Witty & Engaging: A Review of Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love

Happening upon Nancy Mitford was, for me, a happy little surprise. I’d read that one of her books, a Christmas one, was recommended by Flavorwire. My library didn’t have that one, but it did have

The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford | A Review by The 1000th Voice

The Pursuit of Love
By Nancy Mitford


I’m absolutely in love with Mitford’s sentences. Some of them are concise, some possess hidden barbs and others are complex and fascinating.

Louisa was to have two houses, one in London, Connaught Square, and one in Scotland. Her dress allowance would be three hundred a year, she would possess a diamond tiara, a pearl necklace, a motor-car of her own and a fur cape. In fact granted that she could bear John Fort William, her lot was an enviable one. He was terribly dull.

The pursuit of love in this book is both romantic and familial. It’s Linda’s (the narrator’s cousin), it’s the Bolter’s (the narrator’s mom) and it’s really each character’s pursuit. Linda wanted so badly not to become just like the Bolter. But upon leaving her second husband and taking up with a French Duke she‘d only just met, she confirmed to the reader, Fanny and her family that she was just the same. She was going to be a problem.

Alfred likes people to be filed neatly away under some heading that he can understand; careerist, social climber, virtuous wife and mother, or adulteress.

The Pursuit of Love was witty, smart and surprising. It was, ultimately, a wonderful book. In fact, a near perfect book.


Writing 5 out of 5 stars

As I said, I loved Mitford’s sentences. They were a thing of beauty.

Character Development 5 out of 5 stars

The story had an interesting structure where the  narrator was telling her cousin’s story while weaving in her own and the rest of her family’s. In that way, Mitford was able to craft well-developed characters

Storytelling 5 out of 5 stars

Mitford’s story was fascinating, humorous and ultimately very entertaining.

Total 5 out of 5 stars 

Have you read any of Mitford’s work? What did you think?

Touching & Thought Provoking: A Review of Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou

A Review of Letter to My Daughter Written & Read by Maya Angelou

Letter to My Daughter
Written & Read by Maya Angelou


Well, let’s get this out of the way. Angelou doesn’t have a daughter. Rather, this brief guide was written for all the daughters she saw around her every day. The entire piece is a series of numbered, brief essays that relate the struggles and triumphs of Angelou’s life and what she learned from each experiences. From racism to being a strong, resilient woman, Angelou covers it all.

Audiobook Review

Angelou, who has a very varied background, including dance, drama and writing, has learned how to moderate her voice. To use inflections when necessary, but mostly to cultivate a voice that when heard, the listener knows immediately that it’s THE Maya Angelou. Her voice is stilted, but the listener doesn’t really get a whiff of pomposity. Rather, it’s like her voice is imbued with intelligence and wisdom.


Writing  5 out of 5 stars

Storytelling 5 out of 5 stars

Cultural Impact 5 out of 5 stars

Reading Performance 5 out of 5 stars

Total:  5 out of 5 stars

 Have you read any of Angelou’s work? What did you think?

Deeply Affecting : A Review of Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying

Oh, this book. I don’t think I’ll see things the same way ever again.

Deeply Effecting: A Review of Edwidge Danticat's Brother, I'm Dying | The 1000th Voice blog

Brother, I’m Dying
By Edwidge Danticat
Read By Robin Miles


Brother, I’m Dying, the story of the deaths of the two men who raised Edwidge–her father and her uncle, was profoundly and deeply affecting. Like many kids whose parents are emigrating to the U.S., Danticat and her brother remained behind in Haiti as first their father and then their mother emigrated.

Throughout the beginning of the book I was struck by how private Danticat was with sharing info with her family, but then, I realized why. For years, when she was able to speak to her parents, it was over the phone with her uncle telling her what to say, and when she wrote, her uncle always checked over her writing to make sure her English was good.

When I wrote in the title that this book was deeply affecting, I truly meant it. On multiple levels, Danticat’s story did deeply affect me. As an American citizen now, Danticat didn’t spend a lot of time bashing the U.S. policy in Haiti, but she was very clear in sharing how the U.S.’s influence was both positive and negative. Regardless of the U.S.’s influence, reading about young children living in a war- and conflict-torn country was incredibly saddening, and to know there are so many children living in similar situations today makes the first-hand account even more impactful.

