Review: Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Goodreads: Sourdough
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Magical Realism

Panda Rating:

(Review posted from 2018)

Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighbourhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her – feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.

Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she’s providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmer’s market, and a whole new world opens up.


When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?

If Vietnamese pho’s healing powers, physical and psychic, make traditional chicken noodle soup seem like dishwater—and they do—then this spicy soup, in turn, dishwatered pho. It was an elixir. The sandwich was spicier still, thin-sliced vegetables slathered with a fluorescent red sauce, the burn buffered by thick slabs of bread artfully toasted.

I really enjoyed this book! Sourdough is full of quirky and endearing characters and situations that make you laugh and fill your mind with wonder. It also made me insanely hungry (2020 edit: reading that quote above already has me salivating!) and brought to life a craving for sourdough – although I’m sure the loaf that I dug into is nothing like the legendary Mazg one (unfortunately). What I liked about this book is that you can take it as lightly as you want to, but if you want to give it a bit more thought, there’s also some meat for you to chew on. It doesn’t go into very fine details, which I didn’t mind because in a book like this, you can easily over-describe situations, events and processes until you bore your reader to death. Robin Sloan definitely doesn’t do that!

I have come to believe that food is history of the deepest kind. Everything we eat tells a tale of ingenuity and creation, domination and injustice—and does so more vividly than any other artifact, any other medium.

Lois, the main character, is so full of life and energy. I could really relate to her thoughts in terms of wondering at being a part of something more; something significant and important. I think that’s what we all go through in our 20s, 30s (and well, some even longer), especially as we finish university and start looking for a job and try to find more meaning in our lives. To find that purpose and to chase after what makes us tick – what gives us life. Lois is so passionate and just dives into situations that come at her – which is the complete opposite of me and probably why I find people who can do that so admirable. That energy of hers was palpable and as I read the book, I happily soaked up her enthusiasm for everything that she was doing. It made me think about what I’m currently doing and whether I am just living in my own version of “General Dexterity”? It’s a big Maybe.

Here’s a thing I believe about people my age: we are the children of Hogwarts, and more than anything, we just want to be sorted.

Of course, there’s also some magical realism sprinkled throughout the book, especially as you come towards the end when you’re kind of doused in it all at once. As someone who is very picky when it comes to magical realism, I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it but I absolutely loved it! It’s another element of Robin Sloan’s writing that I loved because it’s not entirely out of place or unbelievable in stories where the characters and events are so full of quirkyness.

I read someone’s comment about his books that summarised them in a really simple but accurate way – just as Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore was about a secret society for book lovers, Sourdough is about a secret society for food lovers. And who doesn’t love food (and books and secret societies)?! After reading this, it’s pretty safe to say that I thoroughly enjoy the way Robin Sloan writes and he has got a fan in me! Can’t wait to read more from him 🙂

Have you read Sourdough or is it on your TBR?

Top 5 Saturday: Books by Debut Authors

We’re back with another Top 5 Saturday! Just in case you don’t know Top 5 Saturday is a weekly meme created by Mandy @ Devouring Books and it’s where we list the top five books (they can be books on your TBR, favourite books, books you loved/hated) based on the week’s topic. You can see the upcoming schedule at the end of my post 🙂 This week’s topic is: books by debut authors!

I’m always surprised by how many debut authors I have on my TBR because I don’t usually pay a lot of attention to that especially if it’s from a different genre than I normally read. For this list though I decided to keep it simple for myself and focus on the books being released by debut authors in 2020. I’m pretty sure that all of these are by debut authors but sorry if I get anything wrong!

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#TopTenTuesday: Books I want to re-read as an adult!

We’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: books I wish I read as a child. But I don’t know.. I’m not really feeling that prompt right now. So I’m going to twist it up a bit and look at books I read as a child (kid/tween/teen) that I want to read again as an adult!

I read quite a bit as a kid in elementary school, really enjoyed my humanities classes in middle school and basically almost moved into the library in high school. The sad thing is though, I don’t really remember a lot about the books I read. I remember which ones I enjoyed but if you asked me what they were about… Well, I’d be (mostly) hard pressed to tell you 😂 So I’d love to try re-reading some of these and seeing what I’d think of them now as an adult!

