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Sandy's Autumn 🍁 2019 thread #3

This is a continuation of the topic Sandy Mc's Summer 2019 75-er thread.

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Edited: Yesterday, 11:12pm Top

September: the days are cooling, the book list extending
Time to do a recap of my first 9 months taking part in the 75-challenge group...

Progress to date:

Edited: Sep 1, 8:43am Top

My favourite reading this year, by an author new to me:

Non-Fiction, biographical
Becoming (Michelle Obama)

Non-Fiction, general
Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking (David Bayles)

Ruth Galloway series (Elly Griffiths)

Fantasy-Fiction a difficult choice, so ...
Naomi Novik (Spinning Silver)
Lois McMaster Bujold (The Curse of Chalion)

Edited: Sep 9, 8:10am Top

My most ambitious* reading so far,
Surprisingly (for me), all non-fiction books:

The Private World of Georgette Heyer (Hodge, Jane Aiken)
Two Dianas in Somaliland: the record of a shooting trip (Herbert, Agnes)
Old In Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over (Nell Painter)

*ambitious as in genre I rarely chose to read until I joined LibraryThing and saw what a Rut I had gotten into!

Edited: Sep 1, 8:44am Top

My most surprising (and enjoyable!) author discoveries this year and their nationality:

Bujold, Lois McMaster (American)
Griffiths, Elly (British)
Novik, Naomi (American)
Skeet, Michael (Canadian)

Edited: Sep 1, 8:59am Top

Remarkable YA and children's books in my 2019 reading list:

Rae Carson: The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Susin Nielsen: No Fixed Address
Lemony Snicket: The Bad Mood and the Stick
Zilpha Keatley Snyder: The Headless Cupid and Blair's Nightmare

Edited: Sep 1, 9:50am Top

And just for fun, because so many toppers in the 75er-group post interesting snippets, here are some of my fibre artwork hangings ~

(1) (2) (3) (4)

(1) Vignette of a Japanese fabric collage
(2) Tlingit motif (lap quilt)
(3) Snowy cabin in the foothills
(4) Wildfire (inspired by a summer of forest fires)

Sep 1, 9:48am Top

I'm hoping that seeing my artwork every time I visit my thread will resolve some drag-ass behaviour on my part...

I've been moaning about not knuckling down to do the activities I really want to pursue (aside from reading). I recalled what Neil Gaiman said, about shutting yourself in the studio and not doing anything except writing (or in my case, something besides reading, faffing on the computer, housework or outside garden stuff). I think it was Neil... maybe it was a different author who wrote that, but the philosophy holds, yeah?

Anyway, I was amazed at how much I had to tell myself that, No, you do not need to put on a laundry, tidy something or clean. What a shock to note how easily I let myself be derailed. I've now set in stone (as much as other committments allow) that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are my holy time for creativity.

Sep 1, 11:09am Top

>6 SandyAMcPherson: so you made those pieces yourself? Are they quilted? Say more!! I love your idea of designated creative time.

Sep 1, 4:07pm Top

Happy new thread!

>6 SandyAMcPherson: Fabulous!

Sep 1, 5:09pm Top

Happy new thread!

>6 SandyAMcPherson: Very neat. Looks beautiful

Edited: Sep 14, 8:46am Top

>8 lauralkeet: Indeed, I sew artwork pieces from assorted textiles. The ones pictured above have all sold (I'm into minimalism... except don't look in my stash cupboards!)

Weird thing for a retired research scientist... except curiosity-driven research (my fave thing) is driven by creative thinking. And I always loved textiles. So here I am, pursuing my bliss!
I also create mixed media artwork, mainly plant-based, meaning with natural fibres, wood, found plant material.
I've occasionally incorporated sea shells and tiny rocks like rose quartz and jade.

Factoid: in B.C., a lower grade of jade can be found in streams and creeks, which is sometimes washed all the way to the sea, where it is rounded and polished by the ocean waves and sand. I would post some pix, except this is my book thread and I don't want to discourage the bibliophiles!

My ambition is to incorporate miniaturized robotics in a textile design... but I have to geek up on that.

Edited ~ I explored the Arduino and robotics ideas and the learning curve would be so steep that I'd take way too much time away from actual art work. So a less Tech-driven approach to kinetic art is being contemplated.

Sep 1, 6:32pm Top

Thank you >9 quondame: Susan, and >10 figsfromthistle: Anita.

