Suggested Reading August 24, 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 31, 2021.

The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader

(Available Format: Print Book)

The Anchoress

At 17, Sarah voluntarily enters a small cell to be permanently secluded from medieval English society. By taking the vows of an anchoress, she has dedicated herself to praying for others. Her only contact is to be with her maids, the priest who is her confessor, and the women of the village, who will come to her for intercessions and advice. In this life, Sarah desires safety, simplicity, and a release from the judgments and expectations of the outside world, leaving nothing between herself and God. She soon finds, though, that not even in her tiny chamber can she fully retreat. Dealing with unforeseen trials, fearing temptations of the flesh, and wrestling with heartbreaking memories of losing her sister, she contemplates for the first time the possibility of failure in her new role.

Cadwallader’s vivid period descriptions set a stunning backdrop for this beautiful first novel as Sarah rejects a larger world that will not allow her to live on her own terms and goes about creating a smaller one that will. Sarah’s path will intrigue readers at the crossroads of historical fiction, spirituality, and even feminism as she faces the internal and external pressures on women of the Middle Ages. Starred Booklist Review

Before The Fire by Sarah Butler

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Before The Fire

It is 2011, and Seventeen-year-old Stick and his best mate, Mac, are bound for Malaga, Spain, from their home in Manchester. But then Mac is murdered, and all bets are suddenly off. Stick spirals into a state of mixed grief, shock, and rage until two things happen: the police find and arrest the murderer, and Stick meets a girl called J, prompting him to begin thinking of his future. Stick’s well-meaning father divorced from his mother, who suffers from OCD offers him a job he doesn’t want, but his stepmother offers him the promise of one he does. But in the meantime justice is subverted, leaving Stick further enraged just as riots spread from London to Manchester. Will they offer him an outlet for his furious anger? Butler has written a psychologically astute, satisfyingly insightful portrait of a troubled teenager. Her style is typically straightforward and unadorned and perhaps more powerful for being so but it does have the occasional flourish: freshly washed sheets, for example, smell of soap and summer. The absorbing plot speaks directly to the reader’s heart and inspires hope for Stick’s future. Booklist Review

Bonita Avenue by Peter Buwalda

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

Bonita Ave

Siem Sigerius is a first-class judoka, a genius mathematician, a jazz aficionado, and head of Tubantia University. Life is good in the spacious farmhouse he shares with his furniture-maker wife, Tineke, and her two teenage daughters, Joni and Janis, until an explosion at a fireworks factory brings to light secrets that send Siem and those around him on a hellish descent. Siem discovers the sex website of Joni and her photographer boyfriend, Aaron, under particularly ignoble circumstances, and the reemergence of convicted murderer Wilbert, Siem’s son from a previous marriage, doesn’t bode well for anyone. Guilt and fear rule the decisions the characters make, sending each further down the darkest of paths, as the narrative spins from the Netherlands to Los Angeles and Berkeley, CA.

VERDICT Published in Buwalda’s native Holland in 2010, this award-winning debut novel is flat-out extraordinary. The rich layer of detail would be impressive when applied to one topic, but Buwalda creates multiple complex worlds around vastly different subjects: the porn industry, mathematics, music, and judo, among others. An outstanding literary suspense story that will appeal to a wide range of readers. Starred Library Journal Review.

The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Children's Book

Byatt steps deeper into the realm of writing for special readers, forging onward in creating increasingly complicated fictional narratives. Her new novel can be labeled, at first call, as both historical fiction and a family saga; on second consideration, it can also be seen as a psychological study of social and economic privilege in the high tide of Britains power: the last decade of the Victorian age, the Edwardian period, and up to World War I. The theme of privilege is attended by subthemes on the nature of childhood, the meaning of parenthood, and utopianism. Two families occupy the core of the elaborate plot, with one mother-wife, Olive Wellwood, at the absolute epicenter; she is a children’s author and the family’s breadwinner. The catalyst by which Byatt begins her detailed analysis of privilege is the early introduction into the story of a teenager named Phillip, who comes from a meager background and is more or less adopted into the Wellwood clan, to his benefit, for he is now allowed to give free rein to his talent in pottery making. An overlong but overall engaging evocation of time and place. Booklist Review

The Gentleman And The Thief by Sarah M. Eden

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

The Gentleman And The Thief

From the moment Hollis Darby meets Ana Newport, he’s smitten. Even though he’s from a wealthy, established family and she isn’t, he wishes he could have a life with her by his side. But Hollis has a secret: the deep coffers that have kept his family afloat for generations are bare, so he supports himself by writing penny dreadfuls under a pseudonym. If not for the income from his novels, he would be broke.

Ana Newport also has a secret. Though she once had a place in society thanks to her father’s successful business, bankruptcy and scandal reduced his fortune to nothing more than a crumbling town house. So Ana teaches music during the day, and at night she assumes the identity of the “Phantom Fox.” She breaks into the homes of the wealthy to reclaim trinkets and treasures she feels were unjustly stolen from her family when they were struggling.

When Hollis’s brother needs to hire a music tutor for his daughter, Hollis recommends Ana, giving him a chance to spend time with her. Ana needs the income and is eager for the opportunity to get to know the enigmatic gentleman. What neither of them expects is how difficult it will be to keep their respective secrets from each other.

