Welcome to Quick Lit where I share books that I chose for my own reading enjoyment in a mini-review format. These are not books I received for review, but books that I’ve been wanting to read or that have caught my attention. Most of them have been talked about ad nauseam or have been on my to-read list for a long time so they don’t really need a full review. But, I’d still like to give them some space here on the blog, so instead, I’m offering mini-reviews of the books that won’t get full-page space here.
I’ll be linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy and her monthly Quick Lit link-up. Be sure to head over to see others share their Quick Lit posts. This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read more about that.
At the beginning of the year, I always share my favorite books. I read 120 children’s books and 80 other books last year. So, with that many books, it was super hard to narrow it down to my favorites. So, you have to know that these books that made my favorites list are amazing! Check out my Top Ten Books Read in 2022 and My Favorite Children’s Books of 2022! See all the children’s book reviews, HERE. I also reviewed a poetry collection called AND THE CLOUDS PARTED.
As I have mentioned, I am trying to read more books off my shelves, but it’s hard to do that when review books come in the mail and new books are constantly being released. So, I added some of the books from my shelves to my Libby audio holds. Then I can read faster by dual reading…reading the physical copy and listening to it on audio. In 2022, I read 27 books from my shelves and moved 24 of them out of the house. We just won’t talk about how many books I ADDED to my shelves in 2022! 😳
Here are 6 very different books I read and listened to in the last month. Some of these books were finished at the end of December in that glorious week of free hours between Christmas and New Year’s. I was happy to get back to more physical reading and not just listening. For two of these books, I listened to the audio on my Libby app and read my physical copy which allowed me to get through them faster.
BACK TO THE PRAIRIE
By: Melissa Gilbert
Narrated by: Melissa Gilbert
Published: May 10, 2022
Publisher: Gallery Books
Format: Audiobook through Library
I have always, always loved the show, “Little House on the Prairie”. As soon as an episode starts, I can tell you exactly what will happen in the episode because I know them all. So, I’ve also been a big fan of Melissa Gilbert. When my friend told me about her new memoir, I added the audiobook to my Libby holds and got it pretty quickly.
This book focuses mostly on her marriage with actor/director Timothy Busfield and their decision to live “off the grid” in upstate New York. This mainly came about due to COVID and her book focuses mostly on this time in their lives, her personal thoughts about COVID, as well as her political views. Due to her oversharing on these issues, it ended up not being a very enjoyable listen for me. This isn’t the story I wanted to hear and although I enjoyed parts of their journey of finding an 1800s farmhouse to fix up and her joy of seeing wildlife out her window and her gardening lessons, the politics wore me down and it just wasn’t enjoyable for me. It isn’t about what her political views are but her oversharing and relating everything back to politics that annoyed me.
PART OF YOUR WORLD
By: Abby Jimenez
Narrated by: Julia Whelan and Zachary Webber
Published: April 19, 2022
Format: Audiobook through Library and Hardcover
Romance isn’t my typical genre of choice but I did read a few in 2022 and enjoyed all of them. But, this one is definitely my favorite. When big-city doctor, Alexis meets small-town carpenter, Daniel by chance sparks fly immediately, but it can’t work. They live two separate lives nearly three hours apart.
I love a small-town setting and also really loved that the chapters alternated between Alexis and Daniel. I can’t tell you a romance novel that actually gives you the male perspective. This one is a bit open-door in spots and since I listened to a lot of it on audio, I had to be careful who was listening in the background. But, with Julia Whelan narrating, you know it is going to be good.
There is a domestic violence situation in the book and Jimenez handles it so well writing from the friend’s perspective. But, know there is a small storyline with this situation.
I loved that this had a happy ending (don’t all romance novels) and even though I predicted it, it didn’t spoil the story for me at all. I would totally read her next book which comes out on April 11, YOURS TRULY.
THE HEALING POWERS OF HONEY
The Healthy and Green Choice to Sweeten Packed with Immune-Boosting Antioxidants
By: Cal Orey
Published: October 1, 2011
Publisher: Kensington Books
Format: eBook purchase
I have always been surrounded by honey with my parents having bee hives on their property ( we just house them, not take care of them). I grew up eating honey and still love honey as an adult. Recently, honey has been on my mind a lot due to my cousin starting beekeeping, reading a few fictional books that have bees as a central focus, and just being interested in honey bees. I even reviewed some honey, HERE. This book came up as a Kindle Deal one day and I started reading it right away.