I started off with conventional quilting but that was a poor fit. I so wasn't fastidious enough to achieve a good (never mind exact) fit with all those corners and seams. Then I discovered the fun of painting with textiles and machine, free-motion quilting. Yeah! Great collaboration with my skill set.

Sep 2, 12:24am Top

Happy new thread Sandy!

>6 SandyAMcPherson: Beautiful!

Edited: Sep 2, 3:27am Top

>11 SandyAMcPherson: There's a high correlation between math/science and music, so why not fiber arts? I think those of us who spend our careers doing analytical things (my background is computer science), benefit tremendously from a creative outlet.

Having seen your amazing textile work, can I lure you over to LT's Needlearts Group? We are all fiber/textile enthusiasts in various ways, including a couple of quilters. Your work is unique. The group is far less active than this one -- therefore easy to keep up with -- and I know others there would enjoy seeing your work.

Sep 2, 6:06am Top

Happy new thread, Sandy!

>6 SandyAMcPherson: Lovely works, I wouldn't mind if you posted more of them.

Sep 2, 9:48am Top

Hi Sandy, and happy new thread.

And >6 SandyAMcPherson: threads. Your work is beautiful. I, too, would love to see more.

>11 SandyAMcPherson: My ambition is to incorporate miniaturized robotics in a textile design... but I have to geek up on that. Fascinating.

Sep 2, 8:59pm Top

Happy new thread!

I might know a bit about robotics and can help... 😀

Sep 2, 10:17pm Top

I know nothing about robotics, I'm afraid!

Happy new thread, Sandy.

Sep 3, 8:06am Top

>13 humouress: >15 FAMeulstee: Thanks for dropping by; Glad you liked my fibrearts work.

Sep 3, 8:10am Top

>14 lauralkeet: I looked at the Needlearts Group. Thanks for the suggestion, very interesting people and creative work over there.

I agreed (of course) with the comment There's a high correlation between math/science and music, and that such correlation applies equally to other design-based activities.

Edited: Sep 3, 8:16am Top

>15 FAMeulstee: >16 karenmarie: I will occasionally post more of my creations.

I seem to be bogged down lately with more regular sewing that doesn't lend itself to photographs in the artwork sense.
Right now, I'm sewing some Hallowe'en costumes for my grandchildren. I should probably start a thread over on that LT "Needlearts Group" which >14 lauralkeet: suggested.

I'll let you know on the "Book talk threads" if/when I get to that point.

Sep 3, 8:20am Top

>17 drneutron: I might know a bit about robotics and can help...

Thanks for offering! How about suggesting a beginner's book so I can see what I might be getting into?
I'm not very handy when it comes to machinery and instrumentation, except how to operate them. Construction/building is a realm I've been intimidated by since "forever".

Sep 3, 8:22am Top

Hi Paul, nice to see you here.
Hope all is well these days. I've been skimping on checking out the talk threads these last few weeks of summer.

Sep 3, 9:10am Top

>21 SandyAMcPherson: ooh I hope you decide to start a thread!

Sep 3, 9:13am Top

>24 lauralkeet: Thanks for the encouragement.

Posting on this 75-group prompted me to get on with my TBRs so I'm reasoning that my fibre artwork might enjoy a similar resurgence!

Sep 3, 3:04pm Top

>6 SandyAMcPherson: Lovely, lovely artwork.

>7 SandyAMcPherson: Your stone-setting is admirable indeed. No house needs cleaning that much that often.

Happy creative days!

Sep 3, 3:26pm Top

>22 SandyAMcPherson: There are a number of robot kits and parts available for reasonable amounts, mostly based on Raspberry Pi or Arduino processors, some of them for kids. I supported several as Kickstarters, but tend not to play with them. They also control lights and I've seen them used to animate leds on costumes.

Sep 3, 7:55pm Top

>27 quondame: Yup, I was going to suggest the same thing! There are a ton of YouTube videos too - just google “simple robotics”. These could be fun projects with grandkids too!

Edited: Sep 5, 9:21am Top

>28 drneutron: Thanks, Jim and >27 quondame: Susan for these ideas. I'd like to read up first, since I know diddly-squat about stringing together devices in the animatronics sense.

I'm not so jazzed about the programming so much as creating animated fibrearts constructions. Yeah - this will need some kind of program in the controls, it's the "wiring the parts together" I want to learn first.

Maybe I'm mistaken in this sequence of learning, though...

Edited: Sep 4, 12:19pm Top

>26 richardderus:, Ummm, I beg to differ...
We live in a windy, dusty desert. It's either spring seeding, rainless summer or harvest.

