Suggested Reading August 3, 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, August 10, 2021.

All Our Shimmering Skies: A Novel by Trent Dalton

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

All Our Shimmering Skies
Dalton (Boy Swallows Universe) delivers a spellbinding saga of survival and transformation in WWII Australia. Before seven-year-old Molly Hook’s mother dies, she makes Molly promise to make her heart as rock-hard as her surroundings—adding that Molly can always find her up in the sky, “where the best gifts come from.” In the first of many fabulist moments, Molly’s grandfather Tom Berry’s gold-prospecting pan appears as if fallen from the clouds; it’s inscribed with riddles that will guide her to an Aboriginal elder, Longcoat Bob, who the family believed had cursed them for Tom’s theft of gold from Bob’s ancestral lands. Molly excitedly takes it home, where her hard-drinking gold hunter turned gravedigger father, Horace, slugs her in the jaw and her uncle Aubrey throws away the pan, behavior Molly attributes to the curse. Five years after her mother’s death, a Japanese bombing raid kills Horace and destroys their house, and Molly flees with Aubrey’s girlfriend in search of Longcoat Bob. Along the way, a stranded Japanese fighter pilot becomes their protector, and the three continue on a quest marked by trials and wonders while being pursued by Aubrey. Dalton provides exquisite descriptions of deserts, waterfalls, mazes of stone monoliths, and Aboriginal cave paintings, and creates a courageous, unsentimental heroine in Molly. This is a wonder. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Appleseed: A Novel by Matt Bell

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Chapman, a faun, and his human brother, Nathaniel, plant apple trees across eighteenth-century Ohio. Nathaniel dreams of progress and development while Chapman sows each seed hoping for the Tree of Forgetting, whose fruit will turn him into a man. In the near future, the habitable half of the United States is owned by tech company Earthtrust, which claims a commitment to preservation and reversing climate change. In the abandoned West, John meets up with fellow rewilders and plots the takedown of the corporation he helped found. Hundreds of years in the future, a being searches for organic matter under the ice that covers the Earth. The three story lines alternate as Bell (A Tree or a Person or a Wall, 2016) slowly unveils the particulars of each world and their surprising connections. Appleseed is a work of cli-fi that explores myth and technology and asks what progress is good for humanity. Fans of Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (2014) or David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (2012) will enjoy this, as will admirers of such speculative environmental fiction as Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy.

Count The Ways: A Novel by Joyce Maynard

(Available Formats: Print, Large Print & eBook)

Count The Ways

What Eleanor, orphaned at 15, wants most are a home and family. In 1973, only 20 and already the author and illustrator of a popular children’s book series, Eleanor buys a used Toyota and hits the road. In rural New Hampshire, she buys a long-abandoned farmhouse shaded by a mighty ash with a bubbling brook and waterfall nearby. A few years later, she has a husband, craftsman Cam, and three children. Eleanor builds a bucolic life that includes an annual spring ritual of making cork people and setting them in paper boats afloat on the fast-flowing stream. The family races along the banks, watching the progress of their creations. Some cork people make it through a dark culvert, and others don’t, a poignant embodiment of Eleanor’s biggest fear, that she might lose one of her children. Maynard (Under the Influence, 2016) portrays Eleanor, her family, and their precious home through three tumultuous American decades, setting their story amidst seminal events and to a soundtrack featuring the music of each era. Sensitively plumbing the complexity of human emotions, of love and forgiveness, she draws readers into a deep, aching attachment to her characters, creating an ultimately hopeful tale just right for this moment. Booklist Review

