Suggested Reading April 5, 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, April 12, 2022.

100% Democracy: The Case for Universal Voting by E. J. Dionne Jr.

(Available Formats: Print Book)

100% Democracy

Washington Post columnist Dionne (Code Red) and Harvard Kennedy School fellow Rapoport present a persuasive argument for mandatory voting in the U.S. Universal civic duty voting would “engage all American citizens in our democratic experiment,” the authors contend, while deterring efforts—which often target communities of color—to restrict voting rights and eligibility. Dionne and Rapoport explain how expanded mail-in voting, the loosening of restrictions on absentee ballots, and other reforms made in response to the Covid-19 pandemic contributed to record levels of participation in the 2020 presidential election. Citing the example of Australia, where the country’s universal voting system is complemented by the festive atmosphere of community events such as an election day sausage sizzle, the authors argue that making it easier to vote means that more people will do so, and that compulsory voting will lead to election results that genuinely represent the will of the people. Detailing how such a system would work in the U.S., Dionne and Rapoport propose small fines for failure to comply, incentives to encourage participation, and measures to prevent the accidental enrolling of ineligible voters. Backed by copious data and a firm grasp of the legislative process, this is a cogent call for rethinking the electoral process.                    – Publishers Weekly Review

And After Many Days: A Novel by Jowhor Ile

(Available Formats: Print Book & CD audiobook)

And After Many Days

A family reckons with the sudden, inexplicable disappearance of a child in this debut novel from a young Nigerian writer. On the eve of Ajie and Bibi’s return to high school, their 17-year-old older brother, Paul, steps out to see a friend and doesn’t return. The night passes, then another day. Paul, the well-behaved, exemplary student, has never disappeared before, and the household is thrown into turmoil. “Paul knows how dangerous the roads can be at night,” murmurs his worried mother. Paul’s father turns to the police, then radio and newspaper announcements. As the last person to see Paul before his disappearance, Ajie, the youngest child, is wracked with guilt that shadows his relationships with his sister, Bibi, and their parents. The story gracefully weaves back and forth in time from the siblings’ early childhood to the present day in their Port Harcourt, Nigeria, neighborhood, and suddenly, every little thing is imbued with deeper meaning, made fateful through retrospect. “Things happen in clusters,” Ajie thinks. And this was a year “of rumors, radio announcements, student riots, and sudden disappearances,” a year where “five young men had been shot dead by the square in broad daylight.” This is the world of Ajie and his family, a world Ile builds in rich, vivid details. But the disappearance of Paul remains the central driving question of the narrative. Where did he go? And was his disappearance fair play or foul? This engrossing novel, couched in poetic, evocative language, creates a suspenseful yet sophisticated narrative from the first page. Here are beautifully drawn characters grounded in the universal story of young Ajie discovering the world around him–a world recovering from the not-so-distant wars of the previous generations and their legacy, which still bleeds into present politics. A deeply rewarding novel that heralds the birth of a major new literary talent. – Starred Kirkus Review

A Ballad of Love and Glory by Reyna Grande

(Available Formats: Print Book)

A Ballad of Love and Glory

Inspired by the life of an Irish immigrant who served in the Mexican Army in 1846 and a Mexican nurse immortalized in a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier, Grande (A Dream Called Home) delivers a worthy old-fashioned epic of romance and war. After Ximena’s husband, Joaquin, is killed by Texas Rangers, she becomes a nurse during the Mexican-American War. John Riley, an Irish immigrant who initially serves in the U.S. Army, resents the harsh way his kinsmen are treated by officers. He deserts to Mexico, where General Santa Anna places him in charge of a unit made up of other Irish deserters called the Saint Patrick’s Battalion. Riley and Ximena meet during the defense of Matamoros. Despite having a wife and son back in Galway, Riley begins an affair with Ximena that continues through the Mexican army’s many defeats. An American victory almost certainly ensures that a captured Riley and his fellow San Patricios will be hanged, so Ximena embarks on an extraordinary effort to save his life. With a backdrop of American arrogance and Mexican corruption along with the nicely imagined relationship between Riley and Ximena, the author sharply illuminates the heroism of her characters. It’s a great story and a revealing look at a lesser-sung chapter of American history. – Publishers Weekly Review

