29 November 2010

Things you can't do while reading....

There are some things that just can't be done while reading: driving, showering, & eating ribs.
mmm ribs :)

My apologies from not doing a post last week but I was taking a little holiday. Some wine was drunk and some ribs were eaten. Now, I confess I'm not a huge pork fan, but the sauce on those ribs was sooo good.

What did I read while I was away (obviously not while I was driving, showering or eating ribs)?

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
I'm a fan of Mr Fforde's books. I love the Thursday series, funny, fresh etc... This book is equally good, but not as lighthearted in tone. It's also hard to categorize, you might find it in fantasy, or in general fiction, or in comedy (although if there its placement will most likely be driven by Fforde's previous books). Don't let me mislead you, this book is funny, but there is more beneath the surface.

Blurb: Part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, Shades of Grey tells of a battle against overwhelming odds. In a society where the ability to see the higher end of the color spectrum denotes a better social standing, Eddie Russet belongs to the House of Red and can see his own color - but no other. The sky, the grass, and everything in between are all just shades of grey, and must be colorized by artificial means.

Eddie's world wasn't always like this. There's evidence of a never-discussed disaster and now, many years later, technology is poor, news sporadic, the notion of change abhorrent, and nighttime is terrifying: no one can see in the dark. Everyone abides by a bizarre regime of rules and regulations, a system of merits and demerits, where punishment can result in permanent expulsion.

Eddie might well have lived out his rose-tinted life without a hitch. But that changes when he becomes smitten with Jane, a Grey. She shows Eddie that all is not well with the world he thinks is just and good.

Stunningly imaginative, very funny, tightly plotted, and with sly satirical digs at our own society, this novel is for those who loved Thursday Next but want to be transported somewhere equally wild, only darker; a world where the black and white of moral standpoints have been reduced to shades of grey.

Play of Passion by Nalini Singh
Those who follow this blog will have heard me mention Ms Singh's books before. She's a fantastic author. Her characters are vivid and her world building strong (something I don't always find with romance). If you enjoy romances, especailly paranormal, I can't recommend the Psy/Changeling series enough. While each book is stand alone, there is an ongoing story arc and if you can I'd recommend starting at the beginning with Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changelings, Book 1).

I've added the blurb, but honestly, it doesn't do the book justice.

Blurb: In his position as tracker for the SnowDancer pack, it’s up to Drew Kincaid to rein in rogue changelings who have lost control of their animal halves—even if it means killing those who have gone too far. But nothing in his life has prepared him for the battle he must now wage to win the heart of a woman who makes his body ignite…and who threatens to enslave his wolf.

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Misborn is the first in the trilogy and I've got the next to books on my Christmas list already. This book has been sitting on my TBR pile for about 6 months. Now I've finally got round to it I can't believe I took so long. I really enjoyed this book. A lot of your standard fantasy tropes, but Sanderson doesn't always do what you expect with them. Well worth picking up for fantasy fans.

Blurb: Once, a hero arose to save the world. He failed.
For a thousand years since, the world has been a wasteland of ash and mist ruled by an immortal emporor. Every revolt has failed miserably.

Yet, somehow, hope survives. A new kind of uprising is being planned, one built around the ultimate caper, one that depends on the cunning of a brilliant criminal mastermind, and the determination of an unlikely heroine, a street urchin who must learn to master the powers of the Mistborn.

As you can see from my quick reviews, all in all, good reading was had during my break :)

15 November 2010

Awesomely Untranslatable Words

Ever wanted a word that quickly sums things up, instead you end up blathering on while trying to explain.

Some romance authors spend a whole book trying to convey “the wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start”. Instead they could simply write Mamihlapinatapei - the end. And move onto something else.

Okay as a romance writer, I'm glad we don't have that word in english :) But there are other examples of times english fails us - This list is wonderful:

Here are a few examples of instances where other languages have found the right word and English simply falls speechless.

1. Toska
Russian – Vladimr Nabokov describes it best: “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”

2. Mamihlapinatapei
Yagan (indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego) – “the wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start”

3. Jayus
Indonesian – “A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh”

4. Iktsuarpok
Inuit – “To go outside to check if anyone is coming.”

5. Litost
Czech – Milan Kundera, author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, remarked that “As for the meaning of this word, I have looked in vain in other languages for an equivalent, though I find it difficult to imagine how anyone can understand the human soul without it.” The closest definition is a state of agony and torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery.

6. Kyoikumama
Japanese – “A mother who relentlessly pushes her children toward academic achievement”

7. Tartle
Scottish – The act of hestitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name.

8. Ilunga
Tshiluba (Southwest Congo) – A word famous for its untranslatability, most professional translators pinpoint it as the stature of a person “who is ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense.”

9. Prozvonit
Czech – This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money. In Spanish, the phrase for this is “Dar un toque,” or, “To give a touch.”

10. Cafuné
Brazilian Portuguese – “The act of tenderly running one’s fingers through someone’s hair.”

11. Schadenfreude
German – Quite famous for its meaning that somehow other languages neglected to recognize, this refers to the feeling of pleasure derived by seeing another’s misfortune. I guess “America’s Funniest Moments of Schadenfreude” just didn’t have the same ring to it.

12. Torschlusspanik
German – Translated literally, this word means “gate-closing panic,” but its contextual meaning refers to “the fear of diminishing opportunities as one ages.”

13. Wabi-Sabi
Japanese – Much has been written on this Japanese concept, but in a sentence, one might be able to understand it as “a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.”

14. Dépaysement
French – The feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country.

15. Tingo
Pascuense (Easter Island) – Hopefully this isn’t a word you’d need often: “the act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them.”

16. Hyggelig
Danish – Its “literal” translation into English gives connotations of a warm, friendly, cozy demeanor, but it’s unlikely that these words truly capture the essence of a hyggelig; it’s likely something that must be experienced to be known. I think of good friends, cold beer, and a warm fire.

17. L’appel du vide
French – “The call of the void” is this French expression’s literal translation, but more significantly it’s used to describe the instinctive urge to jump from high places.

18. Ya’aburnee
Arabic – Both morbid and beautiful at once, this incantatory word means “You bury me,” a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them.

19. Duende
Spanish – While originally used to describe a mythical, spritelike entity that possesses humans and creates the feeling of awe of one’s surroundings in nature, its meaning has transitioned into referring to “the mysterious power that a work of art has to deeply move a person.” There’s actually a nightclub in the town of La Linea de la Concepcion, where I teach, named after this word.

20. Saudade
Portuguese – One of the most beautiful of all words, translatable or not, this word “refers to the feeling of longing for something or someone that you love and which is lost.” Fado music, a type of mournful singing, relates to saudade.

Know any other examples of words that can't quite be captured in english?

09 November 2010

One dimensional female characters...

I'm on a flowchart roll :)

Ever wondered if female characters are getting a bit predictable? This one's a bit small so might need to go to the source.

Posting over at Black Roses Blog, come visit :)

02 November 2010