Library Loot: August 26 – Sept 1

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Hello, my name is Beth and I’m a library addict. I know, I know. I just can’t help myself, especially when I’m home during the day and have plenty of time to indulge all my interests and hobbies and “oh, wouldn’t I just love to know more about this and that” tendencies.

The books with the red stickers are recent ones which means I can’t keep them out of the library as long, so I’ll have to finish those first. I’m proud of the diversity in the mix, though, with some fiction and non-fiction and even a graphic novel thrown in there for fun.

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So here’s what I’ve got on the shelf for this week:

  1. The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey. A writer whose work I admire recommended this and I’m finding it interesting so far. I don’t think of myself as a ‘helicopter’ parent, but I do help my children more than I should, and as my oldest just started middle school I need a timely reminder to take a step back and let her successes and her failures be her own.
  2. Black Dove White Raven by Elizabeth Wein. I’ve loved other books by Wein but I’m having a hard time getting into this latest one for some reason. This is actually the second time I’ve checked out this book, so I may need to try the audio instead.
  3. Run You Down by Julia Dahl. The second installment in a mystery series about a young reporter with roots in the New York Hasidic community. The first one was just okay, I thought, but I’m a sucker for a series.
  4. Last Ragged Breath by Julia Keller. Another series book, this one being the fourth novel in the Bell Elkins series about a West Virginia county prosecutor.
  5. Living with a Wild God by Barbara Ehrenreich. I don’t really talk about religion here, but I grew up as a preacher’s kid in the Deep South. Since I’ve been an adult, I think I would best classify myself as a ‘seeker’–I’m not a fan of organized religion (for lots of reasons I won’t go into here) but I do believe we all have a spiritual connection to each other and the universe as a whole. Ehrenreich’s latest book is about her own quest for Truth.
  6. The Path of Druidery: Walking the Ancient Green Way by Penny Billington. See above. :)
  7. Doodle Stitching: Embroidery and Beyond by Aimee Ray. I checked this one out because it has a pattern for a quilt I’m going to make for my soon-to-arrive niece, Guilia. (Shhh, it’s a surprise!)
  8. French Milk by Lucy Knisley. I just love her graphic novels about life and traveling and art. They make me homesick for Europe, but in a good way.
  9. And finally…How to Raise a Wild Child by Scott Sampson. I’m trying to work on spending more (and quality) nature time with my kids and to encourage their own love of the outdoors. I’m hoping to find some good ideas here.

What are you reading this week? Any good ‘loot’ from your local library?

Currently…

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It’s been a while since I checked in with a ‘Currently’ post, so I thought I would talk a little about what I’ve been up to lately. I haven’t been reading too much this past week but there are plenty of other things taking over my brain…

Loving: That I’ve been sticking with my menu planning for almost a month now. I don’t always follow my plan to the letter but it is definitely cutting down on the number of times we eat out and I’m feeling less stressed about what I’m going to put on the table.

Thinking about: A job offer that I turned down this week. It was a hard decision to make but I weighed the pros and cons, talked to my husband, and decided that it wasn’t the right choice for me.

Anticipating: The Decatur Book Festival. an upcoming weekend away with my husband, and a camping trip with my daughters. So many good things to look forward to.

Watching: ‘Alone’. Did you guys watch this show on the History Channel? It was so good! I won’t spoil it by telling you who wins, but I found it to be such a thought-provoking and inspiring show.

Listening to: Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle on audiobook. I’ve only listened to one cd but I’m finding it intriguing.

Eating: Good things, mostly. This morning I went to buy doughnuts for a Saturday morning breakfast treat, and they were yummy. Tomorrow I’m making a sausage and kale soup in the slow cooker.

Wishing: That the right opportunity would come along and that my path would appear before me, clearly lit and well-blazed. I’m not good with uncertainty.

Hope you’re all having a lovely weekend and enjoying every moment of this last month of summer.

Menu Plan Monday – Week 3

MPM_ButtonYa’ll are going to think that all I do is menu plan! I swear this isn’t about to become a food blog (because I don’t take very good photos, for one). I am still reading plenty, and I still plan to talk about books again one day soon. :)

In the meantime, here’s what I have planned for our family to chow down on for the week:

MONDAY – Crockpot shredded chicken tacos (evening activity)

TUESDAY – Chicken avocado lime soup w/ tortilla chips (didn’t get around to making this last week, so we’ll use the leftover shredded chicken from Monday)

WEDNESDAY – Slow cooker lasagna rolls

THURSDAY – Leftovers

FRIDAY – Pizza night

SATURDAY – Ratatouille w/ couscous

SUNDAY – Veggie quiche w/ salad

Hope everyone has a delicious week!

Menu Plan Monday – Week 2

MPM_ButtonTwo weeks in a row, woohoo! Feeling very accomplished over here. The week went pretty much as I had planned with the exception that we had Asian takeout instead of pizza on Friday night and we had enough leftovers that I didn’t need to make one of the meals I had planned, so that will go back into the rotation.

The girls were back to school on Thursday, so I also got two days of lunch packing under my belt and that went fine. Now that my oldest is in middle school and starts school a little later, the mornings aren’t quite so rushed. Only getting one ready at a time feels like a luxury.

