has inherited Huntington’s disease—the same cruel illness that ended her father’s life—she struggles with a sense of purpose. When Irina finds an old, photocopied letter her father had written to the young Aleksandr Bezetov, she makes a fateful decision. Her father had asked the Soviet chess prodigy a profound question—How does one proceed against a lost cause?—but never received an adequate reply. Leaving everything behind, Irina travels to Russia to find Bezetov and get an answer for her father, and for herself.
My Thoughts:
Jennifer DuBois is a magnificent writer, of that I have no doubt.  Her writing paints pictures in the readers mind that are hard to shake.  We read the early history of Aleksandr, growing up in 1980s Communist Russia.  My goodness no wonder why working class Russians are or were so grim and depressed.  The conditions are horrible, and it’s difficult to ever get truly warm, and food was scarce back then.  DuBois  wrote such a vivid description of Russian life, I shivered in my chair from the cold and desperation that permeated her scenes.  In these respects, the settings, ancillary characters, and the general tone of the book, DuBois had my attention.  Unfortunately, when it came to the two main characters, Aleksandr and Irina, I had great difficulty sticking with the story, thus not finishing this book.  I tried with all my heart to continue on this journey with them, but it just didn’t happen for me. 

I never connected nor fully liked either Aleksandr or Irina.  Regarding Aleksandr, I just never got a sense of his real essence.  Except for the chess, which was his saving grace, Aleksandr was lonely, introverted, and struggling through life.  He also lost the love of this life, but I had difficulty felling sympathetic towards him.  I know that sounds terrible, but I just didn’t get it.  Even as I write this I’m not sure how to fully describe him.

With respect to Irina, she has been dealt a horrific hand in life.  Her family situation growing up deteriorated quickly due to her father’s illness, so that could make her somewhat maladjusted.  Introverted, with a dark view on life.  I get that.  Then when Irina is given this death sentence, she lashes out like any normal person would do, but the traveling to Russia, didn’t click for me.  You could do anything, go anywhere, and you decide to go to Russia, which although not Communist anymore, is not the best of places to go.  It’s still very tenuous there.  I know I couldn’t possibly ever know how Irina felt, even if I walked a mile in her shoes, but all the same I couldn’t figure her out.  I could not support her decision or her actions, in addition to not having much sympathy or like for her in the first place, probably doomed her character from the start for me and my “special” likes.

So what does this all this mean?  Well I didn’t finish the book, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try another of DuBois’ novels.  Her writing evoked such a strong response from me, that I would be foolish not to give her another chance.  This novel was just not for me, and that’s alright.  That’s why there are a bazillion books in the world.  So please be sure to stop by one of the other tour stops, for a differing opinion of this book.  Rest assured though, if DuBois pens another tale, I will be sure to give her another chance.

For more information about the author, please stop by her website:

A Partial History of Lost Causes on  

Jennifer duBois’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, March 12th:  Book Snob
Wednesday, March 14th:  Bibliosue
Monday, March 19th:  Unabridged Chick
Tuesday, March 20th:  Broken Teepee
Wednesday, March 21st:  The Literate Housewife Review
Monday, March 26th:  Luxury Reading
Wednesday, March 28th:  Book Club Classics
Thursday, March 29th:  BookNAround
Wednesday, April 4th:  Wordsmithonia
Thursday, April 5th:  She Treads Softly
Monday, April 9th: Coffee and a Book Chick
Wednesday, April 11th:  Jenny Loves to Read

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for my review copy.

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Review: Texas Pride by Leigh Greenwod

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Romance, western
Paperback, 384 pages
Book Source: Sourcebooks
My Rating: 80/100

From Sourcebooks:

Ivan Nikolai, a Polish prince whose family lost their estates, came to America to seek his fortune but ended up serving in the cavalry during the Civil War.  Unexpectedly, he is given the opportunity to earn enough money working on a cattle ranch in Texas to return to Poland and assume his rightful position…

Carla Reece is furious at her brother for losing half the family ranch in a card game. Everyone knows Laveau diViere got her brother drunk and cheated. She has no intention of allowing diViere or anyone sent in his place to set foot on her ranch, but what can she do when Ivan camps out by her creek?  He’s big, blond, full of charm, has a smile that makes her weak in the knees, and is about as moveable as a mountain…  How can she stick to her guns when everyone, including herself, thinks he’s perfect husband material?

My Thoughts:

This is a nice romantic story with elements I don't normally encounter, such as early Texas, a Polish prince, and cattle thieves.  The western ranch setting was great.  I like d the descriptions and the little town trappings that came along with it.  Those towns always have great characters in them.  I also liked fiesty Carla and her immature brother Danny who foolishly looses the farm in a card game.  Carla was a strong mothering type not to be trifled with.  She was smart, hard working, and wanted to be taken seriously.  Ivan was also an enjoyable character.  He was an honorable, hardworking Prince and learning about his background was interesting as well.

The problem I had with this book was that I felt like I was reading the same conversations over and over again.  "I don't want to lose half my ranch...I understand but this paper entitles me to half of the ranch....but I'm sure my brother was cheated...that may be true but I have this paper..."  I felt as though the conversation went this way through the first half of the book.  So I skimmed the second half.  Sorry but I skimmed to find out what happens in the end, and wasn't concerned about the journey.

Not all books can appeal to everyone.  That's why there is chocolate and vanilla ice cream.  Maybe you'll like book more than I, and that's cool.  Like I said everything else was enjoyable but the dialogue killed me.

Thanks again to Danielle from Sourcebooks for my review copy.

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"