Book Recipe

Bookish Recipe: Pumpkin Mocha Breve from Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl

“What is this?” She leaned over the cup and took a breath.
“My own concoction- Pumpkin Mocha Breve, light on the mocha. Don’t try to order it from anyone else; it’ll never turn out the same.”

Fun facts!

  • I don’t drink coffee very often. Nor do I know how to make coffee. (We’re getting rid of our Keurig at work and replacing it with a coffee pot, you guys, and I’M PANICKING.)
  • hate cooking/baking with coffee because the strength of the coffee can completely make or break the recipe. I’ve ruined many a recipe because of this.
  • hate cooking/baking with tea because, well, the exact same reason.

So naturally, while rereading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, I decided to recreate one of Levi’s Starbucks creations.

Smart. So smart.

But you guys? I was successful. I feel like a barista.

(Which is saying something because I once worked in a coffee shop and, well, I sucked.)

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Look. At that. Majesty. That whipped cream on the top? It’s chai-flavored.

I know.

I got the recipe from Emma Likes Books and I swear, forget Starbucks. (Don’t tell Starbucks I said that, they finally made me a Gold Star member. Whatever the hell that means.) It tastes exactly like something you’d buy at a gourmet coffee shop. It’s sweet and autumn-y and creamy and perfect. And if I can make it? So can you.

I warn you, it does take a while to put together but:
1) Once you make it the first time, you’ll have the pieces to make it again and it will take you a lot less time. And trust me. You’ll want it again. (I read the recipe and thought, “How the hell am I going to use all this stuff within just two weeks?” Not asking that question anymore.)
2) Still thinking it’s too much? Try this Pumpkin Mocha Breve tea blend from Adagio teas instead. It’s obviously lighter and more subtle and, well, not coffee but it’s still lovely. And try the Levi blend while you’re at it. I’ve had both and they’re wonderful.

I usually leave tips here for making the recipe more successful but I actually don’t need to this time. Emma Likes Books covers it all.

In summation, it’s really friggin’ hot here in New Jersey but I’ll be recreating this drink a lot in the next few weeks. It’s worth sweating over.

Enjoy, my friends!

Book Review

Book Review: When the Moon Was Ours

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When the Moon Was Ours
Written by Anna-Marie McLemore
Published by Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press.
Page Count: 288 pages.
Tea Pairing: This Caramel Cream tea from Adagio perfectly matches Miel’s favorite cookie called alfajores, a Latin-American dulce de leche concoction. Want a recipe? Check it out here!

No one in town really knows a lot about Miel and Sam. Miel has the ability to grow roses from her wrists and some say she was born from a water tower. Sam paints moons and hangs them from trees to illuminate the neighborhood. No one knows where he and his mother originated from or why they left.

Despite all of this, they aren’t the most mysterious ones in town. The Bonner sisters hold a strange sort of magic – they’re able to enchant and lure any man they want. Except for Sam. When Miel is threatened and blackmailed, will she protect herself or the boy she loves?

4.5

Anna Marie McLemore’s book, When the Moon Was Ours, is such a beautiful and important text. Written poetically and with a lot of heart, this story gives us something I have shamefully never seen before in a novel, young adult or otherwise:

A character who is trans.

I don’t want to give too much away. I think there’s so much magic to this book that needs to be discovered by the reader. But there are teens that feel alone in their sexuality and I think it’s our closest form of magic that we have books like this available to help heal wounded readers.

(This book isn’t getting enough love, you guys. I will scream it from rooftops if I must.)

There are other lovely things in this book:

  • When the Moon Was Ours points out that those things that make us different, those strange metaphorical roses growing from our wrists, are the same things that make us beautiful.
  • It lets us know that even those people we revere as perfect are not so flawless. And it informs us that even they are struggling.
  • This book offers us a magical world that seems oddly real and familiar at the same time.
  • It features a cast of characters who are POC, something we don’t see nearly enough.

I found the end to be a little forced, hence the 4.5 star rating, but other than that? I was madly in love with this book. It was so clever and so profound and I’ll be returning to this book again, I guarantee.

What’s everyone reading? Leave it here! I’m going to be doing a throwback to Fangirl this week (complete with recipe!) and then I’ll be diving into a couple of ARCs that I’ve received.

(Including ARCs about vampires, teens with Asperger’s, and a meditation book for middle graders. And maybe John Green’s new book if I have the nerve.)

Keep reading!

Book Recipe

Bookish Recipe: Alfajores

Finding that memory was as bright as catching trees bursting into bloom. It was a memory from when Miel was barely old enough to make them. After that, she would turn three, and four, and the roses would come, and they would take everything. But she could hold on to this, her hands and Leandro’s pale with sugar and flour.

Alfajores de nieve, coated in powdered sugar so each looked made of winter.

She didn’t have Leandro anymore, or his hands, smooth and dark as finished wood. But she had Sam, this boy and his brown hands.

Miel pulled her eyes from the knotted carpet, and looked up at Sam. “I think I am hungry.”

“Yeah?” Sam’s smile was slight, but without caution. “Anything in particular?”

Miel pushed herself up on her hands, her body stiff as if she’d slept on it wrong. “Have I ever shown you how to make alfajores?”

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I can say with absolute confidence that Miel had every right to believe these little bites of winter would cheer her up. Alfajores, small confections from Latin America, are the perfect bite of butter, confectioners sugar, and dulce de leche. They’re versatile, fun, and downright adorable.

I found the recipe here over at Chowhound and though I was nervous I would mess up somewhere, they’re a pretty simple treat to recreate. Some tips!

