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. Two more books this month were from my personal shelves and have been passed on.
I’ve also shared several books for review in the last month including WE SHOULD NOT BE FRIENDS, THE MOSTLY TRUE STORY OF TANNER AND LOUISE, and two middle-grade novels in The Kids Under the Stairs series.
Here are 6 very different books I read and listened to in the last month for my own enjoyment including historical fiction, a collection of essays, a nonfiction health book, and a couple of middle-grade novels.
THE GREAT GILLY HOPKINS
By: Katherine Paterson
Narrated by: Alyssa Bresnahan
Published: March 29, 1978
Publisher: Harper Collins
Format: Audiobook through Libby
I am trying to read a book published every year that I have been on this Earth (I turned 50 in October) and this book covered 1978 for me. I chose it because it was a Newbery Medal winner and received a National Book Award in Children’s Literature. Plus there is also a movie based on this book. I haven’t watched the movie yet, but hope to this summer. (If you are curious about my list of books for the last 50 years click, HERE.)
I am a sucker for foster kid stories and Gilly Hopkins is a foster child who has been shuffled around a lot. She has no siblings and hasn’t seen her mom since she was very young. As she is placed in a new home with Mrs. Trotter and another foster child, William Earnest, Gilly realizes (not at first) that this just might be an okay home while still yearning for her mother. After a poor decision in haste leads to drastic consequences, Gilly’s life is turned upside down again.
I really loved that this story wasn’t tied up with a bow at the end which made it feel more realistic to me. Even though this was published in the late 70s, the story is current and relatable to today. I listened to this on audio and the narrator did a fine job. As a middle-grade novel, it is a quick read and one that I think most kids would like.
The movie came out in 2015 with a stellar cast of characters including Julia Stiles, Glenn Close, Octavia Spencer, and Kathy Bates. I plan to watch it soon.
TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS
Advice from Dear Sugar
By: Cheryl Strayed
Narrated by: Cheryl Strayed
Published: July 10, 2012
Format: Audiobook through Libby
I wasn’t sure I really wanted to read this book but it had been on my radar ever since I read WILD several years ago. (Read the book don’t see the movie.) Then I heard about the upcoming Hulu show based on this book and decided I would give it a go. Plus a friend had also recently recommended it to me.
Cheryl Strayed narrates the audiobook and I also read an updated version with new material from the originally published copy. This book is HEA-VY with all kinds of trigger warnings for abuse, suicide, violence, and infidelity. People from all over are hurting or have hurt others and are writing in for advice how what to do. I often had to take a break from listening because at times the repetitiveness of the sad and hate was too much for me.
I was impressed by Strayed’s responses to the letters. Some she gave long stories of her own poor choices and others where she was brief and to the point. I think that due to the author’s own struggles with grief, an awful father, broken relationships, and living in poverty and yet coming out the other side of them with beautiful children and a healthy marriage, she can offer hope and substance to the advice she shares with her readers.
Will I give the show a look? Probably. Mostly because I’m curious about how they will play it out. But, if it is as heavy with sadness as the book is, I probably won’t stick around long.
INTERMITTENT FASTING TRANSFORMATION
The 45-Day Program for Women to Lose Stubborn Weight, Improve Hormonal Health, and Slow Aging
By: Cynthia Thurlow
Published: March 15, 2022
Format: eBook purchase through Amazon
I have been curious about trying intermittent fasting and when I saw this book on a Kindle Deal, I decided to give it a read. Thurlow goes into a lot of detail about the science behind intermittent fasting and how it can be a great way to add more energy to your day and keep the pounds off. She also includes a plan as well as recipes. I was wanting the steps and how to begin which I got. I haven’t tried any of the recipes. I’m in a season of life where I can mostly carry this out. Sometimes though I have to eat late and early. My schedule can’t always dictate when I eat, but since I began I have been able to at least go 12 hours between meals (or until I have my coffee with cream) and some days even 14. She suggests you eventually get to a 16-hour fast, which right now would be pretty difficult for me, but once we are empty nesters…maybe. I did find this book mostly helpful and it gave me the jumpstart to at least try it.
THIS TENDER LAND
By: William Kent Krueger
Narrated by: Scott Brick
Published: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Atria Books
Format: Audiobook through Libby and Hardcover
First of all, I LOVED William Kent Krueger’s first stand-alone novel, ORDINARY GRACE. I was honored to meet and chat with him twice in 2008 and 2013, and he is an absolutely delightful human. Check out my interview, HERE. I’ve had THIS TENDER LAND on my shelf since it was published with the intention of reading it several times. But, other books would get in the way. Then I added the audio version to my Libby holds and after several months, it was finally my turn. So, I read the physical book and listened to the audio.
I was hooked by the first chapter and it pulled me down the Gilead River (Mississippi River) with the characters. Since I live in Iowa and am very familiar with the Minnesota and Iowa towns along the river I could imagine the journey the four orphans were taking in their canoe.
It’s 1932, and Odie O’Banion and 3 of his friends decide to escape from the Lincoln Indian Training School and set off for St. Louis. Their story of survival, the people they meet along the way, and the family they create was a balm on my heart. I absolutely loved this story and it is my second 5-star read so far this year. Plus the cover is frame-worthy. If you are looking for a novel with characters you can root for and a compelling story that keeps you turning the pages, this one is for you.
Everything that has been done to us we carry forever. Most of us do our damnedest to hold on to the good and forget the rest. But somewhere in the vault of our hearts, in a place our brains can’t or won’t touch, the worst is stored, and the only sure key to it is in our dreams.
FISH IN A TREE
By: Lynda Hunt
Narrated by: Kathleen McInerney
Published: February 5, 2015
Publisher: Nancy Paulson Books
Format: Audiobook through Libby
Ally is in 6th grade and so far has gotten through without teachers realizing she can’t read. When Mr. Daniels takes over after her teacher has a baby, Ally finds it harder and harder to hide her inability to read and to avoid the teasing that goes along with it. Mr. Daniels tries some new ways for Ally to turn in assignments which helps her realize she isn’t dumb but actually really quite smart. Finding out she has dyslexia opens up a whole new world of opportunities for her and Ally becomes a whole new person. This middle-grade novel is an excellent read for teachers to help them think out of the box and inspire them to reach those kids that may be struggling in their classroom.
THE SECRET SISTERS
By: Elizabeth Weiss
Published: November 30, 2021
Publisher: The Dial Press
This was our book club choice last month, but due to weather and illness, we didn’t get to meet until this month. Josie and Harriet are raised by parents who worked on Broadway until an accident stopped their mother’s career. With the show bug still in their system, Josie and Harriet begin a vaudeville act, but one that is based on a lie. Their parents harness them together as if they are conjoined twins to perform on stage. They travel the country hiding their secret until eventually Josie has had enough and runs away, exposing their farce. The mess left behind for Harriet and her parents is quite difficult and they are again forced to escape. When Josie starts showing up in movies without acknowledging her family, Harriett, and her parents, find themselves struggling with their identity and future.
This historical fiction grabbed me at the beginning and had an ending I didn’t see coming but really appreciated. But, the middle got kind of slow for me. I really loved Ruth and Vera as side characters and the vaudeville life the author depicted in the beginning. I enjoyed reading and learning a part of history that I knew very little about.