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Baby, It’s Cold Outside, So Snuggle Up With A Good Book!

By Gini Rainey

“The Orphan Train” By Christina Baker Kline“The Orphan Train” By Christina Baker Kline

This is one of those books I didn’t want to end. Rich in themes centered on families and parenting, “Orphan Train” is a short and very readable novel. Kline narrates the story of a practice meant to be kind that was often cruel. Due to the waves of immigration, epidemics of illnesses and the difficulty of living in poverty, many children were left as orphans. Many families had multiple children who were set adrift when their parents died or disappeared. Organizations sprang up to help with the problem and the orphan trains were created. Large numbers of children from the big Eastern cities were shipped to the Midwest where couples looking for children could adopt them.

The book has two orphaned women as heroines, 17 year old Molly and 91 year old Vivian. Molly’s father, a Native American, was killed when she was a young child and her mother, who could not cope, retreated to a life of drug abuse. Molly has been placed in a foster home with people who do not respect her intelligence or belief system. Vivian came to New York City from Ireland with her parents as a child. After most of her family was killed in a tenement fire, Vivian was placed on an orphan train going west with the hope of finding an adoptive family. Her first two placements in the state of Minnesota were disastrous, but she eventually found a stable home that helped launch her life as a productive adult.

Now, fate has once again intervened in the lives of both women as, at age 91, Vivian meets Molly, who has to complete a community service assignment. Molly begins to assist Vivian in cleaning out her attic, slowly sorting through the mementos that represent the pieces of Vivian’s life she has kept hidden for all these years. As they discover the unexpected correlation in their life experiences, Molly and Vivian develop a true affection for each other.

As the story moves back and forth in time between the late 1920’s and present day Maine, author Christina Baker Kline’s novel explores the subjects of love, adversity, resilience, providence, the workings of the child welfare system, deep and hidden secrets, and how the choices we make can resonate through generations.

As you discover more and more about these characters and their lives, you may certainly question some of their behavior and the decisions they made. While you may not agree with, nor understand their actions, they remain endearing folks who stick to your heart like glue so that find yourself accepting their flaws and wishing them well.

This is a very well-written historical fiction. It moves between 1920 and present day revealing more of the characters backgrounds with each chapter. It is very easy to fall in love with this book and the characters. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes more modern historical fiction as well as those who like stories about overcoming the odds.

Rating: 5 of 5

Copyright 2013 – William Morrow

“Where Have You Been” By Cynthia Boone“Where Have You Been?” By Cynthia Boone

One of the great things about reviewing books is that sooner or later you begin to have people contact you to review their books! I love this part of the job, because when I receive these books, I’m always eager to dig in and start reading. I love a good read and was hoping that “Where Have You Been?” would prove to be one, and I was left with very mixed feelings about this book.

The storyline focuses on Carly and Beau, a couple of star-crossed lovers that have one heck of a time trying to get together. Because of time and distance, their budding romance, which began in high school, didn’t stand much of a chance of survival. It took me a while to get into the heart of this book because I almost needed a magic slate to try to keep up with the characters and the different plots that Ms. Boone was presenting. The short chapters (some only a page and a half long) made for a choppy read and I found myself wondering what terrible misfortune would happen to them with the next turn of the page.

I was left with the feeling that Ms. Boone tried much too hard to give the histories for all of the characters in order to tie the story line into a neat package. This resulted in my suffering from “plot whiplash” due to all the territory she attempted to cover. Although that in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the constant introduction of subplots left me with a feeling that the development of her main characters was lacking.

In my opinion, her writing is very good and the story lines are intriguing, but by jumping around as much as she did, parts of the book suffered from too little fleshing out. I’m wondering if perhaps she might have done her characters (and plots) a favor by presenting them in a multiple book format, thus allowing for more in depth details to have been devoted to some of the key issues.

