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Welcome to Quick Lit: June 2024 Edition 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.


I’m currently reading WHERE THE LOST WANDER for book club this week, THE LAST TWELVE MILES for review, and I’m listening to THE WEED THAT STRINGS THE HANGMAN’S BAG for fun.

I’m currently watching Ted Lasso. I started it a long time ago and watched a few episodes and never got back to it. But, I am LOVING it now. I save it for when I have a task to complete like washing the dishes or cutting strawberries. It makes the chore way more fun.

This month’s list includes two month’s worth of books. I wasn’t able to get my post ready for May so had to bundle all the books into this post. I’m sharing five nonfiction and four fiction titles. Seven of them were audiobooks and two were eBooks.

Quick Lit June 2024


The Man Who Died Twice cover

The Thursday Murder Club #2
By: Richard Osman
Narrated by: Lesley Manville
Published: September 16, 2021
Publisher: Penguin
Format: Audiobook through Libby

I enjoyed THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB enough to give the second in the series a try. I read the paperback of the first book and listened to this one on audio. I think this may have hampered my enjoyment a bit because I had a harder time keeping the new characters straight. That is one negative for this series is there are so many characters to keep straight. I did find a list online that reminded me who each person was, but still found it more difficult on the audio version.

The main Murder Club characters are just as likable and there is a good mystery to carry you through. I enjoyed the witty banter and storyline. I’m invested enough in the characters to keep reading through the series, but I will likely try to read it over listening to it.

She Come By it Natural cover

Dolly Parton and the Women Who Loved Her Songs
By: Sarah Smarsh
Narrated by:
Published: October 13, 2020
Publisher: Scribner

I have been a fan of Dolly Parton my whole life. I grew up watching Hee-Haw and listening to country music on our AM radio. When I noticed this book on a Kindle Deal, I decided to choose it for our book club’s read in April.

Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this book. The only parts worth reading were the actual quotes from Dolly that the author used from other sources. The rest of the book was a rant about feminism, former President Trump, and men in general. There was a lot of repetition of the author expressing anger over some way that she or women in society have been wronged.

I’m not saying that women haven’t had to fight for the right to be heard, but the author just went about it all wrong. Instead, I think she used Dolly Parton as an excuse to write a book so she could bash the former president and all the things he did wrong. That isn’t the book I wanted to read. I can see enough politics in the news and didn’t need to read about it when I thought I was getting a book about the great Dolly Parton.

“Parton is a great unifier not just across differences in identity and background but also across today’s devastating political chasm.”

I wish the author had taken her own advice and chosen to write a story that unified readers instead of pitting them against men, conservatives, or anyone who isn’t a feminist.

“Dolly very serenely smiled and said, ‘When I was young and had nothing, I wanted to be rich and famous, and now I am. So I’m not going to complain about anything.'”

Stiltsville cover

By: Susanna Daniel
Published: August 3, 2010
Publisher: Harper
Women’s Fiction
Format: eBook Purchase

This was our book club choice for May and it was a book I’d never heard of before nor had I heard of the author. The book is set in Miami throughout the 80s and 90s. Stiltsville refers to a cluster of houses on stilts off the coast of Miami on a stretch of land that borders the bay. The houses are all on stilts due to the rising tide. The family in the story owns one of the houses in Stiltsville.

STILTSVILLE begins with two young adult women, meeting and one inviting the other to Stiltsville for the weekend. Her brother and friend will also be there and soon there is a connection between Frances and Dennis. Their story is told from the beginning of their dating years through the later years of their marriage. Frances and Dennis will attempt to handle family dynamics, parenting, friendship, marriage difficulties, illness, and eventually death. There isn’t much of a plot to this story, but just a voyeuristic peek into the lives of this couple. If you have been married for a while, you’ll relate to some of their struggles. If you love the beach you’ll be envious of their lives near the ocean. This would make a great summer, beach read.

Note that this book doesn’t have chapters but sections divided by years. So, each section was quite long. If you are a chapter reader, this will take some getting used to. I have to share that I laughed out loud in the 1990 section because I received this exact same hammer for my graduation in 1991!

“Eleanor Everest, presented her with a small brass-handled hammer with a bow around its neck. “It’s seven tools in one,” she said, demonstrating how the handle unscrewed to reveal a screwdriver, which in turn unscrewed to reveal a smaller screwdriver, and so on.”

