“The book woman of troublesome creek”
By Kim Michele Richardson

Kentucky author Kim Michele Richardson’s new release, “The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek,” is a well-researched historical novel based on the Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project.

Established as part of FDR’s Works Progress Administration, this service brought books to the poorest and most isolated areas of Eastern Kentucky. It also created jobs for women, much like Richardson’s heroine, 19-year old Cussy Mary Carter.

Set in 1936, Cussy and her father, an ailing coal miner, live in a tiny cabin in Troublesome Creek, Kentucky. Much to his dismay, Cussy works as a “book woman,” supplementing the family’s meager income by delivering reading materials to the mountain people. Having promised his wife before her death, Cussy’s father is determined to find her a husband and give her some respectability.

She has no interest in marrying, though, as it would take her away from her books and beloved patrons. This is not the only obstacle in Cussy’s path, however. Born with methemoglobinemia, a rare genetic condition that causes her skin to appear blue, she must face the discrimination of a society that often threatens her good work (and even her life) because of her outward appearance.

Along the way, Richardson introduces readers to a variety of well-developed supporting characters including Junia the mule, Cussy’s trusted companion and mode of transportation through the hazardous terrain. There are her fellow librarians, a potential love interest and even a doctor who believes he can offer a cure for her condition but not, perhaps, without its own consequences.

We also meet Cussy’s library patrons, both young and old, who, despite struggling with poverty and its effects, also have a great hunger for the knowledge and hope that the “book woman” carries with her.

“The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek” is a must-read for all book women (and men!) and lovers of Kentucky history who will appreciate the section of historical photographs at the conclusion of the novel. It is also sure to be a hit with book clubs who will value the thoughtful discussion questions offered in the “Reading Group Guide” as well as the “Conversation with the Author.”

Kim Michele Richardson’s other novels include “Liar’s Bench,” “GodPretty in the Tobacco Field” and “The Sisters of Glass Ferry.” She is also the author of the bestselling memoir, “The Unbreakable Child.” She is an advocate for the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence and recently founded Shy Rabbit, a writers/artists scholarship residency.

— Reviewed by Diane Dehoney, community service librarian, Paul Sawyier Public Library

“The river widow”
By Ann Howard Creel

Near Paducah in 1937, as the Ohio River is flooding, Adah’s husband Lester once again loses control and begins to beat her as they attempt to remove items from their home ahead of the rising water. In self-defense, Adah grabs a nearby shovel from a pile of tools and hits him in the head, killing him.

Stunned and conflicted over what occurred, she drags his body to the flooded river hoping the water will carry him downstream. Adah is guilt-ridden, but she knows that to be able to keep her stepdaughter, Daisy, safe from Lester’s manipulating and criminal family she needs to do what she has to while trying to figure a way out for both of them. But then love enters her life, changing everything.

“The River Widow” is a story of endurance, perseverance, and survival as well as an interesting depiction of life on a Kentucky tobacco farm during the Depression. Creel’s novel does an excellent job of portraying a woman isolated and afraid but with a strong determination to find a way to make a better life for herself and her child. 

— Reviewed by Paul Sawyier Public Library

“Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver”
By Mary Oliver

Earlier this year the Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Mary Oliver, passed away at the age of 83.

She wrote much about nature, animal life and the beauty and complexity of the simple world.

Devotions is her collection of 200 poems that was personally curated by the author and spans more than 50 years of crafting with words.  It is curious that the poems are in reverse chronological order.  Perhaps her thought was that her best work was always her most recent. The earliest poems deal frequently with the grief of living: “This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready to break my heart…to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are nothing, forever.”

With age Oliver saw beauty in clouds, birds, the sky, seasons and everything natural.   “While I Am Writing a Poem to Celebrate Summer, the Meadowlark Begins to Sing.”

Oliver notes the meadowlark’s whistle, “its breath-praise, its thrill-song, its anthem, its thanks, its alleluia.”

Her poetry is always accessible, genuine not pompous.  Her message is to look around, and to pay attention. 

— Reviewed by Lizz Taylor, Poor Richard’s Books

“This Book Will Put You to Sleep”
By Professor K. McCoy and Dr. Hardwick

Do you have difficulty falling asleep?   Or do you fall asleep initially only to awaken a few hours later unable to go back to sleep?

We all have nights of insomnia but hopefully very few of them.  Sleep interruption is not healthy and often caused by stress. There is little chance of avoiding that!  Experts suggest exercising throughout the day, getting plenty of exposure to light, not napping during the day, and going to bed at a regular hour. But even with all these natural sleep remedies, if you still have an issue, I would suggest “This Book Will Put You to Sleep.”

This collection of amusing dullness has been carefully selected to put readers to sleep as quickly as possible. If you are a visual person, there are numerous illustrations of sheep to count, mazes to pencil through, a staring contest with 48 cats and “spot the differences” on 306 bumble bees.

Nothing could be more boring than reading the dullest entries from “interesting” diaries such as Christopher Columbus who writes on Saturday, Aug. 4, 1492 “Steered S.W. by S.”

— Reviewed by Lizz Taylor, Poor Richard’s Books