GPL Blog

Gift Ideas for Library Lovers: Show Your Bibliophilic Spirit!

As the holiday season approaches, it’s time to celebrate the bookworms and library enthusiasts in your life with thoughtful gifts that resonate with their love for literature and knowledge. Here’s a curated list of delightful presents that will surely bring joy to those who cherish the magic of Galesburg Public Library:

1. Card Catalog Cards — 25 Cards for $1

Take a nostalgic trip down memory lane with our bundle of 25 authentic card catalog cards. Perfect for jotting down notes, creating unique bookmarks, or adding a touch of library history to your personal collection.

2. Exclusive Library T-Shirts — $25

Wear your love for libraries proudly with our exclusive T-shirt. Featuring a stylish design that capture the essence of bookish charm, these shirts make a perfect fashion statement for any literature lover.

3. Library Tote Bags — $10

Stay organized and show off your bookish flair with our library tote bags. Practical and stylish, these bags are ideal for carrying your current reads, notebooks, and all your library essentials.

4. Library-branded Notebooks — $5

 

Capture your thoughts, inspirations, and reading lists in our library-branded notebooks. With enchanting covers inspired by classic book designs, these notebooks are a must-have for any avid reader.

5. Local Literary Treasures — Various Prices

Explore our curated collection of books by local authors, delving into the rich history and captivating stories of Galesburg. From tales of the past to insightful narratives by community writers, these books make for unique and meaningful gifts.

Calling all Librarians: Slow Cooker Showdown

Library staff warmed up their colleagues with crockpot recipes this November at our staff Slow Cooker Showdown. Four indulgent recipes were offered up for tasting and voting by the library staff:  Crock pot hot chocolateChicken and dumplingsMexican lime soup with shredded chicken, and Curried butternut squash soup (vegan). It was a close call, but Mexican lime soup, created by children’s librarian LeAnna, won the coveted traveling trophy. It was a SOUP-er good day!

RECIPE: Mexican Lime Soup with Shredded Chicken

INGREDIENTS

1 yellow onion
3 ribs celery (about 1/4 bunch)
1 jalapeño
4 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 3/4 lb.)
6 cups chicken broth
2 10oz. cans diced tomatoes with green chiles (Rotel)
1 tsp oregano
1/2 Tbsp cumin
1 lime
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 avocado
cayenne pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Dice the onion, celery, and jalapeño (scrape the seeds out of the jalapeño before dicing). Mince the garlic. Add the onion, celery, jalapeño, garlic, and olive oil to a large soup pot and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent.
Add the chicken breast, chicken broth, diced tomatoes with chiles (with juices), oregano, and cumin to the pot. Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to high, and bring the broth up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and let the pot simmer for 45 minutes.
After simmering for 45 minutes, carefully remove the chicken breast from the pot and use two forks to shred the meat. Return the shredded meat to the pot. Squeeze the juice of one lime into the soup (2-3 Tbsp juice).
Rinse the cilantro and then roughly chop the leaves. Add the chopped cilantro to the soup, give it a quick stir, then serve. Slice the avocado and add a few slices to each bowl.

Is Your Social Media Working Against Your Job Search?

For most people, social media is a means for entertainment, keeping in touch with family and friends, sharing photos and videos, and following businesses and people of interest to you.

Did you know that your social media accounts could work against you in your job search?

It’s true. Many employers today are checking the social media accounts of job applicants.

This means they are checking to see what you follow, like, comment on, post, and share on major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, and Linkedin. They’re also checking the photos that you post or that others post with you in them.

Employers are usually trying to get a sense of who you are as a person and how you might fit into their organization and team. They are also looking for any red flags that may indicate you are not a great fit for the position.

Any content that could be considered controversial might be considered to be a red flag. Common controversial topics include politics, religion, drugs, alcohol, and sexually explicit material. Aggressive and offensive commentary can also be red flags.

This is not limited to your own social media activity. If other people are posting controversial content and comments to your profiles, that can also reflect poorly on you.

