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Falling Into Novels

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By Gini Rainey

“Raney: A Novel”

By Clyde Edgerton

With the promise on the cover that “This book is too good to keep to yourself. Read it aloud with someone you love, then send it to a friend,” I picked up this book while in Florida this fall and read it in about a day.  I kept trying to read parts of it to my nearly comatose husband while lying on the beach, but maybe the fact that I kept saying “OMG this is so YOUR family” made him start turning a deaf ear every time he heard me snort out loud.

The primary focus of this book centers on the marriage of Raney, a small-town Baptist and her husband Charles, a liberal from Atlanta and how they learn to adjust their expectations of each other to find a common ground for a lasting relationship.  The true essence of this book is the importance of communication in marriage.  It’s about two different people coming from radically different backgrounds and both believing to the core that their way of viewing the world is right and how they learn to find a commonality and listen to each other.

If you are from the south or know someone from the south, this book is sure to strike a chord of familiarity with you.  Not a serious read by any stretch of the imagination, “Raney” should have you laughing out loud when you realize how very human and real Edgerton has made all his characters.  If you are as fed up as I with all political correctness that is flying around our world these days, you will be delighted at the first two years, two months and two days of this young couples fledgling marriage.

5 of 5 –  Copyright 2012 – Algonquin Books

“A Penny Lost”

By Aspen Bassett

Although labeled a “Young Adult” book, I thoroughly enjoyed this read filled with time-travel, auras and chakras that Bassett used to weave a tale about an identical twin, Penny, and the hunky guy, “Stranger,” from down the street as they visit different times in history, impacting people’s lives everywhere they land.  I will admit this is another light read, but it definitely is a page-turner, and for a beach book it provided an excellent escape from my work-a-day world while I was on vacation.

Making my brain kick-into a whole new mode, I had a good time wrapping it around the adventures of Penny and Stranger, that involved the Lusitania, pirates, and Lafayette and provided a great romp through history.

Bassett is a librarian who grew up learning about chakras and auras and the true power of imagination and brings all that to her writing.  She has a certificate in Women’s Meditation and is working towards a diploma in Integrated Healing Arts.  Even if you don’t believe in the meditative arts, this book would still be a very interesting read and might just open your mind to the unlimited possibilities that surround all of us every day.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2017 – Tea First Publishing


“The Reluctant Savior”

By Robert Erickson

What do you get when you have the survivor of a messy divorce who also just happens to be an amazing entrepreneurial businessman who leaves town for a month-long sabbatical in a camper who lands in a small town that is struggling to survive?  A pretty interesting book that keeps you riveted to the very end.

Reading this book, written by a graduate of Texas Tech University who co-owned and ran a family business for 20 years, you will be filled with a sense that the author knows his stuff about encouraging people to envision and fulfill their dreams.

With a pretty good knack of character building and descriptive techniques, it didn’t take long for me to form mental pictures of the people of Towson and to have a desire to visit this lovely locale (probably somewhere along the coast of Oregon).  With a bit of romantic tension thrown in for good measure, I found the entire book captivating and had a hard time putting it down.

My only problem with the book was the title.  I really didn’t get the sense that the main character, Michael, was all that reluctant, and it was a bit of a stretch for me to see him as a savior.  I rather had the sense that he was more of an encourager and a facilitator whose business savvy and generosity enabled a small town and its inhabitants to realize the full potential of their community and themselves.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2015 – Robert Erickson

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Ride ’em Cowboy!

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By Gini Rainey

My dad was quite the jokester.  It seems like he was either pulling off a prank or thinking up one to do.  I remember one time, when I was about 4 or 5, my mom had some of her friends over to play bridge and dad decided it was time to trim my bangs.  So, dad takes the trimmings, glues them to my chest and sends me downstairs to say “hi” to my mom’s friends, who were completely taken by surprise at a little girl with hair on her chest.  Of course, my mom was mortified and promptly hustled me out of the room.  With that in mind, I have often wondered exactly who it was that my dad introduced me to as Hopalong Cassidy when I was around 8 years old.

I was pretty much a tom boy growing up and was madly in love with anything that had to do with cowboys and horses.  My favorite TV shows were Fury, Rin Tin Tin, The Rifleman, The Lone Ranger, and of course, Hopalong Cassidy.  I remember my dad coming home one day, picking me up and the two of us going to the Moorhead Country Club to meet Hopalong Cassidy (whose real name was William Boyd) and his beautiful white stallion, Topper.

If I remember correctly, dad said that Hoppy had moved to Moorhead and was a friend of his.  Now, the internet rabbit hole I have traveled down trying to figure this one out has provided me with only one connection of Hoppie to Moorhead.  Seems there was a disc jockey at a local radio station (KVOX) named Arlyn Lang who used the air name of Hopalong Cassidy for the 25 years he was on the air, beginning in 1984 – the math doesn’t work into this quotient.  So, the question remains: Did I meet the real Hopalong Cassidy that warm day back when I was a kid? Or was it just another one of dad’s pranks?  I guess I’ll never know for sure. Too bad it wasn’t the Lone Ranger, then I could be saying “Just who was that masked man?”

