Friday, November 30, 2012

35/40: Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward

Lover Unleashed (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #9)Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: Payne, twin sister of Vishous, is cut from the same dark, warrior cloth as her brother: A fighter by nature, and a maverick when it comes to the traditional role of Chosen females, there is no place for her on the Far Side… and no role for her on the front lines of the war, either. 

When she suffers a paralyzing injury, human surgeon Dr. Manuel Manello is called in to treat her as only he can- and he soon gets sucked into her dangerous, secret world. Although he never before believed in things that go bump in the night- like vampires- he finds himself more than willing to be seduced by the powerful female who marks both his body and his soul.

As the two find so much more than an erotic connection, the human and vampire worlds collide … just as a centuries old score catches up with Payne and puts both her love and her life in deadly jeopardy

Another book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood book down. This is #9 in the series.
With the long list of characters, it feels like it will never end. There are always new characters arriving and everyone has a story. I will say that it's nice each book is focused on a certain character and their life.

Payne is a strong female character and I liked her. Not a big fan of Manny, I'm still not sure other than his surgical skills how he really fits in, but I'm sure that will be expanded on in the next book. As always, they see each other and fall in love immediately. They can't live without each other, but they try and it goes all wrong. Reunite and happily ever after. This is the same plot as all the books so you know what you're getting yourself into. As much as I'd like to quit this series, I can't. I'll eventually pick up the next one and speed through it as well.

It was refreshing to read a book of someone who wasn't a Brother. I was a little disappointed that there was a lot of focus on V again. He got an entire book to himself! I also felt the scenes with Xcor were a little anti-climatic. I'm a little sad Ward is adding in what appears to be another "brotherhood". As if the Black Dagger Brotherhood didn't have enough to worry about with an expanding family and the Lessening Society growing in numbers. Maybe the change will be good?

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

34/40: The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy

The Soldier's WifeThe Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: As World War II draws closer and closer to Guernsey, Vivienne de la Mare knows that there will be sacrifices to be made. Not just for herself, but for her two young daughters and for her mother-in-law, for whom she cares while her husband is away fighting. What she does not expect is that she will fall in love with one of the enigmatic German soldiers who take up residence in the house next door to her home. As their relationship intensifies, so do the pressures on Vivienne. Food and resources grow scant, and the restrictions placed upon the residents of the island grow with each passing week. Though Vivienne knows the perils of her love affair with Gunther, she believes that she can keep their relationship and her family safe. But when she becomes aware of the full brutality of the Occupation, she must decide if she is willing to risk her personal happiness for the life of a stranger.

Good story. I was expecting a great story, but I'll settle for good.

I enjoyed The Soldier's Wife. It had a good story, didn't sugarcoat the way life was on Guernsey and had an element of tension throughout.The people of Guernsey were sheltered from the main onslaught of the war. They did not remain unscathed. How historically accurate it was having work camps on the island, I'm not sure. It would definitely be something to look into. When we're taught about WW2 in school, you usually hear about the large camps, rarely about them being everywhere the Germans were.

I kept waiting for something to happen that was truly horrific for the De Le Mare's. There was certainly some tension spots and some horrible things that happened, but they remained for the most part, safe. Things could have gone significantly worse than they did.

I did find the story a little choppy in parts There seemed to be a disconnect between what Vivienne felt for the Captain and what was conveyed to the reader. I didn't feel the love they had for each as deeply as I believe they did for each other. It seemed to be an overview of the life rather than in depth. In all fairness, it did span the entire length of WW2. It seems as though there was months missed and that the bulk of their love affair happened there.

I will say the ending surprised me. It also seemed rushed.
I do think I will read another book by Leroy. She has good writing.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Going Gluten Free for health

Last week I told you all that I had some blood work done and was going for the results. I went. And the news is a little shocking to me.
I have an iron deficiency. I’m anemic. The level wasn't even close to being on the "low" side of the normal range.
I have a vitamin B12 deficiency. Not super low, but lower than she would like to see in me.
I have a vitamin D deficiency. This wasn't a surprise, since it's winter and most Canadians don't get enough sun being bundled up in parkas.

With all of that, and a positive Anti-nuclear antibody test, my Naturopath has said I’m likely developing Celiac Disease. As in, I don’t have it, but if I continue to eat the way that I do, it’s more than likely I will develop it. Having a gluten sensitivity, or Celiac disease would make sense for me with my vitamin deficiencies. We could do a biopsy test to confirm, but I'd rather skip that part and try going on a gluten free diet and see if symptoms improve.

