April 2022: What Are You Reading?

April was another month that wasn’t really great, reading-wise.  I started off reading The Deep by Rivers Solomon on my Kindle (I’d been wanting to read it for awhile but just never got around to it).  Then….nothing for a couple of weeks.  Or I’d start something, and just never really go back to it.

But then in the middle of the month I decided to treat myself and buy a couple of graphic novels I’d been wanting for awhile, Living with Mochi and One of Those Days.  I’d come across both comics as curated lists online and really enjoyed them, so I was really excited to read them when they arrived!  They came at the perfect time too: the end of a particularly busy week (I had some training at work, and was really tired by the end of the week), where I wanted to just veg out.

Nonfiction books:

  • Own Your Morning: Reset Your A.M. Routine to Unlock Your Potential by Liz Baker Plosser

Fiction books:

  • The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, & Jonathan Snipes
  • Living with Mochi by Gemma Gene (graphic novel)
  • One of Those Days by Yehuda and Maya Devir (graphic novel)

I think my favourite was Living with Mochi.  Mochi is a pug who reminds me of Garfield and Pusheen.  Living with Mochi was a super cute read that had me laughing out loud – I definitely recommend it!

I also really enjoyed reading Own Your Morning. I am not (and have never been) a morning person, so this was a bit of a weird read for me.  But I liked Plosser’s writing style, and I found some tips that might help me make my morning a bit smoother.  It’s also a really easy and fast read because Plosser structured it a lot like a magazine (which makes sense since she is the Editor-in-Chief of Women’s Health).

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

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Interview #91

The ninety-first author interview went live today on TBPL Off the Shelf! This time I interviewed Evan S. Sullivan. We talk about what inspired his fantasy world, why he’s attracted to more complicated fantasy stories, and why he prefers writing novels over novellas.  You can find the interview here.

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March 2022: What Are You Reading?

March didn’t have a great start to it, reading-wise.  I started reading a couple of books that, while interesting enough, honestly didn’t really grab me, so I haven’t finished them.  I also took out a whole bunch of library books that I then felt pressure to read, even though I wanted to focus more on books I already own (as per my reading goal for the year). While I did end up reading a few of the graphic novels I took out,  I otherwise sent all the library books back, unread.  From there I picked out a book from my shelf to read, got a chapter in, then just stopped.  But then in the middle of the month, I was talking to my brother, who recommended Karen Connelly’s book of poetry, which I happened to have from when she was here for the International Festival of Authors five years ago (here’s the link to the interview I did with her at that time, if you’re interested).  I ended up reading that in a night, and hope to go back and reread it another time. 🙂

Nonfiction books:

Fiction books:

  • Creepy Cat by Cotton Valent (graphic novel)
  • Iyanu: Child of Wonder Volume 1 by Roye Okupe (graphic novel)
  • Come Cold River by Karen Connelly (poetry)

I really enjoyed Come Cold River.  Connelly’s writing is really visceral and hits you in the gut.  I feel like this is a collection that will give you even more if you reread it (hence why I’m hoping to give it another read one day)!

Iyanu was also a really interesting read. It is inspired by Yoruba culture and myths, which I’m not at all familiar with.  I really liked the little extras included in the book, like the explanations of how the council worked and what the corrupted were, which were included between most chapters.  There was also a timeline of world events in the end pages, which was also really interesting.  I admit that it took me a little bit to get into the book, but by the end I was sad it was over already; I can’t wait for volume 2, which is due out this fall!

I also actually finished a Maclean’s magazine (January 2021 🤦)!  With how many of them I have to get through, and with a provincial election coming in a few months, I’m thinking I might start reading the newest ones I have and work my way backwards, at least for now. We’ll see how that goes!

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

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Interview #90

After a few months with no author interviews on TBPL Off the Shelf, the ninetieth is finally here! This time I interviewed Patricia Caine. We talked about transcribing her parents’ stories (her mom’s stories were in Ukrainian), the historical research she did to give those stories local context, and her favourite recipe from her mom (hint: it’s also Ukrainian!)  You can find the interview here.

