Tag Archives: romance

Untranslatable words of love and longing

22 Nov

The English language sure has a lot of nifty words. For example: Sandwich. Muleskinner. Iguana. Those are just three random words – they were the first that came to mind. I don’t know what that might mean, and frankly I don’t want to know.

But I recently read an article over at bigthink.com that pointed out some of the shortcomings in our language. The author listed 10 relationship words that have no equivalent in English – or that at least need more than one word to be explained. There’s mamihlapinatapei, a Yagan word for “the wordless yet meaningful look shared by two people who desire to initiate something, but are both reluctant to start”, through to ya’aburnee, Arabic for “You bury me” (not an order of assisted suicide, funnily enough, but a statement of wanting to die before one’s beloved does, so life doesn’t have to be experienced without them).

I was also really interested in the almost throwaway line referencing the Chinese proverb meaning “have fate without destiny”. The author pointed out the differentiation between fate and destiny, which are often seen as being interchangeable in our language. This proverb is said to describe “couples who meet, but who don’t stay together, for whatever reason”. Aww, bittersweet.

You can read the full list of words and their meanings over at Big Think.

And let’s start making up some of these words ourselves – it’s like a love-only version of Balderdash! I’ll start. Transchell: a fellow passenger on your regular public transport route that you have a crush on, but you don’t want to ask them out in case they say no and you’ll be so embarrassed you’ll have to change your public transport routine and it would be all really inconvenient, so it’s probably just better to keep quiet and dream from afar.

Catchy, no?



21 Sep

Fame by Tilly Bagshawe, 2011

The captivating FameI don’t know what to say about Tilly Bagshawe’s Fame. There’s just so much wrong with it – the writing, the plot, the cover, the blurb. But it’s a trashy beach read, so what did I expect? Wuthering Heights?*

It’s all very Jackie Collins-esque. Set around the filming and promotion of a Massive Hollywood Movie, the book is populated with several apparently jaw-droppingly gorgeous film stars, powerful directors, bitter wives, and a quiet but determined girl who doesn’t know how beautiful and wonderful she truly is. There are sex scenes in which women orgasm at a single touch, and, conversely, romantic scenes in which couples get engaged before even making it to first base.

There’s also writing like this:

“All you need to be fighting for is your strength,” said Dorian soberly, marvelling for the thousandth time at Sabrina’s limitless ambition. Even with a broken heart, and having just emerged from a coma, she was thinking about her next career move.

See? A coma! And a plucky comeback from a coma! That’s the mark of a quality read if ever there was one.

By the way, the blurb doesn’t seem to be about this book – I don’t think whoever wrote it has actually read Fame. It mentions three – yes, THREE! – events that aren’t in the book. Come ON Tilly Bagshawe! Did you really sign off on this? You, who wrote the following sexy, sexy passage?

Her hair spread out across the bedspread like an arc of peacock feathers, and her breasts rose and fell beneath the delicate lace of her bra like two ripe peaches quivering on a tree.

(Ah yes, the peacock-feathered quivering peach tree. I know it well.)

Also, the woman on the front cover doesn’t resemble anyone in the book.

But Fame is what it is. Yeah, it’s trashy, but I admit I was compelled to make it to the end so I could find out what the hell happened to the characters (and yes, it was just as odd as I’d hoped).

So… well played, Tilly, well played.

*This is an in-joke, as the movie they’re filming is actually an adaptation of Wuthering Heights. The 0% of my readership who have read Fame would know that.

This was another installment in my MS Novel Challenge series. Sponsor me?

Dedication: the cover (and its four thrilling sequels)

8 Sep

Why does one book need five versions of the cover? Okay, once it hit New York Times bestseller status (WTF?) it could have used an update telling everyone how great (?) it was. But what’s the explanation for the others?

For the record, the copy I reviewed features the half-girl looking up while posing on an overstuffed suitcase.

Why so many covers, Dedication?

Sooo… which do you prefer?


8 Sep

Dedication by Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin, 2007

NB: This is the first post on this book – you can also read a note on its cover(s).Alternative text for alternative covers

You know the story. Girl meets Boy in early high school. Boy stuffs Girl around. Eventually Boy and Girl fall in love. Boy stands her up on prom night, leaves town and becomes international recording star. Girl spends next 10 years trying to get over him, not helped by the fact that Boy’s omnipresent songs are all about her, their sexual exploits, and her family secrets. Boy returns to hometown, Girl decides to resolve things with him. Things happen.

I went into Dedication with high hopes. I’ve often wondered what it would feel like to have dated A Famous Person before they hit the big time (specifically Brad Pitt. No reason, of course!), and this seemed like the book that was going to explain it all.

Then the structure intervened. The first chapter was set in the present; the second was set in the sixth grade, when aforementioned girl first lays eyes on the Future Megastar. The next chapter was again in the present; the fourth was in Year Seven. This alternating timeline continues throughout high school and into the uni years. But it wasn’t the structure itself that got on my nerves – it was the dialogue and scenarios created in those early high school years. Let alone the fact that these rural kids have a case of Dawson’s Creek-itis (what 12-year-old has a perfect comeback for every snide remark?), the main character actually stands on a table, in the middle of class, to declare that she likes the boy. She is then, apparently, allowed to live this down. What world do these people live in? Why was that event not made into a huge thing? Realism, where are you?!

Anyhoo, I was originally dreading every second chapter and its crappily crafted stories, but as the characters got older they grew into their sass and became much more believable. And then – gasp! – I actually started to enjoy the damn thing. There were some great passages – especially the descriptions of early love and lust, which just made me want to be a teenager in love. A teenager in love with a tortured boy. Who can sing beautiful songs he’s written just for me. Also, he has a really great body. Sigh.

