Wednesday Book Review: A Gaggle of Mini-Reviews

I’ve read all sorts of books: the good, the bad, the great, the ugly, the blah. But this past week I have had zero time to read. Seriously, I’ve read 47 pages in seven days. Pitiful. So I thought I’d give a quick overview of ten or so of the books I’ve already read this year but haven’t reviewed, just in case, you know, you actually want to read one of them someday and need an opinion. Or if I go senile and can’t tell books apart from rocket ships. Either one. (If there’s one on my list that I haven’t listed here but you’re interested in, just let me know and I will make sure to give you my official opinion.) Without further ado, I introduce you to…

Amanda’s I-Was-Too-Busy-and/or-Lazy-to-Read Mini-Review:

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin: This is historical fiction at it’s best. The story revolves around the facts of what we know for certain about the life of Alice Liddell, the real Alice in Wonderland, and Benjamin fills in the gaps seamlessly without falling into the trap of over-romanticizing. I couldn’t put it down.Verdict: Great

A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz: Jane Austen has millions of devotees around the globe, but William was a reluctant one. He always thought Austen and her romances were a bit ridiculous, until he started reading her in earnest on the eve of writing his Master’s thesis. This book was excellently written and intelligently conceived. I genuinely learned a lot from this book,  not only about Austen, but about growing up and living with integrity. Verdict: Excellent

Angry Conversations With God by Susan E. Isaacs: Susan is a successful actor and comedian…almost. She’s also a very dedicated Christian….mostly. It’s not that she’s not talented or doesn’t love God, she’s just still in the process of figuring several things out. And some of those things make her angry, so she decides to write a sketch where she takes God to couples counseling. This hilarious book is what ensues. Verdict: Hilarious 

Anonymous by Alicia Britt Chloe: We all have bare, bleak times. Times when we’re waiting, or growing silently in the corner like a tree in winter. What is the purpose of these quiet times? What was the use of Jesus’ quiet time in the thirty years between Christmas and when he turned the water into wine? With deep insight and wisdom, Chloe discusses these times on anonymity. If you read it, you will be changed. Verdict: Powerful

Bittersweet and Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist: I really enjoyed both of these books, one which is about being thankful for the small things in the happy season of life, and one is about learning to still be thankful when life is painful. Niequist has a conversational, engaging, and artful way of writing that was really enjoyable. Verdict: Excellent

The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad: Seirstad spent a year living with a wealthy Afghani book merchant and his family. This is their story. It is enlightening and moving, and I enjoyed every page of the journey into a culture so very opposed to my own. Verdict: Excellent

Bossypants by Tina Fey: I heard all this nonsense from reviewers about how they expected more from Fey than this. Psshhh. Please, stop taking yourself so seriously. It’s Tina Fey writing funny stuff, I don’t really care if I learn anything. It’s easy to read and it will make you laugh a whole lot, what more could you possible want? Verdict: Hilarious

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero: This was the first book I finished this year, and it had a deep impact on me. It discusses the need to take care of yourself emotionally in order to be truly healthy spiritually. What I learned in the book enabled me to be able to start saying “no” sometimes , and it helped me identify some of my weak areas. Verdict: Powerful

The Girl With Glass Feet by Ali Shaw: The premise of this book intrigued me. It seemed to be a less romance-y version of Magical Realism-a genre I adore, which it was, but not in a good way.  This book was haunting and the language was beautiful, but the story was rather sad, and not in a Hemingway-and-Fitzgerald way, in a depressing way. There was a film of gloom over the whole endeavor that made it hard to enjoy even thought it was well written. Verdict: Okay

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain: I had read about Hemingway’s’ first wife, Hadley, before in passing, but I very much enjoyed getting to know her in a more in-depth fashion. McLain also manages to give the book the same texture as a Hemingway story while still retaining her own style. I recommend this book to any literary buff. Verdict: Excellent

Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott: Anne is a controversial writer. She’s a Christian, but one with very liberal parameters. She and I don’t agree on a lot of the finer points, but she treats every subject with such honesty and openness, that I wish she were my kooky aunt. I wish I could just hang out with her and talk about life, even if we don’t agree on everything, because I know she’d be honest, and I know she’d love me anyway. Verdict: Refreshing

The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure: The Little House on the Prairie books were McClure’s favorites as a child; now an adult, and a children’s book editor, she decides to trace their steps. From churning butter the way Laura would have in her own living room to exploring every homestead site mentioned in the books (and a few that were not), this book is a fun ride for any Laura Wilder fan. (I would caution, however, that this is definitely an adult book. Even if Little House is little cousin Suzie’s favorite series ever, don’t share this memoir until she’s at least in high school.) Verdict: Fun


Filed under Book Reviews, Books, Wednesday Book Review

90 responses to “Wednesday Book Review: A Gaggle of Mini-Reviews

  1. sofiacristina

    Hi Mandy–or I guess it’s Amanda, now, isn’t it? Which shows that it’s been a while since HOTR volleyball…. 😉 Anyways, I’ve been enjoying your blog posts–and definitely now see my need to check out about half of the list that you reviewed. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the reviews! I have a feeling I will like most of those books you suggested.

