Doughy goodness

by Robin Sloan (Goodreads Author) 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I raised my own sourdough starter in May 2020, while we were in lockdown and I worked short time, aka only 20% of my usual hours. There was no yeast to be had for any money. I am more of an accidental baker, but it sounded like fun. Little did I know. Four months later, my starter is alive and well, although its three offspring, given to friends, have all perished. My attempts at baking bread have so far resulted in fairly flat offerings. I seem to be overproofing.

No such problems for our heroine Lois. She inherits a starter and bakes beautiful bread from the get-go. But, alas, her starter sings and is a mystical creature. You will also meet people eating a Matrix-like slush and robots learning to crack eggs. And a mysterious underground market…

Bizarre, in a nice, if somewhat creepy way.

If you have to ask why it says „Still too skinny“, read „Hänsel and Gretel“ in the most original form you can find. Brush up on your fairytales! And, no, I don‘t mean Disney…

Sourdough Playlist:
– Croatian choral singing, mostly a capella—also called Klapa
– Robin Sloan‘s favourite: “A Beautiful Name” by Klapa Sinj

Interview with the author

I give up!

Red as Blood, or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer
by Tanith Lee

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I read the first two stories in this book and then stopped. While I like the idea of a different take on classic fairytales, I did not like the style. It felt old fashioned and didn’t grip me enough to stay with it.

Erste französische Lesestücke / Premier Livre
by Christiane Reichhold

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Habe es nach 34 Seiten aufgegeben. Kindische oder altmodische Texte, seltsame Dialoge. Komplett unrealistisch und altbacken. Was um Himmels Willen hat sich die Person, die diese Texte ausgewählt hat, dabei gedacht?

Bilingual texts for Germans wanting to practice their French. DNF after 34 pages. The texts were just to old-fashioned and unrealistic. This was devoid of any fun.

Blast from the past

It’s been a while since I read the Jurassic Park novels…

Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park, #1)
by Michael Crichton

Rating: 4 out of 5.

His best book. Well, almost, there still is The Andromeda Strain. And better than the movie. Which is saying something, considering that it’s one of my favourite movies. Steven Spielberg, great stuff, even with Mr No-Personality-At-All in the leadrole. I am not giving you a synopsis and if you need one, you have been living in the Jurassic.

The Lost World (Jurassic Park #2)
by Michael Crichton

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Read it, liked it, Jurassic Park was better. What I loved about this book and still remember pretty well–it taught me about Chaos Theory, which fascinated me for quite a while after reading this.

Weird, but true: In my mind I have read three Jurassic Park novels. Maybe because there where three movies with the main actors?

My bookish week

I am currently buddy reading this ebook:

Sourdough by Robin Sloan (Goodreads Author)

Good so far. I feel the urge to bake! Hermann came out of the fridge last evening for a feeding. I am going to feed him again tonight and commence with baking tomorrow, maybe… I‘ll see how my mood strikes me and if he sings!

My current Audible:

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (Goodreads Author),  Shaun Taylor-Corbett (Narrator)

Very weird. I thought I had gotten a grasp on the plot. I made it halfway and something drastic happened and now I am lost at sea again. I am really slow with audiobooks, because it‘s not really my preferred medium, so it could be a while until I finish.

I keep thinking about cancelling my Audible subscription, but somehow I never manage to use up all my credits, even with taking the optional three-month-pauses.

And my current comic selection:

BLAME! Vol. 4 (BLAME! MASTER EDITION #4) by Tsutomu Nihei

I haven‘t made much headway with this yet. There is too little plot to hold my interest. The art is still good, but has become repetitive. Many fight scenes, where I find it difficult to understand what is going on exactly. We‘ll see how that progresses. I own the complete series and plan to read them all. Two more to come.

And I shopped at HUMBLE BUNLDE yesterday:


This series keeps popping up on my Goodreads feed, so I snatched up this opportunity. I got the smallest bundle, which is not much of a loss at 84 cents, if I don’t like the books. Unfortunately the books are only available as pdf or epub, which means I will read them on my iPad. Not my preferred reading device. But oh well, they came at a good price. Drawback #2, the books start in the middle of the series. I guess I will be adventurous and simply jump into the action midway!

