Being brutally honest about books

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Footnotes in Novels: Yea or Nay?

The novel I'm reading at the moment includes a feature I hadn't noticed I disliked so much: footnotes. In fact, I'm ignoring the footnotes, they're annoying me so much. This annoyance leads me to this post, which I believe is on an original topic.



Footnotes can be useful in non-fiction, as they allow the author to provide more details or context for a point made in the main text. I absolutely understand the point of them in non-fiction, where the more information there is, the better the reader's understanding. Footnotes in non-fiction are fine. No complaints from me.

I keep repeating the word "non-fiction". Know why? Because I don't believe footnotes have a place in fiction, or in novels.

When you're reading a novel, there's a story there, which takes place within a certain world, and the writing should flow. Things should make some sort of sense. Footnotes interrupt the flow of the writing; they disrupt the story by making you take your eyes away from your place on the page. The last thing I want when I'm getting into a story is to be interrupted. What I want is for it to flow and be easy to read, and I don't want interruptions of any sort, even if it's to add more context or details about the sentence I just read. Especially not if it means I have to leave a paragraph, read a footnote, and find my place and get back into the story.

Not only that, but footnotes in novels are plain unnecessary. All the information you need in order to understand the story and the world in which it takes place should be there in the main text. In the book I'm currently reading, I found early on that the extra information in the footnotes confused me further, rather than explained things. There is such a thing as too much detail, and footnotes in novels just go to prove once again that concise is always better. As I said earlier, I'm ignoring the footnotes in the book I'm reading, and I don't think I'm missing out on anything important. This means that the footnotes are not needed, and therefore shouldn't be there.

This is a short post, but I've made my stance clear: when it comes to novels, footnotes are unnecessary and annoying. In some cases I might even say that footnotes are lazy writing - if you can't fit all the essential information in a paragraph, rewrite it so you can, rather than relying on footnotes. Thank goodness this technique is rare in fiction, and years could pass before I encounter it again.

So there you have it. I'm a firm believer that footnotes in novels do not need to be. But what do you think? Are footnotes in novels ever a good idea? Or are they a waste of everyone's time? Are there exceptions?

Monday, 31 July 2017

July Wrap Up

  

Life

  • I've read almost as many books this year as I read in the past two years combined. 
  • Back to uni! The new semester is going pretty well, and I'm loving my new timetable.
  • I watched some more TV. I watched Harlots with the family and binged Black Sails, which were both extremely cool period dramas set in the 1700s.
  • It's been really cold for the past week and my hands are permanently freezing.

Posts

Read

Covers go to Goodreads.
34207030  19826252  https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1440859503l/26187171.jpg  17344567
30659  29851992  16098855 

Around the blogosphere

MJ at Howdy YAL! discussed the worst books they've ever blogged about.
Kai at Quartzfeather wondered if reviewing gets in the way of reading.
Cait at Paper Fury suggested 10 improvements for Goodreads.

How was your July? Are you keeping warm? How many books have you read this year in comparison to previous years? Did you read any classics this month?

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Micro Reviews: July

In which I review the books I've finished reading this month in one sentence.
Covers link to Goodreads.

 

34207030
 
Daughters of Time edited by
A short but shallow anthology about cool historical British women. 

19826252
Last of the Amazons by


26187171
 
The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan by



The Scarlet Pimpernel (The Scarlet Pimpernel #1) by


30659

Meditations by
I read this because it's referenced in Black Sails (no regrets! I feel wiser now) and I liked some of the messages but I struggled with the extremely old-fashioned language (thou hath doth, etc).

29851992
 
Nights of Silk and Sapphire by

Saturday, 8 July 2017

The good, the bad, and the ugly: Last of the Amazons by Steven Pressfield

19826252

Homer's style has gone out of fashion.

The good

  • The title - who wouldn't want to read Last of the Amazons?
  • It's about the Attic War, a lesser known Greek myth that's very similar to the Trojan War.
  • We know that the Amazons can't win against the Athenians, but it's still exciting and you want them to win.
  • The world building is pretty neat and I could picture the physical and cultural settings.
  • The Amazons seem to be polyamorous bisexual women who all live in triads, a cool and interesting concept, and mate with men once a year. I'm not marking this as LGBTQ characters though, because it's a very minor and brushed over part of the book.*

The bad

  • The characters should and do seem to believe in gods, plural, but but often speak about God, singular, which is confusing because are they pantheists or monotheists? Pantheists who focus on one god (Zeus?)? I'm still confused about this.
  • The songs and chants are kinda cool but definitely unnecessary.
  • Excessive repetition, especially of tribe names and character epithets and name meanings.
  • "Warrioresses". It sounds clumsy. What's wrong with calling them by their name: Amazons?

