May 2021 – What Are You Reading?

May was another heavy graphic novel month!  I’ve been working a lot on other projects (mostly editing the book I’ve been working on for quite some time), so graphic novels have been a great way to fit some reading in right now.

Nonfiction books:

Fiction books:

  • Dungeon Calamity by Dakota Krout
  • Covid Chronicles: a Comics Anthology (graphic novel)
  • Join the Future by Zack Kaplan, Piotr Kowalski, Brad Simpson and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (graphic novel)
  • Die Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreakers by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Haas (reread, graphic novel)
  • Die Volume 2: Split the Party by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Haas (reread, graphic novel)
  • Die Volume 3: The Great Game by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Haas (graphic novel)
  • Aquaman: Echoes of a Life Lived Well by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Jordan Clark, Miguel Mendonca and Robson Rocha (graphic novel)
  • Masters of the Universe: The Shard of Darkness by Val Staples, Emiliano Santalucia and Enza Fontana (reread, graphic novel)
  • Masters of the Universe: Dark Reflections by Val Staples, Emiliano Santalucia and Enza Fontana (graphic novel)

Other Languages

  • L’heure de Munsch by Robert Munsch (5 Robert Munsch stories translated into French)

My favourite was definitely Die.  I’ve read volumes 1 and 2 before.  At that time, I didn’t like volume 2 as much, but I also didn’t bother to reread volume 1 at that time.  Reading volumes 1-3 all in a row made volume 2 way better!  I can’t wait for volume 4 (which I am hoping will be out by the end of the year).

The back pages of volume 3 were really interesting as well (I enjoyed the back pages of volumes 1 and 2, but didn’t reread those at this time).  Gillen interviewed some game designers, and I got really excited to try some of their games out, particularly from a design perspective.  They talked about doing some interesting things with games, particularly RPGs, that I had never considered doing before, so I’m quite intrigued to try them all out!

I also really enjoyed Dungeon Calamity.  This was a different book in the series because Cal didn’t have Dani to help him out, but it also showcases just how crazy and awesome Cal is!  I also liked that it wrapped up a lot of the ongoing story arcs, so it was a good place to stop the series for now.  But I won’t wait too long because I want to know how it ends (and there’s still 2 books to go!)

I’d also like to note that I had a super hard time reading Covid Chronicles.  For me, it was way too soon to be looking at comics about life during the pandemic.

So what have you read over the last month?  What was your favourite book?

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A Language Learning Weekend :)

Over the weekend I decided to try out the iTalki French language test. It took about 30 minutes, assessing my French speaking and grammar levels. The test is an “automated adaptive language test,” which means it gives you harder questions if you get the answer right, and easier ones if you get the answer wrong. I messed up pretty badly in the speaking portion, accidentally giving an answer in English when I should have been speaking in French (I thought it was a sample question that wouldn’t count, but nope, it was a real question). Despite that, I still somehow managed to score at an intermediate level for both speaking and grammar, which was pretty exciting! My results came in a little higher than I expected. I also really liked that, at the end of the test, it gave me some suggestions on how to improve. One of those suggestions was to read more, so that’s definitely the plan!

Thinking of reading, I finally finished the collection of French Robert Munsch books I’ve had out from the library. I really enjoyed it – his stories were really silly, fun reads that were fairly easy to understand for the most part without having to look stuff up. I think next I’m going to read French Short Stories for Beginners by Lingo Mastery. That was the first French book that I bought for myself; I had to put it down though because I had a hard time understanding the first story. Hopefully things will go better now!

I’d love to try an iTalki test for Ukrainian too, just to see where I’m at, but unfortunately it’s only available in limited languages (currently English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Italian). Hopefully they’ll add more languages soon!