I’d also like to note that the timing of this interview was coincidental with world events. I approached Patricia earlier this year because I was excited to hear about her experiences growing up with Ukrainian parents, and talk about celebrating holidays that my family celebrates as well. The interview just happened to go live a week after Russia invaded Ukraine.

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February 2022 – What Are You Reading?

This month I read some different books, both nonfiction and fiction.

Nonfiction books:

  • The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by Jack Weatherford
  • Cash Cows, Pigs and Jackpots: The Simplest Personal Finance Strategy Ever by David Trahair

Fiction books:

  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
  • Starless by Evan S. Sullivan

I think out of the four, my favourite was The Secret History of the Mongol Queens.  It was admittedly a bit dry, and somewhat difficult to read in the middle due to the subject matter, but it was really interesting.  I didn’t know a whole lot about Genghis Khan to begin with, and reading about his daughters and subsequent Queens was pretty fascinating!

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

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January 2022 – What Are You Reading?

seven editions of the Walleye
Seven of the thirteen Walleye issues I read this month.

Here we are, the first What Are You Reading? post of 2022!

At the beginning of the month, I discovered that I had over a year’s worth (13!!!) of The Walleye, a local magazine, stashed and waiting to be read.  I knew I had a lot of Maclean’s as well, but the sheer number of The Walleye came as a real shock.  So I dedicated the month to clearing these up, while also spending some time reading books (it’s hard to read so many of the same magazine one after the other).  Now that I’m done with The Walleye, I’ll have to start tackling all the Maclean’s starting next month.  

Nonfiction books:

  • Long Story Short: The Only Storytelling Guide You’ll Ever Need by Margot Leitman

Fiction books:

  • Noor by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Return of the Valkyries by Jason Aaron and Torunn GrØnbekk (graphic novel)
  • Star: Birth of a Dragon by Kelly Thompson (graphic novel)
  • Crossover Volume 1: Kids Love Chains by Danny Cates (graphic novel)

I think my favourite book this month was Long Story Short.  I wasn’t expecting it to be a book specifically about oral storytelling (I thought it was about written storytelling when I got it).  But it is a really engaging read, and I think very helpful for anyone who is not comfortable with making oral presentations (even though it’s more aimed at people on storytelling shows in front of an audience).  

In terms of fiction, I think I enjoyed the graphic novel Crossover the most.  A friend of mine recommended it to me, and I didn’t know what to expect.  The story took some crazy turns that I wasn’t expecting, and I’m looking forward to one day reading volume 2.

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

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Hello 2022!

Hi everyone, Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were good! While mine were once again quiet, they were great. I was able to spend some time with friends and family (albeit in smaller gatherings than in a non-pandemic year). I didn’t send Christmas cards like last year though – I don’t know what was going on, but I just felt so not-on-top of things this year, even though I was on top of all of my other holiday preparations.

I’m also very hopeful that 2022 will be a good year, and maybe even see the end of this pandemic. We shall see!

But now it’s time to reflect on my goals from last year, and set some new ones for the year ahead. For 2021, I set three goals: Read 25 Books I Own, Write a New Story, and work on some Language Learning (mostly reading various books). I’m not going to lie, I completely forgot about setting that last goal (and the whole list of books I wanted to read).

2021 list of books I read that I own
These are the books I own that I read – language books counted, too!

My book goal ended up interesting. I read more than 25 books this year (on Goodreads I read 30, although about three of those were graphic novels, so they don’t count towards my goal here). I read 16 books that I own (plus those three graphic novels). But all through the year, I found myself actually buying new books and reading those, which completely negated the point of this goal! (I think only 3 of those books were ones I’ve owned for more than one year). So I’m going to attempt to redo this goal in 2022 but without buying so many new books!

I didn’t end up writing a new story this year. 😦 I honestly wasn’t very creative at all during 2021. :/ A lot of that is because I was working on the editing project all summer, and when it paused during the fall, it took a long time before I felt even able to work on something more creative. But by the end of the year I was feeling better, and did some work on a very old story that for some reason I was feeling inspired to work on (the story I started working on during 2012’s Script Frenzy). I don’t remember where the idea came from, but I totally revamped the story (and it all clicked into place when I read the backgrounds of the original characters). I reread the original script (which I surprisingly really enjoyed, even though it was never finished), and started working on revamping the characters. As part of that, I also did some worldbuilding that I’m really happy with. I’m looking forward to continuing working on this story in the new year!

