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Search tags: female-pov
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review 2018-01-17 10:02
The Plant Hunters: The Adventures of the World's Greatest Botanical Explorers
The Plant Hunters: The Adventures of the World's Greatest Botanical Explorers - Carolyn Fry

First - this is a gorgeous book.  Generously and fabulously illustrated, at least half the pages are eye candy.

 

Second - it's really well researched, although it does lack a citation / notes section at the end, an unfortunate oversight.

 

Also unfortunate is the writing.  It's dry.  So, so dry.  Think academic history text dry.  If I had to guess, I'd say it's a case of severe editing; trying to pack huge chunks of history into small 1-2 page sections.  The result is a litany of names and dates guaranteed to make the most interested eyes droop.   

 

Luckily, the illustrations go a long way towards perking up a reader's attention.

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review 2018-01-16 19:49
In the Land of Invented Languages / Arika Okrent
In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build a Perfect Language - Arika Okrent

Here is the captivating story of humankind’s enduring quest to build a better language—and overcome the curse of Babel. Just about everyone has heard of Esperanto, which was nothing less than one man’s attempt to bring about world peace by means of linguistic solidarity. And every Star Trek fan knows about Klingon. But few people have heard of Babm, Blissymbolics, Loglan (not to be confused with Lojban), and the nearly nine hundred other invented languages that represent the hard work, high hopes, and full-blown delusions of so many misguided souls over the centuries. With intelligence and humor, Arika Okrent has written a truly original and enlightening book for all word freaks, grammar geeks, and plain old language lovers.

 

  I think I would really enjoy sitting down for a cup of coffee and a discussion with this author! She is a linguist and linguistics is a favourite subject of mine. She knows a thing or two about the Library of Congress classification schedules too (or at least the P section of them, linguistics & languages), which appeals to my inner cataloguing nerd. Plus, she is just interested in words and their history and in the psychology of people who strive to build better languages.

I was absolutely gobsmacked at how many artificial languages are lurking out there and how often that particular bee seems to get into someone’s bonnet! Mostly, the creators seems to be altruists—Esperanto was going to be the language that allowed us all to understand one another and prevent future wars. Many of these language developers were hoping to express “pure” concepts and keep prejudice and politics out of things. Unfortunately for them, language just doesn’t work that way! One of the best uses of language is politicking! Also unfortunate is the tendency of these men (and I think we can say that it’s mostly men who attempt this) to be unable to let go and let their languages run free, to change during regular use. Their rigid attempts to control the people using their languages seemed to negate any positive uses for their creations.

I was amused as the author’s type-A, gung-ho attempt to learn Klingon. If I had been at that particular conference, I would have been right at her side competing to my heart’s content! I loved that in her author note at the end of the volume, she listed both PhDs and her Klingon 1st level pin as her accomplishments.

What I found a bit freaky: I returned to work on Monday (having read the book on the weekend) and the very first volume that I picked up to catalogue was written in Esperanto! (I’ve been working on a big collection of materials by and about H.G. Wells and am busy with translations right now.) That little piece of synchronicity was amusing.

 

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review 2018-01-16 07:35
How to Speak Chicken
How to Speak Chicken: Why Your Chickens Do What They Do & Say What They Say - Melissa Caughey

This arrived today and I couldn't wait; I've been curious to read it since I first read about it pre-publication.

 

Sadly, it was not quite what I expected. 

 

Almost though.  The author does discuss what chickens are trying to communicate, and she covers a fair amount of anatomical/behavioural information about chooks (Aussie slang), but she's coming from an enthusiast's perspective, not a scientist's.  This is totally ok, but I was hoping for something a tad more in-depth and research based; this is more a 'chickens are wonderful and grossly underestimated' tome.  (She's right - they're hilarious individualists, and anyone who keeps one for more than 10 minutes will never underestimate them again.)

 

In spite of it not measuring up to my expectations, it's a lovely book overall and I did learn quite a bit more about chickens.  Turns out, I have 3 of the closest living relatives to T. Rex living in my back garden.  How cool is that?

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review 2018-01-15 06:59
Buried in Books: A Reader's Anthology
Buried in Books: A Reader's Anthology - Julie Rugg

This one's been on the piles for at least a year now, and upon cracking it open today, I discovered it's an entire book full of quotes about books:  reading, collecting, borrowing, defacing and, in the last chapter, the horrifying prospect of running out of them.

 

I read most of the quotes in the first half, but skimmed the rest, looking for citations that included names or book titles I recognised.  Rugg gets bonus points for a collection that is not a retread of all the popular internet memes; there were very few quotes here that I recognised, and sadly for my TBR, a few titles that the stacks will soon be forced to take in and provide shelter for.

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review 2018-01-15 04:07
Great Beginnings
Great Beginnings: Opening Lines of Great Novels - Georgianne Ensign

A compendium of opening paragraphs from great literature, I see this as a great reference for future trivia games, and Jeopardy re-runs, but any authors/aspiring writers might view it as an interesting exploration of styles.

 

Ensign breaks the sections up by categorising the opening paragraphs: "Once Upon a Time" are literary openers that use First Person, or the Witness as a storyteller; "Setting the Setting" includes those opening paragraphs that immediately set the scene, the time, or use the weather to get the reader immediately involved.  My favorite was the chapter called "Brevity Doesn't Count" - listing opening sentences that are 100+ words long and themselves their own paragraphs.    Not because I like long, drawn out sentences that last forever, but because I can't help but laugh - usually about midway through - and think Breathe!.

 

Each section is very briefly introduced by the author with quick but insightful comments about the effective use of each device.  Moderately interesting in itself, but possibly better thought of as a reference.

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