Suggested Reading October 19, 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 the next Suggested Reading posting will be published on Tuesday, October 26, 2021.

Child of Light by Terry Brooks

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Child of Light

A girl on the run must uncover the truth about her past in order to secure the future. Auris has just broken out of a Goblin prison. If recaptured, she faces certain, gruesome death. She doesn’t know why Humans are penned up like animals, and she doesn’t know how she herself ended up in the prison. She remembers having parents who loved her, but not who they were or where they lived. All she knows is that she has to keep moving to stay alive. When she’s rescued by a strange young man with greenish skin who turns out to be Fae, she’s quickly drawn to him and to the beauty of the Faerie city he shows her. She yearns to belong somewhere, and why not in this beautiful city in the trees? But in order to win a place with the Fae, she must recover her lost memories of her own past and prove she’s not a danger to the community. The mystery of Auris’ past drives the plot forward, and secrets are revealed and new questions uncovered at an appealingly steady pace. Formal language, and the characters’ tendency to constantly and explicitly state how they feel (“His hand is stroking my hair and I let him continue for a moment, comforted by the feeling it provides”), keeps the reader at arm’s length. But Auris’ quest to understand herself and be accepted into a community is a compelling one. A fast-paced plot packed with secrets makes this an enjoyable read in a slightly old-fashioned high-fantasy style. Kirkus Review

The Cause: The American Revolution and its Discontents, 1773-1783 by Joseph J. Ellis

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Cause

Ellis examines the American Revolution (known by American insurgents as “the Cause”) through the events, motives, participants, and consequences that have often been mythologized, minimized, or forgotten. He relates the history from often conflicting viewpoints on both the British and American sides and warns readers to study the circumstances of the imperfect humans involved before judging them from a 21st-century perspective. Ellis argues that nationhood was not the generally accepted goal of the Cause, contrary to modern misconceptions. Instead, the Colonies’ mistrust of a strong, centralized imperial British government both fueled and jeopardized independence, resulting in a deliberately weak coalition of 13 independently managed states that couldn’t effectively fund and execute the war or plan a fiscally or politically viable future. Ironically, Ellis argues, leaders of the Cause tried to maintain precarious national unity and win independence for white people by delaying freedom and equity for Black people, Indigenous peoples, and women. He concludes that the legacy of these strategies was antithetical to the Cause, the goals of which have yet to be fully realized. VERDICT Ellis’s witty style and astute analysis make this essential reading for historians and enthusiasts at all levels who want to disentangle the complex historiography of the American Revolution.- Starred Library Journal Review

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

(Available Formats: Print Book & CD Audiobook)


A small Midwestern town during the height of the Vietnam era is the setting for Franzen’s masterful, Tolstoyan saga of an unhappy family. Members of the dysfunctional Hildebrandt clan are deeply flawed, insecure, cringe-inducingly self-destructive, and, in Franzen’s psychologically astute rendering, entirely authentic and human. Russ, the patriarch, is a woefully uncool associate pastor at a small-town church, embarrassed by his dowdy wife, Marion, as he lusts after a newly arrived, sexy young widow. Marion, meanwhile, still holds onto the inspiration for a youthful indiscretion that led to an emotional breakdown. Neither pays much attention to their children. Idealistic eldest son Clem dropped out of college to fight in Vietnam and follow his conscience. Daughter Becky draws everyone into her orbit but feels insubstantial compared to brilliant younger brother Perry, who turns to pharmaceuticals to stem his raging inner storm. Franzen adroitly portrays eternal generational conflicts as early idealism gives way to resigned reality and dreams fade into dull acceptance. This masterpiece of social realism vividly captures each character’s internal conflicts as a response to and a reflection of societal expectations, while Franzen expertly explores the fissions of domestic life, mining the rich mineral beneath the sediments of familial discord. In this first volume of a promised trilogy, Franzen is in rarified peak form. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Big news: not only has Franzen, master of substantial fiction, delivered his first new novel since Purity (2015), he is also launching a major literary trilogy. – Starred Booklist Review

Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer’s Guide by Cecily Wong & Dylan Thuras