That being said, I do have to admit that I had trouble putting down “Where Have You Been?” once I got into the thick of the plot. Cynthia’s characters are very likable and what’s not to like about a book that is set on a ranch in central Texas? If you would like to read a fast-paced, intriguing book filled with angst, drama and misfortunes, then “Where Have You Been?” is the one for you.

Rating: 3 of 5

Copyright 2014 – BookBaby

“Three Moons Over Sedona” By Sherry Hatzler“Three Moons Over Sedona” By Sherry Hatzler

Sherry Hatzler, a gifted mainstream women’s fiction novelist, brings us this tale of a middle-aged woman whose husband dies under embarrassing circumstances and leaves her to question her own life. One day she gets in the car and just drives, all the way to a new town called Sedona. It’s here that she starts her life over, basically from scratch, with the help of two younger very different women that she learns to call her friends.

In this very touching heartfelt story, the reader learns that all three women are holding on too tightly to past hurts thus making it difficult to move towards love in their future. This book is the story of how the three get to know each other and themselves and let go of the hurts together. Hatzler has created very realistic flawed characters and relationships and the resolutions, for the most part, avoid the typically cliché solutions.

Although initially “Three Moons…” might appear to be chic-lit on the surface, it most definitely changes its appearance by virtue of its smartly written, warm and endearing story line. While perhaps a novel written to appeal to an older reader, the truths and lessons learned by the three women of Sedona are applicable to the lives of old and young alike.

Hartzler’s incredible story-telling skills and imaginative details that surround even the simplest moments help to bring a nearly visual experience to the reader. Her dry sense of humor fills the pages with a warm wit, further bringing the story line even more realistically to life.

This book is a wonderful adult coming of age story about three very complex and interesting women whose challenges bind them together in ways that few young people have the experience to understand. From sharing their own personal tragedies they are all able to grow and blossom in ways they never expected.

For those who choose to read this book, don’t expect a book about Sedona. It’s definitely not a travelogue. The beautiful town of Sedona is simply the setting for most of what takes place in the story and it could just as easily have been any other town about 2,000 miles west of Ohio. It is what it is – a very touching, yet very fun story about the challenges that many of us will face as we mature in life.

Rating: 5 of 5

Copyright 2009 – Rock House Publishing

“Deep Down Dark The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle that Set Them Free” By Hector Tobar“Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle that Set Them Free” By Hector Tobar

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and novelist Tobar (“The Barbarian Nurseries”) presents the riveting story of the 33 men who spent 69 days trapped more than 2,000 feet underground in Chile’s San José Mine in 2010. Noting that the abundance of minerals under the hills of the Atacama desert drew workers from all corners of Chile, Tobar—who was granted exclusive access to the miners and their families—compassionately recounts the miners’ personal histories, experiences during the 17 days they were without outside contact, extended rescue, and the drama above ground with the families living near the mine in their makeshift “Camp Esperanza,” mingling with government ministers, NASA advisors, engineers, mechanics, and drillers.

Particularly moving is the reenactment of the first 17 days when the “33” banded together, drinking dirty water used to cool off the mine’s drilling systems and sharing their meager food supplies.

Feeling as though “they are living inside a Bible parable,” the men keep their hopes up through prayer, and some gravitate toward particular roles: the pastor, the chronicler, the unofficial spokesman.

Tobar vividly narrates the miners’ lives post-rescue as they come to terms with their life-changing experience and the media frenzy surrounding it. Rich in local color, this is a sensitive, suspenseful rendering of a legendary story.