The ugly

  • The writing style mimics ancient epics, so it's very formal and old-fashioned and awkward all round. The sentence structure and word choice is strange and very difficult to understand. The endless (and pointless!) lists are very Homeric but very exhausting to read.
  • The structure is also very confusing as it's not linear and though it's written in the first person POV, it changes POVs (I often didn't know which character was talking) but I didn't realise these two things for ages.
  • The characters aren't fully developed so I had a hard time knowing who to like or not like.
  • Possible racism? At one point the Amazons paint themselves black and it's not really explained? Huh?
  • *Strangely, some Amazons slut shame and use homophobic language towards their enemies. Hypocrisy much?

The conclusion

The structure and writing style prevented me from enjoying this book and I just wanted to finish it so I could move on. I'm rounding up my rating from 2.5 stars because the concept and the title are so cool. However, I wouldn't recommend Last of the Amazons unless you're a huge fan of Homer's writing style.

The summary

In or around 1250 BC, so Plutarch tells us, Theseus, king of Athens and slayer of the Minotaur, set sail on a journey that brought him to the land of 'tal Kyrte', the 'Free People', a nation of fiercely proud and passionate warrior women whom the Greeks called 'Amazons'. Bound to each other as lovers as well as fighters and owing allegiance to no man, the Amazons distrusted the Greeks with their boastful talk of cities and civilization. And when their illustrious war queen Antiope fell in love with Theseus and fled to Athens with the king and his followers, so denying her people, the Amazon tribes were outraged. Seeking revenge, they raised a vast army and marched on Athens. History tells us they could not win, but for a brief and glorious moment the Amazons held the Attic world in thrall before vanishing into the immortal realms of myth and legend.

Add it on Goodreads

Friday, 30 June 2017

June Wrap Up

  

Life

  • I hate winter. Bleugh. Winter is definitely the worst season. I don't like being cold, and I don't like it being dark at 5pm.
  • I didn't blog much - I had exams and wasn't inspired to write anything - but I read some great posts from lots of other bloggers, so that was something.
  • Exams... happened. Which means I'm halfway through my degree! I'm also on break now, which is great.
  • I watched a lot of TV. New seasons of Orange Is the New Black, Orphan Black, and Wynonna Earp came out and I'm all caught up now with those. I also watched Marco Polo, which was incredible. I'm sad that Netflix cancelled it after 2 seasons - the story wasn't finished!
  • I went to the movies a couple of times, to see Pirates of the Caribbean 5 and My Cousin Rachel. They were good.
  • I was naughty and read some books that weren't on my TBR and added to my TBR. But I then did a TBR purge so I've ended up with a smaller list than before. My TBR is now a reasonable and manageable 40 books.

Posts

Read

Covers go to Goodreads.
26804824  32857710  30306869  29504302
   31433420  317469  17245512  23719870
33292232  35165011  26597397  23691382

Around the blogosphere

Anna at Powered by Girl answered what is queer fiction? (This was posted last year but I read it this month so it counts.)
Cait at Paper Fury gave us 10 reasons why books succeed better at life than we do.
Bec at Readers in Wonderland listed 5 bookish pet peeves.
Nemo at The Moonlight Library discussed misassigned retellings.
Greg at Book Haven gave us the dos and don'ts of attending fan conventions.
Tasya at The Literary Huntress talked about ARCs and materialism.

How was your June? Do you hate winter as much as I do? How much do you enjoy wrapping yourself in a blanket and reading a good book?

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Top 10 Historical Books I've Read So Far in 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is an awesome meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is Best Books You've Read In 2017 So Far. You can break it down into a specific category, so I chose historical books because I've read so many this year (and in general tbh). In my list I'm including fiction, non-fiction, books set in the present/alternate present that deal with history, and a contemporary set in the past 25 years. *sighs* I love history so much.

Covers link to Goodreads.

1.
26597397
The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World by
2.
 22062431
Goddess by

3.
11688774
Gladiatrix series by
4.

34447603
Here Comes the Sun by

5.
26891545
Radio Girls by
6.
30330698
Shaken to the Core by

7.
24489079
Cranky Ladies of History by various authors

8.
25021810
The Conqueror's Wife: A Novel of Alexander the Great by

9.
25889417
The Great Library series by

10.
18456025  and  27833741
Tied for 10th place is Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary's #1) by New Pompeii (New Pompeii #1) by


Have you read any of these? Who are your favourite authors of historical books? And what historical books do you always recommend?

I'm Alexandria, a 19-year-old reader/writer/blogger from New Zealand. I love language, history, and sci-fi. Hi! I'm always around if you want to talk, which you can do via comments, the contact form, or Facebook.

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