How many times have you participated in CBR? Has it changed the way you read?
So it looks like, from my profile page, I’ve participated in seven CBRs. Several of those years, though, I know I didn’t meet my goal (I usually go for a quarter Cannonball and anything beyond that is gravy) and I think there was one year I signed up and then didn’t do any reviews. I think that may have been the Year of Bad Health, so I’ll try not to judge myself too hard.
It’s difficult to say it’s changed the way I read; I do tend to highlight more (in Kindle books, anyway) so that I don’t forget things I want to include as pull quotes in my reviews. I’m certainly more aware of who I’m reading than I used to be, but I’ve never been super discriminating in my literary tastes.
I think the biggest difference in my reading between when I started and now is I’m more willing to stop reading a book that doesn’t hold my interest rather than slogging my way through. Life’s too short!
It’s the after-reading that’s changed the most: Instead of putting the book down and moving immediately on to the next I find myself asking myself questions. Did I like this book enough to recommend, who is the intended audience, how can I explain what I’ve read without giving key plot points away, is this something that — even semi-anonymously — I want to admit to the world that I’ve read! Am I writing a review that tries to convince people who wouldn’t normally be interested to read a book in its genre (e.g., Dumplin’, Unf*ck Your Habitat); is this a book I’m going to unreservedly squee about whether it’s a “good book” or not (e.g., anything Jim C. Hines has written and they’re all good books, the Maplecroft series)…and the list goes on.
Your reviews seem to cover a little bit of everything (self help, true crime, science fiction, science, steampunk, fantasy, etc.!). Do you have a favorite genre?
I do, actually! Fantasy and SciFi is (are?) my favorite genre(s), but not Game of Thrones or The Name of the Wind-type fantasy (I’ve not read GoT but I really don’t need rape with a side of incest in my fiction, and I have read NotW and just…really hate Kvothe *shrug*). More recently I’ve loved a lot of fairy tale retellings (Hines’ Stepsister series, as an example) and I’ve just discovered N.K. Jemisin and Seanan Maguire. I’m overdue for a re-read of the Earthsea series, and I’m still trying to find a good collection of Andre Norton’s work.
But I’m very much a book magpie. It’s a problem. I was always reading as a kid; I was also read to by my parents. The variety of books I’ve reviewed for CBR pretty much matches what you’d find on my bookshelves — my Kindle is worse — and I’ve usually got three to four books in my “reading” pile (e.g., right now I have River of Teeth (bedroom), Hamilton and Philosophy (bathroom), the Chernow Hamilton biography (other bathroom), The Book of Barely Imagined Creatures: A 21st Century Bestiary (bedroom), something I’m forgetting, and Doctor Sleep (craft room)). My “to be read” pile is mostly virtual, which is good, because otherwise I’d be at risk of dying when my tower of books collapsed on me one day.
I’m not especially loyal to any one genre; I tend to read what catches my interest. Not often westerns (but Silver on the Road); not often romance (okay, this one holds true, which is why I have a romance set aside for “Not My Wheelhouse” on my bingo card), and only very rarely indeed so-called “literary fiction,” but otherwise I like to keep my options open.
Is there a story behind “sistercoyote?”
There is, and the short version is that I was doing some research for a creative non-fiction piece on coyotes, weather, and earthquakes, and the day after I turned that essay in a dear friend of mine called me “coyote sister” in a completely separate context and sistercoyote kind of stuck. I don’t mind it, though, and at this point I occasionally answer to “sis” in meatspace.
Name three favorite authors you would pick to be on your trivia team.
Marianne Kirby, Dru Pagliassotti, and Bill Bryson (two friends of mine, and then a guy who I figure has at least small amounts of retained knowledge about a large number of things).
What’s your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?
“Scotland, PA” (dir. William Morrissette, 2001)! It’s a retelling of Macbeth, but set in a fast food restaurant in a small town (Scotland, PA), in which only the witches who are a bunch of stoners hanging out in a broken-down carnival speak in Shakespeare’s original language. Macbeth, it turns out, played right makes a perfect dark comedy.
Some of the deaths are kind of gruesome, though I think they’re mostly off-screen, and hey — bonus Christopher Walken.
I’m deadly serious, by the way. This is my favorite book-to-movie adaptation ever. It’s just so weird and yet it works so well!
Your bio says you’re a baker! Care to share your favorite recipe?
My absolute favorite recipe is a very basic bread recipe that I’ve modified over the years from Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads. It’s only ever failed me once, when I used water that was too hot.
5-6 cups of mixed white and whole wheat flour (or other flour mixture of your choice)*
3 cups of hot (roughly 120 degrees F) water (check your yeast and follow its temperature)
2 packages activated dry yeast (less if using all white flour)
1 tsp salt (can be omitted but watch the bread during the rise closely)
⅓ cup white sugar (can also use brown but mind the moisture if you do; this will change the color and taste of the loaf)
Line two 8″ bread pans with parchment paper (or butter and flour); set aside.
Mix 2 cups of flour and the yeast together. Add salt and sugar, then slowly add the water. Mix thoroughly. Gradually add the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, and then either stir for 150 strokes with a wooden spoon or if using a machine for one and one half minutes with the bread hook (this dough is a thick batter and not firm enough for kneading). Pour ½ of the mixture in each bread pan (but no more than about ⅔ up the pans); cover with waxed paper and set in a warm place to rise** for 45 minutes or until the batter has just about reached the tops of the pans.***
About 20 minutes before the end of rising time, if you can manage it, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit; this is to give a nice crust to your bread. Remove the waxed paper. Bake the bread in the oven for 20 minutes at 400, then lower the temperature to 375 and bake for another 40 minutes. Loaves are done when the bottom sounds hollow when tapped; if you like, you can remove the bread from the pans and return it to the oven for ~5 minutes to brown the sides and bottom a little.
Let sit until cool****. Serve with butter or olive oil and balsamic vinegar or your choice of bread toppings. This bread also freezes very well and is good for toast (I have not tried it as avocado toast, however.
*You can use all white or all wheat if you’d like, but reduce the yeast to 1 package if using all white; you can also use other blends if you’d like but I make no promises with some of the heavier flours (rye, spelt) as to what they’ll do and how much yeast they need. I also sometimes add ¼ cup steel-cut oats (not rolled oats) to this bread which gives it a nice nutty texture. Unfortunately, I have not tried this with a gluten-free flour so I don’t know how well it would convert.
**I like to turn my oven to 400 for 60 seconds and turn it all the way off and raise my loaves in there, but this doesn’t work when it comes to pre-heating time. Most places in the US when it’s not snowy outside, on top of the oven is just fine.
***Technically, this is “let rise until doubled” but I find my bread ends up both overproved and spilling out of the pan when I do this.
****If you can. Honestly, in my house this bread tends to get cut into and served while it’s still hot enough to sting your palms.
Tooting my own horn a little bit: I’ve had three short stories published in anthologies (including “Trickster’s Choice” in the somewhat recent Lawless Lands: Tales from the Weird Frontier). No novel yet, but I’m working on it!
I read Pajiba but you’ll rarely see me comment (usually under my twitter drarregj handle); I tend to be a lurker in most online spaces and it suits me fine. But CBR is something I’m really proud of participating in, and it’s something I try and promote to my reading/writing friends and family, because the CBR mission is important!