Tag Archives: Mount TBR

Bird by Bird: Review

29 Apr

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott has been in my TBR pile for a long time. For five years, in fact. It’s been in the pile for so long that I have forgotten who recommended it to me. If I could remember, I would say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

I LOVED Bird by Bird! In this book, author Anne Lamott shares her advice for writers. Lamott’s sense of humor and practical advice kept me turning the pages. I found myself laughing out loud, and by the end of the novel Anne Lamott felt like a close friend. I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately, and this book has given me some practical insight into the life of a writer. This is a book I will certainly revisit in the future.

This is the seventh book I have read for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge. It is also the ninth book I have finished in 2012.

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A Few Updates/Reviews

9 Apr

  • A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly – This novel tells the story of Mattie Gokey, a bright and determined young woman who dreams of becoming a writer. Armed with a tattered dictionary, Mattie finds a word for every situation. Mattie’s words fail, however, when she learns of the murder of Grace Brown, a young woman found dead in the lake in Mattie’s hometown. A Northern Light depicts Mattie’s coming-of-age and the investigation behind Grace Brown’s murder. While this is a fictional story, it is based upon an actual murder investigation. I also read that Grace Brown’s murder inspired Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy … another book for the TBR pile! This is the fifth book I read for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge. It is also the sixth book I have finished in 2012.

  • Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by the Countess of Carnarvon – I am OBSESSED with Downton Abbey! I just started watching the show this year, and I finished every episode within one week. I am already counting down until next season’s premiere. With that being said, I was so excited to find Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey at my local bookstore. This book focuses on the fifth Earl of Carnarvon and his wife, Almina. It was an incredibly interesting story! One of the most interesting facts I learned from this book is that the fifth Earl of Carnarvon discovered King Tut’s tomb. I would HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Downton Abbey. This is the seventh book I have finished in 2012.

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – I do not usually enjoy nonfiction; I prefer the more creative world of fiction. However, I thoroughly enjoyed The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. This book has been on my TBR pile for quite some time, and I am so glad I finally decided to read it. I found the story of Henrietta’s cells very intriguing! I liked how the narrative transitioned between the past (Henrietta’s life/sickness) and the present (her children’s struggle to understand what happened to their mother). This is the sixth book I read for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge. It is also the eighth book I have finished in 2012.

Jane Eyre: Review

13 Mar

Jane Eyre has been on my TBR pile for years. Although I read many great pieces of classic literature in high school – including Wuthering Heights, a masterpiece by another brilliant Bronte – Jane Eyre was never assigned. In my adult life, I have picked up the novel several times, only to put it aside after a few chapters. (I’ll admit that the length of the novel intimidated me, even as an adult.) After joining the Mount TBR Reading Challenge, however, I resolved to finish Jane Eyre this year. And I’m SO GLAD I did!

Jane Eyre’s early life is miserable. After her parents pass away, Jane is sent to live with her cruel aunt and loathsome cousins. Though Jane’s aunt dotes upon her own children, she treats Jane with contemptuous detachment. She is, after all, only raising Jane due to a promise she made to her dying husband. Jane’s cousins are equally unlikable – they either ignore Jane completely or treat her with ruthless hostility. Jane is relieved, therefore, when her aunt agrees to send her to Lowood, an all-girls boarding school. Rather than providing the freedom Jane yearns for, however, Lowood reinforces the submission and deprivation to which the young girl has grown accustomed. In spite of all obstacles, Jane is resilient. She not only excels in her studies at Lowood, but she also becomes a beloved teacher at the school. Soon, however, Jane knows she must move on to other opportunities and thereby finds herself at Thornfield. While at Thornfield, Jane falls in love with Mr. Rochester, the manor’s brooding, mysterious owner. Throughout the novel, Charlotte Bronte traces their dark romance.

In many ways, I’m thankful that I didn’t read this book in high school. I don’t think I would have appreciated it as much as a teenager as I do now. For instance, the importance of Jane’s  inner turmoil as she considers St. Clare’s proposal would have been lost on me as a teenager. As an adult, however, I found myself cheering for Jane as she chose to refuse his proposal. Jane knew she might not receive another proposal, yet she would not wed a man who did not love her passionately – like Mr. Rochester. The stubbornness that Jane uses to resist her ruthless cousin at the beginning of the book saves her from a lifetime of service with a man she cannot love.

I also enjoyed the darkly romantic nature of Bronte’s book. Mr. Rochester is certainly a mysterious character! He is haunted by his past. Oh, and he’s haunted by his crazy wife hiding in the attic. 🙂 I have to admit that I was tempted to hate Mr. Rochester MANY times. After all, he did not reveal his past marriage to Jane until it was uncovered by his brother-in-law at the ceremony. This was certainly ill-treatment of a woman who showed him acceptance, understanding, and love. I found myself loving Mr. Rochester simply because Jane loved him.

