Wednesday, February 28, 2024

February Library Lovers Month

I'm late to the party. That's not much of a surprise because I'm not much of a party animal anyway. And, I don't need a special month to celebrate libraries. Every day, as I open up a book to read, I'm thankful for the way libraries have enriched my entire life. But February IS Library Lover's Month, so maybe that's a good enough excuse for another book review blog post.

(me and Lisa in November 1959. Lisa always says I taught her to read. She was a year behind me in school, but she sat right beside me as I learned to read. By the time she was in first grade, she was an old pro.)

You know the old TV show, Cheers? In the theme song, Cheers is a place "where everybody knows your name." I don't have any bars that fit that description, but the Hutchinson Public Library front desk workers definitely know my name. I almost always have books "on hold" at the library.

My sister, Lisa, and I share some reading time

If I were independently wealthy, I might buy my favorite authors' books the minute they are published. But, alas, since I am not, I am a frequent flier at my library. I put the latest bestsellers and my favorite authors' books "on hold" and wait for my turn at the library.

I still use the book bag I won a couple of years ago in the Hutch library reading contest.

I can never remember a time when I wasn't a library patron. My mom took us to the library from the time we could toddle in on our own steam. My earliest memories include the library in the Pratt County Courthouse. When I was in grade school, Pratt built a new public library. It was where I discovered the Happy Hollisters, Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown before "graduating" from the children's room to the adult section.

While this is not my chart, I remember sticking the green stickers to similar certificates to record books as an elementary school summer library reader.

When I moved to Hutchinson to work as a reporter at The Hutchinson News back in 1979, the Hutchinson Public Library became my new library. Even though I quit my daily commute to Hutchinson after Brent was born, the Hutchinson library - with its vast collection and quick access to new releases - remained my "home" library - supplemented by trips to the Nora Larabee Memorial Library in Stafford.

While I get the majority of the books I read in Hutchinson, the Stafford library is a community treasure - not only for its book collection, but for the way it reaches out to the community with monthly events like First Friday/Nora's Gatherings and other community-minded activities. Just Monday, the Stafford library hosts CNA students who took patrons' blood pressures as a community service. (Plus, there were snacks!)

Story hour with Miss Gerry Ann at the Nora Larabee Memorial Library - June 2023

National Today had this blurb about libraries:

Do you know where the word ‘library’ came from? No prizes for guessing. It originates from Latin. The Latin word is ‘liber’ for ‘book’ or ‘document,’ which can be found in ‘libraria’ for ‘collection of books’ and ‘librarium’ for ‘container for books.’ It all started with the need to organize collections of documents. The earliest form of archiving began amidst the earliest forms of writing, which consisted of clay tablets, dating back to 2600 B.C. in Sumer.

Every time I recommend books, I lead with this caveat: Everyone has his/her own taste in books. I take photos of book covers and send them to Jill or to my sister, Lisa, thinking they'd like particular books. But I always find it a bit risky to recommend books to others. 

But here goes. Maybe someone else looks for recommendations from someone they actually know. If you like them, let me know. And, if you don't, that's OK, too. Everyone has different genres, authors or other preferences. So find one you like and read it. And be sure and tell me: I might like it, too. At my age, I've decided that if I don't like a book after I've given it a fair shot, I move onto the next.

I've given an Amazon link for each one. That's not to encourage you to buy it. I don't get a cut from sales. It just gives more of a synopsis than I've given. I'd encourage you to find the books at your local library. Or support a local bookstore and purchase locally. I occasionally buy secondhand books through the Thriftbooks website. I also enjoy going to Bookaholic for second-hand books when I'm in Wichita. But, the vast majority of books I read are from my public libraries, including all the books below. 
By Shelley Read
This is a book Lisa recommended. She used it as her most recent book club selection. The story centers around Victoria Nash, a 17-year-old who is the sole surviving female on the family's peach farm. She meets a young drifter, who changes her life and that of her family. The peach farm in located near the Gunnison River, and the government plans to build a reservoir which will flood their farm and those of neighbors. The book is loosely inspired by true events surrounding the destruction of the town of Iola, Colorado, in the 1960s. (It reminded me of farms and people displaced when the Tuttle Creek Reservoir went in around Manhattan, KS.) She was the author's debut novel, and I hope she will write additional books. 


