Suggested Reading January 26, 2021

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

Format Note: Under each book title you’ll find a list of all the different formats that specific title is available in; including: Print Books, Large Print Books, CD Audiobooks, eBooks & Downloadable Audiobooks from the Digital Catalog (OverDrive & Libby apps) and Hoopla eBooks & Hoopla 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 next Suggested Reading posting will be published on Tuesday, February 2, 2021.

Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson

(Available Formats: Print Book)


The long anticipated second novel from the bestselling author of Be Frank with Me, a charming story of endings, new beginnings, and the complexities and complications of friendship and love, set in late 1930s Reno.

It’s 1938 and women seeking a quick, no-questions split from their husbands head to the “divorce capital of the world,” Reno, Nevada. There’s one catch: they have to wait six-weeks to become “residents.” Many of these wealthy, soon-to-be divorcees flock to the Flying Leap, a dude ranch that caters to their every need.

‘Twenty-four-year-old Ward spent one year at Yale before his family lost everything in the Great Depression; now he’s earning an honest living as a ranch hand at the Flying Leap. Admired for his dashing good looks—”Cary Grant in cowboy boots”—Ward thinks he’s got the Flying Leap’s clients all figured out. But two new guests are about to upend everything he thinks he knows: Nina, a St Louis heiress and amateur pilot back for her third divorce, and Emily, whose bravest moment in life was leaving her cheating husband back in San Francisco and driving herself to Reno.

A novel about divorce, marriage, and everything that comes in between (money, class, ambition, and opportunity), Better Luck Next Time is a hilarious yet poignant examination of the ways friendship can save us, love can destroy us, and the family we create can be stronger than the family we come from.

A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion

(Available Formats: Print Book)

A haunting, suspenseful literary debut that combines a classic coming of age story with a portrait of a fractured American family dealing with the fallout of one summer evening gone terribly wrong.

“The night we left Ellen on the road, we drove up the mountain in silence.”

It is the early 1980s and fifteen-year-old Libby is obsessed with The Field Guide to the Trees of North America, a gift her Irish immigrant father gave her before he died. She finds solace in “The Kingdom,” a stand of red oak and thick mountain laurel near her home in suburban Pennsylvania, where she can escape from her large and unruly family and share menthol cigarettes and lukewarm beers with her best friend.

One night, while driving home, Libby’s mother, exhausted and overwhelmed with the fighting in the backseat, pulls over and orders Libby’s little sister Ellen to walk home. What none of this family knows as they drive off leaving a twelve-year-old girl on the side of the road five miles from home with darkness closing in, is what will happen next.

A Crooked Tree is a surprising, indelible novel, both a poignant portrayal of an unmoored childhood giving way to adolescence, and a gripping page-turner about the unexpected reverberations of one rash act.

Deadly Fortune by Stacy Murphy

(Available Formats: Print Book)

A historical mystery in the vein of The Alienist, in which a young woman in Gilded Age New York must use a special talent to unravel a deadly conspiracy.

Amelia Matthew has done the all-but-impossible, especially for an orphan in Gilded Age New York City. Along with her foster brother Jonas, she has parleyed her modest psychic talent into a safe and comfortable life. But safety and comfort vanish when a head injury leaves Amelia with a dramatically-expanded gift. After she publicly channels an angry spirit, she finds herself imprisoned in the notorious insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island. As Jonas searches for a way to free her, Amelia struggles to control her disturbing new abilities and survive a place where cruelty and despair threaten her sanity.

Andrew Cavanaugh is familiar with despair. In the wake of a devastating loss, he abandons a promising medical career—and his place in Philadelphia society—to devote himself to the study and treatment of mental disease. Miss Amelia Matthew is just another patient—until she channels a spirit in front of him and proves her gift is real.

When a distraught mother comes to Andrew searching for her missing daughter—a daughter she believes is being hidden at the asylum—he turns to Amelia. Together, they uncover evidence of a deadly conspiracy, and then it’s no longer just Amelia’s sanity and freedom at stake. Amelia must master her gift and use it to catch a killer—or risk becoming the next victim.

