Category Archives: Book Reviews

Wyoming Book Reviews

That Pesky Pickle
Jamie Cannon, illus. Gene Schrader
Independently published, 2019

I was instantly smitten with the darling pickle in a bow tie, socks, and pair of glasses, such a clever looking fellow! It was obvious that this book would be an adventurous read for both me and my daughters. The story had a pace that flowed really well and kept all of our attention as we journeyed along the ups and downs with “That Pesky Pickle.” Many of the aspects in the story are things my daughters and many other children love, such adventures, treats, and making new friends. That Pesky Pickle brought these things together in itself own special way, and that is undoubtedly important for keeping kids involved and attentive to a story. The illustrations are very delightful and have a nice balance of detail and room left for a child’s imagination to fill out. I find it an added bonus to a children’s book when children can add their own spin to illustrations and storylines, supplementing what they are seeing and hearing and That Pesky Pickle did just that. From my first look at the book I found myself thinking that this is a genuinely cute character that can continue to be developed for additional stories, and by the end of the story I was certain “That Pesky Pickle” would be well-suited for many adventures and making more friends along the way!

Robyn Hinds, Interlibrary Loan Technician
Wyoming State Library

Wyoming Book Reviews

With this edition of Wyoming Book Reviews, we’re discontinuing this feature. We’d like to thank all the writers who submitted their books over the last couple of years and all the Wyoming library workers who contributed reviews.

Joy that Long Endures
(Book #2, Irish Blessings Series)
Alethea Williams
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018

This book was beautifully descriptive and exciting. Williams’ characters were a finely-crafted and endearing cast of men and women trying to realize their dreams in the boom-and-bust mining towns along the Union Pacific Railroad in Wyoming’s early years.

Two Irish immigrants from New York — the charming, hard-working, Devin, and feisty, talented seamstress, Ailis — become embroiled in the West’s perils and opportunities For the enigmatic businesswomen, Dulcie Jackson and Xiang Ju, turning dust into gold among the busted minors brings unexpected love and more opportunities than their first homes could have offered.

An immersive experience in Wyoming Territorial history, the vibrant descriptions and language right out of the 1880s brings complex characters to life and makes the rough an’ tumble towns flow cinematically from the pages. The writing seems to have stepped straight off the stagecoach of a by-gone era, bringing unforgettable characters that stay with you long after turning the last page.

Angela Wolff, Reference Librarian
Laramie County Library System

A Divided Mind
Mary Billiter

Tangled Tree Publishing, 2019

With A Divided Mind, Billiter and her son, Kyle, work together to turn their real experiences into a fictional tale of a family dealing with mental illness. Tara, the mom, and her son Branson alternate chapters as they progress through realization, diagnosis, and the many events that are part of Branson’s illness. Tara’s worry, denial, and overwhelming guilt are written so well that you can feel her pain and frustration. Just as relatable is a high school senior whose ‘waves of static’ and ‘shadow people’ bring him to a caring specialist.  There is both strong language and aspects of Tara’s life which distract at times. However, you will not want to put this story down.  The cliff hanger ending disappointed me but, then again, mental illness has no set storyline for the patient or family.  It epitomizes “…to live life on life’s terms and not on our own” (Billiter).

Nancy Venable, Extension and Volunteer Services Manager
Campbell County Public Library

Wyoming Book Reviews

Dusk Along the Niobrara
John D. Nesbitt
Five Star Publishing, 2019

I mainly read non-fiction, so when I was asked to read and review Dusk Along the Niobrara, I was a tad dubious. I sat down and read it over a weekend and really enjoyed it. Although there were a couple of thin spots in the plot, it didn’t diminish my overall enjoyment of the book.

Told in the first person, the story line centers upon the arrival of cowboy drifter, Dunbar, who gets a job working alongside narrator, Bard Montgomery. Dunbar eventually connects several area murders, one going back 15 years, and reveals the man responsible after a long summer and fall of ranch work.

The story develops slowly, leaving the reader wondering where all this is going, but eventually comes to a head when Dunbar brings forth a witness to the original murder. The book is easy to read and I enjoyed the author’s descriptions of the eastern Wyoming landscape.

