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 18, 2022.
Delicacy by David Foenkinos
(Available Formats: Print Book, Hoopla instant checkout eBook & audiobook)
Lighthearted and offbeat, this translation of a French novel serves up a mostly frothy dish of romance, lost love, new hope, and typically Gallic sensibilities. Natalie and Francois share an almost unbearably perfect and oddly bland life, in which everything happens with seamless affability. But when Francois is struck by a car and dies, his still-young widow is shocked at the intrusion of grief into the wonderful fantasy that is her life, which she had not thought to question until it was too late. Sleepwalking through the subsequent days, Natalie fends off unwanted advances by an enamored suitor, throws herself fully into her work, and erects a near-impenetrable fortress around her grieving heart. Yet when unprepossessing coworker Markus enters her awareness, Natalie begins to reassess what might be next. The novel’s entire focus, in fact, may stem from this one sentence, Natalie’s sadness considerably deepened her erotic potential. It should be noted that there is plenty of soft erotic subtext but little overt sexuality in this thoughtful, character-driven novel. Starred Publishers Weekly review
In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd
(Available Formats: Print Book, Large Print & eBook)
A collection of humorous and nostalgic Americana stories—the beloved, bestselling classics that inspired the movie A Christmas Story
Before Garrison Keillor and Spalding Gray there was Jean Shepherd: a master monologist and writer who spun the materials of his all-American childhood into immensely resonant—and utterly hilarious—works of comic art. In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash represents one of the peaks of his achievement, a compound of irony, affection, and perfect detail that speaks across generations.
In God We Trust, Shepherd’s wildly witty reunion with his Indiana hometown, disproves the adage “You can never go back.” Bending the ear of Flick, his childhood-buddy-turned-bartender, Shepherd recalls passionately his genuine Red Ryder BB gun, confesses adolescent failure in the arms of Junie Jo Prewitt, and relives a story of man against fish that not even Hemingway could rival. From pop art to the World’s Fair, Shepherd’s subjects speak with a universal irony and are deeply and unabashedly grounded in American Midwestern life, together rendering a wonderfully nostalgic impression of a more innocent era when life was good, fun was clean, and station wagons roamed the earth.
A comic genius who bridged the gap between James Thurber and David Sedaris, Shepherd may have accomplished for Holden, Indiana, what Mark Twain did for Hannibal, Missouri.
King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett
(Available Format(s): Print Book)
With the same meticulous scholarship and narrative legerdemain she brought to her hugely popular Lymond Chronicles, our foremost historical novelist travels further into the past. In King Hereafter, Dorothy Dunnett’s stage is the wild, half-pagan country of eleventh-century Scotland. Her hero is an ungainly young earl with a lowering brow and a taste for intrigue. He calls himself Thorfinn but his Christian name is Macbeth.
Dunnett depicts Macbeth’s transformation from an angry boy who refuses to accept his meager share of the Orkney Islands to a suavely accomplished warrior who seizes an empire with the help of a wife as shrewd and valiant as himself. She creates characters who are at once wholly creatures of another time yet always recognizable–and she does so with such realism and immediacy that she once more elevates historical fiction into high art.
The Last House on the Street: A Novel by Diane Chamberlain
(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)
Chamberlain (Big Lies in a Small Town) delivers the goods with this affecting and spellbinding account of a community’s buried secrets. In 2010, North Carolina architect Kayla Carter reluctantly prepares to move into her dream home with her three-year-old daughter, Rainie, after her husband, Jackson, died in a freak accident while building the house. Kayla is approached at her office by a woman named Ann Smith, who claims to be a potential client but unnerves Kayla by talking about Jackson’s death, and by telling her she is thinking about killing someone. After moving into the new house, Kayla and Rainie meet neighbor Ellie Hockley, who recently returned to the area to care for her aging mother and ill brother. In a parallel narrative set in 1965, Ellie joins a student group to help register Black voters. She faces danger from the KKK while working alongside other students from Northern colleges and the members of her local Black community in N.C., all of which is exacerbated by her attraction to a Black civil rights activist. As Kayla learns Ellie was once in a romantic relationship with Kayla’s father, she uncovers a series of terrible events that occurred in the woods surrounding Kayla’s property. Chamberlain ratchets up the tension with the ever-present mystery of what Ann might be up to, and the dual narratives merge beautifully before an explosive conclusion. This will keep readers enthralled. Starred Publishers Weekly Review
Old Filth by Jane Gardam
(Available Formats: Print Book, Hoopla instant checkout eBook & audiobook)
Sir Edward Feathers has had a brilliant career, from his early days as a lawyer in Southeast Asia, where he earned the nickname Old Filth (FILTH being an acronym for Failed In London Try Hong Kong) to his final working days as a respected judge at the English bar. Yet through it all he has carried with him the wounds of a difficult and emotionally hollow childhood. Now an eighty-year-old widower living in comfortable seclusion in Dorset, Feathers is finally free from the regimen of work and the sentimental scaffolding that has sustained him throughout his life. He slips back into the past with ever mounting frequency and intensity, and on the tide of these vivid, lyrical musings, Feathers approaches a reckoning with his own history. Not all the old filth, it seems, can be cleaned away. Borrowing from biography and history, Jane Gardam has written a literary masterpiece reminiscent of Rudyard Kiplings Baa Baa, Black Sheep that retraces much of the twentieth centurys torrid and momentous history.
Old Filth is the first book in a trilogy; it is followed by The Man In The Hat and Last Friends.
