Suggested Reading December 1, 2020

Hi everyone, here are our recommended reads for the week.

After each title is a list of all the different formats that title available in; including: Print Books, Large Print Books, Audiobooks on CD, eBooks & Downloadable Audiobooks from the Digital Catalog (OverDrive & Libby apps) and Hoopla eBooks & Downloadable Audiobooks (Hoopla App).

*More information on the three catalogs is found at the end of the list of recommended reads*

Weekly Suggested Reading postings are published on Tuesdays.



The Big Tow: An Unlikely Romance: An Unlikely Romance by Ann McMan

(Available Format: Print Book & Hoopla eBook)

Vera “Nick” Nicholson is an overtaxed and underpaid attorney wasting away on the bottom rung of the gilded ladder at Turner, Witherspoon, Anders, and Tyler in Winston-Salem, NC. When a high-priced luxury car belonging to one of the firm’s top clients goes missing, Nick gets saddled with the unenviable job of recovering the vehicle―and its mysterious contents―without involving the cops. Enter Fast Eddie and his quirky band of misfits at The National Recovery Bureau, a repo agency located in a sleepy town called K-Vegas.

When Nick is unceremoniously furloughed from TWAT, she throws caution to the wind and signs on to become the newest agent of the NRB, teaming up with moonlighting third-grade schoolteacher, Frances “Frankie” Stohler. Frankie’s mortician father and beautician mother are stalwarts of the Winston-Salem community―so it’s no surprise that everyone across three counties has some connection to her family. What is surprising, however, is the Slim Jim Frankie carries in her purse and her preternatural talent for jacking cars.

Nick and Frankie’s stumbling entrée into the surreal world of asset recovery takes them on a hilarious, fast-paced and mind-bending journey across the back roads and byways of the Tar Heel state, setting into motion a chain of misadventures that lead them both toward financial independence, cataclysmic legal jeopardy, and the discovery that true love can sometimes lurk in the most unlikely places.



Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

(Available Format: Print Book, CD Audiobook & Downloadable Audiobook)

The opening of Hugo- and Nebula Award–winner Roanhorse’s Between Earth and Sky series draws inspiration from the indigenous cultures of North and Central America to deliver a razor-sharp examination of politics, generational trauma, and the path to redemption. Sun Priest Naranpa, the highest religious authority in the holy city of Tova, faces prejudice for her low birth despite her high rank, and her radical desire for her priests to be more accessible to Tova’s people makes her an object of resentment.

Meanwhile, in the Obregi Mountains, a young boy named Serapio, raised to become the vessel of the god Grandfather Crow and take revenge for the Night of Knives, a massacre committed against his people, sets out to fulfill his destiny.

Sea captain Xiala, a Treek who commands powerful sea-born magic, may be her own worst enemy of many, but she proves a welcome friend to Serapio as he voyages across the sea to avenge his people by ending the Sun Priest’s reign.

All three formidable characters are on a collision course that keeps the pages flying. Roanhorse (the Sixth World series) strikes a perfect balance between powerful worldbuilding and rich thematic exploration as the protagonists struggle against their fates. Fantasy fans will be wowed. Starred Publishers Weekly Review



The Blind Light by Stuart Evers

(Available Format: Print Book)

A multigenerational story about two families living in the shadow of nuclear apocalypse. The year is 1959. Two young soldiers, Drummond and Carter, one working-class, the other

privileged, form an intense and unlikely friendship at ‘Doomtown’, a training center that simulates the aftermath of an atomic strike. Years later, the men watch the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis unfold in horror. Carter, now a high-ranking British government official, offers Drummond a way to save himself and his family in the event of a nuclear strike. Their pact, kept secret, will have devastating consequences for the very lives they seek to protect. Spanning decades, from the 1950s to the present, this ambitious, original novel offers a nuanced and absorbing portrait of friendship and rivalry that explores class divisions and the psychological legacy of the nuclear age.



The Gift of Family by Mary Monroe

(Available Format: Print Book & eBook)

From acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Mary Monroe comes the captivating and heartfelt tale of a couple who has everything—except the dream they long for most. But this Christmas, a reunion with someone from the past could gift them a once-in-a-lifetime last chance . . .

Successful, secure, and still very much in love, middle-aged couple Eugene and Rosemary Johnson have never given up on one special wish—to be parents. And while Christmas always brings happiness and a whirlwind of holiday fun, their hopes for children of their own seem further away than ever. Especially this year, when Rosemary must have emergency surgery and home help to recuperate. Wanting to lift his wife’s spirits, Eugene suddenly has an inspiration from back in the day . . .

Faithful and sensible, Ethel Perkins raised Eugene and his brother. Unforeseen tragedy has left the sixty-something widow struggling with little money and two jobs to keep her great-grandchildren off the streets. She’s glad to help Rosemary back on her feet. But she can only stay until Rosemary is well enough to resume her normal routine. For Ethel, survival means keeping to her grueling schedule, being there for everyone but herself, and, as always, handling her troubles all on her own . . .

