Suggested Reading February 1, 2022

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, February 8, 2022.

The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb

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

The Beauty of the Humanity Movement

Much like Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, this novel takes a journey into the past for answers, giving us a fictional account of real political upheaval. Maggie Ly travels to Vietnam in an attempt to find out anything about her father’s disappearance many years ago. Relying on her own fragments of memory, she meets up with Hung, an elderly street vendor who may have known her father. She also becomes involved with one of Hung’s loyal customers, Tu, who represents the new Vietnam and the type of person Maggie might have become had her family not moved to America. Through a series of scenes moving back and forth in time, Gibb (Sweetness of the Belly) unravels the mystery of Maggie’s past and creates futures for all the characters involved. VERDICT Well written and engaging, with characters that represent the participants and consequences of a country in the middle of great change, this work is recommended where Tan and similar authors are appreciated.—Library Journal Review

Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Harrison Squared

Gregory (Afterparty) delivers a thoroughly entertaining novel built on H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. The titular Harrison Harrison lost the lower part of one leg in the same boating accident that killed his father. Now 16, he’s moving with his research scientist mother to the Massachusetts town of Dunnsmouth. The other children in school are eerily quiet, the town has no cell phone coverage, and a fish-boy steals his comics. Things go from strange to tragic when his mother is lost in another boating accident two days after moving. Refusing to believe his mother is dead, Harrison investigates with the help of a girl named Lydia and the aforementioned fish-boy, Lub. They encounter enemies including a knife-wielding maniac known as the Scrimshander and a monstrous fish-woman intent on destroying the world. Gregory delivers an enthralling and exciting tale that should intrigue both readers unfamiliar with Lovecraft and longtime fans of the stories. The occasional in-jokes (buoys named after Lovecraft, Poe, King, and Straub, and of course Dunnsmouth itself) are subtle enough to not distract from the rich tale, and the YA vibe ensures a broad audience. Publishers Weekly Review

Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict

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

Her Hidden Genius

Benedict adeptly brings forward another accomplished, intriguing, and unjustly overlooked or oversimplified real-life woman in a welcoming and involving historical novel. Here she returns to the realm of science, where she began with The Other Einstein (2016), to fictionalize the life of English chemist and X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin. Readers are privy to Rosalind’s inner world as she refuses to be deterred by family objections to her nontraditional life or derailed by the sexism she encounters in academia. She thrives in a congenial lab in Paris, where she makes extraordinary breakthroughs, falls in problematic love, and ignores cautions about working with radiation. Back in England, Rosalind, as Benedict so vividly elucidates, makes groundbreaking discoveries of the molecular structure of viruses and DNA, only to have Francis Crick and James Watson take credit for her work. Benedict subtly foreshadows Rosalind’s death at 37 from ovarian cancer while conveying her vitality, conviction, and passion as she designs and conducts exacting experiments, writes and presents numerous significant papers, travels, and climbs mountains. Tough, forthright, and assiduous, Rosalind insists on doing science right and for the right reasons. Readers inspired to learn more about Franklin will enjoy Howard Markel’s biography, The Secret of Life (2021). Booklist Review

Native Believer: A Novel by Ali Eteraz

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

Native Believer

This poignant and profoundly funny first novel follows a young, lapsed Muslim in post-9/11 Philadelphia, a city on edge long after the attacks. The narrator, M., struggles with familiar grumblings at the workplace and romantic quirks in his marriage, until an uncomfortable encounter with his new boss leaves him abruptly unemployed, with a strong suspicion that religious discrimination influenced his firing. His newfound free time frustrates his wife, Marie-Anne, and infuriates his friend, Richard, who insists on filing a lawsuit. Eteraz, the author of Children of Dust (2009), a memoir about his childhood in Pakistan and young adulthood in the U.S., draws on enough autobiography to make M. relatable and reliable as the faith of his forefathers resurfaces in his life. Ambigious at times, Eteraz atones for his wordiness with a plethora of metaphors, such as comparing the divine lips of a French actress to the hull of a prophetic ark or the arc of a perfect plot. Eteraz combines masterful storytelling with intelligent commentary to create a nuanced work of social and political art. Booklist Review

New Charity Blues by Camille Griep

(Available Formats: Print Book)

New Charity Blues

Griep dives into the dystopian genre in this outstanding novel, which challenges preconceptions of the genre. After a plague ravages a once-thriving world, a harsh rivalry emerges between two immune communities: the decaying City, and the idyllic New Charity. Cressyda, a New Charitan fleeing her former life, is caught up in a political struggle when she returns to New Charity in the wake of her father’s mysterious death. Cressyda clashes with her childhood friends, Len and Cas Willis, as she tries to understand the dangerous thrall New Charity is under. Griep’s writing is fresh and intense, imbued with suspense. She excels at the rich imagining of a world where magic, science, and politics intertwine. The spunky heroine is doubtful and questioning, and those who are vital to the oligarchical power structure might also topple it. Most vividly, Griep plumbs questions of what home means, and what it means to have a safe place in the midst of chaos. Publishers Weekly Review

Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory

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

Pandemonium

In Gregory’s alternate world, the 1950s saw the emergence of a new phenomenon in which ordinary people began to be possessed not by demons from Hell but by archetypes straight from the collective unconsciousness. Among these are the Kamikaze, who drives its hosts to spectacular acts of suicide or assassination; the Truth, who destroys liars; and the Little Angel, a young girl in a nightgown, who visits the dying and whose kiss speeds them to their inevitable end. Since he was five, Del Pierce has been possessed by the Hellion, a creature part Dennis the Menace, part total destructive mayhem. To all appearances, Del is now free of the “demon,” and his family simply believes that he has been mentally ill. But Del knows that the Hellion is still trapped within his body, always on the edge of breaking his host’s eroding control. Rising sf/fantasy star Gregory, winner of the Asimov’s Reader’s Award for his novelette “Second Person, Present Tense,” demonstrates his skill at full-length storytelling in a debut novel that breaks new ground while paying homage to some of the genre’s most iconoclastic authors, A.E. Van Vogt and Philip K. Dick. Most libraries should introduce sf fans to this bright new voice of the 21st century. Starred Library Journal Review