Here are three tips for making sure your social media is not working against you.

  1. Make your profiles private. Check your privacy settings. Make your profile as private as possible. This way, strangers will have less of a chance to see what you’ve posted.
  2. Remove controversy. Go back and delete old posts, photos, and comments that you wouldn’t want to be seen by a potential employer. If you do not want to completely delete certain items, you might be able to change the privacy setting so you are the only person who can see them.
  3. Change your perspective. Imagine you are an employer searching for a new employee to represent your company. Ask yourself what you would think of your social media presence.

Even if you are not actively seeking new employment, it is still good practice to keep your social media profiles work friendly.

Need a little help deciding if you need to clean up your profiles? Schedule an appointment with our Employment and Technology Specialist for advice.

‘Tis the Season: A Cozy Celebration of Hallmark Christmas Movies at Your Library!

Get ready to deck the halls and cozy up with a cup of cocoa because the library is spreading holiday cheer with a delightful collection of Hallmark Christmas movies on DVD! Whether you’re a sucker for heartwarming romances or enchanted by the spirits merry and bright. Dive into the enchanting world of Hallmark Christmas movies with our selection, featuring three delightful tales that capture the essence of the season.


Check Inn to Christmas

Julie Crawley, a determined lawyer eyeing a promotion, takes a holiday break in her hometown, Crestridge, Colorado. There, she reconnects with Ryan Mason, a fellow Crestridge native, sparking a romance. Both families are locked in a feud over prime property, threatened by the looming Edgestone Corporation’s plans for a modern resort. As Julie and Ryan’s love grows, they hatch a plan to unite their families and save their community from corporate takeover, blending romance, holiday spirit, and a dash of business savvy in this heartwarming tale. Can they bridge the gap and secure a future where love triumphs over rivalry?

Director: Sam Irvin; Cast: Rachel Boston, Wes Brown, Richard Karn, Christopher Cousins; Runtime: 1 hr. 24 min.


Christmas Comes Twice

Cheryl Jenkins, Deputy Director at the Federal Science Association in Washington DC, reflects on a pivotal decision five years ago that derailed her dreams of becoming an astronomer. During her Christmas visit to Wellsboro, she mysteriously travels back in time to that fateful week, aiming to reshape her past decisions. With the chance to fix a disastrous date, guide her sister’s career, and avoid meeting her current boss, Cheryl navigates the complexities of altering her past while cherishing moments with her mentor. As she attempts to forge a different future, Cheryl discovers new perspectives on relationships and life’s unexpected turns.

Director: Michael M. Scott; Cast: Tamera Mowry-Housley, Michael Xavier, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Zarrin Darnell-Martin; Runtime: 1 hr. 24 min.


Christmas Land

Jules Cooper, a thriving New York businesswoman, inherits ‘Christmas Land,’ her late Grandmother Glinda’s enchanting Christmas-themed village. Faced with the choice of selling to a real estate tycoon or revitalizing the magical haven, Jules encounters Tucker Barnes, the charismatic lawyer managing the estate. As she navigates the complexities of decisions in both life and love, Jules discovers the transformative power of Christmas Land and the potential for magic in her own life during this heartwarming holiday tale.

Director: Sam Irvin; Cast: Nikki Deloach, Luke Macfarlane, Jason-Shane Scott, Maureen McCormick; Runtime: 1 hr. 24 min.


12 Gifts of Christmas

Anna, a struggling painter facing financial challenges, lands an unexpected job as a personal Christmas shopper for Marc, a rigid corporate executive. Through their collaboration, Marc discovers the true essence of Christmas giving, realizing it’s about the thought behind the gift rather than its cost. Simultaneously, Anna finds unexpected success as an artist, exploring a path she never anticipated. In this heartwarming tale, both characters undergo transformative journeys that extend beyond the holiday season.

