Tag Archives: books

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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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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October 2021 – What Are You Reading?

Last month, I mentioned putting aside Lean Out by Tara Henley so I could read Unreconciled by Jesse Wente.  Unfortunately, at the point that I put Lean Out down (about one quarter of the way in), I was losing interest in it, and after finishing Unreconciled, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I chose not to go back to Henley’s book.

Nonfiction books:

  • Unreconciled by Jesse Wente

Fiction books:

  • Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani
  • RWBY by Marguerite Bennett, illustrated by Mirka Andolfo (graphic novel)

Other Languages

  • 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts by Yuliia Pozniak

And some older magazines (two Chatelaines and a Family Circle).

As I already mentioned, I really enjoyed Unreconciled by Jesse Wente.  I wasn’t familiar with Wente at all prior to reading his book, so I was quite delighted by his humour.  While at times it is a bit difficult to read (it deals with hard subject matter regarding residential school survivors/their families/intergenerational trauma as well as the racism and slurs Indigenous people in Canada are subjected to), I found I couldn’t put it down.  It’s definitely something I recommend, especially to everyone living in Canada.

I also quite enjoyed Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani, which was a book of fairy tale retellings, often with a darker bend (they reminded me a lot of the original Grimms Fairy Tales). I love fairy tales, and retellings are often fun, so I was very pleased that this book didn’t disappoint.  (Full disclosure – I cried at the end of the Peter Pan retelling).

This was also the month that I finished my first book in Ukrainian!  I’m still very excited about that – if you want to see the video I made talking about it (I start out in Ukrainian too!), you can find it in my last post. 🙂

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

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September 2021 – What Are You Reading?

picture of four Maclean's magazines
The first four Maclean’s I read this month

Last month I decided I was going to get myself caught up with Maclean’s magazines.  In August I read four, and just kept reading them into September.  But as I was finishing the October 2020 issue, the eighth issue I read in a row, I was in major need of a break.  It didn’t help that the issues I had just finished were all dealing with Covid-19 (which I honestly wasn’t able to read last year because I was not in a great place mentally due to the pandemic), Black Lives Matter, Indigenous injustices, the WE Scandal, and a shooting in the Maritimes (plus repeated requests for a public inquiry as a result) – all heavy and depressing things.  

At that point, I took a break to read a fiction book. That gave me the energy to read a few more issues of Macleans, though not as many as I originally planned to (I was hoping to get completely caught up with them before the election on September 20th). But I did manage to finish all of the 2020’s prior to the election, so that was something at least.

Going forward, I’m going to try to read an issue of Maclean’s, then a book (or two, depending on how well I’m doing mentally after each issue), in an attempt to get caught up with them (and hopefully keep more on top of them than I have been, too!)

Nonfiction books:

  •  none!

Fiction books:

  •  Dungeon Eternium by Dakota Krout

I also read six issues of Maclean’s Magazine.

I was really excited to fit in finishing Dakota Krout’s Divine Dungeon series this month, too. The friend who recommended it to me wants me to start another series set in that universe, but I’m going to go and read some other stuff before I come back to this world. 🙂

I put aside the nonfiction book I’m currently reading (Lean Out by Tara Henley), in favour of Unreconciled by Jesse Wente, which I decided to read for today, the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation here in Canada. Unreconciled sounds really good (and was highly rated on Amazon), so I’m really looking forward to it.

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

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August 2021 – What Are You Reading?

covers of the 6 magazines I read in August
The magazines I read this month!

I had a great start to August with reading.  I even managed to only read books that I own, which was great as that is one of my goals for the year.  But then the Canadian election was called, and I decided I need to put reading books in English aside until the election at the end of September.  Instead I’m going to be reading through the many issues of Maclean’s Magazine that I’ve been putting off reading for over a year (I started off with 13 and my brother says he has 2 or 3 more) in an attempt to be more informed prior to the election, so that’s going to keep me busy!