Leslie Colin Tribble, Tech Services Manager
Park County Library

My Ranch, Too: A Wyoming Memoir
Mary Budd Flitner
Norman, OK : University of Oklahoma Press, [2018]

This evocative portrait of generations spent ranching in Wyoming sings with humor, love of family tradition, and heartbreak for the decisions every rancher must eventually confront. Even non-ranchers reading this book will recognize these fully-fleshed characters, and be able to imagine the driving rain and punishing heat of a trail drive. Flitner presents an honest picture of ranching: filled with contentment, warm conviviality and a satisfying sense of purpose, yet too often with backbreaking labor, strife among partners, and raging sorrow at the vagaries of nature. Her writing is illuminated with details of cherished friendships, quirky ranch hands and abiding love and respect for working dogs and horses. Shining through it all is a laudable dedication to responsible stewardship of the land. This beautiful book makes us all proud to be a small part of Wyoming history.

Tamara Lehner, Adult Programming Coordinator
Converse County Libraries

Wyoming Book Reviews

Havoc & Solace : Poems from the Inland West
Carol L. Deering
Jackson, Wyo.: Sastrugi Press [2018]

The perfect size to bring and read while exploring “wild and rural lands,” Havoc & Solace: Poems from the Inland West is an artful collection from award-winning poet Carol L. Deering.  In her first book Deering shares poems of “witness, wonder, and revelation” that can be read in order or chosen to suit mood and circumstance.  I read “The Air is Fresh & Wild” beside a creek on my first hike of the season, and I simply want to thank the author for framing a perfect moment. Deering creates a space where the natural landscapes and powerful wildlife of our beloved West are accessible and engaging in their majesty.  She gives credit where due to her inspirations and will doubtless inspire further creation and appreciation with this lovely collection of poems.

Amanda Lehman, Digital Collections Librarian
William Robertson Coe Library, University of Wyoming

Shaping the Story: An Introduction to Writing Fiction
John D. Nesbitt
Independently published, 2019

Shaping the Story is written like a text book but has all the no-nonsense advice you need to get your writing life on track. Nesbitt doesn’t sugar coat anything and can be quoted saying things like “In addition to taking responsibility for the little things, the writer needs to be self-sufficient and take initiative in the world of writing and publishing.” And “A writer should not expect anyone to go out of his or her way to help, and the writer will soon learn that the world is not waiting for her.” This particular guide made me think of things I had never thought of before. Shaping the Story can help you get there with a roadmap to success and a kick in the pants.

Helen M. Pugsley, Circulation/Reference
Goshen County Library

Wyoming Book Reviews

Hope Maintains her Throne: The Western Expeditions of Nathaniel J. Wyeth, Volume Two 1834-1836
Jim Hardee

Pinedale, WY: Museum of the Mountain Man, Sublette County Historical Society, 2018

Following his first work, Obstinate Hope (2013), author Jim Hardee (editor, Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal) maintains his excellence with this second volume of the journals of fur trade entrepreneur Nathaniel J. Wyeth (1802-1856). Providing historic context for short journal entries and related correspondence from 1834-1836, Hardee traces Wyeth’s pioneering efforts in establishing trade routes in the Pacific Northwest up the Columbia River, extending into the Rocky Mountain fur trade rendezvous system. A visionary, Wyeth’s business efforts did not prove profitable, yet Hardee succeeds in showing how Wyeth became a key player in the early history of the Northwest and Rocky Mountains. Many fascinating stories are provided of frontier adventures, and the documentation of geographic name changes allows readers to specifically place many events. Overall, this is a highly engaging and historically significant work by one of our best modern writers of the romantic fur trade frontier era.

Nathan E. Bender, Technical Services Librarian
Albany County Public Library

Running: Another Wyoming Adventure
Don Merback
Virginia Beach, VA : The Donning Company Publishers, 2016.

I was really looking forward to reading the book Running: Another Wyoming Adventure by Don Merbeck. I thought it would be great to read about some of the political processes that might be more specific to Wyoming. What I really enjoyed about this story was the way the author exposed the all too often negative realities about politics, no matter where the politician is running. But I also loved that he told the of the initial integrity and commitment of most first time politicians and then showed how that can change once the candidate is in office.

I did find the organization of the book a little awkward to follow and I frequently had to refer back to the who’s who type list at the beginning of the book. All things considered, I enjoyed the story and would recommend the book although it is not on my favorites list.

