Book Review: Eats, Shoots & Leaves-Lynne Truss

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There are two kinds of people in the world, those who punctuate correctly and those who do not. Choose your side wisely.  Lynne Truss states in her book that punctuation should be seen as the “basting that holds the fabric of language together.” I couldn’t agree more. In a world where the printed word often goes overlooked and bad punctuation fills in the spaces, it is important to groom and preen our eye for foolish errors that are made when writing/typing. I love reading about grammar and punctuation, and I try everyday to improve on things I don’t know when it comes to my repertoire of grammar knowledge. Although Eats, Shoots & Leaves isn’t necessarily a grammar book, it does humorously feed all of our grammar and punctuation needs. Truss is a self proclaimed grammar stickler without all the fuss; yet, she is adamant on proving that punctuation does indeed matter.

First, this book is not a grammar book or punctuation guide. It is simply a look at how punctuation plays a significant role in the writing (and reading) world. Lynne Truss writes an epigrammatic screed on how punctuation shapes people’s reading and writing experience. The book is divided into six chapters, all dedicated to one aspect of punctuation. In my favorite chapter titled That’ll Do, Comma, Truss writes about the misuse of the commas in both classic and modern print. “See that comma-shaped shark fin ominously slicing through the waves in this direction? Well, start waving and yelling because it is the so-called Oxford comma and it is a lot more dangerous,” Truss uses comedic witticisms all throughout the book to make being a grammar  nitpicker more relatable and accessible. One can refresh their brain’s accumulation of punctuation, but in no way is this book a teaching tool for those unfamiliar with punctuation. Truss expects you to already know the rules, and is simply stating them for us to laugh at the cretins who do not.  Eats, Shoots & Leaves invites all grammarians alike to have a bit of a reading banter and to be reminded of where people with bad punctuation skills go (maniacal laugh).

This was an extremely easy and fast read. I enjoyed it for what it was worth, but it wasn’t a favorite read of mine. I think I was expecting more of a punctuation guide and Truss did a fine job of reminding me it wasn’t that. I liked the witty overtone this book had, and the author herself has done a lot of  research when it comes to grammar and punctuation. At times, I found the badinage to be a bit much, but it was funny to read nonetheless. I appreciate any book that is about the English language or grammar. I’m happy I read this book and would recommended it to those who also enjoy reading about punctuation and being apart of the grammar army. If you are looking for more of an educational or explanation to punctuation, or would like to know more, this book can’t solve those problems. Served on a platter for people who already have an eye for punctuation, Eats, Shoots & Leaves is simply a fun and resourceful read  about the decline of proper punctuation in the modern world.

Happy Reading!

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Book Review: A Man Called Ove-Fredrik Backman

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Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say.

How many times a day do we think about death? Once? None at all? Do we ever reflect on the impact we have on people surrounding us? How will we be remembered? What type of person am I now, and what type of person will I be 40 years from now? Reflecting on your life’s imprint is a heavy task, if not daunting. However, it is important to think about the way we want to leave the earth. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman leaves you pondering all of those questions as he creates a story about an elderly man called Ove. This story is simply delightful in all ways. I was expecting a tragic story (although there are tragic bits embedded in the plot), however I received a heartwarming and funny novel. Fredrik Backman is a Swedish writer, so this novel has been translated into English. I am thankful I was able to read one of Backman’s works. Boasted as being an international bestseller, A Man Called Ove is recognizably a favorite, and after reading the novel, I completely understand why.

We are introduced to a curmudgeon old man by the name of Ove who seeks the practical things in life and doesn’t have time for anything or anyone that isn’t sensible. However in the mist of his taciturn ways, is a deep story of a man who has suffered many losses. Ove’s story goes back and forth from present to the past where we learn how Ove became the man he is today. All through his life, strings of bad luck hits Ove including losing his wife and job at the age of 59. Ove’s disdain for the world and the people in it are mainly due to the hardships he has had to face. What makes Ove an appealing and lovable character, is that he is selfless and a servant to his community. Ove always seems to help someone in need even if it’s at the expense of his malcontent nature. His benevolent character is further explored and pulled from underneath him when Ove receives  new neighbors- a family of four (soon to be five).  Parveneh, her husband Patrick, and their two daughters move next door to Ove which buds into a heartfelt (unwilling on Ove’s end) friendship.  Through Ove, the author explores deep questions one has about life and love, and the willingness to sacrifice for others. From beginning to end, you can’t help but fall in love with Ove and the events in his life.

Backman’s writing is clean. This transfers well into the novel as well as the story is fluid and easy to understand. Although the novel has heavy questions, it was a surprisingly light read that can be done within a couple of days. I absolutely loved this novel and would recommend it to anyone.  The narrative isn’t grandiose, yet reads beautifully, transforming the words into emotions directly from the page.  A Man Called Ove will be a classic and forever in my bookcase.

 

 

Book Review:An Ember in the Ashes-Sabaa Tahir

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There are two kinds of guilt…The kind that’s a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be. Draw a line in your mind. Never cross it again. You have a soul. It’s damaged, but it’s there. Don’t let them take it from you, Elias.

Have you ever come across a book that takes you out of a reading slump, or you think would be a good book to take someone out of a reading slump. This would be this gem of a novel here. An Ember in the Ashes wakes you with a jolt and is so enticing that you are unable to put it down. This book is going to be huge, and I’m happy I ended my 2015 year with this fantastic read!

The story is told in two perspectives. The first is from a girl named Laia born of the Scholars who are ruled over by the Martial Empire. The Scholars are deemed as illiterate, poor, and often times are enslaved by the Martials. However is there is a rising undercurrent of Scholars called the Resistance-a rebel group fighting against the Empire’s brutality of the Scholar population. When Laia’s home is raided by the Masks (masked soldiers) and her brother Darin is arrested for suspected conspiracy against the Empire, Laia seeks out help of the Resistance to free her brother. Her request comes with a price and bargain. She must be a slave and spy for the Resistance, and enter Blackcliff Military Academy and be a slave for the Commandant-the merciless and tyrannical leader of the army. Pools of blood spill underneath her rule.

The second perspective is told from the Commandant’s son, Elias.  Blackcliff’s top soldier who is a Mask in training. However Elias hates everything about Blackcliff, the Martials, the Empire, and his mother. He struggles with the pledge he made for his country and his desire to be free of the heavy shackles the Empire holds on him. When faced with the choice to escape or fight, to live or to die, Elias must not only decide for himself but for the people surrounding him as well.

Everything about this book is just fantastic. It’s evil, fast paced, romantic, and the character development is on par. Tahir did such a wonderful job with the novel. I loved the dynamics of the characters and the setting. The creation of the world in which Elias and Laia exist is horrific and beautiful at the same time. Sabaa Tahir created a perfect fantasy world. This book is gritty and evil, and takes no prisoners. I really like how the novel was split with two perspectives, each chapter alternating between Elias and Laia. As I mentioned before, the character development is excellent. At first I thought the novel was going to be full of plot with flat characters and a typical love triangle. It is so more than that! A lot is at stake in the novel. Friendship, trust, loyalty, love is all tested and with many unexpected twists. I would definitely recommended this book to anyone who like epic fantasy novels. I have heard that this novel will have a follow up, and I can’t wait!

What are you thoughts on the novel? Happy reading!