But I did end up testing my Ukrainian this weekend too. I booked a lesson on iTalki with a new Ukrainian teacher. So far I’ve just been meeting with one teacher, but she was busy this weekend (it was the Orthodox Church’s Easter 🙂 ), so I decided to meet someone new and see how I do. I was super excited and quite nervous because I’ve only really spoken to my regular teacher and my dad (but just a tiny bit with him – instead we send each other Ukrainian letters in the mail, which is good practice for my reading and writing!) I was pleasantly surprised with how much I was able to understand and say!

So how was your weekend? Any fun plans for the coming week? 🙂

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April 2021 What Are You Reading?

Wow, this really was a month for graphic novels!

Nonfiction books:

  • To Touch a Wild Dolphin: A Journey of Discovery with the Sea’s Most Intelligent Creatures by Rachel Smolker

Fiction books:

  • Conan: Serpent War by Jim Zub (graphic novel)
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse by Tim Seeley (graphic novel)
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Volumes 1-3 (graphic novel)
  • Dungeon Madness by Dakota Krout

I really enjoyed He-Man and the Masters of the Multiverse.  It reminded me of Power Rangers: Shattered Grid, but hilarious and amazing because it was He-Man.  It also reminded me of the movie Turtles Forever, which had a similar cross-over of older and newer Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (with a similar hilarious vibe to it!)

I also really liked the first three volumes of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series.  It starts off pretty much right after the Green Ranger joins the other Rangers and deals with some really interesting things as they struggle to become a team with the new dynamics (and also with Tommy dealing with the aftermath of being under Rita Repulsa’s control).  It’s a really good series!  I’m just sad that each volume has ended on a “to be continued” cliffhanger (and that I need to wait to read volume 4!)

So what have you read over the last month?  What was your favourite book?

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Plugging Along :)

Hey everyone, how’s it going? I’m not entirely sure where the month of April has gone! I’ve been feeling super busy lately, but also feeling like I haven’t done anything, and it’s all a little overwhelming. I suspect that’s partially because after I finished Karin Dimitrova’s Reset program, I didn’t have anything else to take its place. I need to make a dedicated effort to try adding more meditation and yoga back into my days!

Otherwise, I’m still working on my language learning and on the big editing project I was contracted for. The editing project has become much bigger than expected, so it’s still going to be ongoing for awhile (quite possibly through the rest of the year).

I’ve also cut back a little bit on the language learning lately (I won’t be finishing reading 100 Ukrainian Texts by the end of the month like I had planned). 😦 In its place I’ve been trying to fit in reading for fun a little more, which I think has been a good thing. For the last few years I haven’t been reading as much as I would like to, especially since I seem to have a really hard time putting a book down once I get started. Now that I’m fitting it in a little more, I found I was able to actually stop reading at a reasonable time and get some sleep over the last few nights, so I’m quite excited about that. 🙂

In terms of language learning itself though, I’m still doing a little bit of work on each language pretty much every day. So even if it isn’t as much as before, I’m still keeping both languages fresh in my mind, and strengthening them a little bit. With French, I’ve really been focusing on earlier lessons on Duolingo, which has made me feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the basics. I’m considering booking a lesson or two on iTalki in the near future to see how well I do speaking French with a French tutor.

With Ukrainian, while it’s still somewhat slow going, I’m really finding I’m able to understand more and more now. I read a message on a Ukrainian learners group on Facebook the other day in Ukrainian and understood it completely, which was really exciting! (It was almost like I didn’t realize I was reading the message in Ukrainian, even though I knew objectively that I was reading Slavic text). I’m still working with the same teacher on iTalki, which is going really well. I’ve got some homework I need to get through over the next few weeks though, where I’ll hopefully learn some new words and phrases. Hopefully that will go well. I’m also considering booking a lesson or two with some new Ukrainian speakers on iTalki just to see how well that goes….but I’ll probably hold off on that for a bit yet (until I feel a little more confident).

So yeah, that’s what’s been happening with me lately. I’m mostly just doing my best to plug along. How about you, what’s new? How have you been through April? 🙂

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Interview #82!

