Non-Review: “Lucinda, Dangerously,” Sunny

Review book provided by Penguin Group

 

There are a number of unread review books that I’m now working my way through; I fell horribly behind due to some health problems. Combine that with publishers’ tendency to send books from a series regardless of whether the reviewer has read the preceding books, and you can end up a little off-kilter. Anyway, I do a “non-review” when I couldn’t finish a book. I won’t review it on Amazon or GoodReads, but I don’t mind telling you here why I chose not to finish. There are too many good books to spend my time finishing a book that I can’t get into.

Sunny’s Lucinda, Dangerously (Demon Princess) has several review and author quotes on it comparing it to Laurell K. Hamilton’s work. That seems to be a very apt comparison. The one Hamilton book I read (Flirt) had a very Mary Sue main character, which I rarely enjoy, and Lucinda displays some of those same Mary Sue tendencies.

I could have been okay with that, I think, except that it’s pared with a remarkably action-free plot. I made it to page 80 without anything to pull me in–I couldn’t identify with the main character, there was too much background I was missing, and the pacing was too slow to make up for all of that. It isn’t that it’s a ‘bad’ book–it just totally ran up against my dislikes as a reader, and I bounced.

I think there’ll be plenty of people who would enjoy the Demon Princess Chronicles. There’s a good market for Mary Sue wish-fulfillment characters, and not everyone will dislike the slow pacing. Hopefully that’s enough detail for you to get a sense of whether you would enjoy the book or not.

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Review: “A Good Food Day,” Marco Canora

Pros: Delicious, healthy food
Cons: Not everything wowed me
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

 

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

Marco Canora has joined the movement that pushes healthful, ‘clean’, unprocessed foods as a means toward health–NOT a ‘diet’. The idea is if you can make healthful food delicious and easy to prepare, then people can reduce their chances of diet-related complications (such as diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.) without depriving themselves and without having to count calories and eat bland or unappealing food. And of course, all of that should make it much easier to maintain healthful eating habits throughout your life. In addition to recipes, Marco Canora’s A Good Food Day: Reboot Your Health with Food That Tastes Great includes lists of foods to keep in one’s fridge or pantry to allow for last-minute healthy dishes. After that, the chapters are divided into Breakfast, Salads, Vegetables, Beans & Lentils, Great Grains, Fish, Meat & Poultry, Snacks, and Sweets. You’ll also find a detailed list of ’10 principles for a good food day’:

  • Eating must be enjoyable
  • Cooking empowers you to eat better
  • Proper prior planning prevents piss-poor performance (I always loved that saying)
  • Get in sync with Mother Nature
  • Quality ingredients are everything
  • Eat real food
  • Be a conscious eater
  • A twinge of hunger isn’t the end of the world
  • Diversify
  • Make indulgences a guilt-free part of the program

You can easily see Michael Pollan’s influence here. There are even explanations of the difference between glycemic index and glycemic load, and how both affect our bodies.

We loved nearly every dish we made from this cookbook. There’s a roasted beet salad (with orange and pistachio) that’s surprisingly simple and delicious. Breakfasts include a handful of smoothies; also no-cook oatmeal, which is a favorite of mine. One of the great recipes from the salads chapter is “My Post-Workout Salad”: there’s enough to it that it’s easy to turn into a full-meal salad (it includes chicken, lentils, avocado, and more, and it’s very good). He also breaks that salad down into a blueprint: how much greenery to include (and a list of good choices), how much of an animal protein to include, tender bean or grain, crunchy vegetables, herbs, avocado, some types of seeds (such as sunflower or pumpkin), and so on. It provides a great amount of room for customization, which should keep it from becoming boring.

A recipe of roasted broccoli with hazelnuts and Pecorino came out better than I expected. Roasted broccoli is good, but by itself not terribly satisfying. The addition of the nuts and cheese gave it depth. There are also some fancier recipes (that still follow his clean & healthy eating mantra) such as a salmon and arugula salad with pomegranate. One of my favorite recipes that we tried was a Thai chicken coconut soup. It’s been quite a while since I last went to a Thai restaurant, but this is almost exactly what I remember, with its delicious notes of coconut and lime. Absolutely delightful. The only recipe I wasn’t entirely happy with was a coconut cacao cardamom panna cotta. The dish was pretty; the small amount of cacao powder gave it a very gentle note of chocolate; the coconut milk substituted beautifully for heavy cream; but I’d absolutely halve the amount of cardamom that went in. It overwhelmed most of those other flavors.

