Suggested Reading December 28, 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, January 4, 2021.

48 Hours To Kill: A Thriller by Andrew Bourelle

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

48 Hours To Kill

Convicted armed robber Ethan Lockhart, the hero of this propulsive crime thriller from Bourelle (Heavy Metal), leaves prison on a 48-hour furlough to attend his sister Abby’s funeral. Abby vanished after a shift as a dancer at the Reno, Nev., strip club where Ethan worked as a bouncer before he took on more violent work for Shark, the club’s owner. Though Abby’s body was never found, the huge amount of blood in her empty apartment, Ethan learns, persuaded their mother to have her declared dead. Regret and guilt send Ethan on a harrowing journey through his criminal past to get answers, accompanied by his sister’s best friend, Whitney. Ethan suspects Shark, now a kingpin in a Reno underworld that’s become more dangerous, is complicit in Abby’s death. Shark in turn has cruel plans for Ethan. The tension builds—as does the attraction between Ethan and Whitney—while the clock ticks toward a brutal conclusion with a surprise twist. Crisp action scenes make up for the characters’ weak backstories and holes in the law enforcement side of Abby’s case. Bourelle is a writer to watch.

Dinner At The Center of the Earth: A Novel by Nathan Englander

(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)

Dinner At The Center Of The Earth

Equal parts political thriller and tender lamentation, the latest from Englander (What We Talk about When We Talk about Anne Frank, 2012) explores, in swirling, nonlinear fashion, Israeli-Palestinian tensions and moral conflicts. The General, who is never named but is clearly former prime minister Ariel Sharon, lies in a coma, his thoughts hovering over past glories and a horrifying gunshot. By his side is Ruthi, his devoted assistant, whose pot-smoking, TV-obsessed son has found a plum job guarding the disappeared Prisoner Z in a secret prison in the Negev. An American spy who in a moment of either moral courage or traitorous intent turned against his Israeli backers, Z was on the run in Europe but tripped up when he fell in love with a fearless waitress from an ultrawealthy Italian family. Discerning the connections between these narratives provides much of the drama, which turns on the logic of human weakness and intractable opposition. Ultimately, Englander suggests that shared humanity and fleeting moments of kindness between jailer and prisoner, spy and counterspy, hold the potential for hope, even peace. – Booklist Review

Elizabeth Street: A Novel Based On True Events by Laurie Fabiano

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Elizabeth Street

“Basing her story on her own family narratives and a deep understanding of Italian Americans, [Fabiano] paints a vivid portrait not just of immigrants’ lives in the first ten years of the last century, but of the vicious criminals who preyed on them.” –Mike Dash, author of The First Family

In Elizabeth Street, Laurie Fabiano tells a remarkable, and previously unheard, story of the Italian immigrant experience at the start of the twentieth century. With stories culled from her own family history, Fabiano paints an entrancing portrait of Giovanna Costa, who, reeling from personal tragedies, tries to make a new life in a new world. Shot through with the smells and sights of Scilla, Italy, and New York’s burgeoning Little Italy, this intoxicating story follows Giovanna as she finds companionship, celebrates the birth of a baby girl, takes pride in a growing business, and feels a sense of belonging during a family outing to Coney Island.

However, these modest successes are rewarded with the attention of the notorious Black Hand, a gang of brutal extortionists led by Lupo the Wolf. As the stakes grow higher, Giovanna desperately struggles to remain outside the fray, so she may fight for–and finally save–what is important above all else: family.

The Essential June Jordan by June Jordan

(Available Formats: Hoopla instant checkout eBook)

The Essential June Jordan

Wide in scope and singular in their articulation of atrocities, Jordan’s poems shine in this thoughtfully curated volume. Ordered so that each era of her work speaks to the next, her poems contemplate war (“What will we do/ when there is nobody left/ to kill?”) on a national, interpersonal, and intergenerational scale, and suggest that struggle may be inextricable from the human experience. Jordan (1936–2002) stands against established power in poems that reckon with colonialism and the police state through her distinctive use of cataloging, repetition, and linguistic play. She implicates the self in depictions of historical violence as a basis for the cultivation of empathy: “I am a stranger/ learning to worship the strangers/ around me.” As she contemplates land, borders, race, and gender, the reader, too, is invited to look closely at the world around them. In these rich, generous poems, to hold and accept divisive truths is an act of love and solidarity. “I am black alive,” she writes, “and looking back at you.” Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Five Tuesdays In Winter by Lily King