Finally, my language learning goal. I turned my Ukrainian Duolingo Tree to gold in January, so that was a very early win. 🙂 I haven’t finished the French tree yet. I actually have been going back and turning the tree to gold (I changed my thinking about turning the tree to gold – rather than quickly finishing lessons and moving on to something new, by taking the time to turn each lesson to gold, I find they’re staying with me a lot better!) I’ve almost turned everything up to checkpoint 4/the start of unit 5 gold, so that’s fantastic progress! (Before I went back to work on the tree in this way, I had made it to halfway between checkpoint 6/unit 7 and checkpoint 7, so I have about 2 full units to go until I’m back to where I was).

Of the books I wanted to read, I finished three from the list: Short Stories in French for Beginners, French Short Stories for Beginners and Intermediate Learners, and 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts. I also read 101 Conversations in Simple French, which was surprisingly super fun (it was pretty much all dialogues!) I’ve attempted French Short Stories for Beginners, but for some reason it’s really hard, so I’ll have to come back to it later. And rather than read Ukrainian Language: Texts in Ukrainian, I ended up starting First Ukrainian Reader for Beginners, which I’m really liking. It starts off with super simple texts, then gradually works up to longer and longer ones. It’s making me feel confident that I CAN read in Ukrainian (I still kind of panic when I see a full page text in Ukrainian, thinking “I can’t read this!!!”) Oh, and I’ve also read three Ukrainian kids books by Chatty Parrot (the two listed in this post, and one with winter words).

Oh, and I’m still somewhere in the middle of season 2 of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast. That’s been fairly slow going because more often than not I’m listening to music in Ukrainian instead when I walk to work.

One other thing with French – I started getting two hour lessons every week thanks to a local organization. These lessons are immersive – the teacher tries to explain everything in French, and only uses English is that fails. I’ve been doing those lessons for about two months now, and I’ve noticed my French oral comprehension has been skyrocketing as a result (which is super encouraging because that was my biggest problem area)! I still struggle with speaking, but that will come in time. 🙂

Something else that happened this year too: I’m now learning a bit of American sign language. This started during the fall. My sister-in-law was learning with her sister in a really low-key way (they just look at a video every week to learn a few more signs). I’ve been interested in learning because I have a family member who is hard of hearing (and who has a hard time hearing me in particular), but they’ve never been interested before when I’ve asked. When we were all talking about it, they agreed to learn, so I said yes, too! With the caveat that it’s language #3 for me, and won’t be getting as much attention as my other two. So now I know some very basic sign language as well!

So that’s been 2021 in a nutshell. Things didn’t go at all as planned, but that’s okay! I still was able to accomplish a bunch, and even some things I hadn’t planned at all. 🙂

And now it’s time to look ahead for 2022. We’re still in the pandemic, so it’s difficult to really know what the future brings. And some things (like the editing project, which is still ongoing) are outside of my control. So with those caveats, here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish this year:

  1. Read 25 novel-length books I _already_ own – Like last year, I want to challenge myself to read the books I own right now. These books can be either physical books or eBooks (I still have a lot on my Kindle, too!)
  2. Continue working on my story from Script Frenzy – I would love to have at least a first draft of whatever form this story takes by the end of 2022 (I’m currently thinking it should be a novel, but who knows – it started life as a screen play!)
  3. Work on a new story, too – I have ideas for another story that I’d like to flesh out, even if it doesn’t become a first draft by the end of the year.
  4. Language Learning Goals:
    1. Turn my Duolingo French Tree to gold up to what I’ve unlocked so far (I’ve currently unlocked up to the bubbles “Get Well” and “In Class” in Unit 7)
    2. Finish reading 101 Conversations in Intermediate French
    3. Finish reading First Ukrainian Reader for Beginners
    4. Choose and read another book in Ukrainian
    5. Choose and read another book in French
    6. Finish season 2 of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast
    7. Finish season 3 of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast

I don’t want to overwhelm myself with goals, so I’m only going to set these four. I also feel like I have a better feel for what I can accomplish in terms of language learning this year. If I have time for more French and Ukrainian books, then great, but if not, that’s okay too (especially since reading time in other languages competes with reading books in English).

