Pithy Book Reviews For Women
In 2020, I devoured 311 full-length books that didn’t contain pictures. That’s not an exaggeration. Ask my husband. My children. My dog. My couch. Because of those stats, I can make the following pronouncement with supreme confidence.
Reading is one of my superpowers
Possessing such a voracious appetite for the written word means I’m reading a ton of book reviews, looking for my next fix. Unfortunately, a lot of those reviews suck. They suck because they don’t provide the information I want and need quickly, in an easy-to-read format minus the BS.
You’ll see what I mean when you start reading mine.
I’ll be showcasing a wide variety of impactful fiction and non-fiction. Think illuminating, inspiring, provocative, relatable writing for women and men.
So, without further ado….
(Please note, As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)
big magic, by elizabeth gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of the beloved book and movie, EAT, PRAY, LOVE. Big Magic is a non-fiction book written in a warm, honest, conversational style. I think of it as therapeutic support for the artist/creator who is struggling to manifest her gift!
Creativity is sacred, and it's not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn't matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you. From the back cover of "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert
Dune, BY Frank Herbert
I’m a huge sci-fi and fantasy reader and DUNE is one of my top 3 favorites. I’ve read it at least 10 times over the years. Read the original series (books 1-6) a couple times too, and back in the day, I even purchased the DUNE encyclopedia to gain better insight into the complex, and utterly fascinating world Frank Herbert created.
Yep, that’s how much I was (and still am) in to it.
Dune is set far in the future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar empire where planetary fiefdoms are controlled by noble houses that owe allegiance to the Imperial House Corrino. The novel tells the story of young Paul Atreides (heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides and scion of House Atreides) as he and his family relocate to the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the spice melange, the most important and valuable substance in the universe. In a story that explores the complex and multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion, the fate of Paul, his family, his new planet and its native inhabitants, as well as the Padishah Emperor, the powerful Spacing Guild, and the secretive female order of the Bene Gesserit, are all drawn together into a confrontation that will change the course of humanity. (Excerpt from Wikipedia.com)
- Dune can be read as a stand alone or as the first in the series (6 in the original series)
- George Lucas purportedly ripped off/was inspired by Dune when writing Star Wars
- Dune features impressive women characters (somewhat surprising considering it was written in the 60’s)
- There’s a ginormous desert worm!
- Compelling action and emotions: love, greed, betrayal, loyalty, murder, etc., etc.
- The upcoming 2021 movie looks fantastic!
Get ready for this epic blockbuster (release date Oct 2021) and read DUNE now!
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Maisie Dobbs (Maisie Dobbs Mysteries Series Book 1) By Jacqueline Winspear
I adore a clever, engrossing historical mystery series.
This one hits the heart and the head equally hard.
The Maisie Dodd stories feature a strong, intelligent yet vulnerable heroine. Each novel contains a complex, emotional plot set amidst the turbulent times of post WWI England. As WW II looms, Maisie will travel to other destinations.
If you were/are obsessed with Downton Abbey or Alexander McCall Smith’s books, you’ll be equally enthralled by this/these.
I couldn’t wait for the next one, and the next, and the next….
Currently waiting on release of number 16.
Check out my Products I Love page for my latest review on a great environmentally friendly spray mop. Heck yeah, it’s exciting stuff!
I find immeasurable wisdom, comfort, and illumination from a daily mediational read.
This one is exceptional in that it offers classical wisdom from ancient Stoic philosophers that is reassuringly relevant and actionable for today’s living.
What did the Stoics believe? Here’s what the authors say.
The Stoics tell us that by controlling our perceptions we can find mental clarity. In directing our actions properly and justly, we’ll be effective. In utilizing and aligning our will, we will find the wisdom and perspective to deal with anything the world puts before us.
Each entry is one page only and consists of a philosopher’s meditation no longer than a short paragraph followed by a modern commentary provided by the authors.
Short, sweet, and poignant for maximum impact.
Here’s the meditation from today’s (August 26th) entry of The Daily Stoic.
“I was shipwrecked before I even boarded…the journey showed me this–how much of what we have is unnecessary, and how easily we can decide to rid ourselves of these things whenever it’s necessary, never suffering the loss.”Seneca, moral Letters, 87.1
Many renown leaders, coaches and other successful role models have been inspired by these thought gurus from ancient Greece and Rome.
I know I have been and I’m sure you will be too.
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Middlesex, By Jeffrey Eugenides
“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. “
Best opening for a novel ever.