Added info ~ average annual precipitation in Central Saskatchewan = 15 inches!

Sep 4, 8:12pm Top

>30 SandyAMcPherson: Good gracious! That's a thirsty place indeed. Maybe just start up a static-electricity bubble to ward off the fluff?

Sep 5, 12:41pm Top

Book #76 ~ 3 ★s

The Wailing Wind ~ ~ by Tony Hillerman

My thoughts
This Tony Hillerman story was written with a thin plot that wandered from the theme of The Wailing Wind, not what I expect from Hillerman’s Navajo detective series. The backstory was skilfully interwoven with the present developments in a cold case, but Hillerman’s descriptions of the landscape and traditional Navajo ways appeared as if by rote, which lacked its usual liveliness. My major disappointment was Leaphorn’s unthinking behaviour in revealing too much to the bad guy, Wiley Denton. This was out of character for a well-established personality in these tales.

Bernie’s budding romance with Chee takes off in this narrative. This is a pleasant development after the ill-suited attraction to Mary Landon and the incompatible Janet Pete. The scenes where Bernie is sleuthing for the right habitat and hence finding the scene of the original murder was an especially excellent part of the story. Overall, the book, for me, was only OK because I like a tight plot to match the theme and I want the protagonist to stay level-headed, even if retired.

Sep 5, 8:59pm Top

>27 quondame: >28 drneutron: Following up on your suggestions, I decided I better start at the library... (duuh)

So requested, since my two closest branches don't carry many books on these topics:
Arduino for beginners ~ and, a life-jacket: Arduino for Dummies

This programming reading will be overkill, since all I really want to do is learn how to animate a textile piece. For that I need a mentor in miniaturized robotics... and come to think of it, I should have submitted a grant application to some cultural arts foundation thingy.

Oh dear.
I think this is what I call being sucked into a sequential vortex.

Sep 5, 9:23pm Top

being sucked into a sequential vortex.

😂 I get that.

Sep 5, 9:47pm Top

>33 SandyAMcPherson: Have you looked for maker groups near you? My local one, Crashspace held a class on Arduino set up. Doing LED programming is sort of the "Hello World" for it.

Sep 7, 4:36am Top

No idea what Arduino is (though I can guess). I am intrigued; what are you thinking of making when you combine robotics with your art?

I can't remember if I already said so, but your pieces are stunning. They have a somewhat Asian flavour, to me.

Sep 8, 9:40am Top

>36 humouress: Arduino is a software programming language.

According to Wikipedia: "Arduino is an open-source hardware and software company, project and user community that designs and manufactures single-board microcontrollers and microcontroller kits for building digital devices."

I want to make kinetic art! This seems like a fun exploration except... I discovered I have exactly zero background in microprocessors and how to program them. Simple robotics are a mystery to me.

So... a long learning curve and possibly for naught because the components are very pricey (in Canada, anyway).

Sep 8, 9:45am Top

>37 SandyAMcPherson: I guessed wrong.

So ... it'll be a 3D object clothed in your art that you can program to move? I'm trying to visualise it - I'm not very artistic, I'm afraid, and I also tend to be a traditionalist so I'm out of my depth here. It sounds fascinating and exciting, though.

Edited: Sep 9, 8:12am Top

It's Sunday morning here and I am ready to use the DNF graveyard for Lanny.

There were sections I enjoyed, like art lessons for Lanny by his uncle (or whomever Mad Pete is) but the other characters, je ne sais pas, just not engaging. And that Dead Papa character? What in blazes is that about (rhetorical question)? I rather detested Lanny's parents.

I'm not even a 1/4 of the way into the story. Does it improve? I guess that's a matter of taste.
The swirly text sections are distracting and disruptive. Fancy fonts (imho) belong in art pieces, not novels.

Yes, I am grumpy. I knew there were mixed reviews; however, I considered some were very encouraging.

I'm editing this post ~ definitely a DNF graveyard candidate. I don't like reading about missing children; besides, the author makes heavy 'magical' weather of the malevolent forces swirling around the village. I guess my psyche and this novel did not mesh in the least.

Edited: Sep 8, 3:39pm Top

>36 humouress: >37 SandyAMcPherson: Arduino and Raspberry PI are embeddable microprocessors that have convenient developer support systems and lots of open source software libraries. There are lots of available kits and parts. For prototyping there are easily used, stackable, breadboard arrangements, called shields (I think), with different functionalities like lighting, motor control, camera sensing, temperature monitoring. The idea is that once the prototype is satisfactory, the whole combination can be collapsed to its logic for production. But for one-offs the functionality is all there.