Director: Peter Sullivan; Cast: Katrina Law, Aaron O’Connell, Donna Mills, Melanie Nelson; Runtime: 1 hr. 23 min.


Christmas in Love

In the quaint town bakery famous for its Christmas Kringles, aspiring crafter Ellie Hartman finds herself at odds with the new CEO, Nick Carlingson, whose modernization plans could jeopardize jobs. Assigned to teach Nick the art of making Kringles, Ellie aims to prove that success lies in the people, not machines. As their paths intertwine and Ellie grapples with her entrepreneurial dreams, she discovers the warmth and kindness in her community. However, a glimpse of Nick’s automation plans on his laptop leads to feelings of betrayal. When Nick reveals his future ideas, Ellie faces a choice—whether to trust him and take a leap of faith in pursuing her own dreams.

Director: Don McBrearty; Cast: Brooke D’Orsay, Daniel Lissing, Mary-Margaret Humes, David Keeley; Runtime: 1 hr. 24 min.


With Love, Christmas

Melanie Welch, a diligent producer at Farnsworth Advertising Agency, is vying for a promotion as Creative Director, with colleague Donovan Goodwin as a contender. Despite Donovan’s indifference to Christmas, they’re tasked with creating a heartwarming ad for a crucial client. Complicating matters, Melanie draws Donovan’s name for the office’s Secret Santa, leading her to explore his preferences through a fake email. Unbeknownst to her, Donovan is in a similar situation, harboring feelings for Melanie. As they collaborate, their connection deepens, culminating in a heartwarming Christmas ad idea inspired by Melanie’s family festivities. In the process, they exchange meaningful gifts, revealing their growing understanding of each other.

Director: Marita Grabiak; Cast: Emilie Ullerup, Aaron O’Connell, Rebecca Davis, Lindsay Winch; Runtime: 1 hr. 24 min.


Window Wonderland

In the bustling Manhattan department store of McGuire’s, ambitious Sloan Van Doren competes with laid-back Jake Dooley for the coveted role of the next window dresser during the festive Christmas season. Tasked with creating captivating storefront windows, their rivalry intensifies as they vie for the attention of passersby, and a silent but mutual attraction blossoms. Complicating matters is Sloan’s well-to-do boyfriend, Kenneth, who fails to grasp the significance of the job. Amid the contest, McGuire’s veteran window washer Mac and spirited bathroom attendant Rita add their own romantic subplot. In this holiday tale, love is in the air, but unexpected twists challenge the outcome of the love triangle.

Director: Michael M. Scott; Cast: Chyler Leigh, Paul Campbell, Naomi Judd, Terence Kelly; Runtime: 1 hr. 26 min.


Looks Like Christmas

In a heartwarming holiday tale, two type-A single parents find themselves in a spirited competition for control of the Christmas holiday festivities at their children’s middle school. As they clash over organizing the perfect celebration, what begins as a fierce rivalry turns into an unexpected journey of self-discovery and a realization of the true meaning of Christmas. Amid the joyful chaos, both parents open themselves up to the possibility of a new romance, discovering that the magic of the season extends far beyond the battle for holiday supremacy.

Director: Terry Ingram; Cast: Anne Heche, Dylan Neal, Sean Michael Kyer, Farryn VanHumbeck; Runtime: 1 hr. 24 min.


Christmas List

In this enchanting Christmas tale, Isobel Gray’s meticulously planned storybook holiday with her boyfriend takes an unexpected turn when he goes AWOL, leaving her alone in Fall River, Oregon. Armed with a Christmas bucket list filled with cherished traditions, Isobel finds herself entangled in a tempting new romance with Jamie Houghton, a charming local contractor and volunteer fireman. As Isobel navigates the challenges of completing her festive checklist, she begins to question whether Brett, her absent boyfriend, is truly “the one.” Will Isobel find a White Christmas ending under the mistletoe, or is a new chapter of love waiting to unfold in this perfect Christmas town?

