Suggested Reading August 17, 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 24, 2021.

Above the Rain: A Novel by Víctor Del Árbol

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

Above The Rain

This translation of the contemplative 2017 novel by former police officer del Arbol (A Million Drops) spans decades and nations to tell an epic story about two death-haunted people trying to outrun their pasts. When Miguel and Helena meet in a nursing home in southernmost Spain–he a Spanish former bank executive in the early stages of Alzheimer’s; she a Tangiers-born Briton whose mother tried to kill her as a child before killing herself–they find connection with one another. The suicide of a mutual acquaintance leads them on a journey to Sweden. There, in a separate narrative, Yasmina, a beautiful young Moroccan woman in a “complicated situation” with a deputy police chief, is forced to help pay off her loathsome grandfather’s debt to the criminal underworld. The sprawling narrative, Vargas Llosian in scope, swells even further to include political undercurrents dating back to the Spanish Civil War and the rise of Francoism. Del Arbol writes insightfully about aging and the effects of generational trauma, and his characters are richly drawn, but too often they get bogged down by portentous dialogue.

VERDICT Readers of his previous works will welcome the author’s ambition, but fans of crime fiction may struggle with the meandering pace and abandon the story before he successfully pulls all the threads together. –Michael Pucci, South Orange P.L., NJ

The Bone Fire by György Dragomán

(Available Format: Print Book)

The Bone Fire

At the start of this evocative work of magic realism from Dragomán (The White King), 13-year-old Emma, who’s been living since the death of her parents in an orphanage in an unnamed city and country that’s recently overthrown its Communist government, is claimed by a grandmother she didn’t know existed. The grandmother convinces Emma with a bit of magic that they’re related. At her grandmother’s house, Emma regularly observes and participates in minor bits of domestic magic, such as interacting with her grandfather’s ghost and engaging in homely rituals. At school, she faces mean girls as she tries to find where she fits in, eventually becoming part of the long-distance running team. Some accuse her grandfather of having been an informer for the previous regime, but others dismiss that as nonsense. Below the surface, violence is still simmering from the revolution that could strike close to Emma. One small incident follows another until some dramatic action in the final pages. The striking mix of magical elements and post-Communist setting compensates for the lack of much of a plot. Fans of Gabriel García Márquez may want to have a look.

Bluegrass Undercover by Kathleen Brooks

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Bluegrass Undercover

This is the first book in the Bluegrass Brothers series, which includes USA Today BestSelling titles Rising Storm and Acquiring Trouble. This is the follow-up series to the bestselling Bluegrass Series.

When danger and passions flare it’s best to find cover…

Cade Davies is a former Special Forces soldier who is now a high school teacher and football coach. And something is trying to kill his players. He’s been too busy trying to keep his players alive, while also avoiding the Davies Brothers marriage trap set by half the town, to pay attention and to the fiery redhead who has swept into his small town.

DEA Agent Annie Blake was undercover to bust a drug ring that preys on high school athletes in the adorable, small town of Keeneston. She had thought to keep her head down and listen to the local gossip to find the maker of this deadly drug. What Annie didn’t count on was becoming the local gossip. With marriage bets being placed and an entire town aiming to win the pot, Annie looks to Cade for help in bringing down the drug ring before another kid is killed. What she didn’t intend on was becoming the next target.

Damnation Spring: A Novel by Ash Davidson

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Damnation Spring

The giant redwood was named the 24-7 about 100 years ago, when it was 24 feet, 7 inches wide. By 1977, it was more than 30 feet wide. For Rich Gundersen, the 24-7 and the ridge of unfelled forest it inhabits represent generations of dreams, and when he gets the chance to buy it, he takes it. He doesn’t immediately tell his wife, Colleen, younger by 19 years and suffering after the latest in a series of miscarriages. But mysterious skulls, illnesses, mudslides, and threats soon endanger his plans. The couple and their one child, a five-year-old boy, are surrounded by a close-knit timber community, including Colleen’s sister and her brood of six kids, an old friend who leaves his property with a drive-through redwood tree about once a decade but still knows all the goings-on about town, and Daniel, Colleen’s Yurok ex-boyfriend, who comes back into the picture. Their struggles and heartbreaks play out on the richly rendered backdrop of a community on the brink of major change. Booklist Review

The Gospel According To Billy The Kid

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Gospel According To Billy The Kid

Like many good stories of the old West, this one begins in a saloon. In 1914 in El Paso, Texas, two strangers strike up a conversation at the bar—Bill Roberts, a real-life figure who died in Hico, Texas, in 1950, and a former US Army scout whose brother knew Roberts by another name: Billy the Kid.

So begins The Gospel According to Billy the Kid, a tale of the old New Mexico territory, corrupt lawmen, honest ranchers, murder, betrayal, and the explosive events of the Lincoln County War that sent young Billy off seeking justice—and headed toward a bloody rendezvous with a sheriff hired to track him down. In the saloon Roberts has us imagine another story, told thirty-three years later over shots of whiskey, about a young outlaw given a second chance to find himself, to find peace, and to finally grow up and out from under the shadow of his own infamy.

