2012 Notable Books

8 wonders

8 Wonders of Kansas! Guidebook by Marci Penner (Inman)

The 8 Wonders of Kansas Guidebook is a 272-page book filled with over 800 beautiful photos of the 216 entries in the 8 Wonders of Kansas contests. Author Marci Penner has worked with all 216 entries to compile background information, location, contacts, web sites and hours to make this spiral-bound book a handy tool when exploring Kansas. It is certain to become a treasured Kansas classic whether it's used as a coffee table book or as a travel guide.

Afterlives Trees
The Afterlives of Trees by Wyatt Townley (Leawood)

This new collection of poems by Wyatt Townley uses trees as a motif to explore the theme of transformation and features stunning black-and-white images by Michael Johnson, a master photographer likened by critics to Ansel Adams. This work includes the poem "Fire" read by Garrison Keillor on NPR.

Amelia Lost
Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming (Oak Park, IL) 

Author Candace Fleming tells the thrilling story of America's most celebrated flyer, Amelia Earhart. In alternating chapters, Fleming deftly moves readers back and forth between Amelia's life (from childhood up until her last flight) and the exhaustive search for her and her missing plane. With incredible photos, maps and handwritten notes from Amelia herself-plus informative sidebars tackling everything from the history of flight to what Amelia liked to eat while flying (tomato soup), this unique nonfiction title is tailor-made for middle graders. 

Bent Road
Bent Road: A Novel by Lori Roy (Tierra Verde, FL)

In Lori Roy's first novel, Arthur Scott tries to escape the race riots of 1967 Detroit by returning with his family to the tiny Kansas town he left 25 years ago after the violent death of his sister.  And then a local girl disappears, catapulting the family headlong into a dead man's curve. On Bent Road, a battered red truck cruises ominously along the prairie; a lonely little girl dresses in her dead aunt's clothes; a boy hefts his father's rifle in search of a target; a mother realizes she no longer knows how to protect her children.

Destiny Republic
Destiny of the Republic : A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard (Leawood)

For a man forced into the presidency, the legacy of James Garfield extended far beyond his lifetime, and Destiny of the Republic revisits his meteoric rise within the military and government with meticulous research and intimate focus. Garfield was a passionate advocate of freed slaves, a reformer at odds with power brokers, a devoted father, and a spellbinding speech-giver. Four months after taking office he was shot twice by an unhinged office-seeker, and a nation already recently fractured by war shattered, leaving the wounded president at the center of a bitter, behind-the-scenes struggle for power. Examining the medical reform spurred by Garfield's unsanitary medical treatment, Destiny of the Republic passionately brings President Garfield's unknown-but-widely-felt legacy into focus.

Doc : A Novel by Mary Doria Russell (Cleveland, OH)

Born to the life of a Southern gentleman, Dr. John Henry Holliday arrives on the Texas frontier hoping that the dry air and sunshine of the West will restore him to health. Soon, with few job prospects, Doc Holliday is gambling professionally with his partner, Mária Katarina Harony, a high-strung, classically educated Hungarian prostitute. In search of high-stakes poker, the couple hits the saloons of Dodge City. And that is where the unlikely friendship of Doc Holliday and a fearless lawman named Wyatt Earp begins, before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral links their names forever in American frontier mythology, when neither man wanted fame nor deserved notoriety.

Door Forest
The Door in the Forest by Roderick Townley (Leawood)

In the center of three streams, in the heart of a forest, lies a mysterious island. It is impenetrable to all but the poisonous snakes patrolling its waters. But Daniel is determined to get there, along with his friend Emily, a girl who seems to know more than she can say. Enter the soldiers and their menacing commander. Is he searching for something? A treasure map? The island? The girl? Roderick Townley spins a magical tale of lies and truths, of secrets kept and secrets revealed.