Kathleen Horton, Library Paraprofessional
Burns Jr/Sr High School

Wyoming Book Reviews

Last Rides, Cowboys, Indians, Generals & Chiefs: The Legacies of the Early Photographers of The American West
Paul Jensen
[Greybull, Wyo.] : Pronghorn Press, 2018

As an avid history fan, Last Rides took me on an enjoyable journey into the lives of General George Armstrong Custer and three photographers, David Francis Barry, John C.H. Grabill, and L. A. Huffman. Jensen reveals a captivating story about the American West remembered through photographic history combined with research into the lives of these men.

The title and organization of the book had me confused. I thought the book was going to be about the photographers, however it started with a history of General George Armstrong Custer and what led to his demise. The second part of the book discussed three photographers in detail. Even with this issue, the book was interesting and informative.

Krisene Watson, Administrative Services Manager
Campbell County Public Library

Wyoming: The Next Question to Ask (to Answer)
Tyler Truman Julian
[Georgetown, KY] : [Finishingline Press], c2018.

I don’t advise treading into this collection of poetry lightly. While the sensory descriptions are stellar, the voluminous use of metaphorical verse may not appeal to all audiences and the content material is rather heavy. However, local references repeatedly mentioned will likely ring a bell in the heart of every Wyomingite.

While this book is a collection of poems broken into four sections, each has a strong connection to the piece prior or post. Nearly every poem has a crystal-clear reflection of the vocabulary and imagery mentioned before, creating a seamless transition into the dreamlike reality of Julian’s Wyoming, where metaphors and reality sway closely together. The poems’ subjects — neighbors, home, and the fear and confusion of death — are universally relatable and easily followed through to a complete and thoughtful ending.

Jessica Dawkins, Collections Technician
Wyoming State Library

Wyoming Book Reviews

Wedge of Fear
Eugene Gagliano
Fort Collins, CO : Crystal Publishing LLC, 2018

Tony Greco and his parents have just moved to Wyoming from New York. Tony is in 6th grade and worried about starting over at a new school and the prospect of trying to make new friends. Tony wants to prove to everyone, especially his mom, he can take care of himself, but first he must prove it to himself. When faced with a terrifying medical crisis involving his mother, in the middle of a Wyoming tornado, Tony proves himself to be more than capable of taking care of himself and others. Eugene Gagliano has done a good job of portraying the thoughts and feelings of a 6th grade boy. He paints a vivid picture of small town life and country living in rural Wyoming. I think this book would attract reluctant readers, especially boys.

Twila Pilcher, Certified Library Support Staff
Hulett School Library

Ghost Walker: Tracking a Mountain Lion’s Soul Through Science and Story
Leslie Patten
Far Cry Publishing, 2018

I approached Patten’s Ghost Walker with the caution I’d use hearing of a recent mountain lion sighting. After all, much of my childhood was deep in the Bitterroots, in one of the areas where Patten researched mountain lion (‘cougar’) activity. I soon enjoyed reading about Patten’s consultations and work with wildlife experts, studying the lions in their home ranges throughout the West. Patten’s writing style makes a scientific topic understandable, relating the history of human-mountain lion interactions and the current positive work being done. This is a realistic writing of how mountain lions live, die, and interact with humans.  Read Ghost Walker – you will come away more aware and appreciative of the mountain lion’s place in Wyoming’s eco-system.

Nancy Venable, Extension and Volunteer Services Manager
Campbell County Public Library

Wyoming Book Reviews

Return of the Grizzly
Cat Urbigkit
Perseus Distribution Services, 2017

Cat, a Wyoming sheep producer and author, has done an exceptional job distilling information about what is either our most loved or hated top predator, the grizzly bear. Despite its factual basis, the book is an easy and engaging read, if slightly unnerving when she discusses human-bear conflicts. Living in Cody, I especially appreciated the range maps depicting grizzly bear expansion from 1980 to 2010. Cat’s narrative centers around the grizzlies of the Upper Green River, but she does an inclusive job of presenting the state of the bears across the entire region. As a public lands recreationist, I generally focus my data-gathering on hiking-related bear conflict information, but I learned quite a bit about the challenges experienced by livestock producers in grizzly country. This is an excellent resource for all libraries.