A rich, complex family drama featuring an incredibly engaging narrative.
A novel absolutely deserving of its Pulitzer Prize.
I read this book in a book club when it first came out in 2002. I re-read it a couple years ago. And, I’ll read it again and again before I leave this earth.
It’s mind blowing and mind opening.
I’m not saying anything else.
Just read it.
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, By Flannie Flagg
Some have said this book is undemanding. I agree in the sense that it is easy to read, since it is well written, with likable, believable characters and has an intriguing plot which holds your interest. However shallow it is not.
The narrative is told from three main viewpoints which gradually reveal the full story. Some elements are withheld until the end, making it more and more of a page-turner as you proceed.
The underlying theme of the story is human relations – the bonds between family members, friends, household members – including the servants, members of a community. It is also about humanity, accepting people as they are – regardless of race, sexual preference etc – and recognizing the intrinsic goodness in people.
Although there is some despair, violence and sadness, it is ultimately an uplifting book.
Amazon Reviewer, Ninaminacat
This review is spot on for one of my all-time favorite books by one of my all-time favorite authors.
Fannie Flagg’s novels are thought-provoking, heart-wrenching, heart-warming, and funny.
If you’ve ever felt a soul sister type connection to an author then you can comprehend how I feel about her writing voice and her body of work.
I highly recommend the movie as well. Make sure you have Kleenex handy!
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The Temple of My Familiar, By Alice Walker
Alice Walker is the first African American Woman Author I ever read.
Her stories opened my teenage eyes to racial and gender inequality and oppression, prejudice, poverty, activism, spiritualism, and sisterhood.
I’m reading it for the 4th time this week.
Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus, By John Gray, Ph.D
I firmly believe every young woman and every young man should read this golden guide as soon as they are allowed to date.
And it’s probably a good idea to reread it every couple years after getting hitched to remind yourself of the…
Indisputable fact that women and men feel, think, and act differently.
Why do you think there are a plethora of comedy shows and stand-up routines featuring woman/man relationship misunderstandings, fights, idiosyncrasies, mockeries, etc., etc?
Because audiences can relate.
Last week, I wrote a blog post titled, What Men Think. It features an email list of stereotypical hetero men thoughts. Thoughts that “men wish women knew.”
Knowing the differences is the first step to understanding and respecting them.
And the acquisition of this knowledge can help a woman communicate much more effectively with her man!
The Samurai’s Garden, By Gail Tskuiyama
Back to fiction this week.
As we are slowly easing out of social distancing and into the season of gardening, this week’s feature is a hauntingly beautiful novel that offers an historic story of love and healing set during the Japanese invasion of China during the late 1930’s.
The Samurai’s Garden will linger for a long time in your heart like a meditative piece of art or a cinematic masterpiece. I highly recommend reading this lovely little book while relaxing in your own garden or in another natural outdoor spot.
A profoundly moving story for the soul that you will want to read again and again.
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Simple Abundance, A DayBook of Comfort and Joy, By Sarah Ban Breathnach
A wonderful Mother’s Day gift!
I bought this book when it first came out over 10 years ago. Every year I start it over. Simple Abundance is written to help women gracefully navigate the challenges life brings. Each entry is a short passage for each day of the year. I like to read it in the morning while drinking coffee, right before my mediational nature walk, and again before bed as a reflective good night verse. It’s a comfort/daily inspirational/gratitude book rolled up in one. 7 million copies sold. Trust me, the mindful woman in your life will love it!
I solemnly proclaim the month of April in the year of 2020 shall be dedicated to reviewing only laughter provoking books. Terri Weeding
Are you feeling Lonely, Sad, Scared, Anxious, Depressed, Frustrated, Angry?
The Coronavirus Pandemic has produced a cesspool of negative emotions and it sucks…like it literally sucks you down into the emotional pits of despair.
It’s imperative we fight this dark force which can be as contagious as the actual virus.
Love. Kindness. Empathy. Generosity. Hope…and Laughter.
Motherhood:The Second Oldest Profession, Erma Bombeck
Here’s an oldie but a goodie just in time for Mother’s Day! Erma Bombeck is probably my biggest humor writer hero. She was a popular columnist for years and published 13 books of essays. I adore her books because:
- Her humor is refreshingly clean and witty, never rude or mean!
- Her kindness and empathy for women, mothers, families, and even husbands, always shines through!
- Her humor is timeless because she writes about human nature!
This book is a great little gift for the mothers in your life. Your Mom will be thrilled because she probably used to read Erma’s columns. And she will be impressed that you chose a funny yet highly empathetic book about motherhood!