People of the Moon by W. Michael Gear & Kathleen Gear

(Available Formats: Print Book)

People of the Moon

They were called the Chaco Anasazi. They built thirty-foot-wide roads that crossed miles of mountains and mesas and constructed five story buildings which had more than 800 rooms. Their priests and warriors presided over the conquered populations of Chaco Canyon via an extensive system of signal towers that could send messages across the vast distances day or night. Messages could be sent easily, and warriors could be dispersed to quell any rebellion within hours of the start of an uprising.

The Anasazi believed their destiny was charted in the paths of the moon, sun, and stars. The moon had reached its maximum three times since the Chacoans conquered the First Moon People. The Chaco matrons had built their Great House high atop First Moon Mountain, and their red-shirted warriors stalked arrogantly through the villages, taking what they pleased. But the gods can only stand so much human arrogance.

Young Ripple of the first Moon People had no desire to become a Dreamer, but when Cold Bringing Woman, the goddess of winter, appears at his high mountain camp, she sends him on a perilous quest to destroy the hated Chacoans. But Ripple will not face the task alone; he is aided by his stalwart friends on this mission.

But the blessed Chacoan Sun Webworm and his Dragonfly Clan matrons will brook no insurgency. In retaliation, Chacoan war chief Leather Hand and his warriors embark on a campaign of terror so gruesome it remains unrivaled in the annals of prehistory. It all comes to a climax atop the mountain we now know as Chimney Rock. In the white light of the lunar maximum, the Pueblo gods will dance–and an empire will be engulfed in flames and mayhem.

The Saints of Swallow Hill by Donna Everhart

(Available Formats: Hoopla instant checkout eBook & audiobook)

Saints of Swallow Hill

During the Great Depression, some who are desperate for work end up at the Swallow Hill Turpentine Camp in Georgia. It’s hard work tapping the pine trees for the resin that will make turpentine, but Del Reese needs a new job after getting caught sleeping with his former employer’s wife. Rae Lynn Cobb is also on the run after killing her husband and gets a job at the camp by pretending to be a man. Crow, a sadistic boss, has it in for Del and Rae Lynn, who are white, since he takes offense to them working with Black colleagues. After rescuing Rae Lynn from one of Crow’s horrific punishments and then finding out she’s a woman, Del soon begins to fall for her. Cornelia, whose abusive husband owns the camp commissary, nurses Rae Lynn back to health, and they agree to join Del at his family homestead in North Carolina, where they slowly begin to contemplate a better future.

VERDICT Everhart’s (The Moonshiner’s Daughter) latest Southern historical novel is full of tragedy and abuse with characters who initially aren’t easy to like, but the story becomes much more appealing as Del and Rae Lynn grow into protagonists to root for, in a unique setting. Library Journal Review

Trouble At The Top by Charles Bracelen Flood

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Trouble At The Top

You are President of the United States.

…You have fallen into a secret and passionate entanglement with the beautiful young wife of

Senator Augustus Owen, your most powerful foe. Across the hall from you bedroom in the White House, your eighteen-year-old daughter is defiantly carrying on a startling love affair.

There are days when you the think that those are the least of your problems. In Mexico, a revolutionary party, the Sword of Justice, is turning that country into another Vietnam. American youths are flocking south to fight beside the Mexican guerrillas in the Che Guevara Brigade. There are generals and congressmen who are urging you to send Green Berets south of the border to support the Mexican government and fight the guerrillas, while other voices, equally strong, are demanding that the United States keep its hands off.

In the midst of this, you learn from secret service reports that the guerrillas may be setting up short-range nuclear missiles on the border, pointed at the nearest American cities. Racing against time, taking the responsibility of avoiding public panic by restricting the public’s knowledge, you fly to Mexico and a last-ditch truce talk between the Mexican government and the Sword of Justice. During the delicate and dramatic negotiations, you learn that a member of your own delegation is leaking top-secret information to the guerrillas—and you cannot find out who is doing it.

This is the setting of Trouble at the Top, a hurtling tale of politics, espionage, and love. Written by a superb storyteller who has worked as a reporter in both Vietnam and Mexico, its resolution is an authentic tour de force.

We Love You, Charlie Freeman: A Novel by Kaitlyn Greenidge

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

We Love You Charlie Freeman

When Laurel, an African-American mother from Boston’s South Side, accepts a position to teach sign language to a chimpanzee named Charlie at a private ape research facility in the verdant Berkshire Mountains, she unwittingly introduces her two young daughters to a disturbing world of mystery and misogyny, racism and retaliation. The institute’s first director in the 1920s used racial profiling to horrific effect, conducting clandestine experiments on black men and seducing a lonely black woman into posing for compromising drawings all allegedly in the name of science. Some 70 years later, Laurel’s teenage daughter, Charlotte, and her youngest daughter, Callie, will find themselves caught in a struggle that pits their own blossoming desire for identity and belonging against their mother’s mania for Charlie’s attention and a society that has yet to acknowledge the insidious ways bigotry and discrimination undermine its most basic institutions. Greenidge’s wondrous first novel pits the sins of the past against the desire for the future in a multifaceted narrative that challenges concepts of culture and communication. Starred Booklist Review

Have a great week!

Linda Reimer

*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.

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