Additionally, the reader learns toward the end what it was like (at least in the early to mid 2000s) for Haitians, who feared for their life in their home country, to try to emigrate to the U.S. In fact, Danticat even makes it clear that Cubans who illegally enter the country, washing up on Miami’s beaches, are treated better than Haitians who have clearance to enter (but not stay) in the U.S. It’s sad, scary and needs to be changed.

Audiobook Review

With years of experience, Robin Miles is an amazing voice talent. Her Haitian accent and Creole-laced sentences were lyrical and beautiful to hear. There wasn’t a single point when I felt the reading was a miss.


Writing 5 out of 5 stars

Storytelling 5 out of 5 stars

Cultural Impact 5 out of 5 stars

Reading Performance 5 out of 5 stars

Total: 5 out of 5 stars

Have you read or listened to any of Danticat’s work? What did you think?

What is the most deeply affecting book you’ve ever read?

Redemption! A Review of Erdrich’s The Round House

My first Louise Erdrich experience wasn’t a good one. It was Lit 210 in college. All students were required to take a class at the 200 level; this is the one I chose.

I’ve always enjoyed reading and felt I had a good grasp on the themes of what I read. Until this class. My prof was a TA from Italy with a decent grasp of English but an accent so thick 95% of the class was lost from the first word. The remaining 5% were lost a little later on when we learned that our TA’s thoughts, insights and opinions about the novel, short story or poem were the only ones that were correct.

Poor Louise Erdrich’s poetry fell victim to my dislike of this prof. I’m very happy that she’s now redeemed in my mind.

The Round House | A Review by The 1000th Voice blog

The Round House
By Louise Erdrich 


The Round House began with a very mundane recollection that made the book seem incredibly real. It was sort of an “It was just an ordinary day…” beginning. Of course, the day ended up not being ordinary, but it’s so real. It’s natural to recall little, seemingly random details from childhood.

Redemption! A Review of Erdrich’s The Round House | The 1000th Voice Blog

At it’s most basic level, this is the story of one teenage boy’s summer, but it goes deeper than that. It’s a coming of age, a confessional, an explanation and a justification. And it’s fantastic!


Writing 5 out of 5 stars

Erdrich’s writing is clear and engaging

Character Development 5 out of 5 stars

The development/growth of the characters definitely seemed realistic and natural.

Storytelling 5 out of 5 stars

The story was intriguing and kept me thinking until the end.

Total 5 out of 5 stars

Have you read The Round House? What did you think? Did you have a teacher ruin a book/author for you? Did the dislike last?

The Most Weirdly Wonderful Book I’ve Ever Read: A Review of Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

“Oh, so, you’re reading Murakami?” my brother commented, motioning to the book on the end table in my family room. I knew he’d read some Murakami—or I assumed so because they were on his bookshelf and you know I’ve read everything on my bookshelves.

“Yeah,” I said. “I just started. I’m just on page 20 or so and it’s kind of weird.”

Hmmumm,” my brother said in a way that foretold the rest of the book. I didn’t know how weird it would get. But he did.

The Most Weirdly Wonderful Book I’ve Ever Read: A Review of Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle | The 1000th Voice

The Wing-Up Bird Chronicle
By Haruki Murakami


The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was the most weirdly wonderful novel I’ve ever read. It’s weirdness is interesting in it’s almost run-of-the-mill way. Not to say that every book is as weird as this is, but the novel itself is almost a completely normal book but then there are these really weird parts of it.

The Most Weirdly Wonderful Book I’ve Ever Read: A Review of Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle | The 1000th Voice blo

At once the story seems mundane, but there was always an undercurrent of oddity that makes the mundane almost a lie. In this book, Murakami was able to pull off an impressive feat—taking the simple and making it complex, the mundane and making it bizarre.

The Most Weirdly Wonderful Book I’ve Ever Read: A Review of Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle | The 1000th Voice

Murakami’s success in this book can definitely be attributed to two things: 1) a rich imagination and 2) excellent writing. In the beginning when I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue reading the book, the excellent writing kept me going.