  3. I love it! In an age when reading bullets of info is the norm, these types of reviews should become the norm…

    Looking forward to The Wilder Life, personally… 🙂

  4. I really loved traveling mercies.

  5. Jasan Pictures

    Enjoyed ur Blog… nice reviw


  6. Thanks for the post! Some of these sound interesting 🙂 I’ll have to check them out!

  7. Sadly, the only one I’d read from the list was Bossypants, and like you, I thought it was hysterical. Was it the most insightful and thought-provoking book ever written? Hardly. But then again, that’s not what I was looking for when I bought a book written by my favorite funny-woman. I wanted to laugh and I did. 🙂

    Congrats on FP!


  8. I like these short reviews! They’re perfect! Thank you for posting!

  9. I really want to read Bossypants, I need a good laugh!

  10. like this mini-review idea! perfect synopsis without giving away too much or going into too much depth!

  11. Thanks for the recommendations!

  12. I particularly liked the premise of Angry Conversations With God. I’m C of E, I believe… mostly, but there are some issues on which I would like to have serious words with Him Up There… like why does he allow some people here on earth to carry on behaving like utter bastards towards the rest of us? Especially politicians! And why doesn’t he also have words with bigoted, intolerant people who are getting the faith a bad name? I mean, how’s about getting their attention and saying to them, in a loud booming voice, “That’s NOT how I told you to behave! What happened to the grace and tolerance I taught you about?!”

    • I think the same thing sometimes! Working at a Christian book store, I rub elbows with all sorts of humanity. I often wonder how someone can claim to love Jesus and then talk to another person that way. But I suppose we’re all works inprogress, no? I hope you enjoy the book! It really is one of the funniest I’ve read in awhile.

  13. SandySays1

    Try one Hamilton Skylar Burris books…based on your reading list you’ll like her work. Try getting info on her at

  14. well done! i like these short reviews. (hmmm…want to review my novel?!)

  15. Great list & lovely mini- review!

  16. I heard Bossypants was really good, I guess I’ll have to break down and purchase a copy!

  17. I loved the Paris Wife! I really want to read Alice I have been.

    • If you liked The Paris Wife, I think you’ll really enjoy Alice I Have Been. The writers are very different, but they give you the same kind of inside scoop, and in both I was left guessing what was real and what was fiction. Enjoy!

  18. Thanks for these mini-reviews, they’ve definitely given me great ideas for books to read! Had been wanting to read something new for a while, and recommendations always help 🙂 Thanks for posting and congrats on freshly pressed!

  19. The reviews look really interesting. I’m considering to read at least 2 of these books. 🙂

  20. love the reviews! and love the fact that your title included the word “gaggle” 🙂

  21. So glad to see this here. I can’t wait to read The Wilder Life. I read The Bookseller Of Kabul. It was ok I thought. At the end it sort of was sad as the women were so confined in everyway.

    • The Bookseller made me a little sad too, Linda. I didn’t like how little warmth there was between family, or how little freedom the women had, and it made me appreciate my own life a little more.

      I hope you enjoy The Wilder Life! It is certainly a fun ride!

  22. I haven’t read any of these but intend to now. Thanks for the reviews. I always appreciate a good referral.

  23. Holli

    Great list. Can’t wait to check them out.


  24. I loved Angry Conversations with God, she made me laugh and cry. And I have Tina Fey’s Bossypants on my To-Read list, can’t wait. Thanks for the reviews!

  25. Interesting titles. Alice I have Been has been on my TBR for a while, I should get to it. Here is a recap of all the fantastic books I read this past month: 10 books + 1 audiobook:
    Emma @ Words And Peace

  26. Excellent choices. Bossy Pants, The Paris Wife (truly excellent), and anything Anne Lamott writes is just fabulous. Anne is my muse. As I type this, I’m looking up at a picture of the two of us taken at a book signing. Her book called Bird by Bird is one of the best books I’ve ever read on becoming a writer. Congrats on being FP’d!

    • Thank you so much! It was definitely a pleasant surprise. 🙂 I’m glad to hear your opinion of Bird by Bird. I bought it a few months ago and haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I really look forward to it!