On The Outside Looking In by Julie Ellis
(Available Format(s): Print Book)
Seasoned romance- and suspense-writer Ellis sets her latest tale in Castro’s Cuba. Havana pediatrician Chris is disillusioned with the meager supplies and restrictions that define his life, yet he doesn’t want to be disloyal to his father’s memory or his own devotion to his country. Chris finds himself drawn to Eva, a pretty nurse, who shares his yearning for a better life. The novel traces their courtship, marriage, and friendship with another young couple from the hospital. Chris and Eva’s story takes a turn when they discover their infant son has a serious heart condition that can only be cured with an operation in an American hospital. Ellis paints a portrait of resilience in the face of overwhelming circumstances. Despite some heavy-handed dialogue in which characters describe the Cuban Revolution and its repercussions, readers stay engaged, wanting to discover the couple’s fate. – Booklist Review
People of Darkness by Tony Hillerman
(Available Formats: Print Book, eBook, eBook, Hoopla instant checkout eBook & audiobook)
The fourth novel in New York Times bestselling author Tony Hillerman’s highly acclaimed Leaphorn and Chee series.
A dying man is murdered. A rich man’s wife agrees to pay three thousand dollars for the return of a stolen box of rocks. A series of odd, inexplicable events is haunting Sergeant Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police and drawing him alone into the Bad Country of the merciless Southwest, where everything good struggles to survive, including Chee. Because an assassin waits for him there, protecting a thirty-year-old vision that greed has sired and blood has nourished. And only one man will walk away.
Readers’ Note: As mentioned in the overview, People Of Darkness is the fourth book in the Leaphorn & Chee series; if you’d like to start reading the series from the beginning, the first book is The Blessing Way.
The Train To Warsaw: A Novel by Gwen Edelman
(Available Formats: Print Book, eBook & Hoopla instant checkout eBook)
Edelman’s second novel (after War Story) is a tale of the Holocaust’s lingering wounds, told in polished prose of distilled intensity. After fleeing the Warsaw Ghetto, Jascha, a Polish Jew, settles in London and finds success with a critically lauded memoir, The Way Down. Yet his wife, Lilka, another Jewish Holocaust survivor from Poland, never feels at home: “Even after forty years, London is as alien to me as the other side of the moon.” When they are invited back to Warsaw for Jascha to give a reading, Lilka considers their return a homecoming, while Jascha does not, saying “God knows why we are going… didn’t we have enough?” Jascha and Lilka must confront the melancholy alienness of their onetime home, where they find themselves lost in once-familiar streets, and Lilka is made to feel like an outsider by residents who compliment her on her excellent Polish. At the reading, Jascha focuses on his work’s most challenging moments, prompting walkouts from an audience whose members are still unable to reckon with their past. Afterward, the couple continues to re-explore the city, all the while working backward into their separate histories, until their stories meet, and they learn that some old truths still have the power to shock, even after 40 years. Edelman has written a well-crafted study of exile and return whose depth exceeds its length. – Publishers Weekly Review
The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)
Most teens think the universe is against them at some point. Seventeen-year-old Alex Woods has plenty of evidence for his case: a tarot-reading witch for a mother, his father a one-night Solstice stand long since forgotten, a chunk of meteorite crashing through the roof and smashing into him, the onset of epileptic seizures, and school bullies eager to target him. Luckily for Alex, the meteorite and bullies have an upside. While the meteorite accident introduces him to two unusual doctors and the worlds of astrophysics and neurology, the school bullies chase him into a life-changing friendship with the semi-reclusive Mr. Peterson after Alex takes the blame for Mr. Peterson’s broken greenhouse windows. Rather than revealing the bullies’ names, Alex accepts a punishment of helping out the curmudgeonly widower. Neither is very happy about the arrangement until they bond over books and Alex founds the Secular Church of Kurt Vonnegut reading group. Over the course of a year, they also come to terms with a terminal diagnosis. Their plans for a simple trip to a Zurich clinic turn into a wild wheelchair ride through a hospital, an unexpected kiss, and international media attention. Not your average rite of passage but one Alex can ace. VERDICT A bittersweet, cross-audience charmer, this debut novel will appeal to guys, YA readers, and Vonnegut and coming-of-age fiction fans.
Wildwood by Elinor Florence
(Available Formats: Print Book & Hoopla instant checkout eBook)
In Florence’s (Bird’s Eye View) second novel, Molly Bannister, broke and unemployed after the crash of 2008, discovers she has been left a remote Canadian farmstead by her estranged great-aunt Mary. The catch is she must live there full time for one year in order to inherit it legally. Leaving Phoenix for the beautiful Peace River region of Northern Alberta is quite a shock. Molly is helped along when she finds Mary’s 1924 homesteading journal in the farmhouse; selections are shared, adding warmth and interest. The heart of the story, though, lies in Molly’s relationship with her young daughter Bridget; the reason Molly decided to claim the inheritance is to sell it to pay for Bridget’s needed medical treatments. Their new neighbors are mostly salt-of-the-earth types, but not everyone is reliable: some mystery and intrigue surround Molly’s legacy. There is also a chance at love, in a slightly clunky romantic subplot.
VERDICT A heartwarming story about the power of family, this novel of modern pioneering will appeal to many readers. Fans of Debbie Macomber or even Janette Oke will likely find the gentle tone and the focus on wholesome themes a familiar and engaging type of read. – Library Journal Review
Have a great week!
*Information on the Three Catalogs*
Digital Catalog: https://stls.overdrive.com/
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: 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.