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Goodreads Monday – Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston

Welcome back to Goodreads Monday! This weekly meme was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners and it invites you to pick a book from your TBR and explain why you want to read it. Easy enough, right? Feel free to join in if you want to! I’ll be using a random number generator to pick my books from my insanely long GR Want-to-read list.

This week’s featured book is Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston. I think this is the third book in a series but when I saw the cover/title and synopsis, I knew I needed to get my hands on this book. It sounds so cute. This YA contemporary retelling will be released in June 2020!

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Top 5 Saturday: Books Under 300 Pages

We’re back with another Top 5 Saturday! Just in case you don’t know Top 5 Saturday is a weekly meme created by Mandy @ Devouring Books and it’s where we list the top five books (they can be books on your TBR, favourite books, books you loved/hated) based on the week’s topic. You can see the upcoming schedule at the end of my post 🙂 This week’s topic is: books under 300 pages.

This was a lot harder than I anticipated because I thought I’d have a lot more books that were less than 300 pages but a lot of them are more under the 400 page mark. After a bit of searching I did find a few on my actual TBR. I don’t actually have a preference for book lengths, it really all depends on the content. If a book is great I’ll likely never want it to end but when it’s the opposite, even less than 300 pages sounds like too much! I also generally don’t pay much attention to details such as page numbers, so I’m surprised by a few of the ones on here. I definitely thought they’d be longer!

209 pages

I feel like This Is How You Lose the Time War has been featuring on quite a few of my lists lately or maybe that’s just my mind constantly conjuring it up because I want to read it soon?!

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#TopTenTuesday: Titles That Would Make Good Band Names

We’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: Titles that would make good band names (submitted by Michelle).

Ooh, this is a really fun topic! I’ve never looked at a title and thought it’d make a good band name but now that the seed has been planted, there are quite a few that pop up in my head! You might notice a trend in the types of titles that I pick… Also, for some reason when I’m thinking bands my mind doesn’t immediately think boy/girl pop bands but more like… heavy metal/rock bands? LOL Maybe it’s residual from my emo days when I used to listen to bands with names that (now) remind me of book titles 🤣 It’s weird that my brain does this but interesting. Anyway, without further ado, let’s get to it! I’m really curious to see if any other bloggers will pick the same book titles?!

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Top 5 Saturday: Sibling Relationships

We’re back with another Top 5 Saturday! Just in case you don’t know Top 5 Saturday is a weekly meme created by Mandy @ Devouring Books and it’s where we list the top five books (they can be books on your TBR, favourite books, books you loved/hated) based on the week’s topic. You can see the upcoming schedule at the end of my post 🙂 This week’s topic is: books with sibling relationships.

As much as I love a good love ship, I really enjoy books that explore sibling relationships; more specifically positive and healthy sibling relationships! I love the good feels reading about these bring me! Plus, it also makes me more determined to have better relationships with my own siblings! I don’t have “terrible” relationships with my siblings, of course we disagree now and then, though my older brother doesn’t have a good relationship with basically any of us. But I digress! Basically, I love sibling relationships in books and here’s a selection from my TBR that I’ve heard have interesting ones:

Ellery’s never been to Echo Ridge, but she’s heard all about it. It’s where her aunt went missing at age sixteen, never to return. Where a Homecoming Queen’s murder five years ago made national news. And where Ellery now has to live with a grandmother she barely knows, after her failed-actress mother lands in rehab. No one knows what happened to either girl, and Ellery’s family is still haunted by their loss.
Malcolm grew up in the shadow of the Homecoming Queen’s death. His older brother was the prime suspect and left Echo Ridge in disgrace. His mother’s remarriage vaulted her and Malcolm into Echo Ridge’s upper crust, but their new status grows shaky when mysterious threats around town hint that a killer plans to strike again. No one has forgotten Malcolm’s brother-and nobody trusts him when he suddenly returns to town.
Ellery and Malcolm both know it’s hard to let go when you don’t have closure. Then another girl disappears, and Ellery and Malcolm were the last people to see her alive. As they race to unravel what happened, they realize every secret has layers in Echo Ridge. The truth might be closer to home than either of them want to believe.
And somebody would kill to keep it hidden.