  • Make them your own. I used a 2-inch fluted cookie/biscuit cutter and mini star cookie cutters in the middle.
  • The 2-inch cookie cutters were a good idea because the recipe says it makes 12 cookies. I ended up with 24?
  • The dough, when you roll it out after it’s been chilled, will be crumbly. Don’t fear! Add a little flour and be patient. It will mold back together.
  • Consider adding some lemon zest to your dough. It will complement the flavors wonderfully.
  • The flavor of brandy is very subtle. I bought a bottle just for this recipe but I’m sure you could substitute another liquor if you don’t have any.
  • You might want to invest in rolling pin rings like these from Amazon to ensure a more even dough. You’ll get an even bake and a more successful cookie if the dough is rolled out to the same thickness.

Those are really all the tips you need! These will make another appearance in my home. If you’re having a sad day? Follow Miel’s advice, fire up your oven, and start kneading that dough. These will cheer you up in no time flat.

My review of When the Moon Was Ours is coming soon. I know, I’ve been saying this for a while now. But when I write the review, it’ll truly be over. And I’m sad about that.

Keep reading!

Essay, Ramblings

The Hero Complex and the Importance of Representation in Young Adult Literature

Whilst I make my way through some good reads (and reread some old favorites sorry couldn’t resist whoops), I’ve got some thoughts.

I’ve seen a lot of criticism lately about the hero protagonist in young adult literature. While I want to say that I get the criticism, I don’t. Sure, we need to celebrate our run-of-the-mill characters. Our average-Joes. I’m not saying they should be ignored.

What I am saying, however, is that all teenagers and all young adults and, honestly, all humans are the heroes of their own stories. Why can’t they be written as such?

There are young people in the world *raises hand* who suffer from mental illness. We struggle with our minds. Like Jacob wrestling the angel, we are in constant battle for control over something that should be so simple — our brains and our own thoughts. And yet, we have unpredictable moments of weakness. We have moments where we hear these voices that tell us how unimportant we are. How replaceable we are. How burdensome we are.

And then there are books. I think of how there are books in this world and I sigh with relief. I can’t begin to list how many books have saved me. Book lovers abuse books so often, too! We let them sit on our shelves for years and years and years to collect dust and wait and pine for us. Like a loyal dog, they’re still there waiting for us, even after we’ve cheated on them with newer, prettier, thicker tomes.

Okay, Lauren. We get it. What does this have to do with heroic protagonists?

Ever go to a Harry Potter midnight premiere? (Aww, remember those days?) People dressed up. People carried wands. People proudly wore their house colors and showed off their collected merchandise. And every single nerd attending that movie and/or book release felt immortal. We felt powerful. We felt brave. And we understood how valuable we were.

Harry Potter was the Boy Who Lived. He was special at Hogwarts. It didn’t matter that he lived under the stairs in his muggle world. Here, in this new and magical place, he was revered and irreplaceable.

And so too are the young people reading these books.

Being a young adult is hard enough. You’re stuck between being an adult and being a kid and so others either treat you as though you have to carry the world on your shoulders or as though you’re the one who needs to be carried. Add a feeling of invisibility, a sense of insignificance, and the rising diagnoses of mental illness and it’s clear to see that students are in need of some reassurance and comfort.

While I applaud students who seek out literature that is beyond their reading level (I was totes that kid. Let’s face it, I’m still that kid.), they should have an option to read — well, whatever they want, really. I’m sure students can find heroes in classic literature. I remember feeling inspired by Jane Eyre and her independence as a young(er) reader. It’s possible.

But imagine a reader picking up Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe after they’ve begun to identify as someone on the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

Imagine a reader who has only seen white heroes in the media finally finding someone who looks like her in The Wrath and the Dawn series.

Imagine a reader feeling incredibly anxious and depressed due to recent events involving police brutality and coming across The Hate U Give.

The protagonists don’t even need to be wand-wielding wizards to be the heroes of their stories (although, have you read El DeafoNot enough people are talking about a graphic novel about the beloved deaf superhero). And when students begin to see books as a mirror into their own worlds, they respond in a far more positive way. These books stick. And when books stick, we create better readers.

Let’s create a world of better, more inclusive books.

All right. Enough of my ramblings. I’ve been under the weather the past couple of days so expect a lot of tea reviews this weekend.

Like, a lot.

Keep reading, my loves.

Giveaway

Hooray for YA Annual Giveaway!

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It’s here!

So I have the best birthday in the world. October 13th happens to be, according to Parks and Rec, Treat Yo’ Self Day. So on my birthday, I like to treat a follower to a special prize bundle. You will receive:
– A $25 tea voucher courtesy of @adagioteas. A big thank you to them!! (They’re the best, please check them out.)
– A bath bomb of your choice from @lushcosmetics.
– The candle of your choice from @frostbeardmpls.
– The book of your choice below $15 from Book Depository.
– And a one month subscription to @pagehabit – each box goes to helping child literacy!
TO ENTER:
Comment on my Instagram image with how you plan to treat yo’ self on October 13th.
– You must be following me on Instagram.
– A bonus entry if you follow me here on le blog.
– A bonus entry for tagging friends. One bonus entry per tag.

DISCLAIMER:
– Aside from Adagio, I am providing all the materials in this giveaway. Don’t sue me. I’m pretty poor.
– This giveaway is open to people in North America only. Lo siento. Check back, I do another giveaway later that’s open internationally.
– You must be 18 or older.
– You must be willing to share your address with me so I can send you your prize.
– As so much of this is based on what you want, please understand it may take a while as I need to order items first.
That’s it! Best of luck!