But I will continue reading books in French and Ukrainian as I go through all the Macleans back issues. 🙂

Nonfiction books:

  • Narrative Designer: Fabulator Ludus by Stephen E. Dinehart IV

Fiction books:

  • An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire
  • Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire
  • Dungeon Desolation by Dakota Krout

I also read two local magazines (Northwest Nosh from 2019 and a copy of The Walleye from earlier this year) and 4 issues of Maclean’s.  I really hope I’ll be able to keep up my momentum with reading them in September!

I think my favourite book this month was An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire.  I really liked the idea of where Blind Michael, the master of the faerie Hunt, gets his new hunters and their steeds from.  I do wish the book had upped the horror factor a bit though.  The story revolves around a childhood bogeyman and the main character gets turned into a child – this just screamed horror, or at least a much darker vibe, a la Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

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

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My Current French Reading

As promised, today I wanted to look at the things I’m reading in French. 🙂

My French is a fair bit more advanced than my Ukrainian, so I’m able to read short stories for French learners fairly well. I’m a big fan of the books by Olly Richards (the first French book I finished was his Short Stories in French for Beginners). I’ve attempted to read French Short Stories for Beginners by Lingo Mastery a couple of times since last summer. The first time I had a hard time with the first story, so I put it aside in favour of the Olly Richards book. I’ve since made it through the first story and have attempted the second story a couple of times, but I still can’t really follow it. So I’ve put it aside once again and gone back to books by Olly Richards.

I ordered a copy of Short Stories in French for Intermediate Learners, as well as 101 Conversations in Intermediate French. 101 Conversations in Intermediate French came first, so I gave it a try. I was a little skeptical about the book because I thought the conversations were going to be just random conversations between random characters. But I was pleasantly surprised – the 101 conversations in the book are all conversations within a larger story! The book is basically a novel with all the description removed (there’s just a paragraph at the beginning of every conversation to give some context). I absolutely love it! I made it through the first three conversations with little trouble, able to follow the just of what’s going on, which was really exciting because it’s a book for intermediate learners, not beginners. I had a harder time with conversation 4 though because it deals with a lot of vocabulary I’m not familiar with (revolving around art crimes). I’ve read it a few times, and am following it a bit better, but I’ll still need to work on it a bit before moving on.

It was at this point that I decided to get the book 101 Conversations in Simple French. Some of the characters from the Intermediate book appear in the beginner book, and it sounded like conversation 4 revolves around what happened in the first book. So I decided to grab the first book on my Kindle to give it a quick read. That way I’ll know exactly what happened in the story (and hopefully pick up some of the words that are giving me trouble in the Intermediate book!) 101 Conversations in Simple French has been a super easy read for me – I’m on conversation 63 already, and have only needed to reread maybe two of the conversations so far to better understand them (everything else I just read once and moved on). It’s been a lot of fun because it really does feel like I’m just reading for pleasure and not having to work at it. 🙂

The other thing I did was purchase the audiobook versions of a lot of these books (the only one I haven’t bought is 101 Conversations in Simple French because I was planning on just reading it quickly). I’ve heard that if you read and listen at the same time, it will greatly help your listening comprehension in another language. I even bought the audiobook version of Short Stories in French for Beginners and started working my way back through that book while listening to it. I’ve made it about halfway through the book reading and listening, then started listening to some of the stories on my iPod while walking to work (I was super excited to discover that the file on my iPod had chapter selections! The file on my computer looked like one big 4 hour file with no chapter breaks). I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the audiobook version so much, so a big thank you to the narrator, Louis Bernard, for making them so engaging!

And that’s where I’m at with French. I’m hoping in the next week or two I’ll finish reading 101 Conversations in Simple French so I can get back to 101 Conversations in Intermediate French. I’ll probably work my way through that book before starting Short Stories in French for Intermediate Learners.

