November 2020: What Are You Reading?

I took out a whole bunch of books from the library this month. Everything from fiction to nonfiction, graphic novels to memoirs.  So I made a real point of trying to get through a bunch of them, rather than just renewing them a bunch then sending them back unread.  I also read a few non-library books, including a novel my mom lent me (The Gown), and a few graphic novels I bought for myself (Power Rangers – I wanted to read Shattered Grid after playing through the Power Rangers game Battle for the Grid). Also, as I mentioned on November 10th, I wanted to read something related to the World Wars for Remembrance Day.

So here’s what I was able to read this month:

Nonfiction books:

  • We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib
  • D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II by Sarah Rose

Fiction books:

  • The Gown by Jennifer Robson
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Shattered Grid by Kyle Higgins (graphic novel)
  • Aquaman: Unspoken Water by Kelly Sue DeConnick (graphic novel)
  • Aquaman: Amnesty  by Kelly Sue DeConnick (graphic novel)
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (graphic novel)
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Beyond the Grid by Marguerite Bennet (graphic novel)
  • Ukrainian Folk Stories by Marko Vovchok, translated by N. Pedan-Popil

I managed to read 6 library books!

I honestly don’t know what my favourite was.  I really enjoyed reading The Gown; it was a very interesting historical novel (I especially loved the interview and notes Robson included from her research).  I powered through We Have Always Been Here in a night (I didn’t realize until after I finished it that it had actually won Canada Reads this year – I picked it up only because someone returning it to the library recommended it to me). And The Prince and the Dressmaker was a wonderful story about being true to yourself and your friends.

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

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Tuesday Update: Language Progress, Short Story Setback + Guest Hosting!

Hey everyone, how’s it going?  This week I made some great progress on my goals for the month! My Duolingo Ukrainian tree is now to red + (so I’ve got through all the lessons at least three times each; the ultimate goal is to get through all the bubbles 5 times, turning tge tree to gold).  I finished the second section of stories in 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts (these all involved “things” like pens and keys and stuff).  I started another story in Short Stories in French. And I passed the 6th Duolingo checkpoint in French!

I did experience a slight setback though where it comes to editing my short story for the month.  I’ve talked before about choosing the stories I wanted to work on for the remainder of the year.  Unfortunately, I came to the realization that one of the stories isn’t really a short; there’s so much more going on in it, that I think it needs to be a longer work of some sort (perhaps a novella or even a novel?)  A lot more work will need to be done on it than I initially expected because there’s so much more going on. So I made the decision to put it aside for now. 😦

So instead I’m going to see if I can whip the other story I choose into shape. I’ll also have to choose a second story for editing in the hope that I can still make that goal!  I don’t know if I’ll have time to edit two stories now, but I’m still going to try! Wish me luck. 🙂

Oh, and on Friday, I was once again a guest host on Thunder Bay Public Library’s weekly show Read This Next.  Nicole and I talked about the Massey Lectures (which I had been reading when we filmed).  We thought this was really topical as the 2020 Massey Lectures aired this month!  If you’re interested, check it out! 🙂

For this week, other than looking over that other short story, my main plan is to fit in more reading in Ukrainian, French, and English. What about you?  How’s November going? 🙂

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Remembrance Day Reading Accomplished + Language Learning Goals!

Last week, the only goal I set for myself was to read D-Day Girls: The Spies who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II by Sarah Rose (which I finished on Friday night!)   I was glad that I didn’t set other goals for myself because D-Day Girls was a bit of a tough read (particularly in terms of subject matter – there were a few points where I had to stop reading for a bit because of what happened to the people).

But even though that was the only goal I set for the week, I still managed to finish off a few of my November goals!  First I passed Checkpoint 6 in French on Duolingo!  That was super exciting – there are only two checkpoints left within the course!  Then I listened to the final episode of the first season of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast!  I’m excited to start Season 2 – I’m hoping it will help me improve my listening comprehension (I’m finding with Ukrainian right now that I have a super hard time understanding words that I’m hearing; if they’re written out for me, I often find that I did know more of the words that were spoken that I thought).

I also accomplished most of the goals I set for myself two weeks ago, with the exception of some work I wanted to do editing one of my short stories (I keep ignoring it in favour of my language learning).  As we’re now over half way through November, I’ll have to make a point of working on that if I still intend to work on a second story next month!

