Suggested Reading July 6, 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 13, 2021.

Breach of Honor by Janice Cantore

(Available Formats: Hoopla instant checkout eBook & audiobook)

Breach of Honor

Cantore’s hard-hitting yet outlandish inspirational thriller (after Visible Threat) centers on the unraveling of secrets held in a small town’s police department. In Table Rock, Ore., patrol officer Leah Radcliffe is ready to give up on her physically abusive husband and fellow officer Brad. Then she witnesses him taking a payoff from a shady businessman and confronts him. When Brad attacks and tries to kill her, she shoots him in self-defense and is subsequently charged with murder. Leading up to the trial, Leah descends into emotional turmoil trying to understand what drove Brad to want to silence her and why her colleagues have turned against her. After Leah is convicted, Clint Tanner, a fellow officer and her only friend, embarks on his own investigation and quickly realizes corruption runs through the police department and local judicial system. Clint believes Brad’s powerful father is behind it all, but the more he uncovers, the clearer it becomes that a ring of businessmen control corrupt politicians across the state. With every setback Leah faces, she leans more heavily on the faith she rediscovers while in prison and in Clint’s efforts to free her. As the mystery unravels and implausible twists pile up, readers might be hard-pressed to believe how deep the corruption goes. Those who can roll with the far-fetched plot will have fun. Publishers Weekly Review

The Confidence Men: How Two Prisoners of War Engineered the Most Remarkable Escape in History by Margalit Fox

(Available Formats: eBook)

Confidence Men

Fox (Conan Doyle for the Defense), a former obituary writer for the New York Times, recounts in this marvelous history how two British army officers in WWI orchestrated “the most singular prison break ever recorded.” Seeking to alleviate the monotony of life at the remote Yozgad prison camp in Turkey, British POWs built a Ouija board from salvaged materials. After numerous failed attempts to raise a spirit, Elias Henry Jones, “the Oxford-educated son of a British lord,” began manipulating the board, convincing his compatriots that they were conversing with the dead. Intended merely as a lark, Jones’s game became a more serious affair when a Turkish officer asked if the board could help him find a buried treasure. Jones partnered with Cedric Waters Hill, an Australian pilot and “master magician,” to devise a complex scheme to trick the camp commandant into sending them to Constantinople, where they spent six months feigning madness in an insane asylum before being repatriated. Fox enriches her account with intriguing deep dives into the psychology of “coercive persuasion,” the mechanics of confidence games, and the history of spiritualism in the U.S. and England. Readers will be mesmerized by this rich and rewarding tale. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Grace of Kings

Hugo-winning short story author and translator Liu opens his ambitious first novel, which launches the Dandelion Dynasty epic fantasy series, with hefty helpings of political philosophy and violence. When the unpopular Emperor of Xana dies, leaving his unprepared 12-year-old son to take the throne, rebel factions across the empire seize the opportunity to strike blows for freedom. Encouraged by prophecies, picaresque bandit Kuni Garu quickly becomes an unlikely forerunner in the crowd of would-be rulers. He teams up with the scholar Luan Zya, who adds some wisdom to Kuni’s usual flashy scheming, and the two join forces with warrior Mata Zyndu, last of the once-powerful Zyndu line, who believes it’s his destiny to rule. The route to power is decidedly crooked, and the outcomes are very much in doubt. Liu seasons his fantastical Han Dynasty drama with plenty of intrigue, passion, bloodlust, and even a nod to historical feminism, against a backdrop of magical and technological marvels. Epic fantasy fans will enjoy this large-scale story of political strategy and skullduggery. Publishers Weekly Review

Readers’ Note: This is the first book in a series; book 2 & 3 are:
The Wall of Storms (2016), The Veiled Throne (November, 2021).

The House Guests by Emilie Richards

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

The House Guest

In this serpentine thriller from Richards (the Ministry Is Murder series), Cassie Costas moves from Manhattan to Tarpon Springs, Fla., her hometown, with her 15-year-old stepdaughter, Savannah Westmore, after her husband’s death. Savannah detests the place and manifests her unhappiness by making friends with the wrong crowd. When the girl finds a handmade purse containing $800 in a parking lot, she lets her friends persuade her that the money should be spent on a party to be held at her house while Cassie is out of town. On returning to her now trashed home, Cassie discovers the distinctive purse among the rubble and determines its true owner: Amber Blair, the single mother of a 16-year-old son. As a result of losing the money, the pair have been evicted from their humble apartment. Deciding to right Savannah’s wrong, Cassie invites them to live with her until Amber can get on her feet. Both women are hiding dangerous secrets that will alter their lives. The carefully constructed entwining of Cassie and Amber’s stories offers some genuine surprises. This is pure soap opera of the best sort. Publishers Weekly

The Keepers by Jeffrey Burton

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Keepers

In Burton’s enjoyable sequel to 2020’s The Finders, three separate murder investigations preoccupy Mace Reid, a cadaver dog trainer who assists the Chicago police and various sheriffs’ departments, and his pack of five working dogs, notably Vira, an exceptionally sensitive golden retriever, who “takes the art of human remains detection to the next level… the Sherlock Holmes level.” Vira is literally able to sniff out the guilty parties, leaving her wily human companions the job of figuring out how to bring the killers to justice. The murder cases—those of a union organizer, a former one-hit-wonder rock star, and the head of the Special Prosecutions Bureau inside the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office—eventually entwine, and draw Mace and the dogs into a disturbing web of political corruption at the highest level. Who can they trust? The answer seems to be no one as the fast-paced, action-packed plot builds to a thrilling finale. Burton carefully crafts each dog’s personality, ensuring that they, like the humans, are fully realized characters. Dog lovers are in for a treat. Publishers Weekly Review