A Good Food Day is a great cookbook to have around if you need more diversity and variation in your healthy diet. I expect we’ll keep making recipes from it for quite some time.

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Review: “Aloha from Hell,” Richard Kadrey

Pros: Stark is such an unusual and interesting character
Cons: Occasional confusion as to why things were happening in a certain way
Rating: 4 out of 5

 

Aloha from Hell is the third installment in Richard Kadrey’s “Sandman Slim” novels. Stark, or Sandman Slim, has become known as “the monster who kills monsters.” Somehow he spent time in Hell as a living man. He fought in the arena, and proved impossible to kill. Various Hellions started using him as an assassin, and eventually he broke out in order to return to the world and avenge the death of his girlfriend, Alice. He’s on the verge of having a real life, almost. He’s kinda-sorta seeing Candy, who’s her own kind of hungry monster. He’s processing the fact that he’s a nephilim, a half-angel, which doesn’t seem to mesh well with his violent, profanity-laden image, but he has work to do. Lucifer has returned to Heaven, leaving a vacancy behind that gets neatly filled by Mason, Stark’s enemy. Stark has to stop his nemesis before Mason leads his demonic troops against Heaven. At the same time, he can save Alice’s soul, which has been dragged from Heaven to Hell in order to manipulate him.

 

Stark is an anti-hero in all the best possible ways. He’s capable of caring about or looking after others in his own odd way, but when people call him a monster, they aren’t exaggerating. Everyone seems to have plans for him, but his own actions tend to be extreme enough to throw most people off. If he needs to go back to Hell to accomplish his goals, then by God he’ll find a way in. He has a highly distinct voice and style.

Karma is just loaded dice on a crooked table.

I love Kadrey’s characters. They’re irreverent. They’re insane. They have ambitious plans that threaten to re-write the universe. They have a ton of personality. They’re larger than life, and yet at the same time grounded just enough in reality to give them that lived-in feel. They make plans both large and small, and betray anyone they feel like betraying.

Some of the events and machinations toward the end lost me a bit. I had some difficulty following how one thing led to another in some cases. That said, the plot was still fascinating, and I love watching Stark go big while retaining his rough-hewn style. It took me a while to stumble onto this series, but now that I have, I look forward to continuing it. I don’t want to give any major plot points away, but I will say that I’m terribly impatient to see how Kadrey handles the situation Stark finds himself in now!

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Non-Review: “The Infernal Lands,” J.C. Staudt

NOTE: Review book provided by author

 

I do a “non-review” when I couldn’t finish a book. I won’t review it on Amazon or GoodReads, but I don’t mind telling you here why I chose not to finish. There are too many good books to spend my time finishing a book that I can’t get into.

The Infernal Lands (The Aionach Saga Book 1), by J.C. Staudt, is a post-apocalyptic epic. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for me.

The description reads as though the author was constantly reminding himself to add more description, more interesting details, just… more. It goes too far. In the interests of keeping descriptions fresh or new or exciting, he seems to have forgotten that just because two words are synonyms doesn’t mean they have the same connotations. Those descriptions regularly miss the mark. Broken bones ‘rasped like a bag of seashells’. Someone is described as being of ‘nubile age.’ Someone has ‘just the right amount of nose for his face’. The basic attempt is to be lauded, but this is a bit like opening up a bag of spices and pouring the whole thing over your dinner instead of seasoning to taste. It calls attention to itself and sometimes jerked me out of the narrative.

A number of new terms are introduced. This technique can make the reader feel the setting more intimately. The words need to be fairly obvious in context, and again should be used with restraint. Instead they’re all over the place and sometimes don’t come with the necessary supporting context. It feels as though the author is being coy, trying to dangle world-building details in front of us for too long without delivering on the whole.

At times there isn’t enough attention paid to consistency. One character says to another: “Look at you and that sad-sack, sorry-for-yourself, mopey look you always get.” The problem with this is that the ‘mopey’ character just took a nasty javelin wound and had his ankle broken by a horse stepping on it. The idea that mopey would cover that situation is ridiculous. Daxin, the character that was hurt, seems to waver back and forth as to whether his injuries impede him a little or a lot. Dialogue often goes on too long, particularly given that it can be rather boring.

