Can You Review an Author Instead of a Book?

We think so! In today’s guest post, regular contributor Denise Neary talks about what makes a great author event and introduces us to an author who does it right.  If you haven’t read Melanie Benjamin yet, I think you’ll want to after reading this post.  I know I do.


Melanie Benjamin represents EVERYTHING I love about author events in book stores.

A while back I read ALICE I HAVE BEEN, the fascinating, compelling, sometimes disturbing story about the little girl who was the muse for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland book.  Loved it.  In fact,  loved it so much, I still find myself telling people about the book.

But Benjamin’s new book?  THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MRS. TOM THUMB? I wasn’t sure. I didn’t even know there was a Mrs. Tom Thumb.   And I had no idea that she was part of one of the best known celebrity couples of the time. So, I hit my favorite bookstore, hoping that the discussion would veer toward ALICE.

After listening to Ms. Benjamin talk about her latest book, I can’t wait to learn everything I can about Lavinia Warren, the perfect little lady.  I only bought one copy though, so now my daughter and I are fighting for first reading rights.

Melanie Benjamin is on book tour now, so… run, run, run, to hear her.   You’ll be glad you did.

Why the rave review?

Here are just a few of the reasons:

  • Benjamin’s  presentation is awesome… She has a well timed, fantastic powerpoint presentation with pictures and stories that will knock your socks off.   Her reading is part book tour, part fascinating documentary.  (To digress, surely you have been to author readings where you wondered if the author was just alerted at the last minute of the obligation.  That is not Melanie Benjamin!)
  • Her enthusiasm for her character and her book are absolutely infectious.    She is a self-declared history nerd  and to me she was the embodiment of that grade school teacher who made you fall in love with some subject you thought you hated.
  • She is named for Melanie Hamilton….and she has written an historical fiction that takes place during the Civil War.   Which leads to the next point.
  • She seems unaware of how adorable she is.
  • She is thorough and detailed.  In fact, she has considered every aspect of how hard it was to be this tiny person performing in a big world… it broke my heart when she detailed how the performers needed staff to help them boost them on and off trains, in and out of bed.
  • She wants to connect with more book clubs, and urges clubs to contact her.   She would be an amazing author to Skype with.  As good as her presentation was, her question and answer period was also lively and engaging.   (Confession:   I worry sometimes that an author discussion will turn into an author fan club meeting.  But Benjamin listens hard to questions, and responds thoughtfully.)
  • And last but certainly not least, she encourages support for local independent bookstores.

I dare you not to fall in love with Mrs. Tom Thumb, and with Melanie Benjamin.    I am so glad I had a chance to hear her speak, and can’t wait to start reading!

— Denise Neary, Regular Contributor

By | 2011-08-04T12:27:48+00:00 August 4th, 2011|Books, Buzz, Reviews|4 Comments


  1. Book Club Cheerleader August 5, 2011 at 1:49 pm - Reply


    What a wonderful and useful post for both readers and authors! I have just begun to read Ms. Benjamin’s latest book, and your post has got me clearing my calendar to get farther into the book.

    You’ve succinctly detailed what makes a great author talk, and I would agree. As the person responsible for bringing author speakers to our local Carnegie Library, I find there is a vast difference between authors who are doing this because they ‘have to’ vs. those who are enjoying every minute of their presentation. And speaking of the later variety, I would also recommend that book clubs and book stores take a look at two of my favorite author presenters: Marcia Fine (Paper Children) and M.L. Malcolm (Heart of Deception).

    Thanks, again, for an enjoyable and informative piece!



  2. Jen@MamaZen August 9, 2011 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    That was a really compelling review! I have to admit that I have never heard of this author before, but I will be keeping an eye out for her books. Thank you for the introduction 🙂

  3. Kay August 11, 2011 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    Excellent post! I just returned from vacation, where my own daughter and I passed Mrs. Tom Thumb back and forth — two chapters for her, then two for me. It was without question the best book I’ve read in years.

    Good to hear Ms. Benjamin is such a good presenter for her appearances. I have been to a number of author events where the authors were atrocious (example: Sara Gruen). Frankly, it’s inexcusable. If an author can’t give a good presentation, they shouldn’t be out on the road promoting their book.

    Sadly, I missed Melanie Benjamin as she passed through Denver a few weeks ago. I hadn’t even heard of her yet and hadn’t read the book. However, I work at our local library and have talked up Mrs. Tom Thumb to such an extent that the library is going to order more copies.

    Melanie Hamilton…surely she knows that was Melanie’s maiden name in “Gone With the Wind!” 🙂

  4. Denise August 13, 2011 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    This is so much more than an aside–I loved the book. So now I am not JUST a fan of the reading.

    Couldn’t put it down once I started reading. And can’t stop thinking about Vinnie!

    Thanks for all of these lovely comments.

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