The Haunting of Cold Creek Hollow by Alexia Aaron

(Available Formats: eBook)

Little Mia Cooper’s ability to see the dead made her an outcast in her hometown. Several years later, she has finally managed to blend in, but her hard-won peace is threatened by the arrival of a bumbling team of paranormal investigators. Mia is drawn in reluctantly as an adviser on what, at first, seems to be a fairly straightforward case, only to discover that the Hollow has much more in store for her. An ancient evil is rising in Cold Creek Hollow. What begins as a ghost hunt will become a fight for survival.

The Hauntings of Cold Creek Hollow is book one of Alexie Aaron’s 31 book and growing Haunted Series.

Murder At Mabel’s Motel by G. A. McKevett

(Available Formats: Print Book)

As quirky as McGill’s residents can be, they usually welcome society’s oddballs and outcasts into the community with open arms. But the three members of the Lone White Wolf Pack are a different story. Townsfolk aren’t feeling the least bit neighborly toward the ignorant gang widely believed to have orchestrated several hate crimes in the area . . .

When the small group’s irredeemable leader, Billy Ray Sonner, is found dead in an abandoned motel, most assume it was the result of an accidental overdose. An unfortunate yet predictable end for a man who lived the way Billy did. Only Stella and the sheriff have witnessed the crime scene in person, and the smell of cyanide means something more disturbing happened in that ramshackle room. Something like homicide . . .

While Stella wades through a flood of suspects, uncovered secrets link both Billy’s closest allies and respected locals to the incident. One thing is certain—this wasn’t an impulsive act of revenge. There’s a sophisticated killer on the loose, and Stella must expose deep-rooted fears and dark pasts if she wants to crack a carefully planned murder and stop McGill from descending into chaos.

Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson

(Available Formats: Print Book, Large Print & eBook)

To survive the Holocaust, a young Jewish woman must pose as a Christian farmer’s wife in this unforgettable novel from USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Robson—a story of terror, hope, love, and sacrifice, inspired by true events, that vividly evokes the most perilous days of World War II.

It is the autumn of 1943, and life is becoming increasingly perilous for Italian Jews like the Mazin family. With Nazi Germany now occupying most of her beloved homeland, and the threat of imprisonment and deportation growing ever more certain, Antonina Mazin has but one hope to survive—to leave Venice and her beloved parents and hide in the countryside with a man she has only just met.

Nico Gerardi was studying for the priesthood until circumstances forced him to leave the seminary to run his family’s farm.

A moral and just man, he could not stand by when the fascists and Nazis began taking innocent lives. Rather than risk a perilous escape across the mountains, Nina will pose as his new bride. And to keep her safe and protect secrets of his own, Nico and Nina must convince prying eyes they are happily married and in love.

But farm life is not easy for a cultured city girl who dreams of becoming a doctor like her father, and Nico’s provincial neighbors are wary of this soft and educated woman they do not know. Even worse, their distrust is shared by a local Nazi official with a vendetta against Nico. The more he learns of Nina, the more his suspicions grow—and with them his determination to exact revenge.

As Nina and Nico come to know each other, their feelings deepen, transforming their relationship into much more than a charade. Yet both fear that every passing day brings them closer to being torn apart . . .

Shipped by Angie Hockman

(Available Formats: Print)

The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game in this witty, clever, and swoonworthy novel following a workaholic marketing manager who is forced to go on a cruise with her arch-nemesis when they’re up for the same promotion.

Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.

The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.

Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.

With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?

Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, Shipped is a fresh and engaging rom-com that celebrates the power of second chances and the magic of new beginnings.

