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jjmcgaffey Reading in 2020!

Club Read 2020

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Edited: Jan 3, 5:31pm Top

My fifth year in Club Read - looking forward to discussions in my thread!

I'm Jennifer; I live in Alameda, CA, with two cats. My parents live down the street (about a mile and a half away); one sister in Mountain View, about 45 minutes away, and the other in Reno, about 4 hours' drive away. I'm a Foreign Service brat who grew up moving around the world (more or less literally); it's very strange to me to be living in the same house for the 15th year this year. I cook, garden, stitch, do ceramics (taking a ceramics class, again, from my local senior center), sew, weave, braid, program, fix computers (run a home computer repair business) - and oh yeah, read.

I read mostly genre fiction - primarily science fiction and fantasy, which get grouped together as SF (speculative fiction). Then romances, mysteries, animal books, children's books (which include examples of all the genres...). I also read a lot of non-fiction - biography, sciences, history, words, etc. And craft books and cookbooks, which don't so much get _read_ but do get used and referenced. I don't read horror, and I don't read literary fiction - in both cases, because I don't enjoy being depressed by my reading.

Two years ago I hit all my goals easily, so I upped them. Last year, while I did read more than 200 books, not many of them were BOMBs (Books Off My Bookshelf), and I didn't find many to discard either - I read a lot of ebooks. I think I'll leave my goals where they are, until I do achieve them. 200 books, 60 BOMBs, 60 discards.

I'm still working on my boxes of books, so those goals may be easy again...or not. I'm keeping the same rules - one BOMB read for each reread I want to do, and five BOMBs a month (try to actually _do_ this this year); try to match them with discards, but those are more variable. I'm not counting any other kind of book, even books for review (Early Reviewers, Netgalley, etc) - they'll count only if they're over a year old (and I have way too many of those...) and paper (ebooks never count as BOMBs or for discards).

Books Read

BOMBs Read

Books Discarded

Edited: Dec 29, 2019, 5:13am Top

Reading Rules

1 BOMB read for every reread; cannot read in arrears.

At least 5 BOMBs read every month (or read nothing but BOMBs at the beginning of the month until caught up).

Edited: Jan 16, 2:19am Top

# indicates re-read, % indicates borrowed book, @ indicates ebook, * indicates BOMB, ! indicates ER etc, ^ indicates new book

Read January-March

1. Bad Astronomy - @^ - by Phillip C. Plait.
2. Choices - @^ - by Mercedes Lackey ed.
3. An Heir to Thorns and Steel - @^ - by M.C.A. Hogarth.
3. Struck by Lightning - %^ - by Jeffrey S. Rosenthal.
4. Either Side of the Strand - @^ - by M.C.A. Hogarth.
5. A Spy in Williamsburg - * - by Isabelle Lawrence.


Edited: Dec 29, 2019, 5:15am Top

# indicates re-read, % indicates borrowed book, @ indicates ebook, * indicates BOMB, ! indicates ER etc, ^ indicates new book

Read April-June


Edited: Dec 29, 2019, 5:15am Top

# indicates re-read, % indicates borrowed book, @ indicates ebook, * indicates BOMB, ! indicates ER etc, ^ indicates new book

Read July-September


Edited: Dec 29, 2019, 5:15am Top

# indicates re-read, % indicates borrowed book, @ indicates ebook, * indicates BOMB, ! indicates ER etc, ^ indicates new book

Read October-December


Edited: Jan 2, 2:53am Top

Link back to last year's thread, with my final reading and stats:

Jan 1, 12:15pm Top

To continue the Kitchen-Aid mixer discussion from your previous thread. I have both a tilt head and a bowl lift and they sit on my counter all the time. I use the bowl lift for bread and heavy items. I find I need the extra horsepower. I use the tilt head for cakes. If I had to choose I would pick the bowl lift and might even go to the larger size in that style.

I love my Kitchen-Aid mixers and look back on the pre- KichenAid years a the Dark Ages.

Jan 2, 2:22am Top

I am a kitchen gadget freak. I have the Kitchenaid (now, or soon, Kitchenaids); a Cuisinart food processor that doesn't get much use but there are some things it's best for; a Vitamix blender, with both a wet and a dry jar (that gets a lot of use, mostly with the wet jar); and a Magic Mill Assistant, otherwise known as an Ankarsrum mixer. Theoretically, and with the proper attachments, the Ankarsrum could replace all of them - but in fact I use it primarily for mixing bread and other large doughs (prince-biscuit, most often. The recipe says "Beat for one hour"...20 minutes in the Ankarsrum does the job). I keep thinking that if I learned to use the Ankarsrum properly I could get rid of one or some of the others, but I never do...