What does that mean for me? Along with my (now 5) supplements I’m taking until everything starts to balance out, I’m to try and limit gluten out of my diet. Three or four years ago, this would have been THE END OF THE WORLD for me, but I've since learned to try new food and be a less picky eater. (I’m the kid that ate the same thing EVERY day for lunch and didn't want anything else)

The Dr. gave me a list of safe/unsafe foods to watch for. It's no where near complete but I think that would be over whelming. So far I'm becoming a label reader and finding a lot of what we eat is safe. Sadly, a lot of my favorites are unsafe. (Huge pasta eaters in my house) The good part is the opportunity to experiment with new food and how to modify favorite recipes. We went grocery shopping yesterday and got a whole bunch of new foods to experiment with. I'm wishing Pinterest wasn't blocked at work, but on the other hand, that's probably a good thing. I'm also resisting going and buying a cookbook today.

My family has been incredibly supportive of the change. My sister is hosting Christmas this year and we'll be doing up a menu plan that will satisfy everyone and not cause me any digestive pain. Frenchie is a little unlucky that he also gets to be gluten free for the most part. He can easily eat gluten if he wants, but if I'm cooking dinner, there will not be two meals. As a guy who will eat almost anything, he is happy to help me make new exciting dishes.

If you have an products you love or recipes, please share them! I'm being thrown into a whole new cooking world.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Health Update

I went for a massage in October and was recommended to see a chiropractor at one particular clinic. Turns out the clinic is 5 minutes from my house. My massage therapist that I had by chance gone to, told me this chiropractor would be able to help me. So I went. I swear he is the first chiropractor to really listen to me and understand where I'm coming from. I have been going to him every Saturday for the past 6 weeks. We've now moved to a bi-weekly basis and adding a massage treatment in between.

I’m in total shock that this guy was able to have 2 sessions with me and make a difference to my arm/wrist pain. I have a large amount of scar tissue in my shoulder, lats and forearm that he’s working diligently on breaking up. He’s also said that my pain is pinched nerves, coming from my shoulder, armpit and pecs. He’s been able to recreate the pain easily from those three areas that it’s hard to deny that’s where it comes from. 

I’m still skeptical that someday down the road I’ll be pain free, but for now, having little to no pain every week and going in for treatments is the best possible situation I could be in. The fact that treatments are every two weeks with chiro and every two weeks with massage is a step in the right direction. It makes me incredibly thankful my husband and I have health benefits we can rely on.

Being able to play piano for more than 15 minutes at a time is wonderful. I feel like I can play for enjoyment and keep going through songs with little to know worry about suffering pain later. I’m not cleared to start strength training yet. My body is itching to do something, but I know I have to wait. For the mean time, I can do cardio, legs and abs.

As for the mental side of things, I feel lighter. I feel like something is lifted, but not entirely gone. Like a veil has been removed and I am standing in sunshine, rather than in the shadow. The supplements my Naturopath has me on are making a world of difference. I’m happier, I feel more equipped to deal with things that otherwise would have me in an anxious heap. There is still something hiding deep within, some residing fear that it won't last. That maybe this will all disappear some day and I’ll be that anxious mess again, but for now, I’m enjoying every minute of this light feeling.

I had blood tests last week and will go in this week to get my results. We’ll see what the Dr. says and if I need to adjust my supplements or start taking more. Feeling healthy is a wonderful feeling. Feeling like you’re awake and seeing life in a new light is refreshing. 


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

33/40: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Maggie Stiefvater is an incredible author. Raven Boys is unique and well written. It took me a while to get into the characters and see how they all played out together. I've been thinking about the book for the past week so that definitely shows it was a good one. I should know better than to start a book when the series isn't complete. It's so painful to wait!

Gansey is an interesting character. He's flawed and naive and incredibly focused. The amount of care he has for his friends isn't misplaced and in a very, very sweet. He has no idea that his money and offering to take care of people isn't taken well. His eloquent words are daggers to those that did not grow up in his world. I love that he has a little Indiana Jones in him. Treasure hunting has become an interesting obsession for him. A safe place to use his money where it doesn’t offend anyone. He was able to be himself and not the character he had to play because of who he is on the outside. There’s another side to Gansey that we only see when he’s in his element.