Here’s what I’m cooking up this next week:

MONDAY – Pizza and salad (easy freezer meal as we have an evening activity)

TUESDAY – Breakfast for dinner (veggie omelette, chicken sausage, buttermilk biscuits)

WEDNESDAY – Creamy spinach tomato tortellini

THURSDAY – Chicken avocado lime soup w/ tortilla chips

FRIDAY – Hot dogs w/ baked beans

SATURDAY – Daughter’s birthday & picnic at the lake

SUNDAY – Leftovers

Hope everyone has a delicious week!

Menu Plan Monday – Week 1

MPM_ButtonNow that the school year is starting up again, I need to say goodbye to the carefree, hit-or-miss cooking of summer and try to get back in a menu planning routine. In order to keep myself motivated and accountable, I’ve decided to join the Menu Plan Monday crowd and post my weekly menu. The meme is hosted by Organizing Junkie, so feel free to play along.

I went to the grocery store on Saturday and bought my supplies for the week, so here’s what I’ve got planned:

MONDAY – Stuffed zucchini with quinoa

TUESDAY – Hawaiian chicken teriyaki bowl

WEDNESDAY – Creamy spinach tomato tortellini

THURSDAY – Migas with black beans

FRIDAY – Pizza night

SATURDAY – BBQ (Friends are invited–menu to be determined!)

SUNDAY – Bean burritos with tomato & avocado salad

I try not to include too much meat in my menu planning, as you can see, although I did cook a pork tenderloin over the weekend so we’ll have those leftovers for lunches. I’ll also need to go back to the store next Saturday to buy stuff for the BBQ.

I pin a lot of my recipes on Pinterest, so feel free to come over and check those out if you’re interested. Have a great week!

The July Wrap-Up

monthly-wrap-upJuly was a good month, busy but with plenty of time for fun as well. We moved into our new house and have settled in nicely, the girls and I went swimming and to the movies and to an amusement park, and somehow I still found time to read!

In July, I finished four books:

  1. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
  2. Bitter River by Julia Keller
  3. Summer of the Dead by Julia Keller
  4. Faithful Place by Tana French

If you’re familiar at all with the authors on this list, you’ll see that these books all fit into the mystery/detective novel genre. Clearly, I’ve been on a kick! My favorite was The Silkworm, which is the second novel that J.K. Rowling has written under the pen name Robert Galbraith. This book did exactly what I was hoping it would do, which was flesh out the characters introduced in the first novel (especially Robin), and now I can’t wait to read the third book (due out this fall).

The girls start back to school next week and I’m hoping to kick my job search up a notch. I would appreciate any good job vibes you could send my way–I’m so ready to be back to work and doing something I enjoy. I’ve applied for a couple of things that look interesting, so fingers crossed…

Other than that, I don’t have any big plans for August. I’m planning to attend the Decatur Book Festival again this year but it’s been moved to the first weekend in September. There are going to be some great authors, though, so if you live anywhere near Atlanta I highly recommend it. Erica Jong and Roxane Gay are going to be giving the keynote, which reminds me that I need to move Roxane Gay up my TBR pile.

Hope everyone enjoys the last month of the summer *sniff* and happy reading!

Reading the Detectives

I don’t really like putting labels on books, and one of the genres that I find the most difficult to pin down is that of ‘detective’ fiction. I mean, does it have to have an actual detective, or can it include a sleuth of another persuasion–a Miss Marple, if you will? Does  a book in which an ordinary citizen solves a crime count as a detective story? Not to mention all the related genres, from crime fiction to thrillers to mysteries; are the distinctions between them really significant or are these just labels we slap on to sell more books?

Anyway. I’ve been reading two new series this past week that to me both qualify as detective stories, in that they feature a crime and a central character who tries to solve it. Although they are each different in style and setting, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the first books in each series and wanted to share them for anyone looking for a good read.

killing-in-the-hillsA Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller

Bell Elkins is a county prosecutor living in the small West Virginia town of Acker’s Gap. The divorced mother of a sullen teenage daughter, Bell has her hands full both at home and at work, where she joins forces with the local sheriff as they try to keep the expanding local drug trade from destroying everything they love about their hometown.

I like the character of Bell, who is both brilliant and headstrong, but it’s the strong sense of place that really drew me in and made me want to read more of this series. I grew up in the foothills of the Appalachians in an rural area with a lot of poverty, and so Raythune County and its problems seemed very real and relatable to me.

cuckoos-callingThe Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Yes, this is the book that J. K. Rowling published under a pen name, causing a bit of an outrage in certain circles. I personally don’t care that she didn’t reveal her identity right away, although it seems a bit unfair to those who reviewed the book without knowing it was hers (reading excerpts from those reviews made me feel like she was having a bit of a laugh at the reviewers’ expense, however inadvertently). Nevertheless, it’s a good book, and the more classic example of a detective story between the two books mentioned here. Cormoran Strike, the main character, is an ex-Army man turned P.I. who struggles to pay his bills despite having a very famous father. I managed to guess the identify of the killer and their motivation before Strike reveals them, but otherwise the book kept me well entertained and wanting to get to know the characters better.

And now, because it will be stuck in my head for the rest of the day so I might as well indulge myself:

Hope you’re all enjoying this post-Fourth of July Sunday!