Fresh Water For Flowers by Valérie Perrin

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

Fresh Water For Flowers

Violette Toussaint is the caretaker of a cemetery in a small French village. At middle-age, she lives comfortably in solitude, as her philandering husband Philippe left years ago. Her contentment is disrupted when detective Julien Seul turns up with an unusual request to inter his mother’s ashes on the grave of her longtime lover, as well as an unexpected revelation; he knows where Philippe has been living. Eager to get a divorce, Violette contacts him, stirring up reminders of their troubled and tragic past. Perrin reveals Violette’s personal history in alternating chapters, showing the reader the path that led her to her solitary and contemplative life, as well as the reasons why Philippe left. Serle’s translation is fluid and rich in detail, capturing Violette’s unique perspective and her vivid inner life. The story is full of unexpected turns and painful revelations, but there are joyful moments interspersed throughout as well. There’s no pat, happy ending here, but a finale full of contentment and hope that fits with the tone of the story. Fans of Elizabeth Berg will enjoy this thoughtful take on the inner life of an unforgettable woman. Booklist Review

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Half Sick of Shadows

DEBUT The story of King Arthur is well-known, but now a character approaches with a new point of view: the Lady of Shalott. Elaine of Shalott is cursed to see the future, like the women in her family before her. She escapes the tower where she had been imprisoned, and she grows up in Avalon, along with her friends Arthur, Guinevere, Morgana, and Lancelot. Each has their own destiny, which Elaine has divined from her dreams and her weaving loom. When Arthur is called back to Camelot, Elaine and the others goes with him for support; for Elaine, it’s also an attempt to subvert some of her own visions. Yet as fate pulls them ever closer to tragedy, Elaine knows that she might have no choice but to follow the path laid out for them–or she can sacrifice to change things for the greater good. Arthur and Lancelot are prominent here, but it is the powerful women–Elaine, Guinevere, and Morgana–who are central to this timeline-skipping story. VERDICT Sebastian’s adult debut is filled with historical leanings with a feminist twist. Themes of friendship, fate, and morally gray decisions made for greater good are at the forefront of this Arthurian retelling.–Kristi Chadwick, Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton – Starred Library Journal Review

The Girl In His Shadow by Audrey Blake

(Available Formats: Hoopla instant checkout eBook)

The Girl in His Shadow

The girl of the title is Nora Beady, ward of Dr. Horace Croft, a brilliant and eccentric London surgeon. Nora is intelligent, independent, and possessed of a natural talent for medicine and medical illustration. Dr. Croft has trained her to work as his assistant, but her role must be kept secret; although the book’s setting, the mid-19th-century medical field, is in the process of evolving, it still has no role for women, except as nurses. If word were to get out about exactly what Nora did in his private clinic, Dr. Croft could face criminal charges and lose his medical credentials. When surgical resident Daniel Gibson arrives, Nora’s role in Dr. Croft’s practice is threatened, and she is forced to decide whether to stay in the background or claim her rightful place. Jaima Fixson and Regina Sirois, writing under the name “Audrey Blake,” have created a compelling story, set in a gritty, sometimes brutal 1840s London that is mostly white. Drawing on deep research, their description of medical practices and procedures is harrowing. VERDICT With its strong woman protagonist and authentic period detail, this is the best kind of historical fiction, transporting readers to a place and time peopled with memorable characters. Readers who enjoy medical drama will gravitate to this book.–Carolyn M. Mulac, Chicago – Library Journal Review

Machine by Elizabeth Bear

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)


Hugo Award winner Bear’s spectacularly smart space opera, set in the same universe as 2018’s Ancestral Night, begins with the dispatch of an ambulance ship from the immense medical habitat Core General to respond to a distress signal. The signal originates from a vessel docked aboard a lost generation ship that was launched from Earth centuries earlier, before humans overcame their self-destructive impulses and joined a multi-race, interstellar civilization called the Synarche. When rescue specialist Dr. Brookllyn Jens arrives on the scene, she finds the crew of the generation ship sealed in cryogenic containers, with only Helen, an anxious and rather threatening android, conscious. Meanwhile, the crew of the docked ship that sent out the distress signal in the first place are all comatose and the huge machine they have on board looks suspiciously like a combat walker. In addition to untangling the history of these ships, Jens is deputized to investigate increasingly destructive incidents of sabotage at Core General, leading her to question her faith in the hospital’s ideals. Bear’s vivid tale, narrated by the wry, almost painfully self-aware Jens, bristles with inventive science and riveting action scenes. With this outstanding work, Bear proves her mastery of the space opera genre yet again. Starred Library Journal Review

