Review: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

Your next beach read is here, party people. 

 

I was originally going to wait until I ordered this for my library and read it (steal it, let’s be honest) before I gave it to the kids. After seeing a few reviews though, I went ahead and pre-ordered it. What drew me in? Most reviews have compared this to Revenge (I mean, if it was a YA book). And let me tell you, I love Revenge. 

So here’s the gist: Frances is on a cruise ship with her parents when it is attacked. She and another girl, Libby, manage to escape. When they are rescued from their lifeboat, only Frances is alive. She finds out that the attack is being played off as a capsizing, and that somehow an important political figure also “miraculously” survived. She puts into motion a plan fueled by rage – she will find out what really happened and make the responsible parties pay. 

This book has mystery, intrigue, romance, action, and lots of twists. I suspect that your only beef will be, as was the case with me, that it ends. 

Happy reading! 

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Slacking But Still Alive…

The end of the school year push is in full effect! I have been coaching my softball team until all hours of the night some nights, and have been following the 21 Day Fix by Beachbody. Moral to the story: I have had zero them to dream up awesome new recipes. I am still reading, but have not found time to sit down and write my reviews. Hopeful I will have more time to write in upcoming weekends. Until then, head over to my Instagram page to see what I have been reading: http://instagram.com/the_loudlibrarian

Have a great week, everyone! 

Recipe: Super Healthy Chicken Bowl 

I love starting the week with an ultra-healthy meal, so this week I tweaked a recipe that I found in Fitness magazine. I omitted some ingredients and went about a few things my own way. The recipe called for a rotisserie chicken, and lately I have been into baking my own chicken instead of buying one already cooked.  I do this mainly because grocery store rotisserie chickens are tiny and it is cheaper to buy a big one whole and cook it yourself. This leaves lots of leftover chicken so boyfriend can use it on nights I do not provide enough (or any) meat in our dinner.  This time, I cooked it in the crock pot so it was ready when I got home from practice. And by “I cooked” I mean that I prepped it and left it for boyfriend to get going during the day. 

So. 

Super Healthy Chicken Bowl

Serves 2 

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1/2 onion, in large chunks
  • 6-7 whole garlic cloves
  • Mrs. Dash salt-free blend
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped or one package pre-cut cauliflower (I always just grab one of the tubs at Kroger)
  • 2 Tbsp almond milk (or skim milk)
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 c. baby spinach
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice

For the chicken:

Early in the day, pat chicken dry and remove all that stuff that’s in the chicken (gizzards, etc.). Stuff onion chunks and 3-4 whole garlic cloves into the chicken. Season with salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash. Set in top of 4 aluminum foil balls (to hold it up) in a large crock pot. Cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours.

When the chicken is done, boil a large pot of water. When it reaches a rolling boil, add cauliflower and 2 whole cloves of garlic. Boil for about 15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender. Drain.

While cauliflower is boiling, mince the remaining (1) garlic clove. While cauliflower is draining, add a tiny swirl of olive oil to a large skillet. Add minced garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds on medium-high heat. Add spinach and sauté for about 2 minutes, then finish with lemon juice and salt and pepper. 

After cauliflower is drained, add butter and milk, along with salt and pepper. Mash with a hand mixer. 

Whew! Now, just layer spinach, cauliflower, and about 3 oz. (1/3 c.) of the chicken. Top with more salt and pepper if necessary and marvel at how healthy you are. Then start thinking about what kind of a snack you will have later, but mostly focus on the healthy thing. 

This sounds harder than it really is. Honestly, once the chicken is done the rest takes 15 minutes (plus boiling time), tops. This is great for a quick weeknight meal and you can use the leftover chicken later in the week. 

  

Recipe: Overnight PB-Banana Oats

I don’t know about you, but I have always struggled with finding the perfect weekday breakfast.  I get up pretty early, and if I do not eat something substantial my whole day pretty much goes downhill.  I was on a smoothie kick for a while (like, an entire year), but I have found something that keeps me full way longer – oatmeal.  Bonus: you prep this the night before, so it is ready to go in the morning.

