Suggested Reading June 29, 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, July 6, 2021.

Daughter of Black Lake: A Novel by Cathy Marie Buchanan

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Daughter of Black Lake

Buchanan’s new novel (after The Painted Girls) is set in the early years of Roman rule in Britain, where Hobble, a young woman with a supernatural connection to the otherworldly, comes of age. Hobble’s abilities make her a subject of interest in the eyes of unpredictable religious zealots. She must use her gifts to assist in Britannia’s efforts against Roman invasion and guarantee the safety of her family’s future. Using vivid, and at times jarring, imagery, Buchanan’s storytelling weaves through Hobble’s past, her parents’ relationship, and the current structure of her small community, creating an intricate view of a society on the brink of change. VERDICT Recommended for readers of historical fiction, romance, and supernatural suspense.–Monique Martinez, Univ. of North Georgia Lib., Dahlonega – Library Journal Review

The Island by Mary Grand

(Available Formats: Hoopla instant checkout eBook & audiobook)

The Island

The Island – where everyone knows everyone, and secrets are impossible to keep…

‘Be careful, you don’t know them as well as you think. Remember – anyone can kill.’

Juliet has returned to the Isle of Wight from years abroad to visit her sick father and to be reunited with her three sisters – Cassie, a professional musician who seems to have lost her way in life, Mira, who is profoundly deaf, is married to the local vicar but their relationship is falling apart, and Rosalind, glamorous and charming but now deeply unhappy and secretive about her life.

As Juliet’s father lies dying, he issues her with a warning. There is a killer on the loose, and they may be closer than she can ever imagine. He anxiously tells Juliet that he confided a family secret in son-in-law Rhys, and now regrets ever saying a word.

Days later, as the clock strikes one in the morning, a man comes out of Rhys’s church, walks along the path and is run down by a car driven by an unidentified person. When the finger of suspicion points to Juliet, she realises the only way to clear her name is to uncover the secrets her family has been keeping from her for years. But with a killer on the loose, danger is getting closer all the time…

The Island is set on the Isle of Wight – insular, claustrophobic, and where secrets are hard to keep. Mary Grand’s heart-stopping who-dunnits are perfect for fans of Louise Candlish, Agatha Christie and Lucy Foley.

The Librarian of Saint-Malo by Mario Escobar

(Available Formats: Hoopla instant checkout eBook & audiobook)

The Librarian of Saint Malo

In Escobar’s gripping latest (after Remember Me), a young woman risks everything to save a library in Saint-Malo, France, during WWII. Librarian Jocelyn marries police sergeant Antoine Ferrec on Sept. 1, 1939, the same day the Germans invade Poland to begin WWII. The story is told via Jocelyn’s letters to famous writer Marcel Zola, whom she hopes will preserve her experiences during the war after Antoine leaves her alone to organize the assistance of refugees in the library. After the Nazi occupation begins, Jocelyn is forced to house Adolf Bauman, a demanding and lecherous Nazi officer, in her apartment, and soon she learns the Germans plan to destroy many of the books in the library. Meanwhile, another German officer, Hermann von Choltiz, whose mission is to safeguard the heritage of occupied countries, becomes Jocelyn’s protector, saving her from Bauman’s advances and the books from destruction. While Jocelyn’s sole purpose is to preserve the books, she also must pray for a better future, as many loved ones are killed and lives will need to be rebuilt. This is a powerful portrait of a woman fighting to preserve knowledge in a crumbling world. Publishers Weekly Review

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

(Available Formats: Print Book, eBook & Downloadable Audiobook)

The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba

Cleeton’s latest historical novel in her dazzling Cuba series, following The Last Train to Key West (2020), features another member of the Perez family, Marina, and her struggles during the Spanish American War as she is disowned by her well-to-do family and separated from her beloved rebel husband. The “”Beautiful Girl”” of the title is based on the real-life Evangelina Cisneros, whose daring escape from a Havana prison was orchestrated by newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst as part of his campaign to convince the U.S. to declare war on Spain. Hearst reporter Grace Harrington, a spunky Nelly Bly type, also pushes against the sexist constrictions of the time. These three women tell their stories in alternating sections set during 1896-98. Although raised in privilege, they lose status because of their integrity and refusal to bow to the expectations of their class. Ultimately, they find themselves struggling for survival while fighting for their country’s independence and, in Grace’s case, for her own. With a splash of romance and a healthy helping of history, this novel will be a hit for all collections. Booklist Review.

Pack Up The Moon by Kristan Higgins

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Pack Up The Moon

Higgins (Good Luck with That) delivers an outstanding romantic weeper with this tale of young newlyweds facing a terminal illness. Lauren Park is dying from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis—“twelve syllables of doom”—but she’s determined to leave a little bit of herself in her husband Josh’s life after she’s gone. She does so by writing letters to Josh and leaving them with her best friend to dole out month by month after her death. The letters are structured as to-do lists, ranging from basic tasks to ensure Josh takes care of himself (“Go to the grocery store and stop eating food from cartons over the sink. Don’t be a loser!”) to encouragement to start new relationships. After Lauren dies, Josh’s raw grief is palpable, as is Lauren’s reluctance to leave the love of her life, which comes through in her letters. Delightful supporting characters add to the charm, such as a Banana Republic salesman who comforts Josh after he has a breakdown while trying to fulfill one of Lauren’s tasks. Perfect pacing and plotting lift Higgins’s masterly latest. This is going to break (and restore) plenty of hearts. Publishers Weekly Review

The Parted Earth by Anjali Enjeti

Parted Earth

(Available Formats: eBook, Hoopla instant checkout eBook & audiobook; Print Book coming soon!)