As Ethel’s problems go from bad to much worse, Rosemary and Eugene find themselves helping her more and more—and growing close to her lively youngsters. Soon, there’s only one way both families can salvage the season: by celebrating it together. But will their temporary family work into the future . . . and possibly make a lifetime of happiness?



The Golfer’s Carol by Robert Bailey

(Available Format: Print Book)

On the morning of his fortieth birthday, Randy Clark believes the only way he can help his family is to end it all. Standing on the Tennessee River Bridge in Decatur, Alabama, with his dreams of a pro golf career long gone, his marriage struggling, and facing financial ruin, Randy sees no other alternative to help his wife and daughter but to jump, which he plans to do in the next twenty-four hours. But his plans are put on hold when the ghost of his best friend–who did live out the fantasy of playing the PGA tour–reveals to Randy that he will be given a wonderful gift: four rounds of golf with his four heroes, the champions he’s looked up to his whole life, each with a life-changing lesson to impart. For anyone who has ever dealt with tragedy, adversity, or failure, The Golfer’s Carol will bring grace that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page.



The Luckiest Man: Life with John McCain by Mark Salter

(Available Format: Print Book)

Salter (coauthor, The Restless Wave), a former speechwriter and chief of staff for Sen. John McCain (1936–2018), offers an intimate and inspirational portrait of the Arizona Republican and two-time presidential candidate.

Drawing on material gathered for the seven books he wrote with McCain, Salter documents his former boss’s peripatetic upbringing as the son of a U.S. Navy admiral and harrowing five-year ordeal as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Salter renders the physical and mental torture McCain endured in vivid detail, making McCain’s decision to refuse an offer of early release seem all the more heroic.

Elected to the House of Representatives in 1982 and the Senate in 1986, McCain’s legislative record showcases “his refusal to give up causes that appeared hopeless,” Salter writes, noting that in the months after his 2017 brain cancer diagnosis, McCain began his fourth attempt at passing a bipartisan immigration bill.

Salter expresses admiration for McCain’s candor and tenacity, but takes issue with a handful of decisions, including his selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate in 2008 and his support for the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Though Salter’s critiques aren’t exactly hard-hitting, they give the book credibility. Political history buffs will savor this well-rounded account. Publishers Weekly Review



One Night Two Souls Went Walking by Ellen Cooney

(Available Format: Print Book & Hoopla eBook)

Cooney’s brief but compelling novel—in which an unnamed chaplain takes readers on her rounds during one night at a large Northeastern hospital—explores issues like mortality, spiritual survival, and human connection.

The 36-year-old Episcopal chaplain, frizzy-haired and pear-shaped, has what her boss calls a natural gift for telling people what they need to hear. Her instinctive ability to soothe becomes increasingly evident as she travels from one patient to another. She is spiritual but practical. While she asks “What is a soul?” in the novel’s first line—and returns to the question in different guises throughout—the narrator’s spiritual quest does not cause her moral qualms about lying when necessary, whether to soothe a doctor who fears she’s sinned or give hope to a dying chef who expects his former restaurant patrons to visit en masse.

Her favorite patients are an elderly, deeply lonely librarian and a 15-year-old boy who’s survived a catastrophic accident physically shattered but with his gentle magnetism intact. Less appealing characters, like a lawyer who is rude to the staff, also receive her understanding. Each has a story. Often the stories lead the chaplain to stories from her own past.

A subtle plot takes shape almost between the lines concerning the chaplain’s unresolved relationship with Plummy, a neuroscientist 10 years her junior now living in Germany, who’s fascinated by out-of-body experiences, what he calls oobs; confronted during her shift with two possible oobs, the chaplain is forced to reexamine the idea of soul yet again but also to reconsider her relationship with Plummy. Those oob walks of the title may stretch credibility, but Cooney does a remarkable job structuring a novel of vignettes and stories within stories into a cohesive whole. Equally remarkable is her portrait of the chaplain as a personification of the potential for human goodness. Though introspective, the narrator is never self-absorbed. Her voice, funny and direct, keeps sentimentality at bay.

