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, March 1, 2022.
Artemis by Andy Weir
(Available Formats: CD audiobook, Print Book, Large Print & eBook )
Jazz Bashara grew up in Artemis, the only city on the moon. She’s a young, misanthropic, underachieving genius who side-hustles as a smuggler. One day, she takes on a job that proves too dangerous and finds herself wrapped up in murder and an interplanetary struggle for control over a new technology worth billions. This exciting, whip-smart, funny thrill-ride boasts a wonderful cast of characters, a wide cultural milieu, and the appeal of a striking young woman as the main character. It’s one of the best science fiction novels of the yearbut to make it clear, Artemis is not The Martian (2011) redux. Tone, characters, structure are all very different. It’s more traditional sf and lacks the cheery novelty that characterized Weir’s famous first novel. The setting is just as detailed and scientifically realistic, but science isn’t the focus this time. Weir’s sarcastic humor is on full display, but Jazz delivers it with an anger that Watney (The Martian’s protagonist) never had. The Martian appealed to a broad audience beyond regular sf fans, and Weir’s second novel will be in high demand, thanks to that, though it may not be to everyone’s taste.-Booklist Review
Black Widow by Randy Wayne White
(Available Formats: CD audiobook (narrated by the Great George Guidall) & Print Book)
What happens in the Caribbean at least on the tiny island of Saint Arc definitely doesn’t stay there. Especially if you happen to be a rich, young woman out for a final fling with your girlfriends before tying the knot. That demographic is likely to snag you in the web of Saint Arcs resident voodoo queen, the Widow, a sexually ambiguous dragon lady who runs a sophisticated blackmail enterprise. In this fifteenth outing for Whites beloved hero, marine biologist and special-ops agent Doc Ford, the Widow meets her match when she targets Fords goddaughter, Shay. Feeling a bit out of sorts since he retired from the clandestine services, Ford is ready to mix it up a little and heads off to the island to confront the blackmailers. He finds much more of a challenge than he expected and is happy to join forces with a mysterious island resident, a seventy something Brit who appears to be a former special-ops type himself. White makes the most of this pairing (imagine Michael Caine as the Brit), injecting some bantering fun into the high-octane action. As always in this consistently entertaining series, the plot offers a fascinating mix of headline-grabbing crime (Caribbean vacations gone bad) and history (island archaeology, with a touch of those ever-popular Knights Templar). Like Robert B. Parker and John D. MacDonald at their best, White draws readers into his world with characters you’d pay just to hang out with and then hooks us with straight-ahead action. Its an old-school combination, but it still works just fine. Starred Booklist Review
Readers’ Note: Black Widow is the fifteenth book in White’s Doc Ford series; if you’d like to start reading the series from the beginning, check out book 1 Sanibel Flats.
Brighton by Michael Harvey
(Available Formats: Print Book, eBook & Hoopla instant check out eBook)
After a series of novels featuring Chicago-based private investigator Michael Kelly (most recently The Governor’s Wife), Harvey sets this riveting stand-alone in his native Boston. Reporter Kevin Pearce, who has just won a Pulitzer Prize with the Boston Globe, returns to his hometown of Brighton for the first time since a teenage act of violence forced him to flee. In 1975, he and his friend Bobby Scales tracked down and killed a man Kevin saw running from the scene of a gruesome robbery that left his grandmother dead and his younger sister badly injured. Bobby took the heat and became the neighborhood’s most feared bookie, allowing Kevin to embark on the path of career respectability. But a quarter-century later, Bobby is now the prime suspect in a rash of murders involving Brighton’s seedy underworld, and Kevin will have to reckon with his long-buried past in a way that will test his allegiances–to his childhood friend, to his prosecutor girlfriend, and even to his sister, who is harboring secrets of her own. VERDICT Harvey’s gritty tribute to the working-class neighborhoods of his youth is as authentically captured as the best of Dennis Lehane. Fans of Martin Scorsese’s film The Departed will love the violent twists and turns of the novel’s final chapters. – Library Journal Review
A City in Winter written by Mark Helprin & illustrated by Mark Helprin
(Available Formats: Print Book)