Morningside Heights: A Novel by Joshua Henkin

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

Morningside Heights

Henkin (The World Without You) brilliantly conveys the complexities of a New York City family in this humane, compulsively readable tale. In 2006, Shakespeare scholar Spence Robin, 57, is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, and his wife, Pru Steiner, is forced to return his book advance. Their daughter, Sarah, a med student, arrives from Los Angeles on a delayed flight, and Pru wryly reassures Sarah not to worry (“It’ll be good practice for when you’re a doctor. You’ll be keeping people waiting for the rest of your life”). The focus then turns to Arlo Zackheim, Spence’s son from his first marriage, whose vagabond, self-centered mother left him with an emptiness he finds hard to fill. At 15, Arlo came to live with Spence for two years, and the marked contrast between his past and living with an erudite, structured father; a kind stepmother; and a bright younger sister is drawn with humor and insight. Henkin reaches further back to describe how Pru escaped her Orthodox Jewish family in Ohio and landed in grad school at Columbia University in 1976, and shows how Spence was a wunderkind in Columbia’s English department, making the tragedy of his illness particularly poignant. Equally well handled is Pru’s transformation from wife and lover to caretaker—wrenching changes that Henkin conveys without dissolving into sentimentality or cliché, but rather leaving readers with a kernel of hope. This is a stunning achievement. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Shadows In Summerland by Adrian Van Young

(Available Formats: Hoopla instant checkout eBook)

Shadows in Summerland

In an America on the cusp of Civil War, Boston’s bereaved are easy marks for con artist mediums. Photographer William Mumler stumbles upon an ideal partner in gulling his marks: Hannah, who appears to have a genuine gift for making the dead appear in photographs. Marriage to Hannah and financial success soon follow. But Hannah comes with troublesome baggage in the form of her stern mother, and success brings with it the ambitious and the greedy, all determined to have a share of William and Hannah’s wealth for their ownâor to destroy them. Van Young’s debut novel recalls an era no less gullible than the present one. Drawing on the lives of the historical Mr. and Mrs. Mumler, Van Young paints a picture of the possibilities of faith for those ambitious and amoral enough to exploit other people’s pain, people who will not allow a moment of genuine mystery to distract them from the main chance. Van Young’s prose skillfully illuminates his gothic tale of greed, obsession, and murder. Fans of his short fiction will be pleased.

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

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

Shadowy Horses

Why is the ghost of a 2nd-century Roman sentinel guarding an archaeological site? And why is he following Verity Grey? First published in 1997, Kearsley’s book still pleases with its deft blending of romance and the Gothic. Archaeologist Verity Grey has made her professional mark and even landed a secure position at the British Museum. But when her charming ex-boyfriend Adrian calls, Verity is easily lured to Scotland with promises of archaeological adventure. From the moment she boards the train, Verity’s world becomes mysteriously ominous. The Gothic atmosphere begins to swirl with the moors, a dark house lit by a single candle, and shadowy horses thundering through the night, wakening our heroine. Once Verily arrives at Peter Quinnell’s home, she meets the rest of the crew. In his 70s, Quinnell is still handsome and brilliant yet discredited by his fellow archaeologists, who lament his mad search for the 2nd-century marching camp known as Legio IX Hispana. Charismatic as ever, Adrian has his eye on every pretty woman, including Peter’s granddaughter Fabia, the photographer who seems to know very little about archaeology. Verity’s own eye is drawn to the darkly handsome, mysterious David Fortune, an archaeologist from the local university. As the team hunts for the remains of the Roman camp, however, someone seems to be intent upon sabotaging the hunt. Indeed, the dig itself seems haunted by a Roman sentinel who speaks only to a young, possibly psychic boy named Robbie. The tension mounts as Verity and David’s romance intensifies and the sentinel demands more from Robbie, warning against dangers and urging caution. But what is the source of the danger? Despite a rather abrupt resolution to the central mystery, Kearsley’s tale is lush with romantic and ghostly threads. Kirkus Review

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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