Monday, 1 October 2012

Bookworm Series no.2

Two Book Reviews


Matched is a young adult dystopian novel written by Ally Condie, a former English teacher from Salt Lake City, Utah. It is a part of #1 new York Times bestselling series and Entertainment Weekly even said that it's the hottest young adult novel to hit the shelves after the Hunger Games trilogy. 
The novel is situated into a dystopian future society. Previous generations have destroyed everything with their wars, and with time the Society was formed. The Society is governed by Officials and they decide everything for you - where you will work, who you will marry, even when you will die. Upon turning 17, a huge banquet is held at which you are matched to the person you are supposed to marry. You get a small computer chip containing details about your Match, since it's basically a rule that you don't know the person you're matched to. On the surface, it seems that the Society works perfectly fine and everybody seems happy with their lives and choices. Cassia is one of those people, her future is promising and she has every reason to trust into the Society. She is matched to her best friend, Xander, which is a rare thing. But an error appears after her Match Banquet, and for a split second another boy's face appears on the screen. She knows that boy, too; his name is Ky and he goes to her school. And she finds herself torn between her feelings and loyalty to the Society.
I don't want to give away too much for those of you who didn't read the book. All in all, I did like the book, but... The ideas she has are great, but she doesn't seem to bring them across very well. At some points, more descriptions were necessary for a reader to truly be able to understand what is going on in the story, or in Cassias head. Another thing is that she doesn't make you sympathize with the characters. The portrayal of characters in the book is good, but not excellent, and you are interested in what will happen to them, but you don't identify with them or their situation because you don't know them all that well. It's a good novel, but I wouldn't compare it with the Hunger Games trilogy. I would give it 4 out of 5 stars. 


The sequel takes place outside the Society, since the Official have take Ky to Outer Provinces to his certain death. Cassia leaves her home in pursuit for Ky and finds out that he escaped the Provinces. With a friend, she tracks him down and they reunite. They hear the stories of Uprisings and Cassia wants to find it and join it, but Ky is reluctant and this creates tension between them. On the other hand, she finds out that Xander has already joined the Uprising and works for it within the Society.
The second book, in my honest opinion, was a bit slow, and since it's not taking place in the Society, it is not as interesting as the first book. What I did like is that it was written from both Cassia's and Ky's perspective, and you could see a difference between these two voices, although they were written by the same (female) author. I would give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Diet: A Healthy Snack

Banana Cookies

I have searched the Internet and combined several different healthy cookie recipes into the following one, according to what I had in my cupboard and how I wanted it to taste. This recipe is super easy and healthy, and the most important thing is that these cookies are soooo delicious.

Ingredients:  3/4 cup rolled oats
                     1 banana
                     1-2 tsp unrefined sugar (or stevia or honey)
                     1/4 tsp baking powder
                     some milk (2 tbsp approximately)

Mix oats, sugar and baking powder in a small bowl. Add the chopped banana and blend the mixture with the food processor. (I like the oats to have the flour consistency, that's why I blend it all together. But you could skip this and just mash the banana before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.) Add milk and mix it well until you get a sticky consistency. Place the mixture with a spoon on cookie sheet and bake it in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes on 180 degrees Celsius (360 Fahrenheit). This mixture will make about 6-8 cookies, depending on their size and I would say each cookie has no more than 30 calories! They are a great on-the-go snack since they are really filling and satisfy the sweet-tooth. And they are also super healthy and nutritious. You can alter this recipe the way you'd like, by adding cocoa or chocolate chips to it.

Hope you like this recipe and bon appetit! :)


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Diet: Tea Time

My Favorite Teas

I LOVE tea!! :) And Fall and Winter months are perfect for this hot, comforting beverage. Natural, unsweetened teas is delicious, good for you and a healthy substitute for a juice or soda. Here are a few of my favorite teas. 


Twinings Earl Grey Tea

I love all Twinings teas, but Earl Grey is an all-time favorite.This tea has a famous story behind it's name: the Georgian Prime Minister, Ear Grey, was given cases of this tea by a Chinese Mandarin. He liked it so much that he brought it home and asked Twinings to recreate it for him, and the tea was named after him.
As Twinings would describe it, it's a light fragrant black tea, infused with a distinctive lemon and bergamot flavour. It's taste is rich and distinct.

