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 15, 2022.
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn
(Available Formats: Print Book, eBook & Hoopla instant checkout audiobook)
Set in 1887, this sparkling first in a new Victorian series from bestseller Raybourn (The Dark Inquiry and four other Lady Julia Grey mysteries) introduces 25-year-old Veronica Speedwell, who as an illegitimate child lived an itinerant existence with two female guardians. After returning home from the funeral of the last of her guardians,
Veronica foils an abduction attempt with the assistance of an elderly stranger, Baron Maximilian von Stauffenbach, who remembers the mother Veronica knows nothing about. At the urging of the baron, who warns her that she’s in mortal danger for reasons he can’t yet reveal, she hides at the London home of reclusive natural historian Revelstoke “Stoker” Templeton-Vane. When the baron is murdered, Veronica and Stoker embark on a journey marked by present perils and past secrets. The intrepid Veronica’s witty narration (“I abhorred weakness of any kind but most particularly in my tea”) and the sexual tension she shares with the equally eccentric and articulate Stoker deliver a fun read with promises of more to come. Publishers Weekly Review
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
(Available Formats: Print Book)
Surreal and hilariously funny, this alternate history, the debut novel of British author Fforde, will appeal to lovers of zany genre work (think Douglas Adams) and lovers of classic literature alike. The scene: Great Britain circa 1985, but a Great Britain where literature has a prominent place in everyday life. For pennies, corner Will-Speak machines will quote Shakespeare; Richard III is performed with audience participation à la Rocky Horror and children swap Henry Fielding bubble-gum cards. In this world where high lit matters, Special Operative Thursday Next (literary detective) seeks to retrieve the stolen manuscript of Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit.
The evil Acheron Hades has plans for it: after kidnapping Next’s mad-scientist uncle, Mycroft, and commandeering Mycroft’s invention, the Prose Portal, which enables people to cross into a literary text, he sends a minion into Chuzzlewit to seize and kill a minor character, thus forever changing the novel. Worse is to come. When the manuscript of Jane Eyre, Next’s favorite novel, disappears, and Jane herself is spirited out of the book, Next must pursue Hades inside Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece. The plethora of oddly named characters can be confusing, and the story’s episodic nature means that the action moves forward in fits and starts. The cartoonish characters are either all good or all bad, but the villain’s comeuppance is still satisfying. Witty and clever, this literate romp heralds a fun new series set in a wonderfully original world. Starred Publishers Weekly Review
Nine Women: Short Stories by Shirley Ann Grau
(Available Formats: Print Book & Hoopla instant checkout eBook)
Infrequent in appearance, Grau’s books are always an occasion for celebration. The nine stories in this new collection all with a woman as their central character confirm her as a writer of keen psychological insight and luminously resonating prose. Grau’s sensibility has an amazing range: outside of the Southern heritage they share, her women inhabit different social, economic and cultural worlds. “Hunter” concerns the only survivor of a plane crash that kills her family, who thereafter pursues her own surcease. Marvelously restrained, with every word polished to a burning clarity, the story engulfs and mesmerizes the reader. In “Ending,” the wedding of the daughter of an affluent black couple signals the dissolution of their marriage and exposes the disillusion that has eroded their upwardly mobile lives. Perfect in pitch and tone, “Home” captures an emotional confrontation between two women who are lovers, but ends in a reaffirmation of their vital connection. Grau’s gently ironic sympathy permeates these tales. Though little overt action occurs, the forces that tether people to responsibilities, to rituals and traditions, to family loyalties, and, most tellingly, to life, are gracefully illumined. Publishers Weekly Review
In The Shadow of Spindrift House by Mira Grant
(Available Formats: Print, Hoopla instant checkout audiobook)
For Harlowe Upton-Jones, life has never been a straight line. Shipped off to live with her paternal grandparents after a mysterious cult killed her mother and father, she has grown up chasing the question behind the curve, becoming part of a tight-knit teen detective agency. But “teen” is a limited time offer, and when her friends start looking for adult professions, it’s up to Harlowe to find them one last case so that they can go out in a blaze of glory.
Welcome to Spindrift House. The stories and legends surrounding the decrepit property are countless and contradictory, but one thing is clear: there are people willing to pay a great deal to determine the legal ownership of the house. When Harlowe and her friends agree to investigate the mystery behind the manor, they do so on the assumption that they’ll be going down in history as the ones who determined who built Spindrift House-and why.
The house has secrets. They have the skills. They have a plan. They have everything they need to solve the mystery. Everything they need except for time. Because Spindrift House keeps its secrets for a reason, and it has no intention of letting them go. Nature abhors a straight line. Here’s where the story bends.
Readers’ Note: Mira Grant is a pseudonym of the Urban Fantasy author Seanan McGuire.