I originally started with a recipe from the Skinnytaste cookbook (if you do not own this, you should). After her PB&J oats rocked my world for a while I began experimenting with other mix-ins and came upon this beautiful combo.  I am a huge fan of anything peanut butter and banana.  When I heat these oats in the morning, they are as magical as something I am eating before 7 a.m. can be.

They’re pretty good after 7 a.m. too.

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PB-Banana Overnight Oats

  • 1/4 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened* almond milk
  • 1 packet Stevia*
  • 1/2 banana, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. Chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter

Combine all of the above ingredients except the peanut butter in a microwave-safe container.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. When you are ready to eat, heat for about 1 – 1 1/2 minutes, stir in peanut butter, and enjoy.

I do hear that you can eat this stuff cold, but that just isn’t my style.

*If you only have sweetened almond milk, lose the sweetener. I have no idea what would happen if you used regular cow’s milk as far as the sweetener goes, so let me know if you try it!

Recipe: Quick Pesto Pasta with Veggies

I love quick recipes during the week, and it does not get any easier than this pesto pasta with vegetables (and chicken, if you require it – boyfriend does). This is my interpretation of the Pesto Cavatappi at Noodles & Co., which is my favorite thing on the menu.  You can play with the type of noodle (I use whatever I have around), amount of pesto, and types of vegetables.  I know sometimes people are crazy not fans of mushrooms, so you can always omit or add other things. I bet zucchini would be good in this, now that I think about it…

Bonus: according to MyFitnessPal, one serving of the recipe below is 313 calories. I’ll take it!

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Pesto Pasta with Veggies (serves 4)

  • 8 oz. short pasta (I use whole wheat rotini)
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 oz. prepared pesto (I use about half of a Trader Joe’s container)
  • 4 sweet baby peppers or about 1/2 of any color bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 c. sliced white mushrooms
  • 1 c. grape tomatoes, quartered
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • shredded Parmesan (optional)
  • shredded or sliced chicken breast (optional)

Cook pasta according to directions on the package.  Drain and leave in colander. While pasta cooks, chop vegetables.  Spray the same pot used to boil the pasta (you could totally do this in a skillet as well, but I am all about saving dishes when I can) with cooking spray and saute vegetables over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes.  I usually judge this part by the mushrooms – when they’re soft, you’re good. Add pasta back to the pot with vegetables and stir in pesto.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan (I promise, grated is not as good for this recipe) and chicken, if you so desire. This is great leftover for lunch as well!

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Review: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

all the light

Those of you who know me know that I generally read YA (young adult) literature.  Being a middle school librarian, it is kind of important that I keep up with that age group.  However, I do allow myself to get crazy and read “grown up” books from time to time.  Generally, I do this when the “Best Books of [insert year here]” lists come out at the end of each calendar year. I see which adult titles are receiving buzz and the librarian in me feels obligated to read them. Long story short, that is how I came upon All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  I was not even a little bit in the mood to read a World War II epic, especially since I had just finished a cutesy adventure book aimed at 11 year olds.  With the library’s eBook loan clock ticking, I gave in.

I am SO GLAD I gave in.

It is not often that I stop while reading to marvel in the actual writing. I usually read quickly, sometimes (OKAY boyfriend, you’re right) skimming.  I do not often stop and re-read sentences just to revel in the words and structure and admire the author’s craft.  This book made me stop, re-read, and wonder how someone could come up with such beautiful sentences.

Okay, enough of my weird love for storytelling and sentences and other really nerdy things.  The story.

The story follows to children – a French girl and a German boy – through the devastation of World War II.  Werner is an orphan whose mechanical aptitude lands him a spot in a Hitler Youth program, where he is trained and eventually sent out to track enemy radio broadcasts.  Marie-Laure and her father are forced to flee their home in Paris for a town by the sea when the Germans occupy the city. Her father is entrusted with a priceless and dangerous relic from the museum in which he works. Marie-Laure is blind, and is left alone in the town by the sea when the Germans take over and, as you might guess, crosses paths with Werner.  The author made the characters so likable that I did not want the story to end.  Like, I was seriously upset. I completely understand why this book is receiving so much praise. This is absolutely worth the read (and trust me, I do not always say that).

In unrelated news, I have an Instagram account for all the books I read.  If you want to catch up, follow me at @the_loudlibrarian!