Yep, it’s this book again. I know I’ve mentioned Two Can Keep A Secret a few times lately but this is an attempt at subliminally messaging my own conscience to finally read the damn book. 😂 I’ve heard that the twins in this are great characters and honestly, I don’t read books with twins very often.

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Review: Donut Disturb (Donut Disturb #1) by Melissa Williams

Goodreads: Donut Disturb (Donut Disturb #1)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

A STANDALONE romantic comedy from author Melissa Williams. A hot cop and a donut baker, what could go wrong?

It was a donut emergency. A dough or die moment. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. It would explain why, from the moment Baxter DeCavhalo comes crashing into my kitchen, I’ve been acting out of character.

Why I’m sharing secret donut recipes, licking frosting off fingers that aren’t mine, and falling for the off-limits neighbor. I know better, I need to be focusing on my bakery and my next donut creation…but there’s just something about Bax that keeps me coming back for more. It’s not the heat of the kitchen that’s getting to me, it’s Bax. And this slow burn is about to combust.

I was looking for a light and fluffy romantic comedy when I came across this book and it sounded just like what I was looking for. It didn’t hurt that it also has such a colourful and eye-catching cover! I was sold. Unfortunately, this book was not it and it didn’t work out for me.

The plot and character arcs felt very underdeveloped because everything seemed to happen off-page. There were many allusions to “something not being right” with the friendships and sibling relationships, and that’s even before we get into the police drama that stems from Bax’s work as a police detective. It felt like there was a lot happening in the story but at the same time, not much either, if that makes sense. There were no discussions to try to solve those “not right” feelings with her brother and her best friend, although something was clearly up. It all came across as very vague.

I also didn’t connect with our heroine or hero. Cassidy seems to have a history of being hurt and so has built up her walls; however, we never really learn about what made the walls go up in the first place. Again, hints of her history are dropped but we don’t get any details. Of course these walls end up being a barrier to whatever is going on with Bax, but after some not-very-nice hints from her best friend about her inability to trust anyone, Cassidy simply decides that she’s going to let Bax in… And she does it. Despite a rough meet-cute for our characters, Bax became very quickly “all-in” with Cassidy. He decides at one point during their second interaction that he wants all or nothing, and he’s going to make Cassidy realise that he’s serious about them. I didn’t get it. Yeah, she’s quirky and makes delicious donuts but… That’s it? Don’t tell me he’s all in, show me why! I felt very little chemistry between them and that made their steamy scenes also fall flat for me.

Overall, a fairly disappointing read. It just never clicked for me and that’s disappointing because I was expecting more… Even the part about the bakery, which I thought would leave me with endless donut cravings, didn’t even really do that… I’m glad that I did give this a try though–I don’t think I could’ve resisted such a cute cover for very long, but I’m also glad it was on Kindle Unlimited!

Have you read Donut Disturb or is it on your TBR?

#TopTenTuesday: Books I Heart But Rarely Talk About…

We’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: Books I Enjoyed but Rarely Talk About (This is for the books you liked, but rarely come up in conversation or rarely fit a TTT topic, etc.)!

OK, I have to admit that I struggled a bit with this one because a lot of the books I loved/enjoyed I DO talk about quite often? I feel like maybe I talk about all of them too much? Admittedly these books are more “recent” reads over the last few years because my memory is truly terrible. It’s weird and (I know) doesn’t make sense but it is what it is! So I went digging through Goodreads and found some reads that I think qualify (sorry if I end up cheating just a little bit)! I don’t talk about these books much because there’ve never really been any prompts in tags, award questions, or TTT topics that necessarily fit it!

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Goodreads Monday – Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

It’s the first Goodreads Monday of 2020, friends! This weekly meme was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners and it invites you to pick a book from your TBR and explain why you want to read it. Easy enough, right? Feel free to join in if you want to! I’ll be using a random number generator to pick my books from my insanely long GR Want-to-read list.

This week’s featured book is Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I’m still not sure why I haven’t read this yet since I’m a big fan of Gaiman’s books. I’ve never read anything by Pratchett though so I’m curious about what I’ll think of this book in the end. This urban fantasy has a 4.25 star average with 499k+ ratings and 25.4k+ reviews, which is pretty wow!

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