As Good As The First Time by K. M. Jackson

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

As Good As The First Time

Olivia “Liv” Gale loses her job and her boyfriend (and her TV) in one weekend, and there’s a family emergency in Georgia, so Liv gladly leaves New York City behind for Sugar Lake, reluctantly allowing her directionless younger sister to join her. Aunt Joyce thinks she is managing a broken hip and Goode ‘N Sweet, the family bakery, just fine, but she is glad to see her nieces, as are the myriad extended-family members who live nearby. Also glad to see Liv is Clayton Morris, who broke her heart during her last summer in Sugar Lake. But Clayton had reasons, and now he is back in town as the fire chief with his tween daughter in tow. Liv’s stubbornness is no match for Clayton’s sweetness, though she puts up a good fight. Jackson really shines in the dialogue as one exchange can reveal a lifetime of sibling rivalry, while making the reader laugh. Liv’s journey to loosen up and bake with love is a must-read for fans of second-chance love stories and sweet small-town romances. – Booklist Review

Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson

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

Backseat Saints

On the surface, she’s Ro Grandee, dutiful wife of a handsome Texan with ready fists. But underneath her flowery skirts and painful bruises lurks Rose Mae, a fierce Southern spitfire who’s already escaped an abusive father. These days Rose seems resigned to taking punches, working in the Grandee family gun shop, and waltzing with the vacuum cleaner until an oddly familiar airport gypsy foretells a fortune that is murderliterally. Rose’s husband is going to kill her, unless she manages to kill him first. Rose takes her dog, Gretel, and her Pawpy’s old gun and runs for her life, blazing a harrowing trail from Texas to Alabama and on to California and exhuming a heap of family skeletons along the way. VERDICT Jackson has resurrected a character from her best-selling “gods in Alabama” and crafted a riveting read that simply flies off the page with prose as luscious as sweet tea and spicy as Texas chili. Fans of Southern fare as varied as Sue Monk Kidd, Dorothy Allison, and Michael Lee West are sure to love it. – Library Journal Review

Chorus: A Novel by Rebecca Kauffman

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Chorus

Kauffman’s luminous latest (after House on Fripp Island) showcases her knack for delving into the hearts of her characters. The Shaw family is altered forever after the mother, who took to her bed sometime after the birth of her seventh child, dies in 1933, the result of “mistaking sleeping pills for nervousness pills. So they said. Or the other way around,” according to her two oldest children. In a seamless and sprawling narrative covering the early 20th century through the 1950s, Kauffman poignantly portrays all the Shaw family members, among them Wendy, the oldest, who falls into a caretaker role for her father after the rest of her siblings grow up and leave home; Jack, an alcoholic; Lane, pregnant at 15; and Bette, the youngest, whose husband dies in a freak accident when she is newly pregnant with their second child. Throughout, the author probes the ways the siblings are shaped by their mother’s death, a possible suicide. The siblings’ alliances, particularly that of Jack and Lane, are revealed via vibrant prose, as are family secrets such as the truth about Lane’s pregnancy. It adds up to a superbly executed saga. – Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Ruthless by Lisa Jackson

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

Ruthless

Romance unfolds under the mountain landscapes of Oregon in these three novels available in one volume by the #1 New York Times bestselling author.

Attorney Jake McGowan couldn’t feel much sympathy for the woman who’d married his wealthy, despicable, sworn enemy. But now that she was embroiled in a child custody battle, he would help her. And getting revenge against her ex is even sweeter when it leads to love.

Superstardom hasn’t helped world-class skier Gavin Doel get over his first love, or the way she inexplicably left him. When he returns to Taylor’s Crossing, and finds himself facing her, his bitterness is impossible to hide. But as he tries to uncover the buried truth of their past, he’s surprised to discover a second chance at the love he never forgot.

Beyond his professional success, nothing has changed for developer Brandon Scarlotti since he left Rimrock—especially not his feelings for Dani Stewart. Now that he’s back, maybe he’ll discover what went so wrong between them. But what he doesn’t know will change both their lives forever.