Liars Moon
Liar's Moon by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Lenexa)

After rescuing a prince and sparking a magical rebellion, Digger shouldn't be surprised to keep tripping over nobs everywhere she goes. But back home, Digger is very surprised to discover Durrel Decath at the last place she expects to find him, in jail for his wife's murder. Lord Durrel swears he's innocent, and Digger vows to prove it. Armed with little more than curiosity, lock picks and her vexing ability to see illegal magic, Digger is drawn into even darker mysteries that swirl at the heart of the city. 

My Ruby Slippers
My Ruby Slippers: The Road Back to Kansas by Tracy Seeley (Oakland, CA)

Sure, there's no place like home, but what if you can't really pinpoint where home is? At 39, settled in in San Francisco, a midlife crisis shakes Seely to her roots, roots she is determined to seek out. My Ruby Slippers tells the story of that search, the tale of a woman with an impassioned if vague sense of mission: to find the meaning of home. Seeley finds herself in a Kansas that defies memory, a place far more complex and elusive than the sum of its cultural myths. 

Northern Cheyenne
The Northern Cheyenne Exodus in History and Memory  by Ramon Powers (Topeka) and James N. Leiker (Eudora)

The exodus of the Northern Cheyenne in 1878 and 1879, an attempt to flee from Indian Territory back to their Montana homeland, is an important event in American Indian history. It is equally important in the history of towns like Oberlin, Kansas, where Cheyenne warriors killed more than 40 settlers. The Cheyenne, in turn, suffered losses through violent encounters with the U.S. Army. More than a century later, the story remains familiar because it has been told by historians, novelists and filmmakers. The authors explore how the event has been remembered, told and retold.

Osa Martin
Osa and Martin: For the Love of Adventure by Kelly Enright (Vail, CO)

Legendary filmmakers and adventurers Osa and Martin Johnson via film brought the jungles of Africa and the South Pacific to millions of Americans from the 1910s to 1940s. Kelly Enright brings this amazing couple fully to life. She chronicles their journey from a honeymoon among cannibals to safari camps in lion country. In doing so, she captures the true spirit of two people who explored and delighted in the world around them as that world, in turn, transformed them. The Safari Museum in Chanute holds a core collection of the Johnson's films, photographs, and personal belongings.

Prairie Fire
Prairie Fire: A Great Plains History by Julie Courtwright (Ames, IA)

In this first comprehensive environmental history of her subject, Courtwright vividly recounts how fire, setting it, fighting it, watching it, fearing it, has bound Plains people to each other and to the prairies themselves for centuries. She traces the history of both natural and intentional fires from Native American practices to the current use of controlled burns as an effective land management tool, along the way sharing the personal accounts of people whose lives have been touched by fire.

Rode by Thomas Fox Averill (Topeka)

Thomas Fox Averill imagines the story behind Jimmy Driftwood's ballad "Tennessee Stud". After extensive research, he invents his own characters as well. His novel captures the spirit of the ballad while telling the story of Robert Johnson, a man who holds love in his heart though adventure rules his time. Pursued by a bounty hunter, Indians, and his conscience, Johnson and his horse are tested, strengthened, and made resolute. 

Send Work
Send Me Work: Stories by Katherine Karlin (Manhattan)

Unlike the heroines of domestic fiction, Katherine Karlin's women face their biggest challenges outside of the house. The characters in this debut collection of short stories encompass a broad range of experience: a struggling young woman in post-Katrina New Orleans persuades a welder to teach her his trade; an orchestra oboist hears a confession from a beloved teacher; an idealistic aerobics instructor decamps for revolution- era Nicaragua to pick coffee on a farming collective.

Tapped Out
Tapped Out: Rear Naked Chokes, the Octagon, and the Last Emperor: an Odyssey in Mixed Martial Arts by Matthew Polly (New Haven, CT)

At the age of 36, author Matthew Polly decides to immerse himself in Mixed Martial Arts training and competition in order to write a book about it. After traveling to several of the elite academies to train, his journey culminates in an amateur MMA match. This is the humorous and enlightening account of his experiences.