Writing 5 out of 5 stars

Murakami’s writing is richly imaginative, detailed and complex. It’s simply wonderful.

Character Development 5 out of 5 stars

Only one character, Toru Okada, was really well developed in this story, but as the story progressed, the minor characters began to take on a lot of depth and complications.

Plot Structure 5 out of 5 stars

The plot of this story was one of the seemingly normal things, but it wasn’t normal. Toru was doing and experiencing a lot of unusual things and these experiences contributed to an odd plot. But the plot moved on at a good, smooth pace.

Storytelling 5 out of 5 stars

The story Murakami told here was just amazing, and he has quite a way about storytelling.

Total 5 out of 5 stars

After finishing this book, I wondered how I’d waited so long to read any piece of Murakami’s work. In fact, I almost wondered if the previous 28 years of my life were in some way a lie just because I hadn’t read this book. Have you read it? What were your thoughts? Have you read any other book that caught you as completely off guard as this one did for me?

Sensitivities: rape (briefly depicted), prostitution (briefly mentioned), brief sexual activity, gruesome torture (detailed) and murder (referenced)
A new feature I’m adding to book reviews is a sensitivity warning. I may enjoy the book and recommend it, but there could be some things that could be bothersome to others.

Book Review: Peace Like a River

Happy New Year! I want to share this book review with you before another 2013 recap post on Friday. This was one of my three favorite reads this year!

Years ago my senior English teacher returned to South Dakota from Minnesota after getting her Master’s degree at St. Scholastica in Duluth raving about this book she’d read. She repeatedly recommended it to me. I somehow put it off for years; until I was sifting through books in Goodwill and saw it: Peace Like a River by Leif Enger.

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger | Book Review by The 1000th Voice

Peace Like a River
By Leif Enger


I can sum up my thoughts about this book in one word: Beautiful. The story is beautiful; the writing is beautiful (the imagery! the characters!). It truly is a wonderful book that I’m ashamed to admit I waited so long to read.

As the book followed Reuben’s family on a quest led by patriarch Jeremiah Land, I was struck by how magical but ordinary everything was. I definitely didn’t grow up in North Dakota in the 60s, but the happenings of the book are almost mundane. Until we get to the miracles that Reuben documents. Then we’re transported into a land of magical realism, and it’s a wonderful land.

A reviewer on Goodreads implies that the reader must have faith in God to believe the miracles in this story (or to not have trouble accepting them), but I strongly disagree. Suspension of disbelief is all that it requires, a willingness to let the story tell itself, to be entertained but not to question things as one would in real life. Coined in 1817 by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, suspension of disbelief suggests “that if a writer could infuse a human interest and a semblance of truth the reader would suspend judgment” about the plausibility of the tale (Wikipedia). As magical realism, elements of magic, miracles, etc. are a natural part of an otherwise normal world. Additionally, in our contemporary literary world soaked in dystopian fiction, a little magical realism or a miracle here and there should be believable.


“Fair is whatever God wants to do.”

“Real miracles bother people, like strange sudden pains unknown in medical literature. It’s true: They rebut every rule all we good citizens take comfort in. Lazarus obeying orders and climbing up out of the grave – now there’s a miracle, and you can bet it upset a lot of folks who were standing around at the time. When a person dies, the earth is generally unwilling to cough him back up. A miracle contradicts the will of the earth.”


Writing 5 out of 5 stars

In his Goodreads author profile, Enger’s writing is described as “a smooth mix of romanticism and gritty reality, recalling the Old West’s greatest cowboy stories.” I couldn’t sum it up any better.

Character Development 5 out of 5 stars

The characters were very well written in this story as well. They all seemed very normal but went through transformations that could be considered magical or at least stretched reality in interesting ways.

Plot Structure 5 out of 5 stars

The pace of the story and its progression to the end was all very logical—a nice contrast to the magical/spiritual elements.

Storytelling 5 out of 5 stars

Overall, the story was amazing. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about the way Enger told the story.