Jane Eyre is now one of my favorite books! This is my fourth book for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge. It is the fifth book I’ve read so far in 2012. I’m currently in the middle of A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly and The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, both of which are on my TBR list.

The Eyre Affair: Review

26 Feb

Imagine a world where one can literally get lost within the pages of a book; where people travel door-to-door debating the authenticity of Shakespeare’s works; where genetically-engineered dodo birds are beloved household pets. This is the setting of The Eyre Affair, written by Jasper Fforde.

The Eyre Affair takes place in Great Britain, in a futuristic 1985. Thursday Next, the novel’s heroine, is a SpecOps agent in the LiteraTec division – a group of detectives devoted to investigating literary crimes. The LiteraTec division is known for receiving relatively benign assignments. Yet that all changes when Jane Eyre is abducted from the pages of Bronte’s beloved novel. Now Thursday must find the villain within the pages of this literary masterpiece before the beloved heroine disappears forever.

The Eyre Affair was a very enjoyable read! Fforde fills each page with literary wit and allusions – a sort of scavenger hunt for book lovers. I have never read Jane Eyre (gasp!), yet I was able to understand many of the allusions to Bronte’s novel. After finishing this novel, I have resolved to read Jane Eyre next, a novel that has been on my TBR pile for quite some time. I am also determined to read more novels by Charles Dickens – another author who seems to hold a permanent position in my TBR pile. I love it when one book inspires me to read another!

This is the third book I read for the Mount TBR reading challenge; I am committed to reading twelve. I am finding that, as soon as I finish one book from my TBR pile, I add another book to it! Alas, that is the life of a reader.


Divergent: Review

25 Jan

In her dystopian novel Divergent, Veronica Roth tells the story of Beatrice Prior, a young woman living in futuristic Chicago. Before the novel begins, Chicago experiences some sort of catastrophic war, dividing its inhabitants into five different factions. Beatrice grows up in Abnegation, a faction that believes selfishness led to war. To prevent future uprisings, members of Abnegation resolve to live as selflessly as possible. The other factions attribute the war to different causes: Dauntless believe the war was the result of cowardice and resolve to live courageously; Erudite believe intelligence and logic will prevent future wars; Amity rely upon kindness and friendship to avoid conflict; and Candor promote peace with honesty. When they turn sixteen, members of each faction take an aptitude test to determine which faction they will join for their adult life. The results of Beatrice’s aptitude test are inconclusive, and she is given the label “Divergent.” Instructed by the test proctor to keep her results secret, Beatrice is faced with the difficult task of choosing which faction she will join. Will she remain in Abnegation to stay with her parents, even though she has never felt like she belonged? Or will she surrender the familiarity of Abnegation to join a new faction?

I read this book based upon the recommendation of a coworker who compared the novel to The Hunger Games. I LOVED The Hunger Games. Seriously. I couldn’t put it down. So I was a bit skeptical about my coworker’s comparison. While The Hunger Games remains one of my favorite dystopian novels, Divergent was a very enjoyable read! Like Katniss, Tris (Beatrice) is tough. When she joins Dauntless, Tris must prove that she has the courage and physical strength needed to survive in the faction. In addition to the physical challenges Tris faces throughout the fierce initiation process, she also grapples with the label “Divergent” throughout the novel. Divergent can be categorized as a coming of age novel in that Tris learns about her own strengths and weaknesses while also uncovering the truth behind her society.

This is the second novel I read for the 2012 Mount TBR reading challenge.

I Am the Messenger: Review

12 Jan

The Book Thief is one of my favorite books. Ever. In fact, it’s one of the few books that I reread almost every year. Because of my enthusiasm for Zusak’s Holocaust-era novel, I was really looking forward to reading I Am the Messenger. While this was certainly an enjoyable read, I must admit that I was a little disappointed.

I Am the Messenger focuses on the ordinary life of Ed Kennedy, a nineteen year old cabdriver whose days are filled with work and card games. After foiling an attempted bank robbery, Ed receives a playing card in the mail. While the card itself is an unusual delivery, Ed is even more surprised by the three addresses written on it. Soon, Ed’s world is turned upside down as he delivers messages to the addresses written on the card. Although he is unsure why he has been selected to carry out this task, one thing is clear: Ed is the messenger.

The premise of I Am the Messenger is interesting. I enjoyed reading about how Ed, whose life has been unexceptional and mundane, is given the task of reaching out to others. The plot, though interesting, was often difficult for me to believe, especially at the end. In addition, I lost interest in some passages because Zusak relied heavily upon telling rather than showing. Overall, I Am the Messenger was an enjoyable read, but it was certainly not as gripping as The Book Thief.

This is the first book I completed for the Mount TBR reading challenge. Only 11 more to go …