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Bossypants, Tina Fey
From one of the premier female comedians of our time, Bossypants is a fabulously funny collection of autobiographic essays. All women can relate to her hilarious childhood, teenage, and young adult stories…the angst, the ecstasy, the confusion.
I’ve given this book as a gift to several girlfriends who have all raved about it!
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is at the top of my favorite humor books list because it contains:
- Snarky, Sassy, Sarcastic, Sardonic Wit
- Over-The Top, No Way Did That Happen, True Scenarios
- Multiple Moments of Inappropriate Humor
Read it and snort laugh your way through it like I did. It feels sooooo good!!
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The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz
I love reading about wisdom from other cultures. Humanity is beautifully diverse and each culture possesses a unique wisdom shaped by geography, climate, migration, history, art, science, and more. It’s also fascinating and reassuring to discover the commonalities so many of our cultures share.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is another mind-set changing book that blew me away. Once I read, absorbed, and began applying its Toltec wisdom, my world transformed dramatically because I stopped believing a lot of BS about life, about myself, and about others.
The Four Agreements:
- Be Impeccable With Your Word.
- Don’t Take Anything Personally.
- Don’t Make Assumptions.
- Always Do Your Best.
Each agreement is simple, profound and vastly empowering. This book has been translated into 46 languages and has sold over 8 million copies. I highly recommend it as a guide for changing ingrained beliefs that have been dragging you down and limiting your joy, abilities, and relationships.
The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown
Self-actualization. Since I first learned about Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, I’ve been in pursuit of “My Best Me.” However, unwarranted shame, guilt, and concern over what others thought hindered my progress for years UNTIL I read two mind-blowing books. The first is today’s feature, The Gifts of Imperfection. (The second will be reviewed next week.)
Five Reasons Why I Adore This Book:
- It’s a guide book featuring 10 guidepost chapters for easy reference.
- It’s not very long but it’s packed with concise, profound wisdom.
- The tone is gentle but strong. It is not abrasive nor is it syrupy. It’s real.
- The author’s wholehearted approach emphasizes the mind/body/spirit connection.
- I’ve applied the guideposts to my own life with excellent results.
I’ve talked to many women who struggle with the same road-blocks…shame, guilt, and worry about what others think. If these issues strike a chord with you, I highly recommend this book, especially if you are actively pursuing a more authentic, self-actualized life. And, if you’re not? This book could be the catalyst you didn’t know you needed.
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Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Mass
I’ve been an enthusiastic fantasy fan for a long time because this genre is exciting and provides the ultimate real world escape. One of my FAVORITE fantasy series for women kicks off with this book. Here’s a rundown of its major attributes.
- Fearless young heroine with a snarky sense of humor and serious ninja skills? Check.
- Heroine grappling with past trauma while on a self-discovery journey? Check.
- Compelling battles between good and evil with mixed outcomes? Check.
- Multiple hot guy options? Check.
- Excellent world building, plot development and believable dialogue (vs cheesy, unbelievable)? Check.
- Six more books in the series for extended reading pleasure? Check.
There’s a reason the movie, Wonder Woman made a boatload of bucks. If you’ve never tried fantasy featuring a female protagonist, this is a great introduction. I’ve read the series three times so obviously I highly recommend it! Come on! Your inner child wants you to because she knows how much fun you’ll have. Plus, after reading it, you WILL want to kick some butt in your real life!
The One, by John Marrs
Holy Buckets, Batgirl! A novel about genetic love matches? It’s not such a far-fetched concept. This super fast, engrossing read features 5 main characters and their matches. Prepare to be vastly surprised by their twisty turny story developments. Prepare to be anxious because each short chapter ends on a cliffhanger. Lots of fodder for lively ethical discussions. I read this for my book club and EVERYONE (20 women) loved the book! When does that ever happen? A resounding TWO THUMBS UP!
Which I happen to think are pretty kick-butt!
“There’s no such thing as changing a husband. In my experience, a woman either lives with her man and deals with the good, the bad, and the ugly, or she divorces him. If neither option is viable, she must come up with a different plan. ” (Print and eBook)
STOP the holiday madness with this stress relieving, LOL guide for MOMS who kill themselves trying to make the holidays picture perfect for their families. Enjoy these lively and inspiring vignettes sized just right for bathroom breaks, parent pick-up lines, and sport practices. Take control of the holidays this year and put the spirit and joy back where it belongs. (EBook only)