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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What’s Been Happening…

last picture of my car
My car before it was towed away for scrap 😦

I’ve been fairly quiet on this blog over the last several months. In truth, things haven’t been great: I had a hard time when war broke out in Ukraine (not only because I have friends there, but I also had a really hard time with the disconnect between what was happening there, how WWIII might have started, and how life was just continuing on as normal here). I hurt my back, and later aggravated the injury. And more recently, I unexpectedly had to scrap my car 😥 (which ended up all its own saga – though I am still incredibly sad about it, thankfully the saga is over now!)

So now that things are starting to feel better (my back is doing okay, I’m in a better head space, and the aforementioned car saga is over), I thought that this would be a good time to regroup, take a look at my goals for the year, and see how things are going. I know that things haven’t been great: I haven’t really accomplished much of anything that I set out to do. But I have made some progress on some goals (and have recently stepped up working on other goals). So here’s what’s happening:

  1. Read 25 novel-length books that I already own: so far this year, I have managed to read nine books that I own, but only 5 of them were books I already owned. I’ve once again started bought a few books and read those (for my mom’s birthday, she wanted to go book shopping, so I bought myself something, too!) I also had a really hard time wanting to read things when the war in Ukraine first broke out – a lot of books, both historical fiction and fantasy, seemed to revolve around wars, and I just couldn’t deal with them. So hopefully I’ll be able to read more in the coming months without problems!
  2. Continue working on my story from Script Frenzy: so far, no work has been done on this. But again, hopefully in the coming months I’ll be able to get back to it!
  3. Work on a new story, too: this actually happened, rather by accident. Over the weekend I spent almost an entire day worldbuilding and writing for something totally new. I haven’t been that inspired to work on anything in a really long time; it felt really good! I don’t plan on sharing any of that work here though. I’m treating that as fun writing to help me get back into the swing of things. 🙂 (This wasn’t the story I was thinking of back in January, but that’s okay! I am honestly just so happy to be writing again after such a long hiatus!)
  4. Language Learning Goals:
    1. Duolingo French tree – turning to gold what I had unlocked so far: I’m making slow but steady progress on this. Unfortunately I don’t think I wrote down exactly how many lesson bubbles I had to go back in January (I said I was almost at Unit 5, and wrote down the ones I’m trying to get to in Unit 7). But as of right now, I have 64 to go. I’ve turned 9 from Unit 5 to gold so far – I just finished Junk and Education, and I’m currently on Bad Day in Unit 5.
    2. Reading 101 Conversations in Intermediate French: I haven’t gotten very far in this book at all. I was on conversation 5, restarted the book, got to conversation 5 again, and stopped reading. About a week ago I decided to just continue on from conversation 5 without restarting, and am now on conversation 8. Unfortunately so far the story isn’t grabbing me, but I’ll give it a few more conversations before deciding if I need to give up on it.
    3. Reading First Ukrainian Reader for Beginners: This is another one that’s had slow but steady progress. I just finished Unit 9: Christian listens to German songs. It took a few read throughs, and I didn’t feel that I understood it quite as well as Unit 8: Liuba wants to buy a newer DVD. But I’m moving onto Unit 10 this week. And I’m getting close to the elementary course units (Unit 13 and beyond). It’s really neat reading this book though – I’m able to read and understand bigger and bigger chunks of Ukrainian!
    4. Read another book in French: have not looked at another book yet.
    5. Read another book in Ukrainian: need to get through First Ukrainian Reader for Beginners.
    6. Finish season 2 of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast: I stopped listening to Ukrainian Lessons Podcast a few months ago. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think it was in part because the episodes have been getting longer and longer – I’m not able to listen to one (or most of one) on my way to work anymore. So last week I made a point of listening to a couple of episodes in the evenings (I’m currently about to start episode 69). I feel like I should almost restart season 2 as a review because it’s been so long. But I made the decision to continue from where I left off – if I need the review, I’ll go back once I finish season 2.
    7. Finish season 3 of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast: I haven’t started it yet.
Duolingo 700 day streak

But in other language learning news, I am now on a 700+ day streak in Duolingo! I hit day 700 three days ago. 😀

I will also be working on videos of me speaking both Ukrainian and French over the next month. This June marks my second year of learning both languages! I’m going to move my video editing software to a different, faster computer – hopefully that will speed up the process of adding subtitles to the videos!

So that’s where I’m at thus far for 2022. I’m going to continue to plug along on my goals for the summer, and will check in with them again in the fall. At that time, I’ll reevaluate if necessary.

But how are things going for you? Have you been able to work on/accomplish any of your goals for 2022? 🙂

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May 2022: What Are You Reading?

Wow, where did the month go???  I managed to only read one book during all of May!  Thankfully, it was really good!  At the beginning of the month, I went book shopping with my mom.  I stumbled on Heather Walter’s Malice, which sounded really good (it’s a Sleeping Beauty retelling – I love fairy tales and retellings).  I managed to tear through the book in about three days.  It was so nice to be that into a book again; I’ve been really struggling with reading over the last while, and I’ve specifically had a hard time getting interested in books (though I have still managed to read a few books every month).  While the second one, Misrule, was released a few days after I finished Malice, I haven’t started reading it yet (I’m hoping to start it on the weekend).

I’m hoping next month will be a bit better, reading-wise.  I’ve got a week of vacation for my birthday, and I’m hoping to read one or two books then for sure. 😉

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

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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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