Tag Archive for: librarian

Funny Story by Emily Henry

’Tis the season … oh, no, not that season … the season for the release of bestselling author Emily Henry’s latest book.

It definitely feels like a celebratory season to anyone who has counted down since the last one came out in spring 2023. And it would seem that I am not alone in my excitement because Henry’s latest offering, “Funny Story,” was named one of the most anticipated books of 2024 by Time magazine before its release April 23. The real question is, was it worth the wait?

Let me give you some details about the book first, and then I will share some thoughts.

The book’s main character, Daphne Vincent, loves a good story. She especially loves how her fiance, Peter, would tell the story of how they met — in a park on a windy day, with Daphne trying to retrieve her hat and eventually getting some assistance from Peter. Though unbeknownst to lovestruck Daphne, their breakup on the night of Peter’s bachelor party, when he dumps Daphne for childhood best friend Petra, will prove an even more interesting story than their first meeting.

After the breakup, Daphne is not sure what to do. She has moved to Michigan from South Carolina for Peter. She has a new job as a children’s librarian, and her co-workers think she must be in the witness protection program or working for the FBI because she is so hush-hush about herself. Her friend group consists only of people who are also friends with Peter. She feels sad, overwhelmed and alone. With no other place to go, Daphne accepts an invitation from Miles, Petra’s ex-boyfriend, to move into the apartment that he and Petra used to share.

Miles is the opposite of Daphne’s organized, introverted, neat personality. His fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants adventurous personality allows him much adventure, and he has the ability to charm complete strangers, though his breakup with Petra has really shook him. After moving in, Daphne observes him mostly spending a lot of time in his room watching sad movies and listening to loud, depressing music.

Despite living in the same apartment, the two avoid each other for several weeks, but a chance encounter and a fun night out leaves their exes thinking the two are more than just roommates. From this misleading event, the two form a precarious friendship, with Miles offering to help Daphne get out of the house and see more of what their small town in Michigan has to offer. She has been so focused on counting down to the end-of-summer readathon fundraising event that she is in charge of that she has forgotten to see where she is and enjoy her time in a new place. It is thanks to Miles that she begins to explore and appreciate Michigan.

In this new chapter of Daphne’s life, the two become close, but several misunderstandings involving their exes, as well as Daphne’s mostly absent father, who springs a surprise visit on her, get in the way of their happiness. Ultimately, Daphne has to decide what is most important to her and whether she will leave Michigan once the library’s readathon is over.

Yes, yes, yes — this book was worth the wait. The characters are well drawn and relatable. Of course, I especially love that Henry made Daphne a librarian and that the whole book is about a story or, rather, multiple stories that converge to make a wonderful read. It is clever, and while nothing is too surprising, everything fits and makes the book compelling and easy to read. My perfect beach read. Now to start my new countdown — only 330 days, or something close to that, until Henry’s new book gets released.

Review written by: Jeana Gockley, Joplin Public Library Director

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Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence

Librarians love books. We love the smell and the feel of books. We love the weight of knowledge that you feel just holding a book in your hands. But sometimes, you find a book that just makes you want to throw it against a wall. Or bury it in your yard. Or – fellow librarians, cover your eyes – set that book on fire.

In “Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks,” librarian Annie Spence writes letters to books that have left an impression on her (both good and bad).  From “Matilda” to “The Goldfinch” to “Cornzapoppin’!: Popcorn Recipes and Party Ideas for All Occasions” – Annie has read them all, and she has feelings.

Annie’s letters are well-written and approachable, she mourns her inability to get through “Anna Karenina” and sheds light on the unhealthy relationship at the center of “The Giving Tree.” Each letter is composed like a love letter, or a break-up letter in some cases, and is signed with Annie’s signature. Reading this book feels like reading someone’s personal, and very unusual reading journal.

These letters are hilarious, but also ridiculously informative. If you want to know what series is loved by both semi-truck drivers and precocious children bored of the books in the Children’s Room, Annie can help with that (it’s Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple series).

Annie Spence is a master of a skill essential to library work called “reader’s advisory.” It is skill all about being able to understand and create connections between books. When a patron comes into a library looking for what to read next, we have been trained to help you find something else you will probably enjoy. Annie Spence is here – in book form – to help you find your new favorite books.

Annie is also ready if you need some advice for your life, not just what to read but also Excuses to Tell Your Friends So You Can Stay Home With Your Books (page 177) or Turning Your Lover into a Reader (page 205) – if you find that your significant other is just not that into books.