Sep 8, 3:37pm Top

OK. Not grumpy now!
>40 quondame: What Susan said...


Happy message from the library ~
I expect it will be ready for pick up by next Wednesday.

Edited: Sep 11, 8:35am Top

>33 SandyAMcPherson: Library Cascade!!

Along with the Arduino books, I also had 2 others arrive:

Book #80 (4★s) and Book # 81 (not yet rated)

The innovative recipes in Eat More Plants by Desiree Nielsen are really great. We're expanding our cooking repertoire with more vegetarian options. Not that we plan to abandon our omnivore diet, but rather focus on variety. The author has made tese recipes simple to follow and the ones that I like best feel so do-able.

Scientifically, I don't agree with some of Nielsen's interpretation of how beneficial polyphenolics and flavonoids are to humans but I do know that as whole foods, adding the edible pulses (chickpeas, beans, lentils, etc.) to our diet is certainly a wise move to maintain a healthy the gut microbiome.

And I am saving the Elly Griffiths for a reading binge this coming weekend!

Sep 11, 2:59pm Top

The Testaments: A Novel came in for me today!! The Long Beach librarians saw my name on the county system's holds list for it, the only one from our town, and our library bought one instead of relying on the system's multiple copies. That way I got my hold immediately instead of being wherever I was in the triple digits.

They like me. They really like me.

It **HAS** to be better than Lanny was. It just HAS to be.

Sep 12, 12:07pm Top

>43 richardderus: Yes, I can see that you would want The Testaments to be better than Lanny.

In my personal world, I wouldn't hope this at all. I detested The Handmaid's Tale mostly because it felt scary, unpleasant and had such a sad ending (to me).

And in a further nark, I am so done with Atwood as an acclaimed Canadian author. I know many LTers will be shocked and surprised at my saying this. But I've long felt that she was an obscure writer with a very weird narrative who rose to fame through being the darling of McClelland & Stewart. At the expense of so many more worthy Canadian authors.

I know this may all be a matter of personal taste and I have nothing against Margaret personally. Just saying, since this thread is my place to be {respectfully} honest, no?

Sep 14, 9:04am Top

>33 SandyAMcPherson: I had a good skim of these two books.
I found John Baichtal's the most readable book. The Dummies title was probably a good reference, but I had burnt out by then.

As a result of these skims and chatting with a CS person who teaches basic programming, I'm abandoning this approach to kinetic art (see >11 SandyAMcPherson:, an idea that had its day).

New approaches to mixed media art are incubating in my busy little mind however. Rain and cool to rather cold here. I'm actually very happy for the drizzle and the fall garden. It's nice to feel that I can be inside without that guilty sense of wasting a sunny day!

Sep 14, 10:15am Top

Hi Sandy!

>39 SandyAMcPherson: I love that cartoon of Lucy. I may borrow it sometime on an appropriate day. I the meantime, because my memory occasionally plays tricks on me, I've posted it on my thread so I can always find it. *smile*

>44 SandyAMcPherson: I have an irrational dislike of even starting The Handmaid’s Tale. I didn’t read it when our book club chose it in June of 2002. In fact, I just got the stepladder out, pulled it off the shelf, and have culled it.

Edited: Sep 14, 11:04pm Top

>46 karenmarie: As mentioned on your thread, I'm happy to be the provider of such marvellous visuals for expressing exactly what one is feeling. Schultz was a genius!

>44 SandyAMcPherson: gratified that I was not flamed over my honesty. I certainly understand why you culled the book.

Edited: Sep 14, 11:06pm Top

Book #82 A Poisoned Prayer by Michael Skeet

My snippett, (complete review is on the book's work page) ---

4 ★s
Skeet writes a wonderfully swashbuckling narrative, featuring Lise de Trouvaille, a strong female protagonist set against the background of Paris (France) in the 17th-Century. The story completely engaged me from the gripping scene in the opening with an attack by a loup-garou, support from Rafael, duc de Bellevasse, through to intrigue, treachery, and high adventure in a corrupt medieval city.

I had a couple quibbles which I didn't mention on the review page:
There are some perverse scenes that even an immediate re-reading never made sense until I reached the final chapter. I like some clarity in earlier scenarios. There's a sense of irrelevancy by the time the importance of the previous events are fully explained. When I'm highly immersed in a book, such a confusing passage plops me back into real life and I lose that desirable feeling of being there in the narrative.