How to Walk into a Room cover

The Art of Knowing When to Stay and When to Walk Away
By: Emily P. Freeman
Narrated by: Emily P. Freeman
Published: March 12, 2024
Publisher: HarperOne
Christian Non-Fiction
Format: Audiobook through Libby

I have enjoyed Emily P. Freeman’s Podcast and follow her social media accounts. I enjoyed her previous book, THE NEXT RIGHT THING, and took much wisdom from it. Her newest book discusses her decision to ultimately leave their church due to family circumstances that made them feel like the church didn’t match up with their beliefs.

This part of her story interested me as I am feeling pulled in leaving some “rooms” that might not be meeting my needs and are not aligning with my core values. I was more interested in the leaving portion of the book than the walking-in portion, but I found several nuggets of wisdom that gave me something to think about.

Sometimes our questions don’t reflect facts, reason, logic, or good theology. Sometimes our questions reveal our lack of faith, our fear, or our confusion. Ask them anyway. God has what it takes to sort it out. If you sense a stirring, a whisper, a discontent within you that doesn’t make sense but also seems right, please pay attention. Sometimes when you change your mind, the growth is small and the burn is slow. It can be one you have to burrow and bury to hold safe while the growth takes root.

Freeman offered great insights and much to consider when I’ve been searching for the right direction. Although some of her beliefs don’t match with mine, I still found helpful, thought-provoking information to use in my decision-making. I especially liked her answer to the question “How can I know if it’s time?”.

“The short answer is, you might now know for sure. But you can know for now….When I’m fully ready but it isn’t quite time, I repeat this phrase as a reminder, an arrow, and a prayer. For now reminds me that it won’t always be this way, that I can endure because this has an end date. I may not know exactly when the time will be right, but when I look at the path behind me, I can point out and call to moments when I was ready but it wasn’t time. Until eventually, it was.”

Search cover

By: Michelle Huneven
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
Published: April 26, 2022
Publisher: Penguin
Format: Audiobook through Libby

I’ve heard Anne Bogel talk about this book a few times on her podcast, “What Should I Read Next” including recently, so I added it to my holds list. This is a fictional story about Dana, a food critic, who joins the search committee to select her church’s new pastor. I’m on our own church’s SPRC (Staff & Parish Relations Committee) and we have been without a pastor for quite a while. Because there is such a shortage of pastors, we can’t really have a search and instead must wait for someone to come along.

I found this fictional story so real that I had to keep reminding myself it was fiction. But, a lot of the circumstances were a bit too far-fetched for me. Searching for a pastor, to me, means someone who lines up with your faith, but in this novel, they were interviewing a woman who was a Wiccan. That didn’t make sense to me. However, the group dynamics were interesting because there was a wide variety of personalities that had to work together. When it came time to choose their eventual pastor, there were some tense moments, and not everyone was on the same page. I appreciated the postlude that gave the reader a peak into what happened after the pastor’s time at their church and I felt it was pretty realistic.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. As a side note, since I listened on audio, it did make all the different characters kind of hard to keep track of from the members of the search committee to the different applicants. It might be a better physical read for that reason. But, I did enjoy the narration and her various voices for the characters.

Ghosts of Honolulu cover

A Japanese Spy, A Japanese American Spy Hunter, and the Untold Story of Pearl Harbor
By: Mark Harmon & Leon Carroll, Jr.
Narrated by: Mark Harmon
Published: November 14, 2023
Publisher: Harper Select
Format: Audiobook through Libby & Hardcover from Library

I received a memorial for my dad to purchase books for our library that he would have loved. This was one of the books I chose because he was a Veteran and I believe he would have liked reading this book. Mark Harmon, star of the TV Show, NCIS, is the author and narrator of this book. Harmon hopes, through the show NCIS, he can continue to tell stories of those men and women who made the service what it is today.

In this book, Harmon mostly focuses on the life of naval intelligence special agent, Douglas Wada, as well as Honolulu before and after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the treatment of Japanese Americans in Hawaii and the US. As someone who feels like most of her Pearl Harbor knowledge came from the movie with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, I was completely enthralled with the historical details shared in this book. Plus, it wasn’t so bad getting ready for the day with Mark Harmon in my ear. 😉

I really hope to travel to Oahu one day and visit all the museums and memorials as well as the hidden places mentioned in this book. If you are a history buff, this book should be added to your list. At less than 300 pages it’s a quick read and full of behind-the-scenes history.