Enjeti documents the impact of India’s Partition on successive generations in her immersive debut novel (after the essay collection Southbound). In 1947, British India is on the brink of being decolonized, with the lives of millions hanging in the balance. Hindu teenager Deepa Khanna’s doctor parents confront escalating hostilities from Hindu Indians because of their willingness to treat Muslims, while Deepa becomes secretly attracted to her Muslim friend Amir. After Deepa’s parents are killed in an attack, she moves to London and Amir leaves for Pakistan. The story then shifts to Deepa’s granddaughter Shan, who, following a miscarriage and subsequent divorce in 2016, begins digging into her past, finally uncovering the reason for her grandmother’s aloofness. Deepa’s experience renders her “unknowable” to Shan, filling Deepa with a grief that “seemed to burden generations of Khannas” with guilt. Meanwhile, other stories emerge of the Partition, from characters such as Shan’s neighbor, Chandani Singh, who supports Shan through her difficulties, and Chandani’s late husband, Harjeet, spinning an increasingly broad set of voices. While no less affecting, these supporting accounts receive an imbalanced, sometimes disproportionate attention that can detract from the novel’s main characters. Still, this intergenerational account of remembering and reconciliation sits comfortably alongside works of its kind. Publishers Weekly

The Plague Year: America in the Time of Covid by Lawrence Wright

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

The Plague Year

In this latest work, best-selling author Wright (The Looming Tower) looks back on a nearly unprecedented period of U.S. history: the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting from the discovery of the virus in China in early 2020, and leading up to the final days of the Trump administration in 2021, Wright surveys one momentous year. Delving into economic, social, biological, racial, and political aspects of the pandemic, this is an overarching behind-the-scenes look at the pandemic’s effects on individual lives. Wright cuts through misinformation to present nearly every aspect of the year 2020, including the biological breakthroughs of vaccines, personal tragedies, and collective trauma. All is thoroughly discussed with empathy and compassion. Also included are interviews with staff of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and personal reports from families across the country (from New York to Tulsa to New Orleans) whose lives were impacted by the pandemic. VERDICT While there are already several other books about COVID-19 and its sociological impact on the United States, this wide-ranging yet deeply personal account is a great starting point. At times infuriating, unbelievable, heartbreaking, and even witty, Wright’s narrative is sorely needed.–Laura Hiatt, Fort Collins, CO – Library Journal Review

The Residence by Andrew Pyper

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Residence

Haunted house stories are a dime a dozen, but haunted White House stories are a bit harder to find. Pyper (The Homecoming, 2019) reimagines life in the Franklin Pierce White House, beginning shortly after his inauguration and the death of his last living son in a bizarre train accident. First Lady Jane Pierce is reticent about joining him at the residence but eventually acquiesces, and sets up a replica of their son’s bedroom down the hall from her own. Shortly after the furniture is placed, Mrs. Pierce invites the Fox Sisters, world renowned for their spiritual séance (though they were later unmasked as frauds), to attempt to contact her son. A portal is opened and soon the White House and its inhabitants are surrounded by unexplainable activity with frightening implications. Pyper weaves traditional and legitimately creepy horror tropes with a larger examination of the complexities of marriage, and to a lesser degree, the direction and morality of the country at the time of its impending split. Recommended for fans of historical fiction with a bite, like that of Alma Katsu. Booklist Review

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake

Rosaline Palmer needs a change. She didn’t finish medical school, she had a daughter earlier than she planned, and she’s still under the financial thumb of her well-to-do parents. So what do you do as a better-than-average baker in the UK? You try out for Bake Expectations, Britain’s top baking show, which is definitely not based on a certain show on a certain streaming service. Hall (Boyfriend Material) seamlessly combines humor, romance, and drama to create a story that is intimately believable and at once cozy and sexy. Refreshingly, Hall writes the heroine’s identity as a bisexual woman in a way that addresses and conquers stereotypes; Rosaline isn’t picking between a man and a woman, she’s not interested in being the third in a relationship, and she rails against fetishization by potential dates, her daughter’s teacher, and her Bake Expectations castmates. The book combines sweet escapism and poignant cultural touchstones with well-crafted characters and hilariously familiar settings. VERDICT Hall does it again with this culturally relevant, wonderfully escapist foray into the baking world. This is a must-buy for any library.–Ahliah Bratzler, Indianapolis – Starred Library Journal Review

Twelve Nights at Rotter House by J.W. Ocker

(Available Formats: Print Book, Hoopla instant checkout eBook & audiobook)

Twelve Nights at Rotter House

Felix Allsey is a travel writer with a keen eye for the paranormal, and he’s carved out a unique, if only slightly lucrative, niche for himself in nonfiction; he writes travelogues of the country’s most haunted places, after haunting them himself. When he convinces the owner of the infamous Rotterdam Mansion to let him stay on the premises for two weeks, he believes he’s finally found the location that will bring him a bestseller. As with his other gigs, he sets rules for himself: no leaving the house for any reason, refrain from outside contact, and sleep during the day. When Thomas Ruth, Felix’s oldest friend and fellow horror film obsessive, joins him on the project, the two dance around a recent and unspeakably painful rough-patch in their friendship, but eventually fall into their old rhythms of dark humor and movie trivia. That’s when things start going wrong: screams from upstairs, figures in the thresholds, and more than what should be in any basement. Felix realizes the book he’s writing, and his very state of mind, is tilting from nonfiction into all out horror, and the shocking climax answers a question that’s been staring these men in the face all along: In Rotter House, who’s haunting who?

Have a great week!

Linda Reimer

*Information on the Three Catalogs*

Digital Catalog:

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:

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:

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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