A nice aspect of reading A Poisoned Prayer: I couldn't get a copy through my public library and since I had 'won' Book 2 (A Tangled Weave) through Early Reviewers, I e-mailed Five Rivers to ask if I could review the prequel. They kindly sent me the title! (Both novels are available as e-books). Colour me impressed! I love this publishing company because their mandate is to bring forward Canadian authors, a worthy policy in the face of publishers and distributors like Random House, Harper-Collins, Chapters/Indigo and Amazon.

Sep 15, 7:01am Top

>47 SandyAMcPherson: gratified that I was not flamed over my honesty

There is an astonishing (in a good way) lack of flaming on LT; in my experience it's very rare. I don't know why or what makes it different, but I am grateful for it.

I appreciated your comments on Margaret Atwood. I have enjoyed or appreciated some but not all of her books, including The Handmaid's Tale, and I plan to read the new one whenever my library decides I should have it. But I wonder whether her acclaim, to some extent, has to do with how little most of us outside of Canada know about CanLit. I am aware that I *should* read more and yet, haven't done so. So in consequence, one or two "big names" get all the attention.

Sep 16, 8:27am Top

Review ~ Book #81 ~ The Ghost Fields (Elly Griffiths)

An excellent 4 ★ read!

I liked how this story came together. The mystery stayed a mystery until near the end and I had only the smallest of *eye-rolls*
Have posted a review on the book page. GF ranks 'up there' with my other favourites (at this time as Laura said @ #53 on her thread).

Sep 16, 9:06am Top

Sep 16, 10:28am Top

Thank you Laura!

I have a lot of 'waiting room' time this week, so expect to be well into The Woman in Blue by the end of the week.

Sep 18, 9:47am Top

In case y'all were wondering where "Chatty Cathy" went~
I'm suspended in a lot of waiting room ethos, reading another Elly Griffiths, so all is not lost time!
I'm also playing the LT Pirate Treasure chest game this week (when I have time).

I'll try to catch up on the Talk threads from time to time, so if you're lurking here, do delurk and say hi!

Yesterday, 10:28pm Top

Hi! Tried three times to upgethumb your review of the Skeet book...LT wasn't having it for some reason. ...??...

Edited: Today, 8:47am Top

Hey, RD, too bad, because I do get a happy face feeling with those thumb's up. Knowing you liked my review is an accolade. Thanks for mentioning it.

I don't know why the LT website has these idiosyncrasies. I've had no end of trouble getting the touchstones to register lately. I up-thumbed one of Lauralkeet's reviews (A Dying Fall) a few days ago with no problem.

I panned the most recent RG book that I finished this week. You won't mind, IIUC. But some of the other members of the RGFC are likely to be annoyed if they read my review so I'm not mentioning anything (more) here...

It is book #83 for me. That number of books in 8½ months is definitely a reading record for me (not counting grad school days... daze?)

Edited to clarify: the 83 refers to total books read this year, not the book # in a series!

Yesterday, 11:08pm Top

I blew off too much time the other night looking for pirate treasure. It was fun. I struggled mightily trying not to use the hints. Who else played the hunt game??

I had the most challenges back in Pride week when it was such a specialized genre. I am poorly read in the LBGT etc. literature. I wish they'd give us our rainbows for playing. They're so pretty!

Yesterday, 11:23pm Top

>55 SandyAMcPherson: Whee! I tried again and the site's agita or whatever has passed. You're fully upgethumbed now.

Today, 6:46am Top

>55 SandyAMcPherson: panned it, eh? Well of course that's your prerogative. And as much as we all love the RG mysteries around here, I'm sure the series has its highs and lows.

I started the pirate treasure thing but didn't get very far. It might have been a problem of the moment, low concentration or something, so maybe I'll check it out again before it's over.

Today, 8:56am Top

>58 lauralkeet: Hi Laura, yes, I'm sure the series has its highs and lows...

I think it must be a hard challenge to write a series. Readers are so idiosyncratic anyway, so to keep such an array of readers happy all the time has to be just about impossible. Overall, she writes well and just because I didn't like one or two side forays, I'm still firmly in the RGFC.

Another series I've liked despite one or two weaker stories are Tony Hillerman's Navajo Tribal Police novels. I'm re-reading his oeuvre this year as I decide what books to cull. So far I've culled all of one in his Leaphorn narrative. I have never read his non-fiction writing and if I can get hold of at least one of those, may add it in to my reading for 2019.

Today, 8:57am Top

>57 richardderus: Thanks, RD. I hope you can get hold of Skeet's books. I would be interested in your review!

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2019

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