Twinings Lady Grey Tea

The Lady also had to have her tea, and she sure got a delicious one :) The Earl Grey mixture is enriched with the delicate hint of oranges and lemons and is a perfect pick for afternoons.

Twinings Irish Breakfast

Black tea blend with rich and smooth taste.

Twinings English Breakfast

Another black tea blend, appropriate to go with the breakfast, but not exclusively.This tea is full- bodied and full of flavour, perfect to begin the day with. 

Ahmad English Tea No.1

This amazing tea is a blend of Assam, Ceylon, and Kenyan tea, with the slightest hint of bergamot. Light, but rich flavour. 

Whittard of Chelsea Afternoon Tea

This tea is a specific blend of fine black and jasmine green tea, combined with the distinctive flavour of bergamot. It's taste is also very light and flowery. 

I drink my black teas instead of coffee, with milk and unrefined sugar to taste.


Twinings Green Tea with Mint

This is my favourite green tea and I love drinking it by itself, without adding any honey to it. A perfect mixture of green tea and mint, which gives a perfect light taste.

Ahmad Blueberry Green Tea 

I love this unusual blend of green tea and blueberry; the fruity taste is delicate, but present.

Pure Green Tea

And, of course, pure green tea by any brand hits my top-teas list.

I love having my green tea in the evenings, and usually drink them by themselves, without adding any sweeteners. When I crave something more sweet, I add a small tea spoon of honey and enjoy my tea :)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Beauty Bit: BB Cream Review

La Roche Posay Hydreane BB Cream

I was at the Mall the other day and passing by a pharmacy, I saw that La Roche Posay came out with their first BB cream. I have wanted to buy a BB cream for a while, but didn't for several reasons. First, I didn't want to buy a drugstore brand like Garnier because I have sensitive and acne prone skin and I use strictly the brands which my dermatologist prescribes. Second, the shades of the Garnier cream don't really match my skin well, and up unitl recently, Garnier was the only available brand in my country. So I was super excited to see that La Roche Posay came out with this product, because I use their face products and I LOVE them.The pharmacist gave me a sample to try it out. 
This cream is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin and also has SPF 20. It comes in two shades, light and dark, and is paraben-free, non comedogenic, hypoallergenic and nickel-controlled (formulated to contain only the minimum quantity of nickel). It contains La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring water, which is incredibly good for the skin. It is very light and smooth in texture, and is oil free. It can be used as a daily moisturizer or as a make up basis.
I tried out the lighter shade, since I am very fair, and it matched my skin perfectly. It is very moisturizing and feels really light on the skin, as if wearing a very light, fluid-based moisturizer. The complexion is visibly smoother and unifyied. If you don't need a lot of coverage or on casual days, when you want your skin to look silky and super healthy, but you don't want to burden it with heavy foundations, you can wear it by itself. If you want more or need more coverage, you can apply some loose powder on top and it'll last you the whole day.Your complexion won't seem dull, your skin will look super healthy and dewy. The only thing one might dislike is the scent, because it does have noticeable (but nice) scent to it. 

All in all, I love this product, I highly recommend it and will definitely purchase it!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Beauty Bit: Drink Yourself Beautiful

The Amazing Green Tea

It is simply amazing how nature is filled with so many delicious, extremely nutritious and beneficial foods and drinks. One such drink is green tea. 

Green tea is proven to be one of the healthiest drinks out there. The secret of green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is a powerful antioxidant. It combats cancer cells and prevents their growth, and lowers LDL cholesterol levels. Green, oolong, and black teas all come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, but the difference lies in the fact that green tea leaves are steamed, which prevents the EGCG compound from being oxidized. Black and oolong tea leaves are fermented, and the EGCG is turned into compounds that are not as beneficial as the untouched ECGC in the green tea. Although it contains caffeine (in truly low amount compared to coffee, or even black tea), avoid decaffeinated versions; they are not as beneficial as the regular green tea is. 