Director: Paul A. Kaufman; Cast: Alicia Witt, Gabriel Hogan, Peter Benson, Wanda Cannon; Runtime: 1 hr. 24 min.

Cooking the Books | Blueberry Blunder by Amanda Flower

Welcome back to Cooking the Books (where we try recipes found in, well, books!)

Amanda Flower’s who-done-it, Blueberry Blunder (An Amish Candy Shop Mystery #8) was an exploration into a genre I don’t normally frequent. As more of a literary fiction gal myself, my exposure to cozy mysteries has thus far been to admire the punny titles on the library’s paperback spinner rack:  Another One Bites the Crust, Dim Sum of All Fears – you get the point. However, when I saw this recipe included in the back pages (Blueberry-and-Cream Fudge) I decided to take a leap for the sake of…research.

The plot:  Bailey is a candy shop owner in Amish country Ohio, building her dream:  a candy factory. When her contractor is murdered, she is the self-appointed sleuth out to clear her friend’s family name. There’s plenty of pleasant dialog, an adorable pet pig, and enough small-town festival charm to fuel a Hallmark movie. I did become more invested in the mystery as the novel progressed and found the Amish culture descriptions enlightening.

The recipe:  I cooked up the fudge, refrigerated it, and brought it to work the next day. While it was set, it was difficult to get out of the pan. Pro tip: when it says “line the pan with parchment” line the bottom and the sides in one large piece. That way, the fudge can be lifted out to be cut and served.

My colleagues’ reactions:

The flavor:  “More blueberry!” “I can’t believe I’m saying this – too sweet!”

The texture:  “Creamy, but hard to get out of the pan.” “Texture was perfect.”

Overall:  “Messy – probably needs to be refrigerated?”  “I would eat this again!”

In summary: I am more than happy to move on from the cozy mystery genre, and despite my love of all things sweet, this recipe is not one I will try again.

Book and recipe: 2/5 stars

Bailey’s Blueberry-and-Cream Fudge

from Blueberry Blunder by Amanda Flower

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh blueberries
½ T cornstarch
1 T lemon juice
¼ cup sugar
24 oz white chocolate chips
¼ stick of unsalted butter
14 oz sweetened condensed milk

Directions

Line a 9×9 pan with parchment.

Make the blueberry sauce. In a small pan, add blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch over medium heat. Stir continuously and smash the blueberries until you have a thick sauce like a puree. Using a fine mesh strainer, push the puree through into a bowl.

Make the fudge cream. Over a double, add the white chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and butter. Stir continuously to blend and until all the chocolate is melted.

Pour ⅓ of the white chocolate mixture into the 9×9 pan. Pour ⅓ of the blueberry sauce on top of the chocolate in the pan. Using a knife, swirl the white chocolate and blueberry together. Repeat these steps twice more.

Place the pan in fridge to set for at least three hours. Cut into pieces and eat. Fudge can last for one week in an airtight container.

Book Review | Blood On Their Hands by Mandy Matney

From the publisher: The highly anticipated inside look at the collapse of the Murdaugh dynasty by the celebrated investigative journalist and creator of the #1 hit Murdaugh Murders Podcast, Mandy Matney.

I am not a podcast listener and so have not heard any of the Murdaugh Murders Podcast (MMP), an extremely popular podcast that has often been ranked #1 ranked on Apple Podcasts. I requested an advance reader copy of Blood on Their Hands expecting it to be true crime nonfiction about Alex Murdaugh. It’s not. It’s a memoir by a journalist who wants us all to know how hard she has worked to be successful and how many people got in her way.

Mandy Matney is a good writer with a major chip on her shoulder. She wants to be a good journalist fighting the good journalist fight and shining a light on crime and corruption. She has faced sexism in the workplace – welcome to being a working woman, Mandy – and feels she has been betrayed by a number of colleagues she trusted. As I read this book, I couldn’t stop thinking about Sally Field and her “I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me!” speech when she won an Oscar.