The perfect novel to combat pandemic angst. Starred Kirkus Review



A Resolution At Midnight by Shelley Noble

(Available Format: Print Book)

Christmas in 1907 New York City provides the backdrop for Noble’s enticing third Lady Dunbridge mystery (after 2019’s Tell Me No Lies). Since moving to New York, the beautiful, witty Philomena Amesbury, widowed Countess of Dunbridge, has been carrying out the occasional undercover detective operation for the mysterious Mr. X. Lady Phil’s latest assignment is to meet a source at a movie theater, but when she arrives, she finds the man dead, his throat cut. The murdered man, Tommy Green, a reporter for the New York Times, was going to pass off some important information for Mr. X. But the newspaper reports that Green’s body was found at the docks. Why is the murder being covered up, and by whom? With the help of her faithful, clever servants and an intrepid female reporter who is desperate to get off the society beat, Phil uncovers a complex scheme involving blackmail, greed, and family secrets that lead directly to the top of New York society. Colorful period details include the first Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop in 1908. Historical fans will be well satisfied. Publishers Weekly Review



The Short, the Long and the Tall: Short Stories by Jeffery Archer

(Available Format: Print Book)

New York Times number one bestselling author Jeffrey Archer is a master of the short-story form, creating classic tales beloved by his fans. Now the award-winning writer joins forces with renowned illustrator Paul Cox to re-imagine twenty of his most popular and fêted short stories alongside beautifully rendered watercolor illustrations in The Short, The Long and the Tall.

Find out what happens to the hapless young detective from Naples who travels to an Italian hillside town to solve a murder and ends up falling in love; and the pretentious schoolboy whose discovery of the origins of his father’s wealth changes his life forever. Revel in the stories of the woman who dares to challenge the men at her Ivy League university during the 1930s, and another young woman who thumbs a lift and has an encounter she will never forget. Discover the haunting story about four men whose characters are tested to the point of death. Finally, a short parable about how pointless war is, and how decent people are caught up in the crossfire of their leaders’ ambitions.

This will be a must-buy for dedicated fans of the work of both author and illustrator, and includes the following short stories:

Never Stop on the Motorway
Cheap At Half the Price
Who Killed the Mayor?
It Can’t Be October Already
Stuck on You
The Grass is Always Greener
The Queen’s Birthday Telegram
Clean Sweep Ignatius
The First Miracle
Caste Off
A Wasted Hour
Just Good Friends
Christina Rosenthal
A Gentleman and a Scholar
The Road To Damascus
Old Love
A Good Toss To Lose
One Man’s Meat



A Wild Winter Swan by Gregory Maguire

(Available Format: Print Book, Large Print, CD Audiobook & eBook)

After brilliantly reimagining the worlds of Oz, Wonderland, Dickensian London, and the Nutcracker, the New York Times bestselling author of Wicked turns his unconventional genius to Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Wild Swans,” transforming this classic tale into an Italian-American girl’s poignant coming-of-age story, set amid the magic of Christmas in 1960s New York.

Following her brother’s death and her mother’s emotional breakdown, Laura now lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, in a lonely townhouse she shares with her old-world, strict, often querulous grandparents. But the arrangement may be temporary. The quiet, awkward teenager has been getting into trouble at home and has been expelled from her high school for throwing a record album at a popular girl who bullied her. When Christmas is over and the new year begins, Laura may find herself at boarding school in Montreal.
Nearly unmoored from reality through her panic and submerged grief, Laura is startled when a handsome swan boy with only one wing lands on her roof. Hiding him from her ever-bickering grandparents, Laura tries to build the swan boy a wing so he can fly home. But the task is too difficult to accomplish herself. Little does Laura know that her struggle to find help for her new friend parallels that of her grandparents, who are desperate for a distant relative’s financial aid to save the family store.

As he explores themes of class, isolation, family, and the dangerous yearning to be saved by a power greater than ourselves, Gregory Maguire conjures a haunting, beautiful tale of magical realism that illuminates one young woman’s heartbreak and hope as she begins the inevitable journey to adulthood.


Plot descriptions are from the publisher unless otherwise specified.



Have a great week!

Linda Reimer



*Information on the Three Catalogs*

Digital Catalog:

The Digital Catalog has two companion apps, Libby & OverDrive. Libby is the app for newer devices and the OverDrive app should be used for older devices and Amazon tablets.

All card holders of all Southern Tier Library System member libraries can check out items from the Digital Catalog.

Hoopla Catalog:

The Hoopla Catalog features instant check outs of eBooks, downloadable audiobook, comic books, albums and streaming videos. Patron check out limit is 4 items per month.

Hoopla is a Southeast Steuben County Library service available to all Southeast Steuben County Library card holders.

The Hoopla App is available for Android or Apple devices and most smart TVs & media streaming players.

StarCat: The catalog of physical/traditional library materials:

Card holders of all Southern Tier Library System member libraries can access StarCat to search for and request materials available at libraries through out the Southern Tier Library System.

The StarCat app is called Bookmyne and is available for Apple and Android devices.

Also feel free to call the Southeast Steuben County Library and request titles via tel 607-936-3713.

Have a great week!

Linda Reimer, SSCL

Note: Book summaries are from the respective publishers unless otherwise specified.

Have questions?

Feel free to call the library! Our telephone number is 607-936-3713.

Tech Talk is a Southeast Steuben County Library blog.

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