Try these reads with your library card, then buy signed copies for your collection or for holiday gifts. You can meet all of these authors, and 40 more, at our fourth annual Great Writers Right Here Author Fair, December 10 from 1-4 p.m. in Marvin Auditorium. Discover great new reads, and support the literary arts in Kansas.
1. While the Kettle’s On, by Melissa Fite Johnson
While the Kettle’s On is a rare collection of poetry that manages to balance depth and lyricism with accessibility—these are poems that you’ll understand instantly, but you’ll want to read them and consider them again and again. Johnson invites readers into a world both familiar and new with poems of family history, coming of age and married life. These are honest poems that reveal the poet’s unique insight and experience, but they don’t rely on shock value to hook readers. Instead, they engage us with a fresh perspective on the memories, stories, challenges and blessings that so many of us share. You’ll find yourself nodding in recognition, tearing up in sympathy and laughing out loud. Read our original interview with the author.
2. Weekend Surrender, by Lori King
After another painful betrayal and breakup, Rachel Morgan sets out to prove to herself that she can handle a good time with a man and walk away sexually satisfied and with her heart intact. She could have never imagined that she would be agreeing to the proposition of a lifetime. Every woman in Stone River, Texas would jump at this chance, but she’s afraid she’ll leave pieces of her heart behind. Raised on their family ranch, the four Brooks brothers have always shared everything. Even women. When they find themselves face to face with the one person who could complete them all, they set out on a journey to claim her for their own. Fate can place them all in the right place at the right time, but will Rachel be able to overcome her relationship scars, or is she destined to live her life alone believing that no man ever stays?
3. My Secret Wars of 1984, by Dennis Etzel Jr.
Poetry. “To read MY SECRET WARS OF 1984 is to ride an old wooden rollercoaster through a spacious gallery of stained-glass windows, all their colorful shards having been stolen, shattered, then chewed into shape: what we have here are gorgeous and wise assemblages of sharp, scavenged graffiti. Ricocheting from Pac-Man to Topeka to institutional structures to AIDS awareness to Reagan, Dennis Etzel, Jr. masters the skills of fragmentation and disharmony without losing one bit of torque. Sharpen your political acumen on this poetry-memoir of the highest order—and discover much pleasure in the process.”—Amy King, author of The Missing Museum
4. Monster in my Closet (Monster Haven #1), by R.L. Naquin
I stopped believing in monsters long ago. But I knew I wasn’t imagining things when I found one in my kitchen baking muffins. I’d seen him before: lurking in my closet, scaring the crap out of my five-year-old self. Turns out that was a misunderstanding, and now Maurice needs a place to stay. How could I say no?
After all, I’ve always been a magnet for the emotionally needy, and not just in my work as a wedding planner. Being able to sense the feelings of others can be a major pain. Don’t get me wrong, I like helping people—and non-people. But this ability has turned me into a gourmet feast for an incubus, a demon that feeds off emotional energy. Now, brides are dropping dead all over town, and my home has become a safe house for the supernatural. I must learn to focus my powers and defeat the demon before he snacks on another innocent woman and comes looking for the main course…
5. Memoirs of a Girl Who Loves God, by C.L. Wells
Fourteen-year-old Krystal finds herself flailing when her parents separate. Withdrawing from her family and friends, she begins cutting. No one knows.
At her new school, she makes one single friend, Em, who invites her to volunteer at the local homeless shelter. There, Krystal discovers fellow misfits, including Brandon, a boy from her school. How can Krystal start a new life when the scars of her old one will never fully heal?
6. My Little Valentine, by KelLee Parr
This is the true story of lost love between a mother and daughter. In 1925, a rural Kansas teenage girl found herself in the “family way” and unmarried. She was sent to The Willows Maternity Sanitarium, a home for unwed mothers, and gave up her baby to be raised by strangers. She was devastated but had to promise to never look for her baby. Though kept a secret, she never forgot and always hoped her baby girl was happy. Adopted and raised by a wonderful Kansas farm family, the daughter always wonders the who and why about her birth mother. After 66 years they are reunited and this is their story.
7. Sun and Moon, by Lindsey Yankey
Sun and Moon have always held their own places in the sky, but after a lifetime of darkness all Moon wants is to spend just one day as Sun. Sun agrees, but only if first Moon takes a careful look at his night, before making his final decision. Follow Moon as he travels through the dark discovering enchanting animals and scenes unique to the nighttime, foxes hunting, children dreaming, lamplighters, and fireflies. Will Moon still wish to trade Sun places in the sky? Read an original interview with the author on our library’s website.
8. The Alchemist’s Notebook, by Kevin Wohler
As Salt City’s only alchemist, Malcolm Ward has been minding his own business for the last ten years. His shop, The Village Alchemist, caters to mages, mystics, and magic wannabes—including Tommy DeLuce, the mayor’s son. But when a fire elemental kills Tommy, the city council demands that Mal investigate.
The trail from the fire elemental to Tommy isn’t exactly a straight line; it’s more like a circle. An elemental means alchemy, but everyone assumed Mal was the only alchemist in town. Now he’s taking it personally.
Malcolm’s alchemical mojo is a bit rusty, so he’ll need help from his friends in the metaphysical community to uncover the truth about Tommy’s death. And he needs to do it soon, before more customers go missing.
9. The Turtle’s Beating Heart, by Denise Low
Low brings to light deeply held secrets of Native ancestry as she recovers the life story of her Kansas grandfather, Frank Bruner (1889-1963). She remembers her childhood in Kansas, where her grandparents remained at a distance, personally and physically, from their grandchildren, despite living only a few miles away. As an adult, she comes to understand her grandfather’s Delaware (Lenape) legacy of persecution and heroic survival in the southern plains of the early 1900s, where the Ku Klux Klan attacked Native people along with other ethnic minorities. As a result of such experiences, the Bruner family fled to Kansas City and suppressed their non-European ancestry as completely as possible. As Low unravels this hidden family history of the Lenape diaspora, she discovers the lasting impact of trauma and substance abuse, the deep sense of loss and shame related to suppressed family emotions, and the power of collective memory.
Low traveled extensively around Kansas, tracking family history until she understood her grandfather’s political activism and his healing heritage of connections to the land. In this moving exploration of her grandfather’s life, the former poet laureate of Kansas evokes the beauty of the Flint Hills grasslands, the hardships her grandfather endured, and the continued discovery of his teachings.
10. The Fish’s Wishes, written by Glendyn Buckley and illustrated by Barbara Waterman-Peters
A little fish is bored with his life in a small pond. He wishes to be a fish in the big sea! This story tells the adventures of little fish after his wish is granted.