When a spree of robberies rocks the city, Ana and Hollis join forces to solve the crimes, discovering that working together deepens the affection between them. After all, who better to save the day than a gentleman and a thief?

Gods of Gold by Chris Nickson

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

Gods of Gold

DI Tom Harper of the Leeds Police Department is looking forward to his upcoming wedding. But his daydreams about the joys of married life are interrupted by the disappearance of nine-year-old Martha Parkinson, whose mother is in prison for petty thieving and whose father claims Martha is visiting his sister except that Col Parkinson doesn’t have a sister. When Col is found hanged a few days later, Harper fears the worst and even wonders if Col sold his daughter into child prostitution. But Martha’s disappearance takes a backseat when the employees of the local gasworks go on strike, substitutes are brought in to keep the gas flowing, and every copper in Leeds is called out to keep the strike from erupting into violence. But always at the back of Harper’s mind is Martha. Solidly plotted and smartly paced, with intriguing period details of 1890s England and vivid characters, this is an entertaining and thoroughly engaging procedural. Booklist Review

It Started with a Secret by Jill Mansell

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

It Started With A Secret

Feel-good chick-lit from international bestseller Jill Mansell, with a chaotic cast who must let go of their grudges and secrets to build the lives they’ve dreamed of.

Thanks to little white lie, Lainey and Kit arrive at their new jobs in blissful, summery Cornwall only to find themselves in the midst of a lovable but overwhelming family—where every family member is having an identity crisis at the same time.

Widowed mom Majella has done her best for years, but can’t quite grasp why things are falling apart. No one can guess what’s causing the chaos because everyone is keeping secrets.

In classic Jill Mansell style, Lainey and her friends are drawn through a hilarious multi-generational soap opera. By the end, happily-ever-afters are available to anyone willing to tell the truth about their heart’s desire.

Romantic fiction with characters you can root for, this is the perfect beach read for fans of Sophie Kinsella and Elin Hilderbrand.

Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl

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

Late Migrations

Renkl, a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, has written a lyrical memoir entwined with the natural history surrounding her childhood home in rural Alabama and her current suburban Nashville residence. In short chapters, the author shares stories along with memories recounted by her family, notably the fire that claimed her grandparents’ home. Included in these anecdotes are tales of births and deaths, coming-of-age and following your dreams, caretaking and the importance of home. As a child, Renkl and her siblings would explore the world around them, and this fascination with nature continues into her adulthood. A keen observer of the natural world she so clearly loves and seeks to understand, Renkl tells of housing bluebird families, raising monarch caterpillars, the sadness of death in nature, and the chipmunks and squirrels with whom she currently shares her home.

VERDICT A captivating, beautifully written story of growing up, love, loss, living, and a close extended family by a talented nature writer and memoirist that will appeal to those who enjoy introspective memoirs and the natural world close to home.–Sue O’Brien, Downers Grove, IL, Library Journal Review

Remembrance by Meg Cabot

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


Suze Simon faces a curse and an angry ghost in the first adult installment of Cabot’s Mediator series (Twilight, 2004, etc.). School counselor-in-training Suze may be a mediator–that is, a person who helps spirits move on to the afterlife–but the biggest thing going on in her life right now is her engagement to her hunky (and formerly dead) fiance, Jesse de Silva. Or at least it would be if problems didn’t keep getting in the way. One of the unwelcome visitors from the past is her sometime nemesis Paul, who has plans to unleash a curse that might turn Jesse from a caring medical resident into a demon–that is, unless Suze can agree to Paul’s demands. As if that isn’t enough, Suze is also dealing with a particularly tricky young NCDP (noncompliant deceased person) who has a habit of attacking Suze and her loved ones. Add in plenty of family drama, and it’s a lot for anyone to handle–but Suze faces it all with heavy doses of attitude, ass-kicking, and profanity. The mysterious death Suze investigates is truly creepy, and the case’s conclusion is surprisingly dark. Mostly, though, this is an entertaining, funny, and fast-paced chapter in Suze’s life. Although the book leaves Suze in a happy place, readers will find themselves hoping to read about more of her drama and her fights with NCDPs in the future. A fun and satisfying grown-up update on Suze’s life. – Kirkus Review

The Secret Keeper by Sandra Byrd

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

The Secret Keeper

A young woman with the gift of prophecy becomes entangled in Henry VIII’s court in this engaging novel. After her father dies, Juliana St. John is encouraged by family friend Sir Thomas Seymour to enter the household of Kateryn Parr, the last of Henry VIII’s six wives. Juliana adjusts relatively well to her new environment, but soon she has recurring visions of Sir Thomas, her father’s former business partner, chopping up a young woman’s dress. It is only when Juliana begins to connect her dreams to the new people in her life that she discovers some startling secrets. Byrd (To Die For) crafts a well-researched historical novel that engrosses readers in Juliana’s world and the juicy details of the Tudor court. Although the prose often lapses into overly stylized Renaissance speak, Anglophiles and history buffs alike will surely enjoy this bird’s-eye view into royal politics, love, and scandal. Publishers Weekly 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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