Honey is SO GOOD for you. Especially if you can find honey locally raised near you. Cal Orey breaks down the ins and outs of honey and gives you ALL the details on types, how it can heal you, and why a particular honey is good for a specific ailment. If you are at all interested in honey, this is a great resource.
CHRISTMAS IN THE MIDWEST
Essays, Stories, and Cookie Recipes from Scandinavian, Czech, Polish, German, Italian, Scottish, and Moravian Traditions
By: Clarence Andrews
Illustrations by: Diane Heusinkveld
Published/Publisher: Originally in 1984, with the Midwest Heritage Publishing Company
My copy: 1994 Penfield Press
I don’t remember where I first heard about this book, but I found a copy on Thrift Books and finally made a point to read through it in the days before and after Christmas. It was perfectly comforting and nostalgic to read about families traveling by sleigh, wrapped in blankets, to their parent’s home or to a neighbor’s home to celebrate Christmas. I loved the stories of the joy of an orange in a stocking (I always got one too) or a special doll under the tree. I loved the journeys across the snow and cold to be with family.
I was amazed that Christmas trees were not always a thing and that when families did start bringing trees into their homes, they were decorated with CANDLES on the branches. Not a fire hazard at all! In fact, I really loved reading about the first Christmas tree that came to England in 1841. The story, The Tall Ships of Christmas is about a Chicago man, Herman Schuenemann who was the first to bring Christmas trees to families in the Chicago area on ships across the Chicago River. Their family’s tradition of bringing the first Christmas trees to the area lived on until 1932.
All the stories are written about their own personal experiences and were originally submitted to journals or magazines. Some of the stories are from the late 1800s but there are plenty during the 1900s. All the stories are set in the Midwest with many of them set in Iowa including Cedar Rapids, the Amanas, NE Iowa, and Western Iowa. So many of the stories have to do with families making do with less. Stories of children saving up all their coins for a gift for their mom after their father had died or a son, giving up money saved for a bike to help pay for his dad to go to college in Iowa City. Those are the stories that I love to read.
One particular surprise to me was finding the actual recipe from Ralph Jaarsma of Jaarsma’s Bakery in Pella for THE Dutch Letters they are so famous for. I’m not sure when I will attempt to make them, but knowing I have the recipe is pretty amazing. There were many other recipes that I am anxious to try as well like Date Swirls (my Great-Grandma made these often when I was a kid), Czech Garnets, and German Honey Cookies.
If you like nostalgic stories or like to have Christmas-related books out during the holidays, this might be a good find for your collection.
ONE DAY IN DECEMBER
By: Josie Silver
Published: October 16, 2018
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Another romance this month, which, again, is weird for me. But, I chose this for our December book club because I wanted a Christmas story. But, the title is misleading, it isn’t a Christmas story at all. Two people see each other at a bus stop. One on the bus and one at the station. They lock eyes and there is a “connection”. But, then the bus pulls away.
Laurie can’t stop thinking about the bus stop guy and looks for him all over London. Until, one day she finds him….as her best friend’s new boyfriend. The novel begins one day in December and takes you through ten years of Laurie’s life with her best friend, her new boyfriend, Jack, and all the ups and downs of life. By the middle of the book, I couldn’t imagine what else there was to tell in this story and felt like it was going nowhere, but I kept at it (my book club choice, remember?) and Silver redeemed herself. The ending sold it for me and I was crying and happy and crying again. It was maybe a bit longer than it needed to be, but for a romance novel, it was a good one.
THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO
By: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Narrated by: Alma Cuervo, Julia Whelan, and Robin Miles
Published: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Format: Audiobook through library and Hardcover
I never thought I would find a TJR book I wouldn’t rave about. But, I have. This is not a favorite of hers for me although I will say the audiobook narration was superb. Julia Whelan has a small part in reading the news/magazine stories but the other narrators were also excellent.
Monique is chosen specifically by the famous actress Evelyn Hugo to write her life story, but Monique, a small-time magazine writer is perplexed and can’t figure out why Evelyn chose her. As Evelyn’s story unfolds, you become intrigued with this 80+-year-old woman’s life and how she came to be married seven times. But, for me, it was just mediocre. I was mostly interested in the Monique connection mystery and had to wait until nearly the end to find out. That revelation was shocking and a good twist, but not enough to propel the reading experience.
I read my physical copy and listened because I could and was able to get through it faster and skim parts I didn’t want to read. I would say the audio experience would be my recommendation if you decide to give it a go.