I don’t question that Matney has put in the work to become a respected journalist, but to me, a reader unfamiliar with her and her work, she comes off as whiny and bitter in this book. Alex Murdaugh, his family, and the aura of invincibility around them needed to be investigated, and it seems like Matney and colleagues did good work. But, for example, Matney acknowledges that Will Folks gave her a job when she needed one, and the support and leads (and paycheck) she needed to investigate Murdaugh, but she also writes near the end of the book, “Looking back now, I can see that the relationship was a bad fit from the start. Will threw me a lifeline when I was desperate for a way out of The Packet,  but I think I gave him too much credit for ‘saving’ me. I excused the rumors about his unsavory reputation because of how much I wanted to believe he was a good guy. I ignored the times his judgment felt off because I was eager to grow with the company. But our early talks about my earning equity at FITS never panned out, and as MMP took off, I began to realize Will saw me more as a competitor than as a teammate. I see now that I never needed a man or an institution to lend my work credibility – I just needed more confidence in my abilities. I’ll always be grateful to FITS for being a stepping stone at a crucial time in my career, but I wish I could go back and tell my former self to get out as soon as things started to curdle.” (p. 251 of the ARC). Way to throw someone under the bus who by her own admission gave her a lot of information and contributed to her ability to write the podcast stories about the Murdaugh family. Matney didn’t do herself any favors with me as a reader with this section. She could have said it was time to move on and left it at that.

Please note that your reaction may vary. Readers who love Matney and her podcasts may love this book. If you are a fan of Murdaugh Murders Podcast, give it a shot. If you are not, this might not be the Murdaugh book for you. I read an advance reader copy of Blood on Their Hands. It is scheduled to be published on November 14, and the Galesburg Public Library will own it.

Book Review | This House of Grief by Helen Garner

From the publisher: On the evening of Father’s Day, 2005, separated husband Robert Farquharson was driving his three young sons back to their mom’s house when the car veered off the road and plunged into a dam. Farquharson survived the crash, but his boys drowned. Was this a tragic accident, or an act of revenge? The court case that followed became a national obsession.

A parent and their children go into a body of water in a vehicle; the parent survives but the children don’t. This unfortunately is a story we’ve heard before. Robert Farquharson claims he had a coughing fit and passed out. Once in the water, he was able to exit the car and swim to the surface, but his three sons were not. This book about his trial was published in 2014 in Australia; now a new edition has been published in the United States.

I can well imagine what a sensation this was in Australia. I remember the media fascination with Susan Smith in the 1990s after she left her sons to drown. I remember the Jaclyn Dowaliby case in the Chicago area in the 1980s. (That case didn’t involve drowning, but a child reported abducted from her home and found murdered a few days later, and a trial of the mother.)

This House of Grief feels like it was written much longer ago than 2014. It is a call back to classic works of true crime like In Cold Blood. It has a literary feel to it that most modern true crime that I’ve read does not. The author acts as a cool and objective narrator. She has no connection to the case other than reporting on it. She feels emotion – pity, grief – but not passion over whatever happened. Robert Farquharson himself remains a remote figure; I felt I got to know and understand his ex-wife’s parents better than I did Farquharson or his ex-wife.

On page 6, Garner writes, “When I said I wanted to write about the trial, people looked at me in silence, with an expression I could not read.” She is very thoughtful and philosophical as she observes and comments on the trial and all the people involved. The subtitle of the book is “The Story of a Murder Trial,” and the author writes her book as a story (a story with an ending that will not satisfy all her readers).

If you like classic works of true crime, I recommend This House of Grief. If you like graphic descriptions, every criminal detail, and proper closure in your true crime, this may not be the book for you.

I read an advance reader copy of This House of Grief. It was published on October 10, and Galesburg Public Library’s copy will be added to the collection soon. 

