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.
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. Only two books this month were from my personal shelves but they were both Book of the Month books, so I’m pretty happy to pass those on. The rest were Libby audiobooks and an eBook.
Here are 6 very different books I read and listened to in the last month including a quirky romance, some women’s fiction, historical fiction, nonfiction, and a novella by a popular author.
By: Sarah Haywood
Narrated by: Katherine Manners
Published: May 7, 2019
Publisher: Park Row
Format: Audiobook through Libby
My cousin was reading this book and shared about it with me and another cousin in a group chat. She was loving it and wanted to talk about it so we both decided to read it with it. My other cousin is also in Iowa and got a Libby copy before I did, so I had a wait a few days.
Susan likes her life predictable and ordered. She likes routine and does not like surprises. Then her mom dies AND she finds out she is pregnant (and not married). As you can imagine this throws a huge wrench in Susan’s life, especially because her brother is nothing like her and has been left the house in her mother’s will which Susan decides to fight. Of course, there is a lot of chaos and Susan tries to manage it all but can’t. Certain people come into her life and she has to decide if she can let them in and take a different path than expected or shut them out and figure it out on her own. It’s a fun, sweet story even though there is also a lot of grief in the background.
THE BOOKSTORE SISTERS
By: Alice Hoffman
Published: November 1, 2022
Publisher: Amazon Original Stories
On a night when I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep, I decided to read and a novella seemed like the perfect choice. I finished it all in one setting and so appreciated the story of two estranged sisters finding their way back to each other.
Isabel left Maine and the family bookstore as soon as she had the chance. After both of their parents have died, Sophie stayed to run the bookstore and live in the family home. When a letter arrives for Isabel with just one word, Help, she feels the past and her future colliding and makes the decision to go back home.
I’ve never read any Alice Hoffman books, but this compact story drew me in right away with its bookstore full of fairy tales and two sisters who desperately needed to feel loved again.
This is only available on Kindle or Audible.
By: Maggie O’Farrell
Narrated by: Ell Potter
Published: March 31, 2020
Publisher: Tinder Press
Format: Audiobook through Libby
I frankly never had any intention of reading this. When it was published, everyone was gushing about it and when I heard it was based on Shakespeare’s HAMLET, I decided I was out. Jump to 3 years later and people are STILL talking about it. I kept seeing people whose tastes in books were typically like mine and those whose bookish advice I trusted kept recommending it, so I decided to add the audiobook to my Libby holds. It came up quite quickly for me and I gave it a shot. I also typically don’t read any books set before the 1800s but as you can expect this one was set in the 1500s. So, with all these things against the book, you would like I wouldn’t like it, but of course, I loved it. Not a favorite of the year, but still quite a wonderful read.
O’Farrell has loosely based this book on the story of Hamlet, William Shakespeare’s son who died young from the plague. I’ve never seen or read Hamlet nor do I plan to. But, I was emotionally invested in this story and loved the way O’Farrell brought it to life. You can check out the synopsis on your own, but this is a story of a mother’s love for her children, the selfish choices of a father, and deep loss.
By: Naomi Krupitsky
Narrated by: Marin Ireland
Published: November 2, 2021
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Format: Hardcover and Audiobook through Libby
This was a Book of the Month pick from 2021 and I decided to add it to my Libby holds to read it faster. So, I listened to most of it but did read a few chapters from my hardcover copy as well. Side note: I really loved this cover.
This story of two young girls growing up best friends in Red Hook, an Italian community in Brooklyn. Both of their fathers are part of “The Family”, in other words, the mafia. But, that word is never used in the book, it is an understanding. In the book, the girls grow up together, living next door, and share their entire lives with each other even though they have quite different personalities. When tragedy hits one of them, their lives shift and as they become adults after the war, one of them is left with the toughest choice of their life.
This is my first 5-star book of the year for me. This is just the kind of novel I love and am sorry I didn’t get to it sooner. The narration was excellent and I was invested in both Sofia and Antonia’s stories. I loved the behind-the-scenes of the mafia and the bits of New York life that were shared. Friendship, betrayal, loss, love, and loyalty are all themes in this wonderful story.
BEYOND THE POINT
By: Claire Gibson
Published: April 2, 2019
Publisher: William Morrow
This was a Book of the Month choice for 2019 and I chose it in a random drawing for my First Book of 2023. Unfortunately, I had a lot of things come up at the beginning of the year that made it hard for me to read a physical book. I was reading a lot on audio and more on my Kindle because I was gone a lot. So, it took me a bit longer to read this book but not because I didn’t like it. I really loved the characters and the storyline, but it IS quite long.
Three women meet their freshman year at West Point. All three come from different backgrounds and have different reasons why they came to West Point. But, their friendship becomes strong and they rely on each other long after graduation. They support each other through boyfriends, betrayals, jobs, war, and loss. Since this is a long book, there is a lot of character development which I enjoyed. I had numerous pages marked because the writing was so profound. There is a surprise twist towards the end that I was not expecting and I won’t say any more to reveal it, but it gutted me and I was struggling along with the characters. If you love friendship stories or women in the military, this is a great choice. Side note: the audio version has 3 different narrators for each friend.
Love starts in the body. It starts with the tingling of toes and the rushing of blood and the lightness in the head. It feels a lot like pain…
There are convulsions, nausea, heartburn, and breathlessness. There is a physical ache you feel when you’re falling in love. It’s your heart making room for someone else, like a gardener is there, digging a hole for a new plant. There is pain and there is fear. The fear that the hole might stay forever.Claire Gibson, BEYOND THE POINT
By: William Least Heat-Moon
Narrated by: Joe Barrett
Publisher: Fawcett Crest
Format: Audiobook through Libby
I don’t remember where I heard about this book, but I requested it on Libby and when they purchased it, it was placed on my holds list. I didn’t realize it was an 18-hour listen when I started it and wasn’t sure I would get it finished, but being sick for several days allowed me plenty of time to listen.
William Least Heat-Moon decided to hit the road after a rough patch in his life and no direction for what to do next. He had thought about hitting the road and writing stories for National Geographic, but it never happened. He decided now might just be the time. I believe it was 1978 if I remember right. He hoped to avoid any federal highways and just travel around the country on the blue roads, the roads on maps that are less traveled and lead into small towns.
I grew up and still live near a blue highway and appreciated his stories about small-town residents. I loved his reasons for choosing a family diner…6+ calendars hanging on the walls meant it was a good place to eat. I would have to agree with that. What is it about calendars in a family diner? Look for them if you ever stop at one.
This was a good listen and the narrator was great at using different voices when talking about conversations. But, it did get a little monotonous and long. I enjoyed remembering a simpler time when you could trust a stranger and gas cost very little.