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review 2017-03-13 15:00
Atavus Falls Review
Atavus Falls - Jack J. Carroll

I always feel bad when I'm reviewing a debut book with a negative opinion. Especially when it's obvious that the author tried really hard. I'm going to be as constructive as possible.

Atavus Falls was a great idea. The idea of language being a virus is one that has been played with a few times, and I'm definitely open to seeing more exploration of the idea. However, I think that type of story needs the hand of an experienced writer to guide it, and Atavus Falls did not have that.

-The multiple points of view did not work well. Maybe if they had been pared down a bit, it would have seemed a bit more cohesive. As it was, it was more a scramble to remember who was who when they were talking.

-The language was, ah, over the top. I think most of it is typical first book stuff. Everyone imagines him/herself to be the next great literary figurehead. They lose their story in the desire to make it sound gorgeous.

Not all stories need to sound gorgeous. Sometimes one needs to err on the side of sparsity rather than give in to the urge to be loquacious about the mundane.

-Between the excessive language and the overpopulated POV changes, the story came across extremely muddled. I spent several moments trying to figure out when and where we were in the story at times. I don't like the switches in time and space even when it's very well done. When it's not, my dislike deepens until another word fits it entirely.

There are other things, but these are the big ones.

I will say that I did like the ending. I do feel that the book got a lot better around the 65% point. I think if the author learns to make sure what he's saying is important to the story, and clear, he'll improve by bounds.

Unfortunately, I just can't recommend this story.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author for review consideration.

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quote 2017-03-07 18:34
"Sharp nostalgia, infinite and terrible, for what I already possess"
-Juan Ramón Jiménez-
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review 2017-02-11 02:08
Through the Language Glass
Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages - Guy Deutscher

Nonfiction book about languages and the effect on culture, or culture and the effect on languages. Depends on how you read it and what you think about it, really. Deutscher discusses at length various linguistic theories and how they have evolved over time as the scientific side of intellectual curiosity gained prominence and became more refined with the use of experiments and scientific method that weeded out human fallacies. (Or tried to, anyway!)

 

He starts and ends with color - the peculiarities of the vocabulary of color in Homer's Odyssey at the beginning of the book and the testing of color differentiation across various languages native speakers at the end of the book - and covers several other topics along the way. It is long and overly confusing at times because the author can't resist making a tangential joke that doesn't really add to your understanding of the subject; in fact, I'm inclined to believe it's more to do with page count requirements. Comprehensive reading of this book may require a graduate-level vocabulary and the high-brow humor may fly over the head of someone not looking for it. He does bring to light several experiments/studies that the general public would not be aware of and explains the reasons for their importance in laymen's terms, or makes an attempt at doing so at least.

 

It took me three-quarters of a year to read this book because I got stuck in the middle and was bored. I say this as person strongly interested in linguistics but not involved in any particular career related to the field, so this may be more geared to those with a professional rather than a casual interest in languages.

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review 2017-02-09 13:47
Her Mother's Keeper by Nora Roberts
Her Mother's Keeper (Language of Love #20 - Pansy) - Nora Roberts

Gwen comes back home to Louisiana to end her mother's affair with a writer who she thinks is merely using her, and ends up falling for the guy herself.


A premise (and plot) that could be solved with a single conversation (between mother and daughter or the hero coming clean from the start), an idiotic heroine that thinks she's all that but in the end really is just a child, and a story so paper thin it was laughable.
I rolled my eyes at the dialogues, I rolled my eyes at the heroine's inner monologues...

This certainly hasn't aged well.

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review 2017-02-09 09:50
Speaking American: How Y'all, Youse, and You Guys Talk
Speaking American: How Y'all, Youse , and You Guys Talk: A Visual Guide - Josh Katz

Peregrinations mentioned this book in one of her posts and of course I had to immediately get it.  I live in a place where I am daily questioned on how I talk, and this has fostered a fascination with the English language and accents in particular.

 

This is a larger format book, not quite coffee table sized, but it could definitely hold its own with the art and architecture tomes.  Each page features large full color heat maps, showing the prevalence for one word over another (or one pronunciation over another) in each part of the country.  Some maps are mostly homogeneous ("roundabout"); some look as though someone drew a line through the country (usually an east/west line dividing north and south, of course) ("pyjamas").

 

MT and I had a great time comparing words and pronunciations, and laughing at the differences (and sometimes even similarities).  We had fun trying to figure out his spirit state, and while it became clear that I've picked up words and pronunciations from around the country (mostly Minnesota), I was happy to see that my language still places me firmly in my home state of Florida.

 

An interesting look at the differences between us that are fun rather than confronting and a great conversation starter.

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