The eighty-second author interview went live today on TBPL Off the Shelf! This time I interviewed author Deborah Donahue about her first book, I Used to Live on Banning Street.  You can find the interview here.

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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!  How’s it going?  Last week ended up a super busy week (sorry that I didn’t post) so I was quite happy to have a weekend without many plans.  I took some time to do some stuff around the house, and ended up reading a whole book on dolphins (To Touch a Wild Dolphin by Rachel Smolker, a book I’ve had for years that I found in my basement the other day).  I had intended to read Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt, but was distracted by the dolphin book because it fit into some worldbuilding I wanted to do. I didn’t actually work on the worldbuilding though until yesterday, when I finally sat down and opened my world documents to start making some changes! I meant to all weekend, but just didn’t – lol that seemed to be how a lot of my weekend went.  I don’t mind though, because just relaxing and doing “nothing” felt good (I binged a few episodes of a show I like, and started going through a stack of magazines I have).

Otherwise, over the last few weeks I’ve mostly been busy working on book editing.  I feel like I really got back into the swing of things, so it’s been going well.  🙂

I’m also really excited because I found season 2 of Les Revenants, a French show I really liked at the library last week!  I watched the first season last fall but had a hard time finding the second season (I was hoping to have it brought in through interlibrary loans, but no luck).  I guess in the meantime, the library ordered a copy of it!  So I’m very excited to get to finish the show. 🙂

So how’s everything going for you?  Have you been up to anything exciting lately?

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March 2021 – What Are You Reading?

March turned out a better reading month than I expected!  I started reading Life of Pi (actually back in February) and it was turning into another Starless Sea: I made it about 100 pages in then completely lost interest in it.  After it sat for weeks without me touching it (I read Atomic Habits and the two Starcraft graphic novels during this time), I had just decided to give up on it once and for all when I grabbed it again and actually finished it!

Nonfiction books:

  • Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear
  • Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin

Fiction books:

  • Starcraft by Simon Furman (graphic novel – and apparently a reread! I read it years ago but didn’t remember it at all until I found it marked as read on my Goodreads page!)
  • Starcraft: Survivors by Jody Houser (graphic novel)
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • Dungeon Born by Dakota Krout

Other Language books:

  • La Gentillesse, C’est… by Pat Zietlow Miller (French translation by Edith Cordeau-Giard
  • French Short Stories for Beginners and Intermediate Learners: Engaging Short Stories to Learn French and Build Your Vocabulary by Language Guru

I really enjoyed reading Atomic Habits.  I thought it had some really great advice for anyone who wants to be working on creating better habits for themselves.  I also really liked Dungeon Born, at least once I got through the big rules dump at the beginning of the book (that part felt like I was reading an RPG manual rather than a fiction book).  Once the story took off, it was really fun, and I’m looking forward to reading more in the series!

I’m also really sad that the second arc for the Starcraft series was apparently cancelled – I really wanted to know what happened next with these characters! 😦

So what have you read over the last month?  What was your favourite book?

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Finished Another French Book!

Hey everyone, how’s it going?  I feel like this has been a really good week for French.  I finished reading French Short Stories for Beginners and Intermediate Learners: Engaging Short Stories to Learn French and Build Your Vocabulary by Language Guru (sorry, no video of me talking about it), and got through another chapter from Barron’s Painless French.  The one thing I was hoping to do that I didn’t get to was pick a new French show to watch on Netflix.  I was watching one a few weeks ago but lost interest in it (it really wasn’t my kind of show, but I did like that the episodes were shorter).  I’ve saved a bunch of French shows on my list though, so I’ll have to pick through and find something new!

While French was good, I don’t feel like I did as well with Ukrainian this week.  I did read a few stories from 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts, but not as many as I was hoping to.  I also didn’t listen to any episodes of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast (but I did listen to a lot of Ukrainian music – I’m getting to the point where I can mostly sing along to my favourite Ukrainian song!)