Jan 2, 6:26pm Top

Happy New Year, Jenn!

Jan 3, 1:53pm Top

Happy New Year, Jennifer. I don’t post much here, but I do follow and will try to keep up.

Jan 3, 4:40pm Top

Greetings, and happy reading in 2020. I see you live in Alameda. I lived in San Francisco for 23 years, and my wife and I are up in Mendocino County, now. Cheers!

Jan 3, 5:17pm Top

Happy New Year to all!

>10 ronincats: Hi, Roni - see you here and in your thread!

>11 dchaikin: Cool, I have a lurker! Glad to hear you read my thread.

>12 rocketjk: Yep. I've now lived in Alameda longer than I've lived in any other place - since 2003, 17 years. Nice to see someone in the region.

Jan 4, 11:11am Top

Happy New Year, Jennifer! My parents bought me a KitchenAid Professional 5 Plus Mixer for Christmas, which is a nice addition to the Instant Pot and the Ninja Mega Kitchen System they got me the previous two Christmases. Do you have any of the attachments for your KitchenAid mixer, and if so, how to you like them? I'm thinking of purchasing a food processor attachment, in order to dice onions, bell peppers and other vegetables.

Edited: Jan 5, 1:22am Top

I have, but have never used, the grinder/sausage stuffer. I've made sausage, once, in an SCA setting; it was cool, and the sausage was great, but it requires too much prep for me to want to actually do it. I think the grinder can be used for other things but I've never gotten around to investigating. Yes, the food processor looks neat. The one I keep drooling over is the grain mill.

One of my Christmas gifts this year was the Precise Heat Mixing Bowl that works with the Kitchenaid - it's supposed to hold the food at whatever temperature you set it at. Right now all I can think of using it for is tempering chocolate, which doesn't really require it to be on the mixer (it also works just sitting on the counter); when I open the box, though, I suspect they'll have lots of other uses.

I haven't opened it because the one I got is for a tilt-head and I haven't decided yet which one I'm going to keep (I haven't fixed the bowl-lift yet, so can't begin to make that decision). I think if the box is unopened, if I go with the bowl-lift I can return this one and get the bowl-lift version. But I do need to get cracking - there's usually a time limit on returns...

Jan 6, 10:40am Top

Dropping off my star too. Happy New Year! Look forward to your 2020 reading and more snippets of life in CA.

Edited: Jan 8, 3:06am Top

Bleah. Fighting a major cold - night before last I barely slept because every time I lay down I'd feel like I was drowning. Today it's advanced(?) to deep, painful coughs. Ugh. Still, my parents and I took down Christmas today - stripped and removed the tree, took down the creches and other decorations, and got almost all of them down to the storage unit (the tree stand is drying, and we missed the Christmas tablecloth. There's always a Christmas Last...).

Finished my first book - Bad Astronomy by Phil Plait. Not bad, but I enjoy his blog more - I think the concentrated dose of skepticism/debunking got dull after a while. Also I was reading the ebook, and the formatting job was horrible - stuff missing, scannos, images overlapping text - ugh. I think I'm going to get the paper book out of the library and skim for the stuff that wasn't in the ebook - and then I'm going to write Phil Plait and tell him about the problems, because ebooks _can_ be fixed. It may not be - depends on what his publisher thinks - but really, this reflects very badly on them (and to a lesser extent on Phil).

Books Read
1. Bad Astronomy @^ by Phillip C. Plait. Review - Not as interesting as his blog - partly too much skepticism in one go, partly rotten formatting in the ebook.

Currently Reading
Choices, edited by Mercedes Lackey - another Valdemar anthology, just previous to the one I finished late last year. Some good stories, and some that just don't make sense - even though they're explaining the setup to the stories in the later book. I'm having trouble with the logic in some of them (a kyree says she called an "animal horde" which apparently consisted mostly of kyree? Does she think of herself as an animal, then, or are just kyree without magic animals, or...???). Anyway. There are good stories in there too. Also reading A Spy in Williamsburg by Isabelle Lawrence - and that one's a BOMB. Looks pretty good so far though I haven't had time to sit down with it - paper books are harder than ebooks, I have to remember to carry them or read them in one place.

None yet.

None yet.

One new book. No rereads paid for, and no rollover this year so I have to read BOMBs to earn rereads.

Jan 9, 12:06pm Top

Hi and Happy New Year! I am glad to be back from my two weeks of travel, and have been reading like crazy since we got back. I also took down all the decorations this week, and found one last creche that I overlooked! I am sorry to hear you are ill and hope you soon feel better.