By Ashley Elston

This was the author's first foray into writing for the adult fiction market. This was a a twisting and turning mystery that I devoured in a day. The main character is Evie Porter - or so we think, at least at first. Evie is just her name for this latest job for Mr. Smith. And while he's her boss, she doesn't know anything about him. She goes from town to town, job to job, posing as a different person each time. But this time, things are a bit different. Who else has secrets? Again, I'll look for the author's name among new releases. 

By Laurie Frankel
Unlike the two books above, Laurie Frankel has authored several other books, all of which I've liked. Her subject matter is not without controversy. Not everyone is going to like the character's lifestyle choices. But, my parents never censored my reading, and I believe it's valuable to read about our differences, too. 

India Allwood is now a famous actress. When she does a movie with adoption as its centerpiece theme, she has some real-life knowledge about the subject. And she tells a journalist her truth about how adoption is portrayed. But her viewpoint on adoption isn't popular with either pro-life or pro-choice proponents. How do you become family - really family (Family, Family)?


By Tess Gerritsen 

This one is another mystery/thriller - my favorite genre. Former spy settles in Purity, Maine, and raises chickens at her farm near on the coast. She's trying to leave the past behind, but then a body turns up in her driveway. Maggie isn't the only retired spy living in her small community. This group of friends help her investigate, all the while trying to appease the local police chief, who can't figure out how the "Martini Club" is investigating just as quickly as the police force. 


By Nita Prose
This is the second Molly the Maid book by Nita Prose, and I again enjoyed the capers and peculiarities of the offbeat character, Molly. She's now Head Maid at a five-star hotel. But there's another death at the hotel. This time, her new maid-in-training is on the lead detective's radar as a chief suspect. What are Molly's friend and the hotel's doorman hiding? Is there a tie-in to Molly's past? It's another quick-read caper with Molly and those she cares about in the crosshairs of Detective Stark's investigative radar. 
By Adam Plantinga
This one is another edge-of-your-seat thriller. However, it is pretty violent and graphic, so I offer that word of warning for those who are squeamish or prefer other things. A former Detroit cop is at loose ends after his wife dies of cancer. He gets sideways with a small town cop after he witnesses a young girl being dragged into an alley. Going up against the cop gets him beat up and sent to a maximum security prison. And it just so happens that the governor's daughter, Julie, in touring the prison when its systems fail. Kurt ends up trying to help Julie and others escape, while battling the most dangerous convicts in Missouri.  
By Elle Cosimano

Don't judge a book by its cover. Well, I did. I am probably the visitor that Barnes and Noble dreads seeing. On a recent trip to Kansas City, I browsed through the book store. But instead of purchasing the books, I had my library app open and I was putting books on hold at my library. This was one of those books. I had to chuckle when I read the blurb on the bottom of the page: "Most moms are ready to kill someone by eight thirty A.M. on any given morning ..."
Finlay Donovan is a struggling novelist and mom of two. She's behind on her book contract. And her ex-husband fired the nanny without telling her. She is discussing the plot of her new novel with her agent while lunching at Panera and a customer mistakenly thinks she's a contract killer. That customer "hires" her for a job. How can she get out of this? 

I'll be checking out other of the Finlay Donovan books in the series.


By John Grisham

When I saw that a sequel to The Firm was coming out, I re-read the original book. I thoroughly enjoyed it again, and I was looking forward to reading The Exchange when my name got to the top of the "hold" list at the library. 

It was OK. Randy liked it much better than I did. In it, Mitch and Abby McDeere - the central characters from The Firm - are living in New York City. Mitch is now employed with a different high-power firm. A colleague in Rome asks him to look into a project in the Middle East. Of course, there's a sinister plot and Mitch is again in the middle of it all with friends and family in danger yet again.

As always, if you have books to recommend, please share them with me. I'm always looking for my next read!



  1. I’m adding more titles to my TBR list. I will need 117 birthdays in order to read all the books on my list.😊

    1. I can definitely relate to that! Happy reading!

  2. My TBR list is as long as a novel. Added most of these books to it. My library noted I'd saved over $66,000 by using the library! My home away from home In Iola, Kansas

    1. The Topeka library - where my daughter and her girls check out books - does a similar tally on their checkout slips. I think it would be interesting to get that from my library, too.