Leslie C. Tribble, Technical Services Manager
Park County Library

Wyoming from A to Z
K.W. Bunyap
Createspace, 2017

Take a walk through Wyoming from A to Z with this delightful children’s alphabet book. A creative use of photos illustrate the state from the black-footed ferrets for the letter B and the Town of Van Tassell for the letter V. Iambic pentameter makes this work flow from page to page. Little ones will enjoy the rhymes, while older readers will enjoy the factual content. One excellent example is, “D is for Devils Tower. It was the first National Monument, but that’s not all, this flat-topped column of stone is 867 feet tall.”  Readers who enjoy this book, may also enjoy other theme-based alphabet books like F Is for Firefighters, by Dori Butler, or ABC’s in Nature, by Daniel Nunn. A great non-fiction browser or read-a-loud. What better way to learn about your state without ever leaving home.

Joan Brinkley, Director
Goshen County Library

Wyoming Book Reviews

The Geysers of Yellowstone, 5th ed.
T. Scott Bryan
Louisville, Colorado : University Press of Colorado, [2018]

T. Scott Bryan knows his geysers, as evidenced in the fifth edition of his book The Geysers of Yellowstone. In this conveniently organized and very thorough field guide, Bryan shares detailed information about hundreds of geysers in the Yellowstone National Park. Grouped by geyser basins, learning about individual geysers is simple in this easy-to-use guide for park visitors.

I have visited Yellowstone National Park only twice, and can only assume this is an exhaustive list of all geysers in the park. The information Bryan shares on these spectacular feats of nature includes historical background, eruption activity, location relative to surrounding geysers, and any special identifiers. The guide also contains numerous photos, maps, charts, and sketches, as well as an appendix of geyser fields around the world.

From basic information about geysers to maps of their locations, this field guide is a must-have for park visitors and geyser lovers alike.

Lisa Scroggins, Director
Natrona County Library

Georgia Rules
Nanci Turner Steveson
New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2017]

Georgia is home for Magnolia Grace (Maggie) and her mother. They have lived a comfortable country club lifestyle for as long as she can remember. Her father and his Vermont farm are a shadow of a memory. When he unexpectedly passes, Maggie and her mother must move to Vermont to fulfill the requirements of his will. The move flips Maggie’s world upside down and shakes out all the dusty corners. As the dust settles she finds parts of herself she didn’t known were missing.

In Georgia Rules, Nanci Turner Stevenson takes on the real struggles of life. Without downplaying the intensity of life’s challenges, Turner uses language and context in which young readers can relate. Those who are holding the tension between being young and growing up will connect with Maggie as she deals with the themes of friendship, love, loss, and forgiveness in real world situations. And for those of us who have already grown up, Stevenson paints such a vivid picture it is instantly recognizable as the harrowing journey between being a child and an adult.

Ami Vincent, Library Assistant II, Adult Department
Fremont County Library System-Lander

Wyoming Book Reviews

Memoir of a 1950’s Yellowstone Horse Ranger
Bob Richard

Cody, WY: Elliot Rivers Publishing Co., 2018

The author, Bob Richard, has the distinction of being the first of the modern Yellowstone National Park horse patrol rangers, from 1957-1960. This marvelous booklet is a collection of photographic essays,  with brilliant black and white images illustrating the professional and personal life of the YNP horse patrol ranger, including many shots of “Big Red,” his Morgan horse.  Each section is introduced by a short text, with detailed captions accompanying each image. The photographs are mostly selections from the archives of the author’s father Jack Richard, of Cody, Wyoming, supplemented with a few of the author’s own. Besides being a nostalgic memoir, this work also doubles as a useful sampling of the extraordinary Jack Richard Photograph Collection of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.  It will doubtless be a desirable item to collectors of Yellowstone National Park history and photography.

Nathan E. Bender, Technical Services Librarian
Albany County Public Library

Blue Springs
John D. Nesbitt
CreateSpace, 2017

John Nesbitt has taken Wilf Kasmire, a modern-day Wyoming cowboy (cowboy part-time and seasonal jack of all trades) and put him into an unexpected mystery. I enjoyed Blue Springs, an adventure that reads like a country western song. Old pick-up trucks, small town bars, cold beer, trail horses, hard sweaty physical labor, campfire songs, memories of old girlfriends and hopes for new are all part of this cowboy’s search for Dawn, a missing ex-girlfriend.  After she leaves Wilf’s single-wide without a trace, his gut instinct tells him to take on the searh when the police can’t. Dawn’s job-hopping history leads Wilf to the Blue Springs Guest Ranch where he is hired on as a ‘drain wrangler.’ Watch for western slang and a variety of jokes as you travel with a cowboy that is determined to do right by an old friend.

Nancy Venable, Extension and Volunteer Services Manager
Campbell County Public Library System