Friday, June 11, 2021

Review: Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter: Then, Now, and Forever

Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter: Then, Now, and ForeverNine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter: Then, Now, and Forever by John McWhorter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fascinating book! McWhorter dives into the history and evolution of profanity in English. It is funny but also rich in its exploration of the roots of our contemporary swear words. McWhorter also gets into the why of profanity, what role do these words play in our language and lives? And then how do these roles affect and change the words we treat as profanity. It'll change the way you think about swearing.

I listened to McWhorter read; and I think that's the best way to enjoy this book. The profanity needs to be heard, not read, in order to demonstrate its force and impact. And McWhorter is an excellent reader of his own books.

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Review: The Sentry

The Sentry (Elvis Cole, #12, Joe Pike, #3)The Sentry by Robert Crais
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading this novel; Pike is a great character to play with. However, I don't think it's Crais' best work. There are some great twists to the story here and the action is fun. But I had hard time believing some of it. In particularly, Pike's enduring interest in Dru and then the ease with which Pike and Cole seem to be able shoot and kill without apparent consequences (even if the shooting/killings are justified, this isn't the Old West).

I think he's still trying to find the best way to tell Pike's story. It's a big shift from Cole as the primary and the traditional PI genre. Even with the flaws, it's a good read for fans of Crais and the genre.

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Saturday, June 05, 2021

Review: The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As fan of Greek mythology, I've wanted to check out this series for a long time. It is quite fun, and I enjoyed how it played with bringing the gods and mythical creatures into contemporary America. The writing is juvenile and basic; some of the descriptions of things and people were cliché or too much 'telling' rather than 'showing.' In this way (among others) Rowling's Harry Potter is far better. Still, this is a lot of fun, an easy, quick read.

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Review: Philip and Alexander: Kings and Conquerors

Philip and Alexander: Kings and ConquerorsPhilip and Alexander: Kings and Conquerors by Adrian Goldsworthy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the book, but it wasn't ultimately what I was hoping for. There is far too much focus on the particulars of battles and military maneuvers. Of course, that's to be expected in any history of Philip and Alexander. Especially for Alexander, war and battle make up so much of his life. Still I would have liked more focus into the individuals, their relationships, and even more so, on the impact they had on those around them and the ancient world. The book doesn't ignore these, but the spotlight is more on the battles than the influence/impact. I found myself drifting in the battle descriptions, but piqued by the descriptions of the various cities and cultures Alexander encountered (and conquered). In some ways the focus on Philip in the first part of the book was more interesting: in part maybe because it was more novel, but also because there was more focus on how Philip managed his relationships with the surrounding cities and southern Greece.

I appreciated that the author was careful about the claims being made: the sparsity of evidence that supported them and the conflicting interpretations of that evidence.

For those who listen to the book as I did, the reader was excellent. Good pacing, no distracting mannerisms.

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Review: The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantasy novels can often get weighted down by the genre's standard tropes, characters, and themes. Jemisin's novel is refreshingly original in how the story is told and the story being told. The world building is slow and careful, revealed little by little and naturally as the story proceeds. It is intriguing and original. The characters did not feel stock--in part because the reader knows so little about them at first. It is a gripping and sad story. I can't say much more without revealing anything, but if you are looking for a really good, original fantasy series, check it out.

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