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My Current Ukrainian Reading

cover of Хто живе у Лісі - Who Lives in the Wood

Hey everyone, how’s it going? Today I thought I’d talk a bit about the Ukrainian books I’ve been reading lately: Хто живе у Лісі – Who Lives in the Wood? and Я Люблю Читати – Ukrainian Reading for Kids: Ukrainian–English. Both of these books are bilingual books written for kids. I found Хто живе у Лісі first and thought it was adorable, so I went looking for more books by Chatty Parrot and found Я Люблю Читати (along with another book of winter words that I haven’t really looked at yet because it’s summer).

a random page from Хто живе у Лісі
A Random Page from Хто живе у Лісі

I love how the story is laid out in Хто живе у Лісі. Every page talks about a different animal and the things they like to do; key words are in a different colour, so you can very easily understand what each word in the sentence means. I found it a great vocabulary booster for both new verbs and different animal names (I knew a few of them, like the word for “bird,” but have learned a whole bunch more thanks to this book!) Plus the pictures are just so darn cute! (And having the cute visual is helping me remember the different animals in Ukrainian!)

cover of Я Люблю Читати – Ukrainian Reading for Kids: Ukrainian–English.

Я Люблю Читати is a very generic title for a book with four bilingual fairy tales (I personally would have called the book something more like Я Люблю Казки – I Love Fairy Tales instead). The four fairy tales are the Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel, The Princess and the Pea, and the Ugly Duckling. So far I’ve just read the first two – I’ve read the Three Little Pigs several times, and have just read Hansel and Gretel once so far. I’m finding I’m now recognizing words better the more I read the tale. As a bonus, some of the animal words I learned in Хто живе у Лісі are in the Three Little Pigs, too!

random page from a book of Ukrainian Fairy Tales that I have
A random page from a book of Ukrainian Fairy Tales that I have

My hope is that these books, which are fairly easy, will help me build my vocabulary so I can eventually attempt to tackle another, harder book of fairy tales (I took one look at the pages of that book and felt a bit overwhelmed by it (take a look at this random page from that book, you can see it’s a *little* harder than the random page from Хто живе у Лісі). I’m also nearing the end of 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts (I think I have about 15 texts left to go), but that’s been a little slower going because the texts aren’t super engaging. They’re not really stories, but more like little passages of explanation. They’ve been helpful for vocabulary building though, and I’m really happy that the author, Yuliia Pozniak, made audio versions of all the texts so you can read and listen at the same time! But I wish they had been more like a series of dialogues rather than paragraphs of description.

Next time I’ll take a look at the French books I’m currently working with! 🙂

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July 2021 – What Are You Reading?

Well, I am proud of myself: this month I finally finished reading Patrick DeWitt’s Undermajordomo Minor,  I started reading it back in March (!!!)  At that time I read about 10 pages because I really wanted to start it on that particular night, then promptly put it aside and didn’t touch it again for almost four months!  I even had to reread those first few pages to make sure I remembered what had happened.

Nonfiction books:

  • How to Maintain Languages by Robin MacPherson

Fiction books:

  • Championess by Tarun Shanker, Kelly Zekas, and Amanda Perez Puentes (graphic novel)
  • Goddess of Vengeance by Jackie Collins
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Lost Chronicles Volume 1 (graphic novel)
  • He-Man: The Eternity War Volumes 1 & 2 by Rob David, Dan Abnett, and Pop Mhan (graphic novels)
  • Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick DeWitt

I’m not really sure what my favourite book was this month.  I enjoyed How to Maintain Languages.  It was a really fast read that was interesting.  But it also said a lot of things I already knew (a lot of the book reminded me of Atomic Habits, but not as meaty of a read).  Of the fiction, I think Undermajordomo Minor was my favourite.  I enjoyed it for the most part, particularly the quirky characters, but I didn’t feel like the story came together in a satisfactory whole for me.

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

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June 2021 – What Are You Reading?

I was very happy to fit in some fiction reading this month!  It was my birthday, and my major plan for that weekend was to read Karen Osborne’s Engines of Oblivion, which I’ve had on my Kindle for a few months.  But then a new Murderbot book, Fugitive Telemetry, came out, so I had to read that first (although I still managed to finish Engines of Oblivion right after)!

Nonfiction books:

  • None

Fiction books:

  • Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells
  • Engines of Oblivion by Karen Osborne
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Volumes 4-10 (graphic novels)

My favourite was Fugitive Telemetry.  It wasn’t the book I expected it to be, but I really enjoyed it all the same.  Rather than following up on the threads from book five in the series, it ended up a really fun murder mystery!  I recommend it (and honestly the whole series) if you’re interested in a fun science fiction.  As a bonus, the books are fairly short too!

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

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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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