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

Five Tuesdays In Winter

The first collection of stories from an acclaimed novelist. King, who won the inaugural Kirkus Prize for Fiction for Euphoria (2014), can make you fall in love with a character fast, especially the smart, vulnerable, often painfully self-conscious adolescent protagonists featured in several of the 10 stories collected here, half previously published, half new. In “Creature,” the fetching opener, 14-year-old Carol is hired to be a live-in mother’s helper by a rich woman whose children and grandchildren are coming for a two-week visit, a woman so entitled she breezily renames her Cara because she likes it better. Under the influence of Jane Eyre, Carol is swept away by the charms of the woman’s newly married son, who’s arrived without his wife. “You cannot know these blistering feelings,” she writes to her friend, “you have not yet met your Rochester.” As in King’s debut, Father of the Rain (2010), alcoholism and mental illness shadow many characters’ lives. Carol has a father in rehab, while the unnamed boy narrator of “When in the Dordogne” has parents who have left for France following the father’s nervous breakdown and failed suicide attempt. His babysitters are a pair of college boys with whom he has so much more fun than usual that he dreams that his parents will get in a car crash and never return. The protagonists of other stories show King’s range, among them a gay man who receives a surprise visit from his homophobic college roommate, a Frenchwoman living in the U.S. whose husband has abruptly moved on, a German woman taking her bratty daughter on holiday to an unpromising inn on the North Sea, a 91-year-old visiting his young granddaughter in the hospital. The final story, “The Man at the Door,” about frustrations of the writing process, also tells of its joys: “This morning, however, without warning, a sentence rose, a strange unexpected chain of words meeting the surface in one long gorgeous arc….Words flooded her and her hand ached to keep up with them and above it all her mind was singing here it is here it is and she was smiling.” Full of insights and pleasures. Kirkus Review

House Of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

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

House of Shadows

The wooded hills of Oxfordshire conceal the remains of the aptly named Ashdown House—a wasted pile of cinders and regret. Once home to the daughter of a king, Ashdown and its secrets will unite three women across four centuries in a tangle of intrigue, deceit and destiny…

In the winter of 1662, Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen, is on her deathbed. She entrusts an ancient pearl, rumored to have magic power, to her faithful cavalier William Craven for safekeeping. In his grief, William orders the construction of Ashdown Estate in her memory and places the pearl at its center.

One hundred and fifty years later, notorious courtesan Lavinia Flyte hears the maids at Ashdown House whisper of a hidden treasure, and bears witness as her protector Lord Evershot—desperate to find it—burns the building to the ground.

Now in the present day, a battered mirror and the diary of a Regency courtesan are the only clues Holly Ansell has to finding her brother, who has gone missing researching the mystery of Elizabeth Stuart and her alleged affair with Lord Craven. As she retraces his footsteps, Holly’s quest will soon reveal the truth about Lavinia and compel her to confront the stunning revelation about the legacy of the Winter Queen.

Icon by Frederick Forsyth

(Available Formats: Print Book & CD Audiobook)


While for sheer reading excitement Forsyth has yet to top his fiction debut, Day of the Jackal, published a quarter century ago, his later novels (The Fist of God, etc.) display a mature mastery of storytelling melded with a deep knowledge of realpolitik. Here, contemporary Russian crypto-fascists prove every bit as villainous as their Communist predecessors whom Forsyth portrayed in The Fourth Protocol and The Deceiver. It’s 1999, and ultra-nationalist Igor Komarov’s victory in the upcoming Russian presidential election seems assured. But within Komarov’s party headquarters, an elderly janitor accidentally discovers Komarov’s secret plans for Russia, laid out in a document that comes to be known as the Black Manifesto–a blueprint for a return to dictatorship, military expansionism and genocidal ethnic cleansing. The manifesto soon comes to the attention of British intelligence, but both they and the CIA are restrained by their governments from taking official action. So with the backing of an organization of international VIPs, former British Secret Service chief Sir Nigel Irvine mounts his own covert operation to subvert Komarov. Ex-CIA operative Jason Monk, who once ran highly placed agents in the Soviet Union, will be Irvine’s point man. As usual, Forsyth interweaves speculation with historical fact, stitching his plot pieces with a cogent analysis of both Russian politics and the world of espionage–particularly the legacy of the real-life Aldrich Ames, a Soviet mole who tunneled deep into the CIA. Shifting back and forth in time and space among a large cast of characters, Forsyth expertly builds suspense toward a climactic New Year’s Eve skirmish in Moscow. It’s another strong performance by a writer who knows exactly what he’s about, and who here catalyzes narrative with another memorable protagonist, the stealthy and daring Monk. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