So how’s everything going for you?  Are you making progress on any goals you’ve set for the month?  Let me know in the comments! 🙂

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Reading For Remembrance Day

cover of d-day girlsA year or two ago, I remember my brother saying that on Remembrance Day, he tries to read a book about the World Wars. I decided this year to do the same. So while at the library, I picked out D-Day Girls: The Spies who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II by Sarah Rose. This book tells the story of three of the women who answered the call to war, becoming saboteurs in France. It sounds very interesting, and after reading The Huntress back in September, I am eager to learn more about the largely unknown women who helped in the Wars.

 

I’m hoping to make this a yearly reading tradition.

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October Goal Review

I didn’t set myself any major goals last week; I was on vacation from work, and just wanted to relax (and work a bit more on learning my languages!) Although I did manage to fit in some fun reading too (I finished The Gown by Jennifer Robson yesterday!) I was also excited to attend a virtual hour-long French discussion that is put on by a local organization.  At times I had a hard time following the discussion, but at other times I felt like I understood a fair bit.  This meeting is held weekly, so I am hopeful that my brain will be able to follow along with the discussion a bit better after attending a few. 🙂

But now that it’s November, I wanted to look back at the goals I set for October (or at least the second half of October – I set them on the 12th).  I set four goals for myself, and managed to completely accomplish three of them!  The only one I failed to accomplish was getting six Ukrainian Duolingo lesson bubbles to gold – I only finished five of them.  The sixth one I kind of lost interest in at the time, and started working on some of the other bubbles instead. All in all, I am very happy with what I managed to accomplish over these last few weeks!

I sat down last night to set goals for November, all of which support the 3 and 6 month goals I set last month, too.  These include editing one story I’ve already written, reading more short stories in French and Ukrainian, making more progress on the two language trees on Duolingo, and finishing listening to the first season of the Ukrainian Lessons Podcast.  I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to complete all of these goals; the one I imagine will be hardest to meet is editing the story because that goal doesn’t have easy to follow steps like the other ones do (ie read one chapter of a story, or complete x lesson bubbles per week).

So how was your week? Have you set any goals for yourself this month? Have you made any progress on goals you’ve previously set?  Let me know in the comments! 🙂

PS Good luck to everyone who is participating in NaNoWriMo this month! 🙂

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October 2020: What Are You Reading?

I haven’t been reading a whole lot (in English, anyway) lately, but I did manage to read a few books this month:

Nonfiction books:

  • Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood

Fiction books:

  • The War of the Realms by Jason Aaron (graphic novel)

I’m also reading The Gown by Jennifer Robson (who I happened to interview last summer on TBPL Off the Shelf).  I’m really enjoying it so far. 🙂

I didn’t really have a favourite this month; I enjoyed both  Payback and The War of the Realms for different reasons.  Payback was a really interesting literary look at debt (lol and as I’ve been reading through all these Massey Lectures, I’ve discovered that I honestly do enjoy examining literature – guess that’s a hold over from school!)  And The War of the Realms was a great graphic novel that showed the end of the War of the Realms which was rampaging across the Marvel realms; as an extra bonus, Jane Foster got to be Thor again!

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

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Tuesday Update: Looked Over Some Old Stories :)

I finally did it: I sat down and started looking through some older stories that I’ve written. I’ve been meaning to do this for a few weeks now, so I was happy to finally make the time to do so! I found some interesting things in my notes too; one old story had some notes in the margins that I made for editing purposes, so that’s one I’m hoping to sit down with over the next few months.  And another one was very exciting – this was a story I started writing for a friend after his dog passed away (but I never gave it to him – it never felt good enough to be a gift).  I didn’t think there was much to the story, so I was surprised to see I’d added some stuff to it….specifically an unnamed, mysterious character who shows up to retaliate against the main character; my mystery man literally just says “Now we’re even,” and flees.

I still can’t believe that was in there!  Who the heck is this character and what the heck happened to them that they needed revenge like that???

So yeah….looks like I know what story I’m going to be working on! I don’t know if that stuff with the mystery man will stay, or be saved for a different story with those characters, but either way, I need to figure it all out. 🙂

On the language-learning front, I accomplished everything I set out to do this week.  I read more stories in both languages, played more Influent in Ukrainian, and continue to progress in Duolingo (I turned a few more Ukrainian lesson bubbles to gold – only 20 left for a golden tree!)

I also did manage to read a little bit for fun this week! My mom lent me her Kobo so I could read The Huntress by Kate Quinn last month; it also has The Gown by Jessica Robson, so I decided to start that rather than The Alice Network.  I sat down to read it on either Tuesday or Wednesday night, but the Kobo wasn’t working!  The screen was on and said it was at full battery power, but I couldn’t get it to do anything, even reset.  Finally I plugged it in and it started charging – for some reason it ran out of battery while still showing the home screen with a full charge!  So I wasn’t able to start reading that night, but I did get to it a few nights later. 🙂

So how’s your week been? Anything exciting planned for this week?