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

Gastro Obscura

Like a cross between Larousse Gastronomique and Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, this sprawling, encyclopedic odyssey is crammed to its “air-breathing monster fish” gills with weird delicacies, lost histories, potent potables, bizarre bazaars, and circumspect rituals of consumption. Culled from submissions by the editors and readers of the travel oddity website Atlas Obscura, the brief entries lift the veil on the sport of haggis hurling in Scotland, the medicinal use of Soviet-era blood candy (for “treating low levels of iron”), and the importance of camel jerky in northern Somali wedding ceremonies (it can make or break a groom’s reputation). Chapters are arranged geographically, leaving almost no cave, mountain, or seabed unexplored for readers to gleefully browse at will. A modern-day oyster vending machine in France shares a page with cocaine-laced wine of the late 19th century, as do a cow’s head barbecue in Texas and a potato doughnut from Utah. Elsewhere, a write-up of the Chinese city of Gaoyou, known for its double-yolked duck eggs, comes close on the heels of a thumbnail history of China’s rou jia mo, the world’s first sandwich (circa 221–207 BCE). This compendium is a must-have for those who like their pickles brined in Kool-Aid or crave the chewy texture of Inuit blubber cubes. – Starred Publishers Weekly Review

God Rest Ye, Royal Gentlemen by Rhys Bowen

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

God Rest Ye Royal Gentlemen

The fifteenth entry in Bowen’s popular Royal Spyness series again combines a delightful spoof of the British upper classes (shades of Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward) with an Agatha Christie-style period cozy starring Lady Georgiana, who’s thirty-fourth in line to the British throne. It’s 1936, and Georgie, newly married to Darcy O’Mara, is looking forward to their first Christmas together. She’s hoping to have a house party, but her plans are foiled when Darcy’s eccentric Aunt Ermintrude invites them to her own party on King George’s Sandringham estate. Ermintrude implies that the queen has specifically requested their presence, which is not terribly surprising, as Her Majesty is quite fond of Georgie. Soon after they arrive, someone takes a shot at the Prince of Wales, and the king’s equerry is killed during a hunt. The queen knows Georgie has solved murders before and insists that she find the perpetrator of these terrible deeds, all while unexplained accidents and near-deaths keep piling up. A plucky heroine and plenty of droll British humor will keep readers happy. Booklist Review

The Jealousy Man and Other Stories by Jo Nesbo

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Jealousy Man

The 12 tales in this impressive collection from bestseller Nesbø (the Harry Hole series) blend taut suspense with sharply limned characters. “Rat Island” is the highlight, a dystopian tale set in the U.S. after a devastating pandemic. The health crisis proves an opportunity for the rich, helping them “in their struggle against those who posed the greatest threat to them: hordes of the poor and the desperate.” This disturbingly plausible near-future is enhanced by detailed worldbuilding; for example, visually impaired characters prepared in advance for doomsday by getting laser surgery, expecting that glasses and contact lenses would be hard to obtain. Nesbø also makes the most out of the conceit of the title story—a detective specializes in homicide cases where jealousy is the motive. Grim humor (“rather than kill someone they hate, Greeks allow the victim to go on living in Greece,” thus, the low murder rate in Greece) leavens stories highlighting the dark side of human nature. Frederick Forsyth fans will be enthralled. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

The Judge’s List by John Grisham

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Judge's List

A vigorous thriller that gets out of the courtroom and into the swampier corners of the Redneck Riviera. Judges are supposed to dispense justice, not administer the death penalty on their own initiative. That’s just what Lacy Stoltz is up against, though. The protagonist of The Whistler (2016), she’s a jaded investigator for Florida’s Board on Judicial Conduct, which, thanks to budget cuts, is dying on the vine, “a leaderless mess.” Lacy acts on complaints, and she receives a doozy from a well-put-together Black woman who introduces herself as Margie, though she admits that’s an alias. Her father, a much-respected professor of constitutional law, had retired to South Carolina and was murdered by an unknown killer. Now the coldest of cold cases, his death is a link in an evidentiary chain that only Margie–her real name is Jeri Crosby–has managed to construct. The murderer: a circuit judge sitting in Pensacola, biding his time until he can cross off the next victim on a deeply personal to-be-avenged list. Judge Bannick has more money than God and more technological goodies than Lex Luthor, but though a psycho, he puts on a good public face. Lacy is resistant at first, given that her normal brief is to investigate complaints about drunkenness or corruption, but she allows that “six murders would certainly liven up her caseload.” And then some. We don’t meet the killing judge until halfway through the book, and then he’s a model of clinical badness in a game of cat and mouse that ends in–well, a rather frothily grisly moment. As with all his procedurals, Grisham injects professorial notes on crime and justice into the proceedings: “This country averages fifteen thousand murders a year. One-third are never solved….Since 1960, over two hundred thousand.” And as ever, with one body unaccounted for, he leaves the door ajar to admit a sequel–one that, with luck, will team Lacy with the much more energetic Jeri to enact some justice of their own. A shiny bauble of mayhem sure to please Grisham’s many fans. – Kirkus Review

The Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Party Crasher

Kinsella (Love Your Life) delivers a fizzy account of an unmoored 20-something woman and her family’s drama. Effie Talbot’s father, Tony, split up with her beloved stepmother 18 months earlier. Tony has a new girlfriend, Krista Coleman, a much younger woman whom Effie doesn’t trust, which causes Effie’s relationship with her father to suffer. Meanwhile, her love life is in a shambles and she has been laid off, and to make matters worse, Krista and Tony have put Greenoaks, the family home in Nutworth, West Sussex, up for sale. Krista is planning a “house-cooling” party, and though Effie initially determines not to go, she changes her mind after she remembers that her cherished Russian dolls are in the house and she wants them back. The dolls become a sort of leitmotif for the various characters’ nested secrets: one revelation involves Effie’s ex, whom she runs into at the party and who reveals that despite a seemingly perfect veneer, he’s been dealing with clinical anxiety; another involves the state of Tony’s finances as revealed by Krista. By the time Effie retrieves her dolls, much has been uncovered and she is the wiser and happier for it. Humorous and lighthearted, this successfully commits to the notion that, given time, love will prevail. – Publishers Weekly Review

The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews

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

The Santa Suit

The new novel by Andrews (Hello, Summer; The Newcomer) features Ivy Perkins, who, surprised by the dramatic end of her six-year marriage, decides to leave the past behind for a fresh start in the small town of Tarburton, NC. There she purchases Four Roses Farm without having seen the property–something about the home calls to her. After arriving in Tarburton with her rescue pup Punkin and little else, Ivy meets Ezra Wheeler, her real estate agent, soon-to-be friend, and all-around great handyman helper. Ivy and Ezra unearth a mysterious object in a cupboard at Four Roses Farm: a Santa suit with a note attached, asking Santa to bring daddy home from the war. As the duo investigate, old friends reconnect and new friends are discovered in the (Saint) Nick of time to make the Christmas season extra special. Andrews generously delivers all the necessary elements of a warmhearted, feel-good story with a satisfying ending. The characters are charming, but their relationships are complex enough to be realistic and engaging; the town’s holiday celebrations are appealingly quaint. VERDICT Readers who enjoy a sassy, sentimental holiday story with magical Christmas surprises should pick up Andrews’s latest without delay. – Library Journal Review

The Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine

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

The Wrong End of the Telescope

A Lebanese doctor living in the United States journeys to the Greek island of Lesbos to help out in a refugee camp at the behest of her friend Emma. Mina Simpson, a trans woman, has long been estranged from her family (with the exception of her brother Mazen) and her homeland—the trip to Lesbos is the closest she has been to Lebanon in 30 years. Given the resonance of her experience, Mina goes to the camps not only to help others but also to heal something personal. Mina feels unequal to the scope of what she encounters until she meets Syrian refugee Sumaiya, her husband Sammy, and their children. Sumaiya has liver cancer, and Mina attempts to find her whatever help and comfort she can in a place where little of either exists and to get the family to Athens, where Sumaiya can get better care. VERDICT The great strength of this latest novel from National Book Award finalist Alameddine (An Unnecessary Woman) lies in how it deftly combines the biographical with the historical; the small, more personal moments often carry the most weight. A remarkable, surprisingly intimate tale of human connection in the midst of disaster.—Starred Library Journal Review

Have a great week!

Linda Reimer

*Information on the Three Catalogs*

Digital Catalog:

The Digital Catalog, is an online catalog containing eBooks, downloadable audiobooks, digital magazines and a handful of streaming videos. The catalog, which allows one to download content to a PC, also has a companion app, Libby, which you can download to your mobile device; so you can enjoy eBooks and downloadable audiobooks on the go!

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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