Jan 9, 1:00pm Top

I spent a few hours taking down Christmas yesterday, too, only to realize this morning that I'd overlooked the garland, ribbon and lights threaded through the bannister rails. I look forward to following your reading this year.

Jan 11, 3:02am Top

Welcome all! Yeah, every year we try to get it all and end up with a Christmas Last - something hiding, often in plain sight.

I'm still coughing and stuffy and slow. Not as bad as it has been, but...and probably another week to go before this thing dies. Bah.

Mom and I have started thinking about the garden - we've bought tomato seeds (and I bought potato seeds - yeah, new thing, apparently you can grow a potato from seed. I'll try it! The question is, can I then collect seed and do it again next year?). I've started making Mom's garden net - at the beginning of last year we decided her net was too tattered to survive, so I knotted her a new one which was supposed to be a bit bigger. But it turned out her old net had bigger meshes, so the new one, with more squares, was actually smaller. So this year I'm making one with larger squares (I'm using a DVD case as a mesh stick - works pretty well), and also I measured the space in feet rather than in squares. Should work better. I need a net too, but I may take Mom's too-small one and use that. This new net is cotton (macrame cord, rather soft) rather than the polyester cord I've used the last several times. If it lasts - if it doesn't dissolve outside in wind and sun and rain - I'll be using it more, because it feels a lot nicer on my hands.

I'm also thinking about making a net, in two colors, that says NETTING - for my booth at the Alameda Mini Maker Faire. Then I'll tie samples of other crafts onto it, also saying what they are, and hang it at the back of the booth to demonstrate the sorts of stuff I can teach. We'll see if this actually happens, but it would be neat.

I've gotten Struck by Lightning back from the library; it's my table book, and I'm well into it. I'm also reading An Heir to Thorns and Steel by M.C.A. Hogarth - slow start, and a rather grim story so far, but it's a Hogarth so it's still worth reading. Haven't finished anything new yet.

Jan 11, 11:51am Top

>20 jjmcgaffey: Reading a blurb for that Hogarth you mentioned made me wish that my chronic illness meant something relating to only quasi-human "people", but it would probably be more trouble than it's worth.

Jan 13, 1:51am Top

>21 sallypursell: Yeah...I've now finished Heir and while he's no longer crippled by his "illness", he's got much worse problems leaning on him. And then I discovered I don't have the next two books...argh! Buy them soon.

Jan 13, 3:21am Top

>22 jjmcgaffey: Quel dommage!

Jan 13, 3:25am Top

>20 jjmcgaffey: your focus and energy for making things from scratch amazes me. I admire how productive you are with your spare time.

Jan 13, 3:26am Top

>24 AlisonY: I should second Alison's comment.

Jan 14, 2:00am Top

It's fun! There's a lot of things that I can buy an approximation of what I want, or for about the same cost plus some time I can create _exactly_ what I want. And for foodstuffs (or other things, for that matter) if I make it myself I can control what goes into it.

>23 sallypursell: Yeah, first world problems... Hogarth is dangerous that way - read one and you immediately want to read the next. I did, in fact, go on to another Hogarth, but a different series.

I had to go to Google Translate for your comment - my family (or maybe just me...) uses Quel horreur!, usually with the back of a hand to the brow.

Jan 14, 6:13pm Top

>26 jjmcgaffey: Hogarth sounds familiar, yet I don't seem to have read any of her books. Cool, another author to explore....

Jan 15, 4:14am Top

>27 quondame: I stumbled across her last year or the year before - didn't note who or what pointed me at her, though I have a feeling it was a Talk conversation. I read the Dreamhealers series first, and I'm glad I did - it's much...softer? Gentler? than most of her books, but makes an excellent introduction to her major universe. She's got...well, multiple series (hard to tell how many, because they run into one another) set in the Pelted universe - humans made furries, furries escaped/were set free (not clear) in spaceships, humans stagnated while the Pelted zoomed ahead in tech. In the now of her serieses, the Pelted, humans, Eldritch (space elves!), and a few true alien races are all mingling and culture-clashing all over the place. Deep, rich, complex characters, settings, and plots. Aside from Dreamhealers, there's a lot of rather grim parts to her stories - war and torture and nastier stuff. But it's not casual - the characters grow and develop through everything that happens to them.