Summer read for book nerds

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
by Abbi Waxman (Goodreads Author) 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Nina lives a solitary life with her cat and books. She not only owns a library card, but also works in a bookstore. And then her absentee father dies and leaves her with a sprawling, complicated family. And then a potential boyfriends shows up. And anxiety follows suit.

I did not enjoy the first 40 pages or so, the clichés just came too thick and fast. The stereotyping was somewhat painful. Apparently avid readers are all socially inept introverts. 

The book eventually grew on me though. I didn‘t love it, but it was better than ok, once I accepted it as a light summer read without much substance. 

Nina’s family are more stereotypes, but they are also quirky enough to be fun. Lots of potential as well. I can see another book coming out for each of them. And I would probably even read some of them. Lydia and Lisa would be my preferred choice.

The romance was light, without too much drama. Nothing is explored too deeply. It‘s not laughing-out-loud, but feel-good material. 

I am not rushing to find more by the author, but might be persuaded to pick up another one.

3.5 stars, rounded up.

Pastoral SF

Mindtouch (The Dreamhealers, #1)
by M.C.A. Hogarth (Goodreads Author) 

I really liked Hogarth‘s Laisrathera (Her Instruments) trilogy. It is more of a swashbuckling adventure story compared to this gentle, pretty chilled setting. I have read and liked some of her other stories since then as well. I even played around with the idea of reading her complete backlist with some friends, but ran out of steam eventually. 

She wrote interesting and diverse characters years ago, before it became the thing to have non-binary characters. I took a longer break… 2017, maybe? So it‘s about time to read this and the other two novels that have been languishing on my TBR pile. 

And I liked it. Let’s call it Pastoral Science Fiction. A slow book with mellow drama and a slowly building asexual romance. A relaxing read. Uplifting. Another reviewer called it a cozy, finding-one’s-place story and that sums it up nicely.

I will eventually continue with the sequel.

Author‘s bookpage

Here is a summary of my old reviews of Her Instruments: https://cathysreadingbonanza.wordpres…

About the Peltedverse:


That UF backlist…

So, Laurell K. Hamilton published the 27th Anita Blake book in August. The 27th! Scary thought. I gave up and finally tossed in the towel after book 21. And that was at least three or four books too late, the series had deteriorated into a plotless shambles for a long time at that point. Please correct me, if you feel I am wrong. Maybe the last book has been taken back to basics?

Anyway, I declare this my blast from the past. Here is my very first Anita Blake review from 2008:

Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #1)
by Laurell K. Hamilton (Goodreads Author) 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I know this is the first book of the series, but I kept checking several times nonetheless. It just felt as if I was missing some prequel to the story.
Much darker than Charlaine Harris. Not as funny. The vampires are much scarier. And so is the heroine. She is not scared to pull her gun at every opportunity. 
I found this book pretty creepy, after reading much more light hearted Charlaine Harris. And I thought “Yeah, kinda ok, so-so…”. And as soon as I put it down, I was off to my bookshelf and started the next one. Must have been better than just ok.

That review led me to another oldie-but-goldie. Who would have thought back in 2008, when I reviewed this, that it would become this massively successful TV series?

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1)
by Charlaine Harris (Goodreads Author) 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Down to earth, as much as vampires can be down to earth… A nice little detective story with a touch of eroticism in between every now and then. Entertaining!

Not my most verbose review! The ending of the Sookie Stackhouse series left me disappointed. I never felt the wish to reread that series. Anita Blake, however… I wonder how far into this series I would make it, before tossing it again?

Buckwheat and Rye

No, not speculative fiction with a humorous slant. I baked again!

  • 350g strong rye flour
  • 200g strong wheat flour
  • 150g buckwheat flour
  • 50g cracked buckwheat groats
  • 150g active sourdough starter
  • 1 sachet dry instant yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 16g salt
  • 1 tsp bread spice
  • 2 tbsp walnut oil
  • topping: 1 egg white, 1 tbsp cracked buckwheat

Combine wheat, groats and yeast in a bowl.
Add and combine with 175 ml lukewarm water and sourdough.
Add sugar, salt, oil, bread spice and 175 ml water and combine again.