The Self Care Solution cover

A Year of Becoming Happier, Healthier, and Fitter – One Month at a Time
By: Jennifer Ashton, M.D., M.S.
Published: December 30, 2019
Publisher: William Morrow
Format: eBook through Libby

Dr. Jen Ashton is the chief medical correspondent for ABC News but her time in that role is ending soon. You have likely seen her on Good Morning America or other ABC news programs. Even though I stopped watching the news and news programs (because of this Bible study) back in February, I still receive Ashton’s newsletter, Today’s Ajenda, and really appreciate all of her medical advice. This is where I saw information about this book that she published back in 2019 about her own self-care experiment in 2018. She is leaving ABC/GMA to start her own women’s wellness company, Ajenda which I’m interested in hearing more about.

Ashton takes a new self-care solution each month and focuses on that one new habit. For example, January was a Dry, No-Alcohol, month. She then explains the health benefits of decreasing your alcohol consumption and applies it, especially for women. She then shares each week by explaining how that particular habit worked or didn’t work for her. The Less Sugar month was particularly hard for Ashton even though she expected it to be quite easy.

Even though Ashton is in excellent shape and health, lives in a major US City with access to close grocery stores, restaurants, and gyms, doesn’t have children at home (or a husband), and is quite financially stable, I still found many of her habits and tips helpful. But, knowing this could make some of her habits unattainable if you have a different lifestyle. I especially liked her month of pushups and planks, her month of stretching, and also the no-alcohol month. I appreciated how she explained serving sizes and how they relate to when you have a drink at a restaurant. I was glad that all of her months weren’t perfect and when she “fell off the wagon” or didn’t get her 10,000 steps in, she just started over the next day. Some of her achievements seemed a bit too braggy and her frequent trips to Europe during that year were jealous-inducing and hard to connect with. Overall, I really enjoyed her month-at-a-time approach to adding new habits and her simple steps to carry them out.

Her advice states that “making small changes one at a time allows you to understand how each change impacts your health and can accurately show you the best way to sustain that change so you can truly be healthier and happier.

Nothing Else but Miracles cover

By: Kate Albus
Narrated by: Carrie Coello
Published: September 5, 2023
Publisher: Margaret Ferguson Books
Middle-Grade Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook through Libby

Kate Albus wrote A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON, a favorite book of mine in 2022. Like her debut novel, this story is also about three siblings, Fish, Dory, and Pike, left behind when their dad was drafted during WWII. Their mother had died so they were forced to manage on their own with the help of their neighbors and community. When a new landlord takes over their apartment building, the three siblings are forced to hide out so they aren’t turned in to the authorities and children’s services.

Dory has a special relationship with Lady Liberty and frequently heads to Staten Island to share her deepest thoughts and worries with “Libby”. Dory’s curiosity about a dumbwaiter in their favorite restaurant leads her to a way to save her siblings until their father comes home.

I adored this story of siblings looking out for each other, the fun places in New York City including Coney Island and Staten Island, and the simple life of kids being cared for by their community. Dory was spunky, Fish was the rule follower and such a great big brother, and Pike was the sweetest little brother who was always up for an adventure. This is a great story for a whole family to enjoy and the narration was also excellent. It would make for a great family road trip listen.

The In Between cover

Unforgettable Encounters During Life’s Final Moments
By: Hadley Vlahos, RN
Narrated by: Hadley Vlahos, RN
Published: June 13, 2023
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Format: Audiobook through Libby

I know I’ve said this many times on the blog, but my job as a hospice social worker was my favorite job after being a mom. I found out I was pregnant shortly after starting the job and we had already decided that I would be a stay-at-home mom, so I didn’t get to do the job very long. But, I did continue to volunteer afterward.

Being a part of hospice and someone’s final journey is such a privilege and Hadley Vlahos describes it so perfectly. As a hospice nurse in the Florida panhandle, Hadley came across patients with all kinds of diseases, of all ages, and all walks of life. In the book, Hadley shares stories of caring for 12 patients and their experiences reuniting with loved ones during their final moments. Typing this now, I am tearing up thinking about some of the stories she shared.

When my dad passed in December, his sister’s family prepared to give her the news. She was also unwell and in hospice at the time. Before they even had a chance to tell her, she knew that my father (her brother) had passed because he had been to see her. She even knew what time he had passed. This brought me so much comfort. Especially, when she passed less than a month later. I can imagine Dad returning to greet her.

Hadley writes with compassion, tenderness, and a passion for helping both the patients and their family members when it is time for them to leave this earth. I highly recommend this to anyone struggling with understanding end-of-life care or those who need confirmation that our loved ones will be waiting to greet us on the other side.

What good things have you been reading? I’ve also read books that I reviewed for publishers. Check them out, HERE.

You can see all my other Quick Lit posts by clicking, HERE.

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