This one isn't a Pelted story - it's got "real" elves, and demons, and magic, and humans who have relegated all of the above to myth and folklore and are about to have their eyes opened. But the same sort of complex characters and events (and grim bits). She has a lot of stories and series - I know the Peltedverse best, I've read nearly all of those books (my substitute Hogarth is one, that I hadn't read before), but there are multiple very different settings she uses. Different alien races, too - some interacting with others, some just dealing with themselves.

Anyway. She's amazing, yes you should read her!

Jan 15, 4:24pm Top

>28 jjmcgaffey: Thanks! Hogarth does sound like an author I will enjoy!

Jan 15, 5:21pm Top

Happy new year! I'm hoping to get over here from time to time to check out your reading (I also love my Kitchenaid mixer).

Edited: Jan 15, 6:35pm Top

>15 jjmcgaffey: My Kitchenaid is one of my prized possessions, also. I, too, make many things for myself, but it's not the practical things I make. I like to make original sewn or knitted or quilted or baked things like no one else's. Usually I make them more complicated than I should, but I'm really not interested in simple knitting/sewing/quilting/baking. I believe my work is more in the nature of "textile art", but that feels pretentious. Still, there are a lot of artists in our life circle, since my husband and daughter and a brother are artists, and they and their friends always seem to accept my work as "art". I think of it as sophisticated craft, rather, which is why I think we are somewhat similar.

I, too, think Hogarth sounds like an author who is up my alley.

Edited: Jan 15, 8:29pm Top

>31 sallypursell: I often make things more complicated than absolutely necessary - but the important thing, to me, is that they do what I need/want them to do. Function wins. Sometimes the decorativeness is the function (Yule log!) but I'll usually make something simple and functional first, then when I've mastered that go for more interesting variations. I do make things "like no one else's", but that's generally because I want it to be like _this_ and no-one's making one that's exactly right.

I do a lot of fingerloop braiding, for instance; if I'm doing a braid I know, I'll think hard about color patterns and how to vary it interestingly. But for a first or early attempt at a new braid, I'll do just enough color variation that I can tell where I am with the braid (one color per hand, for instance); I don't want the color to confuse my understanding of the braid. And I seldom braid without a purpose in mind for the finished work - anything from a hatband to a drawstring to suspension cord for working on something that needs to hang dry. Same thing with my ceramics class - I've made a few purely decorative items, but mostly at the behest of the teacher. The things I've made by my own decision are functional (or are supposed to be - a lovely mug of about 5 ounces capacity...), like dishes or plant markers. I enjoy my purely decorative pieces (a couple plaques and a bird-ish statue, in particular), but I wouldn't think of making them.

I think anybody who likes culture clash and deep characters will enjoy Hogarth, and I think she should be better known. So yay for people being interested! Hope you can find her books - I've been recommending them to my local libraries, in the hope that more people will come across them. They're also on Amazon, in ebook and paper form.

>30 avaland: Hi, Lois! Good to see you, drop by any time you like!

Jan 16, 2:16am Top

Books Read
2. Choices @^ by Mercedes Lackey ed. Review - The usual assortment of mostly serials - weird because I just finished the _next_ anthology, so I'm reading backward. Misty's story is wonderful, some of the rest are excellent, all are at least readable.
3. An Heir to Thorns and Steel @^ by M.C.A. Hogarth. Review - Rich, complicated, rather grim - the first chapters are a slog, but it's worth getting through them (and there's valuable info and characterization in there, too).
3. Struck by Lightning %^ by Jeffrey S. Rosenthal. Review - An interesting treatment of probability in normal life. Most of it I'm familiar with - not much new - but worth reading. Just a little odd because it was written in 2006 - computers and the Internet are a little different now.
4. Either Side of the Strand @^ by M.C.A. Hogarth. Review - Another rich, complex Hogarth. Alysha and the Stardancer encounter aliens, of multiple types - it feels rather Star Trek, in a good way.
5. A Spy in Williamsburg * by Isabelle Lawrence. Review - Ugh. Probably historically correct, but at the expense of characterization, dialog, logic…

Currently Reading
How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse - wow, so far. This is excellent, I'll be looking for more by the author. I need to pick up another BOMB.

A Spy in Williamsburg - got one, finally! I need to read more, of course. This one was such a slog, though...

Spy - all the others are either ebooks or library books.

All new, so one reread paid for.

So a little slow starting, with BOMBs and discards - but keep an eye on it and I can catch up. I finally got my BOMB done by taking it to the table; that's usually a big(gish) non-fiction book (I had just finished Struck by Lightning), but it got me into the book and I finished it afterward. I may have to do more of that, but we'll see - other BOMBs may be better (I hope!)

Group: Club Read 2020

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