Total 5 out of 5 stars

Have you read Peace Like a River? What did you think? Also, what are your thoughts on suspension of disbelief?

Book Review: Rebecca

Book Review: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier | The 1000th Voice Blog

By Daphne du Maurier

After completing my Weekly Reads post on Monday, I quickly got to work finishing Rebecca. It was over much quicker than expected. It was a bittersweet moment when I realized the last 30 or so pages were the Author’s Note. Of course, I excitedly read the Author’s Note, and, while I appreciated the ending of Rebecca, it was just over a quicker than planned.


As I reflected on the book today, I also started the short We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. It made me think about the length of a story and its depth. I’m not far enough into Castle to know if it’s too short or not deep enough, but I’ve definitely read books that were too short and some that were too long with writing that should have been cut to tell a better story. I don’t believe a single word should be cut from Rebecca. At almost 400 pages, I believe there’s still an economy of words that tells a thoroughly intriguing story. Without the extra bits, the story wouldn’t have the suspense or the creepiness it has.

With all that said, it probably goes without saying that I loved this book. But let me tell you more about my love. I was riveted; I wanted nothing more than to have a few spare minutes to read this book. A 12-hour round trip to my parent’s house this weekend provided plenty of time to read. One aspect of the book that kept my attention was the general iciness that lent a creepy air. I could just picture Mrs. Danvers’ and Mrs. de Winter’s confrontations with a sharp chill between the two.


“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” – Page 1

“A new confidence had been born in me when I burnt that page and scattered the fragments. The past would not exist for either of us, we were starting afresh, he and I.” – Page 61

“I had an uneasy feeling we might be asked to spend the approaching Christmas with Beatrice. Perhaps I could have influenza.” – Page 181

“Sometimes I wonder if she comes back here to Manderley and watches you and Mr. de Winter together.” – Page 176


Writing 5 out of 5 stars

As I said above, there wasn’t a word wasted in creating an icy atmosphere that also really fit the period.

Character Development 5 out of 5 stars

A character that grows, changes or shows his/her faults is a realistic character. du Maurier excellently developed her characters throughout the story.

Plot Structure 5 out of 5 stars

Starting at the end, the main portion of the book is a flashback to a matter of months in the narrator’s life. I always think that using this format is in and of itself interesting. The story also builds to a climax that’s relatively unexpected.

Storytelling 5 out of 5 stars

du Maurier proves herself to be an excellent storyteller with this book. The story itself is intriguing, but it’s also told in a fascinating way.

Total 5 out of 5 stars

Have you read Rebecca? What were your thoughts?

Halloween 2013 The 1000th Voice Blog

Book Review: The Last Lecture

By Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow

With more than 15 million views and more than 64,000 likes on YouTube, Randy Pausch’s last lecture continues to inspire people to achieve their dreams five years later.

When Randy stood on the Carnegie Mellon auditorium stage to give his lecture on achieving childhood dreams, he was trying to leave a legacy for his young children. No one, not even Randy or the audience, could have imagined just how lasting his legacy would be.

The Last Lecture was a series presented by Carnegie Mellon in which the speaker ponders his/her death. Although that wouldn’t have been difficult for Randy, a computer science professor and virtual reality geek who was dying of pancreatic cancer, the university had decided to rename the series “Journeys” before offering Randy the slot.

In this small book, Randy strengthens that legacy by recounting his life, how he came to be on the stage that night, and the advice on living he gave to that lecture’s overflowing audience. He wrote a little about death, dying with grace and living while dying.

Great advice and humor are sprinkled throughout the book and the lecture. Randy used the humor to grant levity and avoid pity. As he said during his lecture after proving that he was in great shape by doing push ups, if anyone wanted to pity him they could come on stage, do a push up, and then pity him. He was happy. It’s all he knew how to be. He was a Tigger, not an Eeyore.
The book while short, is chock full of inspiration and provides many thought provoking points throughout. I highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read it yet.
Randy Pausch passed away July 25, 2008 at his home. He lived five months longer than the three to six months his doctor had given him. He was survived by his wife, Jai, and three children, Dylan, Logan and Chloe. Representative of his legacy, his obituary was published in the New York Times.