So how about you? Have you set any goals for yourself this year? 🙂

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December 2021 – What Are You Reading?

Merry Christmas, everyone!  I hope you have a wonderful holiday, whatever you celebrate, and a very Happy New Year!

This month, my reading really wasn’t going very well.  After finishing The Diary of a Young Girl, (and reading All About Anne, which filled in some of the history surrounding Anne Frank’s life), I intended to get back to reading Company Town.  But I wasn’t really enjoying it – I had just sort of started getting into it before stopping to read Anne Frank’s book for Remembrance Day, and couldn’t bring myself to go back to it afterwards (I firmly believe I would have finished it had I not stopped).  So I wasted a few weeks of thinking I should go back to it before I ultimately decided I wasn’t going to.  After finally making that decision, I started reading some graphic novels, which got me back into reading. 🙂

Nonfiction books:

  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • All About Anne by Menno Metselaar and Piet van Ledden

Fiction books:

  • Estranged by Ethan M. Aldridge (graphic novel)
  • Estranged: The Changeling King by Ethan M. Aldridge (graphic novel)
  • Oddball by Sarah Andersen (graphic novel)
  • Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry

I don’t even know where to start in terms of a “favourite” this month!  The Diary of a Young Girl really surprised me with how good it was.  The rest of my family has read it, but I hesitated because I thought it was going to be really depressing.  While the ending is (and the depressing part is more the afterword, not the end of the diary itself) it is a super good read!  It makes me so sad that we lost Frank during the war – what else would she have written had she lived???

Then I read Estranged, a super fun graphic novel about changelings.  When the faerie court is attacked, the human changeling (“the Childe”) escapes and seeks help from the only person he thinks can help him: the fae child who was swapped in his place!  It’s a fun read that I really, really enjoyed.

And then there was Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook.  Wow.  It reminds me a lot of Brom’s The Child Thief, which was an earlier super dark version of Peter Pan (which I also recommend, though I haven’t read it in years).  In this tale, Jamie (who we know of as Captain Hook) was the very first Lost Boy Peter brought to his island.  Through the events of the story, Jamie starts to see through Peter’s glamour, growing up and becoming the “villain” we know of today.  It’s an excellent read that I couldn’t put down. 🙂

So what have you read over the last month?  Did you have a favourite?

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Interview #89

The eighty-ninth author interview went live today on TBPL Off the Shelf! This time I interviewed Gloria Koster. We talk about the idea behind her first book, why she had Ruthie and her grandmother making latkes in her newest book, and her exciting new book coming out next year!  You can find the interview here.

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November 2021 – What Are You Reading?

This month was not a very good reading month for me.  I currently have two books on the go, Company Town by Madeline Ashby, which I started before Remembrance Day, and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, which I chose to read for Remembrance Day this year.  I’m really enjoying The Diary of a Young Girl, but I ended up on a bit of a video game kick lately (I’ve been playing a lot of Stardew Valley in French, which has been a lot of fun), and so haven’t finished it yet.  The other night when I was thinking about this post, I was a bit worried that I hadn’t read anything this month, but thankfully I actually did finish something before starting Company Town.

Nonfiction books:

Fiction books:

  • The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

I absolutely loved The Rose Code by Kate Quinn! I didn’t know a whole lot about the Enigma Machines and Bletchley Park, so I wasn’t sure what I would think when I started.  But it was so fascinating!  As usual, she also had some fantastic characters whom I was rooting for all through the book.  I loved it, and really recommend it!

So what have you read over the last month?  I hope you’ve had a better reading month than I have! 🙂

Hopefully I’ll finish both The Diary of a Young Girl and Company Town soon!  And once I’m finished with Stardew Valley in French, I’ll have to start reading something in French, too.

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