Reviews and Comments

salt marsh

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Culinary Institute of America: Baking and Pastry (Hardcover, 2009, Wiley) 3 stars

The Culinary Institute of America holds nothing back in its mission to provide students, professionals, …

A bit of a letdown

3 stars

I found this book a little disappointing because of how it's organized and how much of baking it tries to cover. It starts out with a ton of information about baking as a profession, tools, and technical information about baking (like tables of different gelling agents, and bread techniques and terminology). All of that information is really good, well curated, and clear, but I wished that the techniques specific to certain kinds of baking were placed with the recipes, rather than all together at the beginning. It also spends a lot of time, understandably, on professional bread techniques, and a lot less on pastry techniques. It feels at times like a bread book with some pastry recipes included.

There are tons of recipes, but often they are variants on a theme (like banana, chocolate, or lacenut tuiles) but no basic recipe and no information on how to modify the recipe …

Emily Tesh: Some Desperate Glory (Paperback, 2023, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom) 5 stars

All her life Kyr has trained for the day she can avenge the murder of …

Dark but not heavy

5 stars

This book really stuck with me after reading it. I had to stop reading it before bed because I would stay up too late reading it, which is a trait I cherish in a book and is also hard to pull off in a book with such heavy themes -- brainwashing, abuse, reproductive coercion, war,.... And the characters were so well articulated. I really live for books where characters seem like actual humans who are capable of being really truly horrible to each other and also capable of kindness and growth.

Christelle Dabos: A Winter's Promise (Hardcover, 2018) 4 stars

Volume 1 of The Mirror Visitor Quartet

Winner of the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire

Where …

like re-reading a childhood favorite

5 stars

I think on some spiritual level, even though this wasn't published until I was an adult, I feel like I read and loved this as a young teen. Reading it now felt like wrapping myself in the coziest blanket of imaginary nostaliga. I stayed up late reading this and read it instead of doing other things I needed to do. It's been a very long time since I have felt this immersed in a world.

It reminded me a little of The Goblin Emperor in its depth of humanity, and its portrayal of cruelty that doesn't make light of it, and, weirdly, I feel like there's some backstory parallels with Gideon the Ninth, although it couldn't be more differently tonally.

There were times were I did find it a little moralizing, and when the writing rang a bit off, but I loved it very much and if you don't …

Karen Page: The Vegetarian Flavor Bible (Hardcover, 2014) 5 stars

Throughout time, people have chosen to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet for a variety …


5 stars

If I could only own one cookbook, it would be this, which isn't actually a cookbook, but rather an encyclopedia of what flavors go with what. I have one ingredient in mind that I'm excited to bake with, and I can look it up and get a comprehensive list of what will go well with it. A particularly good outcome was bread with preserved lemons, fennel seeds, and green olives.

Katherine Addison: The Witness for the Dead (Hardcover, 2021, Tor Books) 4 stars

A standalone novel in the fantastic world of Katherine Addison's award-winning The Goblin Emperor.

When …

a beautiful world to exist in

4 stars

This was one of those books that when it ended, I missed getting to be in the world. It has a kind of understated, slice-of-life feel, with a lot of detail and reverence paid to the minutia of daily life and community relationships, that felt more prominent to me than the murder mysteries. Addison writes with an immense amout of compassion and tenderness, and for me that is what makes this book, and The Goblin Emperor, transcend what they would be on their face, in terms of plot.

The writing style drops you into the cultural nuances of the society largely without explanation, and you can infer, for example, what different honorifics mean through context. I really really like this and I think overall its very well done, but I think it would be more daunting if I hadn't already read The Goblin Emperor, and there were some …

Jaron Lanier: Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now (2018, Holt & Company, Henry) 3 stars

Jaron Lanier, the world-famous Silicon Valley scientist-pioneer who first alerted us to the dangers of …

Disappointing and poorly defended

1 star

This was such a frustrating read because I agree with so many of the problems he identifies with social media, but I found his reasoning deeply flawed.

To the extent that this is a diatribe about how unpleasant social media is in his personal experience, I was mostly onboard, but the difference, I think, between a rant and a book is rigor.

His citations were mostly news articles and wikipedia entries, and he relies heavily on a superficial understanding of popular, flawed studies like the Stanford Prison Experiment. He makes bold, sweeping, and imprecise statements about the a number of things, particularly the nature of addiction and how addicts behave, without any backup or indication that he is speaking in any way besides entirely off the cuff.

I was disappointed as well in how stuck his reasoning is within the frame of capitalism and tech solutionism.

Kate Bornstein, Caitlin Sullivan: Nearly Roadkill (Paperback, 1996, High Risk Books) 5 stars

"A novel written in cyberspace, Nearly Roadkill is an Infobahn erotic thriller without any boundaries …

like Hackers (1995) but with GENDER

5 stars

This book has the energy of Hackers (1995) but with an incredibly interesting and thoughtful exploration of gender, loads of sex, and a prescient read of corporate influence on internet culture.

V. E. Schwab: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (2020, Tor Books) 4 stars

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

France, 1714: in …

I didn't ship it

3 stars

This book was fine, I can see why people really liked it. It's well written and the plot is solid, but I found the picture perfect artsy Brooklyn courtship tedious, I didn't find either of the main characters all that compelling, and the tropes it relies on a little uninteresting. I was disappointed by how lacking in oddness or eccentricity it was, how credible but unremarkable the characters are.