How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu
(Available Formats: Print Book & eBook)
Nagamatsu examines the way a pandemic changes the world in the decades and even centuries that follow in chapters told from the perspectives of various linked characters. The story opens when Dr. Cliff Miyashiro journeys to Siberia to finish the work that claimed the life of his daughter, a passionate environmentalist. When Cliff and his colleagues accidentally release an ancient virus contained in the remains of a prehistoric girl frozen in ice, the world christens it the Arctic Plague. As the pandemic spreads across the earth, society finds ways to grieve and honor the dying and dead, including erecting an amusement park specifically for terminally ill children, creating robotic dogs that capture the voices and personalities of lost loved ones, and hotels where families can stay to celebrate the lives of those they’ve lost. The tragedy causes humanity to look to the stars for salvation, as Cliff’s wife, Miki, sets off with their granddaughter and a contingent of pioneers hoping to establish a colony on a habitable planet. Both epic and deeply intimate, Nagamatsu’s debut novel is science fiction at its finest, rendered in gorgeous, evocative prose and offering hope in the face of tragedy through human connection. Booklist Review
The Likeness by Tana French
(Available Formats: Print, Large Print, eBook & downloadable audiobook)
Edgar-winner French blurs the boundaries between victim and cop, memory and fantasy, in this stunning sequel to her debut, In the Woods. Det. Cassie Maddox, a dead ringer for Lexie Madison, whose body has been found on the outskirts of the Irish village of Glenskehy, agrees to masquerade as Lexie in a police effort to identify her murderer. Cassie journeys to Whitethorn House, the rambling mansion Lexie shared with four fellow Ph.D. students and tells the friends that she survived the attack. As she probes deeper into the close-knit group, Cassie finds herself becoming emotionally attached to the stoic Daniel, sensitive Justin, gadabout Rafe and dependable Abby. But as tensions rise in the house and in Glenskehy, Cassie must decide if the biggest threat comes from without or lurks within. French cleverly subverts the conventions of the locked room mystery, ratcheting up the tension at every turn with her multidimensional characters. Readers looking for a new name in psychological suspense need look no further than this powerful new Irish voice. Starred Publishers Weekly Review
No Cure for the Dead: A Florence Nightingale Mystery by Christine Tent
(Available Formats: Print Book, Hoopla instant checkout eBook & audiobook)
In 1853, when Florence Nightingale becomes the new superintendent at the Establishment for Gentlewomen During Temporary Illness in London, she’s appalled at the hospital conditions and the quality of nurses employed there. During her first week, she finds one of the nurses hanging in the library. The police call it suicide, but Florence decides to investigate further. When she’s pushed down the stairs, and a ten-year-old errand boy has an accident, she knows she’s scared someone. After another death occurs, Florence realizes her entire career and current employment hinge on her ability to unmask a murderer. This first book in a new character-based historical mystery series delves into the personal and professional life of a brave woman who left a privileged life to help others. The story is well researched and richly detailed in describing the hospitals of the time and Nightingale’s plans for reform.
VERDICT Skillfully blending the stories of actual people with fictional characters, including several from her “Lady of Ashes” series, Trent weaves a serious tale with a sobering tone that will appeal to fans of Nancy Herriman’s British-born nurse Celia Davies. -Library Journal Review
Ocean State by Stewart O’Nan
(Available Formats: Print Book)
The latest from O’Nan (Henry, Himself, 2019) begins with the shocking and tragic end of a teen love triangle. Angel’s longtime boyfriend Myles cheats on her with classmate Birdy. When their relationship is revealed, the reconciled Angel and Myles kill Birdy. But rather than homing in on the murder, O’Nan focuses on four women at the center of the story, alternating between the contemporaneous perspectives of Angel, Birdy, Angel’s mother Carol, and Angel’s 13-year-old sister, Marie. In addition, the novel is framed by the reflections of Marie as an adult looking back on the murder’s reverberations within their family and their working-class Rhode Island community. Like Carol, who is constantly starting over with new boyfriends with her children in tow, young Angel and Birdy are willing to go to extremes to be loved, but Marie has a harder time making sense of her sister’s crime of passion and struggles to leave the past behind. O’Nan’s detailed, sympathetic portrayal of his characters and their community will appeal to fans of Elizabeth Strout’s My Name Is Lucy Barton (2016), Olive Kitteridge (2008), and Olive, Again (2019). Booklist Review
The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley
(Available Formats: Print Book, eBook & downloadable audiobook)
In their first book for adults, married YA coauthors Wibberley and Siegemund-Broka portray coauthors who fall in love while writing a love story. Three years ago, New Yorkers Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were at the pinnacle of their coauthoring career with a much-lauded and enormously popular book. But their success warped their professional relationship, and they parted ways on bad terms. She stopped writing, and he published a book with tepid sales. Now they are forced by their publishing contract to write one more book together, so they convene at a secluded cottage in Florida. They channel their animosity into their characters, writing viciously and passionately until they declare a truce. Unacknowledged attraction had always simmered between them. Each was the essence of life to the other, each found the other’s very existence fascinating. While apart, Nathan got divorced, and Katrina got engaged, but the magnetism between them has persisted. In intricate layers, Wibberley and Siegemund-Broka unfurl what went wrong between Katrina and Nathan and how their past anger transmutes into desire and soul-binding love, making for a deeply emotional meditation on the psychological perils of success within a passionate romance. Booklist Review
Still Life by Louise Penny
(Available Formats: Print Book, Large Print, CD audiobook, eBook, downloadable audiobook & Hoopla instant checkout audiobook)
Canadian Penny’s terrific first novel, which was the runner-up for the CWA’s Debut Dagger Award in 2004, introduces Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec. When the body of Jane Neal, a middle-aged artist, is found near a woodland trail used by deer hunters outside the village of Three Pines, it appears she’s the victim of a hunting accident. Summoned to the scene, Gamache, an appealingly competent senior homicide investigator, soon determines that the woman was most likely murdered. Like a virtuoso, Penny plays a complex variation on the theme of the clue hidden in plain sight. She deftly uses the bilingual, bicultural aspect of Quebecois life as well as arcane aspects of archery and art to deepen her narrative. Memorable characters include Jane; Jane’s shallow niece, Yolande; and a delightful gay couple, Olivier and Gabri. Filled with unexpected insights, this winning traditional mystery sets a solid foundation for future entries in the series. Starred Publishers Weekly 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.