Another ambitious and glossy collaboration between novelist Mark Helprin and illustrator Chris Van Allsburg, continuing the story of Swan Lake, their earlier book that recreated the ballet classic for children. Emulating Maurice Sendak’s reinterpretation of The Nutcracker, both the earlier book and A City in Winter abound in winter season atmosphere and fairy tale magic. At the end of Swan Lake, the unnamed little girl who has heard the story of a prince and his beautiful lover Odette usurped from their kingdom by evil forces, realizes that she is the daughter of the pair, and the rightful heir to the kingdom. As the sequel begins, the girl is now an adult, restored to the throne as queen. She recalls her return to the city at age ten, and tells how the restoration came about. Amazon Review
The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections: A Novel by Eva Jurczyk
(Available Formats: Print Book, eBook & Hoopla instant check out eBook)
Liesl Weiss is acting as head of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections while her boss, Christopher, lies in a coma. She’d much rather be behind the scenes, but the university president, Lawrence Gerber, wants her schmoozing with donors. She sets up a private showing of the Plantin Polyglot Bible, Christopher’s prize acquisition, but when she opens the safe where it was stored, it’s not there. Has it been misplaced among thousands of rare books, or was it stolen? When an employee goes missing, signs point to theft, and still Lawrence is reluctant to get the police involved. Liesl is left to solve the mystery on her own, unsure of whom to trust among her staff, all while keeping donors happy and running the library. Jurczyk’s unique debut has plenty for bibliophiles to relish, from dark stacks to precious manuscripts. Readers will sympathize with Liesl and her desperation to keep her head above the demands of a position she didn’t ask for while untangling the intricate threads of the mystery of the missing book. – Booklist Review
Free Speech: A History from Socrates to Social Media by Jacob Mchangama
(Available Formats: eBook)
Journalist McHangama has written an insightful, nicely woven history that provides a coherent picture of how free speech has developed globally. From ancient Greece to the internet’s gigabytes, this account contends there has been a constant push-and-pull of whether freedom of speech is granted to the masses or solely held by the ruling elite. During his research, McHangama noticed patterns where people were granted the freedom to express their ideas but became vituperative and repressive to those who had more radical ideas. Using numerous anecdotes, the author makes this well-researched narrative both informative and entertaining as he recounts accusations of heresy and restrictions on the freedom of religion during the Inquisition and Martin Luther’s invention of the printing press, which challenged conventional ideas of disseminating news. McHangama argues that all ideas must be shared in order for democracies to survive and he warns against tech corporations, such as Twitter or Facebook, controlling speech on their platforms.
VERDICT With accessible and engaging writing, McHangama’s book is a highly recommended intellectual history for casual readers and those interested in the currency of free speech.- Starred Library Journal Review
The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker
(Available Formats: Print Book, eBook, Hoopla instant check out eBook & audiobook)
In mid-ninth-century Norway, power was dispersed among many petty kingdoms, while sea-kings gained wealth and status through plunder. Chronicling the time that saw Harald Fairhair’s rise as eventual king of a united Norway, Hartsuyker’s terrific historical epic, first in a projected trilogy, beautifully evokes the period and the mind-set of its warring peoples. After his stepfather’s attempt on his life fails, Ragnvald Eysteinsson pursues revenge and a plan to regain his hereditary lands while finding his place amid the Norse kings’ shifting alliances and blood feuds. Meanwhile, his teenage sister, Svanhild, too strong-minded to be a peace-weaver bride, moves through challenging emotional territory after evading an unwanted marriage. Posing thoughtful questions about the nature of honor and heroism, and devoting significant attention to women’s lives, the novel takes a fresh approach to the Viking-adventure genre. Hartsuyker also shows how the glorious deeds in skaldic songs can differ from their subjects’ lived experiences. The multifaceted characters are believable products of their era yet relatable to modern readers; the rugged beauty of Norway’s farmlands and coastal landscapes likewise comes alive. The language is clear and eloquent, and the action scenes will have the blood humming in your veins. This is how tales from the old sagas should be told. – Starred Booklist Review
Readers’ Note: The second and third books in the trilogy are, respectively, The Sea Queen & The Golden Wolf.
