A Compendium of Dictionaries

Here are some very cool dictionary-like resources for your enjoyment. For finding things like synonyms, rhymes, and words on the tip of your tongue. Go crazy.

Reverse Dictionary : enter a word or phrase to get results

Synonym Finder: find some synonyms

Similar Word Finder for the word you just can’t quite remember

Rhyming Dictionary that is seriously hardcore

Uncommon ‘A’ Words for all your uncommon ‘A’ needs

Dictionary of Obscure Words, which I have investigated here

The Shorter Thesaurus for finding short synonyms

Advertisements

Mini Review: Half Bad

So I finished the book Half Bad by Sally Green today. It was refreshing, because I haven’t had a book that’s nearly made me miss class in a while. I’d almost forgotten the panic/rage that accompanies skidding down the hallway a minute late to class while also filled with sheer blinding rage that my conscience won’t allow me to just skip and finish the damn book.

So it’s great. I read it in a day and a half, and only that slowly because of the aforementioned school. I picked up the last two books today. (Maybe not the best idea, considering it’s only Tuesday.) A seriously compelling writing style, despite the anguish that starts from pretty much page one, and intriguing characters (I dearly hope we meet Bob again along the way).

I’m off to read Half Wild now.

Genre Mash-Ups

I’ve read a couple books recently that meld distinct genres in ways I’ve never considered before, and the results have been pretty awesome.

rebel-of-the-sands   steeplejack

Rebel of the Sands, by Alwyn Hamilton, is a gunslinger set in the fantasy Middle East, with a sharpshooter protagonist who’s the child of a djinni. There’s dialogue reminiscent of old westerns and several almost-train heists, amid a backdrop of a corrupt sultan and international intrigue. The best word for it would be ‘rollicking’.

Steeplejack, by A. J. Hartley, reads like a victorian mystery happening in a fictional, industrial South Africa-inspired country. It’s rife with intersectional conflict and political espionage, as well as the politics of a post-colonization state, but also strongly Sherlock Holmes-flavored.

I enjoyed both books, but was constantly struck by the contrasts in setting and genre. It made for two very fun reads.

 

 

Fantasy Misogyny

It seems like every book I pick up lately has a protagonist struggling against a supremely patriarchal, sexist, oppressive society. And I’m absolutely not saying we shouldn’t be writing and reading about these issues, be they incorporated into fantasy worlds or not–but lord am I getting a little exhausted of being surrounded by a society that hates and enacts violence against women, especially when I’m reading to get a bit of a break from it.

It might be just a coincidence that this is the backdrop to all the books I’ve read somewhat randomly lately. It might be that mounting social tensions are being reflected in YA literature. It’s probably a bit of both. But it’s exhausting. Right now I could use a few fantasy worlds without misogynistic cultures. I could use a story about a girl who isn’t facing down sexism as well as the big bad.

Psychopomps?

What’s a psychopomp? It’s a question most people ask themselves at least once in their lives. The answer is that a psychopomp is a being who transports souls to the afterlife.

Why do you care? Another questions most people ask themselves at least once in their lives, regarding psychopomps. The answer is that you care because psychopomps are seriously cool. The very nature of a psychopomp imbues them with a sense of liminality: they are at once deities of death and not, they are of the living world and the underworld, benign guides and malicious reapers. Animal psychopomps–foxes, owls, etc–easily evoke the sense that they can slip between worlds on a whim.

Psychopomps can be: angels, ancestors, spirits, monsters, gods, goddesses, butterflies, birds, dogs, and multitudinous others.

Hermes, more oft known for his role as a messenger, is a psychopomp as well, with one foot in Hades. Of course, Charon is more well known for his role as Greek ferryman of the dead. Aken serves a similar role in ancient Egyptian mythology, and Urshanabi in ancient Mesopotamian. There is Xolotl, Ch’eng Huang, Valkryies, Agni, and many more.

In The Book of the Dead, half the cast is made up of psychopomps. Nebtu, one of the protagonists, is a psychopomp herself. They are more familiar with life than the rest of the gods of the underworld, because they are in constant interaction with it.

 

Review: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

no1-ladies-cover

I’ve finished one of the books I promised to read this year! Cue confetti flying, fireworks whizzing. The No. 1. Ladies’ Detective Agency is a book that, for some reason, you always picture your grandmother reading.

Alexander McCall Smith is an interesting dude, born in Zimbabwe, co-founder and teacher at the University of Botswana. So he’s definitely got the cred to be writing about the place, my first consideration when I picked up the book.

In the honored tradition of the critique sandwich, I will go good-bad-good. I absolutely loved the character of Precious Ramotswe. Savvy, funny, serious, and determined, her self-confidence was one of my elements of the book. From childhood she is conditioned to be clever and observant, and to take no shit from men.

Which makes it all the more out of place when she falls prey to an abusive relationship. I don’t want to make light of this issue: sexual assault and marital abuse are something many, many women face, and we shouldn’t not talk about it. But I do question the aptness of using it as a plot device in this particular instance, after a buildup of Precious’ character as someone unlikely to fall victim to this brand of violence. To me it felt abrupt and out of character, and I was taken aback by the suddenness of its appearance.

Precious’ concession to marriage at the end of the book to Mr. J.L. B. Matekone (another great character) felt out of place to me as well. While we see him as lovestruck and longing for Precious’ companionship, her thoughts on marriage remain clear until the very last page: that she is content to be unmarried, in fact, she is strongly opposed to remarrying. We see no evidence of this changing before she concedes to his second marriage proposal on the last page of the book. A bit unbelievable.

Criticism aside, I loved so many things about this book. Precious’ use of Agatha Christie to lend validity to her detective agency, the connection she felt to her homeland: Precious loves Africa, loves Botswana, with a such a forceful wonder. Precious loved herself fiercely also, as a fat woman, as a damn good detective. And she was staunch throughout, never doubting that she could handle any case, from missing dogs to malicious witchdoctors.

I would definitely recommend this book. It is an engaging, quick read, with an incredibly lovable narrator. I probably won’t read the rest of the series right now, but I’ll be trying out the TV series.

 

Obscure Words

Many books like to complect obscure, tonish words into their stories and use them crebrously. By the end of it, the reader just feels smarter, their facund vocabulary munified by at least one.

Here’s a good resource for finding that recherché word that will become forever associated in your readers’ minds with your story. The Logorrhea is a dictionary of unusual, lautitious, cacologous words. Now you can bloviate to your heart’s content.

Some select words to mabble this post:

  • Fabaceous: bean-like
  • Rumbustious: boisterous
  • Tarantism: the irresistible urge to dance
  • Deipotent: having godlike power
  • Hepatoscopy: divination by the study of animal livers