Suggested Reading May 11, 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, May 17, 2021.

Becoming Leidah by Michelle Grierson

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Becoming Leidah

If you prefer your history with a dash of fantasy, dig in to Becoming Leidah, a novel that blends myth with the harsh reality of life in Norway in the distant past. This is the story of a man who married a woman rescued from the sea—and their super powered daughter. Even the most supernatural skeptics will find the Becoming Leidah’s details about nineteenth-century Norway fascinating.”— Oprah.com

“Set in old Norway, where shapeshifters and wise women live alongside fishermen and farmers, this Canadian debut is a magical new entrée into the world of Norse mythology and Scandinavian history.”— The Globe and Mail

Plot Overview: An utterly gripping love story set in nineteenth-century Norway, about a woman rescued from the sea, the fisherman who marries her, their tiny and unusually gifted daughter, and the shapeshifter who follows their every move, perfect for fans of Alice Hoffman, Yangsze Choo, Eowyn Ivey, and Neil Gaiman.

The sky opens up… I hear them laugh.

They don’t feel the sadness in the air.

They don’t feel the danger coming, riding in on the wind.

In the hinterlands of old Norway, Leidah Aldestæd is born blue-skinned, with webbed hands and feet. Upon every turn of season, her mother, Maeva, worries as her daughter’s peculiarities blossom—inside the root of the tiny child, a strange power is taking hold.

Maeva tries to hide the girl from the suspicious townsfolk of the austere village of Ørken, just as she conceals her own magical ancestry from her daughter. And Maeva’s adoring husband, Pieter, wants nothing more than for his new family to be accepted by all. But unlike Pieter, who is blinded by love, Maeva is aware that the villagers, who profess a rigid faith to the new God and claim to have abandoned the old ways, are watching any sign of transgression—and are eager to pounce and punish.

The Girl Who Died by Ragnar Jónasson

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Girl Who Died

From Ragnar Jónasson, the award-winning author of the international bestselling Ari Thór series, The Girl Who Died is a standalone thriller about a young woman seeking a new start in a secluded village where a small community is desperate to protect its secrets.

Teacher Wanted At the Edge of the World

Una wants nothing more than to teach, but she has been unable to secure steady employment in Reykjavík. Her savings are depleted, her love life is nonexistent, and she cannot face another winter staring at the four walls of her shabby apartment. Celebrating Christmas and ringing in 1986 in the remote fishing hamlet of Skálar seems like a small price to pay for a chance to earn some teaching credentials and get her life back on track.

But Skálar isn’t just one of Iceland’s most isolated villages, it is home to less than a dozen people. Una’s only students are two girls aged seven and nine. Teaching them only occupies so many hours in a day and the few adults she interacts with are civil but distant. She only seems to connect with Thór, a man she shares an attraction with but who is determined to keep her at arm’s length.

As darkness descends throughout the bleak winter, Una finds herself more often than not in her rented attic space—the site of a local legendary haunting—drinking her loneliness away. She is plagued by nightmares of a little girl in a white dress singing a lullaby. And when a sudden tragedy echoes an event long buried in Skálar’s past, the villagers become even more guarded, leaving a suspicious Una seeking to uncover a shocking truth that’s been kept secret for generations.

Goddess of Filth by V. Castro

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Goddess Of Filth

One hot summer night, best friends Lourdes, Fernanda, Ana, Perla, and Pauline hold a séance. It’s all fun and games at first, but their tipsy laughter turns to terror when the flames burn straight through their prayer candles and Fernanda starts crawling toward her friends and chanting in Nahuatl, the language of their Aztec ancestors.

Over the next few weeks, shy, modest Fernanda starts acting strangely-smearing herself in black makeup, shredding her hands on rose thorns, sucking sin out of the mouths of the guilty. The local priest is convinced it’s a demon, but Lourdes begins to suspect it’s something else-something far more ancient and powerful.

As Father Moreno’s obsession with Fernanda grows, Lourdes enlists the help of her “bruja Craft crew” and a professor, Dr. Camacho, to understand what is happening to her friend in this unholy tale of possession-gone-right.

Readers’ Note: If you’d like to start the Cotton Malone series from the beginning, check out The Templar Legacy (2006).

