November 2022 – What Are You Reading?

I’ve been planning on reading Dune since September, but needed to read a couple of other things first (I wanted to reread the Die graphic novels so I could lend them to someone, then I needed to finish Namwayut, which I started reading for Canada’s National Day of Truth and Reconciliation).  I finished Namwayut at the beginning of November, clearing the way to start Dune (which is still ongoing)!

Nonfiction books:

  • Namwayut: We Are All One – A Pathway to Reconciliation by Chief Robert Joseph

Fiction books:

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

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October 2022 – What Are You Reading?

The 8 The Walleye magazines I had in September

I forgot to mention this last month, but I started slowly trying to get through some of the magazines I have stashed.  I believe in September I read 2 MacLean’s and 2 or 3 issues of The Walleye.

This month though, those magazines once again took a back seat as I decided to concentrate on finally finishing Die by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Haas. It’s been a long time since I read volume 3, so I once again needed to reread the entire story. I’ve found that this is well worth it – every time I read them, I seem to get a lot more out of them!

Nonfiction books:

  •  

Fiction books:

  • Magical Boy: Volume 2 by The Kao (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 (reread, graphic novel)
  • Die Volume 4: The Great Game by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Haas (graphic novel)
  •  

My favourite

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

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Duolingo Redesign :(

Last week, my Duolingo app changed on me! 😦

Duolingo new learning path
Duolingo’s new linear path

I had no idea that Duolingo was rolling out a change in their learning path (or tree, as I’ve been calling it). They decided to replace the old tree, which had between 1-3 lesson bubbles per level that you would work on before moving on, with a much more straightforward learning path, making the app more beginner-friendly.

While right from the beginning I was disappointed with the unexpected change, I wanted to give the app a fair chance. I started with Ukrainian, and right away was not happy with the new path. I completed my Ukrainian tree about a year and a half ago, and have been using it every second night to practice. This has been a really big help in getting the grammar patterns down with some of the basics. I also relied on the lesson bubbles breaking, which was a good reminder on what to practice. But all of that is gone now. The lessons no longer break. And with the redesign, it’s hard to find where individual lessons are now; as you can see in the first picture, there are no labels – the old tree had a title under each lesson, like “food” or “animals,” making it easy to find at a glance what you want to practice. On the new tree, you can click on the lessons to find out what they are (see the second picture), but that takes a lot of time to find anything.

New lesson on the new Duolingo learning path

I did find a spot for practicing (if you click on the hearts in the top right corner, you have an option to practice). The problem with that though is the app decides what to give you to practice. You can’t go and practice a particular grammar point, or work on particular vocabulary. This very much took the fun out of using the Ukrainian tree.

But I still had French to try. Under the old tree, I was progressing steadily, turning my tree to gold. I was nearing another checkpoint and very proud of my progress. So losing my spot with it was rather sad. But Duolingo said you wouldn’t lose any progress, so I figured I would give it a shot.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take into account the fact that I had unlocked a lot more of the tree than I had been working on (I was almost at I think the 6th checkpoint turning the tree to gold, but I had unlocked lessons part way between checkpoints 7 and 8). So Duolingo probably used some of that to account for where I was placed on their new path. And I felt utterly lost by the lesson they put me at. I had no connection to what I was doing before (what I was literally in the middle of finishing before the app changed for me).

Another thing that they changed were the stories. Stories were the most fun part of Duolingo, in the courses that had them (unfortunately, Ukrainian didn’t). The stories used to be on their own tab – I would go and do a few for fun when I was having a hard time with French (or just wanted to do something easy and fun for a night). Now they’re incorporated into the new paths as well. This once again takes out the fun for me – the path is making me do the stories to progress, and it’s hard to go back and find the ones I like and want to redo.

After trying the new path for a few nights, I found that it wasn’t for me. I was sad and no longer having fun at all with it. So I made the difficult decision to stop using the app, saying goodbye to an 822 day streak. 😦 To make everything extra sad, my mom, who has been my Duolingo partner since the beginning, still has the old tree. So she’s continuing on until the app changes for her as well, at which point she said she will quit, too.

I will now have to figure out what I’m going to do instead. Duolingo was my nightly anchor for language learning, so I will have to find something else to take its place. At this point I’m thinking my time will be better spent with books and podcasts, rather than a new app I’m going to see how that goes for a bit, then report back in a few weeks!

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September 2022 – What Are You Reading?

My mom and I went book shopping, and I got a couple of new books that I was really excited to read. Unfortunately The Poppy War took me several weeks to get through, so it was the only one I finished.

Nonfiction books:

Fiction books:

  • Warriors: Fire and Ice by Erin Hunter
  • The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang

I didn’t really have a favourite book this month.  I was enjoying the first part of The Poppy War, but I didn’t like parts 2 and 3 at all (I almost stopped reading it, but kept hoping that I would enjoy it more if I continued).  Fire and Ice also wasn’t as good as the first Warriors book in my opinion.  So overall, this wasn’t a great reading month for me.

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

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August 2022 – What Are You Reading?

August was the first month in a long time that I felt really good reading.  I read some interesting fiction, most notably the first few books of Benjamin Percy’s Comet Cycle, which were recommended to me by a friend at work.