Spooky Season Selections

Halloween is almost here, m’dears! I recently had the chance to do some traveling and get caught up on four horror/Gothic/spooky adjacent books from my TBR (To Be Read) list/mountain, and I want to share the bounty with you. We’ve got YA, we’ve got adult, we’ve got vampires, tree creatures, parasites, and more! So grab a cup of your favorite hot beverage and a blanket and settle in for some spooky reads. Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Cañas From the publisher: Vampires and vaqueros face off on the Texas-Mexico border in this supernatural western from the author of The Hacienda.  I loved The Hacienda. I reviewed it for this blog back in 2021. And once again, Isabel is teaching me Mexican history via horror novels. This time the setting is 1840s Mexico near the Texas border. While The Hacienda was full of Gothic elements, VoEN is much more character Read more »

New Young Adult Books — October 2023

As the calendar turns to October 2023, it brings with it a harvest of exciting new young adult books, each offering a gateway to captivating realms, relatable characters, and thought-provoking narratives. Get ready to discover the next compelling chapter in YA literature! Put one (or more) on hold today.

A Curse for True Love by Stephanie Garber

Evangeline Fox ventured to the Magnificent North in search of her happy ending, and it seems as if she has it. She’s married to a handsome prince and lives in a legendary castle. But Evangeline has no idea of the devastating price she’s paid for this fairytale. She doesn’t know what she has lost, and her husband is determined to make sure she never finds out . . . but first he must kill Jacks, the Prince of Hearts.


 Zhara by S. Jae-Jones

Magic flickers.
Love flames.
Chaos reigns.

Magic is forbidden throughout the Morning Realms. Magicians are called abomination, and blamed for the plague of monsters that razed the land twenty years before.

Jin Zhara already had enough to worry about—appease her stepmother’s cruel whims, looking after her blind younger sister, and keeping her own magical gifts under control—without having to deal with rumors of monsters re-emerging in the marsh. But when a chance encounter with an easily flustered young man named Han brings her into contact with a secret magical liberation organization called the Guardians of Dawn, Zhara realizes there may be more to these rumors than she thought. A mysterious plague is corrupting the magicians of Zanhei and transforming them into monsters, and the Guardians of Dawn believe a demon is responsible.

In order to restore harmony and bring peace to the world, Zhara must discover the elemental warrior within, lest the balance between order and chaos is lost forever.


When You Wish Upon a Star by Elizabeth Lim

“Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight . . . ” so begins the wish that changes everything—for Geppetto, for the Blue Fairy, and for a little puppet named Pinocchio. The Blue Fairy isn’t supposed to grant wishes in the small village of Pariva, but something about this one awakens some long-buried flicker within. Perhaps it’s the hope she senses beneath the old man’s loneliness.

Or maybe it’s the fact that long ago, before she was the Blue Fairy, she was a young woman named Chiara from this very village, one with a simple wish: to help others find happiness. Her sister Ilaria always teased her for this, for she had big dreams to leave their sleepy village and become a world-renowned opera singer. The two were close, despite their differences. While Ilaria would give anything to have a fairy grant her wish, Chiara didn’t believe in the lore for which their village was famous.

Forty years later, Chiara, now the Blue Fairy, defies the rules of magic to help an old friend. But she’s discovered by the Scarlet Fairy, formerly Ilaria, who, amid a decades-long grudge, holds the transgression against her sister. They decide to settle things through a good old-fashioned bet, with Pinocchio and Geppetto’s fate hanging in the balance.

Will the sisters find a way back to one another? Or is this, like many matters of the heart, a gamble that comes with strings?


The Isles of Gods by Amie Kaufman

When Selly’s father leaves her high and dry in the port of Kirkpool, she has no intention of riding out the winter on land while he sails to adventure in the north seas. But any plans to follow him are dashed when a handsome stranger with tell-tale magician’s marks on his arm boards her ship, presenting her and the crew with a dangerous mission: to cross the Crescent Sea without detection so he can complete a ritual on the sacred Isles of the Gods. What starts as a leisure cruise will lead to acts of treason and sheer terror on the high seas, bringing two countries to the brink of war, two strangers closer than they ever thought possible and stirring two dangerous gods from centuries of slumber…


Champion of Fate by Kendare Blake

Behind every great hero is an Aristene.

