Barbara Venkataraman‘s “Teatime with Mrs. Grammar Person” is an adorable piece of work that provides a humorous approach to learning all the key grammar rules in about thirty pages of sheer brilliance. It may sound funny to call it a “piece of work” but it truly fits in this case. It’s a work of fiction because there are characters with certain actions who are not real; however, it’s also a figurative “piece of work” because the approach the author took is quite amusing and unique.
Mrs. Grammar Person (Mrs. G. P.) introduces readers to all the rules and guidelines for how and why words change tense, plural / singular, possession, contractions, repetition, similar / different spellings, et al. She has a few friends that handle other areas of the English lexicon (syntax, other language translations) but is consistent in her need for tea and biscuits each morning. What a hoot!
Think of her as a cross between Miss Marple and Mary Poppins. But I guarantee you’ll save it as a quick look-up when in a pinch and you just can’t remember the formal rule before you submit that text to your professor, editor or blog.
Yikes! Even though I should be critical in the words, punctuation and grammar I select in this review, I’m hoping Mrs. G. P. will forgive me if I am not 100% on point with all the rules. It’s not her fault if I still get one or two wrong; it’s my conscious decision to blatantly break the rule. Yeah, that works. 🙂
Folks often post their thoughts and reasons why they choose to read, but it is with less frequency they attempt to explain why they want to write a book review. Let’s see if I can do some justice in that respect…
Google tells me there are currently 130 million published books in the world. Let’s say an average reader can get through 25 books per year (one every 2 weeks) and let’s say on average, people spend 40 years of their life actively choosing and reading books. Putting those numbers together (isn’t basic math fun?), we’re working with about 1,000 books per reader per lifetime on an average across the board of typical readers. With 1,000 to choose out of 130,000,000 options (not even counting what will be published in the future), the % has so many decimal places, I’d be lost just thinking about how to choose which book to read without having some up front data… hence the value of a good book review.
As a reader, when I choose a book, it’s usually based on genre, setting, author, marketing/advertising, and feedback from others. Who goes to a book store, library or digital collection and just grabs the first book “off the shelf” without having done some type of research or had a conversation about it with another human? Not this reader…
As a writer, I only have so many opportunities to grab a potential reader’s attention. I may get lucky if someone shows up at a book store, library or digital collection and selects my book because the cover looks good or (s)he saw an ad about it or it’s in the genre that most appeals to him/her. Ultimately, more readers come from good feedback, word-of-mouth and familiar connections — not just by happenstance.
As both a reader and a writer, I believe a book review can capture everything all at once — if it’s done properly. A book review opens the door for anyone to potentially come across the book and increase the chance it will be purchased or borrowed. Authors need to create a digital and online presence so their name pops up in search engines and in as many social media sites as possible. Readers are more savvy with technology these days and innately search the Internet to find out as much as they can before they actually make a purchase.
When I write a book review, I’m passionate about it because it’s likely I chose that book, I wanted to read it and I have something to say whether it’s good or bad. I want to share what I’ve learned and help others avoid a pitfall, find a treasure or just be amused with me — especially since my style tends to be 75% factual & direct with a fun 25% reserved for sarcastic humor. (I can’t help my personality shining through).
And so for me — as a reader and a writer — a book review serves the single most important connection between those two worlds. When I write a book review, I ensure I can provide all of the following to the person reading my review either in the review or with a link to the appropriate site:
- Author’s biography and list of additional works
- Summary of the book
- What was good in it
- What could have been better
- Images of the book
- Rating of 1 to 5
- Would I read it again or recommend it
- Biography on me as the person writing the review. Readers want to know if they would like you or agree with you in real life. Facts such as:
- What else have you read — maybe you’ll lead me to more good books
- What are your favorites — what did I not read that I should have
- What are your credentials — informally of course since we’re usually not editors and publishers in addition to readers and writers
- What is your style — sarcastic, overly positive, humorous, dry, witty, harsh…
When I write a book review, I want to accomplish all of the above (and more) and post it on as many websites as I reasonably can (it takes time!) for others to find; however, it’s also a valuable tool to help me as a reader when people comment on my review, follow me or like what I’ve said. In turn, I can then check out people I find interesting and maybe discover a new friend, a new book or possibly a new site I didn’t know about.
It’s all connected. And it can be overwhelming to keep up. But if you have a core of places to look, people to trust and options to consider, you as a reader are lucky to be able to choose the best 1,000 books of your lifetime. And that’s what I hope for when I am reading a new book and as a writer looking for new fans of my work: A BOOK REVIEW!
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures.
Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.
The cozy mystery series genre is my favorite type of book — hands down, I even dream about them. While I’m an invested fan of general fiction, historical fiction, crime thrillers and general mysteries, the cozy is that old faithful friend guaranteed to make my day just a little bit better whether I’m curled up on a chair in my bedroom corner, relaxing on my NYC terrace observing the skyline or keeping myself occupied on trains, planes and automobiles.
I’ve been adding tons of books on my Goodreads “To Read” list over the course of 2016 not realizing along the way that over 50% of them fell into the cozy category. It happened naturally as I saw the title or cover of the book — just clicked “Want to Read” and suddenly hundreds of books showed up. When I went to categorize them to make my actual selection process easier (seriously, how do you choose from a list of nearly 500 TBR books when you personally picked them all?), lo’ and behold — the cozy stood out.
Perhaps it’s because I’m an only child and looking for the drama. It could be that I am a bit of an introvert but also a little bit nosy! Or maybe it’s that the cozy takes you into a magical world where you continuously create and build on the characters, setting and background. Of course, it’s the author who creates your initial picture, but when you read series fiction, each successive book adds more to the town, the family tree, the history — up until you as a reader have suddenly immersed yourself in this make-believe land that you could swear is real.
But when the series is actually a cozy series, you have every type of character including the nosy neighbor (no, that’s not really me), the scary cop, the well-meaning friends, the awkward yet lovable helper, the “is (s)he / isn’t (s)he” my love interest, and the sometimes super villain. Each character feels real, and the setting and backdrop become somewhere you hope to visit in the future. In other types of series fiction, you may have a couple of the same characters recur throughout the series, but it’s usually a very different setting and story where only the basic elements carry through.
And YES, there have been one or two occasions (I won’t admit to anymore) where I mentioned some name or place and the person to whom I was speaking thought I was losing my mind. “Yes, I did just tell you I visited a fictional place in a book. Sorry, I must just be tired.” has been an excuse I’ve had to use.
Have you ever talked with another fan of a cozy series you follow? Do you picture the characters the same way and then get all riled up over who is closest? Do you want to draw out the town on a map to get it all straight in your head? Do you create your own little family tree diagrams to keep remembering who is who? Do you write reviews where you imagine yourself as one of the characters? It happens a lot to me… especially when I’m following over 50 different authors and series. Where else can you find a genre that can accomplish all of this?
And so… as I get started with my day, knowing at some point I’ll have to pick the next book to begin reading tonight, I found myself just feeling pretty psyched that this cozy little (well not so little!) world exists… you should definitely give it a shot if you have never read one before. Feel free to reach out to me for any recommendations.
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