It’s not all about the twists and turns of this relationship, by the way – there’s some family drama packed in there, and questions are posed about friendship, loyalty and growing up. Some of the subplots are a bit blah, but the big one just keeps pulling you back in. WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE COUPLE? I can’t tell you, obviously. Unless you really want to know – then you can contact me and I’ll tell you privately. I just don’t want to put it out there and ruin it for everyone because I know EVERYONE ELSE wants to read this now 😉

So what IS it like to go out with someone who became famous after you knew them? You’ll have to read it to find out. Yes, you may be gritting your teeth to just get through those early high school years… but isn’t that a lot like real life anyway?

BTW: This was the second book in my MS Novel Challenge.

Big Girl

6 Mar

Big Girl by Danielle Steel, 2010

Big Girl

Remember when you were young and Danielle Steel books were considered somewhat risqué? I mean, she was no Virginia Andrews – and definitely no Jackie Collins – but her novels were always filled with forbidden passion, wealthy characters, and melodrama galore. How grown-up!

But any youngsters who happen across Steel’s Big Girl will be sadly disappointed… unless, of course, they find much excitement in  ridiculously repetitive books that feature a girl who has troubles with her weight. Yep, that’s the story: the main character, Victoria, has always been chubby, and now that she’s in her late 20s she can’t go ONE GODDAMN PAGE WITHOUT BITCHING ABOUT IT. Sure, there are some other bits thrown in: an impossibly gorgeous sister called Gracie who’s Getting Married To The Wrong Man, a love interest, and a job as a teacher. But these are just devices that allow Victoria to moan about her battle with her weight, because who needs to actually have some kind of plot when you can just detail a binging/dieting cycle, ammiright?! 

Gracie had basked in their parents’ praise all her life, because she was an accessory that enhanced them. And because Victoria was different, she had been emotionally starved by them. (I see what you did there, Danielle – way to work in the food thing! Smooth.)

I know I shouldn’t have expected much – after all, Big Girl comes from an author who publishes, on average, a book every four months. She doesn’t have time to delve into issues, dammit! This girl is big because she was born big, and her parents don’t love her as much as they adore her wonderful sister, which makes her eat herself happy, so she sees a therapist about it, and that’s all you need to know. Oh, and she has great legs. That’s mentioned about every 10 pages or so. And she has amazing friends, a fab apartment, holidays all over the place, guys who want to date her… but her weight! Remember how she ate that whole pizza for dinner? She’s just too big!

“What are your goals?”
“Get skinny and have a life. Meet a man who loves me, and whom I love too.” She had gained weight on the trip, and wanted to lose it over the rest of the summer.

When Danielle Steel wrote about this book on her blog she said that it was about inner beauty, and that “we’re all beautiful in some way”. And yes, I get what she was trying to do with it, I get that this was supposed to be about finding peace with your body no matter what, blah blah blah. I just didn’t want to be force-fed the message over and over and over again. Excuse me while I purge this from my memory.

And Victoria was so upset, she ate a full plate of pesto pasta, and the entire basket of bread.

Read it if you want to despair in the crap that gets published by popular authors, or to feel better about the fact that you only think about your weight 70% of the time.

My favourite books of 2010

29 Jan

“The Literate Chicken,” I was often asked earlier this year, “What were your favourite books of 2010?” Okay, so that’s not entirely true: firstly, this blog was nothing but a registered wordpress site by then, so very few people would have known about the whole ‘Literate Chicken’ thing to call me that, and secondly, I don’t think anyone has ever asked me what my favourite books of any one period of time were.

BUT! I’m sure this is something you would ponder henceforth if I didn’t answer that very question now, so I will.

room: a novel

Room, by Emma Donoghue, was an absolute stand-out for me. Having a novel narrated by a five-year-old boy could have made it a cheesy mess – the first season of Full House featured a five-year-old Stephanie Tanner, so just imagine the horror of a book narrated by a character like her, for example – but the child’s voice is what made Room for me. The boy, Jack, lives in Room with his mum. He’s never been out of Room, and eventually we piece together why: he and Ma are captives of a deranged but clearly very intelligent man. Kidnapping, imprisonment, depression and rape could have been incredibly heavy going if it had been told by the mother character, but seeing it all through Jack’s innocent, hopeful eyes actually makes it work. I still think about this book a lot. And I can’t really say much more because I don’t want to give anything away, so just read it, dammit.

My natural leanings towards young adult lit took me to The Perks Of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, and man, am I glad I found it. This is just AMAZING. I’m going to do a proper review-type thing of it in future, so I’ll link this to it once I do; in the meantime, just know that it’s a coming-of-age story about a young guy who has a few issues. And that it’s about a thousand times better than that description made it sound. And that technically it came out in 2009, so it doesn’t really fit into this 2010 list, but oh well, it’s so good that its year-of-being-published can span two years. Maybe even three, I’ll see how I feel in 11 months.

Of course, 2010 was also the year of One Day by David Nicholls (but I just realised this was published in hardback in 2009, so I’m giving up on the 2010 theme). This book was recommended to and by just about every reader I know, and it seemed like we all happened across it at the same time. Funny, somewhat realistic, sweet, romantic, sad… One Day is all I could ask for a in a book, really. I actually feel that the approximately three people who may read this blog will have already read this novel, so I’m not going to go into detail – chances are they already understand why it’s on this list. And the four of us can go see it when One Day comes out in movie form. Hot date ahoy!

Anyway, that was my top three books of last year. What did you lurve in 2010 (or 2009, as the case may be)? Want to join in our One Day movie date?