Here is a list of some of the benefits of green tea:

- green tea reverses endothelial dysfunction in smokers
- it lowers bad cholesterol and blood pressure, and reduces harmful liver enzymes
- it could help stave off cancer, with a study showing just four cups of green tea a day reverses cell damage in heavy smokers that might lead to the development of tumors
- green tea is beneficial for heart, and overall cardiovascular system's health
- regular intake can help easing menstrual pangs
- it is good for healthy teeth and gums
- it slashes the risk of stroke
- according to one research, green tea could even preserve your brain power as you age
- it helps regenerate impaired immune system
- it prevents arthritis
- it helps reduce inflammation
- it clears the skin, due to its detoxifying properties

And if all of these health benefits didn't convince you, maybe this will; researches have shown that green tea can help with weight-loss and weight maintenance . Green tea is filled with anti-oxidants, and will boost your metabolism and suppress appetite, thus supporting your weight-loss plan. 

Hope you will find this helpful! :)


p.s. While doing this research, I consulted several articles, including those from, http://chinesefood.about.com

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Bookworm Series no. 1

End-of-Summer Book Haul

Recently I went to my favorite bookstore and picked up several great books. 

First book I picked is Matched by Ally Condie. 

"On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her match. Society dictates he is her perfect  partner for life. Except he's not. In Cassia's society, Officials decide who people love. How many children they have. Where they work. When they die. But, as Cassia finds herself falling in love with another boy, she is determined to make some choices of her own. And that's when her whole world begins to unravel..."

I also picked its sequel, Crossed

I loved The Time Traveler's Wife, so I decided to buy another book by Audrey Niffenegger, Her Fearful Symmetry.

The story starts with the death of Elspeth Noblin, who decides to leave her beautiful flat overlooking Highgate Cemetary to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina Poole, on the condition that their mother never steps into it. But, the curious thing is that the twins have never even knew their ant existed. Hoping to start their own, separate lives in London, the sisters start unraveling the secrets of their aunt, who doesn't seem quite willing to leave her flat even after death. It is a ghost story about love, loss and identity.

And last, but not least, I bought Delirium by Lauren Oliver and I am really looking forward to reading it as I heard awesome reviews.

Again, a dystopian society where people believe love is a disease and needs to be cured. As the back cover of the book brilliantly puts it: "There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the end of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it. Then, at last, they found the cure". And the cure is an operation that leaves you incapable of feeling any kind of love. And the protagonist is looking forward to being cured, and thus safe from this terrible disease... until she finds herself falling in love.

And I also borrowed several books from the library:
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick and its sequel Crescendo

Hush, Hush brings the story of a high school girl, Nora Grey, who never really thought much about dating until Patch came along. He's dark, dangerous and mysterious and Nora's strongly drawn to him against her better judgement. But after a series of terrifying encounters, she is not sure if she can trust him. He seems to be everywhere, and to know everything about her and her friends. When she finally tries to seek answers, she finds herself right in the middle of a centuries-old battle between the immortal and the fallen ... and she has to take sides.

And another dystopian themed novel, Unwind by Neal Shusterman. This sounds like a really good, though a bit disturbing and thought-provoking read. In a society in which unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways decide to fight the system that would "unwind" them. They have to survive until their eighteenth birthday, when they can no longer be harmed.

Have you read any of these books? How did you like them? Share in the comments below :)


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Diet: A Healthy Treat

Fake Ice-cream

I have decided to try and make a healthy and raw ice-cream alternative and I loved loved loved the outcome:)  And the best thing is that it requires only two ingredients!

Slice 2 bananas, place them on a plate and cover them with plastic wrap. Put the plate into the freezer and let it freeze for at least 6 hours (or even better, overnight). Put the frozen bananas into a food processor and add a small amount of frozen strawberries (at least half of the mixture has to be the bananas) and blend them (3-4 minutes) until they form a smooth, creamy mixture. At first the consistency will seem strange, bananas will turn into crumbles, but as you blend it, it will become incredibly creamy. Scoop the ice-cream and serve it in an ice-cream cup.

* Don't use blender for this recipe, because it is not strong enough to chop the bananas properly and might even break. 

Hope you like the fake ice-cream and feel free to be creative in adding new ingredients to it! You could also do a bananas-only version!

Bon Appetit :)