Monday, October 28, 2013

52 Small Changes - One Year to a Happier, Healthier You

Once again as I was checking in books, I came across one that I checked in and then check out for myself.  Fifty-two small changes seemed doable.

52 Small Changes - One Year to a Happier, Healthier You by Brett Blumenthal did not contain any new, earth-shattering information.  What it did do was to break down, in manageable chunks, what I needed to be doing.

I have always been on the dehydrated side and now that I am in Montana which has a very dry climate, I really need to be drinking more water and that's what this book opened up on - drinking water.  So obviously I was on the right path.

Each week is broken down with what the week will focus on, or "The Change".  It includes a "Roadmap for Success" or how to best incorporate the lesson of the week into your life.  There are step by step instructions on how to go about the lesson of the week and hints and suggestions to make it easier to do so.  At the end of each week there is a "Extra Credit" section if you are already doing the thing of the week to take it to the next level.  The chapter closes with a Weekly Change Checklist so you can see where you are with making the changes.

Like I said, there is nothing earth-shattering in the book, but what I liked about it was that it was broken down in nice, neat chunks.  Instead of saying "eat better", you start off one week with starting to keep a food journal.  Then a couple of weeks later, incorporating more vegetables into your eating habits.  A couple of weeks later, more grains.  So you aren't thrown a huge overhaul at one time, but gradually making your way toward the ultimate goal of eating better and thus, as you get to Week 43, Practicing Mindful Eating.

Another thing which I found good about the book was when Blumenthal talked about stretching or strengthening your core muscles, simple illustrated exercises were included.  You weren't just left hanging on finding your own exercises.

The last chapter, or Week 52, was a bit of a surprise after all the other weeks, but it was a great culmination for the book - "Find Your Own Spirituality".  Blumenthal does not advocate any particular religion, but rather finding what gives you peace and connects you to that higher plane.

I have taken notes and will probably check the book out again from the library (or several times).  Breaking things down into small chunks like this fits in well with setting daily and weekly intentions on where I want to go and what I want to do.  

So off to fill up the water jug for the day!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Written in Red - Anne Bishop

Anne Bishop has created another world in which I would like to wander.  However, being human and considered 'meat' by The Others, would make it a short hike.

In Written in Red, an alternative Earth, Thaisia, is the setting for this world and Meg Corbyn is a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet.  By making cuts on her skin, she sees visions of the future.  This practice is both painful and euphoric.  It also means she has been locked up and controlled her whole life, learning about the world by watching videos and looking at pictures, learning so she can describe what she sees in the visions.  To her Controller, she and other blood prophets are a source of a very lucritive fortune.  But Meg manages to escape and make it to a Courtyard where she seeks to hide against recapture.

A Courtyard is a city within a city, controlled strictly by The Others, the terra indigene, and maintained to keep an eye on the humans (or monkeys, as they are called).  When Meg reaches Lakeside, she finds a job as the Human Liaison, despite Simon Wolfgard's, a shape-shifter, unease.  She's human, meat, prey, but she doesn't smell like prey and he and the other shifters can't figure her out.  

From the very first day on the job, Meg is determined to succeed where others have failed.  Mainly because it is only in the Courtyard she is safe from being returned to her Controller.  And from the first, her naive approach to The Others slowly, but surely, worms it's way into their heart and protection.  She makes sure Winter and her sisters has their books, she delivers packages to the Sanguinati (vampires with a twist) endearing herself to the head of their clan, and she gives treats to the ponies, all which in turn means that Meg is "theirs" and they protect what is "theirs".

While there are aspects of the book which are predictable, the overall read is great and Bishop has created a world which is different and fascinating.  This world in which the shifters rule and don't have to hide what they are is engaging.  A world in which a werewolf is the least of a humans worries if they anger an Elemental, or worse.

Murder of Crows is due out in March, 2014 and I am tapping my foot impatiently.  It's on pre-order already.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

City of Dark Magic

One of the worse things about working at the library and checking in books is that the pile of books beside my bed and my list of books to read keeps growing and growing.  A book which recently came through and caught by eye was City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte.  

Sarah is a musicologist working on her Ph.D and is offered a summer job in Prague, coordinating the music section of a soon-to-be opened private museum.  Since this is where her idol, Beethoven, spent some time, this was a no-brainer to accept this job.  That's when things get strange.

First, there is a dwarf who keeps appearing and making odd statements and giving her even odder articles.  There is the current prince, Max, who has inherited the estates in and around Prague and who is setting up the museum.   A young, blind musical prodigy which Sarah mentors.  Two or three murders occur.  Throw in the beautiful, but deadly, other half of Max's family and an American senator with high aspirations, some wild sex and a strange, magical drug and here is a book you can't put down.

One thing I liked about the book was the setting, Prague.  It is not unusual to get books set in Paris, London, Moscow, New York, or some obscure little town somewhere, but you don't often get cities that have been set in cities which have been behind the Iron Curtain for so long.

The best thing is that Sarah is not a dummy nor is she some shrinking violet in need of rescue.  One of the reasons she took the job was that her mentor, Professor Sherbatsky, apparently committed suicide at the palace where the museum is being set up.  She will be taking over where he left off and she wants to get to the bottom of this 'suicide', because she isn't believing it.

A fast-paced book, filled with international intrigue, sex, magic, and music, it is a book well worth reading.  What is also fun is the author, Magnus Flyte, who obviously isn't a 'real' person.  And there is this nice video which gives a little bit more information on the premise of the book. 

On an even better note (no musical pun intended), there is a sequel coming out next month, following the same characters.  I can't wait.