Nonfiction books:

Fiction books:

  • A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow
  • The Ninth Metal by Benjamin Percy
  • Buffy: the Last Vampire Slayer by Casey Gilly, Joe Jaro and Joana Lafuente (graphic novel)
  • The Sugar Thief by Nancy Mauro
  • The Unfamiliar Garden by Benjamin Percy
  • Warriors: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter

My favourite was definitely The Unfamiliar Garden. I liked how the narrative was tighter than in The Ninth Metal.  I liked the characters a lot more.  And while I’m not really a horror reader, I enjoyed the horror elements of the plot.  The Unfamiliar Garden would definitely make a fantastic movie!

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

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July 2022 – What Are You Reading?

Well, I’m officially a wreck this year: part way through July, I ran into some health troubles.  I’m doing better now, but I lost about a week where I wasn’t able to do much of anything, including read.  Thankfully I finished The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn before that happened, so at least I read something this month!

Nonfiction books:

Fiction books:

  • The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

I really enjoyed The Diamond Eye – it’s about Lyudmila “Mila” Pavlichenko, a Soviet female sniper with 309 official kills, who also befriended Eleanor Roosevelt. It is based on Mila’s life story, with the exception of a FDR assassination plot that Quinn added – the assassin wanted to frame Mila during the Soviet official visit to the United States that she was part of.

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

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Two Years of French!

I don’t know the exact date, but this June was also my two year anniversary of learning French! I shot this video on June 26th, which is approximately the two year anniversary date (I think it’s either that or the 25th – I know I started learning French a few days before starting Duolingo, and my two year Duolingo anniversary was June 28th). Unfortunately I didn’t have time that week to start working on the subtitles (then it took a really long time to subtitle the video using Movavi Video Editor, which has an autosave feature which cannot be turned off and saves after every change you make). On top of that, I realized that the default subtitles were sometimes hard to read because I wore white, so on Saturday I needed to go in and add an outline on most of them to make them easier to see (it took about 2 hours just to make that change because there’s no mass edit feature in the program)! So a week and a half after shooting it, here it is:

I stitched two recordings together for this video – the introduction, then the whole second part of the video where I talk about other things. I found I kept getting through the introduction alright, but if I tried to keep going from there I was kind of floundering to start my next topic (these videos are completely unscripted to give a better showing of how well I’m able to use the language). Stopping the recording there gave me a chance to figure out what to talk about without it being too awkward.

I was really happy with how well this video went. While I do still struggle at times with some words, I feel like my French is flowing better now, and I can jump back into French much quicker after having to slip in an English word or two. I 100% believe this is thanks to the instruction I’ve been able to get from the Novocentre, the local place I mention in the video that I was able to connect with to get help with my French. I’ve been doing one two hour lesson once a week, and the lesson is an immersive environment; I’ve noticed that my French comprehension has skyrocketed since starting with them last fall. More recently my speaking is improving, too – I’m more confident, and not as afraid to make mistakes, which is fantastic. Everyone makes mistakes when learning a new language, and it’s okay, nothing to be worried about, it’s just part of the process. 🙂

In the video, I also mention wanting to read one of the French children’s chapter books I got from the library. I ended up reading David et le Salon Funéraire by François Gravel in its entirety over the July 1st weekend. 🙂

While writing this post, I went back and watched my One Year French video. I can’t believe the difference this one year has made, and I can’t wait to see what next year will bring, too! 🙂

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June 2022 – What Are You Reading?

Well, I did a bit better with my reading this month than last month!  I even managed to read a few books that I own (though they were both newer books – when I set that goal for the year, I was hoping to read some of the older books I own!)

Nonfiction books:

  • The Self-Care Cookbook: Easy Healing Plant-Based Recipes by Gemma Ogston

Fiction books:

  • Magical Boy: Volume 1 by The Kao (graphic novel)
  • Misrule by Heather Walter

My favourite was Magical Boy.  I thought the premise was really fun (a trans man who comes from a long line of magical girls, and has to navigate that heritage while also coming out as trans), and the book is adorable!  I really enjoyed it, and very much recommend it. 🙂

Also, if you’re interested, I interviewed The Kao on TBPL Off the Shelf – you can check it out here!

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

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Interview #92

The ninety-second author interview went live today on TBPL Off the Shelf! This time I interviewed The Kao (aka Vincent Kao). We talk all about Magical Boy: the various conflicts, why the “magical girl” trope was perfect, and who his favourite character was to draw in the series.  You can find the interview here.

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Two Years of Ukrainian!

Yesterday was my two year anniversary of starting to learn Ukrainian! As promised, I shot a video of me speaking:

The video was shot on the actual anniversary (June 5th), but was uploaded earlier today (it took me a few hours to add the subtitles).

Like last year’s video, I wasn’t able to do this in one long take (I kept losing my train of thought, or babbling because I couldn’t think of what to talk about next). So I decided to stop the video, then film a second clip and stitch the two together. But unlike last year, it’s only the two clips (I don’t remember how many clips I stitched together for the One Year vid, but I know there were times where I could only get like a sentence or two out). I also feel like my speaking is a bit smoother this time around (at least once I figured out what I wanted to say!)

Moving Movavi, my video editing software, to my gaming laptop was a real lifesaver when it came to adding the subtitles! My regular computer has to think about it every time I add or move a subtitle, while the gaming one was able to make the changes pretty much immediately. It still took a few hours to add them all in, but that was okay – I would probably still be working on it for a few more days if I hadn’t made the computer switch!

So here’s where I’m currently at with Ukrainian. I will be shooting a video for French at the end of the month; if you’re interested, stay tuned for that. 🙂

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