Reading this book feels like talking to a friend, the reader feels very connected to Annie and her experiences reading books. You can tell just how much she loves reading – and it makes you want to expand your own reading horizons. If nothing else, pick it up so you can truly understand how voracious readers feel about the library from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (page 163).

If you look forward to reading these book reviews that we at the Joplin Public Library provide every week, then I heartily recommend that you give “Dear Fahrenheit 451” a try.

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Men of Valor by Irene Hannon; Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center; Something Read, Something Dead by Eva Gates; Bloody Genius by John Sandford

My book choices lately include a police procedural, Christian romantic suspense, cozy mysteries, and a book on women’s lives and relationships. Instead of choosing just one I thought I’d give you a sampling of what I’ve been reading.

Irene Hannon writes, among other things, Christian romantic suspense. Her Men of Valor series is a trilogy centered on the 3 McGregor brothers. The first book, Buried Secrets, introduces the oldest brother Mac. A former Navy Seal, Mac is now a detective. When a construction crew uncovers an unmarked grave Mac is called in to assist small town police chief Lisa Grant. The harder they work to discover the identity of the victim the more desperate someone is to make sure the name and the story stay buried.

The middle brother, Lance, is a new FBI agent and his first case is a possible kidnapping. The twist here is the victim, Christy Reed’s sister, was declared dead in a house fire months ago. Thin Ice brings together Lance and Christy in a race to find the kidnapper before he claims his next victim. Tangled Webs is baby brother Finn’s story. Still recovering from injuries received in the Middle East, the Army Ranger is vacationing in an isolated cabin. Screams in the middle of the night have him racing to the rescue of his neighbor. Neighbor Dana is recovering from trauma herself and now Finn has to rely on his skills to keep her safe and find who wants her gone. These are well-written quick reads.

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center is classified as women’s lives and relationships. Cassie Hanwell is a firefighter and very good at what she does. What she is not so good at is trusting and letting people close to her. On her 16th birthday her mother, Diana, left Cassie and her father. Later that same day Cassie attends a party. What happened is only hinted at but it changed her forever. Now she’s a rising star with the Austin Texas fire department – that is, until aggressively and physically objecting to being groped by the man who is presenting her with an award. Refusing to apologize, Cassie loses the job she loves.

Diana asks her to come to Massachusetts to help her deal with some health issues. To save her career and do her reluctant familial duty, Cassie moves and starts over with the Lillian Fire Department. The Lillian crew are not as forward thinking as the crew in Austin. Working to prove herself and deal with her mother Cassie begins on a path of discovering forgiveness and the true meaning of love.

I like cozy mysteries and I’ve been reading Eva Gates’ Lighthouse Library series. The setting is the Outer Banks in North Carolina and the protagonist is librarian Lucy Richardson. Employed by the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library Lucy also lives in an apartment on one of the upper floors of the lighthouse.

In Something Read, Something Dead Lucy is hosting a shower for her soon to be wed cousin, Josie. Josie runs a local bakery and is planning a small wedding but her visiting relatives are pushing for an expensive, elaborate affair. Cousin Mirabelle sees the wedding as a boost to her own fledgling business and is especially forceful. When Mirabelle collapses and dies at the shower, it is determined she was poisoned. Josie becomes the number one suspect. She provided the treats for the shower including gluten-free food just for Mirabelle. With her bakery shut down, Josie may have to postpone marrying her beloved Jake. Determined to rescue Josie, Lucy begins her own investigation. She has plenty of suspects including Josie’s relatives and Jake’s old girlfriend who has recently relocated to the Outer Banks. This series is a winner with good characters, a unique setting, and plenty of mystery.

My police procedural is John Sandford’s latest in the Virgil Flowers series, Bloody Genius. Virgil is one of my favorite characters and Sandford can always be counted on to tell a good story. Virgil, an agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, goes wherever he is sent in the state. A prominent professor at the University of Minnesota, Bart Quill, was bludgeoned to death in the library. After 2 weeks with no progress and despite his grumblings, Virgil is sent to help the Minneapolis PD.

There’s no clear lead but plenty of loose threads to pull and Virgil is pretty good at unraveling thread. Why did Quill have a reserved study room in the library when he had his own lab? Why was he there after hours? Was his research important enough to kill for and what about his feud with his academic rival? As usual with Sandford this is fast-paced, compelling and a little humorous. It’s hard to put down.

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Find in Catalog

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