Rating: 5 of 5

Copyright 2014 – Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Thirteen Days in September Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David“Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David” By Lawrence Wright

Wright (“Going Clear”), Pulitzer Prize winner and staff writer for the “New Yorker,” offers a thorough study of the Camp David Accords of 1978 in this meticulously researched affair, which goes beyond the core events to address a multitude of historical factors. On the surface, this is about U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and the 13 days the men and their respective staffs spent trying to hammer out a peace treaty. Wright takes the conference day by day, detailing the clashes and compromises that marked the final results. He also delves into Biblical events and the numerous conflicts following Israel’s creation in 1948. As Wright puts it, “This book is an account of how these three flawed men, strengthened but also encumbered by their faiths, managed to forge a partial and incomplete peace, an achievement that nonetheless stands as one of the great diplomatic triumphs of the twentieth century.” Alternating between biographical studies of the people involved, sociopolitical histories of the countries and faiths represented, and an almost nail-bitingly tense unfolding of the conference itself, Wright delivers an authoritative, fascinating, and relatively unbiased exploration of a pivotal period and a complicated subject. This book also, helpfully, includes maps and photos as well.

Rating: 4 of 5

Copyright 2014 – Knopf; First Edition


Around East Texas

April 5th-7th: Smith County Medical Society Alliance Book Fair

Smith County Medical Society Alliance Book Fair:

Thursday-Saturday, April 5th-7th

The annual Book Fair, the primary fundraiser, began in 1968. A spring and fall sale event, each consisting of a three day sale, gives 75% of net proceeds funds to health career scholarships at Tyler Junior College and the University of Texas at Tyler.

The Smith County Medical Society Alliance Book Fair will be held at 2004 Broussard St., Tyler. The book fair will be held April 5th-7th, 8am-6pm. Only cash and checks are accepted.

“The community looks forward to our sales and anticipates all the great ‘deals’ and wonderful books they will purchase. We have shoppers from all around the state. We enjoy greeting our seasoned shoppers and meeting new ones as they line up early Thursday morning in anticipation to opening,” said Kelly Michaels, current President of SCMSA.

She continues, “‘Achieving Dreams’ a group of exceptional young adults volunteer every Monday to sort, shelve books, clean, and help with other various jobs. The “Achievers” love working at the Book Fair and show us the meaning of giving back to the community. They are a huge part of Book Fair success.”

Now, shoppers have a nicer shopping experience with more room to roam and more books to choose from. There are books for everyone! There are children’s books, collector’s books, cookbooks, new releases, coffee table books, fiction, non-fiction, hobbies and “How To” books, autobiography and biography, sports, religion, self-help, romance, travel, children’s, gardening, history, and much more.

If you would like to donate books, please drop them off at the book shelves outside in the front of the building. Donations can be made any day, at any time. Donated books are brought in daily. For a donation receipt, please leave your name and address information with your donation or call (903)561-1353 to schedule a drop-off.

For additional information visit or call Book Fair at (903)561-1353.

We also take monetary donations. If you would like to donate to Book Fair, please see the Donations page at This is a wonderful way to honor or remember a friend or loved one and to further health care education.

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March 2018: Book Worm Events!

March 23rd (3-5:30pm) – Meet Local Author Alma Ravenell  and discuss her book “Our Baby.” The Tyler Public Library is located at 201 S. College Ave., Tyler. Most events hosted by Club Reads are free. The Library is open Monday-Thursday 10am-7pm, Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 10am-5pm, and Sunday 1-5pm. For more info call (903)593-7323 or go to

March 27th (10am) – Club Read – Join the Club Read group in discussing this month’s read, “Manhattan Beach” by Jennifer Egan. The Tyler Public Library is located at 201 S. College Ave., Tyler. Most events hosted by Club Reads are free. The Library is open Monday-Thursday 10am-7pm, Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 10am-5pm, and Sunday 1-5pm. For more info call (903)593-7323 or go to

April 5th-7th (8am-6pm) – Book Fair – This year’s event focuses on the sale of donated books which will go to endowed scholarships for nursing and healthcare at TJC and UT-T and for community health projects. Thousand of books will be available for purchase. This is held at SCMSA, 2004 Broussard St., Tyler.

