Challenge Update: Anne & Kristilyn’s 2014 Book Bingo Reading Challenge (Update #3)

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This post is for the participants of the 2014 Book Bingo reading challenge! Thank you to all the participants — we hope you’re having fun!

For the full post on this challenge and to sign up, visit the original post page.

This is the THIRD update for the challenge – how is everyone doing with their Bingo scorecards? Any winners yet?

Add your update page to the Linky below — whether you’ve reached a line, a square, or if you’ve already blacked out the board, we want to see your progress! Be sure to share your updates as you read on Twitter using the hashtag #2014BookBingo. If you don’t have a post about your update, that’s okay! Feel free to add your update in the comments below!

For example, you can see the progress I’ve made on my Book Bingo page.

A few reminders: 

If you’re joining the challenge late, any of the books you’ve read since January 1st can be used toward the challenge.

And some housekeeping: 

This is the second year of the Book Bingo challenge for me and Anne! We hope to bring it to you next year, so I ask: how are we doing? Is there anything you would change about the challenge? 

And most importantly, I hope you are all having FUN with the challenge!

The next and final update will take place on DECEMBER 31, 2014! 

Are you participating in the Book Bingo challenge? Have you become the super reader yet? 

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{A Little Tea Love} Dark Chocolate Chai Sugar Cookies

Guys, my house smells AMAZING.

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As you already know, I love chai. It’s pretty evident in some of the baking I do, like these Dark Chocolate Chai-infused Scones, but while those were just infused with the tea, I knew that it would be an awesome idea to go all out and just grind the tea up and use it in a recipe.

My go-to recipe for using ground up tea?

Cookies!

This recipe is a little different from the Earl Grey tea cookies I’ve made, but they’re equally delicious. The Dark Chocolate Chai adds a spiciness that is balanced out by the sugar, and using the Perfect Cup Spoon as your measuring device, they turn into the perfect little morsels to accompany your afternoon cup of tea.

Dark Chocolate Chai Sugar Cookies

These will be a big hit at your next tea party or get together — and definitely a conversation piece since they’re made with tea! If you’re not a fan of the Dark Chocolate Chai, you could use any other ground up tea. Toffee Crunch or Creme Carmello would work nicely, too.

Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Chai Sugar Cookies
Recipe adapted from Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
2 tbsp ground up Dark Chocolate Chai tea
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Sugar Topping: 
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp ground up Dark Chocolate Chai tea
1/4 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the cookies: 
Cream together butter and sugars — add ground up Dark Chocolate Chai tea and mix well. Add in flour, baking soda, and salt and mix well. Add in egg and vanilla.

Using your perfect cup spoon, roll spoonfuls of batter into balls.

For the sugar topping: 
Mix together sugar, ground up Dark Chocolate Chai, and vanilla.

Roll balls in sugar mixture and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake about 10 minutes or until cookies have risen and tops have started to crack. Let them cool slightly before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes about 45 perfect cup spoon sized cookies. Store in an airtight container.

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{Book Review} At a loss for words, a.k.a. the aftermath of a really good book.

everything leads to youAs I sit here trying to come up with what to say about my latest read, Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour, I’m at a loss for words. In fact, I have no words. After I finished reading the book, I knew that I loved it, but I couldn’t pinpoint why I loved it. Was it the characters? The atmosphere? The cover? No idea, but once I finished I knew that one BIG reason about why I loved it was that it made me think about why I loved it.

Are you confused yet?

It’s almost bedtime here (the baby’s, not mine, though that’s debatable) so my brain functioning is probably reaching low capacity, so I’m glad that I finished this book in the afternoon. I also find it so funny that when I posted about reading this book yesterday, I mentioned the overlap of one of the characters to the TV show I fell in love with because just before I started this one, I started rereading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and thought it was funny how these two books also overlapped with one another.

(Before I get into that, I hope I’m not the only person who deliberately looks for overlaps between my past and current read — like, two characters might have the same name, or there’s a similar theme, or something happens in one book that happened in the last book. It’s like a bit of an easter egg hunt and I always get so giddy when I find something.)

In this book, Emi is a movie girl. Unlike Anna in Anna and the French Kiss, she doesn’t just watch movies, but she designs the sets for movies, which is what I loved. I’ve read books about music and dancing and everything in between, but books about art, specifically the thought that goes behind the movies I love, make me appreciate the things I watch on TV. It’s amazing how much thought goes into every little detail, how something in the background that’s just that, the background, is still something that might have taken weeks or months to find and even though most people might not notice it, it’s still there for the sake of the atmosphere of the room. It’s fascinating.

I personally have NO skill at doing this. I’m not one to scour garage sales and auctions in order to find that perfect piece, but Emi is. But that’s in her professional life. In her personal life, it seems that she keeps falling for the same old, same old. It takes a few wrong turns and a few right ones for her to find that beauty in imperfection.

In this story, love is both in the foreground and the background. It’s interesting to see how people are falling in love, but it’s not something that takes precedence in the story, and yet it’s the WHOLE story. In the end, it seems like it was too easy, but the journey wasn’t easy at all.

Am I making sense?

In a way, this whole book seemed to revolve around these BIG HUGE THEMES that are impossible to miss, but then there are these small subtle things, these little stories throughout the big picture. The hidden easter eggs in the room. Those gems from the auction or garage sale.

I also don’t want to point it out since Nina LaCour did a great job of not pointing it out, but this is a LGBT novel and yet it’s another thing that doesn’t seem to take over the story. It’s not about that — it just is. It was kind of nice to have such a sweet story that isn’t about struggling with being LGBT but just a story about falling in love.

The only point of criticism I have with the story is that I felt like the characters were too old for their age. It’s a young adult novel, so the characters are 18 years old, but part of me wanted them to be older, like mid- to late-twenties or something. I felt like they needed to live more life in order for their stories to be truly romantic and realistic.

But aside from that, it was a fast-paced and beautiful read. I was initially completely drawn in by the gorgeous cover (can we have more like that, please?), but in the end I really loved the whole theme of movies and design and falling in love.

Which category do you fall into — the set designer or the star of the show?

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