Puppet Master by Dale Brown

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

Puppet Master

In Dale Brown’s Puppet Master, intelligent machines take center stage as America battles the Russian mafia in Eastern Europe

Louis Massina is revolutionizing the field of robotics. His technological wonders are capable of locating disaster survivors, preventing nuclear meltdowns, and replacing missing limbs. After one of Massina’s creations makes a miraculous rescue, an FBI agent recruits him to pursue criminals running a massive financial scam—and not coincidentally, suspected of killing the agent’s brother. Massina agrees to deploy a surveillance “bot” that uses artificial intelligence to follow its target. But when he’s thrust into a dangerous conspiracy, the billionaire inventor decides to take matters into his own hands, unleashing the greatest cyber-weapons in the world and becoming the Puppet Master.

Red Traitor: A Novel by Owen Matthews

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Red Traitor

Matthews returns to the story of Alexander Vasin, a KGB major during the height of the Cold War (following Black Sun, 2019). Here Vasin finds himself caught in a power struggle between his superior and the head of the GRU, the KGB’s rival security agency. With the Cuban Missile Crisis coming to a boil, Vasin is tracking a suspected GRU spy who may be feeding secret documents to the Americans. Working his sources, Vasin picks up hints that a submarine flotilla is nearing Cuba, with each ship secretly carrying nuclear-tipped torpedoes. Expertly jumping between Vasin’s dilemma–his boss wants him to sit on the as-yet-unconfirmed submarine story, hoping it will blow up in the face of the GRU chief–and the equally fraught drama faced by the commander of the flotilla, Vasily Arkhipov, who is in a power struggle of his own. Arkhipov directs the flotilla, but the subs remain under the operational command of their captains. Unfortunately, Arkhipov’s sub, out of radio contact and being tracked by American destroyers, is controlled by a hotheaded captain eager to deploy his secret weapon. Basing both his plotlines on actual events and real people, Matthews generates remarkable tension in this perfectly executed two-pronged thriller, with the submarine story proving especially dramatic, evoking both The Hunt for Red October and the high-tension cat-and-mouse game portrayed in the classic WWII submarine film The Enemy Below. Booklist Review

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Reading List

Adams’s winsome debut follows a widower who takes up reading in order to honor the memory of his wife. After Londoner Mukesh’s wife, Naina, dies, he picks up the book she was reading before she died, The Time-Traveler’s Wife, hoping “to turn the black letters and yellowed pages into a letter from Naina to him.” When he later returns the book to the library, he meets the restless and prickly 17-year-old library worker Aleisha, who reluctantly took the job after encouragement from her troubled older brother, also a bookworm. As time passes, Mukesh and Aleisha become good friends, with Mukesh and his granddaughter, Priya, joining in on a reading list Aleisha found tucked in a returned book, which includes such classics as To Kill a Mockingbird, Little Women, and Beloved. When the creator of the list is revealed, there isn’t much in the way of surprise, but it gains emotional resonance after Adams links the list to a late-breaking tragic event. Adams is a brisk and solid plotter, and has an easy hand with creating characters who are easy to root for. Readers will be charmed and touched. Publishers Weekly Review

The Rehearsals by Annette Christie

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Rehearsals

In this delightful and romantic debut novel―with a Groundhog Day twist―a couple calls off their wedding after a disastrous rehearsal dinner, only to wake up the next morning trapped in a time loop. Together.

Two people. One wedding. No end in sight.

“A sweet, delightful romance.” —People

“Irresistible.” —Elin Hilderbrand

“An enchanting and compelling look at life’s what-if’s.” —Helen Hoang

“Terrific fun from beginning to end.” —Sarah Haywood

Megan Givens and Tom Prescott are heading into what is supposed to be their magical wedding weekend on beautiful San Juan Island. But with two difficult families, ten years of history, and all too many secrets, things quickly go wrong. After a disastrous rehearsal dinner they vow to call the whole thing off—only to wake up the next morning stuck together in a time loop. Are they really destined to relive the worst day of their lives, over and over? And what happens if their wedding day does arrive?

A funny, romantic, and big-hearted debut novel, The Rehearsals imagines what we might do if given a second chance at life and at love—and what it means to finally get both right.

The Turnout by Meghan Abbott

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Turnout

A TODAY Show #ReadWithJenna Book Club Pick
Bestselling and award-winning author Megan Abbott’s revelatory and mesmerizing new novel set against the hothouse of a family-run ballet studio.

With their long necks and matching buns and pink tights, Dara and Marie Durant have been dancers since they can remember. Growing up, they were homeschooled and trained by their glamorous mother, founder of the Durant School of Dance. After their parents’ death in a tragic accident nearly a dozen years ago, the sisters began running the school together, along with Charlie, Dara’s husband and once their mother’s prized student.

Marie, warm and soft, teaches the younger students; Dara, with her precision, trains the older ones; and Charlie, sidelined from dancing after years of injuries, rules over the back office. Circling around one another, the three have perfected a dance, six days a week, that keeps the studio thriving. But when a suspicious accident occurs, just at the onset of the school’s annual performance of The Nutcracker—a season of competition, anxiety, and exhilaration—an interloper arrives and threatens the sisters’ delicate balance.

Taut and unnerving, The Turnout is Megan Abbott at the height of her game. With uncanny insight and hypnotic writing, it is a sharp and strange dissection of family ties and sexuality, femininity and power, and a tale that is both alarming and irresistible.

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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