Knead on a floured table top for 10 minutes.
Let rise in a floured and covered bowl for 1 hour.
Take out of the bowl and shape a round loaf. I did two book folds.
Put back in the bowl or a banneton, cover and let rest another hour.

After that you can bake straight away. I put my bowl in the fridge over night. In the morning I took the bowl out of the fridge, transferred the loaf into a floured banneton and let it warm up for two hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 240 C.

Turn the loaf from the banneton onto a baking sheet, lightly cover it with egg white and sprinkle it with cracked buckwheat. Score it with a nice pattern and transfer it with the sheet into your Dutch oven. 

Put the lid on and set the pot on the lowest shelf in the oven.
After 10 minutes turn down the heat to 220 C.
After another 20 minutes take off lid, turn the pot by 180 degrees and bake another 20 minutes openly.
(= a total of 40 minutes at 220 C)

Voila! Let the bread cool for at least an hour, before cutting into it. Ideally wait till it has completely cooled. It‘s better for the crust.

Here it is…


Pretty dense, but the rising time was pretty short. Heavy. Crumbly — most likely due to the buckwheat, which is gluten-free. I like it though. Maybe a longer rising time next and less bread spice. Possibly even more salt… 

Nope. And yes, please!

Pretty Deadly #1
by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Goodreads Author),  Emma Ríos (Illustrator)

Rating: 1 out of 5.

No idea. A weird Western. After 20 pages still absolutely no idea what is going on. Revenge? Absolutely no interest to continue. DNF.

In other news I baked another focaccia on Sunday. I either overproofed it or I could blame the strong flour with some wholegrain in it… something was off. However, I decided to stick it into the oven anyway and my friends at the BBQ really liked it.

Definitely not my Captain America.

Captain America: Sam Wilson Vol. 1: Not My Captain America
by Nick Spencer,  Daniel Acuña (Illustrator),  Paul Renaud (Illustrator) 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A mix of different artists, letterers, inkers, whatever… my track record is not great with that concept. Usually it ticks me off that the artwork changes from chapter to chapter… Beware, my review is a somewhat spoilerish chapter recap.


Chapter 1
Captain America is on deck and approaching! On wings!


Artwork, meh. Oh, but I do like her:


Blaxploitation comes to mind. That‘s not necessarily a good thing, is it?
A political message this strong in a Marvel comic is rather unusual. Not bad.

Chapter 2
I don‘t really like where this plot is going. And I don’t like this Cap a lot. Should he really be this inept and clueless?

Chapter 3
Cap-Wolf? Now that is funny… the artwork has gone downhill though. And the previous artwork was not up there either. The ending was a bit silly, no?

Chapter 4
This is my kind of artwork! Better!


Wordy and heavy on social commentary. I am dying to find out who the whisperer is…

Still a wolf, btw. There has been some shedding, lol! My favourite so far. Definitely the best artwork and I like the story telling as well. 

However, bottom line, this Captain America is not really happening for me.

Chapter 5
Is this dude Donald Trump in a Super Villain Snake outfit? 


The political commentary keeps on giving with a heavy hand.
Much better artwork than the previous chapters. 

Chapter 6
Ok, that wrapped up the storyline quite nicely. If you don’t mind that the guys enabling the villains got off like that. Cap turning from inept to way too jaded? The whole stock exchange thing and that newscast part were pointless. 
And it was a bit lame, that Sam is just back to his old self like that. Is that like the closing sequence in Star Trek, where everybody is back to square one and happy?
Not sure if I like the new Falcon much either. 

Oh, and Diamondback needs a job and all she can come up with is exotic dancing? The women in this are just the same old clichée, aren‘t they? Would be nice to have female superheroes or villains for a change that are not defined by the size of their boobs and lack of clothing.

Ok, I‘ll stop now, before I talk myself into rating this down any further.

PS: Yes, my review is allover the place, just like this comic. I can‘t decide if I like it or not.