Tag Archives: Bittersweet

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



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