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Tuesday Update: Language Learning + Character Brainstorming

Hey everyone, how’s your week been? I set myself a few too many goals and didn’t get through them all. But that’s okay; I had a feeling I was being a bit too ambitious when I set them. So going forward I’ll have a better idea of what I can accomplish in a busy work week during this pandemic!

While I didn’t accomplish all of the goals I set for myself (I completely forgot to look through older stories I’ve written…), I still feel like I made good progress on the language front. I read a few short stories/chapters in both French and Ukrainian. I played around with a language-learning game on Steam called Influent – I need to work on my Ukrainian vocabulary, so I’m hoping it will help! And I even managed to finish watching season 1 of Les Revenants, which is a super good show in French (I watched it with English subtitles because my French is not good enough to follow media yet – I tried watching a movie without subtitles awhile ago, and if not for the visuals, I would have been totally lost!)

One thing that I was also very happy about last week (that was not a goal) was that I sat down and brainstormed a couple of new characters! I have a very vague idea at this point for what could be a series of stories set in a pub on one of my worlds. While I still have a lot of things to figure out about these characters, I was just happy to actually sit down and write a bit over the weekend. 🙂

Oh, and one thing I decided to add to my goals for this week: read for fun! I haven’t read a book in awhile (other than the French and Ukrainian books I’m making my way through), and the last few books I was reading were all for an article I was writing at work. So this week I want to make a point to at least start reading a fiction story of some sort with no pressure on myself. I’ve heard really good things about both The Gown by Jennifer Robson and The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, and have been planning to read them for weeks. So hopefully I’ll actually start one of them this week! We’ll see how it goes.

So how about you? Any plans for the week? Reading anything fun? 🙂

 

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Interview #78!

The seventy-eighth author interview went live last week on TBPL Off the Shelf! This time I interviewed author Nancy Campbell Allen about her Steampunk Proper Romance series, her writing process while working in different genres, and using stationery for planning.  You can find the interview here.

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Tuesday Update: Revisiting Goals

Hey everyone, Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you had a good weekend *and a good Thanksgiving if you’re in Canada too). 🙂

This weekend, I sat down and revisited my goals.  I realized that I haven’t really been thinking about that sort of thing in months.  But I’m doing well with the goals I set here on the blog: I finished Memories and have already read over 25 books this year!  That just leaves editing a few short stories that I’ve previously written.  So I need to get on that over the next few months!

I also noticed that in my notebook with the weekly goals I try setting for myself, back in 2019 I set more long term goals.  So I took some time to set some goals for myself over the next year and beyond.  At this point, I’m mostly focused on my language learning as I’ve already put in so much time learning both Ukrainian (over four months) and French (about 3.5 months); I don’t want to stop working on either of them right now because I’m afraid I’d lose the progress I’ve made.  So ideally I’d like to get one of them to a point of conversational fluency sooner rather than later to get it off my plate, so to speak (I’m hoping/thinking that it’ll take less time  per week to maintain a language once you’ve learned it well enough to have in-depth conversations in it).  Realistically, this is going to be French, thanks to both its similarity (particularly in terms of vocabulary) to English and the fact that I took French classes in elementary school many years ago.  I’ve found that French vocabulary is currently a lot easier for me to learn and retain, and for that reason alone I’m pretty sure I’m going to be able to have conversations in French far sooner than in Ukrainian.

So with that in mind, I set the goal of conversational fluency in French for one year from now.  I made some goals to build towards that through the year, including making it through some books, finishing the Duolingo French tree, and understanding French media without subtitles.  For Ukrainian, I’ve set similar goals, but with a longer timeframe; my current hope is to be conversationally fluent in Ukrainian two years from now.  But it’s okay if I don’t meet the goals I set in the exact timeframe I’m hoping for; I’m going to treat these goals as a sort of road map to help me get to that point (not as a set in stone deadline for being able to have deep conversations with people).

In terms of writing goals, at this point I haven’t set any new ones for now (although as a super long-term goal, I’d love to create French and Ukrainian versions of Memories….)  Hopefully I’ll be able to meet the last goal I set for 2020 here on this blog (editing two stories), and then I can plan for some new writing projects for 2021!

Oh, I am still planning on brainstorming a new story idea I had as well, but I didn’t want to put any pressure on myself by making that into a set goal for the remainder of the year.  We’ll see how it goes. 🙂

So what about your goals for 2020?  How have they been going?  🙂

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