All of that to say, I picked up a really neat cookbook recently, named “The All-American Cowboy Cookbook: Home Cooking on the Range.”  Written by Ken Beck and Jim Clark and published in 1994 by Rutledge Hill Press, this book is filled with over 300 recipes from the “World’s Greatest Cowboys,” and one of them just happens to be, you guessed it, Hopalong Cassidy.  If you are a lover of anything cowboy, you will definitely enjoy this book that is loaded with a ton of trivia and black and white photos.  In fact, it’s so full of fun facts and photos,  you might almost skim past the recipes.

Since nature is reminding us today that winter is not done with us east Texans, it just seems like a Chili kind of day, and this book has several versions of that hearty soup.  Ernest Borgnine, who was in several westerns before he joined “McHale’s Navy,” shared his “Ernie’s Tex Chili.”  In a large pot, brown 3 pounds of ground sirloin or ground round in 1 stick of butter.  Pour off ½ cup liquid from the meat and use it to sauté 3 chopped green bell peppers, 3 chopped onions, and 3 minced garlic cloves in a separate skillet until tender.  Add to the meat mixture and stir in ¼ cup chili powder, 2 tablespoons salt, 1 ½ teaspoon pepper, 3 teaspoons cumin, and ½ tablespoon cayenne pepper.  Add 3 1-pound cans of chopped tomatoes, including liquid.  Simmer covered for 1 hour, remove lid and simmer for at least 30 more minutes.  Topped with chopped onions and grated cheese, this makes great meal for the wild bunch!

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Love to Read!

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By Gini Rainey

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot

In a New York Times best seller, Rebecca Skloot tells the story of a black American’s struggle with cervical cancer, whose cells were taken from her without her knowledge or permission, were named HeLa, reproduced by the billions in labs, and have been used over the years since her death in 1951 as vital tools for the development of the polio vaccine, cancer research, cloning, gene mapping, and much more.

That being said, Skloot also faithfully recorded how the family of Henrietta Lacks, an indigent recipient of state-of-the-art cancer treatment, believes that Lacks was horribly exploited by the physicians/scientists whose training and skill were able to extract value from her excised tumor.  And while Skloot succeeds in establishing that they (the family) are terribly aggrieved, she fails to make sense of the high degree of distress they experienced as a result of the scientists’ having studied and used what otherwise would have been thrown into the hospital’s waste bin.

With so much medical advancement made possible by the “harvesting” of Henrietta Lacks’ it would be fitting to remember that the goal of her treatment was to save her life, not to harvest her cells for experimentation.

3 of 5 – Copyright 2011 – Broadway Books

Cover of Snow

by Jenny Milchman

Put on a sweater and grab a cup/glass of your favorite beverage because, if you’re like me, you won’t be able to put this one down and there’s plenty of snow flying around in this book.  Setting her story in the Adirondaks in the fictitious village of Wedeskyull (which I must admit drove me crazy every time I mentally tried to pronounce it!), which must be the coldest, iciest, snowiest place around, Milchman tells a tale full of family and village secrets.

Definitely a page turner, Milchman does such a superior job of character-building you will be able to visualize everyone from the autistic Dugger to the smarmy chief of police Vern to the heroine Nora and everyone in between.  Beginning with the inexplicable suicide of Nora’s husband, Brendan, this book is one emotionally suspenseful roller coaster ride right up to the very last page.

With plot twist after plot twist, romantic intrigue, and characters you both love and want to smack up aside the head, what’s not to like about this book!  Another nice thing about this book is that by being a member of web sites such as, with daily email offerings, I was able to purchase the ebook version and enjoy it for only $1.99.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2013 – Ballentine Books

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Ella Reid Public Library Collection

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Library to Host Ella Reid Public Library Collection for Black History Month

Beginning Feb. 1, the Tyler Public Library will display the Ella Reid Public Library collection for Black History Month. Named in honor of a highly respected church and community leader by the African American community in 1961, the compilation contains many books and artifacts unique to the collection.

“The first recorded beginnings of the Negro Public Library date to the World War II era,” said Chris Albertson, retired City librarian. “In July 1941, the Negro Public Library was chartered and located in the basement of Bethlehem Baptist Church.”

The Tyler Public Library is honored to house this compilation, which boasts a charter, correspondence, librarian’s monthly and annual reports, financial reports and budgets, circulation records and registers of borrowers, accession records, property and equipment inventories, minutes of a Board meeting, a field visitor’s report on the library by the Texas State Library and other miscellaneous items. In addition, some of the records are on microfilm in the Local History and Genealogy room of the Tyler Library.

“We are excited to feature the Ella Reid Public Library collection for Black History Month and encourage the public to visit and learn about this wonderful collection of Tyler literary history,” said Connie Greer, reference librarian.

The display will be located on the first and second floors of the Library during the month of February.

For more information about this program and other Library events, please contact the Tyler Public Library at (903)593-READ (7323).

About the Tyler Public Library

 The Tyler Public Library is a department of the City of Tyler. The Library helps meet the information, education and recreation needs of Tyler’s diverse and growing community by providing a full range of print, audiovisual and digital resources along with assistance and programming to promote the use of those resources. To learn more, visit

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