There was a chapter that I enjoyed, involving sacrifices, rites, bodies… but it’s a rough gem. My e-reader tells me I made it through 10% of the book, and to be honest that’s only because I refuse to set aside a book until I’ve read at least that 10%. I think the author has some skill and talent, but needs to learn when and how to rein things in.

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Review: “Obsession in Death,” J.D. Robb, Nora Roberts

Pros: Fascinating obsession; tightrope-walking for Eve; great characters
Cons: Eve is the central target again
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Review book provided by Penguin Group
Expected release date: February 10, 2015.

 

Twenty years; forty books. That’s where J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts’s “in death” series stands now. I haven’t yet caught up with every book in the middle of the series, but I’ve become a die-hard fan. Ms. Roberts understands what her audience is looking for in this series and happily gives it to them. I admire her work ethic and understanding of what her readers need from her.

Obsession in Death is the 40th book in the “in death” series starring Eve (curmudgeonly, hyper-focused homicide cop) and Roarke (wealthy, intense ex-criminal) as a smokin’ hot married couple. (“Together, they fight crime!” as the saying goes.) Over the past 39 books Robb has gradually introduced new character after new character. Somehow she has kept all of these personalities straight. Not only are they consistently portrayed, but they all manage to grow in believable ways throughout the series. They’re such individual, strong enough characters that even I have little difficulty keeping them all straight.

The only consistent issue I’ve had with these books is one that won’t be a problem for most readers. It strains credibility that so very many cases have a personal connection to Eve and/or Roarke. One reason why this won’t bother many people is because it’s just part of the style that readers like: we want Eve and Roarke to be personally invested in the story. Also, they’re both high-profile enough characters with so much public attention on them that it makes it much easier to suspend disbelief when criminals target them or their friends in one way or another. I mention this only because it will undoubtedly irritate some readers; I think the majority of fans of the series have come to expect and enjoy this.

Robb’s plots and characters are meant to be larger than life. They’re meant to provide melodrama and snarky dialogue, passionate romances, and intense mysteries. The style of sex scene in here is somewhat abstracted, and it works well with the overall style of the book. I particularly like Eve’s tendency to butcher idioms.

The plot of Robb’s latest, Obsession in Death, sees Eve being stalked–by an admirer this time. The murderer is picking out people who escaped justice (in the perpetrator’s eyes) and who disrespected or harmed Eve in some way. The perp leaves messages at each scene, calling himself Eve’s “true friend”. The problem is, the killer wants an acknowledgement from Eve, and will undoubtedly turn on her (possibly by mowing through our favorite cop’s friends and family). Eve has to go through her fan mail to look for clues, and I have to wonder how many of her crazy fan letters are based on ones Robb has received! She also has to walk a very careful line when trying to manipulate the killer into coming after her and leaving her friends alone. There’s plenty of tension, action, mystery, and danger to go around!

There’s still a bit of dark material as Eve’s horrific childhood comes up once or twice, but since these aren’t ‘cozy’ mysteries I think most readers will be ready for that.

I loved this tale, enjoyed the action and suspense quite a bit, and look forward to book 41!

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Review: “Cast in Flame,” Michelle Sagara

Pros: Wonderful climactic battle; fascinating new characters
Cons: Sometimes confused as to who is saying what; Severn is still under-utilized
Rating: 4 out of 5

Kaylin Neya, a private in the law-enforcing Hawks, is marked with mysterious runes on her skin that give her strange abilities. These–and her stubbornness, curiosity, and lack of tact–get her into all sorts of troubles. Now she’s returned from her trip to the West March, but she’s brought back a couple of unusual Barrani–it’s easy at first to attribute their behavior to their ‘youth’, but it’s more than that. They’re attracting–in some cases awakening–dangerous powers and entities without even realizing it. One of those powers has both the potential and the will to destroy the city.

