Suggested Reading October 5, 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 (Libby app) 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.

And next week I will be on vacation, so the next Suggested Reading posting will be up on Tuesday, October 19, 2021.

American War by Omar El Akkad

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

American War

In 2074, the American South has once again attempted to secede from the Union, this time in ferocious opposition to the Sustainable Future Act, even as the ravages of global warming, severe storms, prolonged drought, and a massive rise in sea levels cause waves of coastal refugees to pour into the Midwest as the federal government abandons deluged Washington, D.C., for Columbus, Ohio. The Chestnuts are getting by, living in an old shipping container in Louisiana, until Benjamin is killed in a bombing. Martina flees to a Mississippi refugee camp with her soon-to-be-rebel son, Simon, and twin daughters, fair and pretty Dana and dark, curious, and intrepid Sarat, the focus of this vigorously well-informed, daringly provocative speculative first novel by an Egyptian-born Canadian journalist. As Sarat grows into a six-foot-five, shaved-head warrior, she is radicalized by agents of a new Middle Eastern and North African superpower, the Bouazizi Empire. The war between Red and Blue is further compounded by raging plagues, while captured insurrectionists are tortured in a domestic Guantanamo. Catalyzed by his reporting on the Arab Spring; the war in Afghanistan; racial violence in Ferguson, Missouri; and environmental disasters, El Akkad has created a brilliantly well-crafted, profoundly shattering saga of one family’s suffering in a world of brutal power struggles, terrorism, ignorance, and vengeance. American War is a gripping, unsparing, and essential novel for dangerously contentious times. Starred Booklist Review

Back Of Beyond by C. J. Box

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

Back of Beynd

When dedicated Montana police detective Cody Hoyt looks into the suspicious death of his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, his investigation leads to a trek through the most remote reaches of Yellowstone National Park, and a quest to save his own son from a mysterious serial killer. Narrator Holter Graham’s renditions of the book’s characters are effective and distinct—and his portrayal of Bull Mitchell, the gruff but lovable retired trail guide, is particularly memorable. Graham also deftly handles the adolescent banter of Gracie and Danielle Sullivan, teenage sisters and tourists who find themselves caught up in a web of suspicion, danger, and murder. While the book’s twists and turns may seem over the top at times, Graham’s crisp and steady narration makes for a fun ride. The audiobook contains a bonus interview with the author. Publishers Weekly Review

Beautiful World, Where Are You: A Novel by Sally Rooney

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

Beautiful World Where Are You

Rooney (Normal People) continues her exploration of class, sex, and mental health with a cool, captivating story about a successful Irish writer, her friend, and their lovers. Alice Kelleher, 29, has suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of her work’s popularity. After moving from Dublin to a small seaside town, she meets Felix, a local with a similar background—they both grew up working-class, and both have absent fathers—who works in a shipping warehouse. She invites him to accompany her to Rome, where he falls in love with her but resents what he takes to be her superior attitude. Meanwhile, in Dublin, Alice’s university friend Eileen Lydon works a low-paying literary job and explores her attraction to a childhood friend who seems to return her feelings but continues seeing other women. Alice and Eileen update each other in long emails, which Rooney cleverly exploits for essayistic musings about culture, climate change, and political upheaval. Rooney establishes a distance from her characters’ inner lives, creating a sense of privacy even as she describes Alice and Eileen’s most intimate moments. It’s a bold change to her style, and it makes the illuminations all the more powerful when they pop. As always, Rooney challenges and inspires. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Bewilderment: A Novel by Richard Powers

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Bewilderment

Theo Byrne, a widowed astrobiologist who imagines life on other planets, is brought down to earth by his son Robin, whose irascibility and erratic moods are driving school authorities to distraction. Theo’s only recourse is to put his own work aside and make Robin the center of his universe. The Byrnes’ one remaining vestige of Robin’s late mother is a brain scan, recorded years before in an experiment. Here is where Powers’s story intersects with Daniel Keyes’s Flowers for Algernon. Robin undergoes a form of behavior modification called decoded neurofeedback treatment, using his mother’s brain scan. He improves at first, but then becomes fascinated with the natural world, captivated to the point of overzealousness, leading to the erosion of hard-won progress. And as Robin’s emotional state reaches a state of relative equilibrium, Theo seems to take on some of the characteristics Robin has left behind, even to the point of openly criticizing the psychologist trying to help his son. VERDICT Writing with the same remarkable attention to detail found in his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Overstory, Powers has created a world and characters that will suck readers in and keep them fixed until the literally bitter end.–Starred Library Journal Review

The Bookseller’s Secret by Michelle Gable

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Bookseller's Secret

Gable (A Paris Apartment) immerses readers into parallel narratives of two authors revolving around a London bookshop. American novelist Katie Cabot’s writing career seems to have stalled. Eager to get away from her overbearing family in present-day Northern Virginia and their advice about her recent breakup with her fiancé, Armie, Katie travels to London to see a friend. There, Katie visits Heywood Hill Ltd., a decades-old bookstore where famed novelist Nancy Mitford worked during WWII, and meets Simon Bailey, an attractive teacher who is eager to find Nancy’s missing unpublished memoir, which he learned about when reading letters from Nancy to his grandmother Lea, who lived at Rutland Gate, where Nancy’s friend housed war refugees. As Katie helps Simon by searching for the missing manuscript at Heywood Hill, the attraction between the two builds, but is complicated by Armie’s unexpected arrival in London. Gable’s witty narrative effortlessly moves between two time periods and is enriched with cameos by historical figures and authentic, memorable characters. Historical fiction fans will be riveted from the first page. Agent: Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman Literary. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Breaking Badger, a Hilarious Shifter Romance by Shelly Laurenston