That’s about all I’ve got to report right now.  For this week I have to fit more Ukrainian reading in.  I also get to start a new French book – that’s going to be French Short Stories for Beginners: 20 Captivating Short Stories to Learn French and Grow Your Vocabulary the Fun Way! by Lingo Mastery.  This was the first French book of short stories that I got; I attempted to read it when I got it during the summer, but I was really struggling to understand a lot of the first story so I put it aside.  Hopefully I’ll have more luck this time!

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Ukrainian Books!!!

Hey Everyone, how’s it going?  Things are alright for me right now – I’m in a much better mental space, so that’s great!  I was worried I was going to be dead today after the time change on the weekend (I barely slept between Saturday and Sunday, then woke up a bunch of times between Sunday and Monday, and was worried I’d be a zombie trying to get to work yesterday), but thankfully I was alright!  I didn’t quite meet all of the goals I set for myself last week, but I’m not stressing out about it; the main thing was that I still made some progress!

Also, all of my Ukrainian books have arrived!!!!

the 8 Ukrainian books I ordered

The book of fairy tales is on the right (“казки” is Ukrainian for “fairy tales” or “tales”). There are a few books of short stories, and the Arthur series by Luc Besson which I thought would be fun.  I even bought a colouring book that I hope to one day colour with my niece! 🙂

I did fall behind slightly with Karin Dimitrova’s Reset program over the weekend.  I was thinking of trying to catch back up, but ended up deciding to just continue from here, rather than stress about it (lol, that seems to be my mantra right now!)

I was also very happy to finish a book I started back in February over the weekend (Life of Pi).  I thought I was going to just abandon it (I put it down for a few weeks), but ended up sticking with it to the end.  I’m looking forward to reading something new now though!

So for this week I’m going to set a few more goals for reading in French and Ukrainian, but otherwise now much more so I don’t start feeling overwhelmed again! 🙂

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A Mental Health Update

Hey everyone, how’s it going?  Sorry for not posting anything last week – I was having a rough time and wasn’t in a good mental space.  Last week was just super stressful and I just wasn’t able to do much more than work and make dinner.  I did some language learning as well, but basically just the bare minimum to keep my skills up.  Thankfully by Sunday my head was in a better space, and yesterday I was feeling relatively back to normal mentally, so that’s great news.

I’m also very thankful that I signed myself up for Karin Dimitrova’s new Reset program.  When it was first announced, I decided to sign up thinking any tools she could teach me to help with mental health during this pandemic were a good thing.  But the timing ended up perfect, with the course starting right around when my mental health was taking the worst hits.  The course definitely helped me get through last week without my mental state deteriorating further.

Over the weekend I also spent a lot of time reading Atomic Habits by James Clear.  I wasn’t expecting to connect with the book as much as I did, but I found his writing very engaging.  I also liked the idea of striving to be just 1% better each day, and how over time, that compounds and leads to great improvements.  Atomic Habits is definitely worth checking out if you’re interested in that sort of thing. 🙂

So with my mental state improving, I set myself a few goals for the week around reading books in French and Ukrainian.  Ever since revisiting my October goals, I’ve been flying through 100 Easy Texts in Ukrainian (I read over 25 stories in it in February!) and want to keep up that momentum.  I’ve also read two chapters in French: Short Stories for Beginners and Intermediate Learners by Language Guru, and discovered that the chapters are self contained stories that all deal with the same character, which is an interesting approach.  So far I’ve found the book to be alright, but I wish it had more dialogue.

Oh, I’m also really excited: I ordered myself some books in Ukrainian, including a book of Ukrainian Fairy Tales!  I love fairy tales, and I’m looking forward to reading them.  A lot of the books I bought are beyond the level I’m currently at, but I think I have a good range of things that I can build to as I continue to learn the language. 🙂

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