 

Michelle Sagara’s Cast in Flame is volume 10 of the Chronicles of Elantra. I have a number of reasons for objecting to series books that can’t stand alone (even if it’s just one out of every two or three books). About half of those objections would be satisfied by noting distinctively on the cover and in online listings that this is “The Chronicles of Elantra, Book 10″ so that people won’t accidentally start in the middle of the series. Don’t try to start this series anywhere but at book one (Cast in Shadow). As it is I sometimes get a little lost if I haven’t read the previous book recently enough. This is a huge world with a ton of detail to it and an ever-expanding cast of characters. The world-building is superb but intricate.

Kaylin still has the traits that make her who she is (she’s stubborn, blunt to a fault, and intensely curious), but some of the sharpest edges have been sanded down. It’s a matter of personal taste as to whether you think she isn’t growing as a character quickly enough (it works for me, but I know that some folks strenuously disagree). The difference from book to book is often small but it adds up. I do like the notion, expressed in this volume, that the reason immortals find Kaylin interesting and worth having around is because she is so prone to getting into trouble that she alleviates their boredom!

The two extra Barrani Kaylin brought back with her kick off quite the plot. Emotionally they’re still young adults, but they’ve grown into something more than just Barrani. One of them is Nightshade’s brother, and when he visits Nightshade he awakens the Tower in his brother’s fief. Unlike the Tower of Tiamaris, this one is darker. It also contains two extremely dangerous creatures which are also waking. As usual, Kaylin has her own unusual batch of friends, allies, and people who just don’t want to see the city destroyed no matter whose side they are or aren’t on. In the middle of this she’s still trying to find a new home for herself and Bellusdeo, the only living female dragon. There were humor, pathos, nicely varied pacing, and sufficient danger to absorb me.

I found the climax of Cast in Flame engrossing–while it does involve name magic and highly abstracted powers, it includes a nice dose of physical combat. Sagara also did a good job of making the magic a little less abstract and working it into the action more smoothly than in some of the series books.

While I love most of the characters–they often have larger-than-life personalities that are fun to watch–I’m still frustrated with how Severn is depicted. He blends into the background entirely too well, only stepping forward to protect Kaylin from time to time. He’s incredibly passive and primarily reacts rather than acting. It’s frustrating, because he has the potential to be a very interesting character.

As a small note, I still tend to have trouble figuring out who’s saying what in conversations.

This is definitely one of my favorites of the series, and I look forward to reading more!

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Review: “Mortal Danger,” Eileen Wilks

Pros: Great story; fantastic characters; confident world-building
Cons:
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

After the events of Tempting Danger (book one in the World of the Lupi), Lily now works for a special division of the FBI whose purview is the paranormal, magical, and mystical. She’s a rare ‘sensitive’–someone who’s capable of feeling and identifying traces of magic, and someone who’s largely immune to magic as well. Unfortunately, there are just a few magical things that can affect her, and one particularly powerful item is in the hands of the lupi’s enemies. They need to find that person and take the staff away from him before he can set certain events in motion. Unfortunately for Lily and Rule, everything is about to go completely pear-shaped.

In Eileen Wilks’s Mortal Danger (The World of the Lupi, Book 2), the Old One who is the ancient enemy of the lupi is driving her agents even harder to achieve their goals. Demons are involved, and the mystical bond between Rule and Lily is being tested in new and difficult ways. That bond is still fairly new, so Lily, Rule, and the audience get to discover its nature all together.

Rule’s theory made the mate bond seem almost sentient, like some sort of psychic snake–now tightening its coils around the two of them, now loosening them. Most of all, it irritated Lily that she didn’t know.

I actually liked the arguments between Lily and Rule. They didn’t feel in any way like the characters were being unreasonable; they argued about entirely understandable things (in particular butting heads over independence and secrets). They are, after all, two extremely different people who were thrown together by the Lady the lupi serve. Not every goddess-created mate bond works out, after all, although at least she seems to pick people who stand a good chance of falling in love. That aspect of outside interference is what makes their bond different and, IMO, better than, the standard one-true-mate plots in many other books. There’s still an aspect of self-determination here, which I find much more palatable than most other such constructs.

Lily and Rule are great characters, as are all the secondaries. Cullen is a sorcerer who moonlights as an exotic dancer, which is great fun. We also get to meet more of Lily’s new co-workers and her boss, and we see more of her family. I’m enjoying the slowly expanding sphere of attention that gradually brings more and more of the world into play.

