Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey...how gray indeed.

Basically; Sex sells, but there's not always a guarantee.

Please read on, but only if you have read yet or do not intend to at all. I would never intentionally want to spoil a book for anyone.

*Many spoilers

Just finished reading the Fifty Shade of Grey Trilogy. I did not like it. Let us go through why.

1. The author, E. L. James, started out as a fan fiction writer for the Twilight series.

Okay, so fan fiction is just that; fans writing stories that are more or less spin offs of a novel or character. I read that James was attempting to emulate Stephanie Meyer's, the author of the Twilight series, writing style. I was actually appalled upon hearing this. Meyer is the least accomplished writer of my very short lifetime. Her weak story line and flawed characters have just enough life for fans to cling on to. Yet, no real literary skill is required to create what is essentially a four volume role playing guide. Mediocre girl falls for ideal boy and cliched relationship scenarios ensue; fights, love triangles, parental disapproval, teen marriage, teen pregnancy, teen mom. Oh, and they're vampires, the current "cool thing". Okay, so I obviously detest the Twilight "books", but let me stop myself before I get started on Kristen Stewart's acting.
When I heard that James's role model was Meyer, I had very low standards from the start.

2. It really is not dirty.

I will admit it to anyone who wants to hear; I was all geared up to read a porn novel. The dirtier the better. Except, that this is not a dirty novel.
It is a love story and instead of the couple fighting about money or where to go on vacation they argue because he likes to tie girls up and she's a virgin. And they deal with it and, if after three installments of mundane, move on to be a happy ever after couple.

3. Okay, so there was sex but how could such a detailed account not have it.

Seriously, the book was a day to day synopsis of their lives. I wish I was exaggerating. I swear that I read about 500 pages of wake up-sex-argue about eating-drive to work-emails during work-fight due to miscommunication via email-tense car ride home-angry dinner-make up raunchy sex-profession of love-internal struggle-bed.

... You're welcome for that impeccably accurate summary.

4. For a unrealistic scenario, it is very mundane.

It is supposed to be a depiction of a radical relationship, right? It describes many long term relationships in that everyone argues, deal with it or move on, don't pick apart every detail. I expected a very taboo relationship where you wouldn't know whether it would end in her dying while shackled to a head board (morbid, sorry) or the same old happily ever after. About 100 pages into the first book, I knew what to expect. Really.

5. It really is not what is made out to be...

And what's that? It's not a dirty novel; it's a love story with a lot of sex in it. It's not a good love story; it has bits and pieces of elements that are supposedly supposed to make a good novel. Ah, but a quilt with holes in the seams does not a blanket make.

My least favorite thing about the entire series was the ill disguised attempt to shrewdly enclose some mystery. It felt to me as though James knew the book was not working so she worked in a hostage-ransom situation. It was almost comical; as if a page from the Law and Order: SVU script got photocopied into the middle of the book. Ridiculous attempt at literature.

Alright, alright, to each his own but this quite proves that everything has its own place. Elicit porn should remain just that and good romance mystery novels should be left to those who know them best. James Patterson, for one! Finally reading the 10th installment of the Woman's Murder Club series. I will definitely be writing a book review/story about this series an how I began reading them five years ago.

Cuddling up with a good book, ciao!

X Jill

Friday, June 15, 2012

Do you know how magnets work?

A magnet creates a magnetic field, or magnetic flux density, which is a vector field. That said, it has a direction and a magnitude. The strength of this magnet depends, in part, on how closely the direction orients towards the above stated vector field.
If you have polar opposite magnets, north and south, they will attract one another. The stronger the magnetic field the more closely it might hang onto something that is the complete opposite.
Presumably, these two magnets would be quite difficult to pull apart. Unrelenting and forever so attracted simply because they are polar opposites.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Nights

I think everyone is happier during the summer. Enjoy the hot days at the beach with your girlfriends to the cool nights under the stars with a lover and everything in between. Firstly, enjoy this song!

X Jill

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Moroccan Mint Tea

"Le premier verre est aussi amer que la vie,
le deuxième est aussi fort que l'amour,
le troisième est aussi doux que la mort."

"The first glass is as bitter as life,
the second glass is as strong as love,
the third glass is as gentle as death."

Summer time means so many things; fresh air (sans allergies!), beach, dresses, and in general clothing that is mostly geared toward lazy outdoor activities.

For many, it also means gardening. It sure does for my family. As soon as the weather gets warm enough we are at it; planting all of our favorites. This year's crops contain peppers, okra, eggplant, onions, tomatoes, basil, spinach and, the topic of today, mint.

Of all the aforementioned garden fresh produce, mint is seemingly the least significant. I mean, let's face it, when do you ever see mint being used asides from as a misplaced garnish on your raspberry lime sorbet or in a marinade for Mediterranean lamb chops (those do sound good though, don't they?)?
I agree, yet I also love the flavor of mint and am looking for more ways to highlight that flavor on its own. The first way I thought of doing so was to make the simplest thing; mint tea.

My research:
As the title of this suggests, mint tea is commonplace fare in Morocco where it is served at many times throughout the day and is the first thing served to guests. It is generally prepared by the male head of household in Morocco. I have heard that it is made exclusively with green tea, and have found no evidence to the contrary when looking up recipes. Traditionally, it is a very sweet tea, which I found to be strange seeing as how I never add any form of sweetener to my green tea.
Those are the few facts I learned before making it a couple of nights ago.

My preparation:
While I have of course had mint tea before, picking fresh mint leaves from my backyard instantly delivered the promised calming effect associated with mint. I picked about 15 leaves for this preparation.
My green tea was loose leaf tea and I used two teaspoons. You could use tea bags as well and I would say that three would be a good substitution.
To sweeten, I added one tablespoon of sugar or two packets of artificial sweetener. Honey or agave nectar could also be added but I did not want to muddle those flavors with that of the mint.
These amounts were for 16 ounces of water (my teapot holds slightly less, I added more to account for evaporation).

My twists:
As in most tea cultures, preparation is a big part of the tea experience, and I wholeheartedly agree that it should be. While I do strive for authenticity, I feel that my way of preparing delivered the freshest mint flavor. Also, this tea is traditionally prepared by men; so clearly I am breaking the first rule already.

My steps:
Boil 16 ounces of water.
When it reaches a boil, remove from heat and add two teaspoons of green tea leaves.
Let this steep for no more than 60 seconds or it will turn bitter.
Strain into a teapot and add 10-15 mint leaves. I like to rip them in half to release more flavor.
Add two packets of artificial sweetener and stir.
Let steep for a few minutes before pouring.

I prefer to prepare it this way because the green tea flavor remains subtle while the mint develops as it steeps.
This tea is the perfect evening refresher as the mint has a soothing affect. For me, it definitely helps me wind down from the day.

Below you can see how this tea is traditionally served and how I serve it in the evening after dinner.
My favorite thing about this? It's an excuse to use my favorite pink teapot (pictured below) while plowing through my summer reading list.

A very elegant yet simple drink with rich traditions, mint tea is the perfect tea drink for summer and I hope you plant your own mint plant to enjoy all season long.

Happy drinking
X Jill