Blue, to me, is not the main character of this book like I expected her to be. She is a side character that works well with the boys. I also enjoyed this book because there was very little teen love in it. She wasn’t the kind of girl that went gaga over a boy and lost her head. Refreshing!

The shifting perspectives of each chapter were refreshing and gave me a chance to get to know every character individually. Each character was completely unique and had a different background. I liked that Stiefvater let us see into each characters background and life the other characters may not have seen.

I’ve never read a book that had to do with time-space or psychics so this was a great one. I'm excited for the next book in the series!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Anxiety Treatment

There is something to be said about getting second opinions, and trying new health professionals.

About 3 years ago I was going to a Naturopath for prolotherapy for my wrist pain. It helped, for a while. At the same time I was suffering from brutal panic attacks and anxiety. The Dr recommended Rescue Remedy as a way to help me cope and it worked, most of the time.

Over the past month my anxiety has come back. It’s been draining, and with winter setting in, will be harder to combat. A lack of vitamin D is a problem and Seasonal Affective Disorder is something a lot of Canadians go through, even if they don’t realize it.

I decided that going to my medical doctor likely wouldn't do much for me since there is no medical test for anxiety and I don’t really want to be on anything resembling anti-depressants. I don’t believe I’m there and would like to deal with this naturally versus pumping more medication into my body. The closer we get to maybe starting a family, the more I’m pushing for getting off all the medication I've been put on for various problems. Most of them are “safe” for fertility and baking a baby, but I’d prefer to not have the risk if it can be avoided.

I went to a different naturopathic doctor this time and after a 1.5 hour consultation, she has made a small difference. We talked about my past, present and future plans. She told me that although my environment maybe giving me symptoms of anxiety and causing stress, it’s not the underlying problem. Rescue Remedy may help the symptoms, but it’s not the solution. “You can’t change your environment, you can adjust your perspective and how you deal with it”.

She has determined that my body is a little backwards. It’s low on serotonin, which also means it’s low on melatonin production. Cortisol is high based on my stress levels which could be pulling progesterone from my body, leading to other womanly issues. I have a lot of trouble sleeping because of the first two chemicals being imbalanced. I have incredibly horrible periods where I’m more likely to take a day off work than come in dealing with the pain, nausea and heaviness because of the second hormone being less than it should be.

Her first course of action is to help me sleep. More sleep = better coping function = less anxiety = happier me. I’m taking one 5-htp capsule in the morning to help produce serotonin which in turn helps my body naturally create melatonin. It will also help even out my mood throughout the day. An hour before bed I’m to take 2 Phosphatidylserine capsules. This will stop my body from using cortisol at night, keeping me awake and my brain doing circles. Allowing my body to use the melatonin it created all day.

It’s been 4 days and I've slept well 3 out of 4 nights. I feel lighter mentally. It’s still too soon to say that everything is “normal” but I definitely feel like it’s tipping the scales that way. Still a long way to go, but every day is getting brighter.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

32/40: Wild: From Lost to Found on the PCT by Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wouldn't ever recommend this book. If it wasn't for book club, I wouldn't have picked this one up. I'm having a hard time writing a review for this book because I didn't really like it.

If this book was fiction, I may have had an easier time getting through it. I lost respect for the author in the way she coped with her loss. Not everyone deals with loss the same way, and I get that. Some people channel positive ways and some negative. It was just hard to read the negative things she did and never really explained her reasons. It seems like hiking the Pacific Coast Trail was the positive route, but a little extreme in my opinion. I am glad the book focused on that part instead of the negatives.

It took me 2 months to get through this. I started reading every word. Then I got frustrated with her coping mechanisms and only read the parts where she was describing her journey on the trail. Then it got to be boring and the same after a while. He journey was long, and she had great luck not having terrible things happen to her as a young woman hiking alone. There were certainly times when things could have gone far worse than they did.

I do have a great respect for the brutal environment she put herself through in order to try and find herself. I could never do that. I hate hiking. The fact that she got through the PCT is truly an accomplishment.

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Friday, November 2, 2012

October 2012 Book Recap

What I read and started in October 2012

Books read to date: 31/40
I am 2 books behind my goal.

The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Still Reading
 by Cheryl Strayed – this book just won’t end

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - far too slow to get going
The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice (audiobook) – lost interest. I may come back to it later. I liked the story a lot, just not the right time to listen to a book.

Monthly savings: $35.94
Year-to-date savings: $303.65