There are some fascinating events later in the book, but I’ll just say that I thought it ended with a very satisfying bang. Now I have to hunt down the next two books in the series!

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Review: “Tempting Danger,” Eileen Wilks

Pros: Fascinating; great world-building; excellent characters
Cons:
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Thanks to the vagaries of receiving review books, I started reading Eileen Wilks’ World of the Lupi with book five, Mortal Sins. I’ve loved it ever since, and now I’m going back to read the books I missed, starting with book one: Tempting Danger. To quote the back of the book,

Lily Yu is a San Diego detective investigating a series of grisly murders that appear to be the work of a werewolf.

She’s hindered by cops who don’t trust her; she’s small, female, and Chinese–not the best combination in that world. It would be even worse if they knew she was a sensitive–able to feel the traces that magic leaves behind. Magical beings and magic-practicing people were only revealed comparatively recently, and people still have a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later. Rule, a ‘prince’ of the local werewolf clan, Nokolai, offers to help Lily understand the culture and behavior of werewolves to aid in her investigation. While she believes she can eliminate him as a suspect very quickly, there are others who just want to destroy the werewolf. Before long she realizes that someone is interfering with her case, and the evidence points to cops she thought she could trust with her life. The Feds who’ve been flitting around the edges of the case are willing to help her, but they have a proposal of their own.

The characterization is wonderful, drawn in sure strokes, and there are fun character quotes here and there.

“I’ll slow down. You’re pale.”
“I turn Caucasian at ninety miles an hour and up. Pay no attention.”

As for the sex and romance: There was maybe one line that pulled me out of a sex scene because I didn’t find it at all sexy. Other than that, the relationship between Lily and Rule is a fun one. The genre-standard ‘one true mate’ bond is here, but it’s handled differently and that makes it both good and interesting.

“We’re free to choose how we deal with the bond. We aren’t free to refuse it.”

The bond was created by a legendary goddess–it’s isn’t some mysterious pseudo-science involving pheremones or something. Because of that it leaves room for the idea that the goddess would choose two people who are capable of falling for each other in the first place. I also like that while the bond itself is non-optional, it’s made clear that there are people who are never able to become ‘okay’ with it. Again, it leaves some wiggle-room for characters to do their own thing. It seems to spark attraction and a strong need to be with the person one is bonded to, but it doesn’t force love–that has to develop on its own, although the attraction gives it a nice jump-start.

Tempting Danger dives straight into the story, counting on our being able to keep up when world background pops up. In fact, the only problem at all I had in this area was some confusion as to what ‘the Sundering’ was.

I must note that there is some dark material in here involving a heinous attack on a child. It’s kept brief and not used to titillate; it’s used as background that brings more depth to a character. But I know some folks will want or need to avoid it, which is why I mention it here.

I’m very much looking forward to catching up with the rest of the series!

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Review: “Unbound,” Jim C. Hines

Pros: Love libriomancy as a concept. Wonderful characters and relationships. Touching look at depression.
Cons:
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Unbound is book three of the Magic Ex Libris series by Jim C. Hines. This is totally different from his Princess novels, which are fantasy/dark fairy tale. Instead this series takes place in the modern day, and magic is the ability to pull items out of books in order to make them real. Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, but he’s also more than a little bit reckless. He has a dryad for a lover… who also has another lover of her own. (It’s an awkward relationship, but they’re making it work.) Romantic partners aren’t perfect gleaming gods and goddesses with steel abs and slim waistlines–they’re ‘real’ people, and I’d love to see more of that in books in general. Books one (Libriomancer) and two (Codex Born) wowed me. Each one has shown plenty of myth, magic, and interpersonal relationships, while simultaneously ratcheting up the stakes for each gamble Isaac makes.

This time, Isaac needs to stop a trapped almost-goddess from killing everyone and turning them into ghost-ridden slaves. Unfortunately for him, his magic is still locked away, taken from him by Gutenberg. It doesn’t help that Isaac is in the throes of depression. He witnessed (and feels responsible for) many of the deaths of his neighbors and friends when their town was pulled apart. He lost his apprentice–a teenaged girl named Janeta with an unheard-of ability to use libriomancy on an e-reader–to the terrifying power that’s trying to break out into our world. He has plenty of reasons to curl up in a ball and pretend the outside world doesn’t exist, but he can’t save Janeta that way.