  27. I congratulate you on your mini-reviews and FP status. I end up not reviewing so many books because I’m too lazy and/or busy to get a “real” review written, so I think your mini-reviews are a great idea.

  28. Love the mini-reviews. It takes me so long with not a lot of time to write my reviews, then I think they’re too long, then I need to give background info. on and on they go. These are perfect!

  29. Hi Amanda,

    Your post is truly a big help. I find it really great recommendations. Thank you so much for your post. i’ll continue visiting your blog.

    Congrats on the FP! 🙂 Be blessed! 🙂

    with love,

  30. Barneysday

    Long time avid reader, but I like your choices of books somewhat out of the mainstream. Thanks for the recommendations, I will definately look into some of these.

  31. I like your style with mini book reviews. I’ve only read The Paris Wife, but the others look good too.

  32. p2c2u

    I think I’m most intrigued by A Jane Austen Education and The Paris Wife. When I first read A Moveable Feast, I was very keen to know more about Hadley. I already knew she was his first wife and yet in the book, they seem to be such a happy couple, at least in the first half. I really want to know that story!

    • I think anyone who has read The Moveable Feast should read The Paris Wife, and vice versa. In my mind, they complete each other. You’ll have to let me know your opinion once you read it. And A Jane Austen Education was just fabulous. It was easily one of my favorite literary memoirs I’ve read.

  33. A Jane Austen education is the most intriguing indeed…also the one around the booksellers of kabul..thanks for the reviews and a great post!

  34. mina

    thanks for the quasi twitter link reviews 😉 … this is refreshing for me because I havent read any of these books .. I have the Bookseller of Kabul in my shelves but I have not read it yet .. I also noted down two more books from your list I should buy … thanks for sharing !

  35. If find these short reviews very helpful, excellent idea!
    I have had “Bookseller of Kabul” on my shelf for two years now. I shall finally read it after your positive verdict.

  36. Julia Marshall

    Oh no, my list of books I really want to read just got a whole lot longer! But thanks for your snappy reviews – they are great.

  37. Exodus

    thanks for the list. i’ll definitely get The Wilder Life.

  38. The only one of those books I’ve read is Bossypants and I totally agree with your assessment of it!

  39. gina

    Alice I Have Been and A Jane Austen Education sound interesting, I may have to check them out! 🙂

  40. Thanks! I added a few of your titles to my sample list…can’t wait to choose a good one!

  41. Thanks for the additions to my “To Be Read” list…they look interesting.

  42. I too thought The Paris Wife was excellent and I had read The Movable Feast years ago and still have my original copy of it. Bossypants was just a funny easy don’t-have-to-think read. Great reviews

  43. Great reviews! love the style and the 10-in-1 take, I have a book list/review page on my blog, (currently a long list with zero reviews) but I am thinking many mini-reviews are the way forwards. Thanks!

  44. totallyskewed

    I enjoyed your mini-reviews. I’m going to check out Angry Conversations with God. Sounds like a funny read, and I’m always up for a humor book! I’ve already read Tina Fey’s Bossypants.

  45. Love it lol I’m getting my stuff out before I don’t know my son from my grandson Thanks for the laugh & review


  46. I loved Travelling Mercies! It got me through a very rough patch.

  47. I think I just found several books I have to read. And I’ve had Traveling Mercies on my bookshelf for over a year and haven’t read it. . . soon!

  48. These all look so good. I’m definitely interested in Anonymous. On a side note, you should check out Amazon associates (you can put links to all of these books, and then when people buy them you get a commission. It’s a great non-obtrusive way to make money from your blog – I don’t work for Amazon.)

  49. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to check a few of these out, I’m totally in a reading rut.

  50. Thanks for the mini-reviews! It’s a good way to get lots of quick book suggestions =) I really want to read Bossypants..I love Tina Fey

  51. I’ve read none of them. Perhaps I should give it a whirl.

  52. realanonymousgirl2011

    Thanks for the reviews I now have books to add to my goodreads.

  53. Definitely going to get The Paris Wife ….sounds like a good read !

  54. Pingback: An eclectic collection of mini reviews « a long way from Lyddington

  55. Stumbled onto your blog – fantastic idea- a quick ‘download’ of who, what and where with a summary. You have revolutionised my personal kindle buying plans! 🙂 On a business note- If you ever would be keen to focus on any outdoor/real life adventurer books we would probably like to feature your reviews? Let us know if you are interested. (No cash, just glory!)

    Elaine x

  56. Pingback: My 12 Favorite Books of 2011 | Lovely Little Things

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s