Songs in Ursa Major: A Novel by Emma Brodie

(Available Formats: Print & eBook)

Songs in Ursa Major

Jane Quinn was raised in a matriarchal family on a remote tourist island off the coast of Massachusetts. Bayleen Island is home to a famous folk music festival, which, in the summer of 1969, draws teen idol Jesse Reid to Jane’s hometown. Jane’s band, the Breakers, serendipitously meets and ends up touring with Jesse, thus sparking Jane and Jesse’s incendiary love affair. Jesse believes wholeheartedly in Jane’s talent, and pushes her to write her first solo album, Songs in Ursa Major. Unfortunately, their love is ill-fated: their youth, family secrets, and the demands of record label contracts prove to be too much. Jane wants her talent to be valued apart from her connection to Jesse; Jesse simply wants Jane as his life’s companion. Set in the grooving 1970s music world, this sprawling novel follows Jane and Jesse through the epic highs and lows of their careers. Moving from New York to Los Angeles to Greece to the Grammys, then always back home to the island, Brodie’s debut is a furious page-turner, meditating on the glittering beast of fame. Booklist Review

The War Nurse by Tracey Enerson Wood

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

The War Nurse

In 1917, Julia Stimson was used to being one of the only powerful women in the “”old boys’ club”” field of medicine. A gifted nurse, talented administrator, and friend and confidante to many, she rose up the ranks at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis to become the superintendent of nurses at Washington University. Julia is shocked when she and most of her fellow staff are summoned to work for the Red Cross in Europe to treat soldiers fighting in the Great War. Julia is given six weeks to find and train 64 more nurses for wartime duty. When she and her fleet of nurses arrive in Liverpool, Julia realizes just how monumental their task will be. They confront unimaginable bloodshed, hardships, and the horrors of war, testing their inner strength beyond belief. Based on a true story, Wood’s (The Engineer’s Wife, 2020) latest highlights Julia’s quick thinking, organizational skills, and endlessly caring heart, bringing life to a brutal era. Fans of Patricia Harman will love Wood’s treatment of medical expertise in a historical setting. Booklist Review

What’s Done in Darkness: A Novel by Laura McHugh

(Available Formats: Print Book)

What's Done in Darkness

One of 2021’s Best Beach Reads—OPRAH DAILY

Sarabeth Shepherd, the narrator of this moving psychological suspense novel from Thriller Award winner McHugh (The Wolf Wants In), is still struggling after being abducted five years earlier at 17 from her family’s farm in Wisteria, Ark., when she gets an out-of-the-blue plea for help from Nick Farrow, of the Missouri Highway Patrol’s missing persons unit. Even before Nick suggests that finding a 16-year-old girl might uncover information that finally cracks her own abduction, Sarabeth, who now goes by Sarah and works at an animal shelter, knows she would do anything to rescue another girl from an ordeal like hers, blindfolded and chained in a basement for a week before managing to escape. But despite Nick’s unexpectedly simpatico support, returning to her own neck of the Ozarks, where her estranged family still lives as part of a patriarchal religious sect, proves even more traumatic for Sarah than anticipated—and dangerous. As incredible as the plot’s harrowing twists may seem, any number of true crime accounts testify otherwise. Fortunately, there’s a light amid all this darkness—courageous, determined Sarah. Readers will hope to encounter her again. Publishers Weekly Review

Willie Nelson’s Letters to America by Willie Nelson

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

Willie Nelson's Letters to America

An epistolary grab bag of memories, lyrics, jokes, and homespun philosophy from the legendary musician. As an indefatigable touring artist, Nelson (b. 1933) has had a lot of time on his hands during the pandemic. Following his collaboration with his sister, Me and Sister Bobbie, the road warrior offers a loose collection of lessons from a full life. If you’ve never read a book by or about Nelson, this one–characteristically conversational, inspirational, wise, funny, and meandering–is a good place to start. The book is filled with lyrics to many of his best-known songs, most of which he wrote but others that he has made his own as well. For those steeped in The Tao of Willie (2006), some of the stories will be as familiar as the songs–e.g., the origin story of his nicknames, including Booger Red and Shotgun Willie; his time as a DJ and a door-to-door Bible and encyclopedia salesman; early struggles in Nashville with “all the record executives who only see music as a bottom-line endeavor”; and return to his home state of Texas. Many of the personal stories about family and friends can be found in Me and Sister Bobbie, but they are good stories from a rich life, one of abundance for which Nelson remains profoundly grateful. So he gives thanks in the form of letters: to Texas, America, God, golf, and marijuana; the audiences who have supported him and the band that has had his back; those who have played any part in Farm Aid or his annual Fourth of July concert bashes; and departed friends and deceased heroes, one of whom, Will Rogers, answers him back. Nelson even addresses one to Covid-19, which looms over this book, making the author itchy and antsy. Even at 87, he can’t wait to be on the road again. Another amiable book that is just what you’d expect from Willie. Publishers Weekly Review

The Wolf and the Woodsman: A Novel by Ava Reid

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Wolf and the Woodsman

In the vein of Naomi Novik’s New York Times bestseller Spinning Silver and Katherine Arden’s national bestseller The Bear and the Nightingale, this unforgettable debut— inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology—follows a young pagan woman with hidden powers and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen as they form an unlikely alliance to thwart a tyrant.

In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodline—her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.

But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman—he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.

As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all.

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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