The Hush: A Novel by John Hart
(Available Formats: Print Book)
Hart’s career continues on its ever-upward trajectory: five books, five NYT best-sellers, two Edgars, and steadily growing critical acclaim. Those first five titles were all stand-alone thrillers, but this time Hart changes directions, offering a sequel to The Last Child (2009), in which 13-year-old Johnny Merrimon tracked the pedophile who abducted his sister. It’s 10 years later now, and Johnny is living off the grid, in a cabin deep in the mysterious Hush Arbor, 6,000 acres of North Carolina swamp that Johnny inherited via a slave freed by one of Johnny’s ancestors.
Trouble is stalking Johnny, however, both from inside the arbor, where his nightmares and blackouts are increasing, and from without, in the form of back taxes and a suit challenging his right to the property. Johnny’s oldest friend, Jack Cross, now a lawyer, is attempting to defend Johnny’s interests, but the prospects are dim for success. A relatively straightforward premise so far until Hush Arbor itself emerges as the story’s most powerful character, and the novel embraces the horror elements that have been clamoring for attention all along. It can be jarring when a seemingly realistic novel suddenly jumps into full supernatural mode, but Hart handles the transition seamlessly. He has always worked on the edges of southern gothic, so his genre-bending leap seems less dramatic than it might otherwise. Moreover, his vivid evocation of Hush Arbor and the ghosts it shelters, extending back to slavery, carries a Faulknerian density that makes the idea of the past coming alive deep in a swamp feel not only believable but also inevitable. Hart makes it six for six here, and behind this uncanny string of success is a rare ability to combine the most propulsive of popular fiction with beguilingly rich characters (Johnny is the black-sheep first cousin to Quentin Compson).
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The track record is enough on its own, but this time the idea of a sequel to a popular previous novel will have Hart’s fans squirming in anticipation. Booklist Review
Ink & Bone by Lisa Unger
(Available Formats: CD audiobook, Print Book, Large Print)
Unger returns to the Hollows, New York, a small town that positively vibrates with supernatural activity. Finley Montgomery is its newest inhabitant, moving in with her grandmother Eloise, a well-known psychic who works with Jones Cooper, the local private investigator. Several children who have gone missing in town, with Abbey the most recent of them. Her parents are distraught and their marriage is on the brink when, in a final attempt at any sort of closure, Abbey’s mother hires Cooper to find her missing daughter. In this case, Eloise can’t help, but Finley can. Finley has been having visions since she was a small child, driving a massive wedge between her and her mother. But Eloise can help Finley nurture her gift, and that process may lead to finding the missing children. This engrossing story weaves between these unusual characters and the man who abducted Abbey, building suspense on every page. The tension is palpable, and Unger straddles the fine line between thriller and horror, making this a very exciting and riveting read, sure to appeal to a wide range of readers, including Kay Hooper or Stephen King fans. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Unger’s consistent appearances on best-seller lists speaks to her ability to draw in devoted readers across genres, and her latest will do the same. – Starred Booklist Review
Shadow of the Alchemist by Jeri Westerson
(Available Formats: CD audiobook, Print Book & Hoopla instant check out eBook)
The Tracker takes the case of a French alchemist who is targeted for his secrets in this mystery set in the gritty streets of fourteenth century London.
After losing his knighthood, Crispin Guest has found a new calling as the Tracker, a private investigator who can locate anything—or anyone. Now famed French alchemist Nicholas Flamel needs Crispin to locate his wife, Perenelle, and his apprentice, Thomas Cornhill. But the case takes a sinister turn when Flamel’s apprentice is found murdered. The kidnapper promises that Flamel’s wife will be next . . . unless he hands over his precious Philosopher’s Stone, a magical object that can turn lead into gold.
Soon, strange, antiquated symbols begin appearing throughout the city. Crispin must decipher their meaning to unearth the kidnappers true motive. Plunged into an underground world where alchemy combines with treacherous politics, Crispin will have to unravel the mystery in order to find his wife and unmask a dangerous mastermind determined to wreak havoc throughout the city.
Shadow of the Alchemist was featured as a “Best of 2013 Selection” by Suspense Magazine and was a finalist for Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award in the Mystery Suspense & Thriller category.
Readers’ Note: This is the sixth book in the Crispin Guest mystery series. If you’d like to start reading the series from the beginning, check out book 1 Veil of Lies.
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.