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

Breaking Badger

Laurenston’s fourth Honey Badger Chronicles romance (after Badger to the Bone) delights with characteristic charm, wit, and an action-filled plot. Mads Galendotter is part hyena shifter, and part Viking—but she’s a honey badger shifter first and foremost. She’s also got an undying passion for basketball that’s shared by her four best friends, fellow shifters and a team both on and off the court. While she and her teammates are in the midst of some action-packed, weapon-loaded supernatural drama, they run into the Malone brothers, tiger shifters all, kicking the story into gear as Mads and co. agree to help the brothers discover who murdered their father. Filled with high-octane action, some serious snark, and a plethora of humor, the novel leans more into the urban fantasy genre than it does traditional romance, but there’s still plenty of heat between Mads and Finn Malone as they work together to keep her teammates from killing his brothers over interspecies tensions. Add in Finn’s younger half-sister, Nat, and some familiar faces from previous installments, and the resulting madcap adventures are sure to please series fans. Publishers Weekly Review

Readers’ Note: This is the fourth book in the Honey Badger Chronicles; if you’d like to start reading from the beginning, book 1 in the series is Hot and Badgered.

Dark Roads: A Novel by Chevy Stevens

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

Dark Roads

Hailey McBride, the 17-year-old narrator of part one of this exciting if flawed thriller from bestseller Stevens (Never Let You Go), has been living since her father died with her aunt and police officer uncle, Erick Vaughn, near Canada’s reputedly haunted Cold Creek Highway, where an unknown number of young women have disappeared over the decades, the supposed victims of a serial killer. The highway killer myth doesn’t scare Hailey as much as the volatile Vaughn’s controlling ways and his constant spying on her. She runs away, believing she can use the outdoor skills her father taught her to survive the harsh wilderness. Hailey also hopes people will believe she was the killer’s latest victim. A year later, in part two, Beth Chevalier arrives in Cold Creek to attend the annual memorial service for the highway victims, who include her sister. Once Hailey and Beth cross paths, the serial killer hunt gets lost amid what becomes a survivalist and coming-of-age story. Clever twists toward the end compensate for the temporary loss of momentum. Stevens remains a writer to watch.

She Who Became The Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

She Who Became The Sun

The first in a new, epic high-fantasy series, She Who Became the Sun begins with a young, stubborn second daughter who decides to trick fate by stealing her brother’s identity. She was fated to nothingness, her brother to greatness, but now she survives under his identity as Zhu Chongba, a male novice at a monastery. As she enters adulthood a strong, capable, and cunning youth, she realizes she is no longer content simply to trick fate out of killing her. She wants to achieve greatness. Zhu strides into a world of rebellion against the Mongol leaders who have long been in power, and whose troops are led by a eunuch general with a piercing desire of his own. Parker-Chan’s novel is an epic tale of the power of desire, the role of free will in deciding a person’s fate, and the twisting machinations of power. Zhu is a powerful queer anti-hero, her means sometimes questionable, her desire overflowing. The side characters in her story and the plots and betrayals that swirl around the book’s events are themselves intensely compelling, but it is Zhu’s strength of will and passion that give this novel its spark. Booklist Review

This Side of Murder by Anna Lee Huber

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

This Side of Murder

Set in England in 1919, this engrossing series launch from Huber (The Anatomist’s Wife and three other Lady Darcy novels set in 1830s Scotland) introduces war widow Verity Kent. Verity has decided to join a house party on Umbersea Island, ostensibly to attend the engagement party of Walter Ponsonby, an old army chum of her late husband, Sidney, and Helen Crawford, Walter’s exuberant fiancée. Verity’s real reason for accepting the invitation is the anonymous letter she has received, stating that the sender knows her big secret—that she worked for the Secret Service during the war—and hinting that Sidney might have been hiding a few secrets of his own. On the island, surrounded by men with whom he served, she begins to doubt that she really knew Sidney at all. When a young man is found hanged, Verity knows it is murder, not suicide. Evocative historical details complement the well-drawn characters. The intricate plot builds to a surprising conclusion. Publishers Weekly Review

When Ghosts Come Home by Wiley Cash

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

When Ghosts Come Home

A plane flies in low over Oak Island, North Carolina, in the middle of the night, and after it crashes on the island’s one scanty runway, Sheriff Winston Barnes discovers the bullet-riddled body of Rodney Bellamy on the ground nearby. With the wreckage missing both pilot and cargo, everything points to a failed drug heist, except that Rodney, a local Black basketball star and son of a beloved high-school teacher, had no known connection to that world. With his re-election days away, solving Rodney’s murder and the mysterious plane crash would go a long way toward guaranteeing Barnes’ victory. But his rival, Brandon Frye, a hot-shot land developer with a violent racist streak, capitalizes on the unsolved crime to paint Barnes as an incompetent buffoon. And maybe Barnes is distracted. His wife is dying of cancer, and his married daughter has suddenly returned home after the stillborn death of her first child. Writing with clarity and grace, best-selling Cash (The Last Ballad, 2017) is a gem of a storyteller, combining the solitary journey of a young mother’s grief and a community’s relentless battle against racial injustice. The result is a tightly crafted whodunit with true depth that readers will simultaneously want to speed through and savor. Starred Booklist Review

Have a great week!

Linda Reimer

*Information on the Three Catalogs*

Digital Catalog: https://stls.overdrive.com/

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: https://www.hoopladigital.com/

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: https://starcat.stls.org

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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