The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington

(Available Formats: Print Book & Hoopla eBook)

“The Fortunate Ones feels like a fresh and remarkably sure-footed take on The Great Gatsby, examining the complex costs of attempting to transcend or exchange your given class for a more gilded one. Tarkington’s understanding of the human heart and mind is deep, wise, and uncommonly empathetic. As a novelist, he is the real deal. I can’t wait to see this story reach a wide audience, and to see what he does next.” —Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

When Charlie Boykin was young, he thought his life with his single mother on the working-class side of Nashville was perfectly fine. But when his mother arranges for him to be admitted as a scholarship student to an elite private school, he is suddenly introduced to what the world can feel like to someone cushioned by money. That world, he discovers, is an almost irresistible place where one can bend—and break—rules and still end up untarnished. As he gets drawn into a friendship with a charismatic upperclassman, Archer Creigh, and an affluent family that treats him like an adopted son, Charlie quickly adapts to life in the upper echelons of Nashville society. Under their charming and alcohol-soaked spell, how can he not relax and enjoy it all—the lack of anxiety over money, the easy summers spent poolside at perfectly appointed mansions, the lavish parties, the freedom to make mistakes knowing that everything can be glossed over or fixed?

But over time, Charlie is increasingly pulled into covering for Archer’s constant deceits and his casual bigotry. At what point will the attraction of wealth and prestige wear off enough for Charlie to take a stand—and will he?

The Fortunate Ones is an immersive, elegantly written story that conveys both the seductiveness of this world and the corruption of the people who see their ascent to the top as their birthright.

The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by C. M. Waggoner

(Available Formats: Print Book & Hoopla Audiobook)

Sparks fly in this enchanting fantasy novel from the author of Unnatural Magic when a down-and-out fire witch and a young gentlewoman join forces against a deadly conspiracy.

Dellaria Wells, petty con artist, occasional thief, and partly educated fire witch, is behind on her rent in the city of Leiscourt—again. Then she sees the “wanted” sign, seeking Female Persons, of Martial or Magical ability, to guard a Lady of some Importance, prior to the celebration of her Marriage. Delly fast-talks her way into the job and joins a team of highly peculiar women tasked with protecting their wealthy charge from unknown assassins.

Delly quickly sets her sights on one of her companions, the confident and well-bred Winn Cynallum. The job looks like nothing but romance and easy money until things take a deadly (and undead) turn. With the help of a bird-loving necromancer, a shapeshifting schoolgirl, and an ill-tempered reanimated mouse named Buttons, Delly and Winn are determined to get the best of an adversary who wields a twisted magic and has friends in the highest of places.

The Uncollected Stories of Allan Gurganus

(Available Formats: Print Book)

One of “the best writers of our time” (Ann Patchett) offers this hilarious yet haunting cycle of stories—all previously uncollected.

Since the explosive publication of Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, Allan Gurganus has dazzled readers as “the most technically gifted and morally responsive writer of his generation” (John Cheever). He has been praised as “one of America’s preeminent novelists, our prime conductor of electric sentences” (William Giraldi). Above all, Allan Gurganus is a seriously funny writer, an expert at evoking humor, especially in our troubled times.

Now he offers nine classic tales—never before between covers. They attest to his mastery of the short story and the growing depth of his genius.? Offering characters antic and tragic, Gurganus charts the human condition—masked and unmasked—as we live it now. “Once upon a time” collides with the everyday. We meet a mortician whose dedication to his departed clients exceeds all legal limits. We encounter a seaside couple fighting to save their family dog from Maine’s fierce undertow. A virginal seventy-eight-year-old grammar school librarian has her sole erotic experience with a polyamorous snake farmer. A vicious tornado sends twin boys aloft, leaving only one of them alive. And, in an eerily prescient story, cholera strikes a rural village in 1849 and citizens come to blame their doomed young doctor who saved hundreds.

These meticulously crafted parables recall William Faulkner’s scope and Flannery O’Connor’s corrosive wit. Imbuing each story with charged drama, Gurganus, a sublime ventriloquist, again proves himself among our funniest writers and our wisest.

Have a great week!

Linda Reimer

*Information on the Three Catalogs*

Digital Catalog: https://stls.overdrive.com/

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: https://www.hoopladigital.com/

The Hoopla Catalog features instant check outs of eBooks, downloadable audiobook, comic books, albums and streaming videos. Patron check out limit is 6 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: https://starcat.stls.org

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.

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

Have questions or want to request a book?

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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