The Kaiser’s Web by Steve Berry

(Available Formats: Print Book, Large Print, CD Audiobook & Hoopla instant checkout audiobook)

The Kaiser's Web

In this sixteenth entry in the Cotton Malone adventure series, Germany is about to hold its national elections. There are two candidates for chancellor, both of whom harbor secrets and both of whom are convinced they are the best person to lead the country. Standing between order and potential mayhem is U.S. Justice Department operative Cotton Malone, who discovers that the future of Germany hinges on the answer to the question of whether Adolf Hitler really died in a bunker in 1945. The Malone novels are formulaic, sure, but the formula is a good one, and Cotton remains a likable, entertaining series lead. Berry keeps finding enticing alternate-history mysteries for Malone to solve; the link between history and the present is always interesting enough to allow the reader to disregard any inherent implausibilities in the story–there are a couple of good-sized ones here, but fans won’t care one whit. Keep ’em coming. Booklist Review

The Music of Bees: A Novel by Eileen Garvin

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Music of Bees

It would not take a trained therapist (although she has one) to determine that Alice Holtzman is desperately seeking a new community. At 44, she has already lost both parents and her husband in fairly close succession, and now even her long-standing job at the county planning department is in jeopardy. So Alice seeks solace in the bees she is raising, finding permanence in their supremely structured lives that eludes her own. She’d like to expand her nascent honey business, but she’ll need help. Enter Jake and Harry, two physically and emotionally damaged young men who are seeking the very same sense of belonging and stability. Jake was left paraplegic during his senior year of high school after a girl-impressing stunt went horribly wrong, while newly homeless Harry is trying to atone for the misguided, friend-impressing caper that put him jail. There are quirks to be worked out as these three fragile beings find common ground caring for Alice’s bees and each other, but their journey is rich with possibility. Both buoyant and bittersweet, Garvin’s impressive first novel, a luscious paean to the bonds of friendship and limitations of family, is the kind of comforting yet thought-provoking tale that will appeal to fans of Anne Tyler and Sue Miller.––Booklist Review

Red Island House: A Novel by Andrea Lee

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Red Island House

From National Book Award–nominated writer Andrea Lee comes a gorgeously evocative epic about love, clashing cultures, and identity, set in the tropical African island nation of Madagascar.
“People do mysterious things when they think they’ve found paradise,” reflects Shay, the heroine of Red Island House. When Shay, a Black American professor who’s always had an adventurous streak, marries Senna, an Italian businessman, she doesn’t imagine that her life’s greatest adventure will carry her far beyond their home in Milan to an idyllic stretch of beach in Madagascar, where Senna builds a flamboyant vacation villa. Before she knows it, Shay has become the somewhat reluctant mistress of a sprawling household, caught between her privileged American upbringing and her connection to the continent of her ancestors.

At first, she’s content to be an observer of the passionate affairs and fierce rivalries around her, but over twenty tumultuous years of marriage, as she and Senna raise children and establish their own rituals at the house, Shay finds herself drawn ever deeper into a place where a blend of magic, sexual intrigue, and transgression forms a modern-day parable of colonial conquest. Soon the collision of cultures comes right to Shay’s door, forcing her to make a life-altering decision that will change her and Senna’s lives forever.

A captivating, powerful, and profoundly moving novel about marriage and loyalty, identity and freedom, Red Island House showcases an extraordinary literary voice and an extravagantly lush, enchanted world.

Seed To Dust by Marc Hamer

(Available Formats: Hoopla instant checkout eBook)

Seed To Dust

Life, Nature, and a Country Garden

For readers of Late Migrations and Vesper Flights

From the acclaimed author of How to Catch a Mole, this meditative memoir explores the wisdom of plants, the joys of manual labor, and the natural cycle of growth and decay that runs through both the garden’s life and our own.

Marc Hamer has nurtured the same 12-acre garden in the Welsh countryside for over two decades. The garden is vast and intricate. It’s rarely visited, and only Hamer knows of its secrets. But it’s not his garden. It belongs to his wealthy and elegant employer, Miss Cashmere. But the garden does not really belong to her, either. As Hamer writes, “Like a book, a garden belongs to everyone who sees it.”

In Seed to Dust, Marc Hamer paints a beautiful portrait of the garden that “belongs to everyone.” He describes a year in his life as a country gardener, with each chapter named for the month he’s in. As he works, he muses on the unusual folklores of his beloved plants. He observes the creatures who scurry and hide from his blade or rake. And he reflects on his own life: living homeless as a young man, his loving relationship with his wife and children, and-now-feeling the effects of old age on body and mind.

As the seasons change, Hamer also reflects on the changes he has observed in Miss Cashmere’s life from afar: the death of her husband and the departure of her children from the stately home where she now lives alone. At the book’s end, Hamer’s connection to Miss Cashmere changes shape, and new insights into relationships and the beauty and brutality of nature emerge.