Aristene are mythical female warriors, part of a legendary order. Though heroes might be immortalized in stories, it’s the Aristene who guide them to victory. They are the Heromakers.

Ever since she was an orphan taken in by the order, Reed has wanted to be an Aristene. Now, as an initiate, just one challenge stands in her way: she must shepherd her first hero to glory on the battlefield. Succeed, and Reed will take her place beside her sisters. Fail, and she’ll be cast from the only home she’s ever known.

Nothing is going to stop Reed–until she meets her hero. Hestion is fiery and infuriating, but what begins as an alliance becomes more, and as secrets of the order come to light Reed begins to understand what becoming an Aristene may truly cost. Battle looming, she must choose: the order and the life she had planned, or Hestion, and the one she never expected.


A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid

Effy Sayre has always believed in fairy tales. She’s had no choice. Since childhood, she’s been haunted by visions of the Fairy King. She’s found solace only in the pages of Angharad – author Emrys Myrddin’s beloved epic about a mortal girl who falls in love with the Fairy King, and then destroys him.

Effy’s tattered, dog-eared copy is all that’s keeping her afloat through her stifling first term at Llyr’s prestigious architecture college. So when Myrddin’s family announces a contest to design the late author’s house, Effy feels certain this is her destiny.

But Hiraeth Manor is an impossible task: a musty, decrepit estate on the brink of crumbling into a hungry sea. And when Effy arrives, she finds she isn’t the only one who’s made a temporary home there. Preston Héloury, a stodgy young literature scholar, is studying Myrddin’s papers and is determined to prove her favorite author is a fraud.

As the two rival students investigate the reclusive author’s legacy, piecing together clues through his letters, books, and diaries, they discover that the house’s foundation isn’t the only thing that can’t be trusted. There are dark forces, both mortal and magical, conspiring against them – and the truth may bring them both to ruin.

Book Review | Walk Through Fire by Yasmine S. Ali

From the publisher: The first book to examine the rarely-acknowledged Waverly Train Disaster of 1978 – the catastrophic accident that changed America forever and led to the formation of FEMA.

Since Galesburg is a railroad town and I can hear the trains go by my house – most of us in Galesburg can – I was interested in Walk Through Fire. I was in high school when the Waverly Train Disaster happened, and even though my parents are both from Tennessee, I don’t remember hearing anything about it.

Ali was a child in Waverly when the disaster happened. Her parents are physicians who emigrated from the Middle East to Waverly and played critical roles in the one bright spot during the disaster – the triage work that took place in the small local hospital after the explosion. Ali is justifiably proud of them and interested in the disaster, and her personal interest is reflected in the book.

Ali covers a lot of ground. Some of the information did not add much to the story for me as a reader. For example, there is a long part about Union Forces in Tennessee during the Civil War and the laying of tracks by Black laborers, and the information about what caused the disaster was very detailed. But Ali really cares about the town and its people, she knows many of the survivors, and her empathy for the people of Waverly really shines through. I can tell she did a lot of research and conducted a lot of interviews. She describes the terrible burns that people suffered with compassion and her own medical knowledge as a doctor.

I actually feel better about the unknown cargo on trains coming through Galesburg each night after reading this book. A lot of mistakes were made that led to the Waverly explosion, by the railroad and by local law enforcement because they had no idea how dangerous the situation is. A full investigation led to a number of changes to regulations and standards and to the creation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

I listened to the author read much of the book. She’s not a professional reader, and some of her phrasing was a little odd. However, her own passion for the subject kept me going.

If you live near trains or are interested in how disasters shaped our lives for the better by prompting safety changes, you might want to read Walk Through Fire.

The Galesburg Public Library owns Walk Through Fire in print and as a Playaway audiobook.

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