Seeking Fortune Elsewhere: Stories by Rebecca Kauffman

(Available Format: Print Book)

Seeking Fortune Elsewhere

Journalist Bhanoo’s stunning debut collection spotlights women who navigate comfortable but often stifling cultural traditions while pursuing new-world promises. In the O. Henry Prize–winning “Malliga Homes,” a recent widow’s daughter insists her mother move into a retirement facility in Tamil Nadu. The narrator’s daughter, Kamala, left India years earlier for college in Atlanta, and Kamala’s increasingly infrequent visits sadden and anger the narrator. In a perfectly apt metaphor for families caught between staying and going, the narrator pauses at dusk to admire a set of oleander shrubs: “Some of the flowers are stuck on one side while others, by sheer luck, fall to the other.” In “No. 16 Model House Road,” wife Latha and husband Muthu live in a house in Bangalore that Muthu’s deceased aunt had left to him. A developer wants to demolish the house for a high rise, and Muthu wants to sell it in order to travel, but Latha sees the house as “a memory box of her life.” Defying tradition, she stands firm in her opposition to Muthu with a “winning feeling” when, in signing a contract to remodel the house, her hand is “steady and sure.” In these and other stories, Bhanoo finds novel ways for her protagonists to cope with adversity. Growing apart from the past, rather than crushing their spirit and individuality, brings them freedom and hope for the future. This introduces a great new talent. Starred Publishers Weekly Review

Tell Me An Ending by Jo Harkin

(Available Formats: Print Book)

Tell Me An Ending

This high-concept debut asks an interesting question: What if we could edit our memories? What if we could, say, snip out the memory of a traumatic event that shaped our lives? Would we remain the same people after the procedure? Nepenthe is a company that specializes in memory-removal, but lately the firm has been under a lot of scrutiny. People are claiming they are experiencing “traces,” fragments of supposedly deleted memories that haven’t been wiped clean. The novel follows five characters: Mei, a woman who has vivid mental images of a place she doesn’t remember visiting; Oscar, whose past is a mystery to him; William, an ex-cop with a past he doesn’t recognize; Finn, an architect who isn’t sure what to believe about his marriage; and Noor, a Nepenthe psychologist who has come to believe that her boss may be committing serious crimes. As the focus shifts from one character to another, Harkin builds a picture of a world radically altered by a controversial technology and of people who are learning that you can’t change the past without impacting the present. An intellectually and emotionally satisfying thriller. – Booklist Review

The Wonders: A Novel by Elena Medel

(Available Formats: Print Book)

The Wonders

Spanish poet Medel’s remarkable English-language debut moves from Francoist Spain into the present day, tracing a family’s fractured ties over three generations. In 1969, María is forced to leave her hardscrabble Córdoba home when she gets pregnant by a married man at 16. After handing over infant Carmen to her family to care for, she moves to Madrid and makes do with backbreaking menial jobs. Her efforts to send money home while saving enough to bring the child to live with her fail, as do her attempts to forge a long-distance maternal bond. By the time she can afford to have Carmen join her in the 1980s, the teenager refuses. As a young woman, Carmen marries a restaurateur and raises her daughter, Alicia, in comfort until the crippling debts her husband’s incurred drive him to suicide and the family into poverty when Alicia is 13. Like María, Alicia moves to Madrid, where she drops out of school, enters a dull marriage, works dead-end jobs, and carries on a generally self-destructive lifestyle. She’s also haunted by dreams about her father’s death, which become stranger and more violent as time passes. She doesn’t want to know María, the grandmother she was told abandoned their family, while María has too little information to find Alicia on her own. By 2018, a women’s support group that María has helped build organizes a women’s march that crosses through Alicia’s neighborhood, increasing the chance their paths will cross. Arresting characterizations and vivid prose fuel Medel’s searing look at the impact gender, class, and financial hardships have on working-class Spanish women’s lives as the country is buffeted by wider cultural shifts. It adds up to a powerful story. – Starred Publishers Weekly 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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