Saturday, March 24, 2012

Book Review: The Sandman series

Neil Gaiman's Sandman books have been widely regarded as some of the best comic books in existence.  Intrigued, I decided to check them out for myself.  This series breaks the comic book mold and probably had a hand in shaping the concept of the graphic novel.  The characters include the Endless: Dream (also known as Morpheus, King of the Dreaming), his older sister Death (cute, cheerful, pragmatic, and instantly likeable), Destiny, Despair, Desire, Destruction, and Delirium (who used to be Delight). The Endless are not gods--rather, the personification of ideas of the human race. Each of the Endless have their own realm. It's as much fun to see Dream learn about himself and grow as it is to watch the antics of his wonderfully dysfunctional family. However, a word of warning. The books are listed at my library as being a 'young adult' series, but they are actually for 'mature readers' (read: adult). While the overall storyline is intriguing, there's a good deal of nudity and graphic violence throughout these pages. Some of the stories within the Sandman collection are excellent, but several are nightmarish. Watch out for blood, violence, and sexual content in what is otherwise a stellar tale.
The Sandman books:
1. Preludes and Nocturnes
2. The Doll's House
3. Dream Country
4. Season of Mists
5. A Game of You
6. Fables and Reflections
7. Brief Lives
8. World's End
9. The Kindly Ones
10. The Wake
11. Endless Nights
Pictured above: Dream and Death, my two favorite characters from the series.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Review: Sunshine

You wouldn't ordinarily think that vampires and dessert would mix well, but somehow in this book, they do.

Rae Seddon, nicknamed Sunshine, is the baker for Charlie's Coffeehouse in vampire-infested New Arcadia. When she is kidnapped by vampires, her entire world changes, and she must learn to adjust.

Sunshine tends to be a little wordy, and there's some brief sexuality. Aside from that, this book is very interesting, and will make you hungry. Frequently. Sunshine's gothic-named desserts sound amazing: Cinnamon Rolls As Big As Your Head, Sunshine's Killer Zebras, Bitter Chocolate Death, Lemon Lust, cherry tarts, the dramatic pudding known as The Death of Marat, and Sunshine's Eschatology are just a few of the bakery offerings for which you'll want the recipe.

iced tea how-to

I've liked hot tea--a lot--for about about seven years. I have an entire kitchen cabinet devoted to tea. As the weather has lately been growing warmer, I've been experimenting with iced tea. What kinds taste the best? Suprisingly, some of the teas that I enjoy hot don't make good iced tea, and some of the teas I don't like hot make wonderful iced tea. On with the experiment!
Top photo: Making several kinds of sweet tea at once. From left to right: orange pekoe, orange pekoe & raspberry zinger, chai, and vanilla chai.
Bottom photo: Sweet tea ready for the refrigerator. (The two kinds of chai on the right have milk added.)
Experiment conclusion:
Orange Pekoe is the basic tea used for sweet tea, so it was good.
Orange Pekoe & Raspberry Zinger was my experiment at making raspberry iced tea. It didn't taste quite right due to the hibiscus flavors in the Raspberry Zinger, so wasn't my favorite. Chai was suprisingly good, but Vanilla Chai wasn't. I'll definitely be experimenting with other flavors!

Want to make your own iced tea? You will need:
-One canning jar, with lid
-Two tea bags, preferably of the same kind of tea
-Sugar (if you want sweet tea) to taste
1. Place tea bags in clean canning jar.
2. Boil water and add to jar. Let tea steep for about five to six minutes (or a couple minutes longer, if you want it to hold up when you add ice).
3. Remove tea bags.
4. While tea is still hot, add sugar to taste. (I usually add about six tablespoons to a canning jar, but you can use more or less depending on your preference.) Stir the tea until the sugar is completely dissolved.
5. Wait until the tea cools a bit, until it is somewhere between warm and room temperature.
6. Put on the lid, and then put in the refrigerator.
7. Wait until tea is completely cold (about two hours, give or take) before serving.
Tip: It is very likely that the lid of the canning jar will be stuck to the jar at first. If this happens, don't worry. Just unscrew the outside ring, and then use a butter knife to gently pry open the lid. It should pop right off.
8. Serve in a glass with ice, and enjoy!