August 4th (1-5pm) – Book Bash will be held at Harvey Hall Convention Center, 2000 W. Front St., Tyler. They are doubling the authors for 2018’s Book Bash! Tickets will be on sale until the day of the event. Come on out and find a new favorite author as well as meet the authors behind the stories. For more info go to Tickets are $12.


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Spring Programs at the Library

Spring Programs at the Library

The Tyler Public Library is located at 201 S. College Ave., Tyler. Most events are free. For more info call (903)593-7323 or go to


All storytimes will be in Taylor Auditorium. Storytimes will not meet the week of Spring Break, March 12th-16th.

  • Leeme un Cuento/Read to Me Storytime (children 3-6 years old), Mondays at 10:30am
  • Lap & Play Time (babies up to 18 months) features stories, songs, and playtime with developmental toys at 9:30am every Wednesday
  • Toddler Explore Storytime (children under age 3) is on Wednesdays at 10:30am
  • Read Aloud Crowd Storytime (children 3-6 years old), Thursdays at 10:30am

March 3rd (2-4pm) – LEGO® Block Party – Children ages 3 and up, bring your imagination for an afternoon of building and playing! LEGO® and Duplo Blocks are provided.

March 10th and 24th (2-4pm) – Makerspace – This continuing STEM education for children and teens will feature March 10th, Multiplication Bingo; and March 24th, Cardboard Challenge. This will be held in the Library Treehouse.

Spring Break: March 12th-March 16th (10:30am) – Spring Break Movie Matinees – Families are invited to watch a fun feature length films in the library’s auditorium. A different movie will be shown each day. Pillows, blankets, and carpet friendly snacks welcome.


Every Tuesday (4:30-5:30pm) – Teen Tuesdays – If you are in Middle School or High School you’re in! The Library will have games, activities, and fun just for teens. Earn volunteer hours completing special projects. Descriptions for weekly activities can be found at Events are:

  • March 6th: Silent Library Games
  • March 13th: Movie
  • March 20th: Whose Line? Improv Games
  • March 27th: “And Scene!” Reader’s Theater

March 3rd (11:30am-1:30pm) – Tips and Tricks for Dog Owners – Pick up tips and tricks for handling your dog from Certified American Kennel Club Evaluator, Judy Parson. No pets in the Library.

March 7th (12 noon) – Great Decisions is a foreign policy lecture series. Books are available for $22 at the circulation desk. The March topic and speaker is “China and American: The New Geopolitical Equation,” Dr. Robert Sterken.

March 9th (11:30am) – “Raised Bed Gardening on a Hillside” with Wayne Elliot will be presented as part of the Smith County Master Gardener Series. Free to attend.

March 15th (5pm) – Reel Talk – This event is like a book-club, but for movies! Free to attend.

March 23rd (3-5:30pm) – Meet Local Author Alma Ravenell and discuss her book “Our Baby.”

March 2nd and 16th (1-3pm) – Veteran’s Movie – Join this biweekly screening of movies presented especially for veterans. This free event is held the first and third Friday every month.

March 27th (10am) – Club Read – Join the Club Read group in discussing this month’s read, “Manhattan Beach” by Jennifer Egan.

Every Tuesday (10am-1pm) – Quilting Class – Learn the art of quilting at the Library. Fabric and quilt patterns will be provided. Participants are asked to provide their own sewing machines, if you have them, plus scissors, and neutral or white thread. For details and a complete list of supplies please contact the Library’s information desk.

Every Tuesday (5:30-6:30pm) – Evening Meditation – Learn the practice of Heartfulness Meditation with Gayathri Kambhampati.

Every Wednesday (5:30pm) – Gentle Yoga – This gentle yoga class will be taught by Meagan Vrba who is certified in yoga, CPR, and first aid.

Every Saturday (11am-12 noon) – Crochet Classes will be held in the 3rd floor Internet Center Workroom. These are free classes. Learn to crochet with Library staff and volunteers. All materials are provided. All experience levels are welcome.

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