Just like all good books and gardens, Seed to Dust is filled with equal parts life and death, beauty and decay, and every reader will find something different to admire.

The Sniper by Kuo-Li Chang

(Available Formats: Hoopla instant checkout eBook)

The Sniper

Jason Bourne meets John McClane in this electrifying Taiwanese thriller about a young special—forces sniper ordered to assassinate a high-level government official, and a seasoned homicide detective called in to investigate a series of grisly murders that lead to a criminal conspiracy at the highest levels of power.

Twelve days before retirement, Taipei police detective Wu is handed a curious case: a Navy officer has been found dead in his hotel room. While it is immediately apparent to Wu that the officer has been murdered, the military insist it was suicide and want the case closed with no questions asked. Soon, however, more high-ranking Navy officers turn up dead, and Wu realizes he has a full-blown conspiracy on his hands.

Meanwhile in Italy, Alex, a young Taiwanese sniper, ex-Marine, ex-French Foreign Legion, and currently a fried-rice chef in Manarola, is reactivated and called back into service. Ordered to assassinate a high-level Taiwanese government advisor in Rome, he soon finds himself on the run, hunted across Europe by his old brothers-in-arms.

Who is killing Navy officers in Taiwan? And who ordered the hit in Rome? As the body count rises, Wu finds himself in a race against time to solve the murders before his retirement, and Alex embarks on a journey back to Taiwan to uncover the truth about who set him up.

Inspired by the biggest military corruption case in Taiwanese history – the murder of Navy Captain Yin Ching-feng – The Sniper is both a masterclass in thriller writing and a study of the heart of darkness in the time of war and peace.

The Son Of Mr. Suleman by Eric Jerome Dickey

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Son of Mr. Sulemon

Professor Pi Suleman teaches at a Memphis university by day and writes novels by night. He is the spitting image of his estranged father, whose literary oeuvre outshines Pi’s own, much to his chagrin. Beyond that, Pi begrudgingly deals with the daily assault of microaggressions from bigoted Southern colleagues as well as the persistent threat of sexual assault from a privileged white colleague who uses Pi for her own ends, then threatens him with retaliation. The tide of injustice turns when Pi’s father unexpectedly makes him his sole heir, and that financial security, along with a team of lawyers, help bring his abuser’s transgressions to light. Romantically, Pi faces a hard choice: does he take a chance on a mysterious woman from London with too many secrets or take the safe route with the like-minded professor who lives across the street? Equal parts political and erotic, Dickey’s posthumously published novel is a shining example of his skill at combining a compelling narrative voice, sharp social commentary, and poetic prose to create a complex tale featuring sensual characters with truly unique perspectives.

Tower of Babel by Michael Sears

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Tower Of Babel

This action-packed series launch from Thriller Award finalist Sears (Black Fridays) introduces Ted Molloy, a down-on-his-heels former lawyer who now works as a foreclosure profiteer seeking “surplus money” in Queens, N.Y. Molloy’s choice to break his first rule of business—taking on a job where the money at stake is large enough to involve underhanded and scheming characters willing to knock off anyone who gets in the way—results in the shooting death of his research partner, Richie Rubiano. Richie’s widow, Cheryl, hair “dyed the color of fresh lemons,” hires Molloy to find Richie’s killer. Molloy’s quest for the culprit leads him to several crooked politicians, a disreputable banker, a nefarious real estate developer, the Russian mafia, a neighborhood activist, and his manipulative ex-father-in-law, who happens to be a retired judge. The whole crew is messed up in conspiracy, fraud, bribery, and murder. Razor-edged prose, sharply defined characters, and a fast-paced plot boost this noir-wrought drama. Fans of Raymond Chandler and classic gangster films will be rewarded. –Publishers Weekly Review

Have a great week!

Linda Reimer

*Information on the Three Catalogs*

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

The Digital Catalog, a catalog containing eBooks, downloadable audiobooks, Digital Magazines and a handful of streaming videos, 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 checkouts of eBooks, downloadable audiobooks, comic books, albums, movies and TV series. 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.

1 thought on “Suggested Reading May 11, 2021”

  1. Becoming Leidah! I love reading intelligent reviews. See amazon.ca, amazon.com, the author’s site michellegrierson.com and/or my collection of the smartest reviews on my site (just started) embodiedpoetry.com. Sincerely, a fan.

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