The Killing Hills by Chris Offutt

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

The Killing Hills

Offutt’s brooding and bloody country noir (after Country Dark) takes readers to the hollers of rural Kentucky, where meth and Oxycontin ravage the population, and havoc is wrought by long-festering family feuds. Mick Hardin, a traumatized veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now working as an Army intelligence agent, teams up with his sheriff sister to solve the murder of Nonnie Johnson after her body is discovered deep in the woods. In the process, they find themselves pitted against coal tycoon Murvil Knox; a meddling agent FBI agent who fingers an obvious patsy in disturbed outsider Tanner Curtis; roughneck brothers Bobby and Billy; and a pair of bumbling henchmen sent by arch-criminal Charley Flowers. Soon Hardin is up to his ears in intrigue and trying to keep a low profile as he interrogates suspects including local miscreant Fuckin’ Barney; Knox’s hapless nephew Delmer Collins; Nonnie’s vengeful son, Frankie; and the earthy Old Man Tucker, who found Nonnie’s body. Not only will Hardin have to find his man somewhere among this cast of backwoods desperados, he’ll need to do so before he becomes a casualty of grudges old and new. The lean prose elicits more than a hard-boiled style, and while the brisk yet gnarled atmosphere is reminiscent of Winter’s Bone, the dime-store crime novels of Jim Thompson, or even William Faulkner’s Sanctuary, Offutt brilliantly evokes the body and soul of his wounded hero. It adds up to a mesmerizing and nightmarish view of what lurks just over the hills. This is sure to be Offutt’s breakout. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Lost Sisterhood

While lecturing at Oxford, Diana Morgan, philologist and expert on the legendary female warriors known as the Amazons, receives a tantalizing offer from a stranger who invites her to visit a new excavation that promises to rewrite history. Taking leave of her academic responsibilities and possibly her senses, she sets off to North Africa. At the ancient temple, Diana recognizes writing, not from her research as a philologist but from her grandmother’s journal. Her father, presuming his mother insane, had condemned her to psychiatric procedures and confinement. As a young girl, Diana had facilitated her grandmother’s disappearance, thus resulting in a lifetime of regret and longing. Now suddenly faced with written evidence of the historical existence of the Amazons, Diane realizes that her grandmother’s journal is not a memoir of delusions. Are the Amazons still among us?

VERDICT Through her time-shifting narrative, Fortier (Juliet) offers us a front-row seat to the mythological stories we have learned through epics and poetry. Grounded in a thorough knowledge of classical literature, this skillful interweaving of plausible archaeological speculation, ancient mythology, and exciting modern adventure will delight fans of such authors as Kate Mosse and Katherine Neville. Starred Library Journal Review

The Night Agent by Matthew Quirk

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

The Night Agent

Soon to be a Netflix original series!

At first, this reads like something by Samuel Beckett. Peter Sutherland spends his nights, all 284 of them so far, sitting in a little room waiting for the phone to ring. It doesn’t. The phone is in the basement of the White House, and if anybody does call, Peter’s supposed to tell somebody important. On this night, the phone rings. A woman’s wavering voice: “He’s inside. He’s going to kill me.” What follows hits close to home: Russia is planting moles in U.S. government offices as part of an effort to rebuild the old Soviet Union. Peter learns quickly that the people he should report to are treacherous, forcing him to go it alone, with some help from the frightened caller. Lots of good, tense plotting and wild action here, though, like a Mission: Impossible movie, it doesn’t know when it’s time to end. A real pleasure of espionage fiction is tradecraft secrets, and Quirk doesn’t disappoint. Someone glancing at his dominant hand as he talks is being deceptive. Hydrogen peroxide, unlike bleach, will destroy DNA. – Booklist Review

Have a great week and a Happy New Year too!

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!

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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