Hines’ depiction of depression is spot-on. I had tears in my eyes when I recognized so much of what was going on with Isaac and saw how well it was woven into the story. I have to draw a distinction here: Isaac was depressed, and the depiction is necessarily a bit dark, but it never crosses over the line into the sort of darkness that makes reading it depressing. I enjoy reading dark things, but when they cross the line into actively depressing then I can’t stick with them. (My depressions don’t need any help of that kind, thank you very much.) The fact that Hines could ride that line so beautifully without ever stepping over it in the wrong direction is really kick-ass.

As was often the case, magic just chuckled and kicked physics in the balls, leaving it groaning and wondering what just happened.

Isaac’s emotional transition during the book is carried off beautifully. It’s easy to recognize Isaac’s mania when it hops into the scene. Unbound is a roller coaster ride of depression, mania, fear, love, shame, guilt, wonder, and hope. These are all shored up by Hines’ wonderful characterizations. From a fire spider to Gutenberg himself, he makes all of his characters come alive on the page.

I don’t want to say much more for fear of spoiling plot events. Let’s just say that you need to read Libriomancer and Codex Born if you haven’t already, because you really need to catch up so you can read the excellent Unbound!

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Review: “Bread Revolution,” Peter Reinhart

Pros: Yum!
Cons: There were a number of recipes I couldn’t try
Rating: 4 out of 5 (provisional)

 

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

Bread Revolution: World-Class Baking with Sprouted and Whole Grains, Heirloom Flours, and Fresh Techniques, by Peter Reinhart, covers a handful of new ways to make bread.

First, bread from sprouted flours. My local Whole Foods carries sprouted wheat, so I was able to try some of these recipes. There’s a pancake recipe that’s divine, and we made a quick bread that was so good that we almost immediately made a second loaf just so we could try it with dried cranberries and pecans (yum!). This stuff is healthy, and I like the taste much better than plain whole wheat. I’d happily buy the sprouted wheat again in order to make more bread with it.

Second, bread from sprouted pulp. Not available at our store, so I would have had to order it. There are limits to how far I’m going to go and how much I’m going to spend to test a cookbook, so I haven’t tried those recipes.

Third, bread made from “whole milled” flour.

Craig Ponsford, one of my longtime baking heroes, believes that some serious misinformation is floating around, and that much of what we believe to be 100% whole wheat flour actually isn’t. …

As he told me, “It comes down to how the wheat is milled. I learned that most so-called whole wheat flour is actually fractionated flour, reconstituted during milling. …

“If you run the wheat through a stone mill, or even a stainless steel roller mill, and just collected it at the end, you’ll end up with a lot of large bran and germ particles, resulting in a very coarse whole wheat flour, which most bakers don’t really want. So the mills typically sift out the germ and bran early in the process and then run them through again, separately from the endosperm, to break them down into smaller particles. Then, usually after at least two such siftings and millings, it’s added back into the flour. …

“Once it’s separated and added back, it’s somehow different. Something changes and we don’t get all the nutritional benefits. It doesn’t perform the same way in baking, either, or taste as good, and it also doesn’t keep as well.”

I’m dubious about claims to higher nutrition when the person making the claims doesn’t say how that was measured and can offer no better explanation than “it’s somehow different”. At least the baking property claims can be tested, and Reinhart seems to believe that whole-milled flour does make a difference. Of course I can’t find it in this area, and after checking some of the online sites Reinhart recommends, only some of them actually provide enough information that I could be sure I was getting the right item. With having to scour the internet and pay for shipping, I’m just not going to try these recipes yet. Perhaps in the future when this sort of flour (hopefully) is easier to find, I’ll come back to this review and revisit these recipes.

Finally, many recipes in this book are based on a sourdough starter. Reinhart includes instructions on starting your own. I don’t know why, but I could not make this work. Maybe I should try again when the weather is different? I’m not sure. But if I get it working in the future I’ll come back and annotate this review. It should be noted that these recipes aren’t meant for people who want quick, easy bread. It’s for people who want to go the extra mile to squeeze every single last bit of quality possible into their breads.

I